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Table of Contents

  • [00:00:03] - Intro to Dr. Katinka
  • [00:01:01] - The Role of Emotional Pain in Healing the Body
  • [00:01:58] - Intro to Dr. Lucas van der Merwe, Dr. Katinka's father
  • [00:03:42] - The Role of Stress in Our Lives and Illnesses
  • [00:06:12] - The Power of an Internal Belief System
  • [00:09:20] - Why Do People Take Medications, and Why Do Some Work?
  • [00:12:27] - If the Body is "Perfect," What Causes Some People to Suffer from Daily Chronic Pain?
  • [00:17:20] - How Do We Deal with Inevitable Emotional Stress?
  • [00:21:34] - Focusing On and Learning From Failures
  • [00:06:12] - An Ending Quote from Cheryl Strayed

Episode Transcript

[00:00:03] Hi, everyone, welcome to the Hope for Chronic Pain podcast. This podcast is brought to you by Dr. Katinka van der Merwe. Dr. Katinka grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, as the daughter of a successful chiropractic doctor. She followed in her father’s footsteps and graduated from Parker College of Chiropractic in 1999. She has since gained a reputation for developing a novel, non-invasive treatment system for neurologic rehabilitation of chronic pain, resulting in breakthroughs for even the most hopeless and severe cases.

[00:00:34] Her and her team have gained international attention due to their unprecedented success rate in these cases. Kent State University is slated to be involved with the first study of her work starting this year. She’s an international speaker and best-selling author of three books, Putting Out the Fire, Taming the Beast and Wake Up Miracles of Healing from Around the World. Dr. Katinka practices in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and is the CEO of the Spirit Clinic.

[00:01:01] When I built my program with a goal to help the most hopeless of chronic pain patients, I never foresaw the role that emotional pain would play in our work and in our results.

[00:01:16] We expected the challenges that healing physical pain and its barriers would bring. But we didn’t quite understand that past and present emotional pain would be interwoven with the very fabric of human cells comprising every patient we would treat.

[00:01:34] The medical world’s answer to emotional pain is pharmaceuticals, as you guys know. Psychologists and counselors can endlessly delve into your pain and how it affects you emotionally. But few physicians can link emotional pain directly to physical pain, which is, of course, what we deal with on a daily basis.

[00:01:58] Today, I’m joined by someone that does exactly that type of work, and he is very special to me – Dr. Lucas van der Merwe. Dr. Lucas is a chiropractor who has been in practice for 50 years.

[00:02:13] He also happens to be my father and my first professional mentor. Dr. Lucas has built two mega successful practices and is legendary among our patients for his decades long experience in addressing emotional pain as it relates to physical pain. At the age of 73, he possesses a rare gift which is hard to find these days: the wisdom of decades of hands on experience, which is something you just cannot teach in a class. You can’t learn it from a book. That comes from hands on experience with patients through the years. In my opinion, too many physicians retire in their 60s and then their great gift of experience and time is lost to the world.

[00:03:04] So I am very pleased to still have him on our team. He is a very valuable member of our team. In our clinic, he is a key factor in patient recovery. And I decided that he has knowledge and experience that this specific audience needs. I just want to throw in a quote that really touched me. Time doesn’t heal emotional pain. You need to learn how to let it go. That’s by Roy T. Bennett. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but I think Dr. Lucas has more to say about this subject.

[00:03:37] Welcome, Dr. Lucas. Welcome, Dad.

[00:03:39] Thank you. Good morning. Good morning.

[00:03:42] You know, having been in practice for 50 years, you learn a lot. When I graduated chiropractic school in 1971, I was the smartest person on the face of the earth. Didn’t take me very long to find out that I didn’t know quite as much as I thought I did. Having your hands on a Real-Life patient is a very humbling experience. And what I’ve learned in the many years that I’ve worked with patients is that there is mainly one reason. Yes, you heard me right. One reason why people get sick. Then how can it be that simple? Well, let me explain. When I say one reason, the name of that reason is stress. And it’s not really the stress that makes us sick. It’s the body’s inability to handle the stress. You have an on-board computer called the brain and the nervous system.

[00:04:34] And that computer, the job of that computer is to be the go between you and stress.

[00:04:41] If it was not for stress, none of us would be alive. It is. Think of your muscular system. If you sat on the couch and never moved, you would gradually lose all your muscle strength to the point where you cannot move. And the body is just like that. We need stress to stimulate and challenge our immune system and all the other systems in the body to stay strong and perform their best. The moment you stop exercising, you become weak. So, let’s get back to stress. There are actually three kinds of stress, and we’re going to talk about just one of the three kinds, and I’ll just briefly mention that one of the stresses is physical stress, like a car wreck or falling on the ice.

