Insightful conversations with thought-provoking doctors, specialists, authors, and researchers at the forefront of integrative health and wellness.
Hear about the ideas and research that are changing medicine and explore age-old wisdom backed by modern science. Hosted by Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Victoria Maizes.
Episode #22 Mind-Body Approaches to Understanding and Healing Chronic Pain with Howard Schubiner, MD
Living with chronic pain can be both physically and emotionally challenging. Nearly 50 million individuals in the US report experiencing chronic pain. The symptoms may become worse over time, spread to new areas of the body, and result in restricted mobility and limitations in daily activities.
Evolving research has demonstrated that for some sufferers emotions can be the source of chronic pain and may be the key to treating the symptoms. Studies have demonstrated that identifying, expressing, and releasing difficult emotions, like fear, can successfully reduce chronic pain.
Our guest is Dr. Howard Schubiner, an internist, pediatrician, and director of the Mind Body Medicine Center. Dr. Schubiner and his colleagues have developed psychological treatments for chronic pain and created a series of studies to evaluate these treatments.
In this episode, Dr. Schubiner helps us to see pain with a new lens. He explains how chronic pain can be protective. He describes how brain-generated pain is different from structural pain.
Dr. Weil and Dr. Schubiner discuss the revolutionary work of the late Dr. John Sarno, a pioneer in treating patients with chronic back pain with mind-body medicine. Dr. Maizes describes how language and common approaches can reinforce a message of disease and perpetuate symptoms. Dr. Schubiner explains how pain reprocessing therapy can help to eliminate and even cure pain and why this therapy offers great hope to people who live with chronic pain.
Episode #21 Ethnobotany: The Science of Indigenous Medicine with Michael Balick, PhD
Plants have provided human beings with nourishment, medicine, fibers, and other resources for millennia. And, the passing of botanical knowledge through generations not only ensured survival, it shaped how cultures understood their world. Occasionally, this knowledge would be exchanged with neighboring people in the forms of stories, rituals, and daily practices.
In the 1800’s Western anthropologists studying indigenous cultures began to categorize this relationship between plants and people as a new science called, ethnobotany, “ethno” meaning people and “botany” meaning plants.
Over the last 200 years the field has evolved to include ethnomedicine and most recently it’s application in modern pharmaceuticals.
But, how is it that centuries ago societies without modern laboratory equipment learned how to use botanicals with such precise applications and outcomes?
To understand this, we welcome Dr. Michael Balick, ethnobotanist, and Vice President and Director of the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Gardens. For more than four decades, Dr. Balick has studied the relationship between plants and people. Most of his research is in remote regions of the tropics, like Micronesia, on the islands of Pohnpei, Kosrae, Palau and Melanesia, in the Republic of Vanuatu where he works with indigenous cultures to document plant diversity, knowledge of its traditional use and evaluation of the potential of botanical resources, particularly medicinal plants, for broader application and use.
Dr. Weil, Dr. Maizes, and Dr. Balick discuss why it's so important to understand ethnobotany in modern society, the benefits of “whole-plant” traditional medicines, and how ethnobotanists are working with indigenous elders to preserve cultural practices and ancient knowledge.
Episode #20 How Psychedelics Will Change the Future of Mental Health Treatment with Ronan Levy
Psychedelics, such as ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, and LSD have been tightly controlled and highly debated substances for decades, but after several years of clinical trials, the FDA has recently awarded both MDMA and psilocybin, when used in conjunction with psychotherapy, with breakthrough status for the research of challenging mental health disorders, like PTSD.
The breakthrough status designation means that the FDA will expedite the review of the research. Mental health advocates are keen to open these treatments to a wider demographic of patients. And, it’s important to note that there’s been a long tradition of psychedelic use as a healing practice among cultures across the world.
So, is modern society ready to embrace psychedelics? Newly passed local laws show that it’s becoming more widely accepted. Legal access to psilocybin is already available in parts of the US and Canada.
Joining us on this episode is Ronan Levy, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Field Trip Psychedelics a new company that is treating patients who have mental health diagnoses with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.
