Is it Time for a Different Approach to Medicine?  

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Is it Time for a Different Approach to Medicine?  

Is conventional medicine failing us all? Are physicians disproportionately focused on managing sickness rather than on caring for and creating health? Is it time for a different approach to medicine? I would strongly argue the answer to these questions is yes!

Early on in my medical career, my work in trauma and intensive care  accustomed me to viewing “full recovery” as the standard. In trauma everyone works together with the same goal and mission, to address the initial emergency, stabilize, heal and restore. But with cancer and chronic diseases, the approach is quite different.  

Most doctors fail to appreciate the concept of real health and how to fully restore it.

Consider these hard truths: 

As disheartening as the numbers above are, these problems are exacerbated by other issues in the medical field.

A doctor diagnosing a sick person

For instance:

  1. We treat symptoms – We prescribe a drug for hypertension, surgically excise a tumor, or administer an antibiotic for an infection. But we fail to ask the more important questions: Why is the patient’s blood pressure elevated in the first place? What lifestyle, nutritional, or environmental factors made it possible for the cancer to proliferate? What conditions made the patient vulnerable to developing a serious bacterial infection?  
  2. We over-specialize – The vast majority of our physicians focus on a single organ system, but the majority of diseases affect multiple, if not all, body systems. Diseases do not recognize “organ boundaries” in the body. Our doctors don’t work as a team in looking a “whole” person approach.  
  3. The drug industry funds most medical advertisements and research studies.  Knowledge and awareness about non-drug, natural therapies and breakthroughs rarely see the light of day.

It’s time to stop treating symptoms

We are stuck. Not only are the pharmaceuticals that individuals are prescribed not fully effective for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, asthma, allergies and the myriad of medical problems we have today but also the invasive medical procedures rarely correct the underlying imbalances in the body. They don’t help with actual rebuilding of healthy tissue.  It may be hard to believe but iatrogenic illness, death caused by adverse reactions to medications and complications from invasive procedures, represents the third leading cause of death in the United States

To make matters worse, we have gotten away from our evolutionary physiology. For 99% of humankind’s history, we have lived in the presence of frequent physical and environmental stress along with cleaner air and higher levels of oxygen. From seeking shelter, to avoiding temperature extremes, to hunting and gathering, to dealing with famine, comfort was a rare treat.   

But our lives today are no longer characterized by physical challenge. Since the mid-twentieth century, we have been living in a way that is radically different from the way any species has ever lived, in a way that our bodies are not designed to thrive in. We are the first to experience continuous comfort, and it is eroding our health in the process.  When we take away those physical and environmental challenges and when we don’t get enough cellular oxygen, we have a recipe for metabolic and immune disaster. 

Comfort culture is harming to your health

Health person running

We gain un-shedable pounds. We ache and feel fatigued. We’re more susceptible to illness, autoimmunity, and cancer. We’re living longer but aging prematurely. Our bodies are completely coddled, but we’re more mentally stressed than ever. What’s going on? 

The answer lies in the fact that we’ve lost touch with our innate hormetic systems. Hormesis is from the Greek word, “to excite”. It’s a cellular state of health-building following exposure to a mild or moderate stressor. As humankind adapted to life on this planet, our bodies not only learned to cope with physical stressors, they began to require them. 

Shouldn’t this be part of our medical model? Shouldn’t we leverage our bodies resilience to build our health instead of coddle it with unnatural and invasive interventions?  It’s time for a paradigm shift!

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week where I lay out the groundwork for what a new medical model could and should look like. 

Be well. Here’s to your health!

Dr. Saltzman

Hormesis Can Prepare Your Body For Life’s Greatest Battles

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Hormesis Can Prepare Your Body For Life’s Greatest Battles

Hormesis is One of Your Body’s Greatest Assets

The best medical researchers define health as the ability to adapt to a wide variety of appropriate and strategic challenges–exercise, fasting, temperature challenges, and more.  However, this is not a definition most physicians appreciate or utilize in their practices, but researchers in every scientific discipline I know study it. The science is called hormesis and it represents our oldest, most preserved, and most powerful cellular physiology. It’s from the Greek word, “to excite”. At the core, it’s the science of how a stress or challenge strengthens us and helps us adapt and better prepare to handle future stresses of all kinds.

Evolution made a decision very early on to gift and incorporate this trait to every living system from plants, to animals, to humans.  Appropriate hormetic therapies engage our most powerful cellular systems. This includes boosting detoxification, enhancing cellular repair, optimizing our stress response system, reducing inflammation, and more.  We don’t increase health by taking a pill, we build health by challenging ourselves and adapting.  

 

Photo of a man in freezing ice cold water.

Life is a Series of Battles

I often use a battle analogy with my clients to help make this point more clear:

Life is a series of battles, some known like mental stress, disease, insomnia, financial crises and work life balance, and some unknown like COVID-19, other pandemics, accidents, and plenty more.  If you had 10,000 soldiers to fight these battles what skills would you want them to possess? 

