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Eight Weeks To Wellness with Dr. Dane Donohue
I’m so excited to have my good friend, Dr. Dane Donohue. Dr. Donohue is a Doctor of Chiropractic, third generation chiropractor. What a lucky man he is, what a lucky society we have that has doctor Dane Donohue and his amazing sister. He’s going to tell us about his son, who is going to be a fourth-generation chiropractor. Dr. Dane, welcome to the Healthy Heart Show.
Thanks so much for having me on Dr. Jack. It’s a pleasure to be with you.
Dane, you are the head of 8 Weeks to Wellness. I’ll let you describe 8 Weeks to Wellness because I want to use this as education for people to understand that there are certain chiropractors that are uniquely skilled, uniquely trained and embrace the idea of they are the go-to for all things health and wellness. If you have any health issue, if you just want to talk about prevention, go see an 8 Weeks to Wellness doctor. Go find a functional chiropractor like Dr. Dane Donohue. What do you say?
We teach our patients and most doctors will understand this definition. We have to break it down into two component parts. We teach our patients that health is the body’s ability to adapt to its environment. There are two key words there. There’s the word of adapt or adaptation and there’s the word environment. One of the things that I fell in love with the Chiropractic Philosophy and I think you believe in the same philosophy, is the body’s ability to heal from the inside out. We say that the word health, if you spell the first four letters of health, it spells heal. We have to do things that help the body adapt to its environment, help it heal better. The chiropractic fits perfectly with that philosophy. A lot of times with the more of the allopathic philosophy is we’re looking to diagnose something and treat something as opposed to remove the interference.
It allows the body’s own innate capacity to heal itself, to be set free. The people deserve to know about that innate capacity to heal. That always resonated with me growing up. I think it’s one of the things that as a third-generation chiropractor, having my son wanting to go to school, you want to be able to help people but you want to do it in a natural way. The uniqueness of chiropractic is that it always maintained its natural heritage that we never started prescribing drugs. That’s a good thing. There’re plenty of medical professionals out there that can handle that aspect of trying to get people well. What we’re uniquely positioned to do is to teach people that health is your body’s ability to adapt to its environment. Let’s get you adapting better by making sure your nervous system is functioning well and let’s put you in a healthy environment so you have the best opportunity to heal.
What are some of the things that you are pushing in 8 Weeks to Wellness? Once you go to 8ww.com, you can find out all about their program and you can find hopefully a practitioner in your area. Tell me about chiropractic, 8 Weeks to Wellness and cardiovascular health.
When I sit down with a patient, we do a comprehensive lifestyle history and then a past medical history, what medications they’re taking. Oftentimes, we see a patient that comes in and they’re taking stat medication and that isn’t uncommon. They’re taking a medication to reduce their blood pressure. When I have a conversation with that patient, I’ll ask permission. I’ll say, “Jack, would you mind if I review your past medical history?” They’ll remember most patients are going to a chiropractor because they have some pain. They have some pain in terms of musculoskeletal pain or let’s say some chiropractic condition. When I ask them about their past medical history and I ask them about their Statins, we used to get in a conversation of why they’re taking their Statin when they were first diagnosed with high cholesterol, who put them on the medication.
Was it their family doctor, was it a cardiologist? I always ask them this question, “How do you feel about taking that Statin medication for the rest of your life and potentially the side effects that go along with that Statin medication?” It all is about risk and reward. Usually what I find is that people don’t want to take the medication but they’ve never been offered a healthy option to medication. When I ask them, “If we can help you reduce your cholesterol naturally without the use of that Statin, is that something you would be interested in?” Almost every single patient enthusiastically says, “Yes.” They had never been given the option of, “How do I reduce my cholesterol naturally without having to do it with a lot of medication?” That’s where the rubber meets the road. How do we have these conversations with patients about their hypertension, about their high cholesterol, about the thing inflammation and visceral fat that’s driving cardiovascular disease? How do we give people better options, give them a coach, give them a plan to be able to address these without medication?
