Author Dr. Joel Gould: “How to write a book that sparks a movement”
I want to tell multiple stories on different levels so that different generations recognize the signs, and symptoms and could see how the syndrome I discovered is affecting them. Sleep disorders are everywhere, and on the rise daily, I use a combination of stories of real patients I have treated, and analogies to help people understand my material.
My ultimate goal is to simplify science so that everyone can understand our predicament, so that no one would be fooled by great advertising, or fear-based medicine. Knowledge is power, and simplifying the message, and giving it relatable, and memorable visual elements can have a profound effect.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Joel Gould, a dentist with 30 years of experience in Canada and the United States. His new book “The Modern Epidemic” lays out a new health paradigm focusing on organic, non-pharmaceutical solutions for insomnia, sleep apnea, and natural regeneration, founded on ancestral health, and evolution.
Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up and came to your profession?
At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which is an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease that dominated, and destroyed normal life for me. When you see those pharmaceutical commercials where they show you the inside of bathroom doors, and inside a Porta-potty at a concert, that was my view, for most of my life. I took many of big pharma’s medications over the years, they all came with terrible side effects, but I didn’t know there was an alternative. I had wanted to be a doctor of some kind, but I began to realize that my disease wouldn’t let me have the kind of life of an intern or that would include being in an operating room doing surgery. I knew that I would need to look at a profession that gave me freedom to leave a procedure at a moment’s notice and get to a reliably available bathroom. Dentistry fit the bill for me, and gave me the control and confidence I needed, and the truth is I love my profession, it’s been a great fit for who I am. It allows me to utilize my interest in science, and healthcare, with a level of artistry that is really rewarding. As a cosmetic dentist, making over someone’s smile is transformative, and seeing someone’s personality change because of their renewed confidence in themselves is powerfully fulfilling. Today I focus on treating snoring, insomnia and sleep apnea, with an oral device, or mouthpiece that is an alternative to a CPAP mask. My book is called “The Modern Epidemic”, about how modern inflammatory disease is on the rise, and related to the immune system, and sleep disorders.
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story?
When I was younger, I was traumatized from being teased about my appearance. My dentist called me a “dental retard” because I had terrible decay, and I was very dentally and physically delayed. I wore headgear, and braces for almost 4 years, to correct my horrific malocclusion, and buck teeth. I suffered from “long face syndrome”, which results from mouth breathing, and interrupted sleep. This is a syndrome I now treat at my office that so many children are suffering from and is the cause of pediatric sleep apnea. Being teased at school and even by my own dentist was a bit demoralizing, and not at all politically correct these days, but it was the early 1970’s, and a very different time in history. Hippies were showing up everywhere, and I remember going to my cousin Gail’s wedding, held outside at Winnipeg beach, a very unorthodox place for a wedding in those times. I didn’t fully understand the scene, people sitting cross-legged on the ground were smoking pot, and I remember a large pole covered in streamers, and various shapes of flowers cut out of colorful construction paper, called a “love machine”. For some reason those childhood images stuck in my head and came back to me as I began to plan my Books graphic images. With the divisive world we live in today, we could all do with a healthy dose of some good old-fashioned peace, love and understanding, and even a little “Kumbaya”.
What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was about three months after I treated myself for sleep apnea by making myself an oral device and the supplementation of a few vitamins that I believe are involved in the sleep apnea syndrome. I woke up one morning, got out of bed, and for the first time in my life, I felt comfortable. It was almost as if I was walking around in bubble wrap. I was in such a state of shock, because I had come to the realization that I had been in terrible pain for the first 48 years of my life, and that the neck, back, and joint pain I had written off as normal, and a result of aging was nothing of the sort. I found myself out in public, not constantly scanning the horizon for the nearest bathrooms, and the disappearance of my autoimmune disease gave me a fresh start, and a completely new existence. I had to relearn how to live, because I had created a set of rules, regulations and behaviors to control my illness, and simply fit in, and not embarrass myself because I couldn’t control my bowels, that life was over!
I spent a lot of time contacting doctors, and companies, but no one was interested in my discoveries because they can’t be patented. The whole natural, organic “vitamin “thing worked against me. I was dismissed because my information didn’t seem relevant, or important, or even likely, though sleep disorders are skyrocketing!
