Archive for the ‘Gut Health’ Category

What Can We Learn From Our Current Affairs? (Go here for Video)

What Can We Learn From Our Current Affairs?Picture

By, Dr. Robert Waters

If we can learn anything from the current world-wide infection, it is that we need to take care of ourselves. If we make ourselves resilient…if we maximize our biochemical health, we will be able to resist diseases, viral and otherwise. Data from around the world indicate that old, frail people and people with serious illnesses like diabetes and emphysema are overwhelmingly the ones that get seriously ill and die from the present virus, and indeed, from influenza outbreaks every year. Very healthy people and children may only experience mild symptoms or none at all. In addition, more and more studies, have revealed that the lower a person’s vitamin D level, the more susceptible the victim becomes to serious illness or death. Deficiencies of other nutrients like zinc, C, A, Omega-3 also weaken us.

The other day, my daughter was at a grocery store and saw an older man with a mask at the checkout. The young man bagging groceries was also wearing a mask; the older man then complimented the employee for wearing a mask. Most of the people in the store, including the cashier and my daughter, were not wearing masks. My daughter then noticed that the mask wearing customer had one item in his cart – a case of soda pop. This got my daughter thinking about how our focus has been really skewed – from taking care of ourselves and thus preventing or minimizing the results of an infection (things we have control over) to worrying about wearing masks, gloves and drowning ourselves in hand sanitizer.

When I started my practice in 1983, I entitled it Waters Preventive Medical Center. I had adopted the idea that “we are what we eat” and also, how we digest that food. In addition, I also learned early on that in the last century, humans have intoxicated the Earth and themselves with 10’s of thousands of new synthetic chemicals and millions of tons of toxic metals.

Because of my extensive background in molecular biology and biochemistry and also serendipitous encounters with patients suffering from unique clinical syndromes who couldn’t be effectively treated with the standard therapies I learned in medical training, I centered my practice on replenishing the body with unprocessed, whole organic food. Body systems can’t be repaired without adequate biological building blocks – nutrients – vitamins, minerals and essential fatty and amino acids.

I also adopted various interventions to rid the body of the myriad of metallic and organic toxins that every one of us has accumulated. This is done primarily through the use of chelation therapy to remove toxic metals like lead, cadmium, aluminum, mercury, arsenic. The organic poisons from plasticizers to pesticides are best removed by sauna therapy. Of course, we also use various herbs and gastrointestinal detox procedures.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but most patients that come to me are already suffering with significant symptoms or overt disease states. While nutritional interventions and detoxification procedures are the center piece of treatment, we go into detail to uncover and address the various underpinnings of their condition.

Like all physicians, we start with a thorough history and physical. This includes a look at their family, occupational and dental histories. Risk factors are thus identified that are contributing to their complaints.

We then dig deeper through extensive laboratory evaluation. Most MD’s look at basic tests: blood counts, chemistry panel, cholesterol panel and maybe a thyroid test. This isn’t nearly enough to understand and treat most illnesses. For example, do you know your vitamin D level? This “vitamin” is actually a steroid hormone that activates 100’s of genes related to bone health, immunity, neurological and psychological function, blood sugar regulation and much more. In fact, virtually every cell has receptors for the active form of vitamin D.

We also measure trace elements like zinc and copper; iron status – too much is as dangerous as not enough; fatty acid content of cell membranes; markers of free radical damage and, of course, endocrine functions. The later includes evaluation of adrenal, thyroid and sex hormone biology.

2500 years ago the Father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates said: “All disease begins in the gut.” The scientific work done over past decades has documented his statement to be absolutely true. Gut health is related to every system of the body. The series of organs from your mouth to your colon contain the organs of digestion and also a population of microorganisms numbering 10-fold our own cells. The scientific library Pubmed (The National Library of Medicine) at last look listed 70,734 scientific treatises on the topic of the relationship between this “virtual” organ and every cell and tissue in our body.

We evaluate the members of this digestive community – both beneficial and pathogenic – the capacity of the digestive juices to break down our food; the presence of inflammation; the production of the vitally important short chain fatty acids, synthesized by our bacterial partners and the immune status of the gut.
After the lab tests are obtained, we advise a nutritional regimen to regain and maintain your health. This is not a diet! It is a return to your ancestral way of eating. We help you individualize this to fit your lifestyle and medical needs. The most important thing to do is eliminate the toxic substance called sugar.
We also begin correcting your chemistry with nutritional supplements, herbal medicine, endocrine balancing molecules and in some cases, small doses of pharmaceuticals such as low doses of the immune-regulating agent naltrexone. We also address the pharmaceuticals you are presently taking and attempt, over time, to reduce or eliminate them if possible.

In summary, if we can take anything away from the current situation, let it be the need to have robust health. Real health gives resilience and resistance to disease. Prevention.


