By Kelly Harrigan
Today, we’re taking dance lessons with Darwin, and our dance instructor is Dr. Steven Saltzman. Saltzman is a Johns Hopkins-trained physician with a background in anti-aging and regenerative medicine and a passion for wellness and integrative medicine. His unique approach to patients combines his background in both modern and alternative medicine with his philosophy of seeking natural therapies and proven science. He tries all these therapies on himself before recommending them to patients.
“You can use both approaches to heal with an emphasis on utilizing what is safe, natural, and effective for you.”
Saltzman spent the last 15 years researching methods that make the greatest contributions to our health, while being non-invasive and avoiding prescription drugs. Saltzman developed a three-pronged modality: foundational care, oxygen therapies, and challenge therapies.
No, this isn’t a Lego game, hitting up the oxygen bar, or being on a game show. Saltzman’s book, Dancing with Darwin: Challenge Therapies for Optimal Health (Coldwater Press, 2020) explores the three-pronged modality, so let’s dive in.
“Foundational care” means the basics of good health. Eating a healthy, organic diet. Making sure you hydrate. Detoxing your body from processed food and unhealthy chemicals. Exercising appropriately for where you are with your health. Maintaining healthy sleep habits (say goodbye to screen time well before bedtime, indulge in a good book, and treat yourself to a face mask and tea). Trying not to overschedule yourself and reducing lifestyle stressors.
Tell me something I haven’t heard before…
Saltzman’s next phase is oxygen therapies. This isn’t just a post hangover indulgence at the Las Vegas airport after a bachelor party. Oxygen is the currency of life in our bodies. The more you have, the better off you are. Oxygen increases cellular work, so ‘Show Me the O2!’ Modern day humans don’t get enough oxygen because we live in an environmental era of increasing carbon dioxide and daily exposure to other increasing toxins, forcing our bodies to work overtime. Deep breathing calms our central nervous systems. Enabling more oxygen to work its magic in our cells fights environmental stressors, helps our bodies run at an optimal level, and assists in the anti-aging process and fighting disease. His book details the “disease costs” we pay for having low levels of cellular oxygen.
Here’s where we rise to the challenge!
(Everybody loves a bad pun…)
Dr. Saltzman based his challenge therapy on a widely known but underutilized science of hormesis. The essence of this science is distilled to the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (Kelly Clarkson for karaoke night, anyone?). This means a stressor that engages us makes us more adaptable and tolerant of it in the future. The human species spent 2.5 million years adapting so the fittest survived. In our modern era in first world countries, we don’t do that anymore because we live in a state of continuous comfort: the opposite of evolutionary history. We live in perfectly temperature-controlled climates, enjoy a plentiful food supply, and face no significant threats except those humans created.
These challenge therapies, such as exposure to temperature extremes, fasting, and exercise, as well as the use of medical oxygen therapies, demonstrate hormetic “challenge” therapies. Dr. Saltzman’s approach can meet you where you are and can cover a wide range of needs from reversing medical disease and states to supporting longevity and even promoting peak performance for athletes. The ramifications are significant, both physically and financially. Better health means reduced medical costs. If you have a TBI, your credit card will agree.
Increased education about this concept can assist people with introducing challenge therapies into their routines to restore health and vitality to their lives. This concept takes therapies an individual may need and creates a bespoke program for that person and their health at their current state, with the idea of laying a foundation to optimize their health to get them to the next level. For example, someone with a TBI may need physical therapy to retrain muscles. You’re not going to run, or walk, or lift 100 pounds until you properly retrain your muscles in micro movements to get you to the point where you can begin training for those bigger leaps.
Each person is unique and deserves medical care tailored specifically to them.
In any type of brain injury — whether it’s a stroke or concussion — cells die, and that area does not recover. However, the outlook is positive for the protective penumbra around those dead cells. This penumbra contains cells in a state of suspended animation with a low oxygen supply from the injury and inadequate blood flow to the penumbra. Treatments like the hyperbaric oxygen chamber show cellular angiogenesis, or new blood vessel growth and increased blood flow around the damaged area, helping the body regain function.
The current medical system in this country sets out for profit, not for health, as evidenced by the opioid epidemic. Dancing with Darwin explores Saltzman’s modalities and suggestions for integrative and natural therapies, with a goal to assist people without significant financial resources in finding better options than surgery or pharmaceuticals. Sing along with Kelly on the radio as you explore Dr. Saltzman’s suggestions.
Dr. Saltzman is the founder and director of VitaltyHealthChallenge www.vitalityhealth.challenge.com and the author of Dancing with Darwin.
Kelly is a single mum, veteran, and TBI survivor with a girl child and a Frenchie, oolong tea in hand and humor on hand. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland.