In this fascinating interview, Dr. Jill Carnahan sits down with Caspar Szulc, CEO of Innovative Medicine, to discuss The Future of Medicine and Transformation. As a functional medicine expert, Dr. Jill is known for her integrative approach to healthcare, and in this discussion, she delves into the importance of breathing, meditation, hydration, gratitude, and sleep hygiene in achieving optimal health.
- Why Medicine is changing and doctor’s need a larger tool kit
- The current climate of medicine is and why functional and integrative medicine is part of the solution
- The importance of foundational principles in health, such as breathing, meditation, hydration, gratitude, sleep hygiene and more.
The Guest – Caspar Szulc
Caspar is currently the President and Co-Founder of Innovative Medicine – a company dedicated to transforming healthcare through an advanced and truly comprehensive form of personalized integrative medicine. His work in medicine has garnered the attention from top medical minds across 6 continents including Nobel Laureates, top CEOs, Hollywood royalty, and best selling authors. In addition, he oversees the New York Center for Innovative Medicine (NYCIM), a renowned medical center that attracts patients from all over the world.
Looking ahead, Caspar is aiming to make a larger impact and share what he has learned from some of the brightest medical minds in various fields in order to help people preserve our greatest treasure – health. This includes creating more advanced health products (Nadovim, the first product launched by Innovative Medicine, hit the market in 2018 after years of R&D), expanding the medical clinic sector of his business, and launching new initiatives to empower and educate the public.
Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for ten years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine since 2015. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients in the midst of complex and chronic illness. Her clinic specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and tailoring the intervention to specific needs.
A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health, and healing live on stage and through newsletters, articles, books, and social media posts! People relate to Dr. Jill’s science-backed opinions delivered with authenticity, love and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties.
Featured in Shape Magazine, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is a media must-have. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with the healthcare world’s most respected names.
Dr. Jill 00:12
Well, hello again, everybody, for another episode of Dr. Jill Live! As you know, you can find all of our episodes on YouTube, Stitcher, and iTunes—anywhere you watch podcasts or listen. And if you're a listener or frequent flyer here, please do stop by and leave your review—because it does help us reach more people—and subscribe to the YouTube channel if you haven't already.
Dr. Jill 00:32
I'm super excited to introduce my guest today. I'll tell you just a quick backstory, then I'll formally introduce him. We were just talking about the biohacking conference, which is where we met last year at Dave's VIP dinner. And it's so funny because people think I'm this massive extrovert—and I can be on stage and shine and all that—but when I get into small talk in these groups, I'm always kind of an introvert. And it was just fun because I met you and another colleague who does some amazing work. And both of those relationships have just been really, really neat connections. And I just remember feeling comfortable immediately. You were so easy to talk to; we had a lot of commonalities.
Dr. Jill 01:08
But I was really grateful because I walked into this room [with] all these people. You know how that is. And maybe no one's like me. But I love watching people and learning from them, and I love a deep conversation with one or two people. That's where I shine, like [when having] coffee and getting to know someone. But [with] the mixers and the small talk, I'm actually really nervous; I don't love that. So you made it easy. It was so fun to meet you there. And like I said, now we're friends, and I've kind of stayed in touch. I was on your podcast, so it's been a real pleasure. And this year you went to the biohacking [show]. I wasn't able to make it, but hopefully next year I'll be back.
Caspar Szulc 01:42
Next year, we'll do it again. And yes, I'm the same way. I'm the introvert who poses as an extrovert. But the small talk just absolutely kills me. And in a room of strangers, it's usually small talk. Exactly. It was wonderful that we got to connect, right?
Dr. Jill 01:56
I feel the same; it must have been the energy. We were like, “Okay… ”
Caspar Szulc 01:58
I think so.
Dr. Jill 02:00
And it was fun to get to know what you do. So let me introduce you. Caspar is currently the President and Co-founder of Innovative Medicine, a company dedicated to transforming healthcare through advanced and truly comprehensive forms of personalized integrative medicine. His work in medicine has garnered the attention of top medical minds across six continents, including Nobel laureates, top CEOs, Hollywood royalty, and best-selling authors. In addition, he oversees the New York Center for Innovative Medicine, a renowned medical center that attracts patients from all over the world. And I want to hear where you're headed and where you're going. There's so much more I could say, but let's dive in. And I love story, so I'd love to hear your backstory of how you got into this world to where you're at now.
Caspar Szulc 02:45
Absolutely. I'll share my hero story, which kind of started at birth because I was born into a medical family. My mother is a psychologist, Ph.D. My father is a doctor, a conventionally trained anesthesiologist. He went into pain services after that at the hospital, but he started getting frustrated when I was a little child. I wouldn't say frustrated, just a little bit disappointed with the results he was getting, meaning he was helping people, but it was kind of like, as he says, “a revolving door.” He gave the drugs, he gave the epidurals, he did surgeries, and everything. They would get better, and then they'd come back worse. And sooner or later, you're sort of out of options and pawned off to the next doctor, the neurologist down the line, or someone else. It would always be these different, changing instances of chronic disease—how it spreads through the body, how it interacts, even starting with pain—and moving on from there.