I knew that it would be my life’s mission to share the simple and organic information that reversed my autoimmune disease, eliminated my sleep apnea, and profoundly changed the trajectory of my life. I knew that I had to share this information so that no child would have to go through what I went through, because of our broken medical system.
What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?
I may be a bit ambitious, but based on the science and terrifying geopolitical consequences of what I discovered, I knew the only way to make a meaningful and lasting change was to go directly to the general public, especially kids. I remembered Schoolhouse Rock and knew that the way to effectively share a message was to make it fun and entertaining. The powers that are literally poisoning us and destroying our health, and the health of this planet for profit can, and often squash any dissent. The only way to make a change that would be meaningful and have traction was to start a social movement and incorporate my information into the fabric of society. These days a video on TikTok can go global, and by creating small bite-size chunks of “info-tainment” with my cartoon characters would be the best way to get the message out. The scientific studies available online are clear, and obvious, but it doesn’t matter, the average person is influenced by images, songs, sports, celebrity, and popular culture, not facts and figures.
Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?
I believe that our future, the future of our loved ones, and the health of this planet depend on this particular message of prevention getting out there. What I discovered is that we have disregarded the genius and elegant design of Mother Nature and believed we could outsmart her without technology. Big agriculture, processed foods, and big pharma have become the downfall of western society, and their power is engrained, or intertwined, so deeply into the fabric of society, they can’t be stopped by force or regulation. The only chance we have to save ourselves is to get consumers to buy those products that support sustainable agricultural practices, because the only thing those corporate entities will heed is a loss of sales, and the lowering of their profits. The changes needed are profound, but its money, and corporate greed, and a lack of social conscience that got us into this mess in the first place, and reduced sales and profit, and an organic, fun movement can force the changes from the bottom up, that we all need to have a healthy future.
When you see the predicament, we are in with our declining health, the lowering of both our lifespan and healthspan, and the rising tide of chronic inflammatory disease, I don’t think we have a choice! The science and information I discovered can’t be subverted any longer. It’s become a global issue, now playing out in our COVID-19 epidemic, and the loss of animal species, like bees, and butterflies. It’s the same root cause, a destruction of our immune system, that resides in our gastrointestinal microbiome, or gut bacteria. You can be fooled by powerful advertising, and repeated media messages put out there to sell medications with horrific side effects, but ultimately you can’t fool Mother Nature. It’s going to take a while for the truth about our health to bubble up and become mainstream, but it can’t be suppressed forever. I am betting this pandemic may be the impetus and disruptive event that changes our future. The message I want to share is so simple, yet so complex. That’s why I decided to partner with local artists to create images that are iconic and memorable.
What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.
One day at the gym, a 20-something-year-old guy approached me and asked me how I got my suntan. He said he was thinking of “trying it”, but didn’t know if it was safe, or how to do it! I decided to partner with a group of young people, who had never witnessed society’s norms change like I did in the 1970’s. I asked them to google “summer of love”, “flower power”, and some of the historical information on pesticides and environmental toxins like DDT and agent orange. They were shocked and didn’t understand how big agriculture and GMO farming was affecting the health of the planet. They wanted to become part of the solution. Many people I contacted wanted to contribute and be a part of a new movement, based on natural and organic health, while working with and respecting Mother Nature. This younger generation is different. They don’t blindly trust their doctors’ orders, like my parents’ generation, and want to investigate health for themselves. Both of my parents followed the standard American diet, full of supposedly heart-healthy grains, cut out meat and fats, took cholesterol statins, and avoided the sun. I watched how their health declined over the years, and they suffered from all the chronic modern diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, joint replacements, sleep apnea, and ultimately died of pancreatic cancer, one after the other. The younger generation needs to wake up, and rally around this science-based, common sense cause, and I don’t mean the “plant-based” movement. That’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, bought, sold and paid for by the corporations that profit from our illness. The massive deception must be exposed, permanently! Mother nature doesn’t do “monocrops.” She values the diversity of species, and the collaboration of all living things. Life on earth is symbiotic, no one life form can stay healthy alone, or in isolation.
What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?
