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Dr. Chris Honey, MD, Neurosurgeon - Interview

Dr. Chris Honey, MD, Neurosurgeon - Interview

We've done something new this month! A video interview with guest Neurosurgeon Dr. Honey - with no retakes!

Dr. Chris Honey, MD, Neurosurgeon is a husband, dad, athlete and now author, talked to me about his new book, The Tenth Nerve. Its a medical book, but it’s so much more as we meet patients and join Dr. Honey as he investigates a newly identified disease. Listen to the end (or read the transcript) to find out how you could win your own copy of the Tenth Nerve signed for you by Dr. Honey! Full disclosure, Dr. Honey was a SierraSil® customer "I tried it and it was fabulous" but he isn't anymore. Watch or read, and you'll find out why!




Thank you for watching – and you are always welcome to contact us at We welcome feedback whether on the blog, our products, how you heard about us, basically anything that can help inform us and help us enable more people to be healthier and more active naturally (with our minerals)


Michael Bentley


PS from the news Green-medi diet associated with lower brain atrophy


Interview with Dr. Chris Honey, MD Neurosurgeon


Michael: Hello I'm Michael Bentley and president of SierraSil. I'm joined today by Chris Honey, neurosurgeon, Olympian, and author of the just released book, The Tenth Nerve. Chris joins me for a brief chat about his book and I might add that Chris Is a husband, a dad, and a genuinely fine gentleman. First of all, Chris, how many neurosurgeons have been Olympians and competed in the world master games?


Chris: Yeah not too many. I know Sir Roger Banister was an Olympian, but he was a neurologist, not a neurosurgeon very close. There's one other, Sir Ludwig Gutman was an English neurosurgeon who went on to find the Paralympic games.


Michael: You're not only competing In the Olympic games, you also competed in the world's master games and different sports, soccer.


Chris: So, soccer Is my passion right now. I used to be a diver, a springboard diver that was my whole life for a number of years and now I play soccer. I was just In Victoria for a tournament on the weekend with the team.


Michael: Really that's great and you've represented different countries in those sports too.


Chris: I was born In Barbados and so I grew up In Barbados and moved to Canada as uh in primary school and so I represented actually Barbados when I was In the Sol Olympics


Michael: Well that's great um in the book you reveal that you want to become a neurosurgeon in grade six but given the athlete that you are why not professional sports.


Chris: yeah I never really thought of sports as a career uh the only thing that really Interested me was the brain for a variety of reasons through my life, but I was always fascinated by Its beauty but also Its complexity and I thought that over a lifetime It would be Impossible to get bored of studying the brain and there were so many things we didn’t know about It I thought that there was quite a strong possibility that I might be able to discover something new about the brain.


Michael: That's really cool. So now I want to turn my attention to your exceptionally well written book, The Tenth Nerve. Yes, it’s a medical book but It's so much more as we meet patients and join you as you Investigate a newly Identified disease. Chris what Inspired you to write this book uh which Is kind really engaging?


Chris: the book Is really an homage to uh a small group of patients over my lifetime I've met thousands of patients and there Is a tendency and we are even trained as surgeons to keep

your patients at arm's length and not bond emotionally with them because of the danger of suicide and depression when you fail them, but over the course of my lifetime there have definitely been a few patients who made an Indelible mark on my soul and they taught me about medicine more than my medical school or lectures and they taught me about myself and

this book Is a compilation of seven patients who really changed me in terms of my understanding of medicine and my understanding of myself and one of the patients in particular had a condition that had never been described before and so in medicine when a patient

describes something to you and you don't recognize It and all the tests are negative the

knee-jerk reaction Is to say you know what It's all in your head you're just making this up and this lady refused to be dismissed and   she shook me and made me

believe her that there was something physically wrong with her not just It's In your head uh and It took a while to figure It out, but we figured It out and It turned out to be a blood vessel

In her brain pressing on the Vagus nerve causing these symptoms of choking in her throat

and a tickling sensation in her lungs. She couldn't stop coughing and so we eventually did. After discussions with her, she allowed me to explore that part of her brain and decompress the nerve. There was a blood vessel that was just pounding on her Vagus nerve I'm firing

It went off and when I lifted the blood vessel off that part of her nerve. Her symptoms went away and so we published that in the medical literature and that Information Is sort of slowly being spread around the world for other patients. Because of her who are no longer being dismissed as you know you're making this choking thing up um no It's a physical Illness It has a name It's hemi laryngopharyngeal spasm or HELPS  syndrome and that concept of that a blood vessel could press on your Vagus nerve and cause pathology led to possibly two other diseases. One we found which we're calling It Vancouver syndrome, as an homage to the city but It's a Vagus associated neurogenic cough occurring due to unilateral vascular encroachment of the root. So again the Vagus nerve Innervates the lung and If  you press on It, like If you bang your elbow you get tingling In your fingers If you press on the Vagus nerve you get a tickling sensation In your lung and you can't stop coughing and every leprologist In the world can't find a problem because there's nothing wrong with your lungs. The problem is the Vagus nerve and so we've found that disease and there's probably and we're working on It there's probably one more coming and love to come back and tell you about that In a couple years but It's fascinating to have this picture Into you know how the brain works so I just love it.


