Chronically Living and how to make the most of it

What is the Hache Protocol for Chronic Pain? with Dr. Rob Vanbergen

January 03, 2022 Kelsey Harris, Dr. Rob Vanbergen Season 2 Episode 28
Chronically Living and how to make the most of it
What is the Hache Protocol for Chronic Pain? with Dr. Rob Vanbergen
Show Notes Transcript

You may have heard of the vagus nerve before, and it's wondrous healing powers. You probably haven't heard of microcurrent stimulation for the vagus nerve... and if you're like me, you won't have heard of the Hache protocol which integrates these with some lifestyle factors. My guest this week is holistic healthcare practitioner and former chronic pain warrior, Dr. Rob Vanbergen, who tells us about this protocol.
In this episode we discuss:

  • what is the Hache protocol
  • the vagus nerve and microcurrent stimulation
  • at-home tips you can use now!

Guest Bio:
Rob Vanbergen is a Certified HHP (Holistic Healthcare Practitioner) with training in Biofeedback, Neurofeedback, Hypnotherapy, Homeopathy, Auriculotherapy, and Counselling. In 2021 he went on to receive is Doctorate of Natural Medicine and a PhD in Natural Medicine. After discovering the Hache Protocol for Pain Resolution, he healed his scoliosis and continues to use it today as he parents his autistic son.
Rob has devoted his professional life to educating people about the effectiveness of natural pain management methods in relieving pain and anxiety and initiating healing in the body.
Check out Rob's website: https://painfreeforlife.com/

For a Lovingkindness meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsLG52NuvGk
For a Kind Hand meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbRsZ68dOcY

Follow the show on Instagram @chronically.living_

Support the show on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/chronically_living

Kelsey Harris:

Have you ever tried using microcurrent to stimulate your vagus nerve in order to get some pain relief? Me neither. Actually I've never really heard about this before. But I'm always looking for different suggestions on things that might help me and you. And for those of you not having a lot of success with much else, then stick around to hear naturopath Rob Van Bergen, tell us how the Hache protocol can help. Thanks for tuning into chronically living. I'm Kelsey Harris, chronic illness warrior and psychotherapist. On Chronically Living and how to make the most of it, we're providing tangible ways to improve the well being of spoonies. So get ready to make the most out of your life even with that pesky chronic illness.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

I'm Dr. Rob van Bergen, I'm from British Columbia, Canada, and I work in pain resolution. So becoming a naturopath for me was never something that I intended to do. After I was healed of my own chronic pain as a child, I just kind of moved on to different things. So I suppose as children do, I did an English degree, a business degree. And then I slowly realized everything was coming full circle. So I completed my business degree, I started working in my parents clinic, just doing accounts and stuff. And they were then at both naturopathic doctors, and they were bringing in patients all the time, and these patients had awful pain. And then they were treating them and the patients were leaving pain free. And I sort of realized that more I saw this, I kind of started probing like, this is something I might be interested in doing. Like this is what I want to do, I think I wanted to help people become pain free and get back to their lives, because there was nothing like seeing them treat someone that came in with all this severe pain, and then have them skipping up the stairs and be like, I can't believe it. Thank you so much. And I was you know, I wanted to do it. So I went back to school, which was a big decision for me. And I focused on my studies there into the alternative health sciences,

Kelsey Harris:

Rob wanted to take his training even further because his parents were using something to treat their patients that certainly isn't used by everyone.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

I also simultaneously wanted to work with my parents, because microcurrent is not something that's really big out there. And I knew I need to learn from them. So I learned natural empathy, homeopathy, hypnosis, brain training, all of those things that you learn when you're doing alternative therapies. And at the same time, did my microcurrent studying so that I could make sure I could fix people's pain on the spot. I knew I wanted to do the microcurrent. But I needed some some reason to be able to treat people. So yeah, I mean, completing my doctorate, my PhD is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I don't know if I would be able to pull myself through doing it again. I spent so long on my research and have a trial that I had to put together for vagus nerve stimulation. And after I'd done all that, and it felt like wow, this is nearly over, I had to write it all up. Right. So I do all of that. But I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to complete that. And that's not only because I was able to kind of enhance the credibility of microcurrent a bit. I think every time someone does that kind of research where it just building it up. But because upon becoming a doctor of natural medicine, I was able to finally work on clients hands on with the equipment and got to experience what it was like to help people directly and see the same thing with my parents saw.

