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I bought at Alfa Romeo 4C sports car last year. It’s not particularly expensive in the realm of sports cars but it is quite rare, so far only 753 have been shipped to the U.S. So I regularly check in to the online forum and have been watching how the various owners have been using their cars and what’s happening to them. Many people have crashed them or are driving them daily to work and back, one owner takes it to a regular automated car wash to wash it weekly (the car has openings in it that easily allow rain or water to come into the engine bay and destroy the battery). In short I see these cars being wiped out left and right from one common theme overuse / inappropriate use.

This particular Alfa Romeo is a car meant to be driven hard on a race track or to be taken out for the occasional Sunday drive in sunny weather. It’s not designed for commuting, you can barely park it and it’s certainly not meant to be outside in the rain since the engine is exposed to the elements.

Our brains are similar. The human brain was made to occasionally work very hard. Identifying a predator about to attack you, chop down a tree and haul it back to your village for heat and cooking, finding an animal you can eat, killing it and all the things we need to do to survive. Our brains were also made to relax, take it easy, be at one with the world and watch nature and our lives pass by.

Much like my new car, the brain was not designed for constant daily overuse, which is how most of us these days operate. The average person has around 60,000 thoughts every day! Being inside a brain with 60,000 thoughts per day is crazy. Many of our thoughts are negative and others are repetitive. I find most of my thoughts range from uninteresting to annoying to downright self-destructive. “I deserve ice cream tonight”, “too tired to exercise” to name a few.  A few thoughts are important, “better turn the stove off”, “need to fill the tank with gas”.

My one recommendation for how to keep your brain Meditation - Sunsethealthy is to cut your thoughts in half. What then would your brain do if it wasn’t constantly thinking random, disconnected and potentially useless thoughts? It would be “feeling” “being” it would be “present in the moment”. Picture a new born baby. Do they have 60,000 thoughts a day? No, they don’t have any language skills developed they can’t have a thought in the way we do, as self dialog, they are just feeling and being present in the moment. Crying, laughing, experiencing.

The time tested way to reduce our thoughts is meditation. I meditate 2-3 hours each day and for that time I have zero thoughts. I am being, I am feeling, I am very present and aware, but my brain is not generating language based thought patterns. When the brain settles down in a meditative state and the thoughts vanish, something new and fresh arises.

Ok, now the truth comes out, I was secretly a stand in for Sonny during several Sonny and Cher media events (see photo for proof). In all seriousness though, I did have an early start in over achieving and was voted “Craziest Guy” for my Berkeley High School class of 1982 yearbook. And if you’ve ever been to Berkeley, you know that is quite an accomplishment.

Speaking of Berkeley in the 60’s, this week marks a major loss, Dr. Bruce Commoner died, at age 95, after a 60 year career as the founder of the modern environmental movement. A scientist educated at Columbia and Harvard, he was the first prominent researcher to point out the folly of our ways when it comes to the creation of vast amounts of toxic substances from atomic weapons testing, to the use of pesticides. He also founded Earth Day, which I fondly remember, yes, from Berkeley in 1970.

His obituary from the New York Times is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/us/barry-commoner-dies-at-95.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp

Please take a moment to listen to Dr. Commoner’s short video (filmed a few years before he died) which outlines his perspectives on how much damage we have caused. Global climate change is just one of many disturbing issues. To me, what is of even more importance is the high levels of neurotoxins found now in every man, woman, and child’s body and brain. We are thinking with damaged brains and clearly our current level of decision making, as to how we care for this planet, is misguided. I believe we can start with ourselves, get our own body’s pollution cleaned up. Do a Mind Mapping program and clear up your brain chemistry. Then we can tackle some of the other issues confronting us all.

