Episode 10: Jason Stein and Brehan Crawford
In this episode, Jason Stein interviews TikTok funnyman Brehan Crawford. Brehan is an Acupuncturist and Chinese medicine professional in Oregon where he treats patients with complex & chronic conditions such as Lyme disease and Fibromyalgia.
- Join Jason and Brehan as they talk about:
- How Brehan got started in TikTok
- Keeping it real with other professionals who comment
- What it’s like discussing COVID and Lyme Disease online
Jason Stein 00:02
Hey, this is Jason Stein and welcome to another episode of the wellness Renegades podcast. Here we explore the crossroads of wellness entrepreneurs like you and me who are committed to making money while helping others live healthier lives. People are going against Big Pharma, insurance conglomerates and the mainstream medical models. In each episode, we journey into the challenges and the breakthroughs it takes to be your own business person, pave the path through conventional medicine and truly become a wellness Renegade. Brianne Crawford, welcome. Welcome. I am excited to have you today.
Hi, thanks for having me.
Jason Stein 00:47
Let’s tell the listeners a bit about your background where you’re from what you do and where you live.
Okay, so I’m born and raised in rural Willamette Valley, Oregon, and I got a Chinese medicine education in the US graduating in 2009. I wasn’t thrilled with the clinical experience that I had in school. And so I pursued some advanced training after that and got really lucky enough to be accepted as a very close student and sort of basically a clinical residency with a very senior doctor of Chinese herbal medicine in the US who was trained in China. And I spent
about five and a half years at his practice as an associate and then have since started my own practice and trained in China and pursued a lot of continuing education and focusing now on practising around stuff that Chinese medicine addresses very effectively, that there’s kind of a
hole in the conventional medical sphere for which is a lot of complex chronic conditions like Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, mold injury, you know, the microbiome and addressing those damp kinds of patterns, as we call them in TCM,
Jason Stein 02:13
it’s been great to watch your career from afar because you and I were I was teaching in the school that you graduated from. And I remember you’re a part of my community wellness renegades, and I had another client that was talking about Lyme disease. And I mentioned your name, and she’s like, you know, bring croffer. And he was really excited. So that’s a sign of, really, you’re known in the spheres of Lyme and in fibromyalgia.
Well, that’s cool. Yeah, that’s, I mean, I hope the patients are happy with that. But it’s nice to hear some recognition from colleagues.
Jason Stein 02:52
So I’m really curious because you live out, like, is it an hour and a half outside of Portland?
Yeah, yeah. Southwest of Portland.
Jason Stein 03:01
And because you’re known in the spheres that are both national and internationally a challenge for Western medical providers. Are you having people travel from far and wide to come see you?
Yeah. Especially prior to COVID. I was. That’s that did pick up again, a little bit during the summer here. And then now, you know, we’re expecting that to slow down for a while with the Delta variant circulating like it is. But we’re, yeah, prior to COVID. We, you know, we had people coming here from all over the US and Germany, the UK, Singapore, Australia, that kind of thing. And then now, most of that has gone online, which, switching to telemedicine has as been a you know, there’s some things that I don’t like about it, but on the whole, it’s pretty simple and easy. It’s definitely easier on my staff than coordinating the movement of as many bodies through the clinic. But yeah, yeah, people come from all over.
Jason Stein 04:01
And besides working with you individually as a practitioner, do you have online courses at all? Or do you have?
I don’t, I’ve, I’ve taught some Lyme disease seminars before. Oh, actually, that’s not true. I did do an online continuing education lecture on treating Lyme disease with Chinese medicine for Northwest Health Sciences University earlier this year. I don’t believe it’s, I mean, it was recorded, but I don’t think I don’t know if they have that recording available for sale. Yeah, yeah. But that was it was like a life you know, symposium CEU course and they, you know, like, they would have had people in chairs in the past and then this year, they just did it all online. Like everything else. I don’t know. I don’t know what we’ll be doing in the future. But I do enjoy teaching.
