Noah: Welcome to DC2Be Revolution. Helping chiropractic students think big in order to live large. I'm your host Noah Volz and today I'm here with Dr. Alan Goldhamer. He is up in Santa Rosa, California and he's doing some really innovative multidisciplinary health care. Thank you Dr. Goldhamer for being here.
I just wanted to start off and talk about some of the research that you've done. It seems like you've been busy publishing a lot of really interesting and exciting research and I was hoping that you could talk a little bit about that and then provide any advice for students on how we can also conduct good quality research either in school or once we get into practice.
Dr. Goldhamer: We have a unique situation here at the True North Health center because we do have both inpatient and outpatient care so we have people actually staying with us and as well as outpatient practice. We have 12 clinicians here: four medical doctors, three chiropractors, four naturopaths and a clinical psychologist. We have acupuncture, we've got all kinds of different people that make up the staff equaling 53 full-time employees at True North health. It is really the only chiropractic directed inpatient facility operating in the United States and so it lends itself to research.
Essentially we're a human subject’s laboratory. We're actually designed to be able to ask and answer those questions that are related and relevant to getting patients well with our approaches in nutritional medicine. So we're using diet, sleep, exercise, as well as conservative care including manipulative therapy to help patients overcome their problems. Most of the people we see are actually patients that have things like cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, and lymphoma. We treat patients with conditions of dietary excess that are reversible by controlling diet, sleep, exercise and medically supervised fasting. We have patients doing fasting up to 40 days on water only.
We have been able to publish a number of studies. In our first paper we took 174 consecutive patients with high blood pressure and we put them through a period of five to twenty six days of water only fasting. Long enough to normalize their blood pressure and they implemented an exclusively plant food based diet that is sugar, oil, and salt (SOS) free. We're able to demonstrate what turned out to be the largest effect ever shown in treating high blood pressure in humans. I published this paper with my co-author T Colin Campbell from Cornell University. It appeared in the Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics and it was our first attempt at objectifying the chiropractic approach to managing the leading cause of death and disability, which is high blood pressure and of course the results were tremendous.
All patients ended up eliminating the need for medications. We then published a second paper that actually appeared a year later in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and that was looking at people that had borderline hypertension and using the same approach of fasting and a plant-based SOS free diet and we're able to demonstrate proportional results. These are significant because 68% of the people that die from the consequence of high blood pressure don't have pressure high enough to justify the risks of taking drugs. The reason they don't give everybody drugs for high blood pressure is because more people would die from the drugs then from the high blood pressure. So unless your level of hypertension is raised to a relatively high level, that is about 160 milligrams of mercury so those people that have borderline levels of hypertension you don't want to medicate them. They are completely responsive to conservative Chiropractic. Which is diet, sleep, exercise and in our case the use of medically supervised fasting. We then began publishing case reports on more specific conditions. Most recently we had a patient with stage 3 follicular lymphoma, this is lymph cancer involving the upper and lower extremity. She had very large palpable lesions. Her primary doctor was not supportive. He said the diet didn't matter and that fasting was criminal quackery. Her oncologist wasn't really much more supportive. He also didn't think diet was relevant, but told her if it'd make her feel better to do whatever and then they could begin conventional treatment.
She had been progressing for about two years without benefit because the medical treatment for lymphoma is not particularly effective. So in the this case she underwent twenty-one days of water-only fasting during which time her tumors completely disappeared, she recovered, refeeding for ten days and went back to the oncologist. Who did a double take because the examiner couldn't find any lesions. They checked her chart and asked her what happened and she says well she went to the chiropractor and did the fasting and the tumors all went away. The oncologist was a little bit surprised and said he would have to give us a call. Because she was still neutropenic he thought it would still be a good idea to do some chemotherapy. She decided to defer on that and to continue to follow the diet. Long story short after a year her white count normalized, she still had no evidence of tumors and her oncologist gave her a clear bill of health.