Spent three good days with the monks at Abhayagiri monastery  (http://www.abhayagiri.org/).  You can take the boy out of the monastery but you can’t take the monastery out of the boy. Here are some before and after photos of me in my early monastic years, age 23 and full of energy and ready to ordain as a monk sitting next to my buddy, then known as Jim. We both came back to the states to give away everything we owned, say goodbye to the family and head back to live as monks. Twenty five years later here we are again, Ajahn Chandako, a senior monk in the Theravada Forest Monk tradition and I enjoying a laugh at a Buddhist monastery in Northern California. Ajahn is now abbot of his own monastery in New Zealand. And me? Well I never did ordain, ended up rambling around Nepal and then coming home.

If you haven’t meditated before, please check it out, it’s a time tested route to healing.

As Lenny Cocco always says, “Inner peace is world peace.”

Blessings to all,

Dr. Dan

Spent last Sunday at Laguna Seca race track watching cars go around these turns at incredibly high rates of speed. It was a lot of fun and a big thanks to Shy, one of the functional medicine students that sent me free tickets and pit passes, much appreciated.

Saturday, I was in Phoenix all day at the Neuroresearch conference presented by Dr. Hinz. It was, as always, valuable to have a full day in class with other doctors focused on brain related issues. Many interesting things came up, for one we learned there are regional differences in brain function we can measure, literally by zip code, from these neuron function tests. In other words since there is a single database maintained by the lab we can see how different practices in different areas display vastly different patterns of brain dysfunction. In LA there may be, on average, massive dosing needs to maintain normal brain cell functions while in Steamboat Springs, Colorado the numbers can be even worse (bet you thought I was going to say better in Steamboat Springs!). Even though Steamboat is a small ski-town in a pristine area of the Rocky mountains, and it looks a lot cleaner and less risky for the things that damage brain cells like neurotoxins and stress than an obviously polluted area like LA, in fact Steamboat, before the luxury homes and ski lifts were built, was a mining town and the area’s groundwater and soil are contaminated with heavy metals that you’d never know were there.

These metals get into your body and then your brain quite easily. In fact, the brain has very poor protective measures against environmental toxins, it’s simply not something the design team was anticipating when the human body was developed.

Anyhow, if you live in LA or in the mountains of Colorado, New York City or Dallas, there is no where to go to hide from the environmental toxins we have dumped through coal burning and manufacturing processes. Interestingly, you can even see patterns that follow rivers that are polluted, for example, the rivers that flow down from the industrialized areas of the mid-west carry a heavy toxic burden into the communities below and you can see the devastating effects on the brains of people along the way.

Protect your brain; you only get one. Imagine you were given one car at birth and told you could only have that one car the rest of your life. You would maintain it really carefully. Ok, this is more serious than not having transportation, so get on it, test your brain, fix it, protect it with an amino acid based program.

Take care,

Dr. Dan



In the six month mentorship program, it is a thrill a minute: looking at lab work and fixing hard to diagnose cases with functional medicine protocols. This work is so simple that it’s glossed over and missed by many practitioners running to the world of complex and sophisticated protocols that are doomed to fail. More choices does not equate to better outcomes.

Simple and effective beats complicated and ineffective every time. Case in point presented by a student in a recent class:

48 year old female patient with IBS and hot flashes.

 

Lab work revealed two GI tract infections, cryptosporidum and blastocystis hominis, and Stage Three Adrenal exhaustion. She was taking 23 different supplements prescribed by six different natural health practitioners and was taking 7 different hormones: DHEA, pregnenolone, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid and melatonin prescribed by an anti-aging doctor with a penchant for scribbling out too much. More is not better. The better we get at functional medicine the less we do!!!

 

The student used the simple, effective, focused functional medicine model taught in my training program, originally handed down to me by Dr. William Timmins, ND, the same old protocol I’ve used for almost 20 years. Within 6 weeks her hot flashes cleared and by the end of month three, her GI upset improved to the point she only had problems when she strayed from her Paleo oriented diet plan.

