Dr. Joseph Lamb is the owner of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Clinic by Metagenics in Gig Harbor, Washington. He works in partnership with his patients to create optimal health and well-being by using Functional Medicine approaches including lifestyle modification, herbal and nutritional supplementation, cognitive therapy and care that considers the soul as part of the whole picture of health.
Dr. Lamb has an impressive resume: He’s double board-certified in Internal Medicine and Holistic /Integrative Medicine and is a Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner. He has lectured internationally, co-authored a text book on vascular biology and published numerous academic papers outlining his work as the principal investigator in over 75 clinical trials. Dr. Lamb spent 4 years in Tennessee at the Hypertension Institute and 17 years of private practice at the Integrative Medicine Works in Virginia. He’s also the Principal Investigator of LIFEHOUSE, a Lifestyle Intervention and Functional Evaluation Health Outcomes Survey.
Needless to say, this man knows a thing or two about the human body. However, it’s his consideration of the spiritual component of life that sets him apart from others in his field. Dr. Lamb’s work in medicine and his upbringing in the Catholic Church have continued to guide him towards a vocation of service, helping people uncover their unique purpose, motivation and mission, which as a result, propels them towards greater health, longevity and quality of life.
In this conversation, he helps us redefine what it means to be ‘healthy’ or ‘live well’—a standard much higher than the absence of disease and one that takes into account cognitive, emotional, physical, metabolic and behavioral aspects. The latter being what he describes as the outer expression of the other four categories.
Plus, we suss out a statement that had me lying on the floor for hours afterwards contemplating my life path. Dr. Lamb says, “One of the biggest obstacles on the journey of achieving full wellness is the brokenness of our dreams.” The role that our unrealized childhood dreams or goals for our lives plays into our ability to reach our full potential of energy, joy, service and health.
Help us spread the word and leave a review here!
This program is brought you by the Feathered Pipe Foundation and its kind supporting community, who has been inspiring positive change in the world since its inception in 1975. Please consider joining us with your kind donation.
Andy Vantrease 00:17
Welcome to The Dandelion Effect podcast a space for organic conversation about the magic of living a connected life. Just like the natural world around us, we are all linked through an intricate web, a never ending ripple that spans across the globe. Here we explore the ideas that our guests carry through the world, remember who and what inspired them along the way, and uncover the seeds that help them blossom into their unique version of this human experience. This podcast is a production of the Feather Pipe Foundation, whose mission is to help people find their direction through access to programs and experiences that support healing, education, community and empowerment.
Andy Vantrease 01:04
Hi, friends welcome back to another episode of The Dandelion Effect podcast. I’m your host, Andy Vantrease. And today I’m talking with Dr. Joseph Lamb. Dr. Lamb is the owner of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Clinic by Metagenics in Gig Harbor, Washington. He works in partnership with his patients by using Functional Medicine approaches including lifestyle modification, herbal and nutritional supplementation, cognitive therapy and care that considers the soul as part of the whole picture of health. Dr. Lamb has an impressive resume. He’s double board certified in Internal Medicine and Holistic Integrative Medicine and is a Functional Medicine certified practitioner. He has lectured internationally, co-authored a textbook on vascular biology and published numerous academic papers outlining his work as the principal investigator in over 75 clinical trials. Dr. Lamb spent four years in Tennessee at the Hypertension Institute and 17 years of private practice at the Integrative Medicine Works in Virginia. He’s also the principal investigator of LIFEHOUSE, a lifestyle intervention and functional evaluation health outcomes survey.
Andy Vantrease 02:12
Needless to say, this man knows a thing or two about the human body. But it’s really his consideration of the spiritual component of life that sets him apart from others in his field. Dr. Lamb’s work in medicine and his upbringing in the Catholic Church have continued to guide him towards a vocation of service, helping people uncover their unique purpose, motivation and mission, which then as a result helps propel them towards greater health, longevity and quality of life. In this conversation, he helps us redefine what it means to be healthy or live well, a standard much higher than the absence of disease and one that takes into account cognitive, emotional, physical, metabolic, and behavioral aspects, the latter being what he describes as the outer expression of the other four categories.
Andy Vantrease 02:57
Plus, we sent out a statement that he made that had me lying on the floor for hours afterwards, contemplating my life path. Dr. Lamb said, “One of the biggest obstacles on the journey of achieving full wellness is the brokenness of our dreams, the role that our unrealized childhood dreams or goals for our lives, plays into our ability to reach our full potential of energy, joy, service and health.” I’ll leave you with that truth bomb and the invitation to join us in this dynamic conversation with my friend, Dr. Joseph Lamb.
