Learn True Health with Ashley James

On Learn True Health, Ashley James interviews today's most successful natural healers. Learn True Health was created for YOU, the health enthusiast. If you are passionate about organic living or struggling with health issues and are looking to gain your health naturally, our holistic podcast is what you have been looking for! Ashley James interviews Naturopathic Doctors and expert holistic health care practitioners to bring you key holistic health information, results based advice and new natural steps you can take to achieve true health, starting NOW! If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, if you are fed up with prescription drug side effects, if you want to live in optimal health but you don't know where to start, this podcast is for you! If you are looking for ACTIONABLE advice from holistic doctors to get you on your path to healing, you will enjoy the wisdom each episode brings. Each practitioner will leave you with a challenge, something that you can do now, and each day, to measurably improve your health, energy, and vitality. Learn about new healing diet strategies, how to boost your immune system, balance your hormones, increase your energy, what supplements to take and why and how to experience your health and stamina in a new way. Ashley James from Learn True Health interviews doctors like Dr. Joel Wallach, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Oz, Dr. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Molly Niedermeyer on Naturopathic Medicine, Homeopathy, Supplements, Meditation, Holistic Health and Alternative Health Strategies for Gaining Optimal Health.
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Now displaying: 2020
Dec 3, 2020

Fermenting Kit that Ashley recommends:
Energybits - - Use coupon code LTH
Medicinal Aloe - - Use coupon code LTH2020
At Home Test - - Use coupon code LTH

Sandor's website


Food Fermentation: Process, Benefits, Foods to Try, Tips, and More!



  • How fermented foods affect the immune system
  • Vinegar pickle vs. fermented pickle
  • Fermented foods and beverages are full of unique metabolic byproducts
  • Pre-digestion of fermented foods makes the nutrients more bioavailable
  • Can fermented foods be frozen?


Have you ever made your own fermented food or drink? In this episode, Sandor Ellix Katz, founder of, talks about what foods can be fermented and the basics of fermenting food. He explains the benefits of eating fermented foods. He also gives some tips on how to encourage kids to eat fermented food.


Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. This episode today is about gut health and fun things that you can do in your kitchen right now to help you build a healthier, happier gut. Before we get to today’s episode, I got to tell you about three resources that have been life-changing, not only for me but for many of my listeners. We actually have specials on right now that this company is offering us.

The first one I want to talk about is Stockton Aloe. I had the founder on my show. He is a doctor who has a very unique company. It’s medicinal aloe, and it is the only company that delivers fresh aloe harvested the same day and totally unadulterated. It’s considered raw aloe, it is not processed at all other than they fillet it, and they remove the gel from the inside, excluding the outer layers of the aloe, the outer skins, which can cause irritability in the gut. Often, most aloe drinks on the market don’t exclude those, so most aloe drinks out there produce diarrhea, which is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to help heal the good. 

There are many studies that show that by consuming, drinking medicinal aloe that we speed up healing time, not only in our gut but also in other parts of the body. People notice that their skin is more radiant. They’re noticing their face is looking more beautiful and their skin is more toned. Obviously, their hair, their nails, and their digestion are better. Everything starts to get better.

I’ve personally given some aloe to a few friends who’ve had some serious medical conditions. I had a friend who was going through cyclical vomiting from a migraine that triggers vomiting, and she was just in absolutely dire straits. I gave her a jug of this and she said it was totally life-changing to drink it every day. I’ve had several friends that have had these similar issues like IBS or heartburn, and with all of them, I’ve noticed that by them drinking this aloe, they immediately see results. 

What’s really fun is that when our family had a bout of what might have been food poisoning, or it might have been some little gastrointestinal bug. I’m not sure what it was, but our whole family was sort of down and out for the count. Our little son, I got him to start drinking the aloe right away as we had the unfortunate experience of basically having all the symptoms of food poisoning. We all started drinking it, but what I noticed is that it immediately stopped the vomiting. It stopped indigestion, it stopped nausea. 

Our son, who I believe was four at the time, started really enjoying it. It doesn’t taste like candy so to have a kid actually like something that’s healthy for you is exciting. And then when one of his friends had a gut issue, my son said, “Hey, drink aloe. It’s really good for you.” To hear a little kid start giving health advice to his other kid friend, it was a very proud mom moment there. But what I’ve noticed is by drinking this, it makes a huge difference in gut health. 

And since today’s episode is all about gut health, I have to let you know you’ve got to also listen to that interview that I have. You can go to That’s and use the coupon code LTH2020. That’s all of December we’re going to get a discount from them. He also gifts us his aloe cream as well which is really nice as a hand cream, especially if you’ve been washing your hands extra or using hand sanitizers extra, you might notice your skin is a bit irritable. I really do enjoy his hand cream. It doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy, and it’s full of aloe so it’s very rich in moisture but not in grease. He includes that as well. 

And then what you do is it comes frozen, you keep it in the freezer. When you’re ready to drink it, it is absolutely fresh. Now, we do talk about it in the interview. I highly recommend going to and just searching aloe, checking out that interview, and listening to it because he does share a lot of science behind why drinking aloe is so good, not only for healing the gut but for other conditions as well. To buy it, go to Use coupon code LTH2020.

The other company I really, really like is ENERGYbits. I’ve had Catharine Arnston, the founder of ENERGYbits on the show I believe at least seven times. She has amazing information that she shares about utilizing the healing power of algae specifically chlorella, and her chlorella is only one of a few handful of companies out there that guarantees no heavy metals and no lead. Most chlorellas, if you go to the health food store, go to whatever store and you buy some chlorella, there’ll be a little warning that says that it can cause cancer. Well, that’s because most companies, how they process their chlorella, add lead to it which is clearly not healthy. But her ENERGYbits does not have any heavy metals or lead, and she tests them both in the United States and where she grows the crop as well. She talks all about the quality of her ENERGYbits.

What I love about chlorella is it provides a plethora of vitamins and it does have minerals in it, but it also contains readily available amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. So for someone who’s looking to heal the gut and get readily available nutrition from a food source, this is considered a superfood, then you would love ENERGYbits. Go to That’s and use coupon code LTH to get the best discount.

I’ve really enjoyed them. I also interviewed several doctors actually who all talk about using chlorella to naturally and safely remove heavy metals from the body because it does something inside of us where it will chelate or bind to heavy metals. You can use chlorella as part of your very gentle detox, and in fact, it’s even safe for children. I’ve had Dr. Klinghardt talk about how he uses chlorella routinely with children, especially those children who have autism-like symptoms from heavy metal deposits in their neurology. That’s very exciting. You can absolutely type in chlorella into Learn True Health in the search engine at to listen to those interviews and learn more about chlorella. And to purchase it, go to Again, use coupon code LTH.

The last company I want to tell you about is I recently had both the founder and one of the chief science officers on the show—both amazing interviews. I’ve really enjoyed my results with Viome. It’s an at-home test where you give them a very small stool sample and blood sample and mail it to them. They test over 100,000 genetic pathways that are of your microbiome, of your gut bacteria, and of your mitochondria. And then from that, based on the chemicals that your microbiome produces from the food you eat, then they tell you what kind of diet you can eat to further enhance your health and what foods you should avoid based on the chemicals that your gut produces.

Basically, we have a six-pound pharmacy living in our gut known as our microbiome. What is healthy food to me might be actually toxic food to you based on the chemicals that your microbiome produces. They also give you superfood and supplement recommendations to optimize gut health, and it really, really works. I’ve been very impressed. So to learn more about that, you can type Viome into the search box at and listen to those interviews to get the test kit, which right now they have a great special on this month for Learn True Health listeners. Go to and use coupon code LTH. Check it out, I know you’re going to love it.

Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this information with those you care about. I want to see absolutely everyone listening to this show producing amazing gut health and going into the new year with really healthy, strong guts. Let’s all focus on feeling great and getting to a whole new level of health and vitality for 2021.


[00:09:22] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 452. I’m very excited for today’s guest. We have with us Sandor Ellix Katz, the founder of I’m such a huge fan of live culture fermented foods, and the best way you can eat them is when you do it yourself. It’s actually really easy. I was so nervous about fermenting foods because I thought maybe I’d give myself food poisoning. It’s really hard to mess up once you learn the basics, and I’m so excited that we’re going to learn from Sandor today the health benefits of eating our own homemade fermented foods. Welcome to the show.


[00:10:10] Sandor Ellix Katz: Thanks so much for having me. Happy to be with you.


[00:10:13] Ashley James: Absolutely. Go back to your life. Tell us your life story about fermentation. What happened in your life that made you become incredibly passionate about spreading this information?


[00:10:24] Sandor Ellix Katz: Well, I would say that there were a few steps in the development of my interest in fermentation. The first was as a kid, I loved pickles. My grandparents were immigrants to the US from what’s now Belarus. In our kitchen or in our refrigerator, we always had eastern European style fermented cucumber pickles. I just loved that flavor. I didn’t know how they were made, I wasn’t thinking about fermentation, but I was very drawn to the lactic acid flavor of fermentation.

I spent a couple of years when I was in my mid-20s following a macrobiotic diet and macrobiotics places some emphasis on the digestive benefit of pickles and other kinds of live culture foods. I started noticing that these pickles that I had always loved to eat that whenever I would eat them I would feel the salivary glands under my tongue squirting out saliva. I began to associate these foods in a very concrete way with getting my digestive juices flowing. I started really eating them regularly as a health practice, but still, I wasn’t making them myself.

The catalyst to learn how to make them myself was that in 1993, I moved from my hometown of New York City to rural Tennessee, and I started gardening. I was such a naive city kid that it had never occurred to me that in a garden, all of the cabbage would be ready at about the same time, and all the radishes would be ready at about the same time. The first year I was gardening—when I was faced with this reality that in retrospect seems really obvious—I decided I’d better learn how to make sauerkraut. I knew I loved sauerkraut. I knew that sauerkraut had something to do with preserving cabbage.

I looked in the most basic American cookbook, The Joy of Cooking, and I found out I’ve had a recipe for sauerkraut. I saw how incredibly simple the process was. I shredded a couple of cabbages, salted them, added some caraway seeds, smashed them a little bit, and packed them into a crock. I just fell in love with the simplicity and ease of the process, and then I started playing around with different vegetables, sourdough, country wines, and yogurt making. Before I knew it, I just was down the rabbit hole of fermentation.

At first, it was just a personal obsession, and then I got a little bit of a reputation. I was teased by my friends for always showing up with sauerkraut, but I did get invited—after a few years—to teach a sauerkraut making workshop at a local event that was described as a food skill share event. I just loved teaching about it. I loved demystifying the process for people. I mean, you mentioned that you were a little bit scared the first time that you fermented vegetables. That’s a very common reaction, and for whatever reason, I never had that.

But as soon as I started teaching about fermentation, I came into contact with people projecting their anxiety about bacteria onto the process. It turned out, it was really fun and interesting to figure out how to demystify it for people and make people more comfortable with it. The initial teaching experiences led me to self-publishing a small pamphlet of my recipes, and then I decided to expand that into a larger book. What began as a book tour in 2003 just became a way of life as an itinerant fermentation educator.

At this point, I’d say I’ve probably taught a thousand workshops. I have a few different books. Wild Fermentation is the original book that I wrote. The Art of Fermentation is a bigger book that came out in 2012, and actually, I’ve just published another book that’s not so much about how to ferment things but it’s called Fermentation as Metaphor. It’s sort of addressing how we use the word fermentation in the English language also to describe really any kind of phenomenon that would be bubbly and get things agitated and mixed up. Anyway, I have lots of different interests in fermentation, and I love to share them with people.


[00:15:05] Ashley James: Now, it doesn’t sound like you had any major health issues. Did you notice anything shifting in your body as you continued to incorporate more and more fermented foods? Did anything change about your health?


[00:15:18] Sandor Ellix Katz: Well, I mean I definitely have had health issues. I’ve been living since 1991 with HIV, so I’m approaching my 30th anniversary of living with HIV. The thing is that these foods have always been part of my life. Even before I was thinking about them as a health practice, I was eating pickles all the time, I was eating yogurt all the time. I would say what I notice more is sometimes in my international travels, I find myself in places where I don’t have regular access to live fermented foods. I notice the absence of them. I notice how sluggish my digestive processes become when I’m not eating these foods, and so that really affirms for me how helpful they are in our ability to effectively digest food.


[00:16:16] Ashley James: You said 30 years you’ve been living with HIV?


[00:16:20] Sandor Ellix Katz: Yeah.


[00:16:21] Ashley James: In your 30-year quest to maintain complete optimal health, and I think that you are such a prime example of what we really want to focus on is no matter what we’re faced with, let’s give our body absolute optimal health instead of buying into the fear-mongering that having a diagnosis tends to give us, especially in the mainstream. You are living in incredible health, and you’re looking every day at what you can do to give yourself that vitality. Have you seen studies or looked further into how fermented foods affect the immune system?


[00:17:02] Sandor Ellix Katz: Well, sure. Let me also just clarify for you and your listeners. I mean, I’ve been taking HIV meds since 1999. For the last 21 years, I’ve been on antiretroviral medications. I wish I could say that my story was that eating fermented foods prevented HIV from ever progressing, but I experienced the period of getting very sick and the meds completely shifted the situation. 

But the one thing I would say is that almost everyone else who I’ve met who’s taken the HIV med cocktails has experienced digestive problems as a side effect of the medications, and I have never experienced that. That really affirms once again that it’s not always just a choice of one approach or another. You can be in a situation where you choose to do the medical recommendations, take the recommended medications, and still, your digestive processes are important. What you eat has a bearing on your well-being day-to-day.

Now, to answer your original question that you asked about immune function, sure, I mean there’s a lot of evidence that first of all, the bacteria of the gut are a huge part of what we call the immune system. That increasing biodiversity in the gut is a great way of improving overall immune function. In addition to the power of the probiotics and the bacteria themselves, fermented foods are nutritionally enhanced in a number of ways. Nutrients get broken down into simpler forms that are often more accessible to our bodies, so nutrients become more bioavailable. The bacteria that are fermenting the food produces various metabolic by-products, some of which have been found to have specific beneficial activity.

So for instance, fermented vegetables—which I think is the most basic, the easiest kind of ferment to make yourself at home—have these compounds called isothiocyanates, which were already of interest to cancer researchers because they’re regarded as anti-carcinogenic. Beyond ingesting the lactic acid bacteria themselves, which have this probiotic benefit, the metabolism of the organisms before you eat the kraut produces this byproduct, which is regarded to be anti-carcinogenic. The world of fermented foods and beverages is full of these unique metabolic byproducts, some of which have been found to have really powerful therapeutic potential.


[00:20:09] Ashley James: That’s so exciting. You mentioned that as part of the fermentation process, it’s almost like the plant becomes a little pre-digested for us making the nutrients inside the plant more accessible, for example, sauerkraut. Do you have any specific examples of what nutrients become more readily available to us through fermentation?


[00:20:31] Sandor Ellix Katz: Sure. The most dramatic examples of this are beyond the realm of fermenting vegetables because nutrients in vegetables tend to be fairly accessible to us but think about soybeans. The reason why nobody ever cooks and eats a bowl of soybeans for dinner is that all of that protein in the soybean—soybeans are regarded as the plant source food with the most concentrated protein, but our human bodies are not capable of extracting the protein from a soybean that has been simply cooked. That’s why people never sit down and eat a bowl of soybeans the way they might with lentils, chickpeas, or other kinds of beans. It’s just so dense that our bodies can’t access the protein. 

The indigestibility of soybeans was recognized by the Asian cultures that pioneered soy agriculture thousands of years ago. They developed various ways of making it more digestible, and fermentation is the most straightforward way of making the protein of the soybean more accessible.

There are all these different methods that people use to ferment soybeans. There’s soy sauce, there’s miso, there’s tempeh, there’s natto, there are many, many other variations of fermented soybeans. They have different flavors, different methods, different organisms, different amounts of time, different environmental conditions they require, but what they all have in common is that that protein gets broken down into amino acids—the building blocks of proteins, and so they become more bioavailable to us and the soybean becomes more nutritious.

In grains and certain beans, the minerals get tied up in these chemical bonds that are called phytate bonds that our bodies can’t break down. But a long enough bacterial fermentation will break it down and so the minerals become more bioavailable. There have been all these interesting studies where—okay, I’m going to use the example of this south Indian fermented crepes called dosas that are made of a batter of lentils and rice. But if you just cook lentils and rice and send it to a lab for analysis and then you ferment it into this batter, make dosas, and send the dosas to the same lab made from the same lentils and the same rice, what you find is that the fermented food—based on the same ingredient—has much higher measurable levels of calcium, iron, and other dietary minerals. This is another example of the pre-digestion of fermentation making the nutrients in food more bioavailable.


[00:23:28] Ashley James: That is so fascinating. Do you ferment your own beans and lentils?


[00:23:33] Sandor Ellix Katz: Yeah, sure. I dabble in all the ferments. I mean, it’s not like I ferment everything all the time. But I actually did a workshop just the other afternoon demonstrating via Zoom how to make dosas. I have a jar of dosa batter sitting in the fridge. Every other day or so, I’ve been making some dosas and enjoying them. But I definitely ferment beans. I make miso, I make tempeh, I make natto. I do lots of fermenting.


[00:24:09] Ashley James: That sounds really cool. That sounds kind of advanced.


[00:24:13] Sandor Ellix Katz: One thing I’d just like to say generally is there is nothing that we can eat that cannot be fermented. If we can eat it, it can be fermented. It doesn’t mean everything has equally prominent traditions of fermentation. I mean, some foods have much more elaborate traditions of fermentation than others, but anything we could possibly eat can be fermented.


[00:24:40] Ashley James: That’s interesting because my friend has a really beautiful garden and he was disappointed to find out that kale shouldn’t be fermented. Because he had a lot of kale, there isn’t a good way to ferment it that makes it taste good. Do you disagree? Is there a way to ferment kale or preserve it that makes it taste good?


[00:24:58] Sandor Ellix Katz: Well, kale and any dark green vegetable with a lot of chlorophyll have a strong taste when it is fermented. Personally, I find the flavor of pure kale fermented to be kind of strong. I love kale as a minor ingredient if it was like 90% cabbages and radishes and 10% kale, I think it’s a lovely accent flavor. But I have met more than one person who’s told me that their favorite vegetable to ferment is kale.

So I have really learned not to assume anything about people’s taste or that everybody’s taste is going to be the same. You can ferment kale but you might or might not like the way it tastes. I encourage people to experiment and not be fearful to experiment but to experiment in small batches so if they try something and they don’t like it, they’re not discarding a lot of food. I mean, another question people always ask about is zucchini because so many people with gardens have a moment in the summer when there’s more zucchini than they know what to do with.

Yes, you can definitely ferment zucchini, but in hot weather, watery vegetables tend to get very soft and mushy during fermentation. The fermentation won’t really preserve the texture of the vegetables for very long unless you have a very cool root cellar to store it in so it might end up being soft and mushy. Yes, you can ferment zucchini, but if you’re planning to ferment lots of it for months, you’re going to end up with something that at least I would find very unappealing by virtue of texture rather than flavor.


[00:26:41] Ashley James: Now, I’d love you to dispel some myths. People often will go by pickles. They’re stored on the shelf, they’re made with vinegar. That’s not a fermented food, is it? That’s not a good probiotic. We want to look for the thing that says live culture, that has been made with lactic acid. Can you clear up some things about this?


[00:27:01] Sandor Ellix Katz: Yeah, sure. Okay, let me say two things. First of all, you can find sauerkraut in the store in a can. That was made by fermentation just the way if you want to make sauerkraut at home you would make it, but then it’s heat processed so it can be in a can on a shelf without refrigeration indefinitely. Heat processing kills the bacteria. 

Now the word pickle covers a lot of ground. A pickle is anything preserved in an acidic medium. The old world mate way of making pickles in most places is you put the cucumbers or whatever the vegetables you’re using might be or the fruit in a brine solution, a saltwater solution. Then you add some seasonings if you like, but the acid that develops is lactic acid from bacteria on the vegetables breaking down carbohydrates in the vegetable and acidifying the environment of the brine.

What supermarket shelves are full of are the 20th-century pickles. When the process was developed around the middle of the 20th century, what we now know as distilled white vinegar—the vinegar that’s cheaper than water at the supermarket—ushered in a period of vinegar pickles. Vinegar pickles have been traditional, especially in wine-making regions of the world. But in most places in the world, the traditional pickles have been brined pickles and the acid is lactic acid, which is a different flavor than acetic acid which is what vinegar is. But if you make a vinegar solution and pour it over vegetables those are also a pickle. But generally, it’s a hot vinegar solution and it’s a strong enough vinegar solution that the heat and the high acidity will kill the bacteria of the vegetables.

Yes, if you want to have live culture pickles, you’re basically going to either be buying them fresh out of an open vessel—the old world way, or if you find it in a health food store or something like that, it is likely to be in a refrigerator. Because if it’s still alive, then you need the low temperatures to prevent a buildup of carbon dioxide in the jar which could make it leak or potentially explode.


[00:29:29] Ashley James: Now, when you have this bountiful harvest of cabbages in your garden and you go to make all this sauerkraut. You fermented it, it ferments for an average of six days. I hear some people do it up to two weeks, but then when you’re done, when you like the flavor, you finish fermenting, I’ve always been told that we put a mason jar lid on it and put it in the fridge. That kind of slows down the fermenting. How do you then make it shelf-stable, or do you need to store it in a fridge or in a cold cellar at that point?


[00:30:05] Sandor Ellix Katz: A cold cellar or you’re in a place that’s just where it just gets cold enough. I mean, I’ve seen people store sauerkraut outside if it gets extremely cold—that becomes problematic, but a cellar would be the traditional way to do it. In Korea, the tradition was you store the winter’s kimchi, you bury your ceramic crock in the yard so that you have the temperature modulation of the earth to prevent it from getting too cold and to prevent it from getting too warm. If you let it sit in your heated home, what happens is that it’s not that it would become toxic. I mean, you can ferment things for a very, very long time.

I’m down to the last pint of what was originally 200 liters—about 55 gallons—of radish kraut from last November. I’ve just made this year’s batch, but I’m eating up the very end of last year’s batch. Now it was just in my cellar from November until June, and then it’s been in the refrigerator since June. But if I let it get hot in the summer temperatures, what happens is that these enzymes that are part of all vegetables will break down the pectins and make it get really soft and mushy like I talked about a few minutes ago with the zucchini ferments.

That’s the main reason why you have to keep things cool. I mean, one week two to a few weeks, that’s a very contemporary interpretation of how you do these foods. In temperate regions, people would ferment it for months, and they wouldn’t wait months before they start eating it, but they would let it just keep fermenting through the entire winter because there was no refrigerator to put it into. 

But then people would always try to finish it up before it gets hot because that’s when the texture will be destroyed. And then also, just in terms of the real practical necessity of it, by the time summer comes there are lots of fresh vegetables to eat. This historically has been primarily something that was about preservation, about getting vegetables and vegetable nutrients through a long winter where there was no or very little fresh vegetable food.


[00:32:37] Ashley James: I interviewed a Ph.D. in Anthropology who figured out—his whole thing is he goes back to humans a hundred thousand years ago. They find all the tools that they could possibly find fossilized. They try to figure out how we ate that long ago, how our ancestors ate. What he sees is that there’s so much evidence for fermenting. That we figured out how to ferment even back then to secure the nutrients out of foods. He says look at a duck, ducks have two stomachs—one grinds the grain, and the other ferments it and that’s how you access it. 

For example, corn, we don’t access nutrients from corn very easily unless we put it through a process where we can grind it, ferment it, and fermentation allows those nutrients to become available to us. We figured that out a long time ago, which is really neat cause I feel like, in the last 100 years, we all have amnesia from our ancestral roots. We need to come back to how we have been eating for thousands of years, and fermenting is such a large part of that.


[00:33:51] Sandor Ellix Katz: Yeah, sure. I mean, fermentation is ancient. The current archaeological record suggests that people were fermenting at least 10,000 years ago, but personally, that tells us mostly about the history of pottery because the earlier vessels—before people figured out pottery to have vessels to ferment liquids in—were all biodegradable things. They were either animal membranes, hollowed-out trunks of trees, or gourds. But at some point, people realized that they could stabilize clay and get the clay to hold liquids. Those are the shards that we find.

Berries spontaneously ferment into alcohol without human assistance, and there’s a lot of interesting documentation of different insects, birds, mammals, and other animals being drawn to the smell of fermenting fruit. You can watch YouTube videos of elephants gorging themselves on fermenting durian fruits in Malaysia, then getting disoriented, falling over, and basically getting drunk. I think it’s safe to assume that our evolutionary forebears like primates—contemporary primates are definitely drawn to the smell of fermenting fruit. I think it’s safe to assume that our ancestors were drawn to this, and we did evolve with enzymes to enable us to digest alcohol. I mean, fermentation has been part of the landscape. 

Really, if we want to talk about the deep evolutionary past, the earliest organisms were all bacteria, archaea, and all these anaerobic organisms that were fermenting. One of their byproducts was oxygen, and that the buildup of oxygen in the atmosphere has something to do with these fermenting organisms that are ancient. All the multicellular organisms that descended from the original single-cell life forms all live with associated bacteria. All the forms of life that the original bacteria and archaea evolved into—all the plants, all the fungi, all the animals—have microbiomes. They have associated populations of bacteria that enable them to effectively function. We’re not alone in this regard.

Fermentation is very, very, very ancient, and certainly, in the context of human cultures, it’s just been an integral part of how people in every part of the world figured out how to make effective use of whatever food resources were available to them.


[00:37:11] Ashley James: Absolutely. I want you to teach us. Pretend that everyone who is listening hasn’t fermented something. What’s your favorite beginner recipe so we can all go out and just start fermenting something today?


[00:37:26] Sandor Ellix Katz: What I almost always recommend for people as a first fermentation project is fermenting vegetables, for a few reasons. I mean, first of all, it’s really, really simple and straightforward. It’s just incredibly powerful and supportive of good health. And then to the degree that people might be projecting some anxiety onto the process. While all fermentation processes are safe and foods that are fermented are safer than the same food before they are fermented. But in the case of fermenting vegetables, there are no documented cases anywhere in the world of food poisoning or illness. This food is as safe as it gets.

We hear every year about people getting sick from raw vegetables. A couple of months ago, it was red onions. It was lettuce one year, it was spinach one year, it was cabbage one year. Clearly, there’s the possibility that vegetables can be exposed to pathogenic bacteria and make people sick, but if you took those vegetables—even if they’d been exposed to some potential pathogen and then you shred it, salt it, get it juicy, and pack it into a vessel to ferment, the indigenous bacteria will always dominate over incidental pathogens. The lactic acid bacteria that are always on the vegetables—in fact, always present on all plants growing out of the soil on planet earth—will dominate. And then as they acidify the environment, if there were some cells of salmonella, E. coli, or other things that we associate with food poisoning, what they all have in common is that they cannot tolerate an acidic environment. As that environment acidifies, they get destroyed.

Fermenting vegetables is the place to start. Generally, what I would say is pick your vessel. I would suggest the easiest thing would be a wide mouth jar. I like to use wide-mouth quart-size canning jars, but you could also just use a jar leftover from mayonnaise or something. Then you need to get some vegetables. You really could work with any kind of vegetables. I mean, any kind of cabbage, any kind of radish is foolproof. But you can also experiment with other kinds of vegetables. I like to mix a few vegetables together. Carrots are beautiful, turnips. 

But for a quart jar, it takes about two pounds of vegetables and then adjust accordingly. If it’s a gallon jar, you probably need about eight pounds of vegetables. If you’re working with a pint jar, you might just need one pound of vegetables. Then shred it. It doesn’t matter how finely. You can do it super fine, you can do it in coarse pieces, they don’t all have to be even. It doesn’t matter, but you’re just trying to create some surface area. And then you salt it. It doesn’t matter how much salt. I mean, it matters in terms of how it tastes and I would say because people have such varied tastes for salt, salt it lightly, mix it all up, taste it, just evaluate it, and add more salt if you want. This is not rocket science. It does not rely upon some precise proportion of salt.

There are some places where the tradition is to ferment vegetables without any salt at all. There was even a commercial business in the US that was doing that for decades. The kraut wasn’t very good. I mean, I didn’t like it. I mean, the salt really balances out the flavor. The salt helps maintain a nice crispy, crunchy texture to it, but you don’t have to make it extremely salty. 

If you’re from a Russian or German family where your grandparents were making sauerkraut, their grandparents were making sauerkraut, chances are the family recipe is extremely salty because going back just a few generations, this was an important survival food. But if your context is not so much making it to survive through a long harsh winter but rather making something that’s delicious, that’s going to support your good health, there’s no reason to make it super salty. You can just make small batches every few weeks. They don’t have to be preserved for long periods of time. They don’t need that much salt. I just salt to taste.

I use sea salts. A lot of the literature says to stay away from iodized table salt. I’ve done so many demos where the organizers handed me iodized table salt. I can tell you with confidence, it works even with iodized table salt. Don’t get too precious about thinking you need a certain kind of salt. Vegetables, salt, and season it as you like. You could put a little bit of garlic, ginger, or both, some chili peppers, some caraway, or nothing. Just have it be simple salted vegetables. But you can season it in any way you like. Sometimes people add a little bit of fruit. In the Korean tradition, often, there’s a fishy element—either little dried shrimp or a little fish sauce to add complexity to the flavor. You can do any of that, you cannot do any of that.

The most basic is shred vegetables, salt them, mix them around. What I like to do is spend a couple of minutes squeezing the vegetables with my hands when I’m doing it on a small scale. What this does is it basically breaks down cell walls and helps release juice from the vegetables more quickly. On a larger scale, people might use some big heavy tamping tool, or the story I hear over and over again—usually from people older than me who grew up in Eastern Europe—is people remember having their feet scrubbed as children and being put inside of a barrel to jump up and down on the vegetables that their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are shredding.

However, you do it, breaking down the cell walls a little bit just helps the vegetables give up their juice so you can get the vegetable submerged, which is the most important environmental factor—getting the vegetables submerged. Usually, I use some sort of little weight at the top. I’ve got these little glass discs that I sometimes use if I’m using a jar. If you don’t have anything like that, you can improvise. What I sometimes do is I save an outer leaf from the cabbage with a heavy spine and use that spine like a little spring to hold the vegetables down. Or sometimes, I’ll take the end of an onion or a fat carrot or something and let that be a top piece to hold things down. Sometimes people fill a little sandwich-sized bag with a little bit of water and let that hold everything down.

On a larger scale, if I’m working with a crock, I’ll put a plate that fits inside the crock that can sit on the surface of the vegetables and then a little jar filled with water holding that down. There are different ways to do it, but you want as best you can keep the vegetables submerged because the bacteria don’t need oxygen. Lactic acid bacteria are anaerobic. The place where it meets the air with the oxygen, that’s where all the funky stuff happens, and it’s not unusual. Don’t be freaked out if you get a film developing on the top of your vegetables. 

There’s a yeast called kahm yeast that sometimes grows. Sometimes these hairy molds that are totally harmless grow. I just skim them off as best I can and discard them, but know that that’s a possible scenario. The warmer your environment is, the faster that’ll happen. The less salt you use, the faster that’ll happen. But that’s it. 

Then leave it for at least three or four days and then start tasting it. Everybody’s taste is different. Some people love it the sourer it gets. The acidity accumulates over time. So to get very sour sauerkraut takes some time. The temperature will have bearing on that. The metabolism of these organisms is faster when it’s warmer, slower when it’s cooler. If you’re doing it in a place where it’s very warm, you’ll get a certain level of acidity faster than you will in a cooler environment.

In general, if you have a choice, a longer slower fermentation will generally yield superior flavors to a faster shorter fermentation. Taste it periodically, evaluate the flavor, and harvest it when it tastes right to you. But I’ve had people tell me that two-day-old sauerkraut was the best kraut they ever had in their life. I had someone tell me that two-month-old sauerkraut was very good for coleslaw. 

People are all over the place with the flavor they like, and so rather than thinking that you need to conform to some idea of how sour sauerkraut is, just taste it periodically and monitor the evolving flavor. When you feel like you don’t want it to get any stronger—I should say, if you ever feel that you don’t want to get any stronger, move it to the fridge. I often have batches that never make it to the fridge.


[00:47:03] Ashley James: Because you just start eating them, they’re so delicious, and you start sharing them with your friends?


[00:47:07] Sandor Ellix Katz: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it never gets to the point where I have a reason to slow it down. Sometimes I just finish it before I move it to the fermentation slowing device.


[00:47:18] Ashley James: I got to share my two favorite recipes—super simple. Get fresh ginger—not frozen. Just rinse it lightly, put it in the food processor in the thinnest possible setting. Some food processors let you adjust the thinness of the cut. Then I just take just a spoonful of salt and I massage the ginger, like you mentioned, until there’s some juice, until it gives up its juice. And then I cram it into a mason jar, pack it in tight. Of course, the salt is now melted. The juice of the ginger has become a brine, and then I push it down with a fermenting stone like a glass disc you mentioned. Put a lid on it loosely and then put it in a warm dark place for a few days.

For me, the temperature of my house, six days seems appropriate. Oh my gosh, it is the most delicious thing. You just take a pinch of it and add it to every meal. It is so freaking delicious. It’s still raw ginger, right? It’s very spicy. It’s very hot, but the heat is so warming to the digestion. It’s amazing.

And then my second favorite one, there’s a little bit more work. I saw my friend make a fermented pico de gallo salsa on Facebook and I thought, oh my gosh, I never even thought that you could ferment a pico. I chopped up tomato, onion, and then pineapple—some fresh pineapple, not canned—and then a little bit of jalapeño. Mixed in some salt, don’t add any water. Put it in the jar, packed it down again. The tomato really gives up a lot of liquid, and then I fermented it for three days in a warm dark place. Then I add lime and cilantro, mix it together, and put it in the fridge. It was the most—I made two giant jars of it. I took them to all my friends’ homes that few weeks sharing it. I can’t tell you. It’s so much fun when you get into this because the fermenting changes the flavor and you’re making this new thing, and then you can add it to dishes. It’s very exciting.


[00:49:41] Sandor Ellix Katz: Yeah. Your two examples really illustrate perfectly the versatility of this process because both of those really follow the process that I just described generically that you could do with any kind of a vegetable. When you use tomatoes, they’re sugary, so the fermentation goes much faster. It would be hard to do tomatoes for six weeks. I mean, it wouldn’t be hard. You’d lose all of the sweetness, and it would get extremely sour. Like you, I love a short fermentation of anything tomatoey.


[00:50:19] Ashley James: Now, for parents that want to encourage their children to try this, it’s great to get children in the kitchen doing it with them. I hear that fermenting green beans is a good place to start to get kids excited about this. Do you have any suggestions for parents on what they could start fermenting with their kids to get them excited? My son hates sauerkraut but loves pickles, for example.


[00:50:40] Sandor Ellix Katz: I’ve seen so many kids who just go gaga for fermented vegetables. I think one key is introducing it young. I mean, if you wait until your kid is eight years old and then you put this food in front of them, they’re probably going to reject it. But if they’ve been around it since they were two, then it’s just normal and they’re always going to love it. 

The other thing I would say is to always get kids tactile. Get their hands in it, whatever it is you’re fermenting. You’re fermenting ginger, you’re fermenting salsa, you’re fermenting cabbage, you’re fermenting radishes, you’re fermenting string beans—whatever it is, let the kids get their hands in it. Once their hands are in it, then they’re going to be impatient. They’re going to be when is that ready, when can we try it? I think getting tactile is really great, but I love to ferment green beans. I always make a little bit of dill and garlic in brine and make basically dilly beans, so delicious. 

In my experience, a lot of kids love pickles, love sauerkraut but I think a real key is trying to introduce the food early. If you want to introduce your kid and they’re already a big kid, then I would say that getting their hands in it might be one strategy to get them more interested in it. Using it as a condiment on something they really like already might be another way to get them to think about it.

I’ve heard great stories from parents who have kids who have rejected the idea of fermented vegetables and their strategies for getting their kids to eat them. I remember talking to this one woman who would take the kraut juice, mix it with fruit juice, and freeze it into little popsicles that she would give to her kid.


[00:52:40] Ashley James: Freezing process, do the bacteria survive the freezing process? Can you freeze sauerkraut?


[00:52:46] Sandor Ellix Katz: Okay, it turns out that the issue with freezing bacteria has to do with the water content. When you freeze water into ice, it expands. If your ferment is watery, then you’re going to have some cells bursting, but they don’t all burst at once. Every freeze and thaw cycle, you’ll end up with diminished potency. Bakers often back up their sourdough starters in the freezer, and the typical process would be to thicken it up into a solid-state. You add more flour so it’s a thicker thing and there’s a lower water content so less expansion, so less diminished cell viability.


[00:53:44] Ashley James: Very cool. It has been such a pleasure having you on the show. Your website is, and you’ve shared that you have Zoom calls. People can learn from you and watch you. People can buy your books. Is there anything else that you want people to know about your website?


[00:54:04] Sandor Ellix Katz: Yeah, sure. I teach lots of workshops, and I list them all on my website. I also have a page of media links where you can listen to previous presentations, interviews, articles, and such. I also have a section of links just of fermentation related resources, and it turns out, there’s just a vast array of resources for people interested in fermentation out on the world wide web. Definitely check out my website My books are just full of practical how-to ferment different things at home. Fermenting vegetables is a great beginning but it doesn’t have to be the ending. There’s just such incredible diversity in fermentation traditions around the world, and I’m so glad to have this time to share a little bit about it with you and your listeners.


[00:54:57] Ashley James: Absolutely. It’s been such a pleasure, Sandor, having you on the show. Please feel free to come back anytime you want to teach us more about the benefits of fermenting and share more recipes with us.


[00:55:07] Sandor Ellix Katz: Great. Have a great day.


[00:55:09] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview all about how you can utilize your kitchen to make some powerful and delicious fermented foods. Start experimenting. Now is the time to go out and just experiment and make something that sounds delicious. Try something new. It’s so much fun once you start getting into fermenting. I’ll make sure that I put a link in the show notes of my favorite fermenting lid that you can get for wide mouth mason jars. It’s so easy. 

I tried all these different kits, and honestly, so many of them are just flimsy, they break, they leak, they’re plastic, and then they’re kind of complicated. And then there’s this one that’s so simple. It has a spring and it has a lid that has a little valve and that’s it. It’s very affordable, and I will make sure I put the link to it in the show notes of today’s podcast at Just go to the notes, wherever you’re listening. If you’re listening to this on iTunes, you can just go into the notes in the details of this episode and you’ll see those links. Or you can go to once we publish it there with the full transcript and you’ll see the links there. I’ll make sure I include the links to my favorite canning stuff.

Now, if you listen to the intro of this interview, I did talk about three companies that are fantastic resources for you., use coupon code LTH. They have a great sale for the month of December for Learn True Health listeners. You have to use the coupon code LTH to get an even deeper discount. This is a fantastic at-home test kit that you do the test at home, then you send it off to them, and they give you results. You can’t get this information anywhere else. It’s absolutely amazing, but it’s information that will guide you in a totally new way and help you make better choices that will speed up your healing. Not only for your gut but also for mental and emotional health. Most of our serotonin is made in the gut. We could be eating foods that are seemingly healthy but actually lowering your serotonin leading to—sometimes for people—anxiety, depression, lack of motivation. Things that don’t look like they have anything to do with the gut can be absolutely related to the gut.

As I shared in one of my interviews with Viome, we talked about my results actually in a recent interview. We talked about how certain foods I had been eating were causing heart health issues. These are foods that are healthy for other people, but because my microbiome converted them into unhealthy chemicals for me, that it was causing issues in other organs. This is what’s happening to all of us. The test results you get from Viome can be totally life-changing for you. So go to, use the coupon code LTH right now, and get their test kit.

Also, I really like their supplements. Their supplements are not a replacement for a multivitamin or a multi-mineral. Their supplements are specifically designed based on your results from your test kit, and they’re designed to support your microbiome to be the healthiest it can be. I started taking them and I noticed right away a shift. I thought that was really cool because I’ve never taken a pre- or probiotic in my life that I immediately noticed great results with, and with theirs I did. Theirs is genetically specifically designed for my microbiome, no wonder I saw results. It was very cool to see that.

And then, of course, you can go to and search Viome to listen to my two interviews with the founder, with the science officer, so that you can learn more about the science and hear more about Viome. And to get it, go to, use coupon code LTH, and check that out.

I talked about aloe and how much drinking medicinal aloe can help specifically for speeding up gut healing. You can search aloe when you go to and listen to my interview about it. To purchase it and get the discount that’s being given to us for the month of December, go to and then use coupon code LTH2020. He’s including a great discount for us, and on top of that, giving us also his aloe cream which is quite nice as a hand cream. I really do enjoy it.

And then last, ENERGYbits, which I’ve had Catharine Arnston on the show several times. Go type in algae or chlorella into the search bar of and listen to those interviews with Catharine Arnston. She shares a lot of science, a lot of stories, and a lot of very interesting information that was new to me, and I’m a health nut, this is my life. I love learning about this stuff. If you kind of consider yourself a little bit of a holistic health nut just like me, then you will absolutely geek out on listening to those interviews with Catharine Arnston. 

To get her discount that she’s giving us right now, you can go to That’s all one-word and use the coupon code LTH

Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing these episodes with those you care about. Almost every day, I hear from you guys either on Facebook or in email, and I hear that you have learned about this from friends, from family. It’s so great that this is a grassroots movement to helping those we care about to gain access to holistic health information that’s not readily available, it’s not being talked about in the mainstream of course so we have to go to the source. We have to listen to awesome interviews from these holistic health experts that want to get this information out there. 

Please continue to listen, continue to explore, continue to go to, and utilize my website as a resource for you. And also, if you’re on Facebook, come join the free Facebook group. We have over 4000 members, and it’s such a wonderful active supportive community where everyone every day—I wake up every morning and one of the first things I do is log in and look at everyone’s questions. I help answer them as best I can throughout the day. So many other amazing health coaches, doctors, nurses, tons of holistic health experts, and just people like you and me who are also just like health nuts love to share, answer questions, give advice, give support, and give encouragement. It’s a great community to be a part of. 

Just search Learn True Health on Facebook. Come join the group. We’d love for you to be part of our community. And if you have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out. You can email me at You can also reach out in the Facebook group

Thank you so much. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day. Enjoy the holiday season. All the interviews I’ve ever done about mental health include gratitude. No matter how bad it is right now or how good it is, make sure that you take time even 30 seconds to focus on what you’re grateful for. Focus on what you do have in your life that you absolutely are so thankful for. Just that 30 seconds of gratitude shifts your body out of stress response and into a healing mode. 

The more you do it, the more often you do it, especially if you can incorporate breathing, especially if you can incorporate, moving your body in a way—that brings you joy, getting outside into sunlight—this helps the body shift out of stress mode and into healing mode. Let’s focus on right now, what are you grateful for today? Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day filled with gratitude.


Get Connected With Sandor Ellix Katz!




Books by Sandor Elliz Katz

Wild Fermentation

The Art of Fermentation

Basic Fermentation: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Cultural Manipulation

Fermentation as Metaphor

Nov 16, 2020

Use listener coupon code LTH at for the gut and mitochondrial testing and food & supplement recommendations.


Viome Gut Microbiome Testing’s Results Interpretation and Food and Supplement Recommendations



  • No one good food is always good for everybody
  • What does metabolites do for the body
  • What does microbiome-induced stress mean
  • How does Viome help improve our health
  • What is the difference of Viome’s supplements


Are all foods, especially fruits and vegetables, beneficial for all people? In an ideal world, all fruits and vegetables would be good for everyone. But that is not the case. In this episode, Ally Perlina shares with us the revolutionary tests that Viome has created. She explains how they came about their food and supplement recommendations and how to interpret their test results. She also shares how their supplements are different from others.



Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. It’s been a few weeks since I did this interview, so I do have more updates for you. I discuss in this interview the results of the Viome test. You may remember a while back, I interviewed the founder of Viome. Viome is a company where they send you an at-home test kit. It’s very easy to use, and you give them a tiny sample of your blood and your stool. And then soon you’ll also be able to give them your saliva. They run hundreds of thousands of genetic expression pathways on the bacteria of your gut and your mitochondria.

What that provides is allows them to see what your bacteria do in terms of what chemicals it makes once you eat. So when you eat something, the bacteria turn it into chemicals. Some of these chemicals are incredibly harmful and cause disease, and we don’t even realize it. Someone could be eating a carrot and that’s causing them to have health problems because their microbiome is transforming something seemingly helpful into a negative chemical for them specifically.

For me, it was actually very interesting. My results were incredibly interesting. I have implemented their advice, and I also started taking their supplements. Right away, which really shocked me, I noticed a change in my gut. I have good gut health, but I noticed this entirely new level of gut health. I’m like holy crow, that was amazing. I’m really very intrigued by the results. I think that if you have the means to do so, everyone should do a Viome test kit. It gives you the information you could not possibly ever get from going to any doctor. It’s absolutely state of the art. Today I have on the scientist, the mastermind behind it all, so she’s going to explain.

This is why it is a longer interview because she does go through my own results and then explains. I try to have her explain it from the perspective of other people as well and how this would also pertain to reversing disease, preventing disease, increasing longevity, reversing age. You can actually reverse cellular age, which is phenomenal and quite exciting. So all this information is shared today, and I want to let you know that Viome does give us a great discount, both on their home test kits and their supplements. Go to and use the coupon code LTH as in Learn True Health. So always use the coupon code LTH every time you buy from them and you’ll get the discount.

I want to let you know that very soon, and for a very limited time during the American Thanksgiving Cyber Sale that’s coming up really soon, they’re going to be giving us an even bigger deal. So I highly recommend marking that in your calendar and checking it out.

You can also join the Learn True Health Facebook group because there are about six other wonderful health companies that have offered the Learn True Health listeners incredible deals for the cyber sales that are coming up during Thanksgiving. I’ll be releasing all that information into the Facebook group, and also email it out for anyone that’s on the email list. You can get on the email list by going to, checking that out. Thank you so much for sharing this with your friends and family. Continue to share these episodes. They are life-changing. I’m really looking forward to hearing about today’s episode. It’s going to be a great one.


[00:03:30] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 451. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have a very special woman on the show today. Ally Perlina, you and I have spent the last few hours talking about my results from my Viome test. Back in episode 441, we had one of the founders of Viome on the show—Naveen, and that was quite an eye-opener. I am really in love with Viome.

Now I’ve come to know that you’re this mastermind—I don’t want to say mad scientist, but you’re the mad scientist behind it all. You have such an amazing understanding of the expressions of our microbes. When we feed them certain foods, they produce certain metabolites, and how those metabolites affect the rest of our body and potentially create disease or heal the body. We could really use food as medicine on a deeper more individualistic level when we understand our unique microbiome and also understand our cells on a deeper level, which is what your company allows us to do—much more affordably than I ever thought.

I’m really excited to have you here today to teach us more about how we can understand—on a cellular level—how to gain health. How to really, really gain health, how to really support our immune system, how to support all of our hormonal systems, how to support our body’s ability to metabolize and to utilize nutrition all by making sure that we focus on what we can feed and what we shouldn’t feed our unique microbiome. Ally, welcome to the show.


[00:05:39] Ally Perlina: Thank you so much, Ashley. I’m so privileged to be doing this with you. I really enjoyed our conversations so far. I think it’s amazing how aware you are of all of the things that are important to look out for and pay attention to when it comes to your health. How curious you are about learning all of the different new technologies and ways of gaining insights about the biology of your body, which is what we’re here to do. I think it is really important to get this understanding and to spread this word, which is what you’re doing here. I’m more than happy to really delve into the results and the data and explain all of this because it’s not always just about talking about the concepts. Because I think to make it relevant, you have to put it in the context of the actual person’s results.

So here we are with your results, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to review it with you and your listeners.


[00:06:37] Ashley James: Awesome, very cool. Well, before we dive into that though, I want to learn a bit more about you and your background. What happened in your life that led you to become an expert in the science of the microbiome?


[00:06:52] Ally Perlina: What happened to me to make me such a mad scientist? What had to happen in my life? I will speak to that. I actually identify myself in a way as a systems biologist. That involves not only understanding the microbiome but really getting into the complexities and the mechanisms that turn all the knobs and all the different levels of our biological systems. From cells, even microbes are cells in a way. Some are unicellular, right? Our cells, tissues, and fluids to organs and organ systems. From the really biochemical levels of biology all the way to physiology, which is why at Viome, I’m a Chief Translational Science Officer. Translational science is basically about something I’ve been trying to do all my life is to translate the science of all of these different molecules, pathways, and the biology of the situation into something that is immediately actionable for health.

I’m a scientist that basically has all the background in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, and human genetics as well, but who’s always worked in a clinical setting—clinical or pharmaceutical type of setting. I worked with many different pharma companies. I worked for clinical diagnostic labs that became part of Quest for four years. I’ve really worked on things from drug and target discovery to clinical trials. More recently, before Viome, I worked at Human Longevity with Craig Venter that has its own basically clinic component called Health Nucleus and is still there. I was there from early on.

In all of the different endeavors and efforts, I’ve always created new novel innovations to connect all of the data at scale to inform clinical healthcare and wellness, especially here in Viome with the wellness space. It’s more scientifically powered. I always felt like a lot of this expertise that we’re given when we get our education, our training as scientists stays in the early discovery, the academics, or early discovery phases within pharmaceutical tracks.

But sometimes, we have enough knowledge to take all of these different points of information and analyze it in maybe some novel and creative ways to scale it, deliver it, and do something really sensible with it to impact the health of people right now. Not all of it needs to go through 12 years of any molecular specific drug development process. When it comes to health and wellness like food and supplements, there are so many things that are well-known that we want to be able to just package and scale that knowledge.

I’ve always been extremely motivated in actually harnessing this power in information. You can’t do that without embracing the complexity. So in order to translate all that information to health care and to empower people to take control of their health, somebody out there needs to be able to get into the complexities of all the systems. Hence, the term systems biology where you really look at all of the different components and figure out what are the mechanisms of health versus disease. 

What are the mechanisms that can give us these points of intervention that we know how to deal with? We can take nutraceuticals. We can take nutrients from drugs or supplements and how they all work together. Because when it comes down to it, it’s molecules in food, molecules in supplements, molecules in your drugs talking to molecules in your microbiome, talking to molecules in your cells, in your lymphocytes, in your brain cells. All of these routes of communication are what I basically specialize in. Those are some of the things we call pathways. That’s the essential part of systems biology, which is needed to embrace the complexity and deliver something actionable for your health.


[00:11:17] Ashley James: How many pathways does a Viome test when they look at the full RNA sequencing and expressions of your mitochondria and their very complex microbiome?


[00:11:38] Ally Perlina: Good question, Ashley. It’s about a couple of hundred thousand.


[00:11:42] Ashley James: Wow. Just a couple of hundred thousand. We went through a few of them, and we’re going to talk about a few of them in our interview today. But that was one of my first questions because as we were going through them, I thought just how many pathways are you looking at. And each individual, as you were going through my results, it was so interesting that you said, if I were to look at half your results, I would have predicted differently the other half. And this is why it’s so interesting how unique we are that we have to look at the full picture to see where each individual person is along their healing journey, and how we can help them right now.

My first time speaking with you I brought up that I had figured out that I could not eat eggs. That was the last thing to go to become whole food plant-based. I was still eating eggs, but I was basically like an ovo vegetarian. But I noticed I had these heart palpitations, and I didn’t know where they were coming from. I don’t know why they just presented themselves as they did. But I had completely changed my diet, and thus the microbiome changes I suppose. Because I’d shed all these other foods, it was the last animal product to go. And so these heart palpitations were so frequent they were getting kind of scary.

I consulted a cardiologist. I wore a device for several days and it monitored my heart. In the end, he said there’s nothing wrong with your heart, but that there’s a stressor. There’s some stressor your body is going through that is putting your heart in this position, your heart’s reacting to the stressor. He had no tools, of course. I mean, he was a great cardiologist, but he’s like listen, come back to me when you need cholesterol meds. There was nothing beyond that he had for me.

The frustrating part is MDs are trained to catch us when we’re ill and hopefully help us so we’re not going to die at that moment. But they’re not trained in how to take you from let’s say just slightly poor health and help you get to optimal health. That’s just not in their wheelhouse. Their wheelhouse isn’t systems biology, looking at the way that each individual person works, how their genetics are expressing, and the genetics of their microbiome is expressing. That’s where you guys come in.

I figured out, something just hit me. Why don’t I do an experiment, not eat eggs for a while then eat eggs and see if that’s it? I did that with other foods, but when I took eggs out, my heart palpitations stopped completely. And then about seven days later I had an egg, and by the time I’d finished eating the egg, the heart palpitations were back. And I thought this is very interesting. I attempted the experiment several times, and sure enough, I can give myself basically an irregular heartbeat by eating eggs or not.

You saw that in my gut biome. You saw it in my Viome results. You said, oh. When you said it, it was like watching a masterpiece. The way you explained how it all works and how that was feeding this particular microbiome, which creates this type of metabolite which then my liver converts to this, and then my heart reacts to it this way. All the pathways made complete sense from a to b. But as you and I talked, it became so clear to me. If we could explain to people who aren’t biologists what a microbiome is, the bacteria, the complex system that is in our gut, and how much we need it for life and health. I came to the conclusion that it’s like having a factory, having a pharmacy inside our gut. You like that.

Some people say it’s like having an animal because it’s about six pounds, so it could be like having a chihuahua in your gut. But it’s actually much more complex than that. It’s like having a pharmacy in your gut or a factory. What you put in is what it puts out, and the metabolites. So it’s not that you necessarily have a bad microbiome, but it’s that when I put in eggs from the choline, my unique microbiome is going to produce something that all these pathways then come together to irritate my heart and could lead to further heart disease down the road.

Whereas other people have no problem with choline and wouldn’t have that reaction. But there are other pathways that you put into the microbiome, not necessarily sugar. Everyone thinks you eat sugar, it causes diabetes. Someone could put cauliflower or whatever, they could put something that’s somewhat healthy for someone else, but because of how their pathways are expressing, they put that into their little pharmacy factory—which is their microbiome gut—into it, and then what comes out are the metabolites that would put the stressors on the body that could lead to diabetes, or either cause it or contribute to it. That you can see that many diseases that we’re suffering could be corrected by making sure we know exactly what we as individuals should and shouldn’t be eating.


[00:17:37] Ally Perlina: Right. So let me just get back to a couple of points you said that I think are really important, and maybe some of the listeners are well aware of them. But just to be absolutely clear, I think it’s important to emphasize that no one good food is necessarily always good for everybody, and sometimes it can actually be bad, so it depends. And if you know what it depends on, then we would not be doing justice to health care and wellness. If we didn’t actually delineate what it depends on, put it into some sort of logic, rules, and content, and scale it so it can help the masses. 

That’s one of the reasons why when I came to Viome, I made it a huge point right away to make sure that when I developed the scoring system for the pathways or how we connect this to the personalization of the foods, that it’s something that does not need another alley or anyone from my team in the loop to be able to actually release the results. That it’s end-to-end automated. Because if we know what it depends on—whatever it may be—and when it’s good or bad for you, then we need to be able to inform people so that at least they can make more biologically informed choices when it comes to eggs or broccoli.

So back to your egg example, what you have are two things why egg yolk may not be good for you, and it’s actually on your avoid list. One of the things is TMA production by your microbiome. So your microbes actually use the choline that they would get from egg yolk, not so much from the egg white. That’s still fine and a source of protein and all, but egg yolk is on your void because it has choline and choline is what serves as a substrate for your microbes in the gut to take it and then convert it to trimethylamine also known as TMA.

So when we say convert, it means there are some of these sequences of events that happen, and that’s what we call a pathway. So a biological pathway is a sequence of molecular interactions or biochemical reaction steps that has a beginning, middle, and an end sort of tells you a story and says what is actively happening? What’s coming? What’s going? So in your case, in the egg case, that choline is coming and TMA is being produced and then it’s going. TMA is trimethylamine, so microbes use the substrate as choline converted to TMA. We see those pathways because we see RNA. So it lights up the gene expression values along these pathways that we reconstruct. We build them so we can score them. We can see, okay, you have higher than usual trimethylamine production in your microbiome.

So what that means is that now that you have this TMA and it’s made in your gut, it can actually then become available to the circulation. And through the portal vein, it can go to your liver where it gets naturally converted to TMAO. TMA as well to some degree is associated with harmful or no beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. So that could be some of the association. Again, I’m not claiming any causation and it causes multiple factors usually for something to actually go wrong, but it’s a very, very peculiar phenomenon that you’re sharing about your effects that you felt physically after eating eggs.

So this could be part of it or the main part of it that you have this TMA, TMAO pathway in which your gut microbiome plays a key role. And that is something that we can measure with our metatranscriptomics technology. That’s how we go from basically gene expression that we get from your stool sample, gene expression from RNA sequencing called metatranscriptomics technology. It tells us how much are those genes expressed, are they up or down. How do they factor into these pathways that we have put together so we can tell you then what? Then it’s like, okay, we get it that TMA is happening and more than what we usually see then it goes and can be converted to TMAO, which we know is not good for cardiovascular health.

So what do you do about that? One of the things is you can limit inputs into the TMA production pathway by the microbiome, so that’s why egg yolk is on your avoid, it has a lot of choline in it. Whereas for other people, choline is actually just fine. It can be good for rebuilding your membranes and maintaining them. It can be good for the gut-brain axis and support some of the neuronal-glial health. So for you, it’s good to basically stay away from egg yolk, and that’s one of the reasons. The other reason that could have something to do with cardiovascular health is that you just have another score in your report that involves multiple pathways—hundreds of them actually—that assesses overall gut microbiome induced stress. Stress response, in general, there are many different types and different reasons for it.

So one of the things that you have is you have a sub-optimal score on your microbiome induced stress. That’s a functional area score that involves many different pathways, and we’ll cover many of them or at least some of them, which include sulfide production, ammonia production, and those things that can contribute to overall stressors that may come through the gut into your bloodstream. In your results, they’re not enough to actually cause overall inflammation, we’ll talk about that as well, but it could be a slight culprit besides the TMA-TMAO story.

And then back to the egg example, another reason why it’s on avoid, it’s not enough to just have one thing necessarily off a little bit. Sometimes it’s more than one, many times it’s more than one factor that places food into your superfood, avoid, or other categories. In this case, there is another factor that placed your egg yolk on avoid, and it’s the fact that it’s high in sulfur. With your profile, sulfur goes into the sulfide production pathways a bit too much—more than we’d like. So sulfide is not necessarily a villain, it’s not necessarily absolutely bad, but when too much sulfide gas is produced in your gut, it can be disruptive to your gut lining and it can be—for apparent reasons—disruptive to your digestive symptoms and your gut health. It can also have a negative impact on your gut motility.

So because the egg has sulfur, it’s one of the two main reasons why egg yolk specifically is on your avoid. Because you have too much hydrogen sulfide gas production by your microbiome. So that’s another part of the story, and again, it’s many to many. So the other part of that piece—the sulfide story—is actually your cruciferous vegetables. When you see a score that says sulfide gas production pathways, a lot of times, people will ask well what does it mean? What can I do about it? 

In our food recommendations, you can see when a food explanation refers to a specific score. You will see that in your egg yolk as well as broccoli and cabbage, it will tell you that the reason it’s on your avoid has—or at least one of the reasons has to do with—your sulfide gas production pathway score being too high. It means we have too much of that activity lit up with all of the gene expressions along these pathways saying your microbes are making too much sulfide gas. What they use as a substrate is something that comes from these cruciferous vegetables. It actually explains in the paragraph there that a compound class called glucosinolates—part of the organosulfur compounds—is actually what serves as in a way a culprit. It can be good for some people, but for you, it’s a culprit because it can serve as a substrate for the sulfide gas production indirectly.

First, it gets converted to sulfate, and then from sulfate, it goes and gets converted to sulfide gas by your microbiome. The thing that converts it to sulfate, Ashley, is myrosinase, and it’s an enzyme that’s in the vegetable and gets activated when you’re chewing it. So raw vegetable chewing actually activates this enzyme and gives you more of the sulfate, which is a direct substrate for more of the sulfide gas production. So do you know what you can do if you still want to have a little bit of those avoid foods but you want to minimize the effect of this sulfate substrate production for your sulfide gas?


[00:26:40] Ashley James: What can I do?


[00:26:41] Ally Perlina: You can steam it just a little bit because it will destroy the enzyme because it’s heat sensitive, so it will destroy or inactivate the enzyme in the food, myrosinase, which is needed to convert glucosinolates into sulfates. So you will diminish that action a little bit. It’s not going to completely get rid of the organosulfur content in the food, and it can still—in one pathway or another—feed your microbes, but it really diminishes these results. Based on what people report, they actually see or feel less of that bloating or gas production.

So I would ask you, do you feel any difference or do you feel any gas production effects with cruciferous vegetables versus other vegetables like arugula, kale, or something?


[00:27:33] Ashley James: I would say yes. But up until I got my Viome results 17 days ago, I ate cruciferous vegetables daily. Although gas was always around in certain amounts, it wasn’t smelly, so I didn’t think that there was a big problem with it. I just thought, okay. I also eat beans although I soak them and cook them in the Instant Pot. But I do notice, especially raw broccoli, raw cauliflower, or raw cabbage—I really enjoy raw cabbage in a salad. Especially in kale and raw purple cabbage in a salad would produce gas more so than if I were to eat zucchini, for example.


[00:28:29] Ally Perlina: How about arugula, just because it came to me?


[00:28:32] Ashley James: I don’t often eat arugula on its own.


[00:28:39] Ally Perlina: Spinach.


[00:28:41] Ashley James: Yup, I don’t have a problem with gas in spinach. I do eat raw spinach, I eat cooked spinach. The arugula I do eat is fermented actually in a really delicious fermented arugula pesto.


[00:28:56] Ally Perlina: Mmm.


[00:28:57] Ashley James: Yeah, it’s so good. If I have arugula, it’s usually mixed with other greens, but I don’t seem to notice quite a difference. But then again, like I said, up until 17 days ago, I was eating cruciferous vegetables for almost every meal. So gas was all the time. It wasn’t unbearable though. But then again, most of the time, I would cook those foods.

The reason why I wanted Ally to give a little bit of a deep dive into my results, your results are going to be different, everyone’s results are different. But just to hear how much information you get, how much guidance you get from a Viome test, and how unique each person’s experience is going to be is actually quite exciting because, in the last few years, I’ve been the healthiest I have felt in a long time. As much whole food plant-based as I possibly can, and of course gluten-free. Ever since cutting eggs out, I feel great, but I felt like throwing darts in the dark. I’m going to try this, I’m going to try that, and I do love doing that. I do love listening to my body and trying different things.

I felt like there was a missing piece, and I really feel like Viome has been, for me, the missing link to pulling it all together for me because I would have never considered lowering my cruciferous vegetable intake. Never ever would have thought that. In the other foods that were recommended I reduce, those are my daily staples as well like coconut. Since I have cut that out—really significantly reduced coconut—and I feel like I’ve come into a new chapter in my health because I also understand why. 

Although everything that Ally says sounds quite complicated and science-based, I want her to explain the science behind it. When you get your Viome results, it’s very clear, simple, and easy to understand. And then you click through and there’s more detail. And then if you want to learn more, then you click through and then there’s even more detail when you click through, and there are scientific references. If you want to just stay surface, if you’re one of those people that just need to be told what to eat, what not to eat and that’s all the bandwidth you have, then you get those. 

If you’re like me and you want everything, you want the Ph.D. version of your Viome results, then you get that too which is exciting. I really do like how you have set up Viome so that people have to click through and click through and click through to chunk down into more and more detailed information so they don’t get overwhelmed. The results themselves are not overwhelming, but at the first sight, I was disappointed I’m like, oh, this is it? And then I click through I’m like oh there’s more, click through again, oh there’s more. It is quite interesting. In the future, you guys are going to have even more coming out.

When I had Naveen on the show in episode 441, I had not taken the Viome test yet. And I have to share that I absolutely adore the test. It’s a home kit. It is in a beautiful little box and the instructions couldn’t be easier. They’re very simple. And when I sat down to draw my blood, it is as easy as just a prick of the finger, and then and then this little tiny plastic thing sucks the drop of blood up into it. It’s so easy to do. It’s not intimidating at all. I commend you on how beautiful and simple the system is. It’s not overwhelming. You just have to read the instructions in advance to know that you want to be fully hydrated, you want to do the blood sample in the morning. Just take some time to read the instructions and know when you’re going to do the stool and the blood when you’re going to do each one. And then you send it in. I really enjoyed the whole process of sending in my kit. I enjoyed the process of receiving all the information.

I then ordered your supplements, which we’re going to talk a bit about that as well because you make individualized supplements based on the genetic expression of our microbiome and mitochondria and all the results—the cellular health results that you have. I’m very excited to receive those, so I hope to do a later interview talking about my experience with your supplements because I’m already on supplements, but my supplements are more just for the whole body health—vitamins and minerals—but your supplements are specific to looking at the genetic pathways, like you said, a few hundred thousand pathways, and supporting the body and coming back into balance in such an individual way. That’s very, very exciting.


[00:34:12] Ally Perlina: We’ll talk about some of your supplements as an example, but I think that’s a good idea to actually review your supplements and everything you’ve been taking and the Viome supplements that you’ll get and then see how you’re responding to them. then drill into it a bit more as a follow-up if you’d like.


[00:34:32] Ashley James: I’d love that.


[00:34:33] Ally Perlina: I think we noticed there were some themes or some things that you were already aware of, which is great. So some of your digestive related components like protein fermentation and being able to digest your proteins and keep your stomach acidity levels at the right level and optimal. So all of these things can be adjusted or manipulated, to some degree, with supplements. Some of them are digestive enzymes that you already know about, and some of them can come from foods as well as supplement delivered nutrients. So bromelain, papain come from pineapple and papaya respectively, and then there’s betaine. Originally it got the name because it came from the beet.

Those are some of the natural ways to help your digestion, and in your case, the reason it’s specific to your pathways that we see is that we do see some of these a little bit more active than usual. Protein fermentation pathways, which means that the microbes are fermenting aka metabolizing different proteins more than you would expect them to in the gut. That means that you, the host, did not make enough of an effort or enough turns in there in your metabolism to completely process all of the different protein sources that you get. 

Again, sometimes it could be the vegetable sources or the nuts and seeds that have a very dense protein that make it hard to process it all. Then it gets to your colon and then microbes go oh my goodness, a lot of unprocessed proteins. So you encourage those microbes called protein fermenters to be very active. So that means you encourage more and more of them to thrive. When there are too many of them, again, it’s not about the microbes themselves. But what they’re doing, they crank up these pathways that yield production of those types of—you could call it—the pharmacy is producing some of the chemicals that are not so good for you.

So what you see reflected in your report, not even something that is just behind the scenes that I’m sharing with you. But right in the report, it says you have high ammonia production pathways, you have high sulfide production pathways, you have high putrescine production pathways. All of these different things are byproducts of protein fermentation. So we talked about sulfide already. We actually just covered one type of pathway that came from sulfate or elemental sulfur in your foods, but we didn’t cover the other side which means that actually sulfide in your microbiome can also be produced from sulfur amino acids, which came from your proteins. 

So that’s another byproduct of protein fermentation. So you’ll see a theme in what we talk about is that it’s always like many to many, so there are multiple types of pathways and inputs that can feed one microbial metabolite production like sulfide gas. The way to mitigate the sulfide could be from many different foods, and some of them have a high content of a certain nutrient, and some have low content. we have all that part of the knowledge base so that we can tell you from many to many which foods or nutrients supplements are best for you and are most important superfood or to avoid them.

For the pathways, you could see that sulfide for instance it’s part of the pro-inflammatory activity because it can have an inflammatory effect on your gut lining and overall, but it is also part of your protein fermentation theme. Those themes are like the functional scores that level in our UI you’ll see that you probably already have, those are the functional score areas. Then there are the pathway scores like ammonia, sulfide, and putrescine that I just mentioned. Those are pathway scores that feed into the functional area scores, and multiple functional area scores ultimately get aggregated into the health level scores.

So on the level of a health score, you have gut microbiome health, you have cellular health, immune system health, and stress response health. Those health scores, you have them actually for the most part in an average zone. There’s also mitochondrial health I forgot to mention. But once you start drilling into it, you will actually see how, just like you said, you drill into it if you want to know the details. Why is it not 100%? Why is this score not perfect? Then you see that on a more granular level, aha, it’s the protein fermentation, which is part of digestive efficiency. And then there’s the inflammatory activity, which both have the sulfide gas production and ammonia production pathway score.

So as you drill in even further and you say, okay, my food said something about this sulfide thing. I want to learn about that score. Then you learn about that score and you see that actually, even that is many different pathways that can lead to sulfide gas production, which is why even in that pathway score, it’s still plural. It’s called sulfide gas production pathways because there are many, many different routes like hundreds of them that can lead to the ultimate production of sulfide by your microbes.

So understanding which ones of those are most lit up and how active those pathways are is what helps us to connect on the molecular level this whole system of many to many from scores on different levels to nutrients in either food and or supplements.

Anyway, bringing it back to the whole point is that you have various health areas, You have your digestion, and you have your protein fermentation. So to address the protein fermentation and the other route of sulfide gas production, that’s why you see some of the digestive enzymes, which you’re already getting in your supplements. You will see some of the foods that give you more bioavailable elemental amino acids, so some of the sprouted foods. I think you have the grapefruit and some of these like betaine and papain sources.

And then you also have to stay away from cruciferous vegetables for the sulfide reasons and things like that. So that tells you how many different areas of superfood and avoid recommendations, enzymes, and other types of nutrients in your supplements all have to do with various aspects of multiple scores. There’s protein fermentation, there’s sulfide reduction, there’s an inflammatory activity, and all of these different components.

Sometimes, when people say, okay, just tell us exactly what is this one thing or how to improve this one score. A lot of times, there is more than one way to improve them, and to different people are different foods that will actually do the trick. So one score can influence many foods, and one food can be influenced by many, many different scores before it’s actually placed into your minimize or avoid. So if you want us to like spell out every single piece of the logic that is taking place for your results, then it’s almost like you have to be careful what you wish for because it could be hundreds of pages of different lines of code that took all these things into consideration and said okay, it’s really avoid for you.


[00:42:20] Ashley James: Just avoid it.


[00:42:21] Ally Perlina: That’s how it goes. Just avoid it, or just get these supplements, it’s good for you. Now, when we can, we highlight that. If you get your report and just even find on page—Control F or Command F—and you say score, then you will see all of the references in your food recommendations pages to any score. Whenever it’s a very obvious one that you can pin it more or less on that one score to focus on, we do tell you that except you’ll see more than one food most likely that alludes to that score when it needs help. That’s just the thing.

We try the best we can and thank you for the kind words saying that we’ve done a pretty good job, but we need to do probably even better to strike that balance between giving people all that information because we truly want to empower them with all this knowledge. But at the same time, not overwhelming them and making it very simple and clear. Okay, some of these things, they’re not optimal so you see it in the red. These are the foods you need to focus on, these are your superfoods, these are your avoid foods, and these are your supplements. 

So at least, if that’s all they want to get out of this, they don’t want to be burdened with all this extra info, they can get that and take it to action immediately on that day because that’s extremely important. If you overwhelm people, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, it’s not about that. You’re not helping them if it loses them. We need to be very much mindful of this concept of balance.


[00:43:52] Ashley James: It’s interesting talking to you, I think I identified that I have been eating less and less protein from plant sources because it does—in large amounts—give me quite a bit of bloating. Even with too much tofu, it’s upsetting, and just thinking about beans, I think I just have gradually been eating less and less or smaller portions, I should say. That and I’m very satisfied with how many grams of protein I consume. Although now I’m pregnant and my midwife has made it abundantly clear that she wants me eating more protein. But as far as the average female, 40 grams of protein for the average female is quite sufficient, 60 if you’re an athlete, which is easily doable from multiple plant sources.

However, if I were to consume a great deal of any kinds of protein powder like pea protein, pumpkin seed protein, or edamame. Any large amount I would get bloated and that is interesting that you say that it’s because you can see it in my microbiome that it is fermenting, it’s not properly digesting, it’s fermenting, and then it’s leading to metabolites. What do these metabolites do to the body?


[00:45:32] Ally Perlina: Great question. So in your case specifically, I mean, I want to put it in the context that there are many things they can do, but there is this aggregate functional score called microbiome induced stress. I know it sounds quite general until you drill into it and you see exactly what it is. It will explain to you that within microbiome induced stress, which you have in the red zone so it’s not optimal. it’s not terrible or anything but it’s in the suboptimal zone. You’ll see that is where you have that ammonia production, uric acid, sulfide production, and even TMA production I believe as well. All these pathway scores are part of the microbiome induced stress.

So what does it mean microbiome induced stress? I mean, there are so many different types of stress. So microbiomes can secrete those or produce those metabolites, which are small molecules, and they can cross the gut lining, the intestinal barrier pretty easily even if you have a pretty good gut lining, which according to our test seems like you do. But some of these really, really small molecules like ammonia it’s pretty tiny. It can really cross easily and go into the bloodstream, and in the bloodstream, it can really cause its own pro-inflammatory or stress response type of reaction. In a way, it can be somewhat of a toxin. Again, not to sound scary or anything like that, but it’s all about the relative amounts. 

So sulfide, ammonia, putrescine, cadaverine, the byproducts of protein fermentation—that’s one source. The other source of microbiome induced stress or potential pro-inflammatory type stress is your uric acid production, and that’s something that can actually be felt or experienced by some people—to some degree, depends on how much of it you have and how quickly your body gets rid of it, mitigates it, or clears it.

All of these different pathway scores actually tell you well why you need to even know about this pathway? Because if it’s not insightful for your health or it’s not actionable, then who would want to log in just to learn biology, right? There are textbooks for that. Of course, we’re learning something new about biology in this new context, but still, we only give you something that is insightful and actionable. You can read about it and there are references, but just to summarize, all of these different small molecules, the microbes make. If they make too much they cross the gut lining, and then they go into the bloodstream. And they can actually inflict a little bit of the damaging response to certain cellular membranes or stress your system to be able to keep up with clearing or detoxing some of these different molecular entities.

If you don’t have your entire system up to the task, it’s somewhat of a warning sign to make sure that you mitigate that. That’s why for the overall health level of stress response health, you’re still fine, You’re in the average zone. But when it comes to microbiome induced stress, that’s where you can read more about these pathways like ammonia, sulfide, and the other ones that I just mentioned so you could see what it does to your body. We already talked about some of the foods and digestive strategies that you need to focus on that are part of your recommendations and foods and supplements so you can be prepared and mitigate.

So even if nothing really palpable is already happening, the point is to keep you in the wellness space and keep as much illness optional as possible so that you can take action on your biology. Like you said, you don’t want to just throw darts at some fad diets or trendy supplements. You want to be able to make biologically informed choices that are smart for you, that are informed by your own pathways, your own biology with molecular-level precision. That’s basically what we’re all about. I hope that answers your question, or if you want, we could go more specifically.


[00:49:49] Ashley James: Well, I love that you said biologically informed choices. I mean, that’s a writer downer right there. I told you about my history with the ketogenic diet, the paleo diet. I’ve been on at least 25 diets. I’ve read every diet book you could touch because I’m a seeker of health, though. I was trying to figure out what my body best requires. Everyone that writes a diet book says that theirs is the best and they have the science to back it. When I went through the institute for integrative nutrition—it’s a year-long health coach training program—you learn a hundred different dietary theories, and every week we’re trying a new one. Once you learn one you want to try it.

Within the first week or so, we’re doing the raw vegan diet. I lasted six days on that. I felt fantastic, but boy was I gassy. I expected the gas to go away because all the raw vegans say that’ll go away, that’ll go away, and now I know why I was gassy, first of all. Luckily, the gas is not smelly, it’s just plentiful. So when I was doing the raw vegan diet, that was just like I could have powered a vehicle. Each experience with different health routines showed me just how wrong it is to listen to one expert and do one diet that’s apparently supposed to be for everyone. Because if I can’t eat cruciferous vegetables because of the genetic expressions of my unique microbiome, then any diet that incorporates cruciferous vegetables is not going to be beneficial to me as an individual.

But with the ketogenic diet, which many have touted as being just a miracle for them, left me in such a bad state of health that it took me a few years to recover. And it left my husband in such a bad state of health that he was immediately put on two medications—actually three I believe and then he was down to two—because it damaged his kidneys. We were actually under the supervision of a naturopath while we were doing this ketogenic diet, but it destroyed my husband’s kidneys. It took him a few years, but he was able to completely recover using natural medicine. That’s when we adopted a whole food plant-based diet, that was right around that time. For me, it damaged my liver and I had such bad digestive distress from the ketogenic diet.

Again, if we apply what you’re teaching, which is making biologically informed choices based on the unique complexity of the own expression of the bacteria that are in us and part of us, then we can craft the most healing diet for us. If someone leans more towards eating paleo, more towards eating the Mediterranean, more towards eating their native diet—maybe their South American, Central American, or Asian diet. If they lean more towards looking at their ancestors and eating more what their ancestors ate in that way and they feel good, then they take your kit and they get the results back. Your kits give you lots of foods you can eat. You give lots of foods that are superfoods that are incredibly healing for your body, and then you give a dozen or so or two dozen absolutely avoid these, and here are the reasons why.

Someone could take that and adapt it to any way of eating that best suits them. But since I have removed all of the do not eat that you have on my list, and since I have increased the superfoods—which I’m so excited about, I’m absolutely loving them—without guilt, I am avidly eating my avocados again, and all the other things in the superfood list. You even give how much of each one to reduce. Here, just have half a cup of this at most. I’ve taken that so seriously and I really feel—in the last 17 days—a huge shift in my digestion, even though I am going through the stages of pregnancy that would actually leave me in worse digestion. I’m feeling the least bloated I have in a very long time.

I came to Viome without any real health concerns. I just wanted to take it to the next level, but people come to you who have major health problems, who have MS, have Hashimoto’s, or have major gut dysbiosis. I have several listeners who have expressed concerns that they now can only eat a dozen foods or less because most foods make them sick. They feel very pinned into a corner where they now only have just a small handful of foods that they can eat because they’ve done an elimination diet and they’ve really discovered that almost everything makes them sick.

Well, if they had this information at hand it would help them to understand why. Maybe something as simple as the supplements that your results show because you show here is the different digestive enzymes you’re low in. If you were to incorporate those, then maybe they would have been able to then eat a larger variety of foods. Because it’s not always about what we’re allergic to, it’s about what metabolites our microbiome produces, and those metabolites can cause damage.

Now just to get back to some very specific examples because this is all wonderful information you’re sharing, but I want people to be able to relate it to their life specifically. Can you give a real-world example of a metabolite or metabolites that are created in the gut, and what symptoms or illness could people have as a result of specific metabolites created by the microbiome?


[00:56:42] Ally Perlina: Yeah, absolutely. So we talked a little bit about a few of them. Just to say that look, if you have microbiome-induced stress or inflammation, then you may have all kinds of feelings of either a toxic burden where you feel a little unwell, tired, queasy; or you may have more brain fog because it can also cross. Those things can cross the blood-brain and gut blood barriers. That could be one of the themes but, I didn’t touch on the other themes.

There are really well-known pro-inflammatory molecules that are produced by the microbiome like LPAs—lipopolysaccharide. Specific types of lipids and carbohydrate subunits, that’s why the lipopolysaccharide. Saccharide is for the carbs, and lipo is the lipid part. They get together and in slightly different conformations based on what microbes are there. they can be actually found in the blood especially if you have more of a leaky gut. The reason I didn’t bring it up right away, especially in your context, is because you don’t have an LPS score for LPS biosynthesis. The production of this LPS molecule, you don’t have it in the red, you don’t have it as suboptimal. So you’re more or less fine on that, and you also have a good gut lining health score.

In general, we do see quite a few. It’s a pretty common case. I would say 30% of our Viome population, quite a few people have LPS production on the higher side. And if it goes hand in hand with your gut lining score being suboptimal as well, then you’re really at risk of triggering an immune response. The way it happens is this LPS molecule, which is just part of the normal outside coding of some of the microbes, not all. It goes into the bloodstream and it elicits this immune response. The blood cells start to notice it and recruit other blood cells, say hey, come over here. We’ve got an issue. So to do that, they have to secrete certain molecules themselves, and that’s the signaling that happens now on the blood side of things, which we also test with the health intelligence kit. The service gives you this kit to test the blood that you mentioned already.

So you collect your blood. We look at gene expression, not only within your microbiome now, but now we look from the blood side to see are those pathways on, and are they really active that tell us that you have immune triggering happening a bit too much? Do you have it really high? Because that’s exactly what can happen if some of the pro-inflammatory metabolites can cross the gut lining and actually instigate some of this reaction. So that the T cells of different kinds will start to get overly active and secrete these proinflammatory molecules in order to combat the foreign type of substance that has entered the blood. And those molecules are called some of the cytokines or pro-inflammatory cytokines. Maybe some of you have heard of interleukins and TNF alpha.

It can cause other types of molecules to be elevated. And ultimately, if they don’t come down, so to speak, then some damage can be done to cellular components and membranes. And a lot of the cellular energy can be expanded towards mitigating this inflammation, which really should not even be there in the bloodstream, as opposed to healing and rejuvenating itself. In that sense, we’re waiting to get to the point like okay, well, how do I sense it? How do I feel it aside from testing it?

That’s the tricky part because depending on what you’re doing to yourself, what you’re eating, what you’re susceptible to, and what else is going on, inflammation can actually take residents in different parts of a human body. some people, like I said, the inflammation can actually be manifested in the brain, in the mind, in such a way that is just subtle enough that you won’t think of it like aha, I feel inflammation because you just might experience a little bit of irritability, insomnia, brain fog, confusion, or anxiety.

