Cancer, organ failure, accelerated aging. Can a single survival molecule fuel our most deadly and devastating health concerns? The truth is, the very biochemical mechanisms the body uses to survive are actually making us sick and this is the survival paradox. When our body’s survival responses are triggered, there’s a cost, pain, inflammation, and life-threatening diseases but there is a way to overcome it.
In his new book, The Survival Paradox, integrative medicine expert, Dr. Isaac Eliaz presents a roadmap to master your biochemistry and overcome this paradox, drawing on inspirational healing stories and cutting-edge research. The result? It’s a healing and transformation on every level; physical, mental, and emotional. The book aims to provide a groundbreaking new perspective in medicine and the key to unlocking your infinite healing potential.
Hey, listeners. My name is Drew Appelbaum, and I’m excited to be here today with Dr. Isaac Eliaz, author of The Survival Paradox: Reversing the Hidden Cause of Aging and Chronic Disease. Isaac, thank you for joining. Welcome to The Author Hour Podcast.
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Thank you for having me.
Drew Appelbaum: Let’s kick this off. Can you give us a brief rundown of your professional background?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Yes, in my background I am an integrative physician, which means I’m trained in western medicine as a physician. I also trained in traditional Chinese medicine and am a licensed acupuncturist. I’m trained in classical homeopathy, in different nutritional methods, and in different healing methods.
I started my healing journey as a teenager when I lived in South Korea where I learned Taekwondo and yoga, I actually practiced taekwondo with the Korean national team because they needed to learn English. It was an incredible privilege. At this time taekwondo was mainly in Korea.
I started my interest in martial arts, in eastern philosophy, in healing out as a teenager. I’m a native of Israel and after serving the Army like everybody else, I went to medical school in Israel. It’s a seven-year process but during school, I also got trained in Chinese medicine, in shiatsu. I was a yoga teacher, I was training yoga teachers.
When I graduated from medical school, I already had a holistic approach to medicine and then I decided to come to the United States. I obtained a master of science in traditional Chinese medicine and I specialized specifically in integrative oncology, how to integrate different methods when treating or preventing cancer and in treating difficult to treat diseases.
In addition, I have trained, studied, and practiced meditation and healing for decades. I trained in Tibetan Buddhism for decades and I had the privilege of being the doctor of some of the most legendary Buddhist masters all over the world, including the Himalayas.
It gave me a very rounded education and view on health. In parallel to this, I’m also an active researcher with dozens of published papers, with NIH grants, and with important breakthroughs that I developed in developing compounds that enhance our health and medical devices.
All this rounded education and life experience that I applied to my patients and to myself… all of this education, all of this knowledge, all of this experience, it’s all reflected in The Survival Paradox. Now that I’m in my early 60s, I feel it is time for me to write a book that really expresses these decades of unique training and unique life experience. I share a lot of knowledge in the book but mainly, I share my heart in the book. I share what is in my heart and I share my heart and I think that people who read the book can feel it.
Drew Appelbaum: Do you feel like you just came to this critical mass of you’ve gathered so much information that you wanted to share it? Or was there an “aha moment” or something else inspiring out there for you? Why was now the time after 30 plus years of clinical research and business experience, the time to write this book?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: You know, I was encouraged to write books for decades and I’ve tried in the past but it really didn’t come from me. It was more an external request and this process of expressing myself and putting out in a more clear way, the distillation of my unique approach, really ripened. It was ready to come out. I embarked on it and it took longer than I thought. I worked almost three years on this book but it was really the right time.
The book is extremely relevant at the time of COVID. It’s extremely relevant. When I wrote it, it was unrelated to what’s happening right now, I started before all of this happened. One of the centerpieces of my work is our imbalanced survival response— what I call the survival paradox— and in the time of this pandemic, it expressed itself as a cytokine stone, the excessive inflammation, which is really what kills people, what gets them sick.
What I’ve recognized, identified, and treated for decades became so practical right now and this is why the book delivers another level of practicality, specifically for our times.
Is Operating In Survival Mode Dangerous For Your Health?
Drew Appelbaum: Now, you have so much experience in the field but sometimes, during the writing process, a lot of authors— just by digging deeper or by doing more research— will come to some major breakthroughs or learnings. During your writing journey, did you have any major breakthroughs or learnings?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Yes, I did. It’s very interesting because there are two processes of learning: there is the usual conceptual learning where we accumulate information, and there is the process of unlearning where we let go of what we learned conceptually and let deeper insights come from within us. We connect to a deeper source of knowledge, of wisdom that is out there. It’s not ours, we just need to tap into it.
Being involved in meditation in such an intense way for decades— for 10 years I would spend half a day meditating and half a day working. For 20 years, two months a year I would leave for the mountains to meditate. I have trained myself to tune in to this insight and I would integrate it with my knowledge. And while studying a lot of very complicated esoteric topics and being engaging, complicated, innovative research, I recognized the simplicity of really transforming our life, which is really recognizing that our survival drive is really what gets us sick.
