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Events LOVE MOVE Resources

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Bhakti Fest 2019 Logo


I was eleven years old when Tina Turner released her album Private Dancer featuring the single What’s Love Got To Do With It that rose to #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

In 2012 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame, in addition to claiming a prize at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1985 for Best Female Video.

What’s Love Got To Do with It also rose to #1 in Australia and Canada, #2 in South Africa, #3 in New Zealand and the UK plus top 10 in Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and  Switzerland.

You could say a large portion of the world has been trying to figure out what love has to do with it for a long time.

You may be wondering, what does love have to do with gut health, Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD), Crohn’s and Colitis

Based on my experience Love has everything to do with health

Physical, mental and emotional health all thrive when love is present and fail quickly when love is absent

In 2014, New York Times best-selling author Sarah Wilson wrote this controversial article titled “Could female self-hatred be the real cause of autoimmune disease?.

The article has gotten 6,000 shares while she received a barrage of criticism

However, today many Medical Doctors agree that Autoimmune disease can often be disguised as anger turned inward.

I first heard this from Dr. Vincent Pedre MD during our interview for
The Crohn’s And Colitis Summit.  Dr. Pedre is the author of Happy Gut , clinical instructor in medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and an Institue For Functional Medicine educator.

Hearing this for the first time was like remembering something I always felt to be true but had never put it into words.

Having Crohn’s or Colitis can feel like you’re living in a body that has failed you.

I use to be extremely angry at my body. At my colon. At my gut-wrenching pain. The angrier I got, the more the pain increased.

The angrier I got the quicker I’d sprint to the bathroom.

The angrier I got more time I’d spent on the toilet.

I believe anger turned inward could easily escalate or be felt like hatred. When there is hate, it is pretty much impossible to embody and have love.

I believe that love is the most powerful medicine. 

When love is present, I mean deep present everything else seems almost meaningless.  Struggles and challenges are handled easier, life itself is easier. Love is a catalyst for success and happiness.

Take the same job, responsibilities, pay, and colleagues. Person A loves the job and person B hates it, which do you think is happier both at work and at home?

What is Deep Love? Well, it’s something I hope you’ve experienced with your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner or lover.

The Love Bubble as I believe I learned from Darren “DJ” Fuji, my first self-development instructor.

Darren was also a United States Marine Corps Sergeant and a black belt with over a decade of martial arts training.

The Love Bubble can be created in an instant. Such as during Love At First Sight, or more realistically, love at first connection and conversation.

With Love, all of life’s challenges are easier to tackle

Here are two-personal examples

Example Number One:

I once had a killer headache. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was easily a twenty-four.  I chose to sit still and visualize my interpretation of love.

I sent love to my headache in the strongest way I knew how. I took no drugs, no mediations, took no other prophylactics.

No Sumatriptan

No Imitrex

No Panadeine Forte

No Tylenol, Aceptamohin, Excederfd, Motrin or Advil  (All of which are bad news for your gut)

It was just me and this thing called love

Surprisingly, the headache started to dissipate.

The throbbing and pulsating on the right side of my head slowed down, the pain dropped from 24 to 22, to 18 and in just a few minutes it was below 5.

Simply by projecting my version of love onto this physical thing called a painful headache, I almost made it go away entirely.

Example Number Two:

On November 11, 2017 I posted this on Facebook.

I was driving home to Del Mar California from a friend’s birthday party when out of the blue my stomach started to hurt.  Maybe it was my colon. I was then coming out of an IBD Ulcerative Colitis flare and chose to fast at the party just to be safe. Yet here I was experiencing a stomach ache for seemingly no apparent reason!

I decided to try and use the power of my mind to help.

While I was driving I imagined I was in a marathon and everyone was cheering me on to win.

Every car I passed on the road were my cheerleaders

Wanting me to heal

To feel better

When I exited Interstate 5 and drove on the local roads near my home I imagined all my neighbors, most whom I’d never met, were now my friends. I imagined they were outside their homes , on their balconies, driveways and hanging outside of their windows cheering me on to win this battle with IBD.

I imagined them loving the shit out of me just because I was in pain.

Within just a few minutes all my pain went away.

Tina Turner asked what’s love got to do with it.

My answer is everything!

In Hinduism Bhakti literally means participation, fondness for LOVE

In just a few weeks Bhakti Fest returns to Southern California

From September 25 to September 30th, 2019 people will drive and fly in from around the world to celebrate this 11th year of Bhakti Fest.

The festival provides a drug and alcohol-free environment to experience educational workshops from the leaders in the field of personal growth, yoga classes from the best teachers in the world, dancing from world-renowned artists, including Kirtan music., 

Kirtan means narrating or reciting the idea or story.  I learned kirtan during my yoga and meditation teacher training at Pilgrimage Of The Heart Yoga.  Kirtan has opened and touched my heart deeply, especially during the darkest of times. Dark times including being in pain on the toilet, crying in pain at the hospital, or feeling the pain after the end of a loving relationship.

Kirtan is healing.

Kirtan is LOVE.

You see, I grew up in a Jewish household, born to parents who survived the terrible Holocaust Concentration Camps. However I eventually became Agnostic and for two decades I pushed away my roots, increasing internal anger, hatred and self-loathing – disconnecting me from my ancestors. I had very good “reasons” to hate Judaism however I did so at the expense of my soul, mental, emotional and physical health.

Rabbi Andrew Hahn, Ph.D, better known as Kirtan Rabbi integrated and connected my Jewish Roots and my new found love for spirituality since becoming a yoga teacher.  Just from chanting a few of his songs, his rendition of ancient Jewish hymns he saved me thousands of dollars in therapy, medical interventions and grounded me back to my roots –  under my terms, with love as the foundation. Hymns entitled Havayah, Salaam(Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu), Shema and Kaddish transported me back to the days where I was forced to regularly attend Shaarey Tfiloh Congregation in Spring Valley New York. The place where my parents could have written their own “Jewish Book Of Why” due to the number of questions I asked, as I tried to make sense of Judaism and how I fit in because I felt like an outsider. Shaarey Tfiloh, the place I attended years of Sunday Hebrew School. The place I performed my Bar Mitzvah and recited the Haftarah which is a passage a short reading from the Hebrew Bible, which follows the reading from the Torah on Saturday, or the Sabbath.

