Health Podcast Post

Mind Body Connection with Dr. Jon Lieff

George Grombacher February 16, 2022

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Mind Body Connection with Dr. Jon Lieff

LifeBlood: We talked about the mind body connection, how our minds are not confined to our brains, how our cells communicate, how we’re more connected to nature than we realize, and what the future of medicine could look like, with Dr. Jon Lieff, Neuropsychiatrist with a BA from Yale and an MD from Harvard. 

Listen to learn why life as we know it is all about cooperation!

You can learn more about Jon at, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

jon lieff

Dr. Jon Lieff

Episode Transcript

Come on. Wanderlei Blood This is George G. And the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong and powerful. Dr. John leaf. John, are you ready to do this?

Jon Lieff 0:20
Oh, I’m really glad to be here. Thank you for having me. excited to

george grombacher 0:23
have you on. Dr. John is a neuro psychiatrist with a BA in mathematics from Yale and an MD from Harvard Medical School. His newest book is the secret language of cells. Again, John excited to have you on. Tell us a little about your personal life some more about your work

Jon Lieff 0:40
and why you do what you do. Well, I I started out in treating on people that needed care and weren’t getting any the elderly and brain injured and I ended up starting programs in those fields. And I, I spent many years treating complex cases in hospital programs, combining medicine, neurology and psychiatry. And I was always interested in you know, medical people have psychiatric issues, and psychiatric patients have medical issues and neurological, it’s all really combined. And I kept wondering what the mind was in all this. And it stayed an interest of mine. But after many years working with patients and running programs, in the last 10 years, I’ve devoted time to looking into the science of where what mind is and where it might be in nature. And I started a website to explore these topics. And I started reading about the human brain, but then showed that there is no center of mind there’s no center of subjective experience. It’s not modular, like they thought it’s just highly integrated. Everything is talking with everything else. And it led me to study animal brains, and I studied insects wrote some articles on bees and ants and termites how incredibly smart they are. And then I came to cells and how smart microbes are. And even viruses I wrote about viruses. And then it after years of writing articles every week, which were really translating advanced articles in the best journals, and it’s all gobbledygook. It’s like a foreign language, it’s receptors and genes. And no one can understand even down the hall in the lab, they don’t understand what what the other ones talking about. So I was basically translating it into English. And then it dawned on me, there was no book describing what it’s all based on cells, intelligence cells, communicating and talking back and forth and making elaborate decisions. And that all of biology and all of life is based upon that. And that’s what the book is about. I go through cancer cells, blood cells, T cells, brain cells, microbes, and then even down to molecules. And now I’m working on my second book, taking that same theme, even deeper into molecules, how they talk, but also bigger how the super organism of human being and so communication at every level, is what life is all about.

george grombacher 3:13
Yes, certainly. When, when, when, when you’re doing this work, initially, did you sort of get a hunch? Like, I think that they’re all talking to each other? Or did that come early? Or was it like a lightbulb moment?

Jon Lieff 3:28
No, it came late. Actually, it was through word years and 10 years of just constantly translating article after article to Article. At first I was looking like everyone else in the brain, like is it in the brain but but it isn’t, it’s you can’t find a center of subjective if we don’t even have a definite. So we don’t have a definition of subjective experience we can’t describe intelligence or our whole science is doesn’t have any explanation for mind. And as I searched further and further, I could see, you know, the influence of what could be mined at smaller and smaller levels. And then you find what looks like intelligence and cells and even viruses. I have to consider that. I mean, my own view, which is a speculation, but I everything in my book is science. It’s no speculation at all. But the speculation that would come from this is that mind exists throughout nature in some way, and does exist in cells and then communities of cells. And we’re like a super community of community of cells. And then there’s a community and community of humans in the internet. And it goes on and on, but it starts at least cells are near the beginning. I’m actually going deeper now than that, and I see signs inside cells of communication. And with communication, by the way, goes cooperation. Our body exists because of massive cooperation between billions and trillions of cells. So this idea that everything’s competitive. That came from a misinterpretation of understanding Darwin who said great things, but it’s all been misinterpreted into the fact that most of it is cooperation and communication 98% of what goes on. And then and that goes all the way down deep inside the cells.

