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Adaptogens and nootropics are becoming much more popular as the flaws in Western medicine become more and more apparent. David Winston has spent over 50 years studying herbal medicine. Today we discuss his book, Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.
Allan: 01:02 David, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
David: 01:05 Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.
Allan: 01:07 You know, more and more, in the last 10 years. It just seems like it's a, it's kind of a building thing, which I think is really good, there's more discussion about some of the natural healing properties of plants and herbs. Looking back at some of the Eastern medicine, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda from India, and actually adopting some of those now as treatments and protocols and not going with the chemicals. So your book Adaptogens really kind of gets into the history of this and to what they are and how we can use them. It's fascinating to me how much as out there and we're just still just kinda scratching the surface.
David: 01:56 Well, that's true. You know, it's interesting. This year is the 50th year since I started studying herbal medicine. And I joke a bit, but I'm not entirely joking when I tell people after 50 years, I now consider myself to be an advanced beginner. There is endless amount to learn whether we are talking about traditional Chinese medicine aryuveda, the middle Eastern Teb Al Nabawi, Kampo from Japan, et cetera, Tibet Medicine, American eclectic medicine, physio medicalism, all these traditions are rich in the use of plants for medicine. So these traditions in some cases go back at least 3000 years. Plus you then combine that with the vast amount of plant, medicinal plant research that is occurring throughout the world.
Very little unfortunately in the United States, but extensive amounts in China, India, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, France, Germany. So all around the world there is a tremendous amount of plant research and in many cases, this plant research, this modern plant research is confirming, although sometimes going well beyond the understanding that people have had for thousands of years of how these substances can help us to live healthier, better lives.
And one of the things that's really important to understand, a lot of people have this idea that it's sort of an either or situation. It's either Orthodox Western medicine or it's complimentary alternative medicine, herbal medicine, natural medicine. And honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. Where Orthodox medicine is strong tends to be where things like herbal medicine aren't that effective and vice versa. Where herbal medicine is really strong, tends to be in areas, especially dealing with things like chronic degenerative disease where Orthodox medicine often has little to offer.
So when it comes to the individual, the patient, the client, the real win-win is understanding which is appropriate in a given situation. Herbs are not the answer to everything. Adaptogens are not the answer to everything, but then nor does Orthodox medicine have the answer to everything. So understanding which therapy, which treatments are most effective, most appropriate for a given situation, for a given person is essential.
Allan: 04:36 Now an adaptogen is not just a chemical compound they're pulling out of a plant to, to make a new medicine with its, it's actually using the whole plant. Right? Can, you can talk about adaptogens, what they are and what they do?
David: 04:50 Absolutely. And this is going to get slightly complex. Um, but I will do my absolute best to keep it as simple as possible. So initially, you know, in all these ancient systems of medicine, there are tonic herbs. So in Ayurveda they're called Rasanayas, in TCM, in traditional Chinese medicine, they're known as Chi Tonics or kidney youn tonics or blood tonics. But these traditional definitions of a tonic remedy do not necessarily equate to what we today call an adaptogen.
An adaptogen is a modern scientific concept developed initially in the Soviet Union. The initial research was done by Professor Lazaroff starting in the late 1940s. If you think, wow, they must've been very, you know, forward-thinking to do this kind of research. The reality was this was initially military research and the Russians were, the Soviets were trying to do what cruise chefs said, and that was to bury the West. They were trying to find ways to make better soldiers, better cosmonauts workers so that they could outdo us and literally win the cold war.
Basically what happens is the research eventually goes from the initially started looking at chemical substances and with Dr. Breckman who is considered the father of adaptogenic research. He switches over to looking at plants and they eventually settle on a plant called, at the time in the United States, we learned about it known as a Siberian ginseng, but the proper name for it is Eleutherococcus senticosus and that's where the initial research starts. And what they did is they first promoted a definition of an adaptogen using a very simplistic three parameters.
Number one, the plant was nontoxic in a normal therapeutic dose. Alright, so that's, that's fine. The problem with that is that describes almost every herb in the material Medica. I mean they ask, there are some toxic herbs, but most herbs are relatively benign in a normal therapeutic dose.
Secondly, they decided that these herbs would create what was called a nonspecific state of resistance to stress. So that means they help you to resist stress, whether that stress is psychological, physiological, or environmental. But the problem there is that other categories of herbs including nervines, which we think of as nerve tonics, things that are common also help you to deal with stress more effectively. So that doesn't really mean that is absolutely an adaptogen.
And thirdly that they would have what is called an amphoteric effect on the body, helping to normalize function of multiple systems, especially the endocrine system, nervous system, immune system as well as the cardiovascular and digestive systems. So that was the initial definition. And that last started, I think that was, that definition came out around 1969 so after that and the intervening where now 50 years later, the definition has changed.
Now those first three parameters are all still true, but they have added to the definition. So in the 1990s they determined that adaptogens work primarily through two master control systems in the body. One is called the HPA axis, that's the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis. This is the master control system of almost all endocrine function, much nervous system function, immune function and what also what deals with chronic stress in our lives. And then the second system is called the SAS, the Sympathoadrenal System. And this is your fight or flight mechanism, which deals acute stress. So in order for an adaptogen to be an adaptogen, there has to be evidence that it is primarily working through one or both of these two master control systems. Further research showed us that adaptogens also work on a cellular level.
So what does this mean? It means that they do several things.
Number one, they help reduce stress hormone production. So that's especially cortisol, norepinephrine, and they help prevent cortisol induced mitochondrial dysfunction. So for instance, some of the conditions associated with stress induced mitochondrial dysfunction include things like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome, which is one of the reasons adaptogens can be so useful as part of a protocol for treating those conditions because underlying those conditions is basically elevated levels of stress hormones, specifically cortisol, which shuts down the mitochondria, which are the engines of yourselves. So if your mitochondria are not working, you are going to have all sorts of problems with fatigue, with muscle weakness, with muscle pain, uh, with cardiovascular issues and et cetera, et cetera.
And they do this, not only do they shut down the excessive production of cortisol, but they do it by up-regulating certain stress modulators in the body. These are noticing heat shock proteins, fork head proteins and something known as neuropeptide Y.
So in order for an herb to be an adaptogen, it has to do every single one of these things. Of course the ancients had no idea about any of these things. So when they are talking about a Rasanayas or a Chi tonic, you know, those things, some of them actually turn out to be adaptogens, but of course, many of them do not because they don't meet the parameters of today what we know is an adaptogen.
Allan: 11:02 Okay. So kind of my key takeaways from this is that that one, adaptogens don't just address one part of the body. Like I think in the book you talked about how tumeric actually supports the liver, a single organ versus actually supporting the whole body through the, you know, HPA and through the SAS Yes. Right. And then the other piece of it is it doesn't just push us in one direction. It's sort of a balancing, getting us more towards homeostasis than pushing us in one direction just because we're stressed trying to push us unstressed. It's literally just kind of trying to find that balance.
David: 11:42 Correct. Now I will say that turmeric by the way of course is not in adaptogens. The turmeric, it just doesn't work on the liver. A tumor has much broader implications. In fact, the majority of herbs have a wider sphere than just working on a single organ. But adaptogens you could, yes, I think your, your definition, think of them as almost systemic remedies, but they're primary effects are on endocrine nervous system and immune function. That is where, because that's of course what the HPA axis and the SAS, those are the things that they are affecting. Now of course the reality is is that the SAS also and the HPA axis also affect skin function. They also affect circulation. They also affect reproductive function, both male and female. So again, very wide ranging effects.
And at the same time you'd mentioned homeostasis. Adaptogens work in a really interesting way. So think of it this way. We, we, anybody who has had anatomy and physiology learned about homeostasis, where the body tries to maintain its normal balance. So some things are maintained in very, very tight, like your serum sodium levels, your blood serum, serum levels of sodium have to be maintained with a very, very narrow range. And so the body will work exceedingly hard to make sure that it stays there. And the idea of homeostasis is everything's tries to stay the same. Well, in reality, there is a second process known as allostasis that the body uses to maintain homeostasis and adaptogens also enhanced allostasis.
What is allostasis? So any of your listeners who have ever gone surfing, and you don't even have to be a surfer, you could go skiing, you could go ice skating, skateboarding, anything where you need really good balance. So if you got up on a surfboard and you stand absolutely still, as those waves are moving you in every direction, you're gonna stay on that board for about a second. In order to stay on the board, you start moving and shifting your body weight to compensate for changes. That is allostasis. Allostasis is the body's ability to change in order to maintain balance and adaptogens help in that process.
