In these unprecedented times, I ask all of my patients to take a deep breath. I ask them to do controlled breathing exercises. I ask them to do short bursts of intense exercise followed by complete recovery. I ask them to get fresh air and find pure oxygen if it is available. Then I tell them to get in an ice bath! This helps them to manage stress effectively.
Why you ask?
All of these activities tap into innate functions of the human body to lower stress and build immunity. Stress can cause and exacerbate the most dreaded diseases we face today including Type I diabetes, hypertension, autoimmune disease, infertility, heart disease, osteoporosis and more. Even COVID-19 is exacerbated by stress. It suppresses immune function, it depletes our oxygen, it causes inflammation, all of which make us more vulnerable to not only contracting the virus but having a more severe and longer reaction. But stress can also activate our most powerful cellular machinery promoting health, longevity and optimal immune function.
How can this be you ask?
Animals, like humans, appeared 2.5 million years ago. For almost our entire history we lived as foragers in the wild. Human stress resulted from acute physical and environmental challenges – injury, cold, predators, and famine. We were, and still are, designed to deal intelligently with these short-term physical and environmental stressors. As humankind adapted to life on this planet, our bodies not only learned to cope with physical stressors, they began to require them.
However, today we mostly face mental stress that we have no evolutionary history to cope with, let alone use to our benefit. These have become chronic stressors around work, family, money, traffic, global pandemics. The list goes on. Stress continues to play a pivotal, but different, role in our lives just like it did 2.5 million years ago.
How do we get more of the good stress? And less of the bad?
The human body has an innate ability to self heal using its most powerful cellular capabilities. We increase health by giving our bodies new and appropriate challenges to adapt to. This concept is termed, Hormesis, from the Greek word, “to excite”. Our bodies need appropriate physical and environmental stressors in order to turn on some of our most vital metabolic functions and immune system activities.
My integrative approach to medicine, and the basis of my practice, consists of three components: Foundational care, oxygen therapies, and applying physical and environmental challenges in a safe and beneficial way.
Those challenges kick our immune, metabolic, cardiovascular, and many other systems into a higher, restorative gear.
Our stress response is mediated by the autonomic nervous system which branches out to every organ, every blood vessel and every set of glands in our bodies. So if we can replicate the stress response that our ancestors had millions of years ago, we can optimize all facets of our health today.
How do you do that?
I have spent the last 20+ years researching and understanding how our bodies are hard wired and what we need to do to tap into the beneficial stressors. My patients do not get prescriptions for pills and surgeries to fix their problems. I address the foundational issues and health goals of my clients, recommend oxygen therapies and apply a combination of various challenge therapies in the areas of cold therapy, fasting, exercise and even ozone therapy. While some of these therapies require a physician and equipment to successfully complete, there are many things anyone can do from home that will deliver powerful results.
To learn more about these challenge therapies and the myriad of health benefits they provide, review the material on the website or take a look at my book, “Dancing with Darwin. Challenge Therapies for Optimal Health”.
It’s time for a different approach. Let’s cause health!
Steve Saltzman, M.D.