george grombacher 5:22
Fascinating. So I’m fortunate to have two kids five and two. And, and through my five year old, I’ve got to do a deeper exploration into ants than I’d ever done before. And it’s crazy that

Jon Lieff 5:39
I wrote many articles and answers, you can Google them. And the latest one is, it’s an update. That’s my most popular every year it that by far more people read the Santa article than anything else answer, probably the dominant, small creature on the earth. But what’s very interesting about ants I mean, the hive is interesting, and that is what is a hive and how does hive. I mean, we’re a hive to I mean, internet, so hive, and a swarm is a high, but if you study the individual ant, it’s highly intelligent. They have 50 different ways of finding their way back to the nest. They can learn a new way they’ve taught ants like to use magnetism to find their way back. They hunt, they count steps, they look at the sun, individual ants, and they learn from mentors, they listen to their wise elders. They medicate. They understood farming 100 million years before we did, they farmed fungus. They’re amazingly intelligent. And you know, termites are equally intelligent. And bees are also, termites build a structure that’s more complicated than we can possibly build. And we’re putting people on the moon and big, but we can’t build what they build. It’s like a skyscraper the size of a skyscraper that’s completely engineered to keep the moistness, humidity exactly right. In the desert, it becomes an oasis anyway. And bees, of course, have abstract language. They they understand five miles of different flowers, and how to get back and forth between them. And they have symbolic logic anyway. But cells, and cells are amazing. And viruses are amazing, very complex lifestyles. So it’s all through life is this intelligence. So I’m just describing that. I can’t really explain it yet. I have my ideas. But I’m just trying to show within Western science, that we are actually showing this intelligence in nature, which scientists are so reluctant to even think about.

george grombacher 7:48
Why is that? Because they can’t.

Jon Lieff 7:51
Because we’re materialist. We don’t have any explanation for it. We don’t have any explanation for subjective experience, because our whole science is based that everything is matter. The brain scientists today say mine comes from the brain. But there’s really no reason to believe that’s true. And there’s a lot of reason not to. But I mean, the mind that’s going on right now isn’t in my brain or your brain or the listeners brain, it’s in between. and culture is in between, and science is in between. So mind is not in brains. Mind uses brains, that channels brains. We don’t know what it is, we don’t have an explanation. So I’m just trying to show and because of that the scientists deny that mind exists. But obviously it exists. Everyone knows it exists. I mean, that’s the most obvious thing there is that subjective experience exists.

george grombacher 8:42
So when people ask you, what what you do, what, what? What do you do?

Jon Lieff 8:51
Well, I’m by trade, a neuro psychiatrist and an expert in psychopharmacology and actually in the 70s, I was an expert in psychedelics, I ran a course at the Kennedy School of Government, and then it became illegal to do research we had been, I’d gathered all the researchers in the country and was very involved because it was interesting about the mind, you know, when I was at Harvard, so but I then became a neuro psychiatrist, studied neuroscience developed programs for brain injury, the elderly, I was a bit of a pioneer in programs. But then my real interest has always been science and what is mind and where are we going where science going?

george grombacher 9:34
So is it a function of the use? And I don’t, this is something that I’ve been kind of thinking about myself lately. Is it that you are part of the the the process of advancing this and getting us closer to understanding or is that not an important thing to you?