Actually, some of the pro-inflammatory pathways that can stem from the gut microbiome have been implicated in lowering dopamine levels, which can make people feel depressed. They have also been implicated in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases because if enough of these molecules or the microbes themselves like the small viruses from the gut can actually go all the way through the blood into the brain, they can activate now inside the central nervous system. They can activate pathways to where the glial cells actually overreact, and then they start to get destroyed and inflammation in the brain can cause neuronal damage, which then contributes to—like you were mentioning—a mess and other things. They can be part of the entire picture of some of the neurodegenerative, cognitive, or mood disorders. So that’s one set.

And then another set of inflammation examples that we all probably heard of a lot is the autoimmune joint conditions. There’s the more local, obviously, IBD—inflammatory bowel disease, which is right there in the gut. And then there are a lot of customers that say that following our regimen really helps them who have joint, skin, and other types of inflammatory conditions where you can really see it and feel it. Because inflammation is not created to be equal in any one organ. Whatever you have going on, it depends on the ecosystem and the system’s biology of the entire body of all the systems. Wherever you have the weakest link, that’s where inflammation will take residence and manifest itself first and foremost and then all the other places.

Some people may not feel it or may not realize that aha, this could be some low-grade inflammation, and some people may truly feel it. Where you feel it completely depends on you, but some of the top symptoms that seem to have improvement in time within our customer base—and we have over 100,000 customers now—deal with mood and autoimmune inflammatory conditions from psoriasis, to rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel conditions, to mood and sleep, and cognitive and digestive disorders in general. Like I said, it can be different places where it manifests itself.

I wanted to ask you, so far, when we talk about any of these pathways. We talked about TMA a little bit, but then there was a set of pathways you had suboptimal like ammonia, sulfide, and uric acid. Would you say that any of them—even just from reviewing the information—ring a bell with something that you know you had before or you could feel before?


[01:04:25] Ashley James: In regards to?


[01:04:32] Ally Perlina: So uric acid, for example, is something that can come from either purines or protein fermentation, but it’s something that people may not feel and other people may feel it if a lot of it accumulates. And that’s what’s causing gout usually, so I’m just curious.


[01:04:42] Ashley James: Got it. Okay. Absolutely, yes. My blood results from the last few years have shown higher levels of uric acid, especially when I ate meat. Especially back when I did a ketogenic diet, my liver was incredibly angry at me. It was actually sticking out. It was quite inflamed. I had to get an ultrasound and they said I didn’t have a fatty liver, I didn’t have a cirrhosis liver. I just had an inflamed liver, very angry from the ketogenic diet, and then a very high uric acid level.

I didn’t experience gout like the typical person does where it’s in their big toe. I had this pain at the base of my foot almost like plantar fasciitis. I was like, I wonder is this plantar fasciitis, is this a bone spur? And just on a gut instinct level—and this is long after I had left the ketogenic diet but right before I transitioned into eating no meat at all. I grabbed some tart cherry juice from the health food store, and I started drinking between two and four ounces a day of the concentrate, and I’d add it to water. And very quickly, within a day or two, the pain in my foot was gone. I know that tart cherry juice is also very anti-inflammatory. It helps the body produce more melatonin, so people get great sleep when you take it. It’s a wonderful whole food supplement to take, and it’s quite delicious. But knowing that the pain went away immediately I thought, that must be basically gout in my foot manifesting.

At the time, I never really cared for organ meat, so I wasn’t gorging on any kind of meat. But my naturopath did say that based on looking at my diet and looking at my blood work, I tended to lean more towards having a build-up of uric acid. That’s something though that I feel like I’ve gotten under control because I don’t eat any meat so there’s really a low purine diet. And then I avoid the other foods that contain purine. And then if I ever do get that feeling in my foot, I just start drinking the tart cherry juice. Although, I haven’t had it lately, which is quite exciting. But my liver is getting healthier and healthier. It’s interesting because that actually came up in my Viome results, which I never thought that there could be a link to the metabolites produced from the bacteria in my body.


[01:07:36] Ally Perlina: So that is actually very, very interesting because it can actually accumulate to some degree in different tissues, and you may feel a little achy or a little bit of stiffness or limitation of movement, and that could be due to uric acid. Uric acid is something that can be pro-inflammatory, and it’s interesting what it’s made of by the microbiome. The pathways can come from either the urea cycle, which is from the different amino acid inputs, so back to your protein fermentation protein digestion patterns. Or it can come from purines and purines are high in different meats, fish, seafood, and also some of the vegetables as well.

You could see in your results the haddock, for instance, is to be avoided because of the purines in it, the uric acid potential to promote those pathways. For you, if you did want to eat some fish maybe once in a while, salmon would be a much better choice. Whereas I think it’s also halibut, haddock, and trout would not be good because they have a lot of purines. It’s not just organ meats and you’ve done yourself a great favor that you avoid that because of the TMA issue that we talked about and the protein fermentation and digestive efficiency issue. But also now because of the purines.

Some people feel absolutely great eating all kinds of meats, and they cannot take all of these different vegetables. They get so bloated and they feel awful, right? Just like you said, some people feel absolutely great on a ketogenic diet and it’s like the biggest blessing that happened to them. But it’s not just one type of diet that works for all. Unfortunately, it’s usually some complexity of different mixes of things that work just for you. You are your own personalized menu that you need to work out for yourself, and there’s just no shortcut around that.

In your case, you’ve done so great that even before having this information, you’ve avoided all of these different meats, organ meats, and those types of foods because you naturally just don’t have the biology to deal with them in the best way where something beneficial would happen to you. It’s actually on the contrary. Plus they come together with all of the TMA, the lipids, and the fats, which could be also tough for your liver. And we also see some of these bile tolerant organisms in there. 

So together with that and the uric acid pathways, it’s really painting this more comprehensive picture now that especially that you’ve shared some of these things with me that you won’t do well on this high protein, high-fat diet. Whereas other people I know personally and based on the stats as well, they do so and they report that they feel great on even a really greasy protein diet. But they cannot take all of these different starchy vegetables.

Again, no healthy food is healthy for everybody, and no specific source of protein or whatnot is necessarily a villain either—or good or bad. It all depends on personalization, and that’s the real trick. The key is in that that you have to basically deal with the complexity to do what’s right for you and to be biologically informed about it.


[01:11:30] Ashley James: I feel like the next question that’s on everyone’s mind is, is it forever? Because we’re taught that the microbiome is always changing and that we could take probiotics. Although that’s been disproven that probiotics drastically change the microbiome. But we could eat fermented foods, go gluten-free, eat organic, get a variety of different prebiotics, and nourish a more diverse microbiome. Over time, can we change our microbiome so that it would create different metabolites?


[01:12:17] Ally Perlina: That’s a great question, actually. In terms of changing the microbiome, people are taught to think about microbiome as this list of microbes and seeing how much of who’s there do I have. What we’re doing is a bit of a paradigm shift in that you care less about who is there and how much of them are there. You care about how active they are, but most importantly, you care about what they are actively doing? So that’s the microbiome part. And then you care about the host because in your case, you have a microbiome actively doing some of this pro-inflammatory activity in your gut. That’s why you have a microbiome score called biofilm chemotaxis and virulence pathways are not optimal.

That would make somebody worry and think well, they’re making something that signifies that there is some harmful pro-inflammatory activity. But then you also look at the closed part and you see that actually your immune system activation score—which would tell us if you have ultimately a high level of inflammation or not—is actually on the good side. Whatever happens in your gut stays in your gut. So you still need to take care of it, right? But you need to see what is being produced, what is being actually excreted, secreted, and made that I need to worry about.

On the level of the gut microbiome, you don’t want to necessarily make it a super task to completely rebuild it because you have to actually get the most out of the hand that you’re dealt. The microbiome that you have, the easiest way to reap rewards from it is to get the microbiome you have to do what’s right for you. You figure out, okay, if I give it so much of this sulfur, cruciferous vegetables, organ meats, or salt, your microbes are stressed out by too much salt or whatever and that’s bad for your probiotic microbes. You want to lower that a little bit.

You figure out, based on our recommendations, what are those things you need to optimize in your diet. Even with the microbes you have, you get them to give you the best nutrients. With all of the greens that you eat—and it shows, all of the really beneficial complex carbs that you ingest—turn into really nice butyrate production. Not everybody has that. That’s actually not a given that just because you eat vegetables you have high production of butyrate. It’s a very beneficial short-chain fatty acid, and it may just be one of the main reasons why your gut lining is pretty happy because it’s a very good nourishing component that colonocytes use for energy and it helps the anti-inflammatory effects. Even if you have your microbes secreting these virulence factors and things like that, you have some of the mitigating strategies in place as well.

When you ask about how do we take this to action and what does it all mean? You have to see—on the grand scheme of things—first of all, are my microbes really doing something bad? Not so much who is there, but are my microbes doing something bad? Is there something that tells me this is what you need to improve the score? Because if you just do that, you may already have some really beneficial outcome of that, even if who is there—the microbes themselves—have not drastically changed. And then you basically end up with a story that is not about rebuilding the entire microbiome because most of it is neither good nor bad. Most of the microbiome is just that’s your normal at this point. Completely trashing it is not necessarily a good thing, and you’re not going to take antibiotics to do that either.

What’s important is to reach a balance, and by balance, I don’t mean just a balance of good versus bad microbes because, again, most of them are neither good nor bad. But the balance of these beneficial versus harmful activities and functions. Balance of good versus bad pathways that give you good versus bad biochemical outputs—these metabolites, these molecules that then go into your bloodstream or can protect or harm your gut lining.

That’s a different way of thinking because you’re thinking what is happening, that is what matters. And what’s happening is telling me what I should do to my system. So it becomes less about treating a microbe and looking at the microbiome more as a means to an end, not the end game itself. Microbes tell us something about the host like your digestion, your patterns of what’s happening with your fats and bile acids, and things like that. They can tell us those secrets about you in a way, and so we need this very important readout from microbial activities.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that based on it we’re going to expect to overthrow our entire microbiome. Actually, we should expect to reap the rewards of our microbiome that we have, and then if some changes are needed, the way you go about it is not with some antibiotics or anything like that, but by enhancing your probiotic and prebiotic activities so that you get the right ones. And even for probiotics, yeah, I mean there’s some controversy out there, but the thing is these probiotics do have different actions even down to the strain level. So not all the lactobacilli are the same. Not all acidophilus species are the same.

So even strain by strain, they have different benefits and they produce different things. Some can actually have histamine promoting effects. Yeah, and people can get this sensitivity when they get certain probiotics. Whereas other people need more of a boost to their immune system, and they need that very much so they’ll take those probiotic species and they’ll feel great. It’s just that people haven’t figured it all out, and they’re trying to go black and white again to go quickly. Probiotics: good, bad. And doesn’t it remind you back to how we were talking about ketogenic: good, bad? Meat: good, bad? Or paleo: good, bad? We just want to hear that because it’s really easy to act on.

What I want to remind people of is that it’s not all good or bad, it depends, and it depends on your personal biology. The key is in personalization, and you can’t personalize if you don’t have the molecular level details to do it with molecular-level precision. We try to do that work for you, and hopefully, that helps.


[01:19:02] Ashley James: I love it. You said earlier before we hit record that your goal is to help people embrace complexity and do something good about it. Health is complex. You just totally threw a few listeners for a loop that some of them could have actually developed further histamine problems, meaning increase their allergy symptoms by taking what they thought was a very healthy probiotic. Everyone knows that we should all be in some form of probiotic. This is the thing that everyone says, be on probiotics.

I am quite fascinated because you brought me back to when my son was an infant and he developed food allergies. We were trying to figure out why, but we did have him on a bunch of probiotics and he started to express more of a histamine reaction. And I just wonder if that was one of the things? Of course, it’s never one thing only, like you said, it’s an accumulation of several things. But if we can look at a few hundred thousand pathways of the genetic expressions of our very complex microbiome that creates all of these pharmacy-grade chemicals in our body, some of which masterfully. Some of which help us to feel happy. Some of which help us to have healthy thyroid function. 

25% of our T3 is converted in the gut. 90% of our serotonin comes from the gut. We keep hearing these things from health experts, but you take it way deeper by going let’s look at your individual gut microbiome. 

Now you have so many clients now that you can see the metadata as they do, and I’ve actually had some listeners reach out to me and say I’ve been doing Viome for the last few years and they shared their experience. And my Naturopath, I came to her for my annual physical after I had submitted my results and I was looking forward to receiving them from Viome. She said, oh, Viome. Obviously, she didn’t mention their names, but she said I have had several patients who couldn’t figure. We did allergy testing, we did everything, and we went through all the tests that naturopaths have, which is so much more complex than most physicians because they’re looking at the body as a whole system. 

They couldn’t pinpoint, but Viome—your test—was able to get the person the different cases that she had, was able to help them get exactly the information they needed that they couldn’t get from other tests because you’re not looking at a food allergy or an immune response. You’re taking it to a whole new place that is not looked at from anywhere else. It’s quite exciting.

Coming back to the real-world application. If someone is tired, they have brain fog, they have the laundry list of symptoms that they’re not incredibly happy with—weight gain, the stress in the body like high cortisol, and fatigue. How much of that can be corrected by knowing what to feed your microbiome? How much have you seen corrected? Since you can look at the meta-analysis of so many clients, as they retest and as they share their results, what have you seen accomplished in people’s health as they’ve utilized the Viome results in their life?


[01:23:21] Ally Perlina: Well, it could be on a level of these pathways and microbial communities and how active they are, and it can also be in terms of the symptoms. Some of the common responses in terms of improvement that people see—besides the ones I mentioned about just mood, some of the pains and aches, and things like that—are sleep, brain functioning, and just overall energy. That’s another one I did not mention, but it’s energy, performance, stamina, and endurance. 

I’m not just talking about athletic endurance because we do have a number of really professional athletes that turn to us and they really like our program, but it’s more about actually just endurance of going through the stresses and burdens of life. Some people have it really tough and some people maybe have it even tougher with all of the COVID times, unfortunately. It just helps the body rejuvenate itself and protect itself, and some of that can come from microbes just simply making more of the short-chain fatty acids. That can help on even the epigenetic level and it can help reduce some of the inflammation.

And then other people, it could be more of the immune-boosting effects. Certain microbes can promote immune stimulation but in a way that you need it, not the inflammation to be lingering or anything like that, but the immune-boosting effects. And can promote epithelial cell turnover in the gut, which helps your gut lining be healthy. You seem to have a good gut lining, but certain communities of the microbes start to produce these nutrients that are basically like your B vitamins, vitamin K, and things that you may think you’re getting from your pills or your diet. But at the same time, when it’s made naturally in the gut from something that is already part of your biological ecosystem and it’s in that right place basically at the right time, then there’s nothing like it that you can just like swallow as a pill. 

So they can make antioxidants for you, which can then protect your cells, give your cells more energy, and that is something that you can even feel on the overall system level. Even some of the lipids and things that can enhance the functionality of your mitochondria and cellular membranes can also be promoted from the pathways that get turned on by a microbiome.

So back to the real world, it’s really just a number of different things that can be responsible for the success that we see. Even B12, we see a lot of that being produced by the microbiome. We see if there are glutathione and selenium pathways activated in the microbiome that can be part of the antioxidant theme. We can see if microbes are helping you detox in a way and help you mitigate any of the reactive oxygen species, which is part of the oxidative stress, and then we measure that in the blood test now with the Health Intelligence Service. That gives you that blood kit and helps you understand your stress levels and your mitochondrial health. Your mitochondrial health is actually pretty good, but it’s not perfect, so maybe you need a bit more of that boost.

Back to foods and supplements, you could see that you’re recommended some of the resveratrol, nicotinamide riboside, but it may not be good for everybody. For people who have high senescence, NAD may actually promote that if you also have high inflammatory pathways. But if you don’t, it may be great for you. 

Now if you take that and if you take some people to take Metformin just because they read something about it, but you may need to supplement as well with some of these polyphenols that nurture the microbiome and the gut lining and also have the anti-aging and antioxidant effects like quercetin, curcumin, and resveratrol. Because without it, you don’t know when some nutrient that is just like being buzzed about is good for you or it’s actually harmful to you. 

If you take things that inhibit some of these pathways, you may need to supplement with CoQ10 so you don’t deplete your energy because having too much NAD in a certain context without supplementing with CoQ10 may not be the most optimal mix for you. So that’s where we get to this whole next chapter which I’m sure we’ll talk about some more that I’m really proud of is the personalized supplements where we take the nutrient level precision even farther and give you your own personal blend with your name on it of exactly what you need and nothing that you don’t. Because there’s so much of the good stuff that can actually cause harmful mixtures for some people—but not others—that we want to actually simplify for you and deliver it so that you just need to stick to these capsules and a stick pack per day with pre- and probiotics. 

You will get exactly the dosages that are specific for you, exactly what you need and none of that extra redundant or harmful stuff that you don’t.


[01:28:54] Ashley James: Right. I can imagine that there are supplements that I’ve taken that have choline in it because that’s healthy for some people, but not for me based on my microbiome. You’ve actually cued me to want to go and look at all my supplements and see which ones may have choline in it because I’m going to chuck those, for me. I could give them to my husband, maybe they’re good for him. It’s so interesting.

When I got my Viome results, I remember I was sitting on the couch with my family. We were all hanging out. I opened up the app. You can do it in a browser. My husband, he’s all thumbs so he doesn’t like using his phone. He used the website and he quite liked that, and then I used the app. I thought that when I did the kit that I wouldn’t buy the supplements. I thought I’ve got enough supplements, I’m just going to follow the food recommendations. 

I think within five minutes of receiving and reading through—I hadn’t even finished, I mean, there’s a lot of information. I remember having been going to read it to me, what does it say? And I’m like, there’s a lot of information here. I’m going to have to digest this in chunks. As I’m going through all my information, of course, it’s so easy because you start off by just giving—here are the foods to eat, avoid, and eat less of, and here are your superfoods, which is simple. But then, of course, I want to know more and want to know more and go deeper and deeper into my results. At each turn, it would explain why my microbiome is expressing in this way which produces this and these pathways are happening. Here are the supplements that can help to mitigate that or help to push it in this direction. I thought, how comprehensive is this? It’s amazing.

One of the supplements they’ve wanted me to take was the tart cherry, basically, a cherry extract, which you say comes from tart cherry juice. That’s my exact experience, my body really resonates with that. Your test shows that my unique and individual supplement that you guys would create for me—I looked through and I recognized some of the ingredients as foods, superfoods, or extracts that I have really resonated with. And then there’s a laundry list of different wonderful probiotic strains and explaining why these for me specifically. 

You compile them together and ship them off to me as a monthly supply. I thought it was so funny that I opened up the app, sure I would not buy supplements from you, and within five minutes, I’m like, I want to try this. This looks so cool. It’s made just for my body and just for me, and it’s going to help me come back into balance even more. It got really exciting especially because most of it’s from whole food sources that are very specific extracts.

Now, you guys give a discount, which thank you so much. The coupon code is LTH as in Learn True Health. When you buy the Viome kit itself, you can use the coupon code LTH to get the listener discount, but you can also use the coupon code LTH when you order the supplements, and that’s nice too. I got a little bit of a wonderful discount, so thank you, and I placed my order and I’m looking forward to them arriving. 

It’s only eight capsules. You and I have talked about this because I thought how could you have eight capsules for anyone regardless of their size, but then again, it’s not about all the cells in the body. It’s really about the microbiome and about the metabolites it creates and about supporting cellular health on a different level. Plus these are very refined extracts that are quite concentrated, so you assured me of the potency. Tell me about the results that people are getting from these supplements. Have you had any feedback, or have you performed studies? I know that even gold medalists are part of your program.


[01:33:17] Ally Perlina: Yup. Precision supplements is a completely brand new program. We just started it, and we’re going to do all kinds of studies to report our results, but until this moment in time, for all these years we’ve been recommending off-the-shelf branded supplements before we started making our own, and that’s a completely different type of setup as you can probably imagine. You’re limited to only what is formulated and commercially available to suggest to people. We would still operate on the level of nutrients. Look for any supplement that has the following ingredients, but we have no partnerships or we don’t endorse any brands. We don’t even talk to them. It’s completely unbiased. What that left us with is basically the impetus for this whole precision supplements program.

Yes, we’ve heard of some really good feedback and good results that we’ve collected and we have the numbers to show it, but they were so limited and hampered by our inability to choose to just get the nutrients from the available formulations that you need in the amounts that you need so you don’t have to take 200 pills if you don’t need them, and none of the extra stuff that comes with it that you do not need.

If you know that these are the only providers of this particular ingredient, and whoever makes the ingredient is selective about who they give it to sell the ingredient, then you’re stuck with whatever those providers formulate. If they formulate it with magnesium stearate, silica dioxide, and all of these different things in high amounts that are not good for you, there’s very little control you have. You basically cannot have the flexibility to just pick out the active ingredients in the best concentrated potent form without all of the extras, without the fillers, with picking the right sources and types of the capsule itself, or what should go in the stick pack. We just wanted that flexibility.

Even though we do have some preliminary reports to tell us that yes, we are on the right track with supplements, this program is completely new. We just launched it and are very excited about it, but that doesn’t mean that there is no evidence behind our recommendations. Actually, my team and I spent so much time on all of the different rationales and references so that even to the point that it could be overwhelming to some people because we don’t want to make it look like we just list some ingredients and we just think it’s going to be good for you. 

We actually specify exactly which mechanisms of action are being targeted by these ingredients, and which scores are tied to these mechanisms of action. We also give you this bibliography that tells you, okay, it has been shown that this ingredient has antimicrobial effects. 

For instance, for you, Ashley, you have some of these oral microbes, which are not necessarily pathogens, but they get into your gut and they are overly active. They’re more than you would like them to be. That means that maybe some of the nutrients that solve your stressors’ types of pathways that also have antimicrobial effects would be great for you. We try to shoot most birds with fewer stones and give you just those nutrients that you need. You have ginger, I believe, in your foods, and you have mastic gum in your supplements—among other things—that have some of the beneficial polyphenols and carbs. But also have the antimicrobial effects that you need to keep these populations of microbes at bay, and the other ones that are also responsible for the biofilm and chemotaxis types of pathways.

We try to address all of these different things giving you exactly why this is recommended for you and giving you the references. It’s the summary that you don’t get anywhere just by googling an ingredient. You’ll get some high-level things. But in the actual recommendations for every food and supplement ingredient, you’ll see exactly why it’s recommended for you.

Back to the eight capsules topic, it’s actually the dosage that is very custom-tailored to you. Just because everybody gets eight capsules does not mean that everyone gets the same dosage whatsoever. Actually, everybody gets a completely different dosage. So cherries are something that has actually already worked well for you. For you it’s 879 milligrams in your supplement mix of this cherry powder, other people will only have maybe 300 milligrams of cherry powder, and many people won’t have any of the cherry powder. You need the cherries and not just because of the uric acid and other of the pro-inflammatory pathways, but because it also helps to feed some of your microbes associated with beneficial metabolic fitness pathways. That’s one of the scores that you need to improve.

In every single one of these nutrient explanations, you will see what scores it helps improve, it also helps with your cellular stress, and then basically why you need to take them and the evidence is there. For our program, we will show in more formal clinical studies what the evidence will be, but for now, the evidence for every single one of them is there. The dosage is there to fit perfectly within eight capsules the things that are most important for you in a dose-dependent way to address your biology.


[01:39:03] Ashley James: I love it. I’m so excited. Ally, do you take the supplements that Viome creates?


[01:39:09] Ally Perlina: Oh, I take everything. I’ll try anything twice.


[01:39:14] Ashley James: I mean, you’re part of this system. You’re the Chief Translational Science Officer. Who came up with your title at Viome? Did you come up with that?


[01:39:29] Ally Perlina: It’s a team effort.


[01:39:32] Ashley James: it’s a team effort, I bet. When you first started taking your own supplements based on your unique Viome results, what did you notice? Did you notice anything different at first when you started taking them?


[01:39:50] Ally Perlina: Yeah, the ways that stress and inflammation manifest in my body are headaches. I’m such a headachy person. I’ve had headaches since 10 years of age, and I have all kinds. The works, basically from migraines and some of the hormone-related ones to things that I think are more because of my protein fermentation issues. I do eat animal products and things like that. I’ve gone through phases in my life when I went completely vegan and vegetarian and somehow I keep going back to having more of a variety including the animal products in the diet. I think that I’m actually not doing well for myself with those things. When I take bromelain and some of the protein proteolytic types of enzymes, I notice that it helps me. It does better for me even with headaches and things like that.

Also just in terms of stress, and I do have a little bit of a histamine thing coming and going depending. I had asthma as a kid, so when I take quercetin along with other things, I know that’s one of the ingredients that seems to make me feel better. Without it, it’s not the same. I do notice that some probiotics, I swear they do make me feel—I get itchy eyes. I don’t have it all the time, but I get itchy eyes from some probiotics. I don’t want to give any probiotics bad names, but there are some probiotics that have even been published to cause a bit more of this histamine sensitivity, or even in the gut, they bring about like the Th17 response. Which for some people could be good because with just a little bit of inflammation in the colon environment, you will stimulate the rejuvenation and proliferation replenishment of colon cells, which you need for your gut lining to be young and active. But if too much of that happens, then you don’t want to elicit that response. 

I’ve learned a little bit from all kinds of trials and errors, and I try branded supplements too. I try so much, I rotate them, I forget them, I order new ones, and I try our own, and I try all the packets from our suppliers, obviously. I noticed that some of the probiotics just cause a little bit of the itchy or whatever response in me, and some things will illicit headaches. If I have too much B12, I’m done. I can have just excruciating tension headaches, debilitating ones.


[01:42:37] Ashley James: This is when you take over-the-counter supplements, not your unique Viome supplements?


[01:42:44] Ally Perlina: Actually, for me, if I take too much B12 from anywhere, I’m going to be in trouble. But having said that, methylcobalamin is much better for me than cyanocobalamin for B12. And I hear that’s also true for other people. So the type of formulation, the chemical formula that you pick to get your active ingredient in is also very important. The source, where you derive, what is the natural source of the supplement, how is it extracted, how is it prepared, what are the excipients in the formula? Are there any fillers used? Is the capsule vegan or vegetarian? What’s it made of? All of those things actually play a role. 

Yes, it’s very important to make sure that all of that is well selected and quality control because not the same B vitamin is the same in all the sources. But just in my example, with B12, I just know that if I take too much B12 some people think that more is better and it clears because it’s water-soluble it’s no problem. But I’m really sensitive to it and I’m sensitive to some of the bifidobacteria. I just am and other people are not.


[01:43:55] Ashley James: That makes a lot of sense considering if you had the MTHFR expression mutation snip. I’ve heard it called different names, but basically if you have MTHFR issues that non-methylated—sorry?


[01:44:16] Ally Perlina: Sorry, just some polymorphisms that can come up that make those issues more or less—the variance in your DNA that can make you a poor metabolizer or not.


[01:44:28] Ashley James: Right, polymorphisms. Thank you. I was reaching for that terminology. Do you know if you have the MTHFR polymorphism?


[01:44:39] Ally Perlina: Not the kind that’s well documented. More like benign, not the kind that’s really debilitating. I get messed up with B12, whether it’s methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin. Too much B12 messes me up.


[01:45:00] Ashley James: Can you see in your Viome readings? Is it a gut thing? Is it a microbiome issue, or is it something else that has you specifically sensitive to B12 when taken in excess?


[01:45:19] Ally Perlina: I’m not sure, that’s a mystery. But I have read on some, just browsing reviews of commercially available products that have high dosages, there’s always a subset of people who gave one star who say, oh terrible headaches. Of course, it’s a subset so the product can still have high ratings. But if you go to the one-star reviews, especially for products that have 45,000 reviews, you get a really nice sampling. So you get to see those people who really suffered, what did they suffer from? Except my package didn’t, pills were broken, that’s the usual. That happens sometimes.


[01:45:52] Ashley James: Right. What were their symptoms?


[01:45:54] Ally Perlina: Yeah, that’s how I learn. We really try to do our absolute best to do no harm. Even when it’s something that is not a known medically-documented fact, we still all do our research—going to Amazon and other things. We have our PubMed phase, which is the bulk of it. And then with my team, we actually have this thing—we call it like the industry market perspective research. When we’re done doing our sciency, geeky stuff, and then we put it aside, and everybody in the team owns their condition and owns their ingredients and say, for your ingredient, your condition you own. Now go to Amazon and then search all of the reputable brand products where there are tons of reviews and search the one-star reviews and see what people are hurting from when they’re taking this product. Because maybe, it could be related to the active ingredient, maybe not, but it’s good to be aware of that.

That’s part of the research that we do. You got to do it. That’s the reality check because you may have PubMed saying how great everything is, but then what if you’re about to give it in a certain default dose for a certain score or biological area, and then you see actually all the bottles that happen to have it above one something milligrams have more reviews reporting like debilitating headaches, your eyes twitching, or insomnia.

There’s a lot that talks about palpitations, by the way, that has to do with ginkgo, ginseng, and some hidden caffeine sources and things like that. Some people are sensitive to it, some people are not. The fast metabolizers can be sensitive to just about anything. Just a little bit of that can make somebody feel really wired and not able to sleep. People even have anxiety sometimes. It’s good to see those reviews, and it’s really revealing.

Then you go back to PubMed and you search all the different results reports from either case studies or actually broader types of research work, and then you realize, aha, now it makes sense because it puts it more in the sciency geeky way again. But what prompts it sometimes is actually people’s anecdotes and personal reviews. It’s really important to keep that reality check and the perspective of how people actually feel so we don’t do any harm.


[01:48:13] Ashley James: I love that you go and use the reviews as market research to collect data. That’s so smart. I’ve actually done that. I’ve actually looked at one-star reviews of supplements myself. It’s very interesting to collect that information and then wonder why. Why is there a percentage of people that have this issue where the large majority doesn’t, but there’s going to be a small percentage that do? Why is that? And then digging deeper. I love that you did that.

You are so in touch with your body. You’ve figured stuff out. So you’ve had headaches, and now the root cause. Have your headaches diminished, or do you feel like you completely have control over them now that you have implemented your Viome results and you take the supplements that are recommended by your Viome results?


[01:49:13] Ally Perlina: Well, yeah I think it really helps, I just don’t always do my best. Sometimes it’s the basic things like I don’t go outside, drink enough water, or something, and that can mess you up no matter what.


[01:49:32] Ashley James: Wait a second, you’re human? You ate a big piece of chocolate cake last night, what?


[01:49:39] Ally Perlina: I don’t have a sweet tooth, thank goodness because then I would be even more in trouble. I mean, I eat anything and I try to be more mindful of what’s good for me. And I know, by the way, for me I cannot do raw broccoli. I mean, not so well or raw cabbage, but I can do the sauerkraut. I’m okay with that, also not too much. But our servings, actually if you see the one you have on superfoods for sauerkraut, it’s not actually a really high amount. That’s why for you, with all the fermented and probiotic type of components, it’s really good. Same for me. I’m actually the same way in that regard. 

I cannot do really high amounts of raw cruciferous vegetables, but if it’s sautéed like the brussels sprouts and things like that then they do better. I actually feel better. I feel really great with kale. I can do spinach, you can do spinach too by the way because your oxalate pathways are fine. You have the microbes that help you process your oxalate, which is you’re not as likely to be facing gallstones or kidney stones as some people are who don’t have that extra helping from the microbiome actively processing oxalate.

I know what I need to do. I’m just saying it’s a matter of me knowing how to control all this stuff and then me actually taking control on a daily basis and sticking to it. That’s a little bit harder to control, but I do my best. I know exactly and I’m guilty of being my own enemy.


[01:51:14] Ashley James: I love that you brought up the oxalates. So my friend Naomi and I—she went whole food plant-based after I did, but I was easing into it and she went 100% overnight. The two of us have shared wonderful meals together, and we even film ourselves cooking in the kitchen together. We created a membership called Learn True Health Home Kitchen where we teach all kinds of delicious meals that are super wholesome. She got a scare because she realized that she was eating a ton of spinach. We became a little obsessed with a few of these dishes that are so spinach heavy and so delicious.

In between the huge amount of spinach and kale she was consuming, there began a concern in her family about how much oxalates she was consuming. I don’t think she’s ever had a stone. She’s never had a scare of a stone—kidney stone or otherwise—but of course, we hear about this. We hear that spinach is healthy but you shouldn’t eat too much of it because it’s high in oxalates and you could get stones from it. She never had any symptoms. I kind of laughed because I’ve gone through phases where I ate pounds and pounds of spinach and I’ve never had any problems. It is interesting that my microbiome processes it for me so that I could manage to eat a lot of spinach on a regular basis.


[01:52:47] Ally Perlina: Not a lot, not a huge amount.


[01:52:49] Ashley James: Okay. Eat a nice bowl of it. I’m lucky to have never had that problem, never had stones—kidney stones or any stones in my body. I’m quite happy that I haven’t had it.


[01:53:05] Ally Perlina: Good, that’s great to hear.


[01:53:07] Ashley James: She hasn’t either, so the two of us who have been heavy on spinach at times in our lives have not had that problem. I wonder if she also has that same aspect in her microbiome where it helps to process oxalates. Whereas other people may not and they may be super sensitive to spinach and just have to avoid high foods with a lot of oxalates in them. It’s interesting that we could look at that and we could see why some people get kidney stones and others don’t. It could actually be their gut biome, which is one of the contributing factors to preventing kidney stones. I mean, that’s fascinating, right?


[01:53:54] Ally Perlina: Absolutely.


[01:53:56] Ashley James: And there’s so much we could talk about, get into, and understand how the body works in relation to the metabolites the microbiome is producing.


[01:54:07] Ally Perlina: Right. Speaking about microbiomes, we didn’t really talk about probiotics. Well, we talked about some of the potential side effects. But some of the probiotics ones you have I believe like lactobacillus rhamnosus gg. There are different strains of it, but some of the strains that you have are actually known to counter the sulfide gas producing activities in your gut. It’s like the microbes that you put in as probiotics can also counter the effects of microbes that are already in your gut. 

Instead of always thinking of let’s say just getting that nutrient to manipulate the pathway, to take something away, or to supplement with something, one of the things we supplement with is this specific lactobacillus is just one example. But there are also microbes that actually help counter ammonia production in the gut that happens to be activated by other things you do like protein fermentation that you have. You have ammonia production and sulfide gas production, and these microbes will counter the effects and the activities and suppress the effects of these other microbes that are engaged in these pathways making the sulfide and ammonia.

All these things we do explain in those narratives the explanations, but I think that’s very important to be mindful of because it’s slightly a new science. The effects are stemming from that all the way to the hypothalamus-pituitary axis. Also, you brought it up several times in the conversation, but the endocrine balance that’s a whole other story altogether. We see the connections with microbes and then your own cellular health and foods from the endocrine perspective as well. In some cases, you need more of the hormone boosting type of microbes like Tribulus Terrestris, and I think you have that one. There are also other nutrients that we have that boost some of the specific hormone levels or just help you modulate them. In a way, they help the body adapt and tune to its own best levels.

Then there are those activities that we see where microbes actually go and recycle some of the estrogen metabolites into more powerful potent forms of estrogen, which could be great for women who are entering menopause or postmenopausal but may not be so good for people who don’t need even more estrogen because that can contribute to some of the sensitivities. It could contribute to weight gain, it can be pro-inflammatory, it could even potentially be carcinogenic.

We can see those pathways, and then we can see in the blood side—we’ll come out with those scores really soon in the near future to actually show it to the users as well. We will see if on the blood side we see a lot of this androgen receptor or estrogen receptor ESR1 hormone stimulation of the transcription factor program that then turns on a lot of the different cellular signaling pathways. That is something we can see from this blood test as far as the Health Intelligence Service. Then that can be modulated appropriately with some of the nutrients that we have.

Then when it comes to the foods, for instance back to cruciferous vegetables, you might know that you don’t want to have a lot of those if you have an underactive thyroid like hypothyroid function. That is something that traditional regular western medicine has accepted I think for a while because even for those who have hyperthyroid people who need to lower the activity one of the drugs, I think that’s one of the older drugs that used to be given, maybe still is given. Now it’s called PTU, propylthiouracil. It was actually made from an extract of cabbage. It’s one of those components, among others, that makes cruciferous vegetables responsible for lowering the thyroid effects.

It’s basically one huge interwoven circle cycle complex system there that we’re deciphering at the moment.


[01:58:29] Ashley James: Right, interesting. Some functional medicine doctors have shared with me on the show that they do not limit cruciferous vegetables for their hypothyroid patients. In fact, they don’t see any difference if they have their patients eat it or not eat it. They think the benefits—for those whose microbiome can handle it—of cruciferous vegetables far outweigh any thyroid diminishing effects. It’s interesting to look at. We have to myth bust at every turn these old beliefs that have been the health system for so long. We have to come back with a fresh look and go, is this true for everyone? Is this true for every hypothyroid case? Especially when we can take our Viome results and look at someone, okay, you have a hypothyroid but it shows that you actually do really well on cabbage or broccoli. It would be very interesting.


[01:59:40] Ally Perlina: Right, benefits outweigh the risks, in which case you may have some. Maybe it’s still not going to be a bucket of broccoli that for some people could be good, but I agree. You could also do it in different ways with steaming, without steaming, and figure out the way that works best for you. The fermented cabbage could be better than raw cabbage and all these things.


[02:00:00] Ashley James: Right, absolutely. There’s a well-detailed questionnaire that we fill out after we mail in our test kit. One of them is asking what supplements or medications we’re on. Do you take into account people’s medications when creating the individual supplements to make sure that they don’t interact with each other in a negative way?


[02:00:28] Ally Perlina: Absolutely. Especially for supplements, we needed to make sure that we work it out absolutely right. We still, of course, put a label that just like with any dietary supplement, if you’re on medications and have certain medical conditions, you need to consult your healthcare professional. We’re not trying to replace the need for medical guidance, but at the same time, we’ve taken care of all of these different interactions. 

For people who are let’s say on SSRIs and some MAOIs, they will get tryptophan for instance not on their list or it would be an avoid food equivalent, but for supplements. It’ll be on their to avoid. In terms of nutrient recommendations, they won’t get that. Then for people who take ACE inhibitors, there’s going to be a specific potassium limitation or avoiding potassium in people who take blood thinners, vitamin K, and many other rules. People who are taking metformin and statins, will get extra priority to make sure we get them the CoQ10 or PQQ that they need to make sure that they replenish that mitochondrial energy production activities and all these things. We take all that into account.


[02:01:57] Ashley James: Yes. Over 20 years ago, I was put on Metformin and it made me sick as a dog and I immediately stopped taking it. I had every symptom. Anytime I have a client that’s on medication, I like to go down the list of all the side effects of the medication just to make sure they’re not experiencing it because it’s very concerning. I’m a health coach, I’m not a doctor, and I always tell my clients that you definitely want to work with a holistic doctor like a naturopathic physician that’s licensed to be a physician because they have a deep understanding of how the body works and also how the body interacts with supplements and medication. I’m really concerned that doctors do not sit down with their patients and really scrutinize over every symptom that appears after they get on medication.

I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with where they tell me they’re on Metformin, for example, and I say, okay, let’s just go through and read the actual list on the Metformin website of the complete list of potential side effects. I had a client in the hospital for eight months with acute appendicitis caused by being on Metformin. That in rare cases, Metformin can cause appendicitis. She lost over 80 pounds because she could not eat. For over a year, she could only con sip tea and bone broth, and this was all stemming from. 

Now, this is, of course, a rare event, but medication can, in some cases, have a detrimental effect. I’m really looking forward to the day when like Viome, the pharmaceutical industry could make a unique and realize that based on your DNA and based on all of your body’s biology, that Metformin would be a horrible drug for you because they could tell. Could you imagine the day when they could make a special exactly what you need? Oh, your body just needs this pathway and needs this just to go in this direction. We could incorporate holistic medicine so much smoother just like Viome is doing.

But anyway, I’ve had several clients who realize that they’re, after talking to them and going through the list, if you look at what Metformin does—I mean, we’re picking on Metformin as an example but it could be any pharmaceutical, over-the-counter or prescribed drug. That one of the side effects is hypoglycemia and another side effect is hyperglycemia. What they’re taking to treat could actually exacerbate, in some cases. But you’re right, any medication we take can reduce nutrients in the body because it’s something that the body has to metabolize.

In the case of cholesterol medication, either cholesterol medication depletes the body of CoQ10, and it is mainstream knowledge that those who are taking—now I do not know why they don’t just put CoQ10 in with the cholesterol medication, but they have to supplement with CoQ10. I think that people should supplement a lot more CoQ10 than they’re told to take. But Metformin depletes the body of certain nutrients. Magnesium is a nutrient that is often depleted by many over-the-counter and prescribed drugs.


[02:05:25] Ally Perlina: Exactly, yeah. And B vitamins.


[02:05:28] Ashley James: B vitamins, exactly. Selenium or glutathione. We’re looking to help bring the body back into balance. We want to go to medicine because we’re sick and we want to feel better. In some cases, it’s a matter of life and death and these meds are going to save our lives, and in other cases, we’re going to the wrong doctor. The doctor that’s not going to actually tell you how to heal or reverse disease, but just going to put you on a med to manage certain things but are going to have a bunch of other symptoms pop up. This is where I get so frustrated because medicine should be personalized like Viome provides.

I love that you guys do take into account the medications people might be on, the supplements people might be on when constructing their unique supplements for them. Is there any feedback that you’ve gotten? I know it’s a fairly new program. You guys have really bet-tested it a great deal. Is there any feedback that you’ve gotten from taking the supplements that are specifically designed for people that just pops into your mind that you’d love to share?


[02:06:36] Ally Perlina: You know what, let’s table this for when you have taken yours and we will have more feedback from people just like you who’ve already experienced this. Because I don’t want to stretch it based on one-off internal examples or anecdotes from ourselves, basically. It just won’t be a fair representation of information.


[02:07:00] Ashley James: I’m curious. I want to know what everyone in the lab because I’m sure all of you guys are your own guinea pigs, and I want to know. I know that Naveen has shared his results and his wife’s results and how amazing—they’ve had such a great experience. And of course, everyone in your lab is having fun experiences. Okay, I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to having my own experience with the individualized supplement for me and then coming back and talking more about it.

This has been so much fun Ally. We could really talk a long time, and you did touch on several times that the metabolites that come from our microbes—based on what we feed it—can actually stress the body to the point of cancer, could create carcinogens, and could even increase unhealthy estrogen levels, which is absolutely linked to breast cancer and in men is linked to prostate cancer.


[02:08:00] Ally Perlina: Yes, androgen pathways of all different kinds actually. That can come from the microbiome, not just estrogen.


[02:08:08] Ashley James: And they say, statistically, one in three people—the average standard American diet eating person—will have a diagnosis of cancer in our lifetime. My mom died of liver cancer, my dad died of heart disease—two major illnesses that we look to correct with diet and prevent with diet as well. Anything you can share about how Viome can help people to live so healthy or correct certain things in their life that we could prevent cancer?


[02:08:41] Ally Perlina: I guess this is not surprising if it comes as an answer from me, but we really just invest all that we got, not just from our own brains and expertise, but from all of the published clinical trials in literature and from the internal studies that we have to empower you with actionability in your hands. You don’t have to yourself, or your Naturopath or any other doctor read 200,000 pathways because even ourselves—as uniquely positioned as we are—we’re not doing this manually day in and day out. It would be impossible to keep it unbiased and objective.

What we do is we pour every single bit of actionable information and insight into our entire infrastructure that gives you these recommendations for foods and supplements. I mean that’s part of a mission. That’s always been the driver in my mind and my heart. What I do is to make sure that we can scientifically power the medicine, and that stems from specific functional areas that we cover today to the overall wellness, and illness prevention, and longevity. It stands to actually revolutionize, not only the wellness space but also how we approach pharmaceuticals, not just nutraceuticals. Because we do collaborate with pharma, and we’re going to do more of that. That is something that brings me back to the eight years that I spent working with various top pharma in the world to help understand these pathway outcomes of drugging different targets.

What are some of the off-target effects or opportunities for repositioning from one disease to another? And also, what makes one person respond to Metformin, for instance, quite well, whereas other people have quite detrimental effects. What can be done to ameliorate that? Anything from companion diagnostics to adjuvant therapeutics and new therapeutics can actually come from this platform that we built because it all comes back to the molecules. 

If your molecules are telling you that from the microbiome this is what’s happening, from the blood side this is what may impact your hormones, your health. This is what the immune system is stressed. Then you know these intervention points, which can be targeted with not only food or supplement nutraceuticals, but it can be targeted with actual drugs that can be already in development, or it can be a new generation of drugs that are made with this information. I feel like that’s just part of the bigger future vision.

As for now, I think that this is for wellness. Taking the holistic approach, which we’re all very passionate about food and supplements. If you get these tests, get familiar with your body, and don’t shy away from grabbing this knowledge and seeing what it can do for you. Being more in tune with the information and with what your body needs. Because the more you get into it, the more prepared you will be to really shield yourself from various conditions and to augment this whole healthspan and lifespan. As you know, we have this aging score, which is a unique thing and a relatively new thing itself that you can also track over time and see if you are getting younger. You’re younger than your chronological age, so congratulations on that.


[02:12:38] Ashley James: Thank you.


[02:12:40] Ally Perlina: But that’s also one of the things. It’s a very important area called longevity. You think it’s one area but actually, to extend longevity—like a healthy lifespan, that means you need to address all possible illnesses and prevent them or reverse them in order to prolong human health. Longevity is not actually just this one area just like any one disease. It’s actually getting all the diseases, plus helping you stay at your best, your optimal, and your youngest feeling and looking. That’s longevity, it’s all the diseases taken care of and then some.

So now, we have—more than ever—this mechanistic insight into aging, and we publish that. I will send you actually the links to this publication and our glycemic response prediction, which is part of our recommendations that we discussed before. I’m very excited about it because our machine learning efforts—very proud of our AI—it’s given us something that our data science group actually proposed for us to look at. My group, the translational science, we looked at it and was like, oh my goodness, this is a gold mine. The things that go up with age are those things that are more of the pro-inflammatory microbiome activities.

Like methane production, some of these gas production pathways actually happen to be going more and more and more pronounced with aging, so more associated with age. It makes sense because it can be harmful for your digestive system and therefore can contribute to your aging. Therefore, for some people who have really high methane production pathways—it’s not the only thing, but they may also sometimes see a less favorable aging score. But what’s fascinating is that we’ve seen the T cell deterioration and senescence, and all kinds of other types of gut-neuro and not so gut neurofunctional decline signatures as part of both GI—the gut intelligence, and also the blood transcriptome test features that were part of these pathway and functional knowledge nuggets within our aging model.

When we looked at what this AI machine learning model produced and we really dug into those features it was like these—sorry for the noise. When we look at all the features, it’s like the mechanisms of this multi-functional, multi-system progressive decline started to just resurface in a new light. I’m quite excited about what we can do and to see how that score—along with all the others that are on a functional level telling you what’s happening—may change when you take not only food recommendations into account now, but also take our precision supplements.

I think we should probably have a follow-up because so many new things were just delivered this year. The Health Intelligence Service, this aging score, and now the precision supplements. They’re so new. They’re all built on the foundation of something we did before, but they’re so novel and new that I want to follow up with closing that loop. Maybe in a few months.


[02:16:12] Ashley James: Okay, sounds great. You say new, but it’s by no means not supported by science. You’ve beta-tested it. There’s a lot that’s gone into it. It’s years in the making, and now it’s finally available to the public, which is very exciting. It’s everything you’ve built upon like you said. It’s new that it’s now finally available to us. Because I’ve talked to you guys several times and learned more about Viome. It’s something that’s been built upon for years, and I love that at the core of Viome is just a bunch of really geeky scientists that are very experienced and very excited about this. As am I, I’m very excited about it.

I love that you guys do your own studies. You’re going to give me links to some of the studies. But you’re constantly tinkering in the lab with a lot of guinea pig people, which is really exciting. One study I’m particularly excited about—we’ll wrap up the interview by talking about this because I’ve taken up so much of your time. I’m so thankful you’ve been so generous with sharing with us. This is the cutting edge. I don’t fully know if everyone completely has grasped how cutting edge this is. How unbelievably amazing this is. 

This would have cost over 10,000 or more even something like six or seven years ago to have these tests done in such a detailed way. This is something that Naveen talked about in our interview—episode 441,  but that because of the AI, it’s something that people can afford. You might have to save up for it, but it’s equivalent to a lot of other lab tests out there. Just the cost of it is something that the majority of the market can do, which is exciting because it’s giving us access to information about ourselves, which is absolutely revolutionary. The fact that then we can take that one step further and look at a list of specific food extracts, of superfoods supplements—based on hundreds of thousands of pathways—understand why our body uniquely will respond in an excellent way to those foods specifically or those supplements specifically. And then why we should avoid others because of the metabolites that are created. Whereas other people could thrive on our do not eat list. It’s so brilliant that this is really going to be the key or the answer, that missing piece of the puzzle for many people who have been seeking health for so long.

Now what I love is one of the studies you did was you did a continuous glucose monitor on a group of people, and then you took in a detailed account of the food they ate and how their body uniquely responded based on a glycemic index. I’ve read the book The Glycemic Index Diet. It was created by a cardiologist in Toronto who noticed that he actually had some patients completely reverse heart disease by changing their diet, and that got him really curious. He went through and saw that some foods will metabolize very quickly into sugar. You can eat fruit, it would metabolize quickly, whereas something slow like a complex starch would take longer. But I thought that everyone would react to potatoes the same way. I just thought, okay, it’s on the glycemic index here and everyone reacts to it the same way. You guys found something very different. Share with us. 

First of all, how many people were part of the continuous glucose monitor study, how long did you do it for, and what were the results?


[02:20:17] Ally Perlina: Well, the whole study, it took us like a whole year to actually carry it out. That’s also part of the enrollment. For several months, it was several hundred people, and a total of I don’t know how many tens of thousands of meals ended up being tracked. We actually tracked the sleep and all of these things as well. We looked at their glycemic response. Every 15 minutes there would be a reading that gets electronically taken basically by the glucose monitor. In the end, we analyzed all of this data. Our AI team I did all these great analyses and built our own machine learning model so that we can predict if a white potato is good or bad for you, or the yams are actually good or bad for you. Because there’s this never-ending argument. Which ones are more glycemic? Good or bad in terms of glycemic.

Being overly glycemic is something that you want to avoid. The more of these spikes you have of sugar spikes the more you’re on the track to insulin resistance. Your insulin sensitivity really starts to diminish with those types of patterns. You want to avoid that. Also, this whole insulin resistance is part of a bigger inflammatory pattern that a lot of times just goes hand in hand.

Long story short, as a result of the study, we have our own model. And as features of the model, those things that the model takes as input, we have all the different levels of the data. The gene expression, the microbes that are active, and also some of the scores like scores that assess your metabolic fitness pathways and some of the inflammatory pathways. They can go on with their own outcomes for each individual once we process your sample along with other features to help us tell you if a banana is too glycemic for you or not. Because if it’s not, actually it has some inulin, and it can feed your butyrate producers to produce more of that beneficial short-chain fatty acid for you. But if it’s too glycemic, then you might see bananas on minimize. 

And then for potatoes, actually, potatoes can really enhance fecal and bacteria and [inaudible 02:22:47], which is another beneficial microbe that’s a butyrate producer. You don’t have that available as a probiotic, so you can’t just take it. Plus, as you know, probiotics don’t always stick around or colonize well. You want to be able to promote these beneficial microbes and their beneficial functions by having the right type of diet. For some people, white potatoes—I mean, not deep-fried of course—may be quite good. But for those people that have this predicted glycemic response outcome by our model that says it might be too high for you, they won’t see the white potato in their enjoy or superfood list.

those are the types of things that help us personalize with much better precision. And it’s very true about the berries. It’s quite interesting. For some people, strawberry, raspberry, or blackberry maybe on the minimized list because of the glycemic response, versus for other people, they have no predicted high glycemic response and they actually feed your akkermansia, which for you is good. That’s part of the reason you have all these berries—the strawberry, the blackberry I believe, and the cherries as well. Akkermansia is good for metabolic fitness and usually is associated with a leaner phenotype. Also, some of the berries—and you have pomegranate—feed some of the ellagic acid metabolizers that take ellagic acid and can turn it to urolithin A, which is a very powerful antioxidant that you would benefit from if you feed them those berries versus others don’t. Plus, we also discuss the uric acid production and mitigating strategies with the sour cherry. For some people, it would be too glycemic so you cannot have it. But we will try to mitigate it with other strategies through food or supplements.

Taking all that into account, just to summarize, just another example that came to mind, what if you do need help with overall insulin sensitivity and sugar control issues? For some people, they cannot have some of the berries or they cannot have some of the beneficial prebiotic type foods. But let’s say in supplements, we can suggest that for them, berberine might be good because it has sugar-lowering benefits. If you have these microbial opportunistic activities and some pathogens or the oral microbes, maybe for those people, berberine is especially good because it has antimicrobial properties. Whereas in food, you will get slightly different things recommended for you.

And then another example that I think Naveen likes very much but I think it doesn’t even know that it came from my personal anecdote as well is with strawberry—just speaking of berries—may not necessarily be just a glycemic issue. It could be for some people that it’s histamine inducing, because it’s histamine inducing, you may not reap the rewards that strawberry has to offer. But you may get a lot of the anthocyanins and fisetin, which is a senolytic and basically anti-aging compound. Back to the whole longevity topic, you can get that as a supplement in your nutrients. In a way, that’s your super ingredient. You take it and extract it, then you don’t have to deal with either glycemic or histamine promoting properties of strawberry. 

That’s just another example of personalization. The supplements are there to literally supplement what you can and cannot have in terms of the foods, and on both supplement levels, it’s really this beauty of this systems biology dynamic interplay that we can see with our RNA data that we address because it’s many-to-many. You could see many reasons why something can be avoided superfood for you, and many reasons why you may need a combination of foods and specific nutrients in your arsenal of this nutrient diet and recommendation plan. You have your own precision food and supplements that are made for your unique biology. 

There’s just no simple way to summarize it all or display in like five bullet points because it is years and years of work that’s based upon years and years of knowledge and evidence, and this new data that makes it all possible. I really truly believe in that. As we come up with more studies—we’re constantly working on a lot more than we got a chance to cover—I will be happy to talk about it and then send you links for all of the things that we put out there so far.


[02:27:45] Ashley James: Wonderful, exciting. For those who don’t have blood sugar as a concern, although one-third of those in the United States—and similar for other countries that follow the similar diet and lifestyle of those in the United States—have pre-diabetes or are diabetic type two, meaning more of insulin resistance, more of a problem at the cellular level not at the pancreatic level, which is type one. But the problems at the cellular level utilizing insulin and metabolizing carbohydrates, and there’s a lot that goes into that. There are 16 minerals required to make insulin work correctly with the cell and when they’re missing—chromium being the major one, vanadium being another—that insulin cannot work correctly with the cell.

And then there’s evidence showing that eating a high-fat diet from oil or animal products actually promotes insulin resistance. Those that cut out oil, cut out animal products, see almost within a week increase in insulin sensitivity. I mean, all this stuff is coming together. Like you said, it’s not just one thing. And then we have to take into account the metabolites created by our unique microbiome based on what we’re feeding it and those metabolites will have an effect on the blood sugar and on our ability to metabolize the blood sugar. 

But looking at, why is it important for people who are not even remotely diabetic or pre-diabetic, and that is that Dr. William Davis, who I interviewed all the way back in episode 167—it feels like a lifetime ago—he’s the author of Wheat Belly and also the author of Undoctored. That was a great interview because he explains that he gets people—in order to heal heart disease and reverse it and even prevent it—he has them monitor their glucose and everything they take in.

Let’s say you do not have any diabetes at all. And even what you did with the continuous glucose monitor, if someone could wing that and get their doctor to prescribe them one. But he has them eat a meal, write it down, and then one or two hours later take their glucose and see—even though they’re not diabetic—how does their body react two hours later? Is their blood sugar 140, 130, or is it 97? Where is it at? 

If you eat a meal and then you see that two hours later you still have high blood sugar, even though you’re not diabetic, he says you got to look at what happened in that meal. What is in that meal and you need to write that down? Are you able to dial in your meals and eat foods that then you see a beautiful blood sugar, a nice rise up and then down, and the body comes back into balance? 

You notice that you can maintain your blood sugar in a very healthy way, then keep eating those meals. He says that has for him has been—and of course, he says everyone should avoid barley, wheat, rye, and in some cases oats. He’s able to help people reverse heart disease and prevent heart disease by making sure that even those without diabetes have healthy blood sugar, and have a healthy glycemic response to all the foods they eat.

Your specific, based on your study, when someone gets the Viome kit from you and gets their own results, some of the foods they’re told to avoid or to minimize are because their unique body and their unique metabolism microbiome will have a high glycemic reaction to those specific foods. Thus eliminating so much of that guesswork, and also setting them up. If they follow the Viome results as best they can—because we are human—they could be preventing heart disease and other diseases because they’re keeping their blood sugar in balance as much as possible. 

That’s really exciting that these are the biomarkers you’re looking for, and you’re looking to promote as much health as possible. Not looking to replace doctors, but really looking to change the health system by diving deep into the individual’s needs. That was such an eye-opener for me because I thought based on—I loved studying the glycemic index diet—everyone reacts to potatoes this way, and everyone reacts to strawberries this way. Not true. What a wonderful revolutionary study that you have published that you’ve done. That then you can take all that information and put it into the Viome experience as someone goes through.

I highly recommend listeners go to, use coupon code LTH, get the listener discount. Get the test kit, it’s really fun, and it’s such a great experience. The question that I was left with is how many times a year do I do this kit? Should I do it once a year? Should I do it every four months? If I take the supplements that are recommended, eat the diet that’s recommended, how much should I see change, and when would be the best time to then test again? So that, okay, don’t eat bananas, or now you can eat bananas. How many changes when you get the retest and how often should people retest in order to achieve optimal health?


[02:33:45] Ally Perlina: That’s an important question to cover because many people say, okay, well I don’t want to be bothered to do this too often. I also don’t want to miss the changes that my body goes through as I follow the recommendations. We used to say every quarter, so basically three, four times a year. I think that may still be a good idea for the first year, or maybe just two times a year may be enough because we don’t want to make people feel forced or burdened by multiple many, many times a year testing. Although some people like to get all of the digital data on their biology so they retest many, many times a year.

Just as a rule of thumb I’ll say for the first year, if you’re especially going through a lot of changes, then at least two times would be good. And then from that point on, unless you just experienced something, you had a surgical procedure, or you had a huge change either huge good or huge bad—hopefully not bad. But when you see that there are some really big changes in the environment, you’re trying a completely new lifestyle or whatnot, then you might want to retest just to get the before and after and see what it’s doing to your body so you don’t miss that moment of changes. But in general, twice a year would probably be a good overall benchmark to aim for. Does that make sense? One more part of the question that I didn’t answer is how much change do you expect?

What we’ve noticed from our just internal observations is that when what we recommend for you to do is not that different from what you’ve been doing, so down to specific details like what do you use to target your TNF alpha or whatnot, that may change actually. But if the ultimate outcome is there is this action, this action, this action that you’ve already had covered with your food and supplement before whether you knew it or not, or if your diet is very similar like you did not eat animal protein or almost did not before, and now it’s the same with the Viome diet. You did not eat milk products or dairy altogether, now it’s the same, then your changes will not be maybe huge and drastic right away. 

Whereas those people who were eating drastically different diets before, got the recommendations and said, I’m going to change everything about my life. I’m going to follow this and this is a huge difference, then you do see more of the difference in their microbiome and their human blood transcriptome happening because you would always anticipate that. You know that there is a link between molecules in the food and your supplements and the molecular patterns in your body. When the change is drastic, you’re going to see the change reflected in your body as well. You would expect to see more, and that’s what we see. 

If you’re more or less the same, then it will just take longer to move that needle, especially on these bigger aggregate scores that cover hundreds of pathways, and it may take a little bit longer. But that’s okay, we still see those changes. Just keep up the good work. Some scores don’t need improvement and they’re not in the red zone, but you want to still get the more perfect score, or you want to maintain a good score that you have. That’s why you should follow these recommendations. Just because you don’t see earth shattering huge changes doesn’t mean that it’s not good or it’s not working.

Testing a couple of times a year and expecting some changes because RNAs is dynamic and it helps us to be as dynamic as you are, but expecting them to be basically in a way dependent on how big is the change that you’re implementing with Viome recommendations. That’s how big of a magnitude of a change that you would be likely to see, and that’s how fast it may or may not come.


[02:38:10] Ashley James: Exciting. Well, I’m excited. I’m excited to see this unfold. We’ve already had several listeners share in the Facebook group those who have been working with you and implementing results for a while shared that it has been amazing. They’ve gotten great results, something as simple as removing one food and adding in a few more can be life-changing for some people, but they just didn’t know and they didn’t know the science behind it. And then also, by following your system, by following the unique recommendations, it is going to alter the microbiome in a sense and create a more hospitable environment for the gut, for our hormones, and for everything. It’s exciting.

Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all this information. I can’t wait to talk with you again in a few months after I have been on your supplements for a while, after I’ve really had a few months to incorporate. I’ve been incorporating the results of the feedback that I got from the Viome test for the last 17 days already. I am not bloated. There were times when I really couldn’t pinpoint what meal it was that I would feel like my belly button’s about to pop off. It would come and go, but I always felt like I had lots of energy. Everything was good, it’s just that was that one last piece. 

I haven’t had that problem in the last 17 days, and that’s very exciting. I can’t wait to try the supplements. I’m so excited to hear from more of the listeners who are going to go to, use coupon code LTH, get the test kit. And then when they get the results, use coupon code LTH again to get the supplements and try it out. Come to the Learn True Health Facebook group and share your experience with Viome and share your experience with following the product, their recommendations, and what happened in your health. 

Just the fact that you’re able to now control your headaches that were a lifelong problem and so many people suffer from migraines that aren’t able to just put their finger on it. If they could get this information, what quality of life changer that it could be for so many people. The aches and pains that people have can go away because of the metabolites that the dysbiosis in their gut is producing based on what they’re eating. Their aches and pains can go away. This is so exciting that the quality of life will really go up.

It’d be interesting if you could—maybe I’ll just put this in your thinking cap for you to gnaw on. What if we could somehow measure the quality of life index? Some kind of improvement score based on the quality of life—a decrease of pain, a decrease of inflammation, an increase of energy. And there’s some way that you could score to see—over the course of a year, for example, that someone was working with Viome—how much of an improvement in the quality of life that they were experiencing. Have you thought of doing that?


[02:41:20] Ally Perlina: Yes, absolutely. We have these things called progress questionnaires, which you will probably see and you can fill them out every week. Some people fill it out less frequently, and you also have a bigger questionnaire when you re-test. After several months when you want to repeat the testing and you order your new kit you will also tell us about what things changed. 

Some of the things that we put into the questionnaire are actually some of those known standard medical questionnaires that are used by different medical systems. Alternative medicine, Naturopathic medicine, and integrated functional medicine are specifically geared at assessing your overall satisfaction with life. It’s just different compilations of different questions that actually make up the core of such known questionnaires that have been validated to do exactly that. It’s just a matter of actually coming out with the final ultimate score, and somehow displaying it or communicating it back to our users. That would probably be great at closing that loop. 

I really like that you put that thought in my head because we’re actually reworking our questionnaires right now. I know it’s a lot of questions, we all know that. We’re trying to make it a little bit more smart and savvy on how the user experience goes with that. This could be a great time that you brought it up because we may think of how best to deliver some of the outcomes back to the users of what we learned about their progress and how we see them tracking along. Because for some people, they may not see improvements in scores really fast, but they may start feeling better. For others, it’s fascinating, they may not feel better. Some even feel worse in the beginning. It’s hard to change so much and stick to the new diet. But then we see after several months their scores improve. 

It’s very interesting to have the biological metric as well as the overall wellness and lifestyle satisfaction metrics that we want to be able to analyze and meaningfully communicate back. I believe that would be a great way to close the loop.


[02:43:39] Ashley James: Exciting. Awesome, well thank you. I love hearing about all the work that you do. I just geek out on it. It’s just so exciting just imagining where we’re going to be 10 years from now, 50 years from now because of the work that you’re doing. Do you ever think about that? I know you and I could talk forever, this is going to be my last question. But do you ever think about the future of medicine and how you and the work that you do with all of the wonderful co-workers in your lab that you guys are going to help shape medicine?


[02:44:18] Ally Perlina: Yeah, all the time. That’s basically the big mission. We all come from different walks of life, but the same mission that Naveen actually puts out there as our tagline it’s in a way my mission and mission of people in Viome is to make illness optional. It just sounds like it’s too grand and huge, but you got to take some steps on how you’re going to get there. If you don’t have a route even planned out at all, then you’re never going to get there just because you’re going to say it’s too ambitious of a goal. We actually imagine that it will get us from the wellness space to something that gets more accepted by the healthcare systems that hey, this is actually really important. It’s changing people’s lives. We’re going to be showing this in as formal of ways as needed with double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials, which we already have geared up.

We’ve launched supplements, now we’re getting into the more formal trials. I’m not going to say disrupt, but at least augment, enhance, and add to the health care system. One is from the health care practice, the other one is back to pharmaceutical industries like I said because you need to understand what drives these different patient cohorts to respond or not respond because that can be a make or breaker for the next big drug that can help people. But what if it only helps 45% of people marvelously, and some of it is actually defined by your microbiome-driven or the human cellular pathways that you can measure? And 45% would do just absolutely great, but the other—more than half the population—may not do so great. If you figure out what are these culprits and what are the different ways from food and supplement to help the future pharmaceutical trials succeed, that would be a huge breakthrough.

And then the ultimate breakthrough is to have new engineered probiotics and prebiotics that help us modulate our health and completely new chemical pharmaceutical compounds. Maybe it’s a small molecule, maybe it’s a monoclonal antibody, that is designed having this information in mind that is the ultimate next step. And then doing it in an integrative and again, biologically informed ways because we already know that. The medical system knows that there’s no one drug that fits all perfectly. They almost just don’t exist, or the ones that happened to exist. It was more like a lucky break and still, people have these side effects that we all know about.

To actually take control of all that, you have to embrace the complexity you have to actually figure it out. I feel like we’re at the cutting edge of this and we’re as close as anyone has ever come to this point in the world. When it comes to envisioning this life may be a decade from now, I think that first of all, people will be a lot more informed. The medical system will be a lot more equipped with these latest scientifically and technologically powered methodologies to serve you best in your health journey. The pharmaceutical companies will also adjust their ways and embrace these new perspectives to design new drugs and improve the drugs that maybe have failed at some point before. And all of that is to bring the different levels together to give you these ways to extend your healthy lifespan and reverse your already existing conditions with molecular level precision.


[02:48:03] Ashley James: I love it. Ally, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. You’ve been so generous with your time. And this is the cutting edge. We’re hearing it first here.


[02:48:21] Ally Perlina: Thank you so much.


[02:48:22] Ashley James: We’re willing to throw the old system out and help reinvent this new system that is more specialized, more personalized, and you guys are working on that. Thank you. This is awesome. Please, listeners, go to, check it out. Use coupon code LTH and join me in finding out exactly what you should and shouldn’t be eating and supplements specifically for you and just see what happens. You never know. Even if you feel healthy, you never know. You could be taking it to a whole nother level just like Naveen shared in his interview. He and his wife were pretty healthy, and then it was like oh my gosh, that was health? I can’t believe it. This is like a whole new level. It’s quite exciting

I am very much looking forward to the coming months and seeing the results that I personally have as well as hearing from all the listeners. You’ve said so much already. Is there anything that you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview or anywhere you want to point us, any directions you want to point us in?


[02:49:28] Ally Perlina: I just want to basically say that you should keep learning and seek the kind of knowledge that will empower you to take control of your health. I think, Ashley, what you’re doing is just absolutely wonderful, you’re brilliant at it, and you’re so curious and you should stay curious. You’re teaching others how to go about this. I actually appreciate that you said, my listeners, they want to know some of the geeky details. Maybe some will want to know even more so don’t hold back, and some may skip through this and that’s okay. 

I like that you’re encouraging this, so you have this attitude of why don’t you reveal a little bit more of the interesting facts that really make it what it is. What’s it like to take this approach and then have it make a difference for your health because if you don’t understand it, you don’t seek to, and you don’t make people curious about it, then they’re not going to be as empowered because they won’t know. How does it matter? It’s all the same, or it’s all you never know what’s really right. Tomorrow it’s going to be wrong. But then when you really, really start to understand, it’s like you feel more in control because knowledge is power.

I just want to say good luck on your health journey and, thank you so much for sharing this and for encouraging your listeners to be part of this journey of actually improving their knowledge, their health, and really taking true control of it. I’m not going to say just point you to one place and go to You already did a great job about that. There’s just so much unbelievably interesting fascinating information, and you can start by even googling something that is related to you, that’s fine. But read the journals, read the news, stay informed, and stay curious. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed and give up. Just little by little, we’re all on this journey together. Every day we’re learning something. None of us have everything figured out. We don’t have all the answers for everything. We’re all learning all at our different levels one step at a time.

I just want to say, thank you, Ashley, for doing this. I just want to encourage people to keep at it and go along in your wellness and your learning journey together with you, Ashley. Thank you so much for having me here. I really enjoyed spending this time with you.


[02:52:03] Ashley James: Awesome. Thank you too, Ally. Stay curious.


[02:52:09] Ally Perlina: That’s right.


[02:52:12] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview. Be sure to use coupon code LTH when you visit to get the at home test kits. After you get your results with a test kit, then you can order their custom made supplements. I definitely encourage you to just try it for one month and see what changes you notice. I was very surprised at the changes I noticed in such a positive manner. And then all the science behind it and how much information you get about you specifically and how your microbiome and your mitochondria are working and how you can work with them to support your optimal health. It’s just absolutely so fascinating how much unique information you get from this test kit. I highly recommend checking it out.

So use coupon code LTH at and then come to the Facebook group and share your results. We’d love to hear and learn from your experiences and learn from other listeners’ experiences as well. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy the holiday season.


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Nov 2, 2020

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Remote Healing with SCIO Quantum Biofeedback



  • What remote Biofeedback is
  • What therapeutic ultrasound is
  • Self-love and healing
  • Emotion has a huge impact on healing
  • Different modalities for healing
  • How food choices affect our body and mood


Did you know that you can get remote healing? In this episode, Dr. Vienna Lafrenz shares how she helps her clients heal by using different modalities. One amazing tool that she uses is the SCIO machine, which works through remote Biofeedback. She explains what the SCIO does and how it helped her clients. What’s fascinating about Vienna’s healing approach is that she helps her clients heal holistically—emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and energetic. She explains that if we don’t have self-love, it hinders us from healing fully, so having self-love would be the first thing that needs to be worked on to heal.



Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re in for such a ride today with Dr. Vienna. I can’t wait for you to hear today’s episode.

You know, there are 53 days left until Christmas if you’re listening to this the day I publish it. If you’re listening to it later, Christmas is just around the corner. I love giving holistic presents to my friends and family. I’m going to tell you a few that I absolutely love.

The Magnesium Soak, you can listen to my interviews. Just type in Magnesium Soak at and listen to those interviews. Absolutely amazing. Kristen Bowen, I think she said she was 97 pounds, having 30 seizures a day, in a wheelchair, and unable to talk. Now, she’s in perfect health. One of the biggest things that helped her was her magnesium soak that she sells on her website, Be sure to use the coupon code: LTH when you go to her website, Coupon code: LTH.

I love the Magnesium Creme. I love the Magnesium Soak. You put it in a foot bath or put it in your bathtub for you and your kids. I also love the Magnesium Muscle Creme, which is amazing for aches, pains, and tension headaches. That absolutely must be on your Christmas gift list, your holiday gift list.

The other great gift I love giving my holistic friends is ENERGYbits. Go to Grab a few of the bags of ENERGYbits for your sister, your mom, your best friend. They’re fantastic snacks. Kids love them too because they make your tongue turn green or blue, depending on whether you get the chlorella or spirulina. They help to detox the body. They’re filled with readily available protein and tons of vitamins. I think I have seven different interviews about chlorella and spirulina, specifically about the ENERGYbits brand. I’ve interviewed the founder of that company.

There are only two companies I know of that do not contain any lead in their chlorella. If you buy some over the counter, go to some health food store and buy chlorella, there’s going to be that little warning on it that says, in the state of California, this causes cancer. That’s because there’s actually lead in those bags of chlorella. But in ENERGYbits, in their chlorella, there’s zero because of their process of how they grow their crop and how they then turn the crop into little edible tablets.

So listen to my interviews on the Magnesium Soak with Kristen Bowen. Listen to my interviews about algae, the healing benefits of algae, and how it’s such an awesome superfood snack to carry around with you. Listen to my ENERGYbits interviews and use coupon code LTH at and coupon code LTH at Those are two amazing websites to check out for your Christmas gift ideas. I always use coupon code LTH.

I try to get companies who I absolutely love and adore and recommend to always use the same coupon code. Just always try coupon code LTH on all these health websites, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you get a great discount. Awesome. Enjoy today’s interview. Come check us out in our Facebook group if you haven’t already. We have such a supportive and wonderful community. You can ask your health questions there and support the other members as well. Just search Learn True Health on Facebook and come join the excellent community of very supportive holistic community there. Awesome. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.


[00:03:41] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 450. I’m so excited for today’s guest. We have Dr. Vienna Lafrenz on the show, a Ph.D. in Integrative Medicine. Vienna, you and I met through my friend Jennifer Saltzman. You have a beautiful clinic. Oh my gosh, just a gorgeous clinic in one of the most beautiful parts—remote parts—of Washington state. You’re near is it Republic, Washington? Is that where you’re near?


[00:04:21] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes, I’m actually in Republic.


[00:04:25] Ashley James: That was Republic that we drove to, okay. Gosh, it’s so beautiful out there. You’re just in probably the most beautiful part of the world. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s hard to drive the car because you just want to stare at nature, the mountains, and the scenery the whole time. It’s really beautiful. You have this gorgeous clinic and what a gem in the middle of nowhere to stumble upon you and all the work that you do.

You gave a Biofeedback treatment to our son. That was amazing, the results we saw. And then I was quite sick back in February—just fever, gasping for air, burning lungs, sore throat—the works. I was just suffering for days. I did telemedicine with my Naturopath. I was on all kinds of supplements, and then you did a remote session with me. This was days into just high fever, sore throat, really burning lungs, and hard to breathe. At the end of the session, it was like the suffering had ended. My fever broke, and I slowly recovered after that. 

About a week later, I was back to my normal self, but that was the point where the suffering ended. I thought that was really interesting. I’m always kind of skeptical but open-minded about things we can’t see like oh, energy work. Long-distance energy work. We can’t see it. I don’t think I could say it’s placebo because I didn’t believe in it. I’m like, okay, I’m open to it, but I didn’t have a strong belief like yes, no matter what, I think this is going to work. Because I w

as sitting there suffering pretty badly or lying there pretty badly, and it was quite amazing that for a few hours of the session, I felt my body shift into super healing mode.

That was my experience with it, but I’ve actually talked to others who have experienced the type of remote feedback that you do, including Eric Thornton, who I’ve had on the show several times. Everyone I talked to that has experienced the SCIO, which is one of the machines that you use, have all told me that they’ve had incredible results. 

I’m really excited to learn more from you today about what remote Biofeedback is because I’ve had a personal experience. I’ve seen my son, I’ve talked to others. What a great tool to have in our tool belts especially when we’ve exhausted all the other resources. We’re eating healthy, we’re taking our supplements, we’re getting plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and walking. But if there’s still something not getting better in our health, we should absolutely look to energetic medicine. I’m really excited to dive into this. 

Before we dive into what remote Biofeedback is, specifically the SCIO and the work that you do, I want to learn a bit more about what happened in your life that made you want to become a Ph.D. in Integrative Medicine and work with people using these types of therapies?


[00:07:52] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, I’m glad you asked. Prior to that, I was an occupational therapist for 30 years. I was working in nursing homes. I was traveling all over the United States. I was a consultant where I worked for the largest rehab provider in the whole United States. I would go to all these different nursing homes, hospitals, acute care hospitals, long-term care hospitals, all these outpatients, and things like that. I would go to where they needed me, and basically it was where either clients weren’t making progress and they were plateauing, or where business was really short, the therapists were having a hard time identifying clients, or just knowing what to do with them.

They would call me in and I would spend the week there. During that time, I would consult on the clients, I would teach the therapist. They’d be sitting right there with me while I’m working with the patient, and then have them do it so there’d be a return demonstration so that the client would get better and they’d be able to go home. I would also spend that time doing some continuing education where I would provide courses that I would teach and things like that, and I loved it.

About 10 years into my OT practice was when I first got involved with reiki. I learned reiki from a reiki master. That just opened up the whole new perspective of what energy is and how it works. How you can do distance healing, and how you can change somebody’s energy just either hands-on or remote. That opened up my eyes. Then I went into aromatherapy, then acupressure. So it just started developing, I started going to all these courses, getting certifications, and things like that.

I started implementing that into what I was teaching through OT, through all the places that I’ve been going. I really specialized in pain management, so I would bring different modalities from the eastern world of medicine into the western side and started to integrate those two. When I started doing that, I started seeing a huge improvement in the clients’ outcomes and how they were responding in the healing process overall.


[00:10:13] Ashley James: You were using reiki, which is energy work, and you’re using essential oils and acupressure. Acupressure is a form of energy work in a sense that you are stimulating the nervous system, but also, you’re stimulating the meridians, which is more of an energy work. You could even consider aromatherapy, although aromatherapy is herbal medicine. There is an energetic frequency component to it. Along with your many years of experience and rehabilitation as an occupational therapist, you’re bringing in this energy work and herbal medicine to your—is it the senior patients that you were working with already?


[00:11:05] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes. At the same time, I was teaching the therapists how to use this information. See, when it came to the acupressure, I also used ultrasound, electrical stimulation, infrared, and all different types of modalities that we’ve always used in therapy in OTPT. We’ve used those types of types of modalities in our practices. Bringing those into the eastern world as well was really nice because a lot of people have a fear of acupuncture because of the needle. Whereas with ultrasound, you get the same result as if you’re using a needle.


[00:11:48] Ashley James: Now, when you say ultrasound, just to clarify—I apologize for interrupting you. The listener might not know this but because you’re on satellite internet, there’s a delay. When we talk there’s a delay, and sometimes we sound like we’re interrupting each other. We don’t mean to be. When you say ultrasound, could you clarify because a lot of people think ultrasound is imaging and not. That it’s actually using deep heat or a wave of energy that creates heat in deeper tissue.


[00:12:19] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: This is considered therapeutic ultrasound. It does not diagnose like when people go in for an ultrasound to find out if they have a baby or not. This is actually called therapeutic ultrasound, and there are two settings. There’s a heating setting, and there’s a non-thermal setting. The one that I use with the acupuncture points is a non-thermal. Basically what it is is there’s a little sound. There’s like a little crystal within the sound head that vibrates and so it creates a frequency. That frequency then interacts within the person’s energy and it gets the energy to flow through blood, through lymphatics, through the nerve system, through the musculoskeletal system, and through all of those different systems, and it gets it to move.

How it works with the acupuncture point is that when you use acupuncture as in a needle, you have to be very precise where the acupuncture point is. With the ultrasound, because there’s this sound wave that is vibrating within the sound head, when you get it over the acupuncture point, it will either flow into the body or release the energy from the point. It’s similar to when you’re using a needle. You either tap it or twist it to get the result you’re looking for. Whether you’re trying to push energy into that point or whether you’re trying to release it.

I use the non-thermal, which doesn’t go deep into it because the acupuncture point is so superficial to the skin that you don’t have to go deep.


[00:13:58] Ashley James: Fascinating. Tell us about these results that you started seeing. You’ve got these clients. Have you been working with them for a while? You were traveling, were you always working with new people, or did you come back to the same patients? And then what kind of results did you see when you went from just regular occupational therapy rehab to occupational therapy rehab plus energy work, acupressure with therapeutic ultrasound, non-thermal with essential oils? When you added those three modalities in, what kind of results did you start seeing?


[00:14:39] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, first of all we started seeing results right away, I mean during that session. What I mean by that is and actually, because I was an educator for the company, I was able to go to so many different types of continuing education so I could actually open up my toolbox and have as many tools available to work with clients as I needed. It was wonderful. I got my myofascial release training. I got some craniosacral lymphatic. You name it, I was able to get all these different types of tools in my toolbox. I just started implementing them every time I would learn something and master it.

When I would work with a chronic pain patient, for example, I’d be just into the facility for the first time, meeting this person for the first time. The therapist is giving me as much information, I read the medical record, and then I start to work with them with the therapist. Literally, I would say 98% of the clients that I got to see while I was traveling would show an immediate, if not significant improvement, within that first session. Which is why it started becoming so popular for me to come to different locations and help some of the most sick or chronically disabled people.

What evolved from that was just an excitement within all the therapists that we have other tools that we can use. We have other theories, we have other philosophies that we can implement. It also stayed within their scope of practice. They were able to expand their scope of practice within their scope and get the best results that they could from their clients.


[00:16:19] Ashley James: Can you remember early on a specific client that had this incredible before and after that you can share with us?


[00:16:31] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes, it actually happens to be one that I reiterated in my book. This was a gentleman, I want to say he was in Indiana. He was there because he’d had a really bad stroke, and he was combative as well. When the caregivers would try to help him, he would just either strike out or just get really angry. Part of it was because his body wasn’t working the way he wanted it to, and he would get really, really frustrated with it.


[00:17:11] Ashley James: It also depends on where the brain damage is because brain damage can cause that kind of erratic behavior, anger, and outburst just depending on where the inflammation or damage is in the brain, right?


