The SHAPE ReClaimed Healing Philosophy
The SHAPE ReClaimed program was built on the healing philosophy of its founder, Dr. Todd Frisch. The following article explains this healing philosophy that you can use to help your patients restore their health.
Imagine a 38-year old female walks into your office complaining of fatigue, indigestion, food sensitivities, rapid heart rate, insomnia and weight gain (40 pounds in the last year). She’s been to seven doctors, and all of her tests came back normal. She was diagnosed with depression and put on antidepressants, to her frustration and discouragement. You are her last resort before she completely throws in the towel on trying to feel better.
How many patients do you see in this predicament? They’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, but all they hear is “there’s nothing wrong” or “it’s all in your head, take these pills, and I’ll see you in six months.” Is this adequate or effective care? Absolutely not. But, with that list of symptoms, what’s your diagnosis? It could be depression, or it could be fibromyalgia, allergies, hypoglycemia, and on and on. It could even be cancer. Or, it might be none of these things at all. What do you treat first?
The healthcare model today is all about hitting the bullseye: making the diagnosis, treating according to that diagnosis and managing the disease. But with so many patients presenting with symptoms that can be attributed to a multitude of diseases, it’s easy to hit the wrong bullseye, make the wrong diagnosis and treat the wrong disease, potentially causing even more harm.
Disease management just isn’t good enough. The key to transforming healthcare is to reverse or, even better, prevent disease.
In this article, we will explain how illness occurs in patterns. We’ll explore the physiology of declining health and share how to determine which treatment protocols are most effective for your patients. You’ll likely recognize many of the terms and concepts discussed here, but they will be explained in a way you may not have thought about before, and with applications that can be applied to every patient who walks through your door.
The Dis-Ease Model
Between birth and death, every person experiences varying degrees of health and “dis-ease.” This is not the same as “disease,” but rather a disharmony or lack of ease. This period is divided into three phases: chi, water and blood.
- In the chi phase, there are no significant symptoms, but the patient typically reports feeling “off.” They don’t feel quite right, but are not ill enough to seek professional help.
- In the water phase, the patient is experiencing actual symptoms that cause them to seek help, but there is no known medical cause for the symptoms (all blood tests come back normal). The majority of your patients will be in this phase.
- In the blood phase, blood tests begin to show abnormalities and the patient is given a diagnosis and treatment protocol based on the results.
The terminology used in this Dis-Ease Model comes from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Chi means life force or life energy. Water in this context has less to do with edema and dryness, although these symptoms can occur during this phase. It is more about the patient either having too much water, causing expansion (yin), or not enough water, causing contraction (yang). Patients’ symptoms can be categorized accordingly.
This chart (left) includes a short list of expansive and contractive symptoms. Interestingly, patients don’t just experience one or the other. They could be suffering from a wet/hot syndrome such as asthma, vaginitis or athlete’s foot. Another example is bipolar disorder (manic depression) where the pendulum swings between anxiety and depression.
Certain substances influence expansion and contraction. Expansive substances make the patient fat and/or dizzy; contractive substances tend to shrink and dry the patient.
When the patient consumes something from one side, they’ll naturally tend to crave the other. This is why popcorn and soda taste so good together at the movie theater and why pretzels and peanuts are served at bars. The more salt a person consumes, the more sugar and alcohol they’ll crave to restore balance. This is also the case with drugs/chemicals to treat depression. Antidepressants can help restore balance, but they don’t actually heal the patient.
The body is in a constant effort to find, create and sustain balance or homeostasis. Part of your job as a physician is to help your patients keep their pendulum from swinging too far in either direction so they can actually heal.
The significance of the Dis-Ease Model is the fact that a patient has to be two-thirds sick before modern medicine recognizes a problem. Once the patient receives abnormal test results, the hyphen disappears and “dis-ease” becomes “disease.” At this point, the patient must be treated medically.
This isn’t criticism. It’s simply an observation. Doctors typically aren’t trained or don’t know how to assess their patients before they cross this critical line. But imagine the impact you could have on your patients and healthcare at large if this line was never reached at all.
The SHAPE ReClaimed program addresses the underlying cause of the most common illnesses that you see in your patients, helping them stay in or return to the chi or water phases.
The Pyramid of Health
The Pyramid of Health is how you keep your patients from crossing that critical line where “dis-ease” becomes “disease.” By addressing each tier, it is even possible to reverse disease because you will be treating the underlying causes of most common illnesses. This can also be used to help patients who are undergoing medical treatment.