We decided to publish this case report, we had pre and post CT scans. We had all the follow-up data and so I wrote to him and I said “thank you so much for all the confidence you've showed and referring their patients for chiropractic care and conservative management of lymphoma and as I'm sure you expect of course she's gone into remission and we're looking forward to working with you and tracking her success in the years to come.” Now that our papers been submitted and accepted for publication. All of our papers and all the studies that I've mentioned are available on our website at True North Health Center under the Learning Channel. There are many other case reports there, some videos and lots of good content available. I would like to mention that we have a program available for students which is part of the preceptorship or peak experience. They can come for a month, they can come for the last quarter of school or we also have a residency program or people come for longer periods of time where they can actually work in an integrative medical setting. Students can work with patients that are sick that actually get well that's the most novel experience for most of our students. For the first time they get to see people recover from diabetes and hypertension and autoimmune diseases and these other conditions that we routinely treat.
We do it using chiropractic methodology, that is the use of diet that is an exclusively plant food diet free of sugar oil and salt, exercise, fitness training, sleep hygiene, chiropractic manipulation, and physiotherapy. We have naturopaths, acupuncture, and some other modalities we use in addition to chiropractic adjustments and this approach just like they teach you at school actually works. You can get patients that are willing to do dangerous and radical things like eat good and exercise and go to bed on time. When appropriate, to do a fast and so it's very exciting for us in terms of doing the research and it's exciting for students to actually develop the skills that it takes to actually get sick people well.
Noah: Many people go into chiropractic school or really any medical training to get people well and get out into practice and that's not always the reality and so I wonder was there anything early on in your career that guided you in this specific direction?
My colleague, in fact he's our clinical psychologist here, Dr. Doug Lyall and I grew up together from fourth grade and he always used to beat me in basketball and that really pissed me off. I practiced but it didn't help so I thought well I'll get healthier so I looked into things like chiropractic care and nutrition. I thought well I'll just get healthier and then I'll crush him. The problem is he adopted the same diet and lifestyle changes. To this day he still beats me badly so it was a terrible failure, but it did get me interested in this whole kind of approach. I was motivated in part by my uncle who was a medical doctor, who said that nobody should go to a chiropractor. He said that I could not become a chiropractor, he said better I become a communist spy. My father took me aside and he said you know your uncle is a very prominent physician and he does not like this idea of you becoming a chiropractor and he said anything that makes him that angry and mad well it can't be all bad; so good luck to you. With that he encouraged me and it was ironic actually, up until that time he wouldn't review our data and so it was published in a Peer Review Journal. Two months before our first paper came out he died of a cardiac arrest and to this day my mother swears he died just so he wouldn't have to admit he was wrong.
Noah: I'm really glad that your father was so supportive and really saw how important that was to you. It seems like you have been given a great opportunity to teach. Can you talk about what kind of curriculum you've been able to offer and subjects?
Dr. Goldhamer: The classes that I've taught, including for a number of years at Bastyr University was how to do a clinical fast. What I'm doing now is Grand Rounds with a number of the schools once a year and do a presentation on an overview of the work that we're doing, the research that we're doing, and the application of the aggressive approach with diet, sleep, exercise, and fasting to treat some of these chronic degenerative diseases. I'd like to also mention there's a number of patients that many chiropractors occasionally come into contact with. They have chronic back pain or inflammatory conditions that don't respond to outpatient care alone and most of our patients they come in with their back pain, their headaches, and you treat them and they get well.
That's the end of it but every once in a while you get somebody that takes a more aggressive kind of approach you have to control their environment, their lifestyle. That's one of the cool things at True North health centers, because here were able to control their diet, their sleep, their exercise, and fitness training. Their environment as a whole and so we can really put that whole package together and oftentimes that's necessary to help these people that have these very significant chronic degenerative conditions that don't respond to outpatient care alone.
Sometimes it's just getting them to quit smoking and giving them their drugs and unwinding all that allopathic treatment that's creating so many problems. Including inconsistent chiropractic care so you know it's nice to see, but even in those cases that maybe are difficult to manage on an outpatient basis. We do have another option which is to put them in what we call the last resort because it's oftentimes where people come when they're really seriously motivated. Oftentimes that means very seriously ill.
Noah: There is not much that's new about changing people's diet and lifestyle and sleep habits for improving their health and so have you found that your treatment programs or protocols have changed a lot over time or have they stayed pretty constant?
