Speaker 1: 00:00 Welcome to the Dr. Gundry podcast, the weekly podcast where Dr. G gives you the tolls you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
Dr. Gundry: 00:13 So, welcome to the Dr. Gundry podcast. So what do you think when you hear the word “acupuncture”? Do you think about scary needles? Do you think about pain relief? Fake news? Well there’s certainly a lot of people out there who really think treatments like acupuncture are all a bunch of hocus-pocus. Not today’s guest. Dr. Jill Blakeway is going to explain why the effects of acupuncture and energy medicine, one of my favorite subjects, believe it or not, are real, and how they can help you on your health and wellness journey.
Dr. Gundry: 00:52 So Dr. Blakeway has spent decades studying eastern medicine, is the founder and director of the [Yinova 00:00:59] Center in New York City, and the author of a brand-new book, “Energy Medicine: The science and mystery of healing.” On this episode, she and I are actually going to talk all about energy medicine: what it is, how it works, and how you can actually use it to improve your life.
Dr. Gundry: 01:19 So Dr. Blakeway, thanks for coming on the podcast!
Jill Blakeway: 01:23 Well thank you for having me, Dr. Gundry. I’m thrilled to be here.
Dr. Gundry: 01:27 So tell me a little bit about your background. What brought you to Eastern medicine in the first place?
Jill Blakeway: 01:32 Well like a lot of people of my generation, I’ve been an acupuncturist for almost 25 years. I discovered Chinese medicine as a patient. And I had a variety of chronic health issues. And a woman in a health foods store suggested that I try acupuncture. And I was blown away by how well it worked. And of course, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are particularly good for chronic illnesses. And so that sent me on a journey and I describe that in my book, Energy Medicine, because it’s part memoir. And I ended up doing a Master of Science in traditional Chinese medicine, and then subsequently a doctorate. And I love my job. I’ve spent a very happy career taking care of patients at the Yinova Center for the last 20 years.
Dr. Gundry: 02:23 Wow. So did you actually travel to China to get some of this training, or was it all done here in the United States?
Jill Blakeway: 02:32 I trained in California, believe it or not. I am an English acupuncturist who trained in California at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, California.
Dr. Gundry: 02:43 Oh yeah, I know where that is. Yeah.
Jill Blakeway: 02:45 Yeah. And so that’s where I got my training.
Dr. Gundry: 02:49 So you’ve written a lot about sex and fertility. So this now book is quite a bit different about what you’ve written about before. What inspired you to go in this direction, in stead of what you usually do?
Jill Blakeway: 03:04 You’re absolutely right insomuch as my first book, Making Babies, was about how to get pregnant. But I did write it with a doctor. I wrote it with a reproductive endocrinologist. But I’ve always been interested in the intersection between conventional medicine and Eastern medicine. It’s always been clear to me that we’re talking about the same thing from a different frame of reference. And so I wanted to bring that together.
Jill Blakeway: 03:28 My second book was called Sex Again, and again I took some ancient Daoist exercises to revive libido and I brought them up to date for modern readers. And this book brings together both the science and some of the spirituality and mystery of healing. But it is really very science-based. So in some ways it’s a departure, and in some ways it’s a continuation of what I’ve tried to do my whole career, which is to integrate this beautiful medicine, Chinese medicine, with the power of Western medicine and Western science so that reader and my patients at my clinic get the best of all possible worlds.
Dr. Gundry: 04:10 Okay, so what exactly, for our viewers or our listeners, what is “energy medicine.”
Jill Blakeway: 04:18 Well yes-
Dr. Gundry: 04:18 In three words or less, now!
Jill Blakeway: 04:20 … Okay. Well, broadly speaking, I don’t know whether I can do it in three words, but it describes the modalities that either diagnose or heal, based on the energy that pulses through every cell in the body. And that energy, as you know, is measurable, as in biophotons, which is the light that cells emit, or the way sound affects cells. So it’s a broad field. Acupuncture is probably the best-known form of energy medicine, although some people don’t realize it is a form of energy medicine. But I wanted to look at the whole field in this book.
Dr. Gundry: 04:59 So you mentioned there’s a scientific basis to all this. And I know a lot of people to this day are still very skeptical of energy fields, you know, sort of that even acupuncture does work on energy meridians. So what sort of scientific evidence is there that we produce these fields?
Jill Blakeway: 05:23 Well I wanted to know that too, Dr. Gundry. That’s why I sort of went on this journey. I wanted to explain me to me. My patients thrive under my care. And I had all the questions that I think a conscientious has, like how much of this is placebo and who does the healing, and things like that. But the energy fields in the body are measurable, and we measure them routinely. We just measure them separately. So for instance, doctors measure the energy field of the brain with an EEG, for example, or the energy field around the heart with an EKG. We’ve had less interest in science measuring a unified field because it hasn’t been very useful to us. But the latest research has stated to look at how we effect each other with our fields.
