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Marios Kyriazis

Exploring the Frontiers of Anti-Aging Medicine:
An Interview with Dr. Marios Kyriazis

By David Jay Brown

Marios Kyriazis, M.D. is both a clinician and a researcher in the field of anti-aging medicine.  He has made significant contributions in the science and application of anti-aging medicine, and he is considered one of Britain’s leading longevity specialists. Dr. Kyriazis is one of the world’s experts on the subject of how carnosine effects the aging process, and his research into the effects of this mighty amino acid dipeptide have revealed how it can offer a number of unique and substantial health benefits.

Dr. Kyriazis has a postgraduate degree in Gerontology from the King’s College, University of London, and another in Geriatric Medicine, granted by the Royal College of Physicians. He is also a Chartered Biologist, and a Member of the Institute of Biology for his work in the biology of aging. Dr. Kyriazis is the founder and medical advisor to the British Longevity Society, and he is a certified member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. He is also an adviser to several other age-related organizations.

Dr. Kyriazis has extensive experience with nutritional supplements and anti-aging drugs. He is the author of several books on these subjects, including The Anti-Aging PlanStay Young Longer–NaturallyThe Anti-Aging CookbookThe Look Young Bible, and Carnosine And Other Elixirs Of Youth.
Dr. Kyriazis lives Hertfordshire, England. I interviewed him on November 6, 2004. Dr. Kyriazis has a warm and thoughtful manner about him. We spoke about the best ways to slow down the aging process, his research and clinical experience with carnosine, and how just the right amount of stress can actually benefit our health.

David: What do you think are the primary causes of aging?
Dr. Kyriazis: When I think about the primary causes of aging I divide them into two groups–fifty percent genetic and fifty percent environmental. From the environment we get free radicals, glycosylation, and hormonal changes. At the moment I don’t think there is anything that we can do about the genetic part, but we can of course influence the environmental part of aging. So I am working in clinical medicine to offer ways of counteracting the environmental causes, or the environmental basis of aging.

David: How do you differentiate between the biological symptoms of aging and those bodily changes that are actually caused by one’s belief about aging?

Dr. Kyriazis: It depends at what level one looks. I am more interested in the clinical level, although I have done biological research as well. I think there are different ways of looking at it. Biology will start with the molecules and the cells, and say this is an age-related phenomenon, a disease-related phenomenon. From my point of view I see individual patients. People usually come to see me because they have an age-related illness. So they come with, say, heart disease, or a prostate problem, which are age-related. Then when we expand on the actual causes of their problem they want to know more and find out about other age-related processes which may affect them. So it is a combined thing. I don’t necessarily make a distinction myself in my work.

David: What do you think are currently the best ways to slow down, or reverse, the aging process and extend the human life span?

Dr. Kyriazis: I offer a combination of different therapies affecting the entire body. For example, I recommend antioxidants and anti-glycator drugs or supplements. Apart from the ordinary vitamins and nutrients, I recommend carnosine, DHEA, and other hormones, depending upon whether the individual is deficient in those hormones or not. I also recommend a  nutritional lifestyle and exercise–but not ordinary exercise. It’s a combination of different unusual exercises (which I discuss in my book The Anti-Aging Plan) plus mental and sense exercises as well.

I try to make it easy for the individual to follow this, because many times people think that it’s much easier to just take a tablet or a capsule, rather than change their lifestyle. But I think it is very important to find a way to motivate the individual to change their lifestyle. So, in other words, it’s a combination approach. Different things all working together. Some people say, oh take four different supplements, or four different hormones, and you are covered. I don’t agree with that. I think that there are so many different aspects of aging, and that we need to use different treatments, a multi-pronged approach. So that’s what I say to my patients.

David: Can you talk a little about some of the beneficial effects your patients have had with carnosine supplements?

Dr. Kyriazis: Yes. I think I was the first person to use carnosine for anti-aging purposes. Carnosine has been around for quite some time, and athletes used to use it to enhance muscle and a performance. But I began using it specifically for anti-aging back in 1999. And the first person who took carnosine under my guidance still takes it today, five years later, and everyone says how young she looks generally. Her head hasn’t got a single grey hair–not one–although she’s now 48 or 49. This corresponds with experiences we have had with other patients. In other words, they generally look younger. Their hair grows better, and it stays black, or whatever color it is, but not grey. Many people experience increased energy. Mental performance, memory, and other brain functions improve as well.

But I always say to people that carnosine is not something that you can notice yourself. It’s something that works inside the body over the long-term, over ten or twenty years to prevent all the different age-related processes and damages that happen. I see carnosine mainly as a preventative treatment, not so much as an immediate treatment for some specific disorder, or to be noticeable. It doesn’t immediately produce noticeable effects, although there are ways of doing different biochemical tests, blood tests, and so on, that show an overall improvement over the years.

I use carnosine on patients who are normally healthy, who don’t have a disease. For example, I don’t use it on people who have muscular dystrophy or other muscular diseases. I think some people take it for that, but I don’t know whether it works or not. So it is difficult to differentiate and see a noticeable improvement on a healthy person. It’s much easier to notice if somebody is ill and he or she gets better after taking it. But this supplement is mainly used by healthy people in the long-term.
David: Can you talk a little about carnosine’s anti-glycosylation effect, and how it protects the body from dangerous cross-linked, oxidized proteins?

Dr. Kyriazis: Everybody thinks that free radicals and oxidation are the main causes of aging, but there’s another important one, which is glycosylation, and this happens all the time. It is due to glucose or other molecules attaching to proteins. This causes cross-linking and “advanced glycosylation end-products” or AGEs. I would say that this causes more damage to the body than free radicals, and carnosine prevents this damage in different ways.

First of all, it prevents free radical attacks because it’s an antioxidant. But it is also an anti-glycosylator. In other words, it prevents the proteins from being cross-linked. If two proteins that are not supposed to attach to each other, become attached and combine together, then they become useless. That’s what happens in cross-linking, and carnosine prevents that. Carnosine is like a shield that protects proteins. So when two proteins come together they don’t attach to each other. They remain free to function normally.

So the first stage is that carnosine prevents glycosylation in the first place. The second stage is that if glycosylation has already happened, if the two proteins have become cross-linked, carnosine will facilitate the removal of these useless proteins. Actually, our body is trying to eliminate abnormal proteins all the time, but with aging this rate of elimination slows down. Therefore we have an accumulation of abnormal proteins. But carnosine speeds up the rate of elimination, so all the junk material we have in our body gets eliminated quicker.

There is also some evidence that carnosine can actually break the existing bonds between the two cross-linked proteins. So if the proteins have become attached to each other, and they are cross-linked, in some circumstances carnosine can break the bond and allow them to be free again, and to function normally. So carnosine has three different benefits in addition to being an antioxidant.

David: What kind of dosage do you recommend  a healthy person take?

Dr. Kyriazis: I started with fifty milligrams a day, but now I recommend a higher dose–perhaps about two hundred milligrams a day. I know that some people use a thousand or more milligrams a day, but I don’t see the reason for that. I think about two hundred milligrams a day, in association with other supplements, should be enough for a healthy person.
David: What are your thoughts about using N-Acetylcarnosine eye drops–which breakdown into carnosine in the eye–as a way to protect the health of one’s eyes?

Dr. Kyriazis: This is also a very promising development. I was involved with advising the different researchers at the companies that are now marketing acetylcarnosine. The things that carnosine does as a tablet doesn’t work as well as

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Garry Gordon

Elation Over Chelation:
An Interview with Dr. Garry Gordon

By David Jay Brown

Garry Gordon, M.D. and I coauthored the book Detox with Oral Chelation (Smart Publications, 2007).

Dr. Gordon is one of the world’s experts in chelation therapy, nutrition, and mineral metabolism. He is the founder and current president of  the International College of Advanced Longevity Medicine (ICALM), and is one of the cofounders of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). Dr. Gordon wrote the original protocol for the safe and effective use of EDTA oral chelation therapy, and is the author of numerous scientific papers on the subject. He is also the coauthor of the bestselling book The Chelation Answer

Chelation is a chemical process in which a metal or mineral–such as lead, mercury, or calcium–is bonded to another substance. This is a natural process that goes on continually in our bodies. Chelation therapy–which employs the weak acid EDTA–has been shown to safely improve blood flow and relieve symptoms associated with atherosclerotic vascular disease in more than eighty percent of the patients treated. Chelation therapy also helps to prevent arteriosclerosis, improve circulation, and remove lead and toxic heavy metals from the body. This results in a myriad of beneficial effects, including improved vision and hearing, as well as better skin texture and tone. It also helps to improve cognitive function by increasing circulation to the brain.

Dr. Gordon received his Doctor of Osteopathy in 1958 from the Chicago College of Osteopathy in Illinois. In 1962 he received an honorary medical degree from the University of California, Irvine, and in 1964 he completed his Radiology Residency at Mt. Zion in San Francisco. For many years Dr. Gordon was the Medical Director of the Mineral Lab in Hayward, California, a prominent laboratory for trace mineral analysis.