For more:

Live Q & A on Lyme With Dr. Rawls & FREE Book


Ask Dr. Rawls All of Your Lyme Disease Questions

Whether you suspect you have Lyme disease, have recently been diagnosed, or have been struggling with chronic symptoms for a long time, we know you have questions — lots of them. In honor of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Dr. Bill Rawls wants to help you find as many answers as possible.

The author of the best-selling book, Unlocking Lyme, Dr. Rawls isn’t just a Lyme-literate medical doctor (LLMD) — he also knows firsthand where you’re coming from: In the middle of his successful OB-GYN career, Dr. Rawls’ life was interrupted by Lyme disease. In his journey to overcome it, he explored nearly every treatment possible – from conventional medicine to a range of alternative therapies — until he finally discovered what worked.

Since his recovery more than a decade ago, Dr. Rawls has helped thousands of patients find their path to healing from Lyme disease and related chronic illness. Now, he’d like to help you. Come with your questions, and he’ll answer as many of them as possible.


Ask Dr. Rawls – Live Q&A Webinar

Presented by Dr. Bill Rawls and Tim Yarborough

Wednesday, May 13th
8pm EDT

Webinar can be viewed on any device

  • The best and worst lab tests and evaluations for diagnosing Lyme disease and common coinfections
  • When and how to safely use antibiotics and other conventional treatments
  • The most effective herbs, foods, and natural remedies for overcoming chronic Lyme
  • How to identify and cope with Lyme flare-ups, relapses, and Herxheimer reactions
  • Expert guidance on easing your worst symptoms, including chronic fatigue, pain, brain fog, and neurological and cardiac symptoms
  • Numerous other insights and answers throughout the live Q&A with Dr. Rawls


In honor of Lyme Awareness Month – we are giving away FREE printed copies of Dr. Bill Rawls’ best-selling book, Unlocking Lyme.

We simply ask you to cover the US shipping for the book ($3.95).

Visit to claim your book.
Use Coupon Code: FREEBOOK20

(Limit 1 per household, while supplies last)



Viruses & Immunity – Dr. Waters “Fix Your Soil and the Seeds Can’t Grow”


From Dr. Waters…


The human immune system is designed to recognize and protect us against numerous pathogens and other foreign substances. However to be effective, like any other body system, it must have the necessary raw materials to orchestrate that process. The current virus infection dominates the news and the advice we are receiving to protect ourselves from the virus. We have been told to wash our hands, stay at least 6 feet away from other people and only go out for essential purposes – to get food, medicine or to perform jobs that the government has deemed necessary or essential. Very little has been offered beyond those measures.

Louis Pasteur has been credited for bringing attention to microorganisms as the cause of disease. His contemporary, Antoine Beauchamp, had a different position in this regard. The difference between their views of human illness can be summarized as resulting from “The Seed” (Pasteur) vs. “The Soil” (Beachamp). Pasteur supposedly, while on his deathbed from pneumonia, conceded that Beauchamp was correct – he was dying not from the germ that causes pneumonia but rather the condition of his body, his soil. We can think of the soil as the general health of the body and its immune system. A germ can only grow in a body whose soil was fertile for the germs growth – a body whose immune system was impaired. This is obvious to anyone who gives it some thought. If this were not true, EVERYBODY would get a cold or the flu when such viral diseases appear in a community.

Beyond isolation and handwashing as the only answers for addressing the present virus problem, there have been other voices recommending both prevention and treatment for viral and other infections. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the chief of the Center for Disease under President Obama, wrote an editorial describing the importance and recommending the use of vitamin D to both prevent and improve the outcome of people infected. He even explained how vitamin D can dampen the cytokine storm that is the real cause of death in infected patients.

Second, the Shanghai Medical Society released a protocol recommending the use of high dose intravenous ascorbic acid, vitamin C, for the treatment of this virus. This treatment has been effective for a variety of infectious diseases since it was applied in the late 1940’s here in the United States. It has proven antimicrobial effects as well as cell-protective effects during viral and bacterial infections. I have been utilizing intravenous ascorbic acid treatment successfully for 35 years, for viral infections such as upper respiratory infections, mononucleosis, shingles and influenza. IV vitamin C is being used in China and even in some emergency rooms in New York City to treat the current virus. To reiterate, the actual reason why a person with the the current virus gets so ill that they may need a respirator or even dies, is that their body gets so inflamed in the process of attempting to control the virus that their cells and tissues get irreversibly damaged.

You might have learned that the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine has been used to treat patients. This had originally been rejected by the mainstream media. Why? There is a well-known explanation for why this agent is effective – it reduces the hyper inflammation generated by the cytokine storm that Dr. Frieden talked about in reference to the ability of vitamin D to help the body deal with the infection. In fact, hydroxychloroquine also alters the pH in compartments of certain white cells called macrophages. Many viruses invade our body and multiply in small chambers in the macrophages known as lysosomes. Viruses require the lysosomes to have an acidic pH in order to multiply. Hydroxychloroquine blocks acid production in these lysosomes and thus the viruses cannot multiply.

