Humans have gone through a great number of methods in addressing mental health for centuries- and most of the time, humans get it wrong. From exorcisms to lobotomy to extreme medications, humans have failed to realize that mental health isn’t rocket science. It’s not something only the “crazy” have, but it’s something we all have. Don’t you think it’s time to find new, efficient methods to address them? In this episode, Dr. John Rosa discusses how the body, brain, gut, and entire systems work regarding mental health and shares how to achieve holistic health, pain management, and behavioral health! D. Rosa is an Integrative Medical Specialist, an international expert on the opioid crisis, and the CEO of Accessible Beltway Clinics. Join us as we discuss the real definition and efficient solutions to mental health issues and learn how to fight the inner battles that must be fought.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Real Mental Health: Achieving Holistic Health, Pain Management, And Behavioral Health With Dr. John Rosa
Dr. John Rosa is CEO of ABC Management, which is comprised of sixteen integrative medicine clinics in Maryland, Virginia, and overseas, with over 70,000 patient visits per year. ABC Clinics combine medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, and behavioral medicine to give a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to patient care.
He is active in sports medicine, consulting and treating athletes in several universities, the NBA, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, and the US Olympic basketball teams. He is an international expert on the opioid crisis, lecturing and consulting on the topic for the past several years. Thank you so much for joining us. It is great to see you again.
I appreciate you having me on. I love the work you guys are doing and messaging. It is an absolute need in society nowadays. Thank you.
You are entirely welcome and deserving. I was hoping you could start us off by telling us a little bit about how you got into the work you are doing and what drives your passion for it.
I have been in Integrative Medicine for several years. December 3rd, 2022, will mark my 30 years in practice. I still shake my head over and can’t believe it. Most of it has been in the pain management field, and a little bit of behavioral health overlap. I did some research in my undergrad times with some of the polyvagal stuff. I always took an interest in how the body, the brain, the gut, and the entire systems work. It was an eye-opener for me. I stayed with it and followed. There is an overlap in a lot of things when it comes to behavioral medicine and pain management, those areas of the brain are cousins living in the same house. That has been my focus.
I opened up a couple of clinics. My brother is one of my partners in the DC area, mostly in Maryland and Virginia. There was such a need, and no one was doing some out-of-the-box approach to holistic health, pain management, and behavioral health. There is no one in the area doing it at all. This was some time ago. We started opening up clinics and training. Some of the other docs have similar ways of approaching that type of healthcare. We are now at sixteen integrative medicine practices in the area that have medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, and behavioral health. We got a good eclectic group of professionals that are making a difference.
I have been lecturing on the topic. I started with the opioid crisis, then addiction, in general, and mental health overlay on how they collide in their path. I was at an event for the state that I was doing. A representative from the administration at the time, it was somebody from the Obama administration, had asked if I would speak at one of their conferences, and I did. I became a surrogate to the White House for a few administrations. That is where my expertise is.
When you are asked to be at that level, you can consider yourself an expert in anything. When they are asking you to be there, you better do whatever 10,000 hours makes you an expert. This is not out of conceit. I’m not sure if there is a different category than an expert because it is a lot more than 10,000 hours that I have put into the topic.
That has been my roadmap to where I am and what I’m doing. I love every minute of it. It is exhausting. We talk about addiction, overdose, suicide, and mental health. Those numbers, every six months when we have our meetings with CDC and the rest, are going up and not down. It is a difficult battle, but a battle has to be fought nonetheless.
I saw one of the newsletters or blog posts that you put out related to one of the key factors there. There is social connection versus disconnect. What are you learning about that in terms of what is helping us?
We can’t always be at the water’s edge of a 3,000 footfall for waterfall. We can’t keep pulling people up as they go to their demise. We can’t build rafts in the middle of the water and try to put them on there for safety if we don’t go all the way up and see who is pushing them in, or are they jumping in? What causes the chain reaction of things that leads to addiction, mental health issues, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations? We are not talking about the diagnosed 1 in 5 who have this, 1 in 5 who have that, 1 in 5 have bipolar, and 1 in 5 have depression. It is a little bit of BS. It is 5 in 5 of all of us have some level of mental health.