[00:17:24] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Absolutely. Within this particular situation though, he was becoming more frustrated with the fact that his body wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do to the point where he didn’t like his body anymore. He wasn’t finding that he could even rely on it to do what he wanted to. As a general, he’s used to commanding things and wanting things to work like they’re supposed to. When his body was giving up on him, he was extremely depressed, frustrated, and took it out on everybody. It was preventing the healing process of where he needed to go, and he wanted to go home. So they called me in.

I had the therapist show me exactly what they’ve been working with him. I actually have a certification in what’s called NDT, which is neurodevelopmental treatment. It’s a specialized process for people who’ve had strokes or any kind of neurological deficit. I went to go work with him. While we’re getting him to do certain things and perform certain tasks, he starts getting frustrated and he starts yelling. He starts yelling at his leg and he says, “See, it’s worthless. It doesn’t work. It’s broken. I just don’t need it anymore. Just cut it off.” I’m like, “Wait a minute, wait a minute.” Basically we just stopped right there and I just said, “I need you to repeat this phrase for me.” I said, “I want you to repeat, I love my body and my body loves me back.”

Well, okay, so imagine this general. He’s looking at me like are you crazy? Seriously? He does this very sarcastic I love my body and my body loves me back. I’m like, “Not good enough. Say it like you mean it. And he goes, “Okay, well I love my body and my body loves me back.” And I went, “Okay, really mean it.” And I leaned into him and I looked him straight in the eye and I said, “Say it like you really mean it.” He literally started to cry and he goes, “I love my body and my body loves me back.” And I said, “Now let’s do it.”

We started doing the same exact task we’ve been trying to do over and over and over again and failed and he succeeded. I mean to perfection. He was like, “Oh my gosh, this is crazy. Can we keep going?” I said, “Absolutely.” So we perform that task over and over and over again, which is of course creating muscle memory and also decreasing the neurological exchange that’s going on, that is a deficit. He sits down on the mat completely exhausted, and he’s like, “You’re a miracle worker.” And I said, “No, you are. Once you started to believe in your body and to love your body back it rewarded you back by saying it loves you too.”

Why I bring that up is because that’s one of the things I’ve learned throughout the time that I’ve been an integrative medicine doctor as well as a therapist. It’s the mind, it’s the emotions, it’s the psychological, it’s the mental that gets in the way many times, and if we don’t look at that whole person and address all of that, then we’re not going to get complete healing. You wouldn’t learn that until you go through energy work, until you start to learn some of these different modalities and different methods to help people heal. We can’t just heal the physical, we got to address the whole person.


[00:21:19] Ashley James: That is so true. We cannot just address the physical. We can’t just take our bag of symptoms to a doctor and get given drugs. That’s not health care. That’s disease management, that’s sick care. Health care is really holistic care, looking at emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and energetic. Getting that they’re all connected, and there’s not one that’s more important than the other. They all need to be addressed and they all affect each other. Sometimes, when we’ve tried doing physical and we’re not getting results, then we need to look at energetic, spiritual, or mental, and emotional, and come in from that angle as well.


[00:22:08] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yeah, his mind was getting in the way. That’s one of the things that I would say that 85% of the clients that I see currently, truly there’s an emotional and a mental deficit that is preventing them from healing. Part of that is the knowledge and the belief system that they can heal themselves, that they have that potential.


[00:22:36] Ashley James: Especially if they’ve been told by an MD, this is the way it is. This is as good as it’s going to get. You can’t heal. I was told by an endocrinologist when I was 19 that I’d never have kids, never. I was told by MDs that I would have diabetes the rest of my life. I can’t even tell you how many countless times I was told by medical doctors that I would always be sick. This is as good as it’s going to get. We’re going to manage your disease with drugs, and there’s no hope of a cure, no hope of getting healthy. And if you believe that, then all your behavior is going to reinforce that. Luckily, I go against the stream. I’m one of those stubborn people, and I’m going to completely do the opposite. I was like I’m not going to believe you and I’m not going to let my unconscious mind believe you either. But we have to catch ourselves.


[00:23:33] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: I’m going to prove you wrong.


[00:23:34] Ashley James: Right, but we have to catch our belief system and go what is in my belief system that has me sick, that has me staying sick, or has me not looking for answers?


[00:23:47] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Like I was saying, about 85% of the people who come to me, they come to me after they’ve been to every single specialist there is and every single one of them say there’s nothing wrong with you. Here’s a psych eval. Go get a psychological evaluation because there’s nothing wrong with you. We can’t find anything wrong with you. Yet this is a person who is showing up with so many chronic diseases of autoimmune, of thyroid, of lack of appetite, depression, anxiety. I mean you name it, and then of course, hearing that they don’t know what’s wrong with you only adds to the anxiety, only adds to the hopeless despair that is being created. I get a lot of that.


[00:24:33] Ashley James: So people come to you after, it’s kind of like you’re their last hope. Luckily you have a bag of tools to address everything—all the different angles. And you have a lot of experience with working with—I don’t want to say hopeless cases but people who feel like hopeless cases, or people who the medical system has given up on them, or they’ve fallen through the cracks, or they’re sick of being sick and they’re sick of just being drugged and just having their symptoms managed instead of actually getting better, actually getting healthier.

There you were working with all these tools, realizing that there was a psychological, spiritual, and energetic component to rehab, to healing, in addition to all the physical manipulations that you can do to support people in their healing. What next? I love that reiki was your gateway into all this because reiki’s awesome. I’ve been doing it since I was like 16 years old, I think. What happened next that had you go fully into becoming a Ph.D. in Integrative Medicine?


[00:25:44] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, the difficult thing for me was as an occupational therapist, you had to always have an order from an MD to do what it was that you wanted to with a patient. When they don’t believe in what you’re doing, then oftentimes, those orders wouldn’t be approved. Therefore, you couldn’t deliver it to that client or to that patient. If you say you want to do essential oils for pain management, they’re like well there’s no science in that so no, we’re not going to do it. Or there’s no science in the acupuncture, acupressure, or anything like that. We’d get turned down a lot of the services that we wanted to provide, and so that was very discouraging because I knew that these modalities would actually help these clients.

When I would see that happen a lot, especially with particular physicians or something like that, I would always invite them to come and observe a session or let me teach you. Let me show you exactly what this is about. Or I’d say give me your worst client that you have. The one that you’ve either been struggling with for pain management or something like that and just let me do what I do and then you can tell me whether you find that this is valid or not.

In fact, I’d have some of the physicians come and attend some of my classes, and they would stay afterwards and I would show them because they’d say there’s no evidence that these acupuncture points exist. I said, “Yes, there is and let me show you.”


[00:27:19] Ashley James: It’s only a 5000-year-old system of medicine. No evidence—5000-year-old system of medicine.


[00:27:28] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Exactly. I would hook them up with an electrical stim unit and allow them to feel the acupuncture points. When they would be over an actual point, they would feel the intensity move up their finger as they’re tracing the meridian. When they would go over a master point, which is an extremely powerful acupuncture point, the intensity would go up even higher. Then they’d be like, “Oh my gosh.” And I said, “Follow that meridian all the way and they would feel every single point.” And then they’re like, “Okay, okay, okay. I get it, I get it. Who did you want to see?” So they would start giving me the list.

That got me to start thinking about what I want to do? It all started with my niece who she was diagnosed with a very bad cancer, a tumor in her brain. It had been misdiagnosed for almost a couple of years. All they kept looking at were the symptoms. She was having pain in her head, she’d have weakness, she’d have some issues with cognition to where she would forget where her classes were, which when you’ve been going to school for a couple of years at the same school you don’t forget where your classes are. She’d have a hard time concentrating. She’d have some visual deficits and things like that that would just show up.

They kept treating her as if she had allergies, if she had sinus infections, or things like that, and they would just give her medications. Until the day that one whole side of her body went paralyzed and then of course parents took her in the emergency room, instantly got a CAT scan and they found a tumor about the size of a grapefruit in the back of her brain. She instantly went in for surgery and I loved her surgeon. This neurosurgeon was amazing. He had the best bedside manner. He was really, really good.

She went through the surgery, they got about 98% of it out, and then she was a candidate then for chemo and radiation. They got enough of it out but it grew so fast that she never got to have that. I mean, she did take some radiation and stuff like that but the side effects were so horrific.


[00:29:52] Ashley James: Of the chemo and radiation?


[00:29:55] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: The chemo and the radiation. She was basically on every kind of trial there was to try to overcome it. Every single one of them just failed and made her feel worse. She gained over 150 pounds because they put her onto a steroid, that steroid just packed the pounds on her, and she basically became immobile. She basically was stuck in her bed for the last, I’d say, six months of her life. This was a very active, vibrant, vivacious young girl and to see this happen.

I would go down to her house every weekend for the whole two years that she was sick, give her mom some relief, and just have fun with her. I would use some of my modalities. I would use some of the reiki. I would use some of the acupressure. I would use some of the aromatherapy with her and found that she was getting some really good relief. She wasn’t having the nightmare. She wasn’t having the painful episodes, the difficulty with cognition, things like that, and it gave her some quality of life. So that in itself told me that this was working.

After she had passed, she did pass away when she was 18. She actually passed on her mother’s and my birthday. We consider that her new birth, but that actually got me motivated to want to do more and to use more of the holistic way of healing. I started looking for universities. That’s when I decided to go back to school. I want to say I was 54 or 52 when I went back to school. I thought you’re never too old to go back and get your Ph.D., just do it. So I did, and I’m so glad I did.


[00:31:52] Ashley James: That is so cool. Her death and her suffering, at the hand of the medical system, showed you that you really wanted to explore tools that could have helped her.


[00:32:15] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes, and as a Ph.D., I don’t diagnose and I don’t treat. I know that sounds strange, then how do you work with clients? Well, I don’t treat because when you talk about diagnosing and treating, that’s more of the MD side of things—the medical doctor side of things. When it comes to a Ph.D., I’m allowed to be able to identify energetic imbalances in the body that cause disease, and then train the body, train the person on how to overcome those imbalances or those that lead to the disease state.

I always make that really clear with my clients is that they get a little confused with the treatment part, but what I’m doing is training the body to return back to homeostasis. Training sticks, treating doesn’t. Treating is really just treating the side effects and it’s really just, like you said, a maintenance type of program. Whereas I truly feel that the training piece, which includes education of that client; which includes resources; which includes training the brain, training the muscles, and training the neurological system to do what it’s supposed to.

As a Ph.D., I’m allowed to do what I want to with my clients. I don’t have to have a physician’s order to do what I want to, and that’s what really drove me into the Ph.D. program was to be able to say what it is that I want to do with this client and not have someone telling me I can’t do this and manage it. That’s where the true empowerment came from.


[00:33:59] Ashley James: In studying integrative medicine, you have many tools now. You gave me the tour of your clinic—and in this room, and in this room, and in this room—you have a lot of tools, and it’s really cool. You can work long distances with people. You can also do work in person, if someone wants to come to Republic, Washington, which is a beautiful place. Do you feel now that you have tools that could have helped your friend? I mean, this is all hypothetical. But had she not chosen chemo and radiation, do you think you have tools that could have helped her?


[00:34:44] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: That’s hard to say because originally, I didn’t even know she was having any symptoms or anything going on with her until the diagnosis came. And at that point, it was so huge and so big at the time that it’s hard to say whether I could have. Now, with the remote Biofeedback, yes, I can work with degeneration, which is a form of the cancer and the use of the modality, but I’m not sure if I can actually say that I would have been able to cure her. I feel sometimes we have to go through a process. I know this is going to sound terrible, but I think we had to go through this process with her so we could learn how to live because that’s the one thing that she taught us was how to live. How to live while you’re dying.

She had this wonderful phrase where she said, she would always say that she had a really great sense of tumor versus sense of humor.


[00:35:55] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. That’s really beautiful. My mom passed away of cancer, and she did not do chemo radiation She chose not to. By the time they found it, it was end-stage. I guess she was just so healthy. When you look in Naturopathic medicine there’s an idea that we have a strong vis or the body has a strong will to be healthy. Some people have a weak vis or their constitution is weaker. Those who have a strong constitution, which my mom did, unfortunately, those kind of people will push their body to the point of breaking before they know something’s wrong, and that was my mom. She was healthy, healthy, healthy, dying of cancer. It was just like that—one or the other.

It was Easter of 2002, Easter came late that year, it was like late March. Easter 2002, she was having pain in her side, went to her chiropractor because she thought she threw her rib out during yoga. She called me and I was having the same pain. I’ve got that intuition thing where if someone’s injured I feel the pain in the same area. I called my mom and I was telling her about my pain. She’s like, I have the pain in the same area too, which is like the liver radiating and she thought it was a rib.

She goes to the chiropractor, the chiropractor immediately sends her—he’s such a good chiropractor—says, “You are going in today for an ultrasound of your liver. Something’s wrong.” She was in Florida. She got an ultrasound. That day flew to Ottawa, Canada, got into an MRI that night, and by that night was diagnosed with liver cancer. She passed away July 26 of that year. She was just doing some natural medicine, which the doctors actually think extended her life by a few months because of the size of the cancer and how it had metastasized to her lungs, her colon, and all these other areas.

But watching her go through that emotional process of knowing you’re dying, accepting it, and also—living while dying. Yeah, I can understand that. There was a lot of sadness and regret, and also a lot of love and surprise. She couldn’t believe how supportive my dad was during that time because my dad was always one of those people that’s just like, suck it up. You’re not sick. Stop telling your body you’re sick. Suck it up. He was by her bedside 24/7 and there’s so much love pouring out of him. 

My mom never in a million years would have thought that he would be so nurturing, and he’s like of course, this is real. He never wanted to give any mental power to feed into an illness. When you have a fever, just tell your body you’re well. That was his thing, mind over matter. But she thought he would just tell her to suck it up. You have cancer, suck it up. It’s just really funny watching that they actually healed their marriage, and it was really beautiful to watch. There is so much love and healing going on.

Yeah, I can look at aspects of her final weeks and months and see the emotional beauty in it. We’re all going to die, and if we can gain those lessons, those learnings, if we can spread that love then, then that’s beautiful.


[00:39:52] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: She also knew where she was going as well. She had a very strong belief system. She was able to share with me what it was like, where she was going. That also gave her some of that comfort as well and that strength. What was so beautiful was just that she maintained her humor through the whole thing. She would make us laugh even when she was hurting. She also helped me understand how I can help others when they’re going through that process as well. Everybody has a to-do list, something that they’ve wanted to accomplish, something that they wanted to get done. That was my job was to help her with the things that she needed to accomplish before she passed.

One of those was we wrote letters to every single one of her family members that she wanted to leave information to, her friends and so on. When she was having some of those lucid moments where she could keep some make some really good language and express what she wants to, I wrote so quickly what it was she wanted them to hear and say and kind of her last memories of them. So on the day of the service, I was able to give those letters to each of these individuals, which was one of the greatest gifts that she’s given to any of them because she lived on. We recorded every session that we had together. We videotaped things, just so that we could share the memories.

She has two younger sisters that are twins. I interviewed her for all the moments that she was going to be missing like prom, graduation, and things like that that the kids would be involved in. I said, “Okay, so the twins are getting ready for their prom. What’s the day like and what are you guys doing?” I recorded that so that they could have that memory too because I know. It’s not just us that’s losing this wonderful person, it’s the family too. She got to live on, and she still does.


[00:42:06] Ashley James: And really, healing is about not just our body. We’re not just a meat sack. We have to look at the impact we have on others and our family and go beyond that. That’s really beautiful to take into account as part of healing. To take into account those around us that both impact our life and that we impact their lives. I love that idea of recording for future events. That’s really beautiful.

What comes to mind is Dr. Hamer’s work with Meta-medicine. Where do you stand on that? I’m sure you’ve studied that as one possible way of understanding cancer. Where do you stand on that now as a perspective with your experience with your friend who passed away of brain cancer?


[00:43:06] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, I truly feel like whatever the body creates the body can heal. When we have a virus such as cancer that invades our body, I truly feel we can heal it, and it’s on the way in which we approach it. With my niece, the way we approached it was the way that she was able to manage some of her pain and also to try to decrease that tumor as it was starting to grow is we started using visualization techniques where I said, “Okay, act like it’s a Pac-man and that Pac-man is eating that tumor.” She’d try it and then she would go, “Yeah, it doesn’t work.” I said, “What would work?” And she goes, “How about Alka-Seltzer? I’m putting this little Alka-Seltzer tablet in a glass of water and it’s just sizzling, and as it’s bubbling away it’s destroying the tumor.” I said, “Go for it.” 

She was even using a form of meditation at that point. I feel like when we can actually identify that there is something foreign in our body, because we all know we have cancer that resides in our body. It’s just not active at this point. When we identify and it’s starting to show some symptoms that we do have it, then let’s destroy it through our body. Let’s identify it and use all the means we can.

I feel that that’s where this integrative medicine comes in is identifying it, using the body’s potential to heal itself, and to get rid of it. Some medications won’t work. I agree that sometimes we do want to use medications, and that would be in the acute episodes of a distressful situation such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, or something like that. Get people to a point where they’re stable, but now we have to take them off the medication. 

I think that’s where we are not really doing what we need to in the medical field right now is getting people off the medications that got them to a point where they’re stable. Get them to a point where they’re able to manage it through their diet and do these drastic changes that need to happen in their lifestyle changes and then let’s get to work. But get them off the medications because we’re not designed to be on them.


[00:45:19] Ashley James: Yeah, no kidding. I know cancer’s a tough one because if we’re looking at everything that led up to it, the terrain of the body and the years it took. There are holistic oncologists and naturopathic oncologists and they say it can take somewhere up to eight years before it actually appears as a tumor right. Some cancers and some forms of cancer take many years to get to the point where the body’s gotten sick enough, worn down enough, or toxic enough to create that cancer. 

There are different schools of thought like with Dr. Hamer’s work, the belief that that it’s an emotional event so jarring that the person could not comprehend or overcome it, and the body’s neurological and hormonal response to a major emotional event, which he did over 30,000 case studies on and was able to actually help some of those people reverse the cancers by working on the emotional component of what triggered it. 

I’m sorry, I’m having a brain fog. I interviewed him, I’m having a brain fog at the moment. His last name is Dr. Simoncini in Italy. He believes all cancer is a form of candida basically. He’s been able to, with over 70% success rate, kill tumors—even brain tumors—by making a—and this is a great interview to listen to by the way for anyone who wants to listen to something just totally freaky. He creates a port, but he’s a surgeon. He creates a port going into the vasculature that feeds the tumor and then makes a solution of sodium bicarbonate, which he says everyone knows. Everyone knows that’s how you kill candida. You kill yeast with sodium bicarbonate solution. 

He would just basically mix these two together in a very specific solution and pour it into the tumor. It’s not going to damage the body. The body just has a buffer system to bring up or down the pH as needed. But he pours this into the tumor and most of the time, that day or within days the tumor is dead—gone. He has over 70% success rate, which means maybe in some cases it’s not candida. But we’re looking at this, for these holistic doctors who have exceptional results with cancer, that on some levels, there’s an emotional component and people’s cancer goes away after that. On some level, we’ve heard of some people who had like skin cancer just completely fall off and go away when they used a concentrated form of cannabis topically. We hear these things.


[00:48:38] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yeah, Rick Simpson.


[00:48:39] Ashley James: Right, Rick Simpson oil. There are some great videos that are like 15 years old on YouTube of Rick Simpson talking about these or about 12 years ago. It’s all fringe because of course with the way our medical system is now, the only acceptable form of medicine in the United States and in many other countries that follow suit is surgery, chemo, radiation. But if we go to Europe, a standard form is also used, in addition to those. They also use hyperbaric chambers, ozone therapy, and hyperthermia. Those treatments are not allowed to be used by oncologists here, but are regularly used by oncologists in Europe with success. 

And then we have the more fringe stuff like Dr. Simoncini putting sodium bicarbonate. Can you imagine if all the oncologists in the United States just started off by using sodium bicarbonate solution directly poured into the vasculature of the tumor through a port, just to see if that could kill it first. First of all, how many lives we could save, how much money the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t make right. Unfortunately, there’s that money component.

But looking at this, there’s also a belief that tumors are related to parasites. Just this summer there was some great research that came out where they were able to isolate the microbiome of tumors. They discovered that specific tumors have a different microbiome than the rest of the body, and now they’ve started creating diagnostic tools that they can actually detect—either in blood or saliva—the microbiome of tumors. Specifically identify before the tumor ever gets big enough to show on a scan. 

They’ll be able to detect the tumor because the microbiome, which then leads us to think if the body is so out of balance that it has these kinds of bacteria in it. The body’s like a petri dish. It’s going to give this bad bacteria a home. Is that the cause of the cancer, or does the cancer itself then create? What happens? Does the cancer create the microbiome? Does the microbiome create cancer? There’s so much to explore here, and we’re really limited in the holistic space because we’re up against the pharmaceutical industry that really wants to protect its dollars. But we have to be open-minded.

You have, at your fingertips, the tools that support the body’s ability to come into balance. You can work with nutrition, you can work with energy, lifestyle changes, detoxification methods. Your whole thing is not treating the disease but actually just supporting the body’s ability to come back into balance. Because if the petri dish of the body is so healthy, it cannot support the candida. It cannot support the parasites. It cannot support that disease from living in it. This is where we are. We have to rise above the pharmaceutical philosophy where they’re just treating symptoms, and come at it from your perspective.

Since you graduated and you became a Ph.D. in Integrative Medicine, you’ve been working with all kinds of amazing clients doing this kind of therapy. What have you been really happy to achieve? I know you don’t do the work, the person does the work. I get you’re not treating them, but what are you really happy about? With the results that your clients have received, what are you really, really excited about?


[00:52:34] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, first of all, to go back to what you were talking about, I agree with everything you said about the emotions, about the bioterrain, about parasites, and candida. I have found that candida has been a leading cause of many of the people that I see related to cancer. We started working on getting rid of the candida through diet and through different supplements and stuff like that, as well as through detoxing. Found that they started to show a decrease in those symptoms as well. I agree with everything you said.

Louise Hay actually talks about how emotions have a huge impact on our disease process and looking at some of the unresolved emotions that may be leading to those diseases and causing them. That’s one of the things that I always recommend to my clients is that they read that book, for example, because oftentimes, there is an unmet emotion or unresolved emotion that is causing some of this disease in their body.

But to get back to your question, yes, I have these resources that are available, and I love it. What I love the most about what I’m able to provide to my clients is giving them their power back. What I mean by that is giving them their power to heal themselves, to know that they can, to love themselves again—that’s a big one, to resolve some of those hurts, and to realize that we don’t have to always look for other people’s approval of who we are, what we’ve become. It’s really only our own approval of what we are doing, who we are, what we want to become.

I think because of the advent of social media and how much social media people are involved in and just media in general, we’ve given our power to so many other people that now they own our power. The medical industry, the pharmaceutical industry, they own our power because they basically say, I can’t heal you unless you take this, or I don’t know what’s wrong with you therefore you need to have a psych eval, or all of this. Yet the power is within. We just have to help them find it.

That’s what I love when I see my client say, oh, aha. They have an aha moment or they go, so this is why, and then they resolve it and they’re feeling so amazing. All the symptoms that they were having are gone and they’re actually having a joyous life. Then they’re like is this supposed to be what it’s like? Because they’ve been living in this world for so long of lack, of feeling that they’re not worth it. One of the questions I always ask is what do you love about yourself? If it takes 10 minutes to come up with one thing that they love about themselves, we need to work on that self-love first because healing will have a hard time happening if you don’t love yourself.

That’s what I like the most is what I’m passing on to most of my clients is that ability to love themselves and knowing that it’s okay to do it. That you don’t have to do this brainwashing, and really work with the children now too. I am working with younger children and helping them realize to love your body, to love your mind, love who you are. Don’t let others turn you into somebody that you aren’t because of getting their approval, wanting them to be liked, or something like that. Just shine bright and live very comfortably in that light.


[00:56:28] Ashley James: Can you share with us some specific results that clients have achieved through working with you?


[00:56:38] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: How long is your show?


[00:56:44] Ashley James: Stories of success. Any that come to mind that you want to share.


[00:56:48] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, I actually have several. One of the first ones is a lady who had come in to see me mainly just because she just wanted to feel better. Really had no real specific illness or anything like that. Just didn’t feel quite herself and just wanted to feel better. As I’m doing my assessment on her and I’m reviewing her symptomology and the things that she wants, one of the first things I always ask is can I look at your tongue? As she’s sticking her tongue out I notice that half of her tongue is paralyzed. I’m like, “Interesting, what happened here?” She goes, “Oh, I had a surgical procedure. It was an endarterectomy and they nicked a nerve. Basically, this half of my tongue has been paralyzed ever since.” I said, “Well, how long was that?” She goes, “About three years ago.”

I went, “Really? And it hasn’t regenerated?” She goes, “No, they said basically, there’s nothing they can do.” She’d gone to speech therapy, she went to different things and nothing changed. I went, huh, okay. I’m thinking to myself, I’m going to look at that and see if I can address that with my Biofeedback. So I did, and I worked on her for a total of three sessions. After the first session she came back the next week and she said, “Is it my imagination or is my tongue getting better?” I said, “Well, let me look at it.” So she sticks it out and there is some movement. I’m like, it does look like it’s getting better, but I didn’t want to give her false hope so I said, “Well, I think there is some improvement.”

So I worked on her again, and the next time she comes back and she goes, “Oh there’s definitely some improvement.” I said, “Show me,” so she showed me again. The last time I saw her she had full function of her tongue. The one thing that we were working on was the slurring of the speech because as a result of the tongue being paralyzed for so long, she had developed these behaviors or these patterns within her speech where it would come off as slurred speech, so she sounded like she was always drunk.

She had called me one day and left me a message and said, “You’re not going to believe it but now I have full function on my tongue. I actually got to eat a hamburger for the first time without having to chop it up into little bites. And I didn’t have to take my finger and sweep the inside of my cheek to get the pocketing of the food out. I was actually able to use my tongue. Now, when I speak, people don’t think I’m drunk all the time because I’m not slurring my words.” When I see her in town I’ll ask her, “Stick out your tongue,” and she’ll stick it out very sassily with a lot of flair because she can because it’s working. 

Did I anticipate that that would work, or that I would see an improvement in that? I didn’t, but the belief system you know is a strong thing. Sometimes we’re giving miracles like that, and she was one of those miracles where I really didn’t think—I mean, not that I didn’t think it would work. I was just keeping it open. Letting the universe do the work that it needed to.


[01:00:13] Ashley James: You didn’t have expectations. The way you do the Biofeedback, which you can do in person or remote, which is my experience. The remote worked. It’s helping whatever the body needs to correct. It goes through every system of the body and whatever the body needs to correct it does. It’s so interesting. I’m a master practitioner and trainer of neuro-linguistic programming. My teacher worked with a client who was in a fire and had half of his face scarred. He did emotional work called timeline therapy where he healed from the emotional scarring of those events, and the man’s skin—this is years before. The doctors are like you will always have a disfigured face, you always have these scar burns.

What I think is really interesting is how the skin remembers to keep creating scar tissue. I’ve taken anatomy in college. I understand. There are layers of the skin. You damage the layer deep enough, you damage that third layer, and you’re done, you’ve always got a scar. This is what the medical system says. But the body has to keep creating scar tissue because we constantly are shedding skin. The body has to remember to not produce healthy normal skin and instead produce a scar over and over and over and over and over again long after the scar isn’t needed anymore. The scar isn’t needed, but the memory, the body keeps doing it.

This is what I think is funny because we’ve learned now in more recent years that even adults have stem cells. If our body has the ability to produce stem cells, we can recreate healthy skin. What’s going on? But there’s a belief to hold on to scars. After he did this emotional work called timeline therapy, which I’m a huge fan of and also a master practitioner and trainer of, his face started having the scar dissipate over time because it takes a few weeks or whatever for new skin to rise to the surface and he no longer had the scars on his face of the fire. That’s just one example. There are so many other examples or stories where the body, whence the emotions are healed, the belief system changed, the body follows suit.

For your client, was the nerve actually damaged three years later, or was she holding on to them—the body on an energetic level is holding on to the memory of the injury and continuing to perpetuate the injury into the future? You’ve seen this in occupational therapy because people will hold on to a holding pattern in their gait. You watch them walk in their gait as they walk away towards you, and you’ll see where the body is holding on to an old injury or compensating for an injury that’s no longer there.

Z-Health is a great form of medicine designed by a chiropractor where you wipe away mentally by working on the nerves in all the joints. You wipe the slate clean so your brain resets back to normal. I’ve seen people who have been holding on to old injuries after doing even one session of Z-Health walk differently, move their bodies differently like more freely. Again, you cannot separate the unconscious, the mind, or energy or energetic body, from the physical. It’s all connected. But how much of our illness is being perpetuated by our belief system? How much of our illness is being perpetuated by a memory that our body has to continue to hold on to it?

I love the work you do because you’re resetting the brain, you’re resetting the belief system, you’re resetting the body back to homeostasis.


[01:04:54] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, it’s also finding out how this disease serves this person. That’s one thing that is a hard question to ask because most people will say what are you trying to say? That I’m coming up with this on my own and that I’m manifesting this? I said, “Well let’s talk about that.” Because some of the really big breakthroughs that I’ve seen as well with clients is when you realize that they have become their diagnosis. Now they associate themselves with it.

For example, I learned this in some of the work with Dr. Joe Dispenza. When we keep referring to our diagnosis of let’s say fibromyalgia. He calls this the water cooler conversation when all the people at work get together, they start talking about their weekend, and they’re standing at the water cooler. Everybody will be talking about the fun that they had, and then you have that one person that says, well because of my fibromyalgia I wasn’t able to do this, because of my fibromyalgia I wasn’t able to do this, and because of that, I wasn’t able to do this.

So basically, they’re making their fibromyalgia much stronger in their body. It’s wherever you place your focus you place your energy. The more energy they put towards that fibromyalgia, the more symptoms that they would have. So then, you have to ask what do you gain from telling people you have fibromyalgia or even acknowledging that you have it? What’s the gain that you get? Oftentimes, this is where I’ve seen some huge breakthroughs with my clients because that’s a question that’s really hard to ask because then they have to ask themselves that same question about what am I gaining from it?

In many cases, what they’re getting is the attention of people. They’re getting the love from, let’s say, a spouse that because you have this pain I’m going to take care of this for you, or not having to do the housework, or not having to do this or what. So internally, there is a return on that investment of fibromyalgia.

Once you can actually identify, and I’m not saying this happens with everybody, but in some of the most chronic conditions that I’ve seen where it’s really been debilitating when we can do that level of work and get that acknowledgment or even who hurt you when you’re a child? Or going to the ancestral piece of healing and going back to that child and healing the child from all these traumas that they may have experienced that now is starting to manifest as an adult. 

When we can go back and do that, that’s when you get that aha, you see it, and it’s like wow. And then they come back and they say, ”You’re not going to believe what happened. I went a whole week without any pain because I didn’t need it anymore. It wasn’t serving me anymore. I didn’t need it anymore.” And that’s a beautiful thing.


[01:08:03] Ashley James: Fascinating. You’ve worked with people who have the symptoms of fibromyalgia?


[01:08:12] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes. I work with all different types of pain.


[01:08:16] Ashley James: Oh, yeah. Absolutely, I bet. But specifically, fibromyalgia is very invasive. I have a friend—this was 10 years ago, 12 years ago. She showed me two drawers in her nightstand, two nightstand drawers full of meds to manage her fibromyalgia. She also had a morphine pump. She had some kind of pump attached to her body that would constantly drip a pain medicine. I think it was morphine. I was talking to her about nutrition and how Dr. Wallach, who’s one of my mentors, says that fibromyalgia is a nutrition deficiency—largely mineral deficiency—and a lot of times, even just incorporating selenium really helps. 

I talked to her about wanting to get her on all 90 essential nutrients—vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids. I think she just went out to any old store and bought selenium. I don’t even know if it was good quality selenium or whatever, but she got on it. I was talking to her like, “Okay, please, take some vitamins, take some minerals.” I was showing her the ones that I’ve been using for the last 10 years, and she reported to me that she cut her pain meds in half. Literally, an entire nightstand drawer of meds is gone. That’s just by incorporating one of the 60 minerals that the body needs. That just goes to show.

Now, of course, you have to look at the mental and emotional component, the spiritual, and the energetic. You have to look at everything, but man, if you can have just that much leeway—cut your meds in half by incorporating one mineral. That would be the gateway. Okay, I’m all in. Let’s do holistic medicine. Let’s see how better I can get. But when we have a secondary gain from a disease—like if it really is on an unconscious level—giving us something that we’re lacking, then then we’re not really motivated to fully heal it. Because maybe it’s part of our identity at that point, or maybe it’s how we compensate for wanting love or attention.


[01:10:34] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: I actually got to see this with my dissertation that I did for my Ph.D. My topic was on chronic pain, and I was using ultrasound over acupuncture points as my intervention. I was using qEEG, which is qualitative EEG, to map the brain prior to the intervention and after the intervention to see how the brain would change as a result of this intervention. I would do the EEG first and see where the pain manifested itself in the brain based on the brain wave activity. And then I would do the intervention. The intervention was based on whatever their pain was and everything else. I used the same five points with each of my clients, and then I used five different points based on their specific level of pain. That way, I could do a really good analysis of how the points work.

Every single person in my study showed a significant reduction in their pain just from one session of the ultrasound over acupuncture points. But what I did find—I was expecting to see this but I wasn’t sure if I would—is that the people who had an emotional attachment to the pain. What I mean by that is whether it was brought on by another person’s accident, an injury, or let’s say a physical abuse of some sort, if there was a huge amount of emotional attachment to it, the pain symptoms went down, but the pain response moved from the sensory-motor cortex of the brain to the emotional part of the brain.

That showed me how strongly the emotions hold pain in the body. That also opened up a whole new avenue for me to address pain and really look at the emotional attachment to it. The ones that had no emotional attachment to the pain, their pain completely went away. That showed me, first and foremost, that this intervention works.

The second thing that was a wonderful experience was to see how emotions have a huge impact. That’s why when we’re giving pharmaceuticals, why the pharmaceuticals don’t work. When someone who is in so much pain wants to get an increase in their pharmaceutical medication or another one, and they’re being considered a drug seeker or something like that from the pharmacy or from the physician or whomever, it’s because we are not actually getting to the root cause of the pain. We’re just covering it. It’s up to the practitioners to identify that, and we haven’t. That’s where we’re failing our clients.

When I saw this study, when I actually saw it with my own eyes, I looked at pain in a whole another way. That in itself has helped so much with my clients getting better. Because one of the things with the Biofeedback—when I am assessing somebody on that—it will always bring emotion to whatever we’re looking at, and it’s a subconscious unconscious emotion. When I see this emotion come up, I’ll ask them, “So this is showing a resistance to change. Let’s talk about that.” They’re like, “Oh, yeah. That’s totally me.” Or there’s some anger, frustration, anxiety, or something associated with it. Let’s talk about that. Let’s resolve that so that this condition has a better potential to heal.


[01:14:27] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. Your Ph.D. dissertation sounds amazing. What an incredible experience to actually see that for those who were holding on an emotional level, the pain was there. Physical pain was there actually because there was emotion around it. That you could actually see it move into the emotional centers of the brain. Were you able to help those people? Did you work on healing emotions? And then did you see in the brain scan that it was gone?


[01:15:07] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, for the time of the study I didn’t get to actually do any additional testing afterward because I was leasing the equipment and it was quite expensive, so I wasn’t able to do that one. But when I was able to share the results with these individuals—as far as the emotional component to it—then that actually started the work of the healing of really identifying that when it came to that. The ones that had the healing from just the points and no emotional component, I just showed them which points to use and how to press on those points and to help relieve their pain if it should ever come back. That gives them their tools as well. That gives them their power back. But yeah, we did address the emotional piece to it.


[01:15:56] Ashley James: Normally I don’t glorify pharmaceuticals, as you can imagine. I did this really interesting interview with a psychologist who works with ketamine for healing emotions. He has a clinic that has an incredible success rate. I think it’s over 70% success rate in helping people with addiction. Whereas I think Betty Ford, for example, is 30% or less than that success rate—in terms of people quitting alcohol or drugs and then never getting back on them. They have an incredibly high success rate, and that’s because of the ketamine—much like LSD but half the half-life in the body. LSD maybe you’re tripping for 12 hours or something, whereas ketamine, they can dose it so you’re only in that state for about four to six hours. And then during that time, they do therapy.

But what it does, and these are people who have huge emotional wounds. People who have come back from war, they have post-traumatic stress, they’ve been in abusive relationships. They’re using substances to just numb and cope with the horrors that their brain keeps reliving. The ketamine, like LSD—and they’ve done studies on this for many years, and also microdosing psilocybin—magic mushrooms. Some psychologists do that as well. They all pretty much do the same thing where it has the critical faculty melt away and allow us to gain positive learnings from those experiences without being triggered and traumatized while working through them. 

What’s very interesting—so this doctor has a clinic and he’s working with the ketamine basically helping people open up so they can do the therapy, and then they really get to the root cause, and they have incredible results. But he himself had chronic, chronic, chronic shoulder pain for years that was debilitating shoulder pain. He didn’t want to get addicted to pain meds, and it was because he tore a bunch of stuff in his shoulder from martial arts years before. He kept re-injuring it. It was just a really messy deal. He did one dose of ketamine without any therapy—just one dose of ketamine—and the pain went away for six months. One tiny dose, and then he says every six months he takes a microdose. He takes a microdose every six months.

It’s interesting because he said some people get emotional healing by themselves. They just do this one dose of ketamine, and of course, this is all in a therapeutic setting. They take away cell phones, they don’t have the TV on, there are no magazines, there are no books because your mind is open now and anything could come in. But some people go through huge healing just by being in that state and working out stuff, working out stuff on their own. That’s what he did.


[01:19:19] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: I love it.


[01:19:20] Ashley James: He has had people who no longer have post-traumatic stress, no longer have major psychological episodes, and no longer have an addiction. The side effect of this treatment is also people who are in chronic pain for years no longer have chronic pain. Again, I don’t love to glorify any kind of medication, but there are tools that we can use when we need it. But looking that it sped up the process so they could actually do the emotional work, and the emotional work was able to then have them no longer have chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, fear running their life, and substance abuse, which is fascinating.

If we can heal and really acknowledge that our pain and disease can be at the root, in the emotional centers of the brain. When we work on that in conjunction with eating a healthy diet and all those other things to just support the body as a whole, but that acknowledge that mental and emotional health is incredibly important and that we can address it with these amazing technologies like remote Biofeedback, which is really cool.


[01:20:40] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, you know what, Ashley, I learned a lot from this one client pertaining to this particular topic. As we were doing the emotional work when it came to her pain level, she was basically saying, “I have all these friends and family that never come to see me, but the pain is something I can rely on every day that will come.”


[01:21:05] Ashley James: Whoa.


[01:21:07] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: I was like, yeah, exactly. I had the same response. I was like, wow, that really showed a lot of work on her part to acknowledge that, to notice it, and then to say this is why I have it. This is why I keep it because it’s the one thing I can rely on every single day that will show up at my door is pain. I never looked at it that way, but that was quite mind-blowing for me. The pain had actually become her friend.

So it made me look at it in a different light, and then we just needed to identify something else. That was really her own sense of self-worth, and that you don’t need outside people to provide you the love and all of that. Let’s work on the love inside and let’s work on that own self-esteem, that self-love to where you don’t care if people call you, want to speak to you, or whatever because you have the joy in your heart. You have that joy.

But that was kind of an aha moment for me as well. I love it when I get to learn from my clients because I feel like every opportunity that we are with clients is a learning opportunity as well. As far as how we can help others, as far as how we can help even ourselves in our own personal life. That was pretty profound for me to hear that.


[01:22:27] Ashley James: That’s amazing. I’m still blown away by your work when you did your Ph.D. dissertation. What an incredible experience and also to then turn around and show the client like see, here’s your brain. Look, the chronic pain moved into these emotional centers. I know several people with chronic pain who there’s no medical reason for it. They do scans, oh there’s nothing. There’s nothing there. There’s no medical reason for it. Go for a psych eval, whatever. They just get on stronger and stronger pain meds, which the body adapts to and can basically override. The medical system doesn’t answer for them because they don’t see anything on a scan.

When you show someone here’s your pain—in your brain here’s the pain—and look it moved now because of the acupressure. Here, the root of it’s actually over here in the emotional center, and you’re showing them. First of all, you believe them. There’s actual evidence. There’s a reason for it. You’re not crazy. It’s not all in your head. It’s in your brain, but it’s not all made up.

It’s very validating. I just remember feeling so sick for so many years and the doctor’s really not having any answers for me until I went to natural medicine. It was very validating 12 years ago when I went to a holistic—she was an MD who actually gave up her MD-ness, gave up her license when she realized she was just a drug dealer. What she really wanted to do was be an integrative functional medicine practitioner and really ahead of her time.

She showed me in labs that no other MD had drawn because they all said, okay, there’s nothing really wrong with you. She showed me in labs why I was so sick and that I needed natural medicine to get better. She showed me that path, and that was so validating. Oh, here’s why you can’t get out of bed. Here’s why you are so tired. Here’s why you are like walking dead every day. She showed me on those labs and she could validate it instead of all the other doctors that basically just wanted to put me on drug after drug and said there’s no evidence for it. And then natural medicine got me well so fast that I dedicated my life to wanting to share this information, you have as well.

So helping someone who has been suffering for years, to show them that their suffering is valid—it’s real—then help them heal from it, and then help them come back into balance. Can you tell us more about the remote Biofeedback, specifically the SCIO—the work that you do? How does it work? Can you just walk us through or paint the picture so we have a deeper understanding of it?


[01:25:45] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Absolutely. Well, first of all, I have the pleasure and the leisure of being able to have as long of a session with the client as I want. My minimum amount of time that I spend with a client is two hours, and that’s almost unheard of these days. But in those two hours, you get a lot accomplished. What I see is that most of the time, within the first 15, 20, 30 minutes, the client is just getting warmed up.

What I mean by that is they’re just getting comfortable with someone actually sitting there actively listening, hearing what they have to say, believing in what they have to say as well, and validating. Like what you just said, that their symptoms are real, that they’re not going crazy, that they know their body better than anybody else, and they know when it’s not right.

Intuitively, they know there’s something wrong with their body. For me to be able to spend the two hours that I want to with a client allows me that opportunity to really get to know them, not only the emotional, but like you, I do the neuro-linguistic programming as well, and I look for that non-verbal language that’s telling me things that they’re not ready to tell me yet but their body’s telling me. That helps me identify areas to look into when I go into the Biofeedback.

The way that the Biofeedback works, especially remotely, is they send me a sample of hair or saliva and a questionnaire that I sent to them to complete that I can actually then enter that data into the computer. Most of the time, I like to have them on the phone with me on Skype or in other means so that they can also see the same screen that I am using with the Biofeedback because I feel education is so important. Especially educating them as to how their body works and how it responds, and looking at it in a different perspective, not as a computer, but that this is a live being that is full of emotions and psychological issues and so on.

The way that the Biofeedback works, with the hair sample, it’s not a cut sample. It is actually hair that is pulled from the scalp that has the root ball. Because anybody who’s ever had a hair analysis, you want to pull the hair and get a root ball because that’s your DNA and so it reads your DNA. Similar to a cell phone, with a cell phone you have a specific phone number. You can be anywhere in the world and you can be located. That’s how this Biofeedback works.

When I put that hair sample or the saliva sample on the SCIO box, it has this metal plate on the top that reads things. If somebody wants their water tested, for example, they just bring in a water sample and I place it on the box and it’ll read their water to tell me if there are any pollutants in there that are not working for them. It’s going against their own constitution and things like that if there are any heavy metals things like that in there.

The same thing with their hair or their saliva, it reads it. It’s being able to then to find them wherever they are in the world. They can either be on the phone or just be completely laying on their couch with no connection with me whatsoever, it’s still working. Like the phone, it picks up their frequency, their vibration, and then it reads it. On my computer then with the SCIO, it’s reading everything energetically from the lymphatic system to the blood, to hormones, to scanning the spine, the nerves, the cranial nerves, teeth. I can actually do a dental assessment to see five different areas of decay and things like that’s going on, which is absolutely amazing. The chakra systems, the auras, I mean everything. Literally, I don’t know if there’s anything that I can’t touch at this point, and it reads it.

As it’s reading it, it does a three-minute assessment, and then it comes up with this record. It’s literally 10,000 options of symptoms as well as training that you can provide to that client. And then it grades it on a scale of the most acute, to the next acute, to the third, and to the fourth, and then what’s considered chronic. Maybe hanging around for a while and undetected. That’s where I find a lot of things that have not been detected by the medical side of things because all the symptomatology is taking all the attention where the root cause is sitting behind the scenes. That’s typically where I’ll find some of the root causes of their disease process, and then we look at it all.

It’ll tell me about allergies and sensitivities. It’ll tell me if they’ve got parasites, if they’ve got worms, if they’ve got pathogens of some sort that is causing this disease. And then we start identifying it as a team. What I mean by that is I say, “What is on this screen that you’d like to look at further?” Then I educate them as far as what it’s doing, how this is working. As we identify, I can actually test each particular area even further to see just how reactive their body is to that particular thing. That’s when it actually will show me what it’s linked to. Is it linked to blood, is it linked to the liver, is it linked to organs? And it’ll also give me an emotion that it’s linked to.

For example, if it’s a parasite, then I’ll say, “There’s this one particular parasite it’s taking a while to rectify, and what I mean by rectifying is that rectification means that you’ve been able to switch the energetics of that particular thing to where it’s no longer reactive in the body. Once I get it to this rectification, then we move on. But prior to that, that’s when I can actually test it individually to say what else is going on? That’s when the emotions will show up, and I’ll say, okay there’s this emotion showing up. What do you think about this?” And they said, “Well, I thought I resolved that a while ago.” “Well, it’s probably still hanging around a little bit.” It’s absolutely fascinating.

Like I said, somebody could have a pain in their body, for example, like sciatic nerve pain. Anybody who’s had it it’s painful. As I’m doing the spinal scan, they could actually see the picture of a spine, and it’ll show a little box where they’re showing the most energetic issues going on within the spine. I’d say a good 95% of the cases that’s exactly where the pain is actually coming from, which part of the spine is it coming from.

What most people don’t realize is that a lot of the pain symptoms we have, most of the time either come from the spine or the nerves that are coming through the spine and through the spinal cord. When we can identify that, we can get to the root cause of what that pain is and then, therefore, resolve it.

That’s where I think a lot of the aha moments go for the client is to be able to see, oh, so it’s not actually the muscle that’s damaged or hurt, it’s the nerve that feeds the muscle. Absolutely. So we’re going to work on this nerve—give it some good energy, give it some good frequencies and some vibrations because we can actually raise the frequency in each of these different modalities within the SCIO to where we’re raising it to where now the body has the potential to heal. That’s a beautiful thing. 

Many people will say, are you working on my eyes right now? I can feel you in my liver, I can feel you in my gallbladder, or I can feel you in the bladder. Wow, I actually feel really good right now. I feel like I’m getting this big jolt of energy. I love it when people can actually feel that energetic exchange that’s going on between the SCIO, myself, and them. That’s how it works.


[01:34:19] Ashley James: Have people had something really overt happen around parasites after working with you doing remote Biofeedback where dead parasites have come out of their stool or something? You’re laughing. Can you share some stories of success with parasites?


[01:34:37] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Oh, yes. I have some pretty horrific stories.


[01:34:42] Ashley James: I can’t wait. Tell me, tell me.


[01:34:45] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Actually, a couple of people, not just one in particular, but this one really stands out. She had come to me because she wanted to lose weight and was very stagnant. Everything was stagnant in her body. Just really didn’t feel like she had any energy and all that. One of the first things I found was parasites and a ton of different types of parasites. It wasn’t just one parasite. It was several that were residing in her body.


[01:35:08] Ashley James: It never is. It’s never just one parasite. It’s so true. All the doctors I talked to that work on parasites, it’s never just one because the body has created this environment where they’re all invited to the party.


[01:35:26] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes, and the more types of food that we feed it that it likes then it’s like yeah, we’re going to stay here because they’re feeding us well. But in this one particular case, I was working on her parasites on the Biofeedback. She’s in the room with me, so she’s got the harness on, she’s got the wristbands on, they’re all connected to the computer, and they’re all reading it. As I’m working on her—okay, this is going to freak you out, but I saw something moving in her eye.


[01:35:59] Ashley James: I knew you were going to say that.


[01:36:03] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: I looked in closely and there’s this parasite coming out of her eye—the eyeball itself, and it was just wiggling around. She could feel it. She’s like, “I feel like I have something in my eye.” That’s what made me look at her eye closer. “Let me see,” because I didn’t see her rub her eye or anything so I didn’t think she could have gotten anything in it. As I get closer, there’s this parasite and it’s wiggling around. I’m like, oh my gosh, that’s so disgusting. What do you say? “You got a parasite hanging out of your eyeball.” That’s pretty much what I told her, and she’s like, “Oh my gosh.” Of course, she wants to look at it, so she’s looking at it through a mirror and she could actually see it. She goes, “That is so gross.” Then the parasite came out and her eye went back to its normal healthy state.

Then later she called me because that pretty much freaked her out, and of course, I came home and was a little freaked out myself. She called me and she said, “That didn’t stop.” I said, “What do you mean?” She goes, “I had more.” And I said, “What do you mean?” She goes, “I had one actually come out of my stomach.”


[01:37:13] Ashley James: What? Like her skin?


[01:37:17] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes.


[01:37:18] Ashley James: Her belly button or her skin?


[01:37:21] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes, out of the skin.


[01:37:21] Ashley James: Oh my God.


[01:37:22] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: It was out at the side of her belly button. And then her first bowel movement, she said she just saw a ton of them just writhing in the bowel, in the excrement. She had been eliminating them for quite a couple of days after that. But the whole idea is that we made the environment inhospitable for the parasites and so they decided they wanted to leave.


[01:37:51] Ashley James: Any means necessary, exiting her body in any way they could.


[01:37:58] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes. Where the parasite had exited from her stomach a blister had started. It did leave a little behind. We monitored that for quite a while, but she continued to get rid of the parasites. She had lost eight pounds in one day.


[01:38:24] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.


[01:38:25] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Is that all parasites? Maybe not. Some of that may have also been that she was constipated and there was Ebola stuck in her intestines for some time, and it needed to go. Then all the other toxins that were residing within the gut. That’s one of the things I like to work on a lot with my clients is gut health because I find that gut health is the key to the majority of the autoimmune issues that we have, as well as a lot of the chronic illnesses that we have, is gut health. What are we feeding it? 

Also, for people who have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any kind of cognitive like brain fog, oftentimes it’s what we are feeding the gut because the gut-brain connection is huge. The gut-heart-brain connection is huge as well, so it’s really addressing the gut. When you can address the gut and what we’re feeding it and also getting it cleaned out, then we’re going to get a much better response and a longer-lasting response.


[01:39:24] Ashley James: How many sessions did you do with her, and did you get to the point where the Biofeedback machine was saying that she was parasite-free?


[01:39:33] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yeah. I still work with her because what happens is once you resolve one thing, then it’s like, oh, can I work on this, can I work on that, and can I work on that.


[01:39:49] Ashley James: Once you have worms crawling out like it’s running for the exit doors in every possible way, I’m coming to you every week for the rest of my life, no kidding.


[01:40:02] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Exactly.


[01:40:03] Ashley James: You still work with her, she no longer has parasites, right? The machine said she doesn’t have parasites. She’s accomplished what she wanted with you? Did she get to the point where she’s got her weight loss, and now she’s just working on maintaining optimal health with you?


[01:40:20] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yeah. Now she just comes once a month just for a little pick-me-up or maintenance, not everybody needs that, but I think she also likes the interactions that we have together. I think it’s more of that emotional-spiritual connection that we have. That entangled hierarchy that happens between the clinician and the client. I think that’s the majority of it. While we’re at it, we’re pretty much doing an overall test to see how she’s doing physically, with inside—everything. Emotionally and energetically too. It’s like you’re taking your car into the shop for a tune-up, and that’s what she comes in for.


[01:41:05] Ashley James: You’ve worked with thousands of people, both remotely and locally. How many clients have you had where the machine said this person has parasites, like on a percentage? Do you think most people have parasites or 70% percent? What percentage?


[01:41:22] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: I would say most.


[01:41:24] Ashley James: Really?


[01:41:24] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: I would say a good 89%. It really depends on what they eat.


[01:41:36] Ashley James: Yeah, it’s so huge. Everyone thinks, oh well, I don’t eat sushi so I probably don’t parasites. But I’m telling you, it’s about the environment of the body. They’re in our environment, they’re in our food. But I’m working with a health coaching client for the last six weeks, and she has gotten such great results. 

She came to me for—same with you, for weight loss. I’m just helping her like health coaching. I got her on some supplements, changed some things in her diet. She had heartburn so bad that it was constant. Constant heartburn, wake her up in the middle of my heartburn really, really, really bad. I think she said on the sixth day of being on my protocol, her heartburn was gone, and she couldn’t believe it. Then it came back a few times when she went off course, so it’s like the body’s talking to her. She’s like, oh, okay. Feedback. Not going to do that again.

She’s changed her diet completely, changed her routine completely. Going to bed earlier, wearing blue-blocking glasses. We went down the whole list, and I’m not really addressing anything specifically with the gut, although she’s eating very healthy, lots of fiber, getting lots of nutrition into her, doing lots of fun little detox things, going for walks, jumping on rebounding for lymphatic—that kind of stuff. Haven’t really gotten into any herbs or anything. Just generally getting the body cleaned up, and now she just started passing dead eight-inch long parasites. I’m not even doing the work like you do the work. Within an hour of the work that you do you’re getting parasites coming out of people.

All I was doing was helping her clean up the environment of her body. Detoxify, eat healthily, take some general supplements for overall nutrition, clean up the stress in her life. Just very, very, very basic like foundation building a strong body. That was enough—within the last six weeks—to change the environment of her body where it’s becoming an inhospitable environment for the parasites.

That is so cool to see that if we just get the body to the point where it’s an inhospitable environment to parasites, that means it’s a hospitable environment to our cells. It’s like the best environment we can create for our cells on an energetic level, nutrient level, and oxygen level. That is the most inhospitable environment for cancer, candida, parasites—all that kind of stuff. But you get results much faster because you’re using this Biofeedback machine. 

Do you want to tell us what it’s like working with you? Let’s say listeners—who are all around the world by the way—decide they want to have a session with you. Can you walk us through step by step what it looks like? So we mail you saliva and our hair pulled from the root, which I did with you, by the way. When we visited you, my husband and I and our son gave you samples, and you keep them. I don’t want to be paranoid, but I’m always cautious that companies don’t sell my DNA. This is in-house, you don’t sell the DNA.

You have it, so you put it in the machine, and the machine, like you said, is like a phone number. The machine energetically links to us no matter where we are in the world. This is very quantum physics level stuff. 


[01:45:28] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: It is.


[01:45:30] Ashley James: The client—who’s anywhere around the world doesn’t have to be local to you—sends you their stuff— their hair and their saliva—and then what? Can you just walk us through what the experience is working with you?


[01:45:45] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yeah, absolutely. The first thing is they can actually get to my website, which is There is a contact form where they can actually send me an email saying that they’re interested in wanting to receive some Biofeedback, even reiki, or even just like you said, health coaching. Once I get the email, then I send them a form to complete, which is basically a medical form that tells them what the Biofeedback does. It has the HIPAA information as well as their history so that I can get a good idea. And then I instruct them to either send me a hair sample in a baggie. If they don’t have hair because I’ve had some that say well my husband’s bald and they would want to send me hair from another part of the body and I would say no, saliva would be fine.


[01:46:45] Ashley James: Is it hair or saliva?


[01:46:48] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Hair or saliva. It does not have to be both.


[01:46:51] Ashley James: Got it. It’s not hair and saliva.


[01:46:54] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes. Hair from the head and/or saliva. Some people have really short hair and they can’t get a good hair sample, so they will then send me a saliva sample in a plastic bag.


[01:47:11] Ashley James: Got it.


[01:47:12] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Once I get all of that and I get the form that’s been completed, then I contact them to set up a time where we could get on a remote session. Whether it’s through Skype, whether it’s through Zoom, whether it’s through other means, or in some situations some people will say I just don’t have time. Can you just run it and then let me know. I prefer our first session as always together because there is a lot of interaction and exchange that occurs during that time. But in a situation where that’s not possible, then I could do it without them.

Then we set up the session. I say please allow two hours. Drink plenty of fluids before our session because that will enhance the outcome of the session, and try to be as free from any type of distractions as possible. If you can get into a nice comfortable position that would be good, and just plan to be available for two hours while I work on you. And then if they’re on Skype or Zoom where they can actually see my session, then I explain everything to them. Because the more they know and understand their body and how it works, especially how it works energetically, then that makes them more of a steward for their body and gives them that power back.

Then the first part is I enter information from them, which is on the form that they complete that has their demographic information, it has post health issues such as how many surgeries, how many amalgams that they have, how many medications are they on if they’ve had any steroids, how much coffee, sugar, or alcohol do they. How much fat is in their diet or processed foods? How much water do they drink, those kinds of things? How much weight would they like to lose if they want to, that kind of thing?

Once I get that information, then I start the assessment. That information then will give them a score, and that score is called the SOC, which is suppression and obstruction to a cure. It’s basically all of those things that are preventing them from being their ultimate and allowing them to be healthy. Then I let them know what the score means, and that score is their potential to heal themselves. Then it goes through what is considered the VAR HOPP panel, which is the voltage amperage resistance hydration oxygenation proton pressure, which is your pH balance electrons. And then also some other numbers that make sense as far as their healing potential and what’s preventing them from healing.

Then the screen comes up with all of the 10,000 different remedies and symptomatology that is identifying for them, and then I explain what each of those levels means. The acuity levels, what they mean for that particular person. If there are particular ones, this is when I start to ask for feedback from them. Okay, is there anything on this screen that you’d like to investigate further that doesn’t quite make sense to you or what? If they don’t have anything, then I go ahead and pick some that I feel has a lot to do with how they’re feeling, what they’re complaining about, and so on, and then we start the testing.

Once we finish the testing on that particular thing, as far as what is the acuity and how much reactivity it’s having to them, then I train. Basically, the system starts to train the body to return it back to its homeostasis and return it back to normal. Then we go down different categories, so I can go into the allergies and sensitivities. We can go into parasites and the blood and look at some of those things as well to see what’s going on. I go into the spine. The computer already picks a couple of programs that it wants to run based on the way in which the assessment was completed. I run those and then we go down particular areas that they’d like.

If somebody’s having some pain issues, then I’ll scan the spine and the spine will then tell me where their energetic blockages within the spine, then let’s resolve them, and then what emotion is holding that. We could look at the chakras and all that. If they have teeth issues, which oftentimes if I see there’s a ton of bacteria going on, or if there’s resistance, which means how much energy is flowing through the organs. If I see a really low resistance meaning that it’s probably a lot of the organs are very toxic because they’ve even either had a lot of heavy metal exposure, mold exposure, yeast, fungus, parasites, that’s going to make that number really low. So then I look into that further. The whole idea is let’s evacuate as much of that as possible so that we can get you into a really healthy state.

Now, what most people don’t realize is that when we’re talking about detoxification, especially when it comes to heavy metals, candida, or some of those is that oftentimes the organs are already toxic so they can’t filter like they’re supposed to. For example, the liver is what filters all of the prescriptions that people are on. If the liver is already toxic and it’s not able to filter or release all of those toxins, oftentimes, people will see skin eruptions happening to where now they have psoriasis, eczema, or some kind of acne that is occurring because their liver basically can’t filter like it’s supposed to, so it’s going through the skin instead, which is the largest organ we have anyway.

There’s usually a correlation between skin, liver, and detoxification. I usually like to get them started on high levels of essential fatty acids so that the detoxification process can happen better. What I mean by that is one of my favorite recipes I like to give people is bulletproof coffee. The reason I like it is because of the MCT oil, which is a medium-chain triglyceride, and the ghee, which is a really wonderful organic clarified butter. When they place it in a regular cup of coffee like a black cup of coffee and they blend it and they drink it, what happens is that those essential fatty acids then allow the organs to—it’s kind of like they grease the organ so that things can flow through it easier.

You’ll actually see people showing a huge change in their cognition where they had brain fog before. Now they’re like, oh my gosh, I even remember my locker combination from high school since I started bulletproof or things like that. They have greater energy. Then it’s really looking at dietary changes too to help that process.

Once we finish the SCIO and we’ve finished all of the different programming and all that kind of stuff that’s going in there, then I create a customized plan for them. This customized plan is basically every morning do this, every afternoon do this, every evening do this, and then the resources to help them with that. I give them what their allergies or sensitivities are so they’ll know which foods they should avoid for a little bit.

Homework, I give them homework because they need to be just as motivated and involved in their healing process as I am, if not more so. I give them homework, and that homework is going to be let’s change your diet. Let’s do some energetic work. If you don’t do meditation, grounding, or something energetically let’s work on that. If I need to have you write a love letter to yourself we’re going to do that so we can actually start to improve some love in you. Identifying some of the stressors, things like that. It’s really a whole body, a whole person type of program.

And then we set up the next session. Typically, when I start somebody, it really depends on what their level of chronicity is, how sick they are, and how stagnant their energy is. If it’s really bad, then I would usually recommend that we do a session once a week just for a couple of times just to see how their body is engaged in it and how they’re responding to it. In some situations, it might be once every other week, and in some sessions, it might be once a month. It really depends on the individual person. That’s how that works.

Once I finish the first session and they get their customized plan and then we meet the next time, then they get an updated progress report after each session. That’s so that they can track their progress. I’ve had some people who’ll actually put their progress report on their refrigerator because they’re excited because they see the numbers improving, they see fewer things that they’re having to address, they see the pounds going down, or whatever it is. It’s kind of like they’re taking credit for their homework that they’ve been doing. That’s how that works.


[01:56:28] Ashley James: Very cool. I love it. I had a very interesting experience. I remember our son had his session in person, but we didn’t end up hooking him up to the machine because he is…


[01:56:48] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Very active.


[01:56:50] Ashley James: I think he was still four at the time. He’s five and a half now. I think he was about to become five. Yeah, that’s right. He was four turning five. That’s right because it was just after Christmas. He was still four, very active, and wanted to run around. You actually did a remote session in a sense. He was in the building, but you basically were doing a remote session. It took about two hours, give or take. Maybe a bit longer. What’s interesting is I felt it, and it’s because the mom has the energetic cord attached to their children. The second you turned on the program I felt my body vibrating. I’m like, oh boy. By the end of it, I felt drunk. I could feel it. My husband couldn’t feel it.

Our son started to talk very clearly. He doesn’t have a speech impediment, but like a four-year-old, they’re not enunciating like an adult. He started to talk incredibly clearly, very sophisticated, and he actually has an incredible vocabulary. I remember at two or two and a half he could say the word avocado, and I’m like that’s a lot of syllables for a young kid. But he says some very sophisticated things. His grandfather, who’s a master’s in linguistics, is constantly surprised by the stuff coming out of our son’s mouth because of how multi-layered the sentences are.

Anyway, as the session’s going on, he starts talking much clearer, even more, complicated sentences. He started talking like really deep thought patterns about crystals and healing, and he’s just going off on all these interesting things that are coming to his mind. But then after the session, he went to the bathroom. He eats a pretty clean diet, actually, his bowel movements don’t really make a smell. I’ve never noticed a smell. I mean there’s nothing, it’s not even a smell.

He made a smell so putrid, so horrible I thought like there was roadkill in the bathroom. I mean it was the most horrible, but his body was just expelling whatever it was expelling. It was just right after the session, and he actually normally doesn’t have a bowel movement at that time of day. He’s pretty much clockwork. His digestion is really good like clockwork. He expelled whatever it was. Just amazing came out of him, all those toxins, and then he fell asleep. He just went boom, fell asleep in the car.

He didn’t have any major health issues other than he was struggling with high histamine and allergies to a lot of foods. Anytime he was exposed to one of his allergens he would have a major asthma attack. Since that time, he has only needed his inhaler twice in the last 10 months. So just looking back, really, he’s only had one session from you, but he was at the point where he was like he was needing his inhaler a lot because he would be exposed to it because he’s allergic to about nine or twelve different things.

There’s a ton of fish he’s allergic to so I just kind of say okay, that’s fish. He doesn’t eat any fish, but he also has weird allergies like garlic, which garlic is in everything, so I make everything from scratch for him pretty much because garlic is in everything. But he’s also allergic to dust mites. If he goes over to a friend’s house and they didn’t vacuum every day, basically he comes home with an asthma attack. He did, but after his session with you, he only needed his inhaler while his body was working through a cold or flu, which has been two times in the last 10 months. His reaction to what he’s allergic to has really diminished. I didn’t really think about it, but I saw that there was that turning point in his health after he had one session with you 10 months ago.

And then my session with you, my one session, was also remote. I was unconscious at the time. For most of the session, I wasn’t on the phone with you because I was incredibly sick, lying in bed, in and out of consciousness. But I felt you working on me. I kept waking up and then going back to sleep, I felt it. Like I said when I woke up and the session was over, my suffering was gone. All of a sudden I knew that now I’m going to be in recovery. The sickness is over, the suffering is over. Now I’m going to be in recovery.

That was really a very interesting experience. Both of those are remote, I mean he was in the vicinity, but still not attached to the machine. We saw results both times—remote. We could talk for hours.


[02:02:17] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: When I have children in my clinic, I tend to do them remotely because it’s very hard. The youngest I worked with is two, so far. The youngest has been two, and they can’t sit still for two hours. I’m sorry, they just can’t. If I need to, then I will have them wear the harness for the first 10 minutes. Let’s keep them occupied and all that for the first 10 minutes. Basically, that first 10 minutes is the device doing the assessment, the calibration, and all that. Then I can release the child and they can just run. I have tons of toys in the clinic so they can have some fun with that.

This is the thing that I like to make sure that most people are aware of is that with a remote or even in person, the person that I’m working with has to give permission for the device to work. A lot of people get a fear factor going thinking, oh, she’s just going to work on me no matter when I’m not even thinking about it. No, no, no. The reason I contact people and say can we do this on this date at this time is because then, they’re giving me permission to work on them. This device works so much better when you have permission from the client.

I won’t ever work on anybody without them knowing it, plain and simple. That goes against my own ethics, but it also goes against the ethics of the system as well. That’s what I really love about it because a lot of people will think, well, if things go sour with us as a relationship, then she could do some bad things to me. No. First of all, that’s not in my heart. That’s not who I am. But the device also won’t allow me to do that either.


[02:04:13] Ashley James: Right, it’s a healing device.


[02:04:15] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: It’s a comfort, yes.


[02:04:17] Ashley James: It’s a healing device. It can’t be weaponized.


[02:04:23] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Vindictive.


[02:04:28] Ashley James: Unless the person doesn’t want to be healed, right?


[02:04:32] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes, and then that will come up as an emotion, subconsciously, in one of their systems, whichever one it’s impacting. Usually, it’ll show up as resistance to change as an emotion, and then we talk about that and say, okay, the resistance to change is showing up what is this meaning? Or there’ll be another emotion that’ll show up that will identify that they’re wanting to hold on to this for a reason. 

Sometimes, this is another piece—it’ll pick up psychic attack information. If there is someone within your energy field who is not wishing you well, who is vindictive or just left their energy on you. For example, you go to someone’s house and you could actually feel the negativity in the house or you can feel something, and then you go home, that psychic attack number could be really high. So then we have to clear that aura. We have to clear that energy out. I do it through the Biofeedback, but then I also give them tools that they can use to also do it as well because if they’ve been attacked once, it’s potentially been attacked again and again and again. So let’s teach you ways in which you can actually resolve that and protect yourself.

I also teach people how to do muscle testing on themselves to see what food is good for you and what food is not good for you. When they’re in the grocery store—in my little small town, I could be walking through the grocery store and I see people muscle testing themselves. I’m like yes.


[02:06:09] Ashley James: I love that. I love that. That happened to me. There’s a store near me, it’s a gluten-free store, which is so cool. We’ve been gluten-free for 10 years—no barley, wheat, rye, or oats. This store is celiac gluten-free. Everything is certified for celiac. There is this woman who was like I don’t know if I’m going to react to this or not. I think she was choosing all the different breads. I can’t remember what she was choosing but there were a bunch of different ones that she wasn’t sure which one to go with. It was her and I was the only customer in the store at the time. I was like, “Have you ever heard of muscle testing?” I had her drop her purse and her cart. The owner, who’s the only employee at the time in the store, is staring at us kind of looking at me like I’m crazy. I showed her how to muscle test, and it was very clear about one product.

I had her close her eyes so she didn’t know which one it was, but I showed her and then it was really clear which one. It was just a really strong signal. This is the one, the other two were weaker. I showed her and she was just like, “Oh my gosh. That is so cool.” It’s pretty interesting when we listen to our bodies when we check in with ourselves. Even if you just check in yourself after a meal. Do I feel weakened? Do I feel tired? Do I feel energized? Check-in with yourself even emotionally.

How do I feel emotionally after a meal? Because my husband and I both noticed that with certain foods we’ll feel angry afterward, or we’ll feel really easily irritated. I’m fine but everyone else is pissing me off. It’s just interesting that we’ve been able to correlate that with certain kinds of food or certain kinds of meals. That it affects our energy, it affects our emotions, it affects our hormones. There are so many things beyond just digestion that are affected by what we bring into our bodies.


[02:08:17] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Not only that but there’s also how we eat with intention. Because sometimes, I would say the majority of our population is very distracted when we eat. We’re either watching TV, we’re reading, we’re having conversations, we’re drinking way too much water, or we’re drinking too much of something while we’re eating. We’re not chewing our food enough, so we’re wolfing it down. We’re eating a meal within 30 minutes and it’s done, or sometimes 15 minutes because that’s how long you have for your break. But that’s a leading reason why people have acid reflux and acid indigestion is because they’re not chewing their food enough.

Like I mentioned with you before is that 50% of the digestive process happens in the mouth. That’s where the digestive enzymes start. If people aren’t chewing their food enough, then the stomach then has to produce so much acid to break down that food so that it can actually go through the whole rest of the digestive process. People aren’t chewing their food enough, really tasting it, enjoying it, and loving every moment of it, then they’re not getting the true essence of that food. That also goes for smoothies.

We’re into these smoothies of nice, wonderful plant-based smoothies that have wonderful greens, vegetables, fruit, and all that in it, and protein powders, and we’re gulping it down. Well, the same thing happens. The gut still has to process that, it still has to break it down. We need to go through a chewing motion even with smoothies and just activate the digestive enzymes when you’re starting to drink that smoothie and you’ll get more nourishment. You’ll get more nutrients. You won’t have as much acid. As we know, alkaline is the way we want our bodies to be. The more alkaline we can get our body the better. Less disease process, less breakdown, less degeneration.

If you eat slowly, eat with intention, eat with love attached to that food. Also, there’s another trick that I learned when I was in nursing homes because oftentimes, appetite would be a big issue for us where we couldn’t get them to eat. Serve food on a red plate. Use red in your utensils on the serving plate because red actually increases appetite. You could tell that through all the advertising. Think of all the fast-food restaurants. What color is very prevalent in their advertising? Red.


[02:10:58] Ashley James: Yeah, red, yellow, and orange. I remember in the ‘90s, any fast food restaurant you went to was all variations of red, yellow, and orange. They’ve kind of come away from that. Well, people aren’t eating in anymore, they’re all drive-thru. But a lot of their logos are that color, and like you said their advertising and their packaging is that color.


[02:11:22] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Look at the size of our plates.


[02:11:27] Ashley James: They’re huge.


[02:11:29] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes. Back in the olden days, the plates were about the size of our butter plates now or our salad plates. When you would fill up that plate you would look like, okay, that’s a lot of food. Well, now, if you look at most of the plates that are in our homes, they’re platters. We feel like we need to fill that platter. So then we fill it up and then we are eating not consciously, so then we eat that whole platter.


[02:11:58] Ashley James: And we’re not chewing. Like you said, we’re not chewing. When we don’t chew enough, we’ll eat twice as much volume until the satiety mechanism is triggered in the brain. But if you don’t chew enough or you eat too fast and not chew—which is what almost everyone does—you’re not triggering the liver, the pancreas, and the stomach. All three of them need to be told to start producing their enzymes, the hydrochloric acid, and the bile—just start producing all of it for release into the stomach and into the small intestines. Chewing is turning on the whole system. It’s like you don’t put your clothing in the washing machine and just leave it. You have to turn it on, program it, and set it, but that’s what turns on digestion.

But when we have a huge serving, which like you said, we’ve gone from a 6-inch plate to a 12-inch plate, we’re doubling the amount of food we’re consuming each meal and eating it so fast the satiety mechanism isn’t triggered. That and the food most Americans eat is so low in fiber that it doesn’t bulk up, plus we’re not drinking enough water so we’re chronically dehydrated. All these things lead to digestive disasters and creating that perfect environment for all the worms and parasites to live.


[02:13:31] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Also, when you think about how long does it take for certain things to digest? For example, fruit takes about two to three hours to digest, vegetables three to five hours, meat could take up to three days to digest. And then you add the heat of the digestive process, which is all the acid that’s breaking it down like you said the hydrochloric. If you think about the food choices that you make as well, the longer it sits in the gut the more bacteria it will grow, which is why we get a lot of constipation, why we get a lot of digestive issues.

Think about how long it takes for things to go bad if you were to leave it out on your counter. For example, if you were to leave an apple on your counter for two to three hours, do you think it’ll be fine for you to eat?


[02:14:23] Ashley James: Sure.


[02:14:26] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yes. As it’s going through the digestive process, it’s clean food to eat. The vegetables, if you put a piece of broccoli out on your counter for three to five hours, will it be safe to eat? Yes, if it hasn’t started to break down yet. Raw.


[02:14:44] Ashley James: Yeah, raw. Totally raw.


[02:14:45] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Raw, it’s going to be a little limp possibly. It’ll be fine, but it’ll go through the digestive process. Now, put that nice piece of red steak out, and I’m not telling people they have to be vegetarian or vegan. But if you put that red steak out on a counter for three to five days raw, will it still be good?


[02:15:02] Ashley James: No.


[02:15:03] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Okay. So then, as it’s going through the digestive process, why are we assuming that it’s going to be okay and that we’re not going to get any bacteria or, let’s say, parasites and stuff like that coming from that meat? When we make our food choices, we need to keep that in mind as far as how quickly does it dissipate? How quickly does it digest? How quickly does it go through the digestive system? If it doesn’t go through quickly, then we know we’re going to have some digestive issues. So let’s do some things that are going to help the digestive process—mastication. Eat it, chew as much as you can.

I remember the first time I heard about this whole thing about chewing your food 30 times per bite. My husband and I were at a seminar, and what was so funny is that night we decided let’s do this. Basically, we made this dinner. He took the first bite and he holds it up and he goes, “This bite is going to improve my eyesight.” And then he chews it and he chews it 30 times. So then I take a bite and I say, “This bite is going to give me the best bowel movement ever.” As we were going, we kept saying with intention what each bite would do, and we had the most fun at that dinner. We basically took almost two hours to eat. We ate half the food, and we were very happy with the amount of food that we got.


[02:16:23] Ashley James: Satiated.


[02:16:24] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Satiated, yeah. We just had so much fun with that meal. If people just did that, they would actually see a huge change in their whole digestive process plus lose a lot of weight as well.


[02:16:36] Ashley James: Yes, I love it. And then eat food with lots of fiber like fruits and vegetables. That’s something I learned when I was about six years old. My mom and I were both very sick from the standard Canadian diet, standard American diet, and my mom took us to see Dr. D’Adamo. He gave us this poster on food combining and it hung in our kitchen until we moved when I was 19 years old. I have it memorized in my brain because I saw it for so many years. This concept really stuck with me early on. I’ve been fascinated with natural medicine since I was six. Just wanting to—like yourself—absorb everything I could possibly get my hands on. Just having an insatiable curiosity.

As a child, just that child-like desire to consume knowledge. This idea that an apple—and you said digestion takes two to three days. What you meant was the entire from beginning to end, but in the stomach itself, an apple takes about 20 minutes just give or take. A steak could take about one to three hours just give or take how much you ate, how much you chewed. Dr. D’Adamo’s point was if you ate a steak dinner with an apple pie, the apple only needed to be in your stomach for 20 minutes before it should have been passed on to the next phase of digestion and absorption through the small intestine. But because you also ate steak in the same meal, so it’s food combining, your body is now fermenting the apple for two hours.

Beyond digestion, it’s fermenting at this point, which is unhealthy for the body to have any large amount of fermentation of food while it’s trying to digest the apple. Different enzymes are used for apples, and different juices are used for digesting steak, and so they’re combining. And then finally gets passed on to the small intestine, but at this point, it’s just fermenting the entire way down, which can actually and what I’ve learned more recently, feeds the microbiome of our gut—the very complex microbiome—feeds it sort of unhealthy nutrients, which then the microbiome turns around and makes things like ammonia, and makes other chemicals in the body, which then go into our bloodstream and affect our brain. Food combining is a huge thing.


[02:19:14] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: And we become inflamed.


[02:19:16] Ashley James: Right, the whole body. It’s even more so what we eat, when we eat, how we chew all of that, and then what our microbiome will then turn it into. We have to really consider when you eat meat, how long does it stay in your body? That’s rotting flesh that is creating that petri dish for the bacteria. And if you don’t chew, then it really is doing a number, and your microbiome actually then turns it into other things that are unhealthy for the body as well. If someone says, well, meat’s not necessarily unhealthy. The microbiome will turn into chemicals that are unhealthy for the body, especially if you didn’t chew, especially if you don’t have strong digestion.

It’s all those things we have to take into consideration. I think you may have answered this question already, but just to be very clear. When you work with people, does the remote Biofeedback look at this specifically? Look at digestion at this level?


[02:20:28] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Not as far as where it is in the digestive process. Part of that is the information that we exchange together. First of all, one of the first questions I ask—well, several questions down the road—is how many bowel movements do you have on a given day? If they say, oh, maybe one every other day. Then I’ll say, that’s not enough. Especially how many meals do you have? If you have three meals a day you should be having three bowel movements a day. And if they’re not, then that’s basically saying that their digestive process is too slow, and so, therefore, it’s growing bacteria, it’s growing all these different things in the microbiome that is not healthy for it. 

That could be leading to why they’re so fatigued because that food, basically if you’re not getting the nutrients, you’re not getting the food you need to fuel your muscles, fuel the blood, fuel all that, plus whatever disease process we’re starting because of that rotting flesh or whatever.

But then, I also ask, what is the quality of the food you eat? Here where I live, most of the people here grow their own, they have their own cows basically. They’re grass-fed. They love them all the way to the slaughterhouse all that. But when you’re buying the meats from stores that may be having these farms of cows, chickens, or whatever where they are not living in a very good environment, and then the stress hormone is released as soon as they go into the slaughterhouse. 

Then if you see a change in your mood like you’re mentioning sometimes you’ll eat certain foods and all of a sudden you’re irritated, irritable, angry, or whatever, oftentimes people who are very energy sensitive meaning that they may be an empath or they may be taking on other people’s energies or other souls. They may be actually feeling or consuming that soul of the cow, the chicken, or whatever was killed. If it wasn’t killed in a kind way or in just the general slaughterhouses, then the stress hormone gets released into the meat. And then when they consume the meat, they are then consuming the stress of that animal.

I always say, just be careful and cautious and really think about what it is that you’re eating and what did that part that that animal go through during their life process, and was it healthy? If it was one that was created on those manufactured places where they have no quality of life, they’re just in a stall, then that meat is going to be very stress-related, there’s not going to be a lot of nutrition in it, and therefore there’s probably more hormones and things like that’s been added to it, so you’re not getting good quality. Just be really careful about your food selection, where you get it.

If you do eat from farms and stuff like that where they love their animal all the way to the slaughterhouse, then you can pretty much rest assured that there should be less stress-related hormones in the in as well. But that’s a consideration to think of too.


[02:23:47] Ashley James: I’ve heard that from other people who are empaths as well that they’ve had that personal experience. My husband and I had that experience when we lived in Las Vegas long before we became plant-based. We were 100% meat-eaters, carnivore diet all the way. Meat at every meal. Sometimes just meals with only meat. 

We went to a place called Roberto’s, which had the best or Mexican food. We got home and we ate the same thing we always eat there. It was a carne asada burrito or something. We had had it 50 times before, but this particular time for, whatever reason, both of us had pounding hearts. We felt like we had done—I haven’t done street drugs but it was kind of like cocaine or something. Our hearts were pounding out of our chest, we’re both sitting there in our chairs just sweating, breathing heavily, feeling incredibly scared. We don’t know what’s going on.

If only one of us had had that experience we would have been like take me to the hospital, I’m having a heart attack. But both of us felt terrified and our hearts were pounding. We’re like, this is from the meat. Something happened to this cow. This happened, Duffy and I, 12 years ago, and that really stuck with me, that memory, and it lasted for hours. We’re just sitting there with our hearts pounding and just in total fear, both of us like we had taken some crazy drugs. That was just really clear to us that there was something about that cow that we felt, that was imprinted on us.

We just have to think of energy is so powerful that you, Vienna, can do energy work across the world and help someone gain health back, then energy from our food could heal us or harm us. Bring us closer to being in balance or further away from being in balance. We have to take that into consideration. I love that practice you developed with your husband where you chewed each bite 30 times and talked about the intention of what each bite would heal. Now, I’ve met you in person. You look like you’re in your 40s, but how old are you, may I ask?


[02:26:17] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: I’m actually 58. I’m 58.


[02:26:19] Ashley James: Did you notice that as you did all this work with integrative medicine that you got younger, that you looked younger, that you felt younger? Did you notice that?