Kelsey Harris:

Like many of the other guests on the show that have ended up in health care profession, Rob mentioned that he had chronic pain when he was young. And so I wondered how this lived experience has affected him not only going into the profession of helping others, but the actual hoping of others.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

I think it's really integral. And I've had a lot of people that I talked to say that I just seemed to get them. And I think that's part of it is undeniable that it had a massive, massive impact. I had both severe scoliosis, but I also contracted hepatitis A from food. And so I had an inflammation of the liver. And so as a child, right in my childhood was a lot of anxiety, pain, inflammation. And as I say, I forgot that once I got over it, which is just, it's crazy. Now I think back on it. And when I speak to clients, whether it's in person or it's on the phone or to a group of people, I always try to kind of inject that level of understanding into them. You know, I understand their pain, the anxiety they go through day to day, how it impacts their daily lives, but also sadly, how no one really seems to care. I remember my fourth grade teacher and this didn't bother me at the time, but it really should have every time I would be experiencing pain. She would kind of put me in a broom closet in the classroom and sit me on a stool. I'd sit there in the dark and it was so that my pain didn't bother the other students. And yeah, it didn't disturb the rest of the class I've waited for my mom to come pick me up to school was about an hour away from home. But that's not something that you can just guess how that feels like to be isolated in that way. Right now, if you haven't experienced that, I feel like so many of the clients that I work with, have been shoved in a broom closet, in one way or the other. They've they've not been taken seriously. And whether that's their doctor, or family or friends, I've seen it all. I love that I can connect with them on that level. And I don't think I would be able to do that if I hadn't experienced it myself. But that sympathetic ear sometimes is all they need. Because they just not have that. And and that's that's the sad thing for sure. Just this quick, like, pill prescription thing going on. It's like, well, I've heard of those symptoms, those will be fixed by this. Yeah. And I think people kind of get shoved into this box where they're so muted, they no longer feel like they can tell their story. But it's their pain. And it's unique for everyone. Everyone experiences it differently. It's not just a prescription that can fix everything.

Kelsey Harris:

I think most of us are not used to having healthcare professionals who can relate to us on that level. Or even if our practitioner has maybe had some kind of held experience similar to our own themselves, they may not want to self disclose it. I know in my training, we were told to be very cautious about self disclosure. But then I also had clinical supervisors who suggested that knowing when to self disclose, for example, with chronic pain patients, our clients, it's so beneficial to the clients and this I wholeheartedly agree with this, I actually have found that when I self disclose that I have chronic pain with my clients who also have chronic pain, they're just they seem to just open up more and are more receptive to some of the things that I might be suggesting. So what Rob is actually here to talk to us today about is the microcurrent, and the Hashi protocol. So let's get into that.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

So we have a five step process that we work on. We call it the Hache Protocol, John hash a Dr. John Hache is my dad. And so microcurrent was what we always did, we've always done it for like 30 years, like combined. So it's been going on for a long time, we would work on like stress reduction, nutrition, sleep exercise, so fitness. And it kind of became obvious to us that they were also integral to health that we combine them into a protocol. But our major focus is certainly microcurrent. I mean, if you have the microcurrent, and you don't have any other things, you can typically still make some progress. But if you truly want to resolve it, you need to watch what you eat, you need to manage your stress levels, you need to make sure you're sleeping properly is a big one. A lot of people don't care about sleep, but they really should. And you need to make sure you're exercising and exercise can be one of the hardest ones I've seen for people in pain, because they think I say the word exercise and you can see the panic on their face, like what are you going to get me to do but sometimes I'm just like this to walk through your garden or do some gardening or do something like you know, go for a little swim, just float in a pool, something that's getting things moving, do you need that circulation to move you need the blood flow of you want to heal. Nutrition is huge, too. We unfortunately, in the Western world, live predominantly on junk that's all processed, and that builds up toxins in our body. So we have to work on that we can work on that with through good dietary changes. But we can also help the digestive process with microcurrent as well. Asleep. As I mentioned, huge problem for lots of people, they just don't get enough that I'm sure I don't get enough of that. But so I should probably eat my own words a little later. But it's one of those things, it's hard for people to find the time. And especially if you're in chronic pain, sleep is way one of the main stages where you heal, right. And, you know, you ever go to bed feeling sick, and you wake up feeling fine. That healing process is so powerful and and then stress like stress comes down anxiety and things like that. And so many clients will tell me that they don't feel like they actually do have stress in their lives. And I tend to throw it back at them a little bit and say you know look doesn't matter really what you say here. If you are in pain all the time, your body is in stress all the time, because you're suffering, you're worried about whether the pain is going to spike, are you going to be able to go out to lunch with your family, like you know, all sorts of different things. So everything kind of falls together.