We know physical health because we went for an exam. We know our systems are good. We go to the gym, and it is physical health. As soon as you say mental health, people are like, “Whom are you pointing at? Where is the crazy person?” That is not it. Mental health is mental health. We all live on a continuum of up and down, and we have it.Mental health is mental health. We all live on a continuum of up and down, and we have it. Click To Tweet
We are 500,000 years of an evolutionary process that has protected us as a species that has not disappeared for a reason. We have been communal. We feel safe, which is a big word in this space. Safety is the net. Safety doesn’t mean I’m not in danger. Safety means my community. Somewhere within the way our nervous system works understand that this is where I’m supposed to be. I’m contributing to this part of my society. They contribute back. We got this. That has been completely disrupted.
Look at the tribal instinct of how groups have formed over those years. Everyone has a role. Roles are dissipating every day for us. Most people are not even understanding where their position sits in society, within their family or relationship. We have gotten away from the identity part. It disrupts our neurochemistry to no end. We are supposed to have those doses. Dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins are released. Those chemicals keep us alive, survive, flourish, engage, happiness. The parasympathetic response of living in a good state is all based on that dose.
When the hunter got up in the morning, he got to hit dopamine. When he said, “We got to hunt,” he got to hit dopamine. People going with him get dopamine, grab their weapons, and they get dopamine in the field. They see a bison, and they take off. Endorphins are released because what you don’t want to feel is what is underneath your bare feet. You take off, and you get the animal.
The serotonin is released because that is the one that makes you feel like, “I am part of something bigger. I am going to feed my tribe. I know they are going to be happy with what I have done. I feel good. I’m contributing.” You bring this thing back to the tribe. Everybody is happy because they are going to eat for three months. One of the ladies strokes the shoulder of the hunter and says, “Thank you so much for doing this because now we are surviving.” Oxytocin is released. They are in a tent. Nine months later, you have a baby.
It sounds cute and funny, but without what I said, without that neurochemistry as a community that normally is produced. Let’s think about that tribe. When they come back, there is the woman breastfeeding right out in front of everybody and saying to herself, “Do you see this? Without it, we won’t survive.” There is the other person who is the gatherer who brings stuff. He is smiling ear to ear because he knows that without this, we can’t survive. Everybody had their position within their community to make them feel safe, okay, engaged, and helpful.
When you say that, what sparks in me is, “How are we supposed to know where we are in this?” I think about assessment devices, the ones that we studied for psychology, hundreds of questions have to be administered by a professional. One of the things I like is Same Here Global, and you are associated with them. They got an assessment technique. One Million Lives has an assessment tool, not a technique. It is something that people can self-administer and have, like, “We step on the scale. We check our blood pressure and pulse.” We don’t do that for our mental state. Can you talk to us a little bit about the simple assessment device that, for instance, Same Here Global uses?
The data we are collecting and the people we are helping have been amazing. It is going back to the case method of assessment. Keep it simple. K-12, colleges, coaches with their teams, corporate settings with HR, trying to keep their temperature on what mental health looks like, especially when we are under the changes and the duress that societally that we have seen.
Asking somebody how they are, the answer is always, “I’m fine. I’m okay. No problem.” Meanwhile, the demons fly all around you like Linus with his dusty blanket. It is everywhere. Simply asking somebody on a scale that is visual, we have simple emojis that have descriptions of what those things are. They are ING words like thriving and fluctuating. It puts you in the sense of not picking something specific. The scale doesn’t have a center part. Most people drop to the center because they don’t want to admit that they are not doing well. They don’t want to even admit that they are doing good sometimes.
It is on a device. It is in your hand, and most people from 50 down are used to using something here. We are used to this being the unhidden truth of what your brain is thinking. You have seen friends or family or others post things and say, “They would never say that to my face or to other people in public.” They feel empowered to get their feelings out that way because it is sitting here in this protected thing.
That is a bad thing in some senses, but here it is a good thing because when you have it in your hands, there is something you can do in the privacy of your brain to this phone, and you measure on a daily basis where you are. With the school’s K-12, some of the colleges, and even the personal app that they have developed, it taps and measures, and it is taking that data in the background where you are.
If you have somebody that has been pretty much in the same zone and for 3, 4, 5 days in a row something’s dipped, it triggers the teacher, the social worker, the professional that oversees the school itself, or a parent who is tied into a child to be able to see the dips there. That doesn’t mean we measure to run and make an appointment for med management. That is got to be the worst thing that we could do.
