Nikki Kenward and Ashley James
- What CranioSacral Therapy is
- What dance therapy is
- What the enteric nervous system is
- Gut and brain relationship
- Listening with your hands
In this episode, Nikki Kenward tells us how CranioSacral Therapy helps people with their gut problems as well as help with emotional issues. She shares what dance therapy is. Lastly, she shares how do we listen with our hands.
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[0:00:34] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley team. This is episode 415. I am so excited for today’s guest. We’re going to have a fantastic show today. Nikki Kenward has such an amazing story and such wonderful heartfelt lessons to teach us today. Nikki, welcome to the show.
[0:01:02] Nikki Kenward: Thank you, Ashley. It’s a real delight to be here and talk to you.
[0:01:07] Ashley James: Absolutely. I really love the work that you do. Nikki has been an Upledger Craniosacral Therapist for over 25 years, and her focus is on mental health and the gut. We’ve covered those topics several times separately. The mental health is over here; the gut is over here. We don’t ever really talk about that there is a direct link between mental health and gut health. Also, so many people feel ashamed to talk about their mental health and also ashamed to talk about their gut health. There’s some kind of stigma in today’s society about having gastrointestinal distress and symptoms and as well having mental and emotional health symptoms.
The fact that you help people to heal their gut and heal their emotional mental state and come back into a place of balance is so beautiful. I’m excited for us to learn from you today, Nikki.
[0:02:09] Nikki Kenward: Great. Yes.
[0:02:12] Ashley James: Absolutely. Now Nikki’s website is nikkikenward.com. Of course, the links to everything that Nikki does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. I want to start by diving into your story because I feel that there’s a really interesting story that led you to become the expert that you are today and the healer that you are today.
[0:02:32] Nikki Kenward: Where would you like me to start?
[0:02:36] Ashley James: Well, what happened in your youth that made you go in this direction?
[0:02:42] Nikki Kenward: I went in the direction of CranioSacral Therapy, actually quite late in life. I was around 39-40 at the time because I’d been a dancer, dance therapist and needed to get another string to my bow and was really fascinated by it and fell in love with that. I soon realized as I got deeper into CranioSacral Therapy and especially the smarter emotional release work that we do with the Upledger work, that the body process work was so important looking at our emotional history that was held in our body. Supporting that experience, the experience people have on the couch when you’ve got your hands on to help them move forward and integrate these experiences.
For myself, I had some incredible support during my craniosacral training especially the advanced classes where I got to deal with all kinds of trauma from my childhood in a way that really transformed my life. It’s all about the emotional history being written in the body.
[0:04:05] Ashley James: When you said you’re a dance therapist, what is that? Is that like a physical therapist or is that an emotional therapist?
[0:04:12] Nikki Kenward: Well, a dance therapist will dance with people so it’s really about the emotions, expression of the emotions but through the body so not really that big a step away from the work I do as a CranioSacral Therapist.
[0:04:28] Ashley James: I’m fascinated. I’ve never heard of dance therapy. If I were to go to a dance therapist it would be like we’d be doing the waltz or the tango while talking about my emotions? How does that work?
[0:04:41] Nikki Kenward: Well, it would be more. They were to help you explore through movements that felt authentic to you how you were feeling in your body. So it’s about helping you connect to that emotional history in your body and express it in whatever way is helpful to you and they would support that.
[0:04:59] Ashley James: I can see how I could be really helpful especially because we have so much body shame.
[0:05:04] Nikki Kenward: Exactly. Yeah, we do.
[0:05:07] Ashley James: Very interesting. You started to use CranioSacral Therapy in conjunction with dance therapy. What happened? Did you have some aha moments? What happened when you’re first integrating CranioSacral Therapy with your clients?
[0:05:25] Nikki Kenward: I think there were some—can you have a gradual aha moment?
[0:05:30] Ashley James: Sure.
[0:05:32] Nikki Kenward: I think I had a gradual aha moment quite early on that it wasn’t so much about what you were doing with your hands or your body, it was more about the space between you and the person on the couch and creating a safe space so that person is able to do and express and experience what they need to on the couch that day. That’s helpful to their process.
[0:05:59] Ashley James: For those who’ve never heard of CranioSacral Therapy, could you explain what it is? Now, I know you are very well-versed in it. You have like a higher understanding of what it does and I think it affects the body on many levels, but for those who’ve never heard of it, just walk us through. What is CranioSacral Therapy? Who is it good for? Why should we go and experience CranioSacral Therapy as a client?
[0:06:24] Nikki Kenward: Sure. CranioSacral Therapy works from the cranium, the head down to the sacrum, the bottom end of the spine between your hips. These bones, of course, contain our central nervous system: the brain, spinal cord, all the fluids in that system. That’s the core system in the body that impacts on every single part of the body, all the fascia all the organs coming from the central nervous system. What CranioSacral Therapy does is listen really carefully to that system with a gentle pair of skillful hands to look for and release any restrictions around the system. It’s hands-on but it’s gentle, it’s listening, it’s without agenda. It can work on a very physical basis so somebody might come with a stiff neck or concussion or migraines after a spinal surgery perhaps. You can really help get things more functional, you can free things up for the migraine headache sufferer, you can work with the jaw.
It doesn’t have to be on anything other than a physical level but it very often seems to go deeper than that. It takes people in into a very deep state of rest in their system, which really allows them to start healing and processing whatever might be helpful to them. Then while you’re working, there is memory of an event or an emotion might come up into their awareness. We don’t analyze it, we’re not psychotherapists, but we support their experience of it through the dialoguing guided imagery. As a result of them going into that piece of their emotional history in that part of the body where we have our hands, we are able to get release of emotion from the tissue. The tissue would then release much more fully than if it hadn’t gone to a deeper level, if that makes sense.
[0:08:35] Ashley James: Absolutely. I studied CranioSacral Therapy in the 90s.
[0:08:42] Nikki Kenward: Did you?
[0:08:43] Ashley James: I did. I went to the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy. I chose to take courses in it to augment what I was learning and what I was doing. I was really blown away. I love the first book. I can’t remember the name of it, the very first book they have you read and the stories, Dr. Upledger’s stories when he was first doing it. Maybe you could share some of those stories like the man who had had bombs. He was a soldier and he had bombs go off. He had post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and extreme anger and he was in constant pain. Wasn’t there like a child who couldn’t walk?
[0:09:36] Nikki Kenward: Yes. There are many wonderful stories. I think the great joy and beauty of this work is that it’s a very respectful, listening, passive pair of hands in a safe space which really activates the body’s self-healing mechanisms.
[0:09:59] Ashley James: Would you be able to just fill in those stories that I mentioned and tell the stories for listeners who’ve never heard of them so they have an understanding of the depths of CranioSacral Therapy?
[0:10:12] Nikki Kenward: Yes. I was really lucky and I did some studying with Dr. John. I’ve also worked at intensive therapy programs in the Institute in West Palm Beach with military veterans. Of course, they had often horrific post-traumatic stress disorder from the bombs, maybe some injuries that they had sustained. They were given lots of medication and maybe some talking therapy, but often, it was very hard for them to move forward from a place of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, depression and there were many suicides. Dr. John was really an innovator in that he created these intensive programs where there would be a small group of military veterans, and I’ve worked on these, that would be at the Institute for a week all-day every day for a week. They would be in the same room. There would be a lead therapist and two, three, or four assistant therapists for every person on the table.
They would then be able, in that really safe consistent space, to really explore their experiences, release some of that fear, begin to rebalance some of the autonomic nervous system, find hope, lift the depression, recover better from injuries. The results were phenomenal.
[0:11:45] Ashley James: I love it. I love it. Right. I just remember crying reading that book because of the amount of healing. The one soldiery he talks about who was able to recover from the anger and the pain. That Dr. Upledger as he was very gently, only putting about four ounces of pressure but very gently felt the joints of the skull release from that pressure. Then the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid could finally flow, which of course affects the brain. Yes, there’s an emotional healing. There’s also a very real physical healing and that he was able to heal on an emotional and physical level. I remember just being so happy reading that book because hearing about that, I think it was a child that couldn’t walk and then the child grew up and then came back to John. It was like, “Hey, remember me?”
[0:12:51] Nikki Kenward: Yes. Absolutely. Of course, the emotional and physical healing are one thing. So the emotions that the emotional process is held in the tissues that are tight. It’s a mind-body experience always. The two things are done simultaneously are one healing process.
[0:13:15] Ashley James: It’s such a light touch that it’s sometimes we discredit it, its validity in our mind. “You’re touching me so lightly, how could that have made any difference?” How do you address that?
[0:13:29] Nikki Kenward: Well, people often say that to me. They say, “Oh, I feel very relaxed but you didn’t do anything,” especially their first session. I say, “No, that’s fine.” They look a bit guilty saying that. I do explain it. I say, “Well, what we’re working with are the nerves, the cerebral spinal fluid flow, and the fascia, the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord. All of these tissues only respond and relax with a very gentle touch. So that’s part of their anatomy. So if you were to push really hard on them, they would just either do nothing or they would get more tight and resist.”
Then I suggest to people they might like to mix up some cornflour and water in a bowl when they get home.
[0:14:24] Ashley James: Some what?
[0:14:25] Nikki Kenward: If you mix up corn flour, like a very fine flour and water in a bowl and if you stir it around, if you prod it hard with your finger it feels like wood or concrete.
[0:14:38] Ashley James: Right. I remember that we did this as kids. You take two cups of cornflour and maybe a cup and a half of water and then you mix it together. That’s right. It acts solid if you pound on it, but if you just gently put your finger on it it’s like quicksand.
[0:14:54] Nikki Kenward: It flows. Well, the collagen in the makes fascia behave like that. So that’s why we need a gentle touch. Nerve fibers are 50%-70% fascia. If you’re working with the nervous system with the dura membrane in the skull and in the spine and the fluid flow, you need to be gentle or nothing’s going to happen. I say, “Well, if you go and see a chiropractor they’ll do what they do to line up the bones of your spine and that’s great. You go into your massage therapist, very often they’ll be aiming to lengthen and massage knots out of your muscles so they need often more pressure. But if you come and see me, I’m not working on either of those systems, I’m working with your craniosacral system and that requires that I have a gentle touch in order for it to release.”
[0:15:56] Ashley James: Your intention as you worked with your clients for dance therapy and CranioSacral Therapy was to help them on an emotional level and then also help the more physical level in the nervous system and the spinal fluid. Understanding that there’s obviously a connection between our brain health and our emotional mental health. As you began to work with clients and helping them to release and helping them to heal on both physical and emotional levels, when did you start to see a connection to gut health?
[0:16:34] Nikki Kenward: Well, that was probably about four or five years ago I began to see it because there suddenly was a whole raft of books about gut health beginning to come out at that time. There were lots of people talking about the microbiome, the gut bacteria. There were people talking about the gut-brain access between the gut, the brain and the gut, the brain and the head. I got very interested in all of this and began reading a lot. I was particularly interested because lots of my clients coming to me had what I would call post-traumatic gut. They’d had difficult experiences. They had a lot of emotional history buried in their gut.
I didn’t really know how to properly help them. I was in the same situation as them. I had post-traumatic stress disorder arrived in my life about 15 years ago, but the worst part of it was the gut. That was what I’ve struggled with since then. I always felt for all the therapy I’d had: CST, talking therapy, you name it I’ve probably done it. There was a missing piece, there was something I couldn’t quite get to in my gut. I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. I felt disconnected and disassociated from it.
That was also a big motivation besides my curiosity in the research coming out. As a result of all that, I thought, “Right. I need to make some new kind of training for myself and my colleagues so we can work with the enteric nervous system in the gut,” which of course talks do and is part of our central nervous system, our autonomic nervous system because it’s just as important.
That was the time at which I approached the International Association of Healthcare Educators, for whom I’d been a certified educator for many years already. I rather sheepishly said to them, “How do you fancy writing a class on the gut and the enteric nervous system?” They were interested. So the next stage I had to do a presentation about it at the Beyond the Dura Conference in Palm Beach a few years ago. People responded well so I was invited to write an outline of the class, which I did. That was sent around to the international faculty for comment. I then wrote the whole four-day class and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been teaching that internationally for about two years now. It was during that process that I was approached, in fact in the same week, by two publishers to write the book.
[0:19:42] Ashley James: Very cool. What is the enteric nervous system?
[0:19:46] Nikki Kenward: The enteric nervous system is the nervous system that is embedded in the whole of the gut. So, if we think of the gut as a long tube going from the mouth down your esophagus through the stomach wriggling around the small intestine colon and out through the rectum and anal canal, anus. That long tube is our gut, it’s nine meters long. There is a network of our enteric nervous system stretching up to the esophagus and all the way down to the anal canal. It’s complex, it’s like a modern data processing center. It talks to the brain in our head all the time. It also makes its own decisions a lot of the time without referring to the brain in the head. So that’s our enteric nervous system. It’s massive. It has as many neurons in it as our spinal cord.
[0:20:47] Ashley James: Amazing. How do we feel our enteric nervous system? Could you maybe give some examples of when we’re experiencing it?
[0:21:02] Nikki Kenward: Yeah, sure. Well, a couple of things really easily come to mind. If we’re feeling very anxious sometimes it’s difficult to swallow. That would be one thing. When we’re eating it can make it really difficult very anxious. If we’re scared maybe we’re going on stage or we’re meeting a new person or going into a situation where we feel really out of our comfort zone, we’ll get butterflies in our stomach. That’s our enteric nervous system. If we eat something that’s poisonous or doesn’t shoot our particular digestive system our gut will get all those horrible cramps and nausea. All of those things. Sometimes much more subtle than those very obvious things. We talk don’t we about having a gut feeling about something. We meet somebody or somebody says something. We just get that kind of feeling in our gut but not sure about this. Often, it’s very definite it’s a yes or a no and we feel it in the gut. We really need to pay attention to that.
[0:22:18] Ashley James: I just saw an article this morning that said, “Children won’t tell you they have anxiety. They’ll tell you they have a tummy ache.”
[0:22:25] Nikki Kenward: Absolutely. Because they feel that anxiety in their gut as I would do and a lot of adults do but they don’t know what it is. All they know is that they’ve got cramps or nausea or tummy ache, some sort.
[0:22:46] Ashley James: Right. Now that we understand what the enteric nervous system is, how could we use this relationship to focus on healing our gut and being more connected with our body so that we can work on healing our emotions? Because I think a lot of times we—let’s say we have anxiety or depression or we have these different things come up. Maybe we have trauma from our past and a lot of times we self-medicate with food, alcohol, with street drugs or even we get a prescription in order to cope.
I think a lot of people walk around coping with symptoms and not healing from them. Then feeling so ashamed that they have this problem because they feel broken. They’ve had a decision somewhere along the way that they’re not whole complete and perfect and they’re broken. They have emotional things that they’re sort of shutting down, pushing to the side, or numbing and it’s manifesting in the physical body like you said around the gut through the enteric nervous system. So there’s the real definite emotional mental connection to our physical health. I love that you’re addressing that we have to heal our emotional state and our gut at the same time because even long-term trauma can cause gut imbalance. Could we talk a little bit about that?
[0:24:27] Nikki Kenward: Absolutely. You may well have heard of the adverse childhood experience study. That was done in the States over 17,000 people. It was begun in about 1995, done over a long term. There had been a couple of brilliant books that have come out of it, one is Childhood Disrupted and one is the Deepest Well. Now, what that found, one of its big findings was that early traumatic experience were adverse experience in the early years has a negative impact on the gut bacteria.
[0:25:05] Ashley James: It’s just fascinating.
[0:25:08] Nikki Kenward: So, even at that stage and there are other studies which show us the impact on the developing brain. So if we have early adverse childhood experience that has an impact almost our entire life. It predisposes us to post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, for a man going to war of we have any other kind of trauma which we know there are many different kinds.
[0:25:36] Ashley James: Talk about how when we have trauma that it can negatively affect good health.
[0:25:41] Nikki Kenward: Absolutely. Yes. So right from the beginning of our life, our gut health is impacted by our experiences especially how safe we feel, how nurtured we feel. A lot of those emotional experiences become embedded or held in the tissues of the gut. It’s often a place where if we have a trauma we pile those emotions into our gut and we disconnect from it. A lot of people whose mental health is such that they dissociate find it very difficult to be present to make relationships in their life. Everything is stuffed down into the gut tissues and then they’ve like switched off from it. I did that as well. So then it’s really hard to reach that emotional history in the physical tissues. I think it’s interesting also that the actual diagnosis of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, was created by psychologists who didn’t really think about the gut as part of PTSD. Yet, all the many people I have worked with, including myself, with PTSD always have a gut problem.
[0:27:07] Ashley James: It makes so much sense. I’m thinking about everyone I know with PTSD and yet it’s right. It’s true. They all do have a gut work that they’ve been working on healing. Is it that that adverse childhood events or trauma from our past disrupts the gut so much that it causes gut problems or is it that gut problems—I mean it is that gut problems cause emotional problems, is that it starts on the emotional level and then manifests in the physical. Is that correct?
[0:27:44] Nikki Kenward: I think that’s right, Ashley. I think it starts with the difficult events. It manifests in the gut, but of course, then it’s going to create a kind of vicious loop. For example, if you’ve got a problem with the gut barrier, if you’ve got a not a very healthy gut bacteria, maybe not diverse enough, maybe not the right ones, if you’ve got a slightly dysfunctional enteric nervous system from all these things that have happened in your life, then you’re going to have low serotonin. That will also increase your anxiety. You’re going to have the possibility of undigested food proteins and bacterium virus getting into your systemic and circulation and going up to your brain, further enhancing your anxiety and depression again and maybe causing information in your central nervous system. There’s a huge correlation now between stuff from the gut going to the brain, creating inflammation and that inflammation being correlated with depression. I think it starts with the experience, but it then loops all the way back. Then things get kind of entrenched in a horrible circle.
[0:29:01] Ashley James: Another thing the gut does, a healthy gut and a healthy gut biome, converts 25% of our T3, our T3 thyroid hormone. So someone with a perfectly healthy thyroid could show up in blood work with low T3 and be put on medication when it actually wasn’t the thyroid itself, it was their gut dysbiosis. We have, like you said, the serotonin. The feel-good happy neurochemicals of the brain are made in the gut. We also have that—there’s a nerve, the vagal nerve?
[0:29:41] Nikki Kenward: Yes, vagus nerve.
[0:29:42] Ashley James: The vagus nerve that travels as a cranial nerve that travels all the way from the brain down into the gut.
[0:29:51] Nikki Kenward: That’s right.
[0:29:52] Ashley James: Is that part of the enteric nervous system or is that affected? How does that a play a role in all this?
[0:30:00] Nikki Kenward: So, the vagus nerve is often called the superhighway between the gut and the brain and back again. It’s also the biggest part of our parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to rest and digest. It’s connected to the gut. There are more messages that go from our gut to the nervous system up to the brain then go from the brain downwards to the gut. We have to remember that as well as that vagal superhighway, which is really important, people talk a lot about vagal tone. When we got good vagal tone and a good functioning vagus nerve, we can heal ourselves really well. When we haven’t, we can’t. Of course with PTSD, we don’t usually have that.
However, it’s more complex because we have the fact that the enteric nervous system can make its own decisions without talking to the brain in the head via the vagus nerve. You have this massive communication superhighway really important. You also have the autonomous aspect of the enteric nervous system. You also have the gut microbiome that’s talking via the vagus nerve and to the autonomous aspect. You’ve got so much complexity. It makes my brain hurt to be able to touch base. I figured the only way we can possibly work is to have a truly holistic approach to people because it’s too complicated to be able to work out what’s happening with any particular individual. You have to go on a journey with them and explore and see.
[0:31:53] Ashley James: We want to take, like you said, the holistic approach. Because if we went in the allopathic medical system, which is the traditional, I don’t say they were traditional, it is the modern go to a hospital, go to an MD. Most of these, most hospitals practice allopathic medicine, which is reductionistic. Reductionistic meaning it’s going to look at symptoms and systems of the body. I think because it’s compartmentalize, this is probably the reason why it’s taken us so long to acknowledge in medicine that there’s a direct link, an integrated link between mental health and the gut health because allopathic medicine treats people reductionisticaliy and also is segmented.
So you go to one doctor for your gut, you go to a separate doctor in a separate building for mental health. The two don’t normally meet each other or talk to each other or really respect each other. The gastroenterologist is going to want to use drugs and surgery and they might suggest diet if they’ve taken courses outside of extracurriculars they’ve taken some courses. Maybe they’ve understood that there actually is a relationship between food and gut health, but it’s not mandatory to be in a gastroenterologist. Not mandatory to actually study nutrition. That’s their wheelhouse. Then separately is mental health. It’s it’s considered totally separate. That’s one of the problems with modern medicine is that it’s reductionistic. That, “We’re going to only look at your pancreas or we’re going to only look at your stomach. Then we’re going to give you some drugs for your stomach because you have GERD. You have diarrhea? Okay, we’re going do colonoscopy. We’re just going to look at the colon. Then we’re just going to look at this and then we’re going to give you some drugs for this.”