At the base of the Pyramid of Health are the bullseyes, which were discussed in the introduction. If you have an accurate diagnosis, shoot for the bullseye. But, if you have symptoms with no known medical cause, or there’s a possibility that the diagnosis is inaccurate (which is all-too-often the case), then you must start at the top tier and work your way down.
At the apex of the Pyramid of Health is pH. If the patient’s pH is out of balance, they simply will not heal adequately, no matter their symptomatology. The majority of your patients will be acidic, which can manifest in a multitude of symptoms from achy joints and water retention to more serious illnesses. A simple balancing of pH alleviates many of these symptoms and can even eradicate conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis.
While far less common, a patient can also be too alkaline. For many, alkalosis resolves itself, but it can be diagnostic for bulimia. Pay close attention to young, thin female patients who test alkaline. It’s possible that they will need proper attention from a mental health practitioner.
The second tier on the Pyramid of Health is stress. The question is not whether the patient is stressed. They probably are. The question is how their body is adapting to the stress. While medication and counseling can be beneficial, there is often a physiological issue going on that is causing the body to maladapt to stress, which can cause a multitude of symptoms and make it difficult for patients to heal.
Physiologically, stress is interpreted in the hypothalamus, which represents the nervous system. The hypothalamus communicates via chemical messengers with the pituitary gland, which represents the endocrine system. The message then gets sent to the adrenal glands, whose job it is to pump out adrenaline (fight or flight) and the stress hormone cortisol.
The adrenal gland also produces DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which is a precursor to testosterone and estrogen. It provides energy, increases sex drive and helps convert fat to lean body mass. With all the benefits, it seems that everyone should be supplementing with DHEA, but metabolically, this would not be the best idea for two reasons:
- Never replace something that isn’t missing. Bio-identical hormones are not identical to those found in the human body, they merely mimic these hormones. So, always test the patient first before putting them on any hormone replacement therapy, then monitor regularly thereafter.
- While DHEA is a precursor to testosterone and estrogen, it is impossible to force it to make one or the other. Supplementing with DHEA without testing hormone levels could cause even greater hormone imbalances.
The key to helping your patient adapt to stress is not lowering cortisol or increasing DHEA. The key is in the cortisol to DHEA ratio. If this ratio is skewed, your patient will maladapt to stress. How this maladaptation manifests depends on what part of the body is affected.
When stress affects the brain:
Serotonin levels will decrease and dopamine, GABA and acetylcholine levels will be affected. Symptoms include sleep problems, depression, anxiety, ADD and ADHD.
When stress affects the stomach:
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) levels decrease, leading to digestive problems such as hiatal hernia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease and food sensitivities.
When stress affects the pancreas:
A cascade of events begins. When the patient consumes carbohydrates, the body will either use them as energy or put them into storage. These carbohydrates are stored as lipids, elevating cholesterol and triglyceride levels, or as visceral fat. Under stress, the patient could literally stop eating and still gain weight.
When stress affects the immune system:
It becomes suppressed. This leads to an increase in infections, allergic reactions and, most commonly, yeast overgrowth. If the imbalance occurs over a long period of time, the immune suppression becomes chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Stress affects the entire body by increasing inflammation:
This causes any condition that ends in “itis,” such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, gastritis, sinusitis, bronchitis and dermatitis.
After stress takes its toll on the brain, stomach, pancreas and immune system, thus causing increased inflammation, it then invites the nervous system to help combat the stress.
The nervous system is basically divided into two parts: peripheral (voluntary control) and autonomic (involuntary control). The autonomic nervous system is further divided into two parts: parasympathetic and sympathetic.
The parasympathetic nervous system slows the body down while the sympathetic nervous system speeds it up. The circumstance will dictate which of these becomes dominant.
Suppose you are hiking in Yellowstone National Park and you come upon a grizzly bear. As a form of protection, your sympathetic nervous system will dominate: your pupils will dilate to increase your visual field, fear will cause your mouth to dry, your heart rate will increase in an effort to pump more oxygen to your legs so you can run faster and your digestive system will shut down to give you more energy for survival. This is an appropriate response or adaptation to stress.
The problem occurs when the sympathetic nervous system is triggered by a circumstance that is not life-threatening, such as being late for work, studying for a big test or a fear of public speaking. When a patient’s body responds to everyday life as if it were running away from a bear, the patient is suffering from sympathetic nervous system dominance. This means that their body is on constant overdrive and a crash is imminent. It also causes the body to become acidic.
Digestion & Detoxification
The third tier of the Pyramid of Health is detoxification and digestion. The liver has more than 800 known functions, half dealing with detoxification and half with digestion. If the liver is not functioning optimally, both of these systems are affected and the ability to heal is compromised. This is especially true for chronically ill patients. For the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on detoxification.