What it does is says, “Everyone in life goes up and down. There is somebody here who is on the down and is stuck there. Let’s have a conversation to find out what it is and bring them back to a normal homeostatic state of touching both.” You could be picked for the basketball team, and no one ever picked you. You are up on the top of the way you feel ever, go home, and the dog passes away.
It is quite normal to have ups, downs, and dips, but if we don’t have that conversation with people or measure it so that there is an indicator that we are stuck and it is hurtful. It is not all doom and gloom. There are organizations like Same Here Global. Overdose Free America is another one that I myself started. We have connected those together. We look at addiction and stuff in mental health. There is a lot of nonprofit work and cool things coming out. The digital age has caused a lot of confusion. It probably contributes to some of the problems, but at the same time, there are things that are being developed that can help in an incredible way.
We have Mad In America. It is a place where people can go and start telling their stories of people who have had lived experiences of significant mental health issues and how they overcome and are overcoming them. They can share their stories, and they can connect with people. Amity, there is a thing that the journey’s dream people started to try and help people connect socially in a platform that is not going to be driven by some algorithm to shove them something to sell them but to connect with people on topics that they have an interest in.
At Same Here Global, the origin of it was Eric Kussin and his story. We have this business executive in the sports world who is touching the highest level and basketball in the NBA. He was running second-man command of a hockey team in the NHL. He crashed and burned and 2 and 1/2 years in bed, and 52 combinations of psychotropic medication and electric shock therapy at the end, and nothing worked until he found some other integrative modalities that made a change for him. It was a beautiful story.
If I remember correctly, the thing that got him on that path was that somebody sent him to a weekend how to breathe therapeutically. It is amazing how powerful something like that can be when all of these other things hit a wall and do nothing for him.
That is the 4 in 5. 1 in 5 have this diagnosis, but what about the 4 in 5 who are sitting somewhere that we need to hug? The guy told the story about that weekend retreat he went on. He was the only American male. There were yoga mats and about eleven other small Indian women, and he is about 6’7”. It would have been a great thing to capture on camera because it must have been the funniest thing to see, but he did take it seriously, and it worked.
When he started this, and he was worked up over these modalities that helped him where others didn’t, he went on LinkedIn before there was a character limitation and told his story. It was therapeutic for him because he wanted to get it out. It was a 45-minute read. This was a story. It told his history, the ACEs, the experience, and the trauma with his brother being ill with cancer.
I want to clarify for people. ACEs refer to Adverse Childhood Events. It is critical to most of our life stories that we learn to recognize. Even if we don’t have a major trauma, we got a lot of little things that build up where we end up feeling less than capable of dealing with it. That is how it contributes to our either health or struggles.
He had quite a few ACEs that didn’t happen directly to him, but they were in his immediate family. That was another thing about his going for help. When he finally went for help, and somebody sent him to the breathing thing, he said, “That was the first person that asked him, ‘What is going on in your life?’” Rather than, “What symptoms are you feeling? I have a metaphor for it.”
That was what he was saying. He was like, “Here is my life from what happened.” The brain doesn’t have a delete button. You have experience. You either neuroplastic place them somewhere where the bad ones go somewhere and hide, or they have a way with different things that you may see, touch, or smell triggers that bring them back. There are feelings that come back to the surface, and you don’t even know that they are there. The thing is to recognize that it exists and that you can control it better.
What he got were thousands of shares and 600 or 800 people that reached out. The common thread was, “I have bipolar, too. I have schizophrenia. I have an anxiety disorder. I have a major depressive disorder.” They were all people saying, “I lost my child to SIDS. My parents split up. They were drinking, and it was a bad household. I lost my college love, and I’m married with three children. I’m happy, but I can’t get this pit out of my stomach.”
It was amazing that everything that came in was shared lived experiences of what the norm is and what we call life. The beauty of it was him then saying, “Are you kidding me?” This is not about symptoms to name disorder. It is about a life experience that makes you symptomatic. Anxiety doesn’t need to be a disorder. We are all anxious, especially now. Depression doesn’t need to always be a disorder. We have depressive states that we fluctuate through.
We need to go towards the symptoms, see where they may come from, and understand them better. Education of understanding is the key to everything. A quick example of that is an ice bath. I treat professional and Olympic-level athletes. Several years ago, when the studies came out about ice baths, that cold temperature relieving, lactic acid build-up, and exit dates from a heavy workout or a game.
