Bob Rasmussen And Ashley James

Intellibed® has sold 10,000 beds to highly satisfied customers (including myself!). Bob Rasmussen, founder and chief engineer, sits with us to talk about the science behind their beautiful bed design and how it ensures deep, healing sleep.


[00:00:03] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 355.

I am so excited about today’s interview. I have had butterflies in my stomach. I’ve been looking forward to talking with Bob Rasmussen, who is the founder of Intellibed®. My new favorite obsession. I’m excited to talk with you today, Bob. Thank you so much for taking time at your busy schedule to be with us today.


[00:00:39] Bob Rasmussen: It’s totally my pleasure, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. I’m glad you had such a positive experience with Intellibed®.


[00:00:46] Ashley James: Absolutely. But before we dive into your story, which is a very interesting one, I want to share my experience.

Back in I think 2012-2013, somewhere around there, my husband and I invested several thousand dollars in what we thought was going to be a bed to last us for ten years or more—a top-of-the-line mattress. Two years later, it was warped, and I was so disappointed. I bought it from one of the major big box stores.

I noticed that my sleep was totally off. We were very disappointed with this mattress, and we called them up because we remember some guarantee or warranty. We felt misled because they said, “It’s retrograde, so we’re just going to give you a discount off the next when you buy from us.” And I thought, “What in the world! Why would I buy another mattress from you guys when the mattress you sold us didn’t even last two years?”

We ended up buying a memory topper from Costco to try to make this mattress last longer because we didn’t know where to turn. We keep going around to these big box stores, lying on different mattresses, and we weren’t really happy, and we’re kind of gun shy at this point.

Our sleep got worse and worse, and then, of course, we had a kid, so now our sleep was totally messed up. I noticed that I was going to the chiropractor sometimes two or three times a week, but once a week I was going to the chiropractor because I’d wake up in pain and I’d wake up with my neck out.

I just blamed early motherhood—I’m under a lot of stress. We got a baby, and we run a business. I didn’t blame the mattress. We were sleeping on what I didn’t realize was toxic memory foam.

Starting the podcast three years ago, I was diving more into the health space, and I kept hearing about organic beds and how these off-gassing mattresses could off-gas cancer-causing chemicals. I started to get more concerned, so we were looking for the last three years for a good mattress.

We ended up buying one that was advertised to us on Facebook as a new age mattress with really fancy advertising. I’m sure everyone listening has seen their advertisements on Facebook. Really clever videos. It came rolled up, and we had the worst sleep on it. I couldn’t believe it. We were able to return it. Thank goodness!

Right after that, Robyn Openshaw, who’s been a guest on my show—I’ve been on her show. She’s been on mine. She’s “green smoothie girl,” very famous in the holistic health space. She and I become good friends, and she told me about Intellibed®. She said, “This is the last mattress you will ever buy.” I couldn’t believe it. I’m like, “Really? Is this hype?” She goes, “No, this is the last mattress. You will sleep on this mattress for the rest of your life. It will never warp. It is the best sleep you will ever have.”

She says everyone she knows buys an Intellibed® and loves it. This company is ethical. It’s non-toxic. It has a ton of science behind it. I was excited to hear that, but I felt like I’ve been burned by mattress companies in the past.

I jumped in. We got our Intellibed®. I think we’ve been sleeping for it for about 40 nights now. It is the most magical experience I’ve ever had. I go to bed lying on my back or lying on my side, and I wake up, and it’s morning. I can’t believe that I’m no longer waking up through the night. I’m not in pain. Ever since we got the Intellibed®, I have not once been to the chiropractor.

I love my chiropractor, but I was in almost constant pain, constantly going to the chiropractor because my mattress was throwing my back out or throwing my neck out, and I didn’t realize it.

The Intellibed® has solved my sleep issues, solved the pain in the morning. I’m not in pain stiff in the morning. I don’t go to the chiropractor. This is amazing. My husband has had the same experience.

But I also love your pillows because I’ve had really difficult times with pillows. Pillows are so weird. They’re often full of dust mites, and we’ve had to do things like put our pillows in the freezer to try to kill the dust mites because my son is allergic to dust mites.

Your pillows are non-toxic. They won’t harbor dust mites. It feels like it’s holding me in the perfect position. I’m so thankful that I found you guys. I’m so excited for you to share the information that you’re here to share today because you have so much information about the toxicity of mattresses and all the science that goes behind creating a mattress that gives perfect sleep.

But also your mattresses are perfect for those who are disabled or who are elderly or who are hospitalized because they will not create bedsores. I’m excited to learn all about this and hear your story.

Thank you for letting me share my story, but also I want to let all listeners know that this is an incredible company, and I’m so thankful that I was introduced to you guys. So thank you for what you have created here today.


[00:06:29] Bob Rasmussen: It’s always so gratifying to me to hear your story and to hear stories like this. I’ve been at this for almost 20 years now; and I can tell you in all honesty that most of the people that we talked to, we sold tens of thousands of these beds, most of them have an experience very similar to yours. They tried a number of beds with frustration. They didn’t know where to turn, and it’s not that these other companies are trying to dope you or fool you. It’s just simply that they don’t have the kind of materials that Intellibed® has available to them to build a mattress that’s going to provide the proper support and comfort that you need. I’m excited about the opportunity to share science with your listeners.


[00:07:17] Ashley James: Absolutely. Now, I always thought I like the soft mattress because I want to feel like I’m on a cloud. I don’t want to feel anything poking me when I’m sleeping. A hard mattress is such a disappointment. When I go to hotels, and it just had a hard mattress, I’m always stiff. And so I’ve always acquitted a firm mattress with something negative.

But your mattress is both. It feels like a paradox. Your mattress is firm, but it also feels like I’m floating on top of it and it’s cushioning me. It gives that proper balance between firmness and then making sure that doesn’t create any pressure points which I love.

We’re going to get into the science of it, but first I want to hear your story. What led you to design the Intellibed® in such a way that has helped so many people?


[00:08:17] Bob Rasmussen: I went to school and graduated as an engineer, and immediately went into the corporate world. I spent ten years working as a design engineer for Fortune 50 company Honeywell. I spent ten years there and then was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

A good friend of mine was in the process of starting a new research and development company. I ended up being his second employee, and we worked together. One of the first projects that we worked on was a new, advanced, composite, injection moldable wheelchair, and that led us to work on wheelchair cushions because one thing that we’d learned early on was that the state-of-the-art wheelchair cushions that people were using weighed about as much as this new wheelchair we were working on.

We thought, “Wow! One of the things that helps these paraplegics and quadriplegics is to lighten the load, to make these things lighter, and it was just counter-intuitive to think that we were going to put a little wheelchair cushion on that that weighed as much as this wheelchair.”

And so that is what launched this company into high tech cushioning. We ended up developing a newly designed wheelchair cushion that was less than half the weight of the current technology. But the salient point of that whole experience is that what’s launched me into a career of high tech cushion. We built that company up. We ended up selling it. But I knew at that time that the next project that we would work on was a replacement for foam and mattresses.

It had been many years, really probably since the 60s when memory foam was introduced to mattresses, since anything innovative had come to the mattress industry. That was the design or the strategy of this company—to pick a category or an industry that was ripe for innovation, and then see if we could come up with something better.

That led into probably a four-year development phase to come up with this foam replacement which led to the invention of this Gel MatrixTM material. The company consigned several patents, filed for several patents for this technology, and they tried to take it to market. Back in 2000, I was blessed with the opportunity to acquire this technology, and I started Intellibed®. And so were it not for this technology, I would not be in the mattress industry.

You’re going to learn today the science behind what makes this so different, so revolutionary, so breakthrough, and why so many people are just thrilled about what this new bed is doing for them.


[00:11:30] Ashley James: We have a page, On there, there are two videos. One is you giving a webinar, which is fantastic. I love it. It’s about 20 minutes long. And then the other one is a detailed informational video that is riveting. I like both of them, and I asked Intellibed® to put those videos on the page that also gives the special that you’re offering all the Learn True Health listeners, which I’m very excited about.

It’s a 10% discount; free shipping; two of your Intellibed® pillows, the intelliPILLOWS, which I’m a big fan of; and then a free mattress protector. That’s available for those in the US. You shipped to those in the US. Those in Canada can get shipping, might not be the same special, but please still go to to get the information and call the phone number.

In those videos, you were sharing some very interesting information. One of them is how you measure pressure points. In the four years of the development that took to make Intellibed®, can you talk a bit about the science and the technology that went into trying to figure out how to design a bed that would be perfect for posture and perfect for pressure points?


[00:13:05] Bob Rasmussen: Yes, the science that you’re talking about are these pressure-mapping devices. These are $10,000 mats that you can put on top of a sleep surface, on top of a mattress, and it measures the interface pressure across your entire body. What you will see is any place where the pressure would get to be uncomfortable. We have pressure mapped tens of thousands of customers of all different shapes and sizes. That helped validate that we had something different.

In fact, the first licensor of the Gel MatrixTM technology was a company called Gaymar, who was later purchased by Stryker Industries, one of the largest medical component supplier in the world. This Gel MatrixTM technology was curing bedsores that other beds were causing, which was almost unheard of to have a non-mechanical system, meaning that there’s no pumps, no error, nothing mechanical, just the material itself that was curing bedsores—up to stage 4 bedsores. It’s important to know what causes a bedsore in this discussion because that’s what happens when we’re sleeping.

A bedsore is caused by excessive pressure on the tissue. What happens is the blood supply is cut off from the tissue, which results in the tissue dying. It dies from the inside out because there are no nutrients there. After a couple of hours, you can start to develop a bedsore.

What happens when you’re sleeping is that your body knows that if you have these excessive pressure points, as you would typically see on your hips and shoulders, from these other technologies; what happens is your brain wakes you up; it disturbs you from the deeper sleeping or the stages of sleep; so that you turn over.

You might think that you slept all night, but if your sleep is fragmented, what happens is you don’t complete your sleep cycles. It takes about 90 minutes for us to complete a sleep cycle. Typically, through a normal night, we’ll have four to five of these 90-minute sleep cycles. If you’re not completing those – in other words, if your sleep is fragmented caused by tossing and turning or any of these other sleep interrupters that tend to bother us. Let’s say you’re a light sleeper and your partner moves and it wakes you up. Or you sleep hot, and you’re sleeping hot, and you’re sweating at night, and it wakes you up. Then you’re likely not completing these sleep cycles.

And that is significantly detrimental to your health. Many of the autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and these disease states are caused specifically by not getting the stages 3 and 4 or the delta sleep that we need in the bottom of these sleep cycle. It’s critical that the sleep surface provides enough pressure relief that you’re not tossing and turning all night.

Back to your original thought, that we had done all these pressure mapping, what we were doing was validating the ability of this technology to relieve those pressure points that other mattresses cause. The result was that we see a significant reduction in tossing and turning. We see the kind of results that Stryker was proving with curing bedsores that these other beds create.


[00:17:16] Ashley James: That’s amazing. Have you done sleep studies or had people’s brains hooked up to something to determine that they are going through their sleep cycles? Can you tell us about other scientific ways that you measured that the Intellibed® is improving people’s sleep?


[00:17:35] Bob Rasmussen: We did a study jointly with a Stanford-trained sleep scientist, Dr. Robert Trall, out of Las Vegas. We had one of the really expensive memory foam beds, and one of the air chamber beds, and our bed in his facility.

What he did in the study was, half the night, he would put them on one of these other beds all wired up so they can measure their brain waves and validate whether or not people were getting into the delta stages of sleep, stages 3 and 4. And then the other half of the night, they put them on an Intellibed®.

He came out the end of that study and said without a question that the Intellibed® provides the best sleep efficiency of any bed that he has seen, and so he endorses that bed. That’s the nearest thing to an actual sleep study that we’ve done. Most of the evidence that we have is just anecdotal, like your experience. They’re talking about how much better they’re sleeping, waking up refreshed, not waking up with pain, and so forth.


[00:18:52] Ashley James: What I found interesting is I am now waking up before my alarm clock. We have a 7 A.M. alarm clock Monday through Friday, and I’m waking up fully refreshed. I opened my eyes, and I had this moment of panic. “Did I forget to set the alarm? Oh, my gosh! I must have slept in.” Because I feel so refreshed, I feel like I slept in, and then I looked at my phone and saw the time, and I’m like, “Oh! I woke up refreshed before the alarm.” I feel like I’m on vacation. I just got 9, 10 hours of sleep because I feel so good. It boggles my mind. When you say sleep efficiency, that does make sense. It’s very cool.

Is there anything else that you love discovering in the early years of creating Intellibed® when it came to sleep or when it came to the technology that you put into creating these mattresses?