Jason Stein 04:49
Good. I hope that more of that comes because these are when we’re talking about Lyme and fibromyalgia. There’s so much misinformation and Is there often protocols that can even be harmful? So I’m really grateful that you’re stepping into this world. And I’m really curious, first about the Lyme, like, does your kid get bit by a tick? Or like how do you get started like limes? My thing?
Well, it was through my postgraduate training. So my mentor, Dr. Hunter Frou Hoff was really well known in the Chinese medicine world for doing some research around complex chronic Ali microbial infections, which is exactly what Lyme disease is. There’s one signature bacteria Borrelia that or family of bacteria called Berea that kind of, you can’t have Lyme without Borrelia. But you rarely have Lyme with only Borrelia, you oftentimes will get other bacterial, viral, and fungal infections that come along at the same time. And so this is very similar in some respects to some classical parasite-ish infections that are documented in China. And so he translated some of the old texts about that, and tried putting those clinical methods into practice with chronic Lyme patients and found that they are quite effective in some ways. And so I just got a lot of clinical experience with that when I was studying with him and have pursued that as my main, speciality and practice.
Jason Stein 06:37
Great. And so one of the reasons that I wanted to invite you on the podcast is social media, like social media is this headache for most practitioners, and they dabble and often they hate it. And, and, like, I noticed this, this weird thing that happened, where you have a couple 100 people on Instagram, and you have, I’ve seen you on some YouTube videos, there are some things out there, and they’re just the numbers were just a little stagnant. And I went over to tick tock, and you have over 150,000 subscribers on TikTok, yeah, yeah, that’s somewhere. So it’s around there right now. I think, yeah.
Jason Stein 07:23
How does that happen?
Well, like like most funny things, it was kind of a mix of accident and, and serendipity. So during COVID, late last year, I think in October or so, Tik Tok, you know, they make their money from selling ads, like a lot of social media platforms. And they did a big campaign reaching out to small businesses and, you know, they did the thing, Google’s done this to where they send you, like, here’s $300 In AD credit, try it out and see, you know, see if you get, you know, test our waters and see how it does for you. And we had developed a very small online store for my website where people can mostly so that patients can easily reorder products that they are using for you know, maintenance or, or an acute cold or something like that. And, and I thought well, here’s this you know, digestive aid, I’ll just make a little ad for it, make it funny and see if it hits. So I did this one it’s a if for the Chinese medicine people out there it’s it’s a remedy for food stagnation, you probably have seen some stuff like it in Chinese or in pharmacies all over the place and bloating and you know, that kind of stuff. And I had my assistant hold a bag of potato chips and kind of spill some crumbs on her stomach and, and, you know, chatard tummy and hold this and be like, Oh, I ate the whole thing. I feel lousy. And then thanks, microguard and, you know, hold this up to the camera. And we put like little stars around, you know, in this kind of thing. It was just stupid and goofy and ultimately, Tik Tok rejected the ad because they said it made medical claims and they’re like, you can back this up with research if you want us to reevaluate it and I, I didn’t feel like it at that point in time. But while I was doing all that and waiting for them to approve it, I downloaded the app and I started scrolling and just saw like, oh, let’s let me just I never looked at this let’s see what’s here. And it’s you know, it’s they’ve really keyed into what gets that constant like dopamine hit for people of like, your attention span theater.
Jason Stein 09:41
I want to stop you for just a second and say I downloaded the app. And after an hour, I kid you not an hour. I deleted the app. I was like, it’s like crack. It’s like Instagram on crap.
And they have done such a great job. with their own algorithm of profiling their users, yeah. And so and I did notice that right away where it you know, whatever information, you know, there, all the social media stuff is just, they know everything about you immediately. But it was like, Well, you’re a 41-year-old white guy with a beard in Western Oregon. So this is what we’re going to show you. And it’s, it’s all the stuff that you’d expect for my demographic.
