Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential. With your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.
Lisa Tamati: Welcome back, everybody to Pushing the Limits. Today I have Dr Don Wood, who is sitting in Florida. And Dr Don is a wonderful man. He is a trauma expert. He is someone who had a problem in his own family and sought about finding a solution. He is the developer of the TIPP method, T-I-P-P method. He spent years researching, and to understand how our minds affect our bodies. Dr Wood made the connection between trauma and health issues. In addition, he recognised the daily stress that people live with when they've been through trauma, and that the only solutions provided in the normal conventional world and medications. But his experience with his family provided the determination required to develop a cutting-edge neuroscience approach, a real holistic solution that provides immediate and long lasting relief for people who have been through trauma of any sort, whether it's small or large. The TIPP program developed by Dr Wood has benefited individuals all over the world. And he really wanted to create a solution that removed the stigma of trauma. Too many people are afraid to ask for help because of that stigma. And that's why he named the program around increasing performance levels. The name of his institute is the Inspired Performance Institute.
I really love this episode with Dr Don Wood, he is a lovely, amazing person with a way of helping people get rid of PTSD, get rid of trauma out of their lives. So that they can get on with being the best versions of themselves. And that's what we're all about here. He's worked with everyone, from soldiers coming back from wars to victims of the Boston Marathon bombing campaign, to highly successful executives and world-class athletes. He's been there, done that. So I really hope that you enjoy this conversation with Dr Wood.
Before we head over to the show, just want to remind you, we have our new premium membership for the podcast Pushing the Limits. Now out there. It's a Patron page so you can be involved with the program, with the podcast. We've been doing this now for five and a half years; it is a labor of love. And we need your help to keep this great content coming to you, and so that we can get the best experts in the world and deliver this information direct to your ears. It's a passion that's been mine now for five and a half years and you can get involved with it, you get a whole lot of premium member benefits. And you get to support this cause which we're really, really grateful for. For all those who have joined us on the Patron program. Thank you very, very much. You know, pretty much for the price of a cup of coffee a month, you can get involved. So check that out at patron.lisatamati.com. That's patron P-A-T-R-O-N dot lisatamati.com.
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Hello, everyone and welcome back to Pushing the Limits. This week, I have another amazing guest for you. I've found some pretty big superstars over the years, and this one is going to be very important to listen to. I have Dr Don Wood, welcome to the show, Dr Don.
Dr Don Wood: Thank you, Lisa. I'm excited to be here.
Lisa: This is gonna be a very interesting, and it's a long-anticipated interview for me, and Dr Don is sitting in Florida, and you've got a very nice temperature of the day, isn’t it?
Dr Don: Oh, absolutely gorgeous- low 80s, no humidity. I mean, you just like I said, you couldn't pick a better day, it's very fast. I would have tried to sit outside and do this. But I was afraid somebody would start up a lawn mower.
Lisa: Podcast life. I’ve just got the cat wandering, and so he's probably start meowing in a moment. Now, Dr Don, you are an author, a speaker, a trauma expert, the founder of the Inspired Performance Institute. Can you give us a little bit of background of how did you get to where you are today, and what you do?
Dr Don: Well it’s sort of an interesting story. I really started the Inspired Performance Institute because of my wife and daughter more. Mostly my daughter than anything else. I talked about this, is that I led this very, very quiet, idyllic kind of childhood with no trauma. Never had anything ever really happen to me. You know, bumps along the way, but nothing kind of that would be considered trauma. And I lived in a home that was so loving and nurturing, that even if I got bumped a little bit during the day, you know, was I, when I was a kid, I'm coming home to this beautiful environment that would just regulate my nervous system again.
Dr Don: So I believe that that was critical in terms of having my nervous system always feeling safe. And that really resulted in amazing health. I mean, I've been healthy all my life. And as an adult, when things would happen, I could automatically go back into that nervous system regulation, because I had trained it without even knowing it.
Dr Don: that I was able to get back into that. Well. And so when I met my wife, I realised she was not living in that world. And amazingly enough, Lisa, I thought everybody lived like, because I had no idea that a lot of my friends were being traumatised at home. That I had no idea, because everybody's on their best behaviour. If I come over, everybody's behaving themselves and you don't see it. My friends, a lot of times wouldn't share it because of either shame or guilt. I mean, my wife, nobody knew what was going on in their home.
Dr Don: And she had one best friend that knew, that was about it. And if you met her father, who was really the bad guy in this whole thing, everybody thought he was the greatest guy. Because outwardly, he came across as this generous, hard-working, loving kind of guy. Loved his family, but he just ran his home with terror.
Lisa: Wow. Terrible.
Dr Don: And so, oh, it was terrible. So when I met my wife, I realised, wow, this, because we got close very quickly, because I had the chance to play professional hockey in Sweden when I was 18. So we got married at 19. So very quickly, I was around her a lot, while we were sort of getting ready for that. So I got to see the family dynamic up close very quickly. And that's when I realised, boy, she's not living in that world, which is living in fear all the time. And that's why I sat down with her one day, and I just said, ‘Tell me what's going on here. Because I can sense this tension in here. I could sense that there was a lot of fear going on. What's going on?’ And she started sharing it with me, but swore me to secrecy. Like I could never tell anybody because of all that shame and guilt, because nobody really outside the home would have been aware of it.
Lisa: Or probably believed it.
Dr Don: Or believed it. Right.
Dr Don: And then it was again, that ‘What will people think about me? What do they think about my family?’ That's really common, when you have people who have experienced trauma like that. And so, I sort of follow along and said, ‘Okay, this will be our secret,’ but I thought to myself, ‘Well, this will be great now, because I'm going to get her out of that home’.