[00:19:51] Bob Rasmussen: When we saw the ability of this material to relieve pressure, we just got so excited about it and knew that we were on to something different. I always knew one of the great benefits of having consulted with doctors and specifically physical therapists, chiropractors, literally thousands of different medical professionals, is that it’s an extremely challenging and difficult task to support and comfort the human body properly.

First of all, our bodies. If you think of the density of our body, starting from our head, the densest and heaviest part of our body’s our lower torso, and that is exactly where we need the support, right? When we talk about support in the mattress, let me be clear what we mean by that. We mean that the mattress can’t allow the hips to sag further into the bed than any other part of the body.

If you think about standing up straight, your head is centered above your shoulders, and your hips are centered beneath your shoulders. That is the proper posture. When you lie down, you have to maintain that same posture.

But because our bodies have these different densities, gravity is pulling on our lower torso harder than the rest of our body, and so the midsection of the body wants to sag further into the bed than the rest of the body. And that’s exactly the opposite of what you want to happen.

The experience that you had waking up with back pain, I can guarantee you that was caused by the fact that the mattress that you had not purchased that long ago was sagging more in the middle because if you think about it, that’s also where all the work is happening in the mattress, right?

The heaviest part of the body and the center of the bed is where the mattress is doing all the work. The materials in the bed are breaking down faster in the center of the bed than the rest of the bed, causing the hips to sag into this misalignment.

For many of us, just a very slight misalignment has total devastating effects on us. We’re starting to wake up with back pain. As you said, it’s very common that people will associate that with them getting older or having kids or some other external factor, but don’t blame it on their mattress because they know they bought a mattress that’s going to last for ten plus years, right? That’s what the warranty said.

But the truth of the matter is that the materials that are used in most of the beds, even the very expensive beds begin to break down quickly. It’s that breakdown that causes all the problem. Because it breaks down more in the center of the bed, at least with this misalignment that we are talking about, where the hips start to sag into the bed, and the most important thing that the mattress needs to do is to prevent that from happening.

One of the other very synergistic benefits that we learned early on is that this Gel MatrixTM material doesn’t break down as foam does. We did significant durability testing on this, and now we have 20 years of experience with that out in the field, and we see less than 5% of breakdown of this material over the life of the bed. Whereas with these other materials, even most of the dense foams, they’ll soften 20-40% over the first two years. So your experience is exactly a result of sleeping on inferior materials that can’t possibly provide long-term comfort and support. One of the significant breakthroughs of Gel MatrixTM material is it does not soften like these other materials tend to.


[00:23:52] Ashley James: The number of mattresses that people go through in their lifetime considering how quickly they breakdown, it’s not very good for our environment. Your mattress which lasts over 20 years, people would be using fewer mattresses, so that’s better for the environment.

I came across someone recently who knew you and knew your story. I’m not going to tell your story, but I’m going to ask you. Could you tell the story? He told me that you have one of the first Intellibed® you guys created, and that you’ve slept on it for I guess 20 years now, and that you brought it back in to have it tested to see how much it has warped. It was quite surprising what you discovered. Can you tell that story?


[00:24:45] Bob Rasmussen: Yeah. You could not tell that that bed has been slept on. Honestly, I pulled the mattress protector off, and it looked as good as it did the day that I brought it home. There’s a couple of reasons for this.

First of all, the foundation of Intellibed® besides the Gel MatrixTM material, is we used tempered steel inner springs for support. We use an individually pocketed coil with high-density springs that don’t break down. What that does is it prevents the hips from sagging; and because of the durability these tempered steel inner springs, they don’t sag over time.

Second thing is that the Gel MatrixTM is so resilient. It just continues to rebound with the same force over and over again. And so yeah, I slept on that bed for so long because I’ve been telling people that this stuff is not going to breakdown and they were very skeptical about it.

It looks like, the configuration of it would be prone to breaking down, but it doesn’t. That’s the remarkable thing about this material–it is so resilient. We call it a Gel MatrixTM. It’s a very soft, supple, but really strong rubber that resists fatigue. It will bounce back over and over again without the breakdown that you see in these other beds.

When I open that bed up that I’ve been on for—actually, I’ve got two that I talked about when I speak of the durability of the beds. One of them is one of the first toppers that ever came off our production line, and that topper is in one of my bedrooms that’s slept on regularly. That topper is over 20 years old, and it feels as good as the day that I brought it home.

The other one, I started sleeping on in 2005. The only reason that I switched is that we developed this new high-end bed that had 1-1/2 layers of Gel MatrixTM in there, and I wanted to see how that held up. So two and a half years ago, I switched beds. That’s when I brought this one I’ve been sleeping on for so long, opened it up and tested it. It was remarkable.


[00:27:10] Ashley James: When you say test it, you have machines that measure the amount of distortion in the mattress?


[00:27:19] Bob Rasmussen: The first thing that you do in anybody who’s had problems with their mattress knows that you put a straight edge across the mattress and you measure the depths of the indentation. Most manufacturers say that if it’s an inch or an inch and a half or two inches. If it’s more than that, then it’s covered under warranty.

The first thing that you could do is visually inspect the bed. You can see whether or not there’s a body impression on it. You can push on it across the surface of the bed and feel if there are soft spots. So all those things that we did.

We take the cover off and inspect the gel itself. The gel looks as pristine as it did the day it came off the factory floor. That’s what the testing consists about. There were no soft spots in the bed. In other words, we felt across the entire surface of the bed directly on the Gel MatrixTM material, and it felt identical across the entire surface of the bed.

And I’d been sleeping on it. It felt to me as good as it did when I first brought it home which as you well know that’s very unusual in most of the beds that we slept on because the materials break down so quickly, it doesn’t feel anything like the bed did when we first brought it home, right? It’s like, “What happened to this bed? It must be me. I must be getting older because there’s no possible way this thing could be breaking down this quickly.” But it’s true.

The testing that we have done especially on these memory foam products, these polyurethane foam products, even the high-end latex products, even though they don’t lose their lath, they will soften considerably. As mentioned, they soften more in the center of the bed because that’s all where all the work’s happening, and that’s what causes your hips to sag further into the bed causing this misalignment. And then you’re waking up with back pain. It’s like, “Geez! I must be getting old because my bed is not old.”


[00:29:22] Ashley James: Right and we blame ourselves and not the bed. A lot of people don’t realize that their bed could be their problem. A lot of people like me go towards memory foam or memory foam toppers because they’re fairly affordable. If your bed feels uncomfortable, you go Costco and buy some 2-inch or even a 4-inch memory foam topper, and now it feels like you have a memory foam bed.

But the video that’s on the page talks about Australia and what happened with memory foam. Can you talk about that? Because it’s very concerning and I didn’t realize how much VOCs, how much off-gassing and dangerous chemicals we’re breathing in when we have memory foam.


[00:30:17] Bob Rasmussen: Yeah, so for the benefit of your listeners, VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound. It simply means materials that can easily leech out of the bed and become airborne, and you’re breathing those things. When you’re on your bed at night, you have your face buried into the pillows and the mattresses, and so you’re breathing in those off-gassing materials.

Polyurethane foam in and of itself is non-toxic. It’s inert, meaning that it won’t react chemically with anything else that’s out there. The problem that we’ve caused ourselves since the Federal Government got involved and put these stringent requirements on mattresses so that they wouldn’t burn up in a fire. They started adding chemicals to the base polyurethane foam, and then somebody got the brilliant idea to try and change the properties of the materials. They added chemicals to cause the foam to slow rebound instead of rebound initially.

Unfortunately, mattress manufacturers, they have to meet this burn standard, but they don’t have to disclose the various materials that are used. Many of the fire retardants, in fact, most of the fire retardants that are used in foam are known carcinogens. Not all of them, but many of them are.

The problem that you have is you can’t figure out what is in those foams; what is off-gassing. You can smell it because there’s a terrible odor that comes off it, but you don’t know what those materials are, so you don’t know if they’re toxic or not.

Again most of the stuff that you see on the internet is anecdotal—people complaining of headaches and dizziness and the long-term effects of cancer and so forth caused by these materials. The challenge for the consumers and I tell people this all the time, “Listen, if you can’t identify what specifically the fire retardants are in the bed and what materials that they used to change the properties of the foam, you probably avoid that bed.”

It’s nearly impossible to figure that stuff out because even if the manufacturer were to disclose that, what’s the likelihood that they’ve trained their sales reps to teach the consumer what’s being off-gassed?

So what you need to do is you need to find a company that has done all that work for you and is committed to developing the safest sleeping surfaces that are out there. And that’s one thing that I’m proud of we’ve gone through—invented every single component that we put in these beds.

I can tell you first of all, that the Gel MatrixTM material is completely non-toxic. The main ingredient in Gel MatrixTM is food grade mineral oil, and the core material itself, the base material has been approved for use in baby bottle nipples and many children’s toys. It’s been cytotoxicity tested and hemolysis tested. It scores zero on those tests, so it’s completely non-toxic.

There are no side effects in our manufacturing facility. We don’t have to have our workers wear gas masks or anything like that. It’s among the safest materials that have been brought to the market.

Of course, tempered steel inner springs don’t off-gas anything, and the little bit of foam that we use in the beds have all been pure tested to be free from any fire retardants and any of these dangerous memory foam type chemicals. The way that we passed the standard for the burn test is we use a silica fiber wrap, a shield that goes around the outside of the mattress that prevents the flames from getting inside the bed. So that’s what we’ve done.

We’re proud of the fact that even though these beds—we would not classify them as organic beds, and I can talk about organic beds here in a minute—they’re not what you would typically consider organic, but far more important that they are non-toxic.


[00:35:07] Ashley James: The Intellibed® is non-toxic. I know it has a 100% organic cotton cover.


[00:35:11] Bob Rasmussen: Correct.


[00:35:12] Ashley James: We’ll get into organic in a second. There’s an interesting story about Australia and how they discovered that the memory foam beds were linked to sudden infant death. Do you have more details about that?


[00:35:34] Bob Rasmussen: Yeah, there was a 10-year study by Dr. James Sprott, and it wasn’t necessarily the memory foam. What happened was there was specifically the antimony that was a fire retardant in the mattresses that’s causing a chemical reaction and producing toxic gas. And so this Dr. Sprott surmised that if he were able to keep these off-gassing materials from leeching out of the bed, it would solve the problem with crib death or with SIDS.

What he did was he wrapped the crib mattresses in an impermeable barrier that would keep anything off-gassing from the mattress inside the bed, and in 10 years, the incidence of SIDS dropped to zero.


[00:36:32] Ashley James: In all of Australia?


[00:36:34] Bob Rasmussen: Yeah. Well, in all of his test subjects in 10 years, there was not a single death that occurred due to SIDS death. With that question, if you Google James Sprott, his study will come up. He makes the point in his opening paragraph that most people don’t think that the cause of SIDS is known, and he says that it is not true. It’s caused by toxic nerve gases that are produced from these various chemicals, antimony specifically identifies, this material would off-gas this poison gas, and that’s what was causing the SIDS.

It’s a really interesting study. Interestingly, here in the United States, it’s not generally accepted, but I don’t know how you could argue with the results. I don’t know how many test subjects that he had, but the incident of crib death dropped to zero in 10 years, so it’s pretty clear that it’s an off-gassing issue from the mattresses that the babies were sleeping on.


[00:38:09] Ashley James: That makes total sense. It’s so sad how many people have toxic mattresses and how many health issues they’re causing. We are the most vulnerable when we sleep. That’s when our body is regenerating. We spend, hopefully, seven or eight hours a day on a mattress, but we’re breathing in these chemicals. They aren’t off-gassing just when it smells, they’re off-gassing for years. That’s what we have to understand is that the mattress you bought a few years ago could still be off-gassing chemicals and harming you.


[00:38:44] Bob Rasmussen: Exactly. Don’t be fooled about that. They’ll continue to off-gas for many years.


[00:38:52] Ashley James: Let’s talk about organic mattresses because that’s something that I look into. First of all, they’re quite expensive. Although on Amazon, you can buy “organic,” some kind of latex organic—that’s what they claimed it is. I almost bought one. Thank goodness, I didn’t—some organic mattresses have wool in them, or they’re kind of like futons filled with cotton or “organic” latex.

Tell us about these mattresses that claim that they’re organic versus an Intellibed®?


[00:39:33] Bob Rasmussen: There are a lot of different styles of these beds and different materials that are used in the bed. Most of them used organic latex material. The problem with the organic latex material is that it simply breaks down too quickly.

