August Blog - Dr. Bal Pawa
Watch the Interview - Click Here
Michael Bentley (0:03)
Hello, my name is Michael Bentley, president of SierraSil and a volunteer director of the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute. Today, I'm with Dr. Bal Pawa, who has kindly taken time for her patients schedule to be with us. Bal when I read your biography, you sound way older than I know you are, and how you look. But let me just summarize by noting to you watching that, that Bal has a degree in pharmacy. She's a medical doctor. She's been a recognized health leader in Canada. She founded the West Coast Women's Health Clinic. And most recently, aside from being a TED X speaker, she has written this fabulous book called The Mind Body Cure. So Bal thank you for joining us.
Dr. Bal (0:52)
Thank you, Michael, always a pleasure to speak with you.
Michael Bentley (0:55)
So Bal, your home is Vancouver, but you grew up in Newfoundland, do want to share a couple of happy memories from your, from your childhood from your youth on the rock.
Dr. Bal (1:04)
Yes, it was a very unique childhood. My parents emigrated there from India in 1966. So bit of a culture shock arriving there in the middle of February. So I was very young, and I have many great memories. So if you've watched Come from Away, you'll understand the warmth and hospitality and the community just embraced us in Gander. It was a town near Gander. And I think the most vivid memory that's painted is skating on this glass, frozen lake, which was so foreign to me, and these great big snowflakes falling down. And all my friends just, you know, helping me up and saying, and I actually learned to skate that day. So it was quite a memory.
Michael Bentley (1:46)
Oh, that's wonderful. Now you studied to be a pharmacist, then you switch to becoming a physician. What changed on your path to decide to become a physician?
Dr. Bal (1:59)
I love I love the pharmacology, the pharmacokinetics, the toxicology, all the academic courses in pharmacy were so intriguing to me. But where I felt that I wasn't making enough of a difference, I love to teach patients. But the engagement with patients was limited as a pharmacist other than counseling them for drugs. And I thought I would go back and get more involved in prevention and their education.
Michael Bentley (2:26)
In the book, you talk about integrative medicine, can you share with us? What is integrative medicine?
Dr. Bal (2:34)
I think before we describe what integrative is, we should look at what our current health model is. And that's an intervention that means you have a symptom, you get a drug, you go to the doctor, they look at one symptom pill for every ill. The integrative model I discovered for myself as a patient through my own experiences, you know, Michael, I was a patient through the accident. And I felt there was a big piece missing, inhaling the patient centered approach. So integrative medicine, looks at a multidisciplinary way to look at healing, look at your lifestyle, look at your diet, and look at your gut look at how sleep impacts chronic pain or anxiety. And I felt bringing those multidisciplinary approaches to medicine was giving me much greater outcomes for my patients.
Michael Bentley (3:23)
Bal, you write that persistent pain and anxiety are linked to 75% of doctor visits. Can you tell us more about that?
Dr. Bal (3:33)
That sounds like an astonishing number 75%. But if you take out injury, infection, things where people get externally, you have to understand that our nervous system when it's dysregulated, from chronic stress, or chronic pain, they all travel on the same pathway in the brain, you make too much adrenaline and cortisol, and that disrupts your immune system, it disrupts your gut, it makes you tense, a lot of people get muscle aches and pains with it. So it's very, very connected anxiety and stress and a dysregulated immune dysregulated nervous system, then it causes a lot of inflammation in the body.
Michael Bentley (4:14)
That leads to one of the things you talked about, which is a healthy mindset. And why is a healthy mindset important?
Dr. Bal (4:22)
You know, Michael mindset is something that we develop as we grow. As a child, we develop what we can actually acquire it. So a healthy mindset is a person. If I tell them they have a certain problem, they'll ask me questions. They're curious, they're open minded, to gather information, and they have this knowing that through the information they acquire, they can make a difference. So that's a health mindset versus the illness mindset, which is very fixed. What's the point? What if I exercise? It's not going to help? Nothing ever helps? Nothing's going to work. Is it is what it is. And so that's a very closed and fixed mindset. And that has a lesser chance of getting healing and results for patients. So developing a health mindset. And that's in the chapter in my book is, is one of the key ingredients to becoming healthy and vital.