Jill Blakeway: 06:10 So for instance, there is research that shows that we pick up the heart waves of other people in our brainwaves. There was some very interesting research that showed, and I footnote it in my book, that show that an interviewer picked up the heart waves of other people in her brainwaves. And to be honest, I had a question about what I was doing energetically in the clinic. So I submitted my body to science, Dr. Gundry, and we put an EEG on my brain and an EKG of my heart. And it turns out that my brain and my heart go into what’s called resonance with each other. They start to emit the same frequency. And then the patient’s heart goes into resonance with mine. And that isn’t through any kind of woo, mystical thing. That’s thanks to something called mirror neurons. The patient starts to mirror me, and we all start to resonate at the same frequency.
Jill Blakeway: 07:07 And I believe that may be where information gets transferred. The researchers I talked to, the conventional, scientific researchers I talked to called that a “resonant bond.” And I think that’s where information gets transferred. And actually some of the researchers I talked to, Dr. Gundry, didn’t like the term “energy,” because energy technically dissipates over a distance. And this doesn’t seem to. So they prefer the term information.
Dr. Gundry: 07:39 Okay. For the skeptics, so what you’re saying is that we’re not sitting on a beach in California singing kumbaya. This is actually a measurable field. I’m sure you know the company Heart Map.
Jill Blakeway: 07:56 I do.
Dr. Gundry: 07:58 And yeah. I worked with them in the past, and you’re absolutely right. There’s some amazing studies where a boy and a dog can be in separate rooms and the boy and the dog, who are lifelong friends, they’ll become resonant in their heartbeats without seeing each other, just in separate rooms.
Jill Blakeway: 08:23 I find that fascinating, Dr. Gundry. And in my book, I looked at some research at the University of Connecticut where they put people in separate MRIs. And when one had healing, compassionate thoughts about another, their brainwaves started to sync up, even though they were in separate MRIs in separate rooms, which I thought was a little bit like that feeling we all have when we think about someone and then they text us, which happens to me all the time. Or actually what happens to me is I think about a patient I haven’t seen in about a decade. And you can almost bet they’re on my schedule the next week in my clinic. And somehow I picked them up.
Jill Blakeway: 09:01 And I think those kinds of studies give us a glimpse into how we’re affecting each other, I would say, energetically. But energy is probably a bit of a broad term for that. But our minds are affecting each other.
Dr. Gundry: 09:15 Okay, so our minds are affecting each other. How does energy healing, then, relate to a practice like acupuncture? That must be different than that.
Jill Blakeway: 09:27 Well acupuncture is, insomuch as it’s not just one technique. Chinese medicine is, as you know, very old. And so acupuncture is used in different ways, and works in different ways, depending on how it’s used. So sometimes in my clinic, for example, I’ll use acupuncture needles a bit like massage to break up muscle spasms. And we can show that acupuncture increases endorphin levels, and therefore [inaudible 00:09:53] which are your body’s natural painkillers, and things like that.
Jill Blakeway: 09:57 And Doppler ultrasound shows that it increases circulation, thermal imaging shows that it reduces inflammation. But I was interested in the energetics of it. And what I did was I looked, in my book, at some very interesting research out of the University of Vermont Medical School where they looked at the actual acupuncture points and they found that they had a greater pull force. It was harder to pull out a needle at the acupuncture points than at other points in the body. And by doing research on rat abdominal wall, they found that when you twist the needles, the connected tissue winds around the needle like spaghetti on a fork, really, and it stays like that the whole treatment. And that makes the connective tissue more electro-conductive.
Jill Blakeway: 10:47 So I started my little discovery into acupuncture in this book with that research, and then went on to look at research out of Baylor University that showed that the acupuncture points have their foundations in embryology, when we’re embryos. And also I looked at research into the fascia, which, as you know, Dr. Gundry, is very electro-conductive, because it has a high collagen content which has a high water content and we all know that water is electro-conductive. That’s why we have to wear rubber boots if we’re in danger of electrocuting ourselves in a puddle.
Jill Blakeway: 11:20 And so I started to trace how that electric signal, from this very electro-conductive acupuncture point, goes deep into the body.
Dr. Gundry: 11:32 Huh. So that’s like when I was a Boy Scout, we’d take a stick and start rubbing it and we could actually get enough friction to get fire. So we were transferring energy by that friction. And you’re saying you tweaking that little needle is stimulating energy production?