Jon Lieff 9:54
It’s very important to me, the way things change the old professors dig in, because of their grants and the money invested in their ideas that are now moated. And, but they won’t change their mind. So the old professors stay the way they are, and they die off. And it’s the young people with new ideas that become the professors. And they become the scientists that run the labs. And so I see myself as part of a change, I see myself as showing, using what I determined to you is the best of Western science. In other words, I only take it from Science Magazine, Nature magazine, the top journals, and I translate this gobbledygook into English from the top journals. And then I’m showing intelligence in cells and in nature. So that’s kind of amazing, because, and that’s the future of medicine, all medicine is based upon that. And it turns out, the definition of life has to change because it’s not just a cell with metabolism, it’s a cell that can communicate, and that knows and understands and makes decisions and travels and influences and responds. So it’s, it’s an intelligent cell, and even an intelligent molecule, that’s my next book, which is really far fetched. And that’s pushing it way further. But cells, we can accept it, because that’s where medicine is at. All the new treatments, the advanced cancer treatments are all based on the natural communication between cells, using viruses that naturally communicate to attacker cancer, using immune cells to talk with the brain, the brain and the immune talk together constantly. That’s that’s how the new explanation of so they’re, most of the research of the connection of all the cells has been the immune in the brain. And in the immune in the brain, the it goes both ways. So in one way, the T cell sends a signal to the neuron to create the sick feeling when we when we’re sick. And so we get sick, we lie down and have to take care of ourselves. And only the T cell can say no, now we’re not sick go back to normal thinking. There’s new brain cells, small number of new brain cells are made in the memory centers every day. And the T cell is the one that says Keep going use those to make more memories. When we get depression. That process slows down and we get that brain fog from depression. It’s the T cell that saying make less and then it says make more when we’re feeling better. So the T cell and the brain cells both respond to infections, but but two perceptions and two isolation and two thoughts in the opposite direction, the brain cell. So when we meditate, we all know that the vagus nerve calms the heart, the breathing the gut, but we didn’t know how can you Why would meditation and improve immunity in 200 different ways 200 Different cytokines, their signals are improved with meditation. Well turns out that the neuron can also influence the T cell and create immunity or inflammation, it can do anything in the realm of immunity because they’re really one thing one cell. And so it’s the vagus nerve, also, in the spleen sending signals make better immunity. No one understood that no one ever stood on acupuncture. Like it’s not near a neuron, it’s not near a blood vessel. What is it? Where’s this energy thing? Well, studies now show you you trigger, you know, on the wrist a point and you electrify it turns out it signals to a T cell sitting there. It moves around it signals to the neuron it goes through the brain and it goes to the to the other part of the body. So again, this neuro immune communication circuits, this is also going to explain advanced pain syndromes. There are many, many pain syndromes involving many kinds of cells, not just neurons, neurons, astrocytes, microglia. Even T cells, even skin cells, cancer cells, microbes are all part of the circuits that create chronic pain syndromes. And so we’re learning about that that’s, that’s the future of this field. This field is opening up medicine. And so I wanted to make it clear to everyone that this is sort of where we’re at, and this is what matters, and this is the future of all the medicine.

george grombacher 14:30
Fascinating. So, how, if at all, does does religion factor into your life and into your work?

Jon Lieff 14:40
Well, religion is a funny word to me. God is a lot of things. It’s it’s spiritual people and it’s phony politicians. And it’s tyranny and it’s saintliness, it’s so to me in every religion, there are Good people who understand the basis of the religion is that we’re all the same that we’re all share the same breath. We all share this planet we all share. So, to me, all the religions are the same in that the good part is exactly the same. And they’re all also crazy and horrible and killing each other. So,

george grombacher 15:24
the That’s not funny. I don’t know why I’m laughing at that. Yeah,

Jon Lieff 15:29
it’s sad, but it’s true. So but to me, it’s more a matter of spirituality and nature that we are. We breathe out. Carbon dioxide, the plants breathe out oxygen. We’re one we can’t separate. So it’s more like the Native Americans. Chief Chief Seattle have said that the rivers are brothers and sisters, that trees that I believe that that’s more or less what I believe. Got it.

george grombacher 16:01
So your early work or early your work with I think you said psychedelics and then getting down to the molecular level? Is it all coming full circle? John?