We may ALL get exposed to the current virus, the question is how our bodies will be able to deal with it without becoming gravely ill or dead. This brings us back to the argument between Pasteur and Beauchamp. Is it the seed or the soil? You can control the soil and use your own intelligence to avoid the seed, especially if you are immune compromised. If your soil is deficient in its ability to handle the fight with the seed, the virus itself, you are more likely to become gravely ill rather than just experience a form of the common cold. But the truth is you CAN improve your soil, your immune system and its ability to protect you against the virus.

The actions to accomplish this include:

  • Eating a wholesome diet. Unprocessed and organic. Animal products, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Avoid all processed food and especially sugar.
  • Get some sunshine and physical activity every day.
  • Replace nutrients that are known to be deficient in most people based on the federal government surveys. This means, along with Dr. Frieden’s recommendations, the following:
    • Vitamin D 5000 units daily
    • Vitamin C 2000 mg daily
    • Zinc 25 to 50 mg daily
    • Fish oil derived vitamin A 5000 units daily

Most people are also deficient in magnesium and the longchain omega-3 fatty acids. These should be added if you’re not already on them and, as Dr. Frieden said in his editorial, take a good multiple vitamin and mineral. I would also suggest you take one without iron as many of us are overloaded with this metal.

If the person still becomes very ill, find an MD who can prescribe hydroxychloroquine along with azithromycin. Studies overseas in France and elsewhere have shown that this combination can ameliorate or stop the infection. These are inexpensive, readily available drugs. The FDA has already released hydroxychloroquine for use in the treatment of the current virus. Azithromycin is already widely available and used to treat many infections.

In my opinion soil is of the utmost importance. The seed cannot grow if your immune system is resilient. If you believe you are compromised and may be unable to fight off the virus, stay home and do the things that I have indicated. Ask people to bring you good food and the supplements I have listed. If you get ill ask a doctor to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin and if it all possible intravenous vitamin C.

Even if you contract the virus, you can mitigate its effects on your body. Hopefully you can change the outcome from the need for a respirator to a condition similar to a common cold. Fix your soil and the seeds can’t grow.


Stay well!

For Dr. Waters’ presentation to the support group which goes far deeper into the topic:

For more: using the anti-viral remdesivir.


The Benefits to Dry Brushing & How To Do It

The Benefits to Dry Brushing and How to Do It

UPDATE: People kept asking me for an affordable brush and I don’t sell anything, but I found one on Amazon for under 7 dollars.

Many people carefully tend to the skin on their face, regularly exfoliating, cleansing, and moisturizing. But when’s the last time you tended to the skin on the rest of your body?

Your skin is your largest organ, after all, and there is one simple step you can add to your morning routine that can greatly improve its health – dry skin brushing.

I’m not only referring to your skin’s aesthetic appearance, either (although many would agree this is important to). The benefits of dry skin brushing go beyond skin deep, offering whole-body benefits to your health.

Dry Skin Brushing: 7 Key Benefits

Your skin is a complex system made up of nerves, glands, and cell layers that, when healthy, serves as a buffer that helps protect your body from extreme temperatures and chemicals.

It also produces antibacterial substances to protect you from infection and enables your body to produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Your skin even contains densely packed nerve cells that act as messengers to your brain, making your skin a crucial part of your interactions with the world around you.

Another crucial role your skin plays is supporting optimal detoxification. But if your skin is overrun with toxins or dead skin cells, it will not be able to eliminate wastes from your body efficiently.

This is where dry skin brushing can be invaluable, not only in brushing off dead skin cells but also in activating waste removal via your lymph nodes. Beyond this, dry skin brushing offers multiple benefits including:

1. Stimulate Your Lymphatic System

In your body, your lymphatic system is the system responsible for eliminating cellular waste products. Hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules allow waste to be collected from your tissues and transported to your blood for elimination, a process referred to as lymphatic drainage.

When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick. Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. By stimulating your lymphatic system and helping it release toxins, dry skin brushing is a powerful detoxification aid.

2. Exfoliation

Dry skin brushing removes dead dry skin, improving appearance, clearing your clogged pores, and allowing your skin to “breathe.”

3. Increase Circulation

When you dry brush your skin, it increases circulation to your skin, which encourages the elimination of metabolic waste.

4. Reduce Cellulite

Dry skin brushing may help to soften hard fat deposits below the skin while distributing fat deposits more evenly. This may help to diminish the appearance of cellulite.

Dry brushing is also said to help reduce cellulite by removing toxins that may break down connective tissue, although some believe the effect is temporary (and mostly a result of skin become more plump and swollen after brushing).1 The Huffington Post reported:2

When we’d heard dry skin brushing was an effective method for reducing cellulite, we knew we had to include it in our anti-cellulite road test. Sure enough, it was indeed one of the more successful ways to smooth away less-than-perfect spots on your legs.”

5. Stress Relief

The act of dry brushing has been described as meditative (especially if you do it in a quiet space) and may reduce muscle tension, calm your mind, and relieve stress. Many compare it to a light whole-body massage.

