by Dr. Ben Reebs | Mar 29, 2021 | Chronic Disease, Detoxification, Diet, Digestion, Healing, Health, Hydrotherapy, Inflammation, Microbiome, Nutrition, Stress
In my book, “The Serpent and The Butterfly: The Seven Laws of Healing,” I present a paradigm of health with a practical, evidence-based approach to naturopathic medicine.
Globally, hundreds of millions—over 157 million in the United States alone—struggle with a chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
But through the seven laws of healing, my book offers a definitive starting point for anyone looking to understand how to prevent and resolve chronic disease.
You, too, can embrace a new paradigm of health with this practical, evidence-based approach to alternative medicine.
Here are three reasons to read my book, “The Serpent and The Butterfly: The Seven Laws of Healing“:
1. Taking a Balanced Approach to Alternative Medicine
Alternative medicine is more divided than ever before between the bright, shiny objects of the latest anti-aging tech trends and reverence for the traditional roots of ancient medical wisdom.
While trend is not destiny, tradition can also fall out of vogue and become scientifically outdated.
Both sides argue for evidence-based medicine but the question, “Whose evidence?”
Some health and wellness fads fall on a spectrum from one extreme to another, yet one truth remains constant: people are seeking vitality.
I discuss what it means to take a practical, balanced approach that integrates science and technology with traditional wisdom.
2. How to Use the Seven Laws of Healing to Optimize your Health
Our body is our messenger, even if we don’t always like what it has to say.
In order to find true health, it’s essential to support this messenger and become fluent and conversant in its language.
We must learn how to rely on and trust the laws of healing operating within the human body, which have been not only been steadfast through time, but now have a strong evidential basis in the sciences.
I articulate the seven laws of healing and what it means to trust these laws operating within the human body along with practical means in which to apply them to optimize health and prevent chronic disease.
3. How to Live a Disease-Free Life
The Law of Disease states that disease is an imbalance caused by three things: toxicity, deficiency, and lack of energy.
A life free of chronic disease starts with the knowledge of how disease is engendered in the human organism.
Turning the concept of The Law of Disease inside-out, we have what I call The Triangle of Optimal Health, which says that optimal health is maintained by three things: a non-toxic lifestyle, adequate nutrition, and a robust vitality.
I discuss how to use this knowledge to lead a non-toxic lifestyle, maintain an adequate nutrient status, have plenty of energy, live a life free of chronic disease.
by Dr. Ben Reebs | Feb 16, 2021 | Chronic Disease, Detoxification, Healing, Hydrotherapy, Stress
Used across cultures over millennia to reduce pain and encourage healing, hydrotherapy is one of the oldest forms of natural medicine. Dating back to Ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, believed hydrotherapy was a key healing resource.
Through detailed observation, Hippocrates concluded that our health is governed by a vital force or vis medicatrix naturae, meaning “the healing power of nature,” that is constantly working to maintain normal balance in structure and function within the body when confronted with injuries and disease (1).
Despite conducting his observations and analysis over two-thousand years ago, his theories on hydrotherapy were not off the mark. And though the precise mechanisms are still a mystery, the evidence-based results are astounding.
Hydrotherapy is known to improve our body’s natural vitality by aiding detoxification, relieving inflammation and pain, enhancing relaxation and metabolic processes, lowering blood pressure, and stimulating blood flow to vital muscles and organs, among many other benefits (2,3).
How exactly does it work? Let’s take a closer look: Cold water stimulates the body, causing the constriction of surface blood vessels, directing blood to vital organs. Hot water, on the other hand, relaxes the body, causing the dilation of blood vessels, directing the removal of bodily waste. Thus, by alternating between hot and cold, we’re helping our body stimulate circulation, decrease inflammation, and improve homeostasis — allowing the body to naturally heal itself (3).
In this time of uncertainty atop millions of Americans already struggling with a chronic disease, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, it’s more important than ever to boost our natural vitality (4).
Only by supporting and enhancing the efficacy of the vital force can we truly realign with the laws of nature and prevent (as well as reverse) chronic disease. By folding regular hydrotherapy routines into our daily lives, our health will only reap the benefits.
Many different types of hydrotherapy methods exist, but with less access to health centers and spas, we must get creative. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to take advantage of its healing effects at home. This can include steam rooms and saunas, hot springs, showers and baths rich in magnesium salts, and foot soaks. If possible, take advantage of any nearby waters, as swimming in cold rivers, lakes, and oceans can significantly decrease tension, pain, and fatigue while increasing memory and mood (3). Generally, it’s best to always end with some form of cold, even if it’s 30–60 seconds in a cold shower.
