This week I met with Dr. Adolf Brown. He is the founder and owner of the Gaia Clinic in Tucson, Arizona, where he worked closely with Dr. Jeffrey Bland, the founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine.
He currently practices his unique blend of kinesiology, craniosacral therapy and functional medicine in Ubud on Bali.
With seasonal allergies, I think there's a strong correlation to gut inflammation and often times there's food allergies underpinning that. -Dr.Adolf Brown- Click To Tweet
- The triad of health <<06:03>>
- Diagnostic Systems for Food Allergies <<08:00>>
- Brain Slugs and Intuitive Eating <<25:08>>
- Accessing the bodies intuition <<27:05>>
- The greatest misunderstanding of the gluten-free movement <<31:35>>
- Stomach Acid and Cat Food <<37:44>>
- Practicing Internal Martial Arts to connect the energetic body with the physical body <<53:07>>
Raw food is less optimal if you have low stomach acid. -Dr.Adolf Brown- Click To Tweet
If you try and make pasta out of millet, amaranth or quinoa which are non-glutenous things, it just crumbles. It doesn’t hold together. You have to put some kind of glueing agent. Protein has a gleuing effect and there’s a lot of practitioners who don’t understand that correlation. A lot of Ayurvedic practitioners think rice cures everything. Well, maybe 99 out of 100 people, yes, but there are some people who can’t tolerate that rice protein. There are a lot of naturopaths, I’ve had patients come in who have been under the care of a naturopath and they took them off gluten but they didn’t take them off rice or corn and the other grains. So, this information needs to be more widely disseminated.
The Order & Kaos of Human Potential – the podcast about the science and the art, the known and the unknown territories of human performance and health.
Gerrit Keferstein: Welcome, my brothers and sisters. You tune back into The Order & Kaos of Human Potential with Gerrit Keferstein and I’m bringing you this podcast because I believe that the challenges and the frontiers in human health and also on human performance break new records and sports performance but also reach new heights in their own mental and emotional performance. We need to have a good combination of the science of health and performance but also the art of health and performance. And today I met with one of these artists was has also very good scientific thinking, Dr. Adolf Brown. He is a chiropractor, originally from Texas but 10 years ago he moved here to Ubud. Ubud in Bali is this hotbed of people who are into Yoga and people coming from all over the world to do juice fast and spiritual retreats and detox camps and all these things and if you watch the movie Eat Pray Love, which I haven’t, you know what Ubud looks like and what Ubud feels like. A lot of people ask me if I watched the movie. A lot of time I tell people I’m in Ubud and they’re “Oh, well, did you watch the movie.” No, I haven’t and I’m not really interested in it from what I’ve heard but, yeah, if you’ve watched it, you should know what Ubud’s like. And people say it’s the fifth chakra of the world, whatever that means, but it feels pretty special here. I particularly like some places, for example, that Yoga barn. It’s a campus dedicated to Yoga and all the associated therapies and activities. They have five big studios, I think. In the last week I spent here all week, spending time with Dr. Adolph Brown but also doing Yoga myself. Some things of Yoga I really like and some things I really, really don’t like. And one thing I really like about Yoga is the Yin part of Yoga which the relaxing, the spiritual and meditative part of Yoga and also the more relaxed types of positions and movements and Yin Yoga is a style where I did a 90-minute class and it’s five, six, seven stretches of 3 to 5 minutes each and you hold 3 to 5 minutes each stretching position. And I really like that and especially if the teacher is good and she gives you a guided meditation while you’re in the stretches, that’s something I really benefit a lot from. So, I did that and mentored with Dr. Adolf Brown during the day. He’s a chiropractor by trade but he mostly practices osteopathic craniosacral therapy in combination with applied kinesiology. He’s very much into internal martial arts and overall just an amazing human being.
So, without further ado, Dr. Adolf Brown.
Thank you for taking the time. We spent the last week together. It was really awesome so far. Maybe we’ve got some more days. So, glad you took the time and just for the listeners, tell a little bit about your way of working here in Ubud.
Adolf Brown: Okay. Well, I consider myself to be a holistic chiropractic physician and I specialize in applied kinesiology which is a diagnostic system based on muscle testing and craniosacral therapy. And in terms of the amount of time I spend with patients, the main thing that I do is the craniosacral therapy. I also do chiropractic style joint manipulation when it’s needed but the more I get into the cranial, the less I do more aggressive joint manipulation. I do a lot of work with people with chronic injuries that have been unresponsive to other modalities and chronic immune conditions, digestive disorders, food allergy testing and this kind of thing.
Gerrit Keferstein: That was one thing that really fascinated me right from the get-go when I met you is you have this fluid connection between what’s in the mechanical body, say chronic injuries and how that connects to the internal energetic body, the physiology, how that relates maybe to food allergies and I really love the fluidity of how you go from chronic injuries and mechanical injuries on mechanical pain to physiological issues related to organs or food allergies which is the main topic for you. I love that.