Dr. Gordon is on the Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners for Arizona, and is a Board Member of International Oxidative Medicine Association (IOMA). He is advisor to the American Board of Chelation Therapy, and was the past instructor and examiner for all chelation physicians. Dr. Gordon is responsible for Peer Review for Chelation Therapy in the State of Arizona.

Dr. Gordon is currently attempting to establish standards for the proper use of oral and intravenous chelation therapy as an adjunct for treating all the major diseases. To find out more about Dr. Gordon’s work visit his Web sitewww.gordonresearch.com

I interviewed Dr. Gordon on March 16, 2006. Dr. Gordon speaks enthusiastically about alternative medicine and his excitement is contagious. We spoke about the dangers of environmental toxins and the benefits of chelation therapy, the differences between oral and I.V. chelation therapies, and about how chelation therapy effects bone growth.

David: What do you think are some of the biggest problems with modern medicine and what do you think needs to be done to help correct the situation?

Dr. Gordon: The biggest problem is greed. We have so many people in medicine today who are known to be receiving compensation from a drug company, or from some other company. It’s actually gotten to the point that the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine actually wrote a book about it. I believe she resigned saying that it’s gotten to the point that it’s almost impossible to have any honesty in medicine. So, because we have money driving the system, and it is such a huge system, we’ve lost our anchor. People are no longer functioning primarily to help their fellow man. It’s–how can I get ahead? Or can I get a million dollars worth of stock out of this? So the picture that we have today is so drug-oriented, and we’ve walked away from the medicine that the rest of the world practices.

Western medicine is not the dominant theory in the world. There are billions of people in the world. Many of these people know what plants grow in their area and what these plants can do medicinally. If you’re an African Bushman, for example, and you get bit by a snake or you step on something, you know what leaf to use as a remedy. But this knowledge has been lost to those of us here in the Western United States. We pretend that something that is FDA-approved, or that is used by mainstream medicine, has some science to it–whereas, in fact, if you look at it, a lot of it is nonsense.

Everything has to be looked at in view of what we would call the benefit and the risk. What people don’t understand is that a drug can get approved in this country on the flimsiest of research–in the following sense. All any drug has to do is be one percent better than a placebo and it can get approved–even if it’s killing people! So, here’s what’s really sad–if I ever killed somebody with vitamin C, they would absolutely drum vitamin C out the door. They’d put it on prescription so that nobody could get it.

But drugs like Celebrex and Vioxx kill people left and right, and they go forward doing this, because they are “approved.” But what people don’t understand is that the drug companies are allowed to throw away a study that shows that the drug was worse than placebo. They can keep going until they get one out of three studies that says it’s slightly better than placebo, and now they’ve got an approved drug. Then they can turn around and–according to headlines in the Wall Street Journal lately–bill people as much as as six hundred thousand dollars a year for something that doesn’t cost them six thousand dollars.

In other words, the drug companies are giving the drugs a thousand-fold markup, and they feel it’s legitimate, because they’ve got this incredible story behind it. Most people don’t realize that if they had simply taken vitamin C they would have clearly outlived however long this so-called new miracle drug makes them live with their cancer. These so-called miracle drugs that are getting approved often only extend life span one or two months. Yet they can legitimately charge an arm and a leg, and they can have side-effects that include death, whereas I can not have any such side-effects in alternative medicine. So the system is really just upside down. It’s out of control, and it is totally driven by money. It’s lost its anchor, which was to do good, and we have a crisis in health today.

The Earth has become so totally polluted that everybody today is walking around with high-levels of styrene, PCBs, and dioxins. They’re in every human being we test today, as well as is lead, mercury, and cadmium. These are taking their toll–and not just on humans. It’s getting to be more and more extreme. We’re seeing problems like birds at a 10,000 foot elevation that are loaded with mercury. For example, at Mount Washington the birds are loaded with mercury that’s coming from the burning of coal in China. There is simply no escape from the particulate matter. We have poisoned our nest. We have got to do natural things, which means somehow learn how to use simple things–whether it’s garlic, vitamin C, or a high-fiber diet. We have to do something that’s natural, but that’s not the focus of conventional Western medicine today.

The focus is on giving the patient a drug because their knee is bothering them, and if they have a little bit less pain, then it’s an approved treatment. It’s okay if you kill patients with the side-effects of the Vioxx and that Celebrex. So the system today is out of control. We have to go back to our roots and realize that there was a time that we raised the food in our backyard, and we were personally responsible for it. It wasn’t loaded with these pesticides that keep the food from spoiling. You buy something at the store, and it lays in your refrigerator for weeks and doesn’t turn bad, but you put that in your intestine and the chemicals that are in that food are killing your normal bacterias.

So we have huge problems, but I also see us as being able to extend life span. I believe in anti-aging medicine, stem cell research, and what we’re doing today with genetic testing, We’re now able to modulate genes with food. From the results of gene tests we can selectively tell people that they need to emphasize this food and avoid that food. We can make foods that will actually lower your risk of ever getting Alzheimer’s–even if both your mother and father’s side had the disease. You don’t have to get Alzheimer’s, but you have to have knowledge. Knowledge is the gene testing, and we can modulate genes by getting appropriate natural products–like RNA foods.

So this is a New Age that we’re in. We can fight back. But the system at the current time is such that poor folks are being so deluded that they think that if something is an approved drug then it’s the right choice. So they go ahead and let themselves be harmed by the Coumadin, when all they had to do was find out about something as simple as nanokinase and buy a natural thing with their own money. It’s not going to be covered by these wonderful insurance plans that the government comes up with, which subsidizes the most powerful industry in the world–the pharmaceutical industry. Nobody has the profits that these people have.

Nobody has the power that they have to influence legislation. They actually buy our Congress. So the net result is that it’s going to take a period of time for the people to wake up, and this book could do a wonderful job of helping

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Jacob Teitelbaum

Understanding and Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
An Interview with Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum

By David Jay Brown

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is a board-certified internist and a leading researcher in the field of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM). He has a specialized practice for CFS/FM and pain patients in Annapolis, Maryland, and is director of the Annapolis Research Center for Effective CFS/FM therapies. Dr. Teitelbaum is also the author of several books, includingFrom Fatigued to FantasticPain Free 1-2-3!: A Proven Program to Get You Pain Free Now!, and Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy

Dr. Teitelbaum received his medical degree from the Medical School at Ohio State University, and in 1980 he became Board Certified in Internal Medicine. For over two decades he has worked with CFS/FM patients. His motivation to specialize in this area of medicine began with personal experience. In 1975, Dr. Teitelbaum had to drop out of medical school when he himself contracted CFS/FM, and this had a profound influence on the course of his medical career. Although he recovered enough to resume his medical school training a year later, CFS/FM symptoms persisted for many years, and this motivated him to become an avid reader of the scientific medical literature, where he came across many studies that he not learned about in medical school. 

Applying this research, Dr. Teitelbaum began to treat his patients with nutritional and herbal therapies, hormonal supplements, anti-infectious treatments, physical therapy measures, and sleep support. Much to his surprise, these previously untreatable patients started to improve dramatically. Dr. Teitelbaum was amazed as his general internal medicine practice began to fill with patients who were flying in from around the country. He has now effectively treated approximately 2000 patients with CFS/FM related disorders.

In addition to having written several books, Dr. Teitelbaum has written numerous articles on CFS/FM, including the recent landmark paper “Effective Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia–A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled, Intent to Treat Study,” published in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dr. Teitelbaum has also designed a line of nutritional supplement and support formulas, and all of his royalties from the sale of these products goes to charity. To find ot more about Dr. Teitelbaum’s work visit his Web site: www.endfatigue.com

I interviewed Jacob on October 11, 2004. Jacob is open-minded, curious, and very enthusiastic about alternative medicine. He has a very upbeat perspective on life in general, and he laughs a lot. We spoke about the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome, the relationship between CFS and FM, how to sleep better and increase mental clarity, and other effective treatments for CFS/FM.

David: What inspired your interest in medicine, and how did your experience with chronic fatigue syndrome in medical school influence your medical career?

Jacob: I’ve wanted to be a healer since I was a little kid. I tend to be very empathic, and if somebody was hurting I could feel what they were feeling. When I was seven or eight years old I still remember how I’d want to hide behind a corner, and just wiggle my finger and make people who were hurting feel better.  So that’s always been my goal. If you look at my high school yearbook, you’ll see that it says that’s what I’m going to be. I’ve felt this way for as far back as I can remember. Part of being a Jewish kid is the expectation that you’re going to be a Jewish doctor, but that’s my nature. Part of being empathic is being a healer.