Here are a couple of easy at-home hydrotherapy contrast treatments that can be done in thirty minutes or less using just a few household items:
- While lying flat on your back, cover the anterior torso with two hot large hand towels folded in half (four thicknesses or layers of terry cloth) soaked in hot water tolerant to touch, and leave in place for five minutes.
- Replace hot towels with one cold large hand towel folded in half (two thicknesses or layers of terry cloth), leaving in place ten minutes or longer, until the towel is warmed.
- Cover body with a blanket, preferably wool or Vellux, to retain body heat during the length of treatment.
- Repeat the entire procedure on your posterior torso while lying face down.
*This version might require someone assisting you in placing the towels.
- Immerse the entire body in a hot bath or shower for five minutes.
- Then, dry quickly with a towel and soak another towel in cold water, wring out completely, and wrap around both sides of the torso, or from armpit to groin.
- Cover the body with wool or Vellux blanket, leaving the cold towel wrapped for twenty minutes, or longer, until the towel is warmed.
- Fioranelli M., Gianfaldoni R., Gianfaldoni S., Grazia Roccia M., Lotti T., Tchernev G., Wollina U. History of the Baths and Thermal Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535692/.
- Upendra Nagaich, Dr. Hydrotherapy: Tool for preventing illness. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4932807/#:~:text=The%20advantages%20of%20hydrotherapy%20comprise,improving%20skin%20and%20muscle%20tone.
- Mooventhan A, Nivethitha L. Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/
- Tackling the Burden of Chronic Diseases in the USA. The Lancet. Volume 373, Issue 9659, P185, JANUARY 17, 2009. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)60048-9/fulltext
by Dr. Ben Reebs | Jul 9, 2018 | Health, Hormones, Stress
Studies show that cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, increases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), (1,2) as well as inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3, which is your body’s metabolically active thyroid hormone (3,4). This process mostly occurs peripherally in the liver, GI tract, skeletal muscle, but also occurs in the thyroid and even the brain itself. However, we need more studies verifying exactly how elevated cortisol levels mechanistically inhibits T4-to-T3 conversion.
Thyroid hormone acts to regulate metabolism by increasing basal metabolic rate, temperature, and heart rate/cardiac output. This, in part, explains why chronic stress can easily lead to hypothyroidism, because cortisol is literally turning off your metabolism. (5)
But why would cortisol inhibit T3 from being formed? Because T3 requires a lot of energy or ATP, to get stuff done in the body, and when the body is stressed, it needs to conserve energy so that it can act out of fight or flight.
Cortisol Is Increased by Stress and Hypoglycemia
There are two main stimuli (6) that lead to the release of cortisol from the zona fasciculata of your adrenal glands:
What this basically means is that when your blood sugars are low, a stress response is mimicked in your body.
Relaxation (A Destressed State) and Hyperglycemia Inhibit Cortisol
So what inhibits cortisol? You guessed it:
- Not being stressed
- Hyperglycemia (having blood sugar that is too high)
Stress Can Be Physical or Psychological
Stress is a complex phenomenon which can be physical or psychological. Some examples of stressful events which are physical in nature include trauma, infection, or exercise. We already mentioned hypoglycemia. Psychological examples of stress include fear, bereavement, or anger.
Cortisol is Permissive
Did you know that cortisol is the only hormone in the body that has receptors on almost every cell. It must be pretty important then. And that’s why it goes everywhere, having no particular affinity for anything. There’s a word for this in science: Permissive. (7) When you’re superstressed, all of these cortisol receptors get upregulated, increasing cellular sensitivity. And there is no cellular second messenger, in case you were wondering. The message of cortisol is loud and direct.
The Role of Cortisol
But what does cortisol do in the body? Well, two things, mainly, physiologically:
- Proteolysis and Gluconeogenesis: Cortisol breaks down proteins, a process called proteolysis, so that the amino acids can be used to make glucose (gluconeogenesis). Remember, the body is in a state of hypoglycemia.
- Stress Lowers Your Immune System: Cortisol wields profound anti-inflammatory effect across the body. Cortisol destroys white blood cells, such as T-cells and eosinophils. Cortisol inhibits the migration of pathogen-engulfing, debris-cleaning macrophages. Cortisol stabilizes mast cells, who can be quite annoying when they unload histamine, as in Type 1 hypersensitivity reactions, such as seasonal allergies.
Cortisol also inhibits an enzyme called phospholipase, which is responsible for making prostaglandins by cleaving the phospholipid bilayer in the cell’s membranes and releasing arachidonic acid, which signals the body to make a host of important inflammatory molecules required by the immune system to do its job. (8) Remind you of the effects of steroids, by chance? Well, that’s because cortisol is an endogenous steroid.