Adolf Brown: Cool! Thanks. I consider that to be one of my little specialties or one of the therapeutic windows and understandings that I have. And to give credit where credit’s due, part of that comes from the applied kinesiology theory of The Triad of Health. In the words, the electromagnetic or energetic aspects of the body, the structural aspects, and the biochemical physiological aspects are all related and any can cause the other. So, there’s this triad or a triangle of health. So, that as a conceptual foundation has been very instrumental from me in terms of my approach to things. And then the other conceptual framework that I draw on very heavily is the idea of functional medicine and the gut being the center of the immune system and that that is affecting everything else. And in terms of the effects of the physiology on the musculoskeletal system, the main buzzword is ‘inflammation’ and there are various mechanisms by which physiology effects the musculoskeletal system. One is especially the gut inflammation because this is one major sources of inflammation in the body because the gut is associated with lymphatic tissues, if there is inflammation in the gut, there’s inflammation in the immune system and the immune system is everywhere in the body. So, it affects the joints, it affects the muscles, it effects the brain.
So, for example, fibromyalgia I consider to be an inflammatory condition.
Gerrit Keferstein: Fibromyalgia, for people who are not from the medical field, being basically the total body pain mostly all day.
Adolf Brown: Yeah. I think of fibromyalgia as being more muscle kind of pain whereas rheumatoid and arthritic pain is more joint pain and I see that as an expression of inflammation in the system often related to the gut.
Gerrit Keferstein: Why is that? I mean, many people have it but would you consider it as being a normal condition for the human existence? Is it something that’s always been there or do you think it’s something that kind of came about maybe by the way we live our life that people have so many inflammatory conditions.
Adolf Brown: Well, that’s a bit of a Pandora’s Box question but clearly the industrialization of our food supply and genetic modification and the use of pesticides and antibiotics, so the whole industrialization of food has had an impact on our gut and on our gut health. So, this could be one reason why there’s increasing prevalence in these conditions but it’s speculation. I don’t think anybody really knows but I had a patient who was a wheat farmer in Australia and I started talking with her about the process they go through to grow wheat. And I was blown away. First, they clear the ground and they saturate it with pesticide. So, they kill everything in the ground and then they take the wheat seed. The wheat seed’s genetically modified and that’s saturated with pesticides and herbicides and then they put that into the ground and then through the entire cycle of the wheat they have chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that are constantly being put onto the wheat. And I was like “Wow! That’s amazing.” I had no idea of the extent of that. So, I think that that ultimately has an effect on our immunity and our gut health. So, I think that’s one recent prevalence that’s increasing.
Gerrit Keferstein: How often do you see that the person has chronic joint pain or chronic mechanical issues, be it joints or muscles and how often do you see that it’s related to the physiology, that some organ’s effected or even the gut is effected?
Adolf Brown: Well, it’s a very high percentage but it’s hard for me to give you an exact number.
Gerrit Keferstein: Because of the people that come to you or …
Adolf Brown: Well, that’s part of it because I’m sort of at the end of the chain in a lot of situations. Where someone has keen pain, for example, they’ll go to a medical doctor, they’ll go to a physical therapist, they’ll go to an acupuncturist. So, they’ll see a chain of people before they get to me. So, in some ways my demographic is skewed towards this kind of chronic condition. So, it’s a very high percentage in my practice but the people who didn’t have that problem would have been cured by somebody else along the way. So, I wouldn’t inherently see them. You see what I mean but I would say musculoskeletal pain related to gut inflammation, 75%.
Gerrit Keferstein: And you find that out by your approach to kinesiology which is the muscle testing and you can see the connection through the organ?
Adolf Brown: In applied kinesiology theory the muscles are connected to the organs via the acupuncture movement system. So, when an organ is under stress, it will turn off and move away from the related muscle. So, we can diagnose internal organ stress by testing muscles. And then in more advanced levels we can ask the body specific questions about what’s going on, do food allergy testing and things like this. And I consider applied kinesiology functional medicine testing. I don’t know if functional medical people would consider that but I do, because we’re testing function. So, one of the mechanisms by which hip pain, knee pain, low back pain occurs through gut inflammation is the muscle that’s related to the small intestines, the Rectus Femoris, which is one of the main hip flexors in the body. So, gut inflammation will turn off Rectus Femoris so it won’t fire 100% and then that imbalances the structure. So, I ask all of my patient “Tell us your digestion” in the course of the interview but especially in conditions of knee pain, hip pain, back pain, digestion has to be ruled out and it can be systemic body pain like fibromyalgia or arthritic kind of conditions but it can also be specific types of pain.
Gerrit Keferstein: I was thinking about that when we were talking about that this last week because I was working in pro basketball and a lot of those guys have knee pain, the front patella or just chronic knee pain. One thing that helped a lot of them was cleaning up their diet in terms of reducing the amount of grains they have, beef, because of gluten or some other substance that are in there aggravating the immune system and my explanation of it was “Well, you have an inflammation in the knee when your immune system is bothered by the inflammation of the gut, which is a higher priority for the body, right? So, the gut net functioning is worse than the knee net function. So, those are always my explanation but I find it very interesting that you said “Well, also another way of seeing it, the gut information turns off the mechanical controllers, turns off the hip muscle that control the knee.” That’s more direct.
Adolf Brown: Yeah. So, there’s a direct mechanical correlation and there’s an indirect sort of systemic and immune system inflammation correlation but I believe any patient who presents with knee pain, their gut should be evaluated and Rectus Femoris should be tested. I think that’s just a part of a normal balanced intake because a certain percentage, and we don’t know exactly what the percentage is, but a certain percentage, that knee pain will be a direct result of gut inflammation.
