Indeed, Backcountry Paleo is about AIP and Paleo backcountry food and adventures. However… I arrived at creating this blog because of my autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Free online resources, patient-run online communities, and self-education are what bootstrapped me onto my healing journey.

I’ve become a total geek about following the research and new treatment protocols for Hashi’s and other chronic health conditions. The expanding scientific knowledge around autoimmunity is astounding… gut biome, immunity, brain-gut connection, environmental factors, epigenetics…

Outside of this blog, part of my work involves writing about chronic health conditions and working with patients who have them. In this work I feel lucky to be exposed to newsworthy research discoveries, successful new treatments, forums full of inspired and groundbreaking researchers, patients, and practitioners, and various opportunities for patients.

Among those opportunities are online health summits. Over the past few years, these summits have become numerous and popular. At first, I was skeptical – I thought surely it was a scam and a waste of time. Turns out my skepticism was premature. Not all summits are noteworthy, but a large number of them provide valuable resources to learn about health and recovery – resources typically unavailable to the busy, overwhelmed, and suffering chronic illness patient whose doctor doesn’t keep up with research and new treatment protocols.

Many of my readers have Hashimoto’s and other health issues. After attending a number of these online summits last year, I decided to start sharing my favorites here on Backcountry Paleo. We all want to be well enough to get outside and enjoy the wilderness, and I know from reader emails that some of you have health conditions that currently limit what you can do physically. I know you’d like that to change. My hope is that you will benefit from accessing this information.

The conventional medical model is literally years behind the current research and treatment protocols for chronic health conditions. Meanwhile, many patients continue to suffer without the knowledge and treatment that could help them. Sometimes that knowledge is one-phone-call-to-a-new-doctor away, or a link sent by a friend that clues you into a helpful trail of information, or that book that sat in your doctor’s lending library for years that had your answers and you saw it but didn’t pick it up (that was me – which I discovered in shock ten suffer-ful years later, as I picked up and opened the selfsame book in a different doctor’s office… states away and years after having collapsed, been disabled, and clawed my way slowly back to health), or an innocuous link in a support forum that leads to the website of the research doctor who has your answers (also happened to me – and this one worked!).

The larger medical community is going through growing pains. In a nutshell:

  • The new research is delving deep and finding answers to chronic illness.
  • Meanwhile the medical schools are so entrenched in dogma and bureaucracy that they are a decade behind current, definitive, research developments.
  • Patients are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and they are demanding to be heard, respected, and given better options.
  • These same patients are becoming self-educated about their conditions, digging for information, networking with other patients, and choosing healthcare practitioners who are savvy to what is really working.
  • A unique section of the medical community is seeing this, responding, and succeeding with patients in ways we’ve never seen before.

In the Functional Medicine model, many healthcare practitioners, researchers bloggers, authors, health coaches, etc. came to their profession via their own journeys with chronic illness. The experience of getting sick, suffering, and recovering is powerful. For practitioners, it adds a unique depth to understanding and treating patients. For many who work in the Functional Medicine branch of health and wellness, it informs and drives their passion to help others.

Online health summits provide a forum to share this information with the wider patient community; condensed information source, wide audience. A two-way win: Presenters get exposure, and attendees discover new tools for recovery.

While the ‘hard skills’ knowledge gained at these educational events is really important – diagnostic and treatment protocols, new research, guidance – the ‘soft’ aspects of health summits are just as vital; namely, patients realize they are not alone in their difficulties; they have choices when it comes to treatment, self-advocacy, and how they relate to their doctors, friends and family; and they gain motivation, hope, and support. Empowered patients heal.

Here’s how these online summits work

  1. Sign up for free viewing by giving your email address (more on that in a moment).
  2. Free viewing typically lasts for 24 to 48 hours for each seminar. For example, if there are six seminars on Tuesday, and they start at 10 am, you can view them free till 10 am Wednesday. Wednesday seminars are free till Thursday, etc.
  3. After that free viewing period, if you want continued, unlimited access, you must pay a one-time membership fee. It might cost $45, $97, or more. If you choose not to buy in, you still get to view the free days and take that knowledge with you. It’s a win either way!
  4. You get marketed via email during the summit, and have the option to buy in at any time (the initial free viewing period is free regardless of your decision; and, you can unsubscribe from the emails). Sometimes the cost options rise as the end of the summit draws near – typical incentive building, no surprises there.
  5. Most summits add a bonus free viewing day at the end, where you can access all of the seminars again to catch those you missed due to other commitments.
  6. Some summits offer varying levels of membership, with options for adding on PDF downloads, e-books, books, coaching options, extra talks, etc.

Any way you play, it’s your choice to either view the freebies and call it good, or view them and pay one fee for ongoing access to review information and share it with friends and family.

Back to skepticism… at first I thought this paradigm couldn’t possibly offer people something of value. But these summits are in competition with each other, so they do their best to offer a great product you’d want to buy for long-term access. The fact organizers keep producing these summits means people keep buying them. That means viewers are finding the information worthwhile. Do the math.

Over time I’ll be sharing summits I feel are worth attending. And yes, these are affiliate connections for me; I get a spiff if you sign up for the paid membership, but it doesn’t change your cost. By the way, the presenters typically don’t get paid for speaking; if they make money from the event, it’s by having their own affiliate marketing to draw people to the event.

For some summit ideas:

I’m excited about the 2017 Healing Hashimoto’s summit coming up in November! It’s a sequel to the 2016 summit. Most summits are oriented for patients… this one has a lot of info for family and friends of patients, too. It’s all about support systems, building good mental and emotional foundations, and daily habits for supporting healing. I’ll be watching these talks, and I hope you’ll join me. I know a number of these speakers personally and from blogging, and I can say it’s going to be a good one.

This summer I shared the SIBO SOS Summit in my sidebar… there’s a part II coming in October!