People were not recovering quickly enough to get a better workout the following days.
When we told the athletes that we were going to put you in an ice bath, they were like, “Sure, doc. I will do a polar plunge, but for money for you, but I’m not getting in an ice bath.” You sit them down as a group and say, “Look at simply what this does. This is how it removes the exiting lactic acid. It makes you better, stronger, and faster. You can play and work out better the next time.” They jump in an ice bath. When the ice melts, they ask the trainer for more ice.
What was it? It was simply giving them the brain power to understand what is happening. A big part of the hope is that when people are locked into mental states, that lead to addiction, suicidal ideations, anxiety, and depressive feelings. If we open the door of reality, plasticity, and understanding homeostasis that we touch bad and we touch good all the time, it helps make you feel like, “I’m not alone. I understand tomorrow could be better. It may be not, but it doesn’t matter. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not a train.”
You talk about many things there. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt. That is what it does, learn, change, and adapt. Think in terms of we are taught that the outside events cause our upset or our emotional response, and if people are given the tool that says, “You educated the athletes about what the ice bath would do.” If we educate people about how their choice of how to interpret and respond to a life event, it is far more powerful a creative agent in what they experience than the actual event. We can empower people to make a change when they start to feel these things go up and down within them.
I love the fact that Same Here Global has an assessment device. I mentioned One Million Lives, OML.world. This is an engineering company with thousands of employees, where one of the higher-ups said, “I was talking to one of the smartest people I know. They talked to me about one of their life events dipping and their mood. I thought this guy had a problem.” The next thing you know, he develops an assessment tool. People can take it several times a week. You can take it daily if you want to assess how your social connection is. How is your sense to your family? How are you feeling physically?
We check, what is my temperature and weight. Also, how am I feeling about my use of social media, television time, or the things that feed me this quiet reading time or connecting with a friend? You can make that assessment on a regular basis and then figure out, “I have been feeling down. Maybe it is related to these things.” I started to even those things out a little bit. I don’t have to make major life changes to feel better, to connect, or to get a boost of either dopamine, serotonin, or oxytocin.
What is the destroyer of those chemicals being produced? It is the cortisol-driven cytokine systemic inflammation system. It cuts out the normal production of all that. When you are measuring, and you have these tools, which are beautiful, you visually understand where you are moving up and down. It affects your production of cytokine.
If we look at what happened with SSRIs, this is a good example. All the studies are now coming out saying, “It doesn’t work.” It works in some cases. You can’t blanketly say it doesn’t work. Where is the process that they are looking at, and how does that work? The serotonin reuptake inhibitors only inhibit the serotonin from being uptake again into the system. It is more readily available. What if you are not making it at all?
If you don’t produce it, who cares if you are stopping the reuptake? It is not even there to be uptake or kept in its place anyway. What is the major reason for the lack of production? It is the leaky gut stuff serotonins. A lot of it is made in the gut, and we have issues with our digestive system. What happens is cytokines, when they are produced, and I could go into a few examples of why we are massively producing them as a society, they don’t allow that change from tryptophan 5-HT to serotonin. The chemical reaction to get to serotonin is cleaved because of cytokine, interleukin-1, TNF factor, IL-6, and IL-2. Those cytokines stop you from the ability to produce serotonin.
Where does that come from? You have sun avoidance. We are not going outside. We are not getting the fresh air or the sun on our faces, the production of vitamin D. We are eating ourselves out from comfort food to sugar to the rest of the country, 50% obese, 75% overweight, very pro productive of cytokines. Chronic pain and stressors to joints and the rest increase cytokine production. You got aging, which is something we can’t control, but that also does the same. Sedentary lifestyles, no movement or not moving around, produce it. Refined sugars, flour, and carbohydrates does it. Sleep loss, circadian rhythm disruption, and smoking are all pro-productive.
The biggest factor in the middle of all that is when any of that is churning the mental state in emotions of people. If it is depressed, it feeds into the overproduction of cytokines too. That causes chronic. It is the root of disease states, brain fog, mental illness, and heightened sensitivity to pain. When you look at the reasons why things happen, we can do this to make someone’s mental state feel better, along with the assessment tool and some things you can do by giving them an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. It means getting out in the sun. Move and exercise a little bit. Here is a better diet to do. Don’t think so much. Let’s teach you and understand why your nervous system is overreacting to certain things. Don’t smoke. All the things that we know allow the brain to be normalized in a way that makes them feel human.