I didn’t do it for myself, I did it because I was told to. I did it because my father told me to. I did it to make him proud. Mission accomplished. I think my Bar Mitzvah was one of the proudest moments in his short life. We didn’t know it at the time but he would pass away just eight years later just one month after I graduated as an Engineer from SUNY Buffalo.

In choosing to attempt to give Love to my Father, I further disconnected from myself and built-up an internal fire of self-hatred. As did my confusion and anger towards my parents, shame for my Jewish upbringing, and embarrassment of being associated with the Jewish lineage simply because of a few misunderstandings.

Perhaps saddest of all is that the love I thought I was giving my dad wasn’t truly helping him. The deepest felt love comes from the inside, not from the outside. It’s self-generated, not given by someone else.

With Dad looking down from heaven, it was time for me to heal.
It was the music of Kirtan Rabbi who started to repair this seemingly irreparable damage.  During my first hospitalization in 2017, I needed a Blood Transfusion. Surprisingly I told the nurses that I needed to have a Rabbi present to bless the blood before we moved forward.  I found Rabbi Moishe Leider from Chabad Center University City to be the closest and he was generous enough with his time to arrive within minutes of the needed window.

Rabbi Moishe Leider also visited me during my second hospitalization at UCSD Thorton in La Jolla CA. 

I am eternally grateful for Rabbi Moishe Leider and Kirtan Rabbi for shifting my perception, unraveling stories that no longer serve my goals, and allowing me to be proud of my Jewish heritage. 

I believe Kiran music, and the deep love inherent in the frequencies, voices, energy, and heart of the Bhakti movement is what has played a big role in keeping me surgery-free from Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Which statistically is impressive considering 70% of those with Crohn’s need surgery,  50% of those with Ulcerative Colitis need surgery, and though I’m not a woman, this statistic is most shocking:  Fertility rates of women with UC post-surgery is one-third that of normal.

Can Love reduce the need for surgery?

Can Bhakti Festival reduce the need for initial or subsequent surgeries?

I believe the answer is yes, hopefully, scientific researchers can find a way to create a study to test this theory. If you have an idea on how to make this happen, please let the One Great Gut  Foundation know and we will get back to you asap.

Until then, join me at Bhakti Festival and experience the love yourself!

In just a few days you’ll reset your nervous system that will keep you flying high, naturally, for a long time afterward.

Bhakti Festival also attracts the best yoga teachers from around the globe. Yoga and Gut Health go hand in hand like Toilets and Squatty Potties. Hand in hand like sleep and productivity, hand in hand like constipation and feeling bloated.

One of the researchers we at the One Great Gut Foundation support is Dr. Christine Peterson Ph.D. from The Center of Excellence for Research and Training in Integrative Health, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego La Jolla, CA, United States.

In 2017 her teams’ publication in “Frontiers In Human Neuroscience” showed that Yoga and Meditation improved mind-body health, stress resilience as well as positively impacting immunological markers of stress and inflammation. 

Though obvious to many it is worth mentioning that Yoga is not a religion

Yoga is secular and can support any and all religions.

For example, study at the intersection of yoga philosophy and Christian theology. They are Christians from a broad range of traditions: Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox, Presbyterian, United Church, Church of the Savior and a variety of Free Church traditions. The breadth of their network reveals a truth: Christians connect instinctively with an embodied spiritual practice that inclines toward deeper prayer.

Will you join me at Bhakti Fest?

The food is delicious and healthy and surprisingly out of this world considering it is 100% vegetarian. For a few days, my body forgets how much it enjoys meat. 

The last two Bhakti Festivals we attended were in 2016 when I wrote this preview, and Joe Brachocki wrote this post-event writeup for One Great Gut.
In 2017, immediately after my
TEDx talk, which created a mess for my microbiome, I left the event and returned to homeostasis at Shakti Fest which is Bhakti’s sister festival in the spring.

All three times my gut felt great in that environment, eating delicious food and connecting with amazing humans.

Correction: TEDx did not create a mess for my microbiome. It was my perfection of the event, my mind that created the mess. I’ve learned a lot in the past two years to hopefully avoid that again – forever.

For 2019, if you’re in the know, you’ll smile reading this year’s lineup. If you’re not, trust me, these are the Grammy and Emmy award winners of the “Human consciousness and heart-centered revolution” movement.

Here’s who I am most excited to see:

Krishna Das who has played at the Grammys.

Kirshna Das Kirtan at the Grammys. (Photo by Bob Sinclair)

Radhanath Swami (born Richard Slavin in Chicago Illinois), who after losing his close friend just 3 years after his bar mitzvah wound up becoming a monk and spiritual activist for the past 50 years.


MC Yogi who with his wife Amanda (also known as 10,000 Buddhas) were named ambassadors by Michelle Obama for her “Let’s Move” initiative and have taught yoga at the White House four times since. Additionally, they have performed and taught yoga at Stanford University, The Smithsonian, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, and Dallas Asian Art Museum.

MC Yogi Elevating and Expanding












Poranguí from Brazil who infuses his cross-cultural background and ethnomusicology training at Duke University. His World Soul concerts have been hosted by Lightning in a Bottle, The Chopra Institute, TEDx, SXSW,  and many more. Poranguí recently worked with director Mitch Schultz (“DMT: The Spirit Molecule”) and executive producer, Aubrey Marcus on “Ayahuasca”, a documentary set in the Amazon.

My interest in Ayahuasca began when I interviewed Roman Hanis  for The Crohn’s And Colitis Summit. Roman cured his Crohn’s with the help of the Ayahuasca plant affectionately known as Grandmother, and my interest in DMT began with my own personal experience at a hospital in Mexico and the more recent Johns Hopkins study linking it and anxiety and depression reduction. Something I have experienced both of, as probably all humans have at one time or another. 

