Provider Spotlight: Justin Marchegiani, DC
April 13, 2021 by Madeline Leeper
Dr. Justin Marchegiani started off his career in the health field working in a surgical center as he prepared for medical school while at the University of Massachusetts. Working in the surgical field gave him a first-hand, up-close perspective into the healthcare system. This experience shifted his focus from conventional medicine to a more holistic or natural approach to healing; where the underlying cause of his patient’s health issues are addressed and not just medicated and surgically removed.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in Kinesiology and Pre-medical studies. He has completed his Doctorate degree in Chiropractic from Life West University and is a licensed doctor of chiropractic in the state of Texas. Dr. Justin has completed postgraduate study in the area of clinical nutrition, rehabilitative exercise, and functional medicine so he can offer the most cutting-edge techniques to help address his patient’s growing healthcare needs.
Dr. Justin works with a wide variety of patients all the way from athletes trying to increase performance and heal from injuries to the everyday person with chronic health challenges. Using a holistic approach, he addresses core underlying barriers to health which allows his patients to heal faster and feel better.
Watch our interview with Justin Marchegiani, DC:
DUTCH: What inspired you to become a healthcare practitioner?
Dr. Marchegiani: That’s a great question. I would say out of the gate since I worked in conventional medicine for a while, I was the person that would be in the surgical room that would come in to kind of hold or position a patient, especially during the amputation procedures for diabetes and gangrenous limbs. And so I kind of just started asking questions like, hey, how can we get in front of this and try to prevent a lot of this from happening? Because in the conventional medical mindset, you just kind of have, “hey, this is what you do, this is your lane, you kind of stick in it and these are the things you do.”
And there wasn’t really that thinking upstream of how you can be on the prevention side of it. And so I just asked questions, and then that kind of led into different realms of natural medicine, chiropractic, functional medicine, nutrition. And then as you kind of accumulate these tools as a provider and a practitioner over a decade or so, you start you know, you start applying it to your patients and you start to have great success with with clinical issues, from hot flashes, to menopause, to chronic digestive autoimmune gut issues, because you’re really getting to the root underlying issue.
Now, we’re not practicing medicine. We’re not treating disease. We’re not prescribing drugs. We’re trying to fix upstream, physiological imbalances that are that are really root to all of these downstream symptoms accumulating.
DUTCH: What is your training?
Dr. Marchegiani: My doctorate is from Life West University, doctorate in chiropractic medicine. I did pre-medical studies and the whole nine yards there and just lots of postgraduate education in functional medicine and nutrition because you’re just not going to get enough of that no matter where you go. So just lots of different postgraduate seminars, classes and courses, lots of books, and again, at my site at justinhealth.com, I do a podcast where I interview guests from all over the world and create videos and content, where I interview guests and also just provide really good information. So that’s a good resource as well, and that’s where I’ve kind of interviewed a lot of great people there, too. So just over time, over a decade or so, just really accumulating lots of evidence and information and then the most important thing is applying it, because you can get lots of factoids that can sound nice, but how do you clinically apply it to get your patients well, right? That’s really the key. So it’s a combination of the knowledge, but also applying the knowledge is really important.
DUTCH: Do you do any other functional testing in your practice?
Dr. Marchegiani: So in my practice, I kind of break down the Three Body System model. Pretty simple. I’ve kind of modified and adjusted it for myself, but I kind of break up body system one as really looking at the hormones and that could be ATM or ATF, right. Adrenals, thyroid, female hormones, adrenals, thyroid, male hormones, depending on who you’re dealing with, and so we’re going to look at adrenal function. Part of adrenal function is looking at cortisol rhythm. That was a big proponent, you know, in the early 2000s, even looking at salivary adrenal testing, which is nice.
And then DUTCH came along and then that gave us the ability to look at the total fraction of the hormones, which is really cool because you can not look at just free, which is good, but you can look at total hormone fraction, which you typically only could do that via, I think, blood in the past. And now with the urine, you can kind of double free and total. So really looking at adrenal function, cortisol rythm, also looking at hormone metabolites.