They’re never going to see the big picture. They’re never going to see the root cause that way. They’re simply going to keep treating symptoms. That’s probably why a lot of listeners are listening now because they’ve been given the runaround, they’ve been on drug after drug or therapy after therapy or even holistic therapy after a realistic therapy. They feel like they’re chasing their tail or as I have often felt like playing darts blindfolded. I guess I’m going to try this therapy. Maybe I’ll get it, maybe I won’t. But what’s the root cause? We really have to get that 30,000 view approach. We have to really back out kind of like Google Earth where you back out and you see the whole planet. Look at the whole body and look at your whole life. I like that you’re going all the way back to adverse childhood events because that’s where it starts. It could start all the way at birth being a cesarean section baby. Being born cesarean affects the microbiome. Having been put on antibiotics as a child. So it can compound if we have poor gut health for a long time and maybe some adverse childhood events or some trauma.
Then, like you said, it probably starts with emotional health. Then it just snowballs from there. If we had a weakened gut because many people have been on antibiotics or eat a diet that isn’t supportive of their body unknowingly or been born cesarean. However, we’ve had we have a weakened gut to begin with and then couple that with some with some trauma from our past and we’re just trying to survive day-to-day. We’re just getting up, getting our coffee, and going to work, and just try to keep a roof over our head. We’re kind of treading water. We don’t really feel like we even have the luxury to stop and process a lifetime’s worth of trauma and stuff from our past because we’re afraid it might consume us. So for those who really do want to heal and they really feel like they’re chasing their tail but they’re kind of overwhelmed by it all, by all the therapies and everything, and of course, the overwhelm harms the enteric nervous system. It harms the gut more, right? We need to get ourselves back into a state of calm so we can. What are some steps we can take? So we’ve been chasing our tail, we’re stressed out, we got bills to pay.
[0:36:44] Nikki Kenward: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. Just to preface that, which I’ll come to, it’s so interesting because when I started to talk about it, the thing that really was frustrating and drove me into my day-to-day struggle on my own was people would say things like, “If only you take the probiotic I take you’d be fine,” or “if only you’d put lavender oil on your pillow you’d sleep,” or “go and see my hypnotherapist. She’ll sort you out in one session.” There was such a lack of understanding out there and compassion that I was in that very isolated state. I think that what I’ve come to realize, the biggest steps we can take it’s how we live our life, it’s really all about that. How we live our life. So, as far as the gut goes, I used to see my gut really as the enemy. It’s like, “Oh, no. Not again. How am I going to cope with this?” I’ve got diarrhea. I’ve got to go to work. I’m going to have to take some Imodium, whatever it is or I’d be up in the night feeling horrible with anxiety and my palpitations and nausea and all of that.
So I would get very frustrated and cross with my gut, which wasn’t particularly helpful but quite human. I’m sure lots of other people listening are in that state. So my first thing was to take the big step of finding compassion for myself and my gut and begin to befriend it, connect and listen. Even if it’s just sitting with your hands on for a while with the intention of understanding of listening not judging befriending connecting and breeding is also helpful. Then how we live our lives, that’s one thing. So finding time to do things that help you to relax and get into that calm state, whether it’s going for a walk at lunchtime from your job somewhere. Maybe you’ve got a park or somewhere you can go for a walk or just sitting down somewhere peacefully and breathing meditating for a few minutes. Maybe it’s singing, maybe it’s yoga, maybe it’s tai chi, maybe it’s a social dance. Whatever it is, playing tennis. All these things add up together. There’s not one big thing. I think there’s a lot of little things looking at how you live your life with your gut in a compassionate way for yourself.
Part of that breathing and physical activity in those things matters. So your gut bacteria love being taken for a walk. I know I can tell. I have this image of mine all on the little leech and I’m taking a walk like lots of very tiny dogs. They love it. It helps get strong and healthy and grow the good ones.
[0:40:01] Ashley James: I love that analogy. I have a friend, she has two Mastiff dogs if you know them. She doesn’t have children, she has dogs. So Mastiffs are the size of adults, they’re huge. She will spend more on her dogs. They get dental work, they go to the vet, they go to the dog park twice a day, they get home handmade treats, and she’ll spend more time, energy, and money on her dogs than she would on her own health. It’s pretty funny and it’s very common for dog owners to put their animals first. I mean you know as parents we put our kids first. I love this analogy because often we won’t take care of ourselves but we would take our dog for a walk or we’d take our child in the pram for a walk. We won’t take ourselves for a walk. It’s like you know what, you have this gut health it’s a bit between three and six pounds of bacteria. So it’s like a little cat or a Shih Tzu. We imagine we have like an internal pet some animal.
[0:41:25] Nikki Kenward: I like that.
[0:41:41] Ashley James: How we treat it is how it treats us. So if we ignore it and feed it McDonald’s and whatever then it’s a very angry Chihuahua that we don’t like.
[0:41:41] Nikki Kenward: Definitely. If we shout to it and hit it.
[0:41:44] Ashley James: It wakes us up in the middle of the night, it gives us horrible indigestion, it gives us all kinds of nasty feelings start the day; but if we take it for a walk and we feed it good food and water and we spend some time rubbing it, putting our hands on our belly. We’re nurturing that little inner pet, whatever we want it, whatever we identify, whatever animal: little kangaroo. I don’t know. Whatever we wanted to be, little panda. I love it.
[0:42:14] Nikki Kenward: I love that. I’ve come to a whole new expansive idea now, Ashley, thanks to you. I think I like the idea of having an inner panda.
[0:42:25] Ashley James: Because bacteria, it’s kind of hard to emotionally connect with. What’s really interesting about our gut biome, and I’m sure you know this, it’s really interesting and there are studies. I actually have a few of them printed out on my desk somewhere. There are studies now that show that the gut biome creates chemical signals to the brain to feed us more of what it needs. So if we have a disrupted gut biome, we’ve got a really bad gut biome, we’ve got the Chihuahua of gut biomes; then it actually causes us to crave bad foods for us that feed it. So if we’re craving sugar like refined sugar and we’re craving caffeine and refined sugar and all kinds of junk food and fast food, it’s actually not us. It’s our brains being hijacked by the parasites.
[0:43:22] Nikki Kenward: Definitely. Because if we eat lots of sugar we’ll grow many more bacteria that eat that, that’s their diet. So when they’re hungry they send the messages up saying, “Give me sugar now.”
[0:43:35] Ashley James: It just hijacks our brain and then we feel, “Oh, I guess my body needs this,” but it’s not us. We’re being hijacked by the six pounds of angry Chihuahua inside us. What’s really interesting though is I never particularly liked kale until I started to eat a lot of raw kale. Because of course raw organic fresh vegetables and fruit is how you can populate the gut with those bacteria. I learned that when I studied to become a health coach at IIN. I was blown away by this lecture on the microbiome of gardening and how a bacteria that live, they’re alive on your strawberries. Even if you wash the strawberry the bacteria is still there and you eat the strawberry raw, of course, then the bacteria on strawberries that digest strawberries—if you just leave the strawberry and it’s sort of like molds and decomposes anyways, but you eat it before that happens, that same bacteria that digests strawberries populates in your gut and helps you to not only digest the strawberry but helps you to assimilate the vitamins and the nutrients from that strawberry. So the more strawberries you eat the better you get at digesting strawberries. So the more kale I ate the more I began to crave it. Then I really knew that my little panda gut biome was taking control of my brain because I began to have a Pavlovian response to kale. I’d start to salivate, get really excited for, and even crave kale.
So we can retrain our gut to make us want to eat healthy.
[0:45:19] Nikki Kenward: Definitely. We can retrain our little pets. The other interesting thing about the pet is that it’s constantly talking to all the parts of our enteric nervous system. So it’s talking to the enteric neurons all the time and the immune system and the hormones in the gut. So nothing happens on its own. The gut bacteria do not act on their own nor does the enteric nervous system nor does the immune system nor does the endocrine system in the gut. They’re all talking to each other the whole time. Decisions are being made on the basis of those conversations. So everything needs to work.
[0:46:12] Ashley James: How does the enteric nervous system affect our emotional health?
[0:46:16] Nikki Kenward: So the enteric nervous system affects our emotional health because if it’s not functioning well we will have low serotonin, low dopamine. Also, if we have emotional difficulties, trauma, whatever it might be that will impact and create tension strain patterns through the nerve fibers, the different layers of the intestine and colon, which wound and make it very difficult for the enteric nervous system to work properly.
[0:46:50] Ashley James: So as you begin to explore these, last four or five years, you began to really dive into gut health. You’ve been really into for a very long time like you’ve been doing therapy with people for a really long time. So you’ve been into the healing emotional health. You’ve been into CranioSacral for 25 years so helping people in that way. But in the last, like you said, four or five years, your focus has been on gut health. As you began to make these connections, what changes did you see in your own health?
[0:47:24] Nikki Kenward: So I began to understand—well, the first thing that changed was I found some compassion for my gut health. I began to understand better all the many messages it was giving me and where they were coming from in terms of my emotional history. So that awareness and understanding is itself very empowering. I began to realize I needed to look at that stuff and to take some pressure off myself in my life and the way I lived it in order to give it time to heal properly. I’ve also worked with a nutritional therapist to give it the other stuff that it needed to heal. I’m not a nutritionist but I think, as we’ve said in this conversation, that’s a really important part of gut health and of gut healing.
So those nutritional aspects I’ve addressed, looking at how I live my life now, I’m looking at the emotional history and my gut. So the changes are coming fast and furious now for me. Interestingly in my clients, I’ll have a client who’s done everything, tried everything, eaten everything, not eaten everything, has had constipation for decades, had a couple of cranial gut sessions so to speak, and now goes every day. It was an emotional event that she been holding on to was disconnected from in her gut for such a long time.
[0:49:07] Ashley James: So she was chronically constipated and after having an emotional healing event she now goes regularly?
[0:49:14] Nikki Kenward: Yes.
[0:49:14] Ashley James: Wow. What about the opposite? What about people who are inflamed and have diarrhea?
[0:49:22] Nikki Kenward: Absolutely similar. So I’m getting some really encouraging results from people who come with chronic long-term gut problems that they can’t seem to resolve. I work with my hands just as I would with my other cranial work very light and gently on the gut going where the gut needs me through all the different layers of the intestine, the colon palpating with intention into the places where I can feel strain patterns and tension. Just staying there giving it an opportunity to release if it’s appropriate and often the emotional stuff will come up.
[0:50:05] Ashley James: As the emotional stuff comes up, do they talk to you? Do they cry? Do they just breathe? How do they process it?
[0:50:12] Nikki Kenward: So sometimes all of those three or maybe one of those three. It may just be some tears. There may be, “Oh, so this is it. I remember and I was….” And there’d be a story. Sometimes they’ll just breathe deeply there may be a few tears they don’t need to talk that’s absolutely fine. So it can express itself in many different ways, but there’s usually a bit of an aha about where that came from. It softens something that they had wouldn’t have been able to get to in a kind of rational, “I’m trying to work it out way.” It comes from a deeper place because it’s coming from the tissues of the body.
[0:50:55] Ashley James: So you’ve taken Dr. Upledger’s CranioSacral Therapy and applied it, taking it away from the traditional working on basically around the spine and you’re working on the gut but on a very, very light, gentle, slow because you’re not trying to work on muscles like you said like a massage therapist. You’re working on the fascia and the nerves.
[0:51:22] Nikki Kenward: Exactly. That’s exactly what I’m doing. So I’m applying the cranial techniques and the cranial approach, which is obviously meeting someone where they are without an agenda with a light listening touch, creating a safe space between you and the person on the table, non-judgment. I’m doing all of those things. I’m doing it with the tissues of the gut.
[0:51:48] Ashley James: Now, since you created this type of therapy, I mean you expanded upon Dr. Upledger’s work, but you really did pioneer this specific technique. Have you had therapists do your technique on you?
[0:52:06] Nikki Kenward: Definitely, yes. A bit more now because at first there was only me, but yes I have. It’s been wonderful. I’m very fortunate now. I travel and teach it to lots of other therapists. So I get messages from all over the place now saying how helpful it is in clinical practice.
[0:52:33] Ashley James: If someone wanted to get a session, how would they find a CranioSacral therapist who has your certification?
[0:52:41] Nikki Kenward: Well, they would look at the list of therapists on the—let me see—it be the website of the International Association of Healthcare Educators. They would look for somebody who’s done my class amongst the other classes they’ve done, which will be by their name. So my training is called CST and Listening to the Second Brain. So the acronym for my class is CLSB. That would appear. They might have done the basic training. They might have done a brain class and the immune course. You’ll also see CLSB and you know they’ll have done my training.
[0:53:33] Ashley James: Excellent. Can you share any stories of what’s come about as you’ve been traveling and teaching this? Any really brilliant stories as practitioners have learned in the class or have had like aha moments while they’re learning from you?
[0:53:52] Nikki Kenward: Absolutely. So many really. There’s one class I was teaching in—where was I think I must have been in—it was either Boston or Denver. There were a lot of equine therapists there. They had light bulbs going off all the time because apparently, horses have—I’m not a horse person so I didn’t know this, I’m more of a panda person. They’ll have baby horses in their guts. Anyway, so the equine therapists we’re going, “Oh my god, this is going to be amazing for our horses.” So they went away and applied these techniques to their horses. I’ve had messages saying how it’s really helped horses with their irritable bowel or the equine equivalent of that.
[0:54:49] Ashley James: Oh my gosh, that’s really neat. I got to tell you. I’ll tell you a story. I’ve had Eric Thornton on the show several times. He is a spiritual healer, a very practical down-to-earth. I live in a part of a Washington state near Woodinville where there’s a lot of horses. It’s a horse area. English style riding, not cowboys. So it’s actually kind of the uniform of people and Woodinville to walk around in English riding gear minus the helmet basically and the crop. Even if you don’t own a horse you just walk around in boots and the riding pants. It’s quite funny. That’s our area for you, lots of horses.
So he works with humans and with animals. He’s been doing it for a long time. He shared a story in one of our interviews that really blew my mind. A horse had been having miscarriages. This horse also acted as though it was depressed. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. They had the vet come and do everything they could do. The rider was about 12 or 13-year-old girl. So Eric comes up to the horse. They explained what the problem was and he basically talked to the horse. The horse shared with him what was going on. He turned to the girl and said, “Your horse is so depressed, so sad, has so much grief. She has so much grief because she has lost her babies.” No one could ride her. She was just really very unmotivated as a horse. Eric said to her, “Just go into the stall with her and sit with her and feel the grief with her and be present to her. Just imagine what it would feel like having lost your baby.” This young girl is about 13 but she so she hasn’t had that experience, but she could be empathetic show.
So the girl just sat with her horse in her stall and felt the grief with her. The next day the horse was fine. Then she went on to conceive. So it was just very interesting that we can help process emotions with our animals. That animals can hold onto trauma just like we can. I thought that was really interesting. So the fact that you can use CranioSacral Therapy with animals is really cool, but then that you can also help them on an emotional level is really neat as well.
When our son was born we used craniosacral there be with him and it made a really big difference in making it a very gentle experience. I love CranioSacral Therapy. I love that you’re incorporating it for gut health. I think that’s really cool. Do you have any more stories that come to mind that you’d love to share with us?
[0:57:57] Nikki Kenward: Some of the stories involve people’s emotional stories, which I’m not sure I could talk about. Obviously, they’re very personal. For example, people with eating disorders. There was a lady who’d had an eating disorder for many, many, many years. As I’m sure you appreciate it, something that’s really, really difficult to overcome. As I was working on the layers of her small intestine she connected back, just came into her awareness hidden in this really massive tension I was feeling in this particular layer. It was the basement membrane, which is one of the many layers in the small intestine, of experience she’d had when she was tiny and being weaned by her parents, by her mother, which was a really difficult and traumatic experience for her. That had completely colored her attitude to food and from then her ability to eat in a healthy happy way and digest her food. It started right back then. She hadn’t really thought about that and only barely remembered it in the past, but because we were right there in the part of her intestine where the tension was held it came up into her awareness. She realized. We talked about it. Just open questions on my part allowing her to tell her story. As she did that the tissue released and released and released. She felt very relaxed. Then the next time I saw her she said it was like you just flipped a switch. She said, “My body is now able to process my food so much more easily.”
So obviously, she didn’t go immediately into, “Oh, yeah. I can eat anything and I’m fine,” but it made a huge change. It was just that place, that membrane, and that part of her intestine that was holding that trauma from when she was less than a year old.
[1:00:29] Ashley James: So sometimes we don’t even know consciously what we need to work on.
[1:00:35] Nikki Kenward: Exactly. I think very often we don’t in my experience. We try and work it out rationally and usually that doesn’t get us very far. We have to go deeper than that.
[1:00:52] Ashley James: Well, I can see your tool, your technique being a great tool for therapists, for many different kinds of therapists. For holistic health providers, if they can help the person to release and also the person to become conscious of what’s going on, then it could save them years of work to try to find that root cause. So how can someone take your class? You’ve piqued their interests, now they really want to learn this technique for themselves and for others, how can they take your class?
[1:01:33] Nikki Kenward: So at the moment, my class is for Upledger CranioSacral Therapists. So they will know about the class they can take it. So I’ve been asked quite a few times recently to develop training for other therapists, which I haven’t done it yet. The other way in which other therapists could use it as a tool is to read the book because a lot of this is in the book. It’s actually written for therapists or laypeople to give people strategies, to give them the understanding of the anatomy of the layers. So even a layperson could put the hands on their own gut and start to connect in and discover these places. Lots of people have bought my book, have been my clients, but also other therapists doing other kinds of bodywork. So that would be at the moment the best way for people to access some of these ideas and techniques.
[1:02:35] Ashley James: Is there any lesson from the book that you’d like to teach us today?
[1:02:40] Nikki Kenward: Yes. Okay, there’s so many. Let’s choose one that’s a nice simple one to start with. We talked about it being a long tube from the mouth down to the anus. If we think about the long tube as being the outside world really coming inside us, so everything in the long tube is in the outside world until we absorb any of it into our body. Does that make sense? That idea was first mooted by Michael Gershon in the Second Brain many years ago. One thing you can always do is put your hands one on your belly maybe one on your chest thinking about the esophagus or one on your belly one on your stomach. Wherever feels right at that moment. Just allow yourself to connect into your long tube with your intention and maybe visualizing it, your breath. Just ask yourself the question how does my long tube feel? How am I responding to the outside world coming in? Am I very relaxed and embracing the things that come in? Am I more guarded or maybe I have some tension or more fearful? How does it feel? How am I responding to that outside world?
Really, it’s one of the main places we respond to our lives. We can just sit quietly, hands-on say belly, stomach, esophagus, breathe connecting to our long tube and just ask ourselves that question, how does it feel? How is it responding? How am I responding to the outside world? See what happens.
[1:04:39] Ashley James: Just slow deep breaths and close your eyes and just become aware.
[1:04:46] Nikki Kenward: Yeah. Just go inside, become aware, listen with your hands. If the answer to that question is, it feels like there’s tension like it’s guarded then maybe just acknowledge that, send the breath there, listen to that. Sometimes the body loves being listened to. That can be enough for things to start to release. You might feel the tension and become aware of an event or an emotion. It’s really a journey of exploration.
[1:05:29] Ashley James: What does listen with your hands mean?
[1:05:32] Nikki Kenward: So you’re listening to the body to feel if there’s tension there. Does it feel relaxed or tense? Does it feel warm or cold? What can I feel in there? What’s my felt sense of my inner world? We’re just really palpating touching with an intention to notice, to feel what’s going on under the surface.
[1:06:03] Ashley James: Beautiful. How long should we do this for?
[1:06:08] Nikki Kenward: Well, you could just do it for 5 minutes or 10 minutes or as long as you have. Even just doing that, say for five minutes or so, 10 minutes a day, we can gradually become more connected. We can find some compassion. We can befriend that part of us a little bit. What I would say is I’d really encourage you just to sit with it, to not worry if you think, “I don’t if I can feel anything,” because it can take a little bit of time. Just have that intention each time you sit and gradually things would change and you’ll notice things.
[1:06:53] Ashley James: I think this would be good to do right before we eat.
[1:06:55] Nikki Kenward: Yeah, definitely.
[1:06:57] Ashley James: Take the time. Prayer before a meal is a common practice, but we could also take the time to close our eyes and breathe and go within, which would help to put us out of stress response and into rest and digest response.
[1:07:16] Nikki Kenward: That’s a brilliant idea.
[1:07:18] Ashley James: Listen to the gut. I think a lot of times we’ll eat in front of the TV or standing by the sink or we’ll eat in front of the computer. We’re not true truly aware of what’s going on, what the signals of our body. I remember as a child, my mom would talk about that we have an internal thermostat. It’s not the thermostats broken but it’s like the wires are cut. We eat far more than we need but we’re not even digesting it correctly because we’re out of rest and digest mode or the sympathetic nervous system response of fight or flight. Our resources are shunted away from the gut or we have lower stomach acid. Really, we’re not fully digesting. Then we have a lot of gas and bloating because we’re not digesting we’re fermenting. Then we’re not really absorbing. What we are absorbing is kind of fermented and partially digested, it’s leaky gut.
I was just talking to a colon hydrotherapist over the weekend and she said when you have really smelly farts. You just smell horrible, especially those that might be allergic to dairy and not realize it. So you just smell something and it smells putrid like something’s rotting in your gut. She said, “Your colon absorbs most of your water. If the water in your gut smells that way, smells basically this putrid. It’s like a swamp. Your body is actually absorbing putrid swamp water. What do you think you that’s going to all your organs?” The pristine water you drink has been contaminated by the dysbiosis. Maybe you know maybe you’re in stress mode so you’re not really digesting so you’re fermenting. Basically, by the time your water gets the colon, it’s now putrid swamp water. We wonder why we have brain fog and we can’t sleep and our energies zapped. We wonder why we feel so gross. It’s a vicious cycle, but we have to break it somewhere.