Girish who I was just introduced to this year by Virginia Rodriguez. Virginia is one of the visionary founders of the One Great Gut Foundation, along with myself, Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, Tina Gehres, Alisa Rowland and Brad Brinkman. Virginia is currently Publisher at E.P.I.C. Empowering People, Inspiring Community Message as well as President and Co-Founder of independent conscious music record label Girish Music.  I regularly play Girish at home while I am working to ground and realign me with my center, my truth, who I truly am on the inside. Sometimes work gets challenging and I hit speed bumps however Girish’s music has the power to shift that for me almost instantly. Girish’s six albums have has been recommended by O, The Oprah Magazine, Yoga Journal, and The Guardian.


Joel Sprechman Danny Weininger
Sydney Australia 2013. Catching up with my cousin Danny after 17 years.

Chad Wilkins

Having fun with Chad Wilkins and friends during a video shoot

How I met Chad is a book worthy story itself.

In 2013 the FDA changed the rules around FMT(Fecal Microbiota Transplant) in the United States, and though I was already speaking to a few Doctors in the United States who were performing them on the regular, with great success, for those with IBD Crohn’s Colitis, I was then too sick, brain fogged, confused and scared  to make a decision quickly, so I traveled 7,508 miles to Australia to experience FMT at the Centre for Digestive Diseases(CDD) located in Great Lock just outside Sydney.

I was under the care of Dr. Antony Wettstein working under the luminary Prof. Thomas Borody. The whole experience “only” cost me more than $13,000 USD because I was able to stay with friends and family.  Kel and Mil Paljusic, Danny Weininger and Sue Blakeley were nice enough to allow me to stay with them during this difficult time in my health. After Kel and Mil’s wedding, and the poop transplants, I wanted to explore Asia but was warned against third world travel country during this time. Instead, I rented a car, found kangaroos and koala bears while driving up to Byron Bay where my cousin Danny met me and we caught up over two decades of lost time.

One Sunny afternoon In Byron we were having lunch with a new friend Mark Lee while planning my first day of surfing. I was introduced to Mark when I asked American friends who should I meet in Australia.  While sitting at the cafe Mark was speaking about his good friend Chad who he plays music with when “randomly” Chad walks up to put flyers in the window promoting his upcoming show. Then in 2015, Chad toured the US and we hosted him at our home for an outdoor backyard concert.  He became a regular hit at our backyard concerts and today Chad’s music is a regular in my household, especially his songs Give Thanks, No Judgement, The Power of Love, I Am A Child and The Spirit Of Peace.

Another time Chad once played live during a sacred ceremony I attended. I found tears unconsciously strolling down my cheeks as I realized how much his music speaks to my soul, speaks to the anger inside. His music puts out the inflammation fire inside my gut every time.

Saul David Raye who I first learned of at Wanderlust Tahoe Yoga Festival in 2011. Saul’s album 10,000 Suns: Music for Healing, Peace & Awakening is medicine. Saul is also a co-founder of Shanti House LA, a nonprofit providing food and healing services in Los Angeles

Aside from these artists, Bhakti Fest producer Sridhar Silberfein is bringing to you Mike Love, Dharma Mittra, Fannah Fi Allah, Sianna Sherman, Mas Vidal, Govind Das & Radha, Dawn Cartwright, Ram Das (via video),,, The Butter Thieves, Prema Hara, Raka Bandyo, Husband and wife, Rob and Melissa, Benjy and Heather Wertheimer as Shantala, Sita Devi, Samuel J, Michael Hathaway, Mike Cohen & The Shakti Groove, Fantuzzi, Madhu Das, Larisa Stow & Shakti Tribe, Krishna’s Kirtan, Ananda Devi & Shiva Das, Kirtaniyas, Kavita Kat Macmillan, Kamini Natarajan, Jacob Duran(Kalakar), Jim Beckwith, Jens Jarvie, The Hanuman Project, Gina Salá, Joss Jaffe, Kamini Natarajan, Mikey Pauker, Na Yoon Kim, Georgina Meister, AIReal Yoga™  with Carmen Curtis, Dr. Haridass Kaur Khalsa, Ph.D.

Many of these artists are also yoga teachers and will be bringing to you their best teachings, sequences, and learnings. Yoga will also be led by John Smrtic, MC YOGI, Sri Dharma Mittra, Sianna Sherman, Jai Dev Singh, Saul David Raye, Govind Das and Radha, Mark Whitwell, Kia Miller, Dj Drez & Marti Nikko,  Eoin Finn, Hemalayaa,Pandit Achala Arjuna, Oleg Flow, Johanna Beekman, Georgina Meister, AIReal Yoga™ with Carmen Curtis, Dr. Haridass Kaur Khalsa, Ph.D, Mas Vidal, Brian Campbell, Cheryl Slader, Dana Damara, Dharma Shakti, Emily Perry, Melissa Grisi, Monica Heim, Kristin Olson, HaChi, Mark Devenpeck & Newton Campbell, Leeza Villagomez and Dana Mitchell and Kayla Mulford bringing a unique SunChaser SUP (Stand Up Paddle) yoga experience.

SUP(StandUp Paddleboard Yoga) Photo by Aruba Flamingo SUP Yoga with Island Yoga

Who are you excited for?

Joel Sprechman, Maelyn Gandola, and One Great Gut Media will be there. Who else will be there? Would love to meet you!

The right way to poop in the woods LOL. Being silly with Maelyn Gandola because friends don’t let friends poop in pain.

Oh, btw. About Tina Turner, the 12 time Grammy Award winner Tina Turner know as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll from Nutbush, Tennessee. After being raised a Christian Baptist she turned to Buddhism in the 1970s when she was struggling to put an end to her abusive relationship with husband and fellow musician Ike Turner. “I feel that chanting for 35 years has opened a door inside me and that even if I never chanted again, that door would still be there,”

Turner chanting the Lotus Sutra is featured on Beyond, a CD available through New Earth Records that weaves together Tibetan Buddhist and Christian prayers

Maybe we’ll get to dance with Tina Turner at Bhakti Festival.