The education part we spoke of earlier is so much easier. Let that light bulb go off, and neuroplasticity develop new highways of emotional freedom versus emotional stress. It becomes easier if you teach them the small things. It is the brain, but it is not brain surgery. It is simple to help people. We miss the boat every time. It doesn’t need to be a medication or some crazy modality to do something to change the brain. It is that community.
Going back to the first question you asked me, it is enough people around you to understand the simplicity of things, life, connections, being out in the community, doing things, eating right and well, and moving as much as you can. Your serotonin production is going to go up in and of itself. You have the ability to learn and educate yourself to do well.
What most people don’t understand is that the best results I have seen in my own life with my family, friends, and people I have worked with over the past several years are the people who make little significant changes in increments. They don’t say, “No more sugar. I’m going to run five miles every day twice a day. I’m going to dump all my old friends and get new ones that are healthier living people.” It is the little incremental changes and some of the things you have mentioned.
Dr. Mark Hyman did an interview where he said, “This is rocket science.” What it takes to live a healthy, well-adjusted, happy, or joyful life for a human being is food, water, and sleep, but it is also a sense of connection, community, love in your life, and purpose. There are ways to get those. You don’t have to be a surrogate to the White House to have a sense of purpose in your life.
Each of us has things we are somewhat good at and excellent at. Gay Hendricks talks about, “If we stay at the stuff we are excellent at in that zone of excellence, we accomplish quite a bit, but we aren’t always as happy as we could be.” If we find our level of genius and spend a little bit more of our time in that level of genius, the level of genius for whoever is not a genius-level intellect. It is something that when a person does, even if they are only average intelligence, it might be rated by our psychologists. When they are doing that thing, time disappears. They feel like they were doing it for hours and it was only ten minutes, or they have been at it for hours, and it only feels like ten minutes.
That goes back to neurochemistry. When you get to that spot, the neurochemistry is completely changed. If you functional MRI somebody at the time where you are saying, “They get to that level,” the amount of normal neurochemistry that is needed is exponential. The people don’t realize they can get themselves to that state, but most are stuck in such a place that when they are exposed to something externally, that gives them that, they dip into it consistently. That could be drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, or sex.Most are stuck in such a place that when they're exposed to something externally, that gives them that they dip into it consistently, and that could be drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, or sex. Click To Tweet
There are many things that do the chemistry birth, but if they realize that within themselves, there is this control mechanism of getting from level to level, and it is teachable, that helps much better. How do you eat an elephant? Tiny little bites at a time. That is what you got to do here. You get that level of neurochemical change and neuroplasticity change to take you to a better place.
The trouble is that we are depleted. Think of the nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is such a beautiful thing. To be in a sympathetic state is good because it saves your life. You are supposed to run away from the tiger. You’re supposed to fight the thing that is in front of you because there is nowhere to run. That response is genius. It is how we survive. You got to be parasympathetic, which is feeling harmonious, joyful, resting, and digesting. That is where you regenerate your batteries, and everything is okay. When you get exposed to that thing, you hit the sympathetic response. You need to keep doing that.
We are not supposed to have a tiger chasing us every day, all hours of the day, even through the night. You got an election cycle that was crazy. If you voted for somebody, we can’t laugh and debate about it. We hate each other. We take family members unliking on social media to each other. Strife in the streets on both sides of making insanity that you see on a 24-hour news cycle.
Should I wear a mask? You should wear three masks. It is better to have five masks. Don’t wear a mask at all. They don’t work. Get a vaccine. Vaccines don’t work. They are going to kill you. You have a heart attack. You should get seven boosters. I work stocking shelves at the grocery store, and if I get COVID, I live with my grandmother. I’m going to kill her, but I’m essential. I have to go to work. No school, parents with the kids in the house on a computer, they only have one computer, and they have three children. The house only has two bedrooms. How does that even control? You don’t go to work. You are working from home, which is now becoming a new norm. There is no social engagement or activity.
When all those things become the focus, we live in such a heightened state. There is this video people can watch on YouTube. The title of the video is Stress, Portrait of a Killer. It talks about exactly what you are talking about. It is about an hour format. We were intended to be able to fight or run away from that, which might harm us, and stay in that heightened state for 5, 10, or 15 minutes. At the end of that, either the threat is gone, or we are. It is okay either way. We survive, or we don’t survive.