Jill Blakeway: 11:53 It is, in a very small way. But bodies are subtle. But yes, the acupuncture points are uniquely electro-conductive. And the reason for that is, in embryology, which is so interesting, and I hadn’t thought about this until I started to write this book, but none of us give much thought into how embryos communicate internally. But if you think about all the ways that we communicate internally through the blood stream and the nervous system, embryos don’t have a particularly well-developed cardiovascular system or nervous system to do that. And so the way they develop is energetically, electrically. And there’s a wonderful video on YouTube which your listeners can go and Google. It’s called, “Electric Frog Face” and it’s from Tufts University. And it shows a frog embryo developing. It’s light lightning all across its face.
Jill Blakeway: 12:50 So the way an embryo does that is to create little stations that are particularly electro-conductive. They’re nodes. This is called morphogenesis. And then that node buds off an arm or a nose or a leg or something like that.
Jill Blakeway: 13:05 Now if you overlay a picture of the acupuncture points, the main acupuncture points are where these nodes are. And so the hypothesis is, and I think it’s a good one, that these nodes are there to be very electro-conductive when we’re embryos to generate. And then they become less so as we are people. But they’re still there to regulate. And you can use them to regulate. And if you think the Chinese developed this system thousands of years ago, they had no idea that these embryonic nodes even existed. So they came upon this quite separately, and I think quite brilliantly.
Dr. Gundry: 13:46 Yeah, it’s amazing. You know I love to study ancient cultures and ancient food cultures and why people did what they did. And they didn’t know, for the most part, the scientific basis of doing it, but as we study it now it was very obvious why they were doing it.
Dr. Gundry: 14:06 You know, listening to you reminds me and I think our listeners and viewers are like this. A number of years ago I was approached by a veterinarian from Australia who had found that he could use red light on acupuncture points in dogs and horses and actually prevent them from bleeding significantly from a surgical incision. He was an operating veterinarian. And he actually documented this in animals so well he published a lot of papers. And he actually approached me because he actually knew I was interested in energy medicine, but also there was a heart surgeon. And he said, “What would you think of doing a clinical trial where we put red light therapy on certain acupuncture points in patients about to go through heart surgery and do a sham on another set of patients and see how much they bleed after the operation?” And I said, “That’s a fantastic, crazy idea!”
Dr. Gundry: 15:12 So I actually presented it to our institutional review board which oversees all human experiments. And the pathologist was the head of it, he was a friend of mine, he said, “I am not going to allow any sort of voodoo woodoo medicine. You can show me all these scientific papers, but we’re not going to do that because it’s just too far out there.” And so as I’m listening to you, and we had all the horses and dogs. You can’t do a placebo effect on them to stop bleeding. And yet even in our modern society we just refuse to believe that there could be things like this happening.
Dr. Gundry: 15:55 So you probably get a lot of critics. What do you say? What would you say to my institutional review board if I go back and try again?
Jill Blakeway: 16:06 Well, I’m familiar with this, and you’re right. And I wrote this book for skeptical people actually, because I think confirmation bias is a problem for us all. We’re seeing it in our political discourse, where people only listen to the news they want to listen to that confirms their biases. It happens in medicine. It happens in alternative medicine. And so I tried very hard to put my own cognitive biases to one side and see what worked, what actually worked and what didn’t, because there is much to be learned from this subject, scientifically. So I would say to you internal review board, I would put that research, that embryological roots of acupuncture points and the electroconductivity in front of them and say, “What if? What if we’re missing something due to our confirmation bias that is right in front of our faces that could change everything?” And I think we are.
Jill Blakeway: 17:07 So I hope that you re-submit that, because I would love to see that research.
Dr. Gundry: 17:11 So you sound like an amazing healer in yourself, but you mention amazing healers in the book. So who are the most interesting, and what did you learn from them?
Jill Blakeway: 17:23 Well I met so many interesting healers. And I’m going to pick two. It’s like picking your favorite child; you can’t quite pick one. But I’m going to pick two that are going to illustrate two aspects of this. And the first is very scientific. And that’s a man called Dr. William Bankston who, at City University, came across a healing technique, an energy healing technique, that he learned from a psychic healer. And he decided to take it into the lab.
Jill Blakeway: 17:49 And so he took mice that were specially bred to have cancer, poor mice, and these mice usually live, when they’re given cancer, in this case mammary cancer, breast cancer, 27 days. And he taught his most skeptical students to reverse this cancer in mice over and over and over again. They barely ever lost a mouse. And they’ve done this on thousands of mice now.
Jill Blakeway: 18:14 And what I like about his research is that A, as you mentioned, animals don’t know they’re supposed to get better. So this isn’t the placebo effect. And B, it didn’t require the people doing the technique to have any kind of special skills. And I think goo science, Dr. Gundry, and I’m sure you’d agree with me, should replicable, yes?
