The Healing Power Of Community with James Maskell

Content By: Ari Whitten

In this episode, I am speaking with James Maskell, author of The Evolution Of Medicine, and founder of KNEW Health. We will talk about why community is one of the secret keys to superhuman health, energy, and longevity.

Table of Contents

In this podcast, James and I will discuss:

  • The critical role of socioeconomic factors in health
  • Why functional medicine is the future of medicine (and why it isn’t)
  • The first steps to build community
  • The 3 factors that impact on health
  • The #1 leading cause of chronic disease
  • A big reason why some people are unable to make lasting changes (and how to fix it!)
  • Do the medications you take for your chronic illness actually work?

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Ari: Hey there. This is Ari Whitten and welcome back to the Superhuman Energy Summit. Today, I have with me my good friend James Maskell. How should I describe James Maskell? He is committed to advancing the state of modern medicine and integrating the important science around community and group based healthcare into our model of medicine. He’s doing incredibly important work. And I’m so excited to share this presentation with you all.

So, I’m going to read his official bio here. As an advocate and the mind of an entrepreneur, James Maskell has spent the past decade innovating at the cross section of functional medicine and community. To that end, he created the Functional Forum, the world’s largest integrative medicine conference, with record setting participation online and growing physician communities around the world. His organization and bestselling book of the same name, Evolution of Medicine, prepares health professionals for this new era of personalized participatory medicine. His new book is called, The Community Cure. He’s an in demand speaker and impresario being featured on TED Med, Huff Post Live, and TED X, as well as lecturing internationally.

So, welcome James. Such a pleasure to have you.

James: Hey, great to be here with you again, Ari. And really excited to share on this Summit.

Ari: Yeah. So, the title of your talk is You Can’t Be Superhuman Alone. And we’re going to be talking about the power of community. So, what does that mean? That we can’t be superhuman alone?

James: Yeah, we’re going to get into it here in a minute, Ari. You know, one of the biggest things that I see is that a lot of the focus on being superhuman, biohacking, or these kinds of concepts never really goes out beyond the individual person. And yet, our community, the strengths, and the quality of our relationships, has everything to do with how we participate in society, you know, what levels of function we can operate at. And so, I just want to sort of fill in this missing piece for the audience. I’m sure throughout the rest of the Summit, you are going to get tons of amazing content on self-care. And all the things that we can do biochemically and physiologically to have superhuman energy. But I think for a lot of people, especially people who’ve been chronically ill and have come to this well, you know, through their illness, they have become somewhat isolated amongst that community because they’re not doing the same things as their other friends.

And so, I wanted to sort of offer a perspective on it in this session to talk about it from your perspective. It’s like, why is this so important? And then, what can we do about it?

Ari: Beautiful. Let’s get into it.

Why people are unable to make lasting changes to their lifestyle

James: All right, great. So, yeah, ultimately, we’re going to be talking about being superhuman. And all the ideas that you’re going to see, I mean, this quite a visual presentation. All of these visuals come from my book, The Community Cure, which came out at the beginning of the year. And it was really sort of my life’s work, sharing everything that I’ve learned in 15 years, coming into this as a health economist.

You know, my vision and mission is really to create a sustainable healthcare system that maximizes health span. Sort of lifespan multiplied by health. And minimizes costs so that we can continue to have a healthy economy. As well as healthy humans in it. And so, a lot of the graphs that you’re going to see today come from that book.

So, we just start with the very basics. I mean, the understanding of where health comes from is evolving. And I would say this is sort of the current thinking is about 20 percent of your health will be access to medical care and the quality of care itself. So, just think all the doctors, all the things we do in medicine, can only really show only 20 percent impact on your health. 30 percent is going to be health behavior. So, you’re going to learn about some of that here on the Summit this weekend. So, tobacco use, alcohol use, diet and

exercise, sexual activity, there’s a number of other things that you’re going to hear during this Summit as it relates to health behaviors. Socio-economic factor is by far the biggest. And that is, education, job status, community safety, family and social support. And then 10 percent is your physical environment.

You know, a lot of Summits that I’ve heard and participated in, I’ve never really heard people talking to people who are not really able to change behavior. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit as we go through. Because ultimately, you know, this model that we’re building is for everyone. And so, you know, while we want to make changes on all these levels, I think physical environment is maybe the hardest thing to change. But we’re actively evolving medical care, health behaviors really up to you. And so, you can really participate in that now.