Because I had chronic fatigue syndrome in medical school, I was forced out of school for the year. It also forced me on the road. I was basically homeless, because my dad had died when I was about seventeen and I had no money. I had a scholarship, loans and work study, but since I was out of school, I had none of that, and I couldn’t work because I was too sick. So I was homeless, and I was living on the road. I discovered that on the road you meet fascinating people. I met all these healers and fascinating people along the way–people who were teaching some fascinating areas I had never heard about in medical school.

Also, I grew up in an old Eastern European Hassidic family, and Hassidic community, so the healing arts are very natural. Science is natural, and using healing was natural. So these things were all becoming second nature, as I met people that were teaching energy medicine, naturopathy, all different things along the way. So I healed up enough, in part because of that–probably in large part because of that. I think that’s why I recovered, as opposed to staying sick, was because of the energy work that I was doing and learning. It really kept me open to that as I learned the hard science, instead of just getting closed down. In medical school they would teach that anybody who does any of this stuff is a quack, but I knew better.

Using the chakra system, I could do an energy scan, feel a tumor, and send the person for a test and find it there. You see people get better. You see it and experience it. Then I would also look at the medical literature aggressively for just about everything, not just prescriptions, but also for natural remedies. In my training this encouraged me to not just look at the three main journals, and a specialty journal, that most doctors read, which are basically paid for by the drug companies. They’re basically big advertisements for the medications. They think it’s science, but what they ignore is that if the drug company pays for the study it has a much greater effect on the outcome then whether it’s placebo-controlled or not.

The medical journals wouldn’t dream of publishing something that wasn’t placebo-controlled, but what they publish is almost only articles related to medications that are paid for by the drug company, or by people who are working for the drug company and getting money from them. So it’s a big advertisement, and that creates a selectivity and bias that’s just very strong against natural remedies. And that’s all doctor’s hear about. But I would look at studies from literally dozens of different journals. I discovered that the smaller journals don’t draw as much drug money, and they do more basic research. They’re much more open to just publishing what science shows works, and just giving the straight data. So it got me interested in being open-minded to natural remedies as well as prescriptions.

I learned to recognize that there are many tools in the healing tool kit. In medical school all you come out with is a hammer, and everything looks like a nail. But when you start to do comprehensive medicine, you have a hammer, so if you have appendicitis you can do surgery. But if you have back pain, instead of having to cut the person open, you can give nutritional support or hormonal support. You can use willow bark, for example, which has been shown to be more effective than Motrin. You almost never have send anybody for back surgery, so you don’t have to whack everybody with a hammer. You could use gentler things that are more effective and more appropriate, because you have an entire tool kit.

Around five years ago there was a forest fire and my office burned down. It just took it out, and I saw this as a good thing. The universe knew I was about to burn out, because I’d been doing all that research, writing, lecturing, and teaching, in addition to running a practice, raising my five kids and the rest. The universe knew I would either burn out or the office would burn down, and it always take care of me. So the office burnt down. It gave me a chance to sit back and think, okay, what do I want to rebuild out of the fire? What do I want to let stay in the ashes? So that’s all good stuff. But when the office burnt down I had over 14,000 research study reports in my files that went up in smoke, and that’s only a tiny percent of what I read, because most studies aren’t worth the bother. Now I still know the stuff, because it’s in my head. However, when it first went down, it left me feeling like I got kicked in the stomach.

But this stuff is all accessible anyway, and it actually turned out to be a good thing. So this is what my work is based on, and when people say it’s not evidence-based medicine, and that they see no evidence that natural remedies work, that’s because they won’t look at the thousands of studies that show that it works. (laughter) Then they they can honestly say that they haven’t seen any evidence. It’s like Sgt. Shultz in the old Hogan’s Heroes. He would say, “I see nothing!” Well, that’s what the priests of high medicine are like in academia and the rest. It’s like they see nothing, and they will support no data that shows natural remedies work. If anybody does a study they will peer-review it into the ground, coming up with nonsense reasons to not publish it. If it is published, they question the journal, and they won’t look at the data. Then they can honestly say that they don’t see anything. But it’s a religion. It’s scientism, and basically, if they had their way, they would keep people from having access to a vast panoply of safe and effective therapies.

David: Can you talk a little about what you’ve learned about the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome?

Jacob: Yes, chronic fatigue syndrome is basically like blowing a fuse. It’s like the

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Jonathan Wright

The Frontiers of Natural Medicine:
An Interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright

By David Jay Brown

Jonathan Wright, M.D. is one of world’s leading experts on natural medicine, nutritional supplements, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. He is the medical director of the Tahoma Clinic in Kent, Washington, and he has treated over 2,000 patients with natural hormone replacement since 1982.

Dr. Wright graduated from Harvard University, and he received his medical education at the University of Michigan Medical School. He later specialized in family practice and nutritional medicine. Dr. Wright was a monthly medical columnist forPrevention magazine from 1976 to 1986 and for Let’s Live magazine from 1986 to 1996. Since 1994, he’s written Nutrition & Healing newsletter (1-800-851-7100www.wrightnewsletter.com )

He is also the bestselling author or coauthor of numerous health books, including Natural Hormone Replacement For Women Over 45Dr. Wright’s Guide to Healing With NutritionMaximize Your Vitality & Potency for Men Over 40, and Dr. Wright’s Book of Nutritional Therapy.

Since 1982 Dr. Wright and his colleague Dr. Alan Gaby having been teaching an annual seminar called “Nutritional Therapy in Medical Practice,” based on their experience in medical practice and personal research libraries, which contains over 45,000 medical journal articles dating from 1920 to the present. He also publishes an informative monthly newsletter. To find out more about Dr. Wright’s work visit: www.tahoma-clinic.com.

I spoke with Dr. Wright on July 14, 2005. He is a very enthusiastic and entertaining speaker. We spoke about preventing heart disease and osteoporosis, the basics of vitamin therapy, how people can improve their sexual performance, and the importance of treating hormonal decline with hormones that are identical to those found naturally in the human body.

David: What inspired your interest in medicine?

Dr. Wright: I’m not sure. I decided to go into medicine when I was eight years old. I recall a conversation with my parents about the whole thing, and the choices got narrowed down to law or medicine. For whatever reason, I decided that there are too damn many attorneys, and that they spend their time fighting, so I thought I’d go into medicine.

David: Can you talk a little about why you think that hormone replacement therapy is so important for both men and women as they age, and why do you think that taking natural hormones is better than taking synthetic hormones?

Dr. Wright: Hormone replacement therapy is especially important for men and women as they grow older at this particular time in the history of the planet and of the human race. Hormone replacement therapy is something that, in many areas of the world, simply wasn’t even possible until about the 12th Century in China. But even though that was many centuries ago, as far as we know, there have been people on the planet for hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps millions of years, and no one could do hormone replacement for most of that time.

Some people have pointed out that the average person’s life span was shorter in previous centuries, and perhaps people didn’t need hormone replacement because they didn’t live to the point where they needed it, and that may be true in some areas of the world. But we have not only Western Biblical references, but we have other writings that refer to some quite ancient people, in the past, who seem to have gotten by without hormone replacement, and lived to a good long age. The name Methusala, of course, always comes to mind. Then there are some names that–not being a being a Chinese speaker–I can’t pronounce. But  in Chinese writing, folks who are said to have lived for two or three hundred years, and it doesn’t appear that they took hormone replacement.

But the differences that may necessitate more hormone replacement in our time than in prior times, include what has happened to the food supply, the water supply, and the 50,000 new chemicals that are introduced into the environment every year–without knowing whether they’re safe or not. There has been terrific demineralizations of the soil, chemical additives to the water, such as chlorine and fluoride, and then there’s all the electromagnetic radiations that folks are exposed to that just simply didn’t exist two hundred years ago. The list could go on and on, and we don’t want do a treatise here on all the enormous environmental changes that have happened. But while we were living in this vastly changing environment, human biochemical systems remained the same.

Therefore, we’re seeing a tremendous rise in such things as Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia, which was, of course, so rare in the past. A paper on Alzheimer’s disease from a century and a half ago said that people had less than a one percent chance of coming down with the disease, whereas today we’re now told that our chances of ending up with Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia is fifteen percent. We also have seen the peak of a very large increase in cardiovascular disease, and thank goodness it’s gone down. I believe it was Paul Dudley White who was the first person to actually identify himself as a cardiologist and a specialist in heart matters in the early part of the twentieth century. Before him, we didn’t have cardiologists. We didn’t need them in the prior century, or the century before. And it’s not because people didn’t have heart disease back then, it’s because it was very unusual. Thank goodness–with no credit, I’m sorry to say, to American medicine, but a lot credit to just public awareness–that the large increase in cardiovascular disease seems to have reached its peak in the late 80s, maybe early 90s, and has subsided a bit again.

The other major thing for which people look to hormone replacement for turns out to be osteoporosis prevention, which again, was fairly uncommon until the last century–except for the inuit of northern Canada. Osteoporosis was fairly rare in this country until, again, the early Twentieth Century when the incidence started to rise, and went up and up and up.

