Russell Jaffe shares a clinical pathologist’s perspective on healthcare on this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. In addition to his work as a pathologist, Dr. Jaffe is a biochemist and a diagnostician. Located in Ashburn Virginia, he is a member of the baby Boomer generation. He has formerly served on the National Institute of Health. As a researcher he has studied immunology, biology, pathology, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, active meditation, homeopathy and the manipulative arts.
Here are 3 things that stood out as Dr. Russell Jaffe shared a clinical pathologist’s perspective on healthcare:
• In the process of trying to debunk 2 individuals, he became a student and follower of them
• Quality healthcare means more benefit and less risk
• It is important to look upstream at the cause rather than downstream at the consequences
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Here is the transcript of Russell Jaffe: A Clinical Pathologist’s Perspective on Healthcare
Rob Oliver: Welcome. And I appreciate you being with me today. I’m thinking that you’re going to learn a lot today. My guest is Dr. Russell Jaffe. He is a biochemist and a clinical pathologist. He is located in Virginia. He is a member of the Baby Boomer Generation, and he joins us today. Dr. Jaffe, welcome to the show.
Russell Jaffe: Thanks for having me.
Rob Oliver: Absolutely. So we’ll start right at the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your role in health care?
Russell the: Well, my mom was a jazz musician before I was born. My dad was a basketball player for the Kate Smith Celtics. I was the first actually second in our overall extended family to actually go to College. I did the six year program at Boston University and added a PhD in biochemistry in the middle. So I only had one graduation after eight years, but I got three degrees on one day, an AB and MD and a PhD. And my mother at the end of the day clearly had a good day. Both parents had a good day. At the end of the day. My mother leans in and says, My son, you know, if you had really been a good student, you could have also become a lawyer. And being my mother’s son, I actually checked. All I would have had to do is give up eating and sleeping, and I probably could have added something else onto it. But anyway, that’s a little bit about me. Then I did internal medicine under Norman Lavinsky at University Hospital in Boston. Then I matriculated to the United States Public Health Service, where I was assigned, fortunately, to the clinical center of the National Institutes of Health, where I started as a resident, then headed the residency program and then was invited onto the permanent senior staff. And during that time I was Crosstrained by Queen Wu, Queen Nuan Wu acupuncturist extraordinaire. I went to debunk him and did a seven year apprenticeship under him. I went to Debunk Rama Murti Mishra, a physician who wrote the textbook of yoga, psychology and some other very important, Ayurveda modern textbooks. I went to debunk him, became his student and then became his doctor. Everybody kind of needs a doctor at some point. And then I met at his birthday at his 80th birthday. Banti Verebalong Darmawara Mahatara Mahatma. Interesting guy. I gave him my card and I said, I’d like to learn his system of noninvasive color healing. And two days later, knock on my door. Gentleman’s small apartment, Bachelor apartment with a guest room in Greenbelt, Maryland. I opened the door and he’s standing there and he says, you look surprised. Didn’t you invite me I said I did, but I thought you might call before coming. He said, why you are here. That was a hint. He took about 15 minutes in silence to look all over the place. In fact, in Nooks and crannies I didn’t even know were part of the apartment. He announced it was suitable and he moved it. And from 80 until 110, I was his aide to camp. I was at retreats two weeks silent meditation retreats. I would get up a little bit earlier to make him ginger tea with just a little drop of raw honey and facilitate. I was just the facilitator, if you will. But Bull King did he change my world? And so I chose, after 19 years seniority in the government to resign. And my dad pointed out that 20 years is a retirement and that my mother didn’t raise a fool. So can’t I stay an extra year? And at that point I had already agonized for a whole year because I really had a good thing going and some reputation around the fact that I was introducing a new, improved, more sensitive, more specific, more predictive lab test every year, including occult blood testing for colon cancer screening that got in the New York Times, including how platelets and blood clotting are activated by a protein called Collagen, which is trending now. And each year we introduced something fundamental and new, most of which are still the reference or gold standard. Then in the early 80s, I decided to do for myself what I had been doing in government service. Now this was after we got hepticlor out of Oahu. This was after we did the first indoor environmental report for the state of California called Clean Your Room. But in 1983 I opened the first Eliza Act biotechnology. What that means is I brought together two fundamental technologies Eliza, which means amplified technically for your listeners enzymelinked, immune sorbet assay. It’s a cumbersome thing to say, but Eliza, however you say it. It was invented by Berson and Yellow in the 1050s. It was in advance of its time. They did get the Nobel Prize for it. Then, in 1019 76, two colleagues of mine wrote a book called Beyond Normality, and they introduced fundamental concepts of sensitivity, specificity and predictive index, which today are used and useful for population studies for epidemiology but not relevant to individuals. So a few years ago through the Health Studies Collegium Foundation, which is now 30 years old and has done outcome studies in the community. Successful outcome studies in fibromyalgia pain, successful outcome studies in diabetes, type one and type two and any of the autoimmune afflictions any of the self attacking conditions will yield to a comprehensive program that focuses on eating foods you can digest, assimilate and eliminate without immune burden, staying well hydrated, doing certain actions to evoke your healing response and spending some quiet time exploring inner space. This is what we have translated into a more modern scientific metaphor and language. It’s what we do through the health studies collegium. It’s what we do through Perk Integrative Health, which has a Ce certification program that’s now in its fourth year for colleagues who are interested in actually practicing and putting into practice what we have synthesized, what we have validated what we have put together. So that’s the short story on me.