Recognizing whether survival drive arises from and how we can transform it through an open heart that is within each of us. In the book, I present this new approach. It’s really a new paradigm in our understanding of health, wellness, healing, and a way to tap into our infinite healing potential. This recognition, if it is so simple, it’s in front of our eyes if we just allow ourselves to really learn it and absorb it and apply it, really drove the book.
This is really what I do in the book. So yes, it was definitely a unique moment of synthesis between different worlds that came to maturity.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, when you started writing the book, in your mind, who are you writing the book for? Is this for people who are sick right now and who are looking for a cure? Is this for folks who are looking for preventative measures? Who can really have the most takeaways from the book?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Drew, that’s a great question because what I do appeals to a very wide range of audiences. The main target of the book is people with chronic illnesses, people who want to live a healthier life. The second group is what we call the biohackers, the people who are interested in longevity and how they can live longer where I’ve made a lot of breakthroughs through my research and on Galectin-3, which is a key protein that I talk a lot about in the book.
In the third group, people who are interested in mind/body medicine. People who are interested in their own interest and people who use it as part of their work. On top of this, this book is extremely useful for health providers. For doctors, psychotherapists, and for anybody within the health and healing arts.
This integrated audience is the same audience that I teach during my meditation and healing retreats, where I can have a few hundred people and it will be a blend of a certain percentage of patients with cancer or serious illness. I have quite a large number of different health providers, doctors, acupuncturists, psychotherapists, et cetera, et cetera.
And people who are just interested philosophically in expanding and deepening their life experience. This is an audience that I also try to appeal to in the book and this is an audience that I think the book will appeal to and each person will find their area of interest within the book.
Drew Appelbaum: I’m going to dig into the actual book itself and I love the way you actually start the introduction. I want to make it my first question here today because it is a great statement and I just would love for you to expand on it.
You say, “We live in a time when groundbreaking medical advancements are radically improving health and longevity. Yet, despite these astounding achievements, more of us are affected by chronic diseases than ever before.” Lay the groundwork for us Isaac, what is happening out there?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: We live in a period of time which is remarkable from a point of view of innovation, of advancement of understanding our genome and biological therapies and how to manipulate different proteins in our body. Yet, we live in a time of enormous stress, an insane pace where we are bombarded with information through TV, through computers, through the Internet. Where someone else expects us to respond is in seconds and no longer in days or in hours. All of this bombardment has a massive negative effect on our health.
It puts our bodies under stress. It puts our body in survival mode because we really have to survive this insane pace and if we look at this, when things move very fast, then— from the point of view of energy, of high kinetic energy— things are moving fast, which naturally will transform into heat, into inflammation. We live in times of inflammation and that’s why inflammation is driving so many of our diseases. What I just explained is a little bit of expansion of this one sentence that I open the book with but then I really take the readers through the journey of really understanding what I mean.
Drew Appelbaum: I just want to bring this up that readers don’t need to have an understanding of complex biological concepts to understand the book, right?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Completely not. It’s very simple. We each know what it is to be in the survival drive. We are built innately to respond with survival. It is innately built within us. Our autonomic nervous system does it automatically and our biochemical system does it automatically. To experience this is not pleasant. The body is tense, we don’t sleep well, we are nervous, we’re not relaxed, we have different pains and discomfort in our body and it boils down to autoimmune diseases to cancer, to cardiovascular diseases, and to so many illnesses.
This makes sense to us because one, we really understand it semantically and then big semanticizing, what I talk about, and many of us either have some of these illnesses or know somebody who has them. So, what is described in the book just makes sense. I have people that I asked to read the book and review it— some very experienced doctors, people who have been in the health field for decades— and then they tell me, “Isaac, you know I’ve been involved in my own health and trying to heal others for decades and this book completely turned my thinking upside down. You opened a different door for me.”
This is really a new paradigm. This is really a book which is ahead of its time. Now, in many ways, I’m not surprised because it is my life journey. I’m an innovator, so innovators by definition develop or become aware of things that are not known anymore, yet it is part of my journey. It is an interesting journey. So, I am not surprised. But I was surprised by the depth of the feedback of how significant the contribution of the book was. It is really inspiring for me and I feel gratitude for the opportunity to share this with others.
Age Shouldn’t Dictate How Your Body Feels
Drew Appelbaum: I would love for you to expand on one more line that I found really interesting towards the beginning of the book and said, “We tend to accept a decline in health as part of the normal aging process but it doesn’t have to be.” and I think most people have that mentality. If something hurts, something breaks, they have an unhealthy streak, “Oh I’m getting old.” But that’s not the case, is it?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Yes, getting old doesn’t mean necessarily that we are not going to feel good. It is very natural for us to grow, to develop and then the body slowly goes through a decline process and we leave our bodies as part of the impermanence of our existence but it doesn’t mean that we are not going to feel well but it is the real catch 22. When we fight this, when we find what is changeable when we don’t accept that things are impermanent and are going to change, the resistance and the fighting is actually what causes the symptoms, and this is the survival paradox.
