Live Long and Master Aging podcast



Rejuvenating the body’s command center

Deborah Maragopoulos | Family nurse practitioner


Deborah Maragopoulos, a nurse practitioner and self-described intuitive healer, believes health and longevity starts with the hypothalamus region of the brain. In her book, the Hypothalamus Handbook, she bridges the gap between traditional medicine and complementary therapies, revealing how a blend of botanicals, nutraceuticals, and intuition not only works alongside evidence-based medicine but can profoundly impact our health.

In this interview, we travel through the body’s complex systems, controlled by the hypothalamus, and explore the role this part of the brain plays in every day health and wellbeing.

Deborah discusses the power of targeted nutrients and her own botanical formulations, for rebalancing our body’s systems. She recounts patient stories, emphasizing the importance of early detection of hypothalamic imbalances that could be the key to longevity and a ‘harmonious life.’

Deborah, a past president of the California Association of Nurse Practitioners, is the founder of Genesis Health Products, Inc. and creator of the nutraceutical supplement, Genesis Gold®.

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Connect with Deborah: Website | Genesis Gold® | Bio | LinkedIn | X | YouTube | Facebook | Instagram

Read: The Hypothalamus Handbook

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TRANSCRIPT – generated using AI. Please check against audio for absolute accuracy.

Deborah Maragopoulos: 0:00

I imagine I’m going to live beyond 100 years of age. My plan for the next 40 plus years of my life is to stay as active as possible, to keep supporting my hypothalamus nutraceutically and eat well, of course. 

Peter Bowes: 0:23

Deborah Maragopoulos is an intuitive, integrative nurse practitioner and author of the Hypothalamus Handbook. Hello again, welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging Pod cast. I’m Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity. So what is the hypothalamus? And if we paid more attention to it, or indeed any attention to it how could nurturing that part of the brain help us live long and better lives potentially longer and better lives than we’re living at the moment? Deborah, welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging Podcast. 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 1:01

Thank you for having me, Peter. 

Peter Bowes: 1:03

It’s really good to talk to you before we dive into the brain. Intuitive integrative as a nurse practitioner. I think most of us are very familiar with nurse practitioners. But intuitive integrative, what does that mean? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 1:17

Well, let’s start with the integrative part. So the integrative actually has to do with my being trained in conventional medicine. You know I went to UCLA, I got my master’s degree there. I did my residency at a big, you know, county hospital. So all the training was in pathophysiology. But as a nurse that’s how I came in to become a nurse practitioner. There’s a lot of, you know, energy medicine intuitive. You have to be able to integrate the other aspect of it. So the integrative part has to do with how do we take complementary medicines botanicals, acupuncture, energy medicines and integrate that with complementary medicine. And I put the intuitive on there because I’ve got to say that from the beginning of me being a healer, which started way before I became a nurse or a nurse practitioner I have always followed my intuition and it is never wrong it’s. The only time I make a mistake is when I don’t follow it. So I’m very, very, very much feeling into what’s happening with my patients, what’s needed at the time of doing like, say, a YouTube video. You know what does the world need from me right now, what do they need to hear? And you know, go for it. When I speak to large groups, I work with the energy of the group, what do they really need to hear? And it, you know, seems like the perfect thing, whatever comes out. And they are, they’re moved and I am an instrument. 

Peter Bowes: 2:43

And intuition being, I guess, that gut sense of what is right, what is going to work. 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 2:49

I think we’re all born with it. We are all born with this intuitive sense of what is right or wrong for us. Not, I’m not talking ethics, I’m not talking morality, but what is the best choice for me in this moment. And when we go against, that is usually where we stumble. Or if we try to use our head over that intuitive, instinctive place, we can also sometimes hesitate and maybe not make the best choice for us. And the reason I think it’s so important is because I believe that when you actually give your hypothalamus what it needs to heal, to be balanced, you naturally become more attuned to your own intuitiveness, so you know what your body needs. 