So we have those three major problems–osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and senility and Alzheimer’s disease are (more or less) one problem. Cardiovascular disease has gone up enormously, and if one tracks it back, a lot of it has to do with the current mismatch between human biochemical systems and the enormously changed dietary and other environmental factors. What has been observed is that hormone replacement therapy is not only perhaps a longevity issue, but it can do a lot to reduce the probability of those three major problems. I think that is fairly definite and very defendable, but only if we use the same hormones that have been found in human biochemical systems for as long there have been human biochemical systems.

I suspect that I’m beating a dead horse, to make a deliberate pun, when I say that putting horse hormones into humans–when those horse hormones are roughly seventy percent different from human hormones, and have never been in human bodies before–was one of medicine’s many grievous errors in the last century. If we had been using bioidentical hormones we very likely would have never ever run into the disaster that the Women’s Health Initiative turned out to be. But we can significantly lower the risk of those three major risk problems that arose in the Twentieth Century, and continue into the Twenty-first Century, with bioidentical molecules.

We need to be extremely careful about not only the types of molecules, and duplicating exactly what goes on in the human body, but we also need to be concerned about quantities, the route of administration, and timing. It’s not very complicated. Actually, the whole thing can be summed up in two words–“copy nature.” If we’re going to replace the body’s hormones, let’s use the same molecules, the same quantities, the same timing, and the same route of administration that nature uses. That is the least likely to get use all into trouble.

David: What are some of the symptoms of low testosterone in men?

Dr. Wright: It’s debatable, but, for example, when testosterone starts to drop, ordinarily if an aging man is exercising regularly, and trying to keep up a certain muscle mass, he’ll notice that it’s more difficult to maintain that muscle mass. And we’ve all heard of ‘grumpy grampa.’ Well, for some men, particularly in their seventies and eighties, some of the just general grumpy mood can actually be attributed to testosterone being lower than it might be. I’ve talked with a number of families who say, oh yeah, Grampa’s a lot more cheerful, and he’s cracking more jokes, ever since he got his testosterone level back up. So that’s one of the mental symptoms, and there are physical ones, such as muscle mass problems. Certainly all men, or at least nearly all men, are concerned about their declining libido and sexual performance as they age, and they have problems that could have to do with low testosterone levels. That’s not always due to low testosterone, but if we combine several things–such as mental decline, a loss in muscle mass, and a loss in sexual desire and performance–and the more of those things we put together, the more

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Bernie Siegel

Unlocking the Secrets of Mind-Body Medicine:
An Interview with Dr. Bernie Siegel

By David Jay Brown

Bernie S. Siegel, M.D., helped to create a revolution in modern medicine. He is the author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles, the groundbreaking best-selling book that sold more than two million copies and went to number one on the New York Timesbestseller list. 

In his practice as a general and pediatric surgeon, Dr. Siegel began recognizing common personality characteristics in those patients who did well and those who didn’t. Studying these personality patterns helped Dr. Siegel to understand the important role that thoughts and emotions play in our health, and he began incorporating what he learned into how he treated his patients. In so doing, he helped to create a paradigm shift in clinical medicine that paved the way for what is now commonly known as mind-body medicine.

Dr. Siegel earned a medical doctorate from Cornell Medical College, and he received his surgical training at Yale University. In 1978, Dr. Siegel and his wife Bobbie founded the Exceptional Cancer Patients (ECaP) program in New Haven, Connecticut. This highly regarded and successful program–which incorporates a combination of group and individual therapy–is based upon what Dr. Siegel calls “carefrontation” or “a loving, safe, therapeutic confrontation that facilitates personal change, enpowerment, and healing.”

Dr. Siegel’s book Love, Medicine, and Miracles was published in 1986. As a result of this book’s enormous popularity, Dr. Siegel appeared on numerous television shows, including OprahDonahue, and 20/20. Some of Dr. Siegel’s other books include Peace, Love and HealingHow to Live Between Office VisitsPrescriptions for LivingHelp Me To Heal, and 365 Prescriptions for the Soul. Dr. Siegel also produced a series of popular audio cassettes, including Meditations for Enhancing Your Immune System, and Humor and Healing

Since retiring from clinical practice in 1989, Dr. Siegel has focused his energies on humanizing medical care and medical education. He is especially interested in teaching other health care professionals about how the mind-body connection affects health. Dr. Siegel travels extensively to speak and lead workshops. He recently completed a new children’s book, and is working on a book about how dreams and drawings can be used to reveal the somatic aspects of disease and healing. To find out more about Dr. Siegel’s work visit his Web site: www.ecap-online.org

I interviewed Dr. Siegel on November 12, 2004. I found Bernie to be extremely warm and charismatic. He’s very funny and playful, curious and open-minded, and I immediately felt comfortable with him. We spoke about how beliefs and emotions affect our health, how dreams might offer insights and clues as to how to treat a particular illness, what he thinks needs to be done to help improve the Western medical profession, and he offered a few prescriptions for how to slow down or reverse the aging process.

David: What inspired your interest in medicine, and why did you choose to become a surgeon?

Bernie: When I look back at my life, the number one reason that I come up with has to do with being artistic as a child, and having talented hands, but not realizing you could earn a living as an artist. I know that may sound silly, but as a kid I just didn’t know that. So I thought it would be good to use my hands because they’re skillful. I liked people, science fascinated me, and I liked fixing things. When I looked at what could accomplish all of those things, I realized, hey, you could be a surgeon and do them all.

I can remember taking care of a lot of children with various deformities back in medical school at what’s called the Hospital for Special Surgery. I was intially doing orthopedic work, and the funny thing was I realized that my personality was not to be an orthopedic surgeon–because it took too long for a bone to heal. I couldn’t wait. (laughter) So I became a general and a pediatric surgeon. In other words, I began taking care of children, but with congenital anomalies and other different things, as well as adults, because we had a practice partnership. So I took care of all ages, but I cared for all the children, and I really let the children teach me how to take care of adults.

But I always say that the reasons I became a physician were healthy. They’re not normal for a surgeon, because a lot of psychologists contacted me years ago saying, you’re not a normal surgeon, and please fill out these personality profiles. Then they’d call back and say, we were right–you’re not normal. And yes, I understand that, but I think that’s also what got me into people’s pain. Many students today don’t have anything to do with people in their reasons for wanting to go to medical school. When they’re filling out the form, it says, why do you want to be a doctor? They’ll say the human body fascinates me. When I say to them, draw yourself working as a doctor, they’ll draw pictures with no human beings in them.

It’s just unbelievable to think that you can say to a student, draw yourself working as a doctor, and they hand you a picture with diplomas, computers, instruments, prescriptions, bottles of drugs, and things of that sort. There are no people in the picture. So it’s because I cared about people, as I say, that I got into pain–because you ultimately realize that you can’t fix everything, and you can’t save everybody. It got to be very painful, and none of that is dealt with in your training. They don’t prepare you for loss, and that’s a part of the problem. There’s nowhere to discuss the pain, or share your feelings and help heal.

David: Can you talk a little about how you think our thoughts and beliefs effect the health of our bodies?

Bernie: You can’t separate thoughts and beliefs from your body. In other words, what you think, and what you believe, literally change your body chemistry. So if you have a pessimistic, hopeless outlook you’ll change your body, your immune function, and you can die a lot faster. I have literally seen this. I hear these stories from people, when someone’s hope is taken away. Let’s say they’re told they have a few months to live, but they can go home, climb into bed, and be dead in a week. So it’s really like turning off the “live switches”. When you study survivors you find that relationships, connections, hope and meaning all relate to people staying alive. For instance, just on simple terms, women live longer than men with the same cancers, and this has more to do with the men saying, I can’t work, so what’s the point of living? And the women seeing all the connections in their family, and reasons for being here.

So, as I say, your thoughts, beliefs, all relate to the health of your body, and many doctors literally can kill people with their words, or in a sense, heal them and cure them with words, and give them hope. This was something that I got into years ago, and everybody would yell at me, oh you’re giving false hope. But hope can’t be false. (laughter) If you have hope, it’s real. So there’s no such thing as false hope. Hope is a memory of the future. What they’re talking about is, you’re supposed to tell people what day they’re going to die. But who knows that? If the statistics say there’s six months average survival that doesn’t mean there aren’t people walking around ten years later, you see, who had that disease, and some who died in a week. So you’re coming up with an average. But individuals are not effected by an average. Yes, I might use it to make therapeutic choices. If something can improve your chances of surviving, you’d say, okay, let’s have an operation, let me have chemotherapy, whatever–but it doesn’t say where you’ll be next year or five years from now.

David: How do you think multiple personality disorder sheds light on the process by which the mind effects the body?