Kelsey Harris:

Let's recap the other parts of the protocol before we go into microcurrent. We need to do light exercise, make any necessary dietary changes to improve our digestion. Take a look at our sleep, which to me indicates really looking at our sleep hygiene. And I did an episode on that way back in season one so maybe you want to listen if you haven't yet. And then stress management, which if you listen to my solo episodes, you know that I've been giving a lot of psychoeducation on ways that actually can help with that.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

microcurrent works on this concept of Body Electric. So our cells, our tissues, all the signals that happen in our body, our electricity. And microcurrent is a non invasive form of technology that allows you to take the signal that your body is is communicating with, and use it yourself. So when your brain sends a signal to your hand to say, trigger inflammation, you can send a signal to say cancel inflammation, you just need to know the right frequencies. So you can help with so many different things by inserting that element and alone. And often I have to work with people from that level, either they've come to me, and they've already done all the other things, because they're quite well known concepts, or they have come to me and they don't want to change their diet right now. They don't want to do exercise, they're not in a place where they can do that. So they want to know, can we make a change with microcurrent? Without those things? And the answer is almost always yes. But the enhancement that you're going to get from actually doing the other things first, is going to be huge. And I might even say maybe we can get someone 50% better, and then they're willing to commit to the other stuff. And that's often where it comes down to.

Kelsey Harris:

So microcurrent works with the vagus nerve. We've discussed the vagus nerve before in season two, episode four, but then this are different approaches to working with it.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

So vagus nerve a kind of travels through your body. vagus means wandering, right, so it's the nerve that's called the wandering nerve because it connects to your brain, but it also connects to all of your vital organs. So everything is touched by this one nerve. The vagus nerve will then transfer human acrossing factor signals, which creates inflammation, which creates pain. So when people have a vagus nerve imbalance, or they have inflammation, the vagus nerve can be the answer. It was discovered accidentally, by Dr. Kevin Tracy, when he was injecting some drugs into a rat. And he noticed that when they cut the vagus nerve of the rat, the inflammation went away, it didn't have that kind of signal anymore. So he started exploring different things. And he ended up creating microcurrent stimulators, which they surgically implant in your neck. And those do functionally the same thing we can do without cutting into your body. So the concept is we we send a small signal through the vagus nerve just near the carotid artery. And we do that on the left side of the neck. And that signal will actually reach the electrical signal will reach every vital organ touched by the vagus nerve, and shut down the production of tumor necrosis factor, so inflammation stops being created. So in essence, microcurrent is our ticket to inflammation free living, and when you don't have inflammation, you don't have pain. And when you have inflammation, you can also heal. So you can kind of take this as a gateway to just resolving autoimmune and chronic pain, hence why we're in the pain resolution business instead of pain management.