This journey is just beginning. The world has changed profoundly with our current pandemic, and it has delayed my full book launch. I had to pivot, and focus on the immune system, instead of sleep disorders, and how my new health paradigm can protect us from viral infections. The tone and focus of the book shifted, but some of my information is too important to be delayed by a later book launch, so I published a shorter Ebook version (available for free on amazon) so people could investigate what I discovered, and protect themselves immediately! My information can literally save lives right now, as vitamin D deficiency, and the resulting broken sleep is at the core of why some people are immunocompromised. An evolutionary level of vitamin D, like our hunter-gatherer ancestors had from their tribal lifestyle, provides a healthy diverse gut microbiome critical for normal immune function. Vitamin D is only one of the myriad of chemicals we make when we spend time in the sun.
What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?
One of my “Transformation stories” follows a 23-year-old petite woman, I call her a “miserable Millennial”, and boy did that tittle fit. You can see her story on my YouTube channel, and hear it in her own words. She went from doctor to doctor, sick as a dog with no answers. She was dismissed by traditional medicine as “neurotic”, because she suffered from IBS, insomnia, and fibromyalgia, daily headaches and TMJ pain. When I met her, she had dark circles under her eyes, and was forgetful, and distracted. No doctors would have ever considered that her insomnia was undiagnosed sleep apnea, because she was young, and thin. The sleep apnea syndrome isn’t caused by obesity, it’s a result of a vitamin D deficiency, and her level, that was never checked, was horrifically low. Seeing her recovery from my sleep restoration program was so important to me, because so many young people are suffering from this syndrome, I am calling The Modern Epidemic, and I want to reach as many people as possible. Low vitamin D, and poor sleep is a recipe for modern chronic illness and is linked to thyroid and breast cancer in young women. I want the younger generation to be able to recognize these signs of poor health, and to be able to heal themselves organically, by supplementing the missing vitamins and minerals modern living has removed. At a minimum, everyone should know that is an alternative to big pharma’s medications that may cause suicidal thoughts, or cancer.
Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?
I have already been called a snake oil salesman, and a vitamin quack, a title I gladly embrace. I expect a lot of negative press, because I am a Dentist, and my message is so contrary to the traditional medical paradigm, eat bacon? Go in the sun? that’s heresy! I don’t care at all, in fact any attention is good, even bad press. I suffered a life of shame, and pain for no reason at all. If I can get one parent to listen, and save one child from the fate I suffered, it will be worth any insults, I am growing a thick skin. The truth is that the science is irrefutable, and eventually everyone will see what I see. The destruction of the planet’s diversity and our microbes is a threat to all humanity, and this planet! No name-calling, or derogatory comments are going to deter me, I have no shame, that feeling has left me for good.
The most important information is often the most outrageous sounding, revolutionary, and seemingly unlikely. Today there are a lot of people calling out the traditional medical paradigm, rightfully so, and I am one of them, with a message critical to the planet’s future, controversy is tied to every topic in my book. My information is disruptive, and negative press will only strengthen my points, and raise awareness of my, or should I say, our cause.
Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?
I wrote my book, The Modern Epidemic to be iconic, and a pop culture phenomenon, something like “The secret”, or “chicken soup for the soul”, but with real, and scientifically verifiable information, and actionable items. I created my cartoon characters the “Heroes of light” to simplify science, and make it fun, exciting, and memorable just like schoolhouse rock. My goal was to personify these vitamins and minerals so critical to health and bring the science to life. My ultimate goal is to simplify science so that everyone can understand our predicament, so that no one would be fooled by great advertising, or fear-based medicine. Knowledge is power, and simplifying the message, and giving it relatable, and memorable visual elements can have a profound effect.
Vitamin D, and many of my characters are the real celebrities, and superstars in your body. I created digital imagery, kind of tongue in cheek humor, spoofing society’s fascination with celebrity. Vitamin D has her own IMDb page ( Internet Movie Database, a website that lists celebrities accomplishments in the entertainment world,) but I am calling it the IMDb, for “intermolecular database, so people can recognize what a celebrity vitamin D, and other natural chemicals you can’t patent are in our bodies. I created an Instagram page for the 8 B vitamins, and some old school autographed glamor shots, with my top celebrity heroes, like Cathy cholesterol, and one of our immune cells, Johnny Neutrophil. My cartoon characters all have catchphrases you can remember that describe what they do in our bodies, like Marty mitochondria, “He’s Got the Power”.