[00:05:28] Then there is another stress, a chemical nature, and that would be something you put into your body, onto your body, medications, drugs, recreational, stuff you breathe in.

[00:05:41] And then the third one is emotional stress. And that is the one that is my specialty. And I want to elaborate on that. Now, how does emotional stress make us sick? Well, let me get back to what I said. It’s the body’s inability to handle the stress. What I have learned is that there are certain feelings that affect us more than other feelings. For instance, belief systems. Another one is passion.

[00:06:12] Belief systems are very, very powerful. We believe that something is either right or wrong, and there’s no gray in-between. When we are wrong, when somebody does us a wrong, we take that very personal and we respond very strongly to that.

[00:06:29] You just have to look at world politics at the moment to know how important belief systems are. If you look at people that want to annihilate us because we are infidels and that is what they believe. So, if someone does you wrong, you cannot get over it. And that makes entries on your computer’s hard drive. And every time the brain focuses on that feeling, it does not take care of housekeeping. What do I mean by housekeeping? Your brain has to send a 100 percent signal to every part of your body 24/7. And I mean that literally. If the brain wants to send a 99 percent signal, there is a chance, a one percent chance, that something somewhere in the body will go wrong. Or if something is already wrong, that something cannot heal unless we can restore 100 percent signal. So if you are thinking about a wrong that you have been done, the brain, the computer hangs up and it’s not sending 100 percent signal. So gradually over time, something begins to go wrong. And then what I’ve learned is people go to the medical doctor. Very few patients come to us first. By the time they come to us, we are kind of the last resort.

[00:07:51] So they go to the medical doctor. And the medical doctor – his main goal is to make a diagnosis. The reason for making a correct diagnosis is so that they can administer the correct treatment. Now, in the medical world, treatment is designed to fix the body from the outside in. We are going to use a pill, a potion, a location, a scalpel, a procedure. The doctor has the power and the knowledge and he has to fix the patient. Now, I have had my hands on thousands of patients over the years and I have seen many, many miracles. And I did not cause any one of those miracles. In fact, the entire 50 years I’ve been in practice, I’ve never healed anybody of anything. The only body I have ever healed is my own body. Patients heal from the inside out. Now, that does not mean that medical procedures, drugs, scalpels, other procedures are not very powerful, it is extremely powerful. But there is zero healing power in a pill. There is zero healing power in a lotion or a potion. The healing power is within the patient. And our job is to get that housekeeping system back to working the way it is supposed to.

[00:09:14] I just want to address something you just said because it’s something patients would ask all the time.

[00:09:20] If there is zero healing power in a pill, why do people take medications and why do they seem to work? Sometimes they do take symptoms away.

[00:09:31] Yes, as I said, they are very powerful. Do not underestimate what you put into your body. Medication runs the body from the outside in. It changes how the body functions – but there is zero healing power. And what do I mean by healing power? Let’s take the example of: you work in the kitchen and you cut your finger. Now, it’s not life threatening. It’s just a little irritating cut and it’s bleeding some. And you put a Band-Aid on it. 10 days later when you remove the Band-Aid. what do you expect to see? Well, the cut has almost healed. It is definitely healing. Now, was that the Band-Aid that did the healing? No. The body had to make new cells to replace the damaged cells. And how does the body make the new cells? Well, let’s go back to a concept that in chiropractic we call innate intelligence. Innate intelligence means an inborn wisdom that the body has. For instance, you can eat a slice of pizza and drink a beer. And the next morning, that slice of pizza, the body has turned that nutritional material into either a new cornea cell for your eye, a new nail cell, a new hair cell, your hair keeps growing and your nails keep growing. And so, the body has the wisdom to change food into new cells. Get back to the cut on your finger. The body uses what you had consumed the day before to make new cells. To heal that cut – the Band-Aid merely helps. If you have a headache and you take a pill and the headache goes away, the pill did not fix the headache, it merely caused the distraction.

[00:11:23] The pill is actually a toxic substance, but it’s been designed and engineered to where they give you just enough not to kill you, but to divert the attention of the brain to getting rid of that toxic substance.