Gerrit Keferstein: That’s what I’m reading about here because the way you approach diagnostics is very fascination. You have a very quick way of getting to these answers and functional and it’s the way I was educated, be it form allopathic medicine or functional medicine approach, we would use lab testing and lab testing is “great” because we have black or white results but it costs a lot of money, it takes a lot of time and it’s all over estimated how accurate it is. Like even some really, really accurate testing, HIV testing, there are false positives and false negatives. So, it might show up that you have a gut issue but in actuality you don’t or it might show up that you do not have any gut issue but in actuality you have. So, it’s not really accurate and it’s expensive and it takes a lot of time, especially the gut diagnostics, it’s really not accurate at all. That’s why I was so interested to learn your system. I love it so far where you have five-minute approach to get into that – “Okay, so knee pain? Yeah. Okay, let’s see if your gut is involved.” Five minutes and you have the answer. Be it 100% accurate or 95%, you say you’re very convinced, have very good accuracy of that. Well, it’s probably more accurate than some lab tests.
Adolf Brown: Well, first of all, let me say, I don’t think that there’s a better, exclusive methodology of testing. I think all of the methodologies need to be incorporated. And what I say about applied kinesiology is that I have absolute confidence that I have a high probability of accuracy. I mean, the downside is it’s an intuitive test. It’s practitioner dependent and the skill of the practitioner will determine the outcome of the test but I’ve had so many positive experiences with it that I don’t doubt the validity of it as a diagnostic test.
Gerrit Keferstein: See, when we started working on it last week where I was the biggest skeptic of all of them and I said “Hey, let’s get out the fish scale. Let’s measure objectively if that muscle really got weaker or got stronger. And after 20 or 30 minutes where I tested some people and we brought out the magnets and how it turned muscles off and on and we did some testing of the Yin and the Yang muscle system and I just felt 100% like it got to count, I understood it.
Adolf Brown: And I think there has been an effort over the years with kinesiologists to try and objectify it and measure it “scientifically”, in other words, objectively. To my knowledge, it hasn’t been successful yet. And I don’t know if it is measurable. I think that it’s like trying to measure Chinese medicine – this meridian point active or inactive – I don’t think modern science has a good way of measuring energy yet but we know that energy effects the system. We know that energy is there because you can look at all the ancient medicine systems are based on Chip and Prana.
Gerrit Keferstein: They’ve done things where they put people on force plates and they pushed on the arm to see if that one time there was more force than the other time and the muscle’s weak and that didn’t prove fruitful at all but one thing, as far as I understand kinesiology, it’s not about is the muscle stronger or weaker. It’s about does it react for us. Does it have soft reaction or does it have a hard reaction. Does it turn on immediately, can it react when force is being applied or not? When you do the testing, I hardly feel somebody pushing against me at all. So, it’s very soft approach.
One thing I notice is, what you said, as a practitioner you can influence. And one thing I noticed with the practice group we had this difference when people test and some are really open to the outcome like whatever comes out, that’s just how the body responds to that whether it be gluten allergy or not or whether it be the toxicity or not and some practitioners feel like they want to force something on you, that they might know something about gluten. So, they want everybody to [inaudible][20:03] gluten intolerance, right? And that seems to be you got to have a really open mind when you approach this, empty mind.
Adolf Brown: Well, when I teach applied kinesiology, I really try and drill it into my students that bias can affect the outcome of the test. So, it’s really important to have some kind of a neutral bias. And as practitioners, we’re all biased. We can’t not be biased and the way I handle the bias issue when it comes up is I put my cards on the table, I say “Well, I can talk about this question but here’s my bias.” For example, the raw food cook food thing, I’m totally biased towards cooked food and that makes me a bit of a black sheep in the sort of Ubudian raw food community but the Chinese medicine people totally get it. The Ayurvedic people totally get it. So, if this discussion comes up with a patient, it’s important for me to state my bias – “I’m biased this way. This is my leaning and let’s discuss this in terms of your particular body.” And this is to me one of the biggest understandings that I got from functional medicine theory is biochemical individuality, every person is different. And this is where I see many medical systems, both indigenous and more modern Western systems, they’re applying a process on to the person rather than accessing that person’s physiology and asking that person’s physiology what it needs. And kinesiology has been for me to be able to honor this concept of biochemical individuality.
Gerrit Keferstein: If you look at cooked versus raw, some people do better with raw, some people do better with cooked. And kinesiology gives us the tools to ask that particular individual. It’s kind of same, this idea, we all need the same diet. When we look at each other from the outside, we look different. The probability that we look different from the inside is very high and actually people look at how long is your gut compared to mine and this person and the shape of the stomach. That’s the idea of the biochemical individuality and also the levels of enzyme stakes. Some people might have so much higher levels of enzymes if they have just protein than other people. And one thing I noticed here in Ubud and you just mentioned that there seems to be this bias towards veganism, veganism being equal to a spiritually healthy diet and also physiologically healthy diet. How do you see that? You come from Arizona, right? Coming to Ubud, this spiritual hotspot of the world … A couple of days ago I was sitting with somebody and he said “Yeah, yeah, Ubud is the fifth chakra of the world.” That’s interesting. What are the other six? So, how’s that? How is that transition? How do you see the spiritual path and the pedagogical path and maybe if there’s something energetic or not.