[02:26:28] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Absolutely. And also, what adds to that is I do a daily practice. Every morning and every night I do my meditation and my yoga first thing every morning, I don’t miss it. And then I also do the same practice in the evening as well, and I don’t miss that either. That’s me loving myself. Since I’ve started that, oh my gosh, the change has been so phenomenally different. First of all, sometimes I could have a lot of people after me, for whatever reason. I don’t feel it, I don’t give it attention. It doesn’t affect me. Minor stresses like things that are happening in your life that could typically be a major stressor, it doesn’t stress me out anymore. I’m just in this wonderful little vortex of love, gratitude, and blessings.

One of the things that I do that is really good homework for everybody is to start your morning with at least five minutes of gratitude. Be grateful for whatever it is that you have in your life or what it is that you want in your life and assume that it’s already happened. Let’s say I’m wanting this vacation, for example, and wanting the airways to allow us to fly again and all of that. I’ll just say thank you so much for my trip to Hawaii or whatever. I’m enjoying it so much or whatever, but I’ll spend some time in gratitude in the morning as I’m starting my day and saying what I’m grateful for that’s going to happen that day. 

And then in the evening, I spent another five minutes in gratitude for what I was grateful for, what happened that day or what’s going to happen throughout the evening. That I’ll sleep well, the pain that I have in my back will go away, or whatever, and just spend that time and just sharing out the gratitude.

Right now, in this world that we’re in right now, there’s so much division, there’s so much anger, there’s so much resentment. I believe that if we just approach each person with love, with understanding, with gratitude, with blessings, with the highest level of energy and frequency that we can, that we can change this world. But right now there’s so much anger, and there’s one word in the vocabulary that I don’t allow in my vocabulary that I don’t even say, but it’s the h-a-t-e word. 

I don’t include that because it’s used so frequently in vocabulary these days. You can hear somebody talk and say how much they don’t like this one thing, and you’ll hear them use that word 25 times within the conversation. That is such a strong word, and it’s not only the words that we say outside, it’s the words that we say internally. What is our own internal monologue saying?

We’re always comparing ourselves to other people, that we’re in lack, we’re not good enough, or whatever. If you just start your day out with the blessings, the gratitude, the I am powerful, the I am phrases, and things like that, then we can change our own internal bio terrain without medications, without lots of intervention. It’s just what we say to ourselves because our own self-talk can be very toxic in itself, and it will make us toxic. That’s what’s made me younger is that daily process.

I’m also plant-based, so I don’t do meat. If I’m at somebody’s house and they’re serving meat, I will just bless it rather than make them feel uncomfortable about serving me that. There’s only one that I typically won’t, and that would be pork. I pretty much will stay away from that just because most people don’t realize that pigs do not have sweat glands. Whatever they eat is in their meat, so I avoid it.


[02:30:35] Ashley James: And the horrible, horrible conditions that the poor pigs are raised in. I’ve said on the show before, I loved eating meat. I was really into it and then I just kept learning over and over and over and over more and more about the benefits of not eating it, and the benefits of eating plants. My husband, actually, was the biggest carnivore in the world. He just woke up and said, “I’m never eating meat again.” And I’m like okay, I guess I’m cooking that way since I’m the one that cooks for everyone in the family. 

I was very afraid of not eating meat. I really thought that I would become weak, frail, that I would be sick because I tried being vegan before, I tried being vegetarian before. Doing it all wrong—eating a lot of processed food in the mix and just really feeling sick. I tried to go vegetarian when I was a teenager, and I ate just like vegetarian pizza and subs. Obviously not healthy choices, but in my mind, it’s like oh I’m not eating meat. I should feel great. Oh, I feel worse. Apparently, meat makes me feel good. 

In my mind, I had this belief, and I met a lot of people with this belief that meat gives you energy, meat makes you feel healthy. Whole food plant-based is not vegan, it’s not vegetarian in that Oreos are vegan. A whole food plant is I’m choosing to not eat processed food, but also it’s not black and white. I really like that you acknowledge that you’re not 100% never ever ever ever eating any animal product. Because I think that in our minds, it’s like a black or white issue like. I either—for the rest of my life—can’t eat any of that. Oh my gosh, too much restriction, I can’t do it. 

You’re just doing your best every day. You’re just making really good choices every day. If once in a while you have an animal product like you said, you bless it, you’re grateful for it, you’re grateful for the life it gave you, and you move on. But you focus on eating as many plants as you can, and nurturing your body as best you can. Because that guilt and shame that comes with feeling like I can’t do it, oh my gosh I failed, or whatever, all of that are toxic.


[02:32:54] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: That’s the self-talk we were talking about.


[02:32:56] Ashley James: Right, yeah. There’s this idea about being vegan is like it’s all or nothing. I’ve met even vegans they’re like no, no, no. There’s vegan shaming out there, so it’s like you start getting shamed by a vegan, and there’s a lot of negative emotions around it. And then people get really turned off by it. It’s not on or off. It’s do as best you can—good, better, best. If everyone just did as best they could. Just how long can you go just eating an amazing variety of plants? Great, you made it two meals without meat, great, you know what I mean? That’s sometimes what it starts with. Sometimes it’s just meatless Mondays, two meals a day, or a whole week of meatless meals. Maybe only at Thanksgiving or whatever.

It’s your ability to just choose healthy foods for you. I think as a society, we’re over-consuming meat products and totally under consuming plants. I think we need to switch it up. We need to over-consume plant products in the most balanced and healthy way.


[02:34:06] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: It’s also looking at how we prepare it too. Another thing that we do in our home is when we are preparing our dinner or our meals, we have wonderful music playing in the background. We are putting love into our food. We’re purposefully putting that love of intention into the food. That this food that we are preparing with our own hands is going to provide so many nutrients and so much love to this person who is consuming it, and we surround ourselves with it. We have these nice essential oils going on, we have the music, and therefore we’re influencing it with our own energy as well. And then oh my gosh, the taste is amazing after that because like wow. 

Versus if you’re making a meal in anger. Let’s say you’re angry at your husband or you’re angry at your wife and you’re making this meal, then they’re ingesting your anger in that meal as well. It’s similar to that animal going to slaughter. If you’re making a meal in anger, frustration, resentment, or even just sheer fatigue, then how does that influence your food? It influences a great deal, even if it is a plant-based food because plants have energy as well. They actually communicate. 

There was actually a lie detector expert who was testing his plants one day on his lie detector equipment. He found that they respond to his thoughts or his words, and he tested them. He was testing them by adding cold water to see how they would respond. The needle would move but they would recover. Then he would add hot water, and the needle would move even further but it would recover. Then he clipped the plant. Yeah, okay. It didn’t like it. The needle would move but the plant still recovered. Then he had this thought, I wonder what would happen if I burned the plant. The needle moved and the plant never recovered from that. The needle stayed where it was.


[02:36:06] Ashley James: Just the thought of burning the plant.


[02:36:08] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Never even burned the plant. Just the thought of burning the plant. Those people out there that say they don’t have a green thumb, change your perspective, love that plant, put a lot of love into it when you water it, when you talk to it, and all that kind of stuff and you will be a green thumb. But the same thing goes with the preparation of your food, put love into it.


[02:36:26] Ashley James: While you’re preparing and loving your food and loving your body, that’s actually turning on digestion even then. Maybe an hour before you sit down to eat, you’re chopping the food, you’re sautéing, your steaming. All of that you’re seeing it with your eyes, you’re smelling it with your nose. Maybe you’re even tasting things as you’re seasoning it with the herbs, and you’re in a state of not stress. You’re in the autonomic nervous system’s parasympathetic response of rest and digest, and not in the state of fight or flight right because you’re listening to the music, you’re in a state of love.

So now you’re turning on digestion with the nervous system response, getting out of stress mode. So you’re prepping, you’re spending an hour before you even eat the food. Your body is preparing for and getting ready for and excited to help you digest, and then you sit down, you have gratitude and prayer, and you chew your food slowly and plentifully. The entire time, your body is going to get the most amount of nutrients out of that food because it’s in parasympathetic nervous system response to rest and digest. All your hormones are in alignment with taking that food and turning it into nutrients.

It really does come back to the holistic approach that our lifestyle choices matter. That your meditation and gratitude, daily yoga, all of that really does matter. That you intentionally cook, prep, grocery shop, plan, and eat with intention of love and healing your body. That matters and that the amount of stress that we go under. Think about people who are stressed out, go through drive-thrus, wolf down their food, hardly spend any time digesting or prepping the body for digestion, don’t even chew very much, and are choosing foods that sit in their body and rot. No wonder we have the nutrition nutrient deficiencies we do and the state of disease we do when we’re not really taking time to energetically, emotionally, and physically nourish ourselves every day.

You’re such a wealth of information. I’d love to have you back on the show. You have a segment where you’re going to teach us how to read our tongues, but I’d like to save that for our next interview.


[02:38:56] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Perfect.


[02:38:57] Ashley James: I’m going to make sure the links to everything that Vienna Lafrenz does is in the show notes of today’s podcast at Now you also have a book you wrote a chapter in with many other very famous healers and holistic practitioners. The link to the book is going to be in the show notes as well. The book is called Wakeup: Miracles of Healing From Around the World. Can you tell us a little bit about that book and what people would get out of reading it?


[02:39:27] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Yeah. It’s a compilation of about 40 different authors, and they’re all healers of some form or fashion. Basically, we were asked to write a chapter on the miracles that we have experienced whether in our own lives or through the lives of our clients. It’s really a complication of all of that. 

I think it’ll give some people a really nice fresh perspective of the potential of the body to heal, as well as the mind and all of the different stories. There are some really amazing healers out there, different modalities that are being used. I truly feel like it’ll open up a lot of people’s minds and perspectives to just the potential of the body to heal, the number of amazing stories that were shared, and the different types of healers that are out there, and just the sheer love that they have for the healing process.


[02:40:19] Ashley James: Awesome, Vienna, your website is, and of course, that link and the link to the book is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at I want to have you back, there’s so much more we have to talk about. After you and I spoke, you got a Platinum Energy System, which I’ve had Kellyann Andrews on the show several times. Many of my listeners, I think at least a hundred of them, have purchased a Platinum Energy System and are using it for themselves and their family, and some of them for their clients.

I keep getting some amazing feedback coming back from one of our listeners. I believe she says she’s an ophthalmologist. Her family was diagnosed with COVID actually, all positive tests. When they used the PES, their suffering ended, and that it sped up their healing. It was really cool to see that. I’ve had that experience with the PES before or any time I have a cold or flu, which I don’t often. But when I do, I jump in it and I really feel it sets the body back into healing mode quickly. You’ve had some great experiences with that in your clinic, which would be cool just to hear about because I love hearing stories of healing and success, especially with natural medicine.

And then you have all other kinds of therapies. Of course, today, we focused on remote Biofeedback. One of the reasons why I really wanted to focus on that is that obviously, many of my listeners are not near Republic, Washington. How you can help them, and you can, is by working with them remotely. You do that on a holistic level. You’re looking at emotional, mental, spiritual, energetic, and physical while working with people around the world. 

And then it’d be really cool to talk more about the other therapies that you have in-house, especially because so many of my listeners are either in the holistic space, in one way or another, or want to become a practitioner. You’re inspiring future generations with what you’ve shared today. I’d love to have you back. I also really am eager to learn from you about the tongue and how to read it, and what we can do with that information. We’ll have you back and you’ll share with us all about that. That’d be really cool. Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?


[02:42:39] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Well, first of all, I love your interviews. They’re very thorough, they’re fun, they’re exciting. Obviously, we could go on for hours, and it’s always nice to be able to talk to a friend like that. I love the fact that they’re also widespread as far as different topics. I feel like we need to have more of this type of stuff going on so that it meets more ears that are open and that are kind of at that desperation stage of what do I do now?

I think even more so now with the whole COVID-19, one of the things that really opened things up for me was this remote healing piece because of the lack of potential to go to people in person and the way in which it helps to heal. Also, the other pieces of it with the emotional frustration that people are having of not being able to see their loved ones and stuff like that, so it’s even more so. 

But I love what I do. I love giving people their power back and helping them realize that they don’t even need me necessarily to heal. I may be working myself out of a job, but the more empowerment that we could give our clients to where they are able to then see their own potential and their basically limitless potential of healing themselves, then that’s where I feel like I’ve done my job is getting them to that level and not needing me anymore.


[02:44:11] Ashley James: Yes. You work yourself out of a job by helping people get to the point where they don’t need you anymore. But it’s fun to do the check-ins. I know I definitely want to have a few more sessions with you. It’s so cool because it’s layered, you peel the layers away. Thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been such a pleasure having you, and I can’t wait to have you back.


[02:44:35] Dr. Vienna Lafrenz: Thank you I appreciate it, and I appreciate your listeners as well.


[02:44:42] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview. You know, there are 53 days left until Christmas if you’re listening to this the day I publish it. If you’re listening to it later, Christmas is just around the corner. I love giving holistic presents to my friends and family. I’m going to tell you a few that I absolutely love.

The Magnesium Soak, you can listen to my interviews. Just type in Magnesium Soak at and listen to those interviews. Absolutely amazing. Kristen Bowen, I think she said she was 97 pounds, having 30 seizures a day, in a wheelchair, and unable to talk. Now, she’s in perfect health. One of the biggest things that helped her was her magnesium soak that she sells on her website, Be sure to use the coupon code: LTH when you go to her website, Coupon code: LTH.

I love the Magnesium Creme, I love the Magnesium Soak. You put it in a foot bath or put it in your bathtub for you and your kids. I also love the Magnesium Muscle Creme, which is amazing for aches, pains, and tension headaches. That absolutely must be on your Christmas gift list, your holiday gift list.

The other great gift I love giving my holistic friends is ENERGYbits. Go to Grab a few of the bags of ENERGYbits for your sister, your mom, your best friend. They’re fantastic snacks. Kids love them too because they make your tongue turn green or blue, depending on whether you get the chlorella or spirulina. They help to detox the body. They’re filled with readily available protein and tons of vitamins. I think I have seven different interviews about chlorella and spirulina, specifically about the ENERGYbits brand. I’ve interviewed the founder of that company.

There are only two companies I know of that do not contain any lead in their chlorella. If you buy some over the counter, go to some health food store and buy chlorella, there’s going to be that little warning on it that says, in the state of California, this causes cancer. That’s because there’s actually lead in those bags of chlorella. But in ENERGYbits, in their chlorella, there’s zero because of their process of how they grow their crop and how they then turn the crop into little edible tablets.

So listen to my interviews on the Magnesium Soak with Kristen Bowen. Listen to my interviews about algae, the healing benefits of algae, and how it’s such an awesome superfood snack to carry around with you. Listen to my ENERGYbits interviews and use coupon code LTH at and coupon code LTH at Those are two amazing websites to check out for your Christmas gift ideas. I always use coupon code LTH.

I try to get companies who I absolutely love and adore and recommend to always use the same coupon code. Just always try coupon code LTH on all these health websites, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you get a great discount. Awesome. Enjoy today’s interview. Come check us out in our Facebook group if you haven’t already. We have such a supportive and wonderful community. You can ask your health questions there and support the other members as well. Just search Learn True Health on Facebook and come join the excellent community of very supportive holistic community there. 



Get Connected with Dr. Vienna Lafrenz


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Book by Dr. Vienna Lafrenz

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Recommended Reading by Dr. Vienna Lafrenz

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza

Oct 25, 2020

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Your Body in Balance: The New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health:


Your Body in Balance: The New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health by Dr. Neal Barnard



  • How to lower estrogen levels
  • Impact of decreasing estrogen levels on hormone-related illnesses
  • Soy products affect hormone levels
  • Why does eating animal products disrupt hormones
  • Effects of dairy consumption


Do you have hormone-related issues like PCOS, PMS, endometriosis, or type 2 diabetes? In this episode, Dr. Neal Barnard shares how those can be healed by removing meat and animal products from our diet. He explains the effects of dairy consumption and why we should remove dairy products from our diet.


[00:00:00] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 449. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have back on the show Dr. Neal Barnard. You were in episode 256 so it’s been a while. Now we’re in the 400s of our interviews. We had you on for one of your books, the Cheese Trap, which was amazing. I highly recommend listeners go back and check out episode 256 if you haven’t already. Dr. Barnard, you are on the forefront of the whole food, plant-based movement showing people that we can heal our body with food, and now you’ve come out with a book teaching us—especially women—how we can balance our hormones, gain fertility, breeze through menopause, and even how to manage things like cancer—when it’s hormone-related cancers—all using food as medicine. I’m very happy to have you back on the show.


[00:01:08] Dr. Neal Barnard: Well, thank you. It’s great to be back.


[00:01:10] Ashley James: Absolutely. We did dive a bit into your bio in our last interview and what led you to want to become a doctor that practices whole food, plant-based food as a way of healing people. So I want to jump right in, why did you write your latest book, Your Body In Balance? What compelled you to want to help use food to balance our hormones?


[00:01:34] Dr. Neal Barnard: Up until now, most people have thought of food in rather modest terms. That if you’re eating the wrong kinds of foods, you’ll gain weight. You change your diet and lose weight. Maybe your cholesterol will go down, your blood sugar can improve—that kind of stuff. We can be much more ambitious than that when it comes to tuning up our health.

Almost every function of your body is controlled by hormones. Hormones are made in one organ. They go through the bloodstream to reach another organ, and they tell it what to do. If you could control your hormones, let’s say you can control thyroid hormone, which gives energy to your cells, you can control estrogens, which controls sexual function, reproductive function. What if you can control insulin, which deals with your blood sugar levels? There are so many more. If you can control all those, you can control your health in a far more sophisticated way than you might have imagined. Amazingly enough, the key to it is food.


[00:02:36] Ashley James: Why is that? When did you first start seeing that food had such a profound impact on hormones?


[00:02:45] Dr. Neal Barnard: Well, it actually started out sort of by accident. I was sitting at my desk. A young woman called me up, and she had terrible menstrual pain. Many women have some menstrual cramps, but for maybe 1 in 10, it’s just off the scale, I can’t go to work today type pain, and that was her situation. I realized I could give her painkillers for a couple of days, but what would that do for the next month, the month after that, or the month after that? So I said to her, “Let me give you some painkillers for now, but how about if we try and experiment and see if we can prevent this from happening next month?” I have to confess, I just made an educated guess.

I said, “For the next four weeks, how about this, no animal products in your diet at all and keep oils to a bare minimum.” She called me up four weeks later and said, “This is the most amazing thing. My period arrived, I don’t have a single cramp—nothing.” And the month after that, the month after that. She was completely fine. I then did a randomized clinical trial with Georgetown University’s department of obstetrics and gynecology where we tested this in a larger group of women, and it was very effective. Different women got different effects. For some, though, it just was like night and day.

Anyhow, I can explain to you why that works, why that kind of diet change would affect estrogen levels. But the bottom line was I discovered that by changing the fiber content, the fat content to the food, and a few other things, we could control menstrual cramping. If you can control that, then that, in turn, means you have some control over endometriosis, over fertility, over all the things that estrogens will control.


[00:04:34] Ashley James: This is fascinating. So, you talk about not only fertility but menopause and even the sex hormone-related cancers in your book. Do you also talk about how to reverse type 2 diabetes in your book?


[00:04:50] Dr. Neal Barnard: Oh, yes. In fact, that’s what we’ve been really known for more than anything else. Type 2 diabetes is of course—well, maybe I should just back up. The problems we’ve been discussing so far like menstrual cramps or endometriosis, those are problems of estrogen. Estrogen is made in the ovaries, for the most part. If you have too much of it, it thickens up the uterine lining too much. 

Researchers learned a long time ago that a high fiber diet will bring it down, a lower-fat diet will bring it down, and avoiding dairy products, in particular, will help because dairy products have estrogens that come from cows. I put all that together, I thought all right. A vegan diet doesn’t have any animal fat at all, and it’s very high in fiber so that’s what I’ve used. We kept oils low and that was the reason it cured her

But with diabetes, it’s a different thing. The hormone now is not estrogens, it’s insulin. It’s made in the pancreas, but I can control it with a remarkably similar diet. In 2003, the NIH gave our team a grant to try to find a better diet for controlling type 2 diabetes. What we have found is that a diet that’s really remarkably similar to the estrogen-controlling diet, using an insulin-controlling diet, you once again get rid of animal products, you keep oils really low, and you can do a couple of other things. 

What we started to see was something we had never seen before, which was diabetes going away. I’m talking about diabetes being just gone in people that had it for years. Not to say that that always happens, but it almost always happens that people do improve, and they reduce their blood sugars and their medication requirements. Sometimes they just get rid of the disease, which I have to tell you is the most amazing feeling for the patient, and for their own outside doctors. They have never seen a patient cure themselves of what had been an incurable disease.


[00:06:53] Ashley James: If you can cure yourself of a hormone-related disease by changing your diet, then was it the food they were eating that caused the disease in the first place?


[00:07:05] Dr. Neal Barnard: Yes. Yes, it was. Sometimes in the face of genetic vulnerabilities. In other words, a diet loaded with Velveeta and fried chicken isn’t necessarily going to cause diabetes in everybody, but it does cause it in a lot of people. Right now, about 1/3 of the American population has either diabetes or pre-diabetes. and that is not because of sugar, bread, or rice. It’s not from carbohydrates. It’s because of eating fatty foods. The fat gets into the muscle and liver cells leading to a condition called insulin resistance, and we’ve been studying this, and then we’ve figured out how to make it go away and we’re just controlling the hormones by food.


[00:07:54] Ashley James: I used to have type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome, and I reversed both with a whole food, plant-based diet and taking supplements because I was very deficient in minerals like chromium. That was, for me, a complete game-changer to see that changing my diet had such a profound impact on my life. I know a woman who had such bad endometriosis. She was a friend of mine’s roommate. I saw her once a month for a whole week. She was in bed crying, curled up in a ball, and unable to work. 

Then she became a vegetarian. She called it vegetarian but I watched her basically cut out dairy and meat out of her diet. I watched her be able to function now only in bed for two or three days instead of a whole week. She didn’t know to give up oil, she didn’t know to give up eggs, but I just saw an improvement in just that amount of switching. Why is it that eating meat, eating the flesh of an animal disrupts hormones, or making our body increase insulin resistance and also increasing estrogen? Why is it having that effect on our body?


[00:09:16] Dr. Neal Barnard: Yeah, it’s a fascinating thing. These are all the things that they don’t teach in medical school either, I have to tell you. We’ve had to discover them on our own. Maybe I shouldn’t be blaming the medical schools because much of the research just wasn’t done back then, but we do have it now, and it’s important for people to understand it. The means of controlling insulin, it’s almost the same kind of diet, but the mechanism turns out to be completely different.

Let’s take endometriosis. That’s what your friend had where she was just terrible, terrible cramps. For people who don’t know what we’re talking about, endometriosis is a really painful condition where cells that are supposed to be lining the uterus—that’s called the endometrial layer, the very inside of the uterus. Those cells, which are supposed to be kind of a little cushion when a baby is developing inside the uterus, some of those little cushiony cells have escaped. And they’ve flown out the fallopian tubes. Now they’re in the abdominal cavity, and they implant around the implant on the intestines, on the fallopian tubes themselves, on the surface of the ovary. And they expand and contract, they bleed, they cause scarring, and they hurt like crazy.

However, it’s been clear for a long time that they’re driven by estrogens. They’re driven by sex hormones. So if a woman has less estrogen in her blood, they’re going to regress. The reason that I started jumping into this was I had become aware that as part of cancer research, researchers discovered that estrogen drives the growth of cancer. I mean, this is not surprising. If you have more estrogen it makes cancer cells grow. But I found that some researchers had discovered that if you reduce fatty foods in the diet—whether it’s meat fat, cheese fat, or even donut type fat, any kind of grease—if you reduce grease in the diet, it brings estrogen levels down. 

Completely independent of that, if you boost fiber which means fruits, vegetables, and beans, that also brings estrogens down. That was the reason why the young woman with menstrual pain, I said vegan diet then there’s no animal fat at all and everything’s got a lot of fiber. It’s going to be the best of all worlds.

Dairy is a particular issue because dairy actually has estrogens in it that come from the cow. You don’t have any dairy at all in your diet. If you do those things, people with endometriosis very often feel dramatically better. 

There was a young woman whose story I described in my book, Your Body In Balance. She was in the Air Force. She had terrible endometriosis. She was slated for a hysterectomy because nothing could control her symptoms. She went on the diet that I’m describing and her endometriosis was simply gone. What was particularly amazing was that her doctor was convinced that not only would she be in pain every month because of endometriosis, but also that it had robbed her of her fertility. This disease process was so profound.

Well, not only did the diet change cure her endometriosis, but she wasn’t infertile at all. She was fine. She’s got three children now. She still got her uterus. She’s got her kids. She’s got a healthy vegan diet. She’s probably got a new doctor. Anyway, you see my point.

How many people go to the doctor and are told your menstrual cramps, your fertility issues, your endometriosis, it’s a sign of your hormones being out of balance. Here’s how you choose your breakfast to get your hormones into a better balance. Here’s how I would choose my lunch. Here are the best snacks for you. It never happens. It’s all some pharmaceutical solution that may work, or it may not work.


[00:13:15] Ashley James: But it really just masks it and it doesn’t address the root cause.


[00:13:18] Dr. Neal Barnard: Or worse, you can go to the doctor and have your uterus and ovaries removed and be told that this is God’s will. When in fact, it might have been the will of Kraft, McDonald’s, KFC, or something. But it had nothing to do with a deity bringing this on.

So anyway, you asked me why did I write Your Body In Balance? Because I thought people need to know how to control, not just diabetes, endometriosis, or PCOS, which you were dealing with. PCOS is a hormonal condition, which to a great degree, is responsive to food changes and things like thyroid conditions. 

People don’t even know where their thyroid is. All they know is I got out of bed today. I got zero energy. I stepped on the scale, and I’ve gained a pound since last week. I look in the mirror and my hair doesn’t look right. You go to the doctor and these are all non-specific symptoms, but the doctor says to you this is fitting a pattern. Let me do a blood test. And the doctor finds your hypothyroid—you’re low in thyroid. Your thyroid gland is at the base of your neck. It gives your cells energy, and when it’s just not working, you just feel rotten.

What does the doctor do? Puts you on thyroid replacement medication, which you will be on for the rest of your life. What we have discovered is that there are—in some cases—dietary causes of it that are really easy to rectify. You may need medical care, you may well. Don’t fire your doctor or cancel your doctor’s appointment, but let’s see if there’s a dietary change that can get you back on track.


[00:15:06] Ashley James: There’s also a list of plant-based doctors. I don’t remember the name of the website. I’ll probably put it in the show notes, but you can google plant-based doctors. There’s a directory of doctors who study your work, study these studies, want to do labs, and help their patients balance their hormones. Maybe using medication at first, but then also help them with their diet. That’s something to look at. 

I’ve always gone to naturopathic doctors because they love looking at labs, diet, and nutrition first before entertaining the idea of putting you on a prescription as a last-ditch effort. Whereas many other doctors, like you said, this is how the schooling was—the medical school was at the time. They didn’t have the resources to teach us that food can be medicine, and now we see it plain as day.

You’ve talked about really doing your best to reduce or eliminate oil altogether, cut out all dairy products from cows. Of course, you can do plant-based dairy. You could make it in your own home. It’s just made from nuts, soy, rice, or oats, and then looking at eating lots of fiber from plants. But what about specifically the harm that comes to our hormones by eating animal flesh—by eating fish, cows, and chickens? Why does that disrupt hormones?


[00:16:47] Dr. Neal Barnard: Okay. By the way, first, to the point you’re making earlier about finding a doctor who understands this. There are different sites, and the one that I might recommend—if you go to the website, that’s Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Just in the little search thing, put find a doctor. You’ll see lots and lots and lots and lots of names that come up. About five years ago, we launched a primary care clinic because we were doing so many research studies that other people could not participate in if they didn’t have exactly that condition. We have a primary care clinic here. It’s called Barnard Medical Center and we do telehealth visits.


[00:17:32] Ashley James: Excellent.


[00:17:33] Dr. Neal Barnard: Yeah. Many, many, many states of the United States, people can do telemedicine if they are able to, and then we’re gradually expanding beyond that. It’s just


[00:17:46] Ashley James: Excellent. I’ll make sure the links to everything you mentioned are in the show notes of today’s podcast at That’s exciting that someone could work with you, one of your staff members, or one of your colleagues and look at their specific needs and adjust their diet accordingly. So getting onto them, I’m really excited to understand specifically what it is about eating animal flesh that disrupts our hormones?


[00:18:12] Dr. Neal Barnard: Okay. If we are speaking of insulin, insulin is a hormone that is made in the pancreas, it goes through the bloodstream to the surface of a muscle cell. Let’s say I’m eating animal flesh, I’m eating a hamburger. The hamburger is some protein but a fair amount of fat. Even if it’s “lean meat,” there’s a surprising amount of fat in there. Even if it’s the leanest chicken—you take off the skin, it’s only chicken breast—it’s still about 23% fat. That animal fat is absorbed by the body, enters the muscle cell. And then when insulin tries to get that cell to do what it’s supposed to do, which is to pull glucose out of the blood, the fat stops it from working. The fat in animal products interferes with insulin sensitivity. It causes insulin resistance.

That’s also a problem with PCOS. In women who have polycystic ovary syndrome, they are very often insulin resistant as well. So getting the animal products out of the diet means there’s no animal fat to interfere with insulin action. 

The other thing about it is that animal products don’t have certain things in them. They don’t have any fiber. They don’t have any complex carbohydrates, and so as a result, fiber normally helps the body to eliminate excess hormones. Your liver removes estrogens from the blood, and it sends them through the bile duct into the intestinal tract and out they go, but it only works if fiber is there to escort them. Fiber is like a broom that sweeps it out.

If you ate chicken breast or salmon for lunch, they’re not from plants, they’re from animals so there’s no fiber in them at all. If that’s the case, the estrogens in your intestinal tract that the liver carefully removed don’t go through the intestinal tract anymore. They reabsorb back into the blood. The fiber is essential to making that happen. So what’s wrong with animal products? They got a lot of fat, they don’t have any fiber, and if you want a contaminated product, animal products are always the worst. They are the ones that tend to be filled with chemicals much more than plants.


[00:20:30] Ashley James: Well, that makes sense. We’ve heard that eating a sardine, there’s less mercury in a sardine than in a tuna because the tuna went around eating all the sardines. The cow is consuming tons and tons of grain, soy, or whatever it’s been fed that has pesticides. Pesticides concentrate in its muscles, and then when you eat the cow you’re getting the concentration of all the feed it was ever given with all those pesticides and chemicals. Even organic I have to question. What about the idea that there are hormones in animal meat? If you’re eating a cow and the cow has its own hormones—even though it says no hormones added—the cows were making their own hormones. Is that a factor? I mean, we’re eating the estrogen that was once a cow’s estrogen?


[00:21:24] Dr. Neal Barnard: I think it matters for dairy, I think it matters less for meat. The reason I say that is dairy products—well, on meat just very, very quickly. If you go out to a farm, many of the cows will have hormones injected into a little pellet on their ear that will release either testosterone or synthetic testosterone, or estrogen or synthetic estrogens into their blood. The reason the farmers do it is that they get better growth of the animal per unit feed, so it makes money for them. But with dairy, it’s a bigger issue because every glass of milk you ever had came from a cow who was impregnated annually. Which by the way is not a treat for anyone. If you ever happen to go buy a dairy and say I want to see how you artificially inseminate your cows, it is a creepy process. 

The other creepy thing is that after nine months of gestation, their babies are not allowed to stay with them. Their babies are taken away, and they basically go through this annual procedure where they’re artificially inseminated, their babies are taken away just so that we can take their milk, which nature had in mind something else.

Apart from the ethical issues of it, they are milked during much of their pregnancy. A pregnant cow makes extra estrogen and extra progesterone, and it gets in the milk. The milk concentrates them as it’s turned into cheese. The average American adult eats 37 pounds of cheese every year, plus milk, plus ice cream, plus yogurt, plus butter, and so you’re getting estrogens and other hormones from the milk and the milk products.

Now, people will rightly say it’s only a trace. True. However, in research studies, you can see a clear-cut association between dairy consumption and fertility issues in men, in cancer mortality in women, in breast cancer incidents in women. A brand new study from California just showed a substantially higher risk of breast cancer in milk-drinking women. 

How much estrogen do you want to feed to your seven-year-old daughter or your or your eight-year-old son? It is completely unnatural, but you and we all grew up with this idea—milk for strong bones. Nature said, wait a minute, cows don’t make calcium, cows eat calcium. It’s an element in the earth that gets into the grass, and if you’re eating vegetable matter like grass, you get calcium.

Hopefully, you’re not eating grass, but you’re eating broccoli, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, or other greens that you like. That’s where calcium comes from. The whole idea that you need dairy for calcium is an invention of the dairy industry.


[00:24:20] Ashley James: I’ve heard—possibly you said it—that there was a study where they looked at a meta-analysis of all the countries that have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. They found that those that drink the least amount of dairy or no dairy actually had the strongest bones in comparison to those countries that drank the most cow dairy had the weakest bones and the highest rates of osteoporosis. Can you speak to that?


[00:24:53] Dr. Neal Barnard: The evidence that dairy products help protect against bone fractures is extremely weak, not that it hasn’t been studied. The dairy industry has been very eager to come up with health rationales for consuming a bowl of ice cream, but the fact of the matter is it really doesn’t work very well. All kinds of problems come along with it. Anyway, to just speak to your point, there are confounding variables here. People who tend to avoid milk have a number of other health benefits. They’re eating other things. That may account for why they have stronger bones. But at a minimum, you just can’t really find robust research showing that dairy helps. I think that’s the most conservative thing to say. It’s just not going to benefit you.

But along the way, a researcher at Harvard named Dan Cramer years ago started looking at infertility. As you know, when women are maybe in their mid-20s, that’s sort of peak fertility time. When she’s 10 years older than that, she’s in her mid-30s or late 30s, her fertility is less. She started getting calls from her mother who says, I know your career is important to you, but you better not wait. Your clock is ticking. That kind of stuff. 

So Cramer looked at a variety of countries, and he looked at the decline in fertility as women go from their late 20s to their late 30s. He compared it to dairy intake. Thailand, not a big ice cream eating country. Cheese pizza is not their thing. It’s not a lot of dairy in Thailand. And the drop in fertility during that time from the late 20s to late 30s in women is maybe about 25% reduction.

Then you look at Brazil. Brazil, a little more dairy, more cheese. About a 50% loss of fertility during that time. You look at the United States where it’s all dairy all the time, and the reduction in fertility is about 80%. If you look at a variety of other countries, it’s not a perfect pattern but it’s quite compelling that high dairy intake appears to interfere with ovarian function. What we are speculating is the issue is that the problem here, in this case, isn’t just the estrogen or progesterone from the cow, but it could be—surprisingly enough—dairy sugar.

The sugar in milk is lactose. And in your digestive tract, if you can digest it, it breaks apart to release galactose. Galactose and glucose come out of the lactose sugar. The galactose can be toxic to the ovary. What supports this is that researchers have also shown that galactose is linked to ovarian cancer. What we think is happening is that there’s not free galactose in much of anything that people eat—very little of it. And your body doesn’t take it in. 

But dairying countries, dairying regions of the globe—maybe many thousands of years ago—started to spawn genetic mutations so that in some populations—particularly what you might refer to as Caucasian populations—carry this mutation so that they can break down the lactose sugar to release galactose. They think this is a wonderful advantage because I’ve got a new food source, and I don’t get the digestive problems that the rest of the world gets. Most of the world is lactose intolerant. You get diarrhea when you drink milk, but not these white people. For white people, maybe 85% are lactose tolerant. They don’t get digestive symptoms.

Well, that’s not so great because what happens is then you are digesting the sugar to release galactose into your blood, which is going to harm your fertility, increase the risk of ovarian cancer—according to the best evidence we have—and create all kinds of havoc that nature never thought in a million years humans would find nutrition in the udder of a cow. But people are creative. I mean, we stumble into all kinds of problems. So there you have it.


[00:29:20] Ashley James: You’ve taught us how to naturally decrease the estrogens to healthy levels. What changes can we make in our diet to helpfully increase progesterone for women who have low progesterone?


[00:29:34] Dr. Neal Barnard: Well, it’s largely a question of balance. If you bring down the estrogen in the right way, progesterone will take care of itself. Now there are people who will say that yams have natural progesterone in them. That’s true, but the bioavailability of it is modest in my view. There are people who will turn it into creams that they will sell you, and you’ll see them online. I am not aware of any toxicity of them. You can certainly try them. You look up natural progesterone creams, they’re typically yam-derived, perfectly fine. Whether they will work for you or not is another issue.


[00:30:10] Ashley James: It’s a matter of eating so healthy the body comes back into balance. Well, the idea that sex hormones and stress hormones are derived from fat, that the body takes—isn’t that a form of cholesterol that it then turns into these hormones?


[00:30:28] Dr. Neal Barnard: Yeah, isn’t that funny? Cholesterol is a bad actor, and it really is, but your body actually does make modest amounts of cholesterol to turn into testosterone, estrogen, and a variety of other compounds. Cholesterol is sort of this raw material. The way we run into trouble is if we start eating cholesterol from eggs or other animal products. 

One area that’s been a surprise—and you’re speaking about these hormonal changes—menopause is a time when many women really suffer from hot flashes. Here, it’s not so much the hormones causing it as the hormone roller coaster causing it. Your estrogen levels were high when you were 48, but now you’re 52 and your hormones have changed dramatically, so you get hot flashes that can persist.

Back in the 1980s, I believe it was, a researcher from McGill University named Margaret Lock went to Japan. She interviewed about 1200 women, and they just didn’t report hot flashes. The question was, well, maybe Japanese women are kind of reticent. They don’t want to talk about their intimate things. So she did really in-depth interviews. It’s kind of a backache. When I went through menopause. I was a little moody for a little while. Did you have hot flashes? No, I didn’t really have it. There was no Japanese word for it. Same with China, same with parts of rural Mexico.

What all these places had in common was that their dietary staples were plant-derived. There might have been some animal products, but not much dairy in particular. When Japan westernized—McDonald’s, KFC, and everybody came in—the rice was discarded in favor of chicken, pizza, and dairy. We started to see hormonal problems come in. Breast cancer rates doubled. Menopausal symptoms became common. Depression became much more common. The other piece is that soy products seem to have an anti-hot flash effect.

Anyway, in Your Body In Balance, when I wrote this book, I described all of this. I talked about soy, and I suggested that women who have hot flashes go on a vegan diet and consume soy. A woman called me up about six weeks ago. She said, “Dr. Barnard, I did what you said. I got terrible hot flashes. I did it in a certain way. I didn’t want to just do soy milk. You don’t know what it is in the soybean that’s good for you.” She said, “I took my pressure cooker, and I just took whole soybeans that I got at the co-op. I threw them in there, and I’ve been eating half a cup a day. My hot flashes were gone in three days.” I was like, “Holy cow. That’s amazing.”

Whether this will work for a large group of people, I don’t know. There have been quite a number of studies on it, and what intrigued me was that these studies have been done on extracts or soy foods where it’s a part of the soybean. But in her case she said, I’m going to use the whole damn thing. I’m using the whole soybean, half cup a day. If anybody’s listening to this broadcast and hot flashes are driving you crazy and you can’t sleep more than 90 minutes at night without being awakened by night sweats, you might try this approach. No animal products in your diet at all, keep oils low, take out your Instant Pot, boil up a big batch of whole soybeans, which you’ll find online. Have a half a cup of them a day—they’re like pine nuts really—on your salad. It’s really not much. You just eat them, see what happens, and let me know.


[00:34:25] Ashley James: That’s fascinating. I heard that the plant estrogen—the phytoestrogen—actually binds to oxygen receptors and thus blocking our real estrogen from taking hold. So it sort of lowers estrogen dominance in that way. There are so many misconceptions about soy. That it would cause men to have breasts, which is not the case. It actually helps to lower the estrogen to healthy levels, plus you mentioned that it has fiber which helps our body to regulate estrogen. That’s great for women, but is it healthy for men to eat half a cup of cooked soybeans a day?


[00:35:04] Dr. Neal Barnard: Sure. If you happen to go to the gym and mention that you like soy products, some of the guys will say that’ll give you man boobs. That’s what you’re talking about. This concern that soy will make a man effeminate. Go to the beach in August. If you’ll see a chunky guy taking off his shirt and you notice that he’s got a little bit of breast enhancement, go right up to him and ask how much tofu did you eat this week? Tell me about your soy yogurt consumption. He’s going to say, what are you talking about? I don’t eat any of that stuff at all.


[00:35:45] Ashley James: I drink beer and I eat cheeseburgers.


[00:35:49] Dr. Neal Barnard: And wings and so forth. What has happened in his body is that as he’s eaten animal products and the fat they contain, he’s gained weight. Fat cells are not just bags of calories. Fat cells convert testosterone into estrogen. Yes, and they do it even while you’re asleep. This happens in women, and it happens in men. As he’s gained weight, he’s got more estrogen in his blood. So some of what he’s got at the breast area is fat, some of what he’s got is breast tissue. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Gynecomastia, a little bit of breast tissue, is extremely common. Most men have a little nubbit of it here somewhere, and particularly when they’re an adolescent, but they can have it. But the idea that soy is encouraging that is not true. With regard to women, let me be clear. Soy products do affect your cancer risk, and here’s how they do. They reduce it.


[00:36:43] Ashley James: Yes.


[00:36:44] Dr. Neal Barnard: Soy products reduce cancer risk by about 30%. This is really important because you’ll hear people say that soy has phytoestrogens that cause cancer. By about 2004, we had maybe eight really good studies comparing women who consumed zero soy to consuming a really large amount of soy. I’m talking about soy milk, tofu, tempeh, or something like that. The pattern was striking. The women consuming the most so had about 30% less risk of developing breast cancer. And then researchers started looking at women who had had cancer in the past, and all be darned. It did not turn out to be the case that their cancer would progress from soy. It was the opposite. Women consuming the most so they had about a 30% reduction in the likelihood of dying of their cancer.

What we now know is that there is more than one estrogen receptor on a breast cell or on other cells too. There are alpha receptors and there are beta receptors. The soy isoflavones are attached to the beta receptor. The way you can think of it is in your car, you got the gas pedal. You step on the gas your car goes. You got the brake. You step on the brake, what happens? It stops. You’ve got more than one estrogenic receptor. If you’re trying to calm things down, a product that attaches specifically to the beta receptor is going to be your friend.


[00:38:13] Ashley James: Fascinating. What about prostate cancer?


[00:38:20] Dr. Neal Barnard: It’s quantitatively similar. Men who consume the most soy, once again, have about a 30% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, but there’s more to it here. If you’re consuming soy milk you are not consuming cow’s milk. Cow’s milk—completely separate from soy—is a driver of prostate cancer.


[00:38:47] Ashley James: Wow.


[00:38:48] Dr. Neal Barnard: At Harvard, this must go back 20 years, the Physicians’ Health Study—huge study—brought in physicians because they’re good reporters of their health and they track what they eat if you ask them to. The men consuming the most cow’s milk had about a 34% increased risk of prostate cancer. They followed it up with a much bigger trial, and they showed that if anything, it was an even higher risk, maybe 60% higher risk. What we now know is that in the same way as a calf suckling from a mother cow—when the dairy products go into the cow’s stomach, it triggers the production of something in the blood of the calf called IGF-1—insulin-like growth factor—that helps the calf to grow. So milk in the calf’s body encourages growth.

Well, you might be a 55-year-old man but milk does the same. It increases IGF-1 levels in your blood, and IGF-1 is a potent growth stimulus specifically for cancer cells. You do not want to treat your body as if you are a calf hell-bent on growing. There is a reason why nature does not ever permit adult animals to drink dairy products. Every single mammal drinks milk from their mother. Every single mammal goes through a weaning process where that growth stimulus is shut off. Human beings being so creative and restless, we always figure out ways to defy what nature had in mind for us. This lifelong suckling at Dairy Queen is creating all kinds of problems for us.


[00:40:36] Ashley James: Fascinating. I could talk to you for hours about this. I know that you’re very busy and you have to go. I’d love to have you back on the show any time to continue sharing this information. I urge listeners to get your latest book, Your Body In Balance. Of course, the link to buy your book is going to be the show notes of today’s podcast at Learn True Health. I love that you discuss how men and women can balance every hormone in their body. You have mentioned several times eating a healthy vegan diet. Of course, Oreos are vegan. That would be considered the unhealthy vegan diet.

For those who’ve never considered a plant-based diet to balance their hormones and decrease their chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and also balance their weight accordingly, and also increase their longevity. We could go on and on about the benefits of eating a whole food, plant-based diet. Could you just wrap up the interview today by explaining what it looks like to eat a healthy vegan diet that promotes healing and decreasing disease?


[00:41:45] Dr. Neal Barnard: Sure. Let me describe how we walk people through this change. If you ever quit smoking or something like that, this transition is much easier than that, and the payoff is enormous. Here’s how we do it and I’ll tell you what the foods look like. 

The patient comes in, they got diabetes, they want to get rid of it. Or they’ve got cramps, they want to get rid of it. They have PCOS, whatever the issue is. Step one is we’re going to take seven days. During the seven days, we’re not going to change any part of the diet, but what we are going to do is take a piece of paper and I’m going to write on the paper the word breakfast, leave a little space and then I’ll write lunch, then I’ll leave a little space I’ll write dinner, and I’ll leave some space and I’ll write snack.

I’ll say please take this paper and come back seven days from now, and I want to see a list of foods that have no animal products in them that you actually would like to eat in each category. The patient says that’s it? Okay. They come back and they say, “Well, my first breakfast item is I have corn flakes with cow’s milk normally, but I went to the store and I got some almond milk. It’s pretty cool, so that’s on my list. I have oatmeal but I have to top it with cinnamon and raisins and then I’d like that. I tried this vegan sausage that’s pretty cool.” So they got their list.

“For dinner, let’s see, my partner and I went out. We went to an Italian place and they made angel hair pasta with an Arrabbiata sauce. The next week we had a bean burrito without the cheese.” Okay, great. By seven days, they got a pretty good list. So I say, “Now, step two is three weeks. During the three weeks, I want you to eat from your list. No animal products at all for the three weeks. You’re going to be vegan now but it’s easy because it’s only 21 days, and you already picked out the foods you like.” “That’s it?” “Yeah, that’s all I want you to do.”

You keep in touch with them because they’ll hit some bump in the road. But after three weeks, two things will have happened. Number one, they’re feeling better, they’re losing weight. Physically, things are changing, but they also discover that their feelings about foods are changing because they haven’t had any animal products for three weeks. That is more than enough time to completely rethink your foods. Now, you say to them, “Well, how do you like it?” “Well, I kind of like where I’m going. Can I do this for another week, doc? And I say, “Yeah, let’s just keep going and see how it goes.” Okay, great. So it’s very easy.

As the months go by, if they have diabetes, their medication requirements drop. If they’ve got menstrual pain, they discover it’s changing. All kinds of things will change within their bodies. The foods are in four categories: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, or legumes. So that turns into foods that are on international scale staples for everybody. I already mentioned pasta with marinara sauce, vegetables. In a Latin American restaurant, beans, rice, and tortillas. In a Chinese restaurant, rice, vegetables, or tofu dishes. You go to the sushi bar, you don’t have the fish sushi but you have the cucumber roll, the sweet potato roll, or the asparagus roll. You can have the seaweed salads, the regular salads, and the miso soup.

What I discovered, I grew up in North Dakota. Every day of my life was roast beef, baked potatoes, and corn. Pretty simple diet. When I went vegan, I now live in Washington DC. It’s amazing. The palette of foods available is huge. If somebody said, no, you can’t have any more you know spaghetti Arrabbiata, you can’t have any more bean burritos, you can’t have any more Thai food, Vietnamese food, Ethiopian food, go back to North Dakota and just eat your roast beef. That to me would feel depriving.

A vegan diet is extremely vast. It does require thinking things through a little bit, but after two weeks you’re a master. Instead of thinking in simple terms that foods cause me to gain weight or raise my cholesterol, you now have a much more complex view that foods allow me to control my hormones that control every other aspect of my body. I can control them for ill, I control them for good. It’s like driving your car. You can drive recklessly, or you can drive in a really careful way that gets you where you want to go.

The reason I wrote Your Body In Balance was to give this owner’s manual to people. And if you don’t mind, I want to brag just really quickly.


[00:46:23] Ashley James: Oh please do.


[00:46:24] Dr. Neal Barnard: Lindsey Nixon is a genius in the kitchen, and she did all the recipes for it. When she sent me the recipes, she said, “Neal, you’re going to really love these recipes. They’re easy, they’re quick, they’re all 100% vegan, but they are so familiar and wonderful.” She’s right, they’re great. But she sent a note with them that said, “Dr. Barnard, this way of eating that you’re describing cured my cramps too.” I thought okay, that’s validation.


[00:46:51] Ashley James: That’s so cool.


[00:46:53] Dr. Neal Barnard: I hope people will give it a try, and more importantly, I hope they’ll share this with somebody else. The work that you do in sharing this information, not just me but the other people that you talk to, you have a real talent for getting life-saving and life-changing information out to people. So I hope people won’t just benefit themselves and keep it to themselves. They got to tell other people about what you’re doing.


[00:47:15] Ashley James: Every woman has a friend with horrible cramps, hot flashes, or endometriosis. It’s like every woman. Some men too think about their sisters, their wives, their moms, or some of their best friends. Listeners, think about it, how many women can you list right now on your fingers, how many women can you count that you know—you’re close to, that you’re friends with, your family, your acquaintances with, or that you work with—that have expressed hormonal problems, concerns about breast cancer, or thyroid? How many women?

I mean, most women I know express concerns about their thyroid or are on thyroid medication or diabetes. Like you said, one in three people in the United States is diabetic or pre-diabetic. The entire population would benefit from your book. I know Christmas is a few months away, now’s a great time to buy several copies of Your Body In Balance and gift them. Give them early though. Don’t wait until Christmas. Give them early out of love and care for those for all the women and men in our life who suffer from thyroid-, prostate-, breast cancer-, estrogen-related imbalance. We can help. We can turn this ripple into a tidal wave and help so many of our loved ones.

I wish I’d had your book when I was—in high school, I was keeled over suffering from cramps so bad it was so incredibly painful. By the time I was 19 I was told I was infertile and I’d never have kids. Because of nutrition and because of food, we conceived our son naturally who’s 5 ½, and I’m currently pregnant with our second one. That is all due to holistic medicine. It is all due to using nutrition, using food, and a whole food, plant-based diet. 

I’m a raving fan. I wish I’d had your book back when I was 16. This is a book we could give to all the young women and all the people in our life we love. I’m thankful that you came to the show. I’m thankful that you’re spreading this information. I’m excited to dive into your book and those recipes sound great. Thank you so much for coming on the show, and please, come back any time. We would just love to have you here.


[00:49:37] Dr. Neal Barnard: Great. Well, thank you, Ashley. It’s been really fun talking with you today, and thanks for spreading the word.



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Books by Dr. Neal Barnard

Your Body in Balance: The New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health

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Oct 15, 2020

Link to the Solo Sunlighten Sauna 25% off Sale:

Use coupon code: TrueHealthSolo



Plant Strong Primer Kitchen Event:


Rip Esselstyn of Engine 2: Prevent Obesity, Cancer, and Heart Disease with A Delicious Plant Strong Diet



  • What inspired Rip to go whole food, plant-based
  • How Rip started working with the firefighters
  • Impact of eating whole food, plant-based
  • How to stay on whole food plant-based while traveling


In this episode, Rip Esselstyn tells his origin story on how he became a healthy eating advocate. He shares how he started helping firefighters and other people to eat whole food, plant-based. He talks about his different ventures, including his Plant-Strong Podcast, his Engine 2—soon to be Plant-Strong—food products, and the events they’re hosting to help people get started and stay on the whole food, plant-based diet.


Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I know you’re going to love today’s episode. Before we get to it, I got to tell you about a super awesome deal that’s going on right now. As you may know, if you have listened to several episodes, you might have heard me rave about the Sunlighten Sauna company.

It took a long while to research which sauna I wanted to buy. I talked to several Naturopaths that have worked with different companies, interviewed each company, looked at the specs, looked at the wood, the materials they used to build it. Is there any toxic material? Where does it come from? Where is it manufactured? Their track record. The online feedback that I could see that customers had shared, and I finally decided to purchase a Sunlighten Sauna.

This is about three years ago, and I decided to use it because I have been working on detoxing heavy metals, and also supporting my immune system, supporting overall health. I kept learning more and more about the power of using an infrared sauna, especially if it’s a non-toxic, low EMF infrared sauna to support the body’s ability to heal itself. I have been so impressed with Sunlighten. Well, their customer service is great, but their products are fantastic. I’ve been very, very happy with the results that I’ve gotten—the detoxification results. It’s a very gentle detox when we sweat out toxins.

They have a special going on right now with their Solo System. Now, what I like about the Solo System, it’s ultra-low EMF, it’s made of non-toxic material, and you can store it in your closet. It basically becomes the size of a massage table. You can put it in your closet when you’re not using it or under the bed. That’s fantastic for people who don’t have 6×6 space in their house, their condo, or their apartment to dedicate to housing a giant wooden sauna. This isn’t a wooden sauna. This is a Solo System.

They’re having a huge sale right now from now until the 18th, so only the next few days. They’re giving 25% off, and then in addition to that, they’re giving our listeners an additional discount plus free shipping. The link is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast, so just go to the notes. If you’re using iTunes or wherever you’re listening, go to the notes and you’ll see the link. You can also join the Learn True Health Facebook group because the information is posted there. You want to use the link. The link gives you the 25% off, and then in addition to that, you use this coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO, and that also gives you free shipping and an extra discount on top of it.

I’ve had several doctors on the show of holistic medicine and functional medicine swear by the system, including Dr. Mark Hyman, who lives in a condo. And he says it would be impossible to have a big sauna in his condo, and he loves traveling with the Solo System. I also had Ryan and Teddy Sternagel on the show, and they talked about how they helped their son who had two rounds of cancer.

He had cancer and then it came back. A very young baby. At about a year old, he was diagnosed with cancer. And now, thank God, he is cancer-free. I think he’s about seven years old now, and they used the Solo System. They traveled with it because he had several surgeries at different hospitals throughout the United States. I think he spent months in a hospital at one point, and they would use this system in the hospital with their young son when he was three, four, or five, helping him to get through the cancer treatments.

This is something obviously you’d want to talk to your holistic pediatrician about. But you can use this system with children—responsibly, with adults. It’s a gentle system. It allows you to detox through sweating. If that’s something that interests you, check it out, go to the link, come join the Facebook group and check out the information there, and use the coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO to get the additional discount. This is a quick sale that they’re doing. It is ending on the 18th.

But if you’re interested in getting any kind of sauna, check out Sunlighten. And if you choose to buy Sunlighten, make sure you mention the Learn True Health podcast with Ashley James as they give all my listeners a great discount. I made sure of that when I interviewed the founder, Connie Zack, and you can go back and listen to that interview as well.

Thank you so much for being a listener of the Learn True Health podcast. If you ever want to reach out to me, please, join the Learn True Health Facebook group. We answer holistic health questions there all the time. There’s a lot of questions. People just want to know what you recommend for this, or I’m looking for a good recipe for that, or how you would handle this situation with cleaning products, or dealing with colds and flu. Not only do I help and answer questions, but there are so many other wonderful community members that are in the holistic space that help as well.

You’d really be joining a fantastic community that’s looking to support you in your health success. Just join the Learn True Health Facebook group and definitely check out the Sunlighten Solo System using the coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO, and the link that is provided in the show notes of today’s podcast, or go to the Facebook group. Awesome. Thank you so much for being a listener. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.


[00:05:39] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 448. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have with us Rip Esselstyn. I am such a fan of your work. In fact, you don’t know this but we met a few years ago. Of course, you’ve met thousands of people when you tour around the country giving lectures and talking about your books and your products, but I actually met you with my husband, me, and our son. It was at Whole Foods. Actually, I think our son was napping so my husband’s staying in the car. But I ran in and I absolutely loved it. You signed my book, which I gave to one of my friends who also became plant-based, and I love your recipes. What I love about your recipes is they’re so hearty and they’re so kind of manly. They’re really easy to make for men to show them how delicious eating plants can be.

Actually, since then, my husband went 100% vegan. He woke up one day and he said I’m never eating another animal again, and I was shocked because he only ate meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then he woke up one day and said absolutely never again. About five days into eating just plants, he turns to me and he goes, “If I knew this tastes so good, I would have done this years ago.” So there’s a lot to say about this. For those who haven’t tried it yet—haven’t tried a plant-based day or a plant-based week, get Rip Esselstyn’s books and just go to town.

Now, you also have wonderful products that are sold at Whole Foods. I love everything you do, and I can’t wait to hear more from you and have the listeners learn from you today. Welcome to the show.


[00:07:34] Rip Esselstyn: Thank you, Ashley. Actually, I’m surprised. So you ran into the store to get your book signed, but your husband stayed in the car and napped?


[00:07:47] Ashley James: No, no, our son. I was just remembering. Our son was a baby at the time. He’s 5 ½ now. It might have been about five years ago, and it was in Redmond, Washington. I ran in. I had ordered the book on Amazon because I heard you were coming, and I think we were all planning on going in, but then the kid fell asleep in the car. You just don’t wake a baby up. You’re like, okay, he’s taking a nap. I ended up staying for the whole lecture while our son napped in the car, but it was fantastic. I mean, the stories you told and what I learned from you. Of course, I went home and binge-watched every YouTube video I could get my hands on—all the documentaries you’ve been in.

I had recently had your father on the show. I love telling everyone I’m within about 5’of—I’ll tell them, do you know that there’s a cardiologist that reverses heart disease with food? I think it’s amazing what you and your family do. Of course, I’m like this gushing fan over here. Let’s get to you and learn more from you. Rip, what happened in your life? Obviously, your dad and his work, but what happened to you personally that made you want to, not only go plant-based for yourself but help the world become healthier?


[00:09:07] Rip Esselstyn: For me, it’s been a journey. It all started with my father. I mean, it started with my father’s research at the Cleveland Clinic. You just said something that was a little bit off so I’ll correct you just to get it right. My father has never been a cardiologist, and he often is mistaken as one because he’s done such groundbreaking work in the field of halting, preventing, and reversing heart disease. But he’s a general surgeon, and his specialty was the thyroid, the parathyroid, and the breast.


[00:09:47] Ashley James: Fascinating.


[00:09:48] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. What I find to be so—and I’ll use your word—fascinating, is the fact that you look at Dr. Dean Ornish, you look at Nathan Pritikin back in the ‘70s, you look at my father. None of these people were, per se, in cardiology. It took somebody from outside the field of cardiology to basically shine a light and say, you know what, this is really a food created disease of our own making. If we can just eliminate all of the building blocks that promote heart disease, you know what, we don’t have to go down that path.

My father got there because he wanted to actually try and show in his lifetime that the same thing could be true with breast cancer, and by association prostate cancer, and some of these major cancers. But he knew that he could do it quicker if he tried to do it through heart disease because he’d read some studies where they’d done some research with green monkeys where they were able to actually reverse their heart disease through just the power of a whole food, plant-based diet.

And then we dove into the research, looked at the epidemiological studies, and found swaths of people living on the planet that had 1/100 the incidence of heart disease, 150th the rate of breast cancer and prostate cancer. The common denominator of all these cultures was a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet. And then you look at the work that Dan Buettner has done with the Blue Zones, with Loma Linda; with Ikaria, Greece; with Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy where you have the longest living populations on the planet—the most centenarians. The common denominator there of course is a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet.

I went to the University of Texas at Austin on a swimming scholarship. I ate on the athletic training table with the football players, the basketball players, the tennis players, and the golfers. Every meal was chicken, fried steak, cheese, pepperoni pizzas, and bacon and eggs. We had a soft-serve ice cream machine where we could go to town, but none of us knew any better.


[00:12:39] Ashley James: It sounds like a 12-year-old’s birthday party, not an athletics college.


[00:12:44] Rip Esselstyn: No, you’re right. One of the premier universities in the nation, especially when it comes to the athletic program, right? God, how far we’ve come since I was going to school over 35 years ago now. While I was there at school was when my father was really putting his shoulder up to the grindstone to show what was possible when you initially took this population, this cohort of 22 people that he got from the Cleveland Clinic that was referred to him because they were so bad off that they were not candidates for another bypass, stent, angioplasty, or anything like that. He took these 22—what somebody referred to as the walking dead.

Every other week for five years, they came in and they saw him. He went over their food diary. He also weighed them, did their blood pressure, and did a lipid panel, and checked their total cholesterol—LDL, HDL, triglycerides. He went over their food log, and these guys were compliant. They were not messing it up. Again, it just goes to show the power of when you do this and you implement the program correctly, none of these people had any more events. The men that were in wheelchairs were able to get out of the wheelchairs and start walking. The angina, the chest pain basically went away. These people were dancing again. They were golfing. They were walking the malls. They were playing tennis almost like too good to be true like miracles.

So I heard the stories while I was at the University of Texas of my father and working with these walking dead and how they were basically coming back to life in more ways than one. And I was just so inspired by his ability to try and find this truth, to go against the grain, and do something as novel and important as this. Also, something about it just felt right. When I graduated, I was off the training table, and I was able to cook on my own and all that, I immediately started eating this way. That was back in January 1987. For the most part, I haven’t looked back. It’s now been 33 years that I really embrace this.

It’s just now about finessing it and accumulating more information. One thing has led to another, and the dots have continued to connect. I find myself now, 33 years later, being in a place that I never ever anticipated being in where I’m a healthy eating advocate. I have written four different books. As you mentioned—I’m going to use this word and we can talk about—I had a food line in Whole Foods for almost eight years. We put on seven-day medical immersion programs. We’ve been doing that for 10 years. Because of COVID now we’ve started doing these virtual events with thousands of people. I’ve started my own podcast following in your steps, Ashley, about a year and a half, two years ago. It’s called the Plant-Strong Podcast. It’s become pretty all-encompassing.


[00:16:49] Ashley James: I love it. Watching documentaries, seeing your story in them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen The Game Changers. My friend, my husband, and I went to see it in the theaters for that one-day special. And on the way home, I was calling people non-stop. Oh my gosh, you have to see this. You have to do this right now. And I called a friend who is caring for her friend who was a recent quadriplegic with out-of-control diabetes because they were in the hospital and she was taking care of them as an advocate. I said you’ve got to check this out. 

She immediately got the hospital to get him to go plant-based, zero oil. Overnight, his number started to get better. The water retention went away. He actually started gaining muscle. He was fighting bedsores, and he started healing his bedsores so fast they couldn’t believe it. It was a stage four bedsore. They thought he was going to die from it and his healing went through the roof. They could not believe it, and she had to inspect every meal because they kept trying to sneak in things like dairy, oil, and all that. It was just amazing watching people. Their bodies heal so much faster when you remove the foods that are inhibiting the body and you give the body all the nutrients it needs. It’s mind-blowing. Now, can you tell us a bit about your work with firefighters?


[00:18:25] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, absolutely. Well, this whole thing started because I was a firefighter with the City of Austin. I got on board with the Austin fire department in 1997 after a 10-year career as a professional triathlete where I was swimming, biking, and running for a living fueling myself with the power of a whole food, plant-based diet. It’s funny, for the first five, six years that I was a firefighter in the Austin fire department, I got ridiculed, harassed, and belittled until the cows came home about the way I ate.

Then, we had a bet to see who had the lowest cholesterol level and we drove down to the local laboratory the next morning—me and the other guys on the Station 2 C Shift crew—and we found out that one of my brothers had cholesterol at the age of 33 of 344 milligrams per deciliter, which is phenomenally high. We also found out that he had a horrendous family history of men in his family dying from heart disease before the age of 50. So not only did this firefighting brother of mine have a genetic predisposition for a really elevated cholesterol level, but he also ate—and this is his words not mine—like a third-generation redneck.

The center of the plate was always some sort of meat, typically or favorably deep-fried. When you have a genetic predisposition and you make deep-fried meat at the center of your plate, that’s not a good combination. And then to boot, the firefighting culture is very masculine. It is the food that these firefighters make is very, very toxic. So everything’s deep-fried. Screw half a stick of butter, let’s do one whole stick of butter. Let’s do Crisco on everything. Let’s use a pound of cheese on top of this casserole. For dessert, we’re going to split a tub, and I mean a tub a gallon of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. And it just goes on and on—Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper. The food at the firehouse is abysmal.

So the funny thing is you mentioned firefighters. If there’s one culture on this planet that needs us more than anybody else, it’s firefighters. Firefighters, in some ways, they consider themselves superheroes. They are there when we when the sh** hits the fan, and they need saving. They expect a superhero, gold medal decathlete, to come to the rescue. The unfortunate reality is that so many of these firefighters are overweight. They’re pre-diabetic. They’ve had a shot across the bow with cancer. 

It’s funny though how many fire departments across the country—at a really slow and steady rate and firefighters—have been reaching out to me for help. Literally, right before I jumped on this interview with you, I got an email from a firefighter who’s telling me he’s battling PTSD. His weight has ballooned back up to almost 300 pounds. The stress of the job, he’s starting to drink again—just all these things—and would I be willing to talk to him once a week? I’ve got fire departments that have reached out to me and asked me to do videos that they can then circulate out throughout their department. 

Anyway, the fire service is slowly but surely coming around to this message that the plants really are king when it comes to nutrition. But there’s still a lot of dinosaurs in that firefighting culture, no doubt about it. I’ll give you another example. When I wrote my first book, The Engine 2 Diet, I did a pilot study that was comprised of 62 people for the first round, and we did before and after biometric screenings on everything just like my father did with his patients back in 1984, 1985. I weighed them in, we did blood pressure. I had a relationship with a lab and we did a full biometric screening. I had a medical director. We did a three-minute step test where people did this step test and then we measured their before and after heart rate to see how their heart rate was doing. And then we did all this again four weeks later.

But one of the people that took part in this was a guy, a firefighter that I went through the training academy with. His name was Tim, and Tim was probably 220. He was one of the biggest firefighters when we went through the six-month-long academy together in 1997. And then, when I was looking for people that wanted to participate in this pilot study for my book, he happened to call the station for some reason. I said, “Hey, Tim. How are you doing? He said, “I’m doing good. Put on way too much weight.” I said, “Oh, really? Where are you?” He said, “I’m over 300 pounds.” I’m like, “Oh, Tim. Wow. Well, hey. You know what, I’m doing this pilot study. If you’re willing to eat just whole plants for 28 days, I’d love to have you be one of the participants.” He said, “Sure, I’d love to do it. I got nothing to lose.“

Tim lost 33 pounds in 28 days. And surprisingly, his cholesterol was not that high, to begin with. It was 172, and so for a big boy, that’s not very high. But at the end of 28 days, it came down to 88. So he was below 100 on his total cholesterol. His LDL came down below 40, and it was just miraculous what he was able to do. But the reason why I’m telling you this story is that most firefighters, after they graduate from the fire academy, will typically go out into the fire service and they let their guard down. They get pulled into this toxic food environment where they’re eating the same unhealthy food that everybody else is eating. They’re gaining somewhere between three to five pounds, on average, a year.

You look at Tim, again, he was doing this in 2008. We went through the academy together in 1997. So almost 11 years later, he had gone from 220 to 303 pounds. He put on over 83 pounds in 11 years. Tim, he was the first to admit. He had become a liability to himself, a liability to his crew. If he was to go down in a building or in a house fire, nobody’s going to be able to pick him up and drag him out because think about it, he’s 303 pounds. You add on to that his bunker gear, his boots, his helmet, his air pack that he’s got on, and now you can add on another almost 65 pounds. Somebody’s got to try and haul out 375 pounds.


[00:27:09] Ashley James: In a fire?


[00:27:11] Rip Esselstyn: In a fire where you can’t see. It’s probably 400, 500 degrees depending upon where you are in the structure. That’s a problem.


[00:27:25] Ashley James: Yeah, he’s putting his own health and life at risk, but he’s also putting his fellow brothers at risk. That’s something to consider. If we know that we’re eating a certain way, we’re gaining weight, or we’re not taking care of ourselves, at what point are we actually putting other people’s lives at risk? We could have a heart attack while driving, we could die and our dependents all of a sudden don’t have us to take care of them. If you’re not willing to make the changes for yourself, you’ve got to think about those you love most to get to start making changes.


[00:28:02] Rip Esselstyn: Completely. And to take it a step farther, I mean, if you want to open up this pandora’s box, look at the predicament that we’re in right now—the United States of America. We’ve got COVID-19 that has struck. I believe, and I may be off here by a percent or two, but 98.5% or 99% of the people that are being hospitalized for COVID-19 and are subsequently dying have some sort of underlying comorbidity. Whether it’s high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, or weakened or suppressed immune system. Unfortunately, if you’re obese, the latest figures that I just saw from the CDC show that 42%. A couple of years ago, we were at 35% obesity. We’re at 42% obesity now. I think that 50% of people over the age of 40 are now on some sort of hypertensive medication because their blood pressure is too high.


[00:29:27] Ashley James: And that comes with a list of side effects including those who are on long term for high blood pressure meds have shorter lifespans. So being put on a med doesn’t solve the problem. It masks the symptoms for now, but it makes things worse in the long run because we’re not addressing the root cause. My head spun so fast watching—so I’ve been a health coach for many years. (I watch the blood pressure, the triglycerides, the cholesterol, and blood sugar, especially, come into healthy ranges so fast when people get off of oil salt, sugar, processed food, and get on whole food, plant-based. I cannot believe how quickly people can heal and come back into normal ranges and go back to their doctor and get taken off of meds. It’s mind-blowing.

A friend of mine’s mother, within weeks of going plant-based, said all her arthritis and all arthritis pain was gone. All her pain was gone.


[00:30:32] Rip Esselstyn: Well, it’s such an anti-inflammatory way of eating. Like you just said, the effects happen so quickly. I mean, you look at the seven-day medical immersion programs that we’ve been throwing with Whole Foods’ unhealthiest team members since 2011, and the results that we got were so phenomenal. I was able to track all these different data points literally. It’s now over 2000 people that I had to write a book about, and that’s why my third book is called The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet. And when I say rescue, it’s not me rescuing, it’s you rescuing yourself with the simple power of food.

But let’s go back for a second, Ashley because where I was going with this thing with COVID-19 was that somebody asked. I saw this interview with Dr. Fauci where they asked him, “Why don’t we open society back up?” And he said, “We can’t. We have too many sick citizens.” Again, when you look that we have 42% of the population that’s literally considered obese. When you look at all the numbers of people that are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and I think it’s now over 50% and he says that, it’s like wow. COVID-19 is crippling this society because we’re so unhealthy because we have not embraced, of course, there are so many conflicting messages and there’s so much noise out there with paleo, keto, and all this stuff.

If we could—as a culture, as a society—embrace something as simple as eating a whole food, plant-based diet, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we’re in now. This thing would probably be able to blow over, herd immunity. Sure, some people that are young and healthy are going to get hit pretty hard, but for the most part, like I said, 99% of people that are affected have some sort of underlying comorbidity and are over the age of 70. If you’re in that subset, you just really need to be super, super careful.

But anyway, I’ll throw out one more thing. That is a long time ago Winston Churchill said something very, very profound, and that is, “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country has.” I mean, again, look at where we are right now, 20 cents out of every dollar goes to healthcare costs. Heart disease, the number one killer of Americans right now. 50% of us will have a brush with cancer in our lifetimes. Like I just mentioned, the fact that almost 50% of this country is considered now either pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetic, these are all lifestyle created diseases. I don’t know at what point we’re going to be able to wake up and confront this.

The Game Changers did a phenomenal job, and the latest that I’ve heard is that this documentary has been seen by more eyeballs. We’re approaching now close to 100 million views of The Game Changers. It’s the most-watched documentary on the planet.


[00:34:27] Ashley James: I love that.


[00:34:28] Rip Esselstyn: But I still have to wonder, what’s it going to take? What is it going to take? You have this phenomenal documentary, the most-watched documentary in the history of the planet. I mean, it’s moved the needle, but it’s not moving it enough, it’s not. And then you look at everything that’s going on right now with climate change, the environment, and sustainability. It’s like come on people. We all got to be pulling in the same direction, and we got to do it fast.


[00:35:08] Ashley James: I really don’t like the phrase climate change because it so removes—did you watch that George Carlin clip? This is years ago where he said in World War One it was called shell shock, and in shell shock, you can feel the emotional impact. Like oh, he came home with shell shock. Through the years, they kept changing the diagnosis’s name to be so sterile that now we call it PTSD, and there is so much humanity removed from what they actually are experiencing.

Climate change feels like something big, out of our control, and not anything that really affects us, but okay, maybe when the weather’s weird. What I like to do is go back to the root, which is pollution. Look at that word. Okay, I don’t want to breathe in pollution. I don’t want to eat pollution. I don’t want it to be in my food. I don’t want it to be in my water. We have to come back to this really strong emotional word. We’re polluting this planet. Our food supply is compromised. Our air is compromised. Our water is compromised with pollution.

When we look at the places in the world that help to clean our water and air like these forests, they are being torn down by the hectare every day. Just unspeakable amounts of acres and acres of these rainforests, which we will never get back, in order to feed cattle. That is just one of the many problems. If everyone just ate more plants. If everyone just chose some meals that had plant-based protein and just tried that and then kept going more and more and more towards plants, we could actually start to heal the rainforest. We could start to stop pollution.

We have to think about the impact that’s happening right now, which is we’re poisoning our bodies by poisoning the planet, and we are voting with our fork. When you go to the grocery store, go online to buy your groceries, your purchases say where you want your money to go. And if you are buying products that require us to tear down forests in order to feed the cattle because they are growing crops to feed cattle, instead buy just crops and eat them. It’s much more complex than, but it can get as simple as vote with your fork. Do some research on the foods that you buy and vote with your fork where you want the earth to heal, you want your body to heal.

That’s my little beef about the word with, and there needs to be a vegan word for beef. That’s my schtick. I have such frustration with the word climate change because it takes the responsibility away from us. Whereas if we can really focus on the fact that—remember in the ‘80s they call it acid rain? It’s like, geez, I don’t want to go outside and get rained on by acid rain. That’s what we’re experiencing now is the pollution in our local environment because of the choices we make, and we can make better choices, which will directly—impact our lifetime—lessening the pollution and reversing it. That’s why it’s so important that your message is for healing our bodies, and it’s for healing the planet because there’s no difference between the two.


[00:38:44] Rip Esselstyn: Bravo, and thank you for bringing that up. I actually like that a lot more. We’re polluting the planet, right?


[00:38:58] Ashley James: Right, and there’s no political like, oh, climate deniers. You can’t deny pollution. It’s right out of your front door. You can test the water, soil, and air. We are polluting this planet. You can’t get political about it. It’s the truth. That way, there’s no denying it, but we can make choices based on all of our consumption. Based on what car we’re going to drive. Based on the clothing we’re going to buy, if it’s used, new, or local, or whether we’re going to buy local groceries or grow our own. Every single choice with our dollar really does go towards making a sustainable and healthier planet for our own health right now. Anyway, that’s my soapbox.


[00:39:45] Rip Esselstyn: No, it’s good.


[00:39:46] Ashley James: Thank you.


[00:39:48] Rip Esselstyn: Let me add to that. You look in the grocery space and what has been growing about 20% year over year? It’s the plant-based meats, it’s the plant-based cheeses, it’s the plant-based milk, it’s the plant-based yogurts. Plant-based is on a tear right now, and people are voting with their dollars, and they’re voting that they want more plants and fewer animals. That’s very, very telling. James Cameron, we were talking about The Game Changers. He was one of the executive producers, but I had the privilege of getting to meet James Cameron several years ago. I also helped get him on board with The Game Changers project.

You said you went to the opening night of The Game Changers. Did you see the 20-minute clip afterward?


[00:40:50] Ashley James: Yes.


[00:40:51] Rip Esselstyn: James was basically the star of that bonus footage. And in it, he says the single most important and powerful thing that you can do starting tomorrow is just to start eating plants. As far as starting to heal the planet and not polluting nearly as much. When you look at some of the data that’s out there, and there’s some from the Worldwatch Institute that’s part of the World Bank that has the global greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by livestock. They wrote a paper. I believe it’s called Livestock’s Long Shadow. That 51 of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture between the supply chain and the life cycle of us as a world having this insatiable diet for animal protein. 70 billion animals, it’s incomprehensible. Anyway, I want to add that to the whole conversation we were just having.


[00:42:20] Ashley James: I really like the visuals in the documentary Cowspiracy. I don’t like watching documentaries that lay down the guilt trip or make you feel like you’re hopeless, and there’s a little bit of that in there. But I just like to urge listeners just to watch it because the visuals are really good. For example, for that one hamburger that you eat, how much water actually needed to be used in terms of the crops and also feeding the cow versus if you just had a bean burger. You can see the environmental impact of that, or how much gas was used and how much CO2 emissions. But also how much fecal matter, right?


[00:43:03] Rip Esselstyn: I was just going to say, how much poop is produced by animals. It’s staggering, right?


[00:43:09] Ashley James: Yeah. In our environment, there are parts of the Carolinas, when there are storms, the water and all of the soil is really so unhealthy for the humans that live in those areas. And it’s documented that the humans that live in those areas have incredibly high rates of cancer, but they’re kind of impoverished, they can’t move away, and they just have to suffer because there’s so much fecal matter. All the waste from the big pig farms out there. But just imagine if there are billions of animals that we’re raising for slaughter, how much waste they create that is going to polluting the planet.

So, yes, there’s a huge environmental, but we have to keep coming back to environmental equals our health. So a healthy environment equals a healthy body, and we can come back to the science which is just eating plants but a whole food meaning not processed or as little process as possible so that we’re eating the whole plant and getting all the nutrients we require from it. And there’s so much science and you’ve mentioned some of the doctors and scientists that have made the published studies. Listeners can go through your books, through your dad’s information. You can go through, search whole food, plant-based. and listen to all the other experts that I’ve had on the show about it. You can collect lots of information and see that science is there and the science is sound and proven.

You were in—a while ago—a documentary called the Marshall Plan. It’s on YouTube. I highly recommend listeners watch it. That blew my mind that an entire town took up a challenge to get healthy through the whole food, plant-based diet and that you actually went there. Met with the fire guys there, the firemen there, and that you got all the labs, then you help them with the diet, and then you got the labs afterward. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with the town of Marshall in Texas?


[00:45:22] Rip Esselstyn: Well, yeah. That was almost nine years ago now if I’m not mistaken. What happened is the mayor of the town of Marshall and his wife—two just phenomenal people—got bit by the whole food, plant-based bug. It’s really a testament to what can happen when one person that has a little bit of power, can try and just spread the wealth. When we went there, there were restaurants that were serving these whole food, plant-based options. We put on a whole weekend-long healthy eating symposium for the citizens of Marshall, Texas. Like you mentioned, I spent some time working with some of the firefighters.

Again, Ashley, and I apologize, I’ve worked with so many different firefighters and fire departments that I can’t specifically remember.


[00:46:46] Ashley James: Oh, yeah. Nine years ago, I want you to remember all of the numbers.


[00:46:50] Rip Esselstyn: But I can’t specifically remember how it went down.


[00:46:53] Ashley James: But they just have to watch the documentary for that.


[00:46:55] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, and I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen the documentary. To this day the Marshall of Texas, I think they continue to hold a weekend-long event. The restaurants are carrying—and I can’t remember what the term is now that they have. They had some sort of special term for Marshall and the whole food, plant-based options there. For a little while, it was Engine 2 approved, but then they changed it. They’ve done something really phenomenal there in Marshall, Texas. Of all the places in the world, who would have thought Marshall, Texas.


[00:47:40] Ashley James: Right, a town in Texas. Anyway, it’s a great documentary. They show how much everyone loves meat and how incredibly unhealthy everyone was, and then the whole transformation of the town. You’re in it, your dad’s in it, and all the stars of the whole food, plant-based world are in it. My favorite, Chef AJ, who I’ve had on the show is in it. The meals look really delicious, and I think it’s a very authentic documentary. It feels very indie, which I love. I’m going to make sure the link to the Marshall Plan documentary is in the show notes of today’s podcast. Even though it’s nine years old, it’s still incredibly relevant. What I liked is having you walk through it with the firefighters. More time was spent on it even in the Game Changers where you got to walk through with the firefighters and show them what your arteries look like.


[00:48:31] Rip Esselstyn: Really.


[00:48:32] Ashley James: They slowed it down and they interviewed the firefighters. You felt the emotion with them. They don’t want to die, they don’t want to drop dead out of a heart attack. It’s very cool how much their lives changed because of it. But there are so many videos out there that you’re in that are like that, which is just wonderful. 

You do a lot of traveling, and this has been a question on my mind. What and how do you eat when you’re traveling? Because you’re in airplanes, you’re at hotels. Sometimes you’re in areas of the world where it’s not like Marshall, Texas where there’s a bunch of whole food, plant-based restaurants. How do you stay true to the whole food, plant-based, no processed, no oil diet?


[00:49:24] Rip Esselstyn: Well, that’s a great question, and it’s been really easy the last six months because I haven’t really traveled at all.


[00:49:33] Ashley James: I fell into that one.


[00:49:35] Rip Esselstyn: But you’re right. Before that, for the last 10 years when I was a healthy eating partner with Whole Food market stores, I was on the road probably somewhere between 80-100 days a year. Basically sharing with people the good news about plants. Let me say, the good news is that typically, whenever I went on the road, I always was going to Whole Foods. Literally, I always had the ability for lunch to pick up something if I did a lunch event. I’d fill up my cart and I’d buy some stuff either something that was prepared for dinner, or I could go and they always have a little rice cooker. I could do rice, I could do beans from the salad bar, and then top it off with all kinds of veggie relish.