Dr. Gundry: 18:36 Absolutely.
Jill Blakeway: 18:36 It should take us all forward. And there isn’t much mileage in studying a special someone that you’ve got in a room somewhere that nobody else can see. What’s important is to do science that means that we all move forward as a community, as a scientific community. And Dr. Bill Bankston’s work does that. So I dedicated an entire chapter of the book to that for that reason, because I thought it was so interesting.
Jill Blakeway: 19:04 But at the other end of the scale, I went to Japan and saw some of the most mystical, extraordinary healers I’ve ever seen. And I saw a monk called Hiroyuki Abe. And Hiroyuki sees a goddess when he heals. It could not be more different than Dr. Bankston’s research. But I went to see him because I talked to a man in Israel, a research psychologist, who had a child born blind, a baby who was blind. And in desperation, they had taken this baby to meet with Abe in Japan. And they had wheeled the baby in and out every day into the clinic, and I think it was about the fifth day they wheeled him out and he screwed up his eyes against the sunlight. And they realized that he could see.
Jill Blakeway: 19:54 In the book I tell this story. I decide to get on a plane and go and see Hiroyuki Abe for myself. And he was, indeed, a remarkable healer and very generous with his information and letting me observe him in clinic.
Dr. Gundry: 20:09 So was he able to pass on his knowledge to you like the other researcher, or you were just amazed at his innate healing ability?
Jill Blakeway: 20:20 Well a bit of both, actually. He was very generous about explaining what he was doing. And he was very interesting because he was actually putting energy into acupuncture points. So I recognized the places that he was working with because they were the same places I would needle in my clinic.
Jill Blakeway: 20:39 And one day he let me needle a patient for frozen shoulder. And then he put his hand over mine and put energy through my hand into the needle. And I’ve never felt anything quite like it. So he was extremely skilled. And he does teach, and he teaches his students and this is true in a lot of Eastern traditions, with a combination of classroom teaching and what’s called “transmission” where they pass on the energy. And in the book, in the last chapter of the book, I tell the story of what happened when Hiroyuki Abe asked if I’d like him to open up my chakras. And I took that rather lightly like a Westerner and I felt very guilty afterwards, because I was like, “Sure! Open my chakra.”
Jill Blakeway: 21:22 And it was completely life-changing, actually, and it changed the way I practice, and it certainly accelerated my skills in a way that I didn’t expect.
Dr. Gundry: 21:34 Okay. So when you got your chakras opened up, what happened? What does that mean, and how did that impact you? How did that change your life?
Jill Blakeway: 21:44 Well I shut my eyes and Hiroyuki Abe started to move his hands around behind me. And I could feel him. I could feel pulling in my body, which surprised me. My husband videoed this, and my face is looking quite shocked when I look at the video. And he’s grimacing and pulling and that kind of thing. It lasted several minutes. I kept my eyes shut. And when I opened my eyes, I was in a classroom full of his students. And all I could see to start with was light emanating from them. And what I saw was, I believe, was how energetic we actually are, that we are energy condensed into matter. And suddenly, I could see almost to space.
Jill Blakeway: 22:30 It sounds crazy, actually. But I suddenly saw how beautiful we are, and that we’re light. And in the book, that takes me into a discussion of biophotons because of course we have light in every cell. And interestingly, cancer cells lose their light. So I went back to research, which is my thing, to try and find out why I’d had this experience.
Jill Blakeway: 22:55 But it would be what’s called a “transmission” in Eastern medicine. And it made my acupuncture stronger. When I came back from Japan, my patients, many of whom have seen me for many years, were kind of amazed. They were like, “Wow, what happened to you?” And I said, well that’s a story. Let me tell you; it’s a story.
Jill Blakeway: 23:17 So that was how it changed my practice.
Dr. Gundry: 23:21 So as a segue to that, you have a chapter called, “You, the healer.” So you believe that we all have the power to heal ourself? Can you give our audience a few pointers on how you do that?
Jill Blakeway: 23:37 Well the first thing I would say is, yes. I genuinely believe, for instance, that I’m not particularly special, and I think we all have the ability to affect each other. And I believe I make a strong case for that in the book. There’s a lot of research that shows that. And I think we can heal ourselves. I’m always a little careful because I don’t want people who are sick to feel like they failed, you know? I think we can sometimes heal ourselves. And the advice I would give people is to use all the tolls at your disposal. Don’t throw out one because of dogma. And the story I tell in the book in that chapter is about a lovely young man called Madhu Anziani. And Madhu fell out of a window when he was in college, a second floor window, and broke his neck. And he was in college in San Francisco. He was taken to UCSF where he was operated on. And he was paralyzed from the neck down. He was tetraplegic.
