Inspiyr recently spoke with Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, best-selling author and medical director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers. Dr. Teitelbaum shared natural ways to get more energy, how to find your true passion in life, and why the US government does not want us to talk about the benefits of natural health remedies.
How did you become so passionate about helping people fight fatigue, pain, and other health problems through alternative and traditional medicine?
Dr. Teitelbaum: Basically, the old-fashioned way – I came down with it. I was in medical school, and I got what I call the “drop-dead flu.” That triggered chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and, it knocked me out of medical school. Since I was paying my own way, and no longer had work-study, scholarship, or loan – it left me sleeping in parks. So, I saw what it was like to be on the other side of the white coat – and it wasn’t pretty.
I was able to recover mostly because of what I learned from natural therapists that I met, interestingly enough, while I was homeless on the road. It was like God put a homeless holistic medical school sign on my park bench. Naturopaths came by, herbalists came by, all these different alternative practitioners. I learned what I needed to make it back into school, and I’ve spent the last 35 years researching the area.
That’s quite a success story. So… let’s start with fatigue. What do you think are the most important steps people can take in order to increase their energy levels, even if they’re not affected by any health conditions?
For anybody who wants increased energy, there are two key areas. There’s the physical area, where you have what I call the SHINE approach. That stands for Sleep, Hormonal Support, Infections, Nutrition, Exercise. Those are the 5 key areas. If those are taken care of, people find that their energy skyrockets. For those who don’t have severe fatigue – who just want more vitality – it’s a 3-step thing.
1. Feed your body, which means good nutritional support, a good multivitamin – most are not – and cutting out sugar would be a really good start.
2. Use your body. Go out and exercise, get some sunshine.
3. Rest your body. Get eight hours of sleep every night.
For most folks, those are the 3 day-to-day steps for increased energy. Oh, but there is one other one – to follow your bliss. If you spend your life doing what you think you should do instead of what you love to do, what feels good – you’re living a lie, and your body’s going to shut down your energy production. But if you decide to say yes to things that feel good and no to things that don’t, you’re going to get authentic and happy really quick and your energy is going to flow like a current.
That brings up a really important topic. How do you think people can find their true passion and go after their dreams? How can they discover what they love doing?
Well, very helpful tools would be either good meditation or a good bottle of tequila. [laughs]. Basically, whatever you need to disconnect your mind for a moment. The mind tells us what we’re programmed to do to get approval. “You should do this”, “You should do that”, “If you’re a good boy you should do this”. All of these “shoulds.” People, even into their forties and beyond, don’t realize that those are just what other people told them to do. But if you can disconnect and daydream for awhile, see what feels good – we’re capitalizing the word FEELS – that will tell you what’s authentic to you. So, whether you want a frontal lobotomy, a bottle of tequila, or good meditation, use one of these approaches; I prefer one of the latter two!
Give your brain a night off. That’ll give your feelings time to speak up. And it’ll be pretty obvious. If you hear yourself say “Oh, I should do this, I’m a good citizen” – and you feel like gagging, scratch that sucker off the list.
That’s great advice. So, you mentioned that nutrition is very important to energy and overall health. I’m wondering about your position on sugar. What is the main problem with sugar, and why should we cut it out of our diet?
The main problem is not the sugar that you find in fruits or naturally in food – it’s the 150 lbs. of sugar added to our diets each year in food processing. It is the difference between getting a fill-up of premium gasoline and drowning your car in a swimming pool full of gas. Sugar is key for energy, but if we’re given overwhelming amounts of it, it basically makes our bodies stall out. It’s like pressing down all of the way on the gas pedal and flooding the motor. And if you want to get a sense of how absurd things are these days, if you go to the local Qwik-E-Mart and get one of those 48-oz “Big Burps” sodas, that’s 36 spoonfuls of sugar that you’re pouring down your gut.
If you want to do a quick test, take ten days off from all sugar. You can have a couple of pieces of fruit every day, but cut out all soda and juice – there’s just as much sugar in fruit juice as there is in soda pop. If you want a fruit or two a day, go ahead, enjoy yourself. But no other sugar for 10 days. After day 5 you won’t want to hunt me down and kill me any more because you’ll have passed through the withdrawal stage. After about 8 days, you’ll be feeling incredibly better, and by day 10, you’ll be feeling great. Then, go ahead and drink one of those 36-oz sodas and see how crappy you feel. Your body will tell you really quickly. Now you can’t even tell, in the midst of all the things you’re putting into yourself.
There is a way to get off of sugar without going through the withdrawal, and still satisfy their sweet tooth. I’ve got a big sweet tooth, and I have no urge to leave it unsatisfied. I just know simple healthy ways to satisfy it. I’ll start by saying this – dark chocolate is a health food! In addition, stevia is a good healthy sweetener.
If you spend your life doing what you think you should do instead of what you love to do, what feels good – you’re living a lie, and your body’s going to shut down your energy production.
What are your views on natural cures vs. prescription medicine? Do you think doctors in the US are too quick to prescribe pills, and are patients too quick to take them instead of treating the root causes of their symptoms?
Well, let me put it very simply. Imagine that you have a tool kit at home. What would happen if I stole every tool from that kit except the hammer? Now try getting that faucet off. Prescription medicine is like the hammer in that toolkit, and natural remedies are the other tools. Most doctors only know about the newest, most expensive medications, because they’re expensive and profitable. But research has shown that there are natural remedies which are often far more effective than the medications, but have the problem of being dirt-cheap. Even though studies have shown that they’re effective, your doctor will not hear about it.
If there’s a new medication for fibromyalgia – and there are 3 right now – drug companies will spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year advertising only those three medicines. But if new studies show that an herbal mix for arthritis is more effective than those medications, not only can they not patent it – it’s illegal to even talk about it.
There was an amendment brought up in the US Senate stating, very simply, that it should be legal to discuss research on natural therapies. You’re thinking “Well, of course it should be legal to discuss natural therapies.” Only 15 senators voted yes! All of the others think it should be illegal to discuss natural remedies. Isn’t that a bit scary? This was a bill that was offered by Sen. Rand Paul. The language was simple – it should be legal to discuss natural therapies. Frankly, our senators and representatives are in the pockets of the drug companies and virtually all of the continuing medical education that our physicians get is paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. You do the math.
There’s actually a law today that makes it illegal to discuss natural remedies?
Yes. If you manufacture or even simply sell natural products, you’re not allowed to discuss using them to treat an illness—even if you are simply discussing the research. It’s enforced intermittently. Sometimes they’ll allow people to do it, then suddenly shut them down for it with very little due process. It’s odd. The education that most physicians get, along with journals, conferences, and those wonderful big-breasted cheerleader drug reps – they’re all paid for by the drug companies.
And that means that virtually everything that your doctor’s going to hear about – how did the past editor of the New England Journal of Medicine put it? It’s funny, they don’t seem to say these things until after they leave there position. Basically he said that most medical education activities are slick advertising masquerading as science. Look at the advertising in the journals. I didn’t see any ads for a Lexus or golf clubs. It’s all drugs. And I don’t think it’s because doctors aren’t good markets for other products.
So, to keep it simple: God bless, I’m a physician, too, but I can see after 35 years where all of my information comes from. In most medical circles, it’s slick advertising masquerading as science. Now, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. To get the best health possible, it’s good for people to use a mix of natural and prescription therapies. For most common, ongoing problems, I prefer to use natural first, because it’s much safer and often much more effective. But if someone’s having a heart attack, get that acupuncturist out of the way and get the person to an ICU. You want to use the best of both worlds – the whole “tool kit.”
Thanks Dr. T, and keep up the great work…