[1:09:35] Nikki Kenward: We have to break it.
[1:09:37] Ashley James: Yeah. We have to break the vicious cycle. Before we eat for five minutes at every meal right before we eat, if we could just do some slow deep breathing into our belly, put our hands on our belly in our heart, get connected, check-in. I love the imagery of checking in with the tube from our mouth to our anus just checking it with that tube and relaxing the belly and letting the belly just fall out of the pelvic floor. Just let it all fall out because I think sometimes yeah suck it all in and it’s all hard. Let the belly soften then just connect. Connect with the inner panda.
[1:10:20] Nikki Kenward: It’s a great idea. Connect with our inner panda. That’s such a good idea before we eat. It’s so interesting what you were saying there because our Western idea of the belly as it should be taut, flat, and hard. It shouldn’t look like what it is because we don’t want to think about poo going through a tube. If we look at Eastern tradition, the gut, the lower Dan Tien, the lower navel is the center of emotional and spiritual growth. How did we get to where we are? What you were saying about the prayer and the meditation before eating and allowing it to soften is beautiful. That’s exactly what we can do.
[1:11:12] Ashley James: For the last 100 years or so—I mean if you look at history, there’s been a concerted effort throughout all of history to try to suppress us and control the masses. If you look at the way in which they’ve used all religions throughout the world and the way in which they’ve enforced or created wars. “My religion is better than your religion. We’re going to kill you.” or “You have to convert.” If you look at the history of government, for example, why are all the Christian holidays on top of pagan holidays? It’s very interesting how the history of the last 5000 years. Look at human history and look at how governments and religions have worked at controlling people. None of them have wanted us to be in our own power. We’re very dangerous when we are empowered, when we are in the seat of our own power connected to source, connected to our creator, connected to our heart, connected to our soul, and have health.
When we are at full health and in full power we are a danger to those who want to control us. We need to be read to examine our belief system and examine who instilled these beliefs about our bodies like what the ideal body looks like? Where does that come from? Because really, there’s so many layers to what we have been taught and hat we have unconsciously accepted as truth. What you think is beautiful or what your belief system around beauty about being, like you said, that the heart and flat tummy, that might be part of the mechanism of keeping us distracted so we don’t connect with. Look at it as being unnatural. If we’re so focused on getting a boob job and getting a nose job, if we’re so focused on what we wear, if we’re so focused on this external look of something we are not and we want to be something we’re not. We have this like, “If only I had more money. If only I had more time. If only had more energy.”
They keep us wanting and wanting and wanting then we cannot focus on being in our own power. I think to get back into our own empowerment, we have to take it into our own hands. No one’s going to give it to us. I love that your technique doing it right before each meal three times a day: sit, breathe for five minutes, pray, meditate, connect with yourself again with the intention to come back into your power, to heal yourself. Because the powers that be don’t want us to be empowered and fully healed. We just have to reexamine our belief system around what is beautiful and why do I want that? What is health? Why am I doing what I’m doing? Why am I desiring what I’m desiring? Is it my authentic self or is it been something that’s been imposed upon me? Because society is designed that way to keep us all sheeple. I love that. I love right.
[1:14:53] Nikki Kenward: It’s so true. It’s so true.
[1:14:55] Ashley James: Your technique is helping us come into our own power and listen to ourselves and connect with ourselves again because the mainstream media and the mainstream collectiveness does not want us to know that we can get in touch their intuition. That we can get in touch with our body and our body could speak to us. That we can actually heal. These are radical, radical ideas that you’re throwing out here. I love it. We have to kind of be radical. We have to swim upstream. We have to go be like salmon, totally going against the norm. We don’t want to live like a statistic. The number one killer is heart disease. One in three people will have a cancer diagnosis. One in three people have pre-diabetes or obese. The statistics are horrible. If we want to be a statistic, do what everyone else is doing. If we don’t want to be a statistic, we have to be the salmon and be willing to challenge the norm and go upstream. I love what you’re doing because you are helping people get empowered.
[1:15:57] Nikki Kenward: That’s what Dr. John Upledger taught me. He said that our job is to empower people to give them choices. That’s always been my focus because I completely agree with everything you’re saying. The only thing is if we’re a salmon can we have an inner panda? I’m not sure about that. By the way, laughing is very good for our vagal health.
[1:16:30] Ashley James: One of my one of the homework I give my clients is on their lunch breaks—I’ve get a lot of busy clients, “I don’t have time to do this. I don’t have time to get to that.” I get them to, on their lunch break, go on YouTube and look up Comedy Central or whatever and watch 5, 10, or 15-minute comedy act and just laugh. Go for walks. Get out of the office, go for a walk, listen to comedy, laugh, walk, and breathe. We have to actually schedule time throughout the day to help our enteric nervous system and help our autonomic nervous system to go back into healing mode and come out of stress mode.
[1:17:18] Nikki Kenward: Definitely. It’s really important.
[1:17:21] Ashley James: Brilliant. Nicky, is there anything else you’d like to make sure that you teach us today before we wrap up today’s interview?
[1:17:29] Nikki Kenward: I think just the only other thing is to say that anybody there who is listening to this who has felt isolated with these issues, ashamed, secret, unable to talk, I’m talking about my issues. I talk about mental health and bowel movements with my clients all the time. I just encourage you to talk about it. We all need to talk about it. It doesn’t make you any less. It doesn’t make you less functional, less competent. It makes you a human being.
[1:18:03] Ashley James: Talk about it with the right people.
[1:18:06] Nikki Kenward: With the right people, yes.
[1:18:08] Ashley James: The people who are receptive who will hold a loving space for you.
[1:18:13] Nikki Kenward: Yes, absolutely. Because the Japanese if they crack a pot, say it breaks a piece of pottery, they will put it together with some gold-colored glue because they say that pot is more precious than the one that hasn’t been broken.
[1:18:32] Ashley James: Exactly. I’ve looked at every part of my life when I felt broken and I look back and I just see that that forged me into an even more beautiful person. When we’re at our depths when we’re at our lowest know that in five-ten years you’ll look back and be grateful for the tragedy and the sorrow you have now. To keep going and use it as a tool to slingshot you into your healing. Nikki Kenward, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Listeners can go to nikkikenward.com to access your information. Is that the best place to go to buy your book as well?
[1:19:13] Nikki Kenward: I have another link for my book which is nikkikenward.store.
[1:19:20] Ashley James: Okay. Excellent.
[1:19:21] Nikki Kenward: If they’re in America though, they might do better to go on to the International Association of Healthcare Educators website where their products are because it will be cheaper to get it from there in America.
[1:19:38] Ashley James: Okay. We’ll make sure those links are all in the show notes of today’s podcast. Excellent. Nikki, thank you so much for coming on the show.
[1:19:45] Nikki Kenward: You’re welcome. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much for having me, Ashley.
[1:19:51] Outro: For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to takeyoursupplements.com and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price.
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Lynne McTaggart and Ashley James
- What is the power of eight
- How did power of eight start
- Positive intention vs negative intention
- What power of eight session looks like
- What time travel intention is
In this episode, Lynne McTaggart shares with us how the power of eight started. She shares how powerful sending and receiving intention is. She also shares how people can get over big or small traumas through time travel intention.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love today’s interview. I would love for you to join my new membership that I’ve spent the last four months creating. I’ve filmed a bunch of wonderful videos and every week I upload new videos teaching you how to cook in a way that heals your body and also cook and prepare food in a way that your kids will love, your spouse will love. It’s delicious food but it is whole foods and that there’s no processed foods, minimally processed and it taste delicious. So if you want to learn some amazing recipes, even if you could just improve your health by adding more nutrition in the form of food to your life, please come join come check out the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. I would love to see you there. The community so far is loving it.
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[0:01:56] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 414. I am so excited for today’s guest. This has been a long time in the making. Lynne McTaggart, I have wanted to interview you for a really long time and our schedules finally aligned. Today is the day. I’m so excited. A really good friend of mine, who’s a mental health counselor about a year ago, wrote me a text saying, “You have to interview this woman. I just finished her book. It’s life-changing. Oh my gosh. This is amazing.” I really take her opinion seriously because she’s a mental health counselor and she is really grounded in what works, what doesn’t work. She has to be. She actually, after reading your book The Power of Eight, she owns a clinic and she runs the clinic. About 80% of her clientele are there to end alcohol and substance abuse. So she does individual therapy and she has therapists underneath her as well and she also has group therapy. So most of her clientele is there to end addiction. She immediately started using the tools that she learned from your book, The Power of Eight, in her group sessions.
So, when they all came together two or three times a week to do their group therapy for ending their substance abuse, addiction or healing it; all the things she learned from your book she started doing with them and started seeing some fantastic results. Then she started doing it to shift things in her personal life. I’d get a text, “Okay, at 9:00 in the morning we’re all going to put this intention out there together.” So we started this intention circle, which was so great. So finally you’re here on the show. I think that your tools are so relevant for everyone listening. So I’m very, very excited for us to learn from you today. Welcome to the show.
[0:04:06] Lynne McTaggart: Thank you so much. It’s great to be with you, Ashley.
[0:04:10] Ashley James: Awesome. Absolutely. Now, here’s another example of serendipity. I just texted my godmother and I just felt this urge. I don’t normally tell her who I’m interviewing. I just felt the urge to tell her and I said, “I can’t believe it. I’m so excited. I’m finally interviewing Lynne McTaggart today.” My auntie, I call her my auntie. She wrote back, “You’re not going to believe this. I’m holding her book in my hand.” I’ve never talked to my aunt about you at all. She said, “I can’t believe it. I’m holding her book The Power of Eight right now in my hand.” I said, “Yeah, exactly. I just knew it. Something in me knew to tell her.” So she’s really excited. So she’s going to text me a question for you while we’re doing our interview. But this is how exciting it is. Finally, I have you on the show.
All my listeners want to achieve better health emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, energetically. All my listeners want a better life for themselves and their family. This is something that you teach people. You’re considered an intention guru. It’s almost like learning how to master the ability to manifest. I am so excited to dive into this, but before we do, I’d love to hear a bit about your backstory so that we really understand what happened in your life that led you to become this best-selling author of teaching people how to control their thoughts in a way that manifests what they want in life.
[0:05:51] Lynne McTaggart: Well, I mean, I never set out to do this. My background is investigative reporting. So, when I started out my career, Ashley, I broke baby-selling rings. I was trying to put bad guys in jail kind of thing. I came over to the UK to write a book. At that point, it was a biography of one of the Kennedy sisters. I fell in love with the place, never left. At that, which was my early 30s, I got ill and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I went from very conventional doctors to very outer rim of alternative doctors and nobody could tell me what was wrong with me. Now, it turned out I had a faulty microbiome. No big deal these days, but back in the early 80s, it was.
So, I finally realized if I was going to get better I was going to have to research this myself. So I researched what I thought I had. Then I researched the right doctor to work with me, to heal me. He was a pioneering nutritional doctor, a medical doctor who was not using drugs anymore, he was using supplements. He was using food and supplements as medicine. We got me better and I was so impressed by this that I probably got pretty boring on the subject. My husband sort of turned to me one day and he said, “Don’t tell me, tell the world.”
So, we started a little newsletter then called What Doctors Don’t Tell You. This was 30 years ago. We carried on and we still carried on. It’s now an international magazine. We run the one in America and the one in the UK. We also have its sister publication called Get Well and a Get Well show, an exhibition, a health expo that we just had in London. So, in the course of doing this work and when we started the newsletter, we decided we want to show people what’s really proven to work in alternative medicine. So, I kept coming across, when I was doing research, very good studies, studies of spiritual healing. I kept thinking to myself, “Wait a minute, if you can have a thought and send it to someone else and make them better, that completely undermines everything we know about how the world works.”
So, I set off on a quest essentially to find out what this was. Do we have human energy fields? What was going on? So, I persuaded my publisher to let me go on a journey and to write a book without a compass. I had no idea what I was going to find, but they agreed to do a book that I wasn’t even sure the content of. I started talking to scientists in quantum physics, pioneers in consciousness research. What each of them were telling me was a tiny piece of what together compounded into a completely new science, a new view of the world. So I wrote that up in a book called The Field, which was a best-seller, an international bestseller. One night afterward, I realized there was some unfinished business because there was a lot of evidence in there that actually thoughts are an actual something with the capacity to change matter.
So, the journalist in me was very curious. I kept thinking, “Well, what are we talking about? Are we talking about a tiny shift of a quantum particle? Are we talking about curing cancer with your thoughts? I wrote a book called The Intention Experiment, which was the science of intention, all the science about the power of your thoughts, but it was also an invitation to take part in experiment. I wanted to do this and test this in the biggest possible way. I started thinking about it. I knew a lot of scientists in consciousness research, scientists working at prestigious universities like Princeton, Penn State, University of Arizona, University of California. I also have lots of readers because the field was in 30 languages. So I kept thinking, “Well, if I put them together I’m going to have the biggest global laboratory in the world.”
So we did. We would set up these well-controlled experiments with scientists. Every so often I would invite my readers to all send the same thought to that target. To be honest, Ashley, I did not think it was going to work. I thought maybe we’d have some very subtle effect but we did. It did work. It really worked. I mean, we’ve run 33 experiments. Everything from trying to make seeds grow faster to trying to purify water to lowering violence of war-torn areas and to even try to heal somebody of post-traumatic stress disorder. Of those 33, 29 have shown positive, measurable mostly significant effects. There’s no pharmaceutical drug out there that has that kind of track record, but it was really the small group thing came about because I was trying to figure out how to start running workshops in this. This is back in 2008. I wasn’t really sure how to scale down what I was learning in the intention experiments.
So I was kicking it around with my husband one day and I said, “Well, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just put people in groups of eight or so and have them send healing intention to a member of the group with a health challenge.” He, being a good headline writer, said, “I love it. The Power of 8.” That is how it had started, just completely by accident. We did this in Chicago, our first workshop. Put people in groups of 8 or so. Had them send healing intention to a member of the group with a health challenge. Again, I didn’t think it was really going to work. I thought it was going to be a little feel-good effect like relaxing, having your back massage or something like that. That’s not what happened. Next day when people came in to talk about how it had been for them the day before in the workshop, they said things like this, “I have cataracts and they’re 80% better.” “I have a very bad knee from arthritis and I’m walking normally today.” “I have IBS and it feels like it’s cleared.” “I have depression and I feel lighter and better today. I feel like it’s gone.” On and on and on it went. I didn’t believe it. I really didn’t believe it. I thought, “Well, this is a placebo effect.” But I have now seen this happen in thousands of people’s where there have been healings in an instant or healings over time with a power of a group.
[0:13:19] Ashley James: That is amazing. I love that your husband came up with the name. That was some divine intervention to come up with that. So you didn’t do experiments where we did a group of six and a group of 10 and we found out that eight was the best?
[0:13:35] Lynne McTaggart: No. It doesn’t have to be eight. As I say, that was just me plucking a number out of the air. I mean, we have had groups of six, we’ve had groups of 12. It doesn’t need eight. Eight is kind of a Goldilocks figure, Ashley. It’s not too big and it’s not too small, but it works with six or five, it works with twelve. I think more than twelve it gets a little unwieldy. The point is a group, a small group of any size.
[0:14:06] Ashley James: You said that thoughts can change matter and you saw it in large groups of people. Did you do any experiments where you saw significant changes in something with one person’s thoughts?
[0:14:20] Lynne McTaggart: I mean, there are plenty of studies of that and they’re all in my book, The Intention Experiment of individuals sending intention to everything from bacteria to plants to single-celled organisms to full-fledged human beings and they’ve been able to change things. There’s no question. There’s huge, huge evidence of that. It’s without a doubt now. I was interested in the power of groups. I figured, “Well if one person has that power, does it get magnified in a group?” That was the other thing that really intrigued me. So that’s really why I wanted to do the intention experiment. I wanted to see what if there are thousands? What happens? With the intention experiments, we’ve had everything from 3,000 people to 25,000 people participating.
[0:15:19] Ashley James: This reminds me of what happened in DC several years ago where they meditated for peace and that the crime rates dropped significantly during that summer. This is the kind of experiments you were doing where you were taking many people with a single focus. Then you would see that it actually got results. Why is that? Is it that we’re all part of a morphic field? Is it that our thoughts really do create reality and matter is an illusion? Why is it that a group can get together and change reality?
[0:15:57] Lynne McTaggart: First of all, the studies you’re talking about, which were done by the Transcendental Meditation people, were very good studies, well-controlled. What they were looking at was just the effect of passive meditation. So the people who are part of that, what they looked at was, and they did it with 48 cities around America and Washington DC was one of them. They wanted to see what would happen if there were a critical mass of meditators meditating. They found when they reached a certain critical mass, the crime rate would go down. Now, these were not people intending for lowering violence, these were people just meditating. Essentially their theory, and that’s really all we get to call it, is that it creates a change in the field. When there are lots of people meditating, it really changes and calms things in the field.
I don’t know about that. There certainly are studies. Their studies are very good, but the why for them, I can’t really speak about. What I can talk about is what we did, which was a very highly focused thought. So our people weren’t meditating. They were in a state of hyper-awareness, hyperfocus, which is the state I try to get people in with intention. It’s not a quiescent state, it’s a state of a high degree of focus. I have them hold a particular thought. Our intention is that we will lower violence in St. Louis Missouri, in the Fairground section of St. Louis Missouri by at least 10%, something very, very specific. We’ve done this seven times now with violence lowering. We’ve done intention in war-torn areas like Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. We’ve also done it in very highly violent places like Washington DC, a section of Washington DC and also a section of St. Louis Missouri, which is officially the most violent place in America.
With that study, we worked with the team of scientists. One of them was a noted statistician in consciousness research called Dr. Jessica Utss from the University of California. She examined three years’ worth of data around St. Louis as a whole and also the area we were focusing on, which was the most violent part of St. Louis, the Fairground area. So we looked at both property crime and actual crime, violent crime. She found that the crime rate had been going up and up and up in all areas of St. Louis, particularly Fairground. From six months onward, after our intention, property crime continued to go up in St. Louis as a whole. Violent crime St. Louis at the whole continue to go up. Property crime in Fairground continue to go up, but violent crime, the focus of our intention, went down by about 43%.
[0:19:18] Ashley James: Wow.
[0:19:19] Lynne McTaggart: We’ve done seven and all seven have shown measurable, documented lowering of violence.
[0:19:30] Ashley James: Was it advertised and people in that area know that this was happening or was it completely oblivious to the people in those areas that this was going on?
[0:19:44] Lynne McTaggart: Yeah. We didn’t advertise it to the St. Louis people. We let our community and other communities in the consciousness that we were doing it and invited them to be part of it. We didn’t let St. Louis know about it.
So what is this? Well, I think that there’s a lot of things going on. I think, certainly, there is a power of thoughts. There’s almost like a psychic internet that gets created. I give you an example of that. With my intention experiment, one of the early ones we were doing trying, to make seeds grow faster. We were working with the University of Arizona. They would get four sets of thirty seeds: A, B, C and D as they were called. They would photograph each set, send me the photographs. When I was speaking in a particular area, we would do a new study.
So my first place that I was speaking was in Sydney, Australia. They were in Tucson, Arizona with the seeds. So they sent me the photos with the audience we chose randomly, one of the four sets. Didn’t tell the scientists which ones, sent intention to that set of seeds. Didn’t tell the scientists which ones. Let them then told them we were done. They planted the seeds and five days later after they’ve measured all four sets of seeds to see how high they grew, did we unblind the study and tell them, “Well, actually, we send intention to seeds A,” or whichever one it was. We ran that study six times. Every single time, the seed sent intention grew significantly higher than the controls. One time twice as high.
Now, unpack this for a second. That first study, we’re in Sydney, Australia. The seeds are in Tucson, Arizona, 8,000 miles away. The audience isn’t sending intention to the seeds itself, they’re sending intention to a photograph of the seeds. Nevertheless, we had an effect. So, that’s what I’m talking about with some sort of weird psychic internet. The even more interesting thing, that’s interesting, pretty amazing but not the really interesting part of the story. The more interesting part is what happened to the participants? Because once we started doing peace experiments in 2008, we started sending questionnaires, surveys to the people who would participate. We got thousands of responses back where people said things like these, “I’ve made up with my estranged relative.” “I’m getting up along so much better with my wife.” “That boss of mine, that horrible boss of mine, is suddenly being so nice to me.” “Now, I am in love with everyone I come in contact with.” That was about half of the people said that. That was the most. They were basically talking about hugging strangers in the street. There was this incredible change in them that was a kind of their lives became more peaceful. More peaceful, more loving, more connected. So that’s the thing, that rebound effect, that mirror effect was what started to really interest me.
[0:23:07] Ashley James: It’s as if they plugged into a different internet like you said. They’re plugging into this internet where the intention and the energy is about love and peace. The morphic field they were living in, the life, the goldfish bowl that they were living in has changed. They took themselves out of the petty, the angry whatever they were in and they put themselves in a different vibrational state. So then, they started seeing their entire world in a different way. It changed their perception.