I’ve made big blanket statements, “Go make your primary care doctor a doctor of chiropractic.” Invariably people say, “How do I find that person? How do I know that person? How has the best way obviously to find, we briefly mentioned 8 Weeks to Wellness Doctors? How do you find a chiropractor that’s going to be willing to take on some of these other things? There’re chiropractors that think, “I’m going to adjust all day.” I got no problem with that, we need more of those people. How do we find that functional DC?Health is the body's ability to adapt to its environment. Click To Tweet
The key is that you have to look at their training and then you have to also look at objectively what they’re measuring in their clinics. For example, my doctors have a lot of training in functional laboratory evaluation. We can look at somebody’s blood work, we can look at inflammatory markers, we can look at thyroid markers and we could look at things that you’ve taught us about from vibrant health about leaky gut. We can evaluate that. You have to look at what the doctor is measuring as part of their evaluation. We use for example an in-body test. An in-body is body composition and test that not only tells us how much muscle somebody has on their body. It tells us not only where their fat is on their body but how much fat they have. We now know how much visceral fat they have. You have to look at what the doctor’s measuring. Are they measuring straight chiropractic parameters, looking at the spine, looking at the nervous system?
Are they looking at an overall picture of the person? You have to look at their training. Have they done any postgraduate certifications in nutrition, in functional fitness as we have? A lot of my education is centered around evaluating the patient functionally and we look at four things. We looked at general health parameters, we look at laboratory parameters, we look at neuro-musculoskeletal skeletal parameters and then we also look at functional fitness parameters. I always say, “You can’t treat a problem you don’t know exists.” The more we can evaluate, the more information that we can collect on a patient, the more that we can see in that patient and we can help direct them to correct the functional deficits that we’ve seen in their nervous system, in their cardiovascular system, in the fact that they don’t have enough muscle in the body.
You’re getting to the cause of why they have health problems and you’re also getting to the preventive aspect, “You don’t feel sick now but we’re doing this deep dive. We’re looking in your blood. We’re looking at markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, abnormal lipid profiles, trying to be proactive and getting them onto the health and wellness plan.”
There’s a mnemonic that we use with our patients and also with the doctors. We always say, “Good health, you’ve got to insist on it.” The, “Insist on it,” is a mnemonic that stands for inflammation, nutrient deficiency, subluxation, insulin resistance, sleep deficiency, toxicity, overstimulated, sympathetic tone, no muscle mass, increased visceral fat and a lack of purpose. If you look at all those things: inflammation, nutrient deficiency, subluxation, insulin resistance, sleep deficiency, toxicity, overstimulated sympathetic tone, no muscle mass, increased visceral fat and not have a having a purpose in life, it’s a good foundation of I believe what’s driving most diseases in this country. Once you identify the problem, the solution becomes self-evident. What I see, this is maybe a shortcoming of both chiropractic and medicine, is that we’re so one dimensional in our evaluation of a patient.
You go to a functional medicine practitioner, they’re generally going to look at your labs there. They’re generally going to look at your nutrition and what you’re eating but maybe they missed the mark on the functional fitness side. Maybe they missed the mark on the chiropractic side, the nervous system side. I believe that people have deficits in multiple dimensions of health. We’ve got to look at them neurologically. We’ve got to look at them cardiovascularly. We’ve got to look at them as far as are they getting the exercise? Are they doing the right things as far as their lifestyle? Not one dimension because when we do one dimension, we miss the greater picture that may be influencing their health or their disease protocol.
You mentioned lack of purpose. If I’m a medical doctor, I’m totally left brain. I don’t even know what you’re talking about when you say lack of purpose. Tell me what that means and then how do you help people to find their purpose?
I believe at the end of the day, there are people out there that just don’t care. As a matter of fact, you care more than they do about getting them healthy. I’m sure you’ve had those types of patients in your office and they tend to be very frustrating patients to treat. They simply don’t care if they’re becoming more and more overweight, if they’re inflamed, if they had visceral fat, if they’re going to die in their 50s as their father did of cardiovascular disease. One of the things is a person’s why. Mother Nature, Buddha or God or whoever you think puts you on this Earth, why did they put you on this Earth? If you have a purpose, if you have a reason, if you have something to contribute because that’s truly where happiness comes from, then you care about your life. If you care about your life, you care about taking care of it, the quality of it and the longevity of it. Purpose is important because I think without purpose, people just don’t care. If they don’t care, it’s hard to get them to change their behaviors. That’s where we’re going to get patients healthy if we can change their behaviors.
Being around you, your tribe and around the doctors that get it, your team is so well trained. Your doctors that are in 8 Weeks to Wellness, they’re such a tremendous resource for all these different things like you said. Fundamental to the program is chiropractic care. Maybe give us a little bit of insight as to how chiropractic melds into what you’re doing with 8 Weeks to Wellness.