Andy Vantrease 03:32
Joseph, one of the things that I’m really interested in with your work is the way that you bridge this gap, or maybe a mythological gap, between spirituality and science. You wrote, “An early building block and my desire to be a physician was the development of a personal sense of spirituality during my adolescence.” Tell me about how a connection to spirituality played a part in your wanting to pursue medicine and to pursue a more science based profession.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 04:04
Absolutely. I grew up as a Catholic in a very liberal Catholic Church in Alexandria. I attended a fairly conservative Episcopalian boys school, seventh through 12th grade, and I was a voracious reader. So probably in fifth grade, or somewhere around there. I read a book called The Making of a Surgeon by William Nolan. And it was an autobiography, a memoir retelling of his years in residency, which at that point would have been late 50s, early 60s at Bellevue Hospital as a surgeon in New York City. And, you know, to have a surgeon’s mentality, to have a physician’s mentality, it’s easy to see a separation between yourself and the patient — the patient sitting on the other side of the desk from you, the patient being the one on the exam table, that patient being the one on the operating room table. For a lot of physicians, there’s easy potential to slide down the road to, they’re the one with the disease. They’re the one who’s broken. I’m not. And bouncing along through this time. So you know, that was around fifth grade. And I think it was really what started making me think what I wanted to be when I grew up was a doctor.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 05:33
And then in eighth grade, as a Catholic, I was undergoing classes for confirmation. You know, in the Catholic Church, you get confirmed, someone else made the choice for you at baptism, at Confirmation, you’re making the choice that you want to be Catholic, you want to have a relationship. And we had some very interesting Dominican Brothers teach us for that confirmation course. And they had us read Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. And it’s really a story of reincarnating until you reach some degree of perfection. But the main character, Jonathan Livingston Seagull wrapped into that, a really huge part of service. Where he could have contemplated His perfection, and instead said, I’ve learned things that would make life better for others, so I want to go back and be of service to those who have not progressed, the way I progressed. And for me, that changed the whole way I looked at what Christ is. It changed the whole way that I would eventually look at what Christ energy may be. You know, like, you know, coming from a Marianne Williamson perspective, that little moment, that book changed for me the filter by which I would look at what I experienced at Blessed Sacrament, what I experienced at St. Stephen’s. You know, like, the biggest lesson I took from Churchill Gibson, who was our chaplain at that point in time was, life is a celebration, there is joy to be found in every experience in every person. And part of where that joy is coming from is that spark, that we all share deep down, so relating to people as I can be of service. And ultimately, I think the other big lesson that I took out of high school was, at the end of the day, I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror, and feel good about what I did for people. So all of those things would color my drive to want to be a physician one day, and would color my openness, like to Functional Medicine, for example, in terms of, you know, waking up one day, actually, during the conference in Colorado and going I’m not really taking care of a person anymore. I’m taking care of an organ. And how do I change my life to go back to taking care of people and respecting people?
Andy Vantrease 08:16
Perhaps before we even get into what Functional Medicine is just telling us a little bit more about your experience going through college, or graduate school, medical school residency. Gosh, I’m sure that was like a decade worth of post-high school and post-college schooling and study. But were there any moments like you explained with this book where you just had a shift or a change that was moving you in the direction of what you do now with Functional Medicine?
