Dr. Tom Cowan, MD
Dr. Cowan was the first to introduce us to his insights on “The Heart is not a Pump”
Dr. Cowan’s Books:
Human Heart, Cosmic Heart: A Doctor’s Quest to Understand, Treat, and Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
Getting More Vegetables In the Diet; the More Diverse the Better
Dr. Tom Cowan discovered the work of the two men who would have the most influence on his career while teaching gardening as a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland, South Africa. He read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price, and a fellow volunteer explained the arcane principles of Rudolf Steiner’s™ biodynamic agriculture. These events inspired him to pursue a medical degree. Tom graduated from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in 1984. After his residency in Family Practice at Johnson City Hospital in Johnson City, New York, he set up an anthroposophical medical practice in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Dr. Cowan relocated to San Francisco in 2003.
Dr. Cowan has served as vice president of the Physicians Association for Anthroposophical Medicine and is a founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation™. During his career he has studied and written about many subjects in medicine. These include nutrition, homeopathy, anthroposophical medicine and herbal medicine. He is the principal author of the book, “The Fourfold Path to Healing”, which was published in 2004 by New Trends Publishing and is the co-author of “The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care,” published in 2013. He writes the “Ask the Doctor” column in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the Foundation’s quarterly magazine, and has lectured throughout the United States and Canada.
-Diversity of microbiome is everything. We have 5-7 lbs of bacteria, fungus, parasites in the gut.
-An extant African tribe eats 300-400 different species of plants per year. An Englishman ate their diet for 3 days and increased his gut diversity by 20%.
-The typical American eats 20 species per year.
-Diversity in the gut is directly related to food. Food carries microbes, and different microbes live on different plants. Other plants promote the growth of diversity. Leeks promote the greatest diversity in the gut.
-Your microflora is your immune system. Diversity keeps pathogens in check, determines integrity of the gut lining. Crucial determinant of overall health.
Glyphosate stimulates production of zonulin, which opens pores in the gut and allows macromolecules to get into the gut where they shouldn’t be. Leads to autoimmune disease.
-Vaccines are grown on gelatin which comes from cows fed GMOs and sprayed. Picks up the Roundup which gets into vaccines. Gelatin capsules are often contaminated.
-Any ecosystem is impoverished by monocropping. Almonds, beets, carrots, chickens, any living thing doesn’t like being a monocrop.
-What produces the healthiest type of each vegetable? The wilder the better. Wild vegetables are perennials and concentrate minerals, giving them a stronger flavor and nutrient profile. Breeding plants to make them sweeter makes them more suceptible to pests because of the increased sugar.
-Wild ramp from creek sides is an example of a wild vegetable. Out of ramp long-term because of very limited availability. Substitute permaculture grown leeks. Ramp and leeks are dried carefully and put in miron jars.
-His turmeric is grown on the island of Maui either on an animal sanctuary or by a biodynamic grower.
-Don’t need a large amount of a vegetable. Just need a little bit of kale, which 1/2 tsp of his vegetable powder gives you.
-Taste is connected with health and nutrients.
-Plants produce phytonutrients to protect against pests. Humans use phytonutrients to protect against pathogens.
-Dr. Cowan was influenced by the book “Tending the Wild”.
-Currently have 20-25 different vegetables in powders.
-Ashitaba is an amazing vegetable and has twice the nutrient profile of kale. Tomatoes are 100% grown by Dr. Cowan. Has unusual varieties. Picked 1400 lbs of tomatoes this year. He’s not against hybrids – they have a certain vigor and robustness.
-Traditional people ate fats and proteins for their body building role. Nuts, grain and seeds provided carbohydrates and fiber. Phytonutrients from vegetables protected against disease.
-Kale should be lightly steamed. The role of kale is not to provide protein. For growing children or longevity, vegan diet doesn’t make sense to him.
-What is shelf life of the powders? They are stored in mirin jars, which only let in UV light, which doesn’t degrade the powder content. A fresh cherry tomato stored in a mirin jar was good for 5 months. Expect the powders to be good for up to 5 years. Tomato salt short life is shorter – eat within 3-6 months.
-Charred eggplant powder. Eggplant retains smoky flavor better than any other food. Made from 3 varieties of heirloom eggplants which are briefly charred and then mixed with Celtic sea salt, six varieties of heirloom peppers, and leek powder. Is briefly charred, then mixed with pepper salt and leek powder. Great on fish or popcorn. Native Americans know pumpkin. Mexicans know corn.
-Nori powder made from 2 different seaweeds. Dr. Cowen is fanatic about food quality and ecosystems. Hand harvested from very clean northern California waters, tested for contamination. High in iodine, nutrient dense. 3 common Atlantic seaweeds make Sea Vegetable powder.
-Burdock. Shows up as a traditional cancer remedy. Great for the liver, the skin. Easy to use when it’s in the powder form.
-Savory vegetable powders are better in soup.