[00:11:38] So after three or four hours, the brain has directed the body to get the toxic substance out of your system. And guess what? The pain returns. So now the drug companies have made a double strength that’s going to take your body twice as long to get that out of your system. And the pain will return because there’s no healing in the pill that fixes the cause of the headache. And then we go to triple strength. And then when the body gets used to one drug, we have to switch to another one that it’s not yet used to. So the solution to the problem is not to try and eliminate the symptoms, but to make them unnecessary. We do not take patients off of medications. We just want to make the medication unnecessary.

[00:12:27] That brings me to a good question. I know you always say the body is perfect and it never makes a mistake, but for our listeners who suffer from daily chronic pain or someone they love suffers every day from daily horrible pain, why do we have pain?

[00:12:48] Why is it necessary? Is that a mistake?

[00:12:51] The body never, ever makes mistakes. I mean that literally. It never, ever does anything wrong and does not know how to do anything wrong. The body simply responds to what we do. I’ll use the analogy of my grandson. When he’s hungry, he cries because he cannot speak, say that he’s hungry or that he needs a diaper or that he’s tired. He just cries. It’s the only language he has. In our body, pain is the language the body has to let the housekeeping’s brain computer know that it’s being neglected. Housekeeping has gone south. And we address the cause of the pain, and when the cause is no longer there, the pain becomes unnecessary.

[00:13:38] So let me see if I understand this correctly.

[00:13:41] You can have a physical injury, of course. You can break your ankle or twist your ankle. You can smash your thumb in the car door. So that’s the initial physical insult. But then your body should proceed to start healing that and healing that very quickly. But if we have all this stored emotional trauma and stress in our brains on this hard drive in the subconscious mind, it is redirecting the power that should be healing us and it’s paying attention to that white noise.

[00:14:13] Is that correct?

[00:14:14] That is correct. Funny you should mention the ankle. You know, a month before Christmas, I tumbled down the hill with a leaf blower on my back and tore two ligaments in my left ankle. My first concern was that I had broken the machine.

[00:14:31] When I tried to get up to look at my machine, I realized I couldn’t stand on my left leg and the pain was excruciating. Now, the last time I had used pain medication was when my daughter was a three month old baby and she’s in her mid 40s now. So, I walk my talk. Now, why did I not resort to painkillers? Because I certainly could have used them.

[00:14:55] I considered pain at the time to be my friend. It’s not my enemy. I wasn’t focused on the pain. Pain was keeping me careful.

[00:15:04] I could take pain medication that would dull the pain, and I could do more damage to the already torn ligaments.

[00:15:11] So the body has the ability to heal. It makes new cells all the time. And all I had to do was to keep my ankle as free of stress as possible. Now, free of physical stress. I was in a wheelchair for a few days. I couldn’t put right on the ankle. Then I was on crutches for a week or so and then I could walk without crutches. And I lost a few days of work because I couldn’t put weight on the ankle. But all the time, every time I felt the pain, I said to myself, I’m so glad my brain can feel that pain, because if the brain can feel the pain, it can fix it.

[00:15:50] Now, scientifically, this is not entirely true, but the key word here is glad. Gratitude never, ever gets the computer stuck. So, if I can have 100 percent signal between my brain and my ankle, the healing will proceed as fast as possible.

[00:16:08] And patients are amazed when they see me walk normal in such a short time.

[00:16:14] How can the body do that? The body can do it. We just have to stay out of the way. Typically, a patient would think while I tore ligaments and I have a very vivid image in their mind of how a torn ligament looks, the redness, the swelling, the tremendous pain that goes with it. And the more you are focused on that, the more the computer hangs up.

[00:16:38] Be thankful that your brain can feel the pain and the healing will go as fast as the body can do it.

Now, dad, in all fairness, you have taken very good care of your body, you have a fairly good team of doctors, I’m going to put myself on that team. And you did have some frequency specific microcurrent available to you. For our patients listening, for our audience listening. Bad things are going to happen to us. People die, our parents die. We all go through that. It’s unfortunate rite of passage in life. We go through divorces, we have breakups, we have trauma. It’s part of being human.

[00:17:20] So how do you neutralize bad things – emotional stress, if you cannot change the things that have happened to you and that will continue to happen to you.

[00:17:32] I’m so glad you asked me that question. I always tell patients that when I find the feeling that gets the brain computer stuck, I tell them they have homework to do. Now, what do I mean by homework? Well, essentially three things. Look at the experience, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a current or a past experience, and see if you can see any good in that. Or can you learn from that experience? And if those two do not apply, then there is one that will always apply. Let go. You cannot fix what has happened in the past. Let go. I’ll give you an example. Elderly lady, she was a grandmother, was a patient of mine. The history was that between the age of five and eight years old, she was repeatedly molested by a male family member.

