Migraine Treatment with Elena Gross of KetoSwiss AG

Revolutionizing Migraine Treatment with Elena Gross of KetoSwiss AG

Episode Overview

Episode Topic:

In this episode of NutraPreneur, get into the world of nutrigenomics with Dr. Elena Gross, CEO and founder of KetoSwiss AG behind nutrigenomics and its potential to optimize health outcomes by tailoring dietary recommendations to match genetic predispositions. This episode highlights the transformative impact of personalized nutrition and the future of preventive medicine.ketoSwiss AG a leading expert in the field. Discover how nutrigenomics is revolutionizing healthcare by personalizing nutrition based on an individual’s genetic makeup. Dr. Gross explains the science.

Lessons You’ll Learn:

Throughout the episode, gain a deeper understanding of nutrigenomics and its practical applications in daily life. Learn how genetic variations influence nutrient metabolism and how this knowledge can be used to make informed dietary choices. Dr. Gross discusses the role of genetics in determining nutritional needs, offering insights into how personalized nutrition plans can improve overall health and well-being.

About Our Guest:

Dr. Elena Gross, CEO and founder of KetoSwiss AG  is a renowned expert in nutrigenomics, with a background in molecular biology and genetics. She is dedicated to translating scientific research into actionable strategies for health and wellness. As the founder of a leading nutrigenomics platform, Dr. Gross is at the forefront of personalized nutrition, empowering individuals to take control of their health through genetic insights.

Topics Covered:

This episode covers a wide range of topics related to nutrigenomics, including the role of genetics in nutrient metabolism, the impact of lifestyle factors on gene expression, and the potential of personalized nutrition to prevent chronic diseases. Dr. Gross shares her expertise on how genetic testing can guide dietary recommendations, offering listeners practical advice on how to optimize their health through personalized nutrition.

Our Guest: Dr. Elena Gross – Migraine Sufferer to Neuroscientist Entrepreneur

Dr. Elena Gross is a pioneering figure in neurology and migraine treatment, celebrated for her innovative contributions to healthcare. Founding Ketoswiss AG, she has transformed the landscape of migraine therapy through a metabolic-focused approach. Elena’s journey began with her personal struggle with chronic migraines, sparking her quest to understand and combat this condition. she has pioneered a metabolic-focused approach to migraine therapy, offering new hope to millions of sufferers worldwide. Elena’s journey from migraine patient to innovator has not only transformed her own life but has also sparked a paradigm shift in how we think about and treat this debilitating condition.

Elena’s academic background in psychology and neuroscience provided her with the tools to research migraine mechanisms. Her research led to the metabolic migraine theory, suggesting that improving metabolism might ease migraine symptoms. Despite skepticism, she founded KetoSwiss AG in 2019 to share her innovative migraine treatment widely. Through her efforts, Elena not only found relief for her migraines but also gave hope to many seeking better migraine care. Her dedication to advancing migraine treatment goes beyond her professional struggle, Elena actively engages with the migraine community, offering support, resources, and advocacy for improved migraine awareness and research.

Elena is not only an entrepreneur but also a passionate advocate for the use of food as medicine. She emphasizes the importance of preventing migraine attacks without the side effects commonly associated with conventional medications. Elena’s unwavering commitment to enhancing the lives of migraine sufferers has positioned her as a respected authority in neurology. Her story serves as an inspiration, showcasing the transformative impact of perseverance and innovative thinking in the realm of healthcare. Through her podcast appearances and public speaking engagements, Elena continues to educate and inspire others to get into the potential of metabolic therapies in healthcare. As a thought leader and visionary, Elena Gross’s impact resonates far beyond the realm of migraine treatment, shaping the future of neurology and personalized medicine.

Migraine Treatment with Elena Gross of KetoSwiss AG

Migraine Treatment with Elena Gross of KetoSwiss AG

Episode Transcript:

Dr. Elena Gross:We’re basically feeding off carbohydrates the whole time. This alternative energy source is not even made in the liver anymore. Now what basically ketosis does in their first product is called migraket, which is that migraine medical food is reintroducing those ketone bodies, this ancient fuel source mixed with so many different trace minerals, vitamins, antioxidants that have been shown to be migraine protective in clinical trials. We put all of that in one product, a medical food product for the dietary management of migraine. Take it twice a day and that will feed your brain enough basically to reduce or to help you manage migraine. 

