The Energy Doctor
How Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, used his own experiences to become the foremost expert in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
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When you first meet Jacob Teitelbaum, you notice the flowing grey locks and a boundless vortex of energy. But it wasn’t always so.
In 1975, says Teitelbaum, “I was in med school and I came down with a nasty viral infection. I couldn’t get out of bed for six weeks. They thought I was depressed.I lost my scholarship, had to drop out of medical school. I was too fatigued and sick to work. I slept on park benches, ultimately depending on the kindness of friends and relatives who would provide a couch.”
The “drop dead flu” turned out to be undiagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. And that period in Teitelbaum’s life turned out to be the trigger for a lifelong study of fatigue. Fast-forward a few decades and Teitelbaum is one of the country’s premiere experts on integrative medicine, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and energy.
Teitelbaum found that conventional medcine had little to offer for his condition. “Conventional medicine is great at bleeding ulcers, appendectomies, myocardial infarctions-any kind of immediate crisis,” he says. “But it’s lousy for non-life threatening diseases.”
So he did what so many other pioneers of integrative medicine have done-he sought out ways to heal himself. “I met naturopaths and herbalists,” he says. “The whole thing just ‘popped open,’ which was as much a shock to me as anyone else.”
After a time, Teitelbaum returned to medical school, but he was never the same. He had learned that there’s a lot more to healing than can be found in the conventional medical curriculum. “I discovered the effects of sugar on the body. I learned about Candida. About the adrenals. About the effects of emotional chaos. I had gone into med school thinking that MDs know it all. But by the time I graduated, I had a whole different philosophy.”
That philosophy led Teitelbaum to develop the SHINE protocol, which has now been used successfully for over a decade. “The SHINE protocol helps 91 percent of people with fibro feel much better,” he explains. SHINE stands for Sleep, Hormonal support, Infection/inflammation, Nutrition, and Exercise. It’s a five-pronged holistic approach.
Restoring deep, restful, uninterrupted sleep is the first step in balancing hormones and repairing the body. Then, hormone replacement is used, if necessary, to finish correcting any imbalances. The physician then looks for signs of infection. Nutrition is addressed by eliminating as much sugar as possible from the diet, and increasing intake of anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega-3s, curcumin, resveratrol, and green tea. And finally, exercise-as tolerated-is prescribed.
But healing chronic energy problems isn’t just about physical health. “As with any illness, there’s also a psycho-spiritual component,” Teitelbaum says. “A big part of healing is learning to check how things feel and saying “yes” to things that feel good, and “no” to things that feel bad. Fibro people have a difficult time doing that. They tend to be empathic. They feel other people’s pain. That’s what led me into being a healer in the first place.”
Teitelbaum believes that if you treat only the physical aspect of the illness without treating the psycho-spiritual component, your body will just find another way to become sick. “It’s good to treat both,” he says. “See what feels good to you and follow that train. If something feels good, it means it’s authentic-to you.”
“And that is an incredible support to your health.”
“A big part of healing is learning to check how things feel and saying ‘yes’ to things that feel good.”