And I want to talk into the socio-economic factors, because even though those things may seem like, you know, hard to shift. There are things that we can all do to be able to maximize that. And we need to do it now because we have a huge problem in front of us. And that is there is a decline in the state of health. Now, you may have heard over the last few years that for the first time in human history, life expectancy has gone down. But it’s bigger than that. And it’s not just, you know, opiate deaths that are driving that. You’re actually seeing younger people’s health declining at faster rates than, you know, my generation, our generation, Ari and my generation. So, you know, we both are fathers. We both have kids that we want to create a healthy world for them.

And ultimately, this thing from BlueCross BlueShield last year showed that people’s health is maximizing at 27 and just going down from that. And ultimately people are getting sicker at younger and younger ages than we’ve ever seen. So, if we keep doing the same things we’ve been doing, you know, we expect the same results. So, we’re going to have to do something very different. And ultimately, a key word that I want to lodge into your brains for this presentation, and it’s a long word. And it’s got three parts. But I think it’s just a really important word to understand. It’s this concept of disease and health being bio-psycho-social in nature. Bio-psycho-social.

So, how is that made up? You can see here on the graph. You know, there are biological reasons why we’re either healthy or we get disease. There are psychological reasons why we are either healthy or we get disease. And there are social and environmental reasons. And I think a lot of times, we’re focused in on the biological issues. Like certainly, there’ll be a lot of things talking about your immune system for energy. You talk about your genetics, talk about biochemistry, physical health, talking about diet and lifestyle.

But ultimately, you know, the psychological is just as important with the attitudes that we hold, the beliefs, our self-esteem, our emotions, perceptions, temperament play a huge role in how we perceive the world, and therefore how superhuman we can be.

But I really wanted to knock in this social environmental piece because this typically gets completely overlooked.

Ari: Yeah.

James: And ultimately, you know, I’ll show you in a graph here moving forward that social environmental is perhaps the biggest driver of all of these issues. And so, if you understand health or disease in this context, you understand that you either have to go for all of them. You have to be able to participate in all of them. And any one of these being off kilter will tend to drag the other ones down.

Ari: Yeah. If I could just interject for a moment, you have on this slide, one of the earlier slides you showed. And for people listening who can’t see the video of this. Just to point out, for health behaviors, it’s representative of 30 percent of your overall picture of health. Socio-economic factors, 40 percent.

So, I completely agree with James that this is part of socio-economic factors, is massively overlooked as people are focusing on, you know, the biochemical stuff and the health behavior side. And it’s just so important to talk about this. And that’s why I wanted James to present this information on this Summit.

James: Yeah. And not only is it detrimental in and of itself. And I’ll show this next graph here, essentially shows that high social stress is a bigger driver of chronic disease related mortality than even smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, and also nutrition, just not on the slide. So, just think of everything that has been achieved from a public health perspective. Everything is being achieved on nutritional that you learned, spent time learning on a nutrition perspective from Ari or others. And ultimately, this loneliness is driving disease and mortality to an even greater degree.

And, you know, if you look at the headlines, you’ll see that this is a huge problem. You know, a quarter of millennials say they have no friends. Loneliness is being seen as a key factor in the mental health decline of millennials. But also, throughout society, we’ve gone from a society that was profoundly interconnected. And over the last 400 years, but really over the last 100 years, you’ve seen first the car, technology like the car. Meaning that people can go live in suburbs and become sort of physically disconnected.

Then you have the growth of like strip malls and malls generally. And so, you have downtowns taking a hit. The places where people would normally interact sort of falling away.

And today, you know, between social media and Amazon, you don’t even have to leave the house. You know, you can interact with everyone online. You can have everything delivered to your house. As Charles Eisenstein says, “We’ve become helplessly independent.” Where we are completely independent from our neighbors, we don’t need them for anything. And we’re kind of reliant on these strangers on other continents sometime in order to execute the things that we need.

Ari: This weird irony in the modern world. We live in cities with oftentimes millions of people. We live in apartment buildings where we are right next to, you know, there’s just a wall separating us from other people. And yet, we oftentimes have no interaction whatsoever with any of these people. And we just live these completely isolated lives surrounded by a sea of people that we never interact with.

James: Absolutely. Yeah. This is not something that we’re well adapted for. And you can see that, you know, the outcomes in so many areas of how far are going down dramatically because we’re not adapting. We are adapted to be an overall evolution to evolve in tribes. And so, we’re very used to that. And so, when you see that, now things that we used to do in tribes are now done in isolation. You know, the outcomes get significantly worse.