[00:18:26] And she made no bones about it, that she absolutely hated men. Corners of the mouth was turned down and she didn’t have a whole lot of good feelings toward me because I was a man, even though I was a doctor helping.

[00:18:42] So one day I asked her the question, can you see any good in this experience? And I thought she was going to slap me. She said that’s just how a man would think. How can they be any good in something that vile? I said to her, well, I can see good in it. And she got right in my face and she says, yeah, what? I said, well, I know you have daughters. I know you have granddaughters. Now because of your experience, would anything like what happened to you have happened to them? And you could see the fight go out of the jaw dropped, the light came on.

[00:19:25] I get emotional about this.

[00:19:29] Later on, she said to me, that was a turning point in my life.

[00:19:34] So she was more protective of her daughter, more on alert, knowing that that existed and could protect her daughter better than she was protected. Very much, she could see the good that came out of it.

[00:19:53] And the moment you can see good – that energy in your brain that stored energy becomes neutralized.

[00:20:00] Now, of course, we have techniques that we have to physically apply to help her to reboot the computer.

[00:20:09] Once you do that, and she then in future things about that experience, she no longer sees it as a negative. She can see the good in it.

[00:20:17] And she could see that it was to her advantage and all the people around her to let go of the negative feeling she had about it.

[00:20:26] So forgiveness is actually a very powerful weapon in our arsenal to stay healthy and live our best lives.

[00:20:36] And it is not implying that whatever was done to you was right – but it’s taking back your power and refusing to still be a victim of whatever happens.

[00:20:49] You’re saying I’m taking back my power, I forgive you, and I cut any tie between us that is causing ongoing problems with my health. Negative feelings and thoughts. Yes.

[00:21:02] Seeing the good learning, learning the lesson, letting go – it frees up your brain computer to get back to 100 percent housekeeping. And if we could stay out of the way so that that computer can continue to do housekeeping at 100 percent 24/7, the result of that will be a body that functions correctly.

[00:21:24] Good health, feeling good, being happy.

Dad, I always say you’re my first and most important mentor, professionally and personally.

[00:21:34] But one of the most valuable things you taught me was that it’s not the nine out of 10 people that do help that drive you. It’s the one out of 10 that you cannot help. How has that philosophy shaped your career?

[00:21:51] I graduated chiropractic school in 1971. I went into practice and I was a traditional chiropractor working from the principle that a vertebra out out of place will interfere with nerve transmission. And the chiropractor’s job is to find that vertebra and to correct it.

[00:22:13] The layperson would say the chiropractor popped my neck or cracked my back, meaning a manipulation and adjustment was performed on the spine.

[00:22:22] I built a very big practice, very fast. And by all standards, you could consider that it was a big success. But the one out of 10 that did not respond, that did not hold their adjustment is what got my attention. I started focusing more and more on my failures. And I continuously strive to find the answer – how to help them. Why was what I was doing not helping them? And so, in my research, I came across this technique that was developed in America called bioenergetic synchronization technique. And essentially the difference between that and traditional chiropractic is that we work with feelings, feelings and get the computer stuck and we have to update that brain computer. Now, think of your brain as a computer and the computer has a keyboard.

[00:23:23] All you have to do to get the computer to do what you want it to do is to touch the correct keys in the correct sequence.

[00:23:31] You don’t have to pound on the keys. You don’t have to exert a great force on it. You just have to apply light pressure. And that is what we do.

[00:23:42] I cannot with words thank you enough for the influence you had on my career and how many people it has allowed us to help together.

[00:23:56] I think we make such an amazing team and you bring so much to the table. And I’m so pleased that our audience could hear some of your wisdom today that our patients always just love hearing from you.

[00:24:10] I think you’re the most popular doctor in our building.

[00:24:14] Thank you so much for joining us today. I want to end with a quote by Cheryl Strayed. Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there. And you have to survive it.

[00:24:34] You have to endure it, you have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you. And thank you for the compliments.

[00:24:56] You are so welcome. Well-deserved.

Thank you so much for joining us today. We are excited about every new person we are able to reach.

[00:25:04] It is our most sincere hope that our podcast will bring hope to many. If you are someone you love is suffering from chronic pain. Please don’t lose hope. Visit our website at for more information and stories of hope.

A paradigm Shift in treating EDS & POTS - Dr Katinka van der Merwe - Spero Clinic

A Paradigm Shift in Treating EDS/POTS

Taming the Beast

Putting Out the Fire

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