Bernie: If you look at the case histories of people with multiple personality disorder one of the things that you see is that there are people who are allergic to something in one personality but not in another. There was one case where somebody was diabetic in one personality and not in another. So, you see, when you change personalities your physiology can change with it. Now, a study was done that shows this operating on a simpler basis. If I give you a role or a script to play, and if it’s a depressing one, it will adversely effect immune function and stress hormone levels. However, if I give you a comedy it will enhance them. You see, it’s like the multiple personality–you’re changing your character. But what impresses me is that in a play it’s not even you or your life. You’re just acting. But still, when you act that part, your body responds to it, and that’s what people have to remember. So this is what I’m always saying to them–rehearse and practice who you want to be. As a physician I see myself as a coach. I try to help people be survivors. I point out to them what the qualities are of those who do better than I expect, so that they can imitate them, and rehearse and practice being a survivor. One doctor wrote of how his patients survived in a concentration

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Barry Sears

Dining in the Zone:
An Interview with Dr. Barry Sears

By David Jay Brown
Barry Sears, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading medical researchers on the hormonal effects of food. He is best known as the author of the number one New York Times bestseller The Zone, which outlines his strategy for controlling insulin levels in the body through diet. 

Dr. Sears developed the Zone diet as a way to keep the body from producing excess insulin. The Zone diet does this by providing a proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats at each meal, and also with supplements of high-dose pharmaceutical grade fish oil. The consumption of carbohydrates such as pasta and bread can cause a sharp spike in insulin production, and if this happens chronically we start to gain weight. This leads to insulin resistance and eventually results in a dangerous condition known as “silent inflammation.” Researchers are discovering that silent inflammation is at the root of many major illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. This is why Dr. Sears believes that we should treat our food like drugs.

In addition to The Zone, Dr. Sears has written nine other books on the Zone diet, including  Mastering the ZoneThe Age-Free ZoneThe Soy ZoneThe Omega Rx ZoneZone Meals in Seconds, and  What to Eat in the Zone.  His books have sold more than five million copies and have been translated into twenty-two languages in forty countries. He continues his research on the inflammatory process as the president of the nonprofit Inflammation Research Foundation in Marblehead, Massachusetts. 

I interviewed Dr. Sears on March 7, 2005. Dr. Sears has a talent for making complex explanations seem simple, and he speaks with great clarity and precision. We spoke about the dangers of silent inflammation, the role that eicosanoids play in our body, the benefits of high-dose pharmaceutical grade fish oil, and how the Zone diet can lower insulin levels and dramatically improve one’s health.

David: What originally inspired your interest in diet and nutrition?

Dr. Sears: My interest stems from wanting to avoid an early cardiovascular death, because everyone on the male side of my family–starting with my grandfather, my father and his brothers–all died in their early fifties of heart disease. So I realized about thirty years ago that I had the same genes, but I had the opportunity to change the expression of those genes. So this started me on a search to answer the question: What would be the most appropriate format for reducing the likelihood of premature heart disease? My background at the time was in drug delivery systems. I was doing work on intravenous drug delivery systems for cancer drugs, and then I realized that one could apply the same principals of drug delivery to food, in order to keep the hormones generated by food within therapeutic zones–not too high and not too low. So I really shifted my interest from looking at drug delivery systems to looking at food as a drug and as a modulator of hormones.

David: What are some of the dangers of silent inflammation, and how can people tell if they have a problem with silent inflammation?

Dr. Sears: One of the problems with silent inflammation is that it’s silent. That’s why no one knew much about it for so long. People can’t feel it and we had no clinical test for detecting it. Now that we can look for silent inflammation in the blood, we find it’s everywhere, and it seems to be the underlying cause of a great number of chronic disease states–whether it be heart disease, cancer, or Alzheimer’s disease. So until we had a way of testing it we had no way of looking at how to combat it. Now that we can test it, we find the most effective way of reducing silent inflammation–and this has all been clinically demonstrated–is by paying attention to the food that you eat. With the right diet–which is really an anti-inflammatory diet–you could reduce silent inflammation in your body within thirty days.

David: Why is reducing insulin levels so important for reversing silent inflammation, and why do you think that we should think of the food we eat as powerful drugs?

Dr. Sears: Insulin effects a great number of things in the body. Obviously it compounds the storage of sugar, but also the storage of fat. That’s why it’s excess insulin that makes you fat and keeps you fat. But what people don’t realize is insulin can also stimulate the enzymes that make the building blocks of inflammatory eicosanoids. That really became the smoking gun that links obesity to so many chronic disease states–because the more obese you are, the more insulin you’re making. And the more insulin you’re making, the more inflammation you’re generating. So with that linkage we can now say, okay, let’s find a way to reduce the levels of insulin, and reduce the levels of the inflammatory eicosanoids that insulin can help generate, to keep one managed in a therapeutic zone. That’s why food becomes so powerful, because food effects hormones, and hormones are hundreds of times more powerful than any drug. This means that food is probably the most powerful drug you’ll ever encounter, but the door could swing both ways. Food can be your greatest ally, or your worst hormonal enemy.

David: Can you talk a little about how the Zone diet can help people reduce insulin levels and control inflammation?

Dr. Sears: The Zone diet is really composed of two parts. One part is for controlling insulin, simply by getting a better balance of protein to carbohydrate on one’s plate. And actually this is quite simple–because all you need is one hand and one eye. Here’s all the rules you need to know in order to control insulin on a lifetime basis. At each meal divide your plate into three equal sections. On one third of the plate you put some low-fat protein that is no bigger nor thicker than the palm of your hand. The other two thirds of the plate you fill until it’s overflowing fruits and vegetables. Then you add a dash of monounsaturated fat, which could be olive oil, sliver almonds, or guacamole. Now what you’ve done is constructed a very tasty drug that will control insulin for the next four to six hours. The other part of the Zone diet is taking adequate levels of ultra-refined EPA/DHA concentrates [pharmaceutical grade fish oil], because it’s fish oil that contains the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which at high enough levels have profound anti-inflammatory effects. Combine the two, and you have a powerful one-two punch to control silent inflammation on a lifetime basis.

David: How is the Zone diet similar to a Paleolithic diet?

Dr. Sears: It’s similar in that 10,000 years ago there were no grains on the face of the Earth. So let’s go back to our example plate. There’s plenty of low-fat protein, therefore you’d never use excessive amounts, and the only carbohydrates man was exposed to (and that we are genetically designed to eat) were really fruits and non-starchy vegetables, because they have a low glycemic load. So in many ways the Zone diet is basically going back and making a diet for the Twenty-first Century that is compatible with our genes that still live in the Stone Age.

David: Could you clarify what you mean when you say that “10,000 years ago there were no grains on the face of the Earth”?

Dr. Sears: There was no agricultural development 10,000 years ago so that there was no easy access to grains as a major dietary component.
David: You say that the Zone diet is similar to the Paleolithic diet, and that “our genes still in the Stone Age.” Does that mean that our ancestors always ate meals that had the precise portions of protein, carbohydrates, and fats that you recommend for each meal?

Dr. Sears: The genetic propensity that we have for fat storage was a valuable survival mechanism in the past. Now it has become a genetic liability. To overcome the genetic component we have to control the balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat the best we can at every meal.

David: How have the studies done on caloric restriction influenced your development of the Zone Diet?

Dr. Sears: The only proven technology “to slow down the aging process” has been reducing calories. So people say, well yeah, but who wants to be hungry and deprived the rest of their life? I know I don’t. So what you’re looking at in terms of the Zone diet is a calorie restricted diet–but yet one without hunger, and one without deprivation. One of the little known, or little appreciated facts of the Zone diet is that it’s not about how many calories you eat, it’s how much energy you produce, that is ATP [adenosine triphosphate, the body’s primary energy molecule]. So this is why you can basically reduce the number of calories in the Zone diet and still have high levels of physical and mental energy, because you’re now making larger amounts of ATP with a lesser number of calories. So now you have anti-aging the easy way–basically eating great meals, but you’re restricting calories without hunger and without deprivation.

David: You mentioned eicosanoids earlier. Can you talk a little about the role that eicosanoids play in our body and how our diet and insulin levels effects them?

Dr. Sears: Eicosanoids are really your master hormones. They control inflammation, but they also control so much more.

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Deepak Chopra

David Jay Brown 

Interviews Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra, M.D. is a physician, inspirational speaker, and a prolific writer. Dr. Chopra combines conventional Western medical approaches with traditional Ayurvedic medicine from India, and has been one of the leading figures in mind/body medicine for around twenty years. His work has had a significant influence on many Western physicians, and he helped to bring the notion of holistic medicine to many people’s attention with his innovative combination of Eastern and Western healing. Dr. Chopra  has written over thirty books (both fiction and nonfiction) on the topics of alternative medicine, self-improvement, and spirituality–including the New York Times bestsellers Timeless Body, Ageless Mind, How to Know God, and Quantum Healing. He is especially well known for integrating modern theories of quantum physics with the timeless wisdom of ancient cultures.

