As futurist and researcher on aging Aubrey de Grey told us about living to 100 and beyond: “Aging is the one disease we’re all born with.” Though a magic anti-aging elixir eludes scientists, we spoke with three doctors who go beyond the prescription pad and pill popping to explore root causes, practicing a preventive approach incorporating alternative anti-aging treatments to keep patients feeling healthier longer.
We believe that their approach to longevity is the future of medicine. Get to know them here.
Dr. David Allen, Los Angeles
A pioneering figure in alternative/integrative medicine, Dr. Allen founded the La Jolla Clinic of Preventative Medicine and was medical director of the Center for Holistic Health in Solana Beach, California, one of the earliest alternative medical facilities in the United States. At his private practice in Santa Monica, he searches for the root causes of patients’ illnesses rather than merely treating symptoms.
“When we consider aging, we must look at the beginnings of modern medicine. With the discovery of penicillin and bacteria, the world of medicine changed. There was a certain drug (penicillin) to kill a specific bacteria (strep) and the patient was cured. This one-drug-for-one-disease model has dominated modern medicine, but it is not effective for modern times. We now live to 100 instead of 50, and must deal with dementia, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and cancer. We want to avoid these diseases of modern life and be healthy, fit, sexual, mobile, and pursue our interests and goals as we age. Just as a Ferrari has more reserve than a VW, a 20-year-old has more reserve than an 80-year-old. Let’s have 100 healthy, vibrant years and then maybe one bad week in the end.
In order to achieve this goal, we need to look at our lifestyle. Our lifestyle is the information we give to our genes. This is called epigenetics — the information we give to our DNA. Diet, stress, exercise, and toxins all affect how our genes express.
Two main areas I see in my patients are stress in their lives and toxicity in their bodies. High cortisol levels kill brain cells; wreak our immune system; and predispose us to dementia, heart disease, and low energy. Adding daily meditation, exercise, and getting adequate sleep can help lower our stress levels. I test mercury, lead, and other toxins in most of my patients. Many have high mercury levels from fish intake. Increased body burden of mercury can show up as fatigue, autoimmune disease, and brain fog. The No. 1 problem that patients come to doctors for is fatigue, but mercury levels are rarely checked. We need to lower the toxins in our bodies. Detoxification with diet, sauna, and intermittent fasting can all be helpful. I like to do a detox at the change of the seasons — four times a year.
In my practice, I’m not just treating illnesses but showing patients how they can be healthy longer. Some just want to stay healthy, others want to balance hormone levels, and others come with problems that have not been previously solved. It’s like a tree: If we treat the roots of the tree, all the branches begin to blossom. We do need specialists, but the different branches of modern medicine have often become too isolated from each other. As I learned when I studied Oriental medicine, you cannot separate the body from the mind.
I want to treat people so they feel better. We must get away from the idea that a doctor can give you a magic pill that will take care of everything. It’s about lifestyle and taking responsibility for your health. The doctor and patient should collaborate, with the doctor as a coach. Of course, that means the patients needs to be coachable.
I had a patient, one of the richest men in the United States, who had a heart attack that left him unable to walk across the room. He said he would give up all his wealth just to get his health back. I’d like to challenge everyone to make it a year of the best mental and physical health of your life — to make the changes in your life to make this happen.“
Learn more about Dr. Allen at davidallenmd.com.
Dr. Patricia Deckert, MDVIP Network, San Diego
Dr. Deckert began her private practice in 2001 with the goal of educating, guiding, and empowering people to maintain or restore their health. Rather than just treating disease, she works to decrease the risk of future health problems and maximize wellness with cutting-edge research, the best of conventional medicine, and nutrition and lifestyle medicine.
“You have to consider the big picture. I always look at the patient and ask, Where are they in the continuum of health, vigor, and vitality? And how do we move them to a greater level of wellness in the aging/anti-aging equation towards the vitality end of the continuum? Most of us are carrying around weak links. But it takes time and sitting and listening to help people live their healthiest because the most we learn about patients is from what they tell us, not just their medical file. I think increasingly women, in particular, understand that a big first step to their wellness and longevity is finding a doctor who cares about them as a person and gives the time to consider new approaches and treatments.
I particularly look at stress and cortisol levels — big issues for women that can have an extreme impact on aging. And I put a lot of focus on gut issues because the gut is so very important to overall wellness. The largest interface to the world is through our GI tract. We have more cells of flora in our gut than cells in our body. Having a gut analysis, looking at what organisms live there, and what pathways need supporting, is something I believe all women (and men) should have done. It’s important, also, to look at the genetic analysis and look at pathways supporting inflammation and detoxification, as both can create unhealthy aging issues.