When we get to a place of acceptance, naturally our mind relaxes, our heart relaxes, our circulation relaxes, our nervous system relaxes and the outcome is that we feel better. This is really the essence of the survival paradox. That’s what’s so mind-blowing.
Drew Appelbaum: I would love for you to dig in a little bit more because you do provide real-life patient stories from your practice in the book. Can you talk about one of those patients? I’m sure their names are changed of course, and maybe give us a bit of the details on their transformation.
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Yes, so I have dozens of stories in the book. I mean, the patient stories are really stories of my heroes. [Stories] of different individuals who have taken the opportunity, taken the difficulties involved in their life to create a profound transformation. A lot of these stories are miracle stories and each of them with a different flavor and there are quite a few remarkable ones and maybe I’ll pick a story of somebody who actually is the real name because their story was so remarkable that the big TV station made a program about them, Andy Arbin.
Andy came to me when he was 70 with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer and as I was just getting to know him, he was hospitalized because his colon burst. He had stage four colon cancer that metastasized into the liver and Andy knew that with Parkinson’s he was not going to be able to survive chemotherapy. He did one dose of chemotherapy and he was pretty much slow, his body couldn’t move so he really had no therapeutic choices.
Andy had the story of tragedy after tragedy after tragedy in the family. His parents died, his wife and child died, his house burned down. It was a remarkable chain of events that is not rare to see, where you can see certain things repeating themselves. But Andy had enormous trust in his ability to heal and enormous trust in me and together, we went through a remarkable healing journey where he completely recovered from his prostate cancer and his Parkinson’s turned around.
I have videos of him 12 years after he came to me, in his early 80s breakdancing with his wife and working the mouse in a computer. He died of old age in his mid-80s, 15 years after he came to see me. That’s a remarkable story about somebody who changed his survival response. It was very natural because so many tragedies put you on alert and you really had to connect with his heart and trust that things can be different. He really did it. I just helped him, so he’s the hero and there are a lot of stories with this flavor in the book.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, I do want to fast-forward to the end of the book because you have a ton of resources back in the appendix. Can you talk about what readers can find back there?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Yes, so the book really offers you an understanding of what is the survival paradox, how the survival paradox causes damage in the body by driving inflammation and fibrosis. How the damage happens in the different organ systems, heart, kidney, lung, liver cancer are very big important chapter, metabolic diseases, neurological disease, neuroinflammation, immune issues in the microbiome. But then, I’m offering solutions.
How to transform and free ourselves from the survival paradox. And I do it by explaining the process of detoxification from a deep philosophical point of view so you really understand what it’s about. I am talking about healing our survival scars. How to heal our scars of survival that come from this life and come from our ancestors in the genetic and epigenetic way. And then I talk about how to transform the survival paradox through opening our heart through meditation.
Within all of this, I give advice within the chapters but at the end is a very long section, close to a hundred pages, where we go through different protocols of how to use the main compound that blocks galectin-3, which is a damaging protein called modified citrus pectin. I talk about the most important dietary supplements I’ve used and then I give specific protocols for different conditions.
I give specific diets. I give specific detoxification protocols and a lot of other important information. Through the 70, 80 pages you really get unique practical information that is almost a book on its own.
Drew Appelbaum: Well, Isaac, we just touched on the surface of the book here and there is so much more in there. I love that you just mentioned, the detoxifying, you talk about allergies in there, and just that I personally bought myself some modified citrus pectin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ll find it all in the book but I just want to say that writing this book where you are just helping folks heal is no small feat. So, congratulations on taking these three years, putting that pen to paper, and having your book published.
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Thank you. Thank you very much, I hope it reaches many people and makes a difference in people’s lives.
Drew Appelbaum: This has been a pleasure and I’m excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, The Survival Paradox, and you could find it on Amazon. Isaac, besides checking out the book, where else can people connect with you?
Isaac Eliaz, MD: People can go to thesurvivalparadox.com or they can also go to dreliaz.com. When they go to thesurvivalparadox.com and they connect with the community that is there, they will be a part of a community of healing. I have helped thousands of people transform their lives all over the world and the idea is to create a community that supports each other. I will be offering lectures, seminars, retreats that I’ve seen again and again turn and transform people’s health from very serious illnesses to people being happier, healthier, living a more meaningful life.
This is really my calling and the book is an expression of the maturity of my understanding. I present very powerful tools that the book is really endorsed too and I really invite all of you to connect with me through thesurvivalparadox.com and we can together support each other in our healing journey and in making this a better world for everybody.
Drew Appelbaum: Gotta love that message and Isaac, thank you so much for giving us some of your time today, and congratulations on having your book published, and best of luck with the new book.
Isaac Eliaz, MD: Thank you very much.