6. Improve Digestion and Kidney Function

Dry skin brushing may go even deeper, helping to support your digestion and organ function. According to one skin care and spa expert:3

“…many naturopathic doctors use dry brushing to help with bloating because massaging the lymph nodes helps the body shed excess water and toxins. One of the immediate effects of dry brushing is smoother skin, but it can also help improve digestion, kidney function, and more.”

7. It’s Invigorating

Many people become “addicted” to dry skin brushing (in a good way) because it simply feels so good. Along with glowing and tighter skin, regular dry skin brushers report feeling invigorated after a quick session.

Dry Brushing: How to Do It

First you’ll need a high-quality dry brush. Look for one with bristles made from natural materials. They should feel stiff but not overly so. Ideally, choose a brush with a long handle so you can reach your entire back and other hard-to-reach spots.

Dry skin brushing should be done daily for best results, or even twice a day if you like. Try incorporating it into your normal daily routine, such as doing your brushing before your morning shower and then again after work (avoid doing it too close to bedtime, as it may leave you feeling energized).

When brushing, always brush toward your heart, which is best for circulation and your lymphatic system. You can brush your entire body (including the soles of your feet). Start at your feet and work your way up your legs to your arms, chest, back, and stomach. Avoid brushing your face (unless you have a special brush designed for this delicate skin), your genitals, or any areas with irritations or abrasions (including varicose veins).

The pressure you apply while brushing your skin should be firm but not painful (avoid “scrubbing”). Your skin should be pink after a session (not red or irritated) and you can brush for as long (or as little) as you’d like. An average dry brushing session may last between two and 20 minutes.

Try It… You’ll Probably Get Hooked

The investment in dry skin brushing is small – you can find a high-quality brush for under $20 – but the pay-off is large. If you’ve never tried it, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. As one new devotee described in the Examiner:4

“I’ve only been at this for about two weeks, but I’ve already experienced many of the benefits listed above. For one thing, dry skin brushing just feels really good. It’s one of those miraculous practices that manages to be both relaxing and energizing all at the same time. For another, it cured my cellulite! …Dry skin brushing also helped heal some ingrown hairs and some innocuous though unsightly bumps on my arms. My skin is softer and no longer dry or flakey. Additionally, though I’m not sure whether or not it’s related to dry skin brushing, I must say that I’ve been sleeping better and experiencing less ‘brain fog’ throughout the day!”

A Surefire Plan for Flawless Skin

Eating a healthy diet as described in my nutrition plan, which focuses on whole, bioavailable organic foods, is your number one strategy for helping your body detox naturally while supplying the necessary nutrients your skin needs to thrive. Adding dry brushing on top of a healthful diet will only magnify its benefits. That said, certain foods are particularly effective at promoting beautiful, clear, healthy skin, so if you’re not yet eating the following on a regular basis, now is a great time to start:

  •  omega-3 fats
  • Vegetables: Ideally fresh, organic, and locally grown. Fresh vegetable juice is also wonderful for your skin, as are carotenoids, which give red, orange, and yellow fruits their color, and also occur in green vegetables. Studies have shown that eating foods with these deeply colored pigments can make your face actually look healthier than being tanned.
  • Fermented vegetables are even better as they can be made with the same vegetables but are converted by bacteria into superfoods. Fermented vegetables help promote the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria and aid in immune balance and digestion.
  • Astaxanthin—a potent antioxidant—has been found to offer effective protection against sun damage when taken as a daily supplement. Some sunscreens are also starting to use astaxanthin as an ingredient to protect your skin from damage.

Once you’ve addressed the dietary suggestions above, the following routine can help you to remove excess flakes to reveal the glowing skin underneath:

  1. Use a dry body brush to get rid of flakes, stimulate your lymphatic system, and more as described above (do this for a few minutes on your dry skin, before getting wet)
  2. Avoid using soap or use the least amount possible, especially in winter or in dry climates, as this may promote and aggravate dry skin
  3. Instead, apply a natural body scrub to exfoliate your skin (also apply this to your skin before getting wet, and choose one that also contains oil to moisturize)
  4. After your shower, apply a heavy natural body butter or natural moisturizing oil (not mineral oil or baby oil) to help seal in moisture; coconut oil works well for this purpose

Dr Mercola is the founder of the #1 Natural Health Site for nearly 20 years:

Copyright 2020 – permission to reprint fully granted, WITH links to original story


Lessons Chronic Lyme Taught Me

By Dr. Bill Rawls Posted 02-21-2020

At 62 years old, I’m finding it difficult to judge how old I feel. Instead of collecting symptoms over time like most people do, I’ve spent the past decade shedding them. Every year, my health has improved.

That said, let me be clear: I haven’t stopped aging — the cells of my body are still getting older. But they’re aging more slowly because I’ve learned how to properly take care of them, and I’m not being compromised by debilitating symptoms. Considering my body was a total wreck just 10 years ago, getting to this point has been a remarkable journey in itself.