Allan: 14:16 Okay. So most of the book we're talking about stress, so we're talking about our body is going through, it'll can go through acute stress, which just basically means, you know, I see a bear and Oh, I've got run, versus chronic stress where my CFO is the bear and he's on me every single day. And so that stress just sticks with me and my fight or flight is basically every waking moment. Adaptogens can kind of help us with that. Right. So can you kind of talk through the stress reaction process and then how adaptogens can support us as we deal with chronic stress.
David: 14:53 They're working on multiple levels and that's where it gets a bit complicated because, just to give you an example: I mentioned earlier that among these sort of molecular chaperones or stress chaperones that adaptogens affect, we have what are called heat shock proteins. These are molecular chaperones. And so these molecular chaperones heat shock proteins protect, mitochondria from stress induced damage. Then they also regulate a chemical called FOXO. It's a fork head protein and basically FOXO basically is a neuro. FOXO is upregulated and it promotes the synthesis of proteins that inhibit the effects of stress. It helps detoxify cells. It also has been shown to enhance longevity. I also mentioned it basically up-regulates in neuropeptide Y, which is a neurotransmitter which has been shown to relieve anxiety.
It's been shown to inhibit pain perception. It lowers blood pressure, it inhibits addiction, it inhibits cortisol release. So those are just some of the compounds that it is affecting and having a broad ranging effect on the body. So when we are under stress, there is a whole cascade of cellular and organ response in the body. And adaptogens are saying to the body, think of adaptogens as sort of like a stress vaccine. Some people call it a stress memetic. In fact, what adaptogens do is they say to your body, stress is coming. So let's get ready for stress. In that sense, it's a little bit like going to the gym. So many of your listeners probably work out, maybe some of them are runners. You did the first time you ran, you didn't run a marathon, at least not if you were smart the first time you start running a short distance and then the next day you run again and again, or you go to the gym and you start off with a low amount of weights and a small amount of repetitions and you gradually work your way up to where your muscles become stronger. We are more stamina, more strength and the ability to do more
Adaptogens work very similar to this. They basically say to your body, stress is coming yet ready. And so the body builds up so that it is more prepared to deal with stress when the actual stress comes, whether that is an acute stress or a chronic stress. The one difference between adaptogens and say going to gym is that if you go to the gym and you don't go to the gym for two weeks, you may lose a little bit of strength and stamina, but you still have a significant long-term effect adaptogens to be taken regularly because the effect doesn't have a long term effect. So these are things you would take on a regular basis. And of course, which adaptogens and individual takes are going to depend on the specifics of that person because it's important to note that adaptogens are not a one size fits all phenomenon.
A lot of people think, Oh, you need an adaptogens, just take any one. Well, that's not true. There are stimulating adaptogens. There are calming adaptogens. There are heating adaptogens, cooling adaptogens, drawing adaptogens, moistening, adaptogens, nourishing adaptogens. And so the key is, and that's more of course, one of the reasons I wrote my book, is that I wanted people to understand what I would call the personality of each of these adaptogenic herbs so that you can figure out which one or ones, because remember, traditionally in all of the great systems of verbal medicine, herbs are never taken as simple as meaning one herb at a time. They're taking in complex formulas.
Why? Because we are dealing with complex people with complex problems. And so the idea is which adaptogens or adaptogens and the sort of supportive herbs or companion herbs for adaptogens such as nervines Nootropics, we'll talk about this more later, or restorative tonics that you take with them to help create something that is actually going to be beneficial and work for the individual. Great herbalists don't treat diseases. We treat people.
Allan: 19:17 Let's go ahead and jump ahead then and let's have that conversation about the nervines and the supporting components and, and, and the Nootropics. Let's get into those. Just a little bit so they know what we're talking about.
David: 19:29 Okay. So we just, we've defined what an adaptogen is and we'll talk more about them. But there are other, and I include this in my book, there are other herbs that I would call companion herbs to adaptogens. They work really well with adaptogens.
And so the three categories of these, and the first is nervines are nerve vines in England and these are calming herbs. I mentioned that briefly before and they basically helped restore the emotional foundation. So for people who are especially type A personality, for people who are emotionally labile, for people who have number ten reactions to number one problems. Nervines can be really useful along with perhaps calming adaptogens. For a person like that.
Then we have water known as no a tropics. Now I have to define this because nootropics, some people call them smart drugs.There are three different categories.
There are the chemical smart drugs, which are often designer drugs created in the laboratory with no history of previous use and no record of safety. Uh, I am very leery about these substances.
Then there are the supplement, nootropics and these include things like L-carnitine and things like that which have a very good safety.
And then there are our herbal Nootropics and there are a wide variety of herbal nootropics. These herbs tend to be neuro-protective. They are anti-inflammatory on neuro anti-inflammatories. They enhance cerebral circulation, they enhance memory, focus, concentration. And there is some evidence that at least some of them may help at least slow, if not possibly help prevent something like dementia or Alzheimer's. But that is a very, very preliminary.
Then we have what I would call restorative tonics. And these are basically herbs that are nutritive. They help to enhance overall function, but they do not meet the definition of an adaptogen. So now I'll mention a couple specifically.
We have herbs like the goji berry. Very, very popular herb. And the Chinese herb astragalus. Herbs like this are wonderful nutritive herbs, but they are not adaptogens, even though a lot of people tend to throw them in that category, unfortunately, they just don't meet those definitions.
Allan: 21:58 Okay. If I came to you as a client and generally, okay, you're just a general description, over 40 and high chronic stress and you were going to kind of put together a general protocol, what are some of the things that would be included in that protocol?
David: 19:17 Well, unfortunately, that's not enough of a definition, a description that I could come up with something because I need to know everything about you.
You know, as is somebody who is a patient of mine. I need to know not only their age and their weight and their blood pressure. I need to know their medical history. I need to know, I need to know everything I can about them, you know, and they would bring in their blood work from their physician and their diagnosis is that they have from their doctor. And you put together a protocol that is specific to the patient.
Because remember as I said, great herbalists don't treat diseases. Medical men, Western medicine focuses in on disease. We don't focus in on disease. We focus on creating protocols to help people be well, to help people prevent disease. To help people to gain maximal health, strength, longevity, et cetera. So, but what I would look at is, for instance, if you were somebody who was deficient and depleted, I might include some stimulating adaptogens and stimulating adaptogens would include things like, perhaps, Asian Ginseng or Rhodiola.
On the other hand, if you were really depleted, deficient, exhausted all the time, then I want to make sure I include some of the nourishing adaptogens. So there may be something like American Ginseng. If you were a type A personality, you know, you can't shut your mind off, then we might consider some of your calming adaptogens such as Ashwagandha or Schisandra. And so there are different ones that we would use.
And by the way, not every single person gets an adaptogen. And I don't want people to think that adaptogens are panaceas. Adaptogens are incredibly useful. Don't get me wrong, I do use them a lot, but I'm using a broad spectrum of herbs. Adaptogens are just one part of that. And I need your listeners to understand. Adaptogens are not a replacement for the foundations of health.
Foundations of health are adequate, good quality sleep, a good diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle choices. So if you are eating fast food three meals a day, only getting six hours sleep, running yourself ragged, training for a marathon, working in incredibly stressful job, and smoking, I don't care how many adaptogens you take, it is not going to make up for the fact that you are abusing yourself. And in fact at best it's going to simply allow you to abuse yourself a little bit longer until you finally collapse.
It's kind of the whipping the exhausted horse. You can make it go a little further, but it's going to collapse. So adaptogens are not a replacement for the foundations of health, but for the average American who is overfed under-exercised, not getting enough sleep, especially when it's a situation where, for instance, you're actually trying to take care of yourself, but maybe there's a new baby in the house.
You're not getting enough sleep. Or maybe you just graduated from a law school, passed your boards and you just hired on to a new law firm and they're expecting you to work 70 hour weeks. Or maybe you are in college and you're having to pull all-nighters and study, which I do not recommend as it reduces comprehension dramatically.
But you know, adaptogens under those circumstances where you mentioned the example earlier where your boss is on your case all the time and it's incredibly stressful and maybe you don't have the option to change. Maybe you're in a situation where you live in a small town where there's only one employer and you don't have a lot of options. Adaptogens can be incredibly useful. Again, helping to prevent stress-induced cortisol elevation, helping to reduce the stress-induced anxiety, helping to reduce the stress-induced elevation of blood pressure and the resultant of course, mitochondrial dysfunction that comes with elevated cortisol levels.