 

 

 

 

 

Adrenal Protocol included:

DHEA 1.2 mg drops 4 drops TID
Pregnenolone 1.2 mg drops 15 drops TID
Multi Packs
Licorice Root Extract 10 drops BID

Herbal parasite program included:
Herbal anti-parasitic program with Artmesia, Oregano Oil Extract and a combination anti-parasitic herbal product all taken together TID

 

My mom is 1/2 Japanese and 1/2 Portuguese and my father was an Eastern European Jew, so I was actually born a Buddhist, Catholic, Jew, if you can believe that. Anyhow, while visiting the Big Island of Hawaii my Auntie (from the Japanese side) showed me the oddly shaped fruit growing in front of the house. It’s a noni plant. It’s one of the key components in many of the herbal programs I design for patients. It was fascinating to find out that my 82-year-old Auntie knows more about what I do than I do!

Also, you can note the donkey/tiger photo.

Yes the donkey is real, but the tiger is a large metal replica of the real deal since they don’t really have tigers in Hawaii. Again, another of my Auntie’s (on the Portuguese side) has an organic farm populated by large numbers of animals on the slopes of the volcano over looking Honoka’a on the Big Island. That donkey is not a nice donkey. While we were visiting, it went after one of the rabits and it took two sheep herding dogs to do the rescue.

What I was reminded of while visiting Hawaii…Eat real food. Get outside every day, in the sunshine, and be active for at least 90 minutes a day, minimum, and you’ll be like my relatives; fit, spry, and smiling and laughing well into your 90’s. Don’t eat processed food. Don’t spend all your time indoors, inactive. And don’t isolate from your community. It’s that simple.

Also, by the way, I’m not planning on working that much longer. So if you’re interested in a training program or becoming a patient, don’t wait, otherwise you’ll have to fly to Hawaii to see me on the Big Island on my farm!

Check out the graveyard, those are my great great grandparents, buried in the front yard of my other (93 year old) Aunties house, right on the coast of the most beautiful land you can imagine.

Cheers,

Dr. Dan

I’m in Hawaii this week visiting my family on the big island. My one uncle, Mike, owns a 550-acre organic farm and ranch that stretches seven miles from the ocean to the mountains and we spent the entire day motoring around on Jeeps. Quite an experience. He grows many, many things. In the picture you’ll see one of the 20 or so heirloom variety of papaya, he has 52 different types of bananas growing including the variety used by the ancient Hawaiians, and even four different varieties of passion fruit, none of which have ever been sold commercially. They are literally the picture of anti-oxidants, brimming with nutrients most people suffer without.

My Auntie Aiyako brings us endless special island dishes every day, fresh bamboo shoots, fresh caught fish, every vegetable and fruit that the tropics have to offer. Her husband is 84 years old and you’d mistake him for a man in his early 50’s. In contrasts to what I am used to seeing with my patients – years of bad food, inactivity, and spending one’s life indoors, at a desk, in front of a screen – this good quality food, fresh air, sunlight and lifetimes of rewarding hard work really do create healthy and vibrant people.

I had the great good fortune to spend the evening last week at Diane Sanfilippo’s book signing party in San Francisco, someone I have known for many years since she took one of the nutrition courses I teach.  Her new book, “Practical Paleo” is the latest contribution to the growing literature on how to eat, in modern times, as our ancestors did, not an easy feat for any of us. The book is full of valuable health information, covering everything from leaky gut issues to recipes. The production value is stunning with gorgeous photos that bring the books ideas and food choices alive. I have two copies at home already and highly recommend the book for those looking to learn more about how to eat well and cook at home.

Before the Summer is Over

Clean up  your diet for two weeks and avoid gluten, soy and dairy, then go out and have pancakes for breakfast, pasta for lunch and pizza for dinner and see how you react.

Gluten

Gluten intolerance is a very common undiagnosed problem that can be a serious health complaint causing a variety of symptoms, from weight gain and fatigue to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Although not everyone is gluten-intolerant, everyone benefits from a two-month gluten-free diet, because it forces us to eat less of the processed, refined foods that contain gluten, and more unprocessed foods such as organic vegetables, quality proteins, fats, and healthy carbohydrates. People who are gluten-intolerant need to modify their gluten consumption for life. For everyone else, the two-month period is sufficient, after which gluten-containing grains can be reintroduced into a healthier diet.