Would you want your soldiers limited to using a single weapon system? Would you want your soldiers capable of performing only in a narrow temperature range under certain conditions?  Would you want them to only be able to perform with a steady food supply? Or would you want your soldiers capable of using any military weapon, capable of fighting on any terrain, during feast or famine and cross-trained for the harshest type of battle conditions?  

Health is Your Body’s Ability to Adapt

 

Photo of a man with gray hair recovering after a run.

 

Our body’s cells are our soldiers and how we train and prepare them determines our battle/life outcomes.  This is much more than physical training. When we train our bodies to face physical and environmental challenges we are actually building “adaptive range” and conditioning our cells to handle stresses of all kinds more effectively.  Our stress response system is the most important system we can optimize but most of us have little or no understanding of its importance or how to begin this process. By reading this, you have already taken the first step. You can read more about what we can do to tap into this powerful, all natural, innate capability each of us holds on my website.

This is why the science of hormesis holds such promise for us.  We are the first species to have drifted away from it as we pursue continuous comfort.  But evolution designed all species to be most responsive when challenged. We have a 2.5-million-year history of challenge and adaptation and only an extremely brief history of working towards constant comfort.  This mismatch has profound implications on our health and wellness. 

My medical model consists of Foundational Care, Oxygen Therapies, and Challenge Therapies, and when applied correctly, this model can strongly impact disease reversal, longevity, and peak performance.  I would love to help you get your health back, learn more here.

How to Manage Stress During These Uncertain Times

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How to Manage Stress During These Uncertain Times

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? 

 

Photo of a healthy older couple doing yoga at home.

 

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.

How Oxygen Intake Can Make or Break You During COVID-19

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How Oxygen Intake Can Make or Break You During COVID-19

Hand washing and social distancing are basic safety measures we should all be following right now but they do not help us if we actually get COVID-19.  What we need to be talking about is what can be done to tip the scales in our favor if we actually become infected with the virus. There are simple and all natural therapies we can use to strengthen and prepare our bodies in the chance that we become infected.  But first, we need to understand some of the basic physiology of the body and the role that oxygen plays in our immune response.

 

Photo of a person washing their hands.

What happens to the body when we get COVID-19? 

To start, when we get the flu, COVID-19, or any severe respiratory illness, our lungs and their ability to oxygenate our bodies dramatically decreases.  This reduction in oxygenation happens early on during the incubation period, as the infection is talking hold in the lungs, and as our immune system activates and prepares for battle with the virus.

The combination of the infection, the activation of our immune system, and the mucous production that occurs in our bodies can reduce our lung’s capacity to oxygenate our bodies by as much as 50%.  This initial reduction in oxygen may be enough to get certain people into trouble and require hospitalization. Even worse, this reduced ability to oxygenate can last for up to 3 weeks and can become a huge problem for those who are elderly or have compromised immune systems. 

What role does Oxygen play in normal life?

Oxygen is needed for everything our cells do—digestion, elimination, making antibodies, repairing tissue, building hormones, and much more.  I refer to it as the cellular “currency”. The more oxygen you have the more cellular work you can do. But oxygen levels in our tissues vary greatly and these levels make or break us. 

In daily life, oxygen supply is nuanced. It’s on a continuum and most of us simply don’t get enough.  We’re not going to die today from this compromised supply, but we’re not going to thrive either. Our environment is not as oxygen rich now as in the past, we inhale extra pollutants and our bodies experience a lot more mental stress on a day-to-day basis. And if we don’t intervene intelligently, our oxygen levels fall consistently over time as we age.

Dad and son playing outside breathing oxygen.

Why is COVID-19 so dangerous for some and not for others? 

Decrease in oxygen levels is especially dangerous for the elderly and immune compromised because they are already operating at a reduced level of oxygen as their baseline.  Said another way, the main difference of you in your 20’s and you in your 70’s is the amount of oxygen in your body’s cells. And low levels of oxygen predispose us to all kinds of degenerative diseases. Any condition including cancer, heart disease, asthma, smoking, bronchitis, and more place at a disadvantage from the start.  

The worst outcomes from COVID-19 occur when our oxygen levels in our tissues reach dangerously low levels, where we cannot survive and/or our body’s stress response to the infection (although well intended) creates so much of an inflammatory reaction that it blocks the small airway passages that line our lungs.  

This vicious cycle can progress to the point that a ventilator is needed to breathe for us, to deliver higher oxygen concentrations under greater pressure, and to meet the increasing oxygen requirements of our tissues.  If people have low levels of oxygen to begin with, there is a significantly higher chance that they will get into a danger zone rapidly. And, it will take several interventions and more time to get them back to normal.

Is there anything that can be done to improve someone’s oxygen baseline?