Michael Bentley (5:20)
In the book, which I'll highlight is also subtitled, heal your pain, anxiety and fatigue by controlling chronic stress. Value, open the book with literally a genuine bang, giving us the reader a sense of how you truly understand about what you're talking about from a patient perspective. In chapter nine, you close the book with really helpful tools that you call the 'reframe toolkit' with seven practical things that we can do to improve our mind bought mind and body health. So I'm wondering if you can give us a tip or give us a sense without hiding all without giving away everything in the book. But give us a sense of that toolkit and maybe discuss what tool is hardest for you, and how you address that.
Dr. Bal (6:16)
I would say, Michael, the reframe toolkit is a seven step and it's detailed in the book and, and just to green, the most important one out of that, I would say would be the mindset, learning to master your thoughts. Because your thoughts are inextricably linked to your nervous system, which is like a motor revs up your body goes into fight or flight causes inflammation. So once you learn that the thoughts are the language of the mind, feelings are the language of the body. So if we want to change how we're feeling, we have to go back and change the program. What thoughts are you thinking? So when we tell patients Oh, just go home and walk more, eat less, you know, exercise is very generic. But patients who make good choices and good decisions, they have learned to master their thoughts, they master the reason why they should exercise the reason they should take certain supplements. So that awareness and consciousness comes from developing mastery of your mind. So it's really important to develop that mindset. And then when I say okay, do the BMW, which is on my TED talk about breathing mindfulness, and repetition of a word, you can do that. Or I might say, you know, go home and try restructuring some of the thoughts in your head, using the soda formula. So those are things that only come when you have an awareness, the ability to think about what you're thinking is called metacognition. So developing that skill set, about thinking about what you're thinking and mastering what you're thinking so that it has better outcomes for you, is the key to regulating your nervous system.
Michael Bentley (8:04)
That's really helpful. I know, in our June Blog, we talked to Tommy Europe, about the mental side of fitness. And it just highlights how important what our thoughts are in terms of our health and so forth. I'd like to share with people your website is drballpawa.com. And we'll put that on the printed portion of the link as well. And just know that people can easily subscribe to your free newsletter, and also find links to help me to help you purchase this wonderful book. And, as I mentioned, Bal's book starts with a bang and finishes with a really helpful tools for us. But rather than having me have the last word and finishing this conversation, I thought I'd turn it over to you and ask why did you write the book?
Dr. Bal (9:00)
Michael, that's a million dollar question because I want to reach a million people. I felt that being in the office, you see one patient at a time, and I would try and educate them about, you know, the experience I had, which was transformational. And I was giving a lot of lectures and seminars and every time I would give a talk somebody would come up do you have a handout? Do you have a book if I didn't have a book and a lawyer in the audience got up, said listen, you need to call a publisher and get the stuff that's in your head, the experience living you've had, as a patient as a physician, as a pharmacist, you need to get that knowledge on paper. And you'll make a difference to so many people and she was right. I was so glad that I was encouraged by her and many others to write the book and it's so rewarding. Every day to wake up and hear about people around the world who've read books, or read my book, or you know, watch the TED Talk, said, this really helped me. And that's my biggest reward is helping people to have better lives. And it was chronic pain and chronic anxiety as a patient that made me dig deeper. And I realized, you know, as you have with SierraSil and your product, it you want to help millions of people. And you can do that when you're very passionate about it. And I know you're very passionate about your product as well. And it's helped so many people. So that's the reward, I think is knowing that the education you're providing, the service you're providing is making a difference to the outcomes of so many people around the world. So I'll continue to be passionate about it and continue to educate millions of people.
Michael Bentley (10:59)
Bal, thank you so much for joining us today. And I know people can reach you through your website, Drbalpawa.com. So thank you again for joining us.
Dr. Bal (11:09)
Thank you for having me, Michael. It's a pleasure.