Too much cortisol can lead to immunosuppression. (9) And when your immune system is down, that’s when you get sick. Ever get done with school finals for the term, only to be sick during your week off? Well, this is why.
When you experience a stressful event, such as an important exam, a romantic breakup, or a fender-bender, a cascade of hormones (10) are released in the engine of your body over approximately twenty-four hours.
The Cascade of Stress Hormones
- Epinephrine: First and immediately after the stressful event, epinephrine, aka adrenaline, is released. Epinephrine increases heart rate, raises blood sugar, and boost sugar metabolism.
- Glucagon: After about 20 minutes, glucagon is released from the alpha cells of the pancreas, causing blood sugar to be raised, as well as glycogen to be broken down (glycogenolysis), fats to be broken down (lipolysis), and ketones to be made (ketogenesis). Glucagon acts on the adrenal cortex, as well as the liver and adipose tissue.
- Cortisol: Within about 2 to 4 hours, cortisol is released.
- Growth Hormone: Then, after about 24 hours, growth hormone (GH) is released. This is one reason that high intensity interval trainings (HIIT), such as CrossFit, is effective for muscle growth, which doesn’t occur until one gets good sleep and after a couple days, because workouts are fast-paced and stressful. GH raises glucose levels and breaks down fat, releasing free fatty acids, produced by the anterior pituitary when we sleep. This is why a good night’s sleep is critical to get the benefits of HIIT.
- Insulin: Here’s one thing that’s a bit counterintuitive. Almost every metabolic process in the body is biphasic, balanced and counterbalanced by opposing regulatory feedback mechanisms. The hormones mentioned above will produce glucose in the body, which will increase the osmolarity of the blood. But after about 30 minutes, the body will release insulin, in order to push the excess glucose into the cells so that it can be used.
- Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH): After about 30 minutes, the body will also produce antidiuretic hormone (ADH), in order to normalize the blood osmolarity by retaining fluid volume rather than diuresing (a fancy word for urinating).
- Aldosterone: Cortisol works alongside the hormone aldosterone, as well, to increase sodium reabsorption in the kidneys, so that electrolyte and hydration status are appropriately maintained. As at least half of our blood is water, proper blood perfusion can occur in the body during fight or flight.
Cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3, that is, your body’s metabolically active thyroid hormone.
If high cortisol levels are chronic, this can lead to hypothyroidism. Cortisol is the body’s endogenous corticosteroid, suppressing the immune system. Chronic stress can lead to frequently getting sick.
- Walter KN, Corwin EJ, Ulbrecht J, et al. Elevated thyroid stimulating hormone is associated with elevated cortisol in healthy young men and women. Thyroid Research. 2012;5(1):13. doi:10.1186/1756-6614-5-13.
- Hage MP, Azar ST. The Link between Thyroid Function and Depression. Journal of Thyroid Research. 2012;2012:1-8. doi:10.1155/2012/590648.
- Szivak TK, Lee EC, Saenz C, et al. Adrenal Stress and Physical Performance During Military Survival Training. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 2018;89(2):99-107. doi:10.3357/amhp.4831.2018.
- Kahana L, Keidar S, Sheinfeld M, Palant A. Endogenous Cortisol And Thyroid Hormone Levels In Patients With Acute Myocardial Infarction. Clinical Endocrinology. 1983;19(1):131-139. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.1983.tb00751.x.
- Ranabir S, Reetu K. Stress and hormones. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011;15(1):18. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.77573.
- Gandhi K. Approach to hypoglycemia in infants and children. Translational Pediatrics. 2017;6(4):408-420. doi:10.21037/tp.2017.10.05.
- Mavroudis PD, Corbett SA, Calvano SE, Androulakis IP. Circadian characteristics of permissive and suppressive effects of cortisol and their role in homeostasis and the acute inflammatory response. Mathematical Biosciences. 2015;260:54-64. doi:10.1016/j.mbs.2014.10.006.
- Goppelt-Struebe M, Wolter D, Resch K. Glucocorticoids inhibit prostaglandin synthesis not only at the level of phospholipase A2 but also at the level of cyclo-oxygenase/PGE isomerase. British Journal of Pharmacology. 1989;98(4):1287-1295. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.1989.tb12676.x.
- Coutinho AE, Chapman KE. The anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects of glucocorticoids, recent developments and mechanistic insights. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. 2011;335(1):2-13. doi:10.1016/j.mce.2010.04.005.
- Tsigos C, Kyrou I, Kassi E, et al. Stress, Endocrine Physiology and Pathophysiology. [Updated 2016 Mar 10]. In: De Groot LJ, Chrousos G, Dungan K, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278995/