Adolf Brown: Well, I think I have a foot in both worlds. I have a very scientific and rational side of myself and I also feel like I’ve been an energetic spiritual side of myself and somehow part of my role is to balance those two extremes. I see a lot of people going over the top with this vegetarianism and veganism. And on an emotional level and on a social level, I totally understand and empathize with that and on the spiritual level, not so much. If you look at nature, everything eats everything. My cat doesn’t feel bad about killing a rat. He feels really good about it. And I feel sorry for the rat but I realize that’s part of nature and I don’t think humans are exempt from that but what I’ve seen physiologically purely from a health standpoint is some people do better with animal protein and some people do better with plant-based diet it has to be assessed from a health perspective. It has to be assessed individually. Where we get into trouble is we get these ideas in our head about how it should be or the more spiritual way to be and then we apply that mentality to our particular physiology without actually paying attention what’s going on in our body.
Gerrit Keferstein: Yeah, when we you feel into your body, you should get a pretty good feedback at least over some days or weeks where the diet you’re on is great or not but it seems like sometimes we get infected by those brain slugs kind of stuff that they put on their head like slugs and they feed us these ideas that this is acidifying, this is alkanizing, this is toxic because that now in actuality feels something different. So, maybe it’s about getting this unconsciousness back to feel for it instead of consciously thinking about it.
Adolf Brown: Yeah, like I remember having a conversation with a patient about that and she’s like “Well, you know, I’m a vegetarian but then I went through a short period of eating fish and I felt so much better when I was eating fish but I really wanted to be a vegetarian and should I …” And I wanted to say “Well, you just told me you felt better when eat fish” but it even came out of her mouth because she couldn’t hear yourself saying that or she couldn’t accept that she said it. Her body knew it but there was this whole moral dilemma, spiritual dilemma in there.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, is kinesiology maybe a way of bypassing the brain slugs or alerting our rationality? After all, you got the speakerphone, a beautiful body.
Adolf Brown: No, you’re accessing the body’s intuition or the body’s innate intelligence.
Gerrit Keferstein: What if somebody has a way or just a way about of him or her that’s so strong rationality that’s impossible to access intuition? Even with kinesiology is that possible?
Adolf Brown: Well, I’ve never encountered that. I mean I’ve had people who have such a strong rational conviction to certain things that they weren’t able to accept what I would say or that I didn’t even bother to say what it is. It’s like if someone’s a dedicated vegetarian, sometimes it’s like I except that and try and work within that parameter even if I as a physician might think that they would do better to eat animal protein. So, we have to take into account these emotional and spiritual things and do the best we can within that. One interesting and somewhat tangential thing to this discussion is I work fairly closely with a well-known midwife here and the most difficult births that she has in terms of complications like hemorrhaging and various other things come with vegan pregnancies.
Gerrit Keferstein: Oh really? Why is that?
Adolf Brown: Well, they’re malnourished. In my opinion they’re malnourished. Their bodies don’t have enough protein to make a baby and it weakens the system in the mother.
Gerrit Keferstein: Wow! Or is it protein, is it B12, both?
Adolf Brown: Both for sure. B12 is the most common nutrient deficiency in a vegetarian diet but it’s protein, it’s density, it’s calories. Our bodies are mostly protein.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, somebody [inaudible][29:01] being in journey, what are the signs to notice that we’re protein deficient? I mean, the most obvious thing is probably trouble gaining muscle.
Adolf Brown: Sure. So, general overall body tone for one thing, energy levels, hair loss, endocrine imbalances.
Gerrit Keferstein: How do you see the involvement of the immune system? One nutritionist I work with in Germany, he believes and he treats this way that a lot of allergies are because protein deficiency. People who are protein deficient in their lifestyle, this summer they might have one allergy, next summer they may have two, the summer after they might get three and as soon as they stock up on their protein, one by one their allergies go away. Is that something you see in veganism or vegetarianism?
Adolf Brown: I have never noticed that correlation. I mean, with seasonal allergies, I think there’s a strong correlation to gut inflammation and often times there’s food allergies underpinning that and the food allergies or intolerances elevate the activity of the immune system in the gut so then the immune system becomes hyper-reactive. So, when a pollen comes along, then the immune system goes off on it because the immune system is constantly being triggered through the gut. I see that correlation.
Gerrit Keferstein: It is like a nervous person that reacts to everything that can be immunized and they tend to buy everything. They’re scared by everything that happens.
Adolf Brown: Exactly. One interesting patient I had recently had nasal polyps and had had three surgeries to remove the nasal polyps because they came back after each surgery and ultimately lost his sense of smell. And I diagnosed him with glutinous grain intolerance, he went off the grains and regained his sense of smell and the nasal polyps didn’t come back. So, immune tissue in that area responds to the immune tissue in the gut and I think there’s a similar pattern with seasonal allergies and the reactivity of nasal goes up and the lung goes up and there’s a strong correlation with asthma, for example.
Gerrit Keferstein: You always keep saying glutinous grains which are kind of really interesting. You’re not talking about gluten per se.