This is pretty standard in chiropractic if you talk to most chiropractors. We have a philosophy that’s called The Triune of Health Philosophy. The Triune of Health, a triune is a triangle and there are three sides to this triangle. There’s the physical component, there’s the mental-emotional component and then there’s the biochemical component. Right in the middle of that triangle is the nervous system. The nervous system is the master system that’s helping control and coordinate all of the functions in the body. It’s like you and I having a conversation that the nervous system is the interface between the external environment and the internal environment. The nervous system is sensing its environment and it’s making adaptive changes to keep the body healthy. For example, if it gets hot, we sweat. If it gets cold, we shiver. These are adaptive mechanisms.If you care about your life, you care about taking care of it and the quality and the longevity of it. Click To Tweet
If we ingest something that is a foreign bacteria or foreign virus that shouldn’t be in the body, the body has this thing called the immune system and the body knows how to adapt to keep itself alive. That happens through the nervous system. Mother Nature and her infinite wisdom knew the nervous system was extremely delicate and extremely sensitive to changes in tone and pressure. Mother Nature put that in the nervous system in a hard column of bone, it’s called your spinal column. Your brain is protected 360 degrees enveloped by bone. Your spinal cord is enveloped 360 degrees around by a column that moves. The basic philosophy of Chiropractic is very simple. The alignment of the vertebral column will determine the tone of the nervous system running through it.
For example, I had a woman in my office who came to me with chronic fatigue. Her chronic fatigue has gotten so bad that she’s had to stop her Ph.D. program. She was going to Bucknell University working on a Ph.D. She literally doesn’t have the energy to get our work done and come home. When I did her history, she’s been to six different doctors. They’ve done every test you can imagine on her thyroid, on her gut, they’ve looked at her nutrition, they’ve used all different supplements and nothing’s helped. Nobody once looked at her posture. Nobody ever evaluated her spine and our nervous system.
When I took X-rays of her spine, she had 35, 40-degree scoliosis in her thoracic and lumbar spine that she never knew about. My question is what’s that distortion in the spinal column doing to our nervous system? It’s creating a strain on that nervous system and the nervous system does not function well when it’s stretched, when it’s pulled or when it’s compressed. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, you can’t then respond to me in kind and we can’t have a conversation. We call this the safety bin cycle. The nervous system is sensing the environment. Based on that information, it makes the best appropriate decisions to adapt to that environment and keep the body functioning well. That happens through the nervous system and the nervous system is cased in a hard column of bone that moves and because that column of bones moves, that vertebra, they’re capable of moving out of the normal position. When that does is it interferes with the normal transmission or normal communication within the nervous system.
It’s a phenomenal explanation. You’re phenomenal at explaining things and taking it so the public can understand it. In summary, what I would say and I know you would agree with me that vertebral subluxations, misalignment of the vertebra can lead to cardiovascular disease, can lead to atrial fibrillation, can lead to hypertension, can lead to endothelial dysfunction and therefore somebody may clog up their arteries. Vertebral subluxation a little bit lower down the thoracic vertebra and then to the lumbar spine, how does that impact gastrointestinal function? How does that impact genital urinary function and things like prostate cancer, colon cancer, irritable bowel, all of these things? The patient you’re talking about went to all these doctors. She’s had probably even pharmaceutical doctors, actual doctors and nobody’s fixing it. You identify this massive scoliosis, which is undoubtedly a major factor in her issues.
To understand basic neurologic physiology, the nervous system has three main roles. It has a sensory role, it has a motor role and it has an autonomic role. If you go to the fuse box of your home, you know there are fuses there. If you hit the fuse for the kitchen, all the electricity and lights go out in the kitchen. We have these things called vertebra and they had these individual spinal nerves that come off. There’s a sensory, a motor and an autonomic component of that nervous system. Depending on where there’s stress and strain on those nerves, it’s going to determine where there’s dysfunction within that nervous system.
If we’re irritating, stretching or compressing a sensory nerve, we’re going to have sensory aberrations. If were irritating or compressing a motor nerve, we’re going to have motor deficits, spasm, weakness. If we’re compressing an autonomic nerve, we could have increased sympathetic tone or we could have decreased parasympathetic function. It’s a very simple concept but the Philosophy of Chiropractic is very simple. Before we start adding good stuff like good nutrition, sunlight, Vitamin D, exercise and good thoughts, let’s make sure the nervous system that is responsible processing all of those good things is functioning to the best of its ability.