Dr Don: And she's going to be living in my world. So everything will just calm down, and she'll be feeling that peace that I've experienced all my life.
Lisa: Not quite so simple.
Dr Don: I was like, Well, how is this not helping? Like, why now? She's living in the world that I grew up in because I was very much like my father. I wasn't gonna yell at her, scream at her, do anything that would have made her feel fearful. But she was still living in fear.
Dr Don: And if, yeah, and if I said something like, ‘No, I don't like that.’ She could tear up and start going, why are you mad at me? Yeah. And I would be like, ‘Oh my God, like where did you get I was mad at you for?’ I just said. That made no sense to me at the time. Now I understand it perfectly. What I didn't realise at the time was that people who have been traumatised are highly sensitive to sound—
Lisa: Hypervigilant and hyperaware of noise and people raising their voice.
Dr Don: Any kind of noise. And what she also, as a child, she had learned to listen very carefully to the way her father spoke, so that she could then recognise any kind of the slightest little change in my vocal tone. So if I had been a little frustrated with something at work that day, or, you know, some other thing that was nothing related to her, she could pick up on that tone change. And then, in her mind, what her mind would be doing is saying, ‘What do we know about men when they start to get angry?’ And a whole bunch of data and information about her father would come flooding in and overstimulate her nervous system.
Lisa: So then it's like they Google search, doing a Google search and going, ‘Hey, have I had this experience before?’
Dr Don: Yeah.
Lisa: And picking out, ‘Yeah, we've been here before. This is not good. This is dangerous. This is scary.’
Dr Don: Yep. And that's actually what led me to the research that I did, mainly because of my daughter, though. So my wife lived with that, she developed Hashimoto’s. So she had this thyroid issue with, because she was constantly in a fight or flight state.
Lisa: Yeah, the cortisol.
Dr Don: More flight than anything. Yeah, cortisol. And so when my daughter was 14, she was diagnosed with Crohn's. And they just told us that you just kind of have to learn to live with this. And she's going to be on medication for the rest of her life. And we'll just continue to cut out pieces of her intestines until she has nothing left and she’d have a colostomy bag. That's just the way it is.
Lisa: Oh. And she’s 14 years old.
Dr Don: She was 14. Yeah. She ended up having for resections done, she would go down to you know, 90, 85 pounds. She’d get so sick, the poor thing. No, because she just couldn't eat. Yeah. And she couldn't hold anything down. And they just told us to have no answers. My wife did unbelievable research, trying to come up with answers and really couldn't come up with anything except this management system that they've been given her. And so, I was adopted. So we didn't know my family history. Yeah. So our family doctor was my grandfather. And I didn't know this until I was 18.
Lisa: Oh wow.
Dr Don: I always knew I was adopted. But my mother shared the story with me when I was 18. That he came to my parents and said, I have a special child I want you to adopt, right. Now. I guess you just knew that my parents were just amazing people. And you know, at that time, you know, unwed mothers, that was considered a shame. Right? You didn't talk about that. So that was a quiet adoption.
Dr Don: In fact, his wife didn't even know about it.
Dr Don: Could be my grandmother. And that's, it's interesting, the story, because I should share this too. Because what happened was, is I never understood why my birth certificate was dated two years after my birthday. And what happened was, is that my parents adopted me, like immediately upon birth. But my grandmother found out about it, his wife found out about and sued my parents to get me back.
Dr Don: And so they had to go into this legal battle for two years.
Lisa: Oh, wow.
Dr Don: Now I remember when I was really, really young, I used to get these really bad stomach pains. And I, and they took me, I remember going to doctors, I was really young. I remember going to doctors, but my grandfather was very holistic at the time for an MD. So you know, I was on cod liver oil, and you know, all these different things like, and so what he said to me, he says, No, he's just stressed out because of the stress in the home. You have to take the stress out of this home. He's feeling it.’
Dr Don: Right. So it's not that my parents were yelling, screaming.
Lisa: He’s ahead of his time.
Dr Don: Oh, way ahead. But what he realised was that, because it was so hard financially for them, that had a major effect on their life. So I guess I was feeling it. And so they went out of their way to take all the stress out.
Lisa: Wow. What lovely parents.
Dr Don: Oh yeah. So it created this unbelievable, unusual home life. And so I never had any real tension in the home.
Dr Don: Well, that was, I guess, as my wife said, we were the perfect petri dishes for this because I was living what we want to be, and she was living in the opposite world of what a lot of people do live in. And so at least I knew what the model was, what we were going for.
Lisa: And when we're exposed to trauma very early in life, it has a much bigger impact on your health and everything then when it happens later in life. Is that right?
Dr Don: Absolutely. Because we've never learned how to balance our systems, so then it stays, you know, in dysregulation a lot more than it did. And that's really what sort of led me to develop the program, is I realised that when my daughter was 16, she disclosed to us some sexual abuse that she had had when she was like six years of age that we had no idea. So my wife was, obviously both of us were devastated, but my wife was extremely, she had experienced, you know, sexual abuse as a child and thought she would never let that happen to her child.
Dr Don: So now my poor wife has also got a new, you know, trauma onto her. And so that's where it really came down to, is, you know, she said to me, ‘You could research this and find out what's going on, because I have no answers.’ And that's when I started to research and I made the connection between trauma and these autoimmune issues, for example, that my wife had, and my daughter. And so what I discovered is that I believe that unresolved trauma creates inflammation in the body. The inflammation compromises the immune system and your neurotransmitters. So we start getting sick, and we start feeling bad because our neurotransmitter, serotonin is produced mostly in the gut. So the serotonin is affected by the inflammation, which was from my daughter, right? She's not going to feel good.
