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In this episode, you will learn about how to tap into your full health potential with the science-backed power of herbs.
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About My Guest
My guest for this episode is Dr. Bill Rawls. As a licensed physician for over 30 years, Bill Rawls, MD has dedicated his life to medicine. When a health crisis in his early forties abruptly changed his quality of life, he came face to face with the limitations of modern medicine and began to explore the vast possibilities of alternative treatments. Restoring his health through holistic and herbal therapies inspired him to share his revelations on the importance of cellular wellness. Today, he works to bring health and vitality to others as he helps them establish their own paths to wellness through modern herbology.
- Are the SOS signals released by cells similar in concept to the Cell Danger Response?
- What tools might be helpful in support of the mitochondria?
- How important is killing a bug as compared to immune modulation?
- How can cells be protected from becoming a microbes next meal?
- What tools are available to support autophagy?
- What herbs may be helpful in modulating the immune response?
- Can herbs be used with pharmaceuticals? What interactions may need to be considered?
- What are some favorite adaptogens?
- How might Shilajit support health recovery?
- Do antimicrobial herbs negatively impact beneficial flora?
- What diet should one consider to improve health?
- What tools may support the body in dealing with EMFs?
- hat approaches can support calming of the nervous system?
- What are collagen crunchers? How might structural integrity be supported?
Connect With My Guest
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July 14, 2022
Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast. They are not a full replacement for the discussion. Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation. Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed. Please Contact Me with any corrections.
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. Now, here’s Scott, your Better Health Guy.
[00:00:14] ANNOUNCER: The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today’s discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or is information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:34] SCOTT: Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode number 169 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts Series. Today's guest is Dr. Bill Rawls, and the topic of the show is The Cellular Wellness Solution. As a licensed physician for over 30 years, Dr. Bill Rawls has dedicated his life to medicine. When a health crisis in his early 40s abruptly changed his quality of life, he came face to face with the limitations of modern medicine and began to explore the vast possibilities of alternative treatments. Restoring his health through holistic and herbal therapies inspired him to share his revelations on the importance of cellular wellness.
Today, he works to bring health and vitality to others as he helps them establish their own paths to wellness through modern herbology. And now, my interview with Dr. Bill Rawls.
[00:01:28] SCOTT: This is Dr. Rawls’ third appearance on the podcast. He was one of my very first guests just over five years ago. Check out episode number 4 and episode number 107 to hear our prior conversations. He just released his latest book, The Cellular Wellness Solution: Tap Into Your Full Health Potential With the Science-Backed Power of Herbs. Thanks for being here, Dr. Rawls.
[00:01:52] DR. RAWLS: Oh, pleasure, Scott. Thank you for having me back.
[00:01:55] SCOTT: Of course. We touched on this a little bit in our prior conversations. I'd love people to hear just a little bit of your own health journey with chronic illness that led you to the passion you have today to help so many others. What were ultimately the primary issues that you uncovered that were leading to a decline in your own health?
[00:02:14] DR. RAWLS: Well, it was not paying attention is what it was. I've been a physician for about 30 years. I went into obstetrics and gynecology, as far as my training. Because I was just really captivated with that wellness aspect of that specialty. It was dealing with young people who were healthy and wanted to stay that way. Bringing life into the world, bringing a new baby into the world was fantastic. I enjoyed the surgical component.
Small town practice of OB-GYN, I was doing call every second or third night. I was just one of those doctors that if I had somebody that was in labor, or somebody in the hospital, I just couldn't sleep when I was on call. I was 15, or 20 years of being totally sleep deprived of just not getting sleep. Back then, there was a serious question, do we really need sleep? This is a waste of time. I was just pushing through it.
It caught up with me in my late 40s. I crashed, and just everything. Doctors really couldn't find anything. My thyroid was fine. All my labs were fine. I identified with Fibromyalgia, but kept coming back to this thing that I heard about Lyme disease. I knew I had been bitten by ticks my whole life. I kept coming back to that, even though my initial tests were negative. Finally, like a lot of people with Fibromyalgia, dug deep enough until I got a positive test. It's like, okay, now I know what's wrong and I can fix me. Did antibiotics. They just made me sicker.
Through this journey, I realized that this thing we call chronic Lyme disease is really quite a bit more complex. It was an open door that helped me understand all of chronic illness in a different way. It also led me to my personal recovery using herbal therapy. Over about a five-year period, I regain my health completely. I'm pleased to say that at age 65, I'm living a great life. I'm doing a lot of things that I thought I was going to lose in my 50s. Here I am living a perfectly normal life. It's really extraordinary. I feel like I owe a lot of that to using herbs for a decade and a half.
[00:04:57] SCOTT: Beautiful, beautiful. Interestingly, my initial diagnosis was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but also Fibromyalgia. Similar to you. I mean, it took a long time. No one talked about Lyme. I think there was maybe one practitioner that tested for Lyme, but never even had a conversation with me about it. That didn't show anything. It took eight years before we even stumbled onto that. Herbs certainly have been a top tool in my toolbox as well.
In the book, you talk about the factors that promote wellness, so nourish, move, defend, calm, purify, we're going to talk about those. Also, those things that promote illness. Poor diet, physical stress, microbial stressors, mental stress and a toxic environment, you discuss the persistence of Borrelia in chronic Lyme, that the spirochete is likely not fully eradicated from the body. Fortunately, it doesn't need to be to regain health. I'm wondering, do you think that we might be having that same conversation in the future around chronic COVID, that it may actually be more of a persistent COVID?
[00:06:02] DR. RAWLS: The things that we recognize, I think, are just scratching the surface. That's where my journey has carried me to look at this really complex relationship with microbes. 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, people were talking about our microbiome, in terms of the bacteria in our gut, and on our skin. Really, only areas that were open to the outside environment.
Where my journey is showing me is that we were a community that extends into our tissues, into our blood. I was just reading. I mean, some are getting ready for your interview and some of the questions that you sent, I was doing a literature search, and I came upon a brand-new study, looking at L-form bacteria in the blood. What an L-form bacteria is, is a bacteria that enters our cells, gives up its cell wall and is able to replicate using other means beyond standard bacterial replication, and is able to just exist inside cells, like macrophages and other cells in the body.
Borrelia has that capability. Bartonella, Chlamydia, all of these microbes that we associate with Lyme disease, but also, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus that they didn't think, well, they actually can do that. Yeah. These studies, I’ve found studies that we have bacteria in our brain. We have a microbiome, essentially, of the brain of bacteria that live there inside our cells. In our blood, in our brain. That means we have bacteria and viruses and other microbes spread throughout our body.
Yes, the presence. Particular scientific study was looking at that conversation. Well, some of these bacteria probably is symbiotic. They may have some purpose inside our cell, but then others not so much. If the cell is unhealthy, it can lead to pathology. Yeah, these L-forms, these bacteria that live inside cells are very resistant to antibiotics.
It appears that we have a micro presence within us that is stronger than anybody ever thought. It's fascinating. I don't know quite where we're going with all of it, but just the idea that it is there I think is something to really pay attention to.
[00:08:53] SCOTT: I think your point is really an important one, and that I talked to people all the time. I think we're going to talk more about this. I talk to people all the time that think that they are needing to kill, kill, kill. That their body needs to be sterile in order to recover. That they have to eradicate every Borrelia, Bartonella and Babesia. My opinion is that that's not really realistic, that we can reduce them to the point that we hopefully no longer have symptoms, and then our immune system manages them.
I know for some of my listeners, that's a depressing thought. For me, it's actually an empowering one, because I don't think it's realistic to eradicate all of these pathogens. To your earlier point, I don't know that we could even survive if we eradicated too many of these things. I think, it's a more hopeful perspective that we are more microbe than human in many ways and that we don't need to think of it as a war to recover health.
[00:09:53] DR. RAWLS: I think that's really important. I think there are more and more people that are coming to that conclusion. This bombardment and this all out, do or die war against our bacteria. To me, what Lyme disease is and really, again, when you're talking about chronic Lyme disease, I think you're talking about a model of any kind of chronic illness, most kinds of chronic illness. It's an assault on our cells. It's this complex relationship with ourselves.
Where I am in with the whole thing is recognizing that cellular health is so remarkably important that we all have bacteria. I'm sure I picked up, who knows how many different tick-borne microbes when I was a child. I spent my whole youth out in the woods. Ticks were every day. I know I had those things in my system. It wasn't until I stressed my cells chronically. Not sleeping, for diet, eating on the run, just stress, stress, stress, stress of every variety.