The Health Crisis That Saved Me

My journey started more than 30 years ago as a conventionally-trained physician practicing obstetrics and gynecology. I chose that specialty because it was associated with promoting wellness and bringing life into the world, both of which inspired me. Oddly, however, the job itself was anything but healthy — being an OB/GYN came with a tremendous amount of stress and a rigorous night call schedule that left me severely sleep deprived much of the time.

When I was in my 30s, I could handle it. Not getting enough sleep and eating on the run was just part of the deal. From juggling a busy job in the medical profession to raising a family and being a weekend warrior, I prided myself on being able to do it all. As I moved into my 40s, however, things started to change — the resilience of youth began to fade.

Gradually, symptoms started creeping in. Less pep and stamina. A bit of stiffness in the morning. Achiness after an average workout at the gym. Indigestion. Loss of focus and mental sharpness. I chalked it up to aging, but as symptoms kept accumulating, my ability to function plummeted.

By age 47, I crashed. My whole body was falling apart. I woke up and ended every day feeling like I had a severe flu with body aches, fatigue, brain fog, and intestinal dysfunction. My stamina was at rock bottom. My knees and hips hurt so bad that it was often uncomfortable to walk. I lost the ability to sleep normally, even when I wasn’t on call.

My condition gradually deteriorated to the point that I lost the ability to take night call, which ultimately forced me to leave the medical practice I was in. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I still had kids in college and expenses to pay. Talk about stress — mine was through the roof!

Visits to doctor’s offices became like a revolving door. My internist ran every test and diagnostic protocol known, but they were all negative. The only significant finding was that my thyroid gland wasn’t functioning properly, but taking thyroid hormone did nothing to improve my symptoms.

Repeated visits to various specialists also failed to turn up a reason for my misery. I even had a cardiac catheterization because of constant chest pain and irregular heartbeats. My coronary vessels were clear, and all the doctors had to offer was yet another prescription to add to the growing list of prescriptions for all my other symptoms.

For the next several years of my life, I was trapped in the uncertainty of being dependent on the medical system, but not being helped by it either. It was a dead-end street that was carrying me nowhere. I just wanted my life back.

In the meantime, however, I had to find a way to generate income. Without a firm diagnosis, I wasn’t able to file for disability. Somehow, deep down, I felt my purpose in life was figuring my situation out. I knew that if I could restore my own health, I might be able to help thousands of other people caught in a similar situation. Too many people end up in a state of chronic illness managed with drugs — alive, but not living.

Ultimately, I did the only thing I thought I could do: I started a solo practice in gynecology and primary care. It relieved me of night call, and gave me the control I needed to figure out my situation. The theme of the practice was “promoting wellness,” though I still wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

Some things were obvious, however. I had to admit that I’d been driving myself into the ground for many years. Though I had always promoted healthy eating in my practice, I rarely followed my own recommendations. I liked being busy, rarely took downtime, and often let the stress in my life add up until it was oppressive.

My biggest issue, however, was chronic sleep deprivation. I had rarely slept when I was on call, but I also didn’t allow time to sleep adequately when I wasn’t on call. As a result, I had become dependent on sleep medication. All those things had to change.

Dr. Rawls at work as a doctor while also sick, talking to people

It would take years to get free of relying on sleep meds, but eventually I was able to enjoy the benefits of normal sleep again. Even exercise, which had been my one health virtue, had to change — I had to learn to exercise in a more gentle and restorative way that didn’t aggravate my inflamed tissues.

I was well versed in nutrition and knew what constituted a healthy diet; now I just had to stick to it. So I switched to organic foods where it mattered, and took other steps to clean out toxins from my living environment. I couldn’t totally eliminate stress, but I found ways to cope with help from qigong, yoga, and meditation.

Improved health habits alone, however, were not enough for me to regain my health. I also recognized that drugs were just masking my symptoms, and that the medical system writ large is too focused on bandaiding health concerns instead of identifying and addressing the underlying causes. I wanted my health and my life back, which meant finding therapies that restored the natural healing capacity of my body. There had to be other options, and I was determined to find them.

I devoured books on alternative medicine and studied different types of alternative therapies. I attended numerous conferences on holistic and integrative medicine, and ultimately became certified in holistic medicine. I explored anything that might be credible and didn’t pose significant risk. I worked with energy healers, had acupuncture treatments, took elaborate regimens of nutritional supplements, detoxed, fasted, and tried a variety of different diets.

With my newfound knowledge and plenty of trial and error, my health improved, and just as importantly, I learned new ways of helping my patients overcome illness without being overly dependent on medical therapy. But despite all my progress, I wasn’t where I wanted to be in terms of personal health. I still felt like I was dragging a ball and chain on most days, and couldn’t figure out why.

Turns out, life had one more curveball for me: I discovered that I was harboring the microbes associated with Lyme disease. For a short while, I thought I’d found the answer to my misery, but after multiple rounds of antibiotics left me sicker than when I started, I had more questions than answers.