Eating gluten-free means avoiding all foods containing gluten, including wheat, rye, spelt, bulgar, semolina, couscous, triticale, and durum flour. Gluten can be hidden, so it is important to read labels carefully. Be wary of modified food starch, dextrin, flavorings and extracts, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, imitation seafood, and creamed or thickened products such as soups, stews, and sauces. Starchy foods that are allowed include amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, millet, potato, quinoa, oats, and rice.

Soy

Approximately half of those sensitive to gluten are also allergic to soy and soy products. Part of this may stem from the ways in which soy has been genetically modified and the frequency with which it is used as a food additive. Avoid all concentrated soy protein products, including tofu, tempeh, soy protein powders, and bars that contain soy protein, for the initial two months,. Most people tolerate the small amounts of soy proteins found in soy sauce or whole soybeans.

Pasteurized Dairy

Food reactions to pasteurized dairy products are the most easily detected. These products are pasteurized milk, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese — but not eggs. There are two potential problems with dairy products: lactose intolerance, which is an inability to digest the carbohydrate or sugar portion of milk, and milk allergy, which is a reaction to the protein in milk. Pasteurization and homogenization destroys the enzymes in milk that help us digest it, the healthy bacteria in milk that help keep the gut working well, and the beneficial fats in dairy, rendering what could be a very nurturing and healing food a potentially harmful product.

While pasteurized dairy is to be avoided, raw dairy may be introduced after two weeks of a diet free of dairy. After two weeks, most people will be able to tell if they are sensitive to dairy by drinking a large glass of whole raw milk first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. If you have no digestive symptoms from doing this, then you can likely consume raw dairy products. Raw butter has butyric acid, which along with the healthy bacteria in butter helps heal the GI tract in dramatic ways.

The same mentality that brought us chairs and long days in front of computers brought us work out machines and gym memberships. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyles create poor postural and movement patterns and we take these poor patterns into all forms of exercise as we attempt to get fit and make up for all the sitting and inactivity, it’s a vicious cycle we go round and round in.

 

Do you see lions, tigers or bears working out in gyms? It’s a silly question but if you take a moment to think about it wild animals spend most of their time sitting or lying around, not training for hunting, all this interrupted by short bursts of extreme physical activity. It’s remarkable to see the quality and tone of the muscles of a running gazelle or even a wart hog for that matter. Animals are well-muscled and well-coordinated and manage to stay this way without lifting weights or spending hours on a trend mill or elliptical machine.

 

Dr. Eric Goodman has uncovered the secret to this type of “fitness”, nature’s own recipe for being lean, outrageously strong and looking good without having to lift weights (other than your own limbs). If you want a body that looks like a sleek and fit wild animal then you need to do what they do. Imagine a race horse on a stair master trying to get bigger calves or a bull doing squats to get an edge on the next cowboy. That would be ridiculous, as ridiculous as a human on a series of strength training machines. If we could only see ourselves!

 

I first learned about Foundation Training from a patient of mine who sent me a copy of Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park’s book and DVD. After wading through the materials I was skeptical as it seemed like a minor twist on an age old theme of fitness through proper movement. I have been around for a while and have studied most of the age-old and modern systems of healing these types of movement, or lack of movement, induced problems. My background includes 30 years of yoga practice and cycling and I spent over 18 years studying various movement and postural alignment techniques, including training in the Alexander Technique, Rosen Method, two years of Buddhist monastic training with an emphasis on posture and yoga exercises and a twenty year career as a chiropractor focused on correcting posture misalignments and body mechanics.

 

Using the hips to hinge, paying special attention to the head/neck relationship, developing the core strength of the posterior chain vs. limb strength or ab strength I’d heard all this before, thirty years before and have had decades of personal experience with the various systems out there that attempt to focus on these concepts. So I put the book down, ignored the DVD and didn’t try Foundation Training. (Hint, this was a mistake, don’t do this.)