Women also critically need support for their hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and where they’re at hormonally, which can do a number on how we feel and function. So we look at does a patient need more estrogen or are they poor estrogen detoxifiers? Traditional practice only checks TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) for thyroid function health, which is the poorest way. We need to look at all aspects of adrenal, thyroid, and cortisol function. Most physicians today are not being taught to assess and treat that. You also have to step back and look at the whole body’s health and functioning, including our musculoskeletal system beyond chiropractic adjustments. Muscle and tendon health and stretching is so important for women as we age.
There are exciting new treatments happening, and I’m always researching the latest alternative treatments and got excited about ozone, which has three oxygen atoms that all our tissues need to help activate the immune system and optimize the body’s use and intake of oxygen. I’m seeing highly beneficial results from ozone therapy injected for pain trigger points or piped into the ears in gas form to support tissue health for a variety of issues. I got interested in salt therapy, too, for various respiratory issues, as I have allergies myself and sitting in a salt chamber is naturally therapeutic, like going to the ocean.
I’m a big believer in supplements, which traditional medicine ignores. It’s overwhelming for a woman walking into a GMC or Whole Foods, so it’s important to find help knowing what you need and getting high-quality products. I have a supplement area in my office to support my holistic practice, that way I can talk them through what I think they need — including, many times for women, CBD. We have an endocannabinoid system [found to be important in regulating mood, physiology, and general well-being], and in my experience, CBD is especially helpful for anxiety, sleep, and pain.
Right now I’m getting excited about the disease management and anti-aging possibilities of stem cells — and using not just our own or cord stem cells but CGF (concentrated growth factor), which contains stem cell materials but is not so expensive.
I believe alternative approaches are beneficial and necessary for living longer. I’m a primary care physician and prescribe meds, which are still important for disease and health management, but I’ve always believed that new and alternative modalities are vital to a long life.”
Learn more about Dr. Patricia Deckert at mdvip.com.
Dr. Constantine Kotsanis, Kotsanis Institute of Functional Medicine, Dallas
Born in Greece and raised in Chicago, Dr. Kotsanis is a board-certified otolaryngologist and certified in clinical nutrition. At his private practice in Texas, he focuses on wellness and anti-aging. He uses an integrative approach to treat patients for everything from allergies to cancer, carefully considering each person’s unique physical, metabolic, and biochemical makeup.
“Anti-aging is a catch-all phrase. People expect longevity, which is wonderful. But what good is longevity if you’re not healthy? You have to add life into your years and years into your life. Ideally all our systems are fine-tuned and working, so we look at why they break down — find out what went wrong and fix the broken problem. So my approach is first to look at the lay of the land of your health to identify what’s broken, and my work-up is extensive and very specific.
It’s most important to look at the brain, which controls everything, physical and emotional. Fifty percent of all the problems in the world are emotional. We use chromatotherapy, in which a psychologist works with color therapy to regress a person all the way back to when they were born. A lot of health and emotional issues have been forgotten, so lots of tears fly and a lot is learned.
We look at hormones, which are key players in our health to help women feel healthier. Insulin is the most important hormone in the body, so we need to fix any insulin resistance. Right now I’m working on research for how to reverse insulin resistance. It’s such a huge issue. Insulin is a hormone that controls your metabolism, your energy, and emotions, not just sugar. If we can reverse insulin resistance it can help with hundreds of diseases. Insulin is underplayed. It’s super gasoline for the body! I look at cortisol resistance and normalize electrolytes, also.
A healthy digestive system is one key for lifelong health — your 28 feet of gut are an important part of the immune system. If your mouth is full of crowns and fillings, it impacts the gut. Looking at the electromagnetic fields is also important. Compare the human body to a car: You need gasoline to make it run but you also need a battery. It’s biophysics; we need a certain voltage to maintain cell health, which drops when we are sick. We treat deficiencies with supplements and intravenous infusions that correct the body’s electrolyte imbalances and use microcurrent technology — Tesla technology! — with a handheld microcurrent device the size of a mouse to jump-start electricity to help boost energy, sleep, hormones, and much more. Removing toxicity from the body is also very important to adding life to your years.
And then what you have to do is be happy, maintaining a continuous mind-body-spirit connection. Have happy thoughts; watch funny movies; meditate and pray every day; and have good friends. We completely neglect our emotions. But the absence of disease does not equal health: Vibrant health means enjoying your life. At the end of the day, everybody’s mortal. But my approach is: ‘How can I help you live to 100 and feel like 40?’ You also have to be an engaged patient. It’s like the joke how many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, as long as the lightbulb wants to change.”
Learn more about Dr. Constantine Kotsanis at kotsanisinstitute.com.