Dr. Joseph Lamb 08:52
Yeah, one of my role models growing up was my family physician, Frank Carroll. He was an amazing man. He was a GP, and he cared for my grandparents. He cared for my parents. He cared for my brother and I. He cared for our community. And he did a really remarkable job of that. And he was like the first physician who I got to follow around in high school, and during college that gave me a model for what a physician could be. And I went to UVA undergrad, I went to the Medical College of Virginia, which is now referred to as Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia. You know, by the time med school was done, I decided on internal medicine for my residency, I was headed off to the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia. And my plan at that point in time was to head home to Alexandria to join Frank in practice. Along the way, partly because of how we train in allopathic medicine, there becomes very much a disease focus. And if you’re taking care of people in the hospital, you see them during discrete visits, as opposed to them being your patients over time, or, you know, friends or family or someone who you know, in your community, right? They’re discrete people bouncing into the hospital. You fix a broken problem, and you get them on their way. And by the time I was into my second year of residency, the kind of disease focus led me to think about wanting to be a cardiologist. And I actually ended up applying for cardiology fellowships, and I got accepted the University of Colorado. So I ended up telling Frank, hey, I’m not going to be coming home to be a primary care physician with you and Alexandria, I’m going off to do cardiology.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 11:03
What happens in a fellowship program is you start looking at what’s in your specific focus. So as a cardiology fellow, you’re just dealing with the cardiac part of the patient. I was probably in February and March of that year of fellowship and missing the interactions with people as a more interacted just with their hearts. And you know, you do a cardiac catheterization. You get the data. You pass it on to a care team, who were the residents in the attending, who were the primary caregivers. I mean, you know, preventing someone from having a heart attack is crucial, but not really knowing the person for who you were doing that. You know, it’s just the heart.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 11:56
And one day, it must have been early March or late February, I was at Denver General Hospital, which was the community hospital [that] the university program was associated with, and I had just rotated in. It was like my first or second day of rotation at that hospital. And I went to morbidity and mortality conference, and morbidity and mortality conferences, talking about the mistakes that we’ve made and how to learn from the mistakes. There was drug companies [that] provide free lunches for those sorts of experiences. So when you’re a relatively poor fellow, you definitely want to show up, not just for the learning, but for the free lunch. And I showed up and notice real quickly that there were no cardiology colleagues there, none of the attendings, none of the other fellows. And realized that there was a reason why, because the nephrologist, the kidney doctors were presenting the case of a woman who kept having renal failure because she kept getting intravenous die during procedures from the cardiology department. You know, cardiology would do some intervention to save her life, but at major consequences to the kidneys. Nephrology would fix her kidneys, and then cardiology would intervene again to save her heart. And you know, there was something to be learned from this process. But I’m sitting there in the back of the room eating my lunch and going, um nephrology, is doing a really good job of presenting themselves as the heroes and cardiology is the villains. And I was like, maybe I should take my lunch and go, but I stayed in the back of the room. And we were coming down for the end of the hour. And the nephrologists at the front of the room all once said, “Well, Dr. Lamb, you’re the only one brave enough to show up. What do you have to say, for cardiology?” I said, Well, we have to have most everything, but we only have one heart. We have two kidneys, two lungs, two arms, two legs, you know, to guts, basically, you know, small and large intestine, two lobes to the liver, two hemispheres to the brain, but we only have one heart. So at the end of the day, you’ve got the heart and the extra cardiac debris. And everybody started laughing. And the bell rang, and the conference ended. I got out of the room without saying anything that would have insulted the nephrologists or thrown my cardiology colleagues under the bus. And everyone thought I’ve made a joke. And I walked out of the room and went, Oh my god, I actually think that.
Andy Vantrease 14:50
Dr. Joseph Lamb 14:51
And I walked down the hall and walked down to the little cubicle where I would read cath films. And you know back in the day, we did cath films and it wasn’t digital. It was done on 35 millimeter film. And you end up with 35 millimeter traditional camera, like what they used to film movies with. And it was a tiny little room, basically no lights in it. You know, the only real decent light was when the door was open. And I went in and shut the door, turned on the little red light, picked up the phone and called Frank Carroll who was my family doctor and said, “Frank, can I come home.” And three months later, I was in Alexandria joining his practice ended up back in the primary care of people.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 15:40
And, um, but it’s kind of a fascinating journey, because you realize pretty quickly, even when you’re back in that setting, and here I am taking care of the whole person. One of the things that you realize is how you care for that person is so much dependent upon the tools that you have in your toolkit, and the filters that you’ve been taught to have in your brain. A common problem with our medical system these days. We train our physicians to take care of acute diseases, and we train them to take care of the manifestation of chronic diseases acutely. You know, so you don’t just wake up one day having heart disease, because that’s the day you had your heart attack.
