Episode 11 of my collaborative project with Rory Linehan of The Paleo PI and Petra Chambers-Sinclair of BiohackU – two of my favourite peeps in this corner of the health caper world – is up and running!
The three of us all hail from different corners of the globe, and have very different life experiences, but we share both a friendship and passion for seeking health through an holistic approach. The intention behind our podcast is to seek out and interview others who share the same goal – and hopefully impart what we learn and have a little fun along the way. We hope you’ll join us!
Even though the personalized (n=1) experimentation method Matthew Chamber-Sinclair helped develop enabled him to heal significantly from disabling illness, he has a refreshingly unvarnished perspective on the healing process.
Matthew also shares what it was like to have Petra blogging about his symptoms as they experimented on him over the years.
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0.00 Introduction to the Healing Protocols: the global edition
1.29 Jo: Welcome to Episode 11: Interview with Matthew Chambers-Sinclair
2.42 Rory: We’d like to learn more about you and your history in your own words. When you started using nutrition, lifestyle and mindset to heal and why did you decide to take that approach?
- 07: I developed psoriasis in infancy and Psoriatic Arthritis in my early 30s. I used pharmaceutical approaches to treatment, but it became apparent I was chasing symptoms while my overall condition worsened. In 2013, started the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). After a couple of months I took FODMAPs out as well because of my nausea. Finally I was down to 5 items of food that I could eat, for a number of months.
5.09 Jo: When you say you were down to 5 foods, would you say that you could deal with that because the pain of eating other foods so great? How did you cope with that?
- 45: We call it ‘cameling’. I just put my head down. I couldn’t afford to feel worse.
6.11 Rory: What helped you realize that nutrition wasn’t just chasing the symptoms?
- 51: It made sense: what you put in your body becomes your body. Pizza would become my fingernails and they would cause me exquisite pain. My food became the nausea that kept me up at night. I couldn’t rationalize it anymore. I lost the luxury of rationalization.
7.33 Jo: Why do you think your particular health issues occurred? Was it genetics, life choices, environment?
- 52: A combination of factors. After genetic testing, it became clearer. You could kind of draw it out and see how my illness would progress. There was a lot of environmental stuff. When I first started working, it was in a Dickensian factory where we made car parts out of powdered metal.
9.05 Petra: You continued to work with metal. For the past 20 years in the aerospace industry. It was your background in quality that helped us to create our approach to n=1 experimentation. Can you tell us about that process?
- 12: Quality and continuous improvement are both outcomes based disciplines. It became clear that what I had learned in the manufacturing world could be applied to people. They are root-cause focused. I have to admit is that I am not great at applying these approaches to me…
11.24 Jo: Allopathic medicine tends to treat the body like a machine whereas eastern traditions treat the body like a garden. Different paradigm. How does that work, how does it mesh with n=1?
- 12: Allopathic medicine plays the odds; it hopes that more than 50% of people will get benefit. If you are in that group: hooray! If you’re not, then you have to start look at your health like a complex system. We can’t expect a profit-driven industry to start focusing on one person.
13.00 Rory: We have something in common: we’re both men in a community that is mostly women. What is your perspective, as a man?
- 02: The lack of men in the community made an impact on me when I first started researching. I know some people respond to a more comforting message, but I don’t. I have to remember to modulate how I communicate, because I realize that other people don’t want the message to be so raw.
15.12 Petra: How is your health now?
- 16: The best it’s been in a lot of years. It’s still unpredictable, but the biggest difference is how quickly I bounce back from a flare.
15.58 Jo: In 2013 when you didn’t know if you would ever work again and now you are back in full-time employment. That change is quite profound.
- 21: When I was health crisis, I didn’t mourn for that loss.
16.45 Rory: Let’s segue into talking about Biohack U, the platform you are developing to help people with complex chronic health conditions.
- 02: I think my life is kind of the template for it. When I was at my sickest I came up with a scale of wellness that ran from ‘abysmal’ to ‘actualized’. I feel like I’m at the ‘managing okay’ part of that scale. Once my healing started, I started going through my field notes and we realized that what we had been doing was missing from the healing community.
20.06 Jo: Over the years that you were healing, Petra was blogging about the experiments you were running and your results. Those posts gained quite a following. What was it like to have the sometimes very personal details of your healing process being made available to the public in that way?
- 23: I was mostly oblivious to it because I was so focused on my healing, but I think it’s a wonderful thing to do. I think one of the reasons people suffer is that they suffer alone. We’re still so embarrassed by our biology. Part of what makes me feel disconnected from certain aspects of our society, is that everyone wants people to be sanitized. Genital psoriasis affected me greatly as a teenager.
24.23 Rory: Bringing it back to Biohack U, two questions: who should use Biohack U? And what are they likely to get out of it?
- 03: We’ve laid it out with brain fog in mind, we’re trying to walk people through the method. It’s a systematic process. People can use this approach for any kind of issue.
26.18 Petra: It’s a personalized experimentation approach so people can set whatever goal they want. We are focusing on people with autoimmune disease and other chronic health conditions, so that they can start take charge of their health, focusing on low risk approaches like nutrition and lifestyle, at least to start.
- 03: You need to be in your ‘Zone of Proximal Development’. Experiments need to achievable and well thought-out from start to finish.
29.07 Jo: The AIP is a template. Biohack U is broader than that. It allows you to really customize the template.
- 20: Yes. Bioindividuality is woven in to everything.
31.19 Petra: We ask every guest on the show two of the same questions. The first is: Committing to any sort of healing protocol takes work. What is your best advice to someone just starting out?
- 20: First, find out as much as you can about your condition. If I had done genetic testing earlier I would have approached things differently. Second, make sure you are always honest with yourself about your capacities. I used to pretend I had more capacity than I actually did, just to try to seem like I was on track. I would exhaust myself. When I started being honest with myself, that helped my healing immensely. I had to learn about my ‘capacity to fail’: sometimes it can haunt you for months when an experiment doesn’t work.
32.58 Petra: You are challenged in your detoxification pathways, so not only would it haunt you emotionally for months, but also physically. The second question: Who has been the most influential person for you as you have pursued your healing protocol lifestyle?
- 55: Petra. She’s always asking why.
35.26 Where to find Matthew & Petra online
To learn more about Matthew (and our Petra!), check out their website at BiohackU where you can learn more about his storyand N=1.