When you chronically stress your cells, they lose the ability to defend themselves. When we talk about our internal defenses, a lot of emphasis is put on the immune system. One really interesting aspect of my journey is understanding that healthy cells can defend themselves. They have processes. There's a process called autophagy, that cells rebuild themselves. They break down old material, old mitochondria, proteins, etc. Turn that down into the amino acids and recirculate it. It's just cellular efficiency. It's also how cells expel intracellular microbes, pathogens. If cells are healthy, they can defend themselves. If they're stressed, though, the pathogen is going to win out.
[00:12:13] SCOTT: I guess, we're fortunate that we all live in a stress-free world today, right? In the new book, you focus on what happens at a cellular level and how we support health by supporting the cells that make up our tissues, our organs, and ultimately, our bodies. You talk about how injured cells release chemical substances that send an SOS signal to the brain. I'm wondering if that concept is similar to Dr. Bob Naviaux’s Cell Danger Response model? What are some of the primary things that you think trigger the cell to send out this SOS signal?
[00:12:51] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. Well, what I'm talking about here, I was not familiar with the Cell Danger Response model. I was looking at other data, looking at cellular functions. But I did research and it's fascinating and certainly, it complements everything that I've been studying and writing about. This idea that, yeah, I mean, it just makes sense, really. If you stepped wrong and twist your ankle, you have injured cells in those joints. Injured cells, cells that are acutely injured release chemical substances that are designed to activate nerves that basically let the brain know that something is going on wrong.
This cell composite that we are made of trillions of cells, all of our cells have to work together for us to function as a unit. When we talk about hormones and chemical messengers, what all that is just cell signaling of cells communicating with each other, so they can work together. Basically, the brain is leading the charge. The brain is sensing everything that's going on in the outer environment, but also, sensing what's going on inside the body, too. That if you have a group of cells that are injured in some way, the brain is going to take that signal and send the correct responses there to help repair those cells, or help repair that tissue. It's a pretty common sense thing.
That's what he's suggesting in the Cell Danger Response model that when cells are chronically stressed, then metabolic functions are disrupted. You get dysfunctional signaling that can be associated with chronic illness. Reading his theories, I think they're right on par, except for, I think, he hasn't really taken a look at this intracellular microbe component with the whole thing. You add that into his theories and it's going, “Oh, yeah.” Now, we're looking at a real understanding of chronic illness, to understand cells that have been chronically stressed, the microbe component, disrupted metabolic functions. Yeah, I think that we're fundamentally, that's how we ought to be looking at every chronic illness.
[00:15:32] SCOTT: Another paradigm that you bring into the book is the idea that chronic illness is a state of low energy. That brings us to the mitochondrial discussion. I've been learning about this over the past few years from Dr. Todd Watts, and the focus on mitochondria as being super critical to support and regain health, to have the energy currency to do what the body needs to do. I'm interested in what are some of the tools that you think about to support the mitochondria? Are you more focused on removing those factors that stress the mitochondria, like the environmental toxicants? Or maybe the pathogens? Or are you more focused on supporting the mitochondria? Or maybe doing both of those?
Then extending on that discussion, do you find that when these SOS signals are present and the body is going into more of a protective hypo metabolic state, that essentially is the body putting on the brakes as a protective mechanism, that coming in and aggressively supporting the mitochondria, which to me is almost like pressing on the accelerator, do you find that potentially creates new problems that we need to be gentle in how we start supporting mitochondrial function?
[00:16:48] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. I think those are all good questions and ones that I have thought through just writing the book. A lot of it is just common sense. All cells have to have energy to function. They draw cells from mitochondria, different cells, like skin cells only have about a 100 mitochondria per cell, because they don't use a lot of energy. Heart cells, 5,000 mitochondria per cell, because they're pumping out. They really rely on a lot of energy. Mitochondria are the source of energy for a cell. It's like a battery.
If you stress the cell, then it's going to run down that mitochondrial battery and they're going to – and it needs to be recovered. You burn out your mitochondria, you have to circulate and build new mitochondria, which is part of that autophagy process that we mentioned. When you stress cells intermittently, then they rebuild the mitochondria efficiently and the cell almost comes back stronger. Here, it's like training with exercise. Intermittent training, you stress that cell, it recirculates, it gets stressed, it recirculates its mitochondria, it rebuilds. Then when you come back, you're even a little bit better than you were after that transient stress.
With chronic illnesses, we're talking about chronic stress that me not sleeping. Cells need downtime to recover, and you need that sleep. I wasn't sleeping. I was eating on the run. I was just running high adrenaline levels all the time. You chronically stressed your cells, and they don't have time to – they don't have the ability to rebuild, regenerate and recirculate new mitochondria. You basically use up the battery. You burn it out. This is happening to cells throughout the body, so that you dwindle down.
Mitochondria, now when you look at mitochondria to generate energy, the price is free radicals. The energy generating machines inside the mitochondria are constantly getting burned out, and the mitochondria has to constantly replace those things. You get to the point where the mitochondria just burns out completely, so you have to rebuild new mitochondria. In a chronic stress situation, it's not that you've drain your battery down, you've run the battery's dead, and you need to replace them. You're not able to do that if the stresses don't let up.
When you look at mitochondrial resuscitation, everybody out there is throwing raw materials at the mitochondria. We're taking NADH and coenzyme Q10 and all of these different nutrients. Well, those are the raw materials that the cell needs to rebuild that internal working parts inside the mitochondria. If your mitochondria are burned out, it can't do that. Loading those things in, you’re correct, Scott, just loading too much of it in. I don't know that you're really doing any harm, but you're not really – you're not helping that much either.
The only real solution is you got to give them a break. You got to let the stress up. For me, I had to sleep. I had to eat better to nourish my cells better. I had to really pay attention to my stress level. Very importantly, I took herbs. I talk about herbs from the point of view of the antimicrobial aspects. Wow, when you look at what the herbs are doing, as far as mitochondrial resuscitation, it's really important, because the herbs are counteracting every single cellular stress factor. We know there are many, many herbs have anti-diabetic properties. They're protecting us from eating too much carbohydrate.
Not to say, we all shouldn't cut back. But still, you're getting some extra protection. They are helping to neutralize toxins, neutralize free radicals, neutralize radiation, and helping to suppress those microbes, so that our immune system isn't working so hard, so every known cellular stress factor is being counteracted by the chemistry of the herbs when we take them. Wow.
What we're doing is we're giving ourselves a break, so they can recover, so they can rebuild mitochondria. That process called autophagy is a really interesting process. I actually found a study looking at a lot of the herbs we use, like Japanese knotweed and Chinese skullcap were actually helping to preserve autophagy, which is preserving the ability, or enhancing the ability to recycle those components and recycle mitochondria. I found out. It makes common sense when you go through it. I actually found all the supporting evidence to support to say, yeah, it really is happening that way, which is cool.
[00:22:37] SCOTT: Autophagy, mitophagy, that janitorial service of the mitochondria as well, and we're going to talk more about that. You, also in the book suggests that cells that make up our tissues are potential food sources for microbes. I found that interesting. I'm curious, is it that the organisms literally are consuming the cells? Or is it that the organisms become intracellular and consume the resources of the cell?
[00:23:06] DR. RAWLS: Both. Yeah. All living things are food for something else. All right. It starts, all energy that is used by life on earth comes from the sun. We depend on plants. Plants take the energy from the sun, and lock that energy into complex organic molecules. Glucose, carbohydrates, fats. A little bit in protein, not quite as much. All organic molecules have energy from the sun contained within them. Glucose and fats are basically the energy currency for all life on Earth. All organic molecules contain energy that can be lived used by other living organisms. Basically, yes, it's true. All living things are food for something else. Everything.
[00:24:04] SCOTT: You talk in the book about the three primary defenses that protect ourselves from becoming a pathogen’s next meal, physical barriers, immune system, normal flora. What are some of your approaches for supporting these primary cellular defenses?
[00:24:22] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. I would probably add a fourth on there, just exploring it deeper, just this autophagy process of cells defending themselves, too, which I'm seeing now as more and more important in this pathway. We all need a healthy immune system. That's basically the defense mechanism barriers. We don't think about the fact that our skin and the linings of their intestines are keeping microbes out. I mean, that's a big part of what they do. Our intestinal tract contains all the microbes inside our gut. If you rupture your intestines and the bacteria get out, it's not good, because they enter your tissues. Free for all.