Andy Vantrease 16:34
Dr. Joseph Lamb 16:34
There’s a lot that went on before that. And I ended up going out on my own after Frank had retired, because I wanted to have my own practice. And when I did that, through circumstances, and through something that Frank had told me, which was give people time, if you have time, and you’ll establish a really good relationship with them. I gave people a lot of time and I listened. And I also inherited from an internist who was leaving Alexandria, a lot of complex patients, you know, the kind, who, you know, maybe labeled as chronic fatigue, or the kind that are labeled as fibromyalgia. The kind that acute care medicine doesn’t have answers to. And suddenly, I was the doctor in the early 90s, in Alexandria, who was listening. I was the doctor who would have discussions with people. So someone came to me and said, “Well, Dr. Lamb, what do you think about acupuncture for my migraine headaches?” I wouldn’t hold my fingers up like a cross in front of me and say, “I’m not going to discuss that.” I would instead say, “Well, what have you been reading and let’s see what I can read. And let’s talk about it at your next visit.” And since my residency was very much see one, do one, teach one, if I set someone off for acupuncture for their migraine headaches, and it was indeed helpful, then the next time, I would probably be the one to recommend it instead of waiting for the patient to say it. And suddenly, you know, I was doing a lot of things that were considered alternative at that point in time. And at a certain point in my life, a brochure popped across my desk from Herbert Benson’s training program up at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, part of the Harvard program. It was interesting because within a month, one brochure came across, and they called it their Cognitive Behavioral Medicine course. And a brochure came across like less than a month later, for the same course. And they were calling it their Mind Body Spirit Wellness Course or their Mind Body Wellness Course.
Andy Vantrease 19:07
Oh so they were playing around with kind of how to brand what they were trying to do?
Dr. Joseph Lamb 19:11
Right. And also they were reflecting that change at that point in time of do we acknowledge this? I took the course when it was offered that fall. And when I got back, the woman who I was dating at the time said, “Well, you know, our friend Casper from high school…” And Casper was five years ahead of me in high school, Casper Scaffidi. And he was president of the Rolf Institute at that point in time, and he had his rolfing practice in Alexandria. She said to me, “Did you know Casper is trying to put together an Integrative Medicine practice?” And this would have been about ’97, I guess. And I ended up joining Casper, and others and an Integrative Medicine practice, initially part time and then full time as a partner. And started down that journey. And ever since then, as I moved further away from just taking care of disease care, and as I’ve spent years in research, one of the things that is a real focus for what we’re doing at the moment, is defining wellness differently, and helping people make lasting change. And how do you get people to do that? And in all of that, that, that the spirituality part of how you view the person who you’re working with. And I think it’s, it’s really important to say that. I think good practitioners work with people. They don’t treat people, if…
Andy Vantrease 20:49
They don’t work on people is one thing that comes up.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 20:52
Andy Vantrease 20:52
The way I kind of think of a cardiologist or any specialist who’s working with a particular organ is like we’re working on his heart or on his kidneys. It’s like a very power over model.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 21:06
Right. The difference between attempting to cure disease and attempting to heal a person. And healing is a working together process.
Andy Vantrease 21:18
So Joseph, I want to get into what Functional Medicine is now. I’ve worked with Functional Medicine practitioners in my journey with Lyme disease, but in my conversations with people, a lot of people have never heard of kind of the realm of Functional Medicine. So can you give just an intro to what that is to you, and I would say what the goal is?
Dr. Joseph Lamb 21:41
Functional Medicine differentiates itself from some other branches of integrative or holistic or complimentary or alternative medicine, by being a philosophy that’s science based, that tries to understand cause a little bit. So anything that we do in life, to deal with all the complex inputs, we all have heuristics, like shortcuts that we take, in terms of, you know, how we view something. Well, any time we try to make a logical decision, we’re using either unspoken heuristics or spoken heuristics. And so Functional Medicine was an attempt to put together a series of rules that differentiate it. You know, a lot of people these days are talking about P-4 Medicine, you know, personalized, preventative, participatory, and the final one is actually predictive so that you look at the information and you try to predict where someone’s going to be, like you describe what their function is. But what differentiates Functional Medicine a little bit from that is trying to understand causality and trying to, it’s not so much about what it is that I do for a treatment, but it’s why do I need to treat something. If we think about the kind of chronic diseases of aging that are affecting so many of us in the early 21st century. We’re overweight or obese. We have heart disease. We have cancers. We have auto immune diseases. And it be easy to start saying, well, the cardiologist needs to deal with the heart. And the endocrinologist needs to deal with the diabetes and kind of associated obesity. And the rheumatologists needs to look at why we have auto immune diseases. And you know, maybe the infectious disease doctor needs to look at why viral infections are causing more and more people to have a symptoms that don’t go away after they’ve had a viral infection. And you know, we’re seeing this model really jumped out at us in the COVID pandemic, that we have all these people who we’re talking about having long COVID symptoms or “long hauler symptoms.” The Lyme disease, like maybe you had an acute Lyme infection, but you haven’t recovered your health. Traditional allopathic medicine would separate all of those. But a Functional Medicine approach asks the question, well, what’s underlying the disruption in immune balance? What’s led there to be a prolonged inflammatory response? Because a lot of people have come to associate the word inflammation is being bad, but id I’d shaved my face this morning and given myself a big cut, I wouldn’t want bacteria like staphylococcus or streptococcus to grow in that. And the healing response, that initial response is inflammation, but you want it to turn off when you’ve healed. And what’s happening so often now is there, people remain inflamed. You know, we think about diseases, like autoimmune thyroiditis, or we think about chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis. And just spend a little time watching cable television at night. And every single, like every commercial seems for a biologic agent to treat one of your auto immune diseases.