Dr. Chopra attended medical school at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where he was trained as an endocrinologist, and graduated in 1969. Formerly the Chief of Staff at Boston Regional Medical Center, Dr. Chopra built a successful endocrinology practice in Boston in the 1980’s. His teaching affiliations included Tufts University and Boston University Schools of Medicine. In 1985 Dr. Chopra  left a successful and highly regarded position as chief of staff at The New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham, Massachusetts, in order to dedicate his life to expanding the impact and effectiveness of conventional medicine. 

Dr. Chopra lectures around the world, and has made presentations to such organizations as the United Nations, the World Health Organization in Geneva, and London’s Royal Society of Medicine. As the keynote speaker, he appeared at the inauguration of the State of the World Forum, hosted by Mikhail Gorbachev and the Peace and Human Progress Foundation, founded by the former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace prize winner Oscar Arias. Esquire Magazine designated Dr. Chopra as one of the top ten motivational speakers in the country; and in 1995, he was a recipient of the Toastmasters International Top Five Outstanding Speakers award. He participates annually as a lecturer at the Update in Internal Medicine event sponsored by Harvard Medical School, Department of Continuing Education and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 1997. In 1999 Time magazine selected Dr. Chopra as one of the “Top 100 Icons and Heroes of the century”, describing him as “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine.”

Dr. Chopra’s  books explore many spiritual and health-related topics. His book How to Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries presents a seven stage theory of how people perceive religious experiences. Some of his other bestselling books include The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Unconditional Life, Perfect Health, The Return of Merlin, The Path to Love, and Return of the Rishi. He has also produced more than a hundred audio, video and CD-ROM titles, and his books has been published on every continent, and in dozens of languages. In 1992, he served on the National Institutes of Health Ad Hoc Panel on Alternative Medicine. Dr. Chopra is also the founder of the Chopra Center for Well Being in Carlsbad, California.To find out more visit about Dr. Chopra’s work visit: www.chopra.com

Deepak’s books have been an inspiration to me over the years. He has a real talent for being able to integrate timeless spiritual teachings with the insights of modern science, and to then apply this understanding to finding practical solutions to many of life’s basic problems. I interviewed Deepak on September 4, 2003. I found him to be a very eloquent speaker. He expresses his ideas with clarity, simplicity, and charm. We spoke about the relationship between the mind and body, whether or not one can be certain of spiritual beliefs, psychic phenomena, mystical experiences, and the nature of God and consciousness.

David: What were you like as a child?

Deepak: I grew up in India. I went to a Catholic missionary school, and I was very interested in Shakespeare, the dramatic arts, debating, and cricket. I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were extremely caring and loving. My father was a cardiologist, and he really flooded the house with books of knowledge and literature.

David: How did you become interested in medicine, health and longevity?

Deepak: I wanted to actually be a writer, and I wanted to do fiction, but my father was very keen that I go into medicine. On my fourteenth birthday he gave me several books, which were all fiction, but included physicians as the protagonist. So I switched  to medicine at the last moment, went to pre-med, and went on to become a physician.

David: How important do you think our beliefs about aging are, with regard to how our health is effected by age, and what role do you see the mind playing in physical health?

Deepak: Well, there’s physical age, psychological age, and chronological age. The research data shows that your psychological age influences your biological age more than your chronological age. So your expectations, your beliefs, your anticipation of how you will be at a certain age, certainly influences the biochemistry and biology of aging.

David: How has your understanding of quantum physics and Hinduism influenced your perspective on the nature of consciousness?

Deepak: I’ll give you my perspective on Vedanta. I think Hinduism is a corruption of Vedanta, and I’m not very keen on the Hindu rituals. But Vedantic understanding of consciousness, as the ground of existence, has really influenced my understanding of how the universe works. I am convinced by everything I know scientifically that consciousness is not an epiphenomenon– that it’s the other way around. Matter is the epiphenomenon.  Consciousness conceives, governs, constructs, and ultimately becomes the physical reality.

I believe that consciousness is the ground of being, and it differentiates into both observer and observed. Today from the perspective of quantum physics we also know that matter is energy and information. But energy and information are a potential, unless there’s an observer to collapse the potential into a space-time event. So I think quantum physics, in many ways, validates the original insights of Vedanta.

David: What are your thoughts on telepathy and psychic phenomena, and why do you think so many scientists have such difficulty accepting the possibility that these phenomena actually exist?

Deepak: I think scientists who do not understand non-locality will have difficulty in understanding, or accepting, these phenomena, because the phenomena can’t be explained by conventional science, or even by information technology. The only way these phenomena can be understood is the actualization, simultaneously, in information and nervous systems, that are separated from each other in space-time, from a common non-local domain.

As we understand more about the physics of non-locality–which is really an elaboration of the Einstein-Padolski-Rosen equation and Bell’s Theorem–we will have a better way to explain these phenomena. So-called telepathy, precognition, remembrance of other lifetimes, prophecy, are all examples of simultaneous actualization of information in different nervous systems from a single underlying non-dual, non-local consciousness.

David: One of the themes of your spiritual books is that we create our own realities through the choices that we make in life. However, it seems that much of what happens in life is beyond our personal control. I’m wondering if you think that our personal choices explain everything that happens to us. If we are 100% responsible for the creation of our own realities, how do you explain the atrocities and abuse that small children sometimes face in this world?

Deepak: I think you’re asking a question that has been asked forever– and that is, is there free-will, or is it a deterministic universe? In the enlightened mind, it’s a completely free world and universe. In the conditioned mind, it’s a determined world. We can not squeeze the soul into the volume of a single body, or even the span of a lifetime. So the atrocities and abuse that happens are an interdependent co-rising of a turbulence in the collective ground of consciousness. And it can be very easily understood, if you put it in that context. If you think of a person as an individual, then, of course, there is a great difficulty in explaining these phenomena. From the Vedantic perspective,  the person is an illusion. There is no such thing as a person. A person is in the interwoveness of interbeingness, and  does not have a separate identity. So whatever happens is a result of an interdependent co-arising of space-time events from the virtual or non-local domain.

David: What is your perspective on God, and do you see any teleology in evolution?

Deepak: God is the source of all the information, energy, space-time, and matter that structure the

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Larry Dossey

Medicine and Spirituality:

An Interview with Dr. Larry Dossey

By David Jay Brown

Larry Dossey, M.D., is considered one of the world’s experts on mind-body medicine, and is one of the leading spokespeople for integrating spirituality with medicine. He is the author of ten books on the role of consciousness and spirituality in medicine, including Space, Time & Medicine, and the New York Times bestseller Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine.

Dr. Dossey graduated in 1967 from Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He then served as a battalion surgeon in Vietnam and spent hundreds of hours in helicopters, rushing around with–paradoxically enough–a medical aid bag and a rifle. He says that these daily close encounters with death profoundly affected him, and they gave him an immense sense of gratitude toward life. 

In the 1970s, after completing his residency in internal medicine at the Veterans Administration Hospital and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, he helped to establish the Dallas Diagnostic Association–the largest group of internal medicine practitioners in the city–and served as Chief of Staff at the Medical City Dallas Hospital. While there, he became intrigued by patients who experienced remissions that conventional medicine could not adequately explain, and by the interactions between mind and body. These experiences lead to the development of a biofeedback department at the Dallas Diagnostic Association, and to an interest in alternative and holistic medical therapies, such as imagery, visualization, and meditation.

In 1982 Dr. Dossey wrote Space, Time & Medicine, the first of a series of books about the implications that research into mind-body healing, parapsychology, and one’s world view have on medicine. This book influenced many young physicians at the time and helped promote a greater acceptance of these ideas in mainstream medicine. Some of Dr. Dossey’s other books include Beyond IllnessRecovering the Soul,Reinventing Medicine, and Prayer is Good Medicine.

More than anything else, Dr. Dossey is probably best known for his work popularizing the research which demonstrates that prayer can have measurable healing effects. Although the evidence for this phenomena–known in the scientific literature as “remote healing”–is impressive, as with much of the research into psychic phenomena, the carefully controlled, double-blind studies that have been done in this area are virtually unknown to the average person, and many scientists persist in ignoring the very interesting and compelling data that has resulted from these studies.

Dr. Dossey served as co-chair of the NIH panel on Mind/Body Interventions at the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. For nearly ten years he was the executive editor of the medical journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, which he helped found in 1995. Currently, he is executive editor of Exlore: The Journal of Science and Healing. He is a very popular public speaker, and has appeared on Oprah WinfreyLarry KingGood Morning America, and NBC TV’s Dateline. Dr. Dossey was the first physician ever invited to deliver the Annual Mahatma Gandhi Peace Foundation Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, India.

Dr. Dossey lives in New Mexico. I interviewed him on January 30, 2006. I was instantly comfortable with Larry. He’s very kind and gracious. I was particularly struck by Larry’s strong sense of optimism and his contagious sense of hope. We spoke about mind-body medicine, research into remote healing, the problems with conventional Western medical treatments, and the future of medicine.