Adolf Brown: This is one of my shticks and I wish I could disseminate this knowledge. Gluten is a protein that’s only in wheat and gluten-free means wheat-free. And I think there’s a whole lot of social awareness now about gluten having negative effects in certain people but there are other glutinous grains or other grains with glutinous proteins. Basically anything that you can make pasta or rice or bread out of, these kinds of things have a glutinous protein. So, rice is probably the most common. Oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, spelt, kamut and corn all have glutinous proteins and some people who react to gluten will also react to these other grains.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, somebody has issues with some immune condition, be it skin condition or autoimmune condition or allergies and they restrict their gluten from wheat and some other grains that contain gluten but they still have issues that could also be that they react to glutinous grains. So, they still eat their rice, right? There might be something in there which is similar to gluten and that [inaudible][33:03] the immune system as well.
Adolf Brown: Exactly. And I can’t tell you the number of patients I’ve had that said “Well, I’ve gone gluten free it helped a little bit but it didn’t really solve the problem.” – “What do you have for breakfast?” – “Oats.” – “What do you eat for lunch?” – “Rice.” There it is. I mean, you can make pasta out of rice. You can make bread out of rice. You can make pancakes out of rice.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, every time it sticks, there’s glutinous stuff there. So, this is something you could say to many people who think they are intolerant to gluten or they’ve tried gluten free that they should also try for a couple of weeks. So, how long should they try [inaudible][33:40] also the rice and the oats?
Adolf Brown: Well, what I tell people is to get a change I their musculoskeletal condition because a lot of people come to me for musculoskeletal condition, you need at least a month of very strictly off these grains. One to three months it is a good trial period in terms of changing a chronic inflammatory condition whether it’s a gut condition or a musculoskeletal condition because the immune system has this way of ratcheting up its level of alertness or its level of inflammation what it considers to be based on. And so, it takes the immune system a while to ratchet it back down again but I want to revolve back around to a point in our earlier conversation where you were saying “Well, we should just listen to our bodies and know what feels right and what doesn’t feel right” and I think where that goes wrong and needs an objective influence is that, let’s say, rice, in some people it’s the first food they ever got. Rice porridge for babies is a lovely baby food. For people without this intolerance, it’s an amazingly good food. So, if you’re glutinous grain intolerant and you’ve been having rice since almost the first food you could eat, your body has on some level accepted that as normal. So, it doesn’t have the objectivity to know it doesn’t feel good with that.
Does that make sense.
So, this is where, I think, we need …
Gerrit Keferstein: So, the emotional connection to the food also is kind of overpowering physiologically.
Adolf Brown: Yeah, absolutely.
Gerrit Keferstein: That same nutritionist I was referring to earlier, he has a similar approach to babies and young people’s foods where he says intuitively the child would choose the food that’s good for him but doesn’t eat broccoli because it doesn’t digest broccoli well, flaxseed’s very good, except for sugar because they take it as substance, don’t trust the intuition of sugar and some of the grains, is what he said. So, most of vegetables and the meats, if the kid loves meat, it should probably eat the meat and if it doesn’t, probably should not.
Adolf Brown: I think there’s rabbits and there’s foxes. And if you’re a fox and you try and live on grass, you’re not going to thrive or you’re going to get sick.
Gerrit Keferstein: Vikings and people from South England, eat the mango or eat the deer. It’s important we have this mental flexibility that there’s not just this one way but on the whole spectrum it can be any extreme, it can be only fruits and vegetables, completely vegan diet might be healthy for some, maybe for short term only, maybe medium term, maybe also all meat. For example, particular the other extreme, genetically you’re pure Viking and all you ate was basically salt and meat and some kale, maybe that’s something you can consider for your diet if you feel right. If at some point you do this for two, three, four, five weeks and don’t feel right, change it up until you feel right again.
Adolf Brown: Well, I recommend the paleo diet for a lot of people, especially people who are intolerant to the glutinous grains because a vegetarian diet is very challenging if you can’t eat 90% of the grains.
Gerrit Keferstein: You have a very special population here in Ubud because here in Ubud everybody who goes here is health conscious. Most people that spend time here, especially with Yoga Barn, they’ve thought about diet every once in a while, they’ve tried different things, they’ve read many, many things of what’s healthy physically, emotionally, mentally. Still, sometimes maybe their rationalities can overpower them. So, I’d be interested in what are some things that you find unhealthy people, who live a very healthy life, at least consciously, because that would be really interesting for me as a doctor as well because there so many people that come to me say “Well, I do so many things right. I eat healthy. I move healthy. I do this healthy but still I feel shitty in that part of my life.” So, what are some habits or things you find that are unhealthy in very health-conscious people?
Adolf Brown: Well, one thing that comes to mind is the whole acidification-alkalinization thing. That’s a big trend in sort of modern dietary health conscious people is alkalize, alkalize, alkalize but there are a significant number of people who don’t produce enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach. So, in a sense they’re hypoacidic and I recommend that they take hydrochloric acid before each meal or apple cider vinegar diluted before each meal.
Gerrit Keferstein: How would somebody know he produces or she produces not enough hydrochloric acid in the stomach?