Together, Dr. Weil, Dr. Maizes, and Levy discuss important aspects of psychedelic treatment. Dr. Weil defines psychedelic-assisted therapy and how it works. Dr. Maizes raises the questions, “What should be considered when applying these treatments?” and “When will it be made available to patients?” Levy describes the current regulations and laws around the substances in the US and Canada, the treatment protocols at his clinic, and what the future holds for patients seeking psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Episode #19 The Gut-Brain Axis - How Your Brain and Body Communicate with John Cryan, PhD
At some point in your life, you’ve likely been told to “trust your gut” when making a decision or experienced a “gut reaction” to external stimuli. Medical research indicates that these gut idioms might just be right about the role of the gut! It turns out that the gut microbiome communicates with the brain and can potentially influence our behavior. Researchers have named this link the gut-brain axis and it provides a robust communication network between the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system. At its core is the enteric nervous system which has more than 5 times the number of neurons in our brains and trillions of microorganisms. This system has been dubbed the “second brain” or the “gut-brain” for its influence on our overall physical and mental health.
Our guest today is neuroscientist John Cryan, PhD. Professor Cryan investigates how the gut microbiome affects the mammalian brain. He is Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Principal Investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center at University College of Cork (Ireland). Dr. Cryan’s research has demonstrated the bi-directional relationship between our gut and emotional and mental wellbeing.
In this episode Dr. Weil, Dr. Maizes, and Professor Cryan discuss the role the vagus nerve plays in regulating homeostasis, how chemicals released in the gut send signals to the brain, how maternal bacteria influence our early development, the link between sleep and gut health, and how diet can influence this complex system.
Episode #18 A Kingdom of Their Own - How Fungi Shape Our World with Merlin Sheldrake
Fungi have shaped our world for billions of years and are present in us, on us, and in nearly every environment. They are one of the oldest lifeforms found on earth and throughout time formed landscapes and helped to give rise to the plant and animal kingdoms. These organisms forge mutually beneficial life-sustaining partnerships with us and can teach us a great deal about whole systems thinking.
Our guest is Merlin Sheldrake, biologist and best-selling author of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures.
Merlin has spent his career investigating the role fungi play in supporting life on our planet, including the relationships between humans and fungi. Merlin posits, “All plants depend on fungi to survive, which means that all the food we eat, and the health of the soil in which it grows, depends on fungal activity. Fungal medicines and foods have played pivotal roles in human health for an unknowably long time, and have been responsible for some of the most dramatic breakthroughs in modern medicine.”
In this episode, Dr. Weil, Dr. Maizes, and Sheldrake discuss how the symbiotic nature of fungi challenges our perception of self. Dr. Maizes discusses their use in mental health and asks why mushrooms are popular in some cultures and avoided in others. Dr. Weil describes the medicinal and culinary use of fungi. Sheldrake discusses significant fungal properties and shares the many benefits they bring to humankind.
Episode #17 The Low-FODMAPs Diet with Dr. Peter Gibson
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, affecting more than 10% of the population. Symptoms include chronic constipation, diarrhea, or acute abdominal pain a short time after eating. The unpredictable and disruptive nature of these symptoms along with their emotional toll can lead to heightened levels of stress, which in turn, may worsen symptoms.
Our guest on this episode is Dr. Peter Gibson, Professor and Director of Gastroenterology at The Alfred and Monash University in Australia. Prof. Gibson’s clinical research has revealed a surprising link between certain carbohydrates and gut dysfunction. On the episode, he explains how FODMAPs (which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) slowly digest in the gut releasing gas and drawing in excess water thereby interfering with normal GI function. Together with his research team at Monash University, Dr. Gibson has developed the Low-FODMAP Diet which temporarily eliminates certain foods thus preventing fermentation and providing relief to sensitive colons.
Drs. Weil, Maizes, and Gibson discuss the ins and outs and complexities of following a low FODMAP diet and the value of this useful tool for relieving the symptoms of IBS as well as other GI disorders.
An amazing podcast with so much valuable information. SO glad to see an interview with Dr. Schubiner here. Amazing, amazing information that can change your life.
Always love listening to this podcast. Provides great insight and has helped me on my wellness journey.
As a physician, it’s great to hear about integrative medicine perspectives that can be SO useful in any medical specialty, and even more generally to the public! Keep up the great work and thanks for all you do :)