And I will point out that elevation of cortisol can come from lack of sleep, obesity or stress And chronically elevated cortisol levels not only basically shut down the mitochondria in the cells. Chronic elevation of cortisol is proinflammatory and of course all of our chronic degenerative disease is inflammatory in nature. It raises blood pressure, it interferes with sleep, it interferes with digestion, it decreases the immune response, and increases the growth of tissue including skin tags, benign prostatic hyperplasia in men, fibroids, uterine fibroids in women cancer, chronically elevated cortisol is really not good. And so anything we can do to help our body to reset and be at a, you know, a healthier baseline on a regular basis is going to a long term have profound positive implications for our health.
Allan: 27:31 So I guess the way I kind of take this, as you know, you can't just say, okay, I need ashwagandha. I need a Chinese Ginseng or Asian Ginseng root. I need American ginseng root and everybody needs that. The reality is you're going to have to kind of put together a protocol for yourself based on your own personal needs.
David: 27:51 That's actually true. You know, they're there. First of all, as I said, not everybody needs adaptogens, period. But if you do feel you need adaptogens, and again, that's one of the reasons I wrote the book is so that each herb has its own monographs. You can read about it and say, wow, does this make sense for me? And I often mentioned like, I often use it with this or that so that people can kind of get a sense if they don't have access to a clinical herbalist or a naturopathic physician who's trained in botanical medicine or a medical doctor who knows herbs. If they don't have access to someone like that. They can at least educate themselves so they can decide which of these things may, would be most appropriate for them. And again, not everybody needs them, but I would say that, you know, discounting cultures where they're either people are actively starving, suppressed or at war, Americans are some of the most stressed out people in the world.
Allan: 28:51 Absolutely. That's why I moved to Panama.
I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are the three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
David: 29:07 Well, three, let's go back to the foundations of health that I just mentioned. In 1910, the average American slept slightly over nine hours per night. Now, the average American sleeps less than seven hours per night. In the intervening 100 plus years, we have not evolved to need less sleep. We're just chronically sleep deprived.
So number one, make sure that you get minimum seven hours sleep at night. Eight is definitely better. If you're sleeping more than nine hours a night, that suggests some issues. So somewhere between seven and nine hours is probably ideal. But the key important thing is when you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed? Do you feel rested? Because even if you're getting 12 hours sleep at night and you wake up in the morning and you feel tired, you're exhausted, then you have some type of sleep issue. And so it is absolutely essential that you figure out what that is.
Because, no matter what you have, if you have sleep issues, your chances of having a heart attack increase. If you have sleep issues, your chances of dying from cancer increase. If you have sleep issues, your blood pressure's going to increase. It gives sleep issues, your cortisol levels are going to increase. So sleep is foundational.
Number two, move and move a lot. We sit too much. We are not active. And of course some people are not as capable as you know, heavy exercise. I'm not talking about you have to run marathons, do what you can, whether it is swim, whether it is dance, whether it is practice yoga, move
Number three (I'm going to go beyond three). Eat a healthy diet and I'm astonished at what people think is a healthy diet. I have my patients fill out a three-day diet diary and I'll just sit there and scratch my head sometimes. Because people tell me, I think I eat pretty well. And so of course, food is foundational.
You know, they say as computers, garbage in, garbage out. Well, the diet is the same way. Garbage in, garbage out. You are dependent on your food for what Chinese medicines called the Gushi, the Gransha, the nutrients of that food to feed every cell in your body. And so eat healthy.
I am not a big fan of fad diets. I think that you need to figure out what works for you. And some people can be very healthy vegetarians and I've met people who just can't do that diet. So it's not like there's one diet that is good for everybody. You have to figure out what works for you. But what I can tell you very clearly is fast food, for instance, fried foods, a heavy, heavy meat diet, things like that are generally not good for almost anybody.
Then number four, emotional health. Emotional and spiritual health are, in my opinion, again, foundational. Having loved ones, whether it is anything from a companion animal to friends, to a life partner, to community, social networks. these are incredibly important. And I am a big believer in the power of a higher power, of having some type of spirituality in your life. I am not necessarily talking about a specific religion, but having something that you realize that you are a small part of something greater than ourselves. So having a meaningful ceremony, whether you think of it as the Gaia, the power of nature, God, or Allah, that to me is not as important. Of course for individuals I'm sure it is very important. Their spiritual and religious beliefs and that's great, but find something that works for you and works within your life.
And so for me, those sorts of things are absolutely foundational to health. And then we have other things that can add to that. And some of them, like nutritional supplements can be useful. Although I am much more interested in using herbs because I think they are more, much more bioavailable. And in a form that people can actually utilize more effectively. Those kinds of things. Stress reduction techniques are sort of built based on that foundation.
Allan: 33:49 Well thank you David. You know, one thing I'll say about the book is if anything and everything that you want to know about adaptogens, this is the book, that's called Adaptogens, but it literally you, you covered the history, you cover what they are, how they work. You know, all the different types. Cause there's, there's lots of them. You said there was 250,000 plant species that we've identified and we're just starting to learn how those can help us. But this book really, I think you could have called it the encyclopedia of adaptogens or the complete book with androgens. It really is comprehensive. And so if you're interested in adaptogens, I strongly suggest you check out David's book.
David, if someone want to get in touch with you, learn more about the book or things you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?
David: 34:33 Well, couple things. Number one, if anybody is interested in the book, they can get it. You know, simply from Amazon, if they like or their local bookstore. It's widely available. You can also contact me or reach me through to websites. There is my school, I have a two year urge studies program for people who want to train to be clinical herbalists and that is herbalstudies.net and then I also have a website which is an educational website where people can download free articles, information articles from my library, which is one of the largest private herbal research libraries in North America. Information on my classes where I'll be teaching around the world. I teach all over the US, Canada, Europe, occasionally central America, and that a website is herbaltherapeutics.net and those are the two are places that people can get additional information or contact.
I also have through, I believe it's herbal therapeutics website. I have a Facebook page where I do posts about every two weeks so people can tune into those posts and read the old posts every on thing. I'm mostly on the topic of herbal medicine and my travels and things like that. And so hopefully people will avail themselves. The book, Adaptogens, herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. This is the second edition and I think anybody interested in the topic will hopefully learn quite a bit and be able to make better choices for themselves in their use of adaptogens, nervines, nootropics, and restorative tonics.
Allan: 36:27 All right, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/403 and I'll have the links there for the book for David's sites and all that.
David, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
David: 36:39 Thank you Allan. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
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With a mix of Chinese and western medicine, Dr. Edith Ubuntu Chan helps you find better health with her book Super Wellness.
Before we get into today's episode, I did want to take just a moment to make an announcement. My calendar is still open for free consults. You can book your own 15 minute free, 15 minute consult with me to discuss your health and fitness goals, things that you can do, things that you may want to tweak, or maybe not. I had a client I talked to today who basically this programming is perfect for him. He's really enjoying it. He was just concerned that he might actually be overtraining. So we talked about that. What is overtraining and how does it affect him and what, what would be the symptoms and things that he should be looking for if he wasn't getting the rest and recovery he needed. So, you know, in some cases I'm able to just help someone feel more clarified that what they're doing is right. And maybe that's you too. So please do go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/consult to book your free 15 minute consult with me, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/consult. Thank you.
Now on to the interview…
Allan Misner: 00:03:38 Dr Edith, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:03:42 Thanks so much for having me Allan.
Allan Misner: 00:03:44 You know, I wrote a book on wellness not long ago, and so it's really cool when I start seeing this term wellness showing up in books and you know, I define wellness as being the fittest, healthiest, happiest person you can be. So I see it more as a kind of a whole word versus the bits and pieces. And as I went through and I got thinking about this this term again, because I'm seeing it in your book and I'm seeing it a little bit more and more in some discussions I thought, you know, when I was in my twenties the word in my head was always fitness.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:04:15 Yes.
Allan Misner: 00:04:16 And then as I got into my thirties and early forties, the health thing started becoming more to the forefront of this whole thing of okay, I gotta have, you can't just have fitness, I got to have health. And it's really just been kind of in like the last five years that the wholeness of I need to have joy and happiness in my life, or I haven't really completed the Trifecta, if you will, of what wellness means, at least from my perspective. And I think as we get older, we actually kind of start figuring this stuff out is okay, it's not one dimensional. Wellness is not one dimensional. And I kind of liked that your book actually, not only does it acknowledged that, but it also kind of comes across and says, you know, there's these things that the standard western medicine wouldn't necessarily embrace that is more and more starting to prove that eastern medicine actually had it right. And I just thought, I'm so happy to hear that there's practitioners like you, that are kind of coming into this market and saying, hey, let's marry these two things and let's get get people well.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:05:37 You know I was just talking with a MD patient of mine. I have a clinical practice in San Francisco I work with people from all walks of life. Essentially two major groups of people, athletes who are striving for their highest level of human performance and also patients struggling with complex chronic illnesses. Sometimes mystery conditions sometimes conditions people say that is incurable. But we all know there's no such thing as incurable. There is just a big misunderstanding out there.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:06:01 Well, this patient of mine is a burned out, very good hearted but totally sausage fried burned out MD who's taking a sabbatical and reevaluating her life and her career. And we were talking about how Western medicine hijack the term health care. Because what she does is excellent emergency lifesaving medical procedures, but it is not health care. Yeah, it's sick care it's illness care and is very important. But it's a teeny tiny fraction of the whole picture of what health is. So I think people don't get confused if we use the term wellness. Right. Cause health, the word health has been confused for way too long in our society.