Peter Bowes: 3:33

We’ve mentioned a lot of titles here. I think sometimes people get confused, don’t they? When we’re talking about alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and there’s almost occasionally a stigma attached to those titles, especially alternative, which I know a lot of people don’t like to use because it has that kind of way out, feel to it that it isn’t based on science, and I think complementary is probably a much more sort of accurate way to describe the kind of work that you do. 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 4:04

It is much more complementary. Honestly, when I was trained conventionally in medicine, the therapies were medical, they were pharmacological or they were surgical. Lifestyle recommendations for lifestyle treatments would have been considered alternative. Okay, so now that’s not. Even that’s conventional now. So what was alternative became complementary and now it’s conventional. So we always start with diet and exercise with diabetics before we start to give them drugs. Okay, so it’s about blending all of that. And for me, as a conventionally trained nurse practitioner with a strong science background, I’m looking for the research. You know what research is there. Has anyone else studied this? Do they have enough people that they’ve looked at to say, hey, this makes some sense, let’s see if this could work. If that could work with your 10, maybe it can work with my one or your thousand, maybe my whole group of people. So just, you know, just trying to look for some proof. But I’m still going to follow my intuition. Sometimes I only find one study of one case study of one person, but it matches my person, my patient, so well that I’m going to go for it and say, listen, let’s, let’s give this a try. No one else has tried it, maybe 10 years before it becomes protocol, but right now you’re suffering. Here’s the pros, here’s the cons. Let’s make a choice. 

Peter Bowes: 5:28

And I guess real life experiences come into this that the patients that you treat and the results that you see are very often undeniable. 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 5:35

Exactly. It’s their experiences, so that they’re and they’re able to tell me what’s going on with their bodies, what’s going on in their life, so that they’re success and they feel successful. It’s a. It’s a partnership, not me writing a prescription and then you know you do your thing. It’s a partnership with open communication. 

Peter Bowes: 5:54

So we’re going to focus on the hypothermos, which is the main topic of your book. Let’s start with the very basics. What is the hypothermos? I think we all understand it’s part of the brain, but where is it and what does it do? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 6:07

So if you put your finger right between your eyebrows, so where your third eye would be and went right into the center of your brain, sitting on right at the top of the brainstem, is the hypothalamus. It is a small organ made up of multiple neurons. Like all of the brain is made of neurons, and these neurons have different functions than the brain does. The brain is all neurological, but the hypothalamus neurons also receive sensory information. They receive hormonal information. They receive neurological information. They are not protected by the blood-brain barrier, so they also receive all the nutrients that you consume. They know what’s going on in your bloodstream. The osmology of the of the blood, meaning the, the electrolyte fluid, balance, all four out of five senses run through the hypothalamus. They receive all of the hormones. They’re exposed to all the toxins, every infectious agent. We’re learning more and more about the hypothalamus all the time. I’ve been practicing really healing the hypothalamus for the last probably 25 years and it’s really only been in research, maybe the last 10 years or so, that we’re really getting the research to support what I’ve been doing for almost three decades of focusing on helping people balance their hypothalamus to balance their hormones, improve their neurotransmitters, improve their immunity, their digestion, detoxification. There is not much that the hypothalamus does not control. You name it and I can tell you how it’s controlled by the hypothalamus. 

Peter Bowes: 7:39

So when you talk about healing the hypothalamus, this is an area I think that might be a little confusing to people, because we generally don’t think about healing the brain or part of the brain. We can think about healing a physical injury that we have a broken leg, a cut on our hand, a stomach upset. You can heal those conditions, you can heal those diseases that we get, but the brain is almost unseen, isn’t it? So how do we begin to think about healing the hypothalamus? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 8:42

Well, we used to believe that once your brain was fully developed, that you could do nothing with it. So if you had brain damage, you had a severe concussion, you had a tumor, radiation your brain could not be healed. But we now know that your brain is neuroregenitrious. It can heal, and especially in the hypothalamus, which is very, very amenable to nutrients. You can actually heal your hypothalamus through nutrients, particularly nutraceuticals. So what that means is is that if you provide your hypothalamus with everything it needs, it starts to be able to balance the rest of your body. I like to think of the hypothalamus as almost like a maestro of an orchestra, and your hormones and your neurotransmitters and the cytokines that your immune system makes are the symphony, the music. Your DNA dances accordingly. So you’re either expressing this genetic you know crazy dance like Elaine on Seinfeld, or you’re expressing this beautiful ballet of health and harmony. But it’s the hypothalamus that is orchestrating, it’s the maestro of that symphony of hormones. 