Jon Lieff 16:12
Yes, it is. You know, in 1970, we I gathered all the top researchers, Dr. Pine Key, Stan Grof. And they were doing different kinds of treatments with psychedelics that big the high dose low dose with with criminals recidivist criminals that Walter Clark did that is a close colleague of mine work with depression, they did the Easter study, where they had the priest a double blind study, and they showed that the priests who took psychedelics had while the most for religious experience and the ones who didn’t had a mild, pleasant Easter, and it showed substantially and I ice, I published papers in the American Journal of Psychiatry, and what I showed was that those who took a lot of psychedelics and then stopped that’s what the group I studied, because everyone was thinking that was causing brain damage we showed it doesn’t cause any brain damage doesn’t cause any, they were saying cause mutations that was all crap, didn’t cause any they were they found through that Is it alcohol and cigarettes too, but not psychedelics, and that that all of these people move shifted in some spiritual direction, Catholics became more Catholic Buddhists became more Buddhist, some people just did more service, people got more spiritual. So it did have an effect in terms of moving people. And then it was all illegal. And we couldn’t even do research for 40 years. So I said, What the hell, you know, I went on with neuroscience. But we missed 40 years of studying the probably the most significant brain chemistry there is. And now it’s opening up again, but so far, everything that they’re talking about has been done. And I have a post on my website describing that they’re about where we were back then showing how valuable it is. But just beginning, but now, the neurosciences so much better would begin to understand it. But it’s still very, very surprising what the MRI show and I mean, I keep up on all that. But I’m more. I mean, I’m very interested in that. But we’re not there yet. But you’re talking about what happens in the brain with spirituality also. I mean, there’s that whole aspect, but you can’t measure that with, you know, when you have a spiritual experience, you can’t do an MRI, you can’t duplicate it, it just happens. It happens rapidly, and you can’t predict it. So you can’t really study it. So all the studies are inadequate. And of course, there’s eastern and western science. I stay in western science with showing what is proven in western science through material and energy. But in eastern science, they use they study subjective experience. And they use meditation as a telescope as a microscope to go deeper, deeper and just see the lay of the land and study the the topography and the and the terrain of the various levels of the mountain, you know, different planes of different things. And they’ve studied this through 1000s of years. So that’s a different science. We can’t prove any of that. So we don’t call it science, but one day, they’ll they’ll merge in some way.

george grombacher 19:34
I like it. Well, John, the people are ready for your difference making tip. What do you have for them?

Jon Lieff 19:40
Well, obviously, what you eat, sleep, exercise, deep decreasing, remembering trauma to decrease it are all good. But the most important idea I think, is that all of nature By far in substantially all of ourselves, all of our bodies are cooperative, that it’s 99% cooperativeness, not fighting. And I think we have the wrong view of what science is telling us. So I think that’s important to know that we should realize that we’re all part of one thing. And hopefully we’ll learn that in time to save humans on the earth.

george grombacher 20:28
I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets come up. What do you think, John? About 5050 chance on that deal?

Jon Lieff 20:36
I have no idea. I’m in the woods. I’m hiding in the woods.

george grombacher 20:40
Literally. I love it. Well, John, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? Where can they pick up a copy of the secret language of sells? Well,

Jon Lieff 20:55
it’s available everywhere, although the publisher ran out of hard copies, I think so unfortunately, it’s kind of come out paperback soon. There are some available at various places. It’s on Kindle. People love the audio book. It’s won awards for the audio book. So I think it’s still available but it’s getting more expensive, the the ones that are around and then the paperback will come out soon and that will be available. But my website is called searching for the mind. And my Twitter or it’s called John leaf MD, but no one can spell that is the problem. But it’s Jon L I E FF, MD, and that’s my Twitter handle. I’m very active on Twitter so people can join in. I put out articles every day, I put up some of my posts every day on Twitter, as well as Facebook, but I’m not as active on Facebook. Twitter is like, very active and people can communicate and if they want to send me an email, they can do it through the website. So I’m pretty available.

george grombacher 21:57
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did show John your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to searching for the mind calm. Also John leaf MD. com. That’s J ONLIEFF And pick up a copy if you can find one of the secret language of cells. Thanks again, John.

Jon Lieff 22:22
Thank you for having me. Thank you so much.

george grombacher 22:24
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Transcribed by

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