Jill Blakeway: 24:39 And Madhu started to, as he came around, he was in a coma for quite a long time, an induced coma. But as he came around, he started to make noises which, as you know, Dr. Gundry, is quite hard to do if you’ve had a traumatic spinal injury, because your diaphragm doesn’t work. But he could feel that vibration through his body. And he was young at the time. He was only 23, but he had the common sense to realize that must mean he had some nervous system left because otherwise he wouldn’t be able to feel it.
Jill Blakeway: 25:10 And so he started to tone. And people taught him mantras, and someone brought him a Tibetan prayer wheel, and his dad would sit him up and help him move it and things like that. And at some point, a nurse told Madhu, “You know, you need to stop hoping that you’re going to walk and work out how to be the best tetraplegic you can be,” which I don’t think was cruel. I think she was just trying to help him.
Jill Blakeway: 25:34 But Madhu said to me, “I knew that was a distinct possibility, Jill, but I just never allowed it to permeate my being.” And after three months, Madhu walked out. Shakily, but he walked out of UCSF. And a year later, he told me he was getting on a plane on his own and going to see his family back in New York.
Jill Blakeway: 25:54 And what I love about that story, Dr. Gundry, is that it took a village. Madhu, I believe, healed his spinal cord with vibration. But he didn’t do that alone. He also was at UCSF, which is a phenomenal hospital. He had very good doctors and surgeons and nurses. He had physical therapy. He had occupational therapy. But he also participated in his own healing in a very empowered way. And he included vibration, the vibration of sound which is very profound and did vibrate his spinal cord in a way that caused it to heal. And so I included that story in my book because I hoped it would inspire people not to just seek a miracle quite separate from the medical system, but to try and get the best of all possible worlds where you can.
Dr. Gundry: 26:45 That’s a fantastic story. I’ve had the pleasure of lecturing at UCSF to their neuro institute, and you’re right. It’s actually one of the finest neuro institutes in the country. Many fine ones, Stanford as well.
Dr. Gundry: 26:59 So how much do you think his brain had on his healing in terms of always expecting that he was going to walk? And how much of it was the vibrational energy that he was empowering, or are they identical?
Jill Blakeway: 27:18 It’s very hard to tease this out in a case like this, isn’t it? How much was the surgery? How much was great physical therapy? I think it’s very hard to tease it out. When I talked to Madhu, he said to me, “I tried to find joy,” and I thought that showed such presence of mind for someone so young, to have gone through something so traumatic and to be facing something so scary and be finding joy.
Jill Blakeway: 27:48 And I did think that his attitude, his mental attitude, had been part of his healing. I also believe that the vibration, and he certainly does, believe that the vibration that he created by endlessly toning and reciting mantras was part of his healing. And Madhu himself is now a sound healer because he believes that so strongly.
Jill Blakeway: 28:10 But you know, everything else also played a very significant role. So teasing that out is tricky. And we may never know what worked more than anything else.
Dr. Gundry: 28:23 Interesting. Okay, so let’s take a quick break.
Speaker 1: 28:26 Dr. Steven Gundry’s latest book, “The Longevity Paradox,” is out now. Like his first New York Times bestseller, “The Plant Paradox,” this will be a game-changer in helping you reverse disease and helping you live a long vital life. Pick up a copy today at your local bookstore, Barnes and Nobel, or amazon. Or, download the audiobook on Audible.
Dr. Gundry: 28:48 So as you know, I teach some unorthodox, I guess, eating principles. And certainly I’ve seen a huge number of changes. So give me a couple of examples of patients that have had a real effect from your practice in using energy medicine.
Jill Blakeway: 29:11 Well the first example I’m going to give is in the book, actually. And it was a patient of mine who I’d seen for relatively minor chronic conditions for a short while. And he was the president of a large financial institution, a very determined man. He came to me one day and told me that he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer. And he told me, “I think you can help me, and I don’t want to do the Western treatment.” Now I have to tell you, Dr. Gundry, and you can tell this about me, I am not one of those people who suggest people ditch Western medicine at all. I’m firmly collaborative and integrative.
Jill Blakeway: 29:52 But we talked to his doctors, and his doctors said prostate cancer is quite slow-growing as you know, that he had three months if he could turn it around. He didn’t want to do the treatments because of the risk of impotence. And in the book, I described this, that the first time I felt the energy come through really strongly through me, and I’ve since found that it does when people are in greater need. But I also think that I was trying harder. I was acutely aware of my responsibility in all this, and really I liked him very much and I really wanted to help him. And after three months, his prostate cancer had gone. He was a very wealthy man, so he was monitored all over the place, at Sloan-Kettering and Johns Hopkins.