Andy Vantrease 25:51
Dr. Joseph Lamb 25:52
But individually, these diseases represent just a small fraction of our population. But when you start lumping them together, and when you start recognizing that heart disease, for example, is not just about high cholesterol, but it’s about the inflammatory response in the blood vessel that leads to plaques of cholesterol being formed. Inflammation is probably our number one killer. And so if you start saying, I’m not going to wait for the acute disease to occur. I’m not going to wait for the person to have the heart attack. Or I’m not going to wait for them to be in a diabetic, osmotic coma. Or I’m not going to wait for them to have the full blown symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, whatever it may be. If I’m going to back up, what underlies them becoming inflamed? And that’s the Functional Medicine journey. And, you know, Sydney Baker, who was one of the early pioneers and thought leaders in this field, kind of reduced it to the question of, what are you not getting enough of? And what are you getting too much of in the way that you live your life? And how does that impact all of this basic physiology that will eventually manifest itself as first a decrease in function, and then eventually, the expression of a disease state?
Andy Vantrease 27:25
Gosh, so much of that rings true. Kind of giving me flashbacks of navigating the specialists and the healthcare system during my experience in my mid 20s. And what I appreciated so much about finally working with a Functional Medicine doctor was even just the questions that they asked when I came into the office. First of all, the time that they spent with me. And then just the questions about how I lived, you know, like, what I was eating, how I was sleeping, my emotions, and then even got into what do you do for work? Is that fulfilling? Do would you consider yourself to be happy in your job? I mean, it was just such a full person approach. And then, of course, lots of different lab tests that I had never gotten before. But I just so appreciated, being treated as a person that’s living a life, rather than, “Okay, what is the problem?” Or what is the disease? It was really like, pulling back a lot of different layers that I had never been taught, were even part of the equation.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 28:36
Andy Vantrease 28:38
So if somebody walks into your office, what’s the journey that you go on with them in uncovering why this imbalance began in the first place?
Dr. Joseph Lamb 28:48
It’s interesting, because at a global level, our body each day, looks out at the world and asks, the question, “Was yesterday, a good day or a bad day?” And if it was a bad day, our body has a number of hardwired responses to how it wants to act today to hopefully improve today but also protect us against today being bad and tomorrow being bad and the next day being bad. And a lot of these are the evolutionary consequences of where we’ve been. Through most of human history, having too much to eat was not an issue. So we have defenses against weight loss, but we don’t have defenses against inappropriate calorie gain, for example.
Andy Vantrease 29:44
Dr. Joseph Lamb 29:45
And one of the things that we’ve learned is we really are responsive to the environment. You know, we’re not born, and our DNA turns on and we suddenly it’s kind of been predestined to who we’re going to be. What makes humans unique is all the regulatory systems we have for assessing the world around us and at a global level asking that question was yesterday good or bad and what do we do about today. We can confuse our immune system because of how we treat the lining of our gut. And we end up with a leaky gut or whatever it may be. We end up in a situation in which our immune system, our inflammatory systems, they want to stay on guard when they shouldn’t. I, you know, I say to patients frequently it’s a little bit like the security guard at the mall who deals with problematic children in his daily job a lot. And then he comes home and when he’s at home and everything safe and he should be calm and relaxed, he responds to his own kids the way he responded to the kids out in the world. And that kind of, and that’s our immune system, instead of responding to outside threats it starts getting confused by what’s in home and we attack ourselves. So as we work to get nutritional balance back as we work to remove toxicities, as we maybe do some hormone replacement, we, the Functional Medicine question is to go a little deeper and say, Well is a food allergy contributing? Is there toxicity like a heavy metal toxicity? Are there things that we don’t normally think about? As opposed to, “Yep your antibodies are up, You’re not making enough hormone. Here’s a little hormone for you.”
Andy Vantrease 31:45
Mm hmm. What have you seen among patients as far as this spirit or the soul or big questions of purpose being a contributing factor in somebodies, you know, lack of optimal wellness?