And I was like, well, that’s cool. Maybe I can use this for my advantage. And I, I enjoy speaking, I enjoy teaching. I you know, as a hobby. And in high school, in college, I did some theater and I an improv, and I like, you know, it’s fun. So I thought, I’m gonna try making a couple of videos, just not ads, just my own channel and see, you know, say the same things to tick tock that I say to 80% of my patients in practice, and see if it resonates. And I’ll try and do it with humor. And I’ll back it up with as much science as I can find, because I had started looking for papers for this for the product, ad. And so I, I just started throwing stuff out there and was like, here’s a simple Qigong exercise for neck pain with fibromyalgia. And all of a sudden, people started being like, Hey, I tried that, and it really helped. And, and then I would talk about, like, here’s this one plant, and here’s how it works against viruses. And here’s, you know, and this is this kind of thing, and then I dove a little deeper into things like Epstein Barr Virus and some of the different in Lyme and like, how is Lyme? How can you diagnose Lyme disease? Because that’s a that’s a big question that I get asked constantly is, how do I know if I have Lyme? And so you know, I just kind of take those things apart and make them into little digestible chunks and try and do snappy Poppy edits. And I mean, I was like, 10,000 followers in a week, or…
Jason Stein 11:52
Wow, okay, so that’s my next question. It’s like, when did you know it was working? And like, within one week, you had 10,000 followers, five, or 10, or something like that. It was I think it was five in a week and 10 in three weeks or a month, and wow. And it’s it, you know, it goes in peaks and valleys, and there’ll be times that I put up a video and 100 people watch it. And then there once in a while, I’ll put one up there that, you know, I think my top video, my best one actually got about 800,000 views, and then they pulled it they but the medical claims. They don’t tell you so that that’s the annoying thing is that sometimes something will get pulled for violating community guidelines, but and they’ll say, here are the community guidelines, right?
They don’t say specifically which one you broke, and you can appeal it. And I don’t think probably not even a human. It’s just AI software that pulls it and gives you that thing. And did you ever do an ad, so I didn’t ever do like a paid ad. And mostly what I’m trying to follow is the model that I’ve seen work well for other social media creators and success stories, coaches, doctors, you know, whatever flavor of service provider you are, and where it’s basically 90% to 99% of your content is free, helpful advice, like just insights, information perspective.
It’s not really advice. It’s just like, here’s, here’s the wisdom that I’ve gleaned during my education in my career, that may be helpful for you. And I presented in an entertaining fashion and then one to 5% of the time, saying like, and you know, and most of it is like breathing exercises, stretches, nutrition, lifestyle, preventative strategies, that kind of thing. And then 1% of the time, it’s and also, if you would like to use this, this is a helpful thing that we use in the clinic.
Jason Stein 13:53
Yeah, we call that the freemium EduTech. Yeah, freemium edutainment model.
And, and I don’t think you can, I can, I don’t really know all the rules for TikTok because they don’t really publish them and they change and I do know that they change them quite frequently. So we, you know, I don’t direct people to my store or my website, even theirs, if they want to go through my profile and click on the link in the bio, they can find all that and I and I’m not the only person on the internet who’s selling these things and I know that you know, you can Google around and buy it from wherever you want. I don’t pressure people into doing that. It’s very much you know, here’s all the info Do you know take care of yourself I hope it helps and some of it ends up coming back and most of the revenue that has accumulated or started coming back our way as a result of the Tick Tock has actually been from people signing up as patients there’s a shocking number of local people actually in my on Tik Tok. Yeah, I mean, you know, folks from Portland, Salem, Vancouver, the Coast etc, all kind of driving in my little town to come in as patients or, you know, we get a few online folks that are interested from around the state. And that’s been really good. So no, so at 150,000 followers, do you get any ad revenue or anything from tick tock themselves?
Yeah, you do. You can sign up for what they call it the Creator fund, and it’ll pay you per view. They don’t they, again, they don’t publish, like what the rate is. And I believe they do change it every month. I think it depends on how many people as a whole are using the platform and what percentage of views your videos are. And what I’ve seen other creators do who people who get to be very large followings, like, once you’re up above something, like 2 million or 3 million followers. That’s when I’ve seen other creators kind of quit, quote, unquote, quit their day job and just make social media content. Yeah. And so I do get a, they pay you via PayPal, and I do get, you know, somewhere between like seven and $21 a month or something. Or my views? It’s not, it’s not really paying the mortgage right now. Oh,
Jason Stein 16:17
oh, yeah. Oh, well, but it’s fun. And I can imagine you’re getting a handful of new clients every month from the strategy because you’re not just once you make the content over on tick tock, you can push that out to other social media platforms, it’s very easy to reshare it to Instagram and Facebook, which I’ve done. And YouTube even has a short video platform. Now, I can’t remember what they call it. But they kind of you can just upload it to your YouTube channel. And then if it’s, I think if it’s 60 seconds or less, it automatically goes to their short video platform.