Allan Misner: 00:06:54 And I don't disagree with you at all on that one. I do actually have a relationship with a doctor, and I went to him specifically because he focuses on wellness care. We're going to have appointments on a regular basis. We're going to get blood work done. We're going to talk about what's going on in your life and we're going to solve your health problems before they become health problems. And that's rare. That's rare to find folks that are doing it, but it's just more and more common each and every day I think.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:07:25 Yeah, I think it's no secret to any of the listeners out there, our medical paradigm is so horribly broken. Our doctors are aware of this. You know our doctors have such good hearts and such good intentions. They went to medical school to get all this training because they want to make the world a better place. They want to help people, they want to serve but then their education trains them into this narrow sliver of reality. And in some ways, sometimes they forget about the other 99% of reality out there in the mind, body, spirit one is the joy in your life. Time and nature, breathing, sunshine, hugs, laughter, all these things are part of health and wellness and guaranteed they don't have classes about this kind of stuff in medical school.
Allan Misner: 00:08:15 And if they get more than, I guess a semesters worth of classes on nutrition, that's kind of a special because that's not what medical schools are really all about. But unfortunately a lot of what's happening with us is about what we're putting in our mouths, what we're putting on our bodies, the movement. And I think each and every one of us is just, fundamentally no. If I find I'm not eating well and I'm not doing some form of movement, practice resistance training or stretching or cardiovascular, not doing something. We know we're not doing ourselves any favors. But in the book you come up with the concept, even that, if you're doing those things good, that might not be enough for us to actually be well.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:09:02 Okay, so chapter one in my book, “SuperWellness” is as you know, “Why Eat Right and Exercise is not the Key. And a little disclaimer, obviously I picked that title to catch your attention and I hope I did.
Allan Misner: 00:09:16 You did, and even I as a fitness trainer, but even I will sit there and tell my clients, I'm like, you're in the gym with me, if we're going to work out we're spending three hours, if I work out with them directly, do most of my work online now. But if I were to work out with you as a trainer, I would get three hours a week with you, maybe five. If you're really gung Ho and want to keep coming back. But you've got another 173 hours or 176 hours that you're not in the gym. Other things are going on that are affecting your health and fitness. And so I do tell them I'm a fraction of the value that you're really going to get out of this whole equation. But even then, you know, it's like, okay, so you're eating well and you're exercising, but there's still more to this wellness thing.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:10:05 In all of my training, I've been told, and I've taken all of these different certifications and two different graduate degrees in holistic medicine. Everybody says you got to eat right and exercise right. Here in the San Francisco Bay area, my clients are usually very health savvy people. You know, people who are already eating super clean, already working out doing yoga and pilates, I have athlete patients and yet they're still suffering from chronic illness. And so they come to me confused and frustrated because they feel like they're doing everything right. It's like they are aware that is not a drug or surgery that they need,that its something with their lifestyle, but they eat the squeaky clean diet. They work out every day and still they suffer from chronic illness. So it frustrated me as a practitioner for a very long time until sometimes, you know, you ask those super obvious questions and you hit your forehead like, duh, why didn't I see this before? I just asked the question, what if it's not about their diet or exercise is like the flood gates started opening and you realize, wow, this person doesn't sleep right. They don't breathe right. They don't see sunshine, fresh air. They're chronically stressed out. They're in a toxic relationship. They're in a job that they hate. You know, they have so much toxic levels of stress in their life that no amount of healthy diet and exercise could undo that kind of toxicity. And so in researching for my book, it was so fascinating. I found this 2016 study, that was the first time I've ever seen a study, I love that they're starting to do studies that look at these kind of synergistic, multifactorial things in our health. They wanted to see how stress and diet interact with each other. So they took these women and split them up into two groups. One group ate a super controlled inflammatory diet that they knew what increase blood markers of inflammation, like c reactive protein and so on. Then they took the other group and gave them an anti inflammatory diet. Guess what they found?
Allan Misner: 00:12:15 Well, I know what they found because I read the book, So why don't you tell us.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:12:18 All right. Well, it turns out that for the women that reported high levels of stress, it didn't matter what they ate, whether they eat this squeaky clean, got diet or a crappy diet, they were still inflamed because the stress had them so inflamed already. But for the low stress group, people who report, report at low levels of stress eating the crappy diet made them blood markers worse eating the cleaned diet decreased their inflammation, made their blood markers better. So that's just one study. But is it possible that that diet is secondary to stress after you've got your stress well manage, well controlled, then look at your diet. I'm not saying everybody should be out there, you know, like binge eating, ice cream, potato chips. But it's good to consider how these things synergize together to ultimately create the wellbeing that we're looking for.
Allan Misner: 00:13:16 Yeah, once I got hold of myself from what I would call a health and fitness perspective, and then started understanding wellness a little bit better. You know, I'm sitting there and I met probably the lowest body fat percentage I had been and I don't know, 20 years or so. And you know, I'm as fit as I really almost have ever been and I'm doing tough mudders with my daughter and I'm kind of doing well from prespective. And it felt good because of the difference from where I had come from. I would go into the doctor and I get the blood test and my c reactive protein was off. My homocysteine was off. When I sat down, my blood pressure was kind of right on that edge of hypertension and occasionally I'd come in, my thyroid function wasn't optimal and it would just be having these conversations. And I'm like, I really don't want pills. I don't think pills are the answer to this problem. The more and more I kind of got into it, I'm like, okay. I looked at my blood test relative to when we were doing layoffs at work and when I was going through relatively stressful periods of time, I could see the stress levels moving my blood markers. And that's, that's kind of when that light came on. It's like, okay, I'm in a job that is effectively killing me. I'm not necessarily working for a living anymore. I'm working for a dying and if I don't do something, then that's, you know, that's my choice. I could choose to do something about it or I could choose not to. And you know, now that I've been in Panama for a while, I'm waiting for my blood results to come back in and I'm willing to bet that my numbers are going to be a lot better.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:14:58 You know I have a similar story, back in the first dot com boom, I had first, this is 17, 18, 19 years ago, I used to work in software. So my story is that back when I was four years old, I grew up in Hong Kong and I watch this amazing Chi-kwan healer, in one session, emit Energy and heal my dad's back pain that was unresponsive to all Western medical treatment and heal my sisters ankle sprain that was all swollen and nothing was helping. In one session, I'm age four watch this, Woowoo Sharman basically emit energy from his hands and heal my father's back pain and heal my sisters ankle in one single session. And I remember at age four I said, that's what I'm going to be when I grow up.
Speaker 3: 00:15:51 But all that said, you know, that's not practical, you can't do that, you should go to school, get good grades and buy a house, have 2.5 kids. And so I did what the world said you should do. I went to school actually after they said you can't be a healer. I said, well maybe I'll be an astronaut. And so they all said, good, be really great at math, science and engineering and maybe you can be an astronaut. So fast forward, years later, I'm at Harvard getting a math degree and I graduate and I ended up going into software and I'm rocking it at this job. And you know, getting promotions and everybody says, great job. My hardworking immigrant parents are super thrilled, so proud, and I'm getting employee of the year awards and I'm miserable. I'm 10-15 pounds fatter than I was, 10-15 pounds fatter than I am now. I had acne, I had stomach pain, I had monthly debilitating menstrual cramps. The list goes on and on. Chronic headaches and migraines. Well, one day I walk into this board meeting with the super high ups, I was so excited. I finally got invited to this really awesome high level board meeting because my job was as a translator between business, business development and technology. That's always kind of been my gift is translating technical concept into lay person friendly concepts and back and forth.