Bethany Jolley: Welcome to another episode of Nutra Preneur, your go to podcast for cutting edge insights into the nutraceutical industry. I’m your host, Bethany. Today we’re so excited to welcome Dr. Elena Gross, the ingenious mind behind ketosis as a neuroscientist and former chronic migraine sufferer. Doctor gross turned her personal challenges into a pioneering venture. Ketosis, a biotech firm based in Basel, Switzerland, focuses on developing a groundbreaking nutraceutical for the dietary preventive therapy of migraines and related neurological conditions. So let’s go ahead and dive into the science and story behind this innovative approach. So, Dr. Gross, I think first, it would be great for you to share with us the personal.journey that led you from battling migraines to founding keto swiss.

Dr. Elena Gross: Yeah. Firstly, thank you so much for having me. It started basically with personal suffering, as I think in a few stories. I started to have migraine when I was about, I think 14,  I had just started the contraceptive pill for hormonal dysregulation reasons. So, my gynecologist prescribed it to me as my period wasn’t coming on as it should, should have. And I didn’t make the connection at the time. Nobody diagnosed me with migraine for about a year. So, I had these really bad one sided headaches. And, my dad told me, just go to sleep and stop whining because I thought I was being a difficult teenager. And, the doctors just weren’t taking me seriously. He took about a year, and from then onwards, when I finally had the diagnostic and it wasn’t just a psychological issue,  I was just looking, trying to look for answers, and it was constantly getting worse at the point that with, neurologists and specialists would be prescribing anti antidepressant medication, anticonvulsants medication and all the hard core stuff that didn’t work, my parents spent a good  chunk of their savings sending me to acupuncturist, to Buddhist monks and whatever, like trying alternative approaches that didn’t do much either. And when I eventually realized halfway through my degree in psychology, when my migraine turned chronic, which means,  over 15 days a month, over 50% of time in pain,  I realized I would never be able to do a normal  job anyway, so I might as well try and use my academic or  my work life to understand this condition better, and was very lucky to get a scholarship to start studying neuroscience.

Dr. Elena Gross: And I did two master’s projects on migraine and then towards the end stumbled across something that made so much sense and gave me eventually my brain back way earlier than I had ever hoped for. So I did my PhD in Basel on the topic in Oxford. At the time they said it’s way too risky. There’s no data, you can’t do it here.  So if you want to stay, you have to do some neuroimaging project on migraine. So I ditched Oxford and ended up in Basel, Switzerland, which is a tiny but a very beautiful place. And  there I could actually, in a side project, start on this whole metabolic migraine idea and  try to improve metabolism for improving migraine. And at the time I was starting my PhD, I was looking into this. The pilot data was looking promising. And then I thought, well, I’m only a scientist, right? I can do the research. I can maybe write a patent and then somebody else has to do it and bring it to the patients for me. So I went to Novartis and liked the food. So in Basel you have these huge bio pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Elena Gross: And they were just laughing at me because it was early stage and it was endogenous molecules. And so eventually, this was a long winded story. Eventually I founded ketosis as a way to basically jump in the cold water and bring this to patients like myself. And, that was 2019, I think, when I finished my PhD and finally went to ketosis full time. And yeah, that’s how it all went from pain turned into passion. And now fighting and,  I guess new entrepreneur or how you would call it an entrepreneur and the whole food space. So the whole idea of food being medicine, if you’ve been a patient yourself, right, you feel strongly about not getting all of the side effects of traditional drugs, and especially if it’s prevention where you have to take something every day. You don’t want the side effects to be worse than the actual efficacy. And that’s one of the real driving forces. And maybe forwarding to today, I have like one day of migraine a month left from 20. and  then I realized that I overdid it. So we will dive into the whole theory of what I think is migraine and why it’s happening at a later stage. But yeah, so I can really say it gave me my brain back and my life and in return as well.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. No, that’s an incredible journey and I’m looking forward to hearing more about all of this, because I know there’s a lot of migraine sufferers and they haven’t found what works for them. And I think, you know, it’d be great to hear more about you . You had an academic background in neuroscience and how did that and your clinical research fuel your quest for alternative migraine treatments?