Dr Don: And then that just leads to a host of other problems. And it's, it's really, really sad that the only solution that we currently are using is to teach people to live and manage and cope with it.
Lisa: I think, yeah, so we, we know, which is, which is good. You know, we're learning things, how to cope with anxieties, and breath work and all that sort of good stuff. But it's not getting to the root cause of the problem and being able to to deal with it. So when we're in a heightened state of stress and cortisol, and when we’re taking energy away from our immune system, and blood literally away from the gut, and and from a neurotransmitter production, and all that sort of thing, so is that what's going on, and why it actually affects the body? Because this mind body connection, which we're really only in the last maybe decade, or 15 years or something, really starting to dig into, isn't it? Like there's and there's still a massive disconnect in the conventional medical world where this is the mind, and this is the body. And you know, from here, up and here, and it's separate.
Dr Don: And so on and so forth? Yeah.
Lisa: Yeah. And it we’re one thing, you know. And so this has a massive effect on our health, and it can lead to all sorts of autoimmune diseases, or even cancers, and so on. So you were at this time, so you didn't have the Inspired Performance Institute at this stage? What were you doing professionally? And then, did you go back and do a PhD? And in...? Wow.
Dr Don: I've always been an entrepreneur all my life. So I was in financial services, we did a number of different things. We, my son and I, still have an energy business, we do solar energy and stuff like that.
Lisa: Oh wow.
Dr Don: I decided if I was going to do this, I needed to go back and really study. So I went back and got by, went back to school, got my PhD.
Dr Don: And, you know, to truly, to try to add credibility, number one, to what I was doing. Because, you know, people are gonna say, ‘Well, who are you? Yeah, you know, why should we listen to you? You never had any trauma and you're supposed to be an expert? Like, how does that work?’ You know, it's the same thing with addiction. You know, I help people with addiction. I've never had a drink in my life, never touched a drug in my life. Now that I say, but I know what addiction is.
Dr Don: I don't believe addiction is a disease. I believe it's a code that gets built from pain.
Lisa: Yeah, let's dig into that a little bit. And then we'll go back to your daughter's story. Because addiction, you know, it's something I know from a genetic perspective. I have a tendency towards, towards having addictive nature, personality traits. I chase dopamine a lot. I have a deficit of dopamine receptors. And so I'm constantly going after that reward. Now that's worked itself out in my life, and in running ridiculous kilometres and working ridiculous hours, and not always in negative things. Luckily, I've never had problems with drinking or drugs, but I know that if I had started down that road, I would have ended up probably doing it, you know, very well.
Dr Don: You’d be a star as well.
Lisa: I’d be a star in that as well. And luckily, I was sort of a little bit aware of that and my parents never drank and they, you know, made sure that we had a good relationship with things like that, and not a bad one. Have struggled with food, though. That's definitely one of the emotional sort of things. And I think a lot of people have some sort of bad relationship with food in some sort of way, shape, or form on the spectrum, so to speak. What is it that causes addiction? And is it a physical dependency? Or is there something more to it?
Dr Don: Yeah, that's why I don't believe it's a physical dependency. Because here's the way I look at it is, people will say to me, ‘Well, if I stopped this heroin, the body's going to crave the heroin, and I'm going to go into withdrawal.’ And my response to that is, ‘How could the body crave a substance that it doesn't know? It doesn't regulate heroin. How could it crave something that doesn't regulate?’ I believe it's the mind, has made a connection between the heroin and survival. Because you have felt bad, right? Because of trauma, or whatever it is, whenever you took the heroin, you felt better.
So I had a lady come in who had been on heroin. And she said to me, she's, ‘Well, I told my therapist, I'm coming to see you. And he told me, I had to let you know upfront and be honest and tell you I have self-destructive behaviour.’ And I just smiled at her. And I said, ‘Really? What would make you think you're self destructive?’ And she looked at me, because this is what she's been told for a year.
Dr Don: She says, ‘Well, I'm sticking a needle in my arm with heroin, don't you think that's self destructive?’ And I said to her, I said, ‘No, I don't think it was self destructive. I think you're trying to feel better. And I bet you, when you stuck the needle in your arm, you felt better.’ That nobody had ever said that to her before. And so I said, ‘Now, the substance you're using is destructive, but you're not destructive? What if I could show you another way to feel better, that didn't require you having to take a drug?’
Dr Don: And I said, ‘You're designed to feel better. And I believe that the brain, what happened is, is it because you felt bad, you found a resource that temporarily stopped that pain.’ And you see your subconscious mind is fully present in the moment. So when does it want pain to stop? Right now. And if that heroin stops the pain right now, then what happened was, is that system, you have two memory systems, you have explicit memory system that records all the information in real time. So it records all the data, and stores. No other animal does that. We’re the only animal that stores explicit details about events and experiences. We also have an associative procedural memory that we learned through association and repetition over time. So, because the explicit memory kept creating the pain, because we kept thinking about it, and looping through this pain cycle, you started taking heroin, then you engage your second associative memory, which learns through repetition and builds, codes, habits, and behaviours.
Dr Don: Because you kept repeating it your mind built a code and connected up the pain being relieved by the substance.