The cool thing I do like about the DUTCH Complete with the hormone side, I can also look at metabolites in regards to how a person or woman or man is metabolizing estrogen, for instance. That’s really cool. I can get a pretty good gauge of how their methylation is and if they’re a slow metabolizer, that can give me more information if they’re going to be put more into estrogen dominance. Of course, all the hormone levels, estrogen, progesterone, E1, E2, E3, DHEA, all your androgens, all very helpful. So that’s kind of body system one. Of the course for the thyroid we’ll do thyroid blood testing to really get a window into the thyroid, TSH, T4, T3, antibodies etc. And then for the male or female hormones, I’m typically relying on a lot of the DUTCH Complete. Sometimes I’ll draw blood as well just to see and compare. And that’s kind of body system one, that’s where I plug in the DUTCH Testing.
And then body system two would be really looking at the gut, so digestion and infections. And there’s a couple of tests I look at there. GI map is one that I like a lot, but to look at gut infections, dysbiosis, fungal overgrowth, yeast overgrowth, parasitic infections, H pylori, enzyme levels, how we’re breaking down fats and proteins, very helpful. There’s breath testing that I’ll use while to get a window wrapped around Cybernet. I do like organic acid testing, that’s wonderful for different metabolic pathways. B vitamins, methylation detoxification, certain nutrients, energy production markers, also a really good window into the gut bacteria and yeast overgrowth and some of the just dysbiosis markers there. So those are kind of the big three systems and the tests that I’ll plug in, there’s more, but that’s kind of a brief overview there.
DUTCH: How would you say your chiropractic practice differed from your naturopathic peers?
Dr. Marchegiani: Well, chiropractic, for me, it provided a really good foundational, vitalistic philosophy, right? And that’s the philosophy, I think that functional medicine sits on. Vitalism is the fact that your body can heal itself. Your job as the doctor, the provider, is to help kind of remove the stressors. Now, I kind of always compartmentalize, you know, everything I did as like physical, chemical and emotional stress removal. Chiropractic was amazing at the physical stress because it was, you know, addressing subluxation and making sure joints were moving, and that helped the nervous system communicate and that helped with blood flow and healing and oxygenation, so wonderful for neurological musculoskeletal stuff. And again, lots of miracles happen in chiropractic, when you see other issues and other symptoms improve that you wouldn’t think would be connected to just musculoskeletal. So chiropractic was phenomenal.
But I saw the fact that patients were coming in and they had all kinds of gluten sensitivity, and food allergies, and gut infections, and I started seeing lots of women that had lots of PMS, menopausal women that had lots of hot flashes, mood issues, sleep issues, libido issues. And I just needed more tools in my tool belt because I just wasn’t getting all the results I needed with just that one tool. So chiropractic was a great tool, but then applying other tools to help these other kinds of patients that were coming in.
And so, of course, diet was a big component there, utilizing supplements to help work on the physical imbalances. Because my philosophy is you have all these stressors, physical, chemical and emotional stressors. Physical could be chronic pain, sedentary, could be trauma from a car accident or old sports injury. We have the emotional stressors which are pretty straightforward, right, it’s going to be work, family, relationships, finance, money, that kind of stuff. And then the chemical stressors were the big things that functional medicine plugged well into. These are like gluten sensitivity, heavy metals, mold issues, gut infection, sebo, inadequate digestion, low stomach acid, enzymes, hormone imbalances, poor detoxification of hormones. So that’s kind of where everything plugged in. And so I just wanted to grab more tools for myself so I could help my patients that weren’t getting better, get better.
DUTCH: What are the biggest changes that you’ve seen in your patients or your practice since you started using the Dutch Test®?
Dr. Marchegiani: Well, I’ve been doing the DUTCH Test I think it came out, what, 2012, maybe 2014, 15? The big difference, I think, I was doing salivary testing for a long time, and I like salivary testing; It was nice, it was convenient, you have a pretty good window with the free fractioned testing of the cortisol, right? 2-5% of all cortisol free fraction, the other 95-98% is going to be, you know, your protein bound. And so the nice thing about the DUTCH Testing was you could look at the free fraction, which was nice, that’s biological, that’s kind of what’s available functionally, as I explained my patients. And then we have the total fraction meaning what your whole body is making, because there’s a lot of times you see patients that have a very high level of free cortisol, but they have a very low total level of cortisol.
And that’s nice, because if someone has very high level of free cortisol and a low level of total cortisol, we may want to over, well, one, there could be a thyroid issue or a potential anemia going on so it gives you a window there could be other issues happening. And usually when I see a big imbalance of three to total or total free, it tells me HPA access issues and it kind of helps guide treatment a little bit better, because when you look at free or total, you look at free cortisol being high or low, you kind of just assume the total cortisol is higher, low in alignment with it. But a lot of times you see the inverse and it’s kind of nice to be able to know what’s happening. One, to get a window into what’s functionally bioavailable on the free side and then how your overall adrenal function is doing from a total reserve capacity. So it’s nice to be able look at both and it really helps the treatment.