[0:23:48] Lynne McTaggart: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[0:24:27] Ashley James: That is brilliant. Now in your book, The Power of Eight, you teach people and teach groups how to do this. What about individuals? So I want to talk about groups, I want to talk about individuals because individuals are listening to this. Maybe some people, like introverts, would be shy to go find a group of people to start doing this with at first and they want to build up their confidence by doing something alone. Can people practice what you teach alone and then go find a group? Should they just go find a group because that’s so much more powerful?
[0:24:28] Lynne McTaggart: Well, I would recommend that they find a group. It doesn’t have to be a group that’s physical. You can meet virtually. On my website, lynnemctaggart.com/forum, you can sign up to either join an existing group, and there are thousands of them going, or you can create one and advertise one in your time zone. Just say, “Hey, I’m looking for people to do a power of eight group with.” Yes, you can practice the rudimentary of intention, but it’s the power of the group. I’ll tell you what the real secret sauce is and why you do need a group. That is because for so many people if they’re stuck in their lives, the way that they get off of that is by getting off of themselves and sending intention to someone else. That’s why a group, small groups, are so powerful because I’ve seen this over and over and over again.
When I first started noticing that this was going on, I started looking at it from different ways trying to understand this because I didn’t believe it. At one point I decided to put people in groups, have them follow a course of mine for a whole year. I would put them in groups after they’d gone through some teaching with me over six weeks. I’d study them. I would monitor their progress over an entire year. Now, we had some amazing things and we continue to do so.
With that first group, there were 250 in the first group. About 150 continue to meet regularly week after week after week. Of those 150, pretty much 100% of them had major life transformations. We had an Allison who had vitiligo and started repigmenting. Trudy who regained most of her hearing, she had hearing loss. We had Mitchell Dean who was a psychologist who suffered from his own suicidal thoughts. He had suicidal depression and nothing had worked. He was an integrative psychologist, but when he put it out to his group to help him find the path to healing. After they did an intention for him, he was compelled to go to a Chinese herbalist who wanted to test his liver filtration systems. He found out that one of them was blocked. As soon as that was unblocked, his depression lifted.
So we had amazing stories like this. People who were in financial straits suddenly get this incredible ongoing windfall of money. Extraordinary people stuck in their jobs, like Melissa, who in her 50s ends up getting this new dream job, but some people, in the beginning, were stuck like Andy. Now Andy was a very talented marketing person and coach. She had sold her gift store and she was going through a divorce. She had two small children so she really needed a job. She couldn’t find a job no matter what they were doing, her group’s intention, all of the stuff she was stuck, stuck, stuck. So I went through all kinds of things with her and I finally just said, “You know Andy, get off of yourself.”
I had a particular person in mind for her to focus her intention on. There was a young boy called Luke who was 15. He had just broken up with his first serious girlfriend. When he was in a fit of adolescent angst, he threw himself off a 40-foot structure onto a hard ground. Luke broke every bone in his body, had nerve damage, brain damage. His stepfather and his mother didn’t think he was going to live according to what the doctors were telling them. So, they wrote to me and said can you put him on an intention circle. So I asked this masterclass that had been formed with these groups. All do a healing vigil for Luke on three successive Sundays while his parents kept a running commentary of what was going on with him.
Luke ended up healing in record time. Within a few weeks, he was whizzing around on a wheelchair. With a few more weeks he went home against every prognosis of the doctors. Now, he’s a healthy 18-year-old boy. So amazing. Was that down to us or good doctoring or maybe a combo of both, who knows? But what was really fascinating is what happened to Andy. Because Andy, the moment she got off of herself and started focusing on Luke, she gets a call out of nowhere from someone she doesn’t even know offering her the perfect job. That happened over and over and over again to the point where I started realizing that the real secret of this, the real reason why people are getting better is this thing of altruism.
Altruism is like a bulletproof vest. The science shows you that people who do things for other people, no matter how slight, live longer, happier, healthier lives. If you have an illness and you help somebody with the same illness, you’re more likely to get better. Even if you’re a volunteer you’re more likely to have a healthy life. You’re more likely to have longer life. It’s really extraordinary the science behind it.
[0:30:24] Ashley James: Now, what’s the difference between the power of eight or this group intention, the system, you’ve developed a system, that has proven time and time again to work for the intended target but also for everyone doing it, which is great. What the difference between that and prayer? You go to church on Sunday and the whole church prays for someone. What’s the difference?
[0:30:51] Lynne McTaggart: Well, I think it’s different. It’s a secular system, first of all. Secondly, you’re not praying to a supreme being where you basically say to God, “You decide. Thy will be done,” is what we say in church. You decide essentially. With intention, this is a very specific request to the universe. This is what I’d like, please. Also, there is the energy, the something, the alchemy that goes on in this group. Now, everybody, we just had a health show in London Olympia and I did a Get Well show. I put people into groups of eight and let them experience that. People talked about this extraordinary buzzing energy they were feeling. I’ll give you an example.
A few months ago, I did this at a conference. A woman, I swear to you, Maya, young woman who had had some sort of idiopathic paralysis from the neck down that occurred that was tragic because she was a dancer. She was in and out of paralysis and when she came to the show, she was in a wheelchair paralyzed from the neck down. The group did for her. She described this extraordinary buzzing, this energy that filled he with such gratitude, with such force that she felt, “I can’t keep this for myself.” So she started intending to send some of that out to one of her relatives who was ill. Anyway, the upshot is, when we were calling on people afterward who were raising their hand to say what had happen to them, she put her hand up and she thought to herself, “I got to stand.” She stood up and turned around and talked to everybody. It was just astonishing. Absolutely astonishing.
It’s that group thing, there is a group feeling of oneness that people talk about all the time that is something much, much bigger than them. Like they’re almost inviting in a power even outside the group. People talk about that all the time. Light behind chairs, the chair of the circle, light being’s there. Someone who had a bad knee and afterward was able to do a deep squat after this ten-minute intention. Talked about feeling warm mitts around her he even though nobody in the group was holding on to her knee. It’s that kind of thing. There’s something bigger that gets produced.
[0:33:36] Ashley James: You’re inviting in healing angels.
[0:33:40] Lynne McTaggart: I guess you are. Who knows? Look, I’ve started recognizing that intention plays a big part of it. Group intention plays a big part of it. The group effect itself. Groups are, as one psychologist called it, a collective effervescence. They have their own amazing effect and power. Altruism plays a huge part in it. Just getting off of yourself. What happens with altruism is when you do something for someone else, it activates a thing in your body called the vagus nerve. It’s the longest nerve in your body and it starts in the neck, winds its way through all of the major organs of your body. It’s kind of a love nerve because it gets activated when we do something good for someone else like a child in need. When it does, it also makes us feel connected to everyone, even people we are nothing like, we feel more connection with the other. So, there’s an extraordinary spiritual side to this that gets activated in a group and a group that is involved in an altruistic intention.
[0:34:57] Ashley James: There are studies that show that people who are depressed and suicidal when they join a group and volunteer, so dog-walking; feeding the homeless; community gardens that time and time again, they see that depression lifts and suicidal thoughts melt away. Joy starts to fill their life and that people who volunteer live longer. They are happier people and they live longer. So you’re explaining one of the physiological reasons why because it’s stimulating the vagus nerve. It connects our two brains because they’re saying now that there’s like a second brain which is our gut. That there’s so many nerves happening in the gut. The vagus nerve is sending more signals to the brain than the brain is sending back down. So the brain is receiving all this information. We have an intuition I believe. We call it like a gut feeling. I think the gut perceives also. So when we have a really clean and a healthy vagus nerve, we have better digestion; 25% of our serotonin, I believe, is produced in the gut of a healthy microbiome.
So, there’s joy and happiness, there’s better digestion, better absorption of nutrition. When the gut, when the vagus nerve’s inflamed, they see that people have chronic depression and also have developed digestive disorders like IBS. We can do something like be altruistic, volunteer, join a power of eight group and actually have a physiological effect on calming the vagus nerve, which supports our physical health. I love that. I love that we can start to see the actual physical benefits of something mental and emotional because the mental-emotional body is connected. We’re all connected. That’s really cool.
[0:37:14] Lynne McTaggart: Yes. The amazing thing of it is, as I say, in a group, it’s not just the receivers that get healed, it’s the senders too. Now, with one group, I just organized a group in Denver with the Mile Hi Church. So we had this group of eight and one of the members of the group was a guy called Wes. Now, Wes wanted to put himself forward because he suffered from depression and he had this miserable life. He was 65 when I met him and he was there with the group and he had big hopes and dreams to become a biochemist or a doctor even. He was at university when, I think his third year, he got called up to be drafted at the very end of the Vietnam War when there were no more draft deferments for college students. So he ended up going to Vietnam getting totally traumatized by the situation, coming home deeply depressed, didn’t finish university and his life went down in a downward spiral after that. Even when he met the love of his life, had married his second wife, she didn’t last long. She died of a fast-growing cancer.
So, he got to the point by 65 where it was kind of what’s the use? He barely could get himself up in the morning. So he was there and he did this whole thing. He wanted to put himself forward but there was a woman in the group with stage four cancer and he thought she was more deserving. So he did that. That first night, he went to bed and woke up and it was almost like Scrooge on Christmas morning where suddenly he’s like this totally different person. He’s smiling. He used to avoid people. He’s suddenly smiling and saying hi to them. The grass was greener than he’d ever seen it. He had a cup of herbal tea and he said it knocked his socks off. All of his senses were really heightened.
So then, the next night goes to bed. He has this amazing lucid dream he said almost like a vision where he’s meeting his 19-year-old self. They’re back in campus and the 19-year-old self is somehow communicating to him, “Don’t worry, there’s still time.” From then, Wes was a totally different person because he suddenly started doing power walks, he started writing, he started joining classes, he started coming to his church, Mile Hi Church, and is very active in a power of eight group. He’s a completely different person after that one 10-minute session.
[0:40:05] Ashley James: Oh my gosh, I’m crying right now. I think my favorite thing in the world is hearing about people who felt hopeless and then they had a breakthrough because it’s never too late. You’re not a lost cause, you’re not broken, it’s never too late. You can have a better life even if you’ve been suffering. I remember feeling so sick. In my 20s, I was so sick I just didn’t want to live anymore at times because I felt like a prisoner trapped in my own body. I was suffering so horribly. I was able to use natural medicine to overcome it and that’s one of the reasons why I do this show is to help people who are suffering like me. There is a way to heal yourself. The road sometimes is long, but sometimes it’s short. Sometimes you do something like join a power of eight group and you have these amazing results, but there’s always hope. There’s always something there for you to learn. I believe that there’s no lost causes. This is my favorite kind of story is hearing of people who triumph. Every single person deserves that. Every single person deserves to create the life that they love.
[0:41:29] Lynne McTaggart: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, that’s the thing that’s really amazing about it. When you do see studies of what happens when people do for other people and how that changes them. One of my favorite studies is a study of prayer and it looked at took a group of 400 people with depression. They put them into two groups. One group where the people who are going to get prayer for them, and the other group of 200 we’re going to be people who are going to give the prayer. So they carried out the study and afterward measured the effects. Now, the people who got the prayer did really well. They improved, but nowhere near as much as the people who had given the prayer. They were off of the charts. So that was I think one of those interesting things. Also, another study of people looking at people who have what we’d consider the good life, all the money in the world, everything that they want, go on a lot of holidays, have a lot of material things. When they looked at their immune system markers, a group of researchers, they found they had terrible immune systems. These are people who are going to die of any one of the number of degenerative diseases: heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc. They were going to drop like flies, they look like, at another group who weren’t as affluent but who were living a life of service, of doing for other people. Those people had robust immune systems. They were going to live forever. So, there’s another example of the power of getting off of yourself and doing for other people. It’s really extraordinary.
[0:43:26] Ashley James: That’s so beautiful. I love it. My aunt texted her question. She says, “So, I’m in a group. Based on her book The Power of Eight, there are eight people meeting once a week on Zoom. We are into our third week and plan to do eight weeks for all eight people. Each week we let each person in the group say their intention for themselves for this week and then we pick one person after that who we’ll all focus on, figure out what intention will suit that person’s issue the best and we all repeat silently to ourselves for 10 minutes. The same intention for this one person. We meditate on it. My question is, at the beginning of the call, is it a good idea for each one of us to tell our own personal intention first or is it better to only focus on the one person’s intention throughout the whole our together?”
[0:44:20] Lynne McTaggart: Well, you can talk about your intentions, your personal intentions, but if you’re doing it for an hour, I wouldn’t try to do everybody in the group in that one hour. Sometimes it’s good to just send and sometimes it’s good to receive. So, if you’ve got an hour, you might want a little time to talk about things after each intention and to break and have time. So having about three people to four people being the targets of intention would be a good idea at most in an hour. You’d want them to talk about themselves, what’s going on with them, and then everybody shares some feedback afterward because some of the stuff that I talk about is also having visualizations of success, very strong visualizations not just holding the statement and bringing it down to your heart but also holding visualizations of success.
[0:45:18] Ashley James: Maybe you could walk us through what a session looks like so that the listener went and got seven other people together, walk us through what it looks like. Of course, they’ll get your book because they’ll want to dive in deeper but for those listening today that are really jazzed and just want to go try it, can you walk us through step by step what we should do with a group of seven other people.
[0:45:41] Lynne McTaggart: Sure. I mean, it doesn’t have to be aid, as I say, you can be on Skype or Zoom or a conference call or you can be meeting in person. You design a very specific intention statement together. It helps to have one person be the leader stroke timekeeper. So, one person gets nominated as the recipient, everybody else is the sender’s. You decide together on the intention statement, make it very specific. If you want to heal the big toe of somebody’s right foot say, “Our intention is that Jane Doe will be healed of all pain in her big toe of her right foot.” That kind of thing. You hold, you then start breathing together, you then formulate the intention bring it down to your heart, send it out to the person. I’m just giving you the big broad strokes. There’s a lot of details. In fact, there are 13 keys to intention mastery. I talk about a number of them in my book, The Power of Eight, and also in The Intention Experiment. I teach these very in-depth and lots of other things about in tension in masterclasses, but these are the broad strokes.
So, we take you down to our hearts, we send it out. The person receiving just opens up their hearts to receive. I say hold it for just 10 minutes because sometimes people aren’t as proficient in focusing and it requires a high degree of focus, focusing on the outcome that person being healthy and well in every way. Imagining them running around or being blooming with good health. Hold and you don’t need to do more than 10 minutes. Lots of people do things for hours, you don’t need it. We’ve seen so many healings in an instant basically. Then you slowly come out. The timekeeper says, “Time is up.” You slowly come back in onto the call and then it’s good to have some feedback. What did the receiver feel? What did the senders feel? What did they visualize?
[0:47:56] Ashley James: So in one call, like you said, you could do three or four people if you wanted to.
[0:48:02] Lynne McTaggart: Yeah. I wouldn’t try to do all eight because you wouldn’t have enough time.
[0:48:05] Ashley James: Right. Right. Because it sounds like it would be about twenty minutes per person if you’re really intentional with the time.
[0:48:13] Lynne McTaggart: Sure. Do understand that people get healed toward the senders just as much as the receivers, in some cases more so. Remember Wes? He wasn’t a receiver, he was a sender and his life got changed in those 10 minutes.
[0:48:29] Ashley James: This makes me think about hurricanes where we’ve seen them veer off all of a sudden. There was no explanation as to why and everyone in Florida and everyone around Florida is just intending for it to move. Then there are other times where people are expecting worst-case scenarios and I wonder, have you seen negative things happen where if a group of people believe something really bad is going to happen, could we also create something negative?
[0:49:08] Lynne McTaggart: Oh, yeah. There’s a huge batch of research about negative intention and I’d like to tell you, Ashley, that positive intention is more powerful than negative intention, but I can’t. It works just as well. If you think about it, I mean Qi Gong masters use a thing called destroying mind to overcome the opponent if they’re doing a kind of a fight with them. That works very powerfully. There are other situations where they’ve done very well-controlled studies of people sending negative intention to anything from bacteria, to plants, to all kinds of things like that and they have a very powerful effect. They’ve even done studies where they do a trade. They start to do a positive thing for a while then a negative thing for a while, positive thing and it creates a kind of zigzag effect. So yeah, we can have negative intention too. So people expecting the worst, it’s like that old, I think it’s an old Buddhist story of somebody coming to a new town and eating a Buddha and saying, “So what’s it like in this new town that they were about to move in?” And the Buddha says to them, “Well, what was it like in the last town?” And they said, “Oh, it’s terrible. People were so unfriendly.” And he said, “Well, yeah. They’re going to be unfriendly in the next place.” Then somebody else comes along and they say, “So, we’re moving into this town. What are people like here?” And he says, “Well, what were like in the last town?” “They were so lovely. They were so friendly. They were wonderful.” And he said, “Well, the people here in this next town are going to be lovely too.” So, a lot of it is depending on your point of view and what you do.
I’ve actually worked with a group of intenders in Florida trying to move one of the hurricanes and it certainly missed that area. It was aiming for it and it missed it. Did we do this? Short answer, who knows, but it’s interesting and it seems to happen quite a lot.
[0:51:14] Ashley James: Oh, that’s so brilliant. Now you have an intention masterclass. I believe it started in January. Can people still join?
[0:51:23] Lynne McTaggart: Well, I’m due to do the fifth one on Saturday. These are all recorded so if people were really desperate to join, we could probably fit a few people in. They would get the first four sessions if they join this week and they could join the fifth session, which is all about how to protect yourself from negative intention. They could join it and be part of it. Now, what happens is, they get six live webinars from me, and these are also recorded if you miss them if you’ve started late too. We are putting people in groups of eight or so. We put them into more so that there will always be eight that on their calls. Then we encourage them to meet weekly with their group. Once my six are finished, and then I send them weekly challenges, advice, guidance. I also have a system to monitor their progress, every person’s progress on the masterclass. They get four catch-up calls with me where I teach them some more through the year and they get to ask some questions. We have a private Facebook page where they can ask more questions and there’s a lot of feedback that goes on.
So the real work happens with the groups, but they learn a lot from me about using intention for relationships, using intention to become a better receiver of other people’s intention, the thirteen P’s and so forth and how to be really successful in a power of eight group.
[0:53:05] Ashley James: I know that you also teach people if they feel like their choices are not in their own control, that you teach people how to use their thoughts to change that behavior. Because some people feel like, “Oh, I wish I could stick to this way of eating, but I can’t control going through the drive-through,” as an example or, “I keep wanting to go to the gym but I just can’t make it there.” It’s like they want to do something but then feel like their behavior is not in their control. That’s something that you teach as well as how people can overcome that.
[0:53:51] Lynne McTaggart: Yeah. What we also teach is, and I’ve run a retreat with my husband on this and we’re going to be in amazing place in Italy in the Piedmont area where I’m staying in a castle and we’re also going to be visiting Damanhur, that amazing spiritual community that’s been considered one of the eight wonders of the world because it has these extraordinary subterranean cathedrals in there, very, very sacred place. I’ve been working a lot with intention and sacred spaces, and some of the science does show that intention seems to work faster and better when there’ve been a lot of sacred work in certain areas. So we do that, which is really interesting, but we also work on healing the past through the power of eight because my husband has a lot of work about how the past becomes you and lives through you and creates the you you present to the world. We combine that with a lot of time travel intention and we work with people and help them get over some of the big and small traumas that have limited them in their lives from manifesting to life of their dreams. So this year we’re going to be going for, we only do one retreat a year, we’re going in early October. So there’s going to be more up about that on my website too.
[0:55:21] Ashley James: That sounds beautiful. What do you mean by, I mean I think I know what you mean but I’d love for you to explain it, time travel intention?
[0:55:30] Lynne McTaggart: Well we actually use intention through various techniques to go back to moments of trauma and essentially erase that tape. We don’t erase what happened, but we erased the tape. So we erase the footprint that is limiting you. It’s quite a complex technique, but essentially it really means what we are doing is getting rid of that emotional trauma, the emotional footprint of it.
[0:56:02] Ashley James: Beautiful. Well, I love the work that you do. I would love to have you back on the show to dive deeper into these topics. This is sort of the manual we should have been born with to learn how to use this tool in between our ears and our heart. Science now is finally starting to prove that this exists, that we can affect with our thoughts, can affect reality. I just finished an interview with a woman that had just published a documentary called Superhuman. The entire documentary is following experiments proving that thought affects the world. It’s wonderful to now interview you and get that many people, including yourself, many scientists, are all working together around the world to prove that there’s something. Thought is like an invisible arm that we have. It’s not only a sense because we can perceive. People get intuition or psychic abilities, but that our consciousness also effects. So it receives but it also puts out. In this documentary, they were at I think Stanford, she was able to within 10 seconds, by just using her consciousness, just in tension, she changed the conductivity of DNA. Then they did another experiment within 30 seconds she changed the pH, which is in increasing the hydrogen in water while it was all hooked up to electrodes. All kinds of experiments like that just to show that anyone, she was coming in blind, never done it before, that everyone has this ability. Most people are walking around handicapped because they don’t know that they have this ability.
So your books are showing them and teaching them how to use this God-given ability to create a world. We’re kind of walking around like children creating a world chaotically with our thoughts not really taking responsibility for them because we don’t realize how great of an impact they have on our reality. So we need to harness this power and focus it towards what we want.