Jason Stein 16:50
Great. And so for those that have never been on TikTok, I’m going to open up my screen and together let’s, let’s watch one of your videos here.
So everybody gets ready to cringe. This is called Fibromyalgia stage four.
In stage four of our Fibromyalgia protocol, we’re going to address sharp and stabbing types of pain caused by chronically elevated Okay, so yesterday’s video on long COVID stirred up a little controversy. And I’d like to address that, oh, I may have been premature in saying that COVID is the virus that can reactivate things in the comments, but they are up on my main tree in my profile now studies.
Jason Stein 17:26
So I guess if I hit it again, it goes to the next one. And I’m really curious now. You started talking about COVID. And it doesn’t matter what you say about COVID, people are gonna have contra views. So we know what actually happened.
Well, okay, so with that. So again, I’m trying to give a lot of perspective and education. And one of the things that I’m seeing a lot of in the last year as many Chinese medicine practitioners as long COVID Or they’re calling it task now, UFC. Remember what that acronym is, but it’s very new. So, um COVID has been, you know, when it first emerged in Wuhan TCM, professionals gathered and not very, you know, as they’ve done with epidemic epidemics in China’s history, and they, you know, it gets labeled with like, what, how is this presenting according to Chinese medicine, Chinese medicine theory. And, of course, it’s a lot of academics gathering and arguing about things and nobody ever agrees on anything except for COVID. They did come down and say pretty much everybody agreed. This is a form of dampness. So for the Chinese medicine, people who are listening to your show, it’s like it’s, you know, if you’ve seen anybody with COVID, you know that there’s just so much phlegm. There’s so much phlegm and fatigue and brain fog and all these things that are pretty much always we differentiate at some kind of pathological damp invasion. And that can come with wind and heat and cold and other things. But you know, the secondary blood stasis as we’re seeing with like the toes and the blood clot and all that, but it’s dampness. So. dampness tends to linger dampness can create more dampness and it can be episodic. And some people feel have with COVID have felt like they’re, they’re better after a week or 10 days, and then they go on for two more weeks. And then they feel like they, they caught it again. And what I love to do kind of where the juice for me is with medicine right now is in respecting all of the Chinese medical tradition and the holistic way that it views the body and as a microcosm of the world around it. And you know, we are nothing but are a product of our community. And putting that in the lens of biomedicine and the research that it shows on how it’s able to distil out these key points of reductionist Thinking that fall in line with all of this holistic view. And so it’s not the two are slowly starting to integrate. And we’re, we, you know, in China, Chinese medicine and Western medicine are integrated at a constantly advancing level. And it’s wonderful and beautiful, it serves patients very well. And it takes the, it takes the very broad lens of Chinese medicine and it takes and the concepts of Chinese medicine and Western medicine is able to elucidate those and shed some light on some key findings there. And most of the time, the research validates the traditional thought and the two do not conflict with each other at all. And so in trying to bring this information to, to the US and to both patients, and I have a large number of medical followers who are interested in Chinese medicine, I’m trying to say like, Hey, this is how we view it in TCM, this is how Biomedicine agrees with that. And so with that long COVID video, I found some peer-reviewed journal articles claiming that COVID was a reactivating virus similar to Epstein Barr or the herpes virus family, right? This is something that Chinese medicine treats exceptionally well are these like chronically reactivating viruses, they are also very much syndrome differentiation wise break down into damp patterns. And biomedically.