New Speaker: 00:17:19 I'm at this meeting, serving this role to kind of bridge the gap between the business requirements and the technical requirements and I walk in, I see these Uber successful high level senior executives that I see the whole room. It was like the record player just came to a screeching halt. They're all looking stressed out, frazzled. They were just like me. You know a few of the other ones also had migraine headaches like me. You know, none of them, I can't know for sure what's going on in their lives, but none of them look particularly bright, shiny, joyful, fulfilled or healthy. It was like life was showing me, if you keep going down this track, this is a life you're choosing. And this voice just said, is this what you always wanted to be when you grew up? You know, and in that instant it flashed me back to age four when I saw the healer healing with his energy hands, I thought, what? What happened? I'm living somebody else's life. This isn't the life that I said I want it to live. And it was right after that meeting that I went back to my desk and figured out how to, how to change my career. And so it was, as you know, is a tumultuous journey to kind of come to terms, listen to your heart versus what the world says. I have so much respect for you Allan. It takes huge courage to walk away from all of that success.
Allan Misner: 00:18:51 For you too, because I did it after I already kind of had a career. So it was not, to me, I don't feel like it was that hard of a challenge or that hard of a decision, it just hit me, you know, okay, you're not doing this thing. You can go send out resumes and go back into that fight into that thing. But it was really kind of just a natural, no, you know. This wellness is my goal. You know, wellness is what I'm after. And that kind of last piece of what I call kind of the, for lack of better word, before, nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress. And I'm like, you know, the only one I'm really not hitting on right now is the stress one. And if I could nail that one, you know, I'm 90% there. So I don't think it was a hard decision. I think it was the only decision. I only had one choice. So it's not even like flipping a coin. It was just, this is just what it is.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:19:45 Well, for some people, the longer you've been in a career, that harder is to leave, isn't it?
Allan Misner: 00:19:53 I remember working for Silicon Valley too. I had my years there as well. And it gets in your blood and you're like, okay, I want to move up, I want to do this. And you know, this is cause it's all high energy and you just kind of feed on it.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:20:10 What you consider normal sometimes gets skewed and distorted by the community you're surrounded by, you know, now I hang out with all these biohackers and holistic health nuts and people who do Chigong and meditate and we spend time in nature. You know, I live outside the city now. I spend tons of time hugging trees. I live a full on hippie lifestyle. And so it's easy to keep going like that. But back then I was surrounded with people who would just work 8,000 hour weeks and then blow off steam and drink tons of alcohol on the weekends and this very inflamed and not very healthy cycle that I was part of seemed normal. It's just like take some Ibuprofen, you got a headache. You know, take some painkillers and keep pushing That was the culture and so I believe that on some level in our bodies, in ourselves, our souls will speak to us through our health and through our bodies.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:21:12 And so our bodies is like a trusty friend there to tell us, hey, something is really out of alignment. You know? So that's why in my book we have these five myths and one of the greatness is going to bring tears to my eyes because I've had the honor of accompanying patients through some really serious life threatening situations with their health. And it is so moving to see how people can use that as an opportunity to really take stock of everything in their life. At first when you get a serious diagnosis is so heartbreaking and so scary, but the ones who like you have the courage to listen deeply and realign their lives. It is so beautiful to watch a human being go through that journey. I just feel so honored to have a job where I get to accompany people in that process. So getting sick sometimes. Some people tell me that's the biggest blessing because it caused them to listen deeply to themselves.
Allan Misner: 00:22:26 And its easy enough for them to kind of emotionally get their why, its right in front of them. In your book, you talk about the 5 greatest myths around wellness, can you talk through them with us?
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:22:30 Well, I shared the biggest one which is getting sick is always a bad thing. That's actually myth number five. That sometimes you know, as an athlete, as somebody who trains their fitness, I'm sure all of your listeners can relate to this. This is a simple less dramatic example of how sometimes if you get, you know, as an athlete, if you get injured, the really high performance athletes use that as an opportunity. They might be bummed out for a little bit, but then they quickly pick themselves up and figure out, hey, what was wrong with my technique or what was tweaky about my equipment or my training program. Let me reevaluate and reassess with my coach. And then as a side effect of that, their performance dramatically skyrocket because they are like a student, they listened deeply and they figure out how to fine tune and optimize and improve. And often that's how they have their big breakthrough.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:23:27 And then with my patients who suffer from serious illnesses, the ones who go deeply within themselves to do that kind of soul searching are often ones that have the best healing results. By surrendering completely did the illness and using it as a teacher to listen deeply to see what it has to, what it is trying to say, hey through their body. Right? So, so getting sick and injured is not always easy, but often there's a great gift on the other side of it. And so for those of us who've ever been sick, injured, and said, darn it body, I don't have time for this. You know, we speak unkindly to the body. I think it's a big misunderstanding and it caused a lot of unnecessary frustration and suffering. Even things like getting a cold, getting a flu after you recover from a virus is not just that you recover, you get a huge gift, your body's amazing.
Speaker 3: 00:24:29 It'll create the perfect, the perfect fever, the perfect respond, an elegant cascade of immune reaction so that you not only recover, but you get lifelong immunity from that virus. So I think we owe our bodies a huge debt of gratitude that is such a miracle that we can put it through these stressful situations and it can bounce back and heal from all the stressors of life. In fact, in my opinion, that is what health and wellness is about. This ability to support and listen to the body and, and know that it can adapt and bounce back from all of the ups and downs of life. So that's a myth number five.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:25:14 But I'll start with myth number one. Myth number one is I think maybe the single most important one to talk about because we've come to think in our society that, you know, we want to like outsource everything. You know, we want quick fixes in this society. I think probably not your listeners, but most people out there in America or have been trained to have quick fixes. But I always ask people, how long is your doctor's appointment? You know, Allan, you have an amazing doctor.
Allan Misner: 00:25:51 My doctor is a little different, but I would say anytime I actually do go to any other doctor for what I would then call illness care or sickness care, it's maybe seven minutes. I'm going to spend two hours there, waiting and then being moved to another room and wait and put in another room and you're sitting there and you're on your phone. It's like, okay, I'm playing suduko and I'm waiting. And then the doctor comes in and looks at your chart real quick and says, here's some amoxicillin, you should be fine. And then walks out the door and it's your seven minutes in and it's like, okay.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:26:32 Yeah, like 5-10 minutes once or twice a year? Now contrast that to your appointment, how long is your medical appointment with yourself? Okay, it's 24/7, 365 for decades and decades and decades, isn't it? So it's just like silly when you think about it like that, that why would we give our power away to some guy in a white coat when we have the ability to listen to ourselves, to know that we are the boss and CEO of our own lives. And honestly your doctor, I'm sorry to just be blunt, your doctor is your minion working for you. You know? I always say that to my patients too because my patients say, Dr Edith, what should I, blah blah blah. I'm like, okay, well according to my clinical experience, these are the things that I think will give you the best bang for the buck results. But remember you're the boss, I'm your minion working for you. And I always remind my patients of that because that's what got us into so much trouble. It's not that we shouldn't listen to all the experts that have these advanced trainings, we should definitely, but never above and beyond our own inner guidance. Always use your own discernment. And if you don't resonate with this doctor's philosophy, fire the doctor and hire a different one. You have that choice. Don't ever forget that your doctor works for you, not the other way around.
Allan Misner: 00:28:03 If you went out and hired a plumber and said, okay, I need you to fix my sink. And they get the water running, but you don't have hot water, you only have cold water. And they say, well, at least it's running. At your age that's about all you can hope for. You'd be like, what? I hired you to work on my sink. But if your doctor sits there and says, you know, you're going to have to take this pill for the rest of your life. That's just the way it is, its just your age, it's just how you are. Then you know you're like, okay, I have to accept that because like I said, he's in the white coat. He knows what he's talking about, which is why I really like, I actually think your second myth is my favorite.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:28:46 This idea that we're always, this causes so much stress and pain and frustration amongst my patients and just people in general because people have been told things like, your condition is incurable. There's nothing you can do about it. Or, oh, it's just in your genes and there's nothing you can do about it. Well, our minds are so powerful that if we're told and we actually believe and act upon that belief that there is nothing you can do about it, then you don't do anything about it and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that it just keeps going down the same trajectory that you're on. But this is such horribly outdated, unscientific thinking that it just gets my blood boiling because there are all these myths out there. In fact, I read this article that's based on a book. What is the book is something about facts. How scientific facts have a half life that most so called scientific, especially medical facts out there. I think they are proven false within four or five decades, but some doctors were trained decades ago and it just takes about five decades for new scientific information to kind of propagate into how we run our lives, our society, and our medical care system. But in the last decade, it's been proven so strongly that our genes aren't fixed. There's this whole science of epigenetics that things like exercise and meditation and mindfulness and breath work, these things have been proven to not only slow the aging of yourself, but in some cases reverse age, youth yourself. And incurable conditions, every single documented type of medical condition that has been deemed incurable has. There's a database out there called, I think it's called; The Spontaneous Remission Database or Project. There's documented cases of miraculous healings from every medical condition out there.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:30:48 It's like you can't call it incurable is we can really just be honest and say, hey, sometimes things heal and science and medicine today doesn't fully yet understand the full mechanism of action of how to create that healing. One thing is for sure, I always invite patients to think that our western doctor at least today, and I'm glad to see it starting to change, at least for now. The vast majority of conventional doctors are super smart and super well trained in drugs and surgery, right? Like you don't go to your car mechanic and ask him about your plumbing. So it's not appropriate to go to a doctor who's been trained in drugs and surgery to understand things that are outside of drugs and surgery such as nutrition and lifestyle and mind, body connection and so on. Unless they have specialized training in that, right? But we have a big misunderstanding. So when a doctor says, Hey, there's no cure for this condition, instant translation, and by everybody to carry an invisible language translator with them when they see a conventional doctor, if they ever says, this instant translation means as far as science is aware or your condition, there's currently no known cure within drugs and surgery. That's what that means. That's all that that means, which is super good news because it means wow. Now you can focus more of your energy on looking at things that are outside of drugs and surgery because the doctor just ruled out that that category of tools and modalities isn't the strongest one for you to look at. So you should be grateful instead of in dispair because he's just cleared the path for you.
