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Integrative Psychiatry

Organic Acid Testing with Mary Rondeau, ND

Why are we using organic acids?

Watch our video entitled “Organic Acid Testing” as Dr. Mary Rondeau talks about organic acids, gut dysbiosis and other topics as to why we should treat our gut first.


So, the question to start off with this is like, why are we using organic acids? One of the big components of the Integrative Psychiatry Institute is to really bring together this disconnect – that the body cannot be separated from the mind. But we are treating mental health and the organic acids test is one tool that is really good at assessing kind of the neck down metabolic issues. And so, I just love this cartoon, because I think it really speaks to the current state of treating mental health and how we are looking to shift that.

Organic Acid Tests

  • Malabsorption markers
  • Dysbiosis markers
  • Mitochondrial function

Organic acids basically give you a functional assessment of multiple different metabolic areas. One being antioxidant status in the body, relative need for B vitamins or B vitamin deficiencies. You get some information on mineral deficiencies and amino acids. It has a section that marks for malabsorption markers. So, we’re looking at gut dysbiosis. How well is somebody absorbing food that they’re eating, as well as is there a component of elevated yeast or bacterial markers that might be contributing to the gut-brain axis and interrupting that in the context of mental health?

It’s helpful if a person has a combination of gut symptoms and mood symptoms, that this could be a really important test to give you more clues on treatment options. Depression or mood disorders that have a high fatigue component, that can be relating a lot to nutritional deficiencies, mitochondrial dysfunction, and methylation dysfunction.

If there’s been a history of chronic fatigue, or chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic infections, again, really assessing those biochemical pathways can be really helpful. And fibromyalgia would be kind of top areas that you can look at if those are going on, in addition to mood symptoms, that this test would be a good choice.

Additional Considerations: Bacterial Dysbiosis.

Diet cannot be emphasized enough, we’re going to continue to push high fiber and then the low sugar, low carbohydrates, diets rich in polyphenols, anything that gives us bright, beautiful colors are going to be really helpful in terms of boosting up the more healthy counts, especially the bifido counts of bacteria. Those are found in your fruits, veggies, your seeds and wine. And remember your fruit skins, your veggies, and your seeds are also an excellent source of fiber. So, you kind of get two birds in one stone with those dietary recommendations. The Mediterranean diet is another good option. There was a study done showing that the Mediterranean diet did help increase the healthy counts and the diversity of the bacteria in the digestive tract. So, a Mediterranean diet is good.

Additional Tips for Successful Implementation

Always treat the gut first. It’s kind of like our cardinal rule, right?

A lot of diseases begin in the gut. We’re exploring that gut-brain axis in terms of how that’s affecting mental health, so hone in on the gut.

If the gut is abnormal, treat it. Is it yeast? Is it bacterial? Is it both? Treat that.

Then after that’s done, the next phase of treatment plan is to say:
What is more predominant?
Is it more mitochondrial dysfunction?
Is it methylation concerns?
Is it just across the board deficiencies in nutrients?
Then prioritize that.

This way, the treatment plans do not become overwhelming and you can see exactly what is doing what. You started a gut treatment plan at the same time that you started them on high dose B vitamins, and you’re doing CoQ10, and you’ve just given somebody six or seven different supplements targeting spots around the whole organic acid test. They aggravate. What did they aggravate from? We don’t know. And so, you know, and if they got better, what did they get better from? We don’t know, we don’t want somebody having to take this many things forever.

So, I really recommend that, you know, a good tip for implementing this is to go section by section and just kind of move through this.

Frederick Barrett is a cognitive neuroscientist with training in behavioral pharmacology, and the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Dr. Barrett has been conducting psychedelic research at Johns Hopkins University since 2013, and his research in healthy participants and in patients with mood and substance use disorders focuses on the psychological and neurological mechanisms underlying the enduring therapeutic and other effects of psychedelic drugs. In 2017, he received an NIH “R03” grant as Principal Investigator to investigate biological mechanisms of psilocybin effects, the first federally funded research since the 1970s administering a classic psychedelic to people with psychedelic effects as the primary focus. He has developed measures of subjective effects of psychedelic drugs, and has also published first-in-human studies characterizing the acute and enduring effects of psilocybin on the brain. He is currently leading clinical trials to investigate the use of psilocybin to treat patients with major depressive disorder and co-occurring alcohol use disorder, and he is leading a number of ongoing studies aimed at better understanding the psychological, biological, and neural mechanisms underlying therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic drugs.

Will Van Derveer, MD is co-founder of Integrative Psychiatry Institute (IPI), along with friend and colleague Keith Kurlander, MA. He co-created IPI as an expression of what he stands for. First, that anyone can heal, and second that we medical providers must embrace our own healing journeys in order to fully command our potency as healers.

Dr. Van Derveer spent the last 20 years innovating and testing a comprehensive approach to addressing psychiatric challenges which transcends the conventional model he learned in medical school at Vanderbilt University and residency at University of Colorado, while deeply engaging his own healing path.

He founded the Integrative Psychiatric Healing Center in in 2001 in Boulder, CO, where he currently practices. Dr. Van Derveer regards unresolved emotional trauma as the most significant root cause of psychiatric symptoms in integrative psychiatry practice, along with gut issues, hormone imbalances, inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and other functional medicine challenges. He is trained in Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Internal Family Systems, and other psychotherapy techniques. His current clinical passion is psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, which he mentors interested doctors in providing. An avid meditator, he has been a meditation instructor since 2004.

For the past several years Dr. Van Derveer has taught psychiatrists and other psychiatric providers integrative psychiatry in a number of settings, including course directing the CU psychiatry residents’ course as well as with Scott Shannon and Janet Settle at the Psychiatry MasterClass. In addition to his clinical work and teaching, he was co-investigator in 2016 a Phase II randomized clinical trial, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He continues to support this protocol, now in a Phase III clinical trial under break-through designation by FDA.

Dr. Van Derveer is a diplomate of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABoIHM) since 2013, and he was board certified in the first wave of diplomates of the new American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABIM) in 2016.