And so, you know, this has been a huge piece for me as I started to think about not only, you know, what is the impact of the loneliness in and of itself. But also, what does the loneliness lead to in terms of our ability to execute on all the other things that we’re going to hear about on this Summit? Like, tou want to eat better? You want to exercise more? All the things that you think you want to do, how can you actually do that? And how can you do it consistently?

And ultimately, you know, if we’re going to build a new health system that’s based on behavior change, it can’t be as hard as it is now. And one of my favorite quotes that I love to share with people because I think it really beds this in. Is, “Shouting self-care at people who need community care is how we fail people.”

Ari: So, true.

Medications and their efficacy

James: When I read that quote, it just really resonated with me because ultimately there’s a lot of people out there who are doing the best they can with themselves. Like, if you have two jobs and three kids and no car, you’re not starting a new yoga routine anytime soon. And you’re probably not going to be able to eat healthy food because you’re just in the day to day slugging it out as life. And that’s not your fault.

But ultimately, what we need to think about is how can we provide real solutions to people all across the income brackets? And so, that’s really what we’re going to focus on for the rest of the presentation.

So, you know, I’m best known, as Ari said at the beginning, for starting this thing called the Functional Forum. You know, I see that a really, really important part of health transformation is that we have a system that’s focused on self-efficacy. And when I say-self efficacy, I mean the goal of the medical care has to be completely independent from the medical system. Healthy, don’t need ongoing medication, don’t need ongoing doctors, like that has to be the goal. And I think if we all reflect wherever we are in the world that most of the medicine that we’re receiving doesn’t have that goal. The goal is lifetime dependence on medication. And there’s definitely reasons for that. And they are too long to go into in this presentation. That’s sort of a history lesson.

But ultimately, one of the reasons why I love functional medicine and why we decide to call our show the Functional Forum is because we believe that a medical operating system that focuses on getting people off drugs, is what’s necessary to curb costs in the long term. And even if you disagree with me and if you think drugs are great. You know, in some cases, yes, they are great. But in general, drugs are not doing as good a job as you think at dealing with the population.

There is a slide here, that I always show to people when I talk about funcationl medicine because what this shows, and this is from Nature, which is a peer- reviewed journal, from 2015. It’s called Imprecision Medicine. It says, “For every person they do help, the top 10 highest grossing drugs in the United States fail to improve the conditions between three and 24 people.”

So, for Humira, which is number three, which is for autoimmune disease, you know, one in four people benefit from that. If you really boil down the numbers and you see, “Okay, what is the number of people that you need to treat to get one person with success?” That is Humira is one in four.

Whereas, Crestor, which is a statin, is over 20 people. So, one in 21, I think, is that number. And all of these numbers don’t look that good. And I think most of us sit around and until you dive into the literature deep enough. You think, well, you know, “Drugs are working for most people, maybe not me. But maybe everyone else out there.”

And I think part of the reason why we think that is because we’re not coming together to talk about our experiences. And this Journal really put it in for me. So, first, the plan that we’re using right now isn’t working that well. And so, you know, functional medicine, on the other hand, is starting to look really good. People like Ari and myself have been talking about this for over a decade. And now the science is started to catch up.

So, just last October was the first time that, you know, functional medicine was featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing better outcomes than conventional medicine. And even the Cleveland Clinic Functional Medicine. So, there’s something to this functional medicine. And this to me and this slide that you’re seeing here, and I’ll explain it for people that can’t see the slide.

Here is to me what functional medicine is. And there’s a reason why I believe that functional medicine has to be the future operating system for anyone that’s serious about health, anyone that wants superhuman energy. And the reason is this, one, it is a bio-psycho-social intake, right? It is a way of really assessing the bio-psycho-social need. So, at the bottom of the functional medicine matrix, you’ll see modifiable personal lifestyle factors. Sleep and relaxation, exercise and movement, nutrition, stress and relationships. So, right in there, already, your kind of going to get a score. You are going to score yourself on those five areas.

And ultimately, Ari, I know we’ve been in agreement for a long time. That those five areas should really be the focus of whatever name you want to call this future medicine. Having something that’s focused on those five modifiable factors is the way that we need to go.

