“…If you are waiting for the change to come from above, and by that, I mean governments, regulatory bodies, health authorities or even your health practitioners you may be waiting for a long time. The change that makes the biggest difference to you comes from you. Take control. While we get to vote once every 2–4 years and its effect is minimal, the decisions we make, and the way we spend our money, each and every day, has the ability affect real change.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Ron Ehrlich, or ‘Dr. Ron’ as he is affectionately known, one of Australia’s leading holistic health advocates, educators, a podcaster and an author. With over 35 years of clinical practice Dr Ron has developed a holistic approach to health and wellness, as well as a comprehensive model of how stress impacts on our lives. Empowering individuals and organisations are his passion.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?
I’m a holistic dentist, author, educator and podcaster. I’ve been in clinical practice for many years. My interest is understanding how interconnected we are, not just every part of our own body, but how connected we are with the world that surrounds us. And how politics and the economic drivers impacts on our health, and the health of the planet. That’s what I understand ‘holistic’ to mean. Within a few years of graduating I rather unexpectedly found myself treating people with chronic headaches and neck aches. That quickly led to a model of stress that I’ve used personally and professionally for over 35 years.
I view stress as anything that has the potential to challenge and comprise our health. I look at it as a combination of emotional, environmental, nutritional, postural and dental stresses. The first four are critical and perhaps more obvious, but I also include dental stress for anybody with a mouth, who is interested in their health and has never fully connected the two. It’s surprises people to learn that ‘dental stress’ relates to digestion, how well you sleep and breathe, your posture, chronic infections, and chronic inflammation, toxicity, common systemic diseases and of course the headaches and neck aches that got me started on my journey.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Learning how amazing the human body has been a constant, and the more you learn the more you realise there is to learn. It’s what makes healthcare…and life so interesting. There have been so many occasions where patients’ outcomes would make an ‘interesting story’ but one that stood out was a 12-year-old boy suffering from enuresis… bed wetting. This was clearly a problem, and made worse by the fact that his two younger brothers, 5 and 9 years old, no longer needed nappies or wet their bed. The family had spent a fortune on medical costs consulting, urologists, neurologists and psychologists all to no avail. They had literally spent thousands of dollars.
I solved the issue, which was really distressing for the boy and his family, by addressing his sleep disordered breathing problem. He was breathing through his mouth and basically hyper ventilating at over 20 breaths per minute. I had learnt from a respiratory physiologist and breathing re-training program that dysfunctional breathing throws body chemistry out of balance and in turn that affects smooth muscle throughout the body. The bladder is smooth muscle. A thin paper tape on the mouth at night solved the problem. Lots of my adult patients, including myself use this simple technique, basically using the 8 hours of sleep to practice nasal breathing, and night time trips to the toilet are virtually a thing of the past and sleep quality is often greatly improved. I love this story because it shows, that with some basic knowledge of physiology, biochemistry and anatomy we can use simple interventions to be healthier.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Yes, I most certainly am. I’m developing a global online wellness program that will put health and wellness in the palm of everybody’s hand, based on identifying and minimising the stresses in life in our modern world which have the potential to compromise our health, and focusing on the simple and effective five pillars of health. The key is for individuals to take control, to build resilience, fulfil potential and be the best you can be. This will be based on research independent of industry and or any influence from any food, chemical, pharmaceutical or supplement company’s advice or marketing.
Between work and personal life, the average adult spends nearly 11 hours looking at a screen per day. How does our increasing screen time affect our mental, physical, and emotional health?
The effect of screen time poses significant challenges to our health on many levels, but of course there are some positives. Let’s start with the positives. Access to information is incredible and our ability to communicate with the world is unprecedented, but each of those comes with its own challenge.
We hear about every disaster as it happens and literally carry it close to us. Social media, advertisements, entertainment and news are constantly vying for our attention. So emotional stress is heightened and relentless, not just compounding stress but distracting us from the relationships so important to us which surround us.
It’s not just the emotional stress, but also the environmental stress. The radiation from these devices has recently been classified by the WHO (World Health Organisation) as a Class 2B carcinogen, meaning it has the potential to cause cancer. That radiation is everywhere, while the light which emanates from the technology also affects our ability to sleep well.
We have an epidemic of poor sleep and our relationship with technology is playing a huge part. Every measure of our physical, mental and emotional health is affected by poor sleep.
Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?