This physiological system and the energies around it that we call ourselves, our minds, hearts, love, passions, thoughts, and emotions, were developed to be in mostly that parasympathetic state. In this Integrative Mental Health Summit that you were a part of, Dr. Barry Ryman was a part of it. He works with Recovery Unplugged. One of the things they do there is they recognize that for many people, the use of music stimulates the same good brain chemistry that we want. We would get it if we had great success or we fell in love.
They used things like which music, rhythms, or movements to help stir that brain chemistry. We shift away from everything that the media and the “news” would tell us so that we don’t spend too much time in that heightened frightened state. We are empowered to use certain things that we can sing along to, find on YouTube, or weave into our lives in different ways that restore that flow and balance. We get a tremendous improvement in a relatively short period of time.
In some cases, it is instantaneous. It is a vagal tone. The vagus nerve controls that parasympathetic response and gets diminished and shut down when we are in that sympathetic state. That vagal tone is critically important. To give an analogy example to any human being to understand and keep it simple is that feeling of looking in your rearview mirror, the lights go on, and you are thinking, “I better be someone else.” It gets behind you, you drift over the next lane, and so does he. Now you know it is you.
You get sweaty palms, your heart is beating fast, and your pupils dilate because it is that sympathetic response of, “Oh my God.” Your brain is not connected. You were like, “I’m in trouble. I got to get out of here.” You can’t even find the glove compartment to open it. You don’t even know how to open it. You were like, “Do I press the button? Where is the thing?” He comes to the car and says, “Dr. Rosa, I was one of your patients before. One of your taillights out. I was stopping you. I’m glad it is you. Get that taillight fixed. It is awesome. It is good to see you.” He walks away. You go from complete panic to that almost euphoric feeling. The birds are singing, and music is playing because you feel relieved. That’s the nature.
It would be great if more of us could do that. What we are finding is that people have been trained into the negative thinking that some of us leave that situation, and we are like, “Why did that have to happen to me?” We make it ruin our whole day because we focus on, “That guy should know better. He should know what it’s going to do to my immune system.”
You’re ruminating thoughts. People get stuck because they are stuck there. They were probably already there before they got pulled over.
It was below the level of consciousness. They weren’t even aware they were living at such a high-stress level.
The things that can immediately change that vagal tone or the things that stimulate the vagus nerve, why was the vagus nerve the long traveling nerve of our system and the control factors? Why did we develop in a certain way to understand safety, not feeling that sympathetic response? Right now, we are in a vagal tone that is comfortable because my pitch to you is up and down. I’m tilting my head. We are smiling at certain points and laughing about the somethings. You are nodding because you understand me. I feel like I’m educating you or some of the readers that will read this. That is an amazing parasympathetic vagal response.
Even the vagus nerve that goes inside your ear, the facial movements, and expressions. If I was staring at you like this and my phone was that way, people would read this, they would leave, and they say, “Was that Halloween? That guy is dangerous.” The vagus will respond to the different responses seeing. People were masked up for how long? Children that were getting their social cues, comfort, and safety couldn’t even see expressions of what people had. Eyes are not good to look at without the rest of the expressions.
The vagus nerve is stimulating us to be in an okay place, which produces better neurochemistry. Those things have been terribly off. When we have stress trauma active release and rewiring exercises, we have through Same Here Global Mental Health, and it is on the website. People could buy these cards. They explained how to do them.
Initially, when I went in, and I was Chair of the Board of the nonprofit piece and looking at all the stuff that they had, I’m like, “I know of all these modalities, but these cards are brilliant. I want to try some of them.” I’m like, “The singing bowl relaxation. I’m not going to sit there with a bowl and make this noise. Are you kidding me?”
I went and researched the way each one of them works. I took a look at it and said, “That tone stimulates the vagus nerves based on the way the sound comes into the ear.” It immediately takes people from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state and enhanced meditative state. I’m like, “This is brilliant.” This is the stuff that people have been doing for thousands of years in simplicity, tapping, havening techniques, deep breathing for calmness, chanting, and dancing. The tribes would go around a fire and do these movements and hum.
The people would drum all night long. They are in the flow, and the whole community gets in that flow. They entrain the rhythm and the brain chemistry. It is amazing.