Ari: Yeah. And I just want to interject for a moment on that. I completely agree with that. And I want to just point out this slide. And especially for people who are not watching the video, who can’t see this. I wish you could see this. Because James kind of, I think, glossed over it a little too fast. Just because this is so important to emphasize that the best of modern medicine, the top 10 best drugs that they have available, have honestly pretty pathetic rates of the ability to improve the conditions that they’re supposed to treat. Relative to the amount of people that get these prescriptions who are not helped at all by them.

I mean, if this is the best that we have in conventional medicine and modern medicine, this is pretty horrifically bad.

James: And I would go so far as to say, Ari, that the plan of using a drug first approach for lifestyle driven chronic disease, has failed or is failing currently. And there is no way, if you want superhuman energy, there is no way to access that through the pharmaceutical paradigm.

Ari: 100 percent. And the interesting thing is we grow up brainwashed. I remember growing up absolutely brainwashed into thinking when I was a little kid, you know, by the time I get to be an adult, by the time I get some kind of disease, “Oh, they will for sure have developed some cure for it.”

And if we analyze that paradigm and the rates of success that they’ve had in developing cures for various diseases, especially, as you said, the diseases of lifestyle. Which are the vast majority of the overall disease burden. The amount of things that we can even call anything resembling a “cure” is pretty horrifying.

So, it’s we grew up brainwashed into this paradigm. And it’s just not real. It’s just a facade that, you know, we’re on the verge of curing all these diseases.

James: Absolutely. You know, I completely agree. And so, you know, with that context in mind, I think people need to have that context because ultimately it’s like, “Well, why do I have to do anything apart from the way that we’re told to do it or the way that my doctor knows how to do it?” And the truth is that, you know, people typically come to functional medicine once everything’s already broken and the doctor has no more answers for them.

And ultimately, it’s okay to wait that long. But ultimately, if you want to build something that’s really successful, proactive, and can control costs, we want to start with the least costly, least invasive interventions first. And those lifestyle factors are, you know, a big part of that.

You know, ultimately, you’re going to need to start doing medicine that’s for you, not medicine for the average. And this functional medicine intake process really helps you to understand the unique things that trigger you. So, what are the things that are bad for you that might not be bad for other people? And looking back into your history, to understand, you know, retelling your story, to really understand what those things are for you. And then, as clearly as I can say it, like there is a gap between optimal health and disease. And there is no word in that for medicine. You know, ultimately, medicine only really kicks in when you get diagnosed with the disease.

And so, that gap can be measured in function. And there are all these parts of the body and different functions of the body like defense and repair energy, which is obviously crucial for what we’re talking about here. Bio transformation and elimination, transport, communication, structure. Like these are all things that are happening in the body. And as they break down, it turns into symptoms and then you get a disease. And then you get a drug. And ultimately, what we’re talking about here with using functional medicine is a way to measure that decline before it becomes a disease.

That’s ultimately, if you’re listening to this Summit, it’s probably because you have some sort of indication that it’s true and you want to try and maximize the function of all these different systems. And ultimately, the maximization and all the functions of these systems, is what it is going to lead you to have superhuman energy.

Ari: Absolutely.

Why functional medicine is the future of medicine, and why may not be

James: Before we go any further, like, I recommend that everyone engage with functional medicine to a greater or lesser degree. And so, you know, that’s why I think functional medicine should be the standard of care.

But what I’m going to say next is something that is not particularly a lot talked about. But it’s something that is unique for my passion. And ultimately, you know, we need to really be in truth and be in integrity for what’s happening in the industry.

And I want to talk to you for a minute about why not functional medicine? Like, why would you avoid it? And the truth is that, you know, this paradigm in medicine is coming. And ultimately, functional medicine is only 30 years old. And if you took any other sort of movement at 30 years old, it’s really just getting started, getting moving. But ultimately, and this is kind of what I alluded to earlier, it’s this personalized way of doing medicine is the future. But for people who are disempowered, it’s really a fairy tale. And at this moment, most people can’t interact with functional medicine for some of the following reasons.

One, it’s been largely unaffordable, right? And I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted in a certain way on this Summit. I’ve spoken to hundreds of people over the last decade who really want to access functional medicine but have just not found it to be affordable in the current format. Its also inaccessible. There are not that many doctors out there. And if you’re doing an hour and a half to two hour intaking appointment, at a 300 dollar an hour rate or more, you can see that already it’s putting a barrier to most people for engaging with it. So, it’s unaffordable. It’s been super inaccessible. It’s really inefficient, right? Siting in a doctor’s office for two hours, you have to drive there and drive back. Like, you know, that’s a whole day gone. Most people have a job. They can’t just go off for like four hours at a time, sit with a doctor, and go over every detail of their life. It’s just been an inefficient process. Nevermind the systems and structures that have to come around aren’t quite there yet.