Dr. Goldhamer: I've been in practice 32 years, here the difference is we can explain why it works better. It's the same thing that DD Palmer figured out, that restoring normal joint function was a positive thing, but now we can explain better why it is we can see the results that we can see. We're maybe a little bit more sophisticated about it. We determine who is likely to respond and who’s not. We say we specialize in treating patients, they're going to have good results because it turns out that if you have patients that are highly motivated and they end up with good results they'll put up with pretty much whatever. Including changing their diet, using their body properly, exercising. I have to admit we see everybody else's best patients, their most motivated. Either motivated by intellect or motivated by pain. Whatever it is, I don't care as long as they do what we tell them to do.
If they get a good result and make us look good I'm happy, and they do forgive you even for a fast up to 40 days. That's not a simple process. It requires a motivated patient, but in the end they're perfectly happy and satisfied because they've overcome their problems.
Noah: What systems do you have in place to help people with their behavior?
We have a book called “The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force.” It reminds us health and happiness, and it is written by myself and also our psychologist Dr. Lisle, who happens to be like one of the brightest people I've ever met and he's a behavioral cognitive psychologist who has a very good understanding of what it is that motivates human beings to make the decisions they make. He's very helpful in helping us come up with strategies for individuals when they're ready to make diet and lifestyle changes. The biggest motivating factor for most people is pain. It drives behavioral change and so if you have a strategy that helps people eliminate their pain, you can get their attention and that's where chiropractors have a huge advantage. Because one of the most effective ways of dealing with many of the common sources of pain is actually the use of chiropractic adjustments in conjunction with exercise and physical therapy.
It works so well we can get people out of pain and oftentimes they're willing to listen to you about what it's going to take to actually get healthy and stay healthy. In addition to the exogenous treatments we provide. The big issue is getting their diets and exercise right. These are the same things chiropractors been telling people since the beginning of chiropractic care, but having the access to control the environment allows us to help overcome some of the resistance that many patients have. That's sticking with it long enough to get enough results. Then they are motivated. If you just tell a patient to go home and eat a good diet and they feel like crap for a few days because they're detoxifying from their pleasure trap addictions they're not going to be successful, but if you can get them to the point where a good food tastes good and good food feels good. Then you've got a fighting chance. We have a fitness trainer, he can show people where they're at; on how they begin to use their body properly; and motivate them.
Now they get some success and their willingness to follow your program and it's difficult when you're a chiropractor and you're trying to have a hundred patient contacts a day and you're trying to move them through an office practice setting. It's difficult to get the time to do the intensive diet and lifestyle education. We have three classes a day so they're going through yoga, meditation, sleep hygiene, diet, cooking classes and other lectures. We have 52 DVDs that they go through all these different subjects so they're getting this intense education because they're in a controlled setting.
They've got nothing else to do except get educated, follow our protocols, undergo the treatment and do what we have to do. It's a really intense environment, the average stay is two or three weeks. We can really do a lot and that type of intense educational setting where we are chipping away at it and the outpatient office can be a bit challenging sometimes. I prefer inpatient because you have full immersion with the patient and you control every aspect of their environment.
Noah: Why aren't more centers doing something similar?
Dr. Goldhamer: One of the challenges are economics. We've figured out a way to do it really inexpensively. The patient's stay here are all inclusive. They are seen twice a day by staff doctors, the educational programs, even the incidental services like doing their laundry. Everything is included at a rate that's less than the local hotel. Everything's included, but we are a 501c3 nonprofit research based organization. As a consequence you know we don't have a lot of the pressures that other places might have in terms of stockholders and investors. We're able to offer a very affordable opportunity for people to be with you for weeks on end, because people have to be able to afford the care and it's certainly not reimbursed at least inpatient care is not reimbursed by third-party payers. That's probably been one of our biggest accomplishments. It's figuring out a way to provide a high degree of high quality care with excellent professionals and yet still make it affordable.
The Master Student: Book 1:
Mindset:The Ultimate Guide to Success, Enjoyment and Productivity as a Chiropractic College Student
Writing with originality, generosity, compassion and purpose, Dr. Noah Volz imparts valuable lessons in an entertaining, engaging and snappy way―backed by a wealth of experience. As an author, chiropractor, and entrepreneur, he has started and run multiple companies and has been the host of the DC2Be Revolution YouTube channel and podcast.