Adolf Brown: Well, it’s hard to tell just from symptoms because that one problem can cause so many different symptoms. It’s like a domino effect to the entire digestive system which can affect the immune system, which can affect the musculoskeletal system, which can affect the endocrine system. So, just based on symptom level, it’s difficult to sort that out but what I commonly hear from people with low stomach acidity is they can’t identify a consistent food trigger. So, they try eliminating this and it helps a little and then it kind of doesn’t and they try eliminating that and helps a little bit and it doesn’t. So, that’s one very common pattern that I see.
Gerrit Keferstein: Food seems to be the issue in general without having any specific thing.
Adolf Brown: Right because they’ve low stomach acid, they’re not digesting any food well. They try getting off gluten, it helps a little bit. They try getting off meat, it helps a little bit. And then the other thing is they’re often bloated and constipated and the reason for this is the stomach acidity when it goes in the small intestine, it triggers the gall bladder to contract and that starts the whole peristalsis thing. So, when they lack that trigger, they often end up getting constipation.
Gerrit Keferstein: What’s the percentage of people, you think that are coming to your practice have that?
Adolf Brown: Well, again, I think my demographic is somewhat slanted but it’s hard. It’s maybe one or two out of 10.
Gerrit Keferstein: It can be that people have vitamin or nutrient deficiencies because of lack of stomach acid?
Adolf Brown: Yeah, absolutely. One that comes to mind, and that one was, she couldn’t absorb iron.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, iron deficiency, very common, they even go on wellness, they feel like they can get their iron levels up?
Adolf Brown: Right.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, stomach is something they should check?
Adolf Brown: Absolutely. And it leads to general malabsorption. It leads to the dysbiosis.
Gerrit Keferstein: Dysbiosis meaning the bacterial population in the gut, they shift towards the bad guys.
Adolf Brown: Right. And what I say, the analogy I use is if you put cat food on your porch every night, you’re going to get cats but it’s like the undigested food, every time you eat, you’re feeding the bacterial population.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, the same food can have either a positive or a negative effect on your microbiology or the bacterial populations in your gut depending on if it gets digested well in the form of having enough stomach acid or not. So, you can have cooked vegan, full vegetarian sort of healthy meal and it can be totally unhealthy because it isn’t digested well or you can have completely healthy because you have enough stomach acid.
Adolf Brown: Right. And the other thing to point out too is raw food is less optimal if you have low stomach acid because you can compare stomach acidity to a digestifier, if you will, if you want to use terminology you’re more familiar with.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, it’s worse with raw food.
Adolf Brown: That’s a good sign. Yeah, that’s a good sign.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, it’s better when you cook your food thoroughly, possibly you have your stomach acid. What are other ways to find that out?
Adolf Brown: See, that’s the thing I don’t know. I’ve relied so much on kinesiology over the years that my knowledge of the other physiologic performance and testing is rusty.
Gerrit Keferstein: Is it really expensive form, the Heidelberg capsule, it’s the capsule you swallow and measures your acidity and goes all the way through your whole system, a 1,500-dollar test almost? Have you heard of the baking soda test?
Adolf Brown: Yes, yes. That’s what I was going to mention, actually.
Gerrit Keferstein: Do you have experience with that?
Adolf Brown: I haven’t personally used it but, yeah, you should look it up because I don’t remember the specifics but the idea is you take baking soda and that baking soda should be neutralized by the stomach acid fairly quickly and then you burp at a certain point. So, the amount of baking soda that causes a burp, if you will…
Gerrit Keferstein: Because acid and baking soda, they should create gas.
Adolf Brown: Right, exactly. So, that should be available on the internet and that’s a very cheap easy way to get a pretty good idea.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, if you’re bloated, you feel better with cooked food, you have constipation, you have maybe energy efficiency because of vitamin deficiency, many things it could be, but they also lead you to suspect at least the acid issue.
Adolf Brown: And it has to be ruled out. And the other one is the non-identifiable food triggers.
Gerrit Keferstein: Because there is this HCR you can buy over the counter, stomach acid. Is it worth a try to take that for food, is it better as is it too risky?
Adolf Brown: Well, I don’t think it’s risky. I think if you take too much, your stomach gets acidic, you’ll have acid reflux and burning and that’s a sign that you’re taking too much.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, it’s a good way also to titrate it up a little bit and when you get reflux, you’re sure you have enough but if you don’t adjust well, you don’t feel like burping, you’re bloating, you don’t have enough but you use kinesiology, that’s your weapon of choice.
What are some other things that you found – you’ve been here 10 years now – you found to be valuable in your practice in the last 10 years?
Adolf Brown: Well, one of the biggest things which I think we discussed in pretty good detail is the whole gut immune system connection and the effects on the musculoskeletal system and how that needs to be evaluated in any kind of musculoskeletal or digestive issues. The other thing that that I’ve stumbled across which I find really fascinating is that the craniosacral system has a mechanical effect on the immune system. So, we often think of the immune system purely in physiological terms, not in mechanical terms. And what I learned in school is the muscle is where they pump lymphatic fluids which is true to a certain extent but I believe the craniosacral system also has a direct mechanical effect on the immune system and if the craniosacral system is compromised, then that will often compromise the immune system. And there seems to be a high correlation with whiplash injuries, head injuries and chronic fatigue syndrome, for example. And one patient I had had very bad chemical sensitivity and chronic fatigue syndrome. She was managing her life pretty well but it was a major task for her to just handle her life and when she was in her 20s, she had a diving accident where she was taken by a wave and thrown up on the cliff on some rocks. So, she had sort of this double whiplash head injury and her head the tank as well. When I put my hands on her, I immediately felt all this tension in the whole upper cervical system and her neck and by the end of the treatment, she felt massively better and I believe that tension in the upper cervical area and the dural mechanism puts tension into the autonomic nervous system into the brain stem and that can actually scramble or the autonomic nervous system. So, you can get autoimmune problems, digestive problems, endocrine problems, all of these sequelae from mechanical source.