How many stories have you heard like this over the years? If there’s one thing I know Dr. Dane Donohue, he likes to work hard and he likes to party hard. There’s no doubt that you’re speaking to your uncles, your father, grandfather, all these people that are chiropractors. How many cases have you seen over your career where medicine failed? All these things failed, they come in and chiropractic care was the answer.
My dad used to say when I graduated school, based on his experience of 30 to 40 years in chiropractic at the time he’d say, “Chiropractic is going to be like baseball. It’s going to be bottom of the ninth, two outs. The patient’s going to come in and they’re going to expect you to hit a home run.” That’s often the case. The patient has been everywhere, has tried everything except for chiropractic. I’ve seen so many times in my career and I bet this young girl will be one of them. This young girl I’m talking about with chronic fatigue, she’s tried to gluten-free diets. She’s eating perfectly. She’s supplementing with Vitamin D and probiotics. She understands because she’s going to graduate school and a smart cookie. She’s read about leaky gut and thyroid. She understands all this.
She did not understand the implications of the nervous system on health. She does, she’s very excited about the opportunity. Once she saw her spine, she was appalled. She didn’t know that her spine was so subluxated with this scoliosis. There’s an awesome opportunity to help this patient. There’ve been so many cases over my 27-year career and my dad before he retired 45-year career. I used to see with my own eyes. When I was growing up, we had a home office combination. I vividly remember because we had a different path that went to my home and a different path that went to my dad’s office but they were paralleling. I literally would be walking out of the house or walking into my home. I’d see a patient walk out of my dad’s office that two weeks earlier I saw was wheeled in with a wheelchair.Without purpose, people just don't care. If they don't care, it's hard to get them to change their behaviors. Click To Tweet
Two weeks later, a month later they were walking out of the office. Many times, it’s the bottom of the night and they’ve had two outs and people say, “Let me give chiropractic a try because I’ve tried everything else.” Many times, chiropractic steps up and hits a home run. I will tell you it’s not every single time because there is a limitation to matter. There is a time where people are just so far gone. There’s so much water under the bridge that their innate healing capacity can’t undergo the massive amount of damage they have in their nervous system or their spine. I would daresay that the human body is remarkable in its capacity to heal when you remove the interference to the nervous system and you put the body in a healing environment.
What would you say to someone and they’re like, “Dr. Dane Donohue sounds amazing. I’m going to look and see if he’s on my insurance plan. He’s not on my insurance plan. I’m not going to go see him.” How do we get past this whole financial barrier? Tell people why they would need to spend the money if the chiropractor is not on their insurance plan, why should I pay for chiropractic care?
My grandfather was a chiropractor and so was his brother. I heard stories in my family about my uncle and my grandfather having wads of cash in their pockets all of the time. They didn’t have insurance because it didn’t exist. People paid for care because they valued it. They valued what my grandfather and uncle did. Basically, my grandfather and uncle were being paid to solve problems for patients. “I can’t walk, my back hurts, my leg hurts, I have colitis,” back then chiropractors were treating everything. “I had migraine, headaches, my kids can’t walk. I have, asthma, allergies,” chiropractors treated it all. Many times, chiropractors did a great job and patients were very satisfied with their care, which is why they paid cash.
I believe in my heart of hearts that people will pay when they see the value. We do have this mindset and it’s going to be an obstacle to get over. People have this mindset that their health insurance card is like their health credit card. If my health insurance doesn’t cover it, I don’t need it. That is a stigma that I believe that we’ll have to get over. Here’s the rub, when people are getting subpar care and when they’re going to their in-network providers who are seeing 50 million people and don’t have the time to sit down with a patient and get to the root cause of the problem, they get subpar results. If you’re okay with getting subpar results, then use your insurance. Many times, I have found in my own clinic that people come in because they tried all the conventional approaches and they’ve used all of the providers that their insurance will provide but they’re looking for better results.
They’re looking for back better outcomes and they’re willing to pay for it. When it’s bottom of the night, two outs and you need somebody to step up and hit a home run, who do you want to step up? Do you want that person who has a batting average of 150 or do you want the person who has a batting average of 400, who’s going to have the best opportunity to hit the home run? I’ve seen this separation in chiropractic of the have and the have nots. You have the doctors who are getting incredible outcomes, who have good patient management skills that are clinically competent, that understand functional medicine, how to integrate functional medicine approach with the chiropractic approach and they’re getting great outcomes. When people get good outcomes, they will pay out of pocket for it. That’s just been my observation. In my own clinic, we’re 80% cash and we’re 20% insurance. We collect well-over $1.5 million a year and I work part-time.