[0:58:49] Lynne McTaggart: Absolutely.
[0:58:50] Ashley James: Yeah. So bring it together, focus it. It’s kind of like the difference between a sailboat where all the ropes are loose and everything’s flapping about and it’s just kind of going with the current versus focusing the sailboat to harness the wind to go where we want it to go. So we can use your tools to learn how to do that.
[0:59:13] Lynne McTaggart: I like that. I like the idea of harnessing ourselves. Sounds great.
[0:59:18] Ashley James: Yeah. Lynne, your website is lynnemctaggart.com. Of course, the links to everything that Lynne does, including her intention masterclass and all her books, are going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Is there anything that you wanted to make sure you taught today or anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?
[0:59:42] Lynne McTaggart: Well, just that I think the power of thoughts really should give you hope and the power of the group should give you hope because we in the spiritual community, we think we have to spend years practicing or hours priming ourselves to get into a mystical state. We did brain wave studies with neuroscientist at Life University, one of the largest chiropractic universities in the world, and they found that during power of eight groups, the brainwaves of the participants, who are just novice students, would change and not look anything like meditation. They resembled Sufi masters during chanting and Buddhist monks during ecstatic prayer as measured by the University of Pennsylvania. So, my message is just this: you don’t need a sweat lodge, you don’t need years of walking around on your knees, all you need is a power of eight group and a common intention and it’s your passport to the miraculous.
[1:00:53] Ashley James: Beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I’d love to have you back.
[1:00:56] Lynne McTaggart: I would love to be back, Ashley. Thanks so much.
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Dr. John Huber and Ashley James
- What Mainstream Mental Health does
- DNA testing for psychotropic medicine
- What electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is
- What ketamine treatment is
- Dangers of using ketamine
- Different kinds of therapies
- Signs that someone is a psychopath
In this episode, Dr. John Huber shares with us how he is increasing mental health awareness by doing interviews and going on different shows. He shares various stories on how he has helped people deal with different mental health issues using different therapy techniques depending on what he thinks would be beneficial to the patient. He also shares that it is beneficial to go see a therapist once in a while so that the therapist has a record of how a patient is when he’s doing well and how he is when he’s not doing well.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love today’s interview. I thought it was a very interesting interview and I think this information needs to get out there. Thank you for sharing this episode with your friends and people you care about. We need to spread this information so that people can learn that there are more tools available to them to achieve mental health, emotional health and overall a happier life. We all deserve that.
I would love for you to join my new membership that I’ve spent the last four months creating. I’ve filmed a bunch of wonderful videos and every week I upload new videos teaching you how to cook in a way that heals your body and also cook and prepare food in a way that your kids will love, your spouse will love. It’s delicious food but it is whole foods and that there’s no processed foods, minimally processed and it tastes delicious. So if you want to learn some amazing recipes even if you could just improve your health by adding more nutrition in the form of food to your life please come join, come check out the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. I would love to see you there. The community so far is loving it. One of our members said that within five days of applying some of the things that she learned in the membership, her chronic headaches went away. That she noticed she had more energy and she was actually feeling like she could sleep at night. That’s just one of the members. We’ve had amazing results.
Naomi’s mom, after eating this way for six weeks, completely lost her arthritis. She no longer has arthritis. There’s so many things that you can do with food to heal your body. So if you would love to increase your health and even mental-emotional health is affected by food. There’s many reasons for that. Come join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen and learn how to use food as your medicine to eat delicious food that also heals your body. Go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. That’s learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. You can join as a monthly member. It’s $9.97 for a whole month. You can come check it out. You can join as an annual member and use the coupon code LTH for a big discount. I wanted to make this affordable so everyone could gain access to this information that I’ve cultivated, I brought together to help you to achieve true health. Come learn how to make delicious food that is also healing for your body, learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. I hope to see you there. Enjoy today’s interview.
[0:03:04] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 413. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have on the show with us Dr. John Huber. Oh my gosh. This is going to be such a fantastic interview. Dr. Huber’s website is mainstreammentalhealth.org. His mission is to increase awareness about mental health. I think that’s really important because, as you just said before we hit record, you can take all the vitamins and you could do the perfect diet and you could do the perfect exercise and do absolutely everything perfect for physical health but if you don’t have your mental-emotional health you don’t actually have health. So Dr. John’s mission is to get us healthy in a mental and emotional way. You have so many years of experience so I’m really looking forward to tapping into that brain of yours so we can all learn how to be healthier mentally and emotionally. Welcome to the show.
[0:04:12] Dr. John Huber: Well, thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. Anytime I can talk about mental health it just brings so much joy to my heart because we’ve got to do this. We’ve got to take this silent illness and make people realize that it’s not because you’re broken, it’s because you’re human. We need to be out there standing up for that.
[0:04:35] Ashley James: Yeah. I love that you said that. People feel often like there’s something wrong with them, that they’re incomplete, that they’re not whole and that they feel this guilt and shame when it’s totally human. It’s absolutely human. I was really amazed to hear in the history of Hawaii, which the ancient Polynesians took little canoes across the ocean to get to Hawaii. They’re pretty awesome people. But there was zero recorded history of mental illness until the Christian, Catholic people came in their ships and told them they should feel ashamed for being naked. But there was zero mental health issues. It was just amazing. After they changed their diet and took on religion and started to feel guilt and shame about their bodies and their culture, changed basically everything about what they were doing. All of a sudden then there was recorded events of schizophrenia. That it had never happened before in their culture and other mental illness.
So, it’s just really interesting that when we’re in perfect harmony with ourselves that were we’re really like going with the flow and everything’s good. But when we’re out of harmony with ourselves, I think mental illness is a symptom like our brain is saying, “Hey something’s wrong here. Something isn’t right.” So I just thought that was really interesting about the history of the Hawaiians. Now, you have many years of experience and you taught clinical forensic psychology. What was that like?
[0:06:18] Dr. John Huber: Well, I taught a lot of classes, but I’m a forensic psychologist, clinical forensic psychologist. I was lucky enough to be in a university that actually had brought in as I was becoming part of the faculty a forensic minor in psychology. Now, an undergraduate level that just kind of gives you some introductory stuff. You don’t have a license or you’re not skilled to go out and be able to do work for a police department or anything like that, but it starts getting people’s you know fingers and feet wet in what’s going on. Because when I got into this there was three schools in the United States at the doctorate level that didn’t require you to get a law degree and a Ph.D. to be a clinical forensic psychologist. I didn’t want to be an attorney. I wanted to be a practitioner that I could help people. One of the things I know about myself and I’ve known it since I was a young child, I get bored really easy. So I have to kind of create my own environment you know that I function in. One of those things is I need to be able to, okay if I start to feel myself getting tired or bored with something I need to move on and do something else for a day or two and then I can come back to that other thing if I have to continue working on a project or something like that.
So, for example, right now I’ve got my nonprofit. I do 1,100-1,200 radio interviews every year. I do approximately three to four hundred television interviews every year. I have my own podcast. Several hundred podcasts out there, I haven’t actually stopped to count them. I’m working on a book that I want to get out there. So, that’s just my nonprofit part right there. Then I have privileges at two medical hospitals where people get surgeries and they don’t understand why we have to cut a foot off or they’ve come to you and say, “I’d rather have my life go and be dead than have no leg.” I’m sitting there go, “Look at your grandkid right here, he’s three months old. Do you want him to remember you?
I get really bizarre answers from that because people have these preconceived notions about how everybody else sees them. It’s kind of like stage fright you know. People don’t like to get up in front of the audience and talk, but when people realize whether you’re singing, playing music, talking; that if somebody else wanted to come up there and talk they could talk to. You’re not keeping them from talking if you’re up there talking. Everybody has their own choices to make. A lot of people would rather sit back and listen and in some cases criticize after the fact. That’s okay because their opinions don’t change my opinion. If they bring me facts and research and data, then I look at the data and I do that. But an opinion, that’s just an opinion. They have a right to it, I have a right to mine.
I’m no better than they are there, they’re no better than me. If they’re willing to come listen to me, well I’m definitely going to give them an earful. I mean, that’s what I do. I’ve had people challenge me. I’ve had students challenge me. You get 500 students in there and a student asks you a question and you don’t know the answer to it. The student, “Well, you’re the professor. Don’t you know everything about psychology?” I’m like, “You know, there’s so much in psychology I wish I really did because I wouldn’t need to be here teaching you guys. I’d be teaching the teachers to teach you guys.” That kind of thing. This guy one day would just not leave it alone. He kept asking me about déjà vu, déjà vu, déjà vu and it was about the time the Matrix had come out. Finally, I just turned it, “You really want to know about déjà vu?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” I go, “It’s the Matrix resetting.” And the whole class, the whole class just like, “Did the professor just say that. He quoted the Matrix?” This kid is like, he’s dumbfounded. He doesn’t know what to say because he doesn’t have a rhetoric to that. I gave him an answer.
[0:10:28] Ashley James: That’s funny.
[0:10:29] Dr. John Huber: The rest of the class got it. He just kind of sat down and didn’t say anything else. About three weeks later he raised his hand and he goes, “Dude,” and the whole class turns around and looks at him like, “Did you just call the professor dude?” Then they turn around to look at me. I had corrected him. I said, “Excuse me, that’s Dr. Dude.” It’s not my ego. I’m there to teach them. I want them to learn. We know a lot of things about learning. If you put an emotion with learning, you remember it much better. I know professors who believe that, “Well, I’ll just make all the class angry at me because it’s easy.” I’m like, “No. I’d rather have them be laughing and enjoying the conversation because they remember that good feeling and they keep that with them when they study psychology from then on and out.” To this day, I’ve got students that are doing you know they’re residencies in thoracic surgery in New York State and all over the United States. I get emails and calls. I’m going to be in New York next week and I’ve got a couple of them going to introduce me to some of their surgery supervisors and want to go out to dinner and all this kind of stuff. You know how that makes me feel? It makes me feel like I did my job and I’m proud of those kids.
If you knew some of the stories and I see the successes. I mean these kids that were failing out of school and I pulled them into my office and, “Hey, I need you to do something for me,” and I give them a responsibility in the class. All of a sudden, their grade comes up to an A in my class. Then they’re like, “Man, I’m struggling in this class.” “Well, have you tried this? Go talk to the professor.” Then they end up graduating with 3.8-3.9 four years later. They’re telling me I’m the reason why they finish school.
[0:12:13] Ashley James: Wow.
[0:12:14] Dr. John Huber: Because I just give them a little bit of support. I give them some skills, some coping skills which is what I try to do in therapy. I want to create a patient who comes in and needs help a set of coping skills, a set of management, life management tools that they don’t ever have to come back to me. That’s my goal. They still do. They come back. I might not see one for three or four years and they call me. “Oh, hey. Can I get in next week?” “Sure, let’s come on in.” They just wanted to touch base. That’s awesome. I love that. Yeah.
[0:12:49] Ashley James: That’s so cool. It sounds brilliant that you have had that impact for so many years with thousands, thousands of young professionals that have gone on to help so many people. I love that ripple effect. That’s really beautiful. You mentioned this one thing about being on stage. This worry we have sometimes about what will other people think of us. I think sometimes it’s so ingrained that it’s like second nature this fear of what other people think of us or that person that would rather die than have them be an amputee. He couldn’t get over the hump, like in his mind like he needs a little bit of help getting over the hump of like you’ve got a whole life like you’ve got people that love you and you could have a really fulfilling life. Who cares you don’t have a leg.
[0:13:50] Dr. John Huber: Well they care.
[0:13:51] Ashley James: Yeah, of course.
[0:13:52] Dr. John Huber: But they care.
[0:13:53] Ashley James: But look at how much life you could have. They can’t even see past the no leg to all the love and joy and fulfillment that they could have.
[0:14:05] Dr. John Huber: Oh, but I have my ways. I have not lost the patient because they wouldn’t have an amputation.
[0:14:11] Ashley James: Well, that’s really cool.
[0:14:12] Dr. John Huber: In almost 10 years. It depends. I can remember specifically I had this one lady, 40 years old her daughter was 20 expecting her first baby. So grandma, she going to be a first grandma at 40 years old. She had uncontrolled diabetes and she ended up with gangrene on both her feet. We were going to have to amputate her feet. She’s like, “Let me die. I don’t want to bring a new baby up to look up to a gimp in a wheelchair the rest of their lives.” “A gimp?” “Yeah.” I go, “Okay, so you’re ready to die. I’ve got some friends that are really interested in the end of life thought processes and death and dying. Can I bring them in here? They’re actually here.” “Oh, yeah. Sure.” I ran down to the outpatient rehab department because there were three gentlemen in there who are double amputees who have amazing abilities on their prosthetics. They run around no canes nothing. They can run and jog and walk. You never know they have amputations. I’d met them because I’ve been at the hospital for a while and they’ve been in and out and now they were in outpatient.
I go, “Hey guys, I can’t tell you the patient’s name but she wants to die and I want you guys to act like you’re interested in dying and death and that kind of stuff.” “What? What?” “Well. She doesn’t think anybody can have a normal life with prosthetics,” and they just started laughing. “Sure. We can do that.” These are guys, 60-70 years old. They’re happy to be alive. They got their families. Literally, we’re walking down the hallway and we got one more room to go and one of the guys stop for a second, bent down on one knee and untied a shoe and walked in there. So they start asking her about death and dying. “So, you’re going to have an amputation here?” “No. I’d rather die. I don’t want to be a gimp.” The guy who untied his shoes was a little bit further away. “Oh man,” and he made a big deal about his shoe being untied. He propped that foot up there on there and his pant leg came up and you saw the steel rod of the prosthetic. “Well, okay. Well, maybe you know but they want both of my feet. You’ve only lost one.” He reached over and pulled up the pant leg on the other leg. She’s like, “What?” All three of the guys go, “Yeah, we’re all amputees, double amputees.” Let’s just say she was there for her grand baby’s birth.
[0:16:41] Ashley James: That’s awesome.
[0:16:44] Dr. John Huber: Changed her perspective, give her a different point of view. We get so stuck and this is the way things are and it’s not that way. Everybody has two eyes, hopefully, they’re functional to some extent, but we all see different things.
[0:16:59] Ashley James: Yeah. We all perceive the world in a different way. You and I could go to the same movie and walk away with a different experience.
[0:17:06] Dr. John Huber: Exactly. Me and my wife did that with, what was that, the Twilight series. She’s like, “Oh, man. It’s fantasy and it’s Beauty and the Beast and the vampire,” and I go, “No. It’s an emo girl who’s trying to decide if she’s going to experience bestiality or necrophilia.” Yeah. My wife didn’t think I was that funny.
[0:17:31] Ashley James: That’s exactly it. You mentioned that we’re worried about what other people think. I had a recent experience a few months ago where someone I’m really close to, I found out that she had a very negative viewpoint of me and of things I’ve done. Actually, it was completely untrue. It was just a completely untrue viewpoint. At first, I was very, very hurt because I had poured a lot of time energy and money into supporting her and helping her and doing everything I could to help her get over a certain difficulty in her life and she turned around and she made it mean. So many nasty horrible things. So at first, I was just kind of taken aback. Then I felt like my brain broke, like something in my brain snapped. I started laughing because I could have never in a million years predicted the things that she would have come up with.
I’ve spent my whole life worrying about what other people think of me, but no one has really ever actually come up to me and fulfilled my worry. I’m worried about what people think about my shape or my hair color or whatever. Like, “Oh, I’ve got some gray hairs,” or “I didn’t pluck the hairs on my chin,” or whatever. Whatever I’m worried about. No one has ever actually come up to me and fulfilled my worry, but people come up with the things like I could never even imagine, right? Something in my brain snapped because I got that no matter how much I worry, I could spend the rest of my life worrying about what other people think but those people will never actually think the things I’m worried about because they’re going to come up with their own stuff that is so weird that I could not possibly predict worrying about those things.
[0:19:33] Dr. John Huber: Oh, you know that reminds me. I was doing a presentation once with about 600 people there. My daughter was about two and a half, my son was about six but he was sick so I had to bring her with me. She’d been to the auditorium before and she picked the seat she wanted to sit at right down the middle, middle aisle. So people have their assigned tickets and all that kind of stuff. They come in there and here comes the person for that seat. She informed them that that was her seat. She walked them down to actually where we had a seat for her on the front row, this person got a front-row ticket. So they weren’t mad. They sat there. But I I’m one of those speakers, I can’t stand behind a podium. So I’ve got my wireless mic and I’m running circles, laps around this place while I’m doing my presentation. Finally, my daughter gets up while I’m talking and she kind of meets me at a crossroads. She grabs me by the hand and I got this wireless mic on and she goes, “Look, dad, you’ve got to calm down or these people aren’t going to be able to follow you.” She walks me up to the front and sits me down on the chair that’s right up next to the podium.
The place went crazy. It was hilarious. Yeah. Then she actually asked somebody for paper so she could keep taking notes while she was listening to my presentation.
[0:20:55] Ashley James: That’s funny. Well, of course, that was her perception.
[0:20:58] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[0:21:00] Ashley James: Right. Because if no one was following you everyone would have been stir-crazy.
[0:21:05] Dr. John Huber: Right, but I love the fact that with that mic, I can walk up and I can put my hand on anybody’s shoulder and go, “So what do you think about…” and I don’t lose anybody that way because I do that. I’m one of those guys.
[0:21:17] Ashley James: I can tell. So, you have Mainstream Mental Health Radio, that’s your show. Is that the name of your podcast?
[0:21:29] Dr. John Huber: Mainstream Mental Health Radio, yes that is the name of my podcast. The website is mainstreammentalhealth.org, but we also have an extra way to get there by going to drpsycho.org. That’s DRPSYCHO.ORG and people remember that one. The minute I started using that man.
[0:21:49] Ashley James: Dr. Psycho.
[0:21:50] Dr. John Huber: Yes. We get slammed on our bandwidth there, but that’s fine. That’s what it’s for. We talk about anything mental health. I mean, I’ve had porn stars on. I’ve had the president of the APA. I’ve had professional wrestlers, actors, politicians, accountants, massage therapist, therapists. I’m trying to think. Man, I mean, just about anything. American Indians. Man, probably my most unexpected most exciting show I did was with Gerry Cooney, the boxer.
My dad passed away in 1994. So he never got to see me doing any of this stuff, but I remember my dad and I were big sports fans together, football. My dad really loved boxing so I would watch it. I didn’t necessarily care too much about it at that point in my life. I didn’t really see the skill I just saw the brutality. I know football’s brutal, but I could see the skill. I could see the athleticism in that. Now, I’m a third-degree black belt and I do see the skill because I have had to develop some stuff, some skills. But they offered, they say, “Hey. This guy Gerry Cooney wanted to come on and do your show.” I’m like, “Gerry Cooney, oh my God. I remember watching him fight when it was like 1980 or something.” He won. The first time I saw a fight finishing in less than a minute. I mean, I think it was 54, 56 seconds. I may be wrong but I think it was Leon Spinks. He walked in. It was in Vegas and bam, the whole thing was over. We planned on being there like three hours for 15 rounds. It was like, “Oh, okay. So now we get a listen to sportscasters hem and haw for the next two hours.” Yeah.
Now, 20 years later, 30 years later I get to interview this guy. I’m like my dad would be so excited. So I was excited and we start talking. Not three minutes into that interview, the hair stood up on the back of my neck and it stayed that way the whole time. This guy was amazing. He was so brutally honest. After that fight, he got offered a chance because he became the US heavyweight champion. He got offered a chance to fight for the world heavyweight champion. I want to say it was Muhammad Ali at that time but don’t get me on the actual statistics, but he had such a problem with alcohol. He had 180 days to sign the contract and he was too drunk those 180 days to sign the contract.
[0:24:29] Ashley James: Wow.
[0:24:31] Dr. John Huber: He then explained to me the way he was able to fight was he would go out in the ring and they would bump gloves and he would go back to his corner. When that bell would ring, he would turn around and it was his dad’s face on that boxer.
[0:24:44] Ashley James: Wow.
[0:24:45] Dr. John Huber: He would go pummel his dad’s face.
[0:24:49] Ashley James: Geez.
[0:24:50] Dr. John Huber: Then we started talking about it exploring his alcoholism and all this kind of stuff. He’s a recovering alcoholic. He’s got an amazing show on Friday and Monday nights on XM radio doing all the fight game and all this kind of stuff. He’s an amazing guy. I had dinner with him this past summer when I was up in New York. He came back on my show again. He always teased me, “Okay, you’re a black belt. Let’s spar.” I’m like, “Okay if you’re willing to make it a fundraiser for my nonprofit, I’ll let you knock the crap out of me.” Then I actually got to meet him and his hands made my hands look like I was a three-year-old. I’m like, “Okay. Well, maybe I could do a spit.” No. His arms were longer than my legs. I’m just dead. He’s like, “Oh, come on. I’m 14-15 years older than you.” I go, “Yeah. It don’t matter. I know better. I got a lot of education.”
[0:25:48] Ashley James: No kidding. What does your charity do? What does your nonprofit do?