But, aside from that, I would always go on the airplane with cereal. I always travel everywhere with my commercialized Rip’s Big Bowl cereal. And then at the airport, because you can’t take milk through the detectors with you, I would usually go to a Starbucks and I’d ask them for a plain glass of almond milk. I’d also carry with me typically raisins or bananas, so I make my own bowl because a lot of times, I have to get up early like 4:30 AM, 5:00 AM for some of these early morning flights. I always travel with cereal. I always travel with fruit. Sometimes I’ll travel with a homemade burrito or a sandwich.

I can always go out to dinner and make it work. You just got to be a little bit of a pain in the butt and ask for what you want. You can go to Indian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. Typically, you always get some sort of rice, lentils, vegetables to that effect. In a pinch, I’ll do Chipotle. Obviously, Chipotle’s got a lot more sodium and a lot more oil than I want, but I’m not so perfect that I don’t sometimes do that.

You just figure out a way. I typically get hotels where they’ve got a microwave in it. Sometimes they’ve got a little kitchenette in it. I have the ability to cook a few things. If you really want something bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to make it work. John Mackey who’s become a great and cherished friend, the CEO of Whole Food market stores, travels with a miniature rice cooker and he makes his own steel-cut oatmeal in the morning. He’ll make his own brown rice in the hotel room, and then he’ll add to it the toppings that he wants, the beans, the sliced up vegetables.

I have found out that nothing is as important as your health. If it requires you traveling with a rice cooker if it requires you at the restaurant saying, hey, you know what, I want this cooked and I don’t want it cooked in any oil or any butter, then you deserve the right to make that request, no doubt about it.


[00:53:15] Ashley James: There’s a Mexican restaurant near where my parents-in-law live in Seattle or just north of Seattle, and I get them to do veggie fajitas with no oil. They put every vegetable known to man. I love their veggie fajitas. Some places just do bell peppers. This place does everything. There are broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, and every bell pepper known to man—there’s just everything, and it’s a huge pile of vegetables on a sizzling skillet. They’ll do zero oil for me and then I’ll get their platter with the beans, the corn, tortillas, and the guacamole, and you feel great. You feel full. It’s just wonderful. I love it. And then there’s usually enough to take home. 

You just have to ask. You just have to be willing to ask, can you cook that with no oil, or can you steam that? A lot of Thai restaurants will have—in the back of their menu for a few dollars—a side of steamed vegetables and brown rice. You can bring your own sauce. I love the 3-2-1 sauce that Chef AJ teaches, which is three parts balsamic, two parts any kind of mustard, and then one part maple syrup. But that’s too sweet for me so I do half that amount, just put it in a jar, shake it up, and then just bring that wherever you go. You can put it on vegetables. It tastes amazing. It absolutely tastes amazing. You put it on steamed vegetables, put it on rice. You can get creative.

I like to do road trips, and Wendy’s has baked potatoes. I don’t eat the skins. They probably pour oil on it anyway, but you can find a way but you have to get creative. I think some people don’t take the first step into trying even a whole food, plant-based meal because they’re like, well, I’m tired. I’m busy. My mind is spinning, I have bills to pay, and this is just another thing I have to learn how to do. It’s kind of learning a new language. But once you do it, once you jump in, learn, and just try it, then it becomes very easy.

I travel with my Instant Pot. I learned that from Chef AJ. I will not go to a hotel that doesn’t have at least some form of a fridge. I just check in advance, make sure they have a fridge or mini-fridge, and I bring my Instant Pot always, always, always, and then go to the grocery store once we get there. We just do a little cookout in our room. There are even some hotels that have hot plates that they will provide for you if they don’t have a kitchenette. I found that out when we went to Idaho a few months ago. We just get really creative, but sometimes I’m tired, I’m hungry, I just want to like to do take out. This isn’t one of those opportunities to cheat or eat unhealthily. I don’t want to feel bad the next day. I want to feel better and healthier, so we got to get creative.

That’s where probably having some food either do big meal preps. You already have food cooked in the fridge. I can just go grab some cold sweet potatoes and eat them. Or have some meals that you’ve already made that you’ve frozen, so I’ve had to learn because I’m the one that cooks for our family. I’ve had to learn, and what I’m always blown away is how delicious your recipes are. So yummy. No wonder you can convert big firemen that love to eat steak to a whole plant-based diet because your recipes are delicious. I know that you’ve had some of your family members make these recipes as well.


[00:57:04] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well, Ashley, let me say that you have really embraced the lifestyle, and you got it going on between doing the bulk cooking for leftovers, and then freezing, but you get into a routine where you learn how to do it and it’s not that difficult and it’s so worthwhile.


[00:57:29] Ashley James: Absolutely.


[00:57:30] Rip Esselstyn: You mentioned the food being good. I mean, there’s no way that I could have gotten a bunch of Texas male firefighters to do this if they thought they were eating a bunch of rabbit food, twigs, berries, and nonsense like that. Literally, from the beginnings of this, it was always hearty—as one person said—mantastic food that fills you up and sticks to your ribs. That’s why, if you look at the Engine 2 cookbook or Plant-Strong, you’ll see that it’s a lot of pizzas, burritos, casseroles, stews, and chilies. It’s just hearty filling food. And of course, we’ve got our fair share of really big muscular salads as well, but it’s very intentional that the food leans towards being more firefighter man-friendly, and that’s not at all a knock on women.


[00:58:56] Ashley James: No, as a woman, I can say that we as all women—I will speak for all women—would be happy to bring home a cookbook for our male counterparts in our lives that they would embrace because it’s so delicious, and we’re secretly also helping them get super healthy. There are not a lot of whole food, plant-based cookbooks out there that would make a man feel like they could do this if they’ve eaten meat every day of their life. That’s what I love about yours is they are super hearty. I love the chilies. Oh my gosh, don’t get me started. I make them all in the Instant Pot by the way so it’s really easy to make.

What’s interesting about the Instant Pot, I don’t know how much you’ve looked into—they call them the anti-nutrients. Some people are really sensitive to—makes them have gas and bloating. But when you cook beans and lentils in the Instant Pot, it destroys the anti-nutrients. People that often go, oh well, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t eat that way because I’d get gassy. Well, if you use the Instant Pot, the pressure and the heat of the Instant Pot destroy the anti-nutrients and make it so much easier to digest and it doesn’t cause that gas problem. That’s why I love using Instant Pot for all the beans and lentils that I make.


[01:00:26] Rip Esselstyn: Isn’t that interesting?


[01:00:27] Ashley James: It is.


[01:00:28] Rip Esselstyn: Well, we have a rice cooker. I don’t have an Instant Pot, and I probably should get one. I know that Chef AJ would be very happy if I decided to get one.


[01:00:40] Ashley James: You really need to get one, and you guys should do like a little video together where she teaches you how to use the Instant Pot. I actually own three Instant Pots. Last Thanksgiving I made the most delicious—I came up with this recipe for like a shepherd’s pie. I got four huge disposable aluminum tins to bake them in because I got one for us for home. I brought one to the in-laws for Thanksgiving, and I gave two away. One to a funeral who were Seventh-Day Adventists, and they just lost their daughter in a car crash. I donated that to their funeral and they really appreciate that. I mean, it’s the least I could do. And then the fourth one was given to my friend’s family.

My dear friend Naomi went whole food, plant-based to reverse her heart disease, and then everyone else in the family started to. She has three sons and a husband. Now the husband raves about it, and her parents rave about it. But the three boys, they could never like the same thing. They’re all very picky eaters, and this was the first whole food, plant-based dish that all three boys and the entire family liked. The reason why I got three Instant Pots—because I used to only have one—is that when making it, I did the potatoes on one, the lentils on the other, and the vegetables in the third.

I made a layered dish because I was running out of time, so I ended up getting three Instant Pots to make the whole thing. I constantly use three Instant Pots. I’ll make potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, or yams in one; I’ll make beans or lentils in the other; and then I’ll steam vegetables in the third. I hardly ever use my stove. If I use the Instant Pots, I hardly ever use the stove. It’s actually way quicker to use the Instant Pot, and the food comes out really fresh instead of something that’s been cooked too long. Anyway, I’m a raving fan of the Instant Pot. You should definitely get one and play with it.


[01:02:50] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting you say all that because do you know who Nina and Randa Nelson are and Jeff Nelson and Sabrina Nelson—a VegSource?


[01:02:59] Ashley James: No, I don’t.


[01:03:01] Rip Esselstyn: Well, Nina and Randa, you should have them on your show. They had this awful cystic acne that was almost debilitating, and these guys were actresses and singers out in LA. They’ve been following a vegan diet their whole life, but what happened is they decided to then go off all the peanut butter, the tofu, and all the processed refined vegan stuff. Literally, within a couple of weeks, their acne cleared up. They wrote a book about it called The Clear Skin Diet, and it is phenomenal. But Jeff and Sabrina have been in the space since 1990. They were the first ones to start throwing some of these live in-person plant-based events.

But the reason I bring them up is I stay at their house sometimes when I’m out in LA, and they have three Instant Pots going all at one time. Typically in one, they have one some sort of grain, let’s just call it brown rice. In one they have a bean, so let’s just call it homemade black beans. And then the other one they have steel cut oats or oatmeal. At any point in time during the day, you can go in and take a spoonful of whatever you’re in the mood for and then you put whatever you want on top. It’s brilliant. I’m kicking myself that I still have not bought.


[01:04:30] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. Guess what you’re doing this weekend.


[01:04:32] Rip Esselstyn: I think you might be right.


[01:04:33] Ashley James: You’re going to be playing with your new Instant Pot this weekend. When you call up Chef AJ for some advice, tell her it was me that finally pushed you over the edge.


[01:04:43] Rip Esselstyn: All right, I’ll say that Ashley James—


[01:04:46] Ashley James: Ashley James got you to finally get one. They’re so much fun. I burned a bunch of stuff the first time I used it, and I almost never went back. But then I think it was videos like Chef AJ’s videos that got me to try it again. You have to be willing to experiment and fall on your face in the kitchen. You’ve got to be willing to burn a few things because that’s how we learn, and it’s okay. Some of your meals don’t have to be awesome, but please, learn from those experiences because now I’m like such a passionate chef at home because food is the gateway to our health. You walk into your kitchen, you’re walking into your pharmacy. That’s just one of my favorite tools is the Instant Pot because it saves me so much time, but also it’s actually a health aide because it does break down those anti-nutrients for many of the grains, beans, legumes, and lentils.

Awesome. Now, you’ve got a program coming up. I definitely want to make sure we talk about it. You used to do—with thousands of people—these boot camps where you change their lives and then like you said, you documented it and wrote about it in one of your latest books. I got to see that actually because I met several Whole Foods employees who had been through your program. It’s life-changing, absolutely. I love the stories that came out of that, and then with COVID now you’ve gone digital, which is great because now actually more people can have access to this boot camp.

So you’ve got a program coming up really soon. Tell us all about it. What would we get by joining it? What is the experience like? And when what kind of people is this meant for?


[01:06:31] Rip Esselstyn: This will be our third virtual event of 2020. The first one we did was called the Plant-Strong Primer, and it was just for anybody that needed a little tune-up on all things plant-based for those who were new to the space. We had great attendance, and it was a whole weekend. The second one that we did was—we’ve had our annual Plant-Stock event for nine years now, and typically, it’s happened either at the backyard at the Esselstyn family farm in Upstate New York. And then recently, we moved it to the Black Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

But when COVID hit, we had to figure out what to do. We moved it actually back to the Esselstyn Farm, and Plant-Stock is just a celebration of all things plant-based, and we have a wide range of really what we call the brock stars in the plant-based movement come and speak. God, we probably had 22 different speakers, but the backdrop of the whole event was the Esselstyn Family. We got to give people a really nice backstage pass to the farm, which was in Forks Over Knives and it’s been in a lot of different documentaries. It’s a very, very special place for the Esselstyns because it’s been in the family for almost 350 years.


[01:08:09] Ashley James: Geez, wow.


[01:08:11] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. We’re so grateful. As a family, we know how lucky we are to have this in our lives, this special resource. So we wanted to share it with people. That’s on my father’s side of the family, so my father grew up on this farm in Upstate New York. This next event that we’re doing on October 23 and 24, it’s called the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, and it’s actually going to take place in Cleveland, which is where I grew up. It’s where my father spent over 40 years at the Cleveland Clinic. But my father met my mother in Cleveland. He was going to Case Western Reserve Medical School. My mother grew up in Cleveland. Her grandfather was the founder of the Cleveland Clinic, believe it or not. In 1921 he founded the Cleveland clinic.

My mother’s father—we call him Barney—was just an absolutely revolutionary surgeon. He really single-handedly brought to this country instead of doing the radical mastectomy, he believed in the partial lumpectomy, which is not nearly as disfiguring. At the time it was considered a radical approach to treating breast cancer, but it is now the preferred method for breast cancer. I don’t want to get too far off track. My father was going to medical school. His father and my mother’s father both went to Yale and crossed paths because my dad’s father actually played football at Yale and was one of the coaches after he graduated. So he was one of the coaches for my mother’s father while he was going through Yale and on the football team.

It’s a small world, and my dad got invited over to my mother’s place for a meal. They met and they fell in love. This Kitchen Rescue event is going to take place at a place called The Knob. It’s this really phenomenal woodsy location in Northeast Ohio. It’s about 20 miles outside of Cleveland. It’s the second-highest point in Northeast Ohio, and you’ve got all these pine trees. The glaciers came through there and left all these crazy rock formations and white quartz pebbles everywhere.


[01:11:17] Ashley James: The Precambrian shield I think it’s called.


[01:11:19] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, yeah? Say that again. The what?


[01:11:21] Ashley James: I think it’s called the Precambrian shield.


[01:11:24] Rip Esselstyn: Wow.


[01:11:26] Ashley James: Because that’s what created the great lakes and all the terrain in Upstate New York and also Ontario, which is where I’m from, have these beautiful sections of the forest. There’s just exposed rock in granite and just gorgeous rock out of nowhere and these giant rock cliffs. Part of it was these big glaciers kind of scraped away and left behind. I think it’s called the Precambrian shield, but it’s a very unique landscape and just gorgeous, right?


[01:12:03] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, it’s gorgeous. The views, you can see over 7 ½ miles from this point all the way to Lake Erie. You can see the freighters going across on clear days. The cliff where you can get these views, it’s almost a 70-foot drop. There are sandstone formations everywhere, but this is a piece of property that has been in the Crile side of the family—my mother’s side of the family—since 1910. There’s this cool house that my parents built that’s on top of it now that’s made from these huge 5×3 foot sandstone rocks, and these huge Douglas fir beams that came from somewhere in Lake Erie that my father—one of his heart patients was a truck driver. And he got this truck driver to basically load up and go and bring back like 15 of these huge Douglas fir beams that serve as the part of the structure of this house.

But we’re going to have this as the backdrop to the Kitchen Rescue. We’re going to be making all kinds of fantastic meals going into the holiday season. Do you know who Dr. Will Bulsiewicz is?


[01:13:33] Ashley James: The name sounds familiar, but no I don’t.


[01:13:36] Rip Esselstyn: Okay. He wrote a book called Fiber Fueled.


[01:13:38] Ashley James: Oh, okay. Right, right.


[01:13:40] Rip Esselstyn: It’s so hot. Will will be joining us. We’re going to have a couple of amazing transformational stories, but mostly, it’s going to be time in the kitchen. We’re going to send out to all of our attendees all the different recipes, grocery lists that people want to cook along with us. We’re going to teach people how to read labels, pantry clean-out, what to put in place of some of the no-no’s that maybe a lot of us have in our freezers, our refrigerators, and in our pantries. It’s going to really be highlighted by my sister Jane, my mother Ann, my father, myself, and my brother-in-law Brian. Everything will be videoed. It’ll be live. This isn’t something that’s pre-recorded—it’s all going to be live. And then afterward, people will have access to the videos for up to a year. Anyway, in a nutshell—a big nutshell—that’s the extent of it.


[01:14:48] Ashley James: This is cool. Who should attend this? Is this for newbies, is this for people with major health problems? Who would get the most out of attending your upcoming event—October 23 and 24.


[01:15:03] Rip Esselstyn: Well, to me, it’s for anyone that is looking to get their head around some new exciting recipes, some mantastic recipes going into the holiday season. It’s for anyone that wants to be inspired, and it’s for anyone that feels alone out there and wants to feel like they’re really part of a very special family and community. What we discovered after our primer event in the spring and our Plant-Stock event in the summer is that the bonding that happens in the chat room over the course of the weekend is really special. And then afterward, we send everybody—that wants to—to a free community group where we continue on with all the relationships and the bonds that were formed over the course of the virtual weekend


[01:16:10] Ashley James: That’s very cool. I know several very happily married couples who have met in chat rooms much like what you’re describing. Also good for singles who would like to meet other singles who are looking to get healthy together. I always believe in divine intervention, just like how your dad met your mom. That feels a lot like there is some divine guidance going on and how I met my husband. It took a lot of divine intervention to bring us together.


[01:16:46] Rip Esselstyn: It’s funny you say that because there were people in the chat room during Plan-Stock that were like I can’t date anybody anymore that’s a meat-eater. I just can’t do it. I have to find somebody that shares the passion and the values that I have around plants. And then there are people that are divorced that are looking for somebody as well. Luckily, I am happily married and we have a Plant-Strong family. The kids are all on board, everybody’s on board with it. It’s really nice when you can have a united front with your partner, your kids, and your family. But I can tell you if I was starting over again—just like I don’t think I could ever marry a smoker—I don’t think I could ever, ever marry a meat-eater. Just the smell of the meat in the kitchen, cheese in the refrigerator, chicken breast, fish—I just find it all to be, frankly, just so revolting now.


[01:18:01] Ashley James: What’s really interesting about that—so again, my husband who ate beef breakfast, lunch, and dinner, maybe he had pork for breakfast. But that’s all he ate when I met him, and I tried to get him to eat something else other than meat. That was just meat, meat, meat every single day, and we’ve been married for 12 years. He just woke up one morning and said never again, never ever, ever again. Within a matter of weeks, he began to become disgusted by the smell of meat, by the sight of meat. He is actually completely turned off by it, and what a 180 degree just transformation.

But I noticed it in myself too, and I never ever thought. I saw it in him, I never thought it would happen in me. But I also noticed that the more you stay away from it, the more it actually feels unnatural to consume any animal or animal products, and I was very pro-eating animals before this. But it was my health journey that led me, and this podcast and interviewing because I want to interview everyone on all these different points. I want to bring in all the information that I can and to help people to heal because I suffered from many diseases including diabetes and reversed it with nutrition.

Just through my own learning and adapting this way, I noticed that my desires, my cravings changed now. I have a Pavlovian response to kale. I just start salivating when I think about plants. It’s really interesting how our bodies will adapt and change. I think for people who are still primarily meat-eaters, just try a meatless Monday, try just a few meals a week, or just try a seven-day challenge like the one that Rip wrote about in his book and just notice how great you feel. Let that motivate you to use food to heal your body.

Now, I’m very excited about your upcoming event on October 23 and 24—Plant-Strong Primer: Kitchen Rescue. It’s going to be delicious, I just know that. By then, you will have bought yourself an Instant Pot. You and hopefully all the listeners will get themselves an Instant Pot, and then we can all cook along with everyone in your live online event. The links to it are going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at

It has been such a pleasure having you on the show today, Rip. You are welcome back anytime you want to come and share more stories of success, more information about your future events and books. We would love to have you back on the show.


[01:20:58] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, thank you so much. In closing, let me say one thing because I mentioned it earlier on and we didn’t ever have the opportunity to circle back to it. That is the answer to your food products that have been at Whole Foods for eight years. What’s happened is they have turned the brand back over to me. It was a ten-year contract.


[01:21:23] Ashley James: I didn’t want to ask in case it was really sensitive.


[01:21:28] Rip Esselstyn: No, no, no. It’s really good because now, what we’re doing is we’re revamping the whole look and feel. We’re giving the brand a whole refresh. Instead of being called Engine 2, it’s going to be called Plant-Strong. We are going to have a little Engine 2 in the upper right-hand corner just to give a nod because that’s the whole origin story at a fire station—Engine 2. But the packaging is so beautiful, it’s so colorful, and it’s so wonderful. And we’re going to have a limited variety of products at retail outlets including Whole Foods starting in February 2021.

We’re going to start with some veggie broth, then also some chilies, and some soups. And then online, we’ve started an e-commerce store where people can go right now today. We have the cereals and the granolas, and we have the pizza kits with the pizza crust and the sauce packs. And then we’re slowly, every couple of months, going to be adding more and more products to the e-commerce side of things. But in 2020, as we’re dealing with COVID-19, we’re just trying to figure out how to be smarter and more streamlined with our offerings and what makes sense. The D2C play, e-commerce, people are buying more and more food that way. This way, it allows us to get food to people—these premium products—at a better price point.


[01:23:08] Ashley James: Oh, great. Well, I love that. I just started buying all my groceries online because it just freed me up from so much time, and I used to love going grocery shopping. But with COVID, masks, hand sanitizers, and people looking at you worried like, oh, are you six feet away from me? I just don’t want to cause people to stress or live through that stress. I feel very, very blessed and fortunate to live in an area where I can have my groceries delivered, or I can order stuff online. I just ordered some whole food, plant-based cereal just last night. I normally don’t eat cereal, but I’m pregnant right now with our second child. My cravings, luckily, have been healthy ones.


[01:23:56] Rip Esselstyn: Good for you.


[01:23:58] Ashley James: Absolutely. Rip, it has been such a pleasure. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to attend your event coming up on October 23 and 24, Plant-Strong Primer: Kitchen Rescue. And of course, all the listeners are invited to attend as well. See you all in the chat, especially the singles who want to get healthy together. I just think that’d be so cool to hear some love stories.


[01:24:19] Rip Esselstyn: We’re going to do it. Just so you know, there’ll be several thousand people that will be partaking. This is going to be a big party. It will be a pre-holiday kitchen party where we’re going to get in, roll up our sleeves, and make potatoes, lasagnas, and pizzas together. It’s going to be a blast.


[01:24:41] Ashley James: Sounds great. Can’t wait. Thank you so much, Rip. Please, come back to the show at any time. We’d love to have you.


[01:24:46] Rip Esselstyn: Thank you so much, Ashley.



Get Connected with Rip Esselstyn!

Website – Plant Strong

Plant Strong Podcast

Plant-Strong Foods

Facebook – Plant Strong by Engine 2

Instagram – engine2diet

Instagram – RipEsselstyn

Twitter – Plant Strong by Engine 2


Books by Rip Esselstyn

The Engine 2 Cookbook: More than 130 Lip-Smacking, Rib-Sticking, Body-Slimming Recipes to Live Plant-Strong 

The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet: Eat Plants, Lose Weight, Save Your Health

The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds

Plant-Strong: Discover the World’s Healthiest Diet–with 150 Engine 2 Recipes

My Beef With Meat: The Healthiest Argument for Eating a Plant-Strong Diet — Plus 140 New Engine 2 Recipes

Oct 6, 2020

Visit to get on Dr. Wallach's protocol & the supplements that Ashley and her family have been taking for the last ten years.


Mineral Deficiency: Root Cause of Diseases



  • Root cause of mineral deficiency diseases
  • Four categories of health
  • Symptoms of osteoporosis of the skull
  • Why going gluten-free is important


Have you heard about osteoporosis of the skull? In this episode, Dr. Joel Wallach is back on the show, and he talks about different symptoms of osteoporosis of the skull. He shares that osteoporosis of the skull is a nutrient deficiency and can be cured with proper nutrition. He also talks about the root cause of mineral deficiency diseases and how it caused hundreds of diseases that we now have today.



Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today, we have my hero, Dr. Joel Wallach. He’s a Naturopathic physician with so much experience. He’s in his 80s, and he’s the reason why I no longer suffer from all the illnesses that I had. I’ve been mentored by him for the last 10 years, and it’s such an honor to have him back on the show.

Go listen to episode 435 to hear my first interview with him. In this episode, we continue our discussion, and then, in the end, he answers some questions for the listeners that posted questions in the Facebook group for him. We didn’t get to all the questions, so he’s agreed to come back on the show and he will continue to answer questions for us. As you’re listening to this episode, if you have questions for Dr. Wallach, come join the Learn True Health Facebook group, and when I announce that I’m going to have him on the show again, please post your questions in that thread and I will get them answered for you.

Now, as you’re listening to Dr. Wallach, if you’d like to get on his protocol, he designed a supplement company about 25 years ago. My family and I have actually been taking his supplements for the last 10 years, and I’ve been using them with my clients for the last 10 years having fantastic success. In this interview, I saw nine years and then I realized September was the 10th anniversary of me on his supplements, following his protocol, and reversing the illnesses and diseases I had using his information.

As you’re listening, if you want to get on his protocol, go to and one of our experienced health coaches that are trained on all of Dr. Wallach’s protocols will help you. There’s also a health coach training program that completely trains you in all of Dr. Wallach’s protocols and we can hook you up. It’s very affordable, and it teaches you exactly how to help people—yourself, your friends, and your family. It’s a great adjunct to those who are already in the health field, but also, it’s great for people who just want to learn for themselves.

I talk about IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is a year-long health coach training program. That’s a major program to start a career as a health coach or if you are in the health field in some way to really add tools to your tool belt. If you go to and talk to them about learning specifically Dr. Wallach’s protocol, that training is much shorter, and it’s specifically designed to teach you everything about Dr. Wallach’s protocol. It’s a fantastic adjunct to IIN or to anyone who wants to learn more about holistic health and healing. I have been working with the health coaches at for years, and we’ve all been trained by Dr. Wallach and all of his information.

What I love about his supplements, and the reason why he created these supplements is after all the research he did in discovering the root cause of 900 diseases—diseases that cross-species lines, and he’s published his work. For the last 35 years, he discovered the root cause of major diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, even down syndrome. He discovered they’re all different mineral deficiencies and element deficiencies in utero, and he’s published these findings.

What he found was as he worked as a Naturopath with his clientele, they would get inconsistent results from different supplement companies because of the quality control (or lack thereof). So he was finally driven to produce his own, which have consistently, very high quality, and are third-party lab-tested. We can help you contact the company and get all the labs. They publish them. They’re very open about showing that Dr. Wallach’s supplements are very high quality, bio-available, easily absorbed by the body, and consistently get results, which is very exciting.

They also have a 30-day money-back guarantee, which I think is really important because I spent thousands of dollars on supplements before I ever met Dr. Wallach, and felt that it was just a waste until I met him and got on his. Overnight, I started to notice fantastic changes. So if you’re wary about buying another supplement, know that his—when you go to and work with them—has a money-back guarantee. That is to show you that you can trust them. And if you like it for whatever reason, we want you to be satisfied, and we want to show you that you can feel comfortable and safe trying them and knowing that the company is all about helping you get your health back, which is why I’m so happy to be part of all of this.

Awesome. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this show with those you love. Strap yourselves in. This is going to be a great one. Enjoy today’s interview.


[00:05:04] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 447. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have my hero, Dr. Joel Wallach. Dr. Wallach, because of you, I no longer suffer from type 2 diabetes, from chronic adrenal fatigue, which had me bedridden most days. I no longer suffer from the polycystic ovarian syndrome. I actually just got my blood work done with my Naturopath to confirm that I am the healthiest I’ve ever been. But the last nine years I’ve been on your protocol I’ve been able to reverse all these issues. I was told by an endocrinologist I would never ever conceive, that I was completely infertile. And because of your protocol, your guidance, and your advice, we conceived our child naturally. He is a healthy almost 5 ½-year-old boy. You have helped many of my family members, many of my friends, and my clients through your supplements and through your nutritional information.

It’s such a pleasure to have you here. The difference you’ve made in millions of lives is so important. Your research has changed the world, but it needs to get mainstream. We have got to get your information out there, and that’s why I’m having you back here today so you can continue to share this information. Thank you so much for being here.


[00:06:37] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, you’re very, very kind, Ashley. Thank you so much for the testimony and so forth. I get more women pregnant every year than any other man in history because I know the process. The human body has a phenomenal ability to heal itself, but it does need raw materials. You have to absorb and then you have to have the raw materials. You cannot get everything you need from your food. It’s like saying don’t waste your money on oil. Just put dirt from Texas in your car. There’s bound to be some oil in it. That was very, very stupid. Well, it’s very, very stupid to just say, well, I’m going to eat well and I’ll get everything I need. Nutritional minerals occur in veins like chocolate and chocolate ripple ice cream and veins like gold, silver, and coal. That’s why in some places on earth, people live long healthy lives. They say, well, boy they don’t even have doctors. They live 160-200, what’s going on?

Well, that’s because they live in a place that has the nutrients there because of the glaciers, grinding up rocks, and all that kind of stuff. That’s why you see cultures, they’re famous and legendary for long lives. James Hilton wrote the book of course and the movie came out of it, Lost Horizon. He was a New York Times reporter. He was told to go to Hunza where people were claiming to be over 200 years of age and so forth. He went there, spent a year, and he said, hey, this is real. He wrote an article for the New York Times, and he made a book out of it, Lost Horizon. It became a movie, Lost Horizon and Shangri-La where people live forever and all that kind of stuff.

I think the advantage I have, Ashley, is I’m a veterinarian as well as a physician. We don’t have health insurance for animals. We do have life insurance for expensive racehorses, but when it comes to health insurance, health insurance is the vitamins and minerals they add to their food. We’ve eliminated every disease that still plagues humans. I’m proud that I was able to—through lawsuits in federal courts—forced the baby formulas to put nutrients in there that doctors said were poisonous. The baby formula manufacturers like Enfamil and [inaudible 00:08:54] put it in there. In federal courts, I won because I did 1700 autopsies on kids under the age of 10 published in three languages.

We got rid of cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and crib death. I’m the guy that eliminated those three baby diseases. You don’t hear about them anymore because I’ve eliminated them by putting all these nutrients into the baby formulas and eliminated them because none of them were genetic. And certainly, the mother never laid on the babies to kill them.


[00:09:21] Ashley James: Even more so, prenatal nutrition, and even before we get pregnant, helping the mother become fully nutrified is incredibly important. Now, we talked about your experiences with curing Keshan disease. We didn’t get into talking about your work with the Amish though. Can you tell us the story about how you were invited—I believe it was—in Pennsylvania to go and help the Amish figure out what was going on with infertility and the diseases that were plaguing them?


[00:09:51] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. They had a lot of birth defects. Amish all over the country were plagued with birth defects. I had been working with the Amish. Started out in Kansas City, Missouri who was the parents of an Amish kid who became a decorated Navy Seal of all things. When he came back he said, look, we got to really spend some time with these Amish communities. They have so many birth defects. The doctors just tell them it’s genetic and there’s nothing to do about it.

Well, it turns out that all these birth defects—and I’ll tell you a couple of specific stories—with the exception of getting the measles early in pregnancy and you damage the embryo that way. You’re too young probably, Ashley, to remember thalidomide, which was a pharmaceutical made to deal with morning sickness made in Australia and it was shipped over here. Ob-Gyns actually gave it to mothers early in pregnancy when they were having morning sickness. We had 10,000 babies born in America with no arms and legs because thalidomide interrupted that part of the embryonic development.

With the exception of those kinds of things, 99% of all birth defects are caused by nutritional deficiency during the developmental stages of the embryo. There are no genetic diseases transmitted as birth defects. I’ll repeat that. There are no genetic diseases transmitted as birth defects. There’s no genetic disease transmitted like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and that kind of stuff. As a result, my thesis, which is from my 10-year study—20,000 autopsies. It’s kind of like a Ph.D. degree for a post-doctoral fellowship like a Ph.D. degree at Washington University in St. Louis. My thesis is in the Smithsonian Institute as a national treasure. We got a $25 million grant. Did the 20,000 autopsies. Did all the work, tracked everything down. Showed how all the birth defects could be prevented with prenatal nutrition, and how all these diseases that are said to be genetic in families were not genetic.

The example I used was sickle cell anemia because every thesis of animals can have sickle cell anemia. Both white guys and black guys get sickle cell anemia, and it’s all caused by the same nutritional deficiency in the early stages of embryonic development when the bone marrow is being developed. This nutrient is missing in central Africa. That’s why so many people in Central Africa—like the Congo and places like that—they have sickle cell anemia. Of course, the medical doctors say, oh, it’s due to a genetic thing in these people in the Congo. No, they’re just missing that nutrient.


[00:12:29] Ashley James: The nutrient is missing from the soil so they’re not getting it when they eat their food?


[00:12:32] Dr. Joel Wallach: That’s correct because plants cannot make this nutrient. I’ll give you a hint, it’s a mineral. The plants cannot make it. Here’s the beautiful part of it. So I’m seeing all these white kids with sickle cell anemia. I’m tracking their families, they don’t have any interactions with black families and there’s no intermarriages or anything like that. So it turns out, it’s the exact same deficiency in white guys as black guys. In white guys, they gave it a different name. In white guys, they call it thalassemia, and in black guys, they call it sickle cell anemia. It’s the same exact birth defect.

I’ve done this. Actually, in my presentation, I show people that both the mother and father have either thalassemia or sickle cell anemia, they’ll have 10 normal kids as long as they’re getting all 90 essential nutrients for at least three months before they get pregnant. Nutritional deficiency.


[00:13:35] Ashley James: Because it happened in utero though, can you reverse sickle cell anemia or is it baked into the cake?


[00:13:41] Dr. Joel Wallach: It’s baked into the cake. However, I can take somebody who has maybe 25%-30% percent of their cells will be sickle cell anemia or thalassemia. I can give them a program and I might drop it down to 12%-15% because I’m really feeding the healthy cells in the bone marrow. They just make more healthy hemoglobin. But it is baked into the cake, all right. I can improve them, but you can’t cure them. I can take a mother and a father—both of whom have sickle cell anemia or both of whom have thalassemia—give them all 90 essential nutrients for three to six months prior to pregnancy and guess what, they can have 25 normal babies. This one, my thesis is in the Smithsonian Institute of Natural Treasure.

There’s a great little story about arctic foxes at the Brookfield Zoo when I was working there, and it was part of this grant where I did my 20,000 autopsies. They had a big aquarium there so I had to spend a couple of years there dealing with all the tortoises, sea turtles, and things like that. I was covering all the species.

Anyway, the keepers came to me and said, “Look, we’re going to bring you 10 baby arctic foxes, and the mother and father are wild-caught arctic foxes. We just had a litter of 10 babies all born with cleft palate. They have a bad gene, we want to get rid of them.” “No, no,” I said, “Oh my gosh. This is perfect. I’ve been looking for something like this and you guys are going to bring me the babies and bring me the foxes. What were you feeding them?” “Well, we gave them horse meat. Gave the two animal foxes horse meat because they’re carnivores. They’re meat-eaters.” “Well, did you give me any vitamins and minerals?” “No.”

“Okay. Well, that’s why all the baby foxes were born with cleft palates. It’s a birth defect caused by cleft palates when they go from a flat disc into a tube, at that moment when their palate is forming, they’re missing these nutrients and it doesn’t close completely. Then they get cleft palate, cleft lip, and all kinds of stuff. So what I want you to do is start feeding the mother and father dog food, and then I want you to get infant formula, milk replacer like we’re going to give orphan baby puppies and start feeding those baby foxes. 

When baby foxes get to be six months old, they’re going to go through puberty. Then I want you to take one female baby and put it with a father. I want you to put one male baby and put it with the mother, and all the other brothers and sisters you’re going to put together we’ll have five pairs of inbreeding. Actually, we’ll have seven pairs of inbreeding with the mother and father. You tell me when the baby foxes are born.”

Well, it took six months for them to get to puberty, and then of course the baby foxes when they started eating solid food, we got them on dog food also. To make a long story short, we had 100 baby foxes born a year and a half later, and guess what? They’re all born perfectly normal, no cleft palates even though we were seriously inbreeding—brother and sister, mother and son, father and daughter. They’re all born perfectly normal because we gave them all the nutrients. This is written up in scientific journals. It’s in the book Rare Earths: Forbidden Cures. It’s in the book Epigenetic. And it’s in my presentation, which I give all the time in the section on pregnancies.

Gosh, I have so many horrible pictures. They would do abortions of babies born with a terrible cycloptic eye—one eye in the middle of their forehead—or their brain was sticking out of their skull, and things like that. They would go ahead and do an abortion. They bring me those babies so I have lots of pictures of horrible birth defects all of which are preventable by proper diet—maximize absorption, no gluten, no fried foods, no processed meats, no oils, and then you throw in the 90 essential nutrients and there will never be another birth defect.


[00:17:41] Ashley James: The best place to get the 90 essential nutrients—myself and others who have been mentored by you, working with you, and working with your supplements for the last nine years—is If you go to, you fill out your information, and you actually speak to one of us. We work with you and help you get on Dr. Wallach’s protocol. I want to talk about the four categories of health and healing in terms of nutrient deficiency, and how you easily help people to reverse diseases. But before we do, I just want to wrap up the Amish story.

You went with Marvin Rob, and I’ve met Marvin Rob—an amazing, amazing man. I’ve learned so much from him too, and the two of you went to the Amish communities where there was a lot of infertility and birth defects. What happened?


[00:18:36] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, basically, the Amish, of course, they grow a lot of grain—wheat, barley, rye, and oats. They eat so much of that bread, spaghetti, noodles, pancakes, waffles, pie crusts, cake, and so forth. Well, guess what. They have so much gluten their intestines are all dead. They lost the villi in their intestines, and they couldn’t absorb nutrients even if they had them in their food. Now nutritional minerals do not occur in a uniform blanket around the coast of the earth. They occur in veins like gold, silver, and coal. The only way you’re going to guarantee you’re going to get all 90 essential nutrients is to supplement.

Well, even if you supplement, if your villi are all gone, you can’t efficiently absorb them, so they’re still having problems. We took some willing families that had some really serious problems. There was one family, I think it was Idaho. A 31-year-old young man and he was in a wheelchair for 31 years because he was born with severe muscular dystrophy, and they were told there was nothing to be done about it. Just giving care that dealt with the symptoms as opposed to there’s nothing you can do. To make a long story short, his name is Amos Wiki. This got to be 12, 15 years ago. We put Amos on the 90 essential nutrients. We gave him extra of the nutrients we’re missing when you have muscular dystrophy. Of course, they had already published a story about Jerry Lewis and so forth and everybody knew about that.

Jerry Lewis, of course, we gave him 50 of these Amish kids who were born with muscular dystrophy. We had cured them. We gave him the charts. He took them to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and before he left the room they fired him. He said, “Well, Wallach’s curing all these people with muscular dystrophy.” They fired him and took him off the telethon route. This is in 2011. And in 2015, they had to stop the telethon because they couldn’t raise a penny without Jerry Lewis being on there. He’d already raised $2 billion on the telethon, but when they took him off the telethon, they couldn’t raise a penny.

Anyway, here’s Amos Wiki. We put him on the program and we cured him. About a year later, Marvin and I are going from colony to colony in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Idaho, Utah, Texas, and so on running in all these Amish. They have annual meetings and all the farmers get together and say, okay, this year we’re all going to go grow sweet potatoes. This year we need extra, this, that, and the other. So they make all these plans, and they don’t have computers, telephones, cell phones, iPads, and things. They have to have these big meetings to communicate this stuff with each other. Otherwise, they’re writing letters and so forth, and they don’t like to do that. They rather just get together.

I was going to speak to them because they were having this big gathering of 150 Amish families in Idaho, and Marvin took me there. This elder—white hair, typical looking Amish guy, probably in the 60s. Very, very accusing tone, “Before we start, Wallach, I want to know. You’ve been working with Amos Wiki for years. For three years you’ve worked with him and he’s still sitting in his wheelchair.” And Amos wiki was sleeping in his wheelchair. About 180 pounds, 31 years old. So I said to myself, what would Moses do here?

What I did, I had to be a little bit of a showman, right? I stuck my right arm out 180 degrees away from Amos. I stuck my index finger out and I slowly, slowly turned through the face of the audience all around until I was pointing at Amos. I screamed his name. I said, “Amos, get up and dance.” And Amos got out of his wheelchair and he started doing a little jig. He runs up the middle aisle, runs around all the outside isles three times, and sits back down in the chair. Everybody, they couldn’t even breathe. It was quiet. They could not breathe.

What had happened was Amos, in 90 days, we had cured him of his muscular dystrophy after 31 years of muscular dystrophy. But he had paid for that wheelchair himself. They don’t have health insurance so he paid for the wheelchair himself. He didn’t want to give it away, sell it, or just throw in the barn. So he took it with him wherever he went, and wherever he went he would just sit in his own wheelchair. He didn’t need it anymore. But the elder Amish guy thought Amos was still in the wheelchair because he still had muscular dystrophy. But no, we cured him in three months.


[00:23:45] Ashley James: I love it.


[00:23:47] Dr. Joel Wallach: We deal a lot with every kind of autoimmune disease you can think of. Things like lupus, which Amish used to get a lot of. They have the butterfly rash on their face, and it’s kind of like fibromyalgia with a butterfly rash in your face they call it lupus, an autoimmune disease. It’s really just a manifestation of gluten. They can’t absorb nutrients. One nutritional deficiency causes eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea when you have a deficiency of that nutrient. Also, you get ulcerative colitis, your villi go away, you get diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome. Basically, these diseases are all gone in the Amish community now. They used to eat so much wheat, barley, rye, and oats because that’s what they would grow to feed their livestock and also to sell in the markets.

Now they know they need to live like Asians and they eat rice. They can’t have fried rice, but they could eat wild rice, white rice, yellow rice, and red rice. They could eat sweet potatoes. They can eat their dairy. They can have all the vegetables they want. They can have buckwheat, which is not wheat. They can have millet. They can have corn and so forth. All the diseases they used to get, they don’t get anymore because we got them off of gluten, got them on the 90 essential nutrients, 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 aminos, and 3 fatty acids. And 2/3 of the 90 essential nutrients are our minerals.

Plants do not make minerals. They can make vitamins, they can make amino acids, they can make fatty acids, but they can’t make minerals. Plants only need three elements from the soil, and farmers, Ashley, get paid by tonnage. They don’t get paid by the nutritional value of the food, they get paid by tonnage. When you look at all commercial fertilizers, they only have three minerals in it. They don’t have 60. They only have three. When they get everything ready to harvest, they harvest it, they sell it, it goes to the market, and we get three minerals in our food.


[00:25:58] Ashley James: Can you imagine what our health would be like as a globe if farmers got paid for the nutritional quality of their crop and if doctors got paid for results?


[00:26:10] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, yeah. That’d be a totally different story.


[00:26:14] Ashley James: Yeah, exactly. There’d be no disease, and everyone would be listening to you.


[00:26:17] Dr. Joel Wallach: I can tell you when it all happens, 3:00 PM in the afternoon, Monday, September 4, 1882 on Pearl Street in New York City in the bluff overlooking the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, Thomas Edison pulled the switch on the first commercial electric generating plant and lit up part of New York City. Within 10 years, 100 new diseases occurred that had never happened before in America. All mineral deficiency diseases and doctors are telling people, oh these are genetic because before 3:00 PM in the afternoon, Monday, September 4, 1882, nobody had electricity. Everybody had wood stoves. They were putting their wood ashes into their gardens, and wood ashes are more than just carbon. Wood ashes are the minerals that are left when you burn the carbon in the wood, the corn stalks, or whatever it is you’re burning, coal.

People put their wood ashes in their garden as fertilizer. If you were in a place where there were 15 minerals in the soil, there were 15 minerals that would ashes. If you’re in a place where they had 25 minerals in the soil, there were 25 minerals in the wood ashes. People did much better when they were putting their wood ashes in their gardens. I’m going to give you one more bit of story here and I’ll turn back to you. 

That is most people don’t know this, Ashley, but slaves lived longer than plantation owners. There were more 100-year-old slaves than there were 100-year-old white people. Most chief slaves who were actually running the plantation operations outlive three generations of white plantation owners who die in their 40s and 50s. These slaves are 110, 112 still running the show. That’s because the plantation owners want to be like kings and dukes. They just ate the meat—steaks, roasts, and loins, that kind of stuff. They made the slaves eat the chicken feet, pig’s feet, the livers, the brains, the heart, and the lungs, which had all the trace minerals in it plus the sulfur, the calcium, and the magnesium. They would put the bones from what they would eat onto the stove at night and water and just simmer it all night and make bone broth soup.


[00:28:55] Ashley James: And get more minerals.


[00:28:57] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. The white people didn’t drink that or eat that. That was all the slaves. That’s why there was uncle Thomas. They couldn’t call him Sir Tom or Sir Remus. They call him Uncle Remus because they were giving him some kind of heroic name for living so long and running the plantations. Being an Uncle Tom was a good thing. Being an Uncle Remus was a good thing. Being an Aunt Jemima was a good thing because they were living to be 100 eating the things that the plantation owners thought were not even fit to feed a dog, only slaves could eat them.


[00:29:43] Ashley James: And they were getting more nutrition because of it. That’s fascinating.


[00:29:47] Dr. Joel Wallach: Isn’t that crazy?


[00:29:48] Ashley James: Yeah. I love how you look through history—different cultures, the rate of disease, and how you can link it all back that the people who have the lowest rate of disease and the highest rate of longevity are the people who are getting all their minerals, getting more minerals, and getting more nutrition. That’s very fascinating. I just love it. 

Now, it’s been complicated for people to understand how to reverse disease, but you, in the last few years—in working with so many wonderful experts—have devised something to make it really simple. So that the average person or even health coaches who want to jump in and use your protocol, not only for themselves, but also for their clients or for their friends and family, they could understand how to figure out what nutrients their client, their selves, or their friends or families are missing. Can you discuss the four categories of health, and dive into how we can utilize them to help reverse disease?


[00:31:00] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah, well you have to appreciate that all tissue has stem cells. No matter what tissue in the body, every tissue in the body has stem cells. The purpose of the stem cells is to make new cells when the old ones die because none of your body cells live forever so they have a lifespan. They might only live six weeks, six months, two years, or whatever it is. Then the stem cells will replace them with a new cell. Also, if you have an injury like a trauma, an injury where you get a bruise, a cut, a burn, or something like that, your stem cells will repair those injured cells and make new ones when the old ones die. They all require the 90 essential nutrients.

This is why people who live in areas that have lots of minerals in the soil and eat food grown there, they actually have much longer lives. They tend to be disease-free, are very strong, and can resist the plague and all that kind of stuff which everybody else gets. People say well where are the longest-lived people on earth? The longest-lived people on earth come from Hunza, which is where the [inaudible 00:32:20] Glacier is which is in China. There’s a place called Pakistan and China, the [inaudible 00:32:30] glacier in Hunza is in between them. 

These are the longest-lived people on earth. And again, the Hunzas didn’t know what they were doing. They just drank the water that came out from underneath the glaciers. They irrigated with the water that came out from underneath the glaciers. The glacial water had the minerals in it because the glaciers were grinding up all the rocks. It just so happens all the rocks there have 78 minerals.

Also, this is where we get our plant minerals from these types of deposits. There’s half a dozen on earth, and we get our minerals from these types of deposits which come from the ocean. It’s not like rock. These are not rocks. These are plants. I’ll tell you a little bit about that in a second. And then also, we can get these things from the pink Himalayan salt. In the Himalayan mountains, when the oceans dried up, all the salt and minerals that were in the oceans there piled up down there and became the pink Himalayan salt. They have 84 minerals in them.

Now, Ashley, before I answer your question, I’m going to tackle it backward a little bit so when I answer the question it’ll make sense.


[00:33:53] Ashley James: Okay.


[00:33:54] Dr. Joel Wallach: You know the carbon dioxide is going up in the air, and all the environmentalists are convinced that it’s due to fossil fuels for gasoline, oil, and all kinds of stuff for cars and things.


[00:34:09] Ashley James: Cow farts.


[00:34:12] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah, things like burning coal, oil, and gasoline and all that kind of stuff. That’s where the carbon dioxide is coming from. They want everybody to drive Tesla cars and have all these hydroelectric plants and everything. Well, going back to the 1920s, they began to put in hydroelectric dams. Today, to make a long story short, we have a million hydroelectric dams. We have two million dams for our irrigation and water conservation. We have 400 million farm ponds that intercept the flow from creeks that would go into tributaries to dump these silts, minerals, and volcanic ash into the big rivers, which would then go feed the ocean and feed the reefs. Millions not thousands, millions of these dams.

Well, here’s what happened is they shut off the food supply to the algae that were eating the carbon monoxide. Algae make up more plant life than all the plants on dry land earth. Algae in the ocean have a bigger plant mass than that. Well, algae, the purpose of it is to eat the carbon dioxide in the air, throw out oxygen into the atmosphere, then take the carbon out of the carbon dioxide, and make carbon chains like amino acids, carbohydrates, sugars, fiber, and stuff like that for plants like kelp and that kind of stuff. Well, we dammed up the rivers with 1 million hydroelectric dams, 2 million water conservation dams, and 400 billion farm ponds. We cut off the food. Only man has the power to cut off the food supply to the ocean, cut off the food supply to the reefs.

I gave a lecture last year, a little more than a year ago—August of 2019, to Tesla at their annual meeting, and 2/3 of my lecture I had maps of all the places where the reefs have died and showed where they had dammed up all the rivers. I have pictures of the maps and then where the rivers were dammed up. In Queensland in Australia where the Great Barrier Reef is they dammed up all the rivers that were feeding the volcanic ash into the ocean on the western side of the great barrier reef that killed the great barrier reef by making hydroelectric there. 

We’re working on getting a grant. We’re going to rebuild Queensland, we’re going to rebuild the Great Barrier Reef. We’re going to leave them to have their electric dams. We’re just going to go around them, through them, or over them with augers, get the silt back to the algae that were feeding the Great Barrier Reefs. And in 90 days’ time, we will have rebuilt the Great Barrier Reef and prove to the environmentalists it was the dams that caused the problems.

That’s why anybody dealing with electricity and they want to make more electricity, it’s actually safer to burn coal than it is to dam up the rivers. Just think of all the diseases we’ve gotten since we went away from wood ashes for fertilizing our plants and we’re using electricity now. We got 1000 new diseases that never existed before because of nutritional deficiency.


[00:38:04] Ashley James: To summarize what you said because it is such an important—that moment you said, that exact moment that Edison did that. The exact moment, just a pivotal change happened in our world because until then, we were cooking with fire, basically. We’re cooking with wood.


[00:38:26] Dr. Joel Wallach: Wood and coal.


[00:38:28] Ashley James: But if you look at old like a few hundred-year-old recipes for bread, for example, they’ll call for wood ash. They’ll call for the white ash to be added to the food. Or they used it as a thickening agent in stews. We used to eat minerals, and we used to put them in our garden. Minerals were part of our everyday supplementation. We didn’t know it. We didn’t know that it was, we just did it. It kept us healthy until we traded in our wood stove for the electric stove a few generations later plus everything we’ve done with commercial farming, we’re not getting the 60 essential minerals. I’ve heard you talk about the dams before but it really, really hit me today.

What we saw happen with our bodies over the last hundred years in terms of mineral deficiency and the rates of diseases go up. Now we’re doing it to our oceans. Isn’t it 70% of the earth is covered in water, and we’ve starved the minerals. We’ve cut off the mineral supply because of all these dams with the food supply, the mineral supply to the algae. And the algae is the most important plant on our earth to help us breathe oxygen and create homeostasis.


[00:39:55] Dr. Joel Wallach: Something usable from carbon dioxide.


[00:39:57] Ashley James: Right. What we did to our bodies over the last hundred years is what we’re doing to the entire ocean right now. And it all comes back to minerals are the most important thing for our health. Of course, vitamins are, but I’ve heard you say you can accidentally get vitamins if you eat enough vegetables, but you can’t accidentally get enough minerals because of all the things that you’ve talked about.


[00:40:22] Dr. Joel Wallach: Plants don’t make minerals.


[00:40:23] Ashley James: Right. They have to be grown in minerally rich soil, which is very hard to secure especially because of the farming practices of the last hundred years and the fact that we’re not re-mineralizing our soil.


[00:40:35] Dr. Joel Wallach: After a few years, the minerals and salt are gone because the plants suck them out of the soil. Now, grandma, as you point out, used to eat wood ashes and she’d put them in the bread dough, she’d put him in the soup, and that kind of stuff. When she got crazy cravings when she was pregnant, she’d go out in the yard with a spoon and eat dirt, and she’d eat more wood ashes when she was pregnant. It’s called pica.

Now, during the Second World War when they came up with baby formulas so mothers could work in the factory so they didn’t have to breastfeed their babies, babies developed what was called cribbing. They would chew on the rails and the cribs because they were minerally deficient. They were looking for minerals and say we put their hands on the crib rails and chew on the rails and they call it cribbing. When horses are minerally deficient, they chew on the top rail of a barn stall, they call it cribbing because the horse looks like they’re doing what the kids are doing in the crib.

Now grandma didn’t know why, but she knew that the terrible craving she had would go away when she would eat wood ashes and put them in the food and that kind of stuff. Also, obesity was not a big problem in the world until electricity came along. I mean, if you wanted to see an obese person you had to go to the carnival or the circus, and they would have the fat lady who was 300 pounds. Other than seeing a fat lady in the circus or the carnival, you never see a fat person because they’re eating minerals because they’re putting the wood ashes into their food.

When you have pica, you’re driven to want to eat even though you just had a 5000-calorie dinner. If you’re missing minerals, you are going to eat and eat and eat and eat six desserts and all that kind of stuff. That’s when the clever guys came along and said you know grandma’s out there eating dirt. We need to make pretzels, potato chips, corn puffs, and all these desserts and sell them in the stores. She’ll buy those desserts and eat those rather than eating dirt and ashes. That way we can make some money. We’re not making any money with her eating dirt and wood ashes because entrepreneurs noticed that grandma’s eating that stuff because she was craving them.


[00:42:45] Ashley James: Why is it that people will crave salty foods or sweet foods when their body really wants minerals?


[00:42:52] Dr. Joel Wallach: Because they don’t know. They’ve never been taught that craving is telling them to eat minerals. If you’ve ever been around cattle farms, bee farms, they put these red trace mineral salt blocks out in the pasture on the big corrals. The cattle will lick the salt, they’ll lick the salt, they’re getting the trace minerals at the same time because they need the salt. All vertebrates require sodium chloride for digestion to make stomach acid and all that kind of stuff. Now, here’s a funny piece to it.

You go back to the years 3600 BC, there was a healer in Egypt who began to give people dried seaweed. He noticed that the ones that had goiter when he gave them dry seaweed their goiter would go away. Well, that went on until 1930. That’s a big long time. Almost 4000 years. About 1930, chemists were doing analyses of seaweed. It was getting rid of goiter in people, and he noticed that one of the biggest things in the seaweed that would cure goiter was iodine. It was in 1875.

Then comes along 1920. There was a salt company in New York. They’re selling a lot of salt, but they read about this iodine, which was a big problem all around the world. They put iodine in salt and they called it iodized salt. We eliminated goiter in the world with iodized salt because everybody salted their food because they were deficient in salt, so they would eat salt with iodine. They got iodized salt.

Well, just before the Second World War, all these doctors were getting trained in medical schools. Being told that salt is what creates high blood pressure. So they’re running around telling people to get rid of the salt out of your diet, it will lower your blood pressure, so take drugs. But they didn’t say be sure you’re taking a supplement that has iodine in it, so goiter came back with a vengeance. That’s why we have so much stuff going on with our thyroid glands now because even if they do have salt out there with iodine in it, people are told don’t use salt.


[00:45:25] Ashley James: Fascinating. And you pointed out that our body actually needs salt in order to make hydrochloric acid.


[00:45:33] Dr. Joel Wallach: For digestion.


[00:45:35] Ashley James: And if we don’t have enough hydrochloric acid, then we get heartburn, and then a doctor will put someone on antacids which just makes the problem worse. Then they can’t digest, so then they can’t absorb. so now they’re going to become more nutrient deficient quicker and then they can get on more drugs. It’s just a perfect path to make the pharmaceutical company money.


[00:45:58] Dr. Joel Wallach: You’re exactly right. That’s why we have our savory division, our spice division, we have the pink Himalayan salt. I use that on my breakfast food, my lunch, and my dinners. I use our pink Himalayan salt, and I take it with me when I go out on the road, and it has 84 minerals in there. That’s an addition to our sports drink, which has 78 minerals in it. Our plant-derived minerals have 78 minerals in it. We have in capsules, liquids, and powders. Oh my. There are so many diseases, they’re very simply gotten rid of.

For instance, diabetes. You don’t need to go to a doctor to see if you have diabetes. You go to a pharmacy without a prescription. You get the test strips for your urine, you get the test scripture blood, and for about $1.50 for each test strip, in three minutes you’ll know if you’re diabetic or not. And you didn’t have to pay $100 for an office call. You didn’t have to pay $200 for a lab fee. It just cost you $3 or $2.50 test strips, and you know if you have diabetes or not.

And then of course, if you have diabetes, we have what we call the Healthy Blood Sugar Pack. If you’ve had it for 30 years, in 30 days or less you’ll actually be an ex-diabetic.

Of course, the scorecard for how well you’re doing, how well you’re managing your diabetes is the A1C. It’s supposed to be down around 5. I get people, their A1C has been 15-19 for 20, 30 years. We get them on our program, our Healthy Blood Sugar Pack, and get them off of gluten so they can absorb everything. In six weeks, their A1C is now 4 and they don’t have diabetes anymore. They go into their annual or quarterly physical and the doctor says, we’ve got to run your A1C again, it came out 4. That can’t be right because it’s been 19 for 25 years. So they rerun it and she said well I don’t know why but your A1C is 4. It’s a miracle. I’ve never seen that before. And then they just turn and walk out the door.

I asked the patient. I said, “Well, did the doctor ask what you were doing?” He says, “No, he just says it’s a miracle and walked out the door.” That’s because he didn’t want to be responsible. He didn’t want to be knowing what you did so he’d have to give it to his other patients.


[00:48:14] Ashley James: Well, that happened to me. I used to have type 2 diabetes, and I got on your protocol for healthy blood sugar and it went away so fast it made my head spin. I was feeling so good. And the pica, I thought it was part of my blood sugar problem. I had constant gnawing hunger. I was hangry. Every 45 minutes I had to eat. And then within the same day, I started taking your plant-derived minerals, my hunger went away. I just burst into tears of joy. I was so excited. My blood sugar started balancing very quickly, my adrenal fatigue subsided very quickly.

Within two years, we naturally conceived our child, and my polycystic ovarian syndrome had gone away. It was bam bam bam. Things were resolving. It was great. I got so excited I changed my career and became a complete advocate of your work, of nutrition, and of the fact that we can reverse disease. I’ve traveled with you. I’ve watched you, helped you, or set up lectures, and I’ve met hundreds of people that have worked with your protocols.

I have personally seen people reverse adult-onset asthma, arthritis, MS, kidney failure, COPD, infertility. I’ve met people who were supposed to go in for surgeries to have knees replaced, kidneys removed, or heart surgery, and then through your protocols, they got so healthy they no longer needed to have those procedures. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes nutrition and diet and then it takes a few more months or it takes adding in some herbal support, but stick with it.

I highly recommend listeners go to and get on Dr. Wallach’s protocol. There are these four categories that you came up with—soft tissue, hard tissue, blood sugar, and healthy nervous system. There are a bunch of different symptoms that someone could look at. There’s a checklist and they could look at and go, oh, my problem is this. An example being is if someone has cracked heels, that they have soft tissue—it’s the nutrients that support soft tissue, specifically like essential fatty acids. They have that deficiency, but they might need further support in terms of digestion if they don’t have a gallbladder in order to fully digest and absorb their EFAs. But could you talk a bit about how you’ve made this very simple so that people can get on the right protocol with all the essential nutrients their body is missing in order to correct their problem?


[00:51:12] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, well thank you. Again, my thesis for my post-doctoral fellowship represents 20,000 autopsies. I’ve done over 32,000 autopsies for my thesis in the Smithsonian Institute as a National Treasure. When I would get bodies—whether humans or animals—if they were vertebrate, they would have the same external signs of the internal deficiency disease. If it was diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid issues, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, if they had irritable bowel syndrome, or they had colitis, all these kinds of things. Of course, then they would have skin pumps, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. I’m saying, well, what causes these things? I would go look up and sure enough, there has been a paper written about it 25 years earlier, 100 years earlier. That they would make the connection between a nutrient deficiency and that particular health issue.

I began to write these things up and do handouts and meetings. Usually, after a while, I had enough of those handouts. I just put them together in a book. The first book of course was Let’s Play Herbal Doctor. It goes into 600 different diseases and tells you what signs to look at. For instance, my most recent book now 50 years later is It’s All In Your Head. It talks about the 25 different diseases you get when you have osteoporosis in the skull, and it’s another thing that doctors never talk about is osteoporosis of the skull. They talk about osteoporosis of your legs, your vertebrae, your pelvis, and your shoulders, but that’s it. They never talk about osteoporosis of the skull.

Well, there are 12 pairs of cranial nerves. And when you have osteoporosis of the skull because your skull gets thicker and bigger when you have osteoporosis, it fills up those tunnels that those nerves go through and the spinal cord coming out of the back of the skull and squeezes them and you get all these diseases. I ask people questions when they come in and they tell me they’re losing their vision. The doctors can’t figure out why because they don’t have glaucoma, they don’t have pressure in their eye, they don’t have cataracts, they don’t have macular degeneration, but they’re slowly going blind. They have to change their eye prescription every couple of months because it’s getting worse and worse and worse no matter what the eye doctor does.

I learned if I ask them, “Do you have ringing in your ears? Do you have tinnitus? It’s called tinnitus, that [ringing] tone.” “Oh, yeah. That’s terrible. I have that all the time.” “And do you ever have dizziness or balance problems?” “Oh, man. If I get up too fast the world will spin. I’ll fall down, so I have to get up very slowly and stand there for a moment before I take a step. I do have vertigo.” “Well, that’s because your skull is squeezing the auditory branch of the atrial nerve to get that tone, and you will gradually get deaf. The skull is also squeezing the vestibular branch of your atrial nerve. The tone is called tinnitus. The dizziness, vertigo or Meniere’s disease now it’s called Wallach’s vertigo because it’s not a genetic thing. It’s a simple nutritional deficiency.”

But also, I think what was happening, the skull is squeezing the second cranial nerve which is the optic nerve, and slowly causing the optic nerve and the artery that goes into the back of the eye. Formed in the brain, goes to the skull to the back of the eye. They would slowly lose their vision, and didn’t have any classic eye problems. I learned, by rebuilding the skull, I could get their vision to come back. I actually won a wager. I don’t know if I told you that story.


[00:54:52] Ashley James: I don’t think so.


[00:54:54] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, this is a great story. It has to do with these sorts of things. I was in Salt Lake City giving a lecture and about 50 people in the audience. It’s got to be 25, 30 years ago. There are 30, 40 people in the audience. When I was done, the guy in the front row said, “Dr. Wallach, my mother is in her 70s, and she’s been legally blind for eight years. Is there anything you can do for her? She’s got this terrible macular degeneration that caused her blindness. She’s been legally blind 6, 8, 10 years.” “Okay, I can fix that.”

This guy jumps up in the back of the room. He says, “Wallach, you’re a liar.” I said, “Who are you?” He says, “Well, I’m an eye surgeon, and I diagnose people who are legally blind because they have really severe advanced aggressive forms of macular degeneration, and they go blind. There’s nothing to do about you. You just got to accept blindness at that point.” I said, “Well, sir, let’s have a wager. Why don’t you bring me 12 of your patients that you have diagnosed? There’s no question about the diagnosis. You have diagnosed with macular degeneration. They’ve been legally blind 6, 8, 10 years.” He says, “You’re on.”

The next day, he brings me 27 charts. He says, “Pick your 12.” I said, “Why pick 12? Let’s take all 27.” He says, “You’re on. Well, what’s the wager? I said, “Well if I win, if I can cure these people in 90 days, if I can do it, it’ll happen in 90 days. If I can cure these people in 90 days—they go from being legally blind to be able to read 20-20 in 90 days, now you have to pay for their supplements. You have to apologize in public for calling me a liar. You have to buy me one of the most expensive steaks in Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and you’re going to buy me the most expensive French red wine in America, a bottle of it.” He says, “You’re on.”

I said, “I’ll take all 27.” He says, “Well, how are we going to get him the information.” I said, “Well, I’m going to write up a little protocol that’ll be per 100 pounds of body weight, and I’ll call and talk to each one and I’ll mail each one so you need to give me their addresses so I know this is really happening.” He says, “You’re on.” So we went at it. Gave them the 90 essential nutrients, the anti-inflammatories, the MSM, vitamin D3, and so on. We went at it. In 90 days, 25 of the 27 could read 20-20. It took two more weeks for the other two. So he paid off on all counts.


[00:57:37] Ashley James: I love it.


[00:57:41] Dr. Joel Wallach: This is why we came up with a book, It’s All In Your Head. We talk about these 25 different diseases you get. You lose your sense of smell, you lose your sense of taste. You’ve heard of Bell’s Palsy, that’s the squeezing of the seventh cranial nerve, the facial nerve when you have osteoporosis. And then there’s trigeminal neuralgia. You have pain in your face and you can’t make saliva and everything because the fifth cranial nerve is being squeezed. And then people, when they get older, their voice tends to change. That happens because their ninth cranial nerve≤ the glossopharyngeal which controls the vocal cords are being squeezed. Beginning to get the picture?


[00:58:41] Ashley James: Fascinating. It’s all osteoporosis of the skull.


[00:58:43] Dr. Joel Wallach: Of the skull, and that’s why we have the book now, It’s All In Your Head. We’re selling these by the hundreds every day now. It was on the best-selling list, number one bestseller in ebook for the ebook companies—Amazon, Apple, Kindle. It’s going viral this book.


[00:59:13] Ashley James: I love it, and now you have a new DVD that just came out. If we were to watch it, what would we learn?


[00:59:19] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, the new DVD, Is Your Doctor Killing You? It goes into these things that are supposed to be genetic, supposed to be autoimmune, and so forth. They’re really just nutritional deficiencies. This was a Zoom video. It started out as a Zoom video. The person who interviewed me—like you’re doing now—was an academic pharmacist. It’s one of those things where Pharmacist Keith Abell, he was really on me when I was saying I can cure this, I can cure this, I can cure this. I always give references to make him satisfied.

While we’re doing the Zoom, he goes online—he’s a techie—and he gets that article and he puts the cover page with the abstract and the authors in the title on it right next to my face. When you look at this Zoom, you’re getting the reference right next to my face on this DVD, Is Your Doctor Killing You? Of course, he is. And then, of course, we have the two CDs set—two one-hour CDs, and it was a two-hour lecture. I was lecturing to a big church up in Baltimore, Maryland with Linda. It was such audience participation. There were 1000 people in that church. It was really great.

Those are the two new tools, Is Your Doctor Killing You? It goes along with the book Rare Earths: Forbidden Cures, and of course, the new book is It’s All In Your Head.


[01:01:03] Ashley James: Thank you. Very good. Now, recently, it just launched a few months ago, and I’ve already had several of my listeners participate. There’s a health coach program—it’s all online and it’s very, very affordable. Anyone, you don’t have to have any previous knowledge about holistic health. It goes through and teaches them exactly what your protocols are and how to help yourself, your friends, your family, but also, it’s great for health coaches. It’s great for even naturopathic doctors or any kind of doctor could go through this protocol, go through this health course. They can learn exactly your protocols, and you have these four categories. It goes through the list of the different symptoms and then it relates back to the nutrient deficiencies.

I love that you saw this, that you saw that when you did all of these autopsies and the millions of histopathologies and blood panels, you’re able to see that nutrient deficiency was the root cause of 900 diseases, and that each disease you could replicate. You could see either in animals. If you starved an animal of a nutrient, you could predict what disease they would get based on the nutrient they were not getting—same with humans. You could see certain symptoms—exterior symptoms. I use the examples of cracked heels because it’s so common, but that there are many symptoms that an MD would not consider relevant, and that these symptoms are actually red flags showing us that we have nutrient deficiency.


[01:03:01] Dr. Joel Wallach: That’s correct.


[01:03:02] Ashley James: In terms of this course, the best way to go about joining it is to go to because once you communicate with us, then we set you on that path and help you to sign up and learn all of Dr. Wallach’s protocols. Done in a really easy to use way, which I’m very excited about because I have been studying your work. How I learned the protocols is you’ve been doing radio shows for many years answering questions.


[01:03:35] Dr. Joel Wallach: Thirty years.


[01:03:34] Ashley James: Right, I went back and I listened to all the recordings I could find. Every day, eight hours a day, I would put them on. In my first year and a half working with the supplements, I had it playing in my house and I would listen to every single archive I could get my hands on. I’d hear the problem and then I’d try to predict the different course of action that you’d help them take. What’s really cool is that listening to it—because I listened to several episodes in one day—a few months later, someone would call back. They would say, okay, I don’t have MS anymore but I’m calling for my sister.

So many people would call back and tell you that they’ve had progress, or they’d come back and they’d say, okay, my migraines are gone but my hands are still shaking. You’d correct their protocol. All this information has been put together in a really easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to learn way. Do you have time to answer a few questions for the listeners?


[01:04:37] Dr. Joel Wallach: Absolutely. I have one thing I need to do first and that is to thank you so much for putting together that training. I just appreciate you, respect you, and look forward to working with you for the next couple hundred years.


[01:04:52] Ashley James: Well, that’s it. When my husband and I learned from you almost 10 years ago, and you said we have the genetic potential to live to be 120, my husband and I are like let’s do this. We’re going to do this. Let’s do this. Let’s live to be 120. We’re right there with you. I’m very, very excited about that.


[01:05:10] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, thank you so much.


[01:05:13] Ashley James: Absolutely, you’re very welcome. Mike Park is one of our listeners whose son has an SCI. He got a fever and all of a sudden his legs stopped working. They think it was a viral infection of his nervous system, and he has neuropathy. He would like to know, is there a protocol that you know that can help stimulate the neurogenesis nerve growth factor and help with neuropathy in people with SCI?


[01:05:47] Dr. Joel Wallach: He’s got low back stuff, is that what it is?


[01:05:53] Ashley James: He’s like a five-year-old child who no longer has use of his legs because of this, I believe, a viral infection that happened to his spinal cord.


[01:06:04] Dr. Joel Wallach: It may just be osteoporosis of the skull because newborn babies can have osteoporosis in the skull. When you read this book, it’ll make you weep and cry. He’s five years old. I bet his skull is squeezing his spinal cord is what’s going on here.


[01:06:19] Ashley James: Fascinating.


[01:06:22] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. It makes you take a deep breath, doesn’t it?


[01:06:24] Ashley James: Really does.


[01:06:27] Dr. Joel Wallach: Do we have any idea how much this little kid weighs?


[01:06:31] Ashley James: Probably about 40 pounds.


[01:08:36] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, so let’s get him off all the bad foods. Everybody in the family’s got to get rid of fried food, processed meats, oils, glutens, wheat, barley, rye, oats, and sugar. He’s got to live like an Asian. Live on rice, sweet potatoes, and millets. You can make bread, pancakes, waffles, and all kinds of stuff out of rice, sweet potatoes, or white potatoes. You can have all that, okay. And the vegetables and the fish. I like the smoked Alaska salmon. I have that almost every morning for breakfast. That’s a good thing, plus my three poached eggs, soft yolks, and so on. I do have rice. I have three ice cream scoops full of rice, and then I have all my pills, my liquids, and so forth.

Let’s say this kid weighs 40, 50 pounds. Let’s get him one Healthy Brain and Heart Pack that’ll last him two months because it’ll be a half a dose of everything every day, so he’ll get a quarter of a dose of everything at breakfast and dinner. I also want him to have the MSM. I want him to take three MSM a day, one with each meal. That bottle of MSM’s going to last two months. I also want them to get vitamin D3. I want them to take three of those twice a day, so it’ll be two bottles of vitamin D3. I want him to have the Glucogel. He can have liquid Glucogel. It’d be an ounce twice a day, put it into his shake. Or if he wants the capsules, he could take five capsules twice a day.

Of course, he needs to be using our pink Himalayan salt. When they go out and eat, he can take what we call the mineral caps. One capsule of mineral caps has the same amount of minerals in it as one ounce of the liquid minerals. And then I want them to have six eggs a day. You can put them in a shake, you can have them soft boiled, soft poached, soft scrambled with butter, or you can whip them up with a blender and put them in one of her protein shakes. Because this kid, he had an infection they said that caused his problem.


[01:08:36] Ashley James: Yes. He is about five years old and the infection happened. I believe it was about a year ago, so he’s now in a wheelchair.


[01:08:43] Dr. Joel Wallach: So it happened when he was already four years old. Let’s see what happens in 90 days by doing all this. He’s got to make sure there’s no gluten in his life. No wheat, barley, rye, and oats. No cheat day. No one cheat meal a month—no gluten. Everybody, all the other brothers and sisters, mom and dad. Everybody’s got to get rid of gluten. You need to ask him did he have any skin problems as well—eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea? Does he ever complain about ringing in his ears or tinnitus?


[01:09:19] Ashley James: So if he complains of ringing in his ears that would be one of the symptoms of the osteoporosis of the skull.


[01:09:25] Dr. Joel Wallach: That’s correct.


[01:09:26] Ashley James: And then the skin problem, is that gluten-related?


[01:09:30] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah, the gluten causes damage to the villi in the intestines, so you cannot absorb nutrients. And the nutrient is missing when you get eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea. You get things like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, diverticulitis. All those types of diseases are caused by a deficiency of the same nutrient that causes eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea. Same nutrient deficiency causes all that. And then when you have damaged your intestines—I want to get into it if we have time. I want to get into a little bit of the COVID-19. But this kid has a great possibility of recovering 100%.


[01:10:25] Ashley James: I’m very excited about that.


[01:10:28] Dr. Joel Wallach: You’ll know within six months.


[01:10:32] Ashley James: Excellent. We’ll definitely follow up. Mike has been an active listener and a member of our Learn True Health Facebook group, and he’s been sharing his son’s journey. I’m excited to help Mike get on that protocol. For everyone who’s listening, please go to to get on these protocols that Dr. Wallach is talking about.

The next question is can we fix lazy eye or weak eye muscles? Is there a way to support eye health and reverse lazy eye?


[01:11:03] Dr. Joel Wallach: And how old is this person?


[01:11:05] Ashley James: You know what, I don’t know. They submitted it in the group, and looking at her picture, she looks to be in her 30s.


[01:11:17] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, the fourth cranial nerves and the sixth cranial nerves are the ones that control the eyes and muscles. If you have osteoporosis of the skull, you get a lazy eye because it’s squeezing those nerves.


[01:11:28] Ashley James: I’m really starting to grasp how prevalent these problems are. The osteoporosis of the skulls is producing so many problems because it’s a nutrient deficiency. 


[01:11:44] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah, well it is a mineral deficiency. It is nutrient deficiency. I mean, how many doctors have told their patients, look, you have osteoporosis of the skull that’s why you have Bell’s palsy. No, they just say we’re going to give you steroids. They’ll get some benefit for a while, but it’ll come right back because they haven’t dealt with a basic problem.


[01:12:01] Ashley James: So then the problem isn’t a weak eye muscle, it’s that the nerve is being impinged and it’s sending a weak signal?


[01:12:09] Dr. Joel Wallach: Either sending a weak signal or an overactive signal.


[01:12:14] Ashley James: Very interesting.


[01:12:15] Dr. Joel Wallach: Either one.


[01:12:18] Ashley James: So your approach for her would be to follow a protocol that supports healthy bones and joints?


[01:12:26] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. You don’t know how much this lady weighs or anything?


[01:12:31] Ashley James: I do not.


[01:12:32] Dr. Joel Wallach: Let’s say for 100 pounds of body weight, one Healthy Brain and Heart pack. Five Glucogel capsules twice a day. MSM, three of those tablets twice a day. Just in case, I would also throw in the Ultimate Daily Classic tablets for circulation in the brain, three of those twice a day.


[01:12:56] Ashley James: Excellent. Thank you. Lauren wants to know about raising estrogen and testosterone in herself naturally. Her doctor says her estrogen and her testosterone is low. What can we do to balance and increase healthy hormone levels?


[01:13:15] Dr. Joel Wallach: How old is she? What does she weigh?


[01:13:17] Ashley James: I do not know what she weighs, but she looks to be in her late 20s.


[01:13:24] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, so young person. Well, again, she got to get rid of gluten. Got to get rid of all the fried foods, processed meats, oils, glutens, wheat, barley, rye, and oats, and absolutely no sugar. And then per 100 pounds of body weight, give her one healthy brain and heart pack for a month, three eggs with soft yolks twice a day—hard-boiled eggs won’t count because 95% of estrogen is cholesterol, 95% of testosterone is cholesterol. Avoiding cholesterol and taking statin drugs will make these things happen in people. I’m avoiding cholesterol because my family all had issues with their heart, well your doctor needs to be put in jail. Anyway, then they also need the D-Stress capsule, take those twice a day. Ultimate Niacin Plus, one of those twice a day. Anything going on with the brain and spinal cord needs to have the Ultimate Daily Classic tablets.

Now, there’s one other thing that has to be done for the testosterone and the estrogen. We have a product called XeraTest, which is the food for the Sertoli cells and testicles that make the testosterone. They need the cholesterol and all the 90 nutrients to be able to work, don’t waste your money on the XeraTest if you’re not giving them the 90 cents of nutrients and the eggs, the cheese, and so on. And then the same thing is true for the female part for the estrogen and progesterone. They need XeraFem. Let’s see here, I can personally testify. I’m 81 years old, and I look like I’m 50, I sound like I’m 50. And sexually, I act like I’m 25.


[01:15:29] Ashley James: That’s a very important point to make. Many men, in their 30s and 40s, are experiencing erectile dysfunction, and it’s a nutrient deficiency.


[01:15:37] Dr. Joel Wallach: That’s correct. Especially cholesterol. Remember, testosterone is 95%, by weight, cholesterol. So they got to give up the statin drugs. What they need to do is wrap up the statin drugs and give them to their doctor with love.


[01:15:56] Ashley James: Here, you take these if they’re so good for you.


[01:15:59] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. I was going to give them to somebody else because I’m going in another direction here, but I thought, who do I really think a lot? I’ll give them to you, doc. Please take them.


[01:16:11] Ashley James: So funny. I love it. I love that we could take someone who is struggling with hormones and show them through food and through supplements they can easily balance it. That’s exactly what happened to me. Leslie says she has scleroderma, right heart failure, and pulmonary hypertension. She’s been vegetarian for several years eating not junk food but very healthy food. She’s 117 pounds and 5’7”, and she says her autoimmune disease is progressing. She would love to support her body in no longer having these problems.


[01:16:50] Dr. Joel Wallach: Okay, we can do that. Get rid of all the bad food. No fried food, no processed meats, no oils, no glutens—wheat, barley, rye, and oats, no sugar, and everybody in the household—dog, cat, bird, fish, spouse, renter, roommate, mom, dad, brother, and kids. Everybody’s going to be drop-dead gluten-free because what do vegetarians eat a lot of?


[01:17:13] Ashley James: Gluten, a lot of it.


[01:17:16] Dr. Joel Wallach: Grain. There you go. That’s why she has all these diseases that doctors are telling her are autoimmune because even if she was supplementing, she can’t absorb it because her villi are gone out of her intestines. I’m going to tell you a story here. I don’t think I told you this yet. There’s a guy by the name of Herman Cain. Did I tell you that story?


[01:17:42] Ashley James: Oh, gosh. The name sounds so familiar. Go ahead and tell the listeners.


[01:17:45] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, Herman Cain, CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. On the last day of June of 2020, he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He’s a billionaire, 74 years old, and he had respiratory symptoms. They put them in a hospital, they’re giving him oxygen, and they’re giving him IVs of antiviral drugs. On the 29th of July, 29 days after they put him in the hospital, he died. He’s a billionaire. CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. He has all the free pizza he can get. Gluten alert, gluten alert, gluten alert—the crust. He also had five pre-existing conditions because of the gluten, he couldn’t absorb nutrients. I don’t know if he was supplementing or not because they didn’t say in the newspaper releases.

But when they did the autopsy three days later after he died, they said he didn’t have a respiratory infection, which is what they were treating him for but he did have respiratory distress clinically but he didn’t have respiratory pneumonia from the virus or anything. Well, that’s because the capillaries in his lungs were filled with clusters of a weird plot of red blood cells that didn’t have platelets in them. Well, he didn’t have any platelets because his bone marrow is dead because he couldn’t get nutrition because his intestines are dead because he’s been eating gluten—pizza pie crust for 35 years.


[01:19:37] Ashley James: Just fascinating.


[01:19:40] Dr. Joel Wallach: Yeah. If they’d have gotten him gluten-free, gotten him on the 90. If he still wanted pizza, he could have pizza, but it had to have cauliflower gluten-free crust.


[01:19:55] Ashley James: But people say, oh I tried going gluten-free I didn’t notice anything. It’s not something you feel a difference like a peanut allergy. You’re removing something that’s doing damage to the microvilli of the small intestines, you eliminate it completely, and then your intestines then grow back and become strong, especially if you’re supplementing.


[01:20:19] Dr. Joel Wallach: And you have to have the 90.


[01:20:22] Ashley James: Right. And then, like you said, if you’ve been eating gluten, then over time, your bone marrow can’t produce platelets in a healthy way. Your immune system can’t function in a healthy way, and we end up getting autoimmune conditions and inflammatory conditions, but the root of it is a nutrient deficiency and eating foods that are doing damage to the body and the ability for the body to absorb nutrition.


[01:20:47] Dr. Joel Wallach: Here we go, Ashley, when you have these types of diseases, things like cortisone and prednisone can give you some temporary relief. I just love my doctor. Man I had skin problems all my life and he gave me prednisone and cortisone and the itching went away overnight. Within two weeks’ time, the skin problem was gone. Three months later they die.


[01:21:15] Ashley James: Of course, it would temporarily go away. They’re treating symptoms, not getting to the root cause.