Caspar Szulc 03:38
It was in the late 80s, when I was still a young kid, that my father started to travel the world. He started to say: “What else is out there that can help my patients? What else can I put in my toolkit to really get better results and not just manage these diseases but actually help heal people?”
Caspar Szulc 03:56
And that's where I got to go as a little kid—to the Great Wall of China. At that time, there weren't too many Americans. I think it was in '92 or '93. I had long, flowing blonde hair, and all the Chinese young girls thought I was like a boy bander and would take pictures of me and run up to me. Again, I was the introverted little boy that was sitting there, shaking, like: “Oh, God, stop taking pictures of me.” My mom thought it was very funny when they mistook me for some kind of famous American. But I remember that. That was a great experience.
Caspar Szulc 04:31
My father was learning about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. He kept doing that. He kept just traveling the world, and I was blessed to go along for the ride and learn a lot of this stuff as if it were “normal”. I really thought every doctor did this, and all doctors learned about laser therapies, Ayurveda, shamanism, and all these different things. Little did I know that wasn't what most doctors did, especially in conventional medicine in the United States. But as he brought in his toolkit, he saw better results. And he took it into private practice, expanded, and just started seeing some tough cases. He was able to help people through a personalized and functional/integrative approach. I actually didn't follow in his footsteps as much as he wanted me to. He said, “You should be a doctor and” [inaudible].
Dr. Jill 05:22
I was going to say that he wanted you to go into medicine.
Caspar Szulc 05:24
Oh, yes. Yes. I was kind of set up to take over his practice and keep things going. I appreciated it, but I wanted to carve out my own niche. I wanted to do my own thing. I thought that would be in finance. That's what I went to school for—finance, marketing, and business. Then I got into finance—you know, the real world—and realized it was absolutely not for me. It was right away, like my first day. I was like: “Wait. I'm just hitting a button over and over, and there are like 10 lines of people ahead of me. It's going to take forever to get to even maybe a place where I could be just a little bit creative there.” And I said: “No. That's not me. I need to be free more.”
Caspar Szulc 06:06
So I turned to what I knew. I knew medicine. I knew this was different now. I realized that what my father was doing was ahead of its game. He was combining so many different things that were not yet even looked at in conventional Western medicine, and it was getting results. That's what really brought me in. It's like: “Why don't more people know about this? How can I get involved from a business standpoint and work alongside my father?”
Caspar Szulc 06:36
So it was kind of like this beautiful story of like: “Hey, I'm not a doctor, but I get to work alongside my father in the same industry and hopefully make a bigger impact with him as well, where he can spend time healing patients. We can expand this, and I could help doctors from the management, administrative, operational side, and everything [else] so that they can focus on what really matters, and that is healing patients.” And that's where we've gotten to nowadays: How do we transform medicine from sick care to true healthcare, heal people, and allow doctors to shine?
Dr. Jill 07:13
Oh gosh, you're speaking my language because doctors, as you and I well know, don't have a lot of business expertise. And they want to really see the patients, especially if they're heart-centered and empathetic. They're not usually… I should just say it's rare because there are some who are brilliant businesspeople and also brilliant clinicians, but it's rare to have both.
Caspar Szulc 07:32
It's very rare to have both. It's like that mixture of design meets functionality. Apple was able to do that. You're up there if you could do that. If you could be a healer and good at business, it's like, ‘Whoa!' But most are one or the other, and we have to appreciate that and be able to say: “Do what you do best.” If you don't market your [business], that's fine. Don't worry about that. My father never liked getting in front of the camera, being markety, or even speaking. He wanted one-on-one interactions with patients. That's what he wanted. And I said: “Let's give you that. And you don't need to worry about marketing; we'll take care of that.”
Dr. Jill 08:10
I love that. It's interesting because I'm sure you read years ago in Rocket Fuel about [inaudible] versus the visionary. When I started my practice, I had to do everything. And I could at the beginning. And the more I've grown and the more I do, the more creative I've gotten. And you've even mentioned that in finance, you use a lot of left brain. I have a bioengineering background, so it's very analytical—left brain. And then, as I've grown, I've really, really embraced the intuitive right brain.
Dr. Jill 08:35
And I love that part, but I feel like I really can't perform in a creative, intuitive place if I'm stuck in the details of management, accounting, or any of that. So I won't ever… which is probably a lot of doctors. And a lot of doctors listen to this podcast too, so I think it'll resonate, which is why I'm spending a minute here. I really feel like they are inhibited by the management of the business. So again, thank God for people like you. So then you got into the business of medicine. Did you start with just your father and his clinic and then grow? Or how did it get to where you are right now?