 

David: What originally inspired your interest in medicine?

Larry: I’m still trying to figure that out. There’s no tradition in my family of medicine, and there have never been any other doctors in my family, as far as I know. I seem to have an innate fascination with science. I went away to the University of Texas at Austin, and fell in love with biology and chemistry. I got a degree in pharmacy, with almost a major in chemistry, and studied pre-med as well. I actually worked my way through medical school on weekends as a registered pharmacist. So I don’t know how to explain my fascination and obsession with medicine–but it’s certainly very deep, and it’s been a commitment all my life. 

David: How did your experience in Vietnam effect your perspective on medicine?

Larry: I had one of the strangest assignments possible for a physician in Vietnam. I functioned basically as a high-powered medic, beyond anything that would resemble a M.A.S.H. unit, carrying basically an aid bag and a rifle around. I actually went on patrols, spent hundreds of hours in helicopters, and fortunately got back alive–which took some doing. It was a daily confrontation with one’s own mortality. I was in combat for the entire time, and this experience certainly makes one humble about the blessings one has in this culture. I can assure you that, and I’ve reflected on that every day since I came back from Vietnam. It’s been a kind of indwelling presence really–the fact that I did remain alive–and it’s filled me with gratitude. I don’t think that it changed anything about my commitment to medicine, or made me see healing in any different way, but it was a confrontation with the immediacy of death, and it really was a powerful experience for me.

David: What do you think are some of the biggest problems with the way that medicine is practiced today?

Larry: Let me just name three or four. One is that it’s become so complex that it’s practically unmanageable. The institute of medicine several years ago began to make a national issue about the death rate in their hospitals from errors, and the side-effects of medications, and just flat out mistakes. There was a survey of this published in the Journal of the Medical Association three or four years ago in which these statistics were analyzed. In this paper the third leading cause of death came out to be hospital care. The death rate in American hospitals from medical mistakes, errors, and the side-effects of drugs now ranks as the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.

Well, the objectors came forward and were able to reanalyze the data. I think they demoted it down to five or six, as if that’s some great accomplishment. But many experts still say that it’s number three. Even so, the fact that it’s even number five or six is still a national scandal. It should be a disgrace. But somehow people just accept this as part of the way medicine is. So the lethality of medicine is one problem. Another problem with medicine is it’s applicability. It’s been estimated that three-fourths of people who go to physicians have nothing physically wrong with them, which means that they’re beyond the reach of what high-tech, complex, modern medicine has to offer. 

There’s also a problem with the expense. We’re nearing fifty million people in this country who don’t have health insurance. That’s a national disgrace. We’re the only western industrialized country for which this is so. There was a survey published in The Wall Street Journal last year which found that medical illness and medical expense was the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States. Now, this didn’t just apply to low income families. This applied to middle-income families. Many of them had college educations, and many of them had health insurance, but the insurance didn’t pay. This is a scandal.

Another problem with modern medicine is that it is not as effective as we want it to be. For example, take longevity. Currently the United States ranks twenty-sixth in longevity in countries in the world, behind countries like Costa Rica. Take infant mortality. We’re now thirty-ninth in the world, behind countries like Cuba, Slovenia, and Aruba. This is disgraceful. We spend more money on healthcare than any other country, I think by a factor of three now, so we’re not getting our money’s worth in many areas. You add up all of these things, and you think, well, we’ve lost our way here. I think we have lost our way, and so those are just a few of the problems I see.

David: What do you think can be done to

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Andrew Weil

The Transformative Power of Integrative Medicine:
An Interview with Dr. Andrew Weil

By David Jay Brown

Andrew Weil, M.D., is an internationally recognized expert on Integrative Medicine, which combines the best therapies of conventional and alternative medicine. Dr. Weil’s lifelong study of medicinal herbs, mind-body interactions, and alternative medicine has made him one of the world’s most trusted authorities on unconventional medical treatments. Dr. Weil’s sensible, interdisciplinary medical perspective strikes a strong chord in many people. His recent books are all New York Times bestsellers and he has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine twice, in 1997 and again in 2005. USA Today said, “Clearly, Dr. Weil has hit a medical nerve,” and The New York Times Magazine said, “Dr Weil has arguably become America’s best-known doctor.”

Dr. Weil has long had a talent for blending the conventional with the unconventional. He received an undergraduate degree in botany from Harvard in 1964 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing a medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, he worked for a year with the National Institute of Mental Health. From 1971 to 1984, he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum, where he conducted investigations into medicinal and psychoactive plants. Then from 1971 to 1975, as a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled throughout Central and South America, collecting information and specimens for this research. These explorations–where he not only studied plants but indigenous peoples, their medicine and pharmacology–were to have a profound effect on Dr. Weil’s medical career. 

Dr. Weil has long been interested in altered states of consciousness and how the mind effects health–even before he began studying medicine. He has written extensively about this interest and about how his early psychedelic experiences profoundly influenced his views on medicine. Dr. Weil’s first book, The Natural Mind, was an investigation of drugs and higher consciousness. Because of this interest in altered states of consciousness, Dr. Weil has been honored by having a psychedelic mushroom named after him–Psilocybe weilii, which was discovered in 1995.

Dr. Weil is the author (or coauthor) of ten popular books, including The Marriage of the Sun and Moon, From Chocolate to Morphine, Health and Healing, Natural Health, Natural Medicine, Spontaneous Healing, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, and Healthy Aging. He has also appeared in three videos featured on PBS: Spontaneous Healing, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, and Healthy Aging. 

Dr. Weil is currently the Director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine. He also holds appointments as Clinical Professor of Medicine, Professor of Public Health, and is the Lovell-Jones Professor of Integrative Rheumatology. A frequent guest on Larry King Live, Oprah, and The Today Show, Dr. Weil is the editorial director of DrWeil.com, and he publishes the popular newsletter Self Healing. To find out more about Dr. Weil’s work visit: www.drweil.com.

Dr. Weil lives near Tucson, Arizona. I conducted this interview with Dr. Weil on March 8, 2006. Dr. Weil appeared to be especially interested in the relationship between consciousness and health when we spoke. We talked about some of the most important lessons that physicians aren’t being taught in medical school, why it’s important for conventional Western medicine to be more open-minded about alternative medical treatments, and how the mind and spirituality effect health.

David: What originally inspired your interest in medicine?

Dr. Weil: My father had wanted to go to medical school but was unable to finish college. It was during the depression. I had a G.P. family doctor who was an influence in that direction. I was interested in science and biology, and I kind of went to medical school by default, because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had a sense that a medical degree would be useful to me, and I wanted a medical education, but I really never saw myself being a doctor.

David: How did your early study of botany and the medicinal use of plants in South America effect your views of medicine?

Dr. Weil: That was a huge influence. I think that’s one of the luckiest choices I ever made. It really gave me a grounding in natural science. It connected me to the plant world. It got me interested in ethnobotany, and uses of plants in other cultures. It exposed me to Native American culture, both in North and South America. It gave me a perspective on drugs that I don’t think anyone else in Harvard Medical School had, and it really started me on a career interest in medicinal plants. I think it was one of the major influences in how I think about and practice medicine.

David: What do you think are some of the biggest problems with modern medicine and what do you think needs to be done to help correct the situation?

Dr. Weil: I think it’s too reliant on technology. I think it overly reliant on very powerful pharmaceutical drugs, without appreciating their potential for harm. I think it is very effective in many areas, but I think it’s very ineffective in large categories of disease that effect people. I think it’s doing a very poor job at prevention. I think it neglects, or underplays, the body’s potential for healing, which has been a major theme of my work and writing. And I think it’s become very divorced from the natural world.

David: What do you think are some of the most important lessons about health that most physicians aren’t currently being taught in medical school?

Dr. Weil: I think the major one is that the body has a tremendous potential for self-regulation and for healing, and that that’s where good medicine should start. You want to figure out how to make that happen or remove obstacles to it. I think that physicians are generally uneducated in the whole realm of lifestyle medicine–that is, how diet, exercise, mental states, habits effect health. I think they’re very uneducated in mind-body interactions and the spiritual dimension of human health. I think there’s almost a complete omission of education about nutrition, about use of dietary supplements, about use of botanicals, about many of these other systems of medicine, like Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, that are thousands of years old, and very effective in many areas. So there are large areas I think of omission in conventional medical education.

David: Why do you think it’s important for conventional Western medicine to be more open-minded about alternative medical treatments?

Dr. Weil: First of all, a huge number of patients are using these systems and doctors should know what their patients are doing–if only for the point of view that they might interact or impact the conventional treatments that they’re recommending. Secondly, there are a lot of ideas and treatments out there in the world of alternative medicine that are very useful, that can compliment these deficiencies in conventional medicine. So that alone is, I think, a reason for doctors to at least to be aware that these other systems and methods exist.

David: Can you talk a little about Integrative Medicine and why you think it’s important?