[01:21:20] Dr. Joel Wallach: Exactly.


[01:21:21] Ashley James: Right. Dr. Wallach, thank you so much. We’re going to have you back on the show for sure because more questions have poured in from the listeners. I’d love to have you back on and to continue to share this information. You are a godsend. The work you do is absolutely amazing.

There’s so much confusion in the nutrient world. What I love about your message is it’s science-based and you are backed by so many years of results. I’ve met thousands of people, myself personally, who have gotten results with you, and you’ve helped millions of people. We just have to get this information out there that we can prevent disease, we can reverse disease, we can prevent birth defects, and we can help ourselves. But also help the planet through proper mineralization and through making sure we’re avoiding the bad foods and ingesting the 90 essential nutrients.

Please, listeners, go to to get on Dr. Wallach’s protocol, to learn more about how you can actually become certified as a health coach learning everything about Dr. Wallach’s protocols. Thank you so much. Is there anything that you’d like to say, Dr. Wallach, to wrap up today’s interview?


[01:22:33] Dr. Joel Wallach: Well, I just want to thank you so much, Ashley. You’re an angel of God. I’m just so proud of you and your husband, all the things you guys do. I’m just blessed that you would ask me to participate with you. We will do great things together, and it’ll be one of those things where right now people are also looking for things to do because of the COVID and they’re being laid off. We’re looking for help. I’m glad you’re working to get these people going. I’m willing to participate and help you do what you’re doing.

Of course, we have all the textbooks, CDs and DVDs, and everything like that. It’ll be one of those things where everybody’s going to get the same answer to the same question. They don’t have to be scared and say, oh my God. I don’t know. I’ve never heard of that disease. Well, look it up in Let’s Play Herbal Doctor, Rare Earths: Forbidden Cures, or Epigenetics. Look it up in those books and you’ll find the answers of what it is and then how to deal with it. It’s one of those things where you cannot fail. We’ve been doing this for 50 years. We’ve been doing this for 50 years. We have literally millions and millions and millions of people all over the world, and that’s why we have to travel so much and do worldwide Zooms and so forth. I can’t thank you enough for all the people you’re helping, Ashley. God bless you and your husband. Thank you.


[01:23:55] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Dr. Joel Wallach. Check out, talk to us for free. Let us help you get on his protocol, and also join the Learn True Health Facebook group because you can ask Dr. Wallach your questions when I have him back on the show next. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing these episodes with those you care about.

There are so many amazing episodes on so many fantastic topics. You can go to, use the search function on my website. Most of my episodes now have been transcribed, so you can even read through the transcripts. You can listen to the episodes, you can read through the interviews, and you can search through the content to find what you want to learn about. And also, if you have a friend or family member with an illness, an injury, or disease, or a health question, you can use the search function both in the Facebook group and on my website to find information to share with those you care about.

I can’t talk highly enough about, so please, go there if you haven’t already. Try it for 30 days. Just try especially the liquid minerals. Give them a try, or just get on the 90 essential nutrients for a month. It’s fantastic. I’ve even had clients stop drinking coffee and no longer even need coffee because they got so much natural energy because the body—when it’s lacking energy and it says get a coffee, an energy drink, or eat more sugar, it’s really desperate for nutrition. When you start to fill up those nutrient tanks with your vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals, it’s amazing how much energy you will get from that. Just give it a try. It’s pretty fantastic. It has really changed my life and all my clients rave about it. I know you will too.

And hey, if you want to hear from those listeners who have been working with, come join the Facebook group and ask or use the search function. There have been a ton of listeners who have shared that they’ve had a great experience working with and Dr. Wallach’s supplements. Awesome. Thank you so much. Stay tuned. We have some really exciting episodes coming up in the coming weeks. I can’t wait for you to hear them. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day.


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Sep 29, 2020

Learn True Health Home Kitchen Membership Course:

Check out IIN and get a free module:


How To Make Fitness Your Lifelong Habit



  • Using data to set up systems
  • Know what you’re putting in your body
  • Guilt versus shame
  • Polyvagal theory
  • Motion is non-negotiable
  • Four different fitness personalities


Is there something in your life that you need to improve? Do you want to be the best version of you? In this episode, Kathleen Trotter teaches us different ways to become a better version of ourselves. She talks about how journaling can help, listing out past data, and creating systems to help us become a better version of ourselves no matter what our goal is.


Hello, true health seekers and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today, we have Kathleen Trotter on the show. I’m very excited for you to learn from her. She is giving away a spot in one of her upcoming courses, and it’s very exciting. So as you’re listening today and you think, I would love to learn from Kathleen, you could actually enter to win a free spot in her upcoming class. It’s an online, interactive group coaching class.

Please go to our Facebook group, Learn True Health Facebook group. There you will see a pin to the top. In the next few weeks, you’ll see a post to be able to be one of the winners. I ask that you share some unique insight that you really love learning today in the comments. I’ll have my 5 ½-year-old son pick at random a lucky listener from one of the comments. It would just be a wonderful opportunity. I just love it when guests give some of their work to us. Gift their books or gift a spot in their courses. I think that’s quite wonderful.

Now, as you’re listening to Kathleen today and you think, I would love to do the kind of work she’s doing. I’d love to do the kind of work Ashley James is doing. I’d love to be able to help people as a health coach. Help them gain more joy in their life, joy in their body, and joy with their food—consider becoming a holistic health coach. Consider becoming an integrative health coach. You can get a free module by going to That’s and sign up for the free module to see if health coaching is right for you. Take the free module and you’ll know if it’s something that you’d love to do either for yourself or to improve the health of yourself, your friends, and your family. To add new tools to your tool belt, or to even start a new career.

What I love about IIN is that in the first half of the course, you are taught how to be a fantastic health coach. And then in the second half, in addition to learning how to be a fantastic health coach, you actually begin to already work with clients. So you’re still in the program, still able to be mentored while you’re working with clients, and they teach you how to build a successful coaching business. So if you’ve never even started a business before, and you don’t know if you’re confident enough to have those tools, know that their course teaches you how to do it. And it’s about coming from the heart and wanting to help people and getting such satisfaction from helping people.

So visit or—either one—and you will get the fee module and check it out. If you have more questions, you can email me,, or just google IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and ask some questions. Most of the time, those who answer the phones there are health coaches themselves that have been through the program and are really great in answering questions and giving you all the right information you need. The course was designed for very busy people, especially busy moms. You know that no matter how busy you are, you’re able to finish their online program to become an integrative health coach.

As you talk to IIN know that you’re given fantastic savings by being a Learn True Health listener. That’s something I was really honored that they were able to offer my listeners. Make sure you mention my name, Ashley James, and the Learn True Health podcast for fantastic savings. Once in a while, they have great specials as well. It’s good to plug in if you’re interested in becoming a health coach. It’s good to communicate with them and get all your questions answered. 

And If you’re not interested in becoming a health coach but you are interested in gaining more tools for health, of course, Kathleen Trotter, our wonderful guest today, is going to teach you many things. You should absolutely follow her. She has some great information. But also, I recommend joining my membership, the Learn True Health Home Kitchen

I go into the kitchen with my dear friend Naomi, and we show you how to cook healing foods and beverages that are wonderful for the whole family. You don’t have to be completely vegan to eat this food, although we teach you how to eat more plants, and you can incorporate that into your life. You’re going to get more fiber, you’re going to get more vitamins, you’re going to get more nutrients into your life by joining Learn True Health Home Kitchen and following our delicious, wholesome, and healing recipes. So check that out. You can just go to and on the top, on the menu, you’ll see join the home kitchen. Check that out.

Also, there’s a discount for listeners. Use the coupon code LTH. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. I look forward to seeing you in the Facebook group. Come join us here. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.


[00:05:36] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 446. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have Kathleen Trotter on the show. Her website is, and of course, links to everything that Kathleen does is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast at Kathleen has a master’s in exercise science, and she’s a life and nutrition coach, which is really exciting because you encompass behavior, change, and looking at the person’s whole life when it comes to helping them do the best exercise routines for them.

Now you also have interesting specialties in fascial work. I mean, I just love it. I look down on your bio, and I love all the different training that you’ve been through. You’ve been doing this for over 20 years, you’ve written two books.


[00:06:34] Kathleen Trotter: I love it, really, and it changed my life—health and wellness—so I want it to change other people’s. I have this thing about the health discourse, and it’s too much framed on making people feel about themselves. It’s about how you should be somebody else, and it’s like no, you should be yourself. Thrive in your lane, but just be the strongest, most energetic, and healthiest version of you that you can be. And I think that’s why I try to look and learn as much as possible because the body is super cool. But it’s really complex and there are so many variables that go into who we are and why we change, right?

It’s not enough to just know the information. I mean, most of us know it. It’s like drink more water, exercise more. It’s all these shoulds—well do this, do that. And too often, we should all over ourselves without actually being well, what do I want to do? What would make me happy? What’s realistic? It might not be realistic to run every day for you because of injuries or time. The benefits of the best workout or best nutrition program are moot if you can’t actually make yourself do it.

It’s about thriving in your own lane and figuring out what’s right for you. But in order to do that, you kind of have to know yourself enough to know do I like having a shake in the morning, or would I rather have eggs? Or is it too crazy in the morning to have eggs at all and should I be having little egg cups that I make on a Sunday? I mean, that sounds like a silly example, but that in itself can be the difference between making a sustainable change about your healthy breakfast or not. If you say, well, every morning I’m going to have eggs and then every morning you wake up and you’re like oh man. I got five kids to get to school and they need breakfast and they hate eggs. Well, it’s just not going to happen. You got to do you, know you, and just consistency and realistic expectations.


[00:08:22] Ashley James: Before we hit record, we were talking about how the motivation to make healthy changes or the motivation to create a new fitness program is short-lived. We oftentimes will come from a place of emotion, right? Feeling guilty, feeling like we should do this, then all of a sudden feeling inspired. We could maybe watch a TV show about health and all of a sudden feel inspired. I remember so many times watching the Biggest Loser or the finale of the Biggest Loser and seeing these really buff chicks. I’m like, okay, I’m getting to the gym tomorrow. When you look at the statistics of gym memberships, there’s a huge spike in January, and then by March they’re cut in half and the attendance goes down and down and down and down, and then it goes back up right after the holidays.

We see that there are difficulties in forming healthy habits as a society around fitness, but also the idea of what is fitness? Is it heavily sweating in the gym on a treadmill, and is that really right for everyone? You understand how the body works and what’s best for unique people, right? We all need different things, and so that’s one of the things you specialize in is teaching people how they can create a fitness routine that brings them joy, that makes them want to want to get up and do it every day, but also would be the healthiest thing for them.

I can’t tell you how many times I injured myself pushing myself in the gym because it wasn’t really the right training for my body.


[00:10:08] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. Well, let me go back to where you started because there are so many amazing concepts that you just threw out, which are awesome, but let’s unpack it a bit. Motivation has to be thought of as akin to an emotion, which means emotions come and go. You get angry, you get sad. The half-life of an emotion is a couple of seconds and then it’s gone. It’s very fast. So what you want to do is if you are in that motivated state, you watch the Biggest Loser or it’s January 1, that’s great. Use that, but use it to create systems for the future you that is going to be sad, that is going to be frustrated, and that is going to be angry. So then, when you have those moments of low motivation, you don’t fall off your horse.

I guess it’s a matter of going back to realistic expectations. You have to know that you are human. You’re not perfect, none of us are perfect. You’re not a robot. Thank God. We don’t want robots. We want human beings, and human beings are messy, we’re emotional, and that’s one of our best qualities, but it also means that it’s easy for us to fall off our horse. Okay, a couple of weeks down the road we’ve got the gym membership after January 1, and then we get angry at our spouse or our kids or our boss and we’re just like screw it. I’m not going to go to the gym. And then you end up going home, you binge on some food, you feel kind of crappy, and then that starts this negative downward spiral.

So you have to, on January 1, instead of just thinking oh my goodness, I feel amazing right now. And then assuming you’re always going to feel amazing, you have to say, oh I feel amazing right now. That’s great. Let’s harness that feeling of amazing motivation, and let’s use it to create some systems. I know for the last 10 years in a row, by the third week of January, I’m no longer going to the gym. Okay, great. That’s amazing data. Now, how do I use that data from past years to help future me?

I think that’s one really key thing is just using your past history of what you like, what you don’t like, what works, what doesn’t, and then you create some systems. If you know that in the past you’ve always been really successful when you’ve had a gym buddy, then maybe have one. And if you can’t go right now with somebody to a gym because of COVID, then maybe you have an accountability buddy that you do over email, or maybe you go for walk and talks with your buddy in your ear. If you know that you really love Pilates, then find an online Pilates class. If you know you hate yoga, so then maybe don’t do yoga. Use what you know about yourself when you’re successful to set up a plan, but you have to set up the system.

Why don’t I give you an example? I love fudge bars, and I use this example all the time because I think it’s really, really common. You’re in the grocery store, and I’ll be standing next to the frozen food aisle. I’ll just be thinking, I can buy the bars. You know Kathleen, you’re a personal trainer. You’re going to get home. You’ll be fine. You’re dedicated, you have willpower. You just won’t eat them. The problem is after years of doing this, what I know is the future me at 11:00 PM at night when I’m really tired, I’ve worked a full day, I can’t resist those fudge bars.

So what I have done is a system where I don’t allow them to come into my home because I just love them too much, but I buy them and I always leave a box at my mom’s. If I want one, I can walk over. We can have a visit, I can enjoy one bar but I don’t binge on six bars at a time and then feel frustrated with myself. The systems are what you set up in the future for the future you.

If you know you need to work out in the morning because that’s what works for your schedule but you hate working out in the morning, then maybe you have to set out your workout clothes the night before so they’re there. I actually sleep in my workout clothes often if I know that I have to work out really early. This morning, I had to do my workout about 5:000 AM in the morning, so I slept in my workout clothes because it’s one less thing between me and my workout. You take out as much friction as possible, you take it away. You make those healthy habits as convenient as possible. You make your unhealthy habits as inconvenient as possible.

Put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed and turn it off versus just hitting the snooze button. Take all the crap out of your house because if it’s in your house, you or somebody you love will eventually eat it. One of the things that work is understanding this idea of present bias. The brain has many cognitive distortions that normally trick us a little bit. They trick us unconsciously. It’s not that we think, oh, I’m going to trick myself. It’s that we don’t understand until we become mindful of it that the brain feels that however we feel at this moment is how we’re always going to feel. Meaning, January 1 you think, I feel really motivated, without having to consciously think, oh well therefore I will always feel motivated.

That’s what your brain thinks, but you have to say to the brain well, no, I’m not going to always feel motivated. What are the systems? But it also goes the other way that when you wake up in the morning, it’s 5:00 AM, and you’re tired, your brain thinks oh my God, I’m always going to be tired. Because you’re tired at that moment. Okay, well I always snooze my alarm too many times in the morning, so my system is to set the alarm across the room. And then, I also have to have the self-talk ready to say okay self, you feel tired at this moment but future you will feel better. That’s something I get my clients to work with all the time. It’s just this taking a pause and realizing that the moment that you’re in is not going to last.

Emotions, as we talked about earlier, they dissipate. You feel something else. That’s the key to the emotion and the emotional wave. How you surf that emotional wave is so important because we all have moments of low motivation. There are lots of times I don’t want to work out. There are lots of times I want to eat tons and tons of chocolate, but I don’t have chocolate in my house. I have systems set up that nudge me towards the healthier choices, and I’ve learned a lot. This has been 20 years that I’ve been in the fitness field. I use every experience as data to help my future self. It’s a slow process, right? It’s not just like a pass-fail thing. You don’t automatically become healthy and then it’s easy. It’s always a struggle, and I wasn’t born fit either.

I think that’s also really key is I know that for the first half of my life I lived, I felt really ashamed of my body I had a lot of body shame. I did anything to get out of gym class. I never moved. I was overweight. I had to learn these systems. It never came naturally to me. Everybody listening, if you’re thinking, oh my God, Kathleen sounds like she’s got this all figured out. Believe you me, it has taken a long time, and I still struggle. I struggle, struggle, struggle, but it gets a little bit easier every single day as you learn more skills and as you learn to just say future me is going to be happier if I work out. I never regret a workout, and the future me is going to be happier if I have some water and I just take a moment to take a pause and think. What’s going to serve me at this moment? I don’t know. Do you have a trick? Do you have a system? Do you have a favorite system?


[00:17:00] Ashley James: I love what you just said about I never regret a workout. I love that.


[00:17:06] Kathleen Trotter: That’s so true.


[00:17:07] Ashley James: I do the future you feel better. Actually, what I do is when I’m lying in bed, just waking up, I imagine myself an hour later. An hour later I’m going to feel so good. I imagine myself already awake. I have a very comfortable bed. My mattress is the best mattress in the world. I actually interviewed the founder of the company that created this mattress. It has space-age technology. It’s like NASA technology in it, and it makes it so there’s no pressure points—absolutely no pressure points. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, it doesn’t matter what shape you are in. It actually is used to heal stage four bedsores—this technology—because it takes 100% of the pressure off and evenly distributes your body, so no matter what position you’re in, your spine is perfectly aligned. When I wake up, I’m floating on the cloud.


[00:18:02] Kathleen Trotter: You want to stay in bed. You’re like, I don’t want to move at all.


[00:18:03] Ashley James: If you’ve ever had a mattress where you wake up in the morning and you’re sore because you want to get out of that bed because it’s like, oh I’ve been lying in bed too long. I’m sore. That does not happen with my bed. You could stay in this bed for 24 hours. You’re not going to be sore from staying in this bed. When I wake up, every fiber of my being wants to continue to enjoy the comfort of this bed. I’m still a little tired. I’m groggy. I’m just waking up. But you know what, since I’ve done so many things for my health over the years, I have more and more and more energy in the morning, which really helps to get up.

So going to bed early, not eating late at night. Even doing a bit of intermittent fasting where I push supper back to 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM and then no snacking afterward. So you go to bed on an empty stomach. Drink enough water, so drink like 120 ounces of water a day, but finish that 120 ounces by about 6:00 PM so that you have enough time to pee before bed. But go to bed at 10:00 PM because the circadian rhythm gets totally thrown off and we have a huge cortisol spike. Therefore insulin is then affected. Then we have a blood sugar imbalance if we stay up past 10:00 PM. It doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in. Something magical about 10:00 PM has a cortisol spike if we continue to stay up past 10:00 PM.

So when I go to bed before 10:00 PM—falling asleep around 10:00 PM—I wake up in the morning with way more energy, way more vitality, no inflammation, and it’s easier to get out of bed. But there’s a little voice in my head that goes oh, this feels so good. Let’s just stay here. Or oh, I’m tired. Maybe I could fall back asleep, hit the snooze button. I have to imagine myself after I’ve gotten up, gone to the bathroom and put clothing on. That future me an hour from now is ready, pumped, and doing the day already. I’m like, yeah, I want to be my future self. Let’s get out of bed.


[00:20:09] Kathleen Trotter: I think you said a number of things that are really important, but I want to highlight the biggest thing is that you have got a lot of data about yourself. I think that with health, the problem is that we listen to people like you and me, and then you think oh my God, they have it all figured out. But we have it figured out because we’ve done a lot of trial and error. And this is really important. If anybody’s listening, if you get one thing from this, it’s that you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to get great.

So all the things you just said like you know you need to be in bed by 10:00 PM. You know intermittent fasting works for you. You know how much waterworks at what time. Well, that’s all great, but that comes from years of figuring it out and what works for you, and everyone’s going to be slightly different.

So for me, I definitely do windows of intermittent fasting as well, but I also work out very early in the morning. So 5:00 PM would be too early a cut off for me because then for me, personally, I won’t feel strong in my workout the next morning. So I think the trick with people listening is there’s no right or wrong. I mean, there are definitely principles that are important, but we can really get in our own way when we think that things have to be perfect. When we’re listening to a podcast and we’re like, okay, I got to be done eating by 5:00 PM. I got to be asleep by 10:00 PM. I have to do this much. You have to figure out what works for you, but you can’t figure out what works for you until you actually try stuff.

Be okay with your messiness. Again, I go back to we’re human, but more than that, think of life as like this science experiment. Everything you do is data. So if you do a workout that you hate, that’s great. Now you know you don’t like that workout. If you end up staying up and eating a little bit too much food and then you feel kind of gross and you can’t sleep, great. Don’t do that again. That doesn’t work. If you decide to work out every single morning and then listen to your kids get you up and you can’t work out in the morning and you have to do it at lunchtime, great. That’s data.

The trick is to have this really fine line of having compassion for your compassion for yourself but also holding yourself accountable. So it’s not like oh, I ate at 11:00 PM at night. Oh, this made me feel crappy. Oh, well, I’ll do it again because Kathleen told me to love myself. No, I ate at 11:00 PM. Oh wow, I can’t sleep. Okay, so interesting. Kathleen told me to love myself. If I love myself, I really need a good night’s sleep. So how do I figure out how to eat a little bit earlier?

It’s this really tricky thing of you act, then you analyze the action, and then you implement that action. But you have to act in order to analyze. Don’t get caught up on all the things we’re talking about and then just basically be like oh, screw it. I’ll never be as good as them, or I’ll never get it all figured out. I’m just going to stay in bed. To create an evening routine takes some work.

I just started intermittent fasting. I do it more just like I call it the close the kitchen window after a certain time. I never eat after 8:00 PM. Normally, I don’t eat after about 6:30 PM, 7:00 PM. But the thing about it is I didn’t do that until a couple of years ago, and I didn’t realize how great it made me feel until I started doing it. So if I’d done this podcast three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say like yeah I completely agree. That feels amazing. But if I had tried it and I hadn’t liked it, guess what, I then wouldn’t do it. So you try something. You try a Zumba class. If it doesn’t work, hey, it’s not for you. Try going out for a jog. You don’t like it, you had a bad route, or bad running shoes—it’s data. And then you have to decide what stays and what you ditch. 

James Clear has this really lovely quote that you have to standardize before you can optimize, and that’s really key because we all get into optimization before we get the basics down. Just start drinking some water. It might not be “enough.” It might not be as much as I would drink or Ashley James would drink, but you know what, if it’s more than what you did yesterday, it’s trending positively. And then you can figure out maybe you need a little bit more or a little bit less. Yes, maybe over five servings of vegetables would be great. But if you’re eating zero right now, start with one.

Start, standardize, and figure out what works for you. Know that each of the choices that you make can change tomorrow. First of all, as you learn, not only can they change, but they should change as you get older, as your goals change, as you evolve. If I was still making the same choices as I did when I was 20, there’d be a problem. Every decade, things will change, the season that you’re in will change. COVID changed everything. Having kids will change everything. Any time there’s a life change there’s going to be a transition.

So you can’t be like Ashley James does this, Kathleen Trotter does that, or I did this last year. I did this five years ago so I have to stay with it. No, it’s about being curious, but also holding yourself accountable because you really care and you respect yourself, your life, and that data. Knowing that each thing that you choose is a vote for the future you that you want to be. Again, I’m quoting James Clear. I absolutely love him. I don’t know if you’ve read the book Atomic Habits, but if you haven’t, if anybody’s listening, such an awesome book.

He talks about all this stuff like how do you make habits small enough that they make it different. Small enough that you can do them, but big enough that they make a difference. That they compound, and that you’re creating the future you that you want. Because often, at the moment, things seem like not a big deal. Oh, it’s okay. I can have that hamburger, or I can skip a workout. But imagine if five years from now you skip everyday workouts, or you have hamburgers every single day and fries. That future you is not going to be the healthiest you that you want, but it goes the other way too.

You often think, oh well, what does it matter if I have a salad or not? But it’s like, well yeah, but if you have a salad every single day for the next five years, that will matter. The compound interest of everything really does make a difference. I encourage everybody to just listen to what we say and think oh interesting. This is all information that could work for me and maybe won’t work for me. I could try it. It could be part of my science experiment that is my health.

Most of the time, there’s really good principles that underlie all the actual information. What’s that Aristotle quote? It’s the mark of an educated man for the person who can entertain an idea without believing it or without taking it for certainty or something. You look it up. It’s a great quote, but basically, what it says is to listen to everything and decide what works for you. Try to figure out the underlying principles behind it.

Weight Watchers, for example, you count your points. You might say, well, I’m not somebody who wants to count points. I’d rather count calories, or I’d rather count macros or whatever. All of that is good, but it’s all just an example of doing the same thing, which is becoming aware of what you put in your mouth. So the principle of basically every single way of eating is to know what you’re putting in your body, and then how you do it will depend on what works for you.

If you’re somebody who’s really in love with having a community, then maybe you’re like oh, Weight Watchers is for me because that’s what I want. But if you’re somebody who’s not, maybe you do food delivery service, or maybe you’re more into vegan, vegetarianism, or whatever it is. But either way, no matter what you do, whatever food system you do, you have to be aware of what you put in your body. I’m a big believer in starting to just really see the principles behind actions and using everything as data for the recipe of success that will work for you.


[00:27:13] Ashley James: Yes. There’s a lot that I really like about Weight Watchers because they’re not telling you what to eat. You could be vegan, you could be whole food plant-based. You could do keto very well on Weight Watchers, but there are many healthy ways of eating that you could do. I love that there’s a system. I love that they really focus on more fiber.

We are not getting enough fiber as a society. On average, North Americans eat 15 grams of fiber. I don’t know about those in Mexico, but I know Canadians, the United States, and other countries that eat very similar sorts of American diets. You get about 15 grams of fiber a day, which is horrible. We want to aim towards closer to 50 grams of fiber. You have to be incredibly intentional to get to 50 grams of fiber. I love this advice—grab a variety of vegetables so you’re always doing different ones.


[00:28:07] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. Most colors.


[00:28:08] Ashley James: And as you’re prepping them, so you’re chopping them up, take a handful, put them aside, and eat whatever you’re chopping up. You’re going to eat a few handfuls of raw while you’re cooking, and then steam every day two pounds of vegetables and snack on them. Have them with your meals, have them as a snack while you’re cooking other stuff. Have it on the go. Do it al dente so it’s not like soggy vegetables, and then you can make all kinds of great healthy sauces you can make. I love spicy things so I can put spicy sauces on it. But there are all kinds. You can drizzle different balsamic, which can taste absolutely amazing, or mustard, or whatever.

If you can get two pounds of a variety of vegetables—both raw and cooked—into you, it doesn’t have to be a ton of raw, but just munch on some raw while you’re prepping it. Steaming is the easiest thing in the world. Boil water, throw it in the steamer. I have a bamboo steamer you get at the Asian market.


[00:29:05] Kathleen Trotter: Come to your house. You could cook for me.


[00:29:07] Ashley James: Yeah, I love those things. They stack, and I put it on top of a wok or a big pot that it fits on top of. Set a timer. I’ve forgotten that it was cooking something on the stove. Come back half an hour later. I’m like oh my gosh.


[00:29:21] Kathleen Trotter: Oh my gosh. I’ve done that so many times.


[00:29:22] Ashley James: So set a timer on the stove, or use the Instant Pot. You can steam stuff in the Instant Pot super quick as well. But basically, if you can steam, and always choose a variety. You want a nutrient profile that’s a variety, but also you don’t get bored.


[00:29:38] Kathleen Trotter: Each food has a different nutritional profile.


[00:29:41] Ashley James: Yeah, so today’s broccoli and cauliflower. Tomorrow’s a bunch of different colored green beans. The next day is different red peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. But basically, it takes less than 10 minutes to do it in the kitchen and just carry it with you throughout the day and snack on it. Then maybe bring some hummus with you, some baba ghanoush, or some kind of dip. There are ways to make it really quick and you’re getting way more new nutrition into you. You’re getting nutrient-dense but lower-calorie food by eating two pounds of vegetables. Two pounds of non-starchy vegetables is about 200 calories, and it’s so much fiber that it really makes a difference.

Fiber helps the body to eliminate hormones we no longer need in the body, toxins. It helps to balance blood sugar levels, helps with weight loss. I mean, the list goes on and on. It feeds the microbiome.


[00:30:42] Kathleen Trotter: I think that’s a great tip, and I think that the word you used really early on, you said intentional. I remember once being at a talk with Rachel Hollis, and she said, the trick to health is being intentional AF, intentional as fork, right? And I think that’s really, really important. I love that system, and I think that would be, for me, an example of what I would say to a client is a system. 

Have a time where you’re prepping food. Prep a bunch of different things. Cut up vegetables, steam some vegetables, and have things ready and prepped because I think that’s a great system. Especially if you know at 3:00 PM you’re always feeling a little bit peckish for sugar. Then it’s like, oh, well but I have these vegetables already prepared. So it’s not like I “had to have this snack” or “it was just right there.” I think intentional is a keyword about your health because a lot of us get swept up by life, and we don’t design our habits. They sort of happen by default, and we often will say, well, I had to do this.

My clients would say this all the time. I was out and about and I got really hungry, so I had to have this chocolate bar. If they were taking your advice, they would be carrying some cut up vegetables with them, or they would have an apple and a couple of almonds. They would have a snack, right? So that goes with being intentional, and intentional is connected to having those systems ready. But it’s also connected to knowing yourself because if you know 3:00 PM is the time that you always have a sugary snack, then instead of just being like, oh well, I always have that sugary snack. Boy, I’m a bad person. And then feeling shame, guilt, and frustration. Then be like, oh, interesting. I always have a 3:00 PM sugary snack. What can I do about it?

Maybe you’re not having enough vegetables, healthy fats, and protein at lunch. So that’s maybe why you’re craving sugar. Maybe you’re frustrated always at your boss. Maybe you need to go for a walk. Maybe you need to have those vegetables ready and prepped. But if you use that as data, then you can create a system that works for you because you’re being intentional and mindful about your health. I have to use every opportunity as I can to bring in Brené Brown because I love her. I think what she would say at this moment is it’s really important to understand the difference between guilt and shame.

We’ll just go with this 3:00 PM snack. If you always have the sugary 3:00 PM snack, then if you go into a shame spiral about it, it’s more often going to lead to further negative habits for your health like skipping a workout, having more sugar at dinner. So shame is connected to you as a person. I have a 3:00 PM sugary snack every day, so I’m a bad person. Versus guilt is connected to the behavior. I have a 3:00 PM snack every day. That’s not a behavior I want to replicate. How can I learn from that? You see the difference between a behavior and thinking it’s you as a human.

When you connect behaviors to shame and feelings of lack of worth and that that you’re never going to be good enough, then it just makes your nervous system and your emotional brain want to continue with those negative habits, right? Because we often do those emotionally soothing habits. We’re trying to self-soothe, we’re emotionally distant, or whatever we’re doing is normally because we’re very anxious or we’re stressed. But the problem is then you have that sugary snack and that causes more of that feeling or emotion that made you want to have that sugary snack in the first place. It’s this terrible self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a negative spiral.

So again, I go back to using it as data and understanding the guilt versus shame and being like, okay, so I don’t love that behavior. How do I change it? I circle back to that self-talk and the systems that we were talking about earlier because it’s about having self-talk that serves you because you respect yourself. Let’s say your kid came home and they got a bad math grade. You wouldn’t say to this child, you’re a loser. You might as well just quit math. That would be a shame-inducing response because that’s them of them as a person.

You would say to them, oh, interesting. You’ve got a bad math grade. Are you stressed right now? Do you need a tutor? How can I support you better? Are you being bullied at school? Are you not getting enough sleep? When you talk to yourself about your health, about your exercise, about your sugary snacks, about what time you’re finishing eating, if you’re having enough fiber. All of those things, you have to talk to yourself like you would talk to your kid who brought home a bad math grade. This is data to be analyzed and then think about the idea of cutting up the vegetables. That’s a great system because you want to make healthy choices as convenient as possible. And then you want to make unhealthy choices as inconvenient as possible.

Don’t have the crap in the house that you could snack on. So then you’re like, oh, well there’s nothing really to eat other than these vegetables and this lean protein. Okay, well, I’m going to go for it. I love that.


[00:35:46] Ashley James: But also, I think it’s very easy this day and age to order out. Oh, I don’t feel like cooking. There’s nothing in. Even go as far as to prep food and have meals already cooked in the fridge for sure.


[00:36:00] Kathleen Trotter: Or prep different ingredients. Have a bunch of quinoa, have a bunch of chicken breasts, have a bunch of veggies cut up, so then you can whip up—I call them hot-cold salads with greens on the bottom and then a bunch of hot stuff on the top. Or a quinoa bowl or whatever it is, but you want to make the healthy choices as fast as unhealthy choices or faster, and yummy too, right? You want to make it realistic and something that you find yummy. 

I did a BT segment this morning, and we were talking about sort of similar ideas and I was using my mom as an example. I love my mom. She’s amazing, but she hates chocolate. I love chocolate as I said earlier. I was saying, if she was going to make a shake in the morning—because we were talking about shakes being healthy things you could pre-assemble the night before or have things ready and just sort of grab and go. 

If I said to her that she had to have a shake with chocolate protein powder, avocado, and almond butter, she would be like that’s disgusting. I’m not going to do it. If I said to her she had to go for a run, she would be like I hate running. I’m not going to do it. Whereas she loves yoga, she loves walking the dog, and she loves vanilla things. If somebody said to me, well, your exercise routine is going to be yoga and vanilla protein shakes. I’d be like, oh gross. I’m not going to do it.

So part of it is like knowing what you love and what you will actually do. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be what you love but at least what you don’t despise so that you can do it on a consistent basis. It has to be convenient. What you do once in a while doesn’t matter. It’s what you do most of the time that’s much more important. So figure out what you do consistently.


[00:37:33] Ashley James: Yes, that’s a great point to bring up. In my intake form for my clients, I have a question. What percentage of food do you eat out, or what percentage of food is not home-cooked? What percentage of food is home-cooked, are not home-cooked? Either way. At first, my clients will say, oh 80% of my food is home-cooked or whatever. It’s a high number, and then about a week in they’ll say, you know what, I’ve spent the last week thinking about that question. I realized that it’s closer to 30% of my food is home-cooked. It’s so easy to forget. If you’re not keeping track of the last week, the last month, or the last year, it’s so easy to forget.

It’s so easy to eat out, so many food delivery services. It’s just so easy to eat this food. And the thing is, even if you think you ordered something somewhat healthy—some kind of delivery food—restaurants choose the lowest quality ingredients because it saves them money.


[00:38:36] Kathleen Trotter: And big portions too.


[00:38:38] Ashley James: You’re hard-pressed to find a locally-sourced, fresh, organic, no fried food, no oil. You’re hard-pressed to find this super healthy food if it’s takeout. One thing that I get my clients to do is we do these fun routines of stuff that they like so that they’re eating more and more and more food that’s home prepped. You instantly feel better when you’ve cut it out because there’s hidden sugar, there’s excess hidden salt, and there’s a ton of hidden oils that are really bad. They’re horrible. They’re polyunsaturated fatty acids that are absolutely horrible for us, and they disrupt our body’s ability to balance omegas healthfully.

There are other kinds there. Just think of what they’re cooking. These restaurants use non-stick, so there are toxins. There are all kinds of toxins in that food. Yeah, it tastes good because it’s excitatory. It’s salt, sugar, and oil, and it’s not the kind of thing that you would have in your food if you cooked at home. It’s just looking at what percentage are you eating out every day as a habit and figuring out how to get most of your food cooked at home where you know exactly what’s going into your body.


[00:40:03] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I think all of your points are fantastic, but I think what I was laughing at is you said people say, well, only a little bit do I eat out. And then eventually, they think, oh no, actually it’s more. I think that’s across the board with so many habits. I often joke with my clients that we all underestimate our unhealthy habits and overestimate our healthy habits. I’ll say, how much junk food do you eat, or what do you like to eat? Oh, I like chips. Oh, how often do you have chips? Oh, not very often. It’s a treat, they’ll tell me. I’m like, okay, great. Why don’t you just start to become mindful of how often you have that treat.

What’s funny is what most of us learn to appreciate is that what we think are treats are actually much more norms. I’m all for having a treat once in a while. I think that savoring something that you love is really important. I call it my love it rule. You want to make sure that you have moderate amounts of things that you love, but you don’t mindlessly eat a bunch of crap that’s not good for you. But I think the problem is people end up thinking what they’re doing is a once in a while love it rule treat, and really it’s daily. It’s not a treat. It’s actually just a normal thing.

Again, it goes back to that understanding the principles of healthy eating. Basically, the key principle is just awareness. I love the quote, with awareness brings choice. You can’t choose healthier habits or to change anything if you don’t know what you’re doing at this moment. Keeping a food journal is great for a couple of weeks just to see what are the things that are actually treats versus what are the things I’m doing on a daily basis that aren’t serving me. And then you can decide.

Because as I said, I love these fudge bars. They’re terrible for me. They’re full of absolute crap. But twice a year, in the summer, if I want to go and sit with my mom outside on the porch and have one, I’m fine with that. But I’m not fine with having like six of them a week because they’re both bad for my body. And then when you overeat, they’re also then bad for your soul, your emotional being, or whatever. If you’re going to have something that’s not good for your body, at least you want to savor it and have it only a couple of times a year. It should be something that you absolutely love.

That’s something I really talk about with my clients. It’s just this choice value of taking a moment, pausing, and just deciding is this worth it? What nutrition is this getting for me? What is this doing for my body? To circle back to what we started with, how is my future self going to feel if I have this? Because often, at the moment, we want things. But often, the things that we want at the moment are not the things that serve us long term. So much of health is not letting our momentary desires and impulses dictate our behaviors. I think that, unfortunately, a lot of us have learned that skill with other things. We want to skip work, but we still go. You might get really angry with somebody, but you don’t punch them in the face.

We’ve learned, okay, well my desire is to not go to work, but I have to go anyway. My desire is to get violent right now, but I’m not going to do that. But for some reason, a lot of us with our health, we haven’t figured out how to not let our impulses and desires dictate our behaviors as much. Some of us have and listen, that’s hard. But I think that’s where the awareness comes in because you can say, oh interesting. Every time I get mad at somebody I want to eat a cookie. Is the cookie worth it? Is it going to make me happy? If I’m angry at that person, should I just have a conversation with the person that I’m angry with? Maybe they shouldn’t be my friend, or maybe we need to set better boundaries.

I like to tell my clients, all emotions are data, but they’re not directives. You can feel something. You can use it as data, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the thing that you want to do or act the way that you have always acted. Maybe when you’re sad, as opposed to binging on food that you’re going to feel really crappy about later, you have a bath, you phone a friend, or you meditate. But still honoring the emotion that you’re in and then going from there. I think it all comes back to awareness, being able to figure out what are my norms versus what are my treats, and knowing yourself.

I think that what you just said about not ordering in and cooking, part of why it’s so important to cook is that it actually takes a lot more intentionality and a lot more of awareness. It’s really easy in your not aware self to comb the internet and be like okay, well, Uber is going to deliver me this, this, and this. It’s in a haze of emotion. Whereas if you have to cook it at home, you have had to think about what am I going to buy? You have to plan your week. Am I going to cook this salad, or am I going to cook chicken? 

There’s a lot more thought that goes into what am I bringing into my house? Is it a good quality olive oil? Is it an avocado oil? What vegetables? Where did I buy it? Is it from a local farm? It’s slightly harder to be super emotional about it if you’re planning in advance all of your food.


[00:45:13] Ashley James: Right. Well, you can’t do some instant gratification too if you’re planning it out.


[00:45:17] Kathleen Trotter: Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. You’re taking away some of that desire. I mean, if you bring crap into the house, you can still at 11:00 PM at night binge on it. That’s where we go back to making as much tension between you and those habits as possible. I just don’t bring crap into the house that I don’t want to eat.


[00:45:40] Ashley James: Right. For me, this started a long time ago. I don’t bring alcohol into the house, and I don’t bring sugar into the house. I really love chocolate, but I find—and this is something I want to bring up—that my taste buds and my cravings have significantly changed in the last 10 years along my health journey. 

Ten years ago, I would have identified as a night owl, a chocoholic. You could not keep me away from chocolate. Now, I really can take it or leave it, but I have a brand. It’s called Lily, and I get the vegan dark chocolate sweetened with stevia two bars a month, and I don’t even eat the whole bar. Before, 10 years ago, whatever bar I’d get I’d have to finish. Now, I can have a few pieces, be like, that was yummy, and then I’m done. I’m satisfied.

I just noticed that my taste buds, even in the last three years since I’ve been whole food plant-based, eating more and more whole ingredients. A variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and gluten-free greens. I just noticed that my taste buds have changed.


[00:46:54] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. You trended differently. You’re just slowly changing into it. I know for sure.


[00:47:01] Ashley James: Recently, I ate something that I used to love 10 years ago. I’m like, this doesn’t even taste good anymore. I don’t know. I used to get all excited about it. Now, I’m like, you know what, I can get really excited about a huge salad with 20 different vegetables. I start salivating. If you say the word kale, I have a Pavlovian response.


[00:47:27] Kathleen Trotter: Like brussels sprouts, roasted, oh my God.


[00:47:30] Ashley James: Right, roasted brussels sprouts are amazing. Any kind of hummus, any kind of hummus and carrots, or anything crunchy. These foods are fantastic and delicious. The past me from 10 years ago is like what are you doing? This is disgusting. And the me now is I love this. I think even if you don’t love-love vegetables now, just try them on and find the ones you do love, and your taste buds will change. There’s evidence to show that your microbiome is what causes us to have cravings because the microbiome hijacks it. It actually makes like neurochemicals that hijack our brain.

So when we have an overgrowth of candida, for example, an overgrowth of bacteria that is more negative, that’s more harmful to the body, it will tell us to crave things that are really harmful. And if we choose to eat healthier foods for a long period of time, we end up culturing a microbiome that then tells us we love those foods.


[00:48:37] Kathleen Trotter: I have to tell you a funny story. I grew up, as I said earlier, really unhealthy and really unfit. Do you guys have East Side Mario’s in the states?


[00:48:45] Ashley James: No, they don’t.


[00:48:46] Kathleen Trotter: Okay, it doesn’t matter. But it’s like a pasta place. I grew up, as I said, I was overweight. I was unhealthy. I never exercised, and I used to love East Side Mario’s.


[00:48:55] Ashley James: Me too.


[00:48:56] Kathleen Trotter: Not only did I love East Side Mario’s, but I loved the three-cheese cappelletti. It was pasta with cheese on the inside and then covered in cheese. It was disgusting. Anyway, around 17 I started to get healthier. My life changed. That’s a whole story that we can get into if you want, but around 23, 24, I hadn’t had East Side Mario’s for like six years. I was running a half marathon. I was running with my friend, and I’ll never forget. We went through a hard time in the race, and I was like, oh my God. I’m going to die. She said, if you just get through this, you can have any meal you want. I was like, okay. We’re going to go to East Side Mario’s. She was like, fine, whatever.

So that got me through the race, this idea of I’m going to East Side Mario’s. It’s going to be amazing. So we get to East Side Mario’s, and I ordered my food. I’m so excited. The food came and it was so gross. Not only did it taste bad. I literally did not like them. This is just exactly what you’re saying in the taste buds. Not only did I not enjoy eating it, because I hadn’t had pasta or cheese. None of that crap was I eating, but it made me so physically ill. It was so gross. That was when I was about 24. I’m now almost 38, and I haven’t had East Side Mario’s since. But it’s exactly to your point. Our taste buds change, and that’s why it’s really important to be curious about different things because we will, hopefully, evolve.

I don’t want to be the same person in 10 years that I am now like. That’s the whole point of living. I know 10 years ago I wouldn’t have told you that I love sauerkraut, but oh boy do I love sauerkraut now. It’s so good.


[00:50:30] Ashley James: Oh yes. Fermented food.


[00:50:32] Kathleen Trotter: But you have to be curious. Yeah, so good, and so good for your gut and all this stuff. At the age of 15, I would have told you that what I liked was Orange Crush, East Side Mario’s, and as much chocolate and sugary penny candy as you could. We’d go to 7-Eleven and you’d get these big feet and all that kind of stuff. Now, if you try to make me do that, just thinking about that stuff makes me vomit. Do you know what I mean?


[00:50:59] Ashley James: Yes.


[00:51:00] Kathleen Trotter: Okay. One more example of this, and this is just to give everybody hope if they’re listening they’re like, what, are you guys crazy? I’m not going to like East Side Mario’s? I, again, love chocolate, but I used to eat a lot more of it. Now, it’s really only a couple times a year, and it’s very good quality chocolate. Well, except for the fudge bars. They’re not good quality, but anyway. That’s beside the point. When I did my first Ironman—I think I was 25—and my partner James, he was like what do you want when you’re done with Ironman. I was like, well, for 10 years, I haven’t had a Blizzard. I used to love Dairy Queen.

We’re in Lake Placid and there’s no Dairy Queen. I just say to him you have to make me a homemade Blizzard. He goes to the grocery store and he buys all these ingredients. I finished Ironman and he makes me this thing. It had brownie bits and all these different stuff. I had one bite, and I was like, I want to vomit. Not only did this make me feel sick because I just did an Ironman, but it was terrible quality ice cream, terrible quality chocolate, and it didn’t taste good. I didn’t want it. But again, if you told my 15-year-old self that one day I would turn down a homemade Blizzard, I would literally tell you that you were crazy.

I would do anything. I used to lie to get out of gym class. I would say I was sick because I didn’t want to change in front of anybody. I would walk home to school and I would time my walks so that I could stop, get fish and chips, and eat it while I was walking. And then I had mouthwash in my bag that I would wash my mouth out so my mom wouldn’t know that I was eating this type of food.

I would go to the grocery store. I would buy a bag of M&M’s. I’d eat the entire bag of M&M’s, and then I’d go back to the grocery store. I was so full of shame that I would lie to the teller and say that I dropped the bag of M&M’s on the floor and therefore I needed to buy another one. These are the types of games I played. I would go to Subway and I want a 12-inch sub. So I would buy a 12-inch sub and I would tell the person I was buying it for me and my friend that we were going to split it, but I just wanted the entire 12-inch sub.

I lied, I would say, three times a day at least about my food to my mom, to my dad, to everybody. It was just my taste buds, my self-esteem, and my self-worth. Everything changed, but it changed gradually. It’s not that I woke up one day and is all of a sudden this Kathleen that’s 37. The first time I went to the gym, I walked for 10 minutes. I got off the treadmill, and I thought I was going to vomit. You know when you’ve never been on a treadmill and you’re on that belt, and then you get off and the room is all spinny? That’s what happened to me after 10 minutes. I was like I can’t do this anymore.

But then I just kept going, and I went back. The next time I went was 15 minutes, and then 20 minutes. You got to embrace the little wins especially when you’re first starting. Those little wins, that’s what accumulates and eventually makes those big changes.


[00:53:50] Ashley James: I like that you said trending positive. I think that’s going to be my new motto.


[00:53:55] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, it’s great. It’s not a linear journey. Also, that’s another thing that’s really important to understand is it’s a hill and you want a trend, but you’re going to have paradigm shifts. But within each paradigm, you’re going to go up and down. It’s not that every single day is better than the day that was before, but I can definitely tell you that in my 30s, I have healthier habits than in my 20s, and in my 20s I had healthier habits than in my teens. 

On a whole, my demons have kind of softened, and on a whole, my habits are much healthier. On a whole, if I fall off my horse, the fall is much less severe. I get back on much faster, and I learn. I love the idea of everyone’s going to fall off the horse, but it’s how quickly do you course correct and how much do you learn from that experience?

My falling off the horse now might just be snoozing my alarm five times and missing half of my workout. But 10 years ago, what might have happened is if I’d snoozed my alarm five times, I might have been like, oh well, who cares. I’ll just skip the entire workout. Now I’m like, no. Even if I can only do 20 minutes, 20 minutes is better than nothing. The slips are different. I learn better, and I’m better at not berating myself and being so unbelievably mean to myself about the slips. It’s much more of a growth process.

I love the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. I don’t know if you know that book, but it’s all about growth mindset, and it’s so unbelievably important with everything. But particularly, I think about our health because I think we expect perfection and then I think perfection is not possible. And then when we can’t be perfect, most of us just quit. I think it’s so much, much, much, more important to have a growth mindset and to just trend in the right direction. 

Know that you’re human and know you’re going to make mistakes. But can you make mistakes at a different level? Can you make mistakes on your jog versus on your walk? Or can you make mistakes on your workout versus making mistakes sitting and not doing anything? As you said, trend in the right direction and know there’s always going to be a struggle. What’s that phrase? It’s like a new level, new devil. Every level you get to, every paradigm shift about your health, there’s always going to be a devil that you’re fighting, but it’s just going to be a different devil.


[00:56:09] Ashley James: That’s really interesting. I don’t know if it’s the Kabbalah, but there’s a belief in the archetypes that the devil archetype is us standing behind ourselves with a pitchfork poking ourselves in the back. So it’s actually like a duplicate of you standing behind you testing your resolve. 

Let’s say you’re a smoker and you’re like, today’s the day I’m going to quit. Five minutes from now you see people smoking outside, and there’s that little devil which is actually you. Little voice in your head poking you with the pitchfork in the back going, are you sure? Are you sure? How about this? Here, I’m going to give you people smoking in front of you. Are you sure? Now I’m going to give you a stressful situation because that was your go-to to handle it? Are you sure? Are you sure?

I’m not saying that the devil does or doesn’t exist. What I’m saying is that the archetype of any time we put out to the universe, we say this is my new norm now. This is my new goal. This is my new me. There’s an archetype of the devil testing our resolve. We just have to know that’s like, okay, I will not back down. Yes, I’m going to be tested and I’m going to prove to myself, I’m going to prove to that devil hitting me with the pitchfork, yes, I do have resolve. This is the new norm I’m working towards.

I wanted to touch on the guilt versus shame again because I think it’s really important. You talked about doing these little habits. Let’s say the person goes for a 10-minute walk and the shame might be there. Guilt is regretting actions or inactions.


[00:58:00] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, so guilt is the behavior. You can feel like, oh, I wish I’d done 20 minutes versus 10. I wish I didn’t go faster. It’s on the behavior. But as soon as you put it to, well, I’m the type of person who’s lazy, or I’m a failure. That’s what’s problematic. It’s one thing to acknowledge behaviors. I’m huge into growth and being—as I said, that balance between compassion and striving. I definitely believe in goals and striving. But you want to make sure that you have compassion, and compassion and shame do not go hand in hand.


[00:58:36] Ashley James: Yes. So shame, which is really interesting. I’ve had this woman on the show a few times. She’s an expert in magnesium. She’s led this group of women through a course. A big group of women through a course on healing their bodies and especially healing adrenal fatigue. What she noticed is every single woman except for about six of them got 100% results. She was like, what’s going on? She said, okay. She took the six women or this handful of women that didn’t. It was like maybe 100 women that did this and maybe six of them didn’t get results. It was a big number of people that got results. So she sat with them and said, we’re going to work through. We’re going to figure out why is it that so many of the women in this group got such great results, but you guys didn’t.

She saw it over and over again because she teaches this course often. She finally figured it out that when women have shame present as an almost daily thing, it stops them. No matter how much nutritional supplements, exercise, sleep, and rest, all those things, none of the positive things would allow their adrenals to heal because the shame was keeping them in that fight-or-flight mode. Keeping them and stopping their healing. 

I think it’s just really, really important to identify if we do have shame, if we do have that self-talk that’s saying, I’m stupid, I’m fat, I’m ugly, or no one’s going to love me. That negative self-talk is shame. To identify that and to then know that we have to work on that. Is there anything that you can give us to help identify? First, like you said, becoming aware is the first step. Do you have any advice or guidance for healing shame?


[01:00:32] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. There are a couple of things. So I think often our biggest villain in our health is the voice in our own heads, and we have this evil roommate so often. If it was another human being who lived with us, who talked to us like that, we would say get the freaking out of here. You are not welcome. You can’t be my roommate. But yet it’s okay for us to talk to ourselves like that? I think part of it is just really recognizing that if you had a child that you talked to like that, if you had a parent that you talked to like that, they wouldn’t be your friend. Why do you think that you can talk to yourself like that, right?

So I often really just encourage myself that health is really a re-parenting process. It’s learning how to talk to yourself in the way that you would talk to your child or in the way that you would talk to your aging parent. In a way that shows that you love and respect yourself, but again, that awareness piece is really key. Maybe you have to keep a journal about your internal thoughts. Write down some of the loops that you have in your head and work on those.

Maybe every night you just take five minutes and just say, okay, what are three things that I did really well today—three positive thought loops, three actions, and how do I reproduce those? What was the emotional space that I was in when I had that thought? Or I went for a walk, what helped me do that? And then what are three things that I would like to eliminate from my thought process, and how can I do that? Step back and just take a little bit more of an objective view of it.

Okay, well if this was my child who was having this action like staying up until 11:00 PM at night and not being able to go to bed. Okay, how would I help her have a better evening routine? That can be really helpful. I call that the reproduce versus eliminate journal. It’s again using it all as growth. And even just taking a moment like just having an alarm that goes off once an hour and just take 10 seconds and just think, okay, what was the most recent self-talk that I used on myself? Was it useful? Because often these things are so unconscious we’re not even aware that we are using them.

Sometimes just free flow journaling is really useful, again, because we’re not even aware of how we’re talking to ourselves or how we feel. So just getting it out there and then you can look at it and be like, okay, interesting. Is this my critic? Is this like a parent? When you read this is it like, oh interesting. That’s how my dad used to talk to me when I was five. Well, that wasn’t helpful then. It’s not helpful now.

I think some type of objective view, however, you’re going to get that whether that is through morning pages journaling, reproduce versus eliminating, or whether that’s going to therapy, and just really, really trying to produce a relationship in your head with somebody like it’s a roommate or somebody that you care about. When those negative thoughts come up, the more you’re aware of the thought loops that you get into, the more you’re able to say, nope, I’m not going there. But the first step is to become aware of the thought loops.

Honestly, most people when I start to train them, they will say things and they don’t even realize that they’re shaming themselves or shoulding themselves. I should have done this and I didn’t. They’d go for a walk and instead of being like I’m so proud of myself, I went for a walk. They’ll be like, oh, I only went for a walk. Well, that’s great. It’s better than doing nothing. So now use that walk as a jumping-off point for more positive health habits.

Noting the little wins I think is really key. Noting the little wins of when you speak to yourself nicely as well as when you go for a walk, as well as when you have a glass of water. And also just realizing that none of us are perfect. In the example that you gave earlier when you said about the shame about when you did something stupid. I forget the examples that you gave. I think part of it is just recognizing that you are sometimes going to say stupid. I say stupid stuff. In this interview, I probably said some stupid stuff, and that’s okay because guess what, I’m human. 

Within the realm of normal, you have to just allow yourself to be human. You’re not always going to speak to yourself perfectly because perfect doesn’t exist. You’re not always going to be the smartest. You’re not always going to have the best run. You’re not always going to be having the healthiest dinner. It’s about the trends, and it’s about when you make a decision and be like, okay, so am I proud of this decision? Am I not? Okay, well, let’s learn from it. You can’t be perfect all the time. 

I remember listening to this podcast once. It was actually about parenting and the interviewer was saying, well, I just tell my kids just always do your best. The woman who was being interviewed, her name is Kristin Neff, and she writes a lot about self-compassion. She said I just want to hold you there. She said, I actually think that it’s not about teaching your kids to always do your best because that’s just going to put them in the hospital. They can’t always do their best. It’s about teaching your kids when it’s important to do their best and when it’s important to just go to bed, or when it’s important to just read a book and chill.

It sounds like a weird connection to the question about shame and guilt, but I actually think it’s really important. You can’t always do your best because then you will get adrenal fatigue. That’s what causes it. It’s like oh my God. If I’m not perfect I’m going to die. Oh my God. But that’s a thought loop that so many of us women get into. Listen, you can do anything but not everything. You have to choose what are the things, what are the battles that are worth battling, what are the hills that are worth dying on, what are the things you’re going to do your best on, and what are the things that you’re just going to say you know what that’s not that important to me. Goodbye. I’m setting my boundary. I’m going to say no to this because a no to that is a yes to something that I do care about.

I think a lot of getting rid of shame is just getting rid of this idea that you have to be perfect and you have to do it all. You can’t do it all. You can’t be perfect, and nobody is perfect. They might pretend to be perfect on social media, but let me tell you, nobody’s perfect because we’re all human. We’re messy humans, and that’s what’s great about being human. We’re just this hot mess.


[01:06:43] Ashley James: I totally celebrate being a hot mess. I’m like, no one has it all together.


[01:06:49] Kathleen Trotter: No, and they would be freaking boring if they did. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t grow and learn. What’s a great example? About a month ago, I did my first Skype media segment for CTV, and I’d never done a Skype one before. I’ve done lots of podcasts, but never a video. Honestly, it wasn’t that great. It wasn’t terrible, but 10 years ago, oh my God, would I have berated myself. Kathleen, you were frenetic. I was a little bit too far away from the camera, so I was yellingI would have just been so mean to myself. And instead, what I said to myself was you know what, I did do the best I could, but anytime you do anything new, you are never going to be great at it because that’s the nature of doing new things. They’re hard, and now, what can you learn from this?

I watched it a number of times. I learned. I realized I needed to be sitting in a chair so I could be closer to Skype and I could get a better camera angle and all this stuff. And then I did the next one a week later and it was 10 million times better. But it wouldn’t have been better if I had berated myself about that first segment and be like oh, Kathleen, you’re a loser. You’re never going to be really good. The second segment would have probably been twice as bad because I would have been so nervous, I would have been shaking in my boots. I would have felt like a loser. And instead, the second one was way better because I learned and I grew.

I think the net is just the first time you do anything—and this is circling back to you don’t have to be great to start but you do have to start to get great, standardizing before you can optimize. People listening, Brené Brown has a podcast Unlocking Us, and her first episode ever was on FFTs, Forking First Times. The point of the podcast is that any time you’ve never done anything, you’re going to be bad at it. It’s going to be messy and just embrace it. That’s the only way you get better.

If you’ve never gone for a run, the first time you go for a run it’s going to suck. Embrace the suck. If you’ve never cooked a dish, it’s probably going to not be that great. Who cares? Try it. Learn. I’m trying to think of workouts. The first time I went to a CrossFit gym, oh my God, I was scared. I was like, I’ve never been here, but it was kind of fun and everyone was nice to me. I sucked at a bunch of things, but it didn’t matter. The first time I went for a run I was terrible. The first race I ever did was terrible. But now I’m way better, and I’m a better runner. CrossFit’s not really my jam, but I go every once in a while, and when I go, I’m way better than the first time. I don’t know. Persevere, learn, grow, and be kind to yourself.

But that doesn’t mean let yourself off the hook. I think people take this advice and they think, oh, well, Kathleen says being nice to myself. That means eating 17 cookies, watching 14 hours of Netflix, and never working out because I love myself. No, if you love yourself, you respect yourself enough to go for a walk, drink some water, and get some sleep. It’s a really fine balance of striving but with compassion.


[01:09:41] Ashley James: What I got from what you just said is when we stay in shame we’re stuck and we can’t grow.


[01:09:50] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, I love that. Oh my God. I need to quote that’s. Okay, I’m going to quote you. When you stay in shame you’re stuck and you can’t grow. Yes because shame keeps you in—I don’t know if you know the polyvagal theory, but it’s a nervous system theory basically. They would say that when you stay in shame you don’t get to go in the ventral vagal system, so you’re not in that creative place where you can be their best self. That you’re stuck in your sympathetic nervous system. Your nervous system is basically teaching your body to stay stuck because it’s that paralyzed, it’s messing with your hormones, and it doesn’t put you in the mental space where you can grow.


[01:10:32] Ashley James: Once you’re in sympathetic nervous system response, you lose access to your frontal cortex. We actually shunt blood away from the logic centers of our brain so we can’t think critically, like you said, create creatively. We can’t do three-dimensional problem solving, and also, it harms our digestion because we shunt blood away from our core.


[01:10:58] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. It’s a whole bunch of bad stuff.


[01:10:59] Ashley James: Right. Identifying when there’s a shame. So here’s the thing, I’ve had clients who I’ll say okay. Every week I’ll give them homework to decrease stress. I want to get them out of fight-or-flight mode, or I want to get them out of that sympathetic mode. They won’t do the homework. They’ll eat what I tell them to eat. They’ll do all these health habits, but when it comes to like, okay, I want you to do 15 minutes of watching a comedy that makes you laugh.


[01:11:27] Kathleen Trotter: I love that homework.


[01:11:30] Ashley James: Go find a comedian on YouTube. I love the stuff out of Canada. Just for Laughs is the best. I want you laughing like you’re almost going to pee yourself for 15 minutes a day on your lunch break or whatever. I want you to walk out of the office building and walking around the block out in nature trying to find a park. Those kinds of things. Those are the hardest, so any de-stressor any habit. I’ve told several clients, okay, when you get home the first thing I want you to do is put on amazing music and have a dance party with your kids.

What are fun activities that are going to like take you out of stress mode and bring back the feel-good hormones? I want you to hug your husband. Oxytocin. Hug your husband for three minutes straight. Just get into cuddle mode. And the funny thing is, these have been the hardest habits to get people to do. I’m like what’s going on? It’s easier to get someone to eat kale than it is to hug their husband or laugh. What’s going on?

You’d think it’d be easy, but then the feedback I’d get is that well, I don’t know why I have to do this. I don’t feel stress. I don’t feel stressed out. I’m like okay, great. Stress is not an emotion. I think that shame, for some people, people are so disconnected that they don’t actually know they’re in shame. That they don’t feel it. How we can identify it is the self-talk. If you’re beating yourself up, if your self-talk is abusive, and your self-talk is akin to I’m not good enough. No one loves me. I’m stupid. That was so dumb of me, wtf. If your self-talk is abrasive and tearing you down like an abusive spouse basically, like an abusive partner, you are in shame.


[01:13:20] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. It’s interesting, you were talking about the sympathetic nervous system. I think that’s very interesting. But if you look at what the polyvagal theory would say, and I’m not saying this is right or wrong. I just think it’s interesting to noodle on. They said there are three ways that you can be. You can be ventral vagal, so that’s in that creative mode where you make the best choices. You feel very content. Then there’s that sympathetic, which you were talking about. And then they would also say there’s what’s called dorsal vagal, which is almost like comatose, unable to make decisions.

I think what they would say is it’s important to understand or start to note the self-talk, but they would also say it’s really important to start noting your somatic experiences. When you are in that dorsal vagal space, and I’m just learning about polyvagal. If anybody’s interested in this, don’t take my word. Go research it yourself. I’m using it for myself. I’ve been in therapy for 20 years. I’ve done a lot of talk therapy, and I’m just starting to look into more of the somatic therapy of starting to understand how different states feel in my tissues. And the idea of that dorsal vagal system is that you actually feel almost like paralyzed. You can’t get that ignition energy to start doing anything. You feel sort of a lack, and you almost feel like a disconnect or disassociation from what you’re doing and your life.

Again, all of your suggestions would still be very helpful no matter which of those two systems you’re in, but that’s just another route to get to this idea if you’re feeling shame, if you’re feeling blocked, or if you’re feeling stuck. Start to feel how your body feels. Are you feeling almost away from your body, disconnected? Like that ostrich with the head in the sand. Because that could be showing you that you’re almost so in shame, you’re so in a fear mode that you’ve actually like left your body almost, and that makes it even harder to do any of those things. Because sometimes, when you’re in this sympathetic state—that stressful state—you actually have a lot of energy because you’re like nervous energy. That could be the time where you actually do things. You go for a walk, you go for a run. It’s not necessarily good for your adrenals, because you feel sort of more like I have to do something. Oh my God, if I don’t do something… It’s like that anxious state versus that dorsal vagal, which is almost like comatose. I need to go to bed state.

Anyway, I just find that really interesting. There’s a Derek Sivers quote. It’s like, if knowledge was enough, we’d all have six-pack abs and be billionaires. The truth is that everybody listening just needs to get on board with the knowledge of what to do with everything in life but particularly to do with your health. That knowledge is not enough. We know to drink more water, eat less processed foods, and go to bed earlier. But if that was enough, we’d all be healthy and health wouldn’t be this million-dollar, billion-dollar industry. 

It’s a billion-dollar industry because it’s really freaking hard to do what we know how to do because our emotions get in the way. Our nervous system gets in the way. Our history with our self-talk gets in the way. Our history of how our parents talk to us gets in the way. How we were bullied in school. If you were bullied over your body, or if you were laughed at playing sports, of course, you don’t want to go out and go for a run. You might not consciously be thinking like, oh my God. I’m going to get bullied, but your nervous system has these memories of like people are not nice to me when I go. I have a shame feeling when I go exercise.

Part of exercising is retraining your nervous system. The reason why I hated it for so many years was I was overweight. People teased me. I would try to do things, I’d try to do sports, and I sucked at them. And then I got so embarrassed, and talk about shame— so filled with shame that I then didn’t want to do any of those things. I’ve been exercising for 20 years, but mostly I’ve been doing a lot of independent stuff like biking and running. It’s only been in the last five years that I’ve had enough confidence to go play basketball with my partner James. We play tennis, we play basketball, but for years he played all these different sports. I would go watch him, but I didn’t want to play team sports because even though I was fit and even though I loved exercising, I had such a nervous system memory of the shame that went along with not being able to hit the baseball very well and people teasing me. That I was like, hell no. I’m not doing that.

Like what we talked about with food, gradually my palate has changed to do with exercise, and I’m slowly learning to enjoy more team sports. But that goes along with letting go of the shame and realizing if I suck at a sport, who cares. It doesn’t matter. I’m not being paid. I’m not a professional basketball player. I don’t need to be good at it. I just need to be getting some exercise, moving around, and getting slightly better each time. That shame response, it’s not useful, it’s not helpful, it doesn’t make me happy, it doesn’t make me the best version of myself, it keeps me stuck, it keeps me basically on the sidelines, and I don’t want to be on the sidelines.

I want to be strong. I want to be empowered. I want to be energized. But it takes a lot of retraining growth mindset for the nervous system, right? A growth mindset for my brain to know that even if somebody does laugh at me, I don’t care. Somebody can go and laugh all they want. The doctors use the quote, those that mind don’t matter and those that matter won’t mind. So, people who love you, they’re not going to mind if you suck at basketball. People who care that you suck at basketball, they don’t matter. They can go jump on a river. But in order to think that way, you have to let go of shame. If you’re filled with shame, you care what everybody thinks.

As soon as you let go of shame you can be like, oh right, you don’t think I’m a very good tennis player? Guess what, I don’t care what you think. You are not part of my core five. I care what my partner James thinks. I care what my mom thinks. I care what my dad thinks. My best friend Emily, I care what she thinks. But if you’re not part of the people that I respect, and you don’t like what I’m doing, how I play a sport, or what I’m eating, I don’t care. But that comes with letting go of shame.


[01:19:39] Ashley James: I love it. There was this really interesting quote that changed my husband’s life. It’s none of your business what other people think of you.


[01:19:52] Kathleen Trotter: I love, love, love that quote, and it’s just so true.


[01:19:56] Ashley James: it’s none of your business what other people think of you. My husband almost fell off his chair. This was about 12 years ago, we were listening to this really cool dude. He would just spew Buddhisms and very Zen sayings. We’ve been into listening to alternative media. We shut off our cable TV 12 years ago, and we just streamed stuff on the internet—all kinds of amazing podcasts and stuff. This is a guy we followed like 12 years ago.

But my husband really struggled his whole life by worrying about what other people thought. He wouldn’t hold my hand in public. It was just weird stuff. I’m like what’s going on? He’s like I don’t know. I just can’t. I don’t know what I can do.


[01:20:39] Kathleen Trotter: It’s very common.


[01:20:40] Ashley James: We talked a lot about it. Ever since I met him, he’s always been super into personal growth, growing spiritually, and growing as a person. He loves really doing deep dives, he’s a man that wants to talk about his feelings. But he wants to grow. We’re like, okay, what’s going on. He’s like I’m stuck in this area. What’s going on? And then when he heard that, it gave him so much freedom because he really got that he was so worried about what everyone else thought, but it’s none of his business.

Just like you walk down the street, let’s say you see someone running funny and you judge them. You’re like haha, that person looks silly. It’s none of their business that you’re thinking that about them.


[01:21:19] Kathleen Trotter: No, it’s all on me. It’s my problem.


[01:21:23] Ashley James: That’s your thoughts. I see someone running down the street, and I have really great thoughts for them. I’m like, good for them, really good. You know what, whatever your thoughts are, they’re your private thoughts. Other people’s private thoughts are none of your business.


[01:21:40] Kathleen Trotter: It says much more about them than it says anything about you. I agree, but I would make a caveat on that though. I do love that quote, and I’ve heard that quote, but I actually do think you need a little asterisk beside it. Because it’s none of your business what other people think, but here’s the thing. I think that it is your business what your core five think. It is my business what my partner James thinks about me.


[01:22:07] Ashley James: Oh, sure.


[01:22:08] Kathleen Trotter: Now that doesn’t mean I have to agree with what he thinks about me. The thing about quotes and the thing about social media, we like these really broad generalizations. There is so much nuance in it. It’s just like the idea of like well, you shouldn’t care about… That book the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The whole premise of that book is we as human beings are programmed to care, we’re programmed to problem solve. But the idea is that if you’re going to care and you’re going to problem solve, you have to decide what problems are worth your time.

That’s I think the same thing about that quote. We as human beings are programmed. We’re meaning-making genes. We’re tribal. We’re bred for connection. We’re wired for connection as Brené Brown would say. I think you have to appreciate that you are going to care what people think, and the trick is that you should care. You can’t be in a good relationship with somebody if you don’t care what they think about you. But the trick is you need to care about what people think that you respect.

I decide on five or ten people in my life, and those are the people that I’m like, I wonder what James will think about this. And again, it’s not that I necessarily think that what he thinks I’m going to be like oh, well he says I shouldn’t wear red. Well, I’m not going to wear red. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is if he says something, because I respect him, I’m going to at least entertain the thought. And then I can say, well, no, you’re wrong. But it’s a very important thing.

I think it’s really easy to be, oh well, no one else’s opinion of me matters. I don’t think we live in a vacuum. I don’t actually think that that’s true. I don’t think the key is to care about nothing. I don’t know. I just think it’s trickier, and I think that life is a little bit more complicated than any of that. But then it’s about being intentional. Who am I going to care what they think about me? Who am I going to interact with? And who gets my attention?


[01:24:10] Ashley James: So it’s coming back to shame. One of my teachers, Tad James, of no relation. He’s a master trainer of neurolinguistic programming, and he says if you lived on an on a planet where there’s no one else, that you were the only person in the world ever, you would never experience shame. Shame exists because we live in a society with other people and because it’s our judgments of ourselves in relationship to other people. That quote, it’s none of your business what other people think of you, is directly about shameful thoughts and decisions that you’ve made about yourself. That’s what I mean.

If you’re so worried about strangers observing you while you’re exercising, it’s none of your business what they’re thinking. You do you. Go do your exercise. But if you catch yourself worrying what about other people think and that’s part of your shame spiral, then that’s stuff to work on.


[01:25:10] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, absolutely. And I’m not disagreeing with any of that. I completely agree with that. My point only was I just think these things are a little bit nuanced, and I think that part of the intentionality of all this is deciding who do you care what they think about you, and who do you care about? When I’m thinking about life and how to make my decisions in my day and what’s important, what do I say no to, and what do I say yes to? It matters the idea of you do you.

Okay. Well, again, that’s great, and I love that quote. But I think that yes, I do me, but I live in a world where I really care about James. I care about my mom. I also have to take those. I don’t have to do anything, but I decide that taking those people’s feelings and emotions into account is really important. I’m never going to do me at the expense of that, or at least I’m going to have a conversation with James. 

Again, I just think it’s all about awareness and intention. Nothing that I’m saying is discrediting. I think you’re completely right. Shame is an internalization of the criticism we’ve had as kids from our peers, from our parents. All of that stuff is correct. I just think part of getting to be an adult is taking an inventory of what you care about? What do you want to say yes to? What do you want to say no to? Who do you care about? Who do you care what they think about you? What conversations do you want to have? What do you want to say hell yes to? What do you want to say hell no to?

If it’s really important that you get to bed by 10:00 PM, for example going back to you, okay, that means saying no to a bunch of things. That’s great. But every yes is a no. But in order to know what to say yes to, you have to know what to say no to.


[01:26:58] Ashley James: It sounds like really healthy boundaries and figuring it out. And then, like you said, not the expense of others. You use the example of doing team sports or doing exercise and other people are seeing you. You sound like you have very healthy relationships with your partner, with your mom, and your best friend, for example.


[01:27:19] Kathleen Trotter: It took years of therapy.


[01:27:23] Ashley James: Other people don’t have that yet, and they would never exercise in front of their partner, in front of their mom, or have their mom come to see them do team sports because they still have things to work through. That’s where I say, okay, figure out how you can get physically fit in an environment that fills you with joy and not shame or fear. Maybe it’s putting on a Zumba. Amazon Prime, free Zumba classes. There are so many great on Amazon Prime. Just as an example, so many great free fitness classes. Put it on the TV, do it in your bedroom, or do it in the living room when no one’s around.

But when you go out to do any kind of fitness and you notice that there are shameful judgments that you’re having about yourself, is it because you’re around people—those are toxic friends or toxic relationships? Is it because of the people you’re around, or is it because it’s you and you’re just worried about what everyone thinks of you? It’s stuff to work through. Like you said, awareness is the first step.


[01:28:36] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I just lost my train of thought. Look at me being messily human. My first book was called Finding Your Fit, and I think this is an excellent segue to that. It’s about meeting yourself where you are. Maybe, right now, you need to be what I would call a home bunny. That’s you’re working out at home, and then maybe in 10, 20 years, then maybe you go to Zumba class. If right now you can’t work out in front of other people, that’s fine. Exercise has to be non-negotiable, but the way you move your body is completely your fit.


[01:29:13] Ashley James: And where you move your body.


[01:29:15] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. Where, how, what you do. I’m going to use my mom because she is an amazing woman, and she’s the one who helped me figure out this concept. Basically, in a nutshell, unhealthy child, unhealthy teenager. I hated my body, was super full of shame. My mom said to me, “Listen, I know you hate gym class. I know you hate team sports, but we have to find a way that you can move.”

We lived in a small town, and my mom said, “You’ve always felt better around grown-ups versus peers, so why don’t we go to the YMCA because the Y, the demographic is over 40, under 5. No one in the teen years will be there.” I was like, “Okay, cool.” And she said, “Listen, Kathleen. All you have to do is walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes. You can totally do that.” So she made the win so small that I could do it, and I think that’s the key because then I went once. It wasn’t like you have to go do an hour aerobics class. And in fact, before I even went to the gym, we did Jane Fonda workouts at home in our kitchen.

The trick was I started with stuff at home. We did Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. And then Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda then turned with me going to the Y walking for 10 minutes, and that slowly spiraled—upward spiral. Then I was doing more walking, then weights, then I started taking aerobics classes, and then I started teaching aerobics classes. That’s what made me decide to go to school for kinesiology.

But what my mom did for me was she said meet yourself where you are and figure out your fit. You thrive in your own lane. Don’t compare yourself. It doesn’t matter what works for your best friend, your father, your mother, or your favorite celebrity. You figure out what you can do, and what you can do can change in six months, in a year. Again, we go back to the idea that you have to standardize before you can optimize. Just standardize that you move your body every day, and then you can optimize with whatever you want.

My mom was really the one. I wrote the book 15 years after that experience, but she was the one who said to me, “You just have to make the motion a non-negotiable, and you figure out what works for you.” In the book, I talk about the four fitness different personalities. You have the gym bunny, you have the home bunny, you have the competitive bunny, and then you have the busy multitasker. You don’t have to be just one of those. You could decide that normally, you are the gym bunny, but when you get really busy at work, you become the competitive multitasker, which is the person who takes a conference call while they walk right. Or they exercise while they’re watching their kids play soccer on the sideline—they’re doing lunges and squats.

The idea is that you can mix and match the different personalities depending on the season you are in your life. Maybe in 10 years, you go from doing Zumba at home to doing Zumba at a gym. But no matter what season you’re in and whatever you’re feeling, you always know that some type of motion is non-negotiable.


[01:32:07] Ashley James: I love it. Can you give more examples? I love the example of doing lunges on the sidelines while watching your kids do soccer. Can you give more examples of how we can incorporate movement into our life instead of being sedentary?


[01:32:21] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, yeah. A lot of it is you have to set an alarm to make sure you don’t just what I call tunnel into work. Sometimes I sit down and it’s like eight hours later. I’m like, what just happened? Conference calls as you walk is a great idea. Gamify your fitness. Have a challenge with your family for getting a number of steps per day. Setting an alarm goes off in between Zoom meetings and doing three minutes of a dance class in your living room. If you’re commuting to and from work, walking to and from work, taking your bike. In Toronto, the city bikes are a really big thing now that people don’t really want to take the subway because of COVID. People are doing the city bike rental where you can get a bike at one end and then get a different bike after work.

If your kids are going out for a bike ride, you can jog beside them. You could skip outside in the backyard as they’re playing. You can do planks and lunges and stuff as they’re indoors. They’re playing, you can get them involved in a push-up challenge or plank challenge. You could, instead of sitting in your car and doing iPhone stuff while they’re doing their sport, you could go for a jog and then meet them when they’re done practice. You can say, instead of watching television tonight, we’re all going to go to the park and we’re going to play some soccer together as a family. Making sure you get out of your car a couple of blocks away from wherever you’re going to walk there. It’s just peppering exercise into your daily life is that idea of the multitasker. 

I’m a really big believer in what I call the plug and play solution. What that is is a list you create in advance of things that you can do in 5 minutes, things you can do in 10 minutes, things you can do in 15 minutes. If you “found time,” you can just look at the list and then know what to do. Because part of the problem is we often will find 5 minutes or 10 minutes in our day. And by the time you realize you have 10 minutes and you think, should I do this, or should I do that? The 10 minutes is gone, and you’ve wasted your opportunity to do some motion. But if you have a list and you just like look at the list, you’re like oh, okay. Well, I know in 10 minutes I can do a set of lunges and jumping jacks or 10 minutes of—I love Yoga by Adriene. It’s free. You know those things in advance, and then you just sort of like blah blah blah just do it. You don’t have to waste cognitive energy thinking I should do this or I should do that.

That’s a great plug-and-play solution. That’s like “fitness snacking” with the idea that it all adds up, right? I really want people to ditch this idea of perfection because perfection is tied to shame, and it’s just not helpful. If you think, well, if I can’t do an hour-long workout, then it’s not even worth it, or if I can’t do 10 kilometers… You just end up doing nothing. Whereas if you “snack” on 10 minutes of exercise here and 10 minutes of exercise there, by the end of the day you’ve done an hour, and that’s great.


[01:35:04] Ashley James: I love it. Snack on exercise.


[01:35:08] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, snack on exercise.


[01:35:09] Ashley James: Because sometimes it’s daunting to think about an hour-long workout, 45-minute workout, 90-minute workout. Totally daunting. I get into the dorsal vagal. It’s just too big, can’t do it. Where you’re like, oh, I could snack.


[01:35:23] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, I can snack. It’s doable. And so much of health feels so overwhelming. Listen, life is freaking hard. Life’s hard at the best of times, but it’s particularly hard right now with the pandemic and everything. So much of health is just learning how to struggle well. You have to appreciate that the struggle is not a bug in the system. It’s part of the system. It is there.


[01:35:45] Ashley James: That’s beautiful.


[01:35:46] Kathleen Trotter: It is there. It’s part of the operating system, so you got to just be like okay, I’m going to struggle. I expect it, and how do I struggle well? How do I ride the wave of this? How do I surf really well—surf the wave of this struggle, just do the best I can, and learn from the experience. But you got to go in with realistic expectations. You don’t just find the perfect miracle workout or diet, lose a bunch of weight, then it’s easy peasy, and you never have anything go wrong. It doesn’t work that way. 

There’s no perfect day to work out. No perfect week to start the program. You just got to do it. You seize the moment because the moment is the only time you have any direct control over. And if you take advantage of the moment and then the next moment and the next moment, five years from now you’ll be like damn, I feel fit. I feel strong. I’m no longer loving East Side Mario’s. It takes time. It really, really does. It takes finding your version of fit to know your version of fit will change and really being okay, thriving in your own lane.

I’ll tell you one more story about my mom. I love my mom. She came with me once when I was teaching a spin class, and she got off the bike. She’s a super supportive woman. I’m sure you can feel that from the podcast. She got off the bike, she looked at me, and she’s like white as a sheet. She goes, “Kathleen, I love you more than anything but if you ever try to make me do a spin class again I will disown you.” I just laugh at that because I have a peloton and I die for Cody classes on the Peloton. Literally, if I’m in bed and I don’t want to get out of bed, I just say, Kathleen, you can do a Peloton. You can do a Cody, and that is motivational for me.

If I said to my mom you could do a Cody class, she’d be like, well, that’s terrible. I don’t want to do a Cody class. My point only being is if I said to her the only way that she could be fit is if she did Cody Peloton classes every day, she’d be like well I’d rather be fat and never be fit. That does not interest me. But if she said to me, well, every day, you have to garden and walk the dogs, which is what she does, I’d be like well that doesn’t really interest me. You have to find what works for you.

My dad’s another example. He plays hockey four days a week. He loves hockey. If you told me, well, Kathleen, to be fit you have to play hockey four days a week. I’d be like, oh no. But that’s his bliss. The great thing about it is because he loves hockey so much, that inspires him to do the stretching and the strength workout that he needs without falling over and without rolling over an ankle in his skate. It’s similar for me. I love running. I don’t love stretching and strength stuff as much, but I make myself do it because I know that that’s the way that I can do the thing that I love. Part of fitness is finding what you love, and then it’s also using what you love as self-talk to make yourself do the things that you might not necessarily love but that’s really important.


[01:38:26] Ashley James: Fantastic. That’s so great. For those that don’t know what a Peloton is, I know it’s a really cool bike that has a screen on it so you’re like watching these spin classes from home, right?