Dr. Joseph Lamb 32:04
At a physiological level, if the outside world is putting stress on us, we have a boss who yells at us. If we you know are stuck in rush hour traffic every day, if we don’t have enough to eat, if the world is a threatening place, we have a fight versus flight response. The adrenal gland puts out lots of adrenaline for us to deal with that initial piece. But if the stress is prolonged we put out cortisol to help the body recover from that. Well the average urban North American has been estimated to experience as many as 50 fight versus flight responses a day. And most of those are no longer physical dangers. They’re threats to ego, our worries and concerns about our anxieties. And the consequence of that is we have a lot of thoughts going on that lead us to be anxious, lead us to be threatened, and put us in very much that state of heightened alarm. That fight versus flight response, part of the response is immune suppression and changes in the immune system and then long term chronic activation in the immune system that leads us to have physical outcomes. In the work that was done by Dean Ornish, when they did their early work, they looked at all the changes that they were recommending to people, like lifestyle and changing diet, changing exercise, even to the point of telling people let’s get you to change your job if your jobs a source of stress. And when they looked at their data and plotted it, they should have gotten a bell-shaped curve in terms of some people responded really well and some didn’t. But they didn’t end up with a bell shaped curve they got a double-humped curve looked, like a camel. And the curve raises the question a little bit of was there some variable that they didn’t take into place. And the variable when they finally found it was whether or not the behavioral change support group that they had participated in, did that leader that group call it a good group or a bad group. If it was a good group, if you were exploring what it is about your life and what your life means, you had a better outcome.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 34:40
And in the work that we’re doing here at Metagenics, one of the big things we’re trying to define is, twofold. One is how do you measure function in wellness, because if you limit your description of wellness to disease markers and disease definitions, then you’re going to be all about treating disease as opposed to creating wellness. So if you can create functional markers that you can follow, then you have the opportunity to create wellness. But when you do so, when you support someone in wellness, you have to make some behavioral changes. And in that discussion about behavioral change, there’s the discussion about what motivation is, and does motivation help to get people to change their behaviors. My position about it is that the discussion about motivation has kind of been distorted. If you come in to see me for a visit, and I choose to motivate you, through fear, like I suddenly tell you like, well, your lab show us that you’re a pre diabetic, and you’re they follow the path of your father, and you really lose all your limbs, and you really lose your kidneys because of diabetes. Fear is not a great motivator. Instead, to me, people need to know what that journey is that they’re on here. Whether you call it their life purpose, whether you call it their spiritual journey, whether you call it from a Joseph Campbell perspective, The Hero’s Journey, we all come into this world, and we have dreams. And you know, when we’re kids, none of us ever say, I want to be the person sitting in the fifth cubicle back, fourth one over doing meaningless work when I get to be an adult.
Andy Vantrease 36:44
Dr. Joseph Lamb 36:45
Kids talk about wanting to be big. They want to be heroic. Maybe they want to be President of the United States. Maybe they want to be an astronaut. Maybe they want to be a physician. Maybe they want to be a teacher. Maybe they want to be a sports figure. Kids talk about being something big. Very few kids, when they’re talking about that say they want to be rich, or something of that sort, or they want to have lots of stuff. They talk about what they want to do. They talk about what their purpose is. And unfortunately, I think, you know, kind of as we take people through an education process, as we teach them a way of thinking, imagination drops out. Our concept of what’s important drops out. And we start assuming a lot of limitations in our lives. And I think we forget that hero’s journey, that spiritual purpose, people have something that resonated with them, and they forget it. And this struck me years ago, when I went to Jim Gordon’s Comprehensive Cancer Care Conference, and people started talking about cancer having been a gift to them, because while they maybe had a disease, they had an opportunity to heal themselves. For me, part of what you do to get meaningful behavioral change is get people to understand what really is their goal? What makes their heart sing? What heals them as a person? And then asking the questions. What you want to set is wellness goals, how does that fit in? Is it functional? Does it move you towards your goal? Or is it dysfunctional? Does it move you away from your goal. And re-seeing that spark within us. Whether we want to call it spirit, or we want to call it something that we got because a creator gave it to us, or whether we want to call it the force from a Star Wars perspective, whatever it is, there is something within all of us that’s truly unique. And then there’s a step even beyond that. If I see that spark in me and recognize that that makes me unique and valuable. well, I should be able to see that spark in others. They’re to be loved. They’re to be shown compassion, because we’re all in it together. And we all have that spark worthy of reverence and respect.