Dr Don: Now, your subconscious mind is literal. So it doesn't understand negation. It only understands what's happening now. And so if your mind says that substance stops the pain, it doesn't look at the future and consequences of it. It only looks at what's happening. It's only our conscious mind that can think of consequences. Your subconscious mind, which is survival-based only understands. That's why people at 911 would jump out of the buildings. They weren't jumping to die, they would jumping to stop from dying. Yeah, if they didn’t jump, they would have died right now. So even if they went another two seconds, they weren't dying now.
Lisa: Right? So it’s really in the right now, there's really no right now. It's really in the seconds.
Dr Don: And the very, very milliseconds of what's happening now. And there's no such thing as consequences, it’s basically survival. So now, if you keep repeating that cycle over and over using heroin, and then somebody comes along and says, ‘Lisa, you can't do that. That's bad for you. I'm going to take that away from you.’ Your survival brain will fight to keep it because it thinks it'll die without it.
Lisa: Yeah. Makes a glitch.
Dr Don: It's an error message.
Lisa: Have you heard of Dr Austin Perlmutter on the show last week, David Perlmutter’s son and they're both written a book called Brain Wash. And there they talk about disconnection syndrome. So the disconnection between the prefrontal cortex in the amygdala and the amygdala can be more powerful when we have inflammation in the brain. For example, like inflammation through bad foods, or toxins, or mercury, or whatever the case may be. And that this can also have an effect on our ability to make good long-term decisions. It makes us live in the here and now. So I want that here and fixed now; I want that chocolate bar now. And I know my logical thinking brain is going, ‘But that's not good for you. And you shouldn't be doing that.’ And you, you're trying to overcome it. But you're there's this disconnect between your prefrontal cortex and your amygdala. And I've probably butchered that scenario a little bit.
Dr Don: No, you got it. But 95% of your mind is working on that subconscious survival base. It's only about 5% that's logical. That logical part of your brain is brilliant, because it's been able to use reason and logic to figure stuff out. So it created the world we live in: automobiles, airplanes, right, computers, all of that was created by that 5%, part of the brain 5%. However, if there is a survival threat, survival will always override reason and logic. 100% of the time.
Dr Don: So you can't stop it. And it's what I talked about was that time slice theory. Did I mention that when we were going?
Dr Don: When I did my research, one of the things that I found was something called the time slice theory. And what that is, is that two scientists at the University of Zurich asked the question— is consciousness streaming? So this logical conscious part of our mind that prefrontal cortex, is that information that we’re, as you and I are talking now, is that real, coming in real time? And what they discovered is, it’s not.
Dr Don: The 95% subconscious part of your mind, it's streaming. While let's say your survival brain churns in everything in real time, processes that information, and then only sends pieces or time slices, because your conscious mind cannot handle that detail.
Lisa: Oh, wow. So they’re filtering it.
Dr Don: Filtering it. And yeah, so as it takes it in, processes it, and then sends time slices or some of that information to your conscious mind. Right? But there's a 400 millionth of a second gap in between your subconscious seeing it, processing it, and sending it. And when I read that, that's when I came up with the idea that what's it doing in that 400 millionth of a second? It's doing a Google search, see? And so in that 400 millionth of a second, your survival brain has already calculated a response to this information before you're consciously aware of it.
Dr Don: And so the prefrontal cortex has got a filter on there to be able to stop an impulse, right? So it's the ventral lateral prefrontal cortex is sort of the gatekeeper to say, ‘Okay, let's not go into a rage and get into trouble. Let's try to stop that.’ So we have that part of our brain. However, here's where the problem comes in— You're driving and traffic and somebody cuts you off. And so your first response is, you get angry, because this person is like, ‘Oh, I want to chase that guy down and give him a piece of my mind.’ But that part of your brain can say, ‘Let's think about this. Hold on,’ you know, even though it's 400 millionth of a second later, the first anger response, then it should be able to pull that back. Here's where the problem comes in. If getting cut off in traffic looked like you had been just disrespected. During that Google search, your now, your subconscious mind has filtered through every experience of being disrespected. And so much information comes in that it cannot stop the response. It overrides it, because now it feels threatened. And our prisons are full of people who had been so badly hurt, that that part of their brain can't do that. You and I can probably do that. Right?
Dr Don: Because we can say, sometimes? You know, you can run them down. You can leave the car. But that's where the problem comes in. Yeah, can't stop that, then that rage and all those things come in. And that affects your relationships could affect all kinds of things. And people would say, ‘Oh, you got an anger management problem. We're going to teach you to live with, you know, and manage that anger.’ What I'm saying is ‘No, it's a glitch. We don't need all that data coming in.’ Right, good response, a Google search is creating the problem.
Lisa: Like there's so many questions while hearing what you just said that, and I've experienced in my own life where with my family, where the initial response is so quick, that someone's punched someone else before they've even thought about what the heck they are doing. In the, when you said that, disrespected like this is, you know, I think when I've gotten really really angry and overreacted to something, when I think about it logically later, and a couple of times were of, like, in my early adult years, I was in a very abusive relationship. Thereafter, when I would get into another relationship, and that person tried to stop me doing something, I would just go like, into an absolute fit of rage. Because I was fighting what had happened to me previously, and this poor person, who may have not even been too bad, got the full barrels of verbal assault. Because I just reacted to what had happened to me 10 years previously. And that's the sort of thing where I felt like I was being controlled, disrespected when he went in. So that Google search is happening in a millisecond.
Dr Don: 400 millionths of a second. you couldn't have stopped, impossible for you to stop. And then people would say, ‘What's wrong with Lisa? She's just normally a great person, but where is that coming from?’ Up until now, you may not have known that. But that's what it is. And it's impossible for you to have stopped. It was the same thing when my wife and I would say, ‘No, I don't like that.’ And she would start to cry. I'd be saying, ‘Gosh, what am I doing to make this woman cry?’ It wasn't what I said. It was what I said that activated her Google search, which then flooded into data about her father. She was responding to her father, not to me. We both didn’t know that; we all thought that she was responding to what I just said.