[01:38:39] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, pretty much. The reason why I love it is because it has so much. Classes go live. There’s a bunch of classes every day and then they get archived. Speaking earlier, we’re talking about finding the ignition energy to get going. I’ve always found an hour long spin feels really daunting, but what’s great about the Peloton is you can filter things. So you can filter by the instructor you like, the type of music you like. I like pop music or country music. There are two or three people I like, but I really like Cody, but you can also filter by time.

You can say 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour, and I often find that in order to get myself on the bike, I actually just start with the 20-minute class, and then as soon as I’m done the 20-minute, I’m warmed up and then I’ll do a half an hour. So then it ends up being 50 minutes or I’ll do 45 minutes. It’s easier for me to put together a couple of smaller classes. The thing that I like the most about the Peloton is that first of all, you don’t have to leave your house to go do a class somewhere else. If a class you’re doing 45 minutes of spin, you’re actually doing 45 minutes of spin. But mostly, what I really like is that you can trick yourself into exercising.

I often end up doing a full hour, but I start with just saying, you know what Kathleen, 20 minutes is better than nothing. Just get your ass on that bike do the 20 minutes. And then I enjoy myself. I’m smiling and laughing and I just keep going. This morning, I started with a 30-minute class, and then I finished the 30 and I was like I’ll do 10 more minutes. I ended up doing 40 minutes.

The lesson for everybody out there if they’re like, well, I don’t have a Peloton. Why is that useful? What I would just say is it’s all about the mind games. It’s about self-talk. If you can’t bring yourself to do an hour-long workout, you just say to yourself, Kathleen would say do 10 minutes. Because once you’ve done 10 minutes, most likely you’ll just keep going. It’s easier to find the ignition energy to do 10 minutes, but if you do stop after 10 minutes, at least you’ve done 10 minutes. And 10 minutes a day is 70 minutes over the week. It’s better than nothing. But honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done 10 minutes and just stopped at 10 minutes. By the time you’ve done 10 minutes, you’re like, oh well. I’ve already started. I might as well do at least 15. And then you do 15, you’re like, I might as well do at least 20. It’s all about mind games.


[01:40:49] Ashley James: That’s what I do with hikes. There are wonderful trails near our house. I’m like, okay, I’m just going to make it down to where the trail forks. By the time the trail forks, I’m like I’m doing the long trail. The thing is you’re lost in the woods and then you have to come all the way back. The last hike I did was like two hours long, and it’s up and down and through the woods. It’s beautiful. I am always surprised when two hours goes because I’m like it feels like 15 minutes. I mean, my body definitely got a great workout, but it’s fun so time really flies. The getting going it’s like, okay, I’m just going to make it down to that one point where the trail forks and then I’ll totally turn around. And then by the time I’m there I’m like, okay, blood flowing. I can keep going.


[01:41:36] Kathleen Trotter: Exactly. I think with the people who are listening, if they get anything from this story, it’s just like blah blah blah go work out. Just start. The hardest part is starting, and you just have to realize that your future self is going to be happier. Remember what we talked about before, the present bias, and knowing that just because you feel crappy at this moment doesn’t mean that you’re going to always feel crappy. Your future self is going to be so happy that you moved.


[01:42:00] Ashley James: Do you have any techniques for getting us out of that dorsal vagal mode where we are stuck, disassociated, unable to start? What ways can we break through and switch so we’re no longer in that dorsal vagal?


[01:42:15] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I think part of it is this idea of changing your state requires a physiological change. Even just some deep breathing, some meditation, or just talking to yourself nicely or phoning a friend that helps you bring into that ventral vagal state. Those are all things that can be really, really helpful. Journaling, any of those things would be great. Even just going for a 10-minute walk, which can feel very hard to do when you’re feeling very unmotivated. But just really being kind to yourself and just saying I will be happier if I even do two minutes. Even playing music and not dancing around but just having that energy out there in the universe. It really is that sort of first 30 seconds of anything that you can do.

I think the key is just understanding that that dorsal vagal is a nervous system response based on feeling unsafe, insecure, unhappy, and it could be based on childhood unsafe, insecure, unhappy. If I go play baseball, my first instinct would be to go dorsal vagal because of being bullied as a kid, so I have to realize that I’m dorsal vagal. I feel it in my system and then I just say to myself, okay Kathleen, it’s okay. You’re okay. That’s a triggered state. At this moment, you’re actually okay.

I think the most important thing is to take a pause and say is this real in this moment? Because it could be that you are unsafe. If you’re in an unsafe relationship or if somebody is bullying you, sometimes retreating is actually a really good coping mechanism. First, say, is this serving me? And if it is serving you, then it’s telling you something about the environment that you’re in, and then you can use that as data. Maybe you’re with friends that are really, really evil and then they should no longer be your friends because they’re putting you in that. But most of the time for us, the idea is that it’s actually not serving us. It is somehow triggered by childhood.

Maybe your boss triggered a sense of shame in the way that your mother or father used to talk to you or the shame in the way that a teacher used to talk to you. Part of it is just sort of saying to yourself, I’m an adult, and I was treated purely as a child, but I’m not a child anymore. I have the resources in my current me to deal with this.

Once you figure out that it’s not a current lack of safety, then you can proceed with the meditation, with the breathing, the walking, or phoning a friend. You just have to make yourself feel safe basically when they’re in that space and realize that a lot of procrastination is a feeling of shame or lack of safety. Because you’re worried, well, if I exercise and I don’t exercise perfectly, I’m going to be shamed. If you just say to me, it’s okay to not be perfect. I’m a human mess. I’m a messy mess, and that is okay. Talk nicely to yourself, basically. As long as you are actually safe. If you’re in an unsafe environment, get rid of that. Then you have to use that differently, but once you’ve figured out that you’re safe, then you just have to be kind to yourself.


[01:45:36] Ashley James: Yeah, and a lot of procrastination is focusing on what you don’t want to have happened instead of focusing on what you do want to have happened. When we’re visualizing all the things that could go wrong when we’re exercising—people laughing at us or whatever. Just these thoughts come into our heads. Oh, it’s going to be so difficult. I’m going to get an injury. I’m going to have a leg cramp. We just are imagining all these bad things are happening. We’re putting ourselves in a state of stress, and then that triggers our procrastination because we’re feeling unsafe. But if we focus on and visualize the successful completion of that workout and how great it was, just like you said, your future self, imagine yourself after the workout. You’re like, okay, I want to get there. Let’s go.


[01:46:17] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, but also say to yourself, those bad things, they might happen. But guess what, that’s okay too because I’m an adult and I can handle it. Part of it is that we procrastinate because let’s say you tried a sport when you were a kid and then you were bullied, then you felt like a failure, and then you stopped. But you were a child. You didn’t have the resources you have now. Part of it is also saying to yourself like, probably I will succeed. The data shows I’m very successful. I’m very perseverant. I’m probably going to get through this workout. But guess what, if I don’t, I will be able to deal with it because I’m an adult.

Life isn’t perfect. There will be times that I go out, my run sucks. It’s terrible. There are probably times where I’m going to go out and somebody might snicker at me when I throw the basket and I’m bad. But guess what, I can handle it because I’m almost 40. My 10-year-old self couldn’t handle it, but I can handle it. That’s also part of it.


[01:47:10] Ashley James: Yeah. I love Tim Ferriss’s method for dealing with this.


[01:47:16] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, the fear setting.


[01:47:18] Ashley James: The fear, right? At first, when I was listening to him, oh this isn’t good. And then I was like whoa, this is really good. You write down everything you’re afraid will happen, but then you write down what’ll actually realistically happen? Because our mind is making up these big monsters, and they’re probably not going to happen. The entire gym is not going to turn and laugh at us, right? Or if we fall off of equipment, it’s not like everyone’s going to turn and laugh. A lot of people will actually be concerned and come up and help us.


[01:47:41] Kathleen Trotter: Yes, are you okay?


[01:47:43] Ashley James: Are you okay, and genuinely want to help. But he has us write down. Everything you’re worried about will happen and then what’ll actually happen? Realistically, what would happen? And then how would you handle it? When you do that you realize that it’s just a paper tiger that you’ve been worried about. That you, as an adult, have resources and you would be able to handle real situations as they arose. So instead of obsessing and fixating on all the perceived threats that you’ve made up, fixate on the solutions and how you would best handle those situations and then you feel a bit of confidence.

But we’re starting out. We’re newbies. Like you said, 10 minutes on the treadmill. We’re complete newbies. I love, for example, I think it’s Hulu. I have all these different Hulu, Netflix, those kinds of things. But I think Hulu has this subscription where you can subscribe to exercise videos. My favorite is the kickboxing ones, and they have a total beginner—like beginner-beginner-beginner 10-minute kickboxing, and you don’t even have to use weights. They have that option. They usually have three different levels, three different people standing there. 

It’s like, okay, follow this guy if you’re the beginner-beginner-beginner. This is your first-ever time exercising, or if you have mobility issues. After 10 minutes, I feel amazing and then I go and do another one, and I pick another one, another one, but I love that you can find beginner-beginner-beginner stuff. I can’t believe how just punching and kicking in the air while listening to some music is so soothing and so confidence building.


[01:49:24] Kathleen Trotter: It’s very empowering. I actually did boxing when I was in high school, and it was the best feeling. That’s what I love about health and wellness—when it can be empowering and energizing versus discouraging and oppressive. It can just make you feel like I can do anything. I’m powerful. The data shows that I’m strong, and then you take that data from your exercise and you go off your daily life. You’re like I can do this and it becomes a model. When your exercise becomes a model for how you just interface with the world, right? It’s like, oh yeah, this is scary.

My bike ride today was hard, but guess what, I did it anyway. Work today is going to be hard, but guess what, I’m going to do it anyway. I felt a little bit of niggly shame, but guess what, I persevered and now I showed my shame to take this backseat that I don’t need it anymore. I really love this idea of exercise just being a model for how you can live your life and build your relationships intentionally, purposefully, and with mindfulness and attention.


[01:50:26] Ashley James: Beautiful. I love that you talked about how to find things that you love, find things that are fun. Of course, try new things.


[01:50:32] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, you never know what you’re going to love.


[01:50:35] Ashley James: You never know what you’re going to like, but try new things. Exercise does not have to look like sweating in the gym. It doesn’t have to look like what Hollywood shows us or what Jillian Michaels does. It doesn’t have to look like any TV show. It can be cleaning your house like vacuuming. Dude, you can work up a sweat. You can work up a sweat cleaning your house. Your mom does gardening. Dude, I do squats when I garden, and the next day I feel it. You can really get a workout doing anything. It’s about moving the body in a way that brings you joy.

Then one thing I wanted to say is about your fudge bars. Something that’s really, really, really helped me the last 10 years on my health journey is figuring out the healthiest versions of something. I’m sure you’ve done this where you’re like what could I eat that’s like a fudge bar but more like an avocado and a sweet potato? What can you eat?


[01:51:27] Kathleen Trotter: I agree with that, and I think for most people and most times and 97% of my things in my life I have replaced with healthier versions. But guess what, I don’t want to replace my fudge bars with something healthy. I think that is okay too. Again it goes back to sometimes—


[01:51:42] Ashley James: Not being perfect.


[01:51:43] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, it’s not perfect. And it’s living the life I want to live. I don’t want to be on my deathbed and be like I loved these fudge bars and yet I didn’t ever have them. I don’t want to have them every day, but I buy one box a summer, and so over a four-month period, my mom has a beautiful backyard. We sit. That’s fine with me. There are tons of things I’m happy to do a healthier replacement, but if that’s my one sin, I’m okay with that. Part of being an adult is just deciding what you’re okay with and not living by anybody else’s rules, right? That’s what I’ve decided so I’m cool with that. But I do think you’re right in a lot of other things.

I make lots and lots of wonderful frozen things that are avocado and fruit. I put them into bars. I do lots of other things as well to complement the fudge bars, but we got to live the life that we’re going to be happy with on our deathbed as well, right?


[01:52:42] Ashley James: You know what, looking at my life, I’m not going to regret the junk food I didn’t eat. Me 10 years ago wouldn’t have agreed with that. If I died right now, I’d regret all the living I didn’t get to live. I want to live the healthiest. I would regret letting my shame hold me back from new experiences.


[01:53:08] Kathleen Trotter: Yes. A beautiful, beautiful way to put it. Yes, I agree.


[01:53:13] Ashley James: Thank you so much. This has been such a wonderful conversation.


[01:53:16] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, you’re amazing.


[01:53:17] Ashley James: Thank you, you too. I’m going to make sure the links to everything that Kathleen Trotter does are in the show notes of today’s podcast at including the links to her two books. Your website, Pretty easy to remember. And of course, we could follow you on social media. Can people work with you around the world? You’re located in Toronto, you have a studio in Toronto, but can people telecommute with you? Can they work with you over Skype around the world? How does that work?


[01:53:44] Kathleen Trotter: I don’t have any open spots for one-on-one spots. I have clients who’ve been with me for basically 20 years, and they have my one-on-one spots. But I do group coaching. It’s a five-week group coaching course. It’s called Kick Your Ass with Compassion, and you can find out about that on my website. That is group coaching. It’s usually between 8 and 12 people for five weeks. We do once a week on Zoom, and there’s a lecture group coaching, and then you get unlimited emailing with me over the five-week period about your goal.

Everybody has different goals. Some people quitting smoking, some people are trying to eat more vegetables, and some people are trying to do more exercise. The course is really about how you set goals and the principles of goal setting and having a growth mindset. A lot of the stuff we talked about today, but we break it down. I give you resources. We use my two books as textbooks. That would be the way that people from all over the world work with me. You can find information about that on my website.


[01:54:45] Ashley James: Awesome, very cool. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Is there anything you’d like to say or homework you’d like to give to wrap up today’s interview?


[01:54:51] Kathleen Trotter: The piece of homework I would give that ties everything we’ve done together is try some type of journaling, and it doesn’t have to be the way that you think. Journaling about your time spent, for example. If you are trying to find time to exercise and you’re like, I don’t have enough time. I bet if you journaled how much time you spent on TV or social media you’d be surprised at the frittering away of time that you do. Either journaling your time, journaling your food, journaling your exercise, or journaling your mood.

One of the things my therapist got me to do many, many years ago is do a journal of pre- and post-exercise what my mood was on a scale of 1-10. That data just showed me that I was always in a better mood post-exercise. You could also journal your emotions connected to food. I call it the X versus O journal. You put three circles on the page, and if you eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, eat unprocessed foods, then you just put an X through the circle. You don’t have to write anything. But if you eat, overeat, eat when you’re not hungry, or eat a lot of sugar processed foods, then you would write down what you ate. But you then write down the emotions that were connected to why you ate those things with the idea of trying to learn to connect emotions to your food.

If you look on my website or you google Kathleen Trotter journaling, I have done lots of articles on different types of journals. But they all just come back to building your awareness of the type of choices you make, why you make those choices, and how they’re connected to your emotions. You could journal sleep, you could journal anything. I think homework would just be work on knowing yourself.


[01:56:28] Ashley James: Yes, I love it. Michael Weinberger, I’ve had him on the show several times. He is bipolar—very severe. He’s got himself under control now, but he’s been suicidal many times and has been out of control many times. Been in manic mode many times, and he’s been in therapy his whole life. He’s a motivational personal growth speaker now because he shares his experience about mental health, spreading awareness, and how we can become healthier with wherever we are, whatever state we are in our mental health.

He created an app actually based on all the habits that he used to go from wanting to kill himself to leading a healthy life. It’s like a journaling app. It’s very quick. You wake up first thing in the morning and it asks you on a scale of 1-10, where are you at? Happy, sad—where are you at basically, 1-10. He might say three. Three is like I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m depressed. I don’t want to get out of bed. And then it has you journal in the app three things you’re grateful for.


[01:57:39] Kathleen Trotter: I love that. This is great.


[01:57:40] Ashley James: And it’s very quick. What does that take, a minute? And then after that, it immediately asks the same question, on a scale of 1-10, how are you doing? He doesn’t see individual people’s information. It’s all private. He can’t go see what you said, but he collects the data. Statistically, everyone feels better after one minute of focusing on gratitude. Many of the people that have this app have mental health issues they’re working through. Just imagine, regardless of where you are in your mental health, whether you consider yourself incredibly mentally healthy or you’re working on some challenges, one minute of focusing on what you’re grateful for makes us so that some people go from not wanting to get out of bed—that’s how depressed they are—to being able to get out of bed.


[01:58:26] Kathleen Trotter: That’s fantastic.


[01:58:27] Ashley James: And that’s one minute of journaling. So I love your idea of journaling because not only does it give you awareness, but sometimes if your focus can be on positive things like things you’re grateful for, that can make a big difference.


[01:58:40] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a great place to end and just have gratitude that we can move our body and eat healthy food. It is a hugely positive thing that we are able to do for ourselves, and I think often we think about health as something that we have to do, something that’s forced upon us. I love closing on this idea of gratitude. It’s something that we get to do. It’s a privilege.


[01:59:02] Ashley James: Yeah, awesome. Thank you so much, Kathleen. It was a pleasure having you on the show today.


[01:59:06] Kathleen Trotter: My pleasure.


[01:59:07] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Kathleen Trotter. Please join the Learn True Health Facebook group so you can enter to win a spot in Kathleen’s upcoming live and interactive group health coach program. It’s very exciting. Please visit to get a free module from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition if you’re considering becoming a health coach. And join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. Go to and check it out. Use the coupon code LTH and learn how to make delicious, nutritious, and healing recipes. We also have some wonderful recipes for Thanksgiving and the holidays as well. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day.


Get Connected with Kathleen Trotter!


Kick Your Ass With Compassion (Online Course)

Learn To Spot ‘Unhealthy Healthy Foods’





Books by Kathleen Trotter

Finding Your Fit

Your Fittest Future Self

Sep 22, 2020

BOOK: Invisible Rainbow

Cellular Phone Task Force,
International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space,

Check out IIN and get a free module:


The Invisible Rainbow


  • What is electrical pollution
  • Illnesses caused by exposure to electrical pollution
  • Ways to lessen exposure to electrical pollution


5G is here, and while many people are excited about this technology, Arthur Firstenberg describes it as the most urgent threat on earth today. In this episode, he explains why 5G is bad for us. He also enumerates different sources of electrical pollution and how we can lessen exposure to electrical pollution.

[00:00:00] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 445. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have the author of The Invisible Rainbow, Arthur Firstenberg. Arthur, one of my best friends was freaking out when she read your book. Her husband read your book, and he just was blown away. And then I started getting requests from a few listeners saying that your book has been mind-blowing, and it’s the most important book people have read in the last 10 years or more. It really caught my attention, and I thought I have to have this man on the show. We have to let more people know about your work.

So I recently got your book, and I cannot put it down. I’m holding it right now. I could probably use it as an exercise device because of how thick it is. Based on the picture on Amazon, I was expecting a little paperback I could finish on the weekend, and it’s almost 400 pages. And then there’s what seems like about 75 to 100 pages of references. I mean, you really did your homework.


[00:01:23] Arthur Firstenberg: There’s actually 150 pages of footnotes and bibliography.


[00:01:30] Ashley James: Yes, I was guessing. I’m holding it. I showed my husband. I’m like, “Do you see the scientific references?” I’m quite impressed. But reading your book, it’s very, very interesting. The first thing that came to mind is that I would love to see your book become a documentary or some kind of movie because of how—


[00:01:50] Arthur Firstenberg: Somebody called me yesterday that wants to do exactly that.


[00:01:55] Ashley James: Yes, please do. I mean, as long as you have control of how it goes, but it is phenomenally well-written. Well-researched. If everyone knew what you lay out so well in this book it would change the world. I want to dive into understanding—for those who’ve never heard of you or your work—I want to dive into it a bit. But first, I’d like to know a bit about you. What happened in your life that made you want to write this book?


[00:02:31] Arthur Firstenberg: I went to medical school, and midway through school—at the end of my second year—I had some dental work and a whole lot of dental x-rays in the course of a summer. The last series of x-rays did something to my head, and I felt something give way in the back of my skull. I felt an electric current travel from head to toes and out into the floor. The next morning, when I went around in the hospital, I could feel electric currents emanating from every piece of electrical equipment in the hospital. My life has not been the same since then.

I found out that I couldn’t finish school, essentially. I attempted to stick it out and get my MD. One day, on the inpatient pediatrics, I collapsed with all the symptoms of a heart attack. I had a year to go for my MD, and I left school. Before I had done that, I did a trade with my plastic surgery professor because being in the operating room was no longer possible. Every time I assisted a surgery I would have crippling pains in my hips so that I couldn’t walk for three days. He excused me from the OR in exchange for writing a research paper on a topic of my choice. I chose the effects of radiant energy on living organisms.


[00:04:33] Ashley James: Wow.


[00:04:33] Arthur Firstenberg: This was in December of 1981. In doing research for the chapter, I went to the medical school’s library—this was the  University of California Irvine—and lo and behold, there were many shelves full of books on the effects of electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic fields on biology and on health. We were not being taught this in medical school, and this seemed very strange to me. So I started doing research. That’s been my life, partially, since 1981, and full time since 1996 is researching being an advocate, being a support person, and being an activist. Trying to educate the world to this biological and environmental factor that nobody’s aware of.


[00:05:43] Ashley James: Did your professors believe you when you explained that being near electronics gave you excruciating pain?


[00:05:52] Arthur Firstenberg: I never asked him that question that way.


[00:06:00] Ashley James: Do you feel like they treated you as if they believed you? If they believed you, wouldn’t they have wanted to help?


[00:06:12] Arthur Firstenberg: I didn’t get any feedback because I submitted the paper in December, and I collapsed at the end of February. So it was only a couple of months before I quit school, and I never got any feedback from him.


[00:06:26] Ashley James: Do you still experience pain when you’re near electronics?


[00:06:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Not to the degree that I did then, but yes. A lot of people do. In fact, I would venture to say that most everybody does, but they’re not educated as to what the cause is. So a lot of people are on various pain medications. It causes sleep disorders, and the people are on sleeping medications. It causes anxiety, so people are on anxiety medications and antidepressants. They keep their cell phone in their hip pocket, and that causes excruciating pain, but they don’t connect the cause. So they end up going to the doctor, and the doctor tells them their hips are worn out. Let’s give you a hip replacement, and the nerves are cut, so it doesn’t hurt anymore. This is not confined to a few people. This is affecting the entire population of the globe.


[00:07:36] Ashley James: My husband and I both noticed—he has an iPhone, I have an android—our hands hurt when we hold our cell phones. That we can feel something. There’s something there. I mean, if you weren’t really paying attention, you could ignore it, but we’re very in tune with our bodies, and we can feel it. His hurts his hand more than mine does, I noticed.


[00:08:00] Arthur Firstenberg: Right. And that is the sign that you should stop using it because you can get cancer of your hand.


[00:08:10] Ashley James: Jeez. I was going to say, what damage is being done by being exposed to—and there are so many different forms of electricity like you say in your book. The cell phone is like the microwave, right? But we have electricity going throughout our house, our laptops, the Wi-Fi, the cell signals, and the radio waves.


The Dangers of 5G and How To Reduce Exposure to Electrical Pollution

[00:08:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Okay, so now you’re talking about two different types of electrical pollution. The electricity going through your wires creates an electric field. That electric field is not intentional. That’s not part of the product, and it can be shielded with proper engineering. You can twist the wires. You can put it in a conduit. You can eliminate the electric fields to a great extent. They’re not necessary. The difference with wireless technology is that radiation is the product. That cell phone and Wi-Fi will not work unless you’re getting irradiated, so it’s a different idea.

It’s actually the first form of pollutant in history that is intentionally being spread over every square inch of the planet. In other words, pesticides are designed to kill pests. They escape into the general environment, but that’s not deliberate. With wireless technology, the pollutant is the product, and that’s a big difference.


[00:09:57] Ashley James: You know what scares me is hearing that Elon Musk is launching satellites so that he can bathe every square mile in the entire earth with 5G waves, basically. There’ll be no escaping this electric pollution, as you put it.


[00:10:19] Arthur Firstenberg: That scares me more than anything else that’s going on right now on the planet. I am scared of climate change, pesticides, deforestation, and everything else that’s destroying our beautiful earth. But he’s putting thousands, in fact, he plans to put tens of thousands of satellites in low orbit around the earth. And I am less concerned about the direct radiation reaching the earth from a few hundred miles up than I am how they’re going to alter the electromagnetic environment of the earth itself in which we evolved and which we are dependent on for life and health.

In other words, atmospheric physicists study what they call the global electrical circuit, and people are not aware of our electrical environment. We’re not taught this in school. Electricity is thought of as something useful that can accomplish things for us. That can turn on our lights, power motors, and so forth. But we actually live in an electric field—a natural electric field of 130 volts per meter on average in fair weather. And it’s a complex electric field. 

In thunderstorms, the direction of the field reverses, and lightning actually completes the circuit. So you actually have a complete circuit traveling horizontally through the ionosphere, then vertically down to the earth in fair weather, beneath our feet horizontally through the earth, and then back up to the sky during thunderstorms. This circulates all the time, and it goes through the bodies of every living thing. It actually goes through our bodies, circulates through our acupuncture meridians. Doctors of oriental medicine study a little piece of this science, but basically, it’s little specializations and nobody’s looking at the whole picture.

If you put 12,000 or more or 42,0000 or 100,000 satellites, there are a lot of players in this game. Space-X is the first entrant, but there are others waiting in the wings and starting to launch satellites. If you put tens of thousands of satellites up there, each one emitting thousands of different frequencies because you’re serving thousands of different users from each satellite, you’re going to pollute this circuit that travels through our bodies, keeps us healthy, and gives us life. This is what I’m frightened of, and this is imminent. This is much more imminent and life-threatening than any of these other environmental threats.


[00:13:50] Ashley James: I love studying astronomy. Why is it that earth has a perfect environment than any other planet in our solar system for life? And we have this beautiful electromagnetic field that you just described that allows us to have life. That allows the earth to prevent solar radiation from fully hitting us. It’s a shield. It protects us, but it also is what we’ve evolved from. Something you brought up in the book that we evolved from wherever we came from. Whether you believe we came from Adam and Eve, or whether you believe we came from single cells in a swamp, we have been here—for as long as we’ve been here—living with this natural electricity that is moving, that we are part of.


[00:14:51] Arthur Firstenberg: And in the 18th century, when people were beginning to study electricity in depth and when they were beginning to find ways of storing it and using it, it was initially used in medicine before it was used for any other technologies as kind of a panacea for a lot of illnesses. Isaac Newton also believed that electricity was the life force. That this is what gave us life. And my conclusion after studying this field for the last 40 years is that probably that’s right. 

Electricity is either closely related to or identical with the life force, with this substance that travels, that acupuncturists work on, and travels through our acupuncture meridians. It’s modulated in complex ways. There’s what a lot of people have heard of, the Schumann resonances, which are the resonant frequencies of the biosphere—8, 14, 20, 26, and 32 hertz. That’s part of what circulates to our bodies. But it’s all controlled by the ionosphere. The ionosphere is a source of high voltage. It’s the earth’s source of high voltage. It’s charged to an average of 300,000 volts, and this is what powers and regulates the electricity that circulates in the biosphere and goes through every living thing.


[00:16:33] Ashley James: So what are the dangers of our modern electricity, of our modern devices? I love that in your book, you show very clearly that at each point in our history when we had a new introduction to the widespread use of electricity, that there was an uptick in disease. Could you go over some of that?


[00:17:05] Arthur Firstenberg: Yeah. The first major use of electricity was for telegraphy. Millions of miles of telegraph wires were strung all around the earth, and there was a new disease described during the 1860s called neurasthenia. And nobody knew where it came from. Its sufferers were tired all the time and couldn’t sleep. Had aches and pains all over their bodies. A lot of things that people who call themselves electrically sensitive complain about today. I don’t use that term by the way—electrical sensitivity—because it gives the wrong impression that people who realize what’s making them sick are not normal. We’re just like everybody else. We just have figured it out. This is what’s making us sick.

Like every other toxin in the environment, there’s a range of vulnerability in the population. If you poison the population with anything—with arsenic, not everybody will get sick at the same time. But if you expose people to high enough levels of electromagnetic fields, as we are doing today, eventually, everybody gets sick. Everybody gets affected. But in the 1860s, there was this epidemic, actually pandemic, of what they called neurasthenia. And for 40 years, it was in the literature. Nobody could figure it out, and along came Sigmund Freud in about 1895. He said this is a psychological disorder, and he called it anxiety neurosis, and that has stuck.

So today, we have this thing called anxiety disorder, and 1/6 or 1/5 of the population is being diagnosed with it. And everybody’s being put on anti-anxiety meds, but still, the cause is not being realized. Telegraph operators suffered from it to a large degree. In the coming decades, in the 19th century, telephone operators suffered from it to a large degree. And then in 1889, when AC current essentially spread all over the world, and it spread extraordinarily rapidly. Basically, 1889 was in the space of a year the earth became wrapped in electric wires with alternating currents in them. And that was the year when the first modern influenza epidemic broke out all over the world. 

Following that, the Spanish influenza of 1918—according to my research—was triggered by the United States’ entry into World War I with the latest in radio technology. The most powerful radio stations in the world. The first radio stations in the world that broadcast voices that could be heard over most of the earth. These were extraordinarily low frequency, enormously powerful radio stations that were turned on in September of 1918. The one in New Brunswick, New Jersey. And that month was when Spanish influenza became deadly all over the world. I traced the epidemics of influenza throughout the 20th century. 1957, the advent of radar for civil defense especially by the United States 1968. The Hong Kong flu coincided with the launch of the first fleet of military satellites into space. 

That’s a brief summary. The advent of the wireless revolution in 1996 in this country a couple of years earlier in Europe and some of the rest of the world, the illness that was caused by that was also caused influenza, but it was not simultaneous all over the world because antennas and cell towers were not coordinated quite as well throughout the world as some of these earlier technologies. For example, where I was living in New York City, the first digital cell towers were turned on citywide commercially on November 14, 1996. A so-called influenza epidemic locally to New York City began essentially on that date and lasted officially until the following May. As a previously injured person living in New York City, I escaped one week later. It felt like I barely survived, I barely escaped with my life.

That’s when I started the Cellular Phone Task Force and put an ad in the New York City newspaper saying if you have been sick since November 15, 1996 with the following symptoms, please contact us. And we heard from people all over the city who thought they were having a heart attack, a stroke, or a nervous breakdown on approximately that date. And that was the foundation for my nonprofit, which I have been running ever since then, since 24 years ago. And I got mortality rates. I downloaded mortality rates from the CDC’s website.


[00:24:07] Ashley James: Really?


[00:24:09] Arthur Firstenberg: Yeah. I called up the doctor—what was his name in Israel? His name escapes me. Anyway, he directed me to the CDC’s website and said there’s where you can find mortality statistics. Indeed, there was a spike in mortality in New York City that lasted two to three months. I think it was three to four months in New York City. It was particularly devastating. I did this later. There was an increase in mortality between 10% and 25% lasting on average two to three months in every city that deployed what we now call 2G technology that began on the date in that city when the first 2G system went commercial. And I documented this for dozens of cities.


[00:25:11] Ashley James: Going back in the late 1800s when they had the major influenza outbreak after the modern world basically had electricity, had the wires everywhere, and the homes had access to electricity for the first time ever. Had there ever been a documented case of influenza to that extent, or was this the largest we’d ever seen?


[00:25:45] Arthur Firstenberg: Sure. Influenza is an ancient disease. It’s been known forever, but it was never an annual disease. When the worldwide influenza hit in 1889, a lot of doctors had never seen a case of it before. The previous influenza epidemic in the United Kingdom, I believe, had happened in 1854 or 1856.


[00:26:20] Ashley James: That skipped like 20 years?


[00:26:24] Arthur Firstenberg: Forty, forty-five years.


[00:26:25] Ashley James: Oh, huge difference.


[00:26:26] Arthur Firstenberg: Forty, forty-five years previously. And the last influenza epidemic in the United States had been in the 1870s, more than 20 years previously. Suddenly, in 1889, there was influenza throughout the world, and it returned every single year worldwide after that. In 1890, there was in the winter—every year.


[00:26:54] Ashley James: Every year until now.


[00:26:56] Arthur Firstenberg: Yeah. It was never an annual disease before. It was never a seasonal disease before. It had something to do with solar radiation. There has been any number of studies correlating historical influenza epidemics with sunspots. So it seemed to come with the maximum solar activity until modern times.


[00:27:22] Ashley James: It would disrupt our electromagnetic field or disrupt our cells in a negative way, and that would leave us susceptible or weakened?


[00:27:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Something like that. And I also explored the Maunder Minimum in the 16th and 17th centuries when there were no sunspots for a period of 75 years, something like that. And during that time, there were no influenza pandemics. That’s consistent with influenza being—as I propose—an electrical disease, and not a viral disease, although it is associated with a virus.


[00:28:10] Ashley James: Well, the viruses live dormant in our body and are opportunistic, many of them, right? Chickenpox becomes shingles when someone’s immune system is compromised, and warts—herpes outbreaks. I mean, that’s one thing that could be hypothesized is that we have the influenza virus dormant in our body, and then when we are in a weakened state, it comes out as opposed to being caught by people.


[00:28:37] Arthur Firstenberg: That is what a number of influenza specialists have proposed in the past.


[00:28:43] Ashley James: And that’s radical.


[00:28:45] Arthur Firstenberg: Exactly what they proposed.


[00:28:46] Ashley James: I mean, what a radical concept because the pharmaceutical companies would not want us to believe this because they want us to take a flu shot every year. And now they’re saying we should take two flu shots because of COVID. I just thought it was really funny. I saw this video yesterday that Dr. Oz was saying that those who get flu shots have, I think he said, 36% more chance of developing COVID and they cut him off. I don’t know if it was CNN, but it was some interview and they cut him off.


[00:29:16] Arthur Firstenberg: That is actually based on a peer-reviewed published study that says that. Back in 1918 actually, doctors attempted to prove the infectious nature of influenza. These were doctors in Boston, and they published their research in public health reports in The New England Journal of Medicine and prestigious publications. They failed.

This was during the height of Spanish influenza. They tried to infect 100 healthy individuals with secretions from sick influenza patients by having sick influenza patients cough several times into their faces, by injecting blood from sick influenza patients into healthy people. Not one of the 100 healthy people got sick, and they ended up saying we don’t know how influenza is spread. There were veterinarians because horses got influenza. They caught the epidemic about a month before people did. They tried to transfer influenza via secretions from horses into healthy horses, and the healthy horses didn’t get sick. So there was a resounding failure to infect healthy people with sick people by influenza.


[00:30:46] Ashley James: I don’t want to call it a conspiracy theory, but there’s been a chatter that areas in the world where COVID has taken off are the same areas where they’ve been introducing 5G or testing 5G technology. Have you heard of this? Is there any basis for it? It sounds like it’d be up your alley.


[00:31:11] Arthur Firstenberg: I have investigated it personally. There is a basis for it. My hypothesis is that the COVID-19 virus causes hypoxia by preventing oxygen from binding to hemoglobin. That the radiation from 5G causes hypoxia by interfering with electron transport in your mitochondria. So the COVID-19 virus starves your blood vessels of oxygen. The 5G starves your cells of oxygen. And when you put the two together, they are deadly. At first, I didn’t believe this, but when I investigated it, 5G officially got turned on in Wuhan, China two weeks before the first known cases of COVID-19 broke out there. 5G officially was turned on in New York City about two weeks before a very bad COVID-19 epidemic broke out in New York City. 5G was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

There seems to be a pattern here. Here where I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico—at least when I checked a week or two ago—there had been zero COVID-19 deaths in Santa Fe county to date. We don’t have 5G. Albuquerque does. They’ve got a bunch of COVID-19 deaths. As to why COVID-19 is rampant on the Navajo reservation could be due to other forms of pollution. It could be due to the fact that Native Americans have high rates of diabetes. There’s a lot of factors here. It’s not black and white simple, but there is a correlation with 5G.

I did a search last week because I was curious. The Gaza Strip has one of the highest densities of population in the world. I wanted to know if they have a problem with the coronavirus, and it turns out to date, out of 1.8 million people, they’ve had 10 deaths from COVID-19. Essentially, they don’t have the disease there even though they are more crowded than any place in the world. 

So there seems to be a correlation, and as I said, I have a hypothesis as to why there is a virus. It is deadly. My opinion is that there was—for the first few months—a pretty bad pandemic, and that has more or less passed. People adjust to it, people have immune systems, and the world is pretending that nobody has an immune system. We have to continue locking down the world, wearing masks, and social distancing. From my research, it doesn’t make sense that the places that have the highest number of deaths and the highest rate of illnesses are the places that have the most radiation.


[00:35:14] Ashley James: Why is it that ever since we have electricity and radio waves—we have all this electric pollution. Why is it that influenza comes back every year in the winter? Is it because we’re indoors more? Because I think people are indoors and are exposed to this all the time, so why winter when a few hundred years ago, it was like once every 40 years?


[00:35:42] Arthur Firstenberg: We don’t know. It has something to do with either the amount of solar radiation, which goes down in the winter, or the amount of artificial electromagnetic fields, which goes way up in the winter because we’re indoors. But that’s just speculation. I certainly don’t know all the answers.


[00:36:04] Ashley James: Like you said, there are other factors. Perhaps vitamin D levels, which are already dangerously low. Many people don’t have their vitamin D tested. To a naturopathic physician, if you’re below 60, it’s unhealthy. You want your vitamin D levels to be between 60 and 100. I’ve had a doctor come on the show—very experienced doctors—say that he has never seen toxic vitamin D levels and he prescribes incredibly high amounts of vitamin D, and he’s never seen someone above 100. But he does see chronically low vitamin D, and chronically low vitamin D leads to and there’s a correlation to cancer and to lowered immune health—lowered immune function. And of course, the more we spend time indoors, the less vitamin D we have and the more exposure to electric pollution, right?


[00:36:57] Arthur Firstenberg: It could well be.


[00:37:00] Ashley James: Right. Very fascinating. What other illnesses are commonly seen with exposure to electric pollution? You yourself had it when you had that x-ray. Can you give us some more examples?


[00:37:20] Arthur Firstenberg: Well, the chronic diseases that we are all living within the 21st century, and I show this in my book. Not only I explained the mechanism, but I showed historically when it began the trend, I graphed it out, and I published all the data—cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These three diseases were rare or virtually non-existent before electrification, which means before telegraphy began in the 1840s, was well underway by the 1860s. And there’s a good reason for it because electromagnetic fields interfere with the movement of electrons. So this means that it interferes with electron transport in your mitochondria. In the mitochondria of every cell of every living organism.

Electron transport is the last stage of metabolizing your food and utilizing the oxygen that you breathe. So when you metabolize your food, you’re producing electrons, which get transferred to the oxygen you breathe. It generates ATP, and this is how we live. If you interfere with electron transport, you are not efficiently metabolizing sugars, fats, and proteins. You don’t efficiently metabolize sugars at the rate at which you should be able to. Sugars back up into your bloodstream and excreted by your kidneys and you have diabetes.

You don’t efficiently metabolize, fats they back into your bloodstream, get deposited in your coronary arteries, and you get heart disease. Cancer thrives in anaerobic environments. That’s actually how it’s diagnosed. So you’re effectively starving your cells of oxygen forcing them into anaerobic metabolism and cancer cells love it. So these three diseases, in my opinion, are predominantly caused by the escalation of what in some parts of the world is called the electrosmog. It hasn’t caught on in this country, but electromagnetic pollution.


[00:40:01] Ashley James: The rates of those diseases back in 1870, for example, before the widespread use of electricity in our homes. What were the rates of those diseases then?


[00:40:18] Arthur Firstenberg: Cancer, before it started to rise, was the 25th most common cause of death. About as many people died of accidental drowning as died of cancer. Diabetes was almost non-existent. The first book in English that was ever written about diabetes in the 1780s, the doctor who wrote it had only ever seen two cases of diabetes in his life. Heart disease was a disease of old people and infants—people with heart defects. People in the prime of their life between infancy and old age never got heart disease. This started to change in the 1840s and 1850s with all those three diseases.


[00:41:21] Ashley James: But that was before electricity was in the homes though. Was there electric smog or electric pollution being developed back then?


[00:41:31] Arthur Firstenberg: It was not in the homes but there were telegraph wires in most populated places.


[00:41:40] Ashley James: That’s right.


[00:41:41] Arthur Firstenberg: And not only most populated places, but running around alongside railroad tracks and elsewhere in rural environments.


[00:41:48] Ashley James: Yeah. It’s absolutely fascinating that you go through in your book all of the electric pollution that we’ve experienced in the last few hundred years, and then the rates of these diseases going through the roof.


[00:42:01] Arthur Firstenberg: And back in those days, the return current for telegraphy did not go through a wire. The return was through the earth itself, and that meant that there were ground currents from—well, nowadays it’s the power grid. But then those days, it was the telegraph grid. All of the return currents went through the earth, and so people were exposed to it just by walking around.


[00:42:32] Ashley James: I have a friend who has fibromyalgia, and there was a thunderstorm. It was so violent that when I woke up in the middle of the night, I could see the lightning—the light of the lightning. There’s so much lightning that I could walk down the hallway in my house and I could see everything. After that, I think it was August 1996 in Muskoka, Canada. And after that day, she was in the hospital for six months unable to walk in excruciating pain. 

That just stuck in the back of my mind that she had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Back then, it was really hard to get diagnosed with it, and doctors really don’t know what to do about it. But that anytime there were electrical storms, she was put out for days or weeks. And this one was so bad she was in excruciating pain for six months. That’s a natural phenomenon, right? So imagine what is happening to our bodies when we’re around this electric pollution. 

I love to point out in the show that we really don’t focus enough on the fact that our body is energy. When you go to a hospital, if you’re having weird symptoms, they’ll put electrodes on you and they’ll read the energy coming from your heart, coming from your brain. They’re reading the energy our body is putting out there in order to diagnose. That every part of our body is using electricity in some way. So when we’re exposed to this electric smog, of course, it would have an effect on us. Why do we think that we’re immune? Why do we think we’re immune to microwaves, Wi-Fi, and 5G? Why do we think we’re immune? Is it all through marketing? I mean, why is it that we think we’re totally immune and then we get sick and we take meds. Why are so many people blind to the fact that our body is energy, and our body is disrupted by the artificial energy we have surrounded ourselves by?


[00:44:54] Arthur Firstenberg: I do discuss this in my book. We have been in denial since the year 1800 as a culture. That was the year that the electric battery was invented. There started to be uses invented for electricity stored in batteries, and then in the 1840s telegraphy was used with essentially electric generating technology which had been invented in the meantime. The fact that it can make our lives easier and take over the work, the animals—industrial society has grown up completely dependent on electricity since about the year 1800. It has to do not so much with marketing, It’s a societal addiction. It has to do with our self-concept of who we are as human beings.

It’s like if you took away electricity from us, who would we be? How would we live? People don’t want to think about it. There was a medical controversy in the year 1800 as to even the existence of what in the 18th century, the 1700s had been called animal electricity. As I said, people believed that electricity was a life force.

Along came Alessandro Volta with the electric battery, and he demonstrated that you could generate electricity without the use of animals. He said there’s no such thing as animal electricity. There were a big controversy and a debate between Volta and Galvani in the 1790s as to the source of electricity, and Volta’s pronouncement that electricity had nothing to do with biology was widely believed and became the standard teaching in medicine and in society and people forgot. But they didn’t totally forget because electricity was still used very widely for electrotherapy to cure a lot of different diseases basically until the end of the 19th century when it started to be used for lights and power.

Once it started to be used for lights and power, electrotherapy died out. People couldn’t continue to think that it was the life force if it could do all these wonderful things and be so powerful.


[00:48:21] Ashley James: I love the chapter where you gave the history of how they used electricity and medicine. That’s what made me really want this to be a movie, like a documentary or something. It’s so fascinating. That electricity can be harmful, but you also documented the thousands and thousands of cases where they saw healings from it. Many people who were deaf gained their hearing after using a specific electrode in and around their ear that physicians used, or back then, they called them electricians I think you said in the book.


[00:48:58] Arthur Firstenberg: They were called electricians, yes, in the 18th century.


[00:49:02] Ashley James: Quite fascinating.


[00:49:04] Arthur Firstenberg: Yeah, it cured quite a number of documented cases of deafness. It cured some cases of blindness. It was reputed to make the lame walk but at really low power levels and brief exposures. They would expose somebody’s ear to a few pulses of electricity for a few minutes and that was it. When they tried to use higher powers of electricity, it didn’t work. It just injured them.


[00:49:41] Ashley James: There are medical devices that I’ve used and that show great results. Ionic foot detox spas that use a platinum energy system, it’s called, that uses almost a rife frequency. The BEMER, which is a mat out of Europe and used as a medical device in the hospitals there, is documented to increase blood flow right at the capillary and also make red blood cells function in a better way, not stick together, and it stimulates mitochondria to function even better. So there are lots of devices out there that use very, very, very low frequencies—gentle, and they see that it stimulates health and healing.


[00:50:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Gentle and brief, it has to be.


[00:50:35] Ashley James: Right. Gentle and brief.


[00:50:36] Arthur Firstenberg: Not chronic, not for long periods of time. And in today’s world, when we’re all immersed in a sea of electromagnetic radiation, I tell people to exercise extreme caution before using any of these devices because it has some therapeutic effects, but you don’t know what else it’s doing to you.


[00:50:58] Ashley James: Exactly. And wouldn’t it be even healthier to take a break? I mean, I daydream now about going to a cabin in the mountains or somewhere far away from all of this and living like a pioneer by candlelight and just having a break, having a detox from electric pollution.


[00:51:20] Arthur Firstenberg: But you can’t do that anymore because it’s everywhere. It’s coming down from satellites. It’s going through the earth. It’s being broadcast from very powerful radar stations. For example, the entire Amazon Rainforest is being blasted by 28 super powerful radar stations so they can track anybody that moves through the forest. It’s unbelievable what’s going on on the planet.


[00:51:56] Ashley James: This episode wasn’t designed to be doom and gloom. I do want to wake people up, but we also want to give people tools. You do talk in your book about what we can do to protect ourselves given that there’s nowhere to run. Electric pollution is everywhere. I mean, I have friends that live out in the Okanagan Valley in a very remote area of Washington, and there’s no cell service. There are almost no radio waves, and they live off the grid, so they have solar. They heat the house with firewood.

You can lessen. You can decrease the amount of electric pollution. I mean, you have to really go out of your way. You can’t live in a city.


[00:52:42] Arthur Firstenberg: The most important thing that people have to do is get rid of their cell phones. That is the single most powerful source of radiation that everybody’s exposed to nowadays.


[00:52:52] Ashley James: Fascinating.


[00:52:54] Arthur Firstenberg: You’re getting more radiation from your phone than from all the cell towers and from the satellites, and people do not realize this because you’re holding it in your hand, holding it next to your head. The exposure level goes up exponentially with the proximity to the body.


[00:53:15] Ashley James: You had outlined that when 2G went live back in—I believe you said 1996.


[00:53:23] Arthur Firstenberg: Six and seven.


[00:53:24] Ashley James: 1996, 1997, which was right around that time my friend got sick for six months in the hospital after the electric storm. That’d be interesting to see when 2G went live in that part of Canada. So when it went live, you could document, you could pinpoint in the different cities the death rate going up and strange influenza outbreaks only in these specific cities during that time. Well, since then, we’ve had 3G and 4G. Have you been able to repeat this? Have you been able to see that once 3G and 4G went live that you could again see a spike in deaths and a spike in illnesses?


[00:54:04] Arthur Firstenberg: I have not tracked it in as much detail as I tracked it from zero radiation to 2G. That was very dramatic. Locally, I collected anecdotal reports here in Santa Fe when AT&T upgraded all its towers from 3G to 4G, there were lots of reports of illnesses around Santa Fe. I don’t have statistics to back that up. Those are only anecdotal reports, but it’s very consistent.


[00:54:42] Ashley James: It would be interesting to go back and look at because, of course, the biggest leap would be from zero to something. But then 2G to 3G to 4G, I mean, those just ramp up incredibly more powerful and more pervasive.


[00:54:59] Arthur Firstenberg: There are also so many more providers. There’s AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Each one does a different thing at a different time, and it’s just a kind of a gradual increase. Then you added Wi-Fi in about 2001. Yeah, it’s a gradual increase. 5G is no longer gradual. 5G is very dramatically different.


[00:55:29] Ashley James: Why is 5G so different than 4G?


[00:55:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Because it uses millimeter waves instead of centimeter waves—a very short wave, high frequency. It uses phased array technology, which is focused pencil-like beams where the cell tower tracks your user device and vice versa, or the satellite tracks you in a narrowly focused beam. And the power levels are very much greater. They’re 10 to 100 times greater than with 4G, 3G.


[00:56:08] Ashley James: If 5G comes in my area, I’m going to get rid of my cell phone. I mean, that is just it. What you just described was the final straw. I have a friend who doesn’t have a cell phone, and she’s a dear friend. I’m kind of just perplexed at how she survives in life, but she does. She gets around, and she has a home line, has a landline, and a computer and does just fine. I know it would definitely be an interesting experience.


[00:56:36] Arthur Firstenberg: There are a few of us that still live like that.


[00:56:41] Ashley James: It would definitely be an interesting experience, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my health to that extent. Either that or I’ll have to move to an area where 5G doesn’t exist anymore.


[00:56:52] Arthur Firstenberg: Well, I want people to wake up to the fact that they should not sacrifice their planet.


[00:56:57] Ashley James: I know.


[00:56:58] Arthur Firstenberg: For the convenience.


[00:57:01] Ashley James: I think there’s so much more to discuss about 5G, and I’ve had a few people come on the show and talk about it a little bit. It is so fascinating, and if there’s more for you to share, I’d love to do that. I also want to talk about Wi-Fi because we haven’t touched on it. Dr. Klinghardt, who I’ve had on the show, is an MD from Germany who is actually local to me, but people come from all around the world to see him at the Sophia Health Institute. He regularly helps children who are on the spectrum no longer be on the spectrum. Now, were they ever truly autistic in the first place? That’s debatable.

He says the first thing he does when the parents come, from all around the world, with their autistic child or autistic-like symptoms I should say—non-verbal, beating their head against the wall, looking like they’re in incredible agony, these children. He says to remove them from Wi-Fi. Zero Wi-Fi in the house. Have them be nowhere near Wi-Fi. In his clinic, there are no cell phones allowed. There’s no Wi-Fi allowed. Every computer is hardwired. And he says that heavy metals, which have accumulated in the brain, the Wi-Fi vibrates those heavy metals at 60 hertz, and it’s heating up the brain and causing the autism-like symptoms. And then he does a natural detox, a natural chelation of heavy metals. And these children become verbal, stop hitting their head, are able to communicate, are able to look their parents in the eye and say they love them, and give them hugs. It is miraculous what we see come out of his clinic, but he says the first thing is to stop with the Wi-Fi. It is basically cooking their brain.


[00:58:53] Arthur Firstenberg: I agree with him. People have to stop with the Wi-Fi, and schools have to stop with the Wi-Fi. Children have to start living in a non-irradiated environment. They’re growing up much more unhealthy than previous generations of children. Why? Because they go to school with Wi-Fi and they grew up with cell phones. If we want to have a healthy future and a healthy planet to live on, that’s the direction in which we have to go.


[00:59:27] Ashley James: Do you see any correlation between the use of cell phones, Wi-Fi, or electric pollution, and mental health issues? You did mention that anxiety, which was never previously documented, was widespread after we used the telegraph. We’re now seeing that the second leading cause of death in the ages between 10 and 24 is suicide or the second leading cause of death of suicide, and that is new. As of the last few years, suicide has now jumped up to the second leading cause of death in our youth right now, and all these children have cell phones in their hands and are constantly exposed to Wi-Fi. Now, of course, social media bullying is all a factor. Do you see that there is a direct correlation between the amount of electric pollution that our youth is exposed to and mental health issues?


[01:00:23] Arthur Firstenberg: I would say it’s a big factor. It’s not the only factor, but it’s a big factor.


[01:00:29] Ashley James: So, what can we do to protect ourselves? Okay, so we get rid of our cell phone, that’s one thing. If someone can’t because of work, they completely limit their exposure at all costs to the cell phone. What else can we do in our home?


[01:00:48] Arthur Firstenberg: Well, I’m on a campaign to save this planet, not just to have people individually be healthier because it’s becoming impossible. If you own a cell phone, if you’re dependent on your cell phone, which means you expect it to work wherever you go, then you are dependent on the wireless infrastructure. Your cell phone cannot work wherever you go unless the entire infrastructure of the planet is there. All the cell towers have to be there. People more and more, even when they go on an ocean cruise, they want their cell phone to work so all the satellites have to be there. 

The demand has to stop. It’s an insatiable demand for connectivity that is driving a lot of this. Yes, there’s a desire to make money, but at the base, it’s an insatiable demand for connectivity. We’ve gotten so used to—as alive human beings—having the right to connect to anyone, anywhere, anytime, wherever we happen to be. That’s killing our planet. It’s got to stop.


[01:01:59] Ashley James: So my friend Sean, who loved your book has some questions, and I think these are fantastic for everyone. He says that it’s a logistical question that in your book, you talk about aluminum or copper mesh to block EMF. How would you do that? Line your roof, cover your walls? How can we live in a city with, for example, 5G? Or how can we live in a city with electric pollution and best protect ourselves within the walls of our house?


[01:02:30] Arthur Firstenberg: I live in the Southwest where a lot of the houses are made of adobe, which is mud, it’s earth. Earth blocks the radiation, and that’s partly how I survive in Santa Fe. If you do not live in that kind of a house, there’s a big problem with smart meters.


[01:02:55] Ashley James: Yes.


[01:02:56] Arthur Firstenberg: That is increasingly everywhere, and they put a meter that emits radiation on the outside of your wall, and there’s basically nothing you can do about it. But a lot of places have an opt-out. If you opt-out and your neighbors got it, you can line your wall. You can actually paint that wall with paint that contains metallic fibers that are usually silver fibers that you can buy from places like Less EMF and paint the wall. It’ll block radiation from that side of the house. If your neighbor’s Wi-Fi is bothering you, again you can block that. You can even do it cheaply. You can put a sheet of aluminum foil over your wall and it’ll do the same thing. The thicker the sheet or the more layers, the better the blockage.

The problem comes if the shielding material, if it’s metallic, becomes too large then it starts acting like an antenna. And it actually draws in and amplifies electromagnetic radiation from your environment. Then it depends on the size of it and what its resonant frequency is. But basically, I tell people that they do not want to live in a house with a metal roof because a metal roof is a huge antenna. Unless you want to live in a Faraday cage in complete metal structure. Not terribly healthy.

A lot of people sleep on their sleeping canopies, which shield them from everything in their environment, and it’s not terribly healthy, but it does block the radiation. The reason it’s not terribly healthy is it distorts your own body’s electromagnetic field, it reflects it back at you, it blocks (to some degree) some of the earth’s natural frequencies, which you depend on for health but unblock all of them. It’s not a terribly healthy thing to do. But sometimes it’s a tradeoff. If you want to survive, sometimes you’ve got to do it.


[01:05:22] Ashley James: How effective is it to turn the circuits off in the house, or at least to your bedroom when you sleep?


[01:05:29] Arthur Firstenberg: Somewhat effective. The problem is when you turn off the circuit breaker, it only disconnects the hotwires and not the neutral wire. The neutral wire is at the same potential as the earth, supposedly, and it’s the return current to the power plant. So when you turn off the circuit breaker, it disconnects the hotwire, leaves the neutral wire connected, and when there’s dirty electricity in the power grid it still gets into your house. So it’s somewhat effective and not completely effective.

What I’ve done in my house is I’ve installed a three-pole switch on the outside of my house, which allows me to disconnect all three wires at the same time.


[01:06:16] Ashley James: Oh, yes. I had a Ph.D. electrician—a really interesting guy. His whole life work is about helping people to get clean electricity and minimize electricity in the house. People will call him up with weird symptoms. He comes into their house, he tests, and he either sees that their entire neighborhood is dirty electricity from the transformer, or they’re sometimes an entire town has dirty electricity and the whole town is experiencing weird symptoms.


[01:06:53] Arthur Firstenberg: I’ll tell you a secret. Every wire in the world now has dirty electricity because there are computers connected to them. There are billions of computers connected to the power grid.


[01:07:08] Ashley James: Fascinating.


[01:07:09] Arthur Firstenberg: And that did to use to be the case 30 years ago


[01:07:13] Ashley James: Yes. This man, Sal La Duca, when I interviewed him, he talked about how after he helped people stop having dirty electricity, all of a sudden everyone in the house could sleep. The insomnia the whole house had, even the baby had it. The father who is an MD didn’t believe any of this. Everyone had insomnia. All of a sudden, the insomnia went away overnight. And I’ve said this many times. I live in a rural area 45 minutes outside of Seattle, and when we have storms in the winter, our power will go out—sometimes for two weeks because of the wind storms. And it’s the best sleep I ever have when the power is out because there’s no Wi-Fi, no electricity.


[01:08:04] Arthur Firstenberg: It used to be that when I would tell people when you go home tonight, turn off your cell phone, take the battery out of it—which mostly is not possible, but it used to be. Either that or put it in a metal pot is just as good. Unplug your computer, unplug your modem, unplug your television, and see how you feel in the morning.


[01:08:34] Ashley James: And leave the electricity on in the house?


[01:08:37] Arthur Firstenberg: Yes. Turn off your cell phone and all the wireless. Unplug your TV, computer, and modem, and they suddenly can sleep and feel better in the morning. It used to be. Nowadays, when everybody’s got a smart meter on their house, it might not make so much difference.


[01:09:00] Ashley James: When I was pregnant with my first pregnancy, I had a blanket that had lead in it. It was quite heavy. It was a lead blanket. And I would wear it over my belly when I was at the computer. I experimented with my cell phone to see that my cell phone lost all signals when it was in this blanket. There are videos of people using these meters to show that the blanket really does block. I’m just wondering, should we be wearing these blankets when we’re sitting at work or wearing clothing that has this lead or some kind of copper or aluminum mesh?


[01:09:38] Arthur Firstenberg: Copper is the best shield.


[01:09:39] Ashley James: Copper is the best shield, okay. We should be wearing synthetic clothing?


[01:09:43] Arthur Firstenberg: Copper and silver are the best. Well, there are companies that sell clothing like that. To some extent they work. To some extent it depends. They don’t surround you completely. They’re not complete barriers. If you’re wearing a shielding hat, for example, and radiation bounces off the floor ad up into your hear onto the hat, it can get amplified from the inside. It’s a two-edged sword shielding.


[01:10:18] Ashley James: Oh my God. I never thought of that. You’re right. Oh my gosh. For those who have to use computers to work—I mean, now, think about the education of these children.


[01:10:32] Arthur Firstenberg: If you have to use a computer, turn off the Wi-Fi. Use it wired only.


[01:10:38] Ashley James: Hardwire your computer. That’s what we do at our house. We hardwire everything.


[01:10:42] Arthur Firstenberg: Hardwire everything. Hardwire your computer. Hardwire your phones—simple answer.


[01:10:46] Ashley James: Yeah, that’s right. You can get an adapter to plug into your phone to hardwire it. And then keep it on airplane mode if you need to.


[01:10:55] Arthur Firstenberg: I do not recommend using the cell phone even that way because it still got the resonant circuit in it.


[01:11:00] Ashley James: Okay. So get a landline.


[01:11:04] Arthur Firstenberg: Get a landline. Use it only hardwired, not cordless, and use a wired computer.


[01:11:10] Ashley James: Got it.


[01:11:11] Arthur Firstenberg: And disable the Wi-Fi on your computer. Disable the Wi-Fi in your modem or your router.


[01:11:18] Ashley James: What about earthing or grounding as a way of helping the body with exposure to electric pollution? Have you looked into earthing and grounding as a form of mitigation?


[01:11:35] Arthur Firstenberg: It’s very popular. It used to be very effective. Nowadays, when the earth is polluted with dirty electricity, most places on the earth, when you plug yourself into the earth, you actually can draw up the dirty electricity into your body. So it no longer is as effective as it used to be.


[01:11:56] Ashley James: What do you do on a daily basis to clean yourself of electric pollution or mitigate electric pollution?


[01:12:08] Arthur Firstenberg: I feel well in my house in Santa Fe. Mostly, there’s nothing that I have to do. If I am overcharged, I fill up a bathtub full of water and put some sea salt in it, and that will draw out the electricity from your body, or a handful of clay.


[01:12:30] Ashley James: I love it. As we wrap up our interview, I’d love to talk about how we can help your movement. I think we’re all on board. We all want a healthier planet. You have laid out very well that there is a definite problem that we have, and we are rapidly getting worse and worse. I mean, I don’t want to be doomsday about it, but if we just run with this technology, we’re just going to get to the point where we kill ourselves and the planet. There needs to be checks and balances. We need to slow down and really take the precaution seriously. What can we do to prevent 5G, for example? What can we do to tell these companies that we don’t want this electric pollution anymore?


[01:13:26] Arthur Firstenberg: I think the single most powerful thing that anybody can do is get rid of their cell phone. Stop being part of the demand for it. That’s the single most important thing to do. They can also monitor my websites, which are cell I send out newsletters, and there are posted on the website—a number of languages. And my other website is That’s the international appeal to stop 5G on earth and in space. It’s got about 300,000 signatures to date. And they can make donations on either of those websites to support my work and to support legal action that we’re taking. We have a case before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals right now to declare laws that facilitate 5G unconstitutional.


[01:14:42] Ashley James: Yes. Arthur, that’s wonderful. I’m going to make sure the links to everything that Arthur Firstenberg does is in the show notes of today’s podcast at And the link to your book, which I want everyone to read. It’s a fascinating book. I really can’t put it down. I’m very excited to finish it. I’m in the middle of it.

 [01:15:08] Arthur Firstenberg: Our third website, which is not so popular yet, is, and it stands for End Cellphones Here on Earth.


[01:15:20] Ashley James: Okay, I’m going to make sure that that and all the other links are on the show notes of today’s podcast at, and a link to your book, The Invisible Rainbow, which is fantastic. I think everyone should read it. Arthur, is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?


[01:15:39] Arthur Firstenberg: We live in dangerous times. Our earth is under threat from many directions. Electromagnetic radiation is just one of them. We have the burning of fossil fuels, which has got to stop. We have deforestation. We have pesticides. We have a lot of threats, and to me, the single most urgent one—and the one that I have become an expert in—is the electromagnetic radiation. It’s more urgent because it’s escalating faster than the other, and society is in total denial that it even exists. This is what I’m working on.


[01:16:34] Ashley James: Arthur, thank you so much for your work. I really appreciate you coming on the show today and sharing this information. I can’t wait to see The Invisible Rainbow as a documentary. It’s going to be such a great movie. Please, feel free to come back to the show anytime you have more to share. We’d love to have you back.


[01:16:51] Arthur Firstenberg: Thank you, Ashley.



Get Connected With Arthur Firstenberg!


Echo Earth.Org

International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space Website


Book by Arthur Firstenberg

The Invisible Rainbow


Recommended Reading by Arthur Firstenberg

The Body Electric by Robert O. Becker


Sep 8, 2020

Check out IIN and get a free module:


How To Co-Create With The Cosmos And Re-Align Self With Nature



  • Lunar cycle in a nutshell
  • Yoga’s purpose is to achieve mastery over the mind
  • Ayurveda body types: vata, pitta, kapha
  • Eliminate toxic elements
  • Importance of breathing


How does the moon affect our lives? In this episode, Jenny Fenig explains the lunar cycle and how we can incorporate it into our lives. Jenny shares how we can manage our time better daily. She also explains the importance of breathing, grounding, and listening to the body.



Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today we have entrepreneur, coach, and homeschooling mom, Jenny Fenig. What I love about her message is she is a very successful, busy entrepreneur, busy mom, busy homeschooling mom, and also a fantastic coach. She figured out how to pack in all these activities while working from home, while taking care of her kids in homeschooling. She figured out how to do it, and she loves teaching others how to make this transition. I thought it’d be great to get some wonderful guidance from her.

As you’re listening to Jenny, if you think to yourself, I would love to be a coach. I would love to help others mentally, emotionally, and physically become healthier, become more fulfilled in their lives, and be able to gain more joy. I’d love to work with clients to help them achieve their life and health goals; then I highly recommend checking out IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I took IIN’s program. It’s a year-long health coach training program. It’s 100% done online. They also have an accelerated 6-month program for those that want to be full-time students.

The year-long program is designed for busy people, and you can fit it in about 20 minutes a day. I’d like to do it in the evenings or sometimes I’d listen and do the coursework while I was driving, exercising, folding laundry, or cooking dinner, but I was able to get it in with my busy schedule. It’s absolutely fantastic. IIN’s program is life-changing. About half the students that do it do it for personal growth, which is pretty phenomenal. You could do it for your own personal growth, but of course, I did it because I also wanted to help my clients. I want to gain new tools to help them as a health coach, and they even train you on how to start your own business and become a successful health coach, which is really exciting. So not only do they teach you how to help your clients with mental, emotional, and physical health; gaining life goals; and increasing joy and fulfillment in every aspect of their lives. You’re also taught how to find clients that would resonate with your coaching style, and that clients you would just feel incredibly fulfilled and happy to work with. It’s a wonderful program. 

I partnered up with IIN and they give a huge discount to the listeners of the Learn True Health podcast. So you can just google IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and when you give them a call, most of their staff have actually gone through the program and become integrative health coaches. What you can do is you can talk to them. They’ll help you work out your goals in terms of becoming a health coach and joining their program and then when you mention my name, Ashley James with the Learn True Health podcast, you will be given a huge discount. A few times a year, they do have some great specials as well, so always be on the lookout for that.

If you’d like to try their program for free, there’s a module that they give you for free. Go to That’s Sign up, put your name and email, and then you’ll be given a module for free. You can just put your toe in the water, try it out, and see if it’s something that resonates with you. See if it’s something that’s right for you. It was absolutely incredible when I did it. I highly recommend it. There have been over 100 of the listeners that I know of that have reached out to me that have told me that they’ve been through the program. A lot of them, because they heard about it through me through the podcast, so I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and share that they’ve absolutely loved their experience with IIN. It’s a wonderful stepping stone because you can go and specialize in other things. You can specialize in gut health or mental health. There are just so many ways so that you can specialize as a health coach, which is really exciting.

You become a health coach, but there are so many tools that they teach you around life coaching because health encompasses every aspect of our life. IIN is not about counting calories or teaching you how many grams of protein are in something. That’s not what IIN is about. It’s about giving you the real tools to help make huge differences in people’s lives, in working with clients to help them become more fulfilled in every aspect of their life. Check it out. Go to Get your free module. And when you call IIN, make sure you mention my name Ashley James and Learn True Health podcast so you can get access to the great special that they give all the listeners.

Thank you so much for being a listener of the Learn True Health podcast. Please come join our Facebook group. It’s a wonderfully supportive community for holistic-minded people. Just search Learn True Health on Facebook. Thank you for sharing these episodes with those you care about so we can help everyone to Learn True Health.


[00:05:26] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 444. I’m so excited for today’s guest. We have Jenny Fenig. Her website is All the links that Jenny has are going to be the show notes with today’s podcast at Jenny’s going to teach us today how to co-create with the cosmos and align ourselves with the energy of nature to help us achieve what we want to achieve in life. Also, there’s a bit of—from what I understand—tapping into your human potential, tapping into your life purpose. It’s going to be a really fun and light-hearted episode. I’m looking forward to it. Welcome to the show.


[00:06:15] Jenny Fenig: Thanks so much. I’m excited to be here, Ashley.


[00:06:18] Ashley James: Yeah, absolutely. What led you down the path to becoming an expert at co-creating with the cosmos?


[00:06:26] Jenny Fenig: Well, that’s a good question. I think the larger conversation is looking at how I’ve experienced so much loss in my life and so much death. We’re just going to go there. I mean life is death is life is death is life. We go through so many deaths in a lifetime. Death of an identity, a particular career path, a place that you used to live that isn’t working for you anymore, or what have you. For me, when I was 16 years old, I experienced the death of a significant person in my life. That person was my sister Julie—still is my sister Julie. Energy is energy. I absolutely have a strong connection with her still to this day. It’s been over 25 years since she died. But that experience of wow, life is so mysterious and it’s not “fair.” It’s not what you thought it was going to be, yet it all is lining up for your biggest opportunities to grow, to learn, to be who you came here to be, and do what you came here to do.

With that death of my sister when she was 12 and I was 16—she died of cancer—I just skyrocketed into this experience of grief, loss, and what just happened? This isn’t supposed to happen. This goes against the natural order. And then six months later, my best friend’s brother died. That was just another example of what? These things aren’t supposed to be happening. At that point, we were seniors in high school. You’ve been looking forward to this moment your whole life. I grew up in the south in Georgia and Florida. At that point, I was living in Florida. This friend and I had just gotten onto homecoming court, which is this dream that we had. It felt like such a big deal.

My sister had died earlier that year and then her brother dies that fall, and it was just this bizarre experience of this feeling that I hadn’t ever felt before ever, and then no one can prepare you for it. It allowed me to go really deep into my own process, my own faith, and my own questioning of all of it, really all of it. My sister was quite connected to God, and that was not anything that I really knew much about, to be honest with you. That was her thing. It was my dad’s thing, but it just was something I witnessed from afar like what’s that all about? I don’t really understand what you all are talking about. And then once my sister died and I had this huge pain and then my best friend’s brother died, you go deeper into this hole. That’s what it felt like just sitting with this and trying to understand something that can’t really be understood in a logical rational way.

As I journey forward going on to college and just doing my best to keep showing up—keep showing up for the work, keep showing up for my talent, keep showing up for my ambition—I kept being led to the places I was supposed to be, the people I was supposed to meet, the experiences I was supposed to have so that I could do what I’m here to do. What was fascinating was early on in my sophomore year—that best friend whose brother had died our senior year of high school—that best friend died. 

I basically had three deaths in three years from the time I was 16 to 19. I wouldn’t wish that on people. It’s very, very challenging as you can imagine, but it cracked me wide open and it allowed me to really come to this place of I am still here because my work is not done. I am going to really feel the energy of these people who meant so much to me. I know that they’re guiding me on because this work that I’m here to do, you’re here to do, and we’re all here to do, it requires all of us. It requires all of us to be awake. It requires all of us to be courageous. It requires all of us to approach each day like it is a gift because it is, and to go after the things that you’re most meant to do.

Once I moved on into my career, I moved to New York City after I graduated from the University of Florida. I found my way into the career of public relations. I thought I had struck gold. This was a thing I was here to do. I’m working at this major agency, on these big clients, and eventually traveling globally on these big projects. Although it was exciting and I felt like I was at a good place and working on interesting projects and with interesting people, I had this feeling inside, which was really me connecting with that small still voice within to come face to face with the truth. The truth was this isn’t what I was supposed to be doing.

It was such a tough pill to swallow because it looked good on paper. It looked really good on paper. You try to ignore it. You try to just push it away, push it down, and question yourself. I thought there was something wrong with me. I wondered why I couldn’t be satisfied or I couldn’t be happy when other people might think this was fine or awesome. But that small still voice within just kept nudging me along, nudging me along to say, Jenny, this isn’t it. You got to keep going. You got to keep looking. And most importantly, you’ve got to take care of yourself. 

That environment that I was in, I graduated from college in 1999. You can go back to that point in time. The internet was very new, so there were no social media. That wasn’t taking our time, but when you worked on these big projects, I had to be at work a lot and I worked a lot. I was under a tremendous amount of pressure and stress. It’s not something that I found to be healthy, sustainable, or desirable.

A big breakthrough for me was that I realized I had to start taking better care of myself. I really needed to learn how to mother myself, nurture myself, take a pause, take time, and not feel like I was racing all the time. You asked the question of how did I really find this work. I found the work by diving headfirst into the work that I felt I was here for and was talented at but then realizing that it didn’t quite hit the mark. 

The way that I had to like deconstruct it and figure out what was a better path for me was to choose health, to choose vitality, and to choose to trust that small still voice within, which has continuously guided me on. It guided me to eventually quit that job, move into a different job, which is a thing I didn’t even know was a thing until I found it. I moved out of public relations and into conference producing, which again it just kind of fell in my lap when I was in sheer desperation to get me out of here, I can’t do this anymore. 

That opened me up to interesting thinkers, thinking like an entrepreneur, acting like an entrepreneur, putting on these big events, solving problems in the market, and just understanding that I really can do anything that I want to do. I just have to decide what that is. I believe that’s true for your listeners as well. We are in a choice. We can come into this place of I have these distinct skills. I have these gifts. I have these talents. When we can really blend everything up and understand what problems we solve in the market and then communicate with an audience that is excited for us to help them solve that problem, then amazing things happen.

A big pathway for me—I know your show is really a lot about health, vitality, and all the different ways—was I dove headfirst into yoga those first few years in New York. Once I could afford to belong to a gym, I started taking yoga classes. I took my first one in college. I thought it was the weirdest thing ever, and I wasn’t ready for it. But then once I was ready for it, in those New York City days, I realized it was a source of comfort and a source of peace. It made my body feel so good. I allowed myself to just feel that and to come to this place of oh my goodness. When you’re in a yoga class, you’re not competing at all. I thought so much of my life I had been competing. That was the game, you competed. When you’re in yoga, it’s not about competition. It’s really about being present with yourself, what’s going on that particular day, and honoring that.

By following that path to yoga, eventually, I got this download to train to become a yoga teacher. I didn’t know where that was going to take me, but I trusted it. Again, that small still voice within, I trusted it. I said, okay, let’s see. Let’s see what happens when I commit myself to 200 hours of training on anatomy, on yoga philosophy, on the different asanas on meditation on just that whole realm. Once I did that, the next level of my career opened up, and I discovered the field of coaching. That has just taken me on this incredible path, this incredible journey. I realized that serving women was my passion. 

As I got deeper into my study and work with women, I remembered how connected we are to the moon and the way our bodies are designed. They’re so intelligently designed. The way the lunar cycle is designed, the way nature is designed, there’s such intelligence and such wisdom in that. When we can tap into that wisdom, we come into that place of alignment. That is something I practice. That is something I teach. And that is something I want to remind everyone of. It’s very much been taken away. We live in such a society with technology and go, go, go, you’re falling behind, and all of it. Nature’s never behind, you know what I’m saying? It’s not behind. When I look outside, my trees aren’t like oh my gosh, I don’t have enough leaves yet. Or this tree is bigger than me and I must be less than. Nature is just so sure of who it is, and it’s always right on time. I find there’s such wisdom in that. It’s something I love talking about.


[00:18:27] Ashley James: Can you take us back to the moment when you realize that there was an energy of the moon to tap into? And explain how you figured it out and how it helped you.


[00:18:41] Jenny Fenig: Well, it’s interesting because my mom, growing up, would often say to me, look up at the moon. Since the time I was in college, I have lived away from where she was living and then beyond. She often would plant that seed with me and sometimes I thought she was a little wacky for going all right. But that has stuck with me. What’s so fascinating, no matter where you are located on this planet, every single one of us is looking at the same moon. It’s not different in the Philippines, in the United States, in Canada, in Spain, and in Antarctica. It’s the same moon. It’s the exact same moon. I just think that’s so cool. We live on such a giant planet, we’re all looking up at that same ball of light.

When it really became clearer for me was when I just started reading various books about women, history, energy, and our creative process. Women are natural creators or creatrixes. A creatrix is the female term of a creator. We just naturally do it. We naturally create. Some of us are called for motherhood where we create a child inside, or we adopt a child. However that comes to be, or somehow a child comes into our life. I think I got deeper into it when I became a mother. My oldest child is 11 years old now, my youngest is 6. I also have a 9-year-old. When I became pregnant for that first time, which was so interesting because for a lot of years I didn’t want to become pregnant. That wasn’t something I was ready for. And then once I became ready for that and wanting that, I saw my body in a whole new way.

As women cycle, a lot of us have had a menstrual cycle. We know what that is. Menstrual cycles are the same as the lunar cycle. It’s around 29 and ½ days. Think about that. Those are the things I wish I would have been taught in school. When I was growing up, it was very much like when you’re on your period, that’s dirty. That’s dirty. It’s something you want to hide. Maybe you were made fun of, especially if the boys knew you’re on your period somehow in school because you took your purse to the bathroom. It was something that almost felt shameful. There wasn’t a real big rite of passage around it when I was growing up.

I will tell you, when my daughter moves into that phase of her life, I will do it differently with her. I will give her something that I didn’t have that I’ve had to learn for myself. When you really tune into the fact that we cycle, our body cycles the same as the moon, that’s something to take note of. With the moon—what I’ve come to learn through practice, study, and just applying this in my own personal life, in my business, and helping my clients do this—is that if you really want to understand how to work with the energy of the moon. When you are menstruating, there is energy. You might have read the book The Red Tent. I read that many, many years ago. It’s a fantastic book. It’s really that energy of being still, resting, renewing, and not go go go. You’re just receiving it. Your body is doing the work, your body’s cleansing, and that’s the energy of the new moon. That’s the energy of that new moon.

If you were to start tracking the lunar cycle—and most calendars have this represented on the calendar. If you have a wall calendar, if you have a printed calendar. I still use those. I mean, I have a business. We have a lot of digital things going on, but I have a printed calendar that I keep on my desk and often in my purse. I’m not going as many places these days as I once did pre-COVID, but I’ve got my printed calendar, and I’ve got my calendar in my kitchen that I keep up on the wall. The moon phases are represented there. Take note of those. Some people have no idea where the moon is right now in terms of the phase of the cycle, and I suggest that you start paying attention—if you haven’t already—and just tracking your own energy around what’s going on in the moon.

Sometimes, as women, our bodies might be in that same phase. If you’re still in your bleeding years, you might bleed at the same time as the new moon. If so, the energy is really synced up. If not, there’s still a lot that you can glean from the moon. And you really want to understand what’s happening out there so you can better take care of yourself. That’s the whole thing. Isn’t that what true health is all about is you know how to take care of yourself, and you know how to have others help take care of you if you have other people in your life—really helping to nourish you and support you?

So that new moon is all about rest, renewal, and ultra-vision. And then about a week later, we move into the first quarter moon. That’s when you look up in the sky, and just last night it was the first quarter moon. I looked up and it was just like magic. It was so captivating, and it looks like a half-moon where that right side is glowing. And you don’t see the light on the left side. It’s just that right side of the moon. That is the energy of growth, action, and commitment. What you can do at the new moon, as well as resting and renewing, is that you get the vision for what you want to focus on in this upcoming cycle.

With moons, there are 13 moons in a year. There are 12 months in a year, but there are 13 moons in a year. You have an opportunity 13 times in a year to really set your intention, and it doesn’t always happen at the first of the month. That’s not how it works. It happens when it happens based on that lunar cycle, and the lunar cycle is set. You could go look ahead a few years and you’ll go see the lunar cycle like when the new moon of 2025 will be. Scientists have this down. It’s really extraordinary what can be tracked and looked at as you move forward.

What I like to do at each new moon is set my intention. What is my intention? What do I want my energy and my focus to go to for this lunar cycle so that as I take my steps forward? As I put my energy out there, my actions out there, and my words out there, I can see the seeds that I’m planting blossom. 

I’m setting my intention. I’m establishing some goals to support that intention at the new moon, so when I get to that first-quarter moon I’m really quickening my steps. I’m like okay, let’s go. Have I sent out that email? Have I talked to that person? Have I gone to get that thing? Have I planted my seeds, and if not, what seeds do I really want to be planting now or in the next few days? Because then, about a week later, we’re going to get to that full moon. And that’s when you look up in the sky. Everybody knows what a full moon looks like.

There tends to be a pretty powerful energy at the full moon. There’s just such powerful sensations that are happening right there, and we’re all feeling it. We’re all feeling it. There’s a lot of data to support that hospitals and emergency rooms in particular have a lot more action around the full moon. There’s just this heightened intensity that’s going on. And when we can understand that, we don’t have to be blindsided by it and going like why do I feel all this? You understand. You understand it intuitively, and you can really make space for it. 

What I know at full moon is that’s when I’m in my fullest power. That’s when I’m going for it. As women, that’s when we would be ovulating. That’s when we could conceive a child. You think about that, and there are only a few days in a woman’s cycle that that could happen okay. When you then understand your own energy at that point, the energy of the full moon at that point, you can harness some things. 

In my business, I might have some big activity going on at the full moon where I am putting something out there. I have hosted lots of retreats all around the world and tied that into the full moon. Where I will look ahead and go, all right, I’m going to have this event in November. I’d like to bring the women together around the full moon. When’s that full moon going to be? Okay, it’s this point. Let me check with my retreat center and see if they have space available at that time. You see, that’s how you can really line it up. Some people might decide that they’re going to have some special thing there, they’re going to put this thing out there, they’re going to whatever. You just know. That is maybe you want to go camping, like there’s just something that you want to do around the full moon.

And I do a lot of this with my kids, especially my daughter. She’s super into it. We really talk about the moon together. If I take my dog for a walk around the property at night, I’m always looking for the moon. What’s interesting is you don’t know where she’s going to be. The moon is a feminine energy, p.s. So you don’t know where the moon is going to be. I can’t always look up over this particular tree and see her. It’s not how she works. She’s very mysterious, and I love that. I just love that energy. I love that idea that she’s always there, I just don’t know where she is all the time. I know what’s up. I know if she’s at this phase or that phase, but I can’t always find her in the sky. It’s just an interesting thing to play with, and it also helps you deepen into your faith. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Get it? And that we have to trust. We have to trust. And we have to trust planting these seeds. I’ll give you an example and I’ll tell you about the last phase of the moon.