All living things have to eat. Bacteria have to eat and what they eat is organic molecules of various kinds. When I'd say that we eat, basically, why we eat, why bacteria eat is to gain the raw materials, organic molecules to produce energy and to build new parts. Yeah, all bacteria have to eat something and they eat other organic molecules and host dependent bacteria, viruses, protozoa, yeast, are basically utilizing the organic molecules of a host. We don't want that, so we have skin and barriers to keep them out.
What an infection technically is, is a microbe crossing a barrier. Skin infection is just bacteria trying to break through that skin barrier. A respiratory infection is bacteria, or viruses trying to break through the barriers in the lungs. What happens though, is all these barriers are leaky. Bacteria do get through the skin. They do get outside the gut. They do make it through the lungs. We have the backup system of our immune system that basically places white blood cells of various kinds, it sentries at all the borders. 70% of the immune system lines with the gut, because they're constantly bacteria leaking through from our gut into the bloodstream.
There are white blood cells waiting constantly of various different varieties. Then our normal flora. When you think about it, all these things that I took for granted, and then you have to think through and go, okay, we've got pathogens inside the gut. But our immune system doesn't get inside the food material, inside the gut, so what's keeping them down? What's keeping those from just exploding? Well, our normal flora is.
It's not that our normal flora are especially friendly to us. It's just that we have a very long-standing relationship to them. These bacteria produce substances that keep our pathogens in our gut, or on our skin in check. … like yeah, we're going to give you a little food and let you hanging around, because you're useful. So our immune system doesn't attack them. They help press all these other things. Now we're reading about this dormant microbiome in our blood of bacteria that live inside our blood cells, possibly, and apparently, inside a lot of other cells in our body, I'm starting to wonder if that relationship goes into tissues too. It's still pretty uncharted territory. It's really fascinating.
[00:28:16] SCOTT: The concept of autophagy, that's where we're talking about senescent cells, or cellular senescence. Some people call them zombie cells as well. Wondering if you incorporate any polyphenols, like fisetin, or apigenin, or suggests various types of fasting. I know you already mentioned Japanese knotweed and Chinese skullcap. What are some of your top autophagy promoters?
[00:28:44] DR. RAWLS: Well, I think it's just basically, cellular health maintenance. That word autophagy is getting a lot of press these days. It was discovered as the ability of cells when we go through starvation, when cells don't get nutrients, when we're in a starvation state, cells have this capacity to start breaking down proteins and other substances to be able to survive. It was labeled as a survival technique. It's like, if you're on an old steam locomotive and you run out of coal and you can't run the engine and you need to get down the track to your next destination, you start pulling wood off of the side of the train and off the caboose in the passenger cabins and start shoving it in the engine, so you can make your destination.
I see it more as an overall cellular efficiency mechanism that cells are always breaking down worn out proteins, worn out mitochondria. You don't really have to be in starvation to do that. There's a lot of talk about intermittent fasting, or fasting. I think, that's really a good practice. Just shorten your eating window, I think, it gives your GI tract arrest. It also does give your cells time just to recover, time to recirculate. You do and enhance that autophagy process. I think that we do the same thing with regular exercise, too.
Basically, anything is that intermittent stress. It's taking that cell and going and pushing it a little bit. Yeah. It gets those gears primed to start recycling parts and recycling mitochondria, to basically build itself back better than it was. We can do that with intermittent fasting. We can do that with exercise. Where the herbs come in, is protecting the cells from stress, from excessive stress, from excessive free radicals, from toxin exposure, which we all get more than we had when we should from microbes.
I think that's, it's basically when you look at the herbs, I think what they're doing and this isn't true of any one herb, this is true of most herbs. By having these cell protective mechanisms, then you're – it just gives the cell a better opportunity to do that housekeeping that it needs to do to stay healthy. I think, that's where the herbs come in. They don't really substitute for regular exercise, healthy diet, but they do give you an edge that just helps your cells recover more quickly.
[00:32:00] SCOTT: Some of the ones that you talk about in the book, the Japanese knotweed, Chinese skullcap, you talk about green tea, ginger, turmeric, wild celery, garlic, berries, and maritime pine bark. Lots of things for people to dig into in the book in that realm of supporting autophagy. One of the questions that I have had on the autophagy conversation is there seems to be a balance between mTOR, or building and autophagy, or cleansing. Some people suggests that if you are constantly stimulating mTOR, by let's say, a daily protein shake, or something along those lines, that you're not really going to be able to get into autophagy, because you're constantly stimulating this building process. I'm wondering, from your perspective, is that true? Or is it not as black and white as some people might suggest?
[00:32:52] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. I think it's not as black and white. I just don't think we know enough to completely answer that question. I tried to follow that just good rule of common sense and logic, to try to do things that really make sense, that are in keeping with our ancestry of how humans have survived on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years. Just mimicking a lifestyle that maybe we're more attuned to, all of those things, I think are useful.
Yeah. What does concern me though, is there's a lot of research now to try to do mTOR. An mTOR is just that regulator in the cell that regulates anabolic functions. mTOR inhibitors to try to block it to induce autophagy artificially, and not sure that's a good idea. I think, there's something to be said for just narrowing your eating window, whether you're cutting it down to six hours, or 12 hours, just giving your body a break.
There's just so much value in being physically active. I think that is doing some of the same things that are just so remarkably important. Not necessarily going out and running marathons. Just walking. Just doing, just daily staying active stuff is just really important.
[00:34:26] SCOTT: I love that answer, because I'm not giving up my morning protein shakes. That was good. Let's talk about immune modulation. In the book, you discuss that you find it difficult to explain autoimmune illness without considering a microbe. I totally agree. In fact, many years ago, I was moderating a conference in Amsterdam, where on the stage with me were Dr. Joe Burrascano, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, Dr. Ann Corson, just some amazing heroes of mine. Someone in the audience asked that question. Can autoimmune illness exists without the presence of a pathogen?
Everyone looked around. I think it was Dr. Klinghardt that took the microphone and just said, “Uh, no.” Part of treatment then from my perspective, and it is addressing the microbe, but also modulating the immune system, the Th1, Th2, Th17, Treg cells. How do we not have that hyper-vigilant, overactive damaging type response from the immune system? Are there specific herbs, or mushrooms, or tools that you consider top immune modulating interventions?
[00:35:40] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. That is a nice thing. I mean, we know so much more than we have been. We're still learning a lot about herbs. I've said numerous times, I couldn't have written this new book 10 years ago. The research just wasn't there. In the past decade, there's just been an explosion of new research and new ideas, looking at what herbs are doing, which I find fascinating. We're starting to know a little bit more about how different herbs modulate the immune system or stimulate the immune system.
That modifies how we might want to use the herbs. For example, akinesia has some really wonderful viral, antiviral properties and is commonly used for colds and flus and that sort of thing, but it's a potent immune stimulator that could actually increase, or promote autoimmune illness. Whereas, the other herbs that we're typically using for a longer duration and Lyme disease, there are a lot of good herbs for chronic Lyme disease. But some of the top that you've mentioned, and are certainly on everybody's list now is Japanese knotweed, Chinese skullcap, Reishi cordyceps, garlic, I put on my list, they are more immune modulators.
When you say modulation, what you're talking about is bringing back to normal, regaining a normal response. Parts of the immune system that are overactive. Overactive Th1 and underactive Th2, or various different scenarios. These herbs tend to bring it back to center, along with suppressing the microbes. The details of how that is happening, which phytochemicals are just specifically acting to do what at this point, we're still defining.
I don't think our research has quite gone that far. It's fascinating that we have observed over and over and over that these things are happening. It really goes to looking at now, probably hundreds of thousands of people have used these herbs, long-term use. Not months, years, and have had that affect. I personally, my immune system was a mess. I had overactive allergic responses, obviously underactive regarding overcoming the infection, and years on herbs to straighten all that out.
It really is a fascinating thing to observe. I think, it's just because we're not getting a single chemical with an antibiotic, we're getting the plant's entire defense system, basically the plant's immune system, with not only the antimicrobial substances, but also, the signaling agents. We get different responses from different plants, because different plants in different environments solve problems differently. We know a lot about the herbs and how they work just because humans have been using them for various kinds of purposes over hundreds and sometimes even thousands of years.