You talk about these other polyurethane foams and memory foam which breakdown 20-40% over the first couple of years. The organic beds will break down even faster than that. So you spent 4, 5, 6, $8,000 on one of those beds and it is unsleepable after a couple of years. I’ve just had multiple reports from people that have spent a lot of money on these things, and they break down too quickly. Although you solve one of your problems, you get rid of the toxicity in your bedroom, you create a whole slew of other problems because you’re losing support, you’re waking up with back pain, and you’re losing your comfort.


[00:40:32] Ashley James: We need to have clean materials, and we need to have the science behind the mattress to make sure that we have the perfect sleep posture and the support so that we don’t create those pressure points which is what you’ve gone for with Intellibed®.


[00:40:48] Bob Rasmussen: Yeah and that’s what I’m excited to talk to you about.


[00:40:51] Ashley James: Alright. Let’s get into it.


[00:40:53] Bob Rasmussen: We look at these other benefits, the fact that it is non-toxic. That’s important to us, but we consider that a fringe benefit. The fact that this mattress lasts so long, that’s a fringe benefit of this Gel MatrixTM material.

The real science of this material is that this is the first material that exhibits two different behaviors through the course of its cushioning cycle. When you first lie down on the bed, your hips and your shoulders stick out further than the rest of your body. So in traditional mattresses most of your support, most of your weight is transferred to the mattress through your hips and shoulders, and so traditional materials only exhibit one behavior through their cushioning cycle.

What that means is that when you lie down, the further you compress those materials, the harder they push back. There’s this linear relationship between the depth that you sink into a material and the resistance or the pushback force.

Let’s say you lie down, and you sink in an inch, and it results in a certain pushback force on your hips and shoulders. If you sink in two inches, it’s twice that force. If you sink in three inches, it’s three times that force. There’s a linear relationship. Because your hips and shoulders stick out the furthest, you get these significant pressure points on your hips and shoulders, and there’s nothing you can do to stop that from happening.

We’ve tested all of these foam products out there, whether it’s the air chamber bed, the memory foam bed. You think that you’re sleeping on air on memory foam, the fact of the matter is you’re sleeping on at least six inches of foam in those beds. And it’s the foam that’s causing these pressure points because they only exhibit this one behavior of a compressible material; that the further you compress it, the harder it pushes back. So your hips and shoulders are sensitive.

We talked about what causes a bedsore earlier. What happens is the blood supply is cut off beneath the tissue, and your brain knows that, and so it wakes you up and causes you to move. Think about lying down on the floor. You can only lie down on the floor for a couple of minutes before you’re moving because it just becomes uncomfortable. Your brain tells your body that you need to move or you’re going to get a bedsore.

You can’t eliminate that problem using traditional materials. It’s simply a fact that the materials themselves and the physics of how those materials behave.

But Gel MatrixTM behaves totally different. In fact, it behaves the opposite of foam. So instead of starting soft and becoming harder the further, you push in, Gel MatrixTM starts firm and becomes soft under the areas that would cause sufficient pressure.

Let me explain how that works because it’s a breakthrough. If you go to the website, you can see a picture of what this Gel MatrixTM material looks like. It’s a grid. It got hollow core at about 1-inch square with these comfort grid.

What happens is this comfort grid behaves like a series of columns. If you think of a column that holds up a bridge, for example, if you overload that bridge, the column will fail, and the bridge collapses. It’s incapable of supporting the weight that it did before. So all of these support members in these comfort grid behave like that, and they are engineered that they will buckle right at the point where it becomes uncomfortable to the human body.

So when we lie down on this bed with Gel MatrixTM, it stands firm; and then all of a sudden under the hips and shoulders where you have excessive pressure, the Gel MatrixTM material collapses under those areas. Then it becomes incapable of supporting the weight, and they’re going to transfer the support to the broader surfaces of the body where you don’t have excessive pressure.

The unique result is that you get a very even distribution of pressure. And we say that this is the first material that’s ever brought to the mattress industry that is both firm and soft at the same time, and that sounds contradictory.

How can something be both firm and soft at the same time? The answer to that is we have a material that exhibits two different behaviors to the course of its cushioning cycle.

It starts firm. It’s about three times to four times firmer than most of the foams that are used in mattresses. You need firm support on the broad surfaces of the body; you get that because this is much firmer than the traditional foams that are used.

But then you need soft comfort on the hips and shoulders, you get that. Because what happens is these gel columns buckle underneath your hips and shoulders allowing those areas to sink deeply into the mattress without pressure points.

So an even distribution of pressure; significant back support; your hips don’t sag into the bed because this material doesn’t breakdown; and you get the best of both worlds.

In the past, you could buy a firm bed which was great for your back but terrible for your comfort. Or you could buy a soft bed which was more comfortable to sleep on, but before long you’re waking up with pain. How do you solve that compromise? You can’t solve it using traditional materials. The only way to solve that is to use a material that behaves differently than traditional materials, and Gel MatrixTM is that material.


[00:46:40] Ashley James: That’s been my experience exactly. When I lie down on it, I feel like I’m not sinking in. I feel like I’m on top of it. I’m floating like on a cloud. I’m floating on top. My spine is totally aligned, and yet I don’t feel any pressure at all under my hips, under my shoulder. I’m a side sleeper, but after getting this bed, I’ve caught myself sleeping the entire night on my back and being totally comfortable because it doesn’t create any of that pressure on my lower back.


[00:47:10] Bob Rasmussen: It’s exactly doing what it’s designed to do. When we first conceived the name of the company, this idea of Intellibed® came to mind. And the reason that we call it Intellibed® is that it automatically senses and adjusts no matter what position you sleep in. It’s designed and engineered so that the support members will collapse whether you’re on your back or on your side, exactly where you wanted to. The other parts of your body where you need the support, it stands firm.

Intellibed® really fits in. Intelligently senses what your body needs and it delivers it without any adjustments; regardless of where you’re sleeping on the surface of the bed; regardless of the position that you slept in, whether you’re a back sleeper or a side sleeper or heaven forbid, even a stomach sleeper. It’s going to support you correctly, eliminating the sag that you get with these other technologies.

It’s one thing I hear people all the time say that I was waking up in pain, so I’ll replace my bed, and I’ll talk about all these various other beds that are out there and how it solved their problem. It will do that when they’re new, but you need to consider what that bed’s going to do in a couple of years from now because all of us have experience with beds breaking down quickly, and not being able to provide the comfort and support that you need.

We talked about durability already, and one of the side benefits of this Gel MatrixTM material is that it’s so durable.


[00:48:56] Ashley James: What about EMFs? You mentioned about the metal that is used in making your bed. I’ve had a few experts on the show, Sal La Duca being one of them, who are experts in EMFs in the home. It’s concerning to sleep on the traditional mattress with coiled springs. Near outlets can increase EMF and so you’re sleeping on a big electromagnetic field. What about Intellibed® and EMFs?


[00:49:28] Bob Rasmussen: That is a concern. The concern again is that because all the springs are all tied together in this coil shape that they amplify the EMFs. In the first place, the pocket coils that we use are individually wrapped coil so they’re not a continuous wire that would tend to amplify the EMFs. So if you’re sensitive to EMFs, I don’t think that you’re going to have any issue.

The other thing that you need to know is that we put an encasement around, a 6-inch encasement around these springs. So the likelihood of EMFs being magnified is so minuscule.

We have access to a number of studies that have been done to evaluate the risk of EMF amplification by inner springs, and we have not seen any significant evidence to suggest that it’s something to worry about. But just in case, we’ve done these other things to help even minimize things further by individually wrapping the coils and by putting this foam encasement around the coils that further will eliminate the risk of any EMF amplification.


[00:50:50] Ashley James: I never knew I was sensitive to EMFs until I started learning about them. So for fun, I unplugged everything near my bed. We turn the WiFi off at night. I noticed that when I sleep on a bed near things that are plugged in like electric outlets, that I feel agitated, and when the WiFi is on, I feel agitated.

When a storm comes through, and the power goes out, because we live in a rural area about a half an hour outside of Seattle, and the power will go out in the windstorms, and I get the best sleep then because there’s low EMF. So I start to think, “Wow! I might be sensitive to it.”

I noticed that I do not have any issues with the Intellibed®. I don’t feel that agitation. I don’t feel like I’m in an electromagnetic field. But I just bought one of those machines that measures EMF for fun. My husband is like, “Come on, let’s go get one of those machines and go around and measure all the EMFs in our house.” So when I get it, I’ll measure our bed and let you know.


[0052:07] Bob Rasmussen: We’ve had a couple of influencers do that same thing, Ashley, and all of them have reported to us that they see absolutely no amplification of the EMF fields with the bed. So yeah, I’ll be very interested to hear your experience as well.


[00:52:22] Ashley James: Very cool. What about this idea of sleeping hot versus sleeping cool? I noticed that when I did have the memory foam topper on our old beat-up mattress that I was very hot and uncomfortable, especially in the summertime because memory foam will contain heat. Whereas the Gel MatrixTM doesn’t retain heat. It doesn’t feel cold. I don’t feel cold on the mattress, but I feel very neutral – a very comfortable temperature.

But I’m hearing that your temperature and the temperature of the material you’re sleeping with can affect your sleep. Can we talk about that?


[00:53:04] Bob Rasmussen: Yeah, absolutely. If you’re sleeping hot, you’re waking up. You’re waking up in sweats, and sometimes it’s very difficult to get cooled back down again. You got to get out of bed and cool down, which interrupts your sleep cycles. So it’s important that you sleep on a bed that’s actually temperature neutral.

The problem with most of the foams, especially a high-density foam like a 4- or 5-pound density memory foam or latex foam, those foam materials are insulators. What they do is reflect the heat. They trap your body heat against your body, and that is the reason that you wake up sweating. You need a material that’s going to dissipate that heat.

The beautiful thing about Gel MatrixTM first of all, it is massively ventilate, so you get great ventilation in the bed. Secondarily, the material itself conducts the heat away from you in a manner that it dissipates it in the deeper recesses of the mattress. What tends to happen is you sleep very temperature neutral. You don’t sleep hot. You don’t sleep cold.

If the room itself is hot, then you’re going to have to kick some covers off and maybe turn the air conditioning down because if you’re sleeping in a room that’s 75 or 80 degrees, you’d likely going to sweat. But the mattress itself won’t trap your body heat against you, and so it’s very temperature neutral.


[00:54:37] Ashley James: Very interesting. What else have you seen the Intellibed® do that other beds don’t do? Have you seen people report that they have less pain or that their symptoms are diminishing? Because you talked about diseases that are exacerbated by poor sleep.


[00:54:57] Bob Rasmussen: Yes. We talked about pillows earlier. I want to talk about pillows in this segment since we’re talking about pain. Most of the time, pain is caused by misalignments or excessive pressure.

So if you have hip pain or shoulder pain, it’s likely due to excessive pressure. If you’re waking up with your arms numb – Geez! In the 20 years that I’ve been sleeping on my Intellibed®, I’ve never woke up with a numb arm. The reason for that is you don’t have the excessive pressure points that are caused in those areas that they’re sensitive to pressure, and so most of that hip or shoulder pain is eliminated.

Now you might have a physiological condition that it doesn’t matter what bed you sleep on; it’s not going to solve the problem. So don’t expect a miracle cure. But for most of us, the elements that we have at night or caused by simple misalignments or excessive pressure. Because these beds do such a great job of eliminating pressure and providing adequate support for your skeletal structure, it will eliminate pain.

One of the most gratifying things about what we’ve done in Intellibed® is to get letters and to get people that will stop us at a trade show or something like that, and then tell us that sometimes with tears rolling down their face, that for the first time in years they’re sleeping pain-free. And it simply because we have the science in these beds to eliminate most of the problems that other beds caused.

Eliminating pain or reducing pain, getting you to sleep, even if it’s to complete two or three more sleep cycles at night can have a dramatic effect on your health and the way that you feel in the morning.

Like I mentioned before, that is by far the most gratifying part of what we’ve done–just to hear people talk about getting their lives back and being able to go to work and being able to maintain that lifestyle that they want to maintain.


[00:57:03] Ashley James: You know my husband had not had dreams in years. We’ve been married for 11 years. I tell him my dreams, and he is like, “I don’t dream.” And I’m like, “Well, maybe you just don’t remember them.”

Ever since we started sleeping on the Intellibed®, he’s had dreams. He goes like, “I can’t believe it.” And he’s sleeping better. He wakes up refreshed. But he wakes up remembering his dreams of having vivid, wonderful dreams, and I’m noticing I have more detailed dreams. That’s part of being in those sleep cycles longer without being interrupted, right?