Dr. Elena Gross: Yeah. So I guess I was lucky that I was, at least at the time when I became chronic, I was in psychology. So psychology is still quite far removed from neuroscience, but it was at least the brain. Right. So it was the right organ already. And then I studied in England. I was also lucky that at the time you could switch quite broadly between fields. So a psychology degree in a bachelor’s would allow me to move into neuroscience in my master’s degree. So in that sense, I had the academic possibility to go into this full force and study that. And I think if you were a patient at a different age or you have a completely different background, it’s way harder than it was for me to try and get the academic expertise to really move the needle in the field. So that was an extreme blessing. And then in my PhD as well, I had the. Unfortunate situation, my supervisor, my original supervisor, left the country. But that meant I had to find myself a different supervisor, and I had the possibility to look for alternative ways to get this funded all over the world. So I was writing to world experts and some were even replying. So I got a lot of tuition and knowledge and mentorship from people in my PhD that I learned so much from, that maybe I wouldn’t have been otherwise able to acquire such knowledge myself, or would have taken years. Right? So I really think that being in the right field helped me to really not only look for, but actually find a potential solution. Right? So, I mean, you can always look for things, but having a bit of the right background or at least being able to move into the right backgrounds, help me find solutions. For one, I was intrinsically super motivated to make a change because it wasn’t a life worth living. And on the other hand, I had some of the tools that others don’t have to explore the field and find a solution. Yeah. Really? .

 BethanyJolley: Yeah. That’s great. And, you know, given the complex landscape of neurological diseases, what challenges did you face in the initial stages of developing your nutraceutical product?

 Dr. Elena Gross: Yeah, so that’s a good question as well. Originally I thought this could be a drug, you know, with all the so you can do all the labeling and all the claims you want and develop this through phase three. But that leads to a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of traditional investors to come on board. Right. So if you think about how acute diseases are handled today, you have a small molecule that is developed. Right. That’s one target. It targets one receptor or maybe one pathway, but it’s usually even much more narrow. And that’s how we treat pain which is a symptom of migraine. But that’s also how we treat some antibiotics or some acute problems that we might have. And now what pharma is doing is trying to generalize the acute small molecule approach to preventing common civilization diseases and migraine. With a billion people in the world, biggest disabler amongst women and second biggest disabler across all cultures and genders worldwide. Right? That is not an issue. That is an acute small receptor problem that we can solve. Same with Alzheimer and other common very big diseases. I don’t think the model that pharma has devised for really helping us in an acute situation, really saving lives in an acute problem, is not really generalizing to the preventative setting that we need so urgently for many civilization problems that we’re facing as humans today.

Dr. Elena Gross: So now I was there, I had something that I really think in a preventative way would work, at least in a subgroup of patients. But if I wanted to turn this into a drug, I would have to have significant funding from people that are believing in this small molecule, novel molecule approach. Now, here I am with something that could be qualified as food or nutraceutical, whatever you want to call it. It’s endogenous safe molecules, which from a patient perspective is like, that’s amazing. It doesn’t have any side effects, but from the investor, pharma person says, but this doesn’t have a compound of matter protection. It only has substance,  medical use, and patent protection. That’s not strong enough. We don’t know it. I don’t know that we’re not funding this. So, actually, the complexity was in neurology. Everything has failed, which I think for good reason. It’s a single target approach for a complex problem that will never work paired with this. it should be one small target. And you’re proposing something that changes hundreds of pathways at the same time, and you need to take 20g a day, and it’s endogenous molecules.

 Dr. Elena Gross: So this didn’t match the drug development that was at the time at least how it’s been done. The field is changing. But  that was a challenge. And then eventually I stumbled across something that sits between the supplement and the drug world. And it’s that regulatory category in the US that is called medical food. And in Europe it’s called food for special medical purposes. Now, this was the perfect solution, the niche that we needed because that still allows us to say migraine. We can say for the dietary management of migraine, it’s a product against migraine, but it’s safe. It lets food be thy medicine in a category. It requires way less investments because you don’t need phase three trials. We can already launch in the US in about April, so spring 2024, which is soon, so we can get to patients’ way quicker. And there’s still regulatory hurdles. We still need trials, but it’s not as strict as a drug. And it’s I think the perfect compromise for us. So we kind of turned that complexity or issue into a solution thanks to that category.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, a lot of challenges. 

Bethany: Along the way. But a very positive outcome. So that’s great. And you are a very strong advocate for therapeutic benefits of ketosis and neurological conditions. So how does ketosis play a role in migraine prevention and brain health?