A 100 years, a 1,000 years ago, we didn't know the chemistry of why they were happening. Now we're taking those traditional uses and how the herbs were applied, and looking at the chemistry of how they're working and really understanding what's going on. We probably know more about herbs than anything else. It's just, we should be paying even more attention.
[00:39:49] SCOTT: I want to underscore your differentiation from immune boosting versus immune modulating, because very similar to the idea of kill, kill, kill, which I think is not the right strategy, immune boosting is often what people asked me. “Oh, what can I do to boost my immune system?” Well, to your point, if you have autoimmune conditions, which is super common, I see it as a spectrum when we're talking about chronic Lyme, there is some immune dysregulation. Just boosting indiscriminately is probably going to make things worse. It's more what you're talking about with using herbs that are more modulating.
[00:40:29] DR. RAWLS: Fascinating concept of immune modulation. Over the years, we've had several people who were using the herbs, call and ask. I've read, or I've heard that Andrographis, cat’s claw are immune stimulants that could increase autoimmune illness. I got on the Google to try to find the source and found that WebMD was claiming that. I started digging for the evidence and actually found the contrary, that Andrographis, one of our great herbs and cat's claw, another one of our great herbs, actually had been found to decrease the incidence of a variety of different autoimmune conditions with long-term use. It debunked that.
It supports the idea of immune modulation to say, well, here's something we're using to help people overcome chronic Lyme disease with a variety of different microbes. It's also, we've got evidence to show that it reduces autoimmune, which suggests that yes, they are truly immune modulators. We do know that autoimmune phenomenon, evidence is starting to show up. They've defined that a lot of the symptoms of Lyme carditis and Lyme arthritis are resulting from a low-grade autoimmune phenomenon. Yeah.
[00:41:54] SCOTT: What role do you feel that microbes may play in the development of cancers and does working a longer term anti-microbial herbal strategy, if you're dealing with chronic Lyme, for example, does that potentially reduce our risk of cancer development later in our lifetime?
[00:42:14] DR. RAWLS: Yeah, I don't think there's any doubt. I can answer that on a couple of different levels. Starting with the fact that that's one of the big areas of research worldwide, and has been over the past several decades, is looking at the anti-cancer properties of so many different herbs. Part of that is just protecting cells from various kinds of stress factors. What I don't see in some of the research is they're not looking at the microbe component. It gets back to that logical argument of the difference between bacterial cells and our cells. It has to do with the growth.
Our cells have restricted growth. Bacterial cells have unrestricted growth. What I mean by that is, you can only fit so many cells into an organ. You only can have so many heart cells, so many intestinal cells, so many brain cells. Our cells have restricted growth. If you have a heart cell and you lose a heart cell, you would only get a new heart cell to replace the one that's missing. When our cells take on unrestricted growth, we call it cancer. When that growth just keeps growing, it destroys the organism. We have to live in a state of being a multicellular organism that all of our cells have restricted growth. What cancer is, is unrestricted growth.
Bacteria, all bacteria have unrestricted growth. If you put bacteria in a petri dish full of food, they will keep growing, until all the food is gone. All bacteria will grow as long as you feed them, unless you have other restrictions, like immune system functions and things inside our body that regulate their growth. Given to their own accord, bacteria will just keep growing. That in itself suggests that connection of the possibility. I was able to find a study that they took an algae, which is a multicellular organism. It has cells like ours. It's organism of cells working together. They took this algae and they put it in a closet to stress the cells. Wouldn't get any sunlight which stressed all the cells. They exposed the cells to all kinds of different chemical carcinogens. In every case, the cells just died every single time.
There was an intracellular bacteria that commonly infects this cell. It doesn't do any damage to the cells, to the algae cells if they're healthy. They took those stressed algae cells and exposed them to this intracellular bacteria. It formed cancer every single time. Every single time, the algae cells took on the unrestricted growth of the bacteria. They actually found that the bacteria was inserting its gene segment for unrestricted growth into the algae cell. That was fascinating. That was just a big eye opener to speculate, and these researchers were speculated that, is this how all cancers form? Well, that's hard to ignore.
Right now, 20% of our cancers are directly associated with either a virus, or bacteria, protozoa. I think, we're going to find that it's much, much, much higher. All cancers, I don't know, but possible. When you look at that model of stressed cells being vulnerable to bacteria, and that being a possible mechanism for cancer, the herbal phytochemicals that protect the cells protect the cells from microbes and all the various stress factors that stress this cell, well, it would make a lot of sense that your herbs have a high potential to protect us from cancer, especially as we age, because that's a big deal.
Our cells are aging, so we can recycle our mitochondria. Eventually, all other cells will run out of mitochondria. What aging is is the process of losing cells. We have our peak cell count at age 20 and we lose cells for the rest of our time. By the time, by age 65, my cells, I have a lot fewer than I did at age 20 and they're less functional. That's why we lose energy as we age. Our bacteria don't age in the same way that we do. The way that bacteria replicate, they essentially – they're much simpler than we are, but they basically replicate and form brand-new bacteria.
The bacteria I picked up, not the same ones, but the ancestors of the ones that I picked up when I was 20, they're just as strong as I was when I was 20, but my cells aren't. That idea of taking herbs as we age to prevent all these problems from happening, oh, man, it really makes a lot of sense.
[00:48:11] SCOTT: Yeah, it sounds a little discouraging when you put it that way. At the same time, I remember years ago, Dr. Klinghardt, talking about the fact that many of us have this early warning system and develop something like chronic Lyme and thus, treat it that longer term as we get older, we're probably going to be much better than those people who didn't have that early signal to do something and they thus develop Alzheimer's, or some neurodegenerative condition. I agree. I'm a huge fan of herbs and do and plan to continue taking them for the rest of my life.
When people use pharmaceutical antibiotics for these organisms, like Borrelia, for example, they often need several different antibiotics to support the various forms of these organisms. You talked about the L-form. We know there's a spirochete. We used to call it the cell wall deficient form. Some people now call that the persister form. There's all these different forms. For the most part, one antibiotic does not work well for all of those forms. With herbs, it doesn't seem to be an issue. My observation has been that the complexity of the herbs and the phytochemicals can really better address the various morphological forms of these organisms than more targeted, conventional, pharmaceutical antibiotics. I'm wondering if you would agree with that.
[00:49:37] DR. RAWLS: I do. Again, what you're getting with the herb is the plant's entire defense system. It's a chemical defense that is multifaceted. It has a lot of different components, where the antibiotic, you're getting one single chemical. Now, I think it's important for people to recognize that all antibiotics originally came from a natural source, either a plant bacteria, or a fungus. Instead of pulling that whole system, what they did was pull the chemical that they thought to be most active, and then potentiated that. Then a lot of times, they've modified that single chemical to make other antibiotics, or make antibiotics that are more potent.
In effect, you're losing the intelligence of that defense system when you pull that single chemical. Using several bodies together gets you a wider range of effectiveness. I think, there's a place for antibiotics. Antibiotics work fast, especially on extracellular bacteria. You've got pneumococcal pneumonia, and that bacteria is invading your cells from the outside. There's high concentrations of fast-growing bacteria, you need an antibiotic.
What you lose is the intelligence that comes with from that whole defense system from the plant. A big part of that, an observation that I made early on in my recovery is taking the herbs didn't disrupt the normal flora. My gut, in fact, it improved my gut function; where with antibiotics, you're pretty much indiscriminately killing everything in the body. There's always that, it's like a race. Can you wipe out that targeted microbe, the pathogens that you're trying to get rid of before you disrupt your flora and your gut so bad, that it's going to cause you more problems than it's going to solve?
I think, there is a place for antibiotics, and possibly in some individuals in Lyme disease. I think that if you're not using herbs as a foundation, you're really missing out on something that could help you a lot. I think we're going to find this to be true, not only in chronic Lyme disease, but virtually, every illness.
[00:52:13] SCOTT: Let's talk then a little bit more about potential interactions between pharmaceuticals and herbs. I do know many practitioners will use antibiotics and use herbs. Generally speaking, that's a reasonable thing to do. I know when we get into some of the antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, anticoagulants in some cases, we have to maybe be a little more thoughtful in potential interactions. What resource do you recommend? Or what guidance do you generally recommend for people so that they can consider these pharmaceutical, herbal interactions, or the potential for interactions?