Kelsey Harris:

Okay, so you may be having the same question I do, what kind of chronic illnesses does this help with because a lot of illnesses have pain, and a lot of illnesses have inflammation. So the sounds like it's very versatile.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Most common would definitely be things like autoimmune diseases, pretty much we lump all autoimmune diseases into one category. Some people don't like that, because they like that the autoimmune is have an identity to them. You know, I have rheumatoid arthritis is my disease, right? But all autoimmune ins are inflammation manifested in different parts of the body. They're all kind of rooted in that Hashimotos being of the thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis of the joints, so on so forth. So we see a lot of these kind of connections here. So vagus nerve will work really well in autoimmune and autoimmune is also don't have many answers. We do see a lot of chronic pain patients, particularly anything ending in itis being an inflammation. And so anyone with arthritis, probably being one of the most common, but the thing is, is that autoimmune diseases don't have many non extreme treatments, whereas pain tends to have a lot more non extreme treatments. So I think people, people don't want to go down the autoimmune drugs route, and they look for things. Whereas in pain, they're willing to pop a couple of Tylenols and call it a day for a little while until it becomes too bad. But anyone experiencing any kind of pain is really kind of our forte, but autoimmune's highlighted definitely for me.

Kelsey Harris:

Now, wait a second, what about non inflammatory illnesses? So for example, fibromyalgia typically doesn't come with inflammation. I know that my fibromyalgia and UCTD I rarely get inflammation, but I often have pain. So how does all this work then? And I just want to warn you guys with fibromyalgia, some of you may not not 100% like this answer, but it actually aligns pretty well with the research on the subject.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

So Fibromyalgia we've noticed is related a lot to to stress and anxiety and pent up emotion, my, my dad will call it and hopefully I won't get in trouble for saying this on here, he will call it pissed off itis there's a lot of like hard emotion behind people with fibromyalgia. And we often find that when we treat them, they totally become a different person. Because their their whole nervous system is so out of whack. A lot of the pain points are quite specific as well. When you get diagnosed with fibromyalgia you have to be I think it's a nine of 13 points or something along those lines, or 13 of 17 points on the body have to be in pain for you to earn a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. But we see that by treating those individual points where there's a lot of pain there, we get a bit of an emotional release. And I think that the vagus nerve works particularly well there because of the anxiety level of things. But yes, good point. There's not necessarily one localized area for fibromyalgia, but it certainly fits into that category.

Kelsey Harris:

Let's talk a bit more about anxiety and how it fits into all of this, the body mind connection is a really important consideration in all pain and health issues and something I talk about often.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

So we do recommend counseling and stuff when we see it's needed. Definitely, it's a huge valuable tool, especially if people find that they don't have the support systems that they need. vagus nerve stimulation is something we train people to do themselves, because it's very, very easy to perform. And it will help to lower that anxiety level. If people are experiencing chronic depression or anxiety, absolutely, they need to seek help as well beyond this, but the way it kind of works like with the anxiety side of things and and vagus nerve stimulation is anxiety, beyond just being something that makes it hard for you to go out in public and do things like that, it totally shuts down your ability to heal. So if you're experiencing anxiety, you're most likely in fight or flight mode, which is your survival mode. You're in this mode, because your body is not caring about healing, it wants to survive. If I go outside here in Canada, this happens all the time I go outside and I see a bear at the end of my driveway, I probably want to run back inside. So I am to survival mode to run. Everything else is disabled while I try and survive. People in chronic pain are in survival mode. And whether it's because they don't know when the pain is going to come back. Or they're worried about how they're going to get through this visit with their grandkids or whatever it may be. They're running from the bear they're trying to survive. And this this big effect on their bodies means that you're in this, this constant state of anxiety is creating a huge production of cortisol, so our immune system drops. So we're super vulnerable to getting sick. And when you're not working on healing because you don't need to heal when you're trying to survive. Your anxiety is just kind of building on that not healing process, you end up in this kind of like cyclical cycle where you're just self fulfilling prophecy here. But when you work on the vagus know, when you work with brainwaves to try and alter their pattern, you make them an alpha wave instead of a beta wave of beta being fight or flight. You enter this alpha brain state, you are far far better off. This is known as your your rest, digest assimilate and repair mode. So it allows you to enter a state in which you can eliminate inflammation, and heal if you're in an alpha brain state. Inflammation should not be part of the equation because you can't relax if you're inflamed and in pain. So you flip it on itself, and you're able to benefit extremely from it.