Gerrit Keferstein: So, the autonomic nervous system being our autopilot, regulating the digestive system, regulating the immune system, regulating the heart rhythms and that is atomically really close connected to the joints of the craniosacral system and also with the dura which is the sock basically where the spinal cord runs in, right? You influence that and you calm the nervous system. That was one thing I noticed when I spent the week with you really. And what you actually also said was “I have found no faster way to calm down generally overdriven nervous system, the craniosacral therapy.” And I saw that sometimes here when I was sitting in with you treating the patients, they would just melt and they were so tight not all physically but also sometimes mentally coming in and they just sometimes flowed out of here. And that was one thing I took away because the people I work with sometimes I wish I had a fast track to take care of that sympathetic overdrive sometimes. There are many slow tracks to it and you can teach people the value of just taking a walk in the woods once a week or twice a week or three times a week. I have one patient, she wanted to have a workout – “I need a workout to get in shape.” And I said “Hey, give me a couple of minutes.” So, I went to my office, did nothing. After five minutes I came out – “So, here’s the work out” – and I gave her a blank piece of paper – “This is probably the hardest workout you’re ever going to do. Take 60 minutes and it’s just 60 minutes of nothingness. It’s the white paper workout. Go ahead.” But that’s a slow track, right? Clearly the treatments were 15-20 minutes and they seem to just release everything.
Adolf Brown: Apparently there is a direct neurologic connection between the fascia and the autonomic nervous system. My understanding or the way I explain this to myself is that if you need to run up the hill suddenly, you tense your musculoskeletal system. This tenses the fascia. That’s sends a direct message to the autonomic nervous system “Hey, I need blood. I need a heartbeat. I need adrenalin.” So, the response of the musculoskeletal system and the autonomic nervous system is very tightly linked to the fascia. And often, I mean, the one single common factor between virtually every patient I’ve treated is stress, whether it’s like emotional stress or if it’s physical stress or physiological stress, wherever that stress is coming from. That stress, that’s an over-activation of the autonomic nervous system. So, craniosacral therapy is a powerful therapeutic tool for just turning off or calming down or ratcheting down that nervous system. It’s interesting, I recently had a patient who had various forms of musculoskeletal pains and digestive problems and everything and we found he was intolerant to the glutinous grains and she got off that and got way much better but there were still some residual. Even though her diet was crystal and pure, really doing a good job on the diet, she couldn’t shake the last of these kinds of pain and things and orthopedic things and skin rashes. And when I did the testing and did the cranial work, what I found was that there was still some way her system was locked in that sympathetic overdrive and that was a result of upbringing and a result of some trauma she had in her life but it was very clear to me that the endocrine system and the immune system can calm down and orchestrate if that system is locked into the sympathetic that we need. It’s like she couldn’t fully go into parasympathetic. So, cranial is very powerful in the sense that it helps put the person into a more parasympathetic state. And our whole western society is deeply pathological in that it drives us into these sympathetic states. And constant addiction to the screens and to traffic, to noise, to stimulation puts the system in a much more sympathetic state.
Gerrit Keferstein: One thing that was eye-opening to me that you said because we discussed a little bit about philosophy of healing disease and it’s a lot related to the input it forms like how you live your life, how you eat the food, and the thoughts we have, the relationships we have and you said “Well, yeah, plus there can be trauma, plus people can just go diving and hit a rock and then from there the mechanical screw-up screws up the nervous system and it can go all downhill from there and even if you did eat the greatest food, had the greatest relationships and had the greatest stress management, if the trauma is not unwound, it could still be there and it’s only half the battle. I loved that.
One thing I would go into because that’s really something that’s really important for you and maybe get that segue from the stress management is our shared love for the martial arts and one thing I’ve learned from you is the value of internal martial arts. You teach Qui Gong here and I did the Qui Gong session with you. It was awesome to find the same ability of letting go and just going in the movement. Tell us a little bit about what internal martial arts mean for you or martial arts in general mean for you.
Adolf Brown: Well, it’s a big subject. I mean, I have been fascinated by internal martial arts for most of my life and dabbled here and dabbled there and never really got hooked into it until I discovered Ba Gua and for some reason that art really captured my imagination and I had the very great fortune of meeting a very excellent internal martial arts teacher Vince Black in Tucson, Arizona, and learned tremendous amount from him about internal martial arts.
Gerrit Keferstein: What’s Ba Gua?