Jill Blakeway: 30:39 And that was 15 years ago now, and it has never come back. I’m still in touch with him. He’s an elderly man now, but we’re still friends because we bonded over this experience, and it has never come back. However, and I say this in the book, I don’t know how much that was the energy medicine. I was doing acupuncture but with a lot of energy through the needles, and how much was other things because he was a very determined man, and he changed a lot of things in his life. He changed his diet; he changed his relationship with a lot of things, his relationship with God, his relationship with food. And again, very hard to tease out what worked more than anything else. But for me, it was my first experience of the energy coming through me. And I describe that in the book.
Jill Blakeway: 31:30 So that’s my example, although in our clinic, we have loads of examples. I have a specialty in fertility medicine. We have lots of infertile couples who come to us, and we’re able to help them and they have children. And I’ve done this so long that those children are now going to college, which makes me feel ancient.
Jill Blakeway: 31:50 But you know again, it’s often a lot of things. I prescribe Chinese herbs. I do acupuncture. They change their lifestyle. They change their diet. It’s a sort of team effort, I think.
Dr. Gundry: 32:04 So you could even help if it’s the man’s problem in fertility? Have you seen energy medicine help the man?
Jill Blakeway: 32:13 We do. We treat a lot of male fertility issues at the Yinova Center, and again, we do it with a combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture. But we get very good results. And we know that, of course, because a semen analysis is a very clear thing. Often with women, it’s harder to assess the impact we’re having on egg potential. I don’t like to say “egg quality” so much as the potential of each egg. But with a sperm count or a motility issue, which is how fast they swim or which direction they swim in or a morphology issue which is the shape of the sperm, we’re able to show quite clearly that we’re helping people because they have a follow-up semen analysis and we can see it work.
Dr. Gundry: 32:56 You know I talk about in my new book, “The Longevity Paradox,” that there’s very good data that meditation and even yoga actually changes the gut microbiome. And actually since the publication of that book, there’s a new paper out that shows when a person has a stroke, within a day their gut microbiome changes dramatically.
Dr. Gundry: 33:22 So we’re beginning to realize there’s a huge connection between the brain and our second brain, which lives in our belly. Have you experienced any research that looks at energy medicine and changes in the gut microbiome, something I’m fascinated in?
Jill Blakeway: 33:45 Well I’m interested in that too as a practitioner. In ancient Chinese medicine, long before they knew there was a gut microbiome, they understood that digestion has a big effect on mood and energy, and not just getting nutrients from your food, which obviously has a big effect on your energy, but that supporting a healthy digestive system is vital for body, mind, and spirit.
Jill Blakeway: 34:18 So I think they gathered their evidence from that point empirically, as we say, from experience. But certainly in my own patients, I prescribe probiotics endlessly. I’m actually a huge believer in fermented foods myself, and getting probiotics from food as opposed to pills if you can. But I agree. I think were just on the edge, aren’t we, of understanding how much gut microbiome affects mood, how to use it, and even hormones, I think, will end up finding effects. Yeah.
Jill Blakeway: 34:56 And that excites me hugely. I’m excited to see where we go with that.
Dr. Gundry: 35:02 Great. Since my book, “The Longevity Paradox,” came out, I’ve been asking all my guests what’s one thing our audience can do today for a longer, healthier life? So I’m going to spring that on you. Give me one thing in your area of expertise for a longer, healthier life.
Jill Blakeway: 35:22 Well I’m going to say breathe, which is going to sound really obvious. But I mean breathe deeply. When I submitted my own body to science and found that my heart and my brain were going into resonance, the way I was doing that, and I’d stumbled upon this accidentally, I think, because I wanted to help my patients so badly, was that I was regulating my autonomic nervous system with my breath. And I was modulating, I was creating what in biofeedback they call “heart rate variability,” the ability of my heart to recover really quickly from stress and be variable.
Jill Blakeway: 36:04 And we think of a heartbeat as being regular, but as you know, Dr. Gundry, a healthy heartbeat is adaptable. And so I realized I had done that accidentally with my breath. But with my patients, what I teach them is to breathe regularly and deeply, particularly at moments of stress so that they aren’t taking their fight-or-flight response with them throughout the rest of the day, which I think is what happens. They come into my clinic in the evening, and their shoulders are up around their ears. And they’ve taken every stressful thing that has happened to them during the day, and they’re still behaving as if there’s an enormous crisis. But in fact, whatever crisis it was, and it probably wasn’t enormous, is over.
Jill Blakeway: 36:48 So learning to calm yourself with your breath, I think, is probably my advice to people. And certainly I’ve learned a lot by being able to do that.