Peter Bowes: 9:52

And so, when the hypothalamus isn’t enjoying the best of health, to put it in very simple terms, what are the most likely conditions that we’re likely to suffer from? As you’ve mentioned, there are many, many aspects of the human body and its functioning that are reliant on a healthy hypothalamus, but what are the early signs that something might be wrong? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 10:13

So the big word with the hypothalamus is homeostasis, which means balance. So the hypothalamus. So if your blood pressure is too low or too high, that’s a hypothalamic symptom. Okay. If you have trouble either gaining weight or losing weight, if you are fatigued, you have a very slow metabolism. You have trouble detoxifying. If you have any hormonal issues, that includes thyroid, adrenal sex hormones. If you have pituitary hormone issues growth hormone, prolactin, oxytocin all of that’s controlled by the hypothalamus. If you have immune issues, you get sick frequently. You have hypersensitivity or allergies, you develop cancer because the hypothalamus actually controls the immune system and autoimmunity is huge in the hypothalamus. If your body is attacking itself, your immune system is attacking tissues, it’s the hypothalamus is often at the root of that imbalance. Temperature control If you’re hot or cold when the environment is not such, it’s not. If you can’t maintain your body temperature. If you’re not thirsty or you’re overly thirsty, if you’re never hungry or you can’t stop eating, that’s all controlled by the hypothalamus. So there isn’t much that isn’t controlled by that. Aging is actually controlled by the hypothalamus as well. 

Peter Bowes: 11:33

Well, that’s what interests me a lot and essentially that’s what we talk about on this podcast the aging process, and I like to focus on what we can do when we’re young and we’re healthy to slow down that aging process. I’m not a huge fan of talking about reversing aging. I just want to enjoy a long life and be healthy for as long as possible. It is a health span, optimum health for as many decades as we can achieve. So, bearing in mind what you’ve been explaining and the myriad of different systems in our bodies that the hypothalamus is involved in with aging in mind, what should we be thinking about in terms of nurturing the hypothalamus that perhaps we’re not thinking about now? Yes, we think about our diet, we think about our exercise, and I know all of these things are connected, but is there something new that maybe we should be focusing on that we’re just ignoring? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 12:27

Well, years ago, when I was first looking at the hypothalamus, I was working with my patients, with their nutrition, their activity level, trying to get their sleep optimized, even working at the energetics of mindset and how the thoughts and beliefs affected their health. So those are four of the five pillars. The thing that was missing is, even with this pristine diet, I still couldn’t get the hypothalamus what it needed to start to heal itself. And that’s where I came up with a formula to act on nutraceutical to feed the hypothalamus. We now know by research that the hypothalamus is incredibly sensitive to amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids or Pufas, and also very sensitive to botanicals and the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in botanicals. So oftentimes, even when you’re eating pristinely, you’re just not getting everything that it needs. And so by putting it all together and putting it in a formula, in a basically a powder form, I’ve been able to feed my patients and I have, you know, thousands of customers who’ve consumed this product, which is able to balance out their hypothalamus. So how do I know it’s balanced out? Well, I can’t measure the hypothalamic hormones, then nobody can’t Without killing the lab rat. We can’t look at hypothalamic hormones, so we have to look at all the down players Are the rest of their hormonal balances? Are they back into balance again? Is their temperature regulation better, their metabolism better? You know what else was out of balance If we look at the core of the hypothalamus and start feeding it what it needs, of course they’re eating well, they’re getting the activity their body needs, they’re getting the sleep their body needs. That we’re not, you know, bumping up against a wall of a mindset that is so, you know, dialed into their disease that they don’t even believe they can heal. If we worked on the other four pillars, adding that nutraceutical just, you know, brings it to a, to a whole another realm. And in fact we don’t even have to work on those other four pillars yet. We can add the nutraceutical first and the hypothalamus. Once it starts getting what it needs, you start drinking as much water as you need, eating the foods that your body needs, getting enough sleep, getting the activity, shifting the mindset. The hypothalamus directs all of that, directs your moods, your memory, your dream state. So it’s literally going to tell you what you need and you’re going to crave those things. 