[00:57:39] Bob Rasmussen: That’s exactly right. So you’re getting into the deeper stages of sleep. There are four stages of sleep: Stages 1, 2, 3, and 4. Stages 3 and 4 are the most beneficial to us. It’s the delta sleep. That’s when the brain slows down, and the brain waves become very, very slow. That is where the body consolidates its memory; it builds its immune system, and it heals itself.

I saw a report that 60 Minutes did not long ago. It’s three years ago where they took a perfectly healthy mid-20-year-old college student and wired him up at night. Every time he would get into the delta stages of sleep where the brain waves slowed, it would alert him, and he would not go into the delta sleep. He’d wake up in the morning thinking that he’d slept the full night, but in just one week’s time, he was in a prediabetic condition.

We think about diabetes being caused by all of the sugar that we eat and the poor diet that we have. We don’t associate it with poor sleep, but this study clearly pointed out that the main cause of his problem was his lack of delta sleep. We’re just learning about the poor effects of not completing our sleep cycles and so forth.

But there’s enough evidence out there to suggest that it’s critical that you get on a bed that eliminates as many of these factors that cause you to wake up and not complete your sleep cycles as possible. The Intellibed®, I’m proud to say is the best system that we have seen at eliminating these problems.

If you think about it, we’ve identified four or five key criteria that you need to consider when buying a new bed. To review, one of them is motion transfer. If you’re a light sleeper and your partner moves and it’s waking you up, you can eliminate that by being on a bed; that first of all, your partner is not going to toss and turn as much. But secondly, the motion is dampened as they move.

These are among the most motion-dampening beds that are available on the market, certainly that has tempered steel innerspring in them. Because most foam core beds that lose the ability to support you quickly, they don’t transfer motion at all. But these, for a tempered steel innerspring bed, virtually eliminate all motion transfer.

Then we talked about sleep temperature. If you’re waking up at night in sweats because you’re memory foam bed or your latex bed’s trapping your body heat against you, that can cause you to lose sleep.

But the biggest thing that this bed does is it’s the only bed that’s on the market that is simultaneously firm and soft as you sleep on it. It’s firm where you need it; soft where you want it; and it doesn’t matter the sleeping position or your location on the bed, it’s going to provide that substantial pressure relief and support. So being firm and soft at the same time, there’s not another bed that’s out there that can provide that.

Another beautiful, amazing benefit of this bed is it’s going to provide consistent comfort and support for many years. The bed is going to feel like new for years to come.

Those five key criteria that we just mentioned, there is not another bed that can deliver on all five of those things like the Intellibed® can. That’s why it’s such a blessing for us, Ashley, to be able to get the word out to listeners because your followers are concerned about their health and they’re willing to invest. They’re willing to take the time to do the things that they need to, to live a healthy lifestyle.

We’d so much appreciate the wonderful opportunity to spend this hour or so with you and explain the breakthrough of this technology.


[01:02:29] Ashley James: Absolutely. I used to be diabetic, and I reversed it with natural means. I had type 2 diabetes. I no longer do, but I have a glucometer to be able to take my morning blood sugar just to check-in—make sure I’m on the right path.

When I’d first given birth, my sleep was very disrupted. Our son had colic, and we were up six times, twelve times a night. I would take my blood sugar, and I noticed on the days that I had very bad sleep that my blood sugar all day long would be out of control.

Even though I’m not diabetic, it would just be not in healthy ranges for me. I noticed I was hungrier. I’d have more cravings. I was more tired. But I saw that there is this correlation between my deep and healthy sleep, and my ability to have stable blood sugar.

I have cravings and on the times that I had restless sleep or maybe I drink coffee too late at night or did something to overstimulate myself that if I have poor sleep, the next day my blood sugar was off; my cravings were up, and of course irritable brain fog. All the things that happen when we have poor sleep.

Since using the Intellibed®, I haven’t had any of those problems which is exciting.

You talked about the no transfer of sensation of your partner being near you or rolling around on the bed. Every morning I wake up, and I go to roll over to cuddle my husband, and he’s gone because he wakes up before me.

But in the past, in our old bed, he’d get up off the bed, and that would wake me up. And so I’m like, “Oh, it’s the morning time.” But now he gets out of bed, and he’s 6’7″, he’s not a gentle ballerina when he gets out of bed, he’s being a man about it, and the bed doesn’t shake. I don’t feel a thing. I stay totally asleep. When I wake up, I’m surprised I’d wake up before the alarm clock, fully awake, and my body is just ready to wake up. None of his movements in the night had me wake up.

So I know what you’re saying about it doesn’t transfer the sensation. But it doesn’t feel weird. It feels like a very comfortable bed. It doesn’t feel awkward at all. It feels just like I’m floating on top of it.

When we first received it, when it was shipped to us, we immediately slept on it. It didn’t off-gas. It didn’t smell like anything. It was safe to sleep on right away. I know there are some beds that your unsafe to be in the same room as the bed for like two days or three days while it’s off-gassing.

I noticed that right away. I immediately put my head in the Intellibed® to smell it just to see because I know you guys said it didn’t off-gas, but I want it to test it for myself and didn’t smell like anything. It was amazing.

I slept on my arm. I’m on my side to try to get my arm to go numb as it would do with any other bed, and I still haven’t been able to get any limb to go numb by staying in one position the whole night. My experience is exactly what you’re saying.


[01:05:55] Bob Rasmussen: That’s gratifying to hear you say that. It’s not a bit surprising to me because there’s real science in here. I wanted to mention one of the things you were talking about when you’re pregnant–you couldn’t control your blood sugar. Many women struggle with gestational diabetes when they’re pregnant. I wonder if the cause of that isn’t because their sleep cycles are so erratic when they’re pregnant because they can’t get comfortable that that is what’s going on there. All the evidence seem to suggest that.

If you’re dealing with any of these disease state, such as any of the autoimmune diseases, there’s more and more evidence to suggest that the cause of them or the amplification of them is being caused by not getting the deep stages of sleep.

That’s part of what we’re trying to do. Get the message out there that stop thinking that it’s just because you’re getting old that you’re not sleeping as well as you used to. Get on a bed with some real science behind it and see if it doesn’t help. We’re not going to guarantee that it’s going to cure your ailments or your problems, but one thing that I’m very confident about is that it’s not going to make things worse for you.

In other words, there’s not going to be a bed that’s going to provide better support, better pressure relief out there. There’s not going to be a bed that lasts as long as this one. All of these key criteria that you would consider in making the purchase of a bed, the Intellibed® delivers.


[01:07:50] Ashley James: You talked about guarantee. What is the guarantee in Intellibed®? My understanding is that your warranty or your guarantee is way more than a lot of other mattress companies out there.


[01:08:03] Bob Rasmussen: Let’s talk about the guarantee. We do offer a 90-day money back guarantee when you buy the bed. I know that there’s a huge risk or worry that you’re going to buy something and it’s not going to help you sleep better, and you spend a lot of money on it.

I mean, we’re not talking cheap. This beds even though they are among the most durable, least cost to operate beds that are out there. They are a pretty significant investment. Upfront queen size Intellibed® is going to be in the $4,500 range, so it’s not cheap.

It is very price competitive with many of the other high-end beds that you see out there. So you can easily spend that much on a Tempur-Pedic or a Sleep Number or a traditional pillow top bed. But it is an investment. We recognize that so the first thing that we do is we offer a 90-day money back guarantee. We are very flexible with that so we’ll work with you.

You think you’re sleeping better, but you’re getting close to the guarantee, to the end of the 90 days. It’s very common for us to give you another 30 days or 60 days and we’ll work with you.

But then the warranty is the best warranty that I am aware of in the industry. It is a non-prorated 20-year warranty. Most beds out there only have a 10-year warranty, and the first five years is the only thing that’s covered fully. So this is a full 20-year non-prorated warranty.

I can tell you we’ve been building these beds for almost 20 years. Last year we spent less than $10,000 on warranty issues. We know that these beds are well built. We have years of experience with them. They deliver what we say they do.


[01:09:57] Ashley James: That is so cool. In the 20-year warranty, how much warped or how worn does the Intellibed® need to be for the warranty to kick in?


[01:10:12] Bob Rasmussen: It’s three-fourths of an inch. As I said, I’ve never seen one with anybody impression in it, but it’s three-fourths of an inch. If you have that, then call our toll-free warranty department. We’ll work with you and get it taken care of.


[01:10:32] Ashley James: That is very cool. I’d love that. My experience with the old mattress that I bought from a major box store, sleep something, back in I think it was 2012, we spent close to I think it was $2,200 on our bed and it was warped in two years. So if I took their warranty which would give me somewhat of a discount on my next mattress, I would have been buying a mattress every two to five years from them versus buying one from you every 20 years.

And it sounds like even though you have a 20-year warranty that they last well beyond the 20 years. So even though yours are price competitive, actually there’s a big savings there, if you only buy one mattress the rest of your life versus one every two to five years.


[01:11:35] Bob Rasmussen: It really is one of the best values out there, especially when you consider the fact that you’re going to get consistent comfort and support, whereas with these other products you’re losing a little bit of your comfort and support every night that you sleep on it. After just a couple of years, it’s very common to hear people say, “Wow, just two years. After two years, I was starting to wake up with back pain and so forth.”

That’s unfortunately how rapidly the materials that are used in traditional bedding will breakdown.


[01:12:04] Ashley James: I don’t know if you feel your ears burning every morning. You know the saying, “If your ears are burning, someone’s thinking about you.”? But every morning I think about you and your company because of how grateful I am when I wake up, and I’m so comfortable and so well-rested.

I know that kind of sounds over the top, but when you have the best sleep of your life, that’s kind of all I think about every morning is how grateful I am for my Intellibed®.

The other friends I have that have Intellibed® as well have shared the same thing. It’s not just me. Any listener who has one, feel free to contact me, and let me know what your experience is. I always love to hear it. You can email me, [email protected].

Listeners who want to check out the Intellibed® website that I mentioned with the two videos that get into more detail and also The Learn True Health exclusive, they can go to

I believe it’s through Wells Fargo that you create a payment plan for those who don’t have a few thousand dollars saved up to buy a bed, but that they’re interested in owning a bed. Is that correct?


[01:13:18] Bob Rasmussen: Absolutely. We offer financing on approved credit, and we have a number of different financing packages. We also need to identify the deal that we’re talking about here because we’ve given your followers a great deal that they’re not going to get anywhere else.

Shall we review the promotion, the special that we’re talking about here?


[01:13:43] Ashley James: Absolutely. I worked with your company. So this is something I do any time I believe in something. I’ve done this with Sunlighten Saunas, and a few other companies I’ve really believed in that are making a difference in my life. I always ask for a really great deal for my listeners.

You’ve given us 10% off, free shipping, and then my favorite, two free intelliPILLOWS which have made such a difference for my neck. I would have taken both of them for me, but I was nice enough to give my husband one. So my husband has one, and I have one, and we don’t need anymore. We feel amazing with them. They’re hypoallergenic. It’s this very interesting sensation of like you say it’s firm and soft at the same time, and it supports you 100%, but it doesn’t cut off any blood circulation. So it’s is a perfect material for a pillow.

And then the free mattress protector which is mandatory for me because my son is allergic to dust mites. That is The Learn True Health exclusive. Go to to check it out.

Bob, this has been wonderful having you here. I feel like the hours just flown by. Is there anything you like to leave us with? Are there any stories of success or any stories that you love conveying about those who use Intellibed®?

[01:15:05] Bob Rasmussen: Oh, boy! There’s just so many. I’ll tell you. We’re setting up a new factory right now because thanks to people like you, Ashley, who are helping us get the word out there that the demand is increasing.

I got an employee that works for me, and this is not unusual. I got a number of employees that came to work for us because they believe so much in the technology. But this good soul was literally in significant pain every night. He has back pain. He’s got lower back problems. He came to work, heard all the stories that we were telling, was completely skeptical about it, and he got him on an Intellibed®, and it’s changed his life. He’s back to his old self, not struggling with the pain that he had before.

It’s gratifying and typical of the kind of stories that we hear, especially people who haven’t slept in years and all of a sudden, they’ve given up on having a good night’s sleep, and they’re sleeping again. It’s giving them their lives back. And that to me has been one of the most gratifying things of what we’ve done. It’s just helping people to live the lifestyle that they want to live. It’s been very gratifying.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to share our story with your followers. We’re going to take care of your customers. If the bed doesn’t work for you, then we’re going to take it back. But by far, most of the experiences that we have are this kind of experience where it’s been life-changing.


[01:17:03] Ashley James: Absolutely. Another I’ve forgotten to mention is my husband, and I always have like different styles. He likes a firm mattress. I like a soft mattress. So we thought there’s no way we’re ever going to find that something that we could both agree on and we both like the firm and softness of the Intellibed®, so it’s perfect for those people who think they need some Numbers bed where the one person sleeps soft, and the other person sleeps hard. This is perfect. This is right across the board, the perfect amount of support and softness at the same time. I love it so much.