[00:52:53] DR. RAWLS: Sure. Yeah, I think it varies per herb. This new book, I've attempted to really start building that resource, and looking at herbs as not being one thing, but a pretty wide spectrum of things. I created what I call the herbal safety spectrum that I published in the book. At one end of the spectrum are plants that we eat as food. They're about as safe as you can get. They don't have any drug-like effects. You can eat them every day. Or we do eat them every day.
At the other end of the spectrum are plants that are toxic to us, for whatever reason. Most of our drugs are down at that end. I found this article that suggested that about 70% of our drugs originally came from plant sources. A lot of people hear that and they think, “Oh. Well, our drugs are coming from – our medicinal herbs that humans have been using.” No. Our drugs come from poisonous plants. We're pulling out things that poison, enzymes, or activate receptor pathways, or transmitter pathways in the body to get our desired response, generally suppressing the symptom, or lowering a process of illness.
All drugs, if you use them beyond the therapeutic dose, whether that's aspirin, ibuprofen, or heart medication, they're poison, so you really have to be careful with them. There are some herbs that have stronger properties like that. I gave several examples in the book. Again, it gets back to how is that plant solving the problems it's having to deal with in its environment, with phytochemistry, with signaling agents? Some of these signaling agents do affect us in a very drug-like way.
I'm trying to set a standard of where we put herbs along that pathway. I created what I call the safety zone of herbs. Most of our antimicrobial herbs actually fit in this category of things that don't have strong drug-like effects, as far as affecting enzymes, or neurotransmitters in our body, so we don't necessarily feel taking them. They're predominantly protective. They're protecting us, various kinds of cellular stress factors.
Those have pretty low reactivity with most drugs. The only significant thing is they all have mild blood-thinning property, so you have to be careful with them, with drug thinners. Moving down toward the drug end of that spectrum, you find things St. John's wort, and others that do have things. It's like, St. John's wort affects an enzyme pathway that breaks down serotonin in the body, so you build up more serotonin. It basically works just the like the drug Prozac, or Zoloft. It has more drug-like property.
The more drug-like properties these phytochemicals have, the more apt you're going to have drug interactions, or issues with them. We put a list of a variety of different herbs in the book and classified them along that spectrum, just to help people understand what things that – there are a lot of herbs that you can just go to a health food store, or order over the Internet, and you can take them and they're pretty darn safe and they have a low potential to get you in trouble. There are other herbs, you really ought to talk to an herbalist or someone else before you use them, especially if you're on other medications. I've tried to help people understand that concept and give them some things to work with in the book.
[00:57:02] SCOTT: Adaptogens are herbs that help us adapt to stress. I think it, almost the immune modulation conversation that these adaptogens are helping us to adapt, or modulate our stress response. I use ashwagandha. I think, that's a very common one. You also talk about some of the adrenal supporting tools, like Rhodiola, reishi, for example, where these are adaptogens, but also can be immune modulators. Just wondering, what are some of your favorite personal adaptogens?
[00:57:35] DR. RAWLS: I think you hit several right there, Scott. Rhodiola is top of my list. I've always loved that one. Ashwagandha, I found to be immensely useful in my practice. Yet, combined with other herbs is really wonderful for menopausal symptoms. Reishi is definitely one. Reishi and cordyceps, I think, are primary ones that we use in chronic illness recovery, chronic Lyme disease, things like that, because they have such wonderful cell protective properties.
When you talk about adaptogens, one of the big things is they don't have drug-like properties. They have a high safety profile. That means that you can take them every day without concern that you're going to develop any long-term side effects. They're just going to provide benefits as long as you take them. I think that makes them pretty extraordinary.
Part of the definition of adaptogen, though, is that it affects the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis. There are chemicals in there that help us balance our stress hormones. That differentiates an adaptogen from another herb that might be really a nice self-protectant, like tumeric, or Hawthorne for the heart. Those herbs don't affect our stress response quite as directly as they are adaptogens. They're all in that category of everyday herbs I've talked about, and they're all important. Yeah, they're all good.
[00:59:17] SCOTT: In the book, you talk about spices and teas. I personally like the idea of moving to things that are easy to incorporate into your routine. Of course, there's a treatment phase where we're taking lots of capsules and supplements and things. At a certain point, years down the road, even mentally, it's nice to get out of that mode of, “Oh, I have my big pill box and all these things I need to do,” and start incorporating some of these spices and teas and things that have been traditionally used in other cultures for supporting a lot of what we're talking about. I'm wondering if Dr. Bill Rawls has thought about creating a medicinal spice, or tea blend, or product in the vital plan line in the future, potentially.
[01:00:04] DR. RAWLS: We probably will. It's really just bandwidth at this point, being able to do it all. We've really concentrated on more things that we can help people with directly solving problems. All of those things, I mean, they are just really nice to make part of your life. That daily smoothie. I mean, I do my smoothies every day, and I dump some reishi powder, or Lion's Mane powder, and usually another herb, like ashwagandha. That's a nice way to really – to get them in your life, and evening teas that are relaxing are wonderful.
What happens though is people don't do that as consistently as they can do commercial preparation. I think, the answer is all of the above. Capsules and tinctures are a way that you can get it very consistently. In fact, I would make a case that it is possible to use herbs much more consistently now than it ever has been in all of human history that we've been using. Going back in time when we have a wonderful history of herbal traditions, but I think it was very spotty. It depended on local knowledge and local availability and what was in season and whether you got out and were able to process it. I don't think that humans have really gained the full advantage of herbs in the way that we can do it now, with the availability of all the different preparations. We're really wondering, living in the golden age of herbology right now.
[01:01:49] SCOTT: Shilajit is a material that I've been interested in over the years for detoxification. At the same time, I've always been a little cautious because some sources of shilajit can be contaminated with heavy metals. I know in the book, you talk about a specific type of shilajit that I then researched and learned that many good products actually incorporate that specific shilajit. Wondering if you can just tell us a little about what it is about shilajit that you are excited about, and how we can find sources that are less likely to be contaminated with heavy metals.
[01:02:24] DR. RAWLS: Yes. Shilajit is an interesting substance. It really, really is. What it is, is plant matter that has been compressed in the soil and fermented with bacteria. Typically, most sources of shilajit and historical use are from the Himalayas. I actually found that Native Americans and Alaska and Canada also have been using it for years. It probably varies a little bit from location to location, because of the plant matter.
Something that will bend your mind a little bit, shilajit is what petroleum ends up being if you just let it cook for another million years. Shilajit is recent fermentation of plant matter. What you get is soil substances called humic acid and fulvic acid, that are really, really wonderful for our cells, wonderful for our GI tract. We're getting something that it's hard to get just from processor so we're getting that.
It's logical that we should be getting it. I added it onto my list, because when you think about it, for hundreds of thousands of years, humans were getting a lot of fermented material and dirt in their food. Everybody ate on the ground. We were probably getting these things and there's evidence that we really need these things, but we're not getting them from any of our food sources anymore. This is a really nice way to get it. In this day and time with the amount of toxic chemicals that are in different places in the world, you really do have to be careful. They’re definitely sources of contaminated shilajit out there.
We're using a source from a company called Natreon that makes a product PrimaVie Their sourcing is impeccable. They do multi-level testing looking for heavy metals and organic toxins. I trust it. I think, it's a very, very reasonable thing. It fills a dynamic that we're just not getting in our food, we're not getting in conventional herbs that I think is really important.
[01:05:07] SCOTT: Is that in one of your Vital Plan formulations?
[01:05:11] DR. RAWLS: Yes, I put it in our product called Daily Herbal, which is just the everyday herbs. It has Rhodiola and Reishi and turmeric and Gotu kola, which is wonderful for the brain. All of our herbs, we're using hybrid extracts that have been tested several times over to make sure they are properly sourced and free of various kinds of contaminants that none of us really want.
[01:05:41] SCOTT: We know that pharmaceutical anti-microbials are not very discerning and can impact the beneficial organisms in our bodies as well. I'm wondering if you find that herbs are more selective, or can they also kill beneficial flora? Then extending on that, do you find that organisms can become resistant to herbs as readily as they can to pharmaceutical antibiotics?
[01:06:09] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. That was something that was fascinating to me from the very beginning, that the taking the herbs, taking any antibiotic, doxycycline, two weeks, my gut was just totally destroyed. Any antibiotics pretty quickly had an effect on my flora. I shifted to the herbs, expecting something similar to happen in the early stages. I, like other people, 2005 was about the time that I was going through this. Stephen Buhner came out with his first book, Healing Lyme, I started taking the herbs. My expectation was, yeah, you might get two weeks out of this, and then will be looking for something else.