Dr. Gundry: 36:59 Yeah I think that’s very good advice. I wear a heart rate variability tracker and aura ring. Years ago, I was one of the principal investigators in a study of who needed to get an automatic defibrillator implanted to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. And we actually looked at heart-rate variability as a determinant of predicting dying from basically your heart stopping. And what we found was the less heart-rate variability, the less beat-to-beat variation, the closer you are to dying, quite frankly. And the more wild swings in heart-rate variability, the actual healthier you are, and the farther you are from dying.
Dr. Gundry: 37:50 So you know obviously I’m looking at this thing on my phone every three seconds going, “Oh, how an I doing?” I don’t mean we’re going to live and die by watching this, but you’re right. There’s actually very good scientific data that shows heart-rate variability is one of those things we really need to impact, and the good news is, like you’re saying, we can impact with simple breathing techniques, among other things.
Dr. Gundry: 38:15 So great suggestion. Great suggestion.
Dr. Gundry: 38:20 Okay, so getting back to where we almost began this. A lot of skepticism, to this day, about all of this: acupuncture, energy healing. They say that all of this is placebo. I disagree. Does your book, because of the science in it, aimed at those skeptics? Should skeptics read your book?
Jill Blakeway: 38:46 I would love skeptics to read my book. There’s nothing I love more than an open skeptic, actually. Again, confirmation bias can throw us off. And people who are just closed skeptics have their own confirmation biases. But I would love people with an open heart to read this book, but read it skeptically. I looked at the placebo effect quite closely, and in this book I dedicated a whole chapter to it because of course it is interesting in and of itself, because it’s just interesting that we can prompt people to self-heal.
Jill Blakeway: 39:20 And as you know, there’s research that shows that the placebo effect changes our body chemistry. There’s interesting research, for instance, out of the University of Turin that looked Parkinson’s patients, and when they were given a saline solution, just salt and water, and told that it was a drug, they produced their own dopamine. So that shows the effect of our minds on our body. And I looked at the placebo effect. I once gave a TED talk about placebos. I’ve always been very interested in the way we’re able to heal ourselves and the various prompts we give to do that.
Jill Blakeway: 39:57 But I did conclude that there’s enough evidence that acupuncture isn’t purely a placebo, and that actually even the more hands-on techniques that people often dismiss as placebo, reiki, therapeutic touch, those are not purely placebo, either. Chi Gung masters, that’s the Chinese version of hands-on healing, when they’re in their meditaTions, they emit frequencies from their hands that are a thousand times stronger than the strongest frequencies we usually measure in the body, which are the ones around our heart.
Jill Blakeway: 40:32 So the energy that comes out of a healer’s hands can be measured. So it’s not all placebo, by any means, but I think the placebo effect should not be played down either because I think it’s very important.
Dr. Gundry: 40:46 Well good for you for saying that. I think a lot of critics and skeptics are shocked to hear you say, “Well, the placebo effect might be a part of this.” I’m going to share one other almost personal story. I have a very dear friend who’s a yogini, a yoga instructor. And she also has healing touch. And years ago, I asked her, “Well, aren’t you absorbing negative energy from people that you’re healing? ” She said, “Yes, it’s actually one of the bad things that can happen.” I said, “Well, how do you dissipate it?” And she said, “Well, I really haven’t figured out a way to dissipate it yet.” She always used her right hand. And I said, “You’ve got to figure out a way of dissipating this or it’s going to get you.”
Dr. Gundry: 41:34 Well, fast forward several years, she actually developed a frozen shoulder so much so that all of her techniques, had to get an operation to release her frozen shoulder. And afterwards she called me, she said, “You know I always think back to that time you and I were sitting around and saying, ‘How are you going to dissipate the negative energy?'” So I saw firsthand that I think these things that seem like pseudoscience are very real. Even my good friend Mehmet Oz, actually, had a study in the operating room where he brought in people with healing touch right before heart surgery to see the effect. And he could document an effect as well. So, good for you.
Jill Blakeway: 42:26 Thank you.
Dr. Gundry: 42:27 That’s really good. All right. So, how do you find a good energy practitioner, a reputable one-
Jill Blakeway: 42:35 I think that’s a really good question, Dr. Gundry. In the book, I have a whole section on how to spot a charlatan. And we should probably start there. And what I found, interestingly enough, is I didn’t find that many people who didn’t have any talent at all and were charging lots of money and just conning people. But I did see some, but they were few and far between. I did see exploitative people here and there who were exploiting the power they had over patients for sex or money or social advancements and things like that. And I give details in the book about that. But I talked to the head of psychiatry and law at Harvard, a man called Dr. Thomas Gutheil who is a forensic psychiatrist.