The reason that we don’t see it anymore is that it is too simple. We complicate everything. It is insane to me. A pill for every ill should not be the case. I’m in front of medical doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, or whatever associations bring me into a lecture. At some of the medical conventions that I lecture at, I have a couple of slides that don’t make anybody too happy, and I get reactions.
They come and talk to me afterward. I say, “Let’s think about what CAM, Complementary and Alternative Modalities or Medicine, is versus traditional.” In some cases, for 5,000 to 10,000 documented acupuncture and oriental medicine, deep breathing techniques, and bone setting, which is now chiropractic and osteopathic medicine, all these things have been either written or on the walls of caves for thousands of years.
We don’t drill holes in people’s heads to let demons out anymore. It didn’t work and didn’t last. It went away. In the last several years, everything has been based on symptom prescribe. You tell me collectively who is complementary and alternative to all the traditional stuff that has been going on for thousands of years that works. It is medicine. Medicine compliments and is an alternative to the things we have in our pockets that can help society already because it has been done.
Without hospitals, procedures, surgical stuff, medications, and the things that we have developed, it is unbelievable. It is amazing what we have done in healthcare. Science keeps blowing me away. In pain and mental health, we got it wrong over and over again. Antibiotics will kill a bacterial infection. An opioid pill of 30 days of oxycontin or Percocet for a pulled tooth or a shoulder for raking leaves, there are areas that we see where mental health and addiction have blown out of the way, out of control because we are going after it chemically and not humanistically.We see areas where mental health and addiction have been blown way out of control because humans are going after it chemically and not humanistically. Click To Tweet
The idea is that many people have benefited when they get off of those prescriptions and move into, “Let’s do some movement. Let’s do some breathwork. Let’s realign the spine if you like the chiropractic work.” Dr. John Sarno’s work about tension myoneural syndrome, where he recognized that if you are carrying mental-emotional tension in a muscle fiber in your shoulder, neck, or low back, that spasm tends to cut off the blood flow by as little as 5% to 10% for a short period of time. It initiates excruciating pain. That is not because you have a broken bone or a severed nerve. That is because you are holding mental-emotional tension in the body.
If you learn to breathe, soften and talk to it, it will move to a different part of the body, or it will dissipate. He was a medical doctor and a surgeon. He knew that broken bones don’t travel around the body. When the pain would move, you would know, “This isn’t about physical damage to tissue. This is about that tension creating the excruciating.”
He is a brilliant guy. His work in understanding was a Harvard study of what, why, and how. That is the truth. They tied pain, anxiety, and depression. The same exact circuitry within the brain is altogether. They are all cousins living in the same house. That is the reason you are getting the expression and overlap of all because they are the same wiring system and communication within the brain. It goes back to this simplicity of understanding. If we know that emotion, stressors, and daily life activities and experiences affect our level of pain, we subconsciously have a way to control pain. It is the opposite.
If we know that pain leads to the expression of anxiety, depression, and mood disruption, we can limit those because we understand that they are connected. When we are talking to all of them individually, we are in the room, and you tell all of them, “I’m not going to allow you guys to have a party now, next week, or next month. You have been partying way too much. You are in my house. You can stay, and I know where you are and who you are, but I will hang out with you one at a time.” It sounds silly. I know I’m making it oversimplified, but that is 50% of everyone’s problem that I see either behavioral health or the pain management side is in their head. When I remove it with simplicity, the 50% that is real now and sitting in our faces, it is much easier to work on that.
What is an aspect of your work that we haven’t even asked you about yet and/or something we have talked about already that you want to highlight or review for our readers before we wrap this up?
The most important thing about everything we discussed is the simplicity of things that are available. I fight all the time. When you train for a game, you are in a war, and you lose every day, the numbers go up. The number one reason to die in the United States of America if you are under 50 years old is an overdose. The number two reason to die in the United States of America is suicide. It is not COVID, heart disease, accident, or cancer. It is overdosing and suicides at the rate of almost 400 people a day.
It should strike as preventable.
There is the bridge. What I said is ugly, depressing, and is happening. The numbers are getting worse. You are fighting a battle you can’t win. Why do you bother? Walk away. What are you doing? You are going to make yourself crazy. As the numbers are going up, the people like us and the community that is reading what this blog has to deliver are the ones making a difference because it would be 1,000 people a day. We have many easy tools in front of us.