Oddly enough, however, my Lyme disease diagnosis ended up being my final turning point. It opened a door to better understanding of chronic illness in general, and led me to the one therapy that ended up being my ultimate salvation: Herbal therapy.

In my search for alternative solutions to Lyme disease, I became aware that many people have had success overcoming chronic Lyme using herbal therapy. You might be thinking, herbal therapy isn’t strong enough to do anything. That’s what I thought at first, too. I had tried various herbal preparations from the grocery store, primarily to alleviate symptoms, but found them wanting.

Retrospectively, I shouldn’t have had high expectations for the low quality herbal preparations I was using. Once I dug into the modern research and rich traditional history of herbs, and started using high quality extracts in the combinations and doses that had shown benefit for other people, my health started improving immediately.

Dr. Bill Rawls riding his bike, smiling

I saw a significant change within a few months, and in the following years, I got my health back completely. The herbs were addressing every aspect of my illness: They calmed the runaway inflammation that was making my life miserable; they suppressed the Lyme microbes; they restored the ability of my immune system to manage my microbes. I came to deeply appreciate their natural defenses.

That’s not where my story ends, however. The close of this chapter led me right into my second chapter, where I discovered that all the lessons I fought so hard to learn revealed the answer to another, universally human question. It was one I hadn’t dared to ask myself when I was so ill: How can I keep living as long as possible and enjoy it with plenty of energy and vitality — instead of with all the symptoms and decline that can make getting older so miserable?

Turns out, I already had the answer — I just didn’t know it yet.

Beyond Illness: The Real Reasons We Age Too Fast

As my life continued its turn for the better, I began to recognize that not only were my symptoms of chronic Lyme retreating, but so were those I had just assumed were the unavoidable side effects of getting older — joint issues, feeling drained, mood changes, lack of mental clarity. And the more consistently I took the herbs, the better I felt both physically and mentally.

I was so intrigued by what was going on beneath my skin’s surface, that I immersed myself in the study of how herbs might be affecting the processes of aging, too.

My timing was good. More is known now about why the body ages than ever before, and there has been an enormous amount of research verifying traditional uses of herbs and exploring how they work. That said, aging is an incredibly complex process, and I won’t pretend otherwise, or that eliminating it is even possible. But I do think I can pinpoint the main causes of aging, and more importantly, some key factors that accelerate it.

Abstract human cells in division phase

In short, we age because our cells die. We’re made of trillions of living cells, all working in harmony to keep us alive and going, that accumulate until we reach peak adulthood around age 20. After that point in time, the number and quality of cells in the body gradually decline.

How long you will live is a function of how many cells you start with at peak adulthood, and how fast you burn up cells as you go through life. If cellular burnout occurs at a rate that overwhelms the immune and detoxification systems in the body, symptoms — and eventually illness — occur.

So what increases the rate of cellular burnout? Stress — but not just the kind you’re thinking of. The modern world has become dominated by five stress factors that play different but pivotal roles in how quickly cells deteriorate.

The 5 Key Aging Accelerators

System Disruptor_unnatural diet

Poor Diet

The excess of refined carbohydrates and bad, polyunsaturated fats that have become a signature of the modern processed-food diet are extremely damaging to cells and all systems in the body. For starters, you’re likely not getting all of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables that your cells require to function properly.

Plus, all those simple carbs and unhealthy fats do damage by a variety of mechanisms:

  • Carbs are highly reactive molecules that stick to other molecules, especially proteins, and gum up the operative machinery inside cells. This collapses collagenand other supportive molecules, stresses cells, and accelerates their burnout.
  • Excess carbohydrates also cause chronic elevations in insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose. High insulin causes a cascade effect that disrupts all other hormone pathways in the body and has been associated with immune dysfunction and diabetes.
  • Starches and sugars flood mitochondria with fuel and accelerate the burnout of mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells that turn nutrients into usable energy. It’s like pouring coal into the engine of a steam locomotive while it’s sitting on the tracks with the brakes on — the engine is going to overheat and burn out.
  • Excess dietary carbohydrates stimulate growth of unfavorable microbes in the gut, causing digestive dysfunction and a leaky gut that overwhelm and stress the immune system and generate systemic inflammation.
  • Fats that are refined using heat and chemicals break down into potent free radicals that damage the membranes of cells, which are essential for healthy cellular functions.

System Disruptor_toxic environment

Environmental Toxins

There are as many as 200,000 manmade chemicals in our environment today that did not exist 100 years ago. Most are derived from burning coal and the use of petroleum and petroleum products, and they have varying levels of toxicity.