Caspar Szulc 09:06
Yes. It was an interesting transition with lots of pivots. My co-founder was a doctor, Dr. Mark Iwanicki. A general idea: Let's say the dispensary. How do we at least get good supplements into the hands of people? This was before Amazon was really large or anything. And it was like, “How do you take those good brands that now integrative doctors know and start to distribute them at least so people have an understanding?” “Oh, these are what doctors use. These are the good ones.” These are good nutrients, nutraceuticals, and homeopathic remedies—all of them. We saw, and we started that way.
Caspar Szulc 09:44
And then we pivoted. Amazon came around, and other things came around there, so we pivoted into actually educating other doctors. And that was a big one. We said: “All right, how do we really leave a mark on medicine?” You've got to educate other doctors. So we started doing that. We traveled the world and definitely educated people. But we also realized we weren't that in control of their environment and everything else.
Caspar Szulc 10:07
A lot of times, it was very difficult to just have a weekend with a doctor teaching them all these new techniques without actually being there to implement them. Many doctors did, but to implement a large number of tools within your toolkit is pretty hard, actually. A lot of doctors are already set in their ways. They can add one or two new things, but we were asking them to add whole new modalities they had never heard of. If you don't know about energy medicine, that takes some time. Acupuncture isn't just, “Oh, I'll just buy some needles and start doing it.”
Caspar Szulc 10:41
So then we again pivoted and said: “All right, let's go back to what we have the most control of and we could do, which are the centers.” And we started, of course, with my father, and we expanded the one I'm sitting in now, the New York Center for Innovative Medicine. We're at this point now looking at other centers, working with other doctors, to continue to branch out and create these harmonious environments for healing and place good artists who are doctors within them to expand that way and provide not just the, let's say, management side of it but the actual environment, the space to really conduct all this healing in. That's what I'm excited about: Continuing to do that and continuing to allow more and more people access to something like this that is a unique medical approach. As you know, that works so well.
Dr. Jill 11:28
Oh, I love everything you've said. Two things resonate, and then I want to hear your reflection on this because I'm just coming at [it from] the doctor's perspective with one clinic, right? One thing that you mentioned [was the] environment. Pretty much every clinic I've ever built, but for sure this latest [one] where I'm at right now, the white walls and the cubicles and all this stuff that we typically see, I think creates PTSD in patients. So aesthetics really matter.
Dr. Jill 11:52
I remember literally designing the clinic [with] everything in mind, from the lighting to the ambiance to the real artists—who are local artists—to literally having these wine glasses. They don't cost any more than a regular glass, but when someone gets a glass of water, they get their water in a wine glass. And it's something magical. You see their face light up because it's me saying: “You're special.” And it's no big deal, right? But it's just a tiny little detail that tells that patient walking in the door that they're like, ‘Wow!' It's not wine; it's water, but it still means something special. And all those kinds of details I thought through because I knew I wanted to create an experience.
Dr. Jill 12:27
What happens is that when a patient starts to feel welcomed by unconditional love, a healing environment, and even the warmth from our staff—like, “You are so welcome here; what can we do to make you comfortable?”—that's where the healing starts. You and I know this, but it's so critical. So I love that you talked about that. What have you noticed in your clinics that you've incorporated that has really made a difference in the healing of the patients?
Caspar Szulc 12:49
Honestly, everything you've said there is so spot on. It's the little things—nothing could be bigger for a patient, right?—[including] the analysis of everything from the lighting to the types of plants that you have inside. We really try to embrace a biophilic design by making nature as healing and natural as possible, with as much natural light [as possible] coming in through the windows. Of course, everything needs to be purified. We have UV, special MERV [filters], [and] air purification in all the rooms and everything.
Dr. Jill 13:17
Even air quality, right? That's one thing [inaudible].
Caspar Szulc 13:18
Absolutely! Air quality, light quality, energy, crystals in certain places, some ayurvedics—I know we were both there with [inaudible], right? You've got to look at every step of it because, honestly, if you want to heal, you have to be in the right environment. We have to create the right environment within our bodies for healing, but we ourselves have to be in the right environment.
Caspar Szulc 13:41
I never understood how hospitals could have these flickering fluorescent lights and chemical smells everywhere because they're using so many cleaners. We only use natural cleaners here. We don't use any scents or anything. If you find anything in the bathroom, it's going to be an essential oil or something to cover an odor. It's not going to be Febreze or anything like that.
Caspar Szulc 14:00
You look at every angle of that: The colors in each room and how they correspond to psychology. The way things are positioned. Openness—large open areas that make you feel a little bit more open; you could breathe deeper. Things like that. Just putting on meditative music and things that bring down the sympathetic response, because of course, usually coming into a doctor, you're going to have some trepidation, some stress, some: “Ooh, what's going to happen? They're going to put a needle inside of me.” No.