Rob Oliver: Wonderful. What does quality health care mean to you?
Russell Jaffe: Well, quality health care means to me more benefit and less risk. So I use the word quality. I think it’s an appropriate word. We can measure outcomes. We can even let the individual tell us whether we have helped them or not from their subjective point of view. And I remember vividly a situation where a couple came in and the fellow said, I’m not sure this helped me and his wife said, but you lost £65 and you had to buy new clothes, he said, oh yes, because sometimes you have to actually hold up a mirror or a light to help people understand that they have benefited. So we have a health appraisal questionnaire, a validated questionnaire that tells us enough about you to personalize our interpretation. Then we do this advanced cell culture with high precision, less than 3% variance on thousands of wine split samples. If anyone is technical, they will know how meaningful, how significant, how unusual that is for cell cultures. We’re not just looking at blood sugar. We’re actually looking at lymphocytes white blood cell responses in our laboratory, but Xvivo now Xvivo is an interesting Latin term. It means as it happens in life, as it happens in the body. So we get a specimen that is sent to us overnight, where the cells are cooled to the point where metabolism slows down. And then we gently spin the specimen to remove red cells only. But every member of the plasma of the cells, all the families of cells are present and actually on a research basis, we have images of antigen presenting cells. These are the cells that see what is coated in the dish or the well being analyzed. And we have 500 more than 500 substances that we can precisely analyze foods, chemicals, toxins, medicines with less than 3% variance on blind splits. And I mean blind splits. We don’t know that it’s the same person specimens. I send them in all the time because I have this test done every six months on myself and family. So it’s very personal. And the test is itself very personal. It lets your body speak, but through the laboratory, and then we interpret it in regard to eating, what you can digest, assimilate and eliminate without immune burden. Then following certain activities and attitudes that are known, documented, scientifically proven to evoke healing responses. So this is way upstream from the average care today, which is about tell me your symptoms, and I’ll write a prescription that hopefully will make the symptoms go away. I think that is conventional. I think that is common. I think that is outmoded. And it has been outmoded for some years since we discovered four selfassessments, eight predictive biomarkers and their best outcome goal value. And we want you to add life to years and years to life by being as your best outcome goal value for each of those four selfassessments and eight predictive biomarker tests. And we analyzed over 100,000 laboratory tests to find out which ones were really sensitive enough. We’re really specific enough. We’re really predictive enough for individuals and not just for populations. So with respect to my classmate Bob Galen and my mentor Ray Gambino, who wrote the Beyond Normality book 1976, We’re the Next Generation to follow.
Rob Oliver: Got it. I think you’ve kind of given this a little bit, but can you give me an example of quality health care?
Russell Jaffe: You had mentioned the sure. Here’s an example of quality health care. You go to doctor number one who’s conventional. They do some routine blood tests and they say everything is okay. You are within the range for those tests. And then the person says to the doctor, but I still don’t feel well. And frankly, the doctor often says, neither do I. So what? Because they have not gone upstream. There is a river of disease into which too many people fall. And yes, we’re pretty good at triaging the people who are drowning in that river of disease. But I want to go upstream and set up barriers so that you don’t fall into the river of disease. And if you have fallen in, I want to get you out because I want to understand your individual metabolism, your ability to detoxify, your ability to evoke healing responses, your ability to sleep and get restorative, rest, your ability to digest, assimilate and eliminate without immune burden. I want you to have neurohormonal balance, and we can measure if your hormones are happy or not balanced or not. So there’s much in functional integrative personalized medicine that, to me, comes together when it’s done well in a comprehensive quality health system, far from what most people have available to them. But there are thousands and thousands who have under our guidance and others chosen this path because it does add life to years and years to life.
Rob Oliver: Got it. What do you wish people understood about your role in health care?