Didn't happen. I kept taking years. I kept taking years. My gut just kept getting better. It was like, something's going on here. This is fascinating. Then I started incorporating these things in my practice. Over the years, have literally used them with thousands of people. That's the response that they don't disrupt the normal flora in the gut. They help balance the microbiome, in my opinion, better than a probiotic, any probiotic, which is fascinating.
With this most recent book, I actually found a study that they had done an animal study and actually proved that the phytochemicals suppress pathogens in the gut, and promoted growth of normal flora, which I thought was really great that somebody took the time to actually study that. Pretty much any question that I've had, I've been able to find that somebody has peered into that particular question. Yes, there's very good evidence.
It makes sense. Everything's logical. Plants need to conserve friendly bacteria, been not surprised pathogens. That intelligence about the defense system of the phytochemicals of the herb, it makes sense that they're not going to disrupt the flora. As far as bacterial resistance, Stephen Buhner would say, “No, it can't occur, because the phytochemicals are hitting the bacteria from so many different directions that it just can't get on its feet, that you don't see resistance.”
I did find over time that I would – I seem to just develop tolerance to herbs if I had been on them for a long time. Now, this was during my primary recovery. I’m still using a lot of the same herbs that I did then. I found that yeah, I just wasn't quite getting where I wanted to. I reach a high plateau, and I bring in a brand-new herb and it would give me a boost. What I can't answer is, is it bacterial resistance that the bacteria are just becoming resistant to it? Or, was it that I was just metabolizing these chemicals faster, because I was taking them every single day? I don't know. I did in some cases, developed tolerance to it. Even so, I don't think it's the same intensity that you find with bacterial resistance with antibiotics, which now is a major problem worldwide and herbs may be our best hope for that.
[01:09:35] SCOTT: Yeah, I totally agree. I think, my experience has been if there was an herb that someone stays on for a long period of time, and it maybe then isn't working, or continuing to work at the same level, if you then pause it and maybe bring it back in at another time in the future, it can be quite good again. It's not that it's permanently lost its potential to be health supporting. I want to talk about just a few brief questions on some of these herbs. We've talked about a number of them. Japanese knotweed, I think that one checks a lot of boxes for the Lyme and coinfection arena. It's immune and inflammatory modulation. Really like that one.
Andrographis is another one similarly, often called the king of the bitters. Can be helpful for bile flow, which I think is often overlooked in this conversation. Wondering what your thoughts are on Andrographis in terms of promoting the flow of bile. Do we need to, in that case, take it as a liquid so that we're triggering those bitter receptors that are going to help with bio flow? Or is your opinion that taking Andrographis in a capsule, or tablet type format can similarly help to support bile flow?
[01:10:48] DR. RAWLS: Bitter herbs have been long recognized for promoting intestinal motility and promoting bile flow. It probably goes back to the fact that we look at our herbs today, they were probably pretty similar to what, in fact, a lot of things that humans were eating in a foraged food diet hundreds of thousands of years ago, or probably things we define his herbs now. A lot of food was bitter. It wasn't that sweet to taste of carbohydrate, which was pretty deficient in the forage food diet. It was bitter. That actually stimulates our digestive process and stimulates bile flow.
I think, that that is an important aspect of health. I think, it is a really a good thing for us to do. Other herbs, milk thistle, dandelion, or other bitter herbs that promote bile flow. Like I said, when I asked the question, I looked for the study, and yes, someone had actually found that if you do the bitter herbs in capsule and you don't actually taste the bitter, it still had that effect. Yeah, I amazed that somebody actually looked at that, but their opinion in the study was that yes, you can take it in capsule. You don't have to taste the bitter. Yeah, I think it's still a good thing to take some bitters every now and then. Andrographis, if you've ever done it in a tincture, it is bitter.
[01:12:25] SCOTT: The king of the bitters. Chinese skullcap is another personal favorite for viruses and other organisms, but also can help with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and histamine intolerance and immune modulation. You mentioned some of the studies recently that show things like Chinese skullcap, Japanese knotweed and cat's claw being effective for Borrelia. Chinese skullcap again, Japanese knotweed and Andrographis for Bartonella and Babesia. We're starting to come into some of these overlapping herbs that really check a lot of boxes. What's interesting about many of these to me is they also can help with a lot of the chronic viral issues, the herpetic viruses, the Epstein Barr, the herpes simplex, or herpes zoster, all of these viruses that I think also play a significant role. Wondering if you are also seeing that the same herbs that we're using for Borrelia, Bartonella and Babesia are helping people much more broadly than probably we even recognize?
[01:13:30] DR. RAWLS: No doubt about it. Yeah, for years, Andrographis has been recognized as a wonderful antiviral for influenza and just colds and flus in general. Whenever I've gotten something, I mean, I can remember my pre-Lyme days, I would get bad colds several times a year. It was one to two weeks of misery, hacking, coughing, sneezing. After Lyme disease, learning about the herbs in the antiviral properties, I started doing this thing where every time I would even get a little bit of a scratchy throat, or slight congestion, I just load up on the herbs, double, triple doses, two or three times a day, and then a 1,000 of vitamin C every couple hours. It just wipes it out. I just wake up the next day fine. You'd get a little bit of stuff, but nothing. I just really haven't had a bad cold, knock on wood, for years. Yes, all of these herbs do have antiviral properties.
Going back to March 2020, and we had this thing on the horizon that we were hearing about and it was an unknown, and we didn't have any drugs, any vaccines, nothing. The first place I went was to research herbs that might have activity against COVID, or against the SARS virus that causes COVID. There was some good data, because people had looked at herbs as a possible tool against the previous SARS epidemics that had occurred in the early 2000s. There was more data out there even in the early days than I expected. Which herbs did they find? Andrographis, Chinese skullcap, ginger, garlic. All of these same things we're using in Lyme, were some of the first things that they looked at.
It's like these new antiviral drugs against SARS, you'll find that they do one thing. It's the latest drug inhibits an enzyme called RNA polymerase that the virus needs to replicate. These drugs work fair at best. When I was researching, they had looked at the mechanisms by how the herbs were affecting. Well, they all had RNA polymerase inhibitors. They had half dozen, or a dozen other things that they had identified that hit the virus in other ways, either prevented penetration into the cell, or prevented the virus from being able to do processes in the cell, along with blocking a series of different enzymes that the virus needed, or different viruses needed to replicate.
The herbs weren't doing one thing. They were doing a spectrum of different things, which, again, that was pretty darn fascinating. I think the biggest loss that we've had here is even though this good science was out there and very available, posted on PubMed, our leadership basically ignored it and said, “No, don't do herbs. Don't do anything like that. That's all voodoo. It's not going to help you.” Well, it's not going to hurt you. It's better than nothing. Even if it does just a little bit here, you're talking about getting ginger from the grocery store. One of the top things that I found that had activity against SARS virus was ginger. You make a strong ginger tea and drink it several times a day, how much harm are we doing there? That was a disappointment. Yes, these things do have some really wonderful activity.
[01:17:37] SCOTT: I think it's interesting, because from the early days of the pandemic, I think people in the chronic Lyme community were anxious about the fact that, “Oh, I already have a really serious health condition. Am I going to do worse than the general public if I acquire COVID?” I haven't really observed that. So many of the things that people were already doing to support their body in dealing with chronic Lyme and co-infections are also as you commented, supportive of many of these viruses. It actually seems like people in the Lyme community have done relatively well, compared to “healthy people.”
[01:18:20] DR. RAWLS: That has been my impression, too. I was doing consults with people all through that time. Early on, I was giving that advice, and then finding that a lot of people were using these things, and they weren't faring any worse than the regular population. Some much better.
[01:18:42] SCOTT: In your nourish chapter, you talk about whole foods, mostly vegetables, limiting sugar, corn, wheat, artificial sweeteners, even red meat and reducing carbs. I'm interested in your thoughts on, is there a need for a low histamine diet, a low lectin diet, a low oxalate diet? What diets have emerged as your top tools, or top diets? Then I'm interested as well, and why red meat? Because I know there is now the carnivore diet, which interestingly, many people that have had years of SIBO and other GI issues often seem to do quite well with. Give us some thoughts on diet.