Caspar Szulc 14:32
We actually did this recently, Dr. Carnahan, where—I think I got this a little bit from you, so I'll give you some credit here—we have post-it notes. On it, it talks intentions and affirmations. They could scan and learn about the science, but we ask them to write down “I am healing,” “I feel greater,” or “I love my body as it heals.” We put that on the IV bags and give it the intention that goes into that, and people really feel good. Even if they say, “It's kind of silly; I don't really believe in this stuff,” by the end, when they're healing, they believe in it because they start to transform.
Caspar Szulc 15:06
And healing should be transformative. It shouldn't just be about: “Hey, let's get rid of your symptoms; you'll be good.” That's not really healing; that's suppressing symptoms. So you really want healing to be this transformative thing. Education is so important. We want them to go home and write more of those affirmations and things. All of that is incorporated into the design.
Caspar Szulc 15:27
So you've really got to look at: What is the best environment? A sanctuary we could create that fosters healing and doesn't spike up cortisol levels, getting you stressed when you walk in. It isn't this sort of [thing where] everyone is coming in and out, like in an emergency room. [What] it is when they come in [is], “Oh, is this a spa?” You want that. You want them to be in a state of: “I like coming here. This is where I really feel good, and I can heal. And then, “I take these ideas and,” hopefully, “bring them home with me.” Hopefully, [you'll] start to create your own harmonious environment right there, where you sleep and where you eat, right?—because that's so important. I feel like that is the blueprint for medicine in the future. Regardless of what type of medicine you practice, you've got to create an environment that helps a patient feel at ease and actually creates a healing response.
Dr. Jill (pre-recording) 16:20
Hey, everybody. I just stopped by to let you know that my new book, Unexpected: Finding Resilience through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith, is now available for order wherever you purchase books. In this book, I share my own journey of overcoming a life-threatening illness and the tools, tips, tricks, hope, and resilience I found along the way. This book includes practical advice for things like cancer and Crohn's disease and other autoimmune conditions, infections like Lyme or Epstein-Barr, and mold- and biotoxin-related illnesses. What I really hope is that as you read this book, you find transformational wisdom for health and healing. If you want to get your own copy, stop by ReadUnexpected.com. There, you can also collect your free bonuses. So grab your copy today and begin your own transformational journey through functional medicine in finding resilience.
Dr. Jill 17:17
Brilliant! And I love that you're doing that and showing other doctors how to. A couple of thoughts as you were talking: One is that you said ‘transformational'; I'm totally on board with that. I love that word. And my thought was, instead of transactional, it's transformational, right? It's like that shift from transaction to transformation. And I like that contrast.
Dr. Jill 17:37
Then second, you just basically said the key to habits and lifestyle change and anything we want to change about ourselves… Say we want to eat differently or we want to go to bed early—and you know, whether it's Dave Asprey, BJ Fogg, or any of our colleagues that have written about habits—90% of it is our environment because our environmental clues give us the habits that start to become our identity. So if you don't have junk food in the house, that's going to be an easy habit to break because you have to go out to the store to get it.
Dr. Jill 18:06
For me, I have a bedtime routine, and I have things set up for reminders, like my Epsom salts by the bath. When you make things easy to do, then there's no excuse. One thing I've done is instead of working out at the gym, I have a PowerPlay and a pull-up bar. If you look at the doorway, there's a pull-up bar right there. So I put these little habits in [place in] my house. What I no longer do is a workout. I just go through my day, and I'll do different things as I'm walking through my day. I sneak in workouts, and it's all about that environment, which is conducive to habit. So I love that you said that. Whether we show people in the clinic or they teach themselves at home to do these things, a lot of it is putting those cues [in place] and making it easy so that we don't have excuses to not do the things we know we need to do, right?
Caspar Szulc 18:50
Absolutely. And if you think about it, you may only have a patient for a few hours a week in there to do that. But what about all those other hours in a week? What are they doing to continue to heal, to continue to serve as their own catalyst and healing response? And that's another big thing about this type of medicine. It isn't that the doctor is doing the healing for them. They are doing it themselves. They are just guiding them through the process of it and basically reestablishing a self-healing environment for the body. It's sort of forgotten, or it's become overburdened in many ways, but that is our goal.
Caspar Szulc 19:26
We all say: “We're not here to truly heal you and leave you. We're here to get you into a self-managing and self-healing state so that you can keep doing this. We want you out of here as quickly as possible, in all honesty.” That's also a unique approach because it empowers the patient. They're doing the work. It's all in there to do it. And I think when you do that, they then also become very excited because if they have the power, they're going to continue to create the actions afterward that keep them in a healthy state. Anyone who has lost their health knows that once you get it back, it is such a precious treasure. Nothing else matters when you don't have your health. And that, I think, educates, empowers, and inspires people to take on their responsibility to heal.
