Healing himself from painful eczema caused by chronic inflammation, Neil took a deep dive into what was causing it, and how to ultimately heal himself. Learning that so much of our health destiny is not genetics, but our environment and our behavior, he is now teaching others how to heal themselves.
Could you give us a bit of background on your health struggles, and how you overcame them?
I had eczema for 30 years and I was always of the impression it was a genetic “disease” and there was nothing I could do about it other than use the prescribed steroid creams (that left pigmentation on my skin), antibiotics (that harm your gut microbiome — directly related to skin health), and prescription moisturizers — full of harmful ingredients. A lot of people grow out of eczema. I didn’t, and it got worse during my exams in my late teenage years, at university, during a Masters and later years in working life. I only discovered its underlying cause when I was researching the condition my father was told he had a few years prior to his stroke, chronic inflammation. Already in the health and fitness space, I had a vague understanding to what it was, and I had an inner knowing in my heart that his stroke was avoidable. I just knew that he wasn’t given the best course of treatments by his doctor. Sure enough, I found this to be true, and also realized his asthma was a result of the same underlying cause, as well as his high blood pressure, which ultimately led to his stroke. I also realized my eczema was a result of the same underlying cause, and reversed it quickly by changing the environment in my body. This meant changing my diet, lifestyle habits and how I was reacting to the world around me.
“Chronic stress can lead to chronic inflammation”
What is chronic inflammation syndrome and what does it cause?
There is acute inflammation and inflammation on a systemic level. Acute inflammation occurs when we might injure a joint, say an ankle. The ankle swells up, becomes inflamed, heats up, and the immune system sends the appropriate fluids to it to repair it. It becomes painful so we don’t walk on it and cause further harm. The immune system does what is necessary to bring the ankle back to normal.
On a systemic level, inflammation is a result of your immune system protecting you from foreign or “alien” intruders. It’s a very healthy immune response. If we didn’t have it, we’d die. But when it happens again and again, the body creates symptoms depending on your genetic code. An “intruder” can be in the form of a physical threat or a perceived threat. A physical threat might be an alien food type (not designed for the human body — much of what is found in standard grocery stores) or another toxin, like mercury in the mouth or an infected root canal. A perceived threat is where chronic stress comes into play and weakens the gut — where most inflammation begins. Chronic stress can lead to chronic inflammation. It is the underlying cause for virtually all chronic illnesses, ranging from skin conditions, to asthma, to arthritis, gout, heart disease and cancer.
How do you advise one to best listen to one’s body?
Any kind of symptom is like a messenger. It’s like the warning light in your car warning you to attend to something. A messenger from the body is telling you to change something about your life. I don’t believe a symptom is an invitation to take a pharmaceutical drug. That is missing the point and we miss the magic of the body’s intelligence. Drugs appear to work in the short term and can alleviate pain and suffering (and can be life-saving in emergency use), but long term, they tend to cause further harm.
They’ll often create more symptoms, for which another drug is then prescribed a few years down the road. It’s not unusual to be on a cocktail of medications as we age. While this is a conventional norm, it is not a biological norm. The body does not get sick because of a pharmaceutical drug deficiency! When I work with my clients, we address the Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Energetic “Pillars of Vitality” to bring the body back to balance and a place of harmony so symptoms naturally disappear.
“Any kind of symptom is like a messenger. It’s like the warning light in your car warning you to attend to something”
The placebo effect seems like an indication of the power of the mind over our cell function. How can we use that to our advantage?
This is a wonderful question. The placebo effect is very powerful and is the result of a 1/3 of results in randomized placebo clinical trials. The power of the mind is staggering. We can think and believe ourselves well and vital — or the opposite. The opposite of the placebo is the nocebo effect. When we have a thought, or belief, it triggers an emotion, and then a cascade of chemicals and hormones in the body. When we believe a pill is going to make us better, through the sheer power of belief, we secrete the perfect concoction of chemicals in the body to heal the body. That is how wonderfully powerful we are as human beings. We can heal through thought alone.
You mention the 80/20 rule, around psychology/mechanics. How do we apply that to our health?
I would argue that 80% of success in health and vitality is down to our mindset, just 20% mechanics. When it comes to food and exercise, and creating and adopting new habits and routines, the mechanics are not that difficult. It’s the mind that is most important when getting aligned for a life rich in vitality.
“Sperm counts have almost halved in half a century”
There has been decrease in men’s testosterone readings over the last years. Are you seeing this in the 30% healthy part of the population as well as the more chronically diseased part? What do you attribute this to?
This is true, and sperm counts have almost halved in half a century. My first book, Mojo Multiplier: Raise Testosterone Naturally, raises awareness of hormonal disrupting chemicals and compounds in our food supply and environment, and “xenoestrogens” — foreign estrogens. There are a number of toxins at play. Our water supply is most notable. It has been reported around the world that in lakes and rivers male fish are feminizing. They are growing eggs. Also, alligator penises are shrinking — don’t ask me how I know that. What’s more alarming is that our water supplies — meaning our drinking water — has trace elements of drugs; in particular, the female contraceptive pill. If this is happening to nature, you can only imagine what is happening to the male population when they drink this water. It’s affecting women, and teenage girls, too. Teenage girls are starting their periods at an earlier age.
What is hyper distraction and how do we become more focused?
We are in an age of hyper distraction as we are being bombarded with interruptions constantly. We are addicted to our phones, we have text messages, phone calls, emails, and push notifications constantly from the plethora of apps we use to stay in touch with people. I find myself in many groups across various messaging platforms so what I do is silence them all so I don’t receive notifications. When I’m working, I put my phone in airplane mode, sometimes use a timer, and when I remember, turn off distractions, aka notifications, on my laptop too. We can’t get into a flow state if we are responding to other people’s demands on us and being open to distractions 24-7.
The brain is not an octopus! I discovered that the brain works best when we focus on one task at a time, or uni-task, not when we’re task switching constantly, aka multitasking. A Harvard study demonstrated that people who multitask actually become forgetful and find it harder to concentrate and focus. We miss the magic of flow state when we’re task switching, and I believe that flow state is the ultimate state in which to live.
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