Adolf Brown: Ba Gua is similar to Tai Chi in the sense that it’s an internal art but it’s very circular in nature. So, it involves a lot of spiraling and turning movements whereas Tai Chi is more understated, it’s more esoteric. Ba Gua is more external and more circular in its nature. The way I understand, there’s three main Wudong arts – Xing-Yi, Ba Gua and Tai Chi. So, these are the main internal arts. And other arts incorporate internal energies but these are sort of the most internal arts. So, anyway, I got captivated by that and then not long before we came to Indonesia I injured my neck, so that sort of affected my shoulders and my hard break condition. So, I wasn’t really able to do Ba Gua and not having a school and a teacher, I kind of dropped the Ba Gua practice. And then I started doing Qui Gong to try and regain my internal health and I start teaching here at the Yoga Barn five or six years ago and just fell in love with teaching it and then I’ve developed Qui Gong more. In the end the Qui Gong is nice in the sense that it frees you the martial imperative. I mean, we were talking about what is the practicality of any particular art and I think that Qui Gong in non-martial art in the sense it’s purely for the cultivation and building of internal energy but the body can move with Chi or the internal energy can move the body and this is sort of thing that, I think, the internal arts were all trying to discover or achieve is when we can move the body with our energy rather than moving the body with mechanical or physical force. That’s where it’s all at.
Gerrit Keferstein: If you’re kind of weird for really saying that, I feel like I really felt the ball of energy you form with the Qui Gong practice. The Qui Gong practice seems to me a lot about collecting the energy from mother earth and father heaven, collecting all that energy and connecting it to the south and the north pole and forming a ball of energy and you try and compress it but you feel you can’t compress it if you really go into the. Like you said, I feel really weird saying that for the audience as well especially but I feel like I really felt the energy. I couldn’t compress it and it always felt like a ball moving around and if you really let go after a while, the first couple of minutes like I was with two hands and some air in between them. After a while I really could handle it, it’s awesome. Cool!
Adolf Brown: Well, the perception of energy is inherent human capacity and the lack of perception and understanding of energy, I believe, is a sociologic or pathologic issue. Our intuitive senses have been socialized out of us and people are beginning to wake up a bit and understand that we have an energetic aspect and Qui Gong is a way of exploring that. I call it an exercise for the energy body. So, yeah, we’re trying to cultivate Chi and we’re trying to make it more intelligent and more articulate and we’re trying to build it, so we’re trying to make it more powerful. And Qui Gong has been a tremendous asset for me in my healing practice because it keeps my energy strong and makes me more sensitive to be able to feel the energetics of the patients. It’s the basis of all oriental medicine and to a certain extent Ayurvedic medicine.
Gerrit Keferstein: It connects, as you said in the beginning, the triad and the feeling. So, we have the physical body, we have the energetic body, we have the physiological body. All need their caring for.
Adolf Brown: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a great story written by a black African shaman named Malidoma Some who wrote a book called Of Water And The Spirit and he was raised in indigenous village close to his grandfather who was the head shaman of the village. And then when he was 4 or 5 years old, he was kidnapped by a Jesuit priest and taken to a seminary school and was raised up to about the age of 20 in seminary school and learned all classic Western education. So, he learned Latin, he learned French, he learned English, he learned geometry and mathematics and science and literature and all of this and totally forgot his native language. And then he at some point freaked out and went back to his village and he had to re-learn his language and was reinitiated in the standard initiatory rituals that they put all the teenagers or adolescents through. They considered him stunted or stupid somehow because of his inability to grasp spiritual things and one time he was walking in the bush with one of his village friends and the guy stopped and started looking round and then went over to a bush and cleared some branches away and there was a little shrine there and he did some kind of a little gesture to this shrine and then they went on their way and Malidoma Some was like “How did you know that was there?” and the guy’s like “How did you not know that was there?” To him that perceptual ability, that intuitive perceptual ability to perceive energy and spirit, that’s the norm, but that was socialized out of him. So, they saw him stunted in a similar way we see 20-year-old who cannot speak or do mathematics at all, similar way. And one of the they attributed to was his ability to read and write and they said “Well, why can’t you just forget how to read and write?”
Gerrit Keferstein: Also, the reading and writing inhibited him from doing that?
Adolf Brown: That’s one of the things they found. So, this whole concept of energy and energy medicine and Chi and Prana, this is our birthright. This is the natural aspect of who we are and I think that to be balanced as humans, we need to regain this awareness.
Gerrit Keferstein: That’s wonderful final words, Dr. Adolf. Love it.
Adolf Brown: Cool!
Gerrit Keferstein: Thanks for your time. It was pleasure being here and listen to you.
Adolf Brown: Well, my pleasure and my honor. So, thank you.
Gerrit Keferstein: All right, that was a whopper, huh? I loved it and if you did, leave a freaking review. Feels a one-sided show. I’m bringing this podcast almost every week and I’ve a single review. I just checked my statistics last week and I have over a thousand listeners but one single review. Kidding me? So, what to do now is stop the recording, go over to iTunes and leave a review and I’ll wait.
Good. Glad you’re back, you left a review, and if you didn’t, now stop the recording and leave review on iTunes. I’d be very grateful for that. So, that’s that out of Ubud. I’m …
No, I’m not going to Yoga today. I’m going back to Sonora. Going back and work on that book project. I’m going to probably tell you in the next podcast what that book project is about.
So, brothers and sisters, may the flow be with you all. Catch on the next podcast. Bye.
Gerrit Keferstein is a Medical Doctor specialised in Performance & Functional Medicine. He is most known for his work on the optimisation of recovery and adaptation in elite athletes.