Michael: well in the book you describe the brain pulsating and It reminds me of a friend describing the challenges of landing a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier gyrating in the sea. So, when you're working in fractions of a millimeter during surgery, how do you accommodate maybe that's not the right word, for brain pulsating?


Chris: Yeah, so the surgeries that I specialize on are typically Inside the skull but outside the brain. So the brain Is pulsating at you and It's a rhythm It's like a dance you join the brain In that rhythm um you wait for It to bring the vessel up to you take the vessel If you miss it, it will come back to you wait for It to go and then you just you synchronize your surgery with the dance of the brain. Oh, that's quite poetic I might have yeah


Michael: I'm reminded of athletes who try and take their shots…


Chris: Yes. I think It's between breaths and yes breathing out they actually slow their heart rate down too yeah and they're using the Vagus nerve to slow their heart rate down.


Michael: That's really Interesting well as a full-time medical doctor, a top gun surgeon. If you will and part-time exceptional athlete, how did you become such a great writer because the book really is in my opinion, extremely well written.


Chris: That's very kind of you to say so I have been writing my whole life but more in medical peer-reviewed publications. So I have over a hundred peer-reviewed medical publications In a variety of medical journals and so writing Is part of my life as a professor and head of neurosurgery here at UBC, but I was um I had hip surgery a number of years ago and I was lying In bed with absolutely nothing to do and so I started writing and uh the writing

is easy because you're just telling the stories right they came out a chapter a day and the slow thing was the editing the you know back and forth with the publisher no I don't like this, and the editing was like two years. So, the writing was maybe a month and the editing was like two years so that was interesting.


Michael: Well Chris, you've told me that you postponed hip surgery for many years.


Chris: Yes.


Michael: But you only wanted one replacement in your normal expected lifespan.


Chris: well I can tell you a little bit about that because you'll be particularly pleased to hear that but I as an as a diver, I wore out my left hip because that's the hip you do that deep knee bend before you jump up to the end of the board and It wore It out and I remember at 26 I really heard it. I had to switch hurdle legs for six months and it loosened. I tore the labrum and so over the course of my lifetime wear and tear um you know got rid of the cartilage and bone on bone and I couldn't really enjoy soccer. So, I would play soccer on a Sunday and I would load up on Advil and by Wednesday I could walk without a without a limp and I didn’t like loading up on the anti-inflammatories because of my stomach. So the truth Is I tried sacral and It was fabulous and so I could play soccer on Sunday and I would take uh two SierraSil um after the game and I would just take one a day during the week and I was walking uh on Monday back to normal. So, it seemed to me in my little experiment and of one that It was more powerful than the anti-inflammatories and had none of the side effects and I liked conceptually the Idea that It was natural being a west coast surgeon. I really enjoyed the concept that It was more natural than the pharmaceuticals and so I was able to postpone. I continue to play soccer and I postpone my surgery. I wanted to postpone It as light as possible but the surgeon who I wanted to do my hip I was going to retire and so I pressed the button and got my hip. So, I had my hip done. And you won't be pleased to hear this, but I have no pain and I don't take SierraSil anymore because I have no pain but for those years that uh on between It was fabulous


Michael: Well we're actually really glad that you have no pain and my attitude Is If you have no pain you don't need our products.


Chris: Yeah exactly.


Michael: So, uh I think that's awesome and you got the results even not taking It at our recommended uh serving size of three capsules a day yeah.


Chris: Well I tested It out and uh and you know went up came back down went too low found I needed two right after surgery and then one maintenance It was exactly what I needed.


Michael: That's great and I think Its great advice for people If they are listening to us Is to think about finding the right dose of whatever it is that's working for them subject to their doctor's advice of course. So, I’m thrilled that you have no pain. now that's awesome and I also want to thank you for writing The Tenth Nerve, It's as I said earlier It's an immensely Interesting book It's extremely well written very readable and I also want to thank you because you've agreed to sign a couple of copies of It to share with customers who purchased SierraSil Sold this month directly from us and so we'll do a random draw and select a couple of customers and you'll personally sign It for them and I really want to thank you for doing that and I really want to thank you for your time and also for uh sharing your wisdom and your knowledge In such a lovely way In this wonderful book, The Tenth Nerve and folks I recommend you pick this up from your local bookstore or If necessary online because It really Is a good read. It's really Interesting and It might get sold out pretty soon because It's been pretty popular I've heard. Don't wait get your copy and Chris thank you so much what a pleasure.