Dr. Jill 20:13
It's so true. So what have you found in your experience to be the most surprising or transformative things that you've either learned or done in this work with doctors and creating clinics in the last decade or so?
Caspar Szulc 20:27
One of the biggest things, I think, even coming from a business background, is that medicine is a strange industry. It really is. There are so many doctors, I think, that have good intentions, but the whole industry is a little bit broken, I would say, in many ways. The results aren't there. It's kind of like if you went to a financial planner and you were just losing money every year, would you be okay with that?—and somehow so many people are. They just get a little sicker each year. Another medication. They're feeling a little worse. They're told that it's genetic or just part of aging. But the quality of life just goes down, usually, if you're already in that cycle.
Caspar Szulc 21:11
I found it really wild that people are okay with that. You know, if you lose money, people get really angry, right? They get upset. They fight over it. They'll take you to court. They will bash you. Somehow in medicine, it's become completely okay to sort of just slowly fail in a sense and your body gets a little worse. And we've so normalized it. Knowing what I know on the other side and knowing how so many patients finally do leave the conventional realm after not getting better and go into the functional/integrative realm and get better, they say, “Why didn't I hear about this earlier?” It kind of is like, “Yeah, why didn't you?”
Caspar Szulc 21:52
And I know that there's a big business behind this. I know there are a lot of old, established ways to this going back to the 1900s and the Rockefeller medicine men and all that. But still, we live in a day and age where information is all around us. You could find so many pieces of information. And again, to me, health is the most important thing in anyone's life. It should be, again, knowing so many people who lost it and seeing how they suffer. That's not real living, in a sense. So I found that [to be] really, really unique [and] interesting that this industry still goes on without changing too much, and with a lot of this, I would say, comfort level with how it goes.
Dr. Jill 22:42
It's complacency, right?
Caspar Szulc 22:43
It's complete complacency and almost this: “Well, my doctor told me so… And yes, I feel terrible, but… ” Like, why would you say ‘but'? There shouldn't be any buts in this. We should all be given a chance to live healthy and happy [lives] and not be told that it's not possible when we know it's somewhat possible. There have been miraculous healing events for even people who are paralyzed and can walk now, and that's not what 90% of people with chronic diseases are even going through. They're just going through a lower quality of life.
Caspar Szulc 23:14
I found that really interesting because, again, in business, it's always about optimizing. It's always that the customer wants more on top of it and this and that and “give them a unique experience.” And here we are in conventional medicine, and so many of my friends [say things like]: “Oh yeah, they didn't even touch on diet. The doctor just said, ‘Take this pill.' They didn't say anything about exercise. They spent seven minutes with me.” And look how expensive it is. I understand insurance covers it, so you don't really see all that, but insurance is expensive. If you ever saw a medical bill, it's like, ‘Whoa!'; your head explodes.
Dr. Jill 23:47
That's kind of part of the problem. Just like our food from the earth. When we used to grow all our own food, we were associated with the soil quality and the quality of the crops that we grew, and we saw from seed to stomach what was happening. And now the same thing: We go to the grocery store, we get stuff that's trucked across the nation over two weeks, and all this stuff. So we no longer associate our food with actual soil, growth, and all of that.
Dr. Jill 24:11
It's the same with our health and our insurance—that separation—which is why I go direct to the consumer; I don't have insurance involved. And I do that not for myself, even though it is a benefit to have less time. It's actually the patient that gets the benefit because I am 100% about: What do they need? There's no middle person telling me what's right for them, and I will fight for them to the end if I feel like some procedure, herb, medication, or whatever I'm doing is right. But it sounds like you're saying that disconnect has done a disservice because we've farmed out our health to the insurance industry, which is not a health industry. It's a disease industry, right?
Caspar Szulc 24:46
It's a disease management industry. It profits as you stay diseased. And as long as you're staying alive with disease, that makes them a lot of money, unfortunately. That's a very sad prospect. But again, I went to business school. I understand the fiduciary duty to stakeholders; that is your number one. You don't have a fiduciary duty—literally, a legal obligation—to your customers. You don't have that. And your indemnity is probably up there. You're making a lot of money. They know how much they'll pay out in lawsuits, and they'll still profit. It is their duty to give that to all their shareholders.
Caspar Szulc 25:20
So it kind of throws you into this: “Well, how can a healthcare industry first put profit and shareholders over sick people?” But that is exactly how the business realm works in publicly-owned companies. So when you learn those sorts of things, you say, “Oh, okay, that's the legal obligation.”
Dr. Jill 25:36
Caspar Szulc 25:39
Yes, the dollars matter most. And they are going to preserve that anyway because they have that legal obligation to millions of people. Yes, it's a sad realization, but at the same time, it allows for the opportunity to say, “Let's go a different route.”