And also, you know, it’s not dealing. You know, if we’re all about the root cause and functional medicine and getting to the root cause. If the root cause is social isolation, that you’re just lonely, and that’s leading to immune issues and all the other things that happen is result being lonely. You know, it’s still isolating. You haven’t solved that key issue. And if we really care about getting to the root cause and we know that the biggest root cause is loneliness, what are we going to do about it?

And I guess the fifth thing that I want to say, why not functional medicine is that, you know, we’re building a whole medical system based on behavior change. And behavior change is tricky, you know. It’s hard to do. Anyone who’s ever tried to change anything knows that it’s not easy. If it was easy, like the information’s already out there. You know, we would be in a position right now where we wouldn’t have these growing rates of disease. But we still do.

And so, you know, for all those reasons, functional medicine has not really been a solution to the things that ail us. And so, what I’m here today, what I shared in my book, and what I share with all of you is that the community ultimately is the cure. And it’s the cure to all of these things simultaneously.

It’s the cure to why functional medicine can be available to everyone. It is the solution to you becoming superhuman. And it’s the solution to really transforming the health system around the root cause resolution. So, my current work that I’m focusing on is to transform the delivery of functional medicine into a group approach.

If you’re looking at the slides now from a doctor’s point of view, you know, instead of going from one room to one room to one room to see each patient for five minutes. Why not get similar patients in a group and really start a community to engage them into a conversation, to educate them, to help them, to support each other. And so, that’s kind of the basic idea.

And I want to share with you an example from the Cleveland Clinic where functional medicine is being done at the most exciting scale. Recently, about two and a half years ago, they took on this new way of doing it called Functioning for Life. Where people get into groups and, you know, work through building up their function as a community. So, they learn how to eat together. They actually learn to meditate together. Not how to do it, but they actually do it. They learn how to read their own labs. They learn about good sleep hygiene. They dive into functional medicine in a way that’s now affordable, available with insurance, Medicare. And so, this strategy, Functioning for Life, is just one of the group visit structures that I am currently bringing to other health systems across the country.

And since the book’s come out, I’ve had an opportunity to meet with tons of people who are interested. Because they realize that this one on one functional medicine has been impossible to scale into institutions. But this is a way that seems to be affordable and effective. And the effect that these groups have, it goes beyond. For the individual, you can create self-efficacy. You can help people self-regulate their emotions. You can create mindfulness. You can create engagement in life. Self-monitoring capabilities go up. Health directed behaviors, so the healthy behaviors that have been hard. You know, learning kills can be done there. And also, changing your attitude and approach. So, just think, all of those things are possible in a group. And individual.

But the benefits of being in this group and achieving all those things go out into your interpersonal relationships. It goes out to the organization that you work in. And it goes out to the whole community. And so, this is a really big deal. And that’s why I called it the Community Cure because it’s not just about solving loneliness. We are solving loneliness by putting people in groups together. And we are, you know, now having those groups have an effect on the community at large.

And when delivered through this structure, what has previously been unaffordable becomes affordable. You can do it on insurance. Even people doing it on Medicare, Medicaid. It’s now not just inaccessible. It’s everywhere. Not just at your local functional medicine doctor’s office but happening in hospitals and systems. It’s gone from being super inefficient to hyper efficient. Because now one practitioner can see 16 people at a time. And there’s value delivery from patient to patient. Like your story helps the person next door to you get excited and get connected.

And then, it goes from now you’re no longer isolated. You’re in a deeply connected structure. And so far, you know, behavior change has been hard to execute. But now, it’s supported. So, I guess I just wanted to share with this. This is what I’m doing right now. And if you’re listening to this, you want to get in touch because you know a way that I can get in touch with people who are making decisions in healthcare, this is what I’m doing for the next decade. It is helping systems align to this.

How to implement community cure into your daily life!

But what I wanted to do now, is really just to talk from my own position about what you can do listening to this. Because waiting for James to try and make some sort of change at a scale is not reasonable and not a way to spend your time. And so, I want to share from my perspective, like, what does it look like to engage in the Community Cure today? And so, what I wanted to do was just take a moment to show you what I did and what I’ve engaged in. So, that you can start to think about.