I also created the caricatures of those already sleep-deprived called “Victims of the Epidemic” in my transformation stories, to give the average person an idea of what this modern epidemic looks like at different ages, and stages. I want people to bring these catchphrases into the common vernacular, and I had a vision of people saying, “my boss suffers from angry man’s syndrome”, or ``my child is a miserable millennial”.
My “Modern Hunter Gatherer” image is a tool I use to explain who we really are, a tribal people, and how we can easily change our behaviors in our daily lives. It’s so hard to remember science, vitamins, and what we need to do for health, I wanted to simplify the entire movement, by saying “the cure to the Modern Epidemic”, is “Tribal Life”, emulating the health-promoting behaviors of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, incorporating healthy habits, diets and behaviors into the fabric of modern society, without having to move back out into the wild.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
Being open-minded and allowing ourselves to think about our existence on this planet in a completely different way is the one habit needed for this message to grow. We have been manipulated for profit, and brainwashed into believing that eating meat, and fat makes us fat, and that the sun is dangerous, almost toxic. These beliefs are hard to shake, because they have been repeated over and over, by the media, until almost everyone is brainwashed, but just because everyone believes something, that doesn’t make it true! We need to follow the verifiable science and learn to do what’s a fit for our biology, and stop being manipulated out of fear for profit. Today, with COVID-19, this concept, listening to, and embracing the right health information is literally natural selection, and survival of the fittest.
What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?
Writing is rewriting. Good writing is really storytelling, I didn’t want to write another “I am a doctor damn it! Take vitamins!” I want to tell multiple stories on different levels so that different generations recognize the signs, and symptoms and could see how the syndrome I discovered is affecting them. Sleep disorders are everywhere, and on the rise daily, I use a combination of stories of real patients I have treated, and analogies to help people understand my material. For example, when your phone has less than 20% battery life, it automatically goes into a “power saving mode”, which is a great analogy for your vitamin D level, when it drops below 20 ng/ml, your body also begins to shut down all non-essential services. I call this common vitamin D deficient state “Permanent Winter, or “Human Power Saving Mode”, which results in a reduced immune response.
Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers need to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)
I think the key to success is truly believing in yourself and knowing that what you want to share is critical and can help other people, and not ever being discouraged. To spark a movement, you need to have multiple tiers of information, and memorable content. Simplicity, and cohesive storytelling, coupled with a variety of sources are needed to move the needle. Book(s), podcasts, interviews, written articles, and any digital media that can be viewed on-demand is critical. People fall out of paradigms, and belief systems all the time, and need to be able to find their own way into a future movement. Everyone learns, or takes in sensory information differently, and at different speeds. Having a wide variety of indoctrination, and information materials is critical. The older generation will read a whole book, but the younger generation is better suited to YouTube, and short videos with engaging presentations, and content. Sparking a movement requires that all bases are covered, and that when someone finds you they become excited to be a part of something they can believe in, identify with, and promote themselves.
The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?
I met with many multimillionaires, and even billionaires to ask for help in business, and my paradigm because I still work full time as a dentist. What struck me and stuck with me was that each of them asked for my vitamin regimen for themselves, but ultimately said, “Joel, I love your passion, and your information is so important, but I am not interested in helping you. There is no defensible IP, or intellectual property, and not enough patentable products, or profit”. Passion, and truth will ultimately surpass our broken medical system, stuck on profit without a social conscience. I realized that it’s normal for us to be selfish, and protect our own tribe, but we are all human animals, and are of one tribe, the Modern Hunter Gatherers. That’s when I came up with that critical catchphrase that adorns my MHG (Modern Hunter Gatherer) logo, “Save Yourself, Save the Planet., Mother nature is the force behind the laws of physics, and we need to respect, and work with her, she favors diversity, and collaboration. When enough people realize how our health has been subverted for profit, and want to save themselves, and make a difference, by joining their tribe, things will change. The future is bright,