Another thing I did is go through your website and read all the testimonials, and the stories that people share are pretty moving. There’s this one veteran I remember reading about, and he was in so much pain for years from the damage his body took from being in the Middle East, and he also had post-traumatic stress. He had mental health issues, and of course lack of sleep, and anxiety, and waking up at night with nightmares.

All of that – he didn’t realize that it was his bed. But the Intellibed® was something that allowed him to sleep deeply, and he noticed that his nightmares and his anxiety were diminishing and it gave him his life back.

Part of his healing journey was making sure that he had the best sleep possible, and of course, his pain also diminished. I think he said had given up on sleeping on mattresses altogether and was sleeping on a recliner until someone turned him into Intellibed®. This wonderful story is on your website, which was so phenomenal, and I love it.

But anyone who’s having problems with health, with sleep, with pain, they got to try it. I love that you give that 90-day guarantee so that people will have no risk and that they can experience it for themselves.

Bob it’s been so wonderful having you here. Is there anything left unsaid? Is there anything that you’d like to share to wrap up today’s interview?


[01:19:18] Bob Rasmussen: You talked about my ears burning now, actually it helps me sleep better at night knowing that we created a product that is really helping people.

The other thing that I wanted to mention is to make sure that when you call in or when you order online—I want to mention that our sleep experts that you talked to on the phone, they’re not going to try to close you. They’re not going to try to hard sell you into buying a bed. But they are going to try to understand what you’re unique likes and dislikes are and what your needs are; and they’re going to sell you the right bed. They’re not going to sell you the most expensive bed. We have a couple of different models that we offer in our organics line, which has an organic cover on it. So don’t be afraid even if you’re averse to talking to salespeople about calling them. They’ll take good care of you, I promise.

When you do call in, make sure you mention Ashley’s code so that you get the deal and that is…


[01:20:23] Ashley James: LTH as in Learn True Health.


[01:20:26] Bob Rasmussen: Learn True Health. LTH and they’ll know that you’re Ashley’s follower, and they’ll make sure that you get all the freebies that we talked about.


[01:20:36] Ashley James: Awesome. Thank you so much, Bob. It’s been wonderful having you on the show and thank you for your bed. I thank you every morning when I wake up now.


[01:20:45] Bob Rasmussen: You are so welcome. Thank you.


[01:20:49] Ashley James: Hello, true health seeker. Have you ever thought about becoming a health coach? Do you love learning about nutrition and how we can shift our lifestyle and our diet so that we can gain optimal health, happiness, and longevity? Do you love helping your friends and family to solve their health problems and to figure out what they can do to eat healthier? Are you interested in becoming someone who can grow their own business, support people in their success? Do you love helping people?

You might be the perfect candidate to become a health coach. I highly recommend checking out the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. I just spent the last year in their health coaching certification program. It blew me away. It was so amazing. I learned over 100 dietary theories. I learned all about nutrition, but from the standpoint of how we can help people to shift their life and shift their lifestyle to gain true holistic health.

I definitely recommend you check them out. You can Google Institute for Integrated Nutrition or IIN, and give them a call, or you can go to, and you can receive a free module of their training. Do check it out and see if it’s something that you’d be interested in.

Be sure to mention my name, Ashley James, and the Learn True Health podcast because I made a deal with them that they would give you the best price possible. I highly recommend checking it out. It really changed my life to be in their program, and I’m such a big advocate that I wanted to spread this information.

We need more health coaches. In fact, health coaching is the largest growing career right now in the health field. So many health coaches are getting in and helping people because you can work in chiropractic offices, doctor’s offices. You can work in a hospital. You can work online through Skype and help people around the world. You can become an author. You can go into the school system, and help your local schools, shift their programs to help children be healthier. You can go into senior centers and help them to shift their diet and lifestyle to best support them in their success and their health goals.

There are so many different available options for you when you become a certified health coach. So check out IIN. Check out the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. Mention my name, get the best deal. Give them a call, and they’ll give you lots of free information and help you to see if this is the right move for you.

Classes are starting soon. The next round of classes are starting at the end of the month, so you want to call them now and check it out. If you know anyone in your life who would be an amazing coach, please tell them about it. Being a health coach is so rewarding, and you get to help so many people.


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Dr. Jennifer Bahr And Ashley James

There’s nothing ordinary nor cute about this episode’s PANS and PANDAS. Naturopathic physician Dr. Jennifer Bahr breaks down Pediatric Acute Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) for us, and how homeopathy helps.


[00:00:42] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 354.

I am so excited to have Dr. Jennifer Bahr, naturopathic physician, on the show today. I’ve been waiting for months and months to get her to come on the show. Finally, our schedules aligned. Welcome, Dr. Bahr.


[00:01:09] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Thank you. I’m so glad that we finally figured this out too. It’s been a while. It’s been a long time coming.


[00:01:13] Ashley James: Absolutely. You specialized in helping families, helping children with PANS and PANDAS. We’re going to define what that is in a sec because, up to a few months ago, I had never heard of this.

One of my good friends told me that her daughter was finally diagnosed after years of very strange symptoms. She was diagnosed with PANDAS. I’m like, “Is that a thing? Like PANDAS? Your daughter has PANDAS?” She was typing to me, “My daughter has PANDAS.” I’m like, “You’re typing to me like I should know that, and I’ve never heard of that.


[00:01:50] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yeah. Like an infestation of a cute, cuddly bear.


[00:01:54] Ashley James: Exactly. I’m like, “Okay, your daughter has PANDAS. What does that even mean?” She was enlightening me. I’m blown away that there’s this entire diagnosis that so many children have gone undiagnosed and/or misdiagnosed, and on all kinds of medications. Finally, you being a major expert in this field are helping to clear the path towards for clarity and showing people how they can use natural medicine to help their children come back into balance and heal.

My friend said you have to get into Dr. Jennifer Bahr’s Facebook group. We’re going to let parents know right now. Search Homeopathy for PANS & PANDAS on Facebook to join the free group. It’s a fantastic group. I’ve been in it for a while. I love the advice and information that’s there.

You’re a pioneer in this field. I’m very excited to bring you here today for the listeners. I asked the listeners in my Facebook group, The Learn True Health Facebook group, if they have any questions for you. So far, we have about 12 questions of parents with children with PANS or PANDAS. I’m going to have you answer them, as well as give us lots of great information today.

But first, before we get into your story on what led you want to become a naturopathic physician specializing in helping children with this issue, can you explain what PANS and PANDAS are?


[00:03:37] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Absolutely. I want to make sure and clarify for the people who are looking for the group already. If you can’t find it, it’s Homeopathy for PANS and PANDAS. Rather than slash, it’s “&” symbol, Homeopathy for PANS & PANDAS.

PANS stands for Pediatric Acute Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, and PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated w/ Streptococcal Infections. I’m sure that clears everything up. No questions anymore, right? Just kidding.

Basically, PANDAS is a form of PANS. Both conditions essentially have the same things. PANDAS is just a very specific type of PANS. What happens with these kids is they get exposed to an infection. In PANDAS, it happens to be strep; PANS, it can be many different things. It can be Lyme. It can be any other co-infections associated with Lyme, like Bartonella. It could be mold toxicity. It could be mycoplasma, which can typically cause pneumonia, or other environmental toxins. It’s not a defined cause, whereas PANDAS is a defined cause of strep infections.

They get exposed to this infection. In most cases, it’s usually an infection, and then they get a sudden onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder and tics, changes in their urination—basically kids who’ve been potty-trained for years and even teens who have no problems with urinary control, suddenly wetting the bed at night, having to go to the restroom ten times in an hour; changes in handwriting; significant changes in behavior; a lot of insomnia, rage will come out, a lot of separation anxiety too.

People will feel like they lost their child overnight. Parents will often compare it to their child becoming possessed almost because they are very different. There are even changes in how they look. A lot of these kids will end up very pale. They’ll have the dark circles around their eyes. They’ll have dilated pupils. They almost look through their parents when they’re dealing with some of these episodes that they go through. Does that clear things up a little bit more without getting too far into the weeds?


[00:05:53] Ashley James: Yeah, it does. Is it an autoimmune condition?


[00:05:54] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: It’s still being studied. It’s a challenging diagnosis for people to deal with. We can talk about this in as much detail as you need to help people understand it like what they’re going to face if it sounds like something that their child is experiencing. They want to go to their pediatrician. “I heard about these PANS and PANDAS. Is this what’s going on with my kid?”

Unfortunately, it’s a newly understood phenomenon. It was 1998 when it’s first defined. Because of that, there’s a lot of controversy around its legitimacy as a diagnosis. Medical science takes a long time to catch up to research because everybody’s got to redo things—who’s right, who’s wrong, and all that.

It’s believed right now to be an autoimmune response to strep or any of the other conditions in PANS. What happens is that our body gets exposed to this invading pathogen, and it tries to mount an immune response. What happens in autoimmunity is that our immune response gets too broad, so rather than just attacking the pathogen itself, it starts to attack our cells.

Strep is tricky because it can undertake this thing called molecular mimicry. We’ve got these little proteins that are on the surface of our cells that identify us as us, so that our immune system, when it goes up to attack cells, it doesn’t attack our cells. What strep we’ll do is it puts proteins on its surface that looks similar to our proteins. It’s almost like putting on a mask of us so that it’s trying to hide from our immune system.

Because of this, the immune system will recognize it like you can tell if someone’s wearing a mask of you that is not you. Your immune system can also tell that masked strep bacteria is not you, so it starts to attack the strep bacteria, but in that effort, it brought in an attack and ends up attacking its cells.

It’s an autoimmune attack on the nervous system as a result of the infection. Strep has been known to be able to do this for years. That’s one reason that we have to get strep treated pretty early. If we don’t get it addressed within four days of onset, we can have an autoimmune response both in our heart and our kidneys as well. This is not a new thing. This particular presentation of it has been shown to be more prominent and more defined here recently.


[00:08:27] Ashley James: That’s very interesting. When I was in college, I was studying pathology, and they said, “pop quiz.” I’m from Canada. I live in the States now. But in Canada socialized medicine, if a child with a broken arm and a child with strep comes into the ER, why is the child with strep chosen first while everyone is thinking, “The kid with the broken arm should go first.” They said, “No. We’ve got to treat strep as fast as possible because it can damage the heart.”

Back in the 90s, this is the information that they are teaching. Interestingly, we’ve known that strep can do this, but the link to creating this autoimmune response or any neurological symptoms afterward is fairly new, which is so weird because it’s been going on for a long time.


[00:09:27] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: It’s not completely new. There’s Sydenham’s chorea which we’ve known about for a long time that can happen as a result of strep. People who get diagnosed with Sydenham’s chorea, upon prophylactic antibiotics, until they’re 21—PANDAS specifically is very similar to Sydenham’s chorea. It has a lot of similarities in the tics and the movement. It’s a little bit different. There is a specific choreiform movement that happens with Sydenham’s chorea.

This is a new manifestation, and I’m certain we’ll get into lots of these details for why this is happening. But I’m exploring more and more and constantly learning which is one of those conditions that you never know enough. You’re constantly learning more and more about things. But it seems that it has a lot to do with our current lifestyle or diet or exposure to things in our environment. It’s creating this perfect soup that cooks up this really dramatic response that is happening so much more commonly than it used to.

Granted I am a specialist in this. This is all I see in my practice anymore—PANS and PANDAS—so I do have a skewed perception, but I keep looking at this. I talked to my husband who runs my practice, who when I first started talking about PANS and PANDAS, he legitimately thought 20 people in the country had it. He’s like, “I don’t know why you want to reach out to these people more and help these people more. I think you’re helping them already. How many people need this?”

When we started the Facebook group at the request of one of the moms that I worked with, he was floored by how many people joined the group so quickly. He’s stunned how many people are suffering from these. I’ve been telling him all along. I was like, “I think we had it toward—I hate to use this word loosely but—like an epidemic.” In the way that autism has dramatically increase, PANS and PANDAS got a lot of overlap with autism too, and I’m seeing it’s dramatically increasing. More and more kids have it. It used to be one kid in a town would have familiarity in it, and now parents are telling me, “We’ve got multiple kids in the class that have it.”

It’s becoming a problem, and it’s not just about the bugs. I’m sure we’ll talk all about that here in a little bit. But it’s not the bugs, even though it sounds like it’s the bugs. It’s not the bugs.