So, the first thing that you’re going to need to do is you’re going to need to identify your weak spots. Probably during this Summit, you’re going to identify some areas where you’re weak. So, it might be, you know, it might be in your exercise. It might be a nutrition. It might be in your sleep hygiene. It might be in your relationships. It could be any of these different areas. You’re going to find out, you know, what are the weak spots. And go beyond just like healthy behavior. Start to think about, you know, just in your personal life, too. And I’ll share a little bit more about that when I share my own story.

The second part is to use online tools to create offline connections. It is easier today than it has ever been to find people who are like you and to connect with them. So, think of Facebook,, and Eventbrite. You know, there are so many ways to find other people in your community who may have similar issues to you. There are meet ups for all kinds of things. Once you identify what that weak spot is, there are ways to be able to connect that.

So, you know, we all are familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous. That is Overeaters Anonymous. There are other groups like that. There are other groups that are being, you know, being started all the time. Community groups around faith, around sports that are being created.

You need to show up and you need to participate, part three. You need to show up for those groups and participate in the group. Like, ultimately, you know, you can’t become more social from, you know, your own home. And social media is not or is not having the same effect on people’s health as real in-person relationships. And then, to recalibrate as you go.

So, I’ll come back to these points. But I guess I just want to share from my experience. So, for me, the nutrition has not been an issue. Like my wife is an amazing cook. We only eat organic. You know, my nutrition is fairly dialed in. And I’ll talk more about that as we go along.

But for me, exercise is an issue. Like, if I didn’t do it myself, I just wouldn’t get round to it. I kind of prioritize everything else in my day. And so, I do CrossFit. And the reason I do CrossFit is one, I can do it first thing in the morning before my daughter and my wife are awake. I’m not, you know, giving up being a parent to go and do fitness, which is a really tough tradeoff. And also, I find real value for the other people in my class where they push me to go beyond my comfort zone in ways that I never found with a personal trainer. In ways that I certainly can do by myself at a gym without supervision. And so, here is the community structure, you know, allowing this to be something where I feel like I’m getting almost a personal training sort of infrastructure because I do get the attention of the trainer. And, you know, he’s looking at my form, but I’m also sharing that time with the other people in the group. And there’s a community feeling towards that.

The other thing, that I’ve been involved with this year, is called the Mankind Project. And that was really sort of a decision that I made that I need to be around more emotionally mature man, right? I needed to be around elders, people who really knew how to deal with themselves. I had an issue last year where my business partner passed away. And it led me to a realization that I needed to really step into learning what it meant to be a real man.

And ultimately, a lot of things that were accountability. Like who am I accountable to in my personal life and in my professional life? Really looking at mission, you know. What is the mission that I am here to do? And how can I get involved with that? But really dealing with emotions like, you know, if your emotions are governing all your behavior, which I started to realize they were. You know, how can you learn to control or regulate those emotions in a way that is valuable?

And the reason why I loved that Mankind Project and I’ve been in it now for six months. Actually, by the time you hear this, a year almost. I’ve found a group of emotionally mature men. I have no real accountability to myself as a man, as a father, as a husband, and also to my projects. And it’s free. Like, this is not something that you have to pay for. This is just about connecting with locals. There are chapters all across the country and all across the world.

So, this is what I’ve gone to, to bring the community here into my life. This is not medicine, right? I’m not doing any medical group visits. I’m not waiting for them to show up in Sacramento. I’m just engaging with communities that hit my weak spots. And so, if we go back to the slide before, you have to identify your own weak spots. You have to see where you’re lacking and where you need to shore up. And then you need to find online tools to create offline connections. Talking about things with a group of people is really important. You need to show up. You need to participate. That’s how you can really gel into a group. And then recalibrate as you go, see how things are working. For me, both of these things have been a big part.

And this quote, from Thich Nhat Han really sort of surrounds everything that I want to say here today. “Community is the guru of the future.” Right? Ari Whitten maybe the guru of the now, but community is the future. And ultimately, it’s about humans coming together. It’s a great quote. It is one of my favorites. And ultimately, this idea of someone else being a guru is probably, you know, coming to an end. And that community, groups of people coming together to co-lead and co-create the future is where things are at. And that’s why this has been my life’s work to build communities of practitioners, to help practitioners build communities around them. And, you know, a lot of the practitioners that we’re working with, we’re encouraging them to build these kinds of like groups. These free groups that people can engagement to learn about functional medicine as a marketing tactic for their practice. And so, you know, as our influence grows, there’ll be more and more opportunities for anyone who’s listening to this today can take a big chunk out of their needs are by finding communities that can support them.