Jill Blakeway: 43:18 And he told me to be very wary of people who were a cult of one, and also too that a good practitioner really only gets two things from their patients, their fee and the satisfaction of having done a good job. So anyone who is trying to get more out of you than that, you should be wary of, I think.
Jill Blakeway: 43:37 And I think it’s important to protect yourself because this is an area… Acupuncturists are licensed and board-certified, which means they’re held to a minimum standard of education and of ethics. And they would lose their license if they were unethical.
Jill Blakeway: 43:52 In other parts of energy medicine, education is varied and ethics are not monitored. I can reassure people that the vast majority of healers I met were awesome people helping their patients and doing a great job. But word of mouth is probably the way to go. Acupuncturists, you can go to your state office of the professions because they’re all licensed and board certified, so that’s helpful. But if you’re looking for more of a hands-on healer, word-of-mouth and then see how you feel. And then weed out the people who are trying to get more out of you than a fee that is reasonable for the amount of work, and their satisfaction of doing a good job.
Dr. Gundry: 44:37 And a follow-up with that, is any of this covered by insurance or Medicare?
Jill Blakeway: 44:44 It varies. The more hands-on healing techniques are rarely covered, unfortunately. Acupuncture, as you know, can be covered. And it depends on your policy, and it also depends on what you’re seeking acupuncture for. So some insurance companies will cover acupuncture for pain, for example, but not for internal medicine, things like fertility, some of the things that I do. So I always tell people, check with your insurer. You may have acupuncture benefits, that is the more standard end of the energy medicine business. And because acupuncturists are licensed and board certified, we’re more likely to be covered by insurance.
Dr. Gundry: 45:27 Okay. Very good. Dr. Blakeway, thanks for coming on. How do people find your new book, “Energy Medicine,” and learn more about you?
Jill Blakeway: 45:36 Well, it is everywhere. It’s called, “Energy Medicine: The science and mystery of healing.” It’s in all good book stores and it’s online. It came out not so long ago, so it should be in your local book store. Or it’s available at all the online book stores. And I would love you to read it, and I would love people to let me know what they think.
Dr. Gundry: 45:56 And you have a practice in New York City. Can people find you online besides just the book?
Jill Blakeway: 46:04 Yes. You can find us… We’re an “us,” not just a “me.” I work with 18 really talented practitioners of Chinese medicine alongside massage therapists and other kinds of practitioners. And we have two offices in New York: one in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan. And we’re called the Yinova Center. Y-I-N-O-V-A. And you can find us at yinovacenter.com. And we have a very lively blog. There’s lots of information on there.
Dr. Gundry: 46:33 All right. Well thanks again for coming on, and get this book. Believe it or not, energy medicine is real. And skeptics, find out how real it is.
Dr. Gundry: 46:46 All right. It’s time for our audience question. A YouTube subscriber asks, “Do your DNA and location have an effect on our ability to break down foods differently from others.” Hey that’s actually a really good question. The only evidence we have so far is that in people who have lon-term been exposed to a high carbohydrate diet, particularly a high grain-based diet, they begin to more amylase, which is an enzyme that breaks down starches, in the saliva of their mouth. And this can be documented, particularly in the Middle East, where the original grains were. There’s been some evidence that, as those people moved and bread with Europeans with Africans, that they also passed on that ability to make more amylase.
Dr. Gundry: 47:49 But in general, that’s the only objective DNA evidence that where you’re born is going to influence how you’re going to react to foods. So having said that, we now have such an incredible cornucopia of foods from around the world, and people from around the world have intermingled, that any specific DNA advantage of a particular ethic group or location is rapidly being diluted out.
Dr. Gundry: 48:22 Good question. So, thanks for having us in your ears or on your phone or computer, and we’ll see you next week because I’m Dr. Gundry, and I’m always looking out for you and your energy.
Dr. Gundry: 48:38 Let’s get to this week’s Review of the Week. Christina228 writes, “Thank you for looking out for us. I really appreciate you sharing this podcast and providing additional evidence to help everyone I pass this on to, my family and friends, and we are all most grateful for you.”
Dr. Gundry: 48:55 Well thank you. Again, this is why I do this. We’re getting the message of health out to whoever will listen, and I’ll keep it up. Keep writing back.
Dr. Gundry: 49:05 If you’d like me to read your review, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review my podcast on iTunes. If you’re listening on your mobile device, take a screenshot. Share your favorite takeaway, and add a tag me in your Insta-Stories. I’ll make sure to to re-share them in mine.
Dr. Gundry: 49:25 Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Dr. Gundry podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you want to watch each episode of the Dr. Gundry podcast, you can always find on YouTube me at YouTube.com/DrGundry, because I’m Dr. Gundry, and I’m always looking out for you.