[00:11:51] Ashley James: Great segue way into your story. I want to know, first of all, what happened in your life that made you want to become a naturopathic physician? And then what happened that made you want to specialize in PANS and PANDAS when it only seems like there are only 20 people in the world that had it at the time?


[00:12:10] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Looking back, there is a chance, and of course, you can’t guarantee anything in retrospect. Hindsight is 20/20. But it’s not even 20/20 in this case because you need lab test and everything. There’s a chance I might have had PANS and PANDAS when I was younger.

I never got diagnosed with that. I did have some symptoms that are common to PANS and PANDAS. Potentially, it started when I was eight. When I had to get my tonsils taken out and I got pneumonia, and suddenly started getting scared at night and having intense fears about all the robbers and murderers that had never been caught somehow hiding in my room waiting for me to go to bed and imagining that they’re going to some way stab me from underneath my bed or hurt me in the night sometimes; or fears that the house is going to catch on fire, and I was going to have to jump out. These constant intrusive thoughts that were scary, and that would happen specifically at night.

I had some urinary issues that I’d never shared with anybody, so you’re the first. I had random urinary issues when I was fully potty-trained when I was six to eight years old. I don’t recall having any tics, but I don’t know for sure.

The real definite time that I had my first interaction with anything in the mental health was when I was 16, and my mom made me see a psychiatrist for depression. I got put on medication, and the medication made me significantly worse. I was put on an SSRI, and it sent me through the roof.

I went from being genuinely, legitimately depressed. I was sleeping all the time, lost interest in hanging out with my friends. I quit dancing. I was a competitive dancer and loved it, and I quit. I quit swim team. I quit all of these things and stopped turning in my homework. I was a star student, and I basically stopped doing anything.

My mom took me to a doctor, and I got put on antidepressant that was an SSRI and quickly felt significantly better, but I felt so much better that I wasn’t sleeping anymore. I was talking a mile a minute and had a lot of signs of hypomania and a lot of agitation. I took myself off that medication after about six months because I was like, “Well, I’m not depressed anymore. Why on earth would I take an antidepressant?” and proceeded to many more years of lots of ups and downs, many, many ups and downs, and lots of impulsive behavior.

I didn’t like what I was doing in Ohio State University. I was studying chemical engineering. I quit and join the Navy pretty impulsively, and then went out to California where I live now. I was up in Northern California. I went to the language school up there. I learned Arabic. Then decided I want to be a doctor. That’s stuck. Pretty shortly after I left my home state of Ohio and joined the Navy, got a little bit of freedom. I was able to say, “I do want to be a doctor.” And then there are lots of ups and downs.

I was an Arabic translator in the Navy for six years, and while I was doing that—this is in from 1998 to 2004, pretty high demand for Arabic translators and people with security clearances working in intel. I did that while I was also going to school full time to get my undergraduate degree in physiology and neurobiology at the University of Maryland. I was really busy, and I had lots of fluctuations in my mood during that time as well, and my ability to concentrate and think clearly. Sometimes I was razor-sharp, and sometimes I felt terrible. I sort of accepted, “Okay, I’m somebody who deals with depression, and so I’m going to have to continue to deal with this.”

But then it came to a head in November of 2003, and things got really bad. I got to the point that I was suicidal, but I knew that I was not going to be able to act on it. One night I went to bed after I’ve taken a bunch of sleeping pills because It hurts too much to be awake, and I had a little bit of alcohol with it. I thought, “Maybe this will be a lethal combination.” It was comforting to think that maybe I wasn’t going to wake up. I wasn’t’ trying to commit suicide, but it was comforting to think that perhaps that would have happened. I woke up, and I was disappointed. I said, “Okay, I need help because I can’t continue to live like this.”

I called the doctor, and I got in quickly. With the military, that rarely happens, but I was stubborn enough to refuse to go to the ER, so they made a way for me to come and see the doctor the very next day. That doctor ends up diagnosing me with bipolar disorder because I had a lot of history of intense mood, short sleep times, high energy, rapid thoughts, pressured speech—the typical signs you see with mania or hypomania. He gave that diagnosis. When I was expecting to be put on an antidepressant, I instead got put on lithium.

Lithium made me feel very slow and stupid. This was like November of 2003, I was on my second to last semester at the University of Maryland, and I was taking the toughest biology class in our course of study for the physiology and neurobiology. I got my first ever D, and that was hard for me. I was a student who’s used to getting mostly A’s and an occasional B, and I got a D. I had to retake that class.

In part, it’s because of what I was going through emotionally, and in part, because my brain would not work on that medication. I ended up gaining a bunch of weight on it, ended up messing my thyroid—lots and lots of issues.

As I was finishing up, I had a lot of thoughts to myself. I succumb to the stigma. There’s still an awful lot of stigma around mental health, and this was years ago. I was in the military where we also are taught you don’t get help for mental health reasons because you’ll lose your job.

Fortunately, I didn’t lose my job, and I never did. I continued to work in the intel world for another four years while I was figuring out what naturopathic medicine was and my route to get there. Fortunately, I was not subject to losing my clearance and my job because I had the insight to get help. That’s one thing that’s important for people to recognize this. It’s about getting help. Even when there’s stigma, when you get help, when you can have that insight, it has significantly less impact on you that might otherwise if you don’t seek the help in the first place.

It’s fortunate enough that I was able to finish up my time in the military and I did pass, obviously my class, when I took it again. But then with that stigma, I still had that feeling like I was broken; and there was something wrong with me; and how I can possibly be a doctor if I couldn’t rely on my brain. If somebody was telling me that those times that I felt my best—when I was my sharpest, when I was on my game and could think clearly, had lots of energy, was the center of attention, having lots of fun—that that was me when I was sick. That gave me pause to have me ask myself, “Is this really what you should be doing? Can you be trusted? Can other people trust you? Can you trust yourself?”

I took a lot of time, and I stayed in that field where I was translating Arabic for another couple of years, deciding what I was going to do. I was contemplating psychology because I still really wanted to help people and I was even more drawn to help people with mental health conditions after my personal experience, where I was misdiagnosed and then given medications that didn’t make me feel great.

Honestly, I did adjust to them, so I didn’t feel stoned all the time on lithium after about a month or two, but I didn’t feel great. I didn’t feel the highs and the lows anymore, but I didn’t feel anything. It was dull and flat and gray. I wasn’t myself anymore. I didn’t want to get into the field that I was planning on going into which is psychiatry because I didn’t want to be somebody who’s tool was to have people take pills that made people less burdensome to those around them but made them less of themselves at the same time.

I thought about doing psychology, and that felt far too passive for me. Then with my own experience with not only the medications but the medical realm in general–I remember going to see my primary care doctor for something completely different not related to my mental health, like an injury from doing too many push-ups in a Krav Maga class. They gave me a medication that I knew was contraindicated considering the fact that I was on lithium, and the doctor didn’t listen to me and told me to take it anyway, and it was the insurance company that called me.

Where is the medical system when your insurance company is looking out for your best interest more than your doctor? The insurance company called me and said, “Hey, we just saw that you had both of these medications. You can’t take them together. You need to stop the naproxen and call your doctor.”

Two hours later, the nurse from the doctor’s office called me and said, “Hey, we need you to stop taking that.” And I said, “I told the doctor that when I was in the office. Why didn’t he listen to me?” And the nurse said, “I’m sorry. I don’t know why, but please stop taking it.” And that’s when I said, “There’s something broken. There’s something wrong here.”

I decided I can’t fix the system if I’m not a part of it. Not always, but ever since I was 19, I’ve wanted to be a doctor. I’ve gone to all of this training in my undergrad. I can still do this. People can. I’m stable. I can manage this. It’s more about being treated. As long as you’re treated, it’s fine; and have that cognizance to maintain treatment.

I started researching and started studying for my MCAT and figure out ways that I could learn to do psychiatry but to use more natural approaches. Then I was expecting that I was going to have to do my traditional, conventional medical training and then do lots of traveling throughout the world to learn new Ayurvedic medicine and herbs and nutrition and all these other things that aren’t taught in the conventional program.

It was two weeks before I took my MCAT, I read an article written by an ND, and I’d never even heard of a naturopathic doctor at this point. I was like, “What is this ND? Did somebody make up this ending till I give them more legitimacy than they actually have?” I hit Google and saw ND stands for “naturopathic physician.” What is that? As I’m reading, I’m like, “It combines the conventional and natural, and it’s a program that does this in four years instead of ten plus.” And I was like, “Oh, my gosh!” The light bulb went off. This is what I’m trying to do, and it already exists. I don’t have to piece me all these.

From there, I started taking a look into it and researching more about it. I applied to a couple of different schools and ended up going to the school that I landed on that explained what naturopathic medicine was in the first place. That’s how I got to naturopathic medicine.

Mental health was always my passion because of my own experience. I’m driven to help people that I can relate to. It took me a while to feel comfortable sharing my story because I still had that feeling if I share with people, they’re going to think that they can’t trust me, that I shouldn’t be a doctor, and I’ll lose my license—any of these things. It ended up being the most freeing thing that I ever did when I finally made that decision to share, because, yes, people are going to think that occasionally.

People have taught that I’m not the right person for them or their partner or whatever because they have their judgments about “crazy.” But when people get to know me, they see that one, I’m stable. Two, the medicines that I use for my patients help me recover from whatever it was, whether it was an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder or if it was something else going on, leading back all the way to all the things that I dealt with when I was a child; when I was anxious and scared and raged. I forgot to tell you I’ve punched holes in walls. I was that kid. I was an angry rage-filled kid too, which is a lot of what we see in PANS and PANDAS.

Regardless of what it is, I use the same type of medicine and the same approaches for myself and working with my doctors that I now use for my patients.


[00:24:55] Ashley James: What school did you go to?


[00:24:58] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I went to Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. I was between that and Bastyr University. It was completely serendipitous that I ended up in SCNM. Bastyr has a reputation as one of the best schools. In part just because of its longevity in the community or the world. It’s one of the longer programs, and they have a lot of really great marketing.

I’m grateful that it was the sun that drew me to Arizona because the homeopathy program at SCNM is significantly stronger than the homeopathy program at Bastyr. With the homeopathy part too, I was not a fan of homeopathy when I first find out about it as being part of the program. It’s worth talking about because homeopathy uses infinitesimally small doses of single substances found in nature, and it’s given to people based off their symptoms that they’re experiencing that the substance, if used in a high dose, could cause in a healthy person.

If somebody is sick and they’re experiencing symptoms similar to what a substance could cause in a healthy person that medicine is used to “cure” those symptoms in the unhealthy person. Does that make sense? I was a little convoluted there.


[00:26:22] Ashley James: We’ve had a few guests on the show about homeopathy, and I always share that I’m the most open-minded skeptic. I’m going to question everything, but I’m open-minded enough to try it. I found out I was pregnant because I had the worse—it’s not morning sickness, but it’s 24 hours a day.


[00:26:43] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Hyperemesis gravidarum.


[00:26:45] Ashley James: Yeah, I had that all the time. We didn’t know we were pregnant because I was told I was infertile. This is a long story. I won’t get to it now, but I’ve told it before on the show. Using natural medicine, we got our fertility or I got my fertility. And so, surprise! I was pregnant.

I had migraine, nausea, vomiting, fever, shaking, blurred vision. I felt like I had flu. I was incredibly sick, and I was in so much pain, and we were on a business road trip. I was in so much pain from the car sickness and from everything that I was like, “Screw it, I’m taking Advil.” I told my husband, “Pull over to the Safeway.” I don’t ever take NSAIDs or anything, but I was in so much pain. When you’re in pain, you’re like, “I will do anything.”

In the back of my mind, this little voice said, “Go take a pregnancy test before you take Advil because if you’re pregnant, you don’t want to be taking Advil.” I’m thinking myself there’s a 1% chance I’m pregnant because I’m infertile. I had polycystic ovary syndrome. I’ve been using natural medicine and changed my diet and lifestyle and everything. I was correcting all of my health issues. I thought, “1% chance, fine.”

I grabbed the pregnancy test before I grabbed the Advil, and I came out running and screaming and jumping through the air at my husband. Suddenly, all my symptoms seemed to disappear. I couldn’t believe it. I was bawling. I was crying and screaming. I was so happy staring at the little positive mark on the pregnancy test. That was the happiest day of my life, but I was also incredibly miserable, incredibly sick.

Luckily at that time, we were actually hosting a naturopathic physician to give a health talk. He looked at me, and he figured out what my constitution was, and he said, “We got to get this homeopathy for you.” Again, I’ll try anything. I can’t try Advil now, so I got to try something natural. I took it, and I didn’t have the placebo effect because I’m like, “Whatever, I’ll take anything.” But within 90 seconds, my symptoms cut down so much that I could open my eyes. I could walk again. The headache cleared up to just 1 out of 10 pain from a 10 out of 10. I stopped feeling nauseous and vomiting. It was incredible. He said, “You have to take that your whole pregnancy. Every time you start feeling bad, take some.” It was like clockwork. I couldn’t believe it.