DUTCH: Do you ever do any follow-up testing afterwards?
Dr. Marchegiani: It depends. So a lot of patients, they come in and we get a window of what’s happening and we fix diet and lifestyle factors, we start supporting hormones, we fix underlying gut infections, imbalances, we fix digestion, any toxicity, toxification, nutrient issues, and patients feel better. You know, over six months they’re feeling much better. So it’s a combination of, one, how bad their test was to begin with and let’s look and see where you’re at. And then a lot of it is well the patient just knows they’re better, they just know they’re feeling better. And the question is, is it worth retesting? And so I always tend to urge to it, but it depends upon how much better the patient feels. And most of the time they’re like, “Hey, I’m good. Let’s put that money towards maybe more treatment or some other test.” But then any time there’s something that’s more severe, I always want to push for that retest to know. But a lot of times patients, when they feel better, it’s hard to get someone motivated to retest when they know internally they’re doing really great.
DUTCH: How do you practice so virtually when chiropractic is so hands-on?
Dr. Marchegiani: I don’t do chiropractic anymore. I’ve haven’t done chiropractic in maybe seven or eight years, like from a physical standpoint, like physically in office. There’s a couple people I do treat, my wife, and family, and some other close friends, but for the most part, just functional medicine one hundred percent virtual right now. That’s it! I mean, basically what happened was I have, my certain days for chiropractic on my calendar and then certain days for functional medicine, and because when you’re doing chiropractic, you’re only working on the people in your area, right?
Functional medicine being virtual, I could pull from everywhere. So it was a supply and demand issue. You had a lot more people on the functional medicine side available to you because, I do telemedicine, then who’s in your local area. And so, of course, supply and demand. My schedule just filled up with functional medicine. And I do love function medicine, I like chiropractic and functional medicine. Functional medicine is special because most anyone that has a chronic health issue isn’t doing the right things at a foundational level. And part of functional medicine is getting people to really make good changes in their health, they’re eating, and lifestyle.
DUTCH: Where is your farthest patient?
Dr. Marchegiani: Oh, I mean, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe, everywhere really!
DUTCH: Where do you see functional or integrative medicine 20 years from now?
Dr. Marchegiani: It’s a great question. It just depends, right, because you have this competition; conventional medicine does their thing and then functional medicine kind of does their thing, but I think the problem with conventional medicine and functional medicine is if people really get healthy and make healthy habits, you’re going to need less conventional medicine. You’re just not going to need it, because most of what conventional medicine is doing is treating chronic, degenerative disease. Right. Chronic inflammatory conditions. And we know functional medicine’s really good at helping with chronic, degenerative, inflammatory conditions. The more we support nutrition, digestion, healing, recovery, nutrition, digestion, people get better and they’re not going to need a lot of chronic medicine support. There may be some, again, there always be a need on the allopathic side for acute, traumatic medicine, that’s where they really shine. Car accidents, falls, things like that.
But I do think there’s this kind of push and pull kind of competition with conventional medicine just because functional medicine will require less people to need chronic, allopathic medicine support. Because when you get better and you get healthier, you don’t have as many symptoms going on that you try to manage. So it’s kind of up in the air. It’s going to really depend upon how much conventional medicine embraces it, or how much they look at us as kind of like adversary and wants to compete with us. I think we could definitely harmonize more. But, you know, there’s a lot of corporate alliances there that may make it hard for us to to join. So it’s hard to say right now.
DUTCH: What do you like to do outside of work on your days off?
Dr. Marchegiani: I have two young boys aged one and three, so a lot of family time, that’s going to be most of what I do. I Like to do, water skiing, I like to do a lot with real estate, like to do a lot in business, and coaching other practitioners and doctors and just learning myself. I’m always trying to grow and learn and just make sure I take care of my health and be an example to my patients. A lot of doctors that I think let themselves go, or get to stressed, or don’t practice what they preach. I think as a clinician, there’s a lot of fields out there where you can be, I don’t know, you can be a a banker, but you don’t live banking, right? As a functional medicine or a natural healthcare provider, you really want to live what you do so you can be an example. It’s one of those unique professions that you really have the ability to live, it as well as do it for your work.