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The Doctor's Farmacy with Mark Hyman, M.D.

Exclusive Dr. Hyman+ Functional Medicine Deep Dive: Endothelial Health

Tue Dec 05 2023
Endothelial HealthCardiovascular HealthGlycocalyx


This episode explores the importance of endothelial health for longevity and cardiovascular well-being. Dr. Mark shares insights on the role of the endothelial glycocalyx in maintaining vascular health and preventing plaque formation. He also discusses testing methods and preventive measures for cardiovascular issues.


Endothelial Dysfunction and Erectile Dysfunction

Endothelial dysfunction can contribute to erectile dysfunction, making it an important marker for cardiovascular health.

The Fragility of the Glycocalyx

The glycocalyx is fragile but resilient. It can be damaged by factors like high blood sugar, oxidative stress, and aging.


  1. Introduction
  2. Endothelial Health and Longevity
  3. Discovering the Role of Light in Health
  4. Importance of Endothelial Glycocalyx
  5. Damage to the Glycocalyx and its Consequences
  6. Testing and Prevention of Cardiovascular Issues


00:00 - 00:55

  • Dr. Mark is offering a seven-day free trial of his platform called Dr. Hyman Plus, which provides exclusive access to ad-free podcast episodes and functional medicine deep dives.
  • The platform also includes Ask Mark Anything Q&A sessions where Dr. Mark answers health and wellness questions from the community.

Endothelial Health and Longevity

01:21 - 03:20

  • Dr. Mark shares the story of his great-grandmother who lived to be 106 years old without following typical health practices.
  • He emphasizes the importance of focusing on controllable factors like heart health and having a healthy endothelium and endothelial glycocalyx.

Discovering the Role of Light in Health

03:21 - 04:16

  • Dr. Mark discusses his journey into understanding the impact of light on health after experiencing reduced jet lag with the use of special glasses.
  • This led him to explore photobiomodulation or red light therapy, which has become a cornerstone of his practice.

Importance of Endothelial Glycocalyx

10:49 - 12:31

  • The endothelial glycocalyx is a protective sugar coating that sits on top of the endothelium and plays a crucial role in cardiovascular health.
  • It prevents cholesterol, platelets, and white blood cells from sticking to the artery walls and helps maintain normal vascular tone and healthy blood pressure.

Damage to the Glycocalyx and its Consequences

15:14 - 16:58

  • Various factors like high blood sugar, oxidative stress, inflammation, and aging can damage the glycocalyx, leading to increased oxidative stress and leakage of macromolecules.
  • This can contribute to conditions like diabetes, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and cardiovascular diseases.

Testing and Prevention of Cardiovascular Issues

19:34 - 20:53

  • Conventional cardiology often relies on stress tests to detect severe blockages in coronary arteries, but they may miss less significant plaques that can still lead to heart attacks.
  • Integrative cardiologists recommend a comprehensive approach that includes assessing endothelial function, genetic factors, inflammation markers, and lifestyle factors.