Dr. Elena Gross: Yeah, that’s a great question. So by now you probably have asked what the solution is? What are they even doing? Right. So the strong belief was at first, the first thing you need to realize is migraine is a billion people in the world, right. And it’s so common. That means if something has been preserved, migraine genetics have been as preserved as in this case, it seems unlikely that this was an accident of nature. So if migraine was just a random deleterious or a bad mutation, right, we wouldn’t have had. We wouldn’t have it so much today. So what is the evolutionary advantage then of migraine or what was at least the evolutionary advantage? And if you look at what a migraine attack does, it forces you to rest, right? Light hurts, noise hurts, smells make it worse. Any sensory stimulation makes it worse. Moving makes it worse. So patients are literally forced to go and withdraw in a dark room. They rest, they don’t move. They don’t do anything that spends more energy. So you could say migraine is an energy conserving behavior. It’s really like, pulling the plug when energy in the brain has been completely, depleted, let’s say. And there’s quite a lot of evidence actually, to support that hypothesis, which is that even between attacks, if you look at in brain scans, if you look at migraine versus healthy control or migraine patients, I should say, then even at rest between attacks, migraine patients have about 16% less energy in the brain to a healthy control, even when they don’t have a migraine. 

Dr. Elena Gross: And there’s a lot of evidence that migraine comes with so-called mitochondrial dysfunction. So the energy producing factories of the cells are not working as efficiently. You have increased oxidative stress, oxidative stress. Are these free radicals, these bombs that again destroy the powerhouses in the cell that destroy or make energy production so much worse? You have hyperexcitability in the brain, which means that the brain is actually spending more energy. It doesn’t habituate. So when a healthy person looks at it or a normal person, I don’t know what you want to call a non migraine patient looks at a white wall. it will stop firing, right? Because it only encodes for change. It saves the energy that if nothing is changing, a migraine brain will not stop firing. It will continue to fire, thereby spending more energy. And if you look back at, say, 10,000 plus years ago, you might still think, why would you make such energy wasting brains? Would that make any sense? Like, why do these migraines exist that spend so much energy? And 10,000 years back, I think it would make sense. So every seventh person in the world has the migraine genetics that are coming with these overactive, energy hungry brains. 

Dr. Elena Gross: But if you think about a tribe lying around a campfire, 40 people or so every seventh, so four of them might have these hyper excitable brains that are spending more energy, but they would be the ones saving the tribe when the tiger is coming at night because they are so hypersensitive or hyper active. Right? So it would come at a cost, but at a benefit for humans. And back then we would still have a completely different energy metabolism. So 10,000 years back there would still be periods where we would only be, either fasting entirely because it’s winter, there’s not much around. We would be eating bone marrow primarily as a human species. Bone marrow, meets all of this stuff would turn on the production of a very efficient alternative energy source for the brain that is called ketone body. Ketone body is a small fatty acid that can, instead of glucose or in addition to glucose, fuel the brain very effectively without with less of this oxidative stress, which is damaging you. So a bit like clean fuel, like solar energy or wind power. And it would also be able to feed these energy demanding migraine brains. Now we also would have a lot of micronutrients around a lot of minerals in the spring water.

 Dr. Elena Gross: We would have a lot of plants around that still have magnesium trace minerals. We would have antioxidants in the leaves, in the original fruits and vegetables. How they were looking like the soils were full of trace minerals not depleted. Right. So we would have a different macronutrient to sustain the brain, but we would also have all these micronutrients, antioxidants and so on. That also would help the energy metabolism in those migraine brains to function at a level that it could sustain a very energy demanding brain. Now, this was a very long winded explanation, but coming back to today, our soils are depleted. Our vegetables and fruit, if we’re even eating them, don’t have so much in them anymore. And we’re basically feeding off carbohydrates the whole time. So this alternative energy source is not even made in the liver anymore. Now, what basically ketosis does in their first product is called migration, which is that migraine. Medical food is reintroducing those ketone bodies, this ancient fuel source mixed with so many different trace minerals, vitamins and. The accidents that have been shown to be migraine protective in clinical trials. We put all of that in one product, a medical food product for the dietary management of migraine. Take it twice a day and that will feed your brain enough basically to reduce or to help you manage migraine.