Ari: Yeah. Beautiful. James, this has been phenomenal. I think this message is so incredibly important. I want to just add one personal note. You know, I love that you added kind of your personal experience there. I want to add mine. I’ve always struggled to find people on the same wavelength as me. And make friends, especially as an adult. I unfortunately didn’t maintain good contact with a lot of my childhood friends, high school, college friends. And now, I’m left with the situation as an adult where people are just very isolated. People have their own kind of separate lives. It’s difficult to make friends as an adult. And it’s also difficult to find people who you really feel are on the same wavelength as you. And you want to spend time with.

And for me, the biggest sort of game changer has been not looking in a contrived way to sort of make friends. But actually, just engaging in the things that I enjoy. So, the rock climbing gym has been a great place for me. I took up rock climbing about five or six years ago. And that’s been a phenomenal place for me to just form friendships. You try and figure out different rock climbing routes with other people there. And you can kind of bounce ideas off each other, say, “Hey, can you show me how to do this route? How did you get past this one particular part? This one move?”

Surfing is another thing. You kind of see the same guys in the water if you surf a particular spot. And even just walking my dog on the beach. I take my dog a lot to this particular stretch of beach. And you run into a lot of the same people. And you get nice interactions there. And for me, you know, those things, which are all free or inexpensive, have been a phenomenal place for me to have interactions with other people in a very natural, non-contrived way that have led to the formation of really genuine friendships. Which is something I’ve struggled with as an adult. So, I agree 100 percent.

This message is incredibly important, incredibly powerful. And James, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with my audience. And sharing this really critical message to understand that we can only be superhuman if we are surrounded with other people. It doesn’t happen in isolation. And it’s not just about what’s going on in your biochemistry. It’s about you in relationship to the world around you.

James: Absolutely. I appreciate that, Ari. And ultimately, that loneliness and social isolation will play a very impactful role on your biochemistry. And maybe the markers will move more effectively from changing things in this area than anything else.

And the other thing I would just say about what you shared there, Ari, is that, you know, all of those groups that you found, all those activities that you’re doing in groups are profoundly healthy. Like rock climbing, surfing, and walking the dog are healthy by themselves. And when you’re able to do it in community and build relationships around that community, not only is it healthy from interpersonal relationships. But it’s also because now you’re reinforcing those healthy behaviors because you’re more likely to do them Because you like the people and you’re going to be there in community. So, you know, you could just find one thing that you want to improve and find a group to do it. I think it could unlock everything if you are listening to this.

Ari: 100 percent. James, thank you so much. This is this is phenomenal information. Thank you, really appreciate it.

James: Thanks, Ari.

Ari: So, James, one more thing. If somebody wants to learn more about your

work or get involved with you, what do you recommend?

James: Yeah, so, look, first and foremost, I’m here to talk about community. If you have a chance to read The Community Cure, you can listen to it on Audible. You can buy it on Amazon or anywhere the books are sold. I would love for you to read it because I think it really reinforces what we’re talking about here. And the more people that read it, I think more of an impact it can make.

And if you’re looking for me, if you’re a practitioner, And go to We’re all about helping people build sustainable practices, doing this new type of medicine.

And if you’re a consumer and you’ve been either never heard of functional medicine, this is the first time you’ve heard about it, or maybe you searched, and you haven’t found a good doctor in your area. Or you haven’t had the results or the experience that you’ve expected, is a place where you can find a local practitioner that can help ultimately get you better.

And help you to get better. And the goal is to get you as better as possible for the least possible cost. So, that’s

And then my own personal blog is is where I’m talking more about things from an economics point of view. And talking about the economics of medicine. And that’s really about my work independent of these companies. So, I hope you can come and find me. And I’ll look forward to connecting you sometime in the future.

Thanks, Ari, again for having me on the Summit.

Ari: Yeah, beautiful. Thank you so much, James. Really appreciate it.

Show Notes

Why people are unable to make lasting changes to their lifestyle (02:20)
Medications and their efficacy (11:30)
Why functional medicine is the future of medicine, and why may not be (20:25)
How to implement community cure into your daily life! (27:36)


Learn more about the work James does here:


Find a functional medicine practitioner close to you here:

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