Chris: What a pleasure. Thank you for speaking with me today Michael.


Michael: Take care.


Chris: Cheers now.

When the signs are speaking, are you listening?

When the signs are speaking, are you listening?

What did your January 2020 look like? Big expectations, New Year's resolutions in place? Eager for what lay ahead and what you would make happen that year?

At the risk of stating the obvious, what a strange year it turned out to be. I recall going to a Lunar New Year dinner on January 23 to celebrate with friends of Chinese descent their upcoming New Year, which was January 25. Yet many didn't show up, apparently yielding to what we then perceived were over-blown fears of a new flu strain from China; I mean really, kids starting to mask up in school, even wearing gloves in class! How ridiculous... or so we thought. Then 46 days later, on March 11th, The World Health Organization declares the new flu a Pandemic. Two days later, the Canadian government followed suit. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight (sorry, couldn’t resist!), it is now clear that this new flu, now known just as COVID-19, was really going to impact the daily lives of everyone around the world.

The local community in Vancouver with the lowest infection rate was the one most ethnically Chinese. Taiwan, an island nation of nearly 24 million people has as of December 31, only 7 deaths associated with COVID from the astonishingly low number of just over 800 total reported cases of the virus. They noticed the signs and took appropriate action early. The purpose of this post is not to rehash what those signs were, but a few may be worth noting. On December 30th, 2019, Wuhan doctors officially had communicated that there was a new, more-aggressive pneumonia. Days earlier, Taiwan had already determined that all incoming travellers from the Wuhan area of China had to be monitored. By January 22nd, China banned any domestic travel (surface or air) in or out of Wuhan, isolating approximately 11 million people. Taiwan closed off flights to Wuhan and aggressively accelerated production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while banning exports or hoarding of the same items. The signs were there, but what if our Government (and ordinary folks like us) had paid more attention? 

This leads me to the point of this reflection: Are there signs in everyday life that we are missing? Signs to be cautious, or perhaps signs to be ambitious. Signs of changing health (mental or physical) in ourselves or loved ones? When thinking about loved ones such as aging parents, I’ll admit that I first thought about noticeable signs of decline, but we should also be mindful of signs of improvement. Be thankful for those, as they can unintentionally be taken for granted.  

How do you look for the signs that are work-related? When it comes to stress and declines in production in the workplace, not all of it is preventable, but there are some ways you can give yourself and those around you a better chance of staying mentally and physically well. The American Institute of Stress published a recent article on how to recognize the signs of (and recover from existing) workplace-related stress. 

The bottom line when looking for signs in life is to pay attention, which requires taking time to be still, to be mindful, and to be asking questions about what you observe. It's about actively listening (words and actions) to those who are close to us. It can be as simple as asking your spouse how their day was and listening to their answer, stepping onto a scale or in a larger context, paying attention to quality news sources, including those that don't align well with our own outlook! It doesn't mean blindly following predictions of the famous, or others who have large platforms. Sometimes, some famous people get predictions right, but consider their opinions with your critical thinking skills and don't just gobble them up like dogs devour SierraSil’s Leaps and Bounds treats!  

Finally, a word about Martin Luther King day coming up on January 18th. I've long admired the famous preacher from Atlanta. He lived with a purpose to honour his God and his dream that was shaped by his faith. 

So this January 18th, no matter your nationality, consider reading his famous "I have a dream" speech. Let's dream about the future that MLK Jr did and do what we can to make that dream a reality. MLK Jr's prayer "Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself," may be worth meditating on or repeating for yourself, depending on your beliefs.

Our goal is to help you and a million others be healthier and more active naturally. Kindly take a moment to help us help more people by sharing this with someone that you think will find this post valuable and interesting.

How is SierraSil like a Strand of Christmas Lights?

Rockefeller Christmas Tree
Did you notice that holiday and Christmas decorations came early this year? It's not all that surprising, given that opportunities for joy have become even more important throughout this pandemic. My wife and I usually have enough restraint not to untangle the outdoor lights until after US Thanksgiving. Yet there we were, on the afternoon of Remembrance Day (US Veterans Day), joining a trend that hit the news before November was done - people getting their Christmas lights up early. So in the spirit of stringing things together, I hope you'll be encouraged and brightened by the following connections as I string some thoughts together!