Hope you can join me.

The organizers pride themselves on running a green event, offering free water and mindful recycling practices.

Early bird festival pricing is available for Bhakti Fest 2019, plus there are discounted tickets available for local residents, veterans, military, seniors, and students. Tickets are available at

See you in the Bhav

Depression Gratitude LOVE Quiz RESEARCH Resources

Happiness Quiz

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire was developed by psychologists Michael Argyle and Peter Hills at Oxford University. Take a few moments to take the survey. This is a good way to get a snapshot of your current level of happiness. You can even use your score to compare to your happiness level at some point in the future by taking the survey again. If you are using some of the interventions presented on this site to raise your happiness level, you can see whether your score on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire goes up as a result.


Below are a number of statements about happiness. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each by entering a number in the blank after each statement, according to the following scale:

1 = strongly disagree
2 = moderately disagree
3 = slightly disagree
4 = slightly agree
5 = moderately agree
6 = strongly agree

Please read the statements carefully, because some are phrased positively and others negatively. Don’t take too long over individual questions; there are no “right” or “wrong” answers (and no trick questions). The first answer that comes into your head is probably the right one for you. If you find some of the questions difficult, please give the answer that is true for you in general or for most of the time.

The Questionnaire

1. I don’t feel particularly pleased with the way I am. (R) _____

2. I am intensely interested in other people. _____

3. I feel that life is very rewarding. _____

4. I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone. _____

5. I rarely wake up feeling rested. (R) _____

6. I am not particularly optimistic about the future. (R) _____

7. I find most things amusing. _____

8. I am always committed and involved. _____

9. Life is good. _____

10. I do not think that the world is a good place. (R) _____

11. I laugh a lot. _____

12. I am well satisfied about everything in my life. _____

13. I don’t think I look attractive. (R) _____

14. There is a gap between what I would like to do and what I have done. (R) _____

15. I am very happy. _____

16. I find beauty in some things. _____

17. I always have a cheerful effect on others. _____

18. I can fit in (find time for) everything I want to. _____

19. I feel that I am not especially in control of my life. (R) _____

20. I feel able to take anything on. _____

21. I feel fully mentally alert. _____

22. I often experience joy and elation. _____

23. I don’t find it easy to make decisions. (R) _____

24. I don’t have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life. (R) _____

25. I feel I have a great deal of energy. _____

26. I usually have a good influence on events. _____

27. I don’t have fun with other people. (R) _____

28. I don’t feel particularly healthy. (R) _____

29. I don’t have particularly happy memories of the past. (R) _____

Calculate your score

Step 1. Items marked (R) should be scored in reverse:

If you gave yourself a “1,” cross it out and change it to a “6.”
Change “2” to a “5”
Change “3” to a “4”
Change “4” to a “3”
Change “5” to a “2”
Change “6” to a “1”

Step 2. Add the numbers for all 29 questions. (Use the converted numbers for the 12 items that are reverse scored.)

Step 3. Divide by 29. So your happiness score = the total (from step 2) divided by 29.

I recommend you record your score and the date. Then you’ll have the option to compare your score now with your score at a later date. This can be especially helpful if you are trying some of the exercises, and actively working on increasing your happiness.

UPDATE: A lot of people have been asking for some kind of interpretation of the raw number “happiness score” you get in step 3 above. What follows is just off the top of my head, but it’s based in part on the fact that the average person gets a score of about 4.


I suggest you read all the entries below regardless of what score you got because I think there’s valuable information here for everyone.

1-2 : Not happy. If you answered honestly and got a very low score, you’re probably seeing yourself and your situation as worse than it really is. I recommend taking the Depression Symptoms test (CES-D Questionnaire) at the University of Pennsylvania’s “Authentic Happiness” Testing Center. You’ll have to register, but this is beneficial because there are a lot of good tests there and you can re-take them later and compare your scores.

2-3 : Somewhat unhappy. Try some of the exercises on this site like the Gratitude Journal & Gratitude Lists, or the Gratitude Visit; or take a look at the “Authentic Happiness” site mentioned immediately above.

3-4 : Not particularly happy or unhappy. A score of 3.5 would be an exact numerical average of happy and unhappy responses. Some of the exercises mentioned just above have been tested in scientific studies and have been shown to make people lastingly happier.

4 : Somewhat happy or moderately happy. Satisfied. This is what the average person scores.

4-5 : Rather happy; pretty happy. Check other score ranges for some of my suggestions.

5-6 : Very happy. Being happy has more benefits than just feeling good. It’s correlated with benefits like health, better marriages, and attaining your goals. Check back – I’ll be writing a post about this topic soon.

6 : Too happy. Yes, you read that right. Recent research seems to show that there’s an optimal level of happiness for things like doing well at work or school, or for being healthy and that being “too happy” may be associated with lower levels of such things.

The highest score you can get on an item is a 6, and the lowest a 1. If you add up all your scores and divide by the number of questions (29 questions), you’d get an average score for all the questions. The highest possible average would be 6, the lowest possible would be 1. Right in the middle would be 3.5, so you might think that’s what the average person would get, but this is just a raw score. In fact, other studies show that people are generally somewhat happy on average. So it may not be surprising to hear that the average score on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire is right around a 4, which is essentially what you got (since you got 3.9 out of 6).

Rather than compare yourself to other people, it’s probably more meaningful to compare your score now to your score later and see if there’s a change. Some of the exercises on this site have been shown in scientific studies to make a lasting, positive impact on happiness. You might want to try some of them (I’ll be adding more), and see if they work for you. A few gratitude exercises are already on the site:

*Gratitude Journal & Gratitude Lists

*Gratitude Visit


Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2002). The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire: a compact scale for the measurement of psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 1073–1082.