Caspar Szulc 25:55
I will never bash conventional medicine. My father started there, and it sounds like maybe I'm more bashing the business side of it. I think antibiotics are incredibly useful. I think surgeries are remarkable when you have acute injuries. I think hospitals are absolutely necessary. But when it comes to conventional medicine, we need to face the facts. This is not a winning battle that we're going up against with just the conventional way. But there are these amazing opportunities within functional medicine, alternative medicine, or whatever word you want to give it there, that are providing great solutions. So to me, it's: Let's stop battling each other in medicine and let's collaborate.
Dr. Jill 26:31
I am raising my hand. I just could not agree more, because that's where it's at. Even for me as an MD, I've been trying to say, “How can we talk and bridge this gap?” There's nothing wrong with conventional medicine in the sense that it's there for emergencies—stroke, heart attack, you name it. But it's like, “How can we expand the toolbox? And how can we think differently about”—
Caspar Szulc 26:51
Absolutely! And if anything, how can we work with the company to say: “Hey guys, the trillions are nice and everything, but you could still make billions of dollars? We could still have maybe 10% or so that are ill and require some kind of medications, of course.” I'm not saying, “Let's ban all medications in big pharma.” Maybe it could just be not-so-big pharma and not always look at profits over people in a sense and market it that way.
Caspar Szulc 27:19
Even in something as simple as every other country except New Zealand and the United States, you cannot market directly to the consumer with pharmaceutical drugs. And it makes sense that you can't go out and buy that. You literally have to go to your doctor and twist their arm because you saw some nice commercial with people running through a field of sunflowers. Like, why is that allowed? And I understand; I would never expect it to be. And again, big pharma should be okay with that. They should say: “Everywhere else in the world… Yes, we get it. It's the doctor's choice here, alongside the patient.” But you can't start giving patients some kind of medical information they really don't know too much about and influence the doctors just for money.
Caspar Szulc 28:02
And then, of course, I think expanding on the medical education system to incorporate more nutrition, lifestyle, and things like that—this doesn't sound unreasonable if you just break it down, right? Learn everything you learn, and add in a little bit of this or that. Add in a little bit of Eastern medicine and some other things. It wouldn't be too difficult. We'd have much more well-rounded doctors coming straight out of medical school, really helping people.
Dr. Jill 28:26
Yes, I always say we just need a bigger toolbox. There's nothing wrong with [inaudible] tools. [There are] two things I want to talk about yet. One is that you work with doctors. And what I've seen over the pandemic, especially even before—but it's really exponentially gotten worse since then—is this dissatisfaction of doctors with the system and wanting more as well. So you're probably seeing more and more doctors. What are the biggest pain points you see with doctors who are maybe still stuck in a conventional employee-based system? They're limited on time, doing tons of prior authorization, and spending a lot of time on things they don't love. So what are the biggest pain points? And how can models of integrative medicine and clinics like yours actually help doctors as well as patients?
Caspar Szulc 29:10
Yes. I think it's really difficult for a doctor to even visualize what it would be like to move away from where they are now. There's a very structured and regimented insurance system involved, [with things like] bill codes. It's incredibly systematic. The standard operating procedures are all there for them, and they almost feel like they need to abide by them, and stepping outside would be a death warrant. That's what they're kind of told, or that's their internal belief system—almost. It's very difficult to find a doctor that's willing to really take that risk of going into something they're not too sure of, something they were told wouldn't really work, something they were told: “You've got to stick within the conventional realm. This is the only scientific… ” And we know now that evidence-based medicine is complete on the functional medicine side, and there's so much science to it. Nevertheless, I think that it really is the belief systems. If you could change the belief systems and have doctors just take a leap of faith…
Caspar Szulc 30:14
I remember [when] my father was first thinking about opening a private practice and leaving the hospital. His colleagues thought he was crazy. They said, “Tom, you're going to be out of a job soon, and I don't know how you'll pay for your kids” and everything. “We feel bad for you. Why are you doing this?” And of course, that gets in your head. My dad wasn't silly or stupid. He had skepticism around a lot of this stuff, being a conventional doctor and being very logically minded. But he said, “Listen, there's something in my heart that says this is where I need to go.” You know, don't always listen to your head; it could be a little bit corrupt at times. You've got to listen to your heart. And he took that leap of faith.
Caspar Szulc 30:52
He went out of the insurance game and everything, which was unheard of, and he did better than ever. And patients were happier. Patients started coming from all over the world, not just locally, and they told people. He never advertised a single dollar and had always had a busy practice that just grew—more nurses, more practitioners, more everything. He doesn't look back on it now at all with any regrets. But it took a leap of faith. It took a change of belief system. It took a certain level of, “I want to do more, and I can do more.”
Caspar Szulc 31:31
I think that the best way to get doctors to do that is to just keep doing what we are doing in this field, which is getting people better. It's always funny when patients jump back and forth between the conventional realm and then come to a clinic like ours or yours, get better, and then go see that doctor. “What'd you do?! I don't understand this.” I mean, the good ones become inquisitive. The ones that don't have too big of an ego [say]: “I want to talk to this doctor. I've got to learn more about it.” The ones with an ego say: “Nah. It couldn't have been that. Go back on your drug.” And they get worse, almost.