Dr. Weil: I think Integrative Medicine is the way of the future. It makes sense. It’s what patients want increasingly. It’s what doctors want to practice. And I think the real potential of it–which is going to make it a mainstream phenomenon–is that it has the potential to lower healthcare costs by bringing lower cost treatments into the mainstream, while preserving outcomes or even improving them.

David: Can you explain what you mean by the body’s “healing system”?

Dr. Weil: I think this is obvious if you watch the way wounds heal on the surface of the body. The body has a capacity to diagnose problems, to repair them, and to regenerate. This exists at every level of the organism, and it seems to me that good medicine should start with that principle, that the body has the ability to heal itself, and wants to get back to a state of health. And that your job as an outside practitioner is to help that process. So you’re not putting a cure into somebody. You are impacting, removing obstacles to, allowing that natural healing power to work.

David: What are some of the basic suggestions that you would make about diet?

Dr. Weil: First of all, the basic theory of my work is in the book Health and Healing.  I think that appeared in 1983. In a lot of my practical books I’ve included information about diet. I have a whole book on that subject called Eating Well for Optimum Health, and in that cookbook I did with Rosie Daley, The Healthy Kitchen,

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Jack Kevorkian

A Compassionate Ending:

An Interview with Dr. Jack Kevorkian

By David Jay Brown

Jack Kevorkian, M.D., is one of the most controversial physicians in the world. He attracted a lot of media attention in the early to mid-nineties due to his outspoken ideas about euthanasia, or “a good death,” and is currently in his eighth year of prison for second degree murder because he assisted with the last wish of his patient, Thomas Youk, who was suffering from ALS.

Dr. Kevorkian graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1952 with a specialty in pathology. He became Chief Pathologist at the Detroit Saratoga General Hospital in 1970. In the early 1980s, Dr. Kevorkian published a series of articles in the German journal Medicine and Law, which outlined his ideas on euthanasia and ethics. Then, in 1987, Dr. Kevorkian began advertising in Detroit papers as a physician consultant for “death counseling.” Between 1990 and 1998 Dr. Kevorkian assisted in the suicide of over one hundred terminally ill people.

In each of these cases, Dr. Kevorkian only assisted in the suicide by attaching the person to one of the euthanasia devices that he designed. The first two deaths were assisted by means of a device called a “Thanatron,” which used a needle and delivered the deadly drugs mechanically through an I.V. The individual pushed a button which released a series of drugs that would end his or her own life. After assisting in these two deaths, in 1993 Dr. Kevorkian lost his medical license.

When Dr. Kevorkian could no longer obtain euthanizing drugs, some other patients were assisted by a device called a “Mercitron,” which employed a gas mask fed by a canister of carbon monoxide. It’s important to note that all of these cases were of voluntary euthanasia, because the individuals themselves took the final action which resulted in their own deaths. Dr. Kevorkian was tried numerous times during the 1990s for assisting in these suicides, but in every one of these cases the juries acquitted him. One juror was overheard to say the only thing Dr. Kevorkian was guilty of was being ahead of his time.

Court room conditions changed dramatically after Dr. Kevorkian appeared on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace. The November 22, 1998 broadcast of 60 Minutes featured a videotape that showed a patient in the final stages of ALS receiving a lethal injection from Dr. Kevorkian. Although Thomas Youk had provided his fully-informed consent, and this was a case of voluntary euthanasia, it was viewed differently than his previous cases because Dr. Kevorkian himself administered the lethal injection to relieve his pain and suffering.

Although originally charged with assisted suicide, in the end Dr. Kevorkian went to trial on the charge of first-degree murder and was not allowed any witnesses. Following specific jury instructions for murder, not assisted suicide, the jury convicted him of second-degree murder and the delivery of a controlled substance on March 26, 1999. Dr. Kevorkian remains in prison in Michigan, serving a ten-to-twenty-five year sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case. State and local courts denied his appeals and he has been repeatedly denied parole. He has made clear that he will no longer help patients end their lives and will now advocate legislation for this fundamental human right. He considers it a civil right of all individuals. Coincidentally, Dr. Kevorkian’s access to the media was also severed the day he went to prison.

Mike Wallace, the anchor from 60 Minutes who aired the video that was used in the trial that ultimately led to Dr. Kevorkian’s imprisonment, said that he was upset with the conviction and perturbed by his lack of access to Dr. Kevorkian. In a letter to The New York Review of Books in 2001, Wallace wrote about the irony of Kevorkian being silenced while mass-murderer Timothy McVeigh was allowed to make all the statements he wanted to the media. In fact, the request for a lethal injection by a healthy, albeit convicted felon, Timothy McVeigh, was granted almost immediately after he declined appeals of his conviction.

Many people believe that Dr. Kevorkian is not only being treated unfairly, but that this courageous man should be honored as a hero. Despite the U.S. government and medical establishment’s opposition to euthanasia, eighty percent of the public support a patient’s right to die and one in five physicians has admitted to practicing euthanasia at some point in his or her career. Many people also point out the irony in that the government rejects euthanasia but maintains the death penalty with lethal injection. Had Michigan had the death penalty, Dr. Kevorkian could have been sentenced to death for assisting someone who made a voluntary choice to end their own suffering.

Dr. Kevorkian is the author of Amendment IX: Our Cornucopia of Rights, about how the Ninth Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution grants us rights that most people are unaware of, and are not being properly exercised. It states “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Dr. Kevorkian is also the author of a unique diet book entitled Slimmeriks and the Demi-Diet, and a collection of essays, color paintings, poetry, medical research proposals, sheet music, limericks, and cartoons entitled GlimmerIQs. To find out more about Dr. Kevorkian’s books visit: www.glimmeriqs.com. Dr. Kevorkian is also an accomplished artist, whose emotionally-powerful, often surreal, and strikingly well-executed paintings have received critical acclaim. Copies of his paintings are available Ariana Gallery in Royal Oak, Michigan. His paintings are now part of the collection of the Armenian Library and Museum of America: www.almainc.org.

Dr. Kevorkian was awarded the Gleitsman Citizen Activist of the Year Award in 2000, and he was the subject of the 2001 documentary film Right to Exit: The Mock Trial of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Many prominent people have spoken out in Dr. Kevorkian’s defense, and in 2002 he was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize. A major motion picture about Dr. Kevorkian’s life, which will be directed by Academy Award winner Barbara Koppel, is currently in production. Kurt Vonnegut even wrote a novel entitled God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian, where he envisions himself as a “reporter on the afterlife,” and bravely allows himself to be strapped to a gurney by Dr. Kevorkian and dispatched–round-trip–to Heaven.

I interviewed Dr. Kevorkian in May of 2006. I was able to do this interview with the generous help of Dr. Kevorkian’s attorney, Mayer Mike Morganroth, and his jury consultant and acting legal assistant, Ruth Holmes, who posed my questions to him in prison and recorded his responses. In the following interview, Dr. Kevorkian discusses his ideas about personal freedom, diet and exercise, why the practice of euthanasia is so important, and how the availability of euthanasia might actually prolong the lives of terminally-ill patients.

David: What originally inspired your interest in medicine?

Dr. Kevorkian: I was interested in a lot of things when I was young growing up in Pontiac, Michigan with my two sisters and parents who escaped the Armenian Genocide. I considered being an engineer. I considered being a lawyer. I decided on medicine because it touches all professions. I also loved languages and taught myself to speak many of them.

David: What do you think are some of the biggest problems with modern medicine and what do you think needs to be done to help correct the situation?

Dr. Kevorkian: The biggest problem with Western medicine is that there is a need for establishing an appropriate system and structure for death with dignity. For those who are facing a terminal illness, who are in irremediable pain and suffering, and wish to exercise their right to die with dignity, a system should be available to them. We also need a more structured and reasonable organ donation and transplant systems. 18,000 people die each year waiting for organs. To help correct this situation there has to be an organized public response and outcry–which I believe is now occurring. The current system has not worked well enough to meet the medical needs.

David: Why do you think it’s so important for physicians to be able to practice euthanasia without the fear of legal prosecution?

Dr. Kevorkian: Medical art and science are entirely secular and serve a dual purpose: to lengthen life and to preserve or enhance its quality. Theoretically both aims are equally important, but arbitrary (and mainly sectarian) bias fostered an obsession to prolong life, no matter how inimical to its quality.

The benefits of medicine permit its practitioners to perform acts that ordinarily are crimes. Thus we condone and even laud surgical mutilation like open heart surgery or organ transplants and tolerate for cancer treatment nearly lethal poisoning with chemotherapy. The resultant quality of life is always subordinate to the chief aim of prolonging it. Why shouldn’t the ranking order sometimes be reversed? Why should we not just as readily praise and support the chief aim of relieving pain and suffering for those with terminal illnesses— humanely, expediently and with certainty—an intolerably low quality of individual life through a medical act ordinarily deemed to be homicide?

As a secular profession medicine is relevant to the full

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