Lisa: Isn't this always just such complex— and if you start to dissect this, and start to think about the implications of all this, and our behaviour, and our communication and our relationships, so much pain and suffering is happening because we're not understanding, we're not, we're angry at people, we’re disappointed with people, we’re ashamed of things that we've done. And a lot of this is happening on a level that none of you know, none of us are actually aware of. I mean, I liken it to, like, I know that my reactions can sometimes be so quick. Like before, my, just in a positive sense, like effect glasses falling off the beach, I would have caught it with my bare hand before my brain has even registered it. I have always had a really fast reaction to things like that. That's a clear example of, like, that permanent brain that's in the here and now, has caught it before I've even realised that's happening.
Dr Don: You know, and that's why I always say to people, ‘Did you choose to do that?’ And they'll say, ‘Well, I guess I did.’ I go, ‘No, you didn’t.’ Didn’t just happen that happened before you could actually use the logical part of your brain. And because it was so much information, right? Even though the logical part of your brain would say, ‘Well, you know, don't lash out at this person. They didn't mean that.’ It would already have happened. Yeah, I worked with a professional athlete. He was a baseball player playing in the major leagues. And I explained that concept to him. And then we were at a, one of his practice workouts, and his pitcher was throwing batting practice behind a screen. And so as he threw the ball, this guy, my client hit the ball right back at the screen, and the coach, like, hit the ground. Right? And I stopped right there. And I said, ‘Great example.’ I said, Did your coach just choose to duck?
Lisa: Or did he automatically do it?
Dr Don: He had no, he had no time to use exactly. The logic. If you use the logical part of your brain, what would you have said? ‘This ball can hit me; there's a screen in front of me.’
Lisa: Yeah, yeah. But you know—
Dr Don: No way logic is going to prevail, when there's a threat like that coming at you. Yeah.
Lisa: This is why it's important because we need to be able to react in that split second, if there really is a danger and there's a bullet flying in ahead or something like that or something, somebody is coming at us from, to do us harm, then we need to be able to react with split second timing.
Dr Don: But you don’t want that logic coming into it.
Lisa: No, but we do want the logic coming in when it's an emotional response. Do you think like, when people have had repeated brain injuries, they are more likely to have problems with this, you know, the prefrontal cortex not functioning properly and even being slower to respond or not getting enough blood flow to that prefrontal cortex in order to make these good decisions?
Dr Don: Yeah, absolutely. And if you look at SPECT scans or brain scans of people who have had those kinds of injuries, you'll see that that part of the brain, that frontal part of the brain, the blood flow will drop when they get into those situations.
Lisa: Wow. And then they can't make a good decision. And here we are blaming them for being—
Dr Don: Blaming them for being—
Lisa: —and they end up in prisons, and they end up with hurt broken lives and terrible trauma. And, you know, it's not good if they react and hit somebody or kill somebody or whatever. But how can we fix this? And that one of my go-tos is the hyperbaric oxygen therapy. And I've heard you talk about that on a podcast with Mark Divine in regards to your son. And that is one way we can actually help our brains if we've had had a traumatic brain injury or PTSD or anything like that, is that right?
Dr Don: Yeah, my, like I said, my son had three head injuries, one in elementary school, one in middle school, one in high school. And the first one, we didn't see as big an effect. But he did have a problem. The second one, he ended up with retrograde amnesia. And then the third one, we just saw him go downhill and just really couldn't communicate very well, didn't have any energy, had a lot of anger issues and they just kept saying he's got major depression, you need to medicate them. And I was like, ‘No, I believe we've got traumatic brain injury.’ But I could not get them to give me a script for a SPECT scan or an fMRI. It was impossible. And I wasn't looking for the structure, because they'd look at an MRI and they'd say, ‘We don't see any damage.’ Well, it wasn't the physical damage we're looking for, it was a functional damage that we were looking for.
Lisa: Yeah, the blood flow. Yeah.
Dr Don: And once we discovered that that's what it was, we got him into hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and he started getting the blood flow into the areas that he needed to process what he was experiencing. And so if you can, you can imagine how difficult that would be, somebody saying, well just go over there and do that. And you don't have the ability to process it.
Dr Don: And so that frustration there is anger would be coming from just complete frustration.
Dr Don: That he just couldn't do it's like, you know, you ran in somebody and you couldn't lift your right leg.
Dr Don: Right. And somebody said, ‘Just start running.’ ‘I'm trying.’
Lisa: Yeah, yeah.
Dr Don: It would be very, very frustrating.
Lisa: Yeah, I mean, having worked with, you know, my mum with the brain injury for five and a half years, and I will tell you, man, that is so frustrating. And still, even though she's had well, you know, must be close to 280 or something hyperbaric sessions, and gone from being not much over a vegetative state to being now incredibly high functioning. But there are still some pieces missing that I cannot get to. Because obviously damage in the brain where parts of the brain cells are, have been killed off. And we, you know, I'm really having trouble with things like vestibular systems, so, or initiation of motivation, and things like that. And hyperbaric can do a heck of a lot, it can't fix areas of the brain that is actually dead. So I, you know, and we don't have SPECT scans over here, this is not available. We don't do them.
Dr Don: Yeah. And they’re hard to get here. I just don’t understand them.