 

Fortunately I was offered a couple of sessions with a Foundation Training expert trained by Dr. Goodman to learn about the work directly and I grudgingly went along with it just to check out what the buzz was around Foundation Training. Literally two minutes into the exercises I realized something special was going on here. Dr. Goodman has taken a very well-worn path and blazed a completely new trail which is impossible to appreciate or understand until you get your first two minutes of Foundation Training and the light bulb goes on.

 

Foundation Training is like powerlifting or Olympic weight training for your deep postural muscles. As we sit a lot, collapsed, and work on computers these deep postural muscles degrade and weaken to the point they can no longer function and hold us up. Even the “fit” among us, professional athletes, tend toward developing poor movement patterns from the years of sitting we all do that then translate into their sport whether it be basketball or cycling. Breaking these postural movement patterns is virtually impossible using most all of the existing systems. Yoga increases flexibility and strength, weight training increases muscle strength, the Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais make us aware of poor movement patterns, but Dr. Goodman has developed the unthinkable – one single set of exercises that quickly, almost miraculously create profound muscle strength and flexibility at the same time in just the areas we are weakest and tightest from our modern lifestyle habits.

 

It’s what you would want to do if you were a lion, or tiger or bear and had been trapped in a zoo for your whole life but you wanted to get out in the wilds again and live in nature. We see animals in the wild with perfect musculature and a grace and power in their movements that captivate us because they never lose this innate movement sense and when we, like other animals, get trapped in our modern zoos: hunched over smart phones tapping out texts and collapsed in front of the computer to send out a few more emails – we need an anti-dote. If we learn to move according to natural patterns we become fit, lean, and gorgeous looking. Remember, how often do you see lions, tigers or bears in a gym? Well, never I guess, but how often does a wild animal like a tiger get physically active? Are they running around all day staying fit? Not really, they rest a lot and hunt occasionally, that’s the good news, in sessions of just minutes a day you can regain all that you’ve lost. It doesn’t take much time to be “naturally fit” but you do have to do exactly the right things.

 

Once learned, Foundation Training can then be applied to any sport or physical activity. You can lift weights, run, bicycle and jump really high and dunk a basketball better if you first learn these principles and strengthen what Dr. Goodman calls your “intuitive muscles”.  Also, at their most basic level these exercises will eliminate the common pains we all live with, sore backs, painful necks, weak and tight shoulders, bad wrists or blown out knees.

 

These deceptively simple looking exercises provide just the right movements and positions to strengthen each individual area we are weak in, the deep postural muscles that hold us upright and determine our movement are re-activated, muscles you have not used for years will come on line and fire, nerves that have been dormant will perk up and revitalize. It’s an invigorating work out that impacts your brain and nervous system and sense of energy and wellbeing much as it reduces pain and improves performance.

 

After my introduction to Foundation Training I had the privilege of spending three days with private sessions with its Founder Dr. Goodman. In our first session he identified and began to correct every musculoskeletal injury I have had since age 12, many of which I neglected to tell him about because I didn’t think they were relevant. By our third session I felt like I’d been Rolfed 100 times, had been in the gym for a few months and that I’d meditated for a few weeks, all at the same time. My new confident, upright posture lead to a sharp mental acuity and sense of strength and resilience. As a natural born skeptic who has to have any new concept proven to me by my personal experience, all I can say is rush out, buy the book, get the DVD and try a few work outs using Foundation Training so you don’t miss out.

 

Meditators, yoga practitioners, martial artists and those into energy work will see Foundation Training as a requirement to advancing in their respective arts. As yoga masters and meditators have known for five thousand years, the spine holds the key to all these higher consciousness endeavors. Athletes will find injury prevention and vastly improved performance (think zoo based urban bear vs. wild grizzly bear) and those with chronic pain will find relief. And as profound as this work can be to get you out of pain and open up new aspects of the mind, if you just want your butt to look great in a pair of jeans or to finally flatten your abs, then Foundation Training will get the job done.

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