-Val asks about the health as a heart as an organ, not just the arteries. One study looking at people who died of heart attacks said 41% of heart attacks was from a blocked artery, but in 50% of those the blockage came after the heart attack. So 80% weren’t blocked arteries. Issue was with the function of the heart, where there was atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure. Heart cells like fats, not carbohydrates. Good high fat, good fat, lowish carb diet is crucial for the health of the myocardial heart cell. CoQ10 goes along with that. Monoatomic gold is another essential ingredient for the heart, found in aloe and purple vegetables, Concord grapes, especially their skins, purple eggplant, and watercress. Get muscle stimulating exercise to improve heart at the muscle level.
-Coconut oil and animal fats are all good, if grown appropriately. Not keen on fish oil, maybe a little bit of cod liver oil. Butter, olive oil, palm oil are good.
-Collagen made into gelatin, not from commercial cows, is good for gut lining, thyroid.
-Any input on sleep apnea in regards to cardiovascular health? If overweight enough that airways collapse, oxygenation and heart function are affected. Sleep apnea found in poor muscle tone, out of shape, deteriorating people. Do something about that, also sleep hygiene, before doing a sleep study and CPAP machine. Using a didgeridoo is good. Do for yourself with what’s been around over 100 years.
-Dennis asks if the lymph in the body moves in the same manner as in Dr. Cowan’s theory about how the blood moves? It has a similar effect.
-Peter wonders why people have strokes? Is it lactic acid build up in the heart? Hemorrhagic vs. ischemic strokes are 50/50 in incidence. A significant percentage of ischemic strokes are not because of a significant blockage, but because there’s a metabolic abnormality in the brain tissue itself. Similar to ischemic heart attacks not being caused by a blockage. Strophantin gets rid of lactic acid, also prevents strokes and good for treatment of ischemic strokes. Poor water dynamics also play a role. Hemorrhagic strokes also caused by statins, which weaken the blood vessel walls. Combination of aspirin, statins, and fish oils is deadly in terms of increasing hemorrhagic stroke. Evidence in the medical literature.
-Rich bought ouabain. Should he take it as a preventive? Not if he’s healthy. Dr. Cowan doesn’t use homeopathic version, which probably won’t hurt you, but it’s not real effective. Dr. Cowan uses liquid strophantin. A treatment for preventing heart attacks and strokes, maybe cancer. Doesn’t use it if there’s no reason.
-Jennifer is trying to understand relationship between worry and stress and the heart. 80% of people who have heart attacks don’t have blocked arteries. They have a lower parasympathetic tone for a period prior to having the heart attack. More effective to support parasympathetic than block the sympathetic. Stress is accompanied by decreased parasympathetic tone.
-How to increase parasympathetic tone? Can’t live in modern America and not have a stressful life. Learn to live and deal with it to not have stress-induced diseases. Meditation, gratitude, massage, touch, breathing exercise, eating good food, cold water exposure helpful, but ultimately, we need to learn how to live differently. Can we change the world?
-Dairy, cheese, eggs – are they healthy? It’s all about quality. Some of the healthiest people that ever lived regularly consumed cows products as part of their daily fare. But it was grass-raised, fermented, not pasteurized or homogenized. Pasture-raised eggs are great. Find the best quality, increase the microbiome. Look for different species. Cheese is an age-old way of storing milk.
-Robert asks about lectins in vegetables and nightshades. Plants don’t want you to eat them, they also don’t want pests eating them, and they use the nutrients to stay healthy. Humans evolved with plants, easiest way to get disease fighting nutrients is to eat small amounts of diverse plants. If you eat too many plants, it can cause disease. Who’s right? Look at societies that have been eating nightshades for centuries without causing disease.
Do they use kale stems, leek leaves, cucumber peels? His kale is cut so there isn’t much stem. The stem is not removed in the part where the leaf is attached. With leeks, you want the leek leaves, the green part, which is even more nutrient dense than the white part. They don’t make a cucumber powder because cucumbers have so much water in them. You eat as many parts, colors, shapes as you can. Burpless cucumbers are the best tasting, have very thin skin, make great pickles.
-Carmen asks about inclined bed therapy. What about elderly people on blood thinners after a pulmonary embolism using an inclined bed? He has no experience with it.
John asks about wheat grass, spirulina powders? They are another way of getting greens.
-Concerns with mercury and radioactivity in fish? Yes, but also concerned about glyphosate in carrots. Concerned about anything poisoning the food supply. There are some good fish purveyors that test their fish for contaminants.
-People getting healthy and removing their pacemakers? They’re embedded in your heart, not possible to get it out very easily. Can turn it off.
Does he take patients? If out of state, California law requires an initial in-patient visit.
Glyphosate – look up Dr. Stephanie Seneff’s work. Glyphosate is ubiquitous. Dr. Zach Bush identified that the pores of the gut wall are closed to large molecules, zonulin opens the pores, glyphosate increases zonulin and causes leaky gut, which causes all sort of trouble. Also increases permeability of blood brain barrier, causing nasty diseases such as ALS. Disingenuous argument about glyphosate only affecting shikamate pathway because our microflora have that pathway and get disrupted.
Dr. Thomas Cowan M.D. on consuming a very wide variety of heritage vegetables, September 7, 2017