Peter Bowes: 14:46

I’m just wondering which comes first. It’s a little like chicken and egg. Is it optimum lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise to nurture the hypothalamus, or is it hypothalamus first to help us achieve those lifestyle traits that will hopefully help us pursue maximum health and optimum health as we get older? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 15:09

I believe it’s the hypothalamus first, and that’s just because I’ve been doing this for a long time. The majority of my patients who come to me are medical train wrecks. They’ve had multiple diagnoses. They’re very challenging. They’ve seen at least a half a dozen other providers before they come to me, so they’ve already been, you know, coached in their lifestyles. So, adding that hypothalamic healing piece is on top of that and they start to see changes. My customers, on the other hand, will write in all the things that are wrong with them, that are out of balance, and they want to become a patient. I’m like can you just try taking the Genesis Gold first and let’s see what happens? Or I can’t get pregnant. Can you just try taking this first in three to six months, let’s see if your periods regulate and if you get pregnant, because oftentimes they do. But what they will write back to me is that I’ve been working on my diet forever and now I finally am craving foods that are good for me. Okay, because your hypothalamus is saying I really, I really need some iron here. Can you eat some dark green vegetables? I need some beta carotene. How about some orange squash? No, it’s not talking beta carotene, it’s just saying you’re just, you got to have butternut. 

Peter Bowes: 16:14

So you’ve mentioned the nutraceutical. Let’s just do a little bit of a deeper dive into what you’re talking about. 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 16:20

And again. 

Peter Bowes: 16:21

I feel perhaps some people listening to this thinking is this something else I need to take and how do I decide, from the vast selection of supplements that I can take, which is the one that is going to be right for me? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 16:33

So when I first developed Genesis Gold, which is a foundational nutraceutical that has at the heart of it what I call the sacred seven amino acids and the only reason I named it that is because it came in the seven sets of seven combinations of amino acids came to me first and I did the research there first. Those are the amino acids that are key to balancing the hypothalamus. But I was also giving my patients a lot of other bottles of stuff adrenal support and thyroid support and mitochondrial support and detoxification support and digestive support. So when I came up with the formula which actually here’s the intuition piece I dreamt the formula. 

Peter Bowes: 17:12

Oh, you dreamt it. 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 17:14

The formula came to me in dreams. So I was hitting a wall with my own research. This is before Google, this was back in 1999, could not figure out what I needed, the one thing to feed the hypothalamus. I’d been researching pro-opio-molanochrotin, which is a large hypothalamic hormone, and there were a few amino acids that were kind of sticking out to me as maybe I should, you know, investigate that. Nobody had done any hypothalamic research at that point that I could find and I was kind of struggling with this. My very my first born child is why I do what I do. That child was born intersex, so I had to learn hormones from day one as a 23 year old young mother to try to guide this child with their chromosomes and with their receptor sites and try to, you know, help this child. So this child tells me mom, why don’t you just meditate about this and see what comes in dreams? So I did. 

Peter Bowes: 18:07

And when the child said that to you, what did you first think? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 18:11

Well, this child was like that had would say these amazing things. And then, if you know, if you paid attention, and I thought, oh my gosh, this child is recognizing that I’m struggling and that this was one of those it’s. It’s also. It’s not what I thought, it’s what I felt, it’s that tingle that you get, that you know like, oh my gosh, this is, this is a soul urge. I’m being nudged here. You know it’s by this child, but I’m being nudged, so I need to, I need to pay attention to this. So I did that. 

Peter Bowes: 18:38

And how old was your child at this point? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 18:40

14. And one of the reasons that they were they were pushing me with this is because I was using the only computer we had in the house and they had to get some homework done, so they were literally rubbing my shoulders like mom please, why don’t you meditate about this? See what comes in dreams. So I followed their advice and I had the same exact dream for three months, every night for three months, and when I would wake up in the morning, the dream was I was standing by the tree of life. I was holding this, what looked like a golden cup or chalice. My sickest patients would come to me. We never spoke. They would drink what was in the cup and I knew intuitively they were better. I’d wake up in the morning and say and said to myself what was in the cup and I’d start writing. Most of it came out as chemistry and I just started writing. And then I looked up everything I wrote and I put it together and I started experimenting on People, my patients, who said I want to be your guinea pig and I was seeing all of these changes that I was. That I Knew was a balancing of the hypothalamus. 