And then again, our son, he had colic. I tried everything, and the only thing that worked was homeopathy. If a one-week-old or a one-month-old baby who has no idea what are you putting its mouth, its symptoms start to get better when you get homeopathy in its mouth, then how is it a placebo effect?

I love homeopathy. I have to use the right remedy. If you use the wrong remedy, nothing happens. Luckily, there’s no side effect. Whereas you use the wrong the medication and your insurance company calls you up.


[00:29:49] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Right. For the most part.


[00:29:51] Ashley James: Homeopathy is significantly safer, but you got to work with an expert because there are 2000-3000 different choices when it comes to homeopathy and different strengths and different ways of taking it. We got to work with an expert. You can’t walk into the drugstore and look at, “This one said it’s good for colds. I’ll take this one.”


[00:30:14] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yeah. Or asking a group and a mom says, “This one was a miracle for my kid.” Okay, so I’m going to do that, too. It’s not necessarily going to work for your kid because your kid is different. Everybody is different.


[00:30:24] Ashley James: Exactly. We got to work with an expert. I’m really glad to hear that you felt that your homeopathy training was the strongest at the neuropathic university that you went to.


[00:30:36] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I still think it is. The school here in San Diego has an awful lot of people who are in the homeopathy realm and teaching homeopathy who were trained at SCNM. The school I went to, it’s also got a pretty strong program in the San Diego campus here, too. Although I still think that the SCNM program is stronger. It’s got more legs.


[00:30:57] Ashley James: When you say San Diego, are you referring to the Bastyr?


[00:31:01] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes, the Bastyr branch in San Diego—Bastyr University in San Diego. It sounds like you and I had a similar introduction to homeopathy. I was so skeptical when I found out about it. When I had to take it as one of my lectures in my first quarter at SCNM, I almost quit. I was like, “Are you kidding me? This complete nonsense, quackery medicine is part of my required training as a physician? There’s no way I’m ever going to use this. Am I going to give my patients nothing and help them to get better? This is magical thinking nonsense. No, I’m never going to use this.”

Legitimately, I almost quit because I started to look down on the program that included it. Then I decided to focus on the things that I thought were more legitimate. I was like, “I’ll do this. Everything’s imperfect in life, and so I will take this imperfection. I will run with it and ignore it, and focus on the things that I think are useful.”

Then I met the first doctor that I worked with at a conference who had a lot of experience treating specifically bipolar disorder, and it was the perfect timing because I wanted the option to get pregnant. I was finally in this place, and I’m old enough. I’m in that trajectory for that last stages of school. After this, I’m done with school, and I want the option to get pregnant in the future.

But none of the medications that you’re taking with bipolar disorder are safe in pregnancy—none. Most of the psychotropic medications are not known for sure to be safe in pregnancy. There are a lot of complications even with the ones that are considered Pregnancy Category B, which is basically the safest you can get, meaning that it’s not guaranteed safe, but it does not have a lot of evidence of harm. There are still things that come out for the babies. They get born with withdrawal symptoms from SSRI if they’re taken when mom is pregnant. But absolutely none of the medications I could take to manage bipolar disorder were allowed in pregnancy. It could cause birth defects or fetal death.

I went to my psychiatrist, and I said, “What are my options if I want to have a baby?” He looked me square in the eye and told me I would have to get shock therapy if I want to have a baby. I was like, “That is nonsense.” I’m going to try this other thing that’s also nonsense but doesn’t require hooking electrodes to my brain and shooting electricity through my brain and scrambling it. I’m going to try, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll come back to the meds, and I can always fry my brain later if that’s what I feel like I need to do.

I’m so glad that I have that because I had a similar experience. I was on medication when I started working with my doctor who’s prescribing me the constitutional homeopathic remedy, and me being the skeptical scientist that I am, I decided that it was no way I can know. He insisted that the remedy was working. I said, “There’s no way I can possibly know that this is working because I’m on suppressant medications.” I impulsively stopped my medications, which you should never do. It is a bad idea. It can cause a lot of headaches and a lot of negative repercussions, and so don’t do what I did. I was a very bad patient. It’s a bad idea for anybody to do. Don’t follow me. Do as I say not as I do.

I ended up manic out of my mind within a few weeks of stopping the medication, and fortunately, the remedy was working. I got the clear evidence that it was working because my doctor at that time didn’t have me taking a daily dose. He had me taking single doses. We’ve had a follow-up every two to three weeks, and then he would tell me whether or not I needed to take another dose of the remedy. He usually did have me take another dose.

We’re very fortunate the day I became floridly manic. We already had an appointment scheduled because I was not aware that I was manic. I was feeling all of the things, and feeling good about feeling all over the things again. Probably, it could be a hint that I was not able to sit still. I was marching around in class in the back like a crazy who is manic because I was.

My doctor told me to take another dose of the remedy and within two hours, I was able to go out to dinner with my friends and sit still, have a normal paced conversation, and no longer felt like I needed to get a tattoo right now, or run away to Nicaragua, and start this crazy new life.

That was my magical moment where I said, “If this can actually cool me down where medications would never have done it that fast—if I had started taking my lithium again, it would have taken weeks, and I wouldn’t have felt better but still me. I would have felt not manic, but I would have felt dull and slow. It would have taken weeks to get there.

That was when I had my moment, and I said, “I guess this stuff works.” Just like you, I did not expect it to work. I was like, “I guess I have to learn how to do this.” That’s how I came to homeopathy. And then PANS and PANDAS came to me when I had success treating it because ultimately when we’re dealing with PANS and PANDAS—it looks like a psychiatric and neurological condition, so people were seeking out somebody to help with OCD and tics.

The first case that I had of PANS and PANDAS was somebody who just taught it was Tourette syndrome and OCD, who’d been misdiagnosed, which happens so frequently. Her child had been misdiagnosed, and fortunately, in naturopathic medical school, we’re taught about PANS and PANDAS. I was able to catch it and figure out what it was. Homeopathy was all it was needed for this little girl to get her back on track. But then obviously, once you get good results for something that is hard to treat, more people come to you and come, and come, and come.

I kept seeing more and more people and seeing that ultimately, in my experience, for people to have full, true resolution, which is actually possible. People will tell you that it’s not possible and that you’re always going to have this. Just like with any other mental condition, it’s with you for life. This is going to be what your kids are dealing with for at least until they’re 21, 18 or some random age, when apparently your immune system knows, “I can drink now. It means I’m an adult, so I’m going to change the way I’m responding to things.” Not true.

But we can see these kids recover to the point that not only are their symptoms controlled, and not just controlled but they’re gone, and that they can get exposed to the things that were the triggers in the past and not have a flare of these neuropsychiatric symptoms.

The only way that I’ve seen this happen for people is using homeopathy, and so it’s become my drive and my passion in life. The only thing that I see in my practice anymore is PANS and PANDAS because these kids don’t recover unless you use homeopathy.

When I went into naturopathic medicine and working with people with the mental health trauma, I was always drawn to working with kids because as much I love my mother—She did the best that she could. She got me to a doctor when she knew that I needed it, and she did what she had information for. My mother absolutely took credit for the fact that I’m here now and that I’m as healthy as I’m now and everything.

If my mom had had more information and been able to find a doctor to treat me the way I treat my patients, when I was as young as six or seven, when the first thing started coming up, I might have had a lot less headache and a lot less heartache through my adult life and through some formative years, which granted now I’m very grateful for because they lead me here to what I’m doing. It really was not pleasant at that time. I was always driven to help kids because I wanted to prevent them from dealing with what I had to deal with growing up. Who better to help these kids—the conventional system only has limited solutions. They’re still dealing with a lot of stuff. It doesn’t actually help them recover. This type of medicine can actually help them recover.


[00:39:33] Ashley James: Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love your story because it does show that we can look back and be really appreciative of the hard times.

If you haven’t been put on the lithium—those little things that didn’t seem significant—but now you look back, and you realize that was the pivotal moment that had me go in this direction and had me find naturopathy, and then had me find everything. All these little dominoes that don’t seem clear at the moment, but we can go back and look back and appreciate what has happened in our life, the good and the bad, to shape us into who we are now, and how you’re contributing to the world. If your mom had sent you to a homeopath back when you were six, you may not be helping hundreds of children now. It’s wonderful karma. Sometimes we can turn our suffering into helping healing thousands of people. I’d really love that.


[00:40:45] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: My practice name is Resilience Naturopathic, and it’s exactly because of that. It’s because every obstacle that we face can lead to so much transformative change and so much transformative good if we allow it. I’m fortunately an eternal optimist. I’m a pessimist for the very first minute of something so I can figure out the worst case scenario and then I’ll go back to my all optimistic place. If it worked for that, I wouldn’t be able to see all the opportunities, all of the suffering. What could have been tragedies, opened up for me in ways I’m able to connect and relate. It helps me when I’m talking to the moms. It helps me when I’m talking to my patients because they suddenly don’t feel as embarrassed when I can tell them, “How many holes have you punched in the wall when you get really mad?” And when I say, “I did it four times.” And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” They feel like they can talk to me in a way that I’m not going to judge them because I did it to, so why would I think bad things about them.

It’s a gift, and I think it made me a significantly better doctor, even a more relatable doctor to people as well. It increases the therapeutic relationship. If people don’t like the fact that I’ve had my own experiences, then I’m not the right person for them. That’s all good.


[00:42:08] Ashley James: I think I’ve said this on a recent interview. I would rather go to a doctor who has been sick in their past than go to a doctor who’s never been sick because how can they possibly relate? It’s like going to a personal trainer who’s never worked out or something. It’s like you wanted to—


[00:42:30] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yeah. The weight loss coach who’s always been thin.


[00:42:33] Ashley James: Right. You want to work with someone who has that personal experience. They have so much more empathy. And also, they personally will have dove into the subject and become maybe more of an expert because they’re looking at helping themselves.

I absolutely love that you have the past you have. It has helped shape who you are as a doctor and give you the amount of compassion but also the amount of observation that you probably see things that other doctors don’t, that you observed things in your patients. Can adults develop PANS or PANDAS? Is this only something that is developed as a child?


[00:43:21] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: It’s developed as a child because that’s when we’re most susceptible to PANS and PANDAS, but it’s not just for kids. I’ve got a handful of adults in my practice that I’m pretty certain had PANS or PANDAS as a child and were misdiagnosed.

We’ve got adults that can still get strep. Typically, if you’re going to have an autoimmune response, it’s going to start in childhood, but not always. As I said earlier, it’s a cascade of events, like a soup that sort of all the ingredients come together to create the perfect situation that can lead to that susceptibility or to trigger that susceptibility.

We rarely see adults develop PANS or PANDAS out of nowhere, but it’s absolutely possible that people who are adults have PANS and PANDAS that was never correctly identified when they were children.


[00:44:07] Ashley James: A friend of mine who first told me about PANDAS because her daughter was diagnosed—this is a sad and ongoing story. She’s currently living in Texas, and I believe I’ve known her since her daughter was 5. Her daughter is maybe 12 or 13 right now. I’ve known her for a long time, and we’ve been close friends. I’ve observed her as a mother. She home-schools her child. She was incredibly healthy before getting this. She’s been gluten-free, organic, basically paleo diet; very athletic; many, many grades above her age; incredibly intelligent; and home-schooled so she gets all the personalized attention, but lots of socialization.

When I met her when she was six, she acted like she was ten. She was reading the Harry Potter novels—all of them. Very intelligent, well-spoken. And then she developed PANDAS in the recent years and started to get tics, very strange behavior changes, couldn’t focus, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t look people in the eyes, started having seizures, couldn’t remember waking up in the night, having eaten food.

They would find food like a roast dragged into another room and find it on the bathroom floor or something. They’d find half eaten food in places. They’d even find frozen meat eaten, and the daughter has no memory of this. She would wake up in the middle of the night and eat and has no memory of this.

They were living in Texas, and the mom found a pediatric neurologist who figured out that she had a brain infection and got her on antibiotics, and then got her on anti-seizure medication which was very strong and had a ton of side symptoms. The mom tried to figure out what’s going on, and this is when she discovered that she has PANDAS.

She had a really bad episode and took her daughter to the emergency room, and the hospital didn’t believe that her daughter was sick, believed that the mother had made everything up in her head and that her mother was one of those parents who pretends their children are sick for attention.


[00:46:47] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Munchausen by proxy.