Caspar Szulc 32:08
But I think more and more [doctors] are having that open mind. I also think the young ones are a little bit easier. When you're already a little bit older and entrenched in what you do, it's hard to take on something new. I understand that. I do wish that more and more young doctors saw this as a great opportunity. And that's also what I feel we're trying to do. We're trying to say: “Hey, you just got out of medical school. You've got a somewhat tough road ahead of you in conventional medicine. But you've got a pretty good one here where you could super focus on patients, not worry about any of the red tape bureaucracy whatsoever, and keep learning because functional/integrative medicine is incredibly dynamic and there are so many changes happening—new therapies, new advancements—that you're constantly learning and going beyond your scope of, let's say, specialty to keep learning more and more outside of that.” And that's really what I think a lot of practitioners in our industry and in the field of integrative and functional [medicine] find really rewarding.
Caspar Szulc 33:09
There is never enough to learn. You're not stuck within just your anesthesiology specialty or anything. It's not just about the CMEs and fulfilling [requirments]; it's actually about going to cool things around the world and adding to your toolkit, which is a very rewarding feeling. And then you get to see your patients do even better. So it's kind of like this reward cycle for doctors who finally do [it].
Caspar Szulc 33:33
And I do think nowadays you're seeing a lot of burnout. COVID really took a hit on conventional doctors, especially, right? But what it did, from a silver lining, from the patient perspective, was get them to say: “I need to do more. I do have this chronic disease. I never really thought about it too much. I was always on this pill and always kind of feeling fatigued and everything, but COVID gave me a little bit of a scare. I am in the high-risk factor. I've got to do more to turn this around and actually heal myself. What can I do?” [They've taken] steps in functional medicine [like with] yourself and other practices.
Caspar Szulc 34:07
So we've seen more and more open-minded people saying, “I want to go beyond what I'm doing right now and truly heal and optimize my health.” And I think that works for both sides. As you have more demand of the patient, practitioners usually follow. And then, if you have frustration and you have this ability to provide an environment where a practitioner could thrive, they also see that. So it's a win-win scenario, I think, looking into the future of this.
Dr. Jill 34:34
I do too. I think it could. And we never could have predicted the COVID effect on this industry and doctors, but it really has opened a huge door for a need that was already there. But I think it has blown it open, right?
Caspar Szulc 34:45
Oh, yes. It really has. I think that was maybe an unintended consequence of all this, but actually a positive one.
Dr. Jill 34:53
Yes. One other thing I loved that you shared about your dad was that… Sometimes I call them watershed moments. But I remember sitting on the threshold—I was in an integrative center, but I was employed by a hospital, and it wasn't working because it was still based on productivity—and there was this watershed moment where I literally could have moved across the country. I did. I moved to Colorado. Just savings—we sold our house. And it was completely starting over, like you said. I love that you shared that.
Dr. Jill 35:19
If there are practitioners listening, I just want to encourage you. I went for 18 months and lived on my savings. Yet that decision was maybe one of the best decisions I ever made in my life, putting me where I am now, with freedom in every way and absolute love for what I do. I would never do anything different. And your dad had a very similar story. But I kind of wanted to emphasize that watershed point.
Dr. Jill 35:43
It is freaking hard. Again, for me, I did not make enough money to survive. I lived off savings for 18 months until it shifted. And since 2016, I've had a five-year waitlist, so there are plenty of patients. But all that—not to say anything about me—just to say that if you're a practitioner out there and you're listening and you're afraid because the fear is real, if this is what you love, I can almost promise you it will be rewarding. But it's that threshold thing, and it's not always easy on the other side of that for the first part of it. Now, you've created systems where doctors could probably walk right in and be much more settled than someone starting over. But I just want to emphasize: That's very real. But on the other side, the rewards are so amazingly worth it.
Caspar Szulc 36:24
It's so abundant. All the doctors that I've seen who have made that leap of faith and gone through those challenges stepped into the fear and absolutely felt completely impassioned by it. It almost reinvigorated why they got into what they do by becoming doctors, practitioners, and healthcare workers, because you start to transform lives. And I use that word a lot because I do think medicine and the healing process are transformative. I don't think it's just “Take these pills and call me in the morning.” That makes no transformation. That does not change a person truly on that deeper level of body, mind, and spirit, whereas real healing does.
Caspar Szulc 37:07
And when you hear those stories from those patients, it's such a touching moment for anybody, [including] myself, but especially for a doctor who's there and saw the whole thing through and can now give that person a new life. And through that new life, there's new appreciation; they usually pay it forward. They start going on their own healing journey as far as learning about it; they become practitioners, start funds, or write books. All these amazing things trickle out of that—out of the healing process.