Lisa: They're very frustrating, because they just are so powerful to understand. Because when you see you've got a problem in your head, that it's actual physical problem, then, you know, it takes away the blame the guilt, and you know, like, I was having this conversation with my brother, and I'm, you know, talking about Mum, and why isn't she doing this, that and the other end. And I said, ‘Because she's got brain damage, and we can't get her to do that thing.’ ‘But she's normal now. She should be doing that now.’ And I'm like, ‘She's much, much better. But in that part of the brain, I haven't been able to recover.’ It is still a thing. That is the year. That is, I am, not that I'm giving up on it, but you know, there are just certain things that we haven't quite got the full thing back.
Dr Don: The SPECT scan would show that. And you'd probably see it, or do they do fMRIs there?
Lisa: I haven't checked out fMRI because yeah.
Dr Don: Check out the fMRI.
Lisa: I only heard you say that the other day, and I didn't, I knew about SPECT scans and I knew about. Dr Hearts and all the SPECT scans that he's done, and Dr Daniel Amen and the brilliant work on it all and I've searched the country for it. And New Zealand there's, they've got one that does research stuff down in New Zealand and I think but it's it's nobody can get access to it. And it's just, oh gosh, this is just such a tragedy because then we can actually see what's going on. Because people have been put on antidepressants. They've been put on, you know, antipsychotic drugs. Some things that are perhaps not necessary. We could have, we could have dealt with it with other other ways, like hyperbaric and like with, you know, good nutrients, and even like your program that you do that would perhaps be the first line of defense before we grab to those types of things. But—
Dr Don: The fMRI would definitely probably help you. So it's, you know, a functional MRI. Yeah. So it's going to give you blood flow. I just had a young boy come in, nine years, nine years old, having real issues. And anyway, his mum's gone everywhere, tried everything. And I said, have you done an fMRI? She says, oh we’ve done the MRIs. But, and I said, ‘’No, you need an fMRI.’ She'd never heard of it. No, I was telling her about it.
Lisa: I hadn’t even heard about it either.
Dr Don: She didn’t want to do SPECT scans, because SPECT scans are going to put something into your system, right? So she didn't want any kind of dyes, or any kind of those, you know, radioisotopes and stuff like that. So the fMRI is the other answer to try to get that.
Lisa: Oh, okay. I'll see whether they've got that, they probably haven't got that either. I'd say, probably having Dark Ages with a lot of things.
Dr Don: There's so many things like that, that would give you answers that they just don't do, which is surprising to me. Because when you think research, I mean, you find out how effective they are, why wouldn't they do it? You know, they just won't.
Lisa: Oh, yeah, like one of those doctors who was on my podcast, and we're talking about intravenous vitamin C. And he said, I said, ‘Why is it taking so long when there's thousands of studies proving that it's really powerful when there’s critical care conditions like sepsis, what I lost my father to?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, because it's like turning a supertanker. There’s just 20 years between what they know in the clinical studies to what's actually happening in the hospitals.’ He says at least a 20-year lag. And this is just, when you live in New Zealand, probably a 30-year lag. We’re just just behind the eight ball all the time, and all of these areas of what's actually currently happening.
I wanted to go back to your story with your daughter. Because she's got Crohn's disease, 14 years old, diagnosed, having to hit all these restrictions, and that she's going to have to manage it for the rest of her life. And she will never be well. What actually happened? Because we didn't actually finish that story.
Dr Don: Well, like I said, so she had, you know, suffered for many years with that, and she's an actress, so any kind of stress would just aggravate it. So she would constantly be getting sick, because, you know, the more stress she has, the more inflammation she's creating, and then she would just get sick and go back to the hospital. So it has really affected her career. So that's when my wife said, ‘You've got to come up with some answers.’ And so I did the research. And I really believe that it was a trauma as a child that continued. Because this is when I made the connection between unresolved trauma and inflammation. Inflammation is the response to trauma, whether it's physical or emotional. And the purpose of the inflammation is to protect the integrity of the cell. So the cell gets into an enlarged space. So it sort of puffs out, gets enlarged and hardened to protect it from getting penetrated from any kind of foreign invader.
Dr Don: So the idea behind it is, it's a temporary pause, because there's been an injury. So the idea is, we need to protect this area. So let's protect it and not let anything get into the cells while, until the danger has passed. So this temporary pause in the system, temporarily suspends the immune system, temporarily suspends the processing of the cell until the danger passes, and then the immune system can come in and clean up, right and take care of everything. The problem was, is that my daughter's trauma was never resolved. So those cells in her intestinal area stayed in an active cell danger response, in an inflamed response, because as far as it was concerned, she was continually being assaulted.
Dr Don: Because it kept looping through the trauma. Yeah. So once we took her through this program, and we resolved it so that we were able to stop her mind from constantly trying to protect her from this threat as a six year old, because your subconscious doesn't have any relationship to time. So if you think about something that happened to you when you were six, that's happening now. So in her mind, she was being hurt now. And until we got that updated, so it’s like a computer, I say your brain is a computer. Your body is the printer.
Lisa: Oh, wow. That’s a good analogy.
Dr Don: And so if the brain has an error message, it’s going to affect the printer.
Dr Don: So in her mind, that trauma kept on looping. As soon as we got that corrected, and her mind understood that there was no memory— the memory was still there, but the activation of our nervous system stopped, the inflammation went down.
Lisa: See, that's it, like your body's calling for action. I've heard you say—
Dr Don: That’s when it processes the emotion.