Allan Misner: 00:32:40 Yeah, they can address the symptoms, but we don't have pills that can cure your problem. So, you know.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:32:50 There are so many alternative options out there so whenever a doctor says, Hey, there's nothing you can do about it, I just say thank you very much. That means I should start looking places outside of drug and surgery because his expertise in this category and it means that it's not his wheelhouse. So I'll go look elsewhere. Great. Thank you very much.
Allan Misner: 00:33:07 And, and I think that goes into your third myth, which is that we're treating the body and the mind, we're treating them separately and not recognizing the connection.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:33:18 Yeah, I think that might be the fourth myth, but we can jump around. The fourth myth is this idea that I think we, as a society, we're outgrowing. This is such an outdated idea, but we used to think that, you know, some diseases are just in your body, some conditions are just in your mind, and I hope no doctors ever said this to you, but if you have a medical condition or you don't feel well and they don't know what's going on, how often do you hear this? All the time people just get prescribed some kind of an antidepressant because it's like, well, we don't know why you have chronic fatigue. We don't know. I have chronic fibromyalgia. So, um, yeah, so just take this antidepressant and go away, right? It's all in your mind because we can't detect anything from the blood tests or imaging what's wrong with you? You know?
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:34:12 And so truth is, we've all had those experiences where when we eat some food that you know, agrees with our system, our minds feel brighter. If we eat foods thats inflammatory, we feel cranky and, and moody and our minds, our emotions, we become irritable and we think that the food that we ate is just physical. No, it affects our mind, body, emotions and spirit. Many people tell me, and that's a big part of the super wellness book, has this journey that it takes you through, that after they clean up their lifestyle, then they go to a meditation retreat and they have big breakthrough spiritual awakening experiences because after they've cleaned up their bodies, then that clarity, that spiritual awakening becomes so much more easily assessable to you, and this may sound woo-woo, but it's over and over again my experience accompanying patients in cleaning up their bodies, optimizing their lifestyle, they tell me that they not only heal their body, but their minds, their emotions and spirit feels so much lighter and brighter and clearer when they do that.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:35:22 Likewise, if you, you know, the previous, the previous example of living in a toxic, stressful lifestyle, doing work that you hate and then your c reactive protein levels go way up, your homocysteine goes up. That's an obvious of how mental and emotional stress create very clear physical manifestations. And sometimes if you linger long enough, that kind of blockage and inflammation creates real physical illnesses like tissue level changes if it lingers long enough. And so it's just a big, huge misunderstanding to ever separate the mind, body, spirit in reality, all of these are intertwined together. We have to address all of the levels of our well-being.
Allan Misner: 00:36:10 And kind of one of the cool things, for some of this is particularly we're talking about meditation, getting out in nature, treatment protocols, if you will. They're not expensive and so it's not that you have to go out and spend a whole lot of money on medicines sometime or a whole lot of money on a surgery. Sometimes health is much more accessible financially.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:36:36 Yeah, the other myth out of the five is probably the number one reason why I had to write the book. I run my clinical practice, I do online seminars, homeschooling my four year old boy and busy person, but I just couldn't bear for this myth to perpetrate the longer it was just making my blood boiled that I'm sorry to use this work, essentially indoctrinated into a belief system that the more complicated, sexy, expensive, fancy procedures are the ones that we should focus our energies on. I always invite everybody to consider that if you see billboards or advertisements on TV, just remember that that requires funding, which means that if you see all these advertisements, it means is making somebody a lot of profits out there. And that's not to say these things don't work, but we've skipped over the free things. The free things that in my experience shop often surprise me, often work even better than some of the expensive things, and so things like breath work, sunshine, time in nature, a really good night's sleep. These things are scientifically documented now to create such profound influence on your health, your healing, and your well-being. But the problem is that nobody can make money off of just inviting you to take three breaths in between every meeting, to make sure you go get fresh air and sunshine to take off your shoes and ground your body in physical contact with nature. All of these things are so free that you're never, there's never any profits to drive advertisements on TV or billboards on the highway. And so we have to take back that attitude to recognize that actually some of the most potent and powerful self healing tools are already available to us in abundant proportions is free or almost totally free, super simple, easy, abundantly available. We just have to make that choice.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:38:53 And sometimes I think it's kind of, the analogy I like to make is like this. Do you use a MAC computer? Okay. So let's say you have a MAC and you bring it to the genius bar at your local apple store and you wait in line, you're like so frustrating. I can't wait to get some professional help on this. And they look at your computer and they say, you know what, your battery's low. You just need to plug it in. Just plug it in and it'll start working, you know, and maybe, after you plug it in and charge up the battery, you could do some optimization with the apps. But it's like that with our health so much, isn't it? I don't want to belittle it, but it's like we are running around with low battery because we don't breathe the right. We don't hydrate well, we don't get proper sunshine. We're like zoo animals living in these boxes in such an artificial environment. Our Circadian Rhythms is all out of whack these things are the fundamental, I call them essential neutrients or life for your health well-being. And when these things are missing, no pill or procedure out there could ever be as powerful as recreating that really necessary foundation for your health and your well-being is just like plugging your laptop back into the socket to charge up the energy. You know your body energy, like how is your battery operating? First, get it plugged back into the system, get your energy flowing, get your circadian rhythm, get your breath, get your hydration, get these basics back in order. And a lot of times those complicated conditions either just manage or they're so dramatically better that then you can work one on one with your professional practitioners and your results might be 2x, 3x, 10x 100x better than you could ever imagine.
Allan Misner: 00:40:47 Yeah, it's kind of like the IT joke when you call the help desk, I don't know if you saw the show the IT guys from the UK, but it's a hilarious show, but they're work at a help desk and it's like every time he answers the phone it just becomes this, did you end, did you turn it off and turn it back on? You know, and it's weird to say this, but in a lot of cases our health is kind of the same way. It's just, you know, just to unplug for a minute, just, you know, go back to the basics and kind of let your body and mind, your spirit just reboot. And you're going to come at this with a lot more energy and a lot more capacity to work well and to think well and all that. Now you had this acronym in the book. It's health and, and I'm, I'm kind of a sucker for numbers and acronyms, but so I have to ask it. Can you go through the acronym for Health?