Five basic steps to improve mental wellness and help create healthier relationships all round include:
· Prioritise a consistently good night’s sleep. This is your non-negotiable built-in life-support system. Put simply, use it or lose it. With it you build the physical, mental and emotional resilience to make the most out of the other 16 waking hours of the day.
· Mood & food. There’s a strong connection between the two. A good general principle to go by is that food should be whole, fresh, free of chemicals, unprocessed, low in sugar and carbohydrates. A foundation of vegetables of varying colours and healthy fats, moderate amounts of ethically grown protein, filtered water and good quality salt gets more specific. If that sounds familiar, it should, because there are common themes that cut across all diseases, physical and mental. How they manifest in an individual has a strong genetic component.
Food sensitivities can also be very significant to mental health. Gluten and dairy are common, but it’s not a simple as that. If you are reactive to one or two foods it is more than likely that you are cross-reactive to other foods that are far less obvious. Identifying them is important.
Vitamin (B group, Vitamin D) and mineral deficiencies (selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron) have also been shown to also have a significant impact on mental health.
· Toxicities are another issue to consider in mental health and wellness. Heavy metals like mercury and lead, household moulds, endocrine disrupting chemicals, can all have a significant impact on health in general, and mental health in particular.
· Value relationships: A 75-year Harvard study looking into what was the best predictor of health and longevity, found that relationships were the most important factor. Real relationships with partners, family, friends and community are empowering, worth nurturing and prioritising. For parents, modelling this behaviour, a preoccupation with technology versus a valuing of real-time relationships, can be a negative or a positive.
· Keep your distance. Accepting we do use technology keep the phone laptop, tablets, away from your head/brain and lap/gonads. This is true not just throughout the day, but particularly at night when you should keep all technology at least 2 meters away from your head and preferably out of your bedroom. Sleep is the most important part of your day.
51% of Americans say they primarily use their smartphone for calls. With the number of robocalls increasing, what are ways people can limit interruptions from spam calls?
This is a challenge. Turning off all notifications and letting everything go to message, to be sorted later would make you the ‘Zen-master’ of your mobile technology. For the rest of us, you can either block the numbers as they come through, allowing only your inner circle of frequent callers and block the rest; you could rely on your service provider; or try some of the many apps that purport to address this issue. Good luck!!
Between social media distractions, messaging apps, and the fact that Americans receive 45.9 push notifications each day, Americans check their phones 80 times per day. How can people, especially younger generations, create a healthier relationship with social media?
Do an audit of what your typical day, and of your values in life. It may surprise you how much time is taken up by responding to ‘push notifications’ on email, social media and news. Switch off all notifications. Not only have you gained physical time, probably several hours, but you have cleared your head to engage with the world that surrounds you. For parents, again modelling a healthy relationship with technology is a good start.
80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning. What effect does starting the day this way have on people? Is there a better morning routine you suggest?
It’s a huge distraction from life… or at least the ‘life’ that really matters. A better morning routine starts with a commitment to a consistently good night’s sleep. That’s a function of quantity (for 90% of the population, getting 7–9 hours per night) and quality ( for everyone, breathing well while you sleep). The difference this will make, to memory, mood, concentration, physical and mental energy, and much more is profound. Wake up early and do a 15–30-minute workout which includes stretching, flexibility, core strength incorporating functional movements. Meditate for 10–20 minutes. Skip breakfast. Make sure you are eating low carbohydrates and healthy fats in your other meals. Explore hunger, rather than fear it. It may take a week or two but combined with a commitment to a consistently good night’s sleep this will be life changing…for the better.
Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?
It’s a simple one, but quite profound…. if you are waiting for the change to come from above, and by that, I mean governments, regulatory bodies, health authorities or even your health practitioners you may be waiting for a long time. The change that makes the biggest difference to you comes from you. Take control. While we get to vote once every 2–4 years and its effect is minimal, the decisions we make, and the way we spend our money, each and every day, has the ability affect real change.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
It’s the movement I am starting. To empower people to take control of their own health, fulfill their potential and be the best they can be. As the world becomes more complicated the solutions are remarkably simple.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Website — drronehrlich.com
Instagram — @ drronehrlich
Twitter — @drronehrlich
Facebook — @Doctor.RonEhrlich
LinkedIn — https://au.linkedin.com/in/dr-ron-ehrlich-5276052a
Email — [email protected]
Originally published at medium.com