258 – You Have Three Brains – My Interview with Dr. Karen Jensen, ND

How the Heart, Brain, and Gut Influence Mental Health and Identity

Brain Support

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I remember when the medical mantra about brain health was that the brain is more or less fixed. We can’t do much to change the brain.  It’s not just that this is wrong, it also that it was preached to us with such certainty. As if it were settled science. We have the same problem today because so much medical advice is presented as the settled science. Be careful what you believe because some of it will likely be wrong.

“The human brain has always been a source of fascination. For centuries scientists have been trying to unlock its secrets. This has never been more relevant than today, when more people, young and old, are being diagnosed with brain disorders – such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, learning disorders, and dementias – than ever before.
In her new book, naturopathic doctor Karen Jensen explores the intricate communication network between the heart, the brain, and the gut. An increasing body of research suggests that these three “brains” all work together to determine our mental, emotional, and physical health. These three brains not only influence optimal brain function but the very essence of our identity.
There is growing evidence that nutrients from whole foods, exercise, and supplements are effective, non-invasive ways to support mental health and cognition. Dr. Jensen incorporates a thorough review of the many brain-boosting nutrients essential for healthy three-brain function. Learning about the causes and risk factors associated with brain disorders will give us a greater understanding of what we can do to help prevent and treat these life-limiting conditions.” Dr. Jensen.

The role of the three brains:

Although the head, heart, and gut brains work together, they have obvious different physical functions and they also perform different mental and emotional roles.

  • The head brain analyzes information and applies logic.
  • The heart brain senses the world through emotion and feelings.
  • The gut brain is used for understanding our identity and who we are in the world. The gut brain also helps us learn self-preservation by teaching us to follow our instinct – the “gut feeling” we all experience at times.

When we speak of three brains we are speaking about the emerging science that is identifying neural communications and neurotransmitters that are not found not only in the brain but also in the gut. You may have heard about the “gut brain”. Recent research has revealed that many neurotransmitters including dopamine and serotonin are found in the gut. We have now learned that the heart has its own neurotransmitters and that communication takes place between the heart, brain, and gut. It seems that some of the nutrients recognized for the support for brain structure and function are also helpful in the gut and heart. Should it be a surprise that nutrients that provide benefit in one area of the body would also be beneficial in other areas? Nature is very efficient and we are now discovering how interconnected the various systems in the body are. This may explain why nutrients seem helpful for a wide variety of health concerns, they are used throughout the body.

Did You Know:

  • “Variations in the composition of the gut microbiota have been shown to impact health on many levels, not just in the gut but in the brain as well.
  • Probiotics have been shown to support individuals with mental health issues, as well as problems with bowel function.
  • The heart is a much more complex organ, both of perception and cognition than was previously believed. Scientists have discovered that the heart produces oxytocin, which is beneficial for many mental health conditions, reducing stress-induced cortisol levels, and weight loss.
  • Oxytocin has also been found in the intestinal tract, where it improves gut motility and decreases intestinal inflammation. ” Dr. Jensen.

Dr. Jensen’s book is broken down as follows:

  • Chapter 1 discusses the three brains.
  • Chapter 2 discusses stress and the three brains.
  • Chapters 3 and 4 discuss factors that disrupt three brain health.
  • Chapter 5 discusses using nutrition to achieve optimal brain health.
  • Chapter 6 discusses protecting and supporting brain development in children.
  • Chapter 7 discusses three brain, mood and mental disorders.
  • Chapter 8 discusses sleep disorders.
  • Chapter 9 discusses memory disorders.
  • Includes the Optimal Use Guide.

In this interview, Dr. Jensen discusses her collaboration with Natural Factors. Natural Factors is one of the premier supplement lines in the natural products industry. Natural Factors has created products based on the three brains research. Three Brains Total is a packet of supplements that provide foundational brain support. The rest of the products are targeted for specific support. Their names give you some idea of their target benefit: Mental Sunshine, Higher Thoughts, Best Sleep, Serene Mind and Brain Fix. The information provided by Dr. Jensen in her book and the products created by Natural Factors are complimentary to each other. You can benefit from both. 

About Dr. Karen Jensen, ND
Dr. Jensen received her degree in naturopathic medicine from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) in Ontario in 1988. She is a well-known lecturer and has appeared regularly on television and radio stations across Canada. She has also written extensively for health magazines and is the author of Menopause: A Naturopathic Approach to the Transitional Years and Three Brains: How the Heart, Brain, and Gut Influence Mental Health and Identity. She co-authored Stress and the Disease Connection, No More HRT: Menopause Treat the Cause, The Complete Athlete, and The Adrenal Stress Connection. After 25 years in clinical practice, Dr. Jensen has recently retired but continues to write and lecture on the naturopathic approach to wellness. Dr. Jensen also lectures on behalf of Natural Factors.

Natural Factors

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michele Beckham June 20, 2022 at 10:05 am

Dear Dr Karen Jensen,
I absolutely love your book “Three brains”! I have been reading it over & over, & recommending it toy friends, family, & my doctors. Great information!!

But, I purchased several supplements to boost my health, but they gave me explosive diarrhea (& at times I did not make to the bathroom in time, I had to take a bath, & wash my clothes, then put on clean clothes). So, perhaps in your next release of your book, you could note the supplements that are known to cause diarrhea.

The ones that I bought & caused the explosive diarrhea:
PQQ Pyrroloquinoline quinone 20mg
CoQ10 200mg
Lutein 20mg
Grapeseed Extract 400mg

Not in your book, but I tried Astragalus at various amounts & it always caused explosive diarrhea.

I don’t have IBS, or diarrhea normally, & it stopped a few days after I quit the supplements listed above. I tried each one of them separately & always got explosive diarrhea.
I do take Physicians Choice 60 billion prebiotic s & prebiotics, & I take a multivitamins/multiminerals tablet, & AlCar, Alpha GPC, turmeric, L Arginine, Omega 3, Borage Oil, Boswellia, Milk Thistle, Phosphatylserine, Liposomal Glutathione, & Dandelion root. I have been taking these supplements for several years (I’m 66) & I have no problems when I take the above. Just so you have a reference point.

I’m not complaining, or griping at you, I just thought you should know, then perhaps you could issue a warning, so that others don’t suffer like I did. (I am trying to be helpful).

Can’t wait until your next book!
Michele Beckham


2 S L August 31, 2022 at 2:53 pm

Hello, Dr. Jensen does not monitor this website. Try contacting her through NaturalFactors.com


3 Kathy asmussen February 15, 2019 at 6:42 pm

could you tell me which capsule is the omega 6? I can discern the phosphatidyl serine, curcumin, and omega 3, but don’t know which is which between two remaining capsules?
the pictures on the back don’t really show a difference between the grapeseed extract and the probiotic.
Thank you.
Kathy Asmussen


4 Steve Lankford February 16, 2019 at 9:16 am

You will have to contact the company or visit a health food store. They will have the information you seek.


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