Russell Jaffe: Well, I’m one of many who are considered to be pioneers of personalized integrative functional health promotion. The definition of a pioneer is the person with arrows in their back. So you have to have a certain thick skin. And because I had the extreme good fortune to have mentors in Boston and Bethesda, I decided that we should do what people needed, not what was popular or typical. In fact, the mentors I had both in Boston and NIH consistently said to me, Show up and do something. They didn’t tell me what to do. They didn’t say just repaint the colors or the letters on the tail of the plane. They said, Show up and do something. And when you’ve done something, please tell us what you did to have that good fortune, which in the 1970s was very possible. It got harder in the 80s. It’s very rare. Today resources have been redirected downstream downstream towards symptom reactive care and adding and adding and adding prescriptions to one another that sometimes is needed. That sometimes is helpful. I’m saying it is rarely needed and rarely really helpful if you look upstream at the cause rather than downstream at the symptomatic consequence.
Rob Oliver: Okay, what excites you about the future of health care?
Russell Jaffe: What excites me is that the consumers are driving the change and speeding the transition from sick care to health care. And I’d like to be part of that movement. And I’d actually like to be remembered as one who advocated and documented who could explain and was willing to show up for those who are interested, those who had the eyes to see and the ears to hear, if you will. Can you comment on how the consumer has become the driving factor in this? Well, actually, the consumers have always been the driving factor. There was a company that was selling something that eventually was called the purple pill, and they did such a good job advertising that people went to their doctor saying, Doctor, I want the purple pill. And it turns out when you look as a medical anthropologist, the doctor is four times more likely to write the prescription if the client patient recommends it or asks for it than if they need it. Let me say that again, one out of four times. When doctors write common prescriptions that are widely advertised on media, it’s needed three out of four times. The doctor says I didn’t want to lose the patient. I wanted to be helpful. It is legal. I can write that prescription. No, I know they didn’t need it, but placebos are pretty good most of the time. And so I was trying to be helpful and compliant. Forgive me, but I thought the doctor was supposed to know what you needed and not what you wanted. There’s a definition of people on the street corner who will give you what you want. That’s not quality health care. And if they’re not standing on a corner, but they’re sitting behind a desk and they’re still doing the same thing. You just changed the frame of reference, but you didn’t change the context. And I’m pretty sure most people who want a doctor to guide them and help them feel and function better do not want the doctor to do what some stranger on a street corner would respond, how a stranger on a street corner would respond. And today, because of the fractionation of health care, if you go in the hospital, you get taken care of by a doctor in the hospital. You don’t get taken care of your doctor. When I was in training. The doctor from the community came into the hospital, sat at the bedside and taught young doctors like me. Bedside manner. The reason it’s called bedside manner is because you actually have to show up. And at least it used to be you would sit on the bedside and look at the person and gain rapport so that they trusted that what you were recommending was really for them.
Rob Oliver: Got it? Yeah. It’s so interesting to hear what you say, because how many different drug advertisements? They don’t necessarily even tell you what the medication is for. But they will tell you. Ask your doctor if this is the right medication for you, and your statistic is staggering there.
Russell Jaffe: Well, it’s well documented and it is a reality. And I will just mention, because some folks know this and many people don’t. There was a time when the United States government wanted correctly to get tobacco advertising out of magazines and off the airwaves and media. That is, people who have airwaves and publications. They said, Well, that’s fine, but that’s going to diminish our revenue very substantially. The only source that could replace that in dollar value was bio Pharma. And as you may know, America is one of only two countries in the world. New Zealand is the other. If anyone asks you for pop quiz, only two countries in the world allow direct to consumer advertising for good reason. If you watch the ads today, they have wonderful images and music and this and that and then it says, but your toes could fall off. But go ask your doctor because we’re handsome and beautiful. Okay, I don’t disagree with the handsome and beautiful, and I don’t disagree that these are highly effective media marketing communications. But that, to me, is not quality health care.
Rob Oliver: Understood. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?
Russell Jaffe: The one thing that everybody could do today is put a carraff and a glass on their desk. If the glass is full, drink it. If the glass is empty, fill it. Repeat, because Dehydration, even one, two or 3%, which is very common. And I’m going to test my hydration status for you right now. My skin at my baby Boomer age went flat in one one that means I’m well hydrated. And you may notice. Then I have something in my cup, which I drink. So I understand the question. What’s one thing that every licensed doctor has been taught? Dehydration adds burden to your kidneys, to your liver, to your spleen, to your heart, to your lungs, to your digestion, to everything, to your quality of sleep and mood. So if you say, what’s the one thing which I really have a small objection to, but I do understand the question. It’s hydration and the self assessment to see if you are well hydrated.
Rob Oliver: Got it. A good reminder that medical professionals need to exercise selfcare before they can take care of anyone else. Listen, Doctor Jaffe, I appreciate you being with me today, and I appreciate you sharing your perspective on healthcare.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.