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:41:46 This is based on, this book is based on a class that I started teaching back in 2012 when I started blowing my mind and my patients' minds when we started discovering that the simple things that are essentially free, easy, so abundantly available, were often giving us even better results than the expensive fancy procedures out there. So my patients and I are blowing our minds and I started just teaching a class, just sharing these findings and sharing these tools and tactics for your self-care and your wel-being. And it shocked me that when you get a group of people together with that common intention, sometimes I was getting even better results, often getting even better results with the community groups of 8 to 10 people teaching, doing these classes, that community support, that common intention, that's social learning. People were having massive transformations that I could hardly believe. And so gradually over time I discovered that the order, the sequencing, actually made a huge difference. About 8 or 10 iterations into teaching this class, I discovered that there's a step by step journey that was delivering by far better results if we explore these lifestyle practices in that specific order. And then one participant said, hey, Dr. Edith, you know, your classes are 6 weeks and h e a l t h has six letters. And then I looked at it and it fit perfectly. It was like the universe just delivered this acronym, this whole framework just on my lap. It instantly fit exactly the curriculum that we have figured out. And so blessed in writing a book and sharing this information. People love acronyms. I love acronyms is unforgettable.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:43:34 You know, so we'll start with the first H, the first module of the 6 weeks super wellness course that I started teaching back in 2012, the first H stands for coming Home to ourselves. And I think that's really the first step in any transformational journey is just to realize that you are the boss and CEO of your own life. And that a lot of times we don't need to be way over complicating things in life that we already have the answers within us. We just need to give ourselves permission to act on that inner knowingness, right? So we like to give our power away and make things so over complicated. But really in the first step of super wellness is to recognize you're the boss. What is your definition of health. We spend a lot of time looking at this because the world is always going to tell you you want to be healthy and successful. But people don't take time to be like, what does that mean to you? What does success mean to you? And what is your definition of health and modern conventional medicine says health is the absence of disease, illness or even symptoms. And that's why they have such great techniques for suppressing symptoms isn't a true? Because they're doing a good job aligning their tools, tactics and strategies to their definition of health. But we all know that most of us would not define health as that because in reality when, when we suppress symptoms is kind of like your car dashboard has the check engine light blinking and you just take a hammer and bang at it and turn off the light instead of looking at the root cause of why there's a check engine light going. You know, so coming home to ourselves, going deeply within, checking in with ourselves, what is our own definition of health? Like my definition of health is the ability to adapt and respond to all the ups and downs of life to learn and grow from every experience of life. And so instead of running away from symptoms, I run towards the symptoms and really tried to learn something. Every time my body speaks up and says, you know, this feels out of balance, to know that there's wisdom and some really important information that I need to listen to. So coming home to ourselves and recognizing that sometimes simple things like self care practices that are totally free, easy, abundantly available, it's already available to us. So take advantage of those things coming home.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:46:18 The second letter is E, and E stands for Environment. I was listening to this TED talk, this a woman named Min. Cool. did a great TED talk about how essentially zoo animals back in the day were given the right water, the right food, and you know, everything that's zookeepers knew they needed for survival and they were dying at alarming rates. And then now as well known by anybody who keeps a zoo that you have to mimic the animal's natural habitat or else they will die very quickly. You can not just put an animal in a cage and give them food and water and expect that they would thrive. Likewise in this society, most modern humans are like zoo animals these days. You know, we're living in these boxes getting toxic artificial lighting like LEDs and fluorescence. We don't get natural full spectrum lighting anymore. We have epidemic proportions of vitamin D deficiency and we don't have good circadian rhythms. So during the day we don't have good energy and vitality. At night we don't sleep in darkness so we don't get the bath of Melatonin that our cells really need to heal and regenerate every single night like Melatonin has been found to have powerful anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, immune boosting tissue healing properties.
The list goes on and on just from sleeping in complete darkness, simple things like that. Optimizing your environment to get natural sunlight during the day. Sleep in darkness at night, go outside, spend time in nature. Physical contact, barefoot on their earth has been found to have incredible medicinal properties of optimizing your nervous system, anti-inflammatory function, antioxidant function, shifting your nervous system out of stressful fight or flight mode into parasympathetic relaxation and healing mode and all this stuff is totally free. Optimize your environment. Give yourself the gift of these free easy things. Get out of the zoo cage and go back into your natural habitat, you'll be so shocked and surprised how simple things like that could be complete game changer in your health.
So H stands for coming Home, E stands for Environment, and then A is a huge one. A stands for first Air, then Agua, and finally my husband came up with this Amph as in the food that you eat. All Right, Allan, I'm going to ask you this. How long can a person survive without eating physical food?
Allan Misner: 00:49:14 I've heard you can go as long as 40 days without food.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:49:19 Yeah, I think it's probably a range of possibilities. I've heard of even like Yogis and Chico masters in the Himalayans that have becomes so called breathaterians and they're so highly attained that they hard, they can go for years without eating. Most of us. Full disclaimer, by the way, I have a medical license. I don't want anybody putting themselves at risk doing prolonged fasting or anything like that without medical supervision. But just for the purpose of this exercise, let's say a human being could go for 20, 30, 40+ days without eating physical food as long as they have water. Right? So how long can you go without drinking water?
Allan Misner: 00:49:59 What I've heard roughly is probably about three days then you start having some health consequences.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:50:03 Something like that, Right. And again, I don't want anybody pushing the boundaries of this unless you have medical supervision cause controlled short doses of dry fasting has been proven, ,if you have the right support and medical supervision has been proven to be really cleansing and healing to the body. But for people that have a lot of toxicity, it could be dangerous. You can have major detox reactions. So please don't this at home without medical supervision. Okay, everybody. So, but the point of this is let's say you could survive 30-40 days without eating food and unless say you can survive, say 3 days without drinking water? Is it possible that your hydration is 10x as important as your nutrition?
Allan Misner: 00:50:49 I would say, yeah. I actually believe that it probably is. Given that most of the processes in the body are electrical, you need the fluids, you need the electrolytes, you need that stuff in balance and working. And if you're not properly hydrated, I could see that being a big problem.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:51:06 Yeah. And so that's, that's a huge part of our super wellness journey is learning about hydration and water is an amazing substance though we hardly know anything about it. Turns out water is like a liquid crystal computer that can hold information and that changes the structure of the water so that it either hydrates or function physiologically more appropriately. You know, hydrate your tissues better, travel through your body more effectively, or if it's not structured in the right way, it doesn't hydrate as well for example. And water has been found to even act like a rechargeable battery system. Sometimes water isn't even H2O It can shift into this fourth phase called H3O2 which has been researched by a doctor named Gerald Pollack at University of Washington that are cellular. Water is something that is not really even H2O is mostly H3O2 and it charges up like a rechargeable battery system. It needs light, full spectrum light or infrared light is really good at charging up the water in ourselves so that it can fuel our cellular biology through the electrical mechanism. I mean it's just fascinating, mind-blowing stuff that they never taught us in our school, in our health class, in biology class, and certainly not our doctors don't learn this stuff in medical school, but this is the latest science that is changing our understanding of human biology and in super wellness. I say, why not take advantage of the latest understanding and play with our water, learn more deeply about how the hydrate, what if learning about hydration could be 10 next as important as learning about nutrition right now, take this to a whole other level. How long can you survive without breathing air?
Allan Misner: 00:53:04 I've heard around 8 minutes unless you've done some training as a free diver or maybe Wim Hof. Most of us probably about 8 minutes and then we're toast.
Dr. Edith Chan: 00:53:15 Well most of us could probably go eight minutes if we train. It's probably more like 2 or 3 minutes, honestly without training. So but the point is the order of magnitude, right? What of your breathing is a thousand or 2000 times as important as your hydration for your survival. And your hydration is 10x as important as your nutrition. So that puts everything back into its proper context. In researching for my book, I found that most adult humans only breathe 30% of their lung capacity. So most of us are walking around tire frazzled, stressed out, mal-oxygenated. And the lower lobes of our lungs that we don't expand fully, cause we don't do deeper. Diaphragmatic breathing, is holding on to old toxins. It turns out when you breathe properly, that 70% of your body's detoxification happens through the breathing mechanism, only 30% through peeing and pooping and sweating.
So it's like we all know how horrible it feels if you don't poop properly and you're constipated. But most of us are walking around, literally constipated in our breathing. Our breathing is so shallow and so blocks that we feel awful. We feel tired and toxic. And what if breathing is a simple free tool that you can tap into? Nothing fancy. Just learn to take deeper breaths. Just learn to start and end each day with a set of 10 or 20 deep big breaths. And in between meetings, shift your energy state by taking three deep breaths. Like what if you just did that kind of thing consistently. It could completely change your day. And if you do that every day, it could completely change your life. So A is for, I came up with this kind of saying after publishing the book, I call it, get your A's in order Air first, Agua second, Amph, the food is third. And in the book we talk about the food. Of course food is important, but just to put everything in proper context, I'll just leave it at that. That in the book, I have a diet that makes all future diets obsolete. So if you want to learn more about it, you have to go read the book. Okay, so now that's A.
Now we've cleaned up and done all these low hanging fruit things in our health and lifestyle, L stands for Lightening up. So when we have better energy because we're getting sunshine, fresh air, sleeping deeply, we're properly hydrated and so on. We kind of feel like we're back in control of our life again. L stands for Lightening up in terms of eating more slowly and mindfully, not dieting, not counting calories, but really savoring your food, chewing your food mindfully, listening deeply to what your body wants, what it doesn't want. So many times I find my patients who have digestive GI troubles, I discovered that a lot of times it's not what they eat, but how they eat. They eat too much, they eat too quickly, they eat on the go, they eat under stress, and when we just cultivate the simple practice of mindful eating, a lot of times the GI troubles just go away. The acid reflux is gone. Just slowing down, chewing your food and not eating under stress, eating on the go. I know it sounds so crazy obvious, but we've been indoctrinated by, you know, the antiacid commercials on the TV saying, Oh, I don't have time. You know, you see this guy on the go snarling down a sandwich or a pizza like in two seconds and it's like, oh, I need some maalox right not because I don't have time for that reflux, right? That's the culture that we've grown up with. It's so crazy and so silly. It's like just slow down and chew your food like your Mama said.