Lisa: Yeah. So when you think back to a traumatic event in your life, and you start crying and you're reacting as if you were right there in the in, which, you know, I can do in a split second with some of the trauma that you know, been through. That means that there is a high-definition in your brain, that those moments in time are just locked in there, and causing this, the stress response, still now. And that's why you’re crying years later, for something that happened. And it's actually calling for action. It's telling you to do something. But of course, it's a memory you can't do something.
Dr Don: So action required, you know I think that’s the glitch, the error message that I talked about. So if you think about something that happened to you five years ago, and you start to feel fear, or cry, your heart starts pounding in your chest, your mind is saying ‘Run,’ five years ago, because it's seen it in real time. Now, it's impossible to run five years ago, but your mind doesn't know that. So it's going to continue to try to get you to run. And so a lot of times when I talk to people who have depression, one of the things I asked, I'll ask them is, ‘What are you angry about?’ And they'll go, ‘Well, no, I'm not angry, I'm depressed.’ And I'll say, ‘What's happened is your mind has been calling for an action for many, many years, that was impossible to accomplish. But your mind doesn't know that and it keeps putting pressure on you. Do it, do it, do it. And because you don't do it, it's using these emotions to call for the action, it stops calling for the action, it shuts off the emotions.’
Dr Don: And so now depression is the absence of emotion.
Dr Don: And so what is done is to protect you, it's shut down the request.
Lisa: Everything down. So you go sort of numb, numb and apathetic and just—
Dr Don: Because you can't do what it’s been asking you to do. And so it's been calling for that action for many, many years. You don't do it. And so it says, ‘Well, this isn't working. So let's just shut the system off for a while. We won't ask for the action anymore.’ And so that's why the people are depressed. And as soon as you get to the cause of it, what has your mind been asking you to do and you resolve it, then your mind stops calling for the action. And then the depression will lift.
Lisa: You had a great example of a lady that you worked with. Rebecca Gregory, was it from the Boston— can you tell us that story? Because that was a real clear example of this exact thing.
Dr Don: Yeah. So Rebecca came to see me five years after the Boston Marathon. She was three feet from the first bomb that went off. And so her son was sitting at her feet. So when the bomb went off, luckily she shielded him, but she took the brunt of the blast. She lost her left leg. And five years later, she's having post-traumatic stress, right? And she says, ‘I have nightmares every night. I heard about your program. I heard that you can clear this in four hours.’ She says, ‘Iy sounds too good to be true.’ But she says, ‘I'm completely desperate. So I'll try anything.’ And so she came in and sat down. And what I explained to her as she started to talk is, I said, ‘Rebecca, do you know why you're shaking and crying as you're talking to me right now?’ And she says, ‘Well, because I'm talking about what happened to me.’ And I said, ‘That's right. But your mind thinks a bomb is about to go off. And it's trying to get you to run.’ And I said, ‘But there's no bomb going off. It's just information about a bomb that went off. But your mind doesn't know that.’ And that, she'd never heard before. And so what we did is over the next four hours, we got her mind to reset that high-definition data that had been stored about the bombing into a regular alpha brainwave state, right, where it's very safe and peaceful.
So she could recall it and she could talk about it without the emotion. Why? Because, now we're not going for happy, right? You know, it's still sad that it happened. But what we're trying to stop is that dysregulation of the fear, the call for the run. That stopped. And you can watch your testimonial on her on our site, and she just talked about, she goes, ‘I just couldn't believe that you could stop that.’
Lisa: But in four hours.
Dr Don: And then now she can go out and she spoke all over the country. You know, she was a very high-profile lady who did a lot of great work in trying to help people. But she was still suffering with post-traumatic stress. Yeah, trying to help people who were experiencing post-traumatic stress.
Lisa: She knew what it was like.
Dr Don: She was living it. Same thing. I tell the story, it’s another dramatic one was a US Army sniper who had to shoot and kill a 12 year old boy.
Lisa: Oh, gosh.
Dr Don: And when I first sat down and talked to him, he was just sobbing. And he said, ‘I just can't live like this anymore.’ And by the time we were finished, he could then describe everything that happened that day, including shooting. And he said to me, goes, ‘How the bleep did you do this? Like, how am I able to talk about it now? And I said, ‘For eight years, your mind's been trying to get you not to pull the trigger.’
Lisa: And you can't go back in time.
Dr Don: But your mind knows you're not pulling the trigger now. So it stopped calling for the action. It's just information now.
Lisa: And so, is this similar to EMDR? I did a few sessions of EMDR when we lost our little baby boy a couple of years ago. And in that time, when I was doing it, I thought, this isn't working. But when I look back on that traumatic event, I no longer have the response, really, to— it’s sad, but I don't, but I'm not like I was in the months after that. And I don't, I wouldn't say I'm completely, you know, out the other end of that particular trauma, there's been more since that I'm still dealing with. But it definitely did something. And I don't know what, it was a lot of eyeshifting and going home. What was it? Is it similar to what you do? Or is it different?
Dr Don: Yeah, I studied EMDR. So what we do, so that's a technique some of the techniques I use in EMDR I'll use. But I think what we've done is enhance it even more. I've made it even quicker and even more comprehensive.
Dr Don: And EMDR. How many sessions did you do in EMDR?
Lisa: I think I did four.
Dr Don: So yeah, so they're gonna be between 4, 8, 10? Right. We're doing one.
Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. And I wasn't sure immediately after it had done anything. But I must admit, yeah.