I’ve used “don’t” rather than the more staid and formal “do not” in the phrasing of the questions above; I decided to give preference to my own sense of what is more natural and conversational in American English. (Remember that the questionnaire was developed in England.) I’ve also added the phrase “(find time for),” which psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky uses for clarification in question 18.

Written and posted by Dr. Steve Wright @
Dr. Wright is a research scientist. NIH-TL1 Postdoctoral Scholar, Dept. of Medicine, Georgetown University.

Alcohol Crohn's Disease Depression Documentary Gratitude Hospital LIVE One Great Gut Collection Recommended Resources Relationships RESEARCH Resources Ulcerative Colitis

IBD ranks as 1 of the 5 most expensive GI disorders despite its being the lowest in prevalence among the list of GI disorders.

Inflammatory bowel disease patients have higher health costs.

Today’s blog post is not just about this growing problem, but also a few solutions I recommend you research and take action on today!

Average IBD patient annual costs were triple compared to non-IBD and out-of-pocket costs like co-payments and deductibles were double. #crohns #colitis #IBD #healthcare Click To Tweet

I wish more people understood this.

Including family, friends, doctor’s offices, hospital finance departments, and debt collectors.

The title of this blog post came from the title of an article published in 2016.

money healthcare sickcareA study published May 21, 2019 where researchers examined data from 2007 to 2016 for almost 53,000 people with IBD who had either private health insurance or Medicare Advantage coverage with both medical and pharmacy benefits. They also looked at data on 12 to 14 million people without IBD.

Overall, average annual costs for patients with IBD were $22,987 compared with $6,956 without IBD, the study found.

And out-of-pocket costs like co-payments and deductibles were more than doubled with IBD: $2,213 a year compared with $979 annually without IBD.

Costs for patients with IBD averaged $26,555 over the first year after diagnosis, researchers report in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

This didn’t include the cost of insurance premiums.

Several factors were tied to higher costs with IBD, including the use of expensive biotech drugs, opioids, or steroids; emergency room use; anemia; relapsing disease; and mental illness.

When patients had at least one emergency room visit in a year, for example, average annual costs were $37,759 compared to $15,237 without an ER visit.

And when patients had a mental illness, annual average costs were $35,740 compared to $18,520 without a psychological disorder.

Average costs for IBD were stable from year to year before 2012. After that, however, costs have been rising more sharply.

Worldwide, IBD is becoming more common, especially in newly industrialized countries, making it essential to determine cost drivers that may make it challenging for patients to afford care, said Dr. Chang Kyun Lee of the Kyung Hee University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea.

Now that we’re clear of the growing problem, let’s talk about solutions.

First, I want you to know that we are continually looking for and working on solutions. This is a large effort! If you have any proposed solutions, let us know in the comments below!

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller

a) Focus. Don’t roll your eyes at me! 🙂  I know this is an obvious one, but it is worth mentioning here, first.  Focus is not only important, it’s also more challenging for those with IBD. Crohn’s and Colitis impact brain function, including concentration and focus. Optimizing your microbiome is best way to improve your focus. Since you’re reading this post you likely are already doing that.  Consider taking supplements that specifically target brain health and  improve concentration.

In the One Great Gut Dispensary you will find natural supplements called nootropics, also known as smart drugs and cognitive enhancers,  that can improve your thinking, memory recall, focus, concentration and motivation and creativity.

While taking supplements will cost you money in the short term, with improved focus, thinking and motivation you can set yourself up for success in your goal to greater health, and money. See below for S.M.A.R.T goal setting to increase your chance of success!

The One Great Gut Dispensary will save you money on your favorite supplements and insure both freshness and quality. If you do not see your favorite supplement, let me know and I will see what I can do about adding them to the dispensary. Other online marketplaces are often hidden with counterfeit supplements that can be dangerous. The One Great Gut Dispensary is guaranteed to only have product directly from the manufacturer.

One of my favorites is Qualia Mind by Neurohacker Collective. Mind is available in caffeine and caffeine-free versions. They also offer Qualia Focus which is a more affordable version of Qualia Mind.

It may take you a few tries to find the exact nootropic supplement stack that works best for you specially. It’s worth finding what works for you because your life will be more focused, aligned with grater productivity about the things that you care about.

b) Set S.M.A.R.T goals.


You probably have some pretty awesome dreams and goals. By using the S.M.A.R.T formula you will make your dreams a reality and achieve your goals quicker.

Consider making health and money a priority. Focus on the most important things that can make a difference in both your health, and your bank account.

b) Be honest with yourself, friends and family. Transparency builds trust.  When I was an Engineer I didn’t worry about much financially. I naturally save money and don’t overspend. However, once I left Engineering everything changed. I no longer had a regular paycheck to rely on. Life was extremely hard and while I was very sick back then I was also speaking to attorneys about disability insurance. I finally got real with myself  and sat down with a few trusted friends, mentors and advisers. The more honest I was with them the better recommendations I would receive. It was certainly a blow to my ego and was very humbling, but without that level of honesty and rawness I would never have received the tips and tricks needed to work on my finances, and health.

After getting honest with myself and family during my 2018 month long hospital stay I decided to start a Medical GoFundMe. It was humbling to ask friends for help, and actually offended some family members whose ego’s and pride were hurt. It reminded them of their fears and parental teachings. I took their fears into account, but ultimately the decision was mine because I truly was in need. I was shocked and surprised how many friends and family contributed. Even strangers! Some of those friends and family I hadn’t seen in years, or decades. It was beautiful experience that showed me how loved and supported I am, even when the physical pain was extraordinary and my future looked bad.  It was through that support, emotionally and financially that I was able to safely be discharged after a roller coaster one month hospitalization.

c) The undeniable link between health and money. You must watch the Money Revealed docuseries.  There’s not many things I will recommend other’s to watch. This is one of them. 100%. You will learn directly from 36 self-made millionaires, multi-millionaires and billionaires. They sit down with you and share how they achieved the success they enjoy with money. Stop guessing, and learn from the very best.

d) Do you drink alcohol?