Though concentrations of specific toxins are rarely high enough to be lethal, cumulative exposure has been shown to impair cellular health. Here are some of the ways toxins wreak havoc in the body:

  • Bind with macromolecules (DNA, RNA, proteins), causing direct cell injury and possibly cell death (cytotoxicity)
  • Inhibit normal enzymatic processes in the body
  • Damage cell membranes
  • Cause gene dysregulation (turn on bad genes)
  • Inhibit normal immune function
  • Create free radicals or act as free radicals, increasing the burden of oxidative stress
  • Mimic chemical messengers in the body, disrupting biological processes
  • Mimic hormones in the body (i.e., xenoestrogens from plastics and pesticides increase risk of hormonally active cancers such as breast, prostate, and uterine cancers)
  • Toxic heavy metals including aluminum, lead, mercury, and uranium directly poison enzymes, adversely affecting all functions in the body.
  • Contribute to decline in liver function with aging

System Disruptor_chronic stress

Chronic Stress

The act of surviving amidst the elements has always been a struggle for humans. But the nearly nonstop psychological stress of living in a world with a 24-hour news cycle and constant digital connection to our bosses and inboxes escalates the stress of daily living to a whole new level.

Chronic stress over-activates the fight-or-flight response, which drives cells harder and burns them out faster. It also disrupts communication systems in the body, including hormones and the nervous system, creating inefficiencies that stress cells and cause them to burn out faster. And chronic stress slows gastric and intestinal mobility, which compromises digestive function and promotes overgrowth of unfavorable bacteria in the gut.

Most importantly, chronic activation of the fight-or-flight response disrupts sleep — the body cannot repair itself without the downtime allowed by sleep. The immune system is especially vulnerable to the negative effects of chronic stress and sleep deprivation.

System Disruptor_sedentary lifestyle

Sedentary Lifestyle

Historically, this category — which is really about physical stress to the body — would have been marked by acute trauma to the body, excessive physical exertion that breaks the body down, and extremes in temperature or pressure. But in the modern world, the chief physical stress is being too sedentary.

Today, most people have desk jobs, and prolonged inactivity is characteristic of modern life. The human body, however, is designed to move. If regular physical activity doesn’t happen, the body becomes sluggish, toxins back up, and inflammation ensues. Over time, excessive or ongoing inflammation contributes to the breakdown of healthy cells and normal tissue.

System Disruptor_microbes


All living organisms are colonized by microbes, some of which have always been a threat to human life and health. But that threat is growing, thanks in large part to the first four cellular stressors, discussed above. They damage immune cells just as much as other cells, and over time, the damage becomes bad enough to disrupt the immune system’s ability to keep a healthy balance of good and bad microbes.

As a result, bad microbes are able to thrive, and they become a primary stressor to cells. In fact, the more I learned about the microbes we harbor, the more I realized just how big a threat they are to our longevity.

Microbes Are the Most Overlooked — and Underrated — Factor in Accelerated Aging

The sum of all the microbes that inhabit the human body is referred to as the microbiome. With 40,000 different species possible, the microbiome is much more complex than anyone ever imagined. Though it was once thought that microbes were isolated to the skin, nasal passages, and gut, a growing body of research has shown that the microbiome extends to all tissues of the body — including the brain.

It’s true, studies have shown that microbes can travel from the gut to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. They can also travel from nasal passages into the brain. Several studies have confirmed that brains from healthy people contain hundreds of species of microbes.

Borrelia infection in the blood. Borrelia bacteria.

Microbes also have been found in joint, heart, and other tissues in the body — not just in people who are ill, but in healthy people, too. All the evidence points to the fact that having microbes in tissues is a normal state.

What the microbes want is to pirate vital nutrients and resources — they must have a living host like you to survive. Though we have a mutually beneficial relationship with most microbes that inhabit the body, we all harbor potentially aggressive microbes that can cause harm if given an opportunity.

You depend on a healthy immune system to keep your microbes in check. If your immune system is healthy, you won’t hear from any of them. But if your immune system falters, the microbes gain strength in numbers, and they start robbing cells of nutrients, resources, and energy.

This stresses and weakens cells, causing them to age faster. And you start to feel it, quite literally. It can manifest as stiff and painful joints, brain fog and memory loss, digestive distress such as constipation or abdominal pain, notable changes in mood, and all sorts of other symptoms we generally attribute to aging.

In particular, microbes further weaken the immune system and disrupt cellular communications. When the cells don’t communicate properly and can’t work in synchrony, everything in the body becomes dysfunctional, and wastes back up. Early on, you might experience mild symptoms like fatigue and malaise, but as conditions worsen, it can turn into full-fledged chronic illness — like it did for me.

Here’s the biggest catch: Your immune cells age, but your microbes don’t. What I mean by that is, your immune cells age just like all the other cells in your body, often accelerated by the stress factors I discussed above (poor diet, toxins, stress, and inactivity). Your microbes, however, don’t age in the same way that your cells do.

Microbes have incredibly low mutation rates, which means the new microbes they generate tend to be just as functional as the old ones. Essentially, they stay forever strong. This means keeping your immune system strong becomes increasingly more important as you age to prevent your microbes from overrunning your cells. One example of just how steadfast microbes are: When we die, and our immune system is no longer wrangling microbes, they take over and consume our body — that’s decomposition.