We, I’m just gonna, I’m going to stop you because not all the listeners are medical providers. And so okay, we shared a little bit about dampness, but I just basically what I hear you saying is, you’re talking about the integration, and you have medical followers and you’re talking about it in their terms, so that they can understand where Chinese medicine can become an ally. And with any subgroup, whether it’s medical or whatever else, you’re gonna have a sub subgroup in there, that doesn’t care what you say. They’re just gonna be against you. Yeah, like, point out any flaws in your argument. You can’t find any of that right away. Yeah. And, and that happened here. So So I got corrected by a virologist saying that the research that I had cited was faulty that based on the structure of the virus, it’s physically impossible for it to reactivate it’s a difference in the virus’s shape and structures is quite different from the herpes virus family. He basically said and as a result of this error, right, everything else that you believe and have ever said or will ever say is wrong. I’ll also be like, dangerous all this stuff. He also when he actually made a video on his own page, really trashing me and incorrect things about me. Yeah, making you like he said, I was falsifying my credentials, which is not sure like, right, there was a troll. He’s a troll. Yeah. So anyway, I issued a retraction like, and I’m and I said, you know, I said in that video that you started to play, I’m here to learn, like I’m here just for to support my patients and I and I want to give good advice and good evidence, and I want it to be, I want it to be of great service to the people who are suffering, and I want it to have scientific validity. And I’m a clinician, I know how this works in the clinic. I know what I see my patients present with, right, not a virologist. Right. And, and I was actually thrilled to learn that, the that so the, like the studies that I cited, how to control for reinfection or persistent infection. And so that’s why they summed it up as saying this has to be reactivating, but the virologist said that is physically impossible. I think it was peer-reviewed, though it was peer-reviewed. So was it any Western medical providers come to your defense? No. Yeah. So it’s such an interesting world, because what you’re sharing with me, correct me if I’m wrong. You are an integrative medicine practitioner with a background in Chinese medicine and a mentor that has translated texts from Chinese medicine, and really finding systems that work where Western medicine has not been great at.
Yeah, yeah, it’s filling a gap. Western medicine is great at a great many things, but it doesn’t have the, it doesn’t have the bird’s eye view that is required to treat some of these more complex and chronic conditions very effectively.
Jason Stein 24:30
You’ve also been invited in by western communities to give lectures and give continuing aid. Yeah, and so it’s interesting to me. Two things. One is TikTok. You said the word COVID. And you were talking about medical studies that TikTok didn’t pull that video. They know, they pull the video of chips on the belly, but not this one. So that’s the first thing that I find interesting things Sure, yeah. The second thing is, how do you suit up because the listeners are growing their social media channels, and they often get attacked? How do you navigate that? Because if you continue down this road, you’re going to get bigger from 150 to 250. And plus, and they’re gonna be more haters. How do you deal with that?
Mostly, I ignore them. Yeah. It’s just, uh, my MO with that is, you know, if I make a gross mistake, I’m going to, I’m going to own that, and I’m going to correct it and, and, but if people are just coming after me, because they don’t understand me, or they don’t understand the paradigm that I come from, that’s on them. And you know, if they’re trying to stare me down simply because they don’t agree with me, I don’t have any power there. If Tik Tok decides to take me down, or if another social media platform decides to take me down, because they don’t
understand or they don’t get it, that’s the risk that I take being on, you know, a social media platform like that. And I know, Pete, that people have fallen in that. But my, what I hope will be will save me from that is having high ethical standards. So for example, Mercola, you know, pulled all his stuff off the internet right ago, which I thought was great, because, I mean, I remember when I was at the school were you taught out in 2008 2009. So many of the five that was when he was starting to get really big on the internet. And so many of the faculty, the both of biomedical faculty and the Chinese medicine faculty, if they, they, when they were familiar with his stuff, they were like, This guy’s dangerous, he is hurting people. And it’s like, you know, he’s got such a broad scope that what he does and talks about that, yes, there are going to be some people who, like a probiotic helps them or vitamin C helps them but Barr in a way, he’s spreading dangerous misinformation, he’s playing on people’s fears to make a profit. And ultimately, that’s hurting people that’s hurting, it’s hurting people in the natural medicine world, and it’s hurting patients. And, and it’s, it’s instilling, you know, we, we all live in this post-truth era, where social media has way too much power. And it’s way too easy to spread falsehoods around. And we’re seeing that in many different worlds, from medicine to science, to politics, etc. And that it is important to me personally, to be part of the solution, not part of the, so I’m just gonna say what’s true, or what I know to be the be correct and be helpful to people. Even if I’m wrong, I will take that back and retract it. And if and if somebody just wants me to be wrong, but but but I’m not. We just have to wait and see.