It’s probably costing you a lot of money, and negatively impacting your gut, health and family.

Don’t worry though. You’re not alone.

How much is drinking actually costing you?

If you have three drinks a day, five days a week, at an average of $10 a pop, you’re spending $150 a week, $650 a month or $7,800 a year just on alcohol ― not including any additional costs, like server tips or taking a taxi instead of driving. Even if you drink only on weekends, at two drinks per day you are spending about $2,500 a year.

Prefer wine at home?

According to online wine retailer Vivino, the cost of a bottle of white wine averages $14.41, while an average bottle of red wine costs $15.66. If you drink one each per week for a year, that’s more than $1,563.

The Alcoholic Beverages Market is valued at over $1,400 Billion Dollars.

According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86% of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. 70% percent reported that they drank in the past year. 56% percent reported that they drank in the past month.

The same study revealed that 15 million adults ages 18 and older have AUD or Alcohol Use Disorder.  This includes 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women.

Only 6.7 percent of adults who had AUD in the past year received treatment.

It’s not only a problem with adults, but also with adolescents.

The study estimated that 623,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD. This number included 298,000 males and 325,000 females.

Only 5.2 percent of youth who had AUD in the past year received treatment.

It gets worse.

An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.  In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).

This is not just a problem in the United States – it’s a global world wide problem!

In 2012, 3.3 million deaths, or 5.9 percent of all global deaths were attributable to alcohol consumption. In 2014, the World Health Organization reported that alcohol contributed to more than 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions, most notably DSM–IV alcohol dependence , liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries.

In 2012, 5.1 percent of the burden of disease and injury worldwide (139 million disability-adjusted life-years) was attributable to alcohol consumption. Globally, alcohol misuse was the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability in 2010. Among people between the ages of 15 and 49, it is the first.14 In the age group 20–39 years, approximately 25 percent of the total deaths are alcohol attributable.

Cutting back on alcohol will not only save you money, but also get you closer to a great gut as most alcohol has a negative impact on your microbiome.

Save money, and probably improve your gastrointestinal track including your colon and oral microbiome by cutting back on alcohol.

This is the best way I know:

Alcohol Free Forever – How To Quit Drinking From The Privacy Of Your Own Home

give up alcohol today
Click the above image to get started today, or download this Why You Need To Stop Drinking to learn more

Why you need to stop drinking today #alcohol #crohns #colitis #wine #beer #IBD #microbiome Click To Tweet

e) Use eFundYourHealth to crowdfund.

f) Gratitude and Love. This may come out of left field but I find money follows my emotions. The happier my emotions, the more I not only feel better, but it allows money to flow. Yes, this is metaphysical and not exactly yet proven by science but it has been true to both myself and many friends and mentors.

g) Check out the One Great Gut Collection. Everything I do is to save you money, time and achieve better health results. In the One Great Gut Collection there are numerous resources not only to improve your health, but you will also learn from  a team who has successfully negotiated $550,000 in medical bills to help other’s with the Insurance, Medical Bill and Debt Collection jigsaw puzzle.

h) Budget. There are many websites and apps to choose from. They all have their pluses and minuses. Mint, BudgetTracker and EveryDollar seem to be the most popular. The MMI (Millionaire Mind Intensive) weekend workshop was helpful or me as well, changing my mindset around money.  Through working with many coaches, mentors and my own personal research I have a customized system that works for me. If requested I shared this with clients during our coaching session.

I hope these solution’s help you on your journey to a Great Gut! We are continually looking for ways to help you with your health, and that includes your bank account. Check back often for updates.

Alcohol Research: The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota.

Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry – Alcohol, microbiome, and their effect on psychiatric disorders

Microbiome – Drinking alcohol is associated with variation in the human oral microbiome in a large study of American adults

Huffington Post: The Amount Of Money You Spend On Drinking May Blow Your Mind And your budget, too. By Ann Brenoff

NIAAA: Understanding the impact of alcohol on human health and well-being

Article – 2016 – Economic Implications of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Its Management by Foram Mehta, MS, RPh in AJMC Managed Markets Network

Reuters – 2019 – Inflammatory bowel disease patients have higher health costs – Lisa Rapaport

Oxford Academic – 2019 – Inflammatory Bowel Diseases – The Cost of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Note: Originally published in June 2019, this article has been revised and updated for accuracy and thoroughness.

BREATHE Case Study Crohn's Disease Entheogens Meditation Nutrition One Great Gut Collection RESEARCH Resources STORIES-OF-HOPE The Crohn's And Colitis Summit Ulcerative Colitis

Second US City Decriminalize’s Entheogens

Oakland’s city council unanimously decriminalized 🍄magic mushrooms🍄 and other natural entheogenic or psychoactive plants and fungi including cactuses, ayahuasca, and iboga.

Imperial College London Professor Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris in the Department of Medicine believes “magic mushrooms” could replace antidepressants.

“I would imagine if you had some bookmakers doing the odds, there would be strong odds on that [psychedelic therapy] will be licensed sometime in the next five to 10 years – maybe sooner” Robin-Carthart-Harris told the Independent a British online newspaper.

From Futurism an independently owned media company based out of New York City:

Robin-Carhart-Harris is currently leading a Centre for Psychedelic Research trial to compare the ability of psilocybin, or “magic,” mushrooms and leading antidepressants to treat depression.

He told The Independent that so far, participants are reporting that the psilocybin leaves them feeling like they’ve experienced an emotional “release,” while patients often criticize antidepressants for making them feel like their emotions are “blunted.”

Given the positive feedback from study participants and psilocybin mushrooms’ extremely low risk for overdose or addiction, it’s not hard to see why Carhart-Harris is optimistic that doctors will soon be able to use psychedelics to treat patients.