Kelsey Harris:

So because of this isn't a widely used protocol and is very specific to the work of robbing his parents. I'm curious about some of the results he seen with his patients.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Well, I think the biggest we saw was 42 years of chronic pain. Like in one session, the guy was like up and at it. Everyone's different. Everyone responds differently. Some people have immensely quick healing processes. Some people are a much slower, some people might take a few months to get relief at all. It depends on their ability to persist on it how chronic it is. I'd say the most amazing one I've seen this year I had a lady with rheumatoid arthritis so bad. She was on a walker. And she had it in her knees. And she called up and she's like, I'm sick of being on all these drugs. I want to get off these drugs. Let me give this a try. My doctor recommended I could give this a try. So she purchased the equipment. And she called me a few days later. Typically when someone calls me that soon, they're lost and they don't know what they're doing. But she had she had dove right into it. And she was like Rob I'm off my walker. I'm not using it anymore and I've ditched my we would not recommend someone ditch their pain meds like that. But she did she ditched them cold turkey. So I was like, well, good for you. But you know, let's make sure you're doing this safely because you've been on these for so long. So yeah, some incredibly quick turnaround for pain. I've also seen eye conditions benefit quite a bit, definitely an off label treatment, and typically done just on that recommendation of this is not what these devices are intended for. But microcurrent seems to enhance circulation so well, that when we see parts of the body that are breaking down, they benefit from that circulation enhancement, it restores them, it kind of rejuvenates them.

Kelsey Harris:

The last patient success story Rob has is actually really cool. And it is available for patrons and chronically living. If you're not a patron, click the link in the show notes to sign up. It's just $5 a month and you get weekly bonus content from the episodes plus a couple free ebooks. I love when my guests are able to give you some tangible at home tips so you can start to improve your well being now. And luckily Rob does not disappoint.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

I think you know stimulating the vagus nerve is challenging to do apply. It's not it's not like you can do things like deep breathing can really help to actually stimulate the vagus nerve home. But I would say you know, the Vantage to microcurrent is that you stick it on and it doesn't follow you, you don't have to get to that point. But definitely, if there's a level of anxiety involved in someone's chronic pain, I highly recommend they start deep breathing, and from the abdomen, you know, and just get that process going. But also, you know, one thing I've seen work really well as a form of really minor meditation, you're not sitting there going home and you know, connecting with a high power. But this concept of self empowerment, thinking back to a time when you felt totally safe and healthy, and closing your eyes. And really fixating on that and just saying to yourself, I am totally safe and happy. And just repeating that every 10 seconds or so people typically find that that really helps to bring them down. Because that anxiety component is so so huge. You know, other tips, I can throw out loads of these things, mild exercise, don't be afraid of doing it get out and about just go for a brief walk even if it's just around your garden, nutritionally, don't, don't go on some big huge fad diet. And you know, make it really hard for yourself. Look at something like just a basic elimination, take one thing, pull it from your diet, give it 14 days to a month and see if you see improvement, most people will find it some one of the common things whether it's legumes, dairy, gluten rates, sugar, something like that, just being aware of those little things and going to bed every day. At the same time. Even if it's your day off and you want to you know, stay up late. It's not doing you any favors.

Kelsey Harris:

Yeah, I can attest to that last one, because I have definitely been not going to bed at the same time. And I've noticed that

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

makes a big difference, right? It's crazy. It's crazy.

Kelsey Harris:

So I just wanted to mention that the meditation Rob was speaking about is really a form of self compassion. And there's a ton of research showing that self compassion is a really effective treatment in and of itself for chronic pain. It also reminds me of like our loving kindness or kind hand meditation, both of which I will link in the show notes. Are you ready for our lightning round questions?

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Oh, maybe? Maybe.

Kelsey Harris:

Alright, so what are the top five songs that describe your life?

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Okay, so this is really hard for me, because I'm not a huge music person, I will be able to nail down one song that describes my life, but I think it does so very, very well. So have you ever seen Hamilton?

