Dr. Vienna Lafrenz And Ashley James


  • 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 learntruehealth.com 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, livingthegoodlifenaturally.com. Be sure to use the coupon code: LTH when you go to her website, livingthegoodlifenaturally.com. 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 energybits.com. 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 energybits.com and coupon code LTH at livingthegoodlifenaturally.com. 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.


Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash


[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.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash 


[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.


Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash


[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.

 Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

[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.

Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash


[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 www.natural-therapeutics.com. 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.

Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash


[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 learntruehealth.com. 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 natural-therapeutics.com, and of course, that link and the link to the book is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learnsharehealth.com. 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 learntruehealth.com 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, livingthegoodlifenaturally.com. Be sure to use the coupon code: LTH when you go to her website, livingthegoodlifenaturally.com. 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 energybits.com. 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 energybits.com and coupon code LTH at livingthegoodlifenaturally.com. 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. 



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Dr. Neal Barnard & Ashley James


  • 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.


Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash


[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 pcrm.org, that’s Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, pcrm.org. 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 barnardmedical.org.


[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 learntruehealth.com. 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.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash


[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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Rip Esselstyn And Ashley James


  • 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.

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash


[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.


Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash


[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 learntruehealth.com, 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.


Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash


[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 learntruehealth.com.

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!

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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

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