When people call at my office and they say, “Do you take insurance?” I say, “No, we don’t take insurance. We’ll give you the information you need. You can try and seek out reimbursement. If you want to come see me for an initial consultation, you get 75 minutes. If you want to go use your insurance, you’re likely going to get fifteen minutes.” During that fifteen minutes, if the doctor’s sitting at the keyboard trying to complete everything that he needs to accomplish according to insurance regulations and documentation, the doctor is only thinking about trying to get you out of the office as fast as possible. I say that obviously because I did it for so many years.
I work with a lot of medical doctors and to be quite honest, I have a lot of medical doctors who are patients of mine and they come in and I hear these stories of how unsatisfied they are with the system that’s been created. I believe in my heart of hearts that doctors want to help their patients but they have to use the resources that they’re provided. Time is a resource, most of these doctors have never learned how to do a proper case history when it comes to looking at what a person’s eating, are they exercising? What supplements are they getting? They’re working with the resources and tools that they have, which is a prescription pad and surgical equipment.
Somehow the system has to change. I tell my patients, “You need two doctors in your life, you need a good sick care doctor because I guarantee you will or somebody in your family will have a crisis at some point. Be thankful that if you fall down a flight of stairs, we have something called an ER where you can go to and they can evaluate what’s broken and repair.” Thank God, if somebody has a heart attack, we can defibrillate them and get them back to life. We can save their life. That’s not healthcare. That’s sick care. The other doctor that we need is a good wellness provider. We need a doctor that’s going to understand these disease mechanisms and why people are getting sick in the first place. Give them the plan and give them the coach that’s going to get them healthy. There’s an inverse relationship between sick care and well-care. The more time, effort and money you spend on well-care, the less you will suffer in sickness. The less you put into well-care, the more you will suffer in sickness.
Dr. Dane, tell us where people can find you?People will pay when they see the value. Click To Tweet
People can go to our website, 8ww.com. That’s the patient’s site or they can learn about the patient program. It is a clinical program. We developed 8 Weeks to Wellness because we wanted to blend chiropractic with a lifestyle modification program. That’s where we see the best outcomes, good chiropractic care, blended with good functional medicine and you get great outcomes. They can go to 8ww.com. Doctors can go to learn 8ww.com, to understand the business and clinical system of 8 Weeks to Wellness, how it works for a chiropractic practice or medical practices. We have medical practices that are running 8 Weeks to Wellness as well, which is pretty cool.
For those chiropractors, even those MDs, DOs if you’re looking to incorporate wellness, you definitely want to reach out to Dr. Dane and his team. Learn 8 Weeks to Wellness, 8ww.com and join the team. I’ve met so many of your doctors, Dane. What a great community out in Arizona. You have Dr. Brian Hester and you’ve got people up in Minnesota. You’ve got people over in Europe that are in 8 Weeks to Wellness. Kudos to you. It’s a pleasure to talk to you as always.
I want to say thank you for all that you do in raising consciousness. You speak the truth. I do think that you’re one of those renegades and rebels that 100 years from now we’re going to look back and say, “Thank God for Dr. Jack Wolfson.” I love your podcast. I listened to it all the time. The more information and insight that we can have to help our patients, the better clinicians we are. The better clinicians we are, the better outcomes that we get. Better outcomes and more people tell other people and that’s how you build a cash-based functional wellness practice.
Thank you again, Dr. Dane. Be well.
About 8 Weeks to Wellness
8 Weeks to Wellness® was developed and founded by Drs. Dane Donohue and Dr. Denise Chranowski – twins and third generation Chiropractors specializing in health and wellness. Dr. Dane and Dr. Denise both graduated with honors from Texas Chiropractic College – following in the footsteps of their father, Dr. Martin Donohue, and grandfather, Dr. John Komarek both of whom graduated from TCC.
The practice, which first began strictly as a Chiropractic office, has grown tremendously over the years due to patient demand and their success in approaching health from a wellness standpoint rather than sickness. This wellness approach has led to development of the 8 Weeks to Wellness® program for which the two doctors are uniquely qualified.