[01:19:24] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. Well, my recommendations for this book, this particular book is really geared at a general audience. I'm trying to break through and help people understand these things before they end up with some chronic illness. The nourish recommendations in the book are focused toward just a general audience that needs to hear those basic recommendations. I think, more vegetables than anything else is really, really – that's my golden rule. Cutting down on the processed foods, the extra carbohydrates.
Red meat, I'll get to in just a minute. Then you have to individualize it. My individual dietary needs were different than a lot of people. I had pretty bad gut dysfunction when I started herbs. My food sensitivity testing, I was sensitive to 75% of the foods that I was eating. I had to do a dance. I also had some mild symptoms of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. As I was restoring my own health, I was trying to look at the individual needs of other people. Pretty much everything that I learned, I was applying to my practice, and learning and trying to build out things that can help other people. Everybody's an individual.
With our Restore program, I built a diet that is three-phased. The first phase of it is really restricted, because I cut out all the oxalates. I cut out everything that I could. It's pretty tight for a couple of weeks. But some people have to stay on it for months and months until they get to that level of healing that they can start to introduce other things, so that the second – we try to do it really all at one time.
The second part of the diet, we're looking at food sensitivities and gradually reintroducing new foods. Then the third part of the diet is when the person is in a better place, they can have a more rounded diet, but within the definition of what I call a healthy diet. It does vary. Some people are going to have to concentrate more, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and a low histamine diet, I think, is essential. They don't have to do that forever. Just during recovery. Leaky gut. Once you repair the leaky gut, you're not going to absorb the oxalates. Oxalates are coming across at a higher level in the earliest stages, because everybody has leaky gut, or 75% of people have leaky gut.
I think, until that God is healed, you really do have to watch the oxalates. Yeah, I know a lot of people are going to the carnivore diet. I had this discussion on a recent podcast. The problem is the carbs. We’re eating way, way too much processed carbohydrate that is growing a spectrum of bad bacteria in the gut. When people shift to a carnivore diet, when they're just eating meat, the big thing that they're doing is cutting out the carbohydrates. They're shifting their fora pretty dramatically. The problem is you shifted in another bad direction.
The carnivore diet has several strikes against it. Early on, yeah, it might be okay. What's missing are the vegetables, and that's what people need. You really do need to eat more vegetables. I've met many vegetarians who are not eating vegetables and living on wheat and corn and soybeans. Here I am talking about celery and cabbage and cauliflower. We're talking about vegetables. The problem with the meat diet is you shift your flora to bacteria that basically, they're called putrefins. You end up selecting bacteria that increase your risk of colon cancer, and a lot of other problems. That is a problem with red meat. You're missing out on a lot of really important nutrients that are not present in a healthy diet.
You're not getting vegetable fiber. Everybody talks about wanting to detoxify. The best binder that you can eat to detoxify your body to pull those toxins out of your body is eating vegetable fiber every single day. You don't get that in a meat diet. The other problem with a meat diet is the fat and the protein, especially red meat, all right. You're talking about a high protein diet. When you eat a lot of protein, you do metabolize that, but you generate ammonia, which isn't good for your cells, and you also generate a lot of acid.
When you generate acid in your tissues, you have to keep your blood and your tissues at a pH of 7.4 all the time. If you're generating a lot of metabolic acid, you pull calcium carbonate from your bones to neutralize that acid. High meat diet is associated with osteoporosis later in life. You leach your bones to neutralize all that acid. Plus the fat, the saturated fat. It is true that the beef councils claim that our saturated fat and our red meat is not increasing your cholesterol is correct. It doesn't. It's fat made from carbohydrate that is increasing your cholesterol. What atherosclerotic heart disease is, is from thick blood. We don't think about it this way. We think about the components that make up our blood. Blood pours like a milkshake, not like water. It's thick. It's viscous.
When you're pushing blood through your arteries, especially towards your arteries that are fast-moving blood, like your coronary arteries, and your carotid arteries in your neck, you create friction, especially in corners. That friction creates a red burn. Your body heals it with a scab. That creates more friction, and it ends up being a wound that never heals. That's what a plaque is. Your thicker your blood, the more friction you're going to have. The saturated fat and red meat increases blood viscosity. Don't want to do that. Yeah. There are too many strikes against the whole meat diet. Maybe short-term, but not a long-term.
[01:27:00] SCOTT: To your point, I think it's also critical. I think probably the most overlooked conversation in the chronic Lyme and chronic illness conversation is hyper-coagulation and what are these microbes and environmental toxicants and mold exposures, what are they doing to our blood viscosity? Sometimes, we need to test those things. In fact, I would say all of the time, you need to test those things, see where you are and think about some Lumbrokinase, or Boluoke, or nattokinase, or herbs, or other things that can help with that, because it is affecting circulation, nutrient delivery, waste removal, all of those things.
As we get into our last few minutes, a few more questions for you. In my mind, detoxification is foundational and health recovery. In your purify chapter, you talk about chemicals and pesticides, but also about EMFs, or electromagnetic energy and unnatural radiation. Wondering what some of the tools are that you have found that can support the body in dealing with the increasing EMF and radiation exposure in our modern world.
[01:28:05] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. I think, it is what I call cellular resilience. The healthier your cells are, the more they have the ability to resist these things. It's, for example, when I was really in the thick of my recovery, man, if I spent too much time anywhere near a computer, I could really tell it. It would just knock me down. Whereas, now with my level of health and the level of cellular resilience, my tire, it doesn't really seem to bother me very much.
I think it is a factor. These are unnatural forms of radiation. I mean, you think about it, our cells are microscopic machines. They are basically using electrical, or electron energy to function. All of our cells are putting out an aura of radiates an electronic energy. That, our body collectively, you can feel your energy levels. We can measure that in various ways with EEG and EKG. Our cells are electrical. We have this energy. The Chinese have been very cognizant, very aware of these energy pathways, or meridians that go through our body that balance everything. There's some evidence that the communication between cells is not just chemical. It's also electrical. We use photons and light cells. We use light to communicate. They use electrical energy to communicate. All of this is really important. It only stands to reason that if your body is bombarded with these unnatural forms of similar energy, that it could be disruptive.
I think that cellular resilience with good diet, good sleep, herbs, all of that things, all of that is really important. I think just being smarter about it, and trying to be. Quite frankly, I took a beating with finishing this book, because the last six months, I found myself on the computer six, eight hours a day. It wore me down. I mean, I had to take a month just to recover from writing the book about health, which is crazy. it was just so much time on the computer, staring at that screen. I do things to distance myself. I have my main computer module that's several feet from me that's connected to the monitor. I'm getting a little bit from the monitor, but most of it is coming from the computer itself. There's a company called defender shield. A lot of the radiation comes from the bottom of the computer. I have defender shields to put under them to limit that. I think that's a good idea.
I'm more careful in recent history of the past decade of my life about not keeping my cellphone on me all the time. I mean, I put it down on a table, or try to put it away from me. Use your phones, almost whenever I talk to somebody on the phone, I've got earplugs like you're wearing in my pocket. I take a minute and put those on before I actually answer the phone, so I'm not putting the phone up by my head. I just don't do that anymore. I think there are steps that we can take that are smart for all of us. Now, where we're going with 5G, who knows? That's uncharted territory.
[01:31:47] SCOTT: Yeah. I definitely wear these because not only do I not use Bluetooth headsets, but it would be quite hypocritical to have this podcast about health and then wear my Bluetooth earpieces.
[01:32:03] DR. RAWLS: Yeah, I have the same reason. I haven't gotten the Bluetooth earpieces. They’re all wired still.
[01:32:09] SCOTT: Mine too. Yeah. Let's talk about how to calm. That's another piece of the book. How to calm our bodies from mental stress that we all face. I have observed that the autonomic nervous system plays a significant role in dealing with chronic Lyme and mold illness and these complex conditions. What are a few of the tools that you find helpful for balancing and calming the nervous system to promote healing?
[01:32:32] DR. RAWLS: Sure. I thought this thing's through. We talked earlier in our interview here about the fact that when our cells are stressed, they release signals that activate nerves, that tell the brain something is going wrong. Think about that state of chronic illness, when all the cells in the body are stressed and they're all sending a distress signal to the brain all at one time continually. Of course, your sympathetic nervous system, that fight or flight response is going to be keyed out the roof.