Yes! Yes! Yes!  Anyone can improve their baseline and thus dramatically improve both the severity and duration of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses by using a combination of natural oxygen and other medical therapies, and even basic breathing techniques.  And the results are even better if we use them regularly before we are in trouble. 

If we can maintain higher levels of oxygen and reduce inflammation associated with our stress response system as part of our own preventive health and wellness plan, before we ever get sick, we significantly boost our chances of beating COVID-19 (and many other diseases too). This, in my opinion, is what we should be talking about.  

You can learn more about Oxygen Therapies here

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Meet the Founder of the Vitality Health Challenge: Dr. Steven Saltzman

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Meet the Founder of the Vitality Health Challenge: Dr. Steven Saltzman

Life is a Journey, Here is the Beginning of Mine

 

Photo of John Hopkins Unicersity

 

My life’s work is an untold story.  Many people become experts in 5–10 years. It has taken me 20 years to achieve my expertise.  I’m a Johns Hopkins Anesthesiologist and finished my clinical training in 1995.  

I’m grateful for my anesthesiology work and am fortunate to run a large practice. Through the course of my studies, and then once I began practicing medicine, I was shocked at just how off-base we are in the medical field. I noticed how off-base our health as a society is too.

I’m in modern medicine. I put a lot of time and effort into my practice of medicine, but I am often dumbfounded by how the smarter and more advanced our medical system becomes, the health of the American Public continues to deteriorate. 

This Truth Shocked Me and Sparked Me to Take Action


People aren’t living as vibrantly as they should, or they could.  We’ve gotten to the point that it’s natural to just give up. It’s absurd but it’s most people’s perspective. 

I put together the best program to get people back to living their best lives.  Twenty-five years later, I have perfected it. 

It is based on the state of Hormesis.  It’s the Greek word “to excite”. 

Hormetic therapies are all about embracing short-term challenge to enhance long-term strength and vitality and there’s never been a time in human history when it was more difficult to embrace such practices.  We are trained from the day we can operate a light switch and a smart phone that if we want something, we can have it in a moment. We’re wiring our brains to expect immediate satisfaction and the constant avoidance of discomfort. 

What is Hormesis?

Hormesis: A strange word for a common-sense concept from the Greek work “to excite.”

Hormesis is the over-arching theme in the restorative health programs I designed for my clients.  When we grasp this concept, we appreciate how finely adapted the body is for confronting and benefitting from physical and environmental challenge. This allows us to redefine our perspective on health and wellness. 

It has changed my life and countless others.

Welcome to the Vitality Health Challenge

 

Picture of a man running up a hill challenging himself.

 

It’s grounded in three basic elements. 

  • Good Foundational Care (nutrition and detox, hormones in balance, stress management)
  • Oxygen therapy (we give oxygen to our sickest hospital patients, end state disease, pro athletes on the side lines. If a therapy can benefit athletes and sick people, they can benefit everyone else)
  • Challenge Therapies – Physical and environmental therapies. Everyone likes their Starbucks their way but the problem is continuous comfort, is not helping people. 

Modern medicine and physicians in general never moved into the wellness space.  Wellness and Integrative medicine are the future. We need to look past the single-pill symptom cover-up.  We need to address the root cause. This is what Vitality Health Challenge seeks to do.  

Click here to learn more about my new book: Dancing with Darwin, Vitality Health Challenge.

We’re Just Surviving

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We’re Just Surviving

Modern life has resulted in some very real health benefits, from clean water and basic sanitation to life-saving surgical procedures. We have cars that can drive themselves and phones that can order a pizza with one click.  Most of us work and live in climate-controlled comfort. But this lifestyle has created surprising health risks: diabetes, obesity, heart disease and chronic pain are all reaching epidemic levels.

We are the first generations to live in continuous comfort, and that comfort is eroding our health. Health is our ability to adapt to all kinds of physical and environmental challenges – and our comfortable lifestyle is taking that away, especially as we age.

Dr. Steven Saltzman, a Johns Hopkins-trained anesthesiologist and integrative medicine specialist, realized early in his career that modern medicine wasn’t working for many people with those chronic diseases. (link to Steve bio – consulting page) Patients were being treated for symptoms and not the actual cause of their health issues. Why should someone take two different pills for high blood pressure? He realized that to help people thrive, not just survive, something had to change.

After years of research, Dr. Saltzman determined modern day stressors from our comfortable lifestyle set the stage for pain and disease: nutrient deficiency, toxicity, hormonal imbalance, and stress. In addition to these stressors, he discovered low cellular oxygen levels also cause us to be susceptible to disease and other issues like poor athletic performance. When cells don’t get enough oxygen or use it inefficiently, they produce less energy. Less cellular energy means cellular function can be impaired.   Just like any engine that begins to fail, we become prone to disease if our cells don’t work well.

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