[0:25:54] Dr. John Huber: Well, we’re kind of in phase one, which is we want to get people talking about mental health. I think we’re doing a really good job. I mean, I’ve been on Jenny McCarthy show. I’ve been on your show. I’ve talked with Dr. Drew several times on his show. It’s funny. All summer long, I had politicians calling me from Washington DC, from other states calling me up, “What’s your opinion on this? I got to go talk to these people. It’s like wait, people are actually talking about it now and they’re hearing me. I feel like I’m finally getting to that point. Our next goal is we want to do something for our first responders and our veterans. What I mean by doing something for them, we have a lot of great practitioners in the VA, for example, but we don’t have enough. We’re underfunded. They throw money in there but then they got to build infrastructure before they can put more therapists in there, more psychologists. It’s just, man, we’re fighting an uphill battle.
What I’d like to do is create some sort of system. We’ve got a model ready to go. When we get to this point, we would like to create a website where basically the veteran would log in and they would create an account. Within that account verify that they’re a veteran for sure. Then they get a code number. They take that code number to any licensed therapist in their community and that code number is what they log in with. It pairs them up. They send me the HIPAA consent from the patient and a summary of the notes. I don’t want details, just a summary of the notes so our auditors can make sure they’re actually doing psychotherapy. We pay them for their therapy services. For Central Texas, we think that if we had about 13 million a year, we could take away enough of the therapy from the VA that there would not be any delays at the VA in Central Texas. Nationwide, we’re looking at somewhere between $160-$180 million dollars and that’s nothing. I mean, it really is.
When you think about Planned Parenthood, it gets 800 million from Congress. Then they get 800 million from donations, another 600 million or 307 million from corporate America and they’re giving birth control pills out. I want to go out and stop what we have right now is 20 to 22 veterans killing themselves every day. We had one here in Austin two months ago. He walked in, he needed therapy. Now, to get a veteran to say, “I need therapy.” Think about the environment that they lived in as a military personnel where you are dysfunctional, you are a threat to the unit if you have mental health issues. So they hide everything, but that veteran finally gets to a place where his life is so distraught, so much in upheaval that they’re willing to go to the organization that’s supposed to be helping them and say, “I need a therapist.” They usually go when it’s at that dire point and they get told, “Oh, we’ll get you in 120 days. We got you an appointment set up with Dr. Smith.” That patient here in Austin, Texas walked over sat in the waiting room for a couple hours. The waiting room was full. He pulled out a gun and blew his head out. That is not unusual.
I’ve had veterans call me and say, at different parts of the United States, at different times I’ve been doing this now for four or five years. At one point there was an area the United States where there was a 13-month wait when you walked in and said, “I need a therapist,” before they could actually see one. That is, I mean, is so disgusting in so many different levels.
[0:29:40] Ashley James: Yeah.
[0:29:41] Dr. John Huber: These veterans put their lives on the line so we can have our independence, have our safety, have our freedoms and we can’t even get them a therapist. That’s phase two. That’s what I want to do. Right now, we’re making some headway, we’re getting some airplay. I think we’re starting to stir things up. Like I said, this past summer I was amazed at how many phone calls I was getting from politicians and things like that. I’ll tell you something. Also amazing, Bob Salter who is a sports broadcaster for WFAN in New York City, the largest all-sports radio station in the nation. The first NBC’s benchmark studio. He had me in this summer. He introduced me for five minutes and he opened up the mics and we talked mental health for two hours straight. Not one question about sports and the fans were asking the questions. I got home and for the next four months, I was getting handwritten letters from people thanking me. Thanking me for going. I didn’t get one derogatory statement. I didn’t get one person saying, “Hey, why didn’t we talk about the Giants?” I’m back on the air in two weeks on Sunday morning and they’re giving me two hours again.
[0:31:04] Ashley James: Oh, I love it.
[0:31:05] Dr. John Huber: So, it’s exciting and people are listening. People are taking a hit. That’s the first step. We got to get this. If you think about it, go back to the 80s, early 80’s. Childhood cancer, it was shameful what we were doing. We had a 15% survival rate. That means 85% were dying. There were some specific cancers that we cured better than others, but in general, 15% overall, 85% death rate. Today we have a 15% death rate and an 85% survival rate. What did we do? We started getting the histories of these kids. What was going on in their lives? What type of activities were they doing when they were six months old, when they were two months old, when they were two years old? Then they got their cancer at 6, 7, 8, 9 years of age, they had this really great history. We’ve been able to sit there and see, “Hey, these are some signs that we need to start watching these kids.” So, when they go in their pediatric checkups the pediatricians are going, “Hey, how is he doing? Is he turning over? Is he doing? Wait, let me go check this out.” And they start looking for things. You catch it before it ever becomes a terminal situation.
I know because I’ve worked with kids. I started my career as a school psychologist working with preemies, 16-18 months old, three years old before they ever get to school. Seeing these people dealing with developmental delays and how we are so underprepared for how to treat and interact with those kids. Then, historically we’ve just kind of thrown them in the classroom.
[0:32:43] Ashley James: Yeah.
[0:32:45] Dr. John Huber: And we’re playing catch-up. In the late 90s, they turn around, “Oh, we have to do research-based.” Well, there wasn’t a lot of research-based interventions actually. Everybody’s like, “Oh, it’s out there.” Well, where is it? Show me the math. Show me. What do we know? Drill and practice worked really well, but people hate drill and practice. So schools don’t like to do that, but if you go into a special education classroom you’re going to get drill in practice. That will breakthrough because you do the same problems over and over and over and it becomes automaticity. They don’t have to think about it. They know that one plus one equals two or you divide this fraction by this and this is what you get because they’ve done it enough. That all of a sudden makes the rest of the math easy. So, we start doing that and we break it down into really simple steps. All of a sudden these kids start having good lives at school. They actually like being in class. They’re not afraid if the teacher calls on them because they got some kind of answer, whereas before they would hide and they didn’t want to be known because the teacher was going to call on somebody to read in front of everybody. Well, I don’t have any sound-symbol relationships so I’m going to sound like a baby. What happens is people would rather be and a mean person who is a bully than somebody who’s considered dumb. That’s a shame.
[0:34:07] Ashley James: To clarify what you said before was it a $153 million a year to be able to cover the psychotherapy for all veterans?
[0:34:17] Dr. John Huber: Well, it’s not for all but it’s a big enough chunk that the VA would be able to take care of the rest. Actually, nationwide what we’re looking at is between $160 and $180 million. Somewhere in there. Because there’s a lot of management of audits and making sure people are following up and actually doing what they purport to do because I don’t want people to not help our veterans. So we have to have a mechanism in place. It’s kind of self-serving. Once the veterans register, they can basically go to anybody. They just have to present to us a copy of their license and their liability insurance so we know that they’re covered. Then we want them to submit a summary of their treatment and the billing information and we’d like to be able to pay them.
You think about that, that sounds like a lot of money and it is to an individual, but to this nation, it’s not. When we spend how many billions every year $1.2-$1.3 billion in Planned Parenthood. The tax dollars we give to Planned Parenthood’s about 800 million, between $600-$800 million every year. I don’t know what it is this year. I didn’t look at the budget. But just thinking about that, think about what they give for dry cleaning uniforms in the Navy. I mean, hey, wear them one more time before you dry clean them and save a little bit that way and use that money for your budget. Yeah. When you talk about trillions and trillions of spending in this country, less than $200 million dollars is a drop in the bucket. It’s a shameful experience to sit back and know that we have veterans that are asking for help and not able to get it because we don’t have enough therapists. When we try to hire new therapists, we don’t have the physical space for them. Then they go to a culture, the military culture, where mental health issues are considered so taboo that you’re broken, you’re a liability then to your platoon. Nobody wants to be around you so nobody admits to having any of those issues.
The strangest thing, in real life, in civilian life, men and women, they say men have about half, for example, depression that women do. I think what happens is I think about half the men aren’t willing to admit to it. They end up with anger issues, which is one of the ways that men tend to express depression. They have anger issues. Then they have adult-onset attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They can’t focus, they can’t attend and guess, what? Those are symptoms that kids exhibit when they have depression. So, does it make sense that maybe adults might have depression? You notice, the pediatricians in my community they start going, “I’m not going to give him Ritalin. Let’s give them some Zoloft and see how they work first.” So why give them pharmaceutical grade crystal meth when their behavior will improve, it’s a Band-Aid. It’s not going to actually kind of fix what’s the underlying problem.
So, I think men actually have just as much depression and mental health issues as women. We’ve just been taught that there’s one emotion that is okay for us men to have and that’s anger. So, we turn everything into anger and nobody questions whether we are mentally healthy or not. He’s just mad. It’s a hard life being a man. It is. It’s a hard life being human period male or female across the board. I think we end up with a lot of people who should be getting help that aren’t. Women go and get help except the female veterans. They’re actually as resistant as male veterans are at getting psychotherapy. The female veterans are 10-20 times more resistant to getting psychotherapy.
[0:38:21] Ashley James: Sure. That makes sense because they have something to prove.
[0:38:23] Dr. John Huber: They have something to prove and not one of them that I’ve talked to, they’ve all said this one way or another, they don’t want to be the poster child for why women should not be able to go to combat because they wanted to go fight for their country.
[0:38:36] Ashley James: A really good friend of mine was held hostage at knifepoint by her friend, female veteran, who had seen horrific, horrific things. Dead children, just really, really horrific things in the Middle East. She just snapped one day and she held my friend hostage at knifepoint until the cops were able to calmly talk her down and get her admitted for help. There was a lot of signs that she was ramping in that direction. She wasn’t willing to get help. Luckily they were all able to talk her down and get her calm. It’s making it normal to seek help is the first step. I love that that’s what you want to do, you want to normalize that it’s human and normal to go get mental health, to seek it, to seek mental health. That it’s okay if you’re having suicidal thoughts if you’re depressed. If something is off, you’re not broken, you’re not wrong and bad, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
The most healthy thing you can do for yourself is go get help. Like you said, the female veterans don’t want other women to be deterred from going into combat. You know what, by holding on to your mental illness you’re actually going to deter other women, but by seeking help, you are showing that you are strong and that you knew what you needed when you needed it. Because you’re going to come out of therapy, maybe months or years later, you’re going to come out the other end strong, sure of yourself, healthy. You’re going to come out the person you know you are in deep inside and you will be a prime example of what a healthy veteran does for other veterans.
In the moment, when we’re in mental illness, we’re so afraid of what other people think. We have to remember like the lesson that I got a few months ago. We have to remember, people will never actually be thinking about what you’re worried they’re going to think about. Because they’re coming up with their own stuff.
[0:41:03] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely.
[0:41:04] Ashley James: They’re going to be like making fun of you because your eyebrows are too close together. The stuff that you’re worried about they’ll never actually think about.
[0:41:13] Dr. John Huber: Not at all.
[0:41:14] Ashley James: But they’re going to come up with stuff that even you can’t even predict and you can’t even prevent because everyone’s got their own filters but all you can do is make sure that you are the healthiest person that you can be for yourself and for your loved ones. You mentioned that there’s a deficit of therapists. Is this just in the VA or is it across the board? Are we seeing that the United States and possibly other countries just don’t have enough mental health counselors?
[0:41:41] Dr. John Huber: Well, it’s hard to be a mental health counselor education-wise. Then you turn around and in the health care industry, it’s one of the lowest-paid areas. I mean, you’re sitting there talking with somebody. So the insurance companies that are driven by the funding of the drug companies don’t see any value in that.
[0:42:03] Ashley James: Because you’re trying to keep people off drugs.
[0:42:05] Dr. John Huber: Well, yeah. I used to be a hard no, no way, but man I’ve seen so many miracles happen from the right medication. That’s a whole another topic. I think we’ve got a new industry in the DNA testing. I’ve seen it over the last four or five years. I’ve had patients that struggled for decades, couldn’t find the right medication. Hey, let’s go get one of these DNA tests for psychotropic meds. Literally, me and his psychiatrists were like, this is like the drug it’s recommending is one we wouldn’t give to our cat because we’ve never had a patient be efficacious on it and have it benefit. But we did it and amazing. There was no six to eight-week turnaround for this person. In 48 hours they were like, “Wow. This is what normal is supposed to feel like?” They’re calling us and leaving messages going, “This is awesome.”
So, I think having that access to our DNA and that human genome and knowing that hey you don’t have enough receptor sites for this or you don’t have enough glands that are making the right neurotransmitter for you so we need to use the reuptake inhibitors so that there’s more of it floating around in your central nervous system and your body can use it. Man, that is amazing. Right now, I don’t know of any insurance company that actually pays for the test. The test is right around $300, but the patients who do it are usually at their wit’s end or their family is. They pay out of pocket for it. Four out of five patients that have used it it was a life-changing event for them.
[0:43:43] Ashley James: How does someone know when they would benefit from a drug or when it’s simply something they need to process and work through? I’m getting that drugs are a tool in our tool belt but they’re also a last resort, not a first resort.
[0:44:01] Dr. John Huber: Well, I think there’s other drugs that are further down the road. I think ECT is a last resort. We use it. I’ve seen it work, but what I like to see actually because I’m kind of weathered I’ve done this for a while and I’ve worked with a lot of different patients. I’ll come in and I’ll start working with a patient without drugs if they don’t want that, but there comes a point when I see, okay, the pathway they’re on is a pathway to failure. What I need them to do is even if it’s just for six or eight or ten months so I can get them on the right path to let me get them on the right medication with their physician so that they can kind of get a break and they can quit struggling with that depression all on their own and that is all-encompassing of them. Then we can start changing on the effects of changing how you think, your cognitive, reframing restructuring and develop skills that hey, if I go this way if I talk about this and I don’t separate myself and compartmentalize myself from this I’m going to get encapsulated in it and I’m going to fall into a deep depression. So I either should not be talking about it or I need to prepare myself and find a way to train myself through that conversation so I realize it’s not personal to me.
[0:45:20] Ashley James: So you’re helping them with the skills and you see that there’s certain people that are just trapped and that the medication is going to help them. You don’t want to put someone on meds for their so life necessarily, but you really want to use it as a tool to help them get over that. What’s ECT?
[0:45:35] Dr. John Huber: Electroconvulsive therapy. If you ever watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s still done. I know my experience here in the state of Texas when I was at the State Hospital, we went through and all of the doctors had to sign off on it before. If anybody was dissenting it wasn’t going to happen basically. Then we sent it up to the Department of Health and let them sign off on it, the medical doctor at the top there. We didn’t do it a lot, but we had people who would walk in and have file charts that if you stood him up on it would be six-eight feet high. They’ve been getting every type of therapy known, every type of drug and nothing seemed to work. They were just miserably depressed. It was a last resort.
Now, along those lines in more recent history, I’ve been working with a gentleman, Dr. Carl Bonnett. He is the clinical director at Klarisana, which is a ketamine clinic. Starts with a K, klarisana.com. We have, over the years, been doing different treatments. We started primarily with our veterans. Dr. Bonnett was an emergency room director and physician for the VA for several decades and had access to a lot of data. We would sit there and look and watch these gentlemen come through there with PTSD. When they were given ketamine for something else they were better. So we started and worked and now we’re probably doing 400-500 veterans a year between all the clinics. Clinic in Denver, San Antonio, Austin, there was one in New Mexico and Wyoming I believe at this point now. We have a program where we give them an infusion. I know there are other clinics out there and some of them use intramuscular like just a shot in the shoulder or whatever. We have a lot of success with the IV pump where it’s just kind of free-floating. We monitor exactly how much ketamine is going into them for a certain amount of time. We don’t want them ketamine as used as anesthesia medication. We’re not putting it in a bolus type setting where they’re going to be knocked unconscious. That is not our goal. In fact, our facilities are not set up for any kind of sedation type stuff. We are there treating and using that medication psychotropically, like a psychotropic, like an antidepressant or antipsychotic.
The whole idea when we bring in the therapist side of it is we’re able to drop those individuals’ self-defense mechanisms and we can get right to the heart of the matter. But with the PTSD, the post-traumatic stress disorder, the advantages we have with that is one of the advantages it has as an anesthesia is that it has an amnestic quality to it. In other words, it helps people forget things they don’t want to remember.
[0:48:45] Ashley James: Permanently or temporarily?
[0:48:47] Dr. John Huber: Well, if you just get one or two infusions it’s going to do temporarily at that moment and I’ll talk a little bit more about this in a minute, but we do a series of them. We have a program designed. We talk about it being a 30-day but it’s actually more of a 12-month program and that we like to have the patients and do most of the work in the first 30 days. Then we have them come back once the next month. Based on that interaction we predict do they need to come back in four weeks or five weeks or six weeks the next time. We see them sporadically over the rest of the year. What we see is a permanent change for most of these individuals. It’s in my opinion, it’s kind of miraculous in fact. Why do I say that?
Well, think about your memory. When you use your memory you go in and you think of a childhood memory, in elementary school or whatever. You pull that out of that memory storage center. Only one part of your brain can use that memory at a time. No other part of your brain is doing it but your recall and you’re trying to focus on that, but as you recall that you remember the emotions and you start feeling those emotions and you remember the smells and you start having those smells. Then you start maybe somebody is standing there that you like maybe one of your kids and so you start telling them your story. Your kids kind of look at you and they ask you a question you never thought of and you go back to that memory and you change that memory just a little bit because of that input.
Now, what that’s like is going into an old analog Dewey Decimal System library and you’re looking for this book and you find the book and you pull it off and you stand there in the middle of the stacks and you flip the pages and you read this little chapter right there and, “Oh, wow. But that reminds me.” Then you write a little note in the margin. Then you put that book right back up in the library space when you’re through reading it. The next person comes and checks that book out, but this time they read your note as well because you’ve changed that memory. That book will never be the same because you added that in there and maybe they’ll add some to that memory. Then they put it up in the bookshelf again until you go back and pull that memory off again.
We can go through that process with the patients about their trauma event and get them to change that trauma event, their perspective on it to essentially, in some cases, have them you know drive part of the negative stuff out of their memory. Now, we can recover that memory. It’s not like they’ll never have that again ever again, but now they can function. Because when they think about being at a marketplace in Kabul, they don’t think about that IED blowing their friend’s leg off.
[0:51:58] Ashley James: What do they think about?
[0:51:59] Dr. John Huber: Well, everybody’s different. Everybody’s different. That’s part of the beauty of that. They remember that there was a firefight there maybe and they just don’t remember the specifics. Then when they see their friend then they remember it at that moment but then they go back to living their life. When they talk about it, they talk about the firefight, not their friend getting his leg blown off. So we alter their memories, but it’s not under my control really it’s under the patient’s control. They’re like, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I don’t know how to do this.” Well, the drug doesn’t care. That’s what I like about ketamine. Ketamine doesn’t care whether you think you can or not. It’s going to help you do it. One of the things we use it for, and this is what convinced me, is pain management, chronic pain management. Now, I broke my shoulder playing football in high school and trying to play in college. At 18 years of age, I have still pins in my shoulder, my left shoulder. I’ve had chronic pain since I was 18.
Well, when Dr. Bonnett and I got together, we were talking about all these different things. He started mentioning pain. I go, “Oh, man. My shoulder over 20-something years I’ve had this chronic pain.” Well, he’s a smart guy and he’s like, “Well, why don’t you come down the clinic and watch some of my patients go through the infusion and just monitor things. Maybe it’s something you want to do, maybe it’s not.” So I watched the day and there were some people in there for pain management. I came in the next day and one of them was a 20-something girl who had a degenerative bone disease that started affecting her about 14. By the time she was 16, she couldn’t sleep without heavy opiates every night because pain was so great. She walks in the front door, we’re sitting there you know having our little cup of coffee out of the Keurig. She walks in and she’s crying. I’m thinking, “Wow. This isn’t good.” Bonnett is just like, “Hey, how you doing? Pretty powerful experience yeah?” Like this is normal. So she starts saying, “Oh my God. It’s the first time since I was 16 years old I slept through the night without one narcotic.”
[0:54:10] Ashley James: Wow.
[0:54:11] Dr. John Huber: She came in and she got it. We do follow up with little microdosing and things like that. You don’t always have to keep coming back for these heavy infusions. But after I watched all that, Bonnett’s like, “Well, you want to try it for your shoulder?” I took one infusion and my chronic pain stopped.
[0:54:33] Ashley James: Forever?
[0:54:34] Dr. John Huber: Well, I take microdoses every once in a while. I’m a third-degree black belt. I do stupid things that somebody my age probably shouldn’t be doing, jumping off things and smashing things with my fists and my feet and knees and things like that, playing with swords and six-foot fighting staffs and like that. Then turning around and some sixth or eighth-degree black belt who’s you know pushing seven he knocks me on my backside. I’m like, “Oh, what? You’re a skinny old man. Why did you do that? How did you do that?” So I get some bumps and bruises and most of them go away or I set my hot tub for 20 minutes and it goes away, but when it gets back to my shoulder and I heard something there it starts bugging me. So I take one of the microdoses and I go to bed. I wake up in the morning and it’s like, “Wow. My pain doesn’t hurt. It’s gone.”
What we found out, and we’ve gotten the research on this from I think it was Johns Hopkins did this, they found out what happens. When you do those infusions in the right timing, your brain takes those nerve signals from your peripheral nervous system and feeds them through the lower brain stem. There’s a filter process in there that says, “Okay. This is pain, this is pain. Nope, this is normal. This is pain. This is pain.” And it sends them to the right places. Well, the ketamine resets that and says, “Oh, this is a chronic pain.” Every time you had this infusion you’ve had this pain and there’s no new damage there.