It was just so uncomfortable. Restoring sleep was just really, really a challenge for me. I mean, I tried everything. I did various meditation technique. I found the thing that was really consistent was movement. Just getting out and taking a walk was really the quickest way to get to the bottom line. You think about it, the normal response of that fight or flight response is running from the threat. Well, we don't do that. We sit and stew over it.
I really cut out a lot of stimulating television, media and I still try to filter that the best that I can and really focus on the things that I can actually do something about, or that are important to me. Movement is so important. I've been doing yoga and Qigong for years. I got time for one quick story, Scott.
[01:34:12] SCOTT: Sure, sure.
[01:34:14] DR. RAWLS: Okay. I bought this device years ago called a Muse. I'm not suggesting that everybody run out and buy one, but they're fun. It's a portable EEG machine and a headband that basically senses your brainwaves. It gives you feedback. It connects to your phone. You put in earplugs, and you’re listening to your phone and it's giving you feedback. When your brain is in an erratic, agitated place, it gives you feedback of sounds of bad weather, rain and wind and all of this. When you're in a place where you're synchronizing your brainwaves and getting to a meditative state, it gives you feedback of chirping birds.
I have this device on and practicing with it, trying to get the birds. I'm trying to get rid of the rain, and I'm just working with this thing. I got better and better at it, but it was always a challenge to keep the birds, to get rid of the rain. You're fighting yourself a little bit. One day I decided, I wonder what happens when I put this thing on when I'm doing Qigong exercises. Now Qigong is are just these gentle back and forth movements. It's unlike yoga, it's continual movement of your body. I put the device on, hooked everything up and started doing Qigong movements. Immediately, all birds. No rain. As long as I was doing those movements, I was in a meditative state, I was getting all birds. My brainwaves are synchronized.
It just really stated the power of movement, and how quickly and easily you can get into that state to defuse some of these hyper-stimulated sympathetic responses. I like to tell people that one. You can get there pretty quickly, just by doing some simple things.
[01:36:25] SCOTT: I love that. That's a great story. In your move chapter, you talk about college and cruncher as those things that are enemies of healthy collagen. I'm connecting with more and more people with hypermobility syndromes, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It's almost like, I hear someone every day that's dealing with these things. I'm wondering, what do you view as the primary threats to our collagen? Certainly, we know Borrelia is one. How do we support our structural integrity? Do you find that people with mast cell activation and histamine issues can tolerate supplemental collagen?
[01:37:02] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. I think, it’s a variety. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a funny thing. Everybody is a little bit different. When I work with people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, it's a trial and error thing of trying to get just a few herbs in them here and there and start with some basic things. Once we can start to balance the immune system, they can take more and more things and get back in balance. Collagen crunchers.
Basically, we are held together by collagen. It holds our cells together. It holds our ligaments together. Collagen is really important in our body. That loss of collagen and loss of collagen producing cells is a factor in aging is why our skin wrinkles. It's why our muscles atrophy are one factor. Glucose, blood sugar, carbohydrates and starches and sugar. We talked about glucose, carbohydrates being the energy of the sun stored by the plant. Well, these are very highly reactive molecules. When you're eating a lot more carbohydrate and getting more glucose system in your system than you need, the problem is that glucose sticks to protein.
It sticks to stuff inside cells and it sticks to your collagen. It breaks those proteins apart. I call that a collagen cruncher. Free radicals that come in dietary forms, or in various kinds of forms. Free radicals from toxic substances, or collagen crunchers. Those are things that I see as being a part of the aging process as we go through time. The various different stresses that are college and crunchers.
Now, what we're seeing, I think, with the hypermobility syndromes, is the invasion and disruption of various bacteria. Many bacteria, like mycoplasma and Borrelia, collagen as a food resource. You build more bacteria. They're going to be affecting that. Then you have that auto immune response to the presence of the bacteria. About a month ago, I found a study demonstrating that Borrelia infects and thrives, survives inside chondrocytes, collagen producing cells. We're interrupting that process. When you look at collagen and bone, we are constantly reorganizing those things. We have chondrocytes that various kinds of cells that break down and rebuild cartilage continually. We have another set of cells that break down and rebuild bone continually.
If you interrupt those cells, if you infect those cells and inhibit their functions, then you stop that process, so you're not reorganizing things anymore. Taking collagen can be helpful to give your body the tools to rebuild collagen. If you've killed off your chondrocytes, or you have disrupted them, your chondrocytes are infected with various kinds of microbes, you've interrupted that process, so taking collagen isn't going to do a whole lot.
That's where the herbs are so important for restoring that ability, to restoring those cellular functions again. I think it's a good idea. We want to give our body all the raw materials that we can. Healthy people, it has been demonstrated that taking collagen does seem to enhance rebuilding collagen in the body. I think, taking collagen is a good idea. Yeah, take your herbs too, especially if you're struggling with Lyme disease, because just taking the collagen alone isn't going to fix it. You have to fix the cells.
[01:41:07] SCOTT: In the last of your factors that promote wellness, you talk about defend. You suggest hand washing, avoiding large crowds, avoiding biting insects, that's a big one, using protection during sexual contact, being cautious of microbes when we're traveling, another big one, and having a focus on oral health. In the last part of the book, and we're not going to get into this today, but you have – it's almost an encyclopedia of ways to approach different conditions. You talk about andropause, blood sugar, bone health, brain and nervous system health, cardiovascular health, gut health, joint health, menopause, prostate health. This is where it's getting to the encyclopedia now. Skin health, sleep and more. Really, just a fantastic resource. So impressed with all the great information that's there for people.
With that, I think my last question is the same for every guest. I'm going to customize it a little bit today for you. That is in the book, you make the comment, “Being alive is a gift. Living well is an even greater gift, but wellness isn't a given.” What are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis to live well?
[01:42:26] DR. RAWLS: Yeah. Well, it's just scaling back and enjoying the little things in life. I think, that's really important. Looking at ways that you can get pleasure out of life without spending tons of money, or whatever. It's like, to counteract all the stress that was with the book. Anybody who's written a book will tell you, there's some stress there. It's all mental stress. Sitting there, thinking through the problems. I decided to build a skiff and I built a 14-foot skiff in the back shed that we have. It took me all the fall and I finished the skiff about same time I finished the book.
Boy, it was just such a wonderful therapy, to get out there and think differently and work with my hands. I just had a great time with it. Now, I'm just enjoying that little boat, just puttering around. They always say that the smallest boats are the ones that give you the most pleasure. Here's this little inexpensive thing that I built myself. I'm just having a ball with it. Just the joy of getting out and puttering around in the marshes. It's a lot of fun. That has been wonderful. Just finding those little things in life to be excited about.
Then, extending that in just the way that you live. Making food, just part of looking at it from the point of view of how can I gain pleasure from doing these things that nourish my body, instead of just satisfying cravings? It's an ongoing thing of trying to keep your diet good. I've been experimenting the past several years with intermittent fasting, eating, trying to cut the carbohydrates out. Trying to prepare all my food and get the raw materials and doing it and quite frankly, there's a lot of joy in that. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy preparing food. You feel like you're so much more of the process. It's more part of you. It's more real than just going and getting stuff out of a package.
Eating good food, hitting that vegetable quota, that 50% mark every day is a lot of fun. I'm just really particular about exercising every day. I don't go to the gym. I get out and paddleboard, walk, doing just little stuff that keeps me moving through the day. Try to take breaks from the computer whenever I can. I am unbelievably particular about my sleep. I try to get my eight hours in every night and allow for that. I'm really protective about it.
[01:45:24] SCOTT: I am as well. If I don't get a crown on my Oura Ring, I'm really disappointed when I wake up. I think, I really want to urge people to go check out your latest book, The Cellular Wellness Solution: Tap into Your Full Health Potential with the Science-Backed Power of Herbs. For people. I mean, I think most people are aware of who you are. For those that are not, you can certainly learn more at rawlsmd.com, at cellularwellness.com. Vital plan.com is the product line that Dr. Rawls has created. He didn't really talk about those here. That's really not the focus of this new book.
I just really value that I think you are someone that is very highly intentioned. I think that you've taken your own health struggle, and really done amazing work to help so many of us that have dealt with these chronic conditions. I just want to honor you and admire all the work that you do, and thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge with us today, Dr. Rawls.
[01:46:26] DR. RAWLS: Scott, thank you for the opportunity. This has been a wonderful conversation. I've enjoyed it so much.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[01:46:33] SCOTT: To learn more about today's guest, visit CellularWellness.com That's CellularWellness.com. CellularWellness.com.
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