The exclamation point of our conversation is that there is help. It is everywhere if you find it or have the right people like us talking about it. The simplicity of things is there. 1) is knowledge. 2) is measuring. The scalability, the questionnaires, and the apps that are out there, like the Scale App that Same Here Global has. From there, when you are off on that scale, and it is visibly not okay because you are tracking yourself, there are some simple things to do with it. It is not doom and gloom. You don’t get stuck somewhere.
Here are a bunch of things. You could do the exercises and the modalities that are available. Alpha-Stim, which is alpha wave training. There are vagal nerve stimulators that help you. There are modalities like Cold Laser, that they now do with the brain stem and the rest. There are things you could do and simple techniques to do. The takeaway is that.
When I lecture, I punch people in the head with statistics because I want them mad. I want everybody pissed off because if you can see what is happening in that mental health and addiction space, we need to shake that cage loud and clear. That is the biggest problem our country faces right now. I also want to shake the cage and say, “Don’t feel bad about it because there are many things you can do. When you thought you had nothing, 1) for yourself, 2) to deliver to your patient, you are wrong. There is a lot.”
One of the things I like to throw in when someone like you says, “We got the Alpha-Stim, Cold Lasers, and things like that.” I like to remind people that they got almost an endless series of things on YouTube where people are teaching EFT tapping, breathwork, and Wim Hof breathing. There is a variety of people who will teach you yogic breathing, which is phenomenal for stimulating the vagus nerve response and calming it. Thank you so much for being with us. It is a delight to talk to you again, and thank you so much for all the work you are doing.
Kudos to you and your crew. Without this, you don’t get the right messaging out. We are seeing way too much negativity on the 24-hour news cycle. If you consume things like this, it brings you back to what matters. That is social engagement, understanding, learning a little, and feeling better about life. We don’t see cats getting saved out of the trees on TV. You only see the bad stuff. Get these little bites of helpful hints. That is a better way to live and have some reality reset. Thanks for your work.
Thank you too.
Dr. John Rosa is CEO of ABC Management, which is comprised of sixteen integrative medicine clinics in Maryland, Virginia, and overseas, with over 70,000 patient visits per year. ABC Clinics combine medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, and behavioral medicine to give a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to patient care.
He is active in sports medicine, consulting and treating athletes in several universities, the NBA, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, and the US Olympic basketball teams. He is Board Emeritus at Northeast College of Health Sciences and is the Chair of the Board of the Maryland University of Integrative Health.
He is an international expert on the opioid crisis, lecturing and consulting on the topic for the past several years. He has served as a White House surrogate to the opioid and mental health crises for several years. He is a state and national consultant to opioid task forces for Homeland Security, CBP, DOJ, DEA, FDA, FBI, and US Postal Service.
His work has led him to found Overdose Free America, a nonprofit that works with Hollywood and music industries to combat the stigma around addiction. He is Chair of the Board of the Same Here Global Mental Health Movement nonprofit, which uses the power of professional athletes and celebrity influences to normalize the conversation around mental health and addiction.
- ABC Management
- Same Here Global
- One Million Lives
- Overdose Free America
- Mad In America
- Stress, Portrait of a Killer – YouTube
- Integrative Mental Health Summit
- Recovery Unplugged
- Scale App
About John Rosa, Ph.D.
Dr. John Rosa is CEO of ABC Management, which is comprised of 16 Integrative Medicine clinics in Maryland and Virginia that sees over 70,000 patient visits per year. ABC Clinics combine medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture and behavioral medicine to give a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to patient care. He is active in sports medicine with consulting/treating athletes in several universities, NBA, MLB, NHL and USA Olympic Basketball. He is Board Emeritus to North East College of Health Sciences and is current Chair of the Board to Maryland University of Integrative Health.
Dr. Rosa is an international expert on the Opioid Crisis lecturing and consulting on the topic for the past 8 years. Serving as a White House Surrogate to the Opioid and Mental Health Crises for several years and is a State and National Consultant to Opioid Task Forces for Homeland Security, CBP, DOJ, DEA, FDA, FBI and US Postal Service. His work has lead him to found “Overdose Free America” a nonprofit 501c which works with Hollywood and the music industry to combat stigma around addiction. Dr. Rosa is Chair of the Board of “Same Here” Global Mental Health Movement a nonprofit 501c which uses the power of professional athletes and celebrity influencers to normalize the conversation around mental health and addiction.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!