Peter Bowes: 19:41

Were you confident that everything that was coming to you in the dream that you were writing down, that you were then Implementing with your patients? Were you confident that it was safe, that it was okay? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 19:51

Yes, because everything that came to me. Nothing was chemical, it was all natural. I was writing a lot of it as the chemistry. So, for instance, the first seven nights it was the amino acids and the actual. It actually came to me in what looked like Hebrew, but they were aramaic letters, and Amino acids are actually denoted by a single letter. So, as I look them up, the first night was those first seven amino acids I had been studying and then it just kept coming in different combinations until I put it all together. So Everything else were you know, botanicals, sea vegetation, digestive supports, species of probiotics. Some of it would come in the names. A lot of those names are Latin. Some of it would come as a, as a chemical. You know, like I was writing a, you know a math problem, and then I would have to look it up because sometimes I didn’t remember what that was. You know, like, what the heck is this? And then it was. It was an ingredient, an extract, a, but nothing was synthetic. Nothing was synthetic, it was all what was in the natural world and what I had already been giving my patients in different combinations, in bottles, and bottles of stuff and handfuls of pills. 

Peter Bowes: 21:03

So I was about to ask how do you, or can you explain how this, in a dream, or several dreams, this information came to you? But then now I’m thinking well, you probably had it in your brain, you had this knowledge anyway, and you were simply assimilating it and almost Regurgitating it in a different order, if that makes sense. So I? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 21:24

I don’t truly know, to be honest. I know that I had already done the research on all of these different botanicals, but I was also, you know, shopping, just like my patients were. I’d write in the shopping list and say you need to get this, this and this. And then I started getting catalogs for different you know vitamin and you know supplement companies and saying, okay, this has at least most of the stuff I would want to give these people per se. So it already researched a lot of these ingredients. So these ingredients were in my somewhere in my brain, okay. But I also feel that when the time is ripe not right, but ripe like a fruit the universe kind of opens up pathways and information. And I think it was just the the ripe time for this information to come through. Because quickly after that, within a few years after that, as I mix, you know, working with all my patients and seeing all these improvements, science all around the world were started to research the hypothalamus, started looking into and Proving bits and pieces of what I was doing in the whole patient, because then mostly in science we’re looking at, you know, single hypotheses a leading to b or c not looking at the whole patient. So I think the time was just, it was the ripe time for this fruit to kind of fall into my eyes and say, okay, now, what do I do with this? Do I make a pie? Do I make a salad? You know what do I do with this information? So, yes, I think the information was in there, the science was in there, the information was in my brain, but it’s the way I put it together as well, and that was kind of the intuitive piece. I was open to it, to receiving this information, and this wasn’t new for me. I mean, I had been working with patients since, you know, in my own practice since 80, 1987. Sometimes I would dream of somebody the night before before I have ever met them. I, in my dream, I would, you know, a patient would come to me. I knew exactly what their problem was, I knew exactly what. So I, they arrive the next day. I already knew I didn’t always know their name, but I recognize that by their face, their diagnoses. I went right to that body part that needed, you know, needed help, and I knew exactly what to do for them, asked the right questions like how, how do you know this? Because I already your, I already met you, so this, this dream thing, was not new to me. I had been dreaming things in my life for a long time and then just kind of open up to the possibility that maybe I need to do something about this. This required me Finding a manufacturer working with. You know. This required a whole different level than anything else I ever did In terms of coming in a dream and then and then moving on that intuitive nudge is this a product that needs FDA approval? no, supplements do not need FDA approval. The FDA actually requires that supplements do not make any claims. So I can’t claim to treat a disease, to diagnose or treat, but at this point supplements do not need any kind of FDA approval. Now, every all the ingredients that are in Genesis gold have have had safety and efficacy studies for each individual ingredient, and I know where they’re all sourced. You know it’s all plant based, so so it’s it’s about. You know, to me it’s kind of like cooking, you know. I just I’m an, I’m also an intuitive cook. I tend to, you know, you know, get a bunch of ingredients and throw things together and people say, wow, that was amazing, can I have your recipe? I just kind of taste and put things together. Genesis felt like that. In the beginning it was very much, you know, making this Hypothalamus therapy, like soup kind of a thing, but it was very clear what the amounts were supposed to be for every single ingredient. That that has not changed since. You know I started, you know, mixing the amino acids in my kitchen in 2000. The exact proportions have not changed at all and that’s the difference. People will say you know I use free form amino acids. How come? How come. This isn’t helping my hypothalamus, because the amino acids that make up Me and a frog, or the same amino acids, are just put together differently. 