In 2014 I interviewed Roman Hanis who shared his health journey dealing with Crohn’s after Western and Eastern medicine were not sufficient and Doctors were recommending surgery. From Israel to New York to Peru he found entheogenic plants and cured himself.

crohns ulcerative colitis grounding chakra wachuma cactus san pedro entheogen
Trichocereus pachanoi – known as San Pedro cactus, or Huachuma

In 2016 I interviewed Marcus from Europe who was able to safely stop all pharmaceutical medications after being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, treating himself with entheogenic plants. 😮

Both of these interviews were released in 2017 as part of The Crohn’s And Colitis Summit. 92% of our listeners loved my interviewing style. That’s quite a feat considering I was still very sick then detoxing from toxic metals, mold and more. 😥

In 2016 my friend Jack told me that Ayauasca cured his Autoimmune disorder called Pemphigoid in just two days, 👍after 9 years of various conventional and alternative treatments where only corticosteroid steroids were most helpful and they also were causing damage to his bones.

Also in 2016 I was on a Skype call with a Shamen in Peru who told me I am a shaman. I’m not so sure about that. Nor the recent claims I’m a Doctor. Nope, sorry to disappoint 

A recent 2019 study published in The American Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Abuse, DMT, also an entheogen was shown to improve depression and anxiety when administered in a group setting as shown by the Johns Hopkins University survey 80% of the participants.

In the One Great Gut Collection I interview Erica Sandstedt, a shaman, and Caitlin Thompson who with a background in neurobiology defeated a difficult case of IBS, lyme, SIBO, microbiome dysbiosis, emotional trauma and depression through various Integrative methods including entheogens. Today she is an IAKP certified Kambo practitioner – 🐸

Note: Originally published in June 2019, this article has been revised and updated for accuracy and thoroughness.

Anxiety CalProctetin Crohn's Disease Depression DIAGNOSIS Emotional Inflammation LOVE Mood Changes Pharmaceuticals RESEARCH Resources Self Love Supplements SYMPTOMS The Crohn's And Colitis Summit TREATMENT Ulcerative Colitis

DMT May Rapidly Improve Depression, Anxiety, and Inflammatory Markers

According to a recent study[1] published in The American Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Abuse, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) may improve depression and anxiety when administered in a group setting.

In the Johns Hopkins University survey 80% of the participants found that the drug(medicine) improved anxiety and depression symptoms.

Studies show that a significant portion of those with IBD, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis suffer from depression and/or anxiety. [2]

I’d bet you a green smoothie that 100% of those with IBD have at some point suffered from depression and anxiety. I’d further bet you a mug of Bone Broth that 100% of humans have at some point experienced depression and anxiety.  It’s part of being human.

If you’ve met me you’d likely be surprised that even I have my bad days. But I do! I’ve given up before. I’ve had suicidal thoughts. I’ve texted the “crisis text line” looking for help.

I’ve also experienced DMT.  Once at a friends medical clinic. and once in a private ceremony. Both times were profoundly positive experiences. Both times I asked a lot of questions, and found myself extremely nervous beforehand – not knowing what to expert even though I’ve spoken to many who have, have done heaps of research, and have witnessed other’s experiencing DMT.

Everyone’s experience is different and I recommend only considering this with the right guidance and in the right setting.

DMT is a pretty hardcore psychedelic. It’s almost unbelievable that I would even consider taking a psychedelic as I grew up extremely against any illicit drugs, including marijuana though it was then legal in many states.

To make a long story short. I was diagnosed with IBD, experienced the horrendous side effects of Prednisone, and decided there must be a better way.  In my research I found Roman Hanis and Marcus, who both healed themselves from Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis with outside-the-box alternative therapies.

I then learned of a government-sponsored study by professor Dr. David Nutt that showed the damage of certain drugs.

Then there was learning the history of marijuana prohibition and the healing of Justine Meader’s Crohn’s Disease through cannabis.

Each of these moments and thousands of other conversations opened up my mind to think about trying psychedelics for the first time.

I asked a friend about his DMT experience, this was his reply:

I’ve had to hold people down who were trying to sprint through a glass patio door, another person who was slamming his legs into the ground so hard he would have broken his heel had we not stopped him, etc… and people under the influence are 100% no conscious of what they’re doing.

I’ve never experienced anything remotely like that before, and though I’m usually a pleasantly positive person, I do feel intense anger and injustice on the inside at times.   As we learned from Dr. Vincent Pedre whom I interviewed for The Crohn’s And Colitis Summit – Autoimmune Disease is often anger turner inward.

One of the 5-MeO-DMT study authors, Joseph Peter Barsuglia had this to say:

My two cents (or 50 ; ) about our group scientific article on the sacred molecule, 5-MeO-DMT that made it into Medscape[3] and a few other sources last month…

The way the news surrounding this article spread is awesome. I do want to note that there was an omission of details about the context that is interesting and perhaps quite important. It appeared on the social media headlines that because the news came through Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the study was conducted on individuals there, or conducted on a general survey of recreational users. Alan Davis was the fantastic primary author and is a research fellow at Hopkins, which is the reason for the affiliation.

However, what is essential is that the sample in this study were all initiates from a specific spiritual community who partook of this compound as a “sacrament”, only in group formats, and only in a ceremonial/ritualistic context.

The individuals who received the compound in this study were not explicitly seeking the medicine as a treatment for either depression or anxiety, although the majority reported improvements if they had a psychiatric history. This was not a treatment study or primarily an assessment of a clinical population. It was an observational study of “church” members of sorts.

These juicy tidbits did not make it into the news summaries in a clear way. An impressive percentage of individuals in this spiritual group who had prior diagnoses of depression and anxiety reported reductions in symptoms. However, for those who do know ; ) these phenomena are likely secondary byproducts of what is primarily a profound and rather reliable sacred/spiritual encounter.

I find this far more intriguing and perhaps relevant in some ways. The 5 can reduce depression and anxiety which is amazing, yet it is just barely scratching the surface of the infinite, as we are ; )

My sense is the capacity of this molecule to occasion spiritual awakening is what should be on the headlines, as I trust it will be in the near awakened future.