Dr Don: And it does, because what it's doing is getting that memory reprocessed, which is what we're doing. But we do it much simpler, like I don't need much detail at all. In fact, I've sat with people, you know, a person said, if a woman had been raped or sexually assaulted. The last issue was to sit there and do is start describing what happened to her. So what I do is I say, we got a, we got three different ways of doing this one, you can talk about it if you'd like to, and I'm going to take you through the techniques, right, to get your mind to reprocess it. Or two, I'm just going to do strictly visually. So I have no idea what you experienced. I'm not going to know any of the details, which feels very safe.
Dr Don: Or third, what I say is I'm going to teach you a new language, and it's called flowing. There's only one word and the flowing language, it’s flowing. So instead of saying, I walked into the room, you're gonna say flowing, flowing, flowing, every word is flowing. The advantage to that is she has to go into memory to see it and bring up the images.
Dr Don: But I have no idea what it is.
Lisa: Yeah. You don’t need to hear it.
Dr Don: I don't need to hear it. And then I take her through basically a two to three minute technique. That's all. And at the end of that, it's updated.
Lisa: That's incredible.
Dr Don: And my wife used flowing with me, right? Because it was some things that were, for me, she didn't want to share.
Lisa: Fair enough.
Dr Don: Right? Yeah. And that was fine. And so I tell them, whichever way you want to do it. I said, ‘If I needed to know, I would ask.’ I said, ‘But if I'm asking, it's just from curiosity.’
Dr Don: But it's not necessary. That is radically different. Right? For people who have experienced really severe trauma. And it's very, very, you know, safe and very pain free.
Lisa: And what, so what is it, what, we have talked therapies where we, you know, go to a counselor, and we spend years sometimes working through our childhood traumas and our, whatever traumas have happened since and we don't seem to get anywhere, which is a lot of time. It might feel good in the moment that you're sharing, and being able to express yourself, but it doesn't really work. In my experience, at least. What is the difference here? Are we just reliving and actually enhancing these memories when we just talk about them all the time, and not actually deal with them?
Dr Don: I believe in a lot of cases, that's what they're doing, are trying to desensitise you to it. You know, talk about it enough, maybe it doesn't feel as dramatic. Yeah. And talk therapy has its place so I'm not against it. I think where talk therapy is really good is when you're dealing with a current problem. Yeah, current stress maybe in your marriage, whatever, and learning how to handle what's going on right now. Where I think the difference between what we do is we're able to get the talk therapy much more effective when you take out all the old stuff that keeps aggravating the new stuff.
Dr Don: So if you're in a current stressful situation, and it's been aggravated, because every time you talk about it is bringing in all the data of the old stuff, then it's very difficult to deal with. So that's, I think what we do, which is really different, and makes everything much more effective.
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. That makes sense to me. And with, going back to your daughter, because we so we, she is now managed to get on top of her Crohn’s. I mean, Crohn’s is an incurable disease, apparently.
Dr Don: That’s what we were told, yeah, that there’s no cure for Crohn's.
Lisa: What did you do with her to actually because it's that physical thing, and there are a lot of people out there listening probably have Crohn's or IBS, or something like an autoimmune disease, or can, how did that work out with her? And, you know, why is that sort of a really amazing story?
Dr Don: Well, all I know is that after we took her to the program, she hasn't had a Crohn's flare up. So I'm not saying that we can cure Crohn's with our program. Exactly. What I do know is that after she went through the program, she hasn’t had a Crohn's flare up. So to me, there's a correlation between her nervous system and the activation of her Crohn’s. And so once we got that settled down, so Crohn's could be, may not be just from that. There could be other reasons for it. So you never know. So somebody could do our program and not have that same reaction. But what we do see is a lot of different, because when we talk about, I believe that there's imagine more like a cell phone, you plug in your cell phone at night, right? We go to sleep, we charge up, we wake up with 100% of our energy. Then how much of that energy do you have available to do maintenance. So if you've got a lot of maintenance and repair issues, you're draining a lot of energy.
Lisa: Oh, yeah.
Dr Don: And if your mind is looping through a lot of trauma that's pulling a lot of energy away from your ability to do maintenance and repairs. Yep. And so I talked about when I played hockey, which is a pretty brutal sport, I had six concussions, 60 stitches, and I never missed a hockey game. Now at the time, they just said, ‘You just heal fast, faster than most people.’ What I didn't realise is, I believe the reason I healed fast was because I was getting much more maintenance done.
Dr Don: At nighttime when I slept. Because I didn't have a lot of trauma that my mind was constantly looping through. So it wasn't pulling energy away. So if I'm getting two or three times the maintenance and restorative sleep, of course, I'm going to heal faster. How could I not?
Lisa: Gosh. Yeah, that makes a whole lot of sense. Really. Yeah.
Dr Don: And that's why I've been healthy all my life, I just don't get sick.
Lisa: So super immune system.
Dr Don: Very powerful immune system that can fight whatever comes at me. And again, we talked about vitamin C, if ever, I feel a little tickle in my throat, or I start to feel that, I just pound in vitamin C, you know, 4000, 5000 milligrams, vitamin C, and it’s gone.
Lisa: Immune system jumps into gear, because you don't have these stressors. So when we talk about stress being so detrimental, you know, we talk about it all the time, stress is bad for us, and what you know, excessive stress, there are good hormetic stressors, where we go for exercise, or we get in a sauna, or we do cold therapy, and these are short, temporary stressors that cause cascades of changes in the body that make us stronger. But when we're exposed to chronic stress, which is like what we're talking about, traumatic events, and you know, like I also wanted to say there's not just, somebody died, someone's legs been blown off, someone's you know, been to war. These are not just those big, big, traumatic things. These are these daily little things that start to add up as well that can be traumatic stressors, can't they? It's not just the big ones.