Peter Bowes: 25:37

Is there a different formula for men and women? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 25:40

no clearly we operate on different hormones to some extent not a different formula for men, not a different formula for children. It’s by body weight, your hypothet. The male and female hypothalamus are basically the same. Okay, in terms of receptor sites, or slight. There’s differences in receptor sites and how many estrogen versus androgen receptor sites the male and female hypothalamus have, but they work under the same parameters. The males make, you know, the same Genetotropin, releasing hormone from the hypothalamus that stimulates follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, just like females do. They just respond to a different feedback mechanism, whether it’s ester dial or testosterone. 

Peter Bowes: 26:20

Now you indicated and I agree with you that sometimes the proof that you’re onto something is in the results that you see in your patients. I was just wondering if you can give me some. Examples, maybe from some of the early patients that you were treating with this formula, where you saw what would be considered to be quite a stunning change around in someone’s fortunes. 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 26:42

Well, one of my, one of my most on. I’ll call it a classic example, but it’s not a classic disease a woman came to me who had hypo pan pituitary ism. So basically what that means is she made none of her own Pituitary hormones, that she made none of her own hormones, so she made no sex hormones, no adrenal hormones, no thyroid hormones, no Pinker at a corner. So she was on complete hormone replacement therapy. She was in her early 30. She had never started a period when she was, you know, younger. So she was on complete hormone replacement therapy. This is before I had Genesis school, so I was in the experimental stages, but I hadn’t manufactured it yet. So she wanted to switch from all the synthetics To bio identical so and supplements, and she was couldn’t sleep, she was having trouble keeping her weight under control, she was anxious, so she was on a bunch of pharmaceuticals, okay. So she wanted off all that. So we got her off. All of all of that was supplements and I put her on bio identical hormones. And then I finally had Genesis school and I asked her. I said let’s let’s focus on the root of the issue. The root of the issue is your hypothalamus trying to communicate with your pituitary, and that’s why your pituitary is never produced what it needs to produce In order to tell the rest of your glands to do what they’re supposed to do. So let’s take this and see what happens. So about in about 18 months, I had her weaned off every single one of her hormones, all of her pharmaceuticals, all of her other supplements. She started having periods on her own. She never had a period on her own. I told her at that point now this point, she’s 41 years old. So I told her that she might want to consider using some kind of contraceptive if she doesn’t want to get pregnant. She laughed. She said I’ve been infertile all my life. I’m like you’re not infertile now. You are menstruating, you’re ovulating she just laughed at me and she had a healthy baby boy at the age of 43. Wow, you know I had a healthy baby boy at the age of 43. So if the woman with no hormones could start producing hormones just by feeding her hypothalamus, it’s possible for anyone. It took time. This wasn’t overnight. It took 18 months of support before we were able to slowly wean her off of everything. 

Peter Bowes: 28:53

Do you get many people coming to you with sleep issues, which I’m sure is absolutely central to the health of the hypothalamus? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 29:02

Absolutely. The hypothalamus controls your circadian rhythm, your day night cycles. It’s the hypothalamus that perceives the light messages from your skin and from your eyes to say that dusk has occurred, it’s nighttime. It then tells the pineal gland to produce melatonin. After melatonin is produced, within about three hours, the hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland to release stored prolactin, and prolactin gets you into that deeper REM sleep, but also starts getting your immune system to do what it’s supposed to do, which is the thymus programming your B lymphocytes into T lymphocytes, to know the difference between you and other. So there’s this whole circadian rhythm that’s going on. Adrenals are shut down. That’s at the lowest. Everything that the hypothalamus is doing is related to your body temperature is lower. At night there’s so many things that are trying to reach homeostasis, so you can literally clean house at night, rest and rejuvenate. Growth hormone levels are at the highest so you can start rejuvenating tissues that were damaged. So all these things are going on under the orchestration of the hypothalamus. So sleep is key and most people with insomnia, whether they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it’s because they have an imbalance in the hypothalamus. Now, sometimes it’s you know, if you’re a menopausal woman, you’re not making enough estrogen that’s going to trigger you to wake up in the middle of the night because of that hypothalamic dysfunction. So there’s reasons for it. That can maybe correct it at the lower level. But if we’re not looking at, you know, supporting the hypothalamus, we’ll always have to correct at the lower level. We’ll never be able to just naturally go to sleep and stay asleep. 