A few months back, as we were really in the throes of COVID here in Massachusetts. I know that you have listeners all over. Everyone is being impacted in different places, and it’s just horrible. It’s this horrible thing. A few months back, we really weren’t leaving our house. Except I was able to go to the garden store and be outside, and I eventually got these seeds—these sunflower seeds. Now I have never planted seeds. I just recently have gotten into gardening. A few years back, I kind of just all right. Let me try this, let me try that. But I’d always buy plants that were already formed. They were in the pots, and I could transfer them into my land into the earth.

Well, I decided to just see what happens when I would plant seeds, and sunflower seeds in particular, which is really interesting because that was my favorite flower in high school. I campaigned for it to become our senior class flower, and it did, which is very exciting because we had had the rose for 20 years straight. My whole thing was okay, rose is a great flower, but can we just have a different flower? Let’s be creative. So we got the sunflower. 

I decided to get these seeds, and I put them on the earth. I remember thinking to myself is this going to work? These things are really small. Is this really going to work? I’m going to follow the directions. I’m going to space them the number of inches they’re supposed to be spaced apart. I’ll water them. Okay. But I had that doubt in my head like really, could something as big as sunflowers grow out of these little things?

Oh my gosh, Ashley, if you could look outside my window right now, these things are so huge. These stalks are taller than me, and I’ve been checking on them. There’s one in particular that I can see the yellow starting to peek through. I’m like oh my goodness, I think this week the flowers are going to come out. Because at this point, it’s been the giant stalks. Then I still know, within the stalks, the flowers in there. It’s just not ready. It’s not ripe yet. It’s not time yet, but can I still believe? Can I still believe? For everyone, can you still believe? Even if you can’t see it, you have to believe it to see it. Some people have it backward like I’ll see it when I believe it, or I believe it when I see it. Okay, I’ll believe it when I see it. No, you will see it when you believe it.

That’s really how I feel what the moon allows us to do. She’s so consistent. As I’ve used her energy and really worked with her energy and co-created it, I’ve been able to come into deeper communion with my own body, with my own wellness, with my own groundedness and connection to the earth, and to my place on this earth. Then I’ve helped my people really tap into this wisdom as well. 

So the last phase of the cycle is called the last quarter moon, and that is when you look up and you see the light on the left side. So you don’t see the light on the right side, and that’s how you can always know. When you look up, if it’s on the right side, the moon is waxing. It’s getting bigger in the sky. And if the light is on the left side, it’s called waning. The energy is waning and it’s getting smaller. Eventually going back to that new moon and then starting the cycle again.

So with the last quarter moon, that is the energy of letting go. Letting go to rise higher. That is when you have seen what has started growing. What has become real? You’ve put in the effort, you’ve put in actions, you set that intention back at the new moon, you set those goals, and you work towards them. And some of them were meant to happen the way that you hoped they would or the way that you semi-envisioned that they would. Others you realize you know what, that wasn’t aligned, maybe not yet, maybe I need to simply be more patient, or maybe I need to let that go because this other thing is freaking growing and it looks really exciting. I want to align my energy with that. I know that I can’t do all the things all the time, so I’m going to double down on that, and I’m going to let go of these other things that can’t come with me into the next cycle.

That is the lunar cycle in a nutshell. I’m actually looking up at this gorgeous lunar calendar. In addition to the ones that I mentioned that come printed in a lot of these calendars you might buy, I had my designer on my team—we collaborated on this really cool one sheet and it just says Lunar Calendar 2020. What was so interesting is that I had her put all the names of the months at the top of the paper, so going across horizontally, and then the numbers go down vertically. 

January there’s 1 to 31, February 1 to 29, and they’re just these long rows of numbers going down the page. And then she would go in and plot out each phase of the cycle and go across the page. What is the full moon in January, February, December? And it looks like—if you ever had or ever saw those really cool beads that you could hang in a doorway, they’re kind of like circa the 1970s, but they’re cool. You could hang these beads in a doorway and then open the beads and move into another room. They kind of look like those beads. They’re so pretty when you look at it. To me, it’s just exquisite art the way that nature was designed. And the more that we understand that, the more that we understand ourselves.


[00:34:57] Ashley James: Beautiful. It’s amazing how there’s so much in nature that really affects us, and we often just don’t think about it. I mean the moon is powerful. If you think about it, the moon is strong enough to change the tides and pull the water, the ocean in one direction and then in another and create the tide. We’re made of water. Why wouldn’t the moon have some kind of pull if it can pull the water in the ocean? Why wouldn’t it have some kind of effect on us? I mean, it’s not a huge effect, but it can be felt, and we can see it. You can see it when we go to the ocean, and we see the tide come in and out. What other instances in nature do you keep your awareness of and tap into?


[00:35:51] Jenny Fenig: Well, I look at where I am each season. Really honoring seasonal shifts and planning around that. I didn’t realize how important honestly nature was to me until I did. I grew up in the south, as I mentioned. When I lived in Florida, I lived near the beach, and that was really nice having that ocean near me—speaking of tides and oceans. And then once I lived in New York, you’re in a concrete jungle. We had Central Park. We had some trees there, but typically you had a tree carved out in a little plot on the sidewalk and cement. I did have the Hudson River, thank goodness. I lived on West End Avenue, which was overlooking the Hudson River. Oh, that brought me such a sense of calm.

But once I moved to the country 10 years ago. I left New York City. I now live in the country, Western Massachusetts. I felt like I could exhale. It was something I really needed but didn’t know that I needed it. New York was so wonderful for my career. I met my husband there. I had my first child there. I got pregnant with my second child when we lived there, but it didn’t provide me with enough nature. Now I have it. I look around these windows and the office that I’m speaking to you from and all I see are trees. That’s it. I see the trees. I live in a forest. I consider the trees my friends, which may sound funny but it’s true, and I take such cues from these trees. We have nature here, and we have four seasons here. Not every place has four seasons, but we have that here.

I’ve learned to really be seasonal in my approach. My energy in the summer is different than my energy in the fall is different than my energy in winter is different than my energy in spring. And I encourage you all to really tap into that for yourselves as well. How are you in summer versus winter? And what changes do you need to make or modifications do you need to make so that your body stays in a natural state? I enjoy being warm. Cold is hard for me so winter here is hard. It’s really, really challenging. And I learned to layer. I learned that clothing really matters. Wool matters. I wear lots of layers of wool pretty much since it gets cold until it’s not cold anymore, I have a layer of wool on my skin. And that makes a massive, massive difference. What I’m eating during wintertime, in particular, are warm foods because my body is cold. And my body gets anxious when I’m cold.

There’s something that I studied, which is pretty cool. It’s an ancient science and an ancient practice really. I went to India a few years ago, and I went through my yoga teacher training back in 2007. When I did that and I was reading all these books around yoga philosophy and really understanding the mind. The purpose of yoga is to achieve mastery over the mind. It’s not to contort yourself into these shapes, although the shapes help you achieve the mastery of the mind. So when I went through all that, I just had this pact I made with myself that I would go to India. I didn’t know when I would go to India or how that trip would come into being. It was like a seed. I planted the seed, and about 10 years later, the wish came true. The opportunity presented itself, and I walked through the door and I said I’m going to go on that trip.

I had the opportunity to study something called Ayurveda. There are ayurvedic doctors. This is a form of medicine, and it’s a very natural form of medicine with the usage of herbs, being intelligent about what you eat, and understanding your body constitution. In Ayurveda, there are three body types: vata, pitta, and kapha. You can just dig into this if anyone’s interested. You can look around and see what you find here. There are these assessments you can take. You can answer questions and get a better read on what your constitution is. We all are a mix of all three, but you’ll have one that’s dominant and one that’s a clear secondary. 

For me, I’m vata pitta. Vata is very airy. We are predisposed to being cold. My husband’s pitta so he’s predisposed to being hot. So you can imagine that we battle over the thermostat. He wants it to be on the colder side and I’m making it warmer. If you know that your body is predisposed to certain things, then you need to be prepared. 

If my body gets too cold and I’m not prepared through the foods that I’m eating, through being mindful of me waking up first thing, I shouldn’t drink an ice-cold glass of water ever first thing. It’s going to throw me out of alignment. I’m going to just head into a place I don’t need to be, which is anxiety which is just too cold. I start just getting too amped up, and I’m not grounded. I’m kind of floating, and not in a way that’s super peaceful blissful. I’m just too out there. And I need to come back to this place of groundedness. So for me, understanding this, me going to India, studying with an ayurvedic teacher, working with ayurvedic doctors there, and staying at this really amazing Ayurveda retreat center in a town called Gokarna, which is just out of this world. I’ll never forget it. It was one of those incredible experiences. I understand now what I need to do.

So when I wake up, my go-to ritual is I fill my kettle with water, turn on the stove, and then I pour myself two cups. One, warm water. It’s hot water when it goes into the cup. I wait so it cools off a little bit and I put lemon in there. And then I have my second cup and I fill that with my favorite jasmine green tea. And then of course with my lemon. One of my clients makes this really cool chai concoction. She’s just this herbalist and she gives me these batches of what she makes. So I stir a little bit of that in there and it just is this magical blend, and it gets me going on the right foot. My body starts really waking up. I’m moving. Things are really good, and I feel connected. I feel grounded because I haven’t gone to that ice-cold thing.

You all can study that. You can really look at how your body is designed. Our body wants to feel good. We want to feel healthy, but things are set up right now that you forget all that. And if you’re on your computer all day, your cortisol levels get jacked up. You’re looking at this screen, your eyes are getting fatigued, and you’re out of touch with nature because you’re just looking at these machines. 

I’m grateful for all my technology, but I’m not living my life in technology because that’s not where I want to live my life. I want to live my life out there, and then I come to tech to connect with people. Like connecting with you today, Ashley, knowing this podcast is going to go out and serve people. I will connect on social media with my people, but I’m doing that from a place of wellness. I’m doing that from a place of understanding how I need to take care of myself every day with the moves I need to make with what I’m drinking, what I’m eating, and then how I move through nature.

You all can really look around and check on your own energy levels that each season you might decide that in the wintertime, in particular, you want to bring more fire into your life to warm you up. Maybe in the fall, you’re looking around—where I live, the leaves change colors. You might tap in at that point, what kind of transformation are you undergoing at that point? What are you shedding? What leaves are dropping for you? 

And can you come into that place of faith knowing that winter is coming, but you’re strong enough to handle winter? Not just handle it, but really enjoy it. What do you need to do to prepare for each season? And then can you take a page from the playbook of trees, if you will, and say yeah, I know. And then my leaves are going to grow again. And then they’ll be green again. And then eventually they’ll fall again. The leaves will drop or they’ll change colors. I just think it’s so interesting. The whole thing is so interesting.

This pandemic has given me an opportunity, as I mentioned, I never thought I’d be a gardener ever. You have no idea. Before this interview, Ashley, I went to my local hardware store and made the first-ever purchase. Do you want to know what I bought?


[00:45:08] Ashley James: What’d you buy?


[00:45:09] Jenny Fenig: A chainsaw.


[00:45:13] Ashley James: Electric or gas?


[00:45:17] Jenny Fenig: I went with the gas. I have an electric lawnmower, weed whacker, leaf blower, but they explained to me that I really need the gas to do the work that needs to be done. I think it looks like we’re going to be cutting our own firewood. I never thought ever. But as I was building out this one particular place of my land with this garden, the tools that I had weren’t adequate enough to get through this particular—it’s like this vine thing. We have these vines on the property that kind of wrap around trees and hurt the trees. There’s this one spot, this has to go and my tools aren’t enough. They’re not adequate. Sure, I could go hire someone to do it, but it’s really cool.

You come into your power, I do anyway. When I say I can do that. I can do that. I felt a sense of pride. There are all guys helping me in that section of the store, but I’m like yep, first-ever chainsaw purchase. They were so excited for me, and I’m so excited for myself to come in and say we can do that. We can do that. When the temperature, when the weather is nice to be able to do this, I feel like such a responsibility to the land, and something I want to teach my kids how to take care of that. How to take care of things. How to really work with this land. 

Even before the pandemic, we were homeschooling, and we’ll continue on that path. This is something I want us all to learn together, how do we do this? Once you know how to do a lot of these things, I know for me, I feel proud. I feel like, hey, I could get some help with this, and there’s nothing wrong with getting help. But gosh, what a wonderful feeling to know the things that you can do.


[00:47:05] Ashley James: Brilliant. Now one of your claims to fame is your ability to homeschool, manage your business, manage your household, and just be so busy juggling everything. Many people are overwhelmed right now. It’s a new experience for them homeschooling in the light of the COVID lockdown. Many parents have chosen not to send their kids back to school because of the restrictions and requirements. But instead of choosing to homeschool, many people work from home now like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. They’re keeping a lot of their staff at home. So it’s a new dynamic for many Americans, Canadians, and people around the world. 

A new dynamic where many families are working from home and homeschooling at the same time. And they’re not used to juggling all these things, or they’re planning on it because it’s still the summertime. They’re planning on it. And even for those who are going back to school, many districts are only doing two days a week. So for public school, they’re still going to be home for three school days. And if parents are home with them, potentially working from home, then it’s just a whole new dynamic. Can you walk us through and teach us how we can be more effective at getting all this done? I think you talk about how you can get more done by doing less. What are some ways that you can really prepare the listeners who are stepping into a whole new routine, a whole new reality?


[00:49:04] Jenny Fenig: Yeah. I really like talking about this. Thank you. Well what we talked about obviously understanding the moon in particular and just what’s happening out in nature, that’s tremendously helpful. That just becomes your way of living. The more that you practice that, the more you’ll understand. You’ll understand, and it makes your life so much simpler. It really, really does. All right. So there’s that.

The other things that I practice are what I call time chunking and task batching. So you become so intelligent and efficient with your moves and your time. I’ve always been pretty strong with time. It was interesting. Even in those first New York City jobs I had, I was like 22. My managers must have seen my ability to do this because myself and this other colleague of mine, she was also about 22, 23, I’d say. We were tapped to lead a time management training for the entire organization. I looked back at that, we were young, but we had something going on. 

I think some of that is probably connected to the deaths that I experienced at such a young age because I knew right away—time is not guaranteed. It’s not. It’s not. Every day is an absolute gift, so don’t squander it. Don’t squander it. This is going to require you to be super disciplined to have very strong boundaries to know how to say no, not now, or let’s look to do that in a different way. You really want to understand, if someone’s asking you to do something, what that looks like. Because I think too many people just give their time away, and it’s often because they’re afraid of being perceived as mean or rude if they say no, ask for things to be a bit different, can we do it next week, or whatever. I think some people really like that word busy. I actually don’t consider myself busy. I don’t use that word. I don’t believe that is something that we have to subscribe to. I think being busy makes a lot of people sick, really.


[00:51:18] Ashley James: Well, absolutely. If we’re just talking about the stress response, the idea of busy is creating the autonomic nervous system fight or flight. Being in the sympathetic nervous system response of fight or flight, which turns off the healing mode in the body. If the story you tell yourself is I’m busy, I’m busy, I’m busy, then you’re triggering fight or flight. And that is a very unhealthy state to be in chronically.


[00:51:47] Jenny Fenig: Chronically, absolutely. I think it’s so interesting, especially for people who are trying to figure out if they’re in a reinvention right now. Which I know many people are that COVID has given people the opportunity to go is this what I really want? When my regular life is stripped away, all the things that I typically did, is my work—is this good? Is this what I want? Is this framework for this working? What’s interesting is you can look back at your life and go wait, I’ve always been fascinated by this particular thing. What was that through line? What’s the through-line?

So for me, I was always stressed growing up. I remember feeling this immense pressure. In college, I took a stress management class. A whole semester, I took a stress management class because I wanted to understand. I mean, no one had taught me that in high school. There was no class that was like okay kids, let’s help you all be less stressed. It was like be stressed. Join the club, everyone’s stressed. No. So I took a class in college. I wanted to understand what stress really is and how to work with it. It’s the number one cause of death. I mean, it really is. It leads to so many issues. We don’t have to subscribe to it. It’s not just something that is a given because we’re human. We can reclaim being versus doing, and then when we do things, that those can be intelligent actions.

What you can look at is how you can organize your day, your week, again, working with the lunar cycle if you’re going to play with that, so that you’re getting the maximum results from your efforts. And that you don’t do it maybe in the way that you used to do it. So I had to really retrain myself when I left my last corporate job. Once I set out on my own and became an entrepreneur without even knowing that that was what I was going to do when I quit that last job, I applied for other jobs and nothing was exciting. I was like I don’t want to do any of these things. Oh no. 

And then I just discovered coaching and just kept okay, I’m going to stay on this path. And then before I knew it, I had a business, and here we are all these years later. I had to train myself to do it differently. It was not required. There was no rule that said I had to sit at a desk Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM or beyond. There was no rule that said that, but at first, I thought I would be in trouble. I mean it sounds silly to say it, but I really was like who’s going to come? Who’s going to knock on my door to see that I’m not here. That I’m at a yoga class at 11:00 AM on a Wednesday. 

You know what was so interesting, there were other people at the yoga class at 11:00 AM on a Wednesday. And I’m going, oh my gosh. It’s not just me. Well, okay. What do they do for work? And I just saw that I wanted to have a different kind of existence where I could know my natural creation times or my mind was really sharp when my body had a lot of energy. And I could provide a tremendous amount of value in terms of writing, speaking, working with clients, and strategizing. It didn’t need to be all day because my body really isn’t designed for that. My mind isn’t designed for that, and I have a family. I have three kids. I can’t do all the things I need to do with that old framework, with that old dynamic.

Listen, I know a lot of people are still in that space where that’s the rule, that’s the protocol. You are responsible for being on the computer or being at this physical location from this time to this time. I would simply challenge you or encourage you to be willing to shake things up a bit and look at how you can look at productivity and see. Okay, if I were to batch all my meetings on one particular day, batch my writing on my mornings on these days, or my client work on these days. 

Now, this might be really provocative to some people and make you nervous to even consider doing this or having a conversation with someone who might be more senior to you that you need to get this through, but there’s plenty of organizations that have done this with extraordinary results. There are places especially abroad, I’ve seen studies where they just decided that people would work Monday through Thursday, not Monday through Friday. And productivity went up through the roof. Efficiency went through the roof because you weren’t just wasting your time going, well, I can’t leave before this time. So I might as well just shoot the breeze, you know what I’m saying?

This is about reclaiming our time and reclaiming that energy. This is how I homeschool. I’m very fortunate my husband and I both work from home. We have relatively flexible schedules. I get to decide when my client calls are, when these group calls are, when I’m going to do a podcast interview, and then when I’m focused on the children, and when I might be working with my daughter on something. My boys are at an age where we’ve been working with tutors in the last few years. Pre-COVID we’d have tutors coming into the home. Right now, we’re going to have a pause on that and we’re going to do online classes and tutors. 

We’ll just schedule things in a way that everyone gets what they need, but even within their schooling, it’s not 9:00 AM to blah blah they’re in classes back to back to back. I don’t believe in that. We need space. We need space to creatively come up with ideas to go outside and work in the garden. To go on a hike, bring your art supplies, and create something that you see. To be bored. The best ideas come through boredom. We try so hard to avoid boredom like it’s this horrible thing. That we’re a bad parent if our kids are bored. That’s really going to come up with a great idea. We don’t need to over-schedule them to the point where they don’t even know how to think.

As you all are considering how you’re going to move forward, keep that all into account. Again, it goes against the systems that we thought were unbreakable, but they’ve all broken.


[00:58:18] Ashley James: No kidding.


[00:58:20] Jenny Fenig: They’ve all broken. And I say that with love but with all certainty because I know for many people, you’re still in this state of it’s hard and you might be grieving. I’ve been homeschooling for a few years now so I’m not freaked out. I’m sad that we are where we are. It’s horrible, it makes me mad, and all the things. I think we should feel our feelings. I feel for educators, I feel for schools, and I feel for administrators. I mean this is not fun, and there’s no playbook really. 

The last time we had a global pandemic was more than 100 years ago, and the world looked very different at that point. So here we are, luckily we have more technology that can support us. But I would suggest—especially for those of you who are looking into homeschooling, how distance learning is going to look, or what you want to do—to be really mindful of what system you want to be a part of. Because whatever system you’re choosing, you’re choosing for your child as well. They are experiencing the energy of that system.

I’m very grateful for homeschooling because we get to design our own system, really. We have the blessing of our local school district. We submit end of year reports. We submit a plan at the beginning of the school year to say here’s where we’re going, and we have very supportive public school principals and superintendents who have our back every year because they know that we have our heart in the right place with what we’re doing, with what’s best for our kids, and the way that we see it. And they’re learning the things that they need to learn.

I actually just did a workshop on this a few days ago called charting your path as a homeschooler. I just want to make sure everyone knows too, distance learning is not homeschooling. It’s not. It’s not, okay. You are still in that system. If you like distance learning and it’s working well, then do it. But that’s not homeschooling. Homeschooling is when you unenroll your child from that school and you really set out on a different path. You have a lot more flexibility, a lot more freedom. Your kids aren’t going to be absent if you decide to go on a trip. And they’re not going to be logging in at a certain time. It’s a whole different deal. I’m very grateful for it. It’s not for everybody, but it’s for more people than people might think. I could talk about it all day. 

I feel like where we are now as a society is one where, again, you have an opportunity to choose the system that you’re going to be operating in. And make sure that you can be healthy within the system. For me, Ashley, in that corporate existence—and this again was in the late ‘90s almost all the way through the 2000s. I quit that last corporate job in November 2007. I realized that system was making me sick, and I remember being so afraid to leave because well, I get health care. My husband and I got health insurance through my job because, at that point, he was freelance in his work. 

We got health insurance through my job, but I remember that small still voice within was saying, but Jenny, you’re getting sick so you can keep your health insurance. And it was just this whole thing of this is backward. This is so twisted. So I had to get that courage up to quit my job. I went on COBRA for 18 months as long as we could, then we found private insurance. We were so blessed and grateful. My husband ended up getting a full-time position, and so we do have health insurance through his company now. The way his company is designed, he’s not getting sick by working there. I’m not getting sick doing the work I’m doing. My work keeps me healthy because my work keeps me honest.


[01:02:17] Ashley James: Beautiful. Do you have any other lessons, homework, or techniques that you’d like to teach those who are stepping into this new world?


[01:02:34] Jenny Fenig: Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh. I’ve loved having this conversation. It’s been really special. As much as you can, remember that you’re breathing. This is another thing that we take for granted and we forget. Breathing, it’s the first thing we do when we’re born. We take that breath, and ah, rejoice. And then the last thing we’re going to do as we exit the body is we will take that final breath. So it’s a profound process—breathing. 

For many people, and I know for me too before I discovered conscious breathing. In the yogic realm, it’s called pranayama. Prana is that life force energy. All right, so prana. We have this life force energy moving through our body, moving through our veins, our blood. It just keeps everything just beautifully connected. Oh my goodness. We often move through life—if you’re unconscious of it—and you’re in that whole busy trap, you’re just eating fast food on the go, you’re constantly out of touch with nature and really with your truth, and you’ve said yes to lots of things that you’re like, ugh, I don’t even want to do this but I have to do it. You’re in the shoulds and the obligatory stuff. That we’ve come out of connection with our own breath, and then you’re often breathing shallow. So it’s just from that upper lung capacity. You’re just breathing to the heart and up, but the lungs and the body can hold so much more.

If you were to take some time and really sit with yourself, and we could do it right now. We could just breathe very deeply together, and you can count your breaths. You can count just the beats of the breath. We could play right now and simply come into this breathing exercise where we are mindfully inhaling, and just breathing as full as you can on the inhale. And then going as high up as you can in the body. Then as you exhale, slow methodical trusting that exhale. And then as you inhale the next time, feel that you’re pulling the inhale up from the core of the earth just bringing it all the way up the body, all the way up to the body, and can you come to the top of your head, the crown of your head. And as you exhale down from the crown of your head, putting that breath back into the earth.

You’re recycling the breath over and over again, remembering that the earth gives us so much. I mean so much. It gives us food, it gives us sustenance, it gives us air to breathe, oxygen. So bring yourself into that place of just conscious breathing, especially if you find yourself getting stressed or anxious. Can you come to that place of breathwork, and it’s breathwork like there’s actual work involved in the breath, instead of that just unconscious, I don’t even know. I’m shallow breathing. You’ll find yourself feeling a lot of pressure and a lot of tension, which let’s be real, even the most experienced those of us are with breathing, with exercise, or mindfulness techniques—coronavirus COVID will test us all. This is the work. This is really the thing that we’re meant to see how deep our practices are, and where we still have work to do, blind spots, or where we might be falling in certain holes.

Practice isn’t something that we’re here to become perfect at. It’s something that we just show up for every day. So whether it’s you when you go for your run, you get on your yoga mat, you just sit outside and look at nature, or you do this deep breathwork. They’re all the other things that you do. You play tennis, you’re into baseball, or you’re into all the wonderful things that we can do with our bodies. It’s knowing that we can come into this place of that quiet, and you can access that small still voice within, and just breathe. That’s it. 

If it’s newer to you, there are apps you can get into. There’s that Insight Timer app. I use that for years. I have that on my phone. I’m a Peloton owner and user. I have the Peloton app on my phone. And often, if I’m preparing for—let’s say I’m going to lead a training for clients, I’m going to give a presentation, I will turn on meditation, even though I know how to meditate. I lead meditations, but it’s really nice for someone to tell me what to do. I like to be told what to do sometimes and to be guided through an experience. 

So I’ll just open up the app, whatever app you want. There are so many that are available to you these days, and you can just pick one. If you have three minutes, it’ll be 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes and beyond, and you can tune in and receive. Just tune in and receive. Allow yourself to be in that moment. Don’t worry about what just happened or what you’ve got next. Just come into that place of, I’m taking five minutes. I am not going to feel guilty for taking these five minutes, and I’m going to breathe. That’s it. 

And if it’s a guided meditation, you’ll listen to the words that are being spoken. You’ll listen to maybe the music or the sounds of nature that might be on that meditation track, and you’ll go where you go. You’ll go where you go. And you might find that you’ll get the answer to something that you’ve been struggling with. Some kind of feeling will come over your body. You’ll get what I call an intuitive hit, and you’ll realize, oh my goodness. That’s it. I’m going to go call that person later, I’m going to go sign up for that thing, or I’m going to go make that decision.

It comes to you in those moments of stillness, and then your job is to then respond. To do something with it. That’s something that I know that you all will get so much from just that conscious breath and that coming back to that thing that is so special. Talk to anybody who is having trouble breathing, or has some kind of illness where their breathing is affected. They will tell you how they wish it could be different. So when we have this gift, use it. Really use it. And take note of how it allows you to show up differently for the important people in your life. I think this is an opportunity for all of us to really honor the relationships that we have.

We are living in a very hard time. There are lots of challenges now, and I know that many people are experiencing hard things at home, in their work, or with people in their lives. Maybe you can’t see the important people in your life right now, which is heartbreaking. Totally, totally heartbreaking. But can you come into this place of stillness so that as you show up for the relationships, you can show up from a place of groundedness, kindness, and compassion? Even though you might see some craziness happening on social media. Anytime you go there it’s loaded. You’re like, okay. Am I ready for this?

So we’ve got to come back. We have to do our own work. And then if you have kids, can you teach them how to do this stuff? Can you model it? But the way you teach is to do it. It’s to be it. Can you show it to your partner? Can you embody this with the important people in your life? It’s such a simple tool, but so few people actually use it. And if you were to use it, it would change your life.


[01:11:06] Ashley James: Beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your insights. Another website of yours is, and you have a Magic Maker’s Coach Certification. What’s that all about?


[01:11:27] Jenny Fenig: Yeah. I’m really passionate about serving women, coaches, therapists, wellness professionals, fitness professionals, and those who might have come from that corporate background like I am. Women who know that they’re here to guide their people to their greatest potential. They do that through transformative coaching and really working with a lot of the concepts that we talked about today. It’s listening skills, it’s understanding energy, it’s understanding how to work with the lunar cycle, understanding how to help your clients move through energetic blocks, and just old patterns that aren’t healthy or sustainable. Really look for old stories that they’ve outgrown and aren’t serving them and aren’t serving this beautiful life that they’ve been blessed with.

Once I became a coach all those years ago and then set out on my path to create this business and help people, I then realized there was a huge gap in the market for a coach certification that blended up how to honor the craft of coaching in this particular style of coaching. Which is very much about working with your intuition, your body, and energy, and then how to have a great business doing this? How to have an online business doing this? And that’s what our coach certification is dedicated to. 

I feel so grateful that especially in these days, often women were in careers that were really important and valuable, but often they might get to a point where they have to choose. If they decided to become mothers or have families, that it became a real sense of tension and stress because that old system meant okay well you’re in this office, then your kids are over here, and then you’re dealing with who’s with them after school. If you really want to go far in your career, it can come at odds with the desire you might have to spend time with your family. Or you might be in a career that is so valuable, but for some silly reason, it’s not valuable from a financial compensation perspective. So that has also held women back.

We’re in a new era now. Online has very much put us on different terrain. Women have an opportunity to earn really well, and to do incredible things with these gifts and talents that they might have used again in that corporate space. What was so interesting, Ashley, I didn’t even know what coaching was really. I had sports coaches growing up, but once I discovered it after my yoga teacher training, it was like a huge light bulb went on. I said I’ve been doing this my whole life. I didn’t know this was a job. This is the part that I liked most about all my jobs. The other things I had to do I didn’t enjoy, but I just thought that’s how it was.

So once I discovered that coaching was this wonderful way to use these gifts and talents that I have, and so many women are naturally blessed with this. And then once they really are given the tools, the guidance, the training, and the community to really honor the craft and come forward with confidence as they work with their clients, and then understand how to create an incredible business. Mostly have it online, if that’s their desire. That’s the way I do it in my business. They don’t have to choose between motherhood and a lucrative career. It can be something that they can really integrate, and it can evolve with them. It can evolve with their family. It can evolve with the seasons as we talked about.

That’s why we’ve created Magic Makers Coach Certification. I’m really proud of the work that we do. And if this calls out to anyone tuning in, I’d love for you to check it out and submit an application if you feel called.


[01:15:29] Ashley James: Wonderful. In closing, I’d like you to give us some homework. I know you told us before to breathe, pay attention to the lunar cycles. What kind of homework can you give us? Perhaps homework that would help people to better tap into their life purpose, tap into why they’re here and feel purposeful. Some people are feeling a little untethered right now. So what kind of homework can help to empower us?


[01:16:02] Jenny Fenig: Yeah, oh my goodness. That’s such a great question. Really to come into that place of purpose. If possible, and it should be because we’re in summer. It’s warm, in most places. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, I know you’re in a different season, but play with me on this. Go walk outside barefoot.


[01:16:26] Ashley James: Yes.


[01:16:30] Jenny Fenig: So simple, but goodness, it gets you back into that place of, oh, this is how my feet feel on grass, on the sand, or even on concrete. Just the warmth from the sun that’s being pulled up. Or maybe if you can, go jump in some water. Get in a pool. Go to a lake. Go to an ocean. As much as you can connect and with nature—the natural elements: fire, water, air, and earth—the more you are going to feel good in your body. And it feels good to feel good. You are allowed to feel good. That right there could be this monumental breakthrough for some of you. Oh, I’m allowed to feel good more often than not, right? What would happen if you felt good more than you do right now? What would happen?

I also encourage you to get honest with yourself about what you’re putting in your body—when it comes to your thoughts, when it comes to what you’re looking at. Your digital diet. Do you need to unfollow some people on social media? Do you need to scroll less? Do you need to be more intentional about the information that you’re taking in? Again, not to go into a bubble. I believe in being informed. And I think now, more than ever, we need to keep our eyes open about what’s happening in the world, but be really mindful of what you’re subjecting yourself to. Just know maybe reading things is better than watching videos for you because you’re way too impacted by some of the scenes. I have subscriptions to certain publications that keep me informed.

Also, look at what your body is telling you about what is good for you and what’s not. Is there something that you are consuming right now that really is toxic for you? A few years ago, I received a strong message from that small still voice within, that it was time for me to let go of alcohol and not drink anymore. If you would have known me as a teenager, Ashley, or during my collegiate career, you would have not believed that I would one day not drink because that was just so part of my identity. That’s what I thought you did to have a good time. 

My body made it very clear as I had been those years of practicing yoga, having my children, and I wanted a natural birth with them. I did that with two out of the three. My middle child was breech, and so I had a c-section with him. So I’ve had all these different experiences with my body. I’ve come to appreciate her in ways that I never did before. I look back and I know I was horrible to her for many years with how I treated her, what I said to her, and what I put inside of her. I don’t do that anymore. I’m not perfect, but each day, I commit to being more in tune with what she needs in terms of fuel sources. So we need this fuel to go all the places we’re meant to go in this life, help the people we’re meant to help, and be there for our family. Be here as long as we can in vitality with our people.

In my case, I realized that alcohol just didn’t have a role for me anymore. It couldn’t be a character in my movie any longer. I was ready to move into a new chapter, so I let it go. For other people, they can have it. But there are others who can’t eat gluten, they can’t have sugar, or they can’t have whatever. The certain people in your life, they’re just holding you back. This requires a lot of discipline, a tremendous amount of honesty, and some grief of oh my goodness, this thing that I’ve known for so long—or this person I’ve known for so long—we just can’t do this thing anymore. 

I encourage you to have those honest conversations with yourself and just get curious about what might be on the other side. Just be curious. Sometimes you can make a decision, and it might be well let me just try this for a month or a lunar cycle. We play with that, or a season, and just see. Run experiments. Run more experiments. Be curious. When you find, you know what, my life is better. My body feels better without this or with this, then run with that until it doesn’t make sense anymore. And then you’ll redesign something from there.


[01:21:24] Ashley James: Alcohol, it’s an interesting thing. We go to alcohol, sugar. There are over-the-counter things like sugar and dairy. The very stereotypical woman sitting with a pint of ice cream crying or something like that. When COVID first came about—and I saw this in our grocery stores—were completely sold out of baking goods, materials for baking. All the baker’s yeast was gone. All the flour and the sugar. People just sat at home, baked, and ate their feelings. I get it. I only stock healthy food in the house, but I definitely caught myself eating my feelings in the first few months of this crazy year. Alcohol is something that I cut out of my life really young.

I was a bartender when I was 19 because, in Canada, the drinking age could be 18 or 19, depending on what province. As a bartender, I was great as a bartender. I’m such an extrovert. I love people, and I love talking to people. It was fun. I didn’t think I’m serving people poison. At 19, I’m having fun. After a season of babysitting drunk people, it just turned me off so much. I just stopped drinking. I just didn’t like it. I don’t like feeling out of control. It didn’t give me any pleasure, but I watched my parents growing up. My mom would come home and take the vodka out of the freezer and have a shot just to calm her nerves. And then a few hours later, my dad would come home and they’d split a bottle of wine. They’d sit together at the dinner table, and they’d drink their wine.

Sometimes, on special occasions, they’d put a little wine in a glass and fill it with water. They thought it was fun, they’re sharing it with me. It became their way of de-stressing, just grounding or unwinding from the day. In looking at physiology, we know that the moment you drink even one serving of alcohol, your body goes into a state of stress for 24 hours. You can actually measure your heart rate variability, which is the most accurate indicator of stress. And that your heart rate variability becomes very poor for 24 hours after drinking even just one serving of alcohol. 

If it’s doing that to us, then it is affecting the depth of sleep, the depth of being able to regenerate your body through sleep. And then the next day, psychologically, it changes the brain chemistry so we’re more narcissistic. We’re less able to be empathetic. We actually have a harder time with emotional quotient or emotional intelligence being able to delay gratification. So we become people who need more instant gratification. This is all from one glass of wine.


[01:24:42] Jenny Fenig: One glass, yeah.


[01:24:43] Ashley James: Because now we are less likely to delay gratification, we would tend to then have another one. And we would tend to have another the next night, and the next night. It becomes a habit, and then we live a story. The story is I need this to unwind, or I deserve this to just have a break. This is going to make me feel good. Well, I can say that about sugar. I can say that about ice cream, right? We can say that about a lot of things that are over the counter, right? This is going to make me feel good. 

Now you can say that about street drugs too, but most people who are listening are not currently choosing street drugs to relax at the end of a stressful day. But most people who are even very health-conscious do find that they have their—I don’t want to call them vices, but they have—self-medication. We have to look at it, not from a point of guilt and shame because that then just perpetuates the vicious cycle, but to break out of the vicious cycle and go, what? So what are my deeper needs? If I’m trying to fulfill a need with alcohol, with sugar, with flour, or with dairy, if there’s something that is ultimately not healthy for me, but I’m using it to kind of band-aid a need, what’s that deeper need and how can I serve it in a healthier way? How can I get to the root cause? 

I used to work with a woman who was into personal growth and development and yet she couldn’t quit smoking until she finally realized why she couldn’t quit smoking. When she ever did quit smoking for periods of time, she would never take a break. She would work at her desk. She owned her own business, and she’d work out her desk from morning until night, never once getting up to stretch. Just never eating. Just really never taking care of herself. And then she would go downhill very quickly. But smoking, she caught herself and realized that it made her get off her desk, go to the balcony, take between 5 and 15 minutes and just relax, and breathe. Even though it’s breathing in a cigarette it’s still breathing


[01:27:05] Jenny Fenig: Breathing in nicotine, yeah.


[01:27:07] Ashley James: And then she would maybe grab a drink and grab a bite. And then she’d go back to the desk, and she was just as effective at her work because there comes a point when you push yourself so hard that you don’t have efficiency, as you talked about. But she used cigarettes as a way of mandating breaks. In order to successfully quit—and she did eventually—she implemented mandatory breaks without cigarettes. So she’d go outside and just breathe air without the cigarettes. She’d go for a walk, or she’d just do something else to stand up, stretch, walk around, get a glass of water, and take mandatory breaks. And then the deeper need that was being met by the cigarettes as a Band-Aid was no longer there.

I just think that if we can choose to, like you said, do a lunar cycle with no alcohol in the house, with no alcohol in your life. And instead, ask yourself what’s this deeper need? If what you really need is something to relax and de-stress, knowing that alcohol temporarily makes you kind of feel out of it and disconnected, we think it’s relaxing us, but it’s actually stressing our body more for 24 hours. And if we can get outside, like you said, and do grounding or earthing—and I have some great—I was about to say great documentaries. 

I do have a great documentary actually on that linked in the Learn True Health Facebook group under announcements. There’s an amazing documentary that we have uploaded into our Facebook group that we got permission to upload. But I have a few episodes on earthing and grounding. The importance of it, and that there are 26 studies that prove that by getting out in nature and putting your feet on the ground, or using a grounding mat if you live in a condo and you have no access to grass. By releasing those excess electrons, it decreases stress in the body, and it decreases inflammation in the body. Even people with MS and other autoimmune disorders that are triggered by inflammation see great success.

I love your very powerful and doable advice of breathing, of tuning into yourself, and of walking as much as you can out in nature—barefoot so that you can earth and ground. And then try cutting out alcohol, or try taking what’s in your diet that that little voice that you talked about, that wise but quiet voice inside you that knows that it really is time to stop drinking the coffee and switch to green tea. Switch to nut-based milk instead of cow milk because it’s affecting your immune system. Or give up the alcohol for some kombucha. Or some herbal tea.


[01:30:06] Jenny Fenig: Oh my gosh, I love kombucha.


[01:30:07] Ashley James: Right, so good. It’s so good


[01:30:09] Jenny Fenig: Oh, yeah. I have one on my desk right now. Jalapeño-kiwi-cucumber blend.


[01:30:14] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.


[01:30:14] Jenny Fenig: I just recently discovered that one. It’s that Health-Ade kombucha brand and they have a jalapeño-kiwi-cucumber. Those of you who might experiment with no alcohol or you love kombucha, I highly recommend that variety.


[01:30:27] Ashley James: Yeah, switch to kombucha.


[01:30:30] Jenny Fenig: That jalapeño has that little kick. You still want the kick in your life, that’s the thing. You thought alcohol gave you the kick, but you can get kicks in other ways.


[01:30:37] Ashley James: Absolutely. I go to the farmer’s market and there’s a local company. They fill up my big glass bottle with it. They have the most delicious strawberry one. They also have a pineapple one, and a ginger one. I love it. My husband’s addicted to the cayenne.


[01:30:56] Jenny Fenig: Cayenne pepper? Cayenne cleanse?


[01:30:58] Ashley James: Yeah. I think it’s the cayenne and ginger or something. There are so many out there. There are just fun things to swap out. But at the root of it, I want us to just ask ourselves, is this serving me? Is this really serving me on a deeper level? Or is this masking something? Is this really fulfilling a need? Or is this just masking some symptoms? If you had a headache and you just take Advil, you’re not really serving yourself in the long run because that headache is your body trying to say something.


[01:31:35] Jenny Fenig: Exactly.


[01:31:36] Ashley James: I think your life is going to express in different ways to show you that there’s some deep healing you can do, but you have to stop masking things. I don’t think we can truly do deep healing if we’re drinking alcohol every day.


[01:31:50] Jenny Fenig: Totally. That’s the thing is we’ve been fed a narrative that we aren’t strong enough to feel things. So the way through that is through drugs, through some kind of numbing technique, or some kind of numbing substance. Alcohol numbs you. I experimented with plenty of drugs growing up. I numbed out from feeling things, from feeling stuff that felt very, very hard to feel. 

The same thing when I went through childbirth, and I did so much study. I actually want to feel it. It’s okay, every woman can decide what’s right for her, but I wanted to feel the contractions. I wanted to feel the birth happening. I trusted my body. I didn’t need to numb out on that. You reclaim your power when you know that you can feel things. There are people who can help you feel things. I’ve worked with plenty of healers, therapists, and all the things. But gosh, there is liberation on the other side of feeling that stuff and knowing that it won’t kill you. It’s just going to make you stronger. You’re going to be reminded about who you are, and it will prepare you for all the other journeys you’re going to take in your life.


[01:33:12] Ashley James: Beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. It has been such a pleasure to have this conversation with you, Jenny. I look forward to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re all seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but I look forward to implementing everything that we learned here today and possibly having you back on the show to see how things are progressing and have you come to share more with us.


[01:33:41] Jenny Fenig: That would be lovely. Thank you so much. It’s been a really, really powerful conversation. I send so much love and courage to everyone. We’re really creating the future today. We’re living it, and we’re living in a really fascinating time. I know it’s hard, but I also keep reminding myself when I say it to others, what a fascinating time to be alive. We could have chosen different times, you know what I mean? And we’re here now. Okay. Let’s show up, and let’s just do our best. Let’s keep choosing health. Let’s keep choosing the healthy path as best we can.


[01:34:24] Ashley James: An ancient Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times.” And that can be taken many ways. I love that. Let’s just keep choosing health and keep choosing the healthy path no matter what. Thank you so much, Jenny. It’s been a pleasure having you on the show.


[01:34:40] Jenny Fenig: Thank you.


[01:34:42] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Jenny Fenig. Please check out IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition by going to That’s, sign up for a free module, and see if it’s right for you. See if taking the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s health coach training program is the path that you want to take either for your own personal growth to help yourself, your family, or your friends, or adding tools to your tool belt, or having a career. This is the career that you can do from home. Now is the time to invest in our own education and experience. Now is the time to dive into personal growth.

I don’t want to say we could turn these lemons into lemonade, but sugar-free lemonade. We can take the hand we’ve been dealt right now, and we can turn it around and figure out how we can gain the most benefit. If you have to be at home right now, then find ways of enriching your life, enriching your experiences. Things like doing online school. It’s a fantastic way to spend your time to grow and to learn. If your kids are doing school from home, why not you as well?

So check out IIN. And you know what, I’ve heard a lot of parents have shared the IIN course with their whole family. My husband watched some of the videos and some of the training modules with me and really enjoyed it. I know that older kids often love learning from it as well. It’s something that you can share with your children and maybe make it part of your homeschooling. So go to, check it out, and give them a call. Make sure you mention Ashley James and Learn True Health podcast for the listener discount.

Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing these episodes. Come join the Learn True Health Facebook group, and have yourself a fantastic rest of your day.



Get Connected With Jenny Fenig!





Book by Jenny Fenig

Get Gutsy: A Sacred, Fearless Guide for Finding Your Soul’s Calling and Living Your Dream

Recommended Reading by Jenny Fenig

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Aug 28, 2020

The Healthy Bones Nutrition Plan and Cookbook: How to Prepare and Combine Whole Foods to Prevent and Treat Osteoporosis Naturally:

Magnesium Soak: Use coupon code LTH at

Dr. Laura Kelly's website:


Treat Osteoporosis and Osteopenia Naturally



  • Benefits of eating mushrooms
  • Isolates versus complex herb cocktail as medicine
  • Importance of self-care
  • What contributes to bone loss and fractures
  • Nutrition is foundational medicine
  • Medicine is part of life


What is self-care? How do you practice self-care? Dr. Laura Kelly shares what self-care is, and it may be different for everybody. She explains that self-care includes everything about us from the food we eat down to our thoughts. We need to listen and know our bodies really well so we can practice self-care daily. She also shares how her patients, including her mom, were able to heal their bone diseases through her protocol.


Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I’m so excited for you to learn from Dr. Laura Kelly today. She wrote a book using food, nutrition, and herbs to support the body in growing healthy, strong, flexible bones at any age. You can be a grandma. You can be in your 90s. You could be a 100-year-old marathon runner. You could be a 20-year-old. Whatever age you are, now is the time to start growing a healthy skeletal system. And what’s so cool is she’s even seen some of her patients and some of her readers reverse other diseases as well. Even her mom reversed calcification in the arteries of her heart after following this protocol because by following this protocol, you’re supporting the body’s ability to lay down healthy mineralization and create flexible bones so that they don’t fracture, so that they’re stronger, and that also supports the body in balancing minerals even in the soft tissue as well. So it’s very exciting.

We also get into talking so much about the contrast between natural medicine and drug-based medicine, and just new ways of looking at it, which I think are really exciting especially because I know, I know you’re going to be sharing this episode with someone you care about. For all the new listeners that this is their first episode, welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I am so excited to have you here. Dr. Laura Kelly is going to be giving away a copy of her book to a lucky listener, so please come join the Facebook group, the Learn True Health Facebook group. It’s free. It’s a wonderful community, very supportive. If you’re into holistic health and you want to be part of a community that’s all into holistic health, you’ve come to the right place. Join the Learn True Health Facebook group

Now, as we talk about different minerals, supplements, herbs, and foods, one thing that I have to let you know about is my favorite magnesium soak. Magnesium is the most important mineral for the body. Now there are over 60 minerals. The body needs at least 60 essential minerals to fully function, but there are elements and there are so many nutrients in the soil that the body needs that plants then digest, and that’s when we eat the plants, we get them. Sometimes we need to take them as a supplement, but the most important is magnesium, and magnesium is used so quickly and so readily by the body, we’re chronically deficient in it. And this is why I love this particular magnesium soak. I’ve had the founder of this company on the show several times. Her name is Kristen Bowen. So you can go to my website, and type in Kristen Bowen, and listen to the past episodes.

At her worst, she was I believe 97 pounds, having 30 seizures a day, and in a wheelchair unable to communicate. And that was at her lowest. She was able to, with the help of her family, get her life back, and her health back. She found that the thing that made the biggest difference for her recovery was soaking in magnesium. It’s a special concentration from nature. It’s from the Zechstein Sea. It also has other co-factors in it. And when we soak in it, we absorb an average of 20 grams of magnesium. You can’t get that much if you take oral because oral magnesium reacts very poorly with the digestive system, and it’s just not economical for us to get IV magnesium—going to a doctor and getting IV magnesium. So it’s very economical to be able to soak in magnesium at home. It’s safe for children, it’s safe for pregnancy, it’s safe for everyone. So please check out the links in today’s episode.

Also, for Dr. Kelly’s book, for Dr. Kelly’s website, and for the magnesium soak that I recommend, you can get it from the website and use coupon code LTH for the listener discount. That’s Grab the big jug. It says undiluted magnesium soak. You buy that big jug, and then use the coupon code at checkout LTH, as in Learn True Health, LTH for the listener discount. And check out those episodes that I did with Kristen Bowen. It’s quite fascinating.

I’m so excited for you to learn from Dr. Laura Kelly, and she’s promised to come back on the show because she has invented software that helps us to decipher and understand our genetic expressions. How cool is that? So she’s going to come back on the show and continue this wonderful discussion about how we can uncover what our body needs, our unique needs to support our optimal health.

Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this episode with those you care about. All those friends and family that want to have strong healthy bones. I even know some marathon runners that I’ll be sharing this episode with because they suffer from chronic fractures. So this is not just an episode for those who are senior citizens. This is an episode for everyone. Everyone deserves to have strong flexible bones at any age, and if it takes just doing a few tweaks to your lifestyle, to your diet, to your supplement routine to make such a huge health difference, why not. You’re worth it. It’s such a worthwhile investment.

I highly recommend getting Dr. Kelly’s book after listening to this episode. I already bought a few copies for my friends and family. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.


[00:05:59] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 443. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have Dr. Laura Kelly on the show. What a fascinating book. You have published The Healthy Bones, how we can, through food, nourish our skeletal system so we can reverse and prevent osteopenia, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis. Fantastic. I’m so excited to have you on the show today. Welcome.


[00:06:38] Dr. Laura Kelly: Thank you, Ashley. It’s good to be here.


[00:06:40] Ashley James: Absolutely. This is such an important topic, especially when we look at demographics and we see that our wonderful baby boomer parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles—that generation has moved into that era where their MDs are pushing them to be on drugs like Boniva or Fosamax, right? I don’t even know if those are still available. Drugs like that have caused so much harm to people in the past. I see it. I see people, especially seniors, being pushed to have drug after drug after drug. The body doesn’t have a drug deficiency. The body has a mineral deficiency.


[00:07:25] Dr. Laura Kelly: Right. That’s a good way to put it.


[00:07:28] Ashley James: Right, right.


[00:07:29] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yeah. I mean it’s certainly a deficiency issue, for sure.


[00:07:33] Ashley James: Right. It just makes sense, but unfortunately for the MD, the only tool they have is drugs. They were never taught in medical school about nutrition, and of course, you were. Before we dive into how we can use food to heal our body and prevent and reverse disease, I’d love for you to tell us what happened in your life that made you want to become a doctor of oriental medicine, and made you want to practice medicine the way that you do?


[00:08:06] Dr. Laura Kelly: I always wanted to study medicine from when I was a little kid. It runs in my family. My uncle was head of neurosurgery, at George Washington University for 20 years. My other uncle is a physicist, my brother is a surgeon. So there’s a lot of medicine and a lot of medical thought in my family. And when it came time to get serious about life and start thinking about what I actually wanted to do as an adult, which happened quite late for me, which was around age 35, I started on the medical path. I started going back to school pre-med at UCLA, that sort of thing and intended on going to medical school. And then, as I approached that, it started to become apparent that path was not satisfying what I was looking for.


[00:09:06] Ashley James: What happened? So were you a teenager? Were you in pre-med?


[00:09:12] Dr. Laura Kelly: No, no, no. This was when I was older. This was when I was 35.


[00:09:15] Ashley James: Really? So what happened though? What happened that made you see that drug-based medicine wasn’t fulfilling?


[00:09:24] Dr. Laura Kelly: It wasn’t anything external, and it wasn’t an issue with me. It wasn’t a health issue with me or anything like that. It was really an internal drive. I had always felt close to nature, and that seemed to me to be the source of all things in this regard. That there were patterns here that were easy, natural, and harmonious. And it didn’t make sense to me in the larger picture to step very far away from that if I was talking about healing and working with a body, which came out of nature. So there was a very strong internal instinctual drive towards that, which I’d never heard about alternative medicine very much before. It wasn’t something that happened in my family, but it just was there, that drive, and I sort of re-examined the medical path. I thought there must be another way into medicine.

So I started looking around and I found that Chinese medicine was very rigorous, and there were thousands, literally thousands of years of documentation, and thousands and thousands of years of case reports. There was enough science available in medicine for me to feel satisfied because I have a strong drive for knowledge. This medicine just appealed to me. It fit with the natural paradigm in an incredibly beautiful way. I mean Chinese medicine, again, the current literature that we still use today started 5000 years ago. There’s a book 5000 years ago that we still read.


[00:11:14] Ashley James: Wow.


[00:11:16] Dr. Laura Kelly: That came out of philosophy. It didn’t come out of let’s make a drug. It came out of natural philosophy. Natural philosophy evolved into medicine, and then it became medicine officially 5000 years ago. That kind of progression made a lot of sense to me intellectually.


[00:11:41] Ashley James: What is the philosophy? How is the philosophy of oriental medicine, as a doctor, differ from seeing an MD and their philosophy that governs how they practice medicine?


[00:11:57] Dr. Laura Kelly: Well the philosophy of the Taoist-based, which is sort of a philosophy of oneness with nature, essentially if you can boil it down to something. And the fact that we are part of nature and we are completely not extricable from that process. The things that make the amino acids and the things that makeup and the structures around us, we are made of the same things. We’re all made of the same things. So that harmony is inherent in Chinese medicine, and I think is inherent in all-natural medicines and all traditional natural medicines that are originating out of cultures that are connected to cultural traditions. Which is very different from the current western medical paradigm, which it’s an analysis. That’s an analysis-based, and that comes around from something like having a microscope and trying to see smaller and smaller pieces, and smaller and smaller parts and isolate understanding. That’s very different. It’s just a different way of looking at the world, and it’s a different way of looking at medicine and the body. They’re both, obviously, entirely valid. They’re just different.


[00:13:23] Ashley James: What’s been described to me is that we need to know when to which doctor, not witch doctors. We need to know when to go to the MD. When to go to the emergency room, essentially. When to go to your Naturopath. When to go to your doctor of oriental medicine. When you go to your chiropractor, right? There are several different forms of medicine and they’re all valid. And if we look at the history of modern medicine in the last 115 years or so, what then became the AMA, the AMA, for so many years, has done huge slander campaigns against all other forms of medicine. And they actually coined it as alternative medicine. And that is almost like it’s Orwellian in a sense that if they can label everything else, everything that isn’t drug-based medicine alternative medicine, then what they’ve done is they made it sound less than.

A Naturopath that I’ve worked with said that if you said a German shepherd was the only actual dog, and every other dog was an alternative dog—the German shepherd is the one dog everyone should have, but a greyhound is an alternative dog, a little Weiner dog is an alternative dog, and the Australian shepherd is an alternative dog. That is absolutely silly, right? It’s completely silly. There is no such thing as alternative medicine. That term was used to discredit valid forms of medicine.

As a doctor of oriental medicine, you’re saying that it’s quite science-based for the last 5000 years. Now there is an appeal to novelty. I was recently sharing a study with someone. In the ‘70s, they were able to reverse gestational diabetes. It was an amazing study, but it was done in the ‘70s. This woman then said, “That’s not valid, it was done in the ‘70s.” I’m thinking, did our genes all of a sudden change? Are we no longer the same humans as the ‘70s? Why isn’t a study that was done 50 years ago valid? I think that’s really funny.

Perhaps there are some listeners who think that oriental medicine, yes, it may have been practiced for 5000 years, but at some point, we practiced bloodletting. We realized that’s not a valid form of medicine, but at the time it was science. What could you share with us that proves that oriental medicine is quite valid now? What kinds of recent studies are showing how it can very much help us?


[00:16:30] Dr. Laura Kelly: I mean there are two parts to that answer, and the first part is like you said, our bodies are still the same as they were. Until we have different bodies, then the things that worked 5000 years ago will still work, and the things that work in the ‘70s will still work. What’s happening now, for example, let’s take malaria. So malaria, obviously, one of the problems is that the bugs get used to the drugs. The World Health Organization is in charge of defining what malaria drugs are being used. 

It was not that long ago, maybe it was 10 years ago, that it was realized that there’s a traditional Chinese medical formula for malaria. I think it’s probably 8 or 12—I’m sorry, I don’t remember exactly. But you learn it, and what you learn is that you can take this prophylactically. You can take this before you are exposed, and you can take it as a treatment, and it works. Malaria is not a big deal if you know how to treat it with this. That’s what you learn in school, that’s what the books say, and that’s what everything says. 

So in 2005, maybe, I’m sorry, I don’t remember the date. There was a Chinese medical researcher who brought forward the isolate from one of the main herbs in this formula and said we can cure malaria with this and won the Nobel prize. She won the Nobel prize in medicine for this isolate from a Chinese medical herb that had been used for thousands of years, and the WHO adopted this herb and said, yes, this is absolutely correct. This herb works. So what they did is they created a drug cocktail for malaria with this as the key component because the other drugs that they had been using against malaria were starting to fall off. They weren’t working anymore. So they added this constituent, which is an isolate, and it worked for a number of years. It is, as far as, I know starting to fall off now. The bugs are starting to become accustomed to this isolate as well. So they’re going to have to keep looking and look for more things.

There are two issues with this. One of them is that this was a malaria formula that we all know that is useful, functional, and does what it says it’s going to do, so much so that the WHO said this is a drug. The problem comes when you pull isolates, and this goes back to the concept of different medicines. If you pull an isolate out of a complex formula, if you have 8 herbs or 12 herbs, you’re going to have hundreds and hundreds of active ingredients, and they’re all going to be working against each other and with each other. And that combination, that’s a massive numerical combination of effect, which is not possible to replicate. 

So if you pull out one isolate from the thousands and thousands or millions of reactions that are occurring within your system with all of those herbs, you’re exposing the effect to exactly what happened, which is the bugs—because it’s an isolate—can now overcome this single substance. Where it was when it was part of a much larger combination, it was harder for the body of the bug to overcome. There’s a danger a little bit when you’re moving between medicines that way if you don’t understand the complexity of the synergy of the effect of the medicinal herbs that you’re working with. You use an isolate because that’s the medicine you work in, the medical paradigm is isolationist. That is a little bit off the subject.


[00:20:34] Ashley James: No, that’s brilliant. That’s right on point. Do the Chinese herbs that they’ve used for thousands of years for malaria still work today? Or has malaria adapted?


[00:20:49] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yes. It still works in combination, as far as I know. The bug hasn’t completely overcome this isolate, but it’s starting to. I think it’s in Cambodia that it started to become non-effective or less effective.


[00:21:06] Ashley James: The isolate was turned into a drug, but I mean the original cocktail of Chinese herbs? The original, not the isolate, but the original cocktail of herbs, are they still used, and are they still valid?


[00:21:21] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yes. Until I hear otherwise, they are still valid, and that’s because of the complexity that you encounter when you combine 8 or 10 herbs with, let’s just say, 40 active constituents that are going to all playoff against each other. You’re creating a complex, complex response in the system. So, yeah.


[00:21:45] Ashley James: I interviewed a doctor who’s been an MD for 40 years, although he studied in a part of Germany that very interesting—while he was becoming a surgeon, while all these doctors become surgeons, they’re also taught acupuncture and homeopathy at the same time at the university level. He came to the United States 40 years ago thinking that all doctors knew homeopathy and acupuncture.


[00:22:09] Dr. Laura Kelly: Oh, that’s wonderful.


[00:22:10] Ashley James: And then he was like, what’s going on here? Why are we giving drugs to people? His name is Dr. Klinghardt, and he has an amazing, amazing ability to help children who are on the spectrum no longer be on the spectrum, also people who have Lyme disease, and just these very strange and hard to get over illnesses. He says his favorite thing to do is to find—someone that needs a drug, let’s say, and then—the herbal alternative that works better than the drug. 

So he doesn’t ever use drugs unless he absolutely, absolutely, absolutely needs to. But he says that herbs always work better than the drug that would be prescribed to that symptom because most drugs are an isolate, like you said, of an herb. Like a compound of an herb, but they throw away all the other medicinal benefits from the herb when they just isolate one component. And this is the problem because drugs are for-profit—I know I’m singing to the choir—they end up looking to make a profit and protect patents instead of looking out for the greater good of humanity, in which case we would still be using and promoting the herbal complex that has worked to prevent and cure malaria.


[00:23:45] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yes. I think that there are quite a lot of people—to defend some of them—who are well-meaning. There was a symposium yesterday, and the discussion was about certain vaccine development. The concept around vaccine development is to find something that can help the world, right? To cure whatever disease is going to be, but the paradigm with which that is in is the paradigm of what’s the disease, and what’s the treatment. And the human body and the environment in which that disease is occurring is left out of that equation.

There’s a whole other side of medicine, which is the side of medicine that I chose to practice, which is primarily concerned with the human body, the environment of that human body, and the environment into which the disease comes. It’s like two different approaches to the same median, which is the human body interacting with the world. The human body interacting with the disease. And they have one angle, which is the disease treatment, and we have one angle, which is the environment of the body itself. Bringing them together is what everybody really needs, right?

When the problem that you’re speaking about before about the AMA trashing all of us is really unfortunate to me. It’s not classy, you know what I mean? It’s just not classy. When you start mixing dogma and medicine, I think you have a recipe for a real problem.


[00:25:32] Ashley James: That’s why I believe that people should know more about each kind of doctor, each kind of medicine. Instead of having a dogma about it, they can go to the right practitioner. You wouldn’t take your car to see a plumber. Don’t take your body to always the same kind of doctor because you’re just going to get their one philosophy of medicine. So just know which one to go to when, and I’ve had several episodes about this. So let’s learn more about you, how you practice medicine, and as a doctor of oriental medicine. Especially because you’re so excited about the science behind it, the philosophy that we are part of nature, and let’s use nature to bolster the environment of our body so our body can really do the heavy lifting when it comes to fighting off disease, right?

Let’s bolster our own amazing God-given ability. If you’re a spiritual person, you believe in God, and you start studying how the immune system works, it is amazing. When I started studying and really getting into it, we are so complex. Our immune system is so brilliant. Our body functions are so beautiful, so harmonious. There are thousands of things all going on together in harmony. There’s nothing like it. There’s absolutely nothing like it. And even if you look some at simpler organisms, they’re still incredibly complex and beautiful, and there’s this balance. Homeostasis is amazing.

If you’re someone that doesn’t believe in God, look into the science and just see how complex, beautiful, and intelligent it is. We have to really appreciate that our body has an innate intelligence to come back into balance, and it’s our job to help it. You as a doctor look to facilitate bringing the body back into balance so the body’s intelligence can do all the work, right?


[00:27:44] Dr. Laura Kelly: That’s beautifully said. Absolutely. That’s exactly what I do because there isn’t any reason to try and throw it off. I mean certainly, there are circumstances, like Dr. Klinghardt, if you’ve gotten to the end, you’ve tried everything, and if the problem is just too entrenched or it’s a genetic problem, then you may not have success. But even then, you can somewhat. The last resort, of course, is to really hit it hard with the heavy hammer of a western pharmaceutical. Up until that point, there’s incredible knowledge within the body that if you give it the right pieces, it knows what to do with them. That’s for sure.


[00:28:31] Ashley James: Your book is about supporting the skeletal system. What led you to want to publish this book?


[00:28:40] Dr. Laura Kelly: My mother. She had a progressive bone loss for about 18 years, and she finally hit the point where her doctor said to her, if you don’t take this reclass shot, then I can’t treat you any further because you will break your hip, and then you might die. My mother called me, and I was in school at that time. She said, “What am I supposed to do?” And I said, “Well, you know what, there are a number of herbs that I know fix fractures. Let me look into this. I’ll get back to you in a couple of months.”

So I took a fracture map of the world, I looked at high and low fracture rates in the elderly over time, pulled apart the diets of the people with the high and low fractures, and figured out what was missing and what needed to happen. I called her back in two months and I said, “Here’s a list of the reasons why I believe this is happening. So pick three of them and start there.” So she did that, and then we did another DEXA scan early. You’re supposed to do them every two years. We did it in 15 months, and for the first time in 18 years, she had no bone loss. So her doctor said, “Well, that’s a complete fluke. You still have to take medicine.” And my mother said, “Well, you know what, let’s just wait just a minute.”

So in the meantime, she had a scan and her cardiologist called me and she said, “What did you do? Because the plaque is clearing out of her carotid arteries.” So I said, “It’s all nutritionally-based. What I’m doing is activating the mechanisms that she already has in her body that weren’t activated to guide the calcium where it needs to go. And I guess, as a byproduct of that, it happens to be clearing the calcified plaque out of her arteries.” So she said, “Well, you need to write a book for doctors. You need to write a book for doctors because you’re sort of sciencey. You bridge the gap.” So I started that, and then I realized that this wasn’t for doctors. That this was medicine that people can do themselves.

Of course, MDs, medically trained doctors, do need to understand these principles and practices because they can help their patients. But it felt more important to me, at the time, and it probably still is more important to me to write it for my mother and for other mothers because there isn’t a reason to fear this diagnosis in 99% of cases or 99.9%, and you can actually take care of it yourself. So it made much more sense to write the book, again, for mothers.

So I called my mother and I said, “Hey, listen.” And by this time, she had had a second DEXA scan, again, not in four years, but still within another year maybe, and she still had no bone loss. So we realized that this wasn’t a fluke. Her doctor said, “Okay, well maybe it’s not a fluke.” So I called my mother and I said, “You know what, let’s write this together because this is for you. Let’s do it.” So we did that. We called a publisher and said, “Do you want to publish this?” And Chelsea Green, a wonderful publisher, said yes. So we sat down and wrote it.


[00:32:14] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. I love it. I’m so excited.


[00:32:20] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yeah. It was a wonderful process.


[00:32:21] Ashley James: Okay. So what I want to know is why was she reluctant to get the shots? Most people are super wanting to do whatever their doctor says. I know a lot of people who just go in. They go in because they’re sick and the doctor says, while you’re here, let’s give you a flu shot. Well, they’re sick. Well, their well their immune system is compromised. Oh, it’s time for these other vaccines. Oh, we need to give you the… So anyway, most people go in and get whatever shot, whatever medication, blindly follow without question whatever their doctor says. You said it was a reclass shot? What was it about that had your mother go wait a second, I want to think about this. Why was she not super eager to do exactly what her doctor said without question?


[00:33:20] Dr. Laura Kelly: Because I had started going to alternative medicine school. I think I was in year six at that point out of seven, or maybe I was actually in year seven. I’m sorry, I was in year seven. I had already been speaking to her and taking care of her from this more natural perspective for six years. So over that six-year period, gone from not really knowing or having any interest to buy now at year seven, she was sort of saying okay, well wait a minute, this is actually serious. This is actually real. This is actually right. When that came up, then she could turn to me instead of her doctor.


[00:34:13] Ashley James: You had been in school for oriental medicine for a while, so you had a few years to have her see some results. What kind of results was she getting to open her eyes to natural medicine? Did you help her through any other health problems before this?


[00:34:37] Dr. Laura Kelly: No. She was fairly healthy. She was very healthy really, to begin with. She has a natural instinct as well, which I think had never been allowed to live. Do you know what I mean? I think that was a latent belief or a latent tendency in her to connect with nature and all that sort of thing. But she grew up in the ‘50s, and life was a little different then. She didn’t participate in the ‘60s revolution, so she was outside of any of that mind-expanding situation that occurred. That was latent in her, and I think that when I took the step, it allowed her to let that out a little bit, and let her think about exploring other things other than the things that she’d been told. So I think it was a gradual process, but again, it was inherent in her already.


[00:35:41] Ashley James: I love it. We have to foster that quiet voice inside of us that is the first voice, that little voice that comes in first, and then we usually override it. It’s like the voice that says bring an umbrella when it’s sunny outside. That’s the voice, right? Or bring a sweater when it’s hot outside. That little voice, that first voice. So when a doctor says, You have to take this medicine, and that little voice says, no, I don’t think so. Something feels wrong here. We just need to listen. Just take a step back.


[00:36:18] Dr. Laura Kelly: That’s really wonderful. That’s a wonderful thing to say. But that’s not taught, Ashley. We don’t learn to do that in our culture. We don’t learn to sit with ourselves quietly and listen. It’s something that definitely happens. I mean meditation, these moving meditations, tai chi, and things like this. For example, part of the tradition of medicine that I learned, all of this is part of medicine. All of this is part of caring for the body. You don’t come with an instruction manual. You don’t come with all of the things that you need in order to take care of yourself, but you come with, in that tradition, medical practices. Medical practices that you carry with you throughout your life in order to keep yourself healthy, in order to treat yourself, in order to listen to your body. And you learn how to do that within that culture.

We don’t learn that here. It’s not part of our cultural upbringing. It’s not part of our cultural heritage. Everything should function great, and then when it stops functioning great we go, oh, what am I supposed to do now? Okay, here’s somebody that knows what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to listen to them. Part of the holistic medical road is you learn to care for yourself from the beginning, and you learn to help the people that you live with. You learn to care for the people who are around you, and this is part of the medical structure.

So this is an inherently different way of approaching life. It’s saying part of my life is self-care. That’s a very powerful thing to learn when you’re young, right? I didn’t learn that until I was well into my 30s. But I can imagine what it would have felt like to learn that from when I was very young.


[00:38:24] Ashley James: Yes. Can you imagine if we raised an entire generation to practice self-care?


[00:38:30] Dr. Laura Kelly: I can’t, I cannot, but it would be wonderful.


[00:38:34] Ashley James: Okay, one thing I’m deeply saddened by but I want to shed light on is that the rate of suicide for ages 10 to 26 has gone up so much. I believe it’s the second cause of death in that generation right now. That it is so high. There’s a huge disconnect, and with holistic medicine, we know that emotional, mental, and physical health because MDs mostly focus on the physical. They see a symptom they attack it with a drug, or they manage, they suppress symptoms. They manage things with drugs. There are enlightened MDs out there. I know sometimes I sound like I’m bashing them. I want us to just broaden our perspective and really see the whole forest. Just get a 30,000-foot view.

We have been taught that there’s a physical body and it’s separate. It’s separate from mental, emotional health, and that in our culture, when you have the mental and emotional issues, there’s something wrong with you. We’re either normal or abnormal. That’s a philosophy that says we’re broken. And that is just such an incomplete version of what it is. The experience of what it is to be human.


[00:40:02] Dr. Laura Kelly: It’s inhuman.


[00:40:04] Ashley James: Right. It’s inhuman to think that when someone has mental and emotional unhealth, that we’re broken. When in fact, it is part of being human. That we have an emotional body. We have mental health things to work out, and it’s not you’re normal or abnormal, you’re human, right? 

What we’re seeing is suicide rates going up is a symptom of a problem that our medical system is broken, which we already knew that. But also, our philosophy—as parents, as aunts and uncles, and as cousins—of how we’re raising this generation is incomplete. And what we need to do is come back to what you’re saying. Maybe this is your next book. Just like you looked at cultures that have the lowest rate of osteoporosis and the lowest rate of fractures, and then you looked at what was different in their diet versus the ones with the highest. What about cultures that have the lowest rate of suicide and what they’re doing differently? What philosophy are they doing differently? 

I really feel that self-care taught at an early age also increases self-worth, and if we can practice things like becoming quiet, doing breathing—I mean meditation kind of is a trigger word for some people because it seems too daunting. But simply going into oneself and just turn off the cell phone. Turn off the outside stimulus, and go into oneself—journal, breathe, get out in nature, do some self-reflection, share your thoughts and feelings with someone who’s supportive, and disconnect from negative energy, negative social media, that kind of thing, and practice self-care. There would also be a component of self-love and self-respect. 

We really need to look at what’s going on because if we have a generation that has huge mental and emotional health issues, they’re not practicing self-care, self-love. And these are the things that also, as you say, are done in cultures that have less disease.


[00:42:35] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yes. I mean it is a philosophical issue back to that. There isn’t a cultural philosophy that I can pinpoint in America that’s effective in that sort of way. I didn’t grow up with one. So it’s hard, at any point, to say okay, now we have to find a philosophy because that’s not how it works. And that’s why everybody gets sort of tripped up with this concept. Can I meditate? Like you said, it’s really daunting because there is no philosophical base for the concept. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re meditating. It doesn’t matter if you call it that. It doesn’t matter if you do it right. None of that matters. What matters is that you are listening to yourself, and you’re saying I am making space for you. I am making time for you. That’s it. That’s all that actually matters about it. Because when you start to recognize that you just want to make space for yourself, whatever that means for you, then you are respecting yourself. Then you’re respecting your body, and you’re respecting your mind. The response that you get from that will be enormous.

To me, it’s about separating it from the concepts because we don’t have a philosophy in which to place the concepts. So let’s just get rid of them and say well, what am I actually doing? What I’m actually doing is respecting and loving myself, and that’s all I have to do. And if you start there, then you will grow your own philosophy out of that seed. That’s how I help people in a mental and philosophical way. It’s really just about do I love myself enough to sit and say, I’m going to give myself some space and time. If you find that you don’t, then you have to do some examination. Find ways into being good with sitting with yourself and giving yourself respect. But this takes us back to the mental-physical conjunction. The lack of separation of these things.

We’ll pull it back down to reality. When you start to examine things like nutrition and brain function, the mechanisms in the brain, every single neurotransmitter turning into another neurotransmitter, every single function of the neurotransmitters, and the neurotransmitters themselves, all require different nutrients. The neurotransmitters need amino acids to be built. The translation of GABA to glutamate needs vitamin B6 and magnesium. If you don’t have these things, your brain isn’t going to work very well, and of course, you’re going to not feel good in a mental space. These are fundamental pieces. These are key important pieces.

And then the other part of that is, for example, with B6, if you’re looking, if you’re speaking with autistic kids or people with ADHD and focus problems, again, vitamin B6 is one of the key factors for transforming glutamate into GABA. And that’s the inhibition of the stimulation. So if you don’t have enough magnesium, which a majority of Americans apparently don’t according to all sources including the US government, but also a lot of issues can come around the B vitamins in terms of the transformation of the B vitamins within your body. Because the form that you eat a vitamin in is not the form your body uses it in. It has to go through transformational steps, and every single one of those transformational steps is regulated by a gene. All genes have the ability to be mutated or have polymorphisms.

So quite a lot of times, what you find is that even though this child is eating B vitamins, the pathway of transformation for some of the B vitamins isn’t working. So the form that he needs the B6 in order to transform the excitatory neurotransmitter into the inhibitory neurotransmitter his body doesn’t make. So he could eat B6 forever, and he still would not be able to efficiently make that transformation. So the glutamate will stay high, the inhibition of the GABA won’t happen, and he’s excited. 

But when you understand this process that the body has to go through these genetic transformations to make these things actually available, and that every single step is an opportunity for it to go wrong. When you start to understand those pathways you can say okay, now I need to give him the pre-transformed version of B6 because his body’s not doing it. And then the neurotransmitters start to function properly in that mechanism.


[00:48:20] Ashley James: Can that be derived from food? Or would that need to be a methylated B vitamin supplement?


[00:48:25] Dr. Laura Kelly: It would need to be a methylated supplement. So these are the pieces that are really key to understanding anything that you want. The entire system is built from nutrients, right? There’s no way around that. All nutrients and everything that comes into your body is information, essentially. How is that body set up to receive that information, and can it use the information? Does it understand the language? Or does it need help understanding that language information? That’s the base in my having looked at this and worked with lots and lots of patients, and thought about all different types of disease and all different types of mental states and things like this.

The bottom of the foundation of all this just simply is understanding. All of the nutrients are necessary—minerals, vitamins, everything is necessary. There’s nothing that’s not supposed to be there. It all has to be there. How does this particular person’s body respond and use that information—those nutrients? Let’s optimize that function as much as possible so that they can get the most out of everything that they’re taking because everybody’s taking supplements, and everybody’s trying to figure out what the right diet is. But without knowing this information, there is no optimization possible. Sometimes, it’s not possible to get happier, better brain function if you’re not transforming your B vitamins.

So these are things that just have to be known, and to me, this is fundamental medicine. From my perspective, the real foundational medicine of this body is nutrition because it’s the only way that it functions. As scientists, as doctors, we have to say, okay, this is the fundamental medicine. Let’s dig into it. Let’s pull it apart and figure out everything we need to understand how to make this work for us. And that wasn’t done by western medicine. Luckily now, it’s being done by a lot of people. And there’s a lot of nutritional medicine and research going on, are really coming to understand how these things function and why they’re so important.

Let me step back all the way to the very bottom of our bodies, which is our DNA. Not even speaking about it from the place of what it does, but speaking about the fact that what it is. DNA is made of something, and it’s made of nucleic acids. Nucleic acids, guess where we get them? We eat them, right? We have a pathway within us which is called a de novo synthesis pathway which can recycle what we have, but human breast milk is full of nucleic acid because that baby needs a huge supply of nucleic acids to build DNA because that baby is just pumping out cells rapidly.

Coming back again, the nucleic acids, we get them from what we eat, but we also need to structure them into DNA. Our body does that in the liver, but it does not do that without folate, without the vitamins, and without the nutrients. These are co-factors that our body uses to build our DNA. To take those nucleic acids, put them together, and make the strands. Without the co-factors of B vitamins, for example, it won’t happen. We won’t build DNA.

So when you’re looking at a system, for example, the immune system which is a rapid turnover—you’re going to get a turnover of cells every day, three to six days you’re going to get a full turnover of cells. The digestive tract, six days turnover of cells. These are rapidly turning over systems. Your body is constantly having to replenish cells, building cells all the time in these two systems. So these two systems need a lot of nucleic acids because you’re building a lot of DNA because there’s DNA in every cell.

You can pull nutrition back to this extremely base level and really see that this is really important because your immune system will not function if you don’t have enough nutritional co-factors, If you don’t have enough nucleic acids, which you get from mushrooms, for example.


[00:53:21] Ashley James: Ohh.


[00:53:22] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yes, nice link, right?


[00:53:26] Ashley James: I love mushrooms so much.


[00:53:28] Dr. Laura Kelly: Mushrooms are amazing, and they’re the only real substantial source of nucleic acids in the plant kingdom.


[00:53:35] Ashley James: Wow, really?


[00:53:37] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yeah. This is why they have been used traditionally for thousands and thousands of years as a longevity food.


[00:53:42] Ashley James: Any mushroom? Or are there certain kinds of mushrooms that have more co-factors than others?


[00:53:48] Dr. Laura Kelly: They have different factors meaning there are multiple levels of function with mushrooms. So you have the source of nucleic acids within the mushrooms, which are the building blocks for the DNA, but then you also have specific factors within each of the different types of mushrooms that trigger different immune system cell type growth. So some of the immune some of the mushrooms will trigger early phase immune response like natural killer cells and macrophages, and some of the mushrooms will trigger later stage cells—T cells, B cells, and things like this. There are multiple layers to the mushrooms in terms of the immune system and longevity.


[00:54:31] Ashley James: What kind of mushrooms do you eat on a regular basis?


[00:54:34] Dr. Laura Kelly: I eat chaga. I fluctuate depending on whatever is around. But reishi daily staple, chaga tea once a month, lion’s mane sometimes, and sort of geared towards brain health neuroplasticity, things like that.


[00:55:00] Ashley James: So those are supplements you can drink as teas or take as extracts. What about eating? Are there certain types of mushrooms that are better than others?


[00:55:13] Dr. Laura Kelly: I’m not a massive expert on mushrooms, even though I’d like to be. I think that shiitakes are particularly good. They seem to be very complex. That’s what I would suggest.


[00:55:29] Ashley James: I’ve had Dr. Joel Fuhrman on the show, and he says that everyone should eat a half a cup of mushrooms a day for some of the same reasons you’re expressing. In addition, at least a half a cup of onion, and you can mix them together. You can eat it raw or cooked. For this one particular nutrient he was talking about, and there are so many nutrients in the mushrooms. I always thought they were just water. I didn’t think that there was anything nutritionally beneficial in them, but they’re actually completely superfoods. 

Obviously buy all mushrooms should be organic because you don’t want to buy pesticide-filled mushrooms. But he said the white button cap ones, the ones that are usually void of flavor, shiitake is so flavorful. So these are very mild in flavor, and they’re the least expensive ones. He said that it actually has this one nutrient. I forget what nutrient it was, but one nutrient he was talking about that helps the immune system that they were quite high in it. You could save money and buy—it’s usually $4 a pound organic—and get these little white button cap ones.

I love cooking with mushrooms. Aren’t the building blocks as well for vitamin D? It’s like D1 or something is in mushrooms.


[00:57:00] Dr. Laura Kelly: Yes, that’s right. Maitake mushrooms are the only ones that actually have inherently vitamin D in them. Well, they have a significant amount of vitamin D compared to the rest of the mushrooms, but if you flip them up and put them in the sun gills up until they’re a little bit dry, they absorb vitamin D just like your skin does from the sun and they’ll store that.


[00:57:31] Ashley James: Yes. Then you eat it and then it’s like a vitamin D supplement.


[00:57:35] Dr. Laura Kelly: Exactly. It’s just way cheaper and more delicious.


[00:57:38] Ashley James: Oh, it’s so cool. That’s so neat. So besides mushrooms though, you’re saying that’s really the best source for the raw building blocks for nucleic acid. Would we have to then eat animals at that point if someone, for whatever reason, had adversity to mushrooms? Or is there anything else in the plant kingdom that we could eat?


[00:57:57] Dr. Laura Kelly: As far as I know, that’s the richest source is mushrooms. Other than that, you’re looking at organ meats, basically.


[00:58:08] Ashley James: Got it. Wow. I mean, that’s amazing. Let’s say someone eats the standard American diet but doesn’t eat mushrooms, doesn’t eat organ meats, they might be really low in nucleic acid.


[00:58:25] Dr. Laura Kelly: Well, this is a question. I mean, we do have a de novo synthesis pathway, which is we can recycle these pieces and make what we need to make, but again, when you’re dealing with a system with a high turnover like the immune system, the reproductive system, or the gastrointestinal system, you may not actually. This hasn’t really been researched, actually, which I find pretty interesting. It’s been researched more in Japan than it has here, by far. But there was one study that looked at if you’re an elite athlete and you’re pushing your body quite hard, one of the things that suffer post-exercise is immunity. So your immune system, the regulation goes down.

So there was research where they decided that they would supplement these elite athletes with nucleic acids post-exercise and see, and it stopped the immune fall-off.


[00:59:27] Ashley James: How