So it gets that homeostatic mechanism to actually no longer receive that as pain. It just says, “This is normal pain.” But if you rehurt yourself, that new pain is there and you know it’s there. Whereas an opiate would just kind of block the pain and you could go and get hurt by continuing to play with a bad torn muscle or something like that. It actually makes the pain go away too. My experience with opiates whether it was OxyContin or Norco or any of those things is what happened was, I just didn’t care about the pain it didn’t ever really go away but with the ketamine, it actually went away.
[0:56:47] Ashley James: What’s the mechanism of this drug, of ketamine? I mean, what is it? Can you explain a bit more about how it affects the brain? How it’s working on us?
[0:57:02] Dr. John Huber: I’m not a neurobiologist and a neuroscientist. I’ve sat through. We’ve had two medical ketamine conferences. The first one ever on ketamine for physicians in the United States was in Austin Texas two years ago in September. The last one was 2019 in Denver. Present for both of those and amazing research that’s been out there. Amazing thing. Most of the research has been done since the late 60s, early 70s is actually from Russia, but most of that technology and the ability to convert technical Russian language into technical English there aren’t people who can do that. So people haven’t had access to it. So Dr. Bonnett and myself were sitting there going, “What are we going to do?” and Bonnett is like, “Well, let’s try and call them.” So we got to hold of them and they speak fluent English and they were able to tell us what it was. It was like, “Wow.”
So, actually, we have a couple of them sitting on our board of directors, some of these researchers. They’ve told us some of the issues with their government because they’re trying to become more capitalists. Nobody owns a patent for the general ketamine. So, they’re not fostering research in that area because none of the drug companies are going to be able to capitalize on it so to speak.
So, they basically kind of had their research ended, but they have so much experience on it. We’ve been able to detox alcoholics, other drugs. We’ve detoxed heroin addicts with their help. We’ve been able to do heroin addicts without any significant withdrawal effects at all using the ketamine because the receptor sites that are used by heroin are also used by the ketamine. So they drop in there and then we basically replace that with the ketamine. Then we can easily wean them off the ketamine because it doesn’t have the withdrawal effects.
[0:59:07] Ashley James: That was my next question was about I’ve heard that ketamine has been used successfully for addiction. Besides withdrawal, how does it help people on the mental and emotional level with addiction, with overcoming addiction?
[0:59:22] Dr. John Huber: Well, you got to think about a lot of addiction. One of my patients was telling me that he had some bad things happen to him. He’s really depressed. He casually drank pretty much his whole life. Then one night, he was really depressed. He poured himself a drink and he took that drink and when he finished that drink he felt normal. For the first time in weeks, he felt normal. So he spent the rest of the night trying to duplicate that feeling and finished off a bottle and woke up three days later. He got up and what he wanted to do is feel normal again. So he went after that. Went down and got him another bottle. That first drink felt good but then he chased that first drink the rest of the night, that feeling. Okay. Then it got to a point where he became physiologically addicted to the alcohol. Then it became a 20-year issue and end up losing jobs, divorce, all this kind of stuff. So it took over his life.
Now, not everybody is specifically that way. There are people who just have that addictive personality. We know a lot of things about alcohol and drug use and drinking. For example, something like 94% of college students, at some point, in their college career go into binge drinking. We know that about 3% of those people continue binge drinking 10-15 years after they’re out of college and they’ve got an alcohol problem. So binge drinking might have happened one semester for you, “Wow. I’m not going to be able to finish college if I keep drinking like that,” and you get your drinking under control and you go on. But for some people, that’s how they feel normal. It could be because of some trauma whether it’s abuse, watching some horrific thing happen, living in a house where the parents are very violent with each other, violent towards the kids, maybe there’s sexual abuse that neither of the parents know about or maybe they both do. There’s so many reasons. The reality of it is I can’t say there’s one thing, but I could say trauma because all of these things that we’re talking about are some form of trauma. Whether you’ve seen somebody get hurt or somebody’s violated you or abused you or you’ve watched somebody else’s being abused. It’s all a form of trauma.
So there’s some trauma somewhere in there. The alcohol was allowing this individual, when they had the right amount, to not feel that and actually feel normal, but then they chase that normal feeling with the next 15 drinks.
[1:02:05] Ashley James: Right. The same could be said for food.
[1:02:10] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely.
[1:02:11] Ashley James: Look at chasing the dopamine. Eating food is the only time I feel happy, normal, safe, secure. It’s socially acceptable. It is socially acceptable to drink alcohol, but it’s socially acceptable obviously to eat. Less socially acceptable to do meth but that still doesn’t stop people from seeking it, and I have a client who is in and out of rehab because she says it is the only time she feels normal is when she’s on meth. Any other time, she feels incredibly depressed to the point of just not wanting to be here. She’s fighting it. She’s fighting it. She’s sober, but it just it really for me I’ve never done meth so I don’t know. I don’t know this. She said the first time it was amazing, but then it made it so that any other time she was sober, it was her life had lost all of its luster.
[1:03:09] Dr. John Huber: That’s what of my patients said about heroin. He’d been detoxed 13 or 14 times. We went through the detox with him and used the ketamine. He said, “This is the first time. Somebody jacked with my mind.” We’re like, “What do you mean jacked with your mind?” He used other profanity words and stuff but I’m like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “This is the first time when I got off the heroin that I didn’t even think about I need more heroin. All the other times I wanted more heroin.”
[1:03:43] Ashley James: That’s really fascinating. I prefer to do things holistically not with drugs but I see that this is really a powerful tool that can help people get to the other side. I would rather see someone on a drug and alive than not on a drug and dead, obviously. So, it’s like get the best tools for the job.
[1:04:09] Dr. John Huber: Get the best tools because you could do methadone but now you have a harder physiological addiction. What I see with the ketamine is that it changes their thought process. It changes how their brain takes those stimuli on. For example, last year we had about 14 alcoholics come through our program. All but one of them 100% sober. The 14th one just for lack of a number, he fell off the wagon. Now he’s, as of yesterday’s, five months sober. We got him back. We gave him a few booster bumps with the ketamine and he’s five months sober. I can tell you that because we have truck drivers, their companies can put those breathalyzers on their trucks and stuff like that. Well, we got him a portable one and said, “If you want to stay on our program you have to blow on this anytime it blows off.” It goes off randomly, anytime. Sometimes it’ll go off three times in an hour other times it’ll go off five times in 24 hours. It wakes him up at 2:00 in the morning to blow. He doesn’t know when it’s going to happen but he agreed to that because we’re trying to support our stuff with research. So we’ve got this stuff going on and it’s working for him. It takes a nice little picture of him. So we know it’s him blowing into the machine and he didn’t train his dog to blow into it or anything like that, which I kind of like to see. He’s now five months. He actually sat down with me yesterday. He said, “You know the last time I was five months sober or longer?” I’m like, “No when?” He goes, “I was in middle school.” This guy is 60 years old.
[1:06:00] Ashley James: Geez. Talk about achieving some mental clarity.
[1:06:06] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely. It’s so funny because like the last three months, his thought process has started to become, for lack of a better word, more adult-like and less ten-year-old like.
[1:06:17] Ashley James: Yeah. I bet.
[1:06:18] Dr. John Huber: It’s just amazing what’s going on with him. I had to wait until he left. I mean, I had tears on my eyes. I was like, “Oh my god. This guy’s finding his life back. He’s getting it back.” He actually said he’d gotten a new job. He went out and got some new clothes. His first day at the job, he got up to go get dressed and everything else his wife have gotten out before him and pressed everything. He goes, “In whole marriage, she never once did anything like that for him.” She was so proud of him being sober. He decided he didn’t like that other job because it was reminding him of drinking stuff so he made a change. He goes, “I got home and there were notes all over the house how proud she was of me.” He even goes, “That was amazing.” He goes, “You just don’t know when you’ve never gotten that before from anybody.
[1:07:21] Ashley James: So, for people who’ve struggled with depression, post-traumatic stress, chronic pain or some form of addiction and other forms of therapy they’ve tried it’s not worked, they’re struggling. You’re seeing really great results with ketamine. Also coupling ketamine with mental health counseling. You’re not just giving ketamine to people and then they just leave and that’s it. You’re actually you’re addressing the underlying issues as well, right?
[1:08:00] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely. That’s so much a part of it. Now, we’ve treated I think last year I treated, not me specifically but the clinic. We treated about 400 veterans with PTSD. They all didn’t get psychotherapy counseling. I mean, that’s a hard thing to push when we’re talking about that culture. If we couch it right, if they do it right, they don’t necessarily have to have the therapist right there, okay. Now some of them go in there and they’re all, “I’m not going to need a therapist.” They go find and they do halfway through it and then we get a call and one of us needs to go in and work with them. Because either they’re not getting the results they want or they’re getting results and they know that they need to, they’re putting this money in this and they need to take advantage of it and so let’s go ahead and get the therapist in there. It facilitates things much, much more quickly.
[1:08:57] Ashley James: Interesting. Are there any side effects of ketamine that people should be aware of? Obviously, they should do it under the care of a physician.
[1:09:08] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely.
[1:09:09] Ashley James: The clinic that you work with where it’s a lots of experience but are there things we should know in terms of the dangers of using it because it is a drug?
[1:09:21] Dr. John Huber: It is a drug. It’s actually an extremely safe drug, but just like water, there are problems. You can drown with water. So, we lose 1,200-1,300 people every year to bathtub drownings. So water can be dangerous even though we have to have it for life. So, taking that into consideration, ketamine was a drug that was designed originally the government, the federal government, went in and sent their laboratories to work to make a synthetic opiate and ended up creating this drug called PCP. It had some really great advantages but had some really bad things going on with it too. So bad on the street that’s called angel dust. So, they went back to the laboratories and they started cleaving off parts of these molecules and testing them and seeing what they could find out. One of them happened to be ketamine.
It has a very short half-life, 15 to 30-minute half-life. So, when we stop the IV or if you take the microdosing, let’s say. You put it on your tongue, it dissolves, you swallow it. Anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes later, you start feeling the effects of the ketamine. When you start feeling those effects, it’s going to be done in about 40 minutes. So whatever goes on, and one of the things that goes on actually are you start misperceiving the environment. You start hallucinating, okay, but it’s not out of your control. What we find is that if you start feeling like you’re losing control and it scares you, if you open your eyes the visual ground around you the visual images are strong enough that it’s a mild, relatively mild hallucinogen. You can actually even stop the hallucinations all together just by focusing on say a picture frame in a room. We also think what we call the shamanic experience, kind of letting that hallucination go through, allows you to roleplay some of those traumas.
So we want to encourage them to do that. We know though that less than an hour it’s going to be over. Once the patient gets that and they realize, “Okay, I’m going to let go of that. I’m not going to fight that. I’m going to let my brain weed this stuff out and get rid of the chaff. I’m going to sit there keep my eyes closed. If it gets too scary for me I can always open my eyes.” Then all of a sudden the experience is over. Now, Timothy Leary pushed LSD that, “Oh, we can do this with LSD.” The problem with LSD, it has a minimum, a four-hour half-life. That means you’re going to be going for eight hours. You’re going to be physically, emotionally exhausted. From the moment they take their microdoses until it’s no longer creating that shamanic experience for them they’re not reliving that trauma. We have this expectation of them that they’re going to let this thing roll. Because we’ve done it in the clinic with them and when we do it with an IV push, we keep that push going for at least an hour. So when we stop at that point it’s going to continue for that 15 to 30 minutes until the rest of it’s gone off, okay. But what happens along the way is you have some severe psychomotor retardation, your balance is completely off.
[1:12:57] Ashley James: You’re talking about LSD?
[1:12:59] Dr. John Huber: No. I’m talking about the ketamine.
[1:13:00] Ashley James: Okay, you’re talking about the ketamine now. Got it.
[1:13:02] Dr. John Huber: So, until that has been able to flush out of your system, we’ve got to wheelchair you there, we’ll take you to the bathroom and all this kind of stuff. We have some rules. After you get the ketamine, whether it’s a microdose, you’re not allowed to make any kind of decision. No financial decisions, no relationship decisions whatsoever. When we’re doing the IV push in that in that initial treatment dates, we make you sign a commitment that you will not watch news: cell phone news, internet news, television news, radio news. No news. Because by taking this ketamine, you’re letting your defense mechanisms down and we don’t want you to incorporate the negativity of news, because that’s how they sell it, in you. So, we prefer to have them in one of our facilities where we have massage therapists there and we have cordon bleu wannabe chefs who are going to the school doing their internships and cooking for and things like that. Got a nice hot tub and a pool and they can relax and we do yoga and we don’t have TVs there. They’re like, “Why you got everything else but there’s no TV?” Because you don’t need them.
[1:14:16] Ashley James: You take their cellphones away from them?
[1:14:18] Dr. John Huber: They get one hour a day and it’s supervised because we don’t want them going to the news, but that’s part of the thing. We pick them up at the airport. We want to have a car for them. They can Uber. They could if they wanted to, but again, we have their phone for an hour day so we would know about it. We want them to just chill. We want to teach them how to be human and that’s not being attached to a computer whether it’s a flat-screen TV or your computer. The interesting thing is most drug rehab programs, they want 45 to 90 days. Well, the average person can’t take three months off for vacation, unless they have a drug addiction then you get permission for their business then everybody knows their business.
So, we get CEOs who can take a 30-day vacation and they’ll take it with us and we’ll get them off their alcohol. Then they can come out for their follow-up one-day visit on a weekend or whatever and they’re set and they’re good to go. We’re having really good success rate about, 80% success rate for alcoholism, which if you talk to Dr. Drew Pinsky, I’ve talked to him several times. Been on his show several times, he’ll tell you that the best, at average success rate, for a regular 12-step intervention for alcohol rehab is 8%.
[1:15:43] Ashley James: Geez.
[1:15:45] Dr. John Huber: That’s what the research shows. Some of it shows as low as 2% or 3%. I’ve seen a few studies that went as high as 16%, but Dr. Drew told me on the air it is 8% as far as he’s concerned. So that means there’s 92% failure in that system. They know whether it’s this rehab or your rehab, that 92% of the patients are going to be back within three years.
[1:16:09] Ashley James: Well, that’s a lucrative business.
[1:16:10] Dr. John Huber: It is a lucrative business. So, people don’t really want us doing our business because we had 14 patients last year one of them fell off the wagon and now he’s at almost six months. A little over five months right now. We just did a little jumpstart with him and he’s there. So, our data shows about an 80% success rate. When our patients come in, for example, for PTSD one of the things they do is self-medicate. Whether it’s heroin, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol. We get that report. We’re not there to file charges on them and it’s not our job, but it’s funny when we go back and look at our raw data, those patients who weren’t even there for alcohol or cocaine or marijuana, 80% of them stopped.
[1:16:59] Ashley James: Wow. That’s huge. So your program is a 30-day program always or just for alcohol? How does that work?
[1:17:09] Dr. John Huber: No. It’s very specific. There’s reasons why ketamine is not appropriate for you. So one of the things we want to do is we want to do a psych eval on you. We can do a quick one and know within 24 hours whether this is an appropriate treatment for you. It costs us money so we charge you for that eval. You get your deposit for the rest of the 30 days back if you’re not appropriate, but the cost of that actually incurs some cost for us. We’ve learned what’s not appropriate. One of the things that obviously is not appropriate for ketamine treatment is if you have a history of psychosis, active psychosis especially if you have drug-induced psychosis it depends one of the drugs and how you were using and things like that. Just regular schizophrenia active psychosis or maybe bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes during your mania phase and things like that are not good indications that you’re appropriate for that. We have some cut-offs levels on you know the MMPI and the MCMI and like that that we use that have turned pretty good for us. We get pretty good shot at it. We don’t want to put anybody into a bad situation, but we also know that a lot of people are coming to us because nothing else has worked. So we want to try and get as many people as we can too.
We know, like okay, everybody who’s had these scores when we gave them they were not any better. Now they were out the $35,000-$40,000. They’re hurting because of that so it’s not appropriate for us to follow through with that. So, here’s your money minus the psychological evaluation. We’ll write you a nice report. You can take that with you if you’d like. Then we follow up with an evaluation at the end. We see pre and post-treatment intervention effects and it’s just amazing. We talked about that before the show, before we started taping. I really can’t get into too much of that, but it’s totally floored me. It’s made me go back and look at my 21 years of teaching graduate students and undergraduate students. Wow. If I’d only know then what I know now.
[1:19:37] Ashley James: Yeah. There’s some stories you can’t tell right now for legal reasons, but there will come a day when you can and I wanted to have you back on the show for sure because those stories need to be told. The listeners need to hear them. They’re pretty amazing, but for legal reasons right now, we can’t. We can’t talk about it unfortunately on the air, but one day you will be able to share these beautiful, beautiful stories. For listeners who are interested in going to the clinic, you work with that uses ketamine, what website would be best for them to look into that further?
[1:20:14] Dr. John Huber: KLARISANA.com. We have one in San Antonio. We have one in Austin. I’m doing more work with the Austin one. San Antonio is a really long drive for me. I have gone down there and done it. I know everybody in that clinic who works there. I know all the clinic here. My staff works up at this one mostly. We do occasionally again go down there. There is a Klarisana in Denver. That’s kind of become Dr. Bonnett’s home clinic. We all kind of bounce around between the three places as needed. We have Dr. Bonnett’s license in all the states that we’ve got. The therapy team here only does actual therapy in the states where we’re licensed, but we can supervise and teach therapists in other areas where we’re not licensed in different states how to do the appropriate intervention and stuff with that. We do supervise that.
[1:21:21] Ashley James: There are so many different, just coming back to your wanting to normalize mental health.
[1:21:27] Dr. John Huber: Yes.
[1:21:28] Ashley James: One of the first steps is also people understanding that the services that are available to them. On my show, I’ve had many Naturopathic physicians on the show. I’ve actually had listeners write to me and say to me, “I never knew that there was anything other than an MD that I could go to. I didn’t know that there was an osteopath and a chiropractor. I didn’t know that they could do the things they do.” Also, Naturopathic physician. So, I’ve actually had several listeners write to me and say that they were in pre-med and they switched to becoming a Naturopath because they didn’t even know a Naturopathy existed. Sometimes it’s a matter of letting people know that their services are out there. That there’s more than just the thing they’ve always been going to.
So, I know that there’s many different kinds of therapy, but maybe the listener doesn’t actually know that because we learn a lot from the mainstream media. Everyone’s heard of Freud so we think that the Hollywood version of therapy is we’re just lying on a couch complaining and sort of worrying about being judged by this person with a notepad. We haven’t really been given a very fair viewpoint of what therapy actually is by Hollywood or by the media. People who haven’t been to therapy don’t know what it’s like and what kinds of therapy there is out there besides the very stereotypical Freudian therapy. Could you go through and talk about what kind of therapies are out there? Especially talk about the ones that have better success rates.
[1:23:16] Dr. John Huber: Well, there’s a lot of different types of therapies out there. One of the interesting things, I’m currently working on a book right now on what it’s like to go to therapy for the first time. Because a lot of people are afraid to go to therapy, “They’re going to brainwash me. They’re going to have some kind of mind control over me.” The book will get into that, but the problem with that is it’s got to be a short read because if you’re depressed, you need to go see a therapist. You don’t want to sit there and read a novel. So, it’s been really a challenge. It’s coming along though. I’ve got a game plan. We’re working on making some adjustments. Maybe I can send you a copy of that and you can see if you want to have me on. We can talk about that as well too, but what we know is that there’s cognitive therapies.
The cognitive therapies are there to change framework, change positions, change language. For example, using absolutes. There’s no real absolute in this world is there except for what? You’re going to die. You can try and avoid taxes, but if you get caught, but you know you’re going to die. I mean that’s an absolute. We use things like everybody hates me. One of my favorite things, you know the seven billion people on this planet? That’s pretty amazing. How do you know all seven billion people? You know they hate you and then all the languages you’d have to master. So, we know that’s a fallacy, but we have to get the person to stop using absolute language. Because absolute language is very destructive to our psyche especially if you’ve got some bad things that have happened to you. If the dominoes have fallen just right in the recent past or maybe in distant past, but they continue. Little ones keep falling and it keeps reinforcing that belief set that you’ve created. So we want to change that cognitive restructuring.
Then we also have different types of psychoanalytic. Of course, we know Freud. Why is Freud so important? Why is he something that we always bring up? Well, Freud basically, he believes that everything resorts back to these unconscious conflicts between sex and aggression. So that becomes very seductive in storytelling when you can use aggression or sex. I mean it’s just we think about the good in the dark. The dark side is very seductive and the light side is it’s nice and warm and loving and it’s got its own seduction for that piece that we want to have there too. So, it’s seductive also but we all openly discuss wanting peace. We don’t all openly discuss that, “I wonder what it feels like to do something evil to somebody.” Everybody goes, “Oh, you’re sick.” “I didn’t do it. I just talked about it. Does that make me sick? You were telling me the other day how that person cut you off on the road and if you’d had a gun you were going to shoot him, but you didn’t have a gun so you didn’t shoot him. Does that make yours sick?”
Thoughts are not inherently sick. Your actions when you actually take action on them can be. So we have to kind of watch what that is, but we also then, they’re in between those two that cognitive you have other things like behavioral where we don’t really care what you’re thinking. We just want to reinforce certain behaviors so we can get those things to change.