Peter Bowes: 30:39

Yeah, and I know, in terms of being an aging issue, the thing that a lot of people that I talk to complain about is not so much getting to sleep, but it is waking up in the middle of the night. It’s that staying asleep issue and a lot of people I have friends who talk about their awake time during the middle of the night. It’s probably 1 am 3 am but is that that sort of horrible spot in the middle of the night, in the dead of the night, when they actually feel wide awake and then maybe eventually get back to sleep, but would much prefer that they could sleep entirely through the night? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 31:14

Well, there’s actually some research that looks at that. Humans were meant to have two sleep cycles. They call it the first sleep and the second sleep. So before we had electric lights most of us went to sleep very quickly after dark and then we’d wake up about 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock at night, light a candle, maybe, do something and then fall asleep into the second sleep again. So now, if you’re not going to bed till 10 or 11, you need to sleep all the way through the night. But we still are kind of triggered by that natural time to wake up in the middle of the night at that 1 to 3. Part of it has to do with the hypothalamic production of anti-diuretic hormone. Anti-diuretic hormone is a hormone that stops your kidneys from producing so much urine at night, so you don’t get up in the middle of the night to pee. So one of the things that most of us do as we get older, our bladder seems to wake us up. We’re up, but we also notice that we have to urinate, and that’s because we’re not making as much anti-diuretic hormone. As soon as anti-diuretic hormone starts to fall, your adrenals kind of wake up too. So not only do you have to urinate but you’re alert, you know you’re in, that You’re listening, you can hear more sounds. You’re not a sleepyhead just stumbling to the potty. You’re alert and that’s because you’ve lost some of those signals. So one of the ways to think about it is just as when you’re, as you get older, your joints become less flexible, your muscles become tighter, your ligaments become tighter, your brain and your hypothalamus are also not as flexible. Okay, so, starting younger, as young as you can, living those five pillars eating well, getting enough sleep, getting enough activity, healthy mindset, supporting your hypothalamus keeps that neuro flexibility so that the hypothalamus is very receptive to the messages it’s getting and so it can keep you, you know, respect the nighttime. The other issue is a lot of us have lights on at night that we don’t even realize it’s part of our. You know the little digital flashing lights, and we don’t even realize how light sensitive we are. 

Peter Bowes: 33:21

Deborah, just in closing, I hear your passion and I hear your enthusiasm for this subject. This is a podcast about human longevity. I’ve mentioned that health span is the goal optimizing the number of years that we live with the best of health, without any kinds of medications. Is this something that you spend much time thinking about, in other words, what your life is going to be like in the decades ahead? Do you have a vision, do you have a goal in terms of your own health and longevity? 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 33:53

I do have a goal. I imagine I’m going to live beyond 100 years of age. I’m 62 now and I don’t think I look like I’m 62 and I certainly don’t feel like I’m 62. I have to remember that I put a lot of miles on my body. I was a triathlete, a long distance runner, and that you know I can’t be jumping up and down off of things like I used to, but I still can do a lot of things that you know women they’re half my age aren’t able to do, and I think a lot of that has to do with supporting my hypothalamus for so long. It’s been 20 years. But I also had a really good, healthy childhood. You know I’m Italian. We ate the Mediterranean diet. We were very active, you know. We turned off the lights and got our you know, got our sleep, and I always believed my body could heal, like there was nothing I couldn’t overcome and disease or illness was just like a, like a hurdle, just to be, you know, jumped over per se. It wasn’t anything that was going to define me and oftentimes it was just a lesson. So my plan for my the next 40 plus years of my life is to stay as active as possible to keep supporting my hypothalamus nutraceutical and to be able to, you know, and eat well, of course. I mean, I love food, I love cooking, I love good food, I love growing our food, but also, you know, really sharing that, the knowledge that I have and the experiences I have, with others so that they can live a healthy, happy, joyous life, disease free, you know, without medications, hopefully, and, you know, really have that longevity and be able to, you know, thrive. 

Peter Bowes: 35:38

I think that is the perfect note to end this on Deborah. This has been a really fascinating conversation. Thank you so much. 

Deborah Maragopoulos: 35:45

Thank you for having me. 

Peter Bowes: 35:47

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into this subject, I’ll put some links into the show notes where you can check out the hyperthalamus handbook, Deborah’s book, and explore some of her other work. It’s fascinating stuff. This was a HealthSpan Media production. We’ll be back with another episode of the Live Long and Master Aging podcast very soon. In the meantime, have a very happy and healthy 2024, and thanks so much for listening. 

The Live Long and Master Aging (LLAMA) podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.

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