Learning this revealed to me why herbs can be such a vital ally for longevity — and why I had been experiencing such a resurgence in my own energy and health levels just as they were supposed to be waning.

Why Herbs are the Missing Link to Optimal Aging and Vitality

Of course, I can’t credit herbs entirely for my recovery or my new lease on life. I know that all the other efforts I made to eat a more whole-foods diet and to minimize stress, toxins, and inactivity were a key part of restoring strength to my immune system and all the cells of my body.

But I also know that those lifestyle changes only got me so far, and that introducing herbs to my daily regimen gave me the leg up I needed to get over that final hump. I saw the same thing in the thousands of patients I’ve helped overcome chronic illness with herbs, who’ve gone on to enjoy active and fulfilling lives. Now, after so many years of research on herbs and the human body, I understand how the plants deliver such vital benefits.

tan herbal supplement in a wooden bowl

The benefits of herbs come from biochemical substances called phytochemicals. A plant produces several types of phytochemicals to protect itself from stress factors, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Antimicrobials: These phytochemicals defend against microbes like bacteria and fungi that threaten plant health.
  • Immunomodulators: They not only stimulate NK (natural killer) cells and other key white blood cells of the immune system, but they also reduce damaging inflammation.
  • Antioxidants: These protect the plant’s cells at every level from free radicals, which can damage parts of the cell such as the outer membrane, proteins, DNA, and mitochondria.
  • Anti-inflammatories: antioxidants found in herbs counteract inflammation, but herbal phytochemicals also downregulate the inflammatory process.
  • Regulators: Phytochemicals also have regulatory functions that help balance all of the plant’s hormones and signaling mechanisms. Because plants and animals evolved together, the same substances balance hormone pathways, such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis or HPA axis, which facilitates the body’s stress response and secretion of hormones, like cortisol (a stress hormone), quickly and efficiently. This normalizes circadian rhythm, supports normal sleep, and improves tolerance to stress.

All of these phytochemical powers take the stress off plant cells and enable them to function better and use energy more efficiently. When cells are less stressed and more energy efficient, they burn out at a slower rate. That translates to healthier cells and a reduced rate of cellular loss.

And here’s the exciting news for us humans: Because plants and animals coevolved, when we consume the protective plant phytochemicals by taking herbs, we gain all the same age-decelerating benefits. In essence, we adopt the plant’s natural defenses and protective properties.

Which herbs you take, however, matters, as types and levels of phytochemicals can vary significantly from plant to plant. When I was in the middle of my struggle with Lyme, I chose herbs that stimulated the immune system and provided significant antimicrobial properties. After my health was restored, I shifted to herbs called adaptogens, which are known for their restorative and normalizing properties.

Adaptogens are a subset of tonics, a category of herbs that help contribute to a longer life by having an overall balancing or normalizing effect on all the functional systems of the body. They improve your resilience to all types of stress, and give you an extra leg up on achieving wellness at any age. Though definitions vary slightly, I believe adaptogens share these three key characteristics:

  • All adaptogens have antistress qualities that help provide stabilizing effects on the neuroendocrine system, especially the HPA axis and Sympathoadrenal System (SAS), which plays a crucial role in our response to external stimuli.
  • All adaptogens help modulate and/or enhance the immune system.
  • All adaptogens inhibit mitochondrial dysfunction induced by the stress hormone cortisol.

Best of all, because adaptogens don’t cause dependency or have drug-like properties, they are typically well tolerated when taken on a daily basis and have a very low incidence of side effects and toxicity. My three favorite adaptogens include rhodiola, reishi mushrooms (not technically herbs, but just as potent and beneficial), and shilajit, a byproduct of plant materials that have been compressed into the earth.

pink and yellow rhodiola flowers growing off tall stems

I would recommend taking these adaptogens daily to anyone who wants to boost their longevity and overall vitality. For even more impressive results, pair them with adaptogen companions like turmeric and gotu kola, which have some but not all of the same characteristics, plus they complement and enhance adaptogen’s powers.

Does taking these herbs relieve you of having to improve your diet, exercise more, and minimize stress and toxins in your life? No. But they can help pick up the slack of the occasional burger and fries or lazy weekend of binge-watching Netflix. After all, no one is perfect — and what’s the point of living longer if you can’t treat yourself to a favorite guilty pleasure every once in awhile?

Since learning about the wonderful benefits of herbs, and particularly adaptogenic herbs, I’ve made it my life’s mission to teach others about herbs, and to get them into the lives of as many people as possible. It’s such a simple yet profound way to enhance your cellular and overall wellness!

I want everyone to enjoy the same exhilarating level of vitality that I’m experiencing now in my 60s — and that I thought I’d lost forever when I was 50 and struggling with chronic illness. I’ve learned firsthand that when you take control of your health, and focus on achieving balance and resilience (instead of just trying to quiet your symptoms), you can experience true vitality and add more life to your years.