A little more detail on DMT: 

The medicine(drug) is extracted from the venom of The Colorado River Toad. The psychedelic experience typically lasts between 15 and 90 minutes depending on many factors including dosage, prior food and drink intake, and the type of DMT.

I wanted to write this quick blog to document what I believe to be a promising treatment for those seeking assistance with depression and anxiety.

Have you experienced DMT? Helpful? Harmful? Share your thoughts in the comments below so all may benefit from your experience.

First published in April 2019 this article has been updated for further accuracy.

[1] The American Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Abuse – 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) used in a naturalistic group setting is associated with unintended improvements in depression and anxiety –  Alan K. Davis PhD, Sara So MS, Rafael Lancelotta MS, Joseph P. Barsuglia PhD & Roland R. Griffiths PhD – Epub 2019 Mar 1

[2] Canadian Journal Of Gastroenterology and Hepatology – Prevalence of Anxiety and Depression in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease  – Glynis Byrne, Greg Rosenfeld, Yvette Leung,  Hong Qian,  Julia Raudzus,  Carlos Nunez,  and Brian Bressler. Published online 2017 Oct 18

[3] ‘Toad Venom’ Psychedelic May Rapidly Improve Depression, Anxiety

[4] DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences by Dr. Rick Strassman

[5] Psychedelic drug 5-MeO-DMT induces rapid changes in inflammatory markers

[6] Psychopharmacology: Prospective examination of synthetic 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine inhalation: effects on salivary IL-6, cortisol levels, affect, and non-judgment, Malin V Uthaug, Rafael Lancelotta, Attila Szabo, Alan K Davis, Jordi Riba & Johannes G Ramaekers



Documentary Joel's Story One Great Gut Collection Recommended Resources Resources STORIES-OF-HOPE The Crohn's And Colitis Summit

Today I woke up in a funk. A “mood”…

Today I woke up in a funk. A “mood”
This surprised me as life as been recently full of gifts.


My nightly gratitude practice includes a mental list of what I have to be grateful for.
The Crohns Colitis Collection product launch creation is going smoooooth. (Formerly The IBD Crohns Colitis Bundle)

The other day “A” told me that she contributed to my GoFundMe last year, and invited her whole company to do the same.

Yesterday “M” told me: “I never told you this before, Joel, but I owe you my life”

I was invited to speak in “The Gut Solution” documentary.

My interview in Interconnected – The Power To Heal From Within launched with Dr. Pedram Shojai from

Apparently these amazing gifts from the universe weren’t enough.

The techniques I teach others and use myself for turning a frown upside down into a smile weren’t working.

I thought about reaching out to friends, but decided I wanted to do this on my own.

Learning To Accept Rather Than Resist

Rather than fight the feels, I accepted the negative emotions.
What we resist, persists.

I began to accept what was truly going on inside this normally serial optimists body.
I now felt more grounded, rather than someone else I was hoping to be in these moments.

Though I was still in a funk, I accepted this mood. I honored this mood. I thanked this mood for showing up and allowing me to experience the full feels of life. The highs, and the lows.

I asked myself, my gut: “Why are you in a funk”?

I didn’t beat myself up or shame myself for feeling this way, I simply asked myself a question.

The answers surprised me. I had no idea these thoughts were underneath my normally cheerful self.

I then felt empowered. I knew what was going on underneath the surface of this beautiful soul.

With this new information I was easily able to use my proven techniques and strategies to cheer myself up.

It worked. Mostly.

My gut was still telling me something was still off.
My intuition then led me to my GoFundMe campaign last year where I raised $29,357 to #savejoelscolon
This was during my challenging month long hospital stay after my GI told me the colonoscopy showed

“The worst colon I’ve seen in my 40 years of practicing medicine”

Today, 15 months later I still have all my organs.
Despite being offered surgery numerous times during and after that hospital stay.
Despite one GI telling me “Joel, your colon is sick, it needs to come out”
Despite me initially not believing I would avoid the scalpel.

Though I’m grateful that surgeons can save my life if needed, it wasn’t.
I’m continual blown away by the strength and vitality of those who live the #NoColonStillRollin‘ lifestyle.

As a student of life, the the more I learn the more I learn how little I know.
However I obviously know how to save colons, my own, and others. #winning

Yes, I’m hoping to force a career change for a few surgeons #SorryNotSorry

As I looked through the 264 GoFundMe donations tears rolled down my cheeks.

Family, friends, “facebook friends”, even strangers all supporting me during a dire time of need.

Though it wasn’t easy to ask other’s for help, and embarrassed some family members, my brother Steven started the campaign.
I vulnerably updated everyone on my status and the rest is history.

The names on the list came from all walks of my life during the past few decades. High school, college, prior jobs, La Jolla Toastmasters, Yoga Teacher Training, Integrative Institute of Nutrition colleagues, meetinDC social group, volleyball teammates, Mankind Project brothers, Yoga studios, Doctors, Nurses, former girlfriends and their parents and siblings, Landmark Education, Yelp Elite, speakers from the Crohns and Colitis Summit, Burning man friends, family across the country, and globe in Israel and Australia, One Great Gut community members as far as Germany, former mens group friends, someone I once spoke to at the Encinitas Farmers Market, friends ex-wives, former roommates, freelancers I’ve hired, even Boston Redsox fans donated. 😉

Most touching were seeing names of those whose friendships didn’t end well.

Afterwards I felt like my normal self.
Whatever normal means.
I once again realized how supported and loved I am.
How supported and loved you are.
How supported and loved we are.

I don’t know why I shared this but my gut told me to share here rather than my private journal.

Be grateful.
Not just weekly or daily, but LIVE a gratitude filled life.
The benefits are profound and tangible, though you may not be able to see the results immediately.
Don’t fall out of the gratitude practice like I did, though the nurses and doctors are amazing, I guarantee you don’t want to experience a month long hospital stay.

The Gratitude Life.

It’s more than a lifestyle

It’s life saving.

Love you All 


Joel Sprechman namaste peaceful one great gut