Caspar Szulc 37:37
So yes, again, for any doctor listening, I've got to say that if you're feeling a little stuck, burned out, all these things, I truly believe that looking at this field and trying to embrace it a little bit more and just seeing: “Does it resonate with you?” I think it would. And I think it gives that real reward of helping to transform lives.
Dr. Jill 37:58
I love it. I hope there are doctors listening who are kind of… because if I could be part of that transformation… Let's shift in the last few minutes here [to talk] about you and what you find [to be] your most powerful biohacks, habits, and health hacks. And for your life, what have been the top three to five things that are most impactful for your own health and maintaining balance in the midst of chaos?
Caspar Szulc 38:21
Yes. There are so many ways you could take it. For a long time—and I post about this stuff on social media and everything—I'm a fan of the gadgets. I really am. I like lasers and… I'm sitting on a PEMF red light right now. I have my infrared saunas. I've spent a ton on it. I used to go to [inaudible] medicine week—and I still do—and just bring back things [like] lymphatic drainage tools and this and that. But I will say that [while] all those tools are wonderful, if you don't have the foundations, they don't mean much. If you don't have the foundation…
Caspar Szulc 38:56
Like, how you wake up, to me, is incredibly important. Like you said—I think, previously, before we even got started, how we go to sleep—your sleep routine. I think that if you don't have the foundations down, nothing else matters. So really get your foundations down: How you start your day, what you put into your body [such as] quality water, good organic food. Eat it slowly with gratitude. I don't care so much about what you eat. I care more about the quality and how you eat. And I think that's so important. Don't get stuck on anything. Don't ever feel guilty while eating, even if it is something bad for you.
Dr. Jill 39:32
Enjoy it, right?
Caspar Szulc 39:33
You're not the one to say whether it's bad or not; your body is. But you saying it's bad is going to make it bad, almost, right? So, I found the biggest biohacks to be the ones that are the easiest to implement. Get into nature, breathe well, meditate, drink lots of good, clean water, and go to sleep, and be grateful for all that. And then just tune into your body as well.
Caspar Szulc 40:03
One of my hacks is to just go on a walk and ask myself questions. “How do I feel today? What could I've done better?” Like, “What am I happy about? How can I be happier?” Keep asking those questions. Your body, your intuitive side, and your subconscious will answer. And then just tune into it, do it, and enjoy the ride. You can plug in all the extra gadgets, supplements, peptides, and exosomes. All of it is great. I have no problem with it. But if the foundation isn't there, the biohacks just don't work as well.
Caspar Szulc 40:36
I always try to let people know that you don't go to the gym and start doing some really strange isometric movement. Just do some squats, some push-ups, and some body movement first. Those are the great ones that really set up the foundation for you to look at those really unique ones that'll define [things] like [the] lateral [muscles], the dorsal [muscles], [etc.]. I think that's the main point of it: Biohacking is wonderful, but you always need the foundation to biohack against.
Dr. Jill 41:06
Brilliant. I couldn't agree more. So, the last bit is: What's the future for Casper? Are you going to keep doing clinics? What would be your vision in the next five years of the most impact that you would be able to make?
Caspar Szulc 41:20
Yes. For me, I'm really excited about expanding these clinics, getting more artists, and providing a wonderful space for both practitioners and patients to go to truly heal and provide this access to more people. That's kind of my number one priority.
Caspar Szulc 41:41
I'd love to write a book about all of this. I'd love to get together with my father and write a book. We both kind of calmed down a little bit and are getting there. You know, you've got to share your story too. And everyone has stories. I know you have your wonderful book and documentary and everything. That's important to share with others, and I think it really connects on the emotional side.
Caspar Szulc 42:00
And I think that's one of the biggest things I'd like to do: Continue to push for medicine to rehumanize itself. To not just be diagnoses and numbers on a piece of paper from a lab but truly understand that at our core we are humans, and we have to look beyond that sometimes. And healing is a matter of faith; it's a matter of beliefs, thoughts, energy, and spiritual things. And that's really, really important because, as much as we could do all the IVs in the world and everything, if you don't have the belief that you'll heal and if you don't have the proper mindset, you won't. We could probably get you to a healed spot; you'll probably get sick again because of that. So it's really important that, I think, medicine as a whole focuses on those things and re-establishes our humanity within us because I feel like that's one of the most healing things we all have.
Dr. Jill 42:53
I love every word of that, not only the story but [also the] belief. It's funny because a lot of people say, “Why do you think you overcame cancer and all this stuff you did?” And at the core, I believed I would. That's the core, right? I could have done all the other things the right way or the wrong way, but at the core, I just knew. And knowing was the belief. So thank you for ending with such profound words. Thank you for all you do in the world. I love your spirit and energy, as well as all the beauty that you bring to physicians and to your clinics. It's always a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks again.
Caspar Szulc 43:25
You as well. Thank you.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.