Kelsey Harris:

No, I have not yet. I have not okay, because I want to see it on stage. So I didn't want to watch the Disney on. ,

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Yeah, yeah, no, I get that I get that I would have seen it on stage too, if I could if we could travel so easily. So there's one song in Hamilton called nonstop. And essentially, it's where Hamilton is going on after the war. And he's just going berserk in getting things done. And my wife will tell me that that describes my life essentially, just like Hamilton, I feel like I'm never stopping, which I know is not healthy. People take breaks. Listen, I totally feel like I'm running a million miles a minute. And honestly, it was like my theme song. When I was doing my dissertation. It was just every waking moment was just type type type type type. So yeah, I feel like that one song describes my life and I thought maybe after completing my dissertation, that would change but it hasn't. It's just different kind of busy, you know?

Kelsey Harris:

For sure. What's one thing you can't go a day without doing?

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Swimming. I love swimming. So I'm lucky to have a really small little pool and so I just make sure I go for a little swim every day. It's a really good form of exercise. That's low impact on your body doesn't really hurt you. So even if you're injured, you can do swimming and you can benefit from it. And I, even though we get bad weather here, I'll dip in the pool and swim in the cold.

Kelsey Harris:

I love swimming. I'm not fortunate to get to do it enough, but that's amazing. Yeah. What's one thing you plan on doing in your life that you haven't yet?

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Going to New Zealand is something I really want to do. I've always seen pictures of how beautiful it is, I think it's very kind of more nature based and peaceful. And I would love to to go and see it. It's also kind of the opposite side of the world. By the time I had the opportunity to go and see New Zealand COVID hat and travel is not really a thing right now. But it's on my bucket list. Definitely. .

Kelsey Harris:

Awesome. Describe your perfect day.

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Oh, my perfect day. I think my perfect day would have to be getting up and not having anything to do. If I could just have one day, you know, just relaxing, no issues, no major bumps in the road coming up. I love working with patients. I do I really do. And sometimes, though, I always feel it's always something urgent that happens every day that I have to be what if I could have a day where there was nothing like that everyone was fine. That would be my perfect day.

Kelsey Harris:

Nice. And how do you inspire others to make the most of their lives?

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

I think that has to come down to just my experience with chronic pain has really, really helped me to be able to relate to people on a better level. And and in doing that, as I mentioned earlier, I feel like when I can connect with them, I can really help them, give it a try. Get these things out there going make some positive changes for their health. If I could only help one person do one little thing every single day, you know, I'd be happy because I just want to see them making progress so that they feel like they're moving towards resolution.

Kelsey Harris:

Love that. Where can we find you follow you on social media? All that?

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

Yeah. So I think the best place to go is just to hit up our web page, which is pain free for life.com. You can check that out. It's just spelt out as it is. And we've got all of our links to our Facebook group on there. If anyone's interested in finding out more, you know, joining the Facebook group and asking people that aren't me, like, you know, what's this been like for you? And just to see the people in there and get their opinions on things. I think that's the best way to go about it. Because I personally think you know, I can tell you I say everything, but it's what other people are saying that's that's really the the proof in the pudding.

Kelsey Harris:

Yeah, totally awesome. Well, thank you so much, Ron, for coming on and sharing all this great information with us. You are

Dr. Rob Van Bergen:

very welcome. Thanks for having me.

Kelsey Harris:

Okay, so lots of interesting information definitely makes me want to give microcurrent to try to see how helpful that ends up being. And ironically, I also live in British Columbia, Canada. So that is a possibility, I suppose. I gotta say that the other lifestyle components Rob mentioned makes so much sense and have really been recurring themes as we talk to all kinds of different health care experts on the show. And you know, if you're struggling with some of these changes, that's completely normal. It's super hard to make them and finding the appropriate support systems. Whether that's a particular health care provider, a counselor or therapist, a coach or a support group. It can really definitely help you on your journey. Let's reflect for a moment here. What did you notice about your thoughts and feelings as you listen to rob talk about the protocol and his tips for getting started on improving your well being now and using that part of you that notices everything? What are you noticing now about that noticing? Have a great week and keep making the most of it? Special thanks to marred.e for the original music and Charity Williams for the original artwork.