Andy Vantrease 39:20
Mm hmm. Yeah, that that really resonates. And when we talked earlier, I had written down a quote that you said, “One of the obstacles of achieving full wellness is the brokenness of our dreams.” And I just sat with that for so long. And I was talking with a friend about it yesterday, just sitting on the porch in the sun. And I said, “What do you think about that quote?” And he just without hesitation said, “Absolutely.” He said, “When I’m so fully lit up by how I’m living and what I’m doing, I don’t need coffee. I don’t need anything to get out of bad except for the excitement that I’m getting about my potential, and the potential I have to enjoy life.” I just really appreciate that, because I think that spirit component, or that component of purpose, is a really big part of the puzzle. Do you feel like that’s the center of it with cognitive, physical, emotional, around that? Or do you see them all playing an equal role in achieving greater wellness?
Dr. Joseph Lamb 40:34
We’ve been trying to define wellness, in kind of five fields at the moment — the cognitive component, the emotional component, the physical component, and then that metabolic component. You know, physical being what you can see with the human eye, and metabolic kind of being the part that you can’t see with the human eye, the microscopic versus the macroscopic. And when we we start with those four, and we realized very quickly, that behavioral needed to be at it, because the behaviors that we undertake, are the expressions of where we are. And I think at the highest of levels, when, when our spirit resonates through, our behaviors are very clear. And, and that that’s where we find the joy. And I think that’s where we also find the ability to be of service to somebody else. I really think that service piece is a really important part of showing up in the world. You know, so much of our modern society defines our life, as Do I have enough? Am I happy enough? Do I have what the other person has? And I think it makes us good consumers. But I don’t think it necessarily makes us good people in the world. When I was in school, I remember probably learning this in eighth grade, a sacrament was defined as the outward expression of an inward grace. And in many ways, I think behaviors are the outward expression of everything going on within us. And I think that spiritual part really speaks to how that behavior resonates with us and with the world. Changing society in a meaningful way, but doing it first by changing ourselves and improving our health.
Andy Vantrease 42:50
Mm hmm. That that spiritual component is given the weight that it deserves.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 42:56
Andy Vantrease 42:57
Dr. Joseph Lamb 42:59
Yeah, I think if it’s neglected, people lose a touchstone. If dreams are neglected, if our hero’s journey is neglected, then people don’t really know what it is that they want. And I think there’s a real disconnected then takes place. We can talk about physical fitness, right? Let’s say I just ran a marathon. And I won the race. Well, if I had wanted to be a gymnast, and not a marathon runner, winning the marathon isn’t going to fulfill my dream and it isn’t going to bring me the same degree of life and joy that it would have if I had worked towards being the gymnast. And, and helping people realize it’s not necessarily that you have to win, but helping people realize that doing what they want to do resonates with them. And I think that’s what so many people play someone else’s game, instead of living to their spirits quest or their vision. And that’s where I think the brokenness comes in, when I substitute my dream by looking at someone else’s projection instead.
Andy Vantrease 44:26
How do you think this past year has affected people’s health? You know, in the five or six ways that you have under that umbrella of function? What are you seeing and what are your insights?
Dr. Joseph Lamb 44:40
I think first and foremost, we have to appreciate the fact that we’ve suffered some real losses this year. You know, people have died with this illness. People have struggled with this illness. People have suffered financially because of the choices that we’ve made. And there are people who are now dealing with persistent symptoms afterwards. And we still don’t necessarily have all the programs and places or all the answers to give them. The really big issue has been as a society what sort of service are we willing to make and what sort of sacrifices are we willing to make to our communities. And you know, that underlies in the United States, at least, underlies the big cultural divide that we’ve seen. How do we respect all the other people who we live here with? And you know, just discussions that are taking place now about who’s going to get vaccinated and who’s not, and the equity of that, the people who think the vaccine is a bad idea, and you know, all the different pieces. It’s really calling forth the fact that there’s some very deep scars that we carry individually and societally at the moment that need to be addressed. And you know, and to a certain part, I think, people really having an experience that leads them to know who they are will help them see how they fit in with the world. But you know I have a number of patients for whom you know I do telemedicine visits. And some of them have not been outdoors for a year.