Jason Stein 27:55
I appreciate that. And I’ll make a distinction because it is important to note, Dr. Mercola, his Doctor of osteopathy,, said some things in your mind have been inaccurate or even dangerous. And I’m guessing the neurologist that attacked you feels the same way about you. And it’s just this interesting world.
If he probably does, they probably don’t know their gender, but they probably do. And it’s why I’m glad to see people like Mercola getting out of this realm because they’re bringing the rest of us they’re making the rest of us look bad. Like, this is why, you know, Chinese medicine people are always lamenting the fact like, it’s like, we wish we had better representation in the medical world in the United States. We wish we could have more hospital jobs, we know we could help people and it’s like, well look at the people in our own field who are saying the wrong thing and bringing the shooting ourselves in the foot as a profession, spreading misinformation. It’s like, you know, I know you have a broad listener base. And so I don’t want to offend a lot of your people. But there are a lot of Chinese medicine people who are not practising Chinese medicine who are practising quite unethically and saying a lot of bad things. And I don’t want them and I don’t want to be associated with them. Yeah.
Jason Stein 29:15
I appreciate what you’re saying. Because you know, you’re a part of my community, which is wellness renegades. And it’s one thing to be a renegade, and it’s another thing to do harm rather than do no harm. Yeah. And so I appreciate what you’re saying, and I appreciate your
own commitment. Because I think that you are being visible, and you’re taking a stand, and you’re even taking a stand where, you know, someone might want to come after you and you’re doing it in an ethical way. And so I really commend you on TikTok. It’s like 150,000 followers aren’t coming just for the humor because I find your videos humorous. They’re coming for the education and you’ve found a way to educate people, for them to take a step in their own life. And I really appreciate that. Yeah, thanks. Yeah, it’s I mean, like I said, it’s short attention span theater. So way. I mean, that’s that was the name of a comedy sketch show from the 90s, I think and it’s, I was like, oh, yeah, that’s exactly what this is. It’s, um, the, the best ways that I know to connect with people are through humor, and emotional gravity. And sometimes people call that pain point or something. But it’s like, you know, what, what’s gonna make them pay attention. It’s like humor, emotional gravity and evidence. And unfortunately, evidence is largely boring. And so if you have 60 seconds, 15 to 60 seconds to connect with somebody and get your message across, you know, I opened with a joke or something like that. And then they’re like, oh, maybe we can sneak in a little bit of good, helpful information here, too.
Jason Stein 30:54
I know very few people that are making people laugh and then citing peer review literature, so I just appreciate what you’re doing. And you’re doing a great job. I am curious for the listeners that want to come to find you. How do you find someone on TikTok?
Tiktok, we’ll help you get that, like I said, I get that algorithm pretty well dialed in. Like, oh, they are you asking how people can find me? Yes. Oh, yeah. It’s just Crawford underscore wellness is my, my handle. And there’s like a picture of an oak tree and, and it for the listeners is your Tiktok channel on your website?
You know, I don’t know that it is. Yeah. I’m pretty sure there’s, I’m pretty sure it got linked there. I asked my web guy to do it a few months ago. I don’t know if you follow through on that or not.
Jason Stein 31:51
If I knew anyone with Lyme or fibromyalgia, I would definitely send them your way. Because you’re you are a bit of a science wonk as well. You want to understand both sides, you are a bit of a science wonk as well. You want to understand both sides of the conversation. And so where do people find you? Where’s your website at?
The website is just Crawford-wellness.com
Jason Stein 32:09
Great. OBrien I love your passion. I love what you’re doing. And for the listeners. Take a moment if you like this, whether you’re on iTunes or podcast or Spotify or wherever you find us. Go ahead and take a moment to like and subscribe. I’m Jason Stein with wellness renegades and Brienne. Thank you so much for being here today.