And naturally you'll eat less and you don't have to focus so much energy on counting calories because it takes about 20 minutes for that sensation of satiation to reboot your brain. A lot of people know this, but we don't act on it. We don't live based on this understanding of our physiology, so we're breaking the laws of our body and our physiology and then your body will tell you, hey, that doesn't work for me. You know, and lightening up also means when you eat lighter. We've all had experience where you can, to be honest, myself too. Sometimes life gets so stressful. We use food to numb out, don't we? We use foods we stress eat. So many of us do that and so when you eat more, lightly, more mindfully, you're going to feel everything more. So when we do that, I encourage everybody to also be mindful of the information that they expose themselves to. What kind of movies? What kind of youth, what kind of media you want to expose yourself to. Lighten up on all levels. That doesn't mean that you're allergic to talking to your friend who's going through troubles and divorce. It means that you don't waste your energy gossiping about Hollywood news or stressing about things going on in our politics that we don't have any immediate control over. So kind of dial down the noise of all that heaviness that is in the media, the books, the movies, the news and the radio shows and so on and lighten it up so that you have the mental, emotional and physical energy to be fully present with your friends that need your help, to be fully present with your family, with your kids.
You know, I think we all want that kind of deeper, richer connection, but our energy is split so much, we're so frazzled, so chronically exhausted because there's so much heaviness and noise and things that are pulling our energy in too many directions. So lightening up is actually an invitation to take back your energy. To stop wasting your energy and all those directions so that you can command your energy consciously and intentionally into the areas of life that you want to choose. So lighten up on all levels, eating slowly and naturally lightening up your foods, but also lighten up all the media that you expose yourself to. And in that module, in our class, we also do a 72 hour juicing cleanse as part of lightening up.
Now that you've been through h e a l which spells heal. Now here's the juice. Now we work on our mindset, our thoughts and all that stuff that everybody knows is so important. We all know is all about mind mastery, but what I've discovered going to all these personal growth workshops is that many friends that I go to these workshops with, they are chronically sleep deprived. They don't spend time in nature. They're not breathing right. They have aches and pains, have so much inflammation and toxicity in their bodies that they can hardly sit still and, go deeply within. When a personal growth workshop says, okay, what do you really want in life? It's like, well, I can't find it because my energy is so frazzled. I can't be still enough. I can't sit still and meditate. I can't sit still and go deeply within to listen to my inner GPS and my inner truth because I have aches and pains or even things like, what does your gut say? Well, I just ate that horrible, I have lactose intolerance and I just ate that horrible enchalada and I have indigestion so I can't listen to my gut. I don't know what my gut is saying. You know like these things are really intimately related.
So I invite all the listeners out there to be thinking about their life like that. Is that to be healthy, this isn't just for the sake of health, to get your health in order so that you can be a clean and clear vessel to finally know what you want out of life. To be able to listen deeply to that inner truth and to work on your inner thoughts and to shift those old belief patterns and limiting thoughts, belief systems, old stressful thoughts that are weighing you down. We all know that we need to work on our thoughts and we all know that we need to go within and listen to our own inner guidance and inner truth. But it's so hard to do that if you haven't done the h e a l work first. So T stands for Thoughts and T stands for Truth. And in that part of the book and in my course we go deep into my favorite practices or working with old stressful thoughts and going deeply within to find that inner truth that we're all really hungry for. And once we've done the ground work leading up to this time, then it becomes really joyful, really rewarding and fulfilling to do that work. Otherwise it could be just a whole bunch of frustrations, you know? So that's what I've experienced, that that order really makes a big difference.
And finally, after you've done all of that beautiful work, you're really essentially a master of your own life again. And I think that's what everybody really wants ultimately. And you naturally radiate such a beautiful, healthy, loving energy. Now the scientists have found that your heart emanates a healing electromagnetic field when you're in the state, they call coherence. This kind of joyful, appreciative, loving state of gratitude and goodness is measurable. There's a coherence to it and that in the presence of that heart coherence, your body gets into that optimal flow state and you naturally heal everybody around you. You influence everybody around you to also drop into their optimal coherence state where everybody is in flow, there's better collaboration, better creativity, better sense of well-being. And there's some new fascinating and mine glowing science that when a group of people come together in that state of coherence, we not only help and heal each other, but we can decrease crime rates in cities and we can actually create profound healing. The earth's electromagnetic fields can also be influenced by all of us coming together in a state of meditation and in a state of heart and brain coherence. So the last H comes, it stands for living from the Heart. So h e a l t h is a full package. It's like a 360 degree survey of how we choose to live our life. And I think that's why I call Super Wellness is really wellness training for a new kind of humanity is an invitation to become a different kind of human that we haven't seen much on the planet before.
Allan Misner: 01:04:22 Yeah, you're right. Your acronym just fell right in place. I used to streets in mine and I had to do them all out of order just to get it done. And yours is really, really cool. Now Dr. Edith I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Dr. Edith Chan: 01:04:45 Three strategies and tactics to get and stay well. You know, I always invite everybody to remember you are the boss of your own life. So in my book, Super Wellness, I've shared with you what I found work for the vast majority of people with the majority of the time. And so if I were to pick three, I would say number one breathwork practice. Make that a higher priority than even healthy dieting. Number two, make sure you get outside and get fresh air and sunshine on a consistent basis and spend time in nature. And number three, I would say whatever tools works for you to work on your stressful thoughts. Because we are like computer programs, and I'm sorry to say our education system for the vast majority of us except for very lucky few, have essentially programmed us to be small minded thinkers, to give our power away and to be gentle with ourselves, to know that we're all in the same boat.
Dr. Edith Chan: 01:05:50 You know, it's not, it's not pooing on anybody and many of us have wonderful inspiring teachers, but the vast majority of our thoughts that have been programmed by our society and our upbringing are very disempowering. So whatever tools, tactics, strategies, work for you to heal and let go of those old limiting thoughts and belief patterns and shift into a more empowered way of thinking about life, that is the ultimate game changer.
Allan Misner: 01:06:19 Those are really cool. Thank you for sharing. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book Super Wellness, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Edith Chan: 01:06:30 Well, the book can be found on Amazon. I mean you just look up Super Wellness. I hope you guys enjoyed. I put so much love into it and I think when you read it, you can, you can feel that that is not just the tactics, tools and information, but a sincere love in my heart that I want our world to be a better place for you, for your family, for all the future generations to come. You know, because we've been suffering so unnecessarily for way too many generations. So go to Amazon and just look up SuperWellness, all one word. You'll be able to find the book there. And on the superwellness.com website, there's a lot of great free content for you to explore. We have something called a 30-day super wellness challenge where everyday I just guide you through a very simple 5 to 10 minutes self-care practice where you get to super charge your energy and melt away the stress and just blow your mind how simple simple things, 5 to 10 minutes a day could be a complete game changer. And you can look me up on social media. On Instagram, I'm Dr. Edith Ubuntu, and on Facebook, I'm Dr. Edith Ubuntu If you just type my name, Dr. Edith Ubuntu Chan you'll be able to find I have a bunch of other kind of informational websites that you'll be able to find.
Allan Misner: 01:07:52 You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/383 and I'll be sure to have as many links as I can give.
Dr. Edith Chan: 01:07:52 Thank you so much, Allan. Thank you so much for the beautiful work that you do. And also your example, the courage to be the CEO and boss of your own life, to show the world how it can be done at any age and to have the courage to be that example for all of us.
All right. I hope you took something wonderful from today's show. I do really stress that with my guests. I stress it with myself. I don't want you to have an episode where you don't feel like you got something valuable that you can apply in your life. And so I do hope that you did that. And if you did, I just want to ask you for a favor. Would you please help support the 40 plus fitness podcast by becoming a patron? You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/patreon and that will take you to a page where you can basically sign up and there's different levels, but you can give as little as a dollar. I ask if you could just give a dollar an episode, that would be wonderful. It helps the show stay open. It helps me keep the lights on and that's what this is all really about. I don't bring on sponsors. This is all just my personal training business and you, and I do appreciate all the help that I get. So go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/patreon and become a supporter of the show today. Thank you.