Andy Vantrease 46:28
Dr. Joseph Lamb 46:29
Isolated in their apartments and you know they’ve missed the physical component of exercise. But they’ve become very isolated and very alone. People being at home, you know, there’s a good side to people being at home because maybe now they’re family meals happening more often. But there’s a bad side to being at home because maybe we’re eating differently than we were. Maybe we’re snacking more, all of these various pressures. I think the opportunity really becomes one of people saying, “Where have I been? And where do i really want to go? What would define who I am as the next step in my life? And how do I get there there?” There are a lot of fears about the vaccine. And you know, to be fair we’re dealing with a vaccine that hasn’t been FDA approved it’s only gotten in an emergency use authorization. So I can understand people’s fear but at a very basic level if we’re not clear about what we want then it’s very hard to decide what we should do. And I think you’re right. People have been socially isolated. People have been physically isolated. there’s been decreases in wellness. But I think balancing that for some people, they’ve chosen to live their lives differently. Some people now have home gyms and are actually using them when they didn’t before. some people are having different relationships. You know, pods have formed and people have built meaningful relationship with people who they didn’t necessarily have before. COVID highlights the work that we need to do as individuals and as societies, but it’s not necessarily all been bad. But it has been a change.
Andy Vantrease 48:38
Yeah certainly, and you know, I always think about the social component and where that fits into a life, and where that fits into wellness, the connections and relationships.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 48:49
Yeah, I mean, personal level here, and a Feathered Pipe level, it had been the intention for my colleagues and I, can even say friends. You know, Michael Stone and I, and others were supposed to have been at Feathered Pipe last summer with a program that based upon my experience, works best in person. And here we are coming around to a year later and I’m hoping we get the opportunity to do it in this coming year. And that’s the community piece being there together to do the work.
Andy Vantrease 49:28
To wrap things up I’d love to just hear about what you plan to do at the Feather Pipe what people can expect from your retreat and the journeys that they’ll be going on with you for a week.
Dr. Joseph Lamb 49:42
Absolutely. It’s kind of the twofold piece. One is learning about a different heuristic to view your health. How do I separate function and wellness from disease? And is there an opportunity for me to create increased wellness in my life? That’s one focus. Opportunities to talk about Functional Medicine, and the opportunities to look at the model, and where they give people even the opportunity of getting some blood work done in advance that they can bring with them. And then we’ll have group discussions of what that lab work means. Those sorts of things. But then there’s kind of that self-exploring work, finding that touch point within us, finding where our dreams are broken, and how to restore those dreams. As you start putting that picture together, start saying, are the decisions that I want to make about my health, about how I want to live my life congruent with my dreams? That’s what I’d be what we entertain, and kind of the small group breakout sessions. So we’ll have larger sessions for the entire community that’s attending. And then we’ll have breakout sessions with a couple group leaders to do more personal work. And the hope is that when we come out of this, that each person will have gained some insight, both about practical things that they can do and lasting changes that they can make. But that they’ll also have a lot more insight about who they are, and what’s special about them. And maybe be able to see it better and others.
Andy Vantrease 51:39
Joseph Lamb, a man of faith, function and philosophy. What a gift this conversation was, for those of us who have been through challenges that lean towards more complex and chronic issues that our conventional healthcare system has had such a hard time addressing. Functional Medicine was a big part of how I was able to fully heal my body from Lyme disease. And more than that, it provided me with an education and level of understanding of stress, hormones, underlying infections, and the way that my day to day actions and my big picture fulfillment and purpose play into my overall health. I’m so grateful to people like Dr. Lamb who are expanding the scope of healthcare so that it encompasses the totality of what it means to be a human. As he says there is a place for acute care and thank goodness, but for the experiences of preventable lifestyle based conditions, autoimmune diseases, cancers, diabetes, Dr. Lamb is doing such great work towards a world where these are nipped in the bud long before they fall within the disease range. A world where kids grow into adults who follow their dreams, understand their life’s purpose, and as a result feel motivated to make decisions that keep them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually well.
Andy Vantrease 52:51
To work with Dr. Lamb. Visit josephlambmd.com. And consider signing up to join him for a Functional Medicine Journey Retreat, July 5 through July 10 at the Feather Pipe Ranch this summer.
A special thank you to Matthew Marsolek and the Drum Brothers, whose music you hear at the beginning and end of this podcast, as well as Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, who first turned us on to the phenomenon of the Dandelion Effect and how ideas move through the world.
This podcast is a production of the Feathered Pipe Foundation, a 501c3 dedicated to healing, education, community and empowerment. If you’d like to help support this project, please visit FeatheredPipe.com/gratitude or leave a review on Apple podcasts and share with your friends. Be sure to tune in to our next episode in two weeks. We cannot wait to share another amazing conversation with you. Until then, have a beautiful day.