Then we have blends, cognitive-behavioral. Now cognitive-behavioral and behavioral work really good. Insurance companies love them as a therapist because you can count and measure really well and you can make progress and we know. “Hey, they’re making progress. They’ve made three out of seven goals. We’re going to make two more in the next week and we’ll be done here in four weeks.” They love that. They don’t complain and argue with that, but at the same time, with the right patient and the right situation, I’ve had insurance companies say, “No. You do as much therapy as you want with those patients.” It was all the right things.
I had a young lady who was mauled by a pit bull and had peeled her face back and chewed her nose. They got there, got the dog off her, got her an ambulance and the plastic surgeon rebuilt her face. From that day forward, every day she looked in the mirror there was somebody else in the morning looking back at her. The insurance company’s, “Nope. Do all the therapy you need.” When I first saw her we were going three days a week. We ended up getting it down to once a month over a period of years. Then we stretched it out and then she did a couple of six-month checkups. Then the last time I heard from her she sent me an invitation to her wedding.
[1:28:09] Ashley James: Nice.
[1:28:11] Dr. John Huber: Exactly. Man, we had to use a very eclectic kind of thing because she was having all these intrusive thoughts because this is a stranger looking back at me at the mirror, but she was also having all these Freudian things about aggression. “I’m not mad. I love dogs.” It took me about 18 months for her to on her own decide she needed to get rid of the big dogs that she got after she got mauled trying to prove to herself she wasn’t afraid of dogs.
[1:28:41] Ashley James: Wow.
[1:28:44] Dr. John Huber: That changed her whole life perspective. Just one thing after another, I have to give it to that insurance company. They never once balked at any extension at all. Not one time. They didn’t give me a hard time. They didn’t say, “Oh, we need a copy every one of your notes.” It’s like, “Give us a summary what you’ve done so far.” That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but if you come into to my office because all your kids have gone off to college. Now you have no meaning in life. You were taking care of the hamster, but the hamster died. Now you just want to go commit suicide because a hamster died. It’s like, “Okay, first of all, you can get a new hamster. They have about three-year life expectancy anyway.” It doesn’t symbolize those children that left. They feel like that they’re not there anymore. So there’s some connections there.
Freud does all that symbology and how it replaces one thing for another and then you go to Carl Jung and all the images and the patriarchal matriarchal models and things like that and the collective unconscious. All these things that seem very mystical, but it’s really funny. I did my last doctorate degree, I did it at a school that had one of the researchers who had worked with Hermann Rorschach putting together a Rorschach test. He was not a young man, but he made me push my boundaries and made me learn the Rorschach test probably better than I wanted to be at it. When I have patients who come in and the cognitive stuff doesn’t work, the behavioral stuff, the cognitive-behavioral doesn’t work. When I start using thought stopping and Albert Ellis and all these and nothing’s working, I pull out some Freud and all of a sudden this person’s life changes in a matter of weeks.
[1:30:48] Ashley James: Wow.
[1:30:49] Dr. John Huber: It’s like whoa. This was right. This was right for this person. I had a guy who was very suicidal. He dropped out of school right before his senior year. His family knew the school board. I was working in Miami Dade County Public Schools then. They sent him into my office. They called me, “Can you see him?” Three out of the eight people on the school board and knew this person, the family personally. I’m like, “Okay. I cleared my plate. Get him here on Friday.” He comes in and he’s just like stone cold. There’s walls all around this guy. I pulled out the Rorschach chart or flats and I started using them therapeutically. About halfway through them, I knew exactly what had happened. This man had been sexually assaulted.
[1:31:39] Ashley James: What’s the Rorschach thing you’re talking about?
[1:31:42] Dr. John Huber: The inkblot test.
[1:31:43] Ashley James: Oh, inkblot. Okay. Really? You knew. So you’re holding up weird inkblots and he says, “I see a giraffe. I see a lizard.”
[1:31:50] Dr. John Huber: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He said all the things and I’m like, “This guy’s been violated.” So I put the cards down and I said, “So when were you raped?” The guy turned white I thought I was going to call an ambulance. He’s like, “Who told you?” He goes, “I told nobody. Nobody knows this. How do you?” He just kind of freaked out for a few minutes. I let him vent. I go, “Well, that’s why they pay me the big bucks. I got all these. See all those degrees on the wall? They’re actually good for something.” I was able to get this guy to give us a shot.
Miami Dade, as big as it is and all the problems it has with being big, that has some amazing things. For example, they have high school campuses on some of the community college campuses there. Adults can go there and get a high school degree through their Community College. It has a community college transcript and all that kind of stuff, but they’re actually working for high school degree. Then they can take their college credits to their bosses. So adults who didn’t finish high school are going back and finish high school.
Well, I picked up the phone. One of the psychologists I worked with who was stationed at one of those schools inside one of the college campuses. I’m like, “Hey, here’s what’s going on. If his parents find out what happened to him he’s gone.” I mean this kid, he had demonstrated that he would do it. I mean there was some history there.
[1:33:17] Ashley James: He’d commit suicide?
[1:33:18] Dr. John Huber: Yeah. So, the guy goes, “Let me talk to my principal.” We sat and talked to the principal. Principal said, “If you two psychologists are willing to this, I’ll do everything I can. I don’t need to know what has happened with this young man as long as this is the right placement for him.” So we had our admission review and dismissal meeting. We went through and we figured it was just going to be the parents, him and a couple teachers. We walked in and there’s almost 30 people in there because it’s a college campus. These college professors don’t know what’s going on. “I want to see this.” We’re like, “Oh my goodness.” So, me and the other psychologists sat next to each other. We just kind of mumbled through stuff and just started signing paperwork and passed it around. Everybody acted like they knew what they were doing. They signed the paperwork. We got the kid in. He graduated. I got a phone message left on my answering machine in my office that next summer. It was about seven minutes long. He started off by telling me, “I planned on killing myself the weekend after I met you.” He went from there to, “I can’t thank you enough. I just got a full ride to a major university.” He gave me the major university and all that kind of stuff. “You gave me my life back.”
[1:34:33] Ashley James: Yeah.
[1:34:34] Dr. John Huber: So when people criticize psychoanalysis, man it’s not right for everybody but when it works it works. The Freudian inkblot tests and all that kind of stuff. There’s a place for that and we need to need to show it respect. The reason why though that we really push that and you see it so much besides us being seductive it was the first time somebody had put together and organized theoretical orientation for psychotherapy. What went on before then was there was this guy called Emmanuel Church. He would go around and he was kind of the Oprah of the day. He would go to town theaters and people would come in there. People would come up and talk and their families would go up and he’d do family therapy in front of the audience.
[1:35:23] Ashley James: Wow.
[1:35:24] Dr. John Huber: Of course, who could afford to go? You got all your doctors and attorneys and your businessman and all this kind of stuff. So they were paying this guy tons of money. People would volunteer and be a victim and he would actually help them work through things. The doctors were sitting and going, “Man, look at how much money I could be making,” but the Hippocratic Oath says we either have to have research proof or we have to have strong theoretical orientation and we had neither one of them. So this guy could do it as entertainment and made lots of money. Then all sudden we had this book that come translated from German called Interpretation of Dreams by a guy named Sigmund Freud. He’d written a theoretical orientation for talk therapy. Now doctors could go do that. He was the game-changer.
[1:36:16] Ashley James: Yeah.
[1:36:17] Dr. John Huber: We went from there to okay let’s break this down. What if this is really working? We found out some specific things. Even if you go to a psychoanalytic school where they’re going to teach you psychoanalysis, the first techniques they show you are Carl Rogers’ person-centered therapy because if you can’t get your patient coming back to therapy, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best therapist in the world if they’re not there to do therapy. What do we know about Carl Rogers is that he makes that person feel valued and empowered and they want to come back. So you start with that and then you go do your orientation, whatever you do best at that point. So, it’s just a lot of skill. The best predictor though of whether you’re going to be successful in therapy is not what orientation the therapist has.
[1:37:03] Ashley James: Really.
[1:37:04] Dr. John Huber: It’s how long the therapist has been doing therapy.
[1:37:07] Ashley James: Really.
[1:37:09] Dr. John Huber: Because just like I told you, when people say what is my orientation? I’m a cognitive-behavioral therapist when it comes to therapy, but I know how to use eclectic psychotherapy. I can use Freud. I can use Jungian therapy. I can use Gestalt therapy, but I don’t start with that. I start with my patient. What is my patient going to respond to the best? How do I know that? Experience. I find out through my structure of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy that okay, this isn’t working, that’s not working, this get a little bit of benefit from here so we’re not going to throw that out but I need to tweak it a little bit. I have to keep the same goals in mind the whole time. The cool thing with, again cognitive behavior, I can count and measure and I can make progress. So, I tend to keep part of that cognitive-behavioral perspective in there even if I pull in psychoanalysis or hypnosis or something like that into my treatment of the patient. Because then I’ve still got that benchmark that I can say, “He’s making progress,” or “He’s not making programs.”
[1:38:19] Ashley James: I imagine hypnotherapy or any of your therapy actually would be really positive while working with someone who’s doing the ketamine because their resistance has been dropped.
[1:38:34] Dr. John Huber: Their defense mechanisms have been dropped. I use that word specifically because that’s one of the things Freud talks about, our defense mechanisms. We lie to ourselves. Even in cognitive behavioral therapy, we lie to ourselves. We lie to ourselves that, “You know, I’ve been smoking for 15 years. I’m not going to get cancer.” We lie to ourselves, “Oh, it’s not going to happen to me. Those rules don’t apply to me. I’m John. It’s not going to happen.” It will. It’ll catch up. You play the game long, enough you’re going to get hit with a flag.
[1:39:09] Ashley James: My friend is in marriage counseling and her husband is coming up with these lies. She’s just staring at him. She’s kind of dumbfounded. She doesn’t even know what to say to the therapist. She’s just so, in the moment, she’s not a type of person to fight or argue. She’s just observing and kind of shocked because he believes his lies. He’s saying these lies that are just like totally not true, like measurable. He said, “We’ve gone on seven family vacations,” or whatever he’s mentioned. She’s like she can count three. She’s like, “No.” He says, “I always take the kids to the park on the weekends.” He’s done it three times in seven years like that kind of thing. He believes his lies. It’s just really amazing to sit back and then go, yeah, how much do we lie to ourselves and believe it? “I’m going to go to the gym tomorrow.” “Just one chocolate bar.”
[1:40:06] Dr. John Huber: Yeah, exactly. That’s the crazy thing about lie detector test because if you believe your lies you’re not going to show up as lying.
[1:40:12] Ashley James: Wow.
[1:40:14] Dr. John Huber: So that’s why that’s not what we should be using. With the best lie detector test we have is that jury of your peers and that judge up there not some machine. Because you get all these other perspectives. You don’t just get yours when you go into court. We have other witnesses there. We have DNA testing there. We have drug testing. We have alcohol testing. We have fingerprints, whatever. We got all this other stuff there. It’s not just you and that machine, because again if you truly believe or heaven forbid you’re a truly antisocial personality disorder, a true sociopath and don’t mind the fact that you may have harmed somebody significantly, you’re not going to have a physiological reaction to that. So a sociopath is less likely to fail a lie-detector test. That’s who we want to try and catch, right? Then why do we keep using them? Well, we keep using them because the whole game is we want to scare the person enough to make them think that we really can tell they’re lying so they just cop a plea and tell us what really happened.
[1:41:27] Ashley James: Wow. I did not know that about lie-detector test that if you believe the lie that you won’t get caught. Right. I guess, yeah. Because it’s measuring the stress response.
[1:41:40] Dr. John Huber: Exactly. Your heart rate, blood pressure, galvanic skin response, respiratory. Yes.
[1:41:46] Ashley James: Psychopaths would not have that.
[1:41:49] Dr. John Huber: Yeah. Unless you maybe hurt their car and then you’ll see a physiological response.
[1:41:56] Ashley James: Right. Don’t they believe that they own people like inanimate objects like a car?
[1:42:04] Dr. John Huber: Well, the inanimate objects have value to them. People are just objects to be used to get certain things they want. So when you’re through getting what you can get out of that person you throw them away. It doesn’t matter what happens to them.
[1:42:16] Ashley James: How do we know we’re dealing with a psychopath? What if someone goes, “I wonder if I’m married to one or I wonder if my boss is one or what if my coworker is a psychopath?” What are the signs to be aware of?
[1:42:28] Dr. John Huber: Why don’t you just him bring down in my office and for a specific sum I’ll just figure that out for you. I’m pretty good at it. What you want to look at, what I told my college students, the people when they’re dating whether a man or a woman if they let their friends call you all sorts of names and put you down and demean you but they blow up if they touched their car wrong or they slammed the door too hard on their car or they have a favorite hunting knife or a gun or something that they treat like it’s the Holy Grail, red flag. Don’t walk away, run away. Because that inanimate object is more valuable to them than a living person. Run away. Another thing, it’s funny how it happens, dogs. Not just one dog but every dog this person comes around doesn’t really like that person, red flag. Dogs pick up on our physiology. That’s why seizure dogs, true helping dogs that are trained, can pick up on your seizure thirty to forty-five minutes before it actually happens.
[1:43:48] Ashley James: Wow.
[1:43:50] Dr. John Huber: You’ll be safe. You got a seizure dog, oh, it’s time to go. So they’ll take you and sit you downtime. Go lay down on the couch over here. They got their patterns of behavior so we have to train the people to read the dog’s movements too, but it’s pretty amazing when that happens. You get patients that are no longer slamming their heads on the corner of the coffee tables because they started having a seizure and were expecting it.
[1:44:15] Ashley James: Right. Very interesting. Dr. Huber, I could talk to you all day long. Yes, I definitely want to have you back on the show, but you knew that. You’re such a pro. Every show you’re on they want to have you back. You’re very entertaining and educating. That’s the perfect combination, right? To be entertained while you’re learning. So, you’re an excellent guest. I definitely want to have you back especially when you published your book, especially when you can share more formation about ketamine that after some things have happened in the near future, hopefully. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. I love your mission that your nonprofit is here to normalize mental health. That going to a counselor should be like we take a shower, we want to have physical hygiene, we go to a mental health counselor to make sure we have mental hygiene, right?
[1:45:22] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely.
[1:45:24] Ashley James: Just make it normal. Normal, healthy people can go to therapy.
[1:45:27] Dr. John Huber: They should, even if it’s just a check-up. I tell people that. “Why? I don’t have any problem.” Think about it, your world is going great. If you go see a therapist just to kind of know what you look like when world’s going great and then the bottom falls out, that therapists already has a history with you and they know where you need to be. But more important than that, if you’re one of those people who tend to not have problems for real and you cope and you manage, your friends come to you all the time for help. There’s been more than one time in most of those people’s lives where they go, “Hey, buddy. Why don’t you go see a therapist?” They’re going, “Oh, okay.” But instead of saying that, “Why don’t you go to my friend John? I’ve talked to him a couple of times.” They’re more likely to go see me then instead of let’s just pull up a phonebook and find a therapist here.
[1:46:15] Ashley James: Ah. So get a relationship with a therapist so that you could even help your friends and send them to your friend the therapist you’ve been seeing. It’s good to have one in your pocket.
[1:46:26] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely. One more therapeutic tool for you to help function and cope. I’m not saying you have to see them. You can go in there and meet them one time. You feel comfortable with him, you talk a little bit, you just want to, “Hey, things are going pretty good right now, but if something happens I want to have it. I know my kids are getting ready to graduate from college. My daughter is talking about getting married. I just don’t know how I’m going to react to all that. So I want somebody who kind of I already know. I don’t want to have an introductory session that’s been three sessions trying to figure out what my life looks like normal before we start therapy.”
[1:47:02] Ashley James: I have a friend who’s a personal chef in Seattle, very busy woman. She has a boyfriend and she has a daughter with this boyfriend. The daughter’s about four or five years old and she’s a very busy woman. She’s a busy mom. Every day is driving to a different person’s house and cooking for them. That she cooks five-days-worth of food in one afternoon. She’ll have maybe two clients a day. So it’s just like go, go, go, go, go. She made a post on Facebook that was really beautiful. To all her friends she said, “Listen, you guys say I’m a great mom. You say I’m a great entrepreneur. You say like wow you’ve got your whole life together. How do you do this? How do you pull it all together? How do you have a successful career and have a great relationship and you’re also like a really attentive as a mom? How do you do this all?”
She goes, “Listen, I do it because I see my therapist three times a week. I sometimes see them more than three times a week. My therapist helps me stay successful and stay sane.” She goes, “Everyone should have a therapist. Everyone should have a mental health counselor. It should be like going to the gym. You go to the gym three times a week. You go to your therapist.” She goes, “That’s why I don’t explode at my boyfriend and that’s why I don’t completely like go off the rails with my kid. When my kid’s frustrating, when my boyfriend’s being crazy and when my life is being insane I don’t take it out on the wrong people. I don’t take it out on people. I don’t blow up at people because I am able to like deal with it and work through it with my therapist. Then I am a loving attentive mom that is present to my daughter. I don’t bring my work home with me. I’m able to be intimate and loving and vulnerable partner with my boyfriend because I don’t take my frustrations out on him.”
So she just basically said to all our friends the same mission that you have. She wants everyone to know that healthy human beings go to therapy. That if we’re not going to therapy it’s sort of like not taking a shower and not going to the gym. If you’re not really having that like checking in with yourself a mentally and emotionally, then there’s like some like dirty laundry being built up in your closet basically. So, I love that she pointed out that we could use therapy like a mental gym and just keep ourselves fit and healthy mentally and emotionally.
[1:49:46] Dr. John Huber: Absolutely. That is what we’ve got to do. I take my own advice. I tell my patients, “Look, you’re spending too much time on your cell phone.” Two years ago I took a 60-day break from internet on my cell phone and all that. It’s hard doing what we do and not having connections online. I can do it, you can do it.
[1:50:14] Ashley James: I love that. Yes. I know you have a whole talk about the phone and how it increases, it’s been shown to increase anxiety and depression. We want to, even though people are probably listening to this on their phone, but we want to spend less time with electronics and spend more time with real people, more time with connecting with ourselves. Before we hit record though you said something beautiful about going outside. Would you like to wrap up today’s interview with that?
[1:50:40] Dr. John Huber: Well, that’s where I was going to go.
[1:50:41] Ashley James: Is that where you’re going. I knew that’s where you’re going. Awesome.
[1:50:42] Dr. John Huber: That’s where I was going to go. One of the best things, we have to get connected. We have to get back to being human. I do it. I mean it’s 28 degrees outside and my wife just thinks I’m nuts. I go outside, I take my shoes and socks off and I put my feet on the ground. I just breathe, focus on the stars, focus on the possum running across the fence line down the road. Just be and breathe.
There’s research out there about being in physical contact with the ground and what it does to your neurochemistry and your brain. My goal is to make about 20 minutes. Sometimes it’s really cold, but cold and rainy is the worst. I don’t know if I do five minutes on some of those days, but I try to do it every day. I got my little chairs sitting out there right next to my hot tub so if it gets real cold I can jump in a hot tub and keep my feet on the ground. Sometimes I’m out there for an hour and a half with my feet in the ground. My dogs love it. They come curl up around my feet. It’s really funny because when I first started doing it they didn’t know what was going on. We have rescue puppies who’ve been abused and stuff like that. Now, man, they come in they get between our legs and kind of wrap themselves around us. It’s like they’re trying to help us make that connection, it’s like they picked up on what we’re doing.
[1:52:10] Ashley James: I want you to listen to, I’ll send it to you. I have an interview with Clint Ober on grounding and earthing. He did, I believe it was 24 scientific studies where they prove that –
[1:52:23] Dr. John Huber: Yeah, I read some of his studies. I haven’t read all of it.
[1:52:24] Ashley James: You did? Okay. Awesome.
[1:52:27] Dr. John Huber: I would love to hear the interview.
[1:52:28] Ashley James: Yeah. He has a great story that when we ground ourselves or you could use a grounding mat if you don’t want to go outside, but the going outside part is fantastic. You’re connecting with the Schumann resonance, you’re connecting with the earth energy, but when you put your bare feet on the ground you’re releasing electrons. So there’s an actual measurable anti-inflammatory effect that happens because we’re releasing all these excess electrons that are causing damage. That’s the connection between the mental and emotional body. The physical body and this energetic body that we have. You’re bringing it all together in that moment when you’re spending time outside in nature breathing, feeling your body, connecting back with the earth just releasing and letting go of all that excess energy and connecting with the universe. Then you can start to process your day in a way that is cathartic.
So, it’s beautiful. I love that advice. I think we should all do it. We should all get out in nature more and put our feet in the ground and just breathe. Thank you so much, Dr. John Huber, for coming on the show today. Listeners can go to mainstreammentalhealth.org to check out your nonprofit. Of course, all the links to everything that Dr. John does is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?
[1:54:02] Dr. John Huber: I always like to say and remind people that you should always leave something for somebody and a good something. For example, the things I’ve learned today about your interview style made me feel extremely comfortable. I think it helped me open up a lot. So I really appreciate you giving me that during the interview. I want to remind everybody that life is really what happens while we’re making plans so just buckle up.
[1:54:31] Ashley James: Buckle up and love yourself and love each other. Thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure. I can’t wait to have you back on the show.
[1:54:40] Dr. John Huber: Awesome. I can’t wait to be back.
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