Because toxins are unavoidable, the human body has been equipped with a detoxification system to self-regulate and eliminate toxic substances. If that system is compromised or the level of toxic exposure is too great, it’s possible for your patient to become overloaded and eventually develop disease.
The single best explanation of how humans get sick comes from a German doctor named Hans Heinrich Reckeweg. He developed the theory of homotoxicology. This translates as “the study of poison in man.”
Dr. Reckeweg believed disease is either an appropriate defense to eliminate toxins or an attempt to compensate if elimination is not possible. These toxins come from five different places:
- The air we breathe
- The food we eat
- The thoughts we think
- The people we know
- The fat we store
In the theory of homotoxicology, toxic overload always leads to neoplasm. The process happens over six steps. As with the Dis-Ease Model, the goal of the practitioner is to detect the early signs of toxic overload and prevent irreversible damage.
The first phase of detoxification is the excretory phase where the toxin is recognized as such and is eliminated before any damage can be done. Ideally, all patients should stay in this phase.
If the toxin is not eliminated and instead goes deeper into the body, the patient may have a reaction such as acne, hives, diarrhea, fever or vomiting, hence the reactionary phase. These symptoms can be seen as a positive sign, as they are the body’s way of eliminating toxins that would otherwise be even more harmful.
If the toxic load becomes too great or the body is compromised, the toxin can go even deeper, depositing itself into body tissue. This is the deposition phase. Symptoms include skin tags, fat accumulation, lipomas, cysts, fibroids, benign tumors and fibrocystic breasts.
At this point, we reach biological division. While not impossible, reversing disease beyond this point becomes far more challenging because the toxins actually start to manipulate DNA. Medical intervention is typically required through the last three phases.
The impregnation phase is when the patient will begin to see abnormal test results showing issues like precancerous skin lesions, precancerous prostate hypertrophy and, most commonly, an abnormal pap smear. Do not wait to begin treating these patients. They need proactive practitioners who are dedicated to preventing further cell damage.
When a condition becomes chronic, the patient has entered the degeneration phase. These patients will probably require medication, but much can be done functionally to influence the expression of the disease.
The neoplasm phase is when cancer has fully expressed itself.
What a paradigm shift it would be if, instead of focusing on battling cancer, we focused on preventing it before it started. By supporting your patients, teaching them the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices and paying attention to those early symptoms, you give them an amazing chance to be vibrantly healthy and potentially avoid disease altogether.
“All truth passes through three stages:
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
-Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher
The fourth tier of the Pyramid of Health is immunity. Just like toxins, it’s not just the strength of an infection that causes patients to get sick. The other important factor is the susceptibility of the patient or how well their immune system is functioning.
Symptoms of immune dysfunction include recurring colds and flus, candida, parasites, unexplained fatigue and slow wound healing. Ironically, traditional treatments for infection can cause even greater immune imbalances.
This is seen in the overuse of antibiotics. Children who were treated with antibiotics for recurring ear infections often grow up to have immune problems as adults. And while antibiotics are certainly necessary for some acute infections, they can cause other infections by destroying immune-enhancing healthy bacteria along with the bad.
Interestingly, when you address the first three tiers of the Pyramid of Health, it’s possible that your patient’s immune system will also improve. The SHAPE ReClaimed program addresses all four tiers of this pyramid by balancing pH, improving neural communication for proper adaptation to stress, providing a gentle and effective detox, enhancing digestion and boosting the immune system. In the process, it also helps your patient release excess weight.
Conclusion: So Now What?
Let’s go back to the patient at the beginning of this paper. You have a 38-year old female complaining of fatigue, indigestion, food sensitivities, rapid heart rate, insomnia and weight gain. Her last seven doctors told her she was normal. But, she doesn’t feel normal, and she’s desperate for answers. What do you do?
First, don’t tell her it’s all in her head. She is experiencing real symptoms that are affecting her everyday life and well-being. Second, don’t name and blame; rather, think and link. These terms were coined by Dr. Mark Hyman. This concept is all about not trying to shoot for the diagnostic bullseye or treat a single symptom.
Instead, look for the common thread to her symptoms by using the Pyramid of Health and your own diagnostic expertise.
This is how we transform healthcare: by listening to the patient, validating their concerns, thinking outside the box and utilizing every tool at your disposal. As we said before, the current medical model is merely managing disease. What patients need is prevention and the reversal of disease in order for them to live the fullest life possible.
The SHAPE ReClaimed program was designed using this healing philosophy to transform healthcare from disease management to restorative medicine. Join us in this effort and give your patients the possibility of real, lasting, life-changing results.