[00:46:48] Ashley James: They took her daughter away from her. Put her on a psychiatric ward. Even though she was on antiseizure medications with brain scans to prove and working with the pediatric neurologist, they ignored that. They got CPS involved, and CPS took her daughter away. Through this day, her daughter is out of her custody. They’re trying to battle it, but it’s very hard on them.

They immediately vaccinated the child with all the vaccines at once and put her on public school. She’s having bowel and urinary problems. She’s having tics and seizures. She just had pneumonia. The mother only can visit her once or twice a week. She’s not allowed to have any control of anything medical.


[00:47:44] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: But she sounds like she’s getting worse.


[00:47:46] Ashley James: Oh, yeah. She’s absolutely getting worse. But because the CPS brought in expert doctors to say that this is BS—“There’s no such thing as PANS and PANDAS. Your daughter doesn’t have it.” They are disregarding everything. They’re saying the mother was abusive to the daughter because the mother made up a diagnosis.


[00:48:04] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I wish that this was the first time I heard a story like this, and it’s crushing my heart.


[00:48:09] Ashley James: I want to want the parents that if this could happen to a mother who I have known she’s never been abusive. She’s only been loving, and she’s doing the best she can. When you take your kid—I’m not saying you don’t take your kid to the ER if they need to. Please don’t withhold medical help, but go to the right doctors. Say the right things.

If they don’t have a respect for the diagnosis, they might try to take your kid away. This happened to one of my close friends and is still happening. It’s medical kidnapping. Of course, the system wants to protect the children, but is this protecting children–taking them away from the caregiver that cares about them the most?

We need to be very careful and walk a fine line. We need to do obviously, get many people on our medical team. Have many pediatricians. Have many experts. Seek the advice of many doctors, including Dr. Jennifer Bahr, who’s absolutely amazing in this arena. But we need to have many doctors on our side to make sure that we’re covering all our bases.

Unfortunately, this is happening to my friend. But this is the very sad story that led me to learn about PANS and PANDAS and led me to ask you to be on the show. Again like what we said, even though this is incredibly difficult and sad, hopefully in a few years we can look back and be grateful that this story, what my friend and her daughter went through, they’re able to turn this into something positive, and that we all can turn this into something positive.


[00:49:57] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Here’s hoping.


[00:50:01] Ashley James: You’ve heard about this kind of story before?


[00:50:03] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes, I have, unfortunately. It’s one of the biggest challenges that we’re facing in this community and that these parents face is that there aren’t enough doctors who are familiar with it or even aware of it. There are definitely doctors who are aware of it and think that it’s baloney like apparently her emergency physician thought and the expert witness thought.

One of the challenges that we face is that we got experts. We do have experts who treat this and who use various different types of medicine. There’s a lot of integrative immunologists and functional immunologists that refer to me that I have patients in common with. Same thing with neurologists. Some of the most highly respected doctors for PANS and PANDAS are not fans of integrative medicine or homeopathy, and they’ll likely stir their patients away.

Fortunately, PANS and PANDAS moms are really strong mama bears. They earned that moniker for sure. They will do what they feel is right and best for their kids. They won’t stop fighting for their kids, and to make sure that they get a solution. They’ll lean on each other, and they’ll support each other. That’s one positive thing about this horrible diagnosis is that it strengthens the community. These moms come together to support each other in ways that humbles and inspires me every single day. I see it in my group, and I hear it from the moms that I talk to. I feel like all of my patients know each other, even though they’ve never actually met in person.

One of the challenges that we face is because there’s so few of us that have solid expertise in comfort and know how to manage this complex condition. It is so complex that even if you look at one kid who has PANS or PANDAS, you’re looking at one kid. They’re not going to respond the same way. They’re not all going to have the same triggers. They’re not going to have the same reactions. They’re not going to respond the same way to different treatments and meds. That’s why it has to be so individualized.

People will travel all over the world to see doctors. I work with people all over the world, and so a lot of doctors—even conventionally trained doctors—people will travel from all over to see them, and they work long distance and remotely and everything.

The challenge though is that when you have a true emergency, if it’s getting to a point that I can give you a homeopathic remedy recommendation today, but you can’t get that remedy because we don’t have easy access to all of the remedies, like a local food health store. That’s going to take a couple of days for it to get to you through mail or ordering from a homeopathic pharmacy.

You may have to go to the emergency room beforehand, and I always try to have people do the best they can to find a local doctor who’s at least familiar with PANS and PANDAS, who has emergency room privileges, so that they can intervene.

I do not have that capacity to intervene for my patients in every aspect that I want to be able to. I’m hoping to do the work that I can to change that. I got a lot of the parents of my patients who have gotten to that point of recovery that now have the capacity to help other people because they’re no longer in crisis management mode for their child, that we’re working on getting PANS and PANDAS centers in these hospitals, so it can be recognized.

But there’s so much room for growth and so much need to grow because there are entire communities that people will have nobody to go to that is even remotely familiar with PANS or PANDAS, or worse, is familiar enough and thinks that it’s a bogus diagnosis. They treat mom like she’s crazy, and then medically kidnap your child. I wish that that was the first time I’d heard that, and it’s unfortunately not. It’s so heartbreaking.


[00:53:43] Ashley James: Let’s get into what you think is the perfect storm or the soup so that children now versus 40 years ago—grandparent listeners are going, “We all got strep, and none of us got this. What’s going on?” Whereas now it’s becoming really common that those with a well-developed PANS or PANDAS gets misdiagnosed as possibly a mental health issue or being on the spectrum or something else if the doctors know what PANS or PANDAS is?

It’s more and more common, but none of the doctors know to diagnose it correctly. Why is it now so common? What is happening in the physiology of our children now, the environment that they’re in, the food that they’re eating, the air that they’re breathing, the water they’re drinking, that are making their bodies susceptible to this?


[00:54:45] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: It’s super complicated, and I’m going to get a little bit wonky here. If I trail off in a way that gets confusing, bring me back, please.

It’s so many different things that are contributing to it. I think that part of it is that we have been waging war rather than practicing diplomacy in medicine. I had this existential crisis moment at a conference recently where all of these integrative doctors and functional doctors are focusing on all of the ways that we need to come back more. We need to come back to this factor. We need to manipulate this part of the microbiome and all of these different things where we’re going in with bombs trying to control so much of our environment rather than working with it. That’s one thing I love about homeopathy.

I finally came to this place. My existential crisis moment was where I was feeling like a general in an unjust war and that basically we ended up creating this—maybe a horrible metaphor, but I’m going to go with it because it works for me. If it doesn’t work for you, I’ll try something different. But it’s like this metaphor where somebody supported the Global War on Terror and The Operation Iraqi Freedom. I feel like we are doing Operation Iraqi Freedom again and that we are going in and trying to bomb the heck out of something that is a bad guy. In that work of trying to bomb the bad guy, trying to get Al-Qaeda out, trying to get Saddam Hussein out, and all of the things that happened regardless of what you feel about the start of those wars. Those wars led to ISIS, and ISIS is worse than Al-Qaeda.

And so I think about how we are doing that in our bodies. We’re going after these bugs, and these things and try to control them and manipulate, and we leave this vacuum. Other things come in that are opportunistic, and they’re worse for us. We’ve been exponentially increasing that war. Does my analogy sort of make sense to you?


[00:56:50] Ashley James: Yes. But what about the average person who hasn’t been waging a war on mold


[00:56:56] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: But we’ve all been doing it. We’ve been doing it without realizing it, so we’ve been doing it by giving an antibiotic for every sniffle that we have. We’ve been doing it by giving antibiotics to our food livestock. We’ve been doing it by using antibacterial soaps. We’ve been doing it by getting super hygiene focused. So, we’ve been waging all these wars indirectly.

Even if I’m not taking a ton of antibiotics in my mouth, people around me have been. I’ve been going to the restroom and public restrooms and antibacterial soap and using that. My mom definitely gave me antibiotics when I probably didn’t need it because I wasn’t doing well, and it’s hard to wait out a virus.

And pediatricians succumb to parental pressure frequently, and they give something because you don’t want to go to the doctor and say, “I’m paying all this money to be told to do nothing.” There’s that.

Waging war on our environment by creating better living through chemistry. We are increasing the toxicity of mold by our chemicals that we use on paint, some things that we’re protecting wood with. Mold only create toxins in response to man-made chemicals. It is fighting against us because we’re fighting against it. We are just in this back and forth war.

So whether we’re taking the pills, the pills are happening. The changes in our environment are happening. The toxins are changing. Our food is changing. That’s another contributing factor. We have less nutritious food because of policies from the big government and where farmers are getting subsidies for which things that they’re producing. It’s growing the use of things like glyphosate and other pesticides that impact our nervous system.

If we’re eating fresh fruits and vegetables, but we’re eating conventionally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, those are causing inflammation to our nervous system, and impacts on our immune system and endocrine system. All of it is affected by the chemicals that we use, and the nutrients are being depleted on our soil because of farming practices and how they have changed. We have lower nutrients, more toxins on the foods that we’re eating that have less nutrition in the first place, and we’re processing things a lot.

When I was growing up, my mom made an awful lot of things from scratch. I grew up as the child of farmers. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but my parents were farmers, and they had grown up on farms, so maybe that’s a component of it. Maybe this happened even before for some people where there are a lot more processed foods.

Lunchables was not a thing. It was a brand new thing when I was in middle school or high school. It was not something that we got regularly. We didn’t get a lot of processed foods. It was a treat to get sugary cereal because we almost never got those kinds of thing. We’re processing things that remove the nutrients.

Here’s a big one—I’m sure a lot of your listeners, and you have heard about the genetic polymorphism, the SNP for MTHFR. It’s rampant in the population. It shouldn’t be that big of a problem. That means they’ve been having people passing down MTHFR variants for years.

The difference is that we haven’t always been eating foods that are enriched with folic acid, and folic acid clogs up malfunctioning MTHFR genes, the enzymes that they code for to be more precise. And so, we are eating less nutritious food that has toxins covered all over it in environments where we’ve got antibiotics in all of the foods that we’re eating. Hormones used to manipulate the food livestock that we are consuming. We’re heating our processed foods in plastic. We’re going to sleep in houses that are filled with chemicals that are themselves toxic, but then also create toxic mold exposure when they get wet and have leaks and all that.

It’s so many things. It’s genetics. It’s the environment. It’s the microbiome and the impacts that we’ve had on the microbiome. It’s how we’re eating because most of the parents that I work with, they brought up eating a standard American diet, which has a lot of processed food before their child gets sick because of convenience. We overworked ourselves, which means we don’t have time to tend to ourselves anymore.

I can be super guilty of this, too. I had to have these conversations with myself all the time. “No, it’s time to get up.” And when you get up, you need to do your meditation and your yoga. You need to eat a healthy breakfast. It needs to be all these different things. If I take the easy thing, I’m not going to be able to take care of my patients because I’m not taking care of myself.

But our diet impacts on the microbiome with one meal. One meal is all it takes to change the make-up of our microbiome. And so when we’re constantly eating these things that feed the bad guys and starve the good guys, we’re already creating an imbalance. Then when we throw in antibiotics for colds that don’t react to antibiotics, we throw in the inflammatory response that we’re having to all these chemicals in our environment, it’s surprising that we don’t all have this kind of thing.

We see autoimmunity show up rampantly in the society, at least in American society, whether it’s PANS or PANDAS. This is just one particular form of it. We see a lot more autoimmunity, a lot more thyroid condition and thyroid dysfunction as a result of autoimmunity. It’s a lot of GAD autoimmunity coming out a lot more frequently, too. It’s really a problem.


[01:02:49] Ashley James: Absolutely. I love it. I think you painted that picture perfectly. I didn’t have to rope you in. You didn’t go on any crazy tangents. That was well done. I’ve had other experts on the show talked about different things that you’ve brought out.

Dr. Ben Lynch, he was on episode 225. It’s about dirty genes, a really good episode for those of you who want to learn more about MTHFR or supporting the body in the face of those SNPs. But it’s very interesting about how our food supply has been contaminated by man-made contaminant. We’re intentionally putting folic acid into the food to help prevent one disease and ends up harming so many people who can’t metabolize that, that need methylated B vitamins.


[01:03:43] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: All of these moms that are not only eating foods that have folic acid in it, they’ve been taking a well-intention recommendation for prenatal which has folic acid, when that might be making things worse for their kiddo.

Again, the clinical practice of medicine has to catch up to the research, and it takes so many years for it to catch up. I think that that’s part of it, too. We’re playing catch up from our good intentions.


[01:04:12] Ashley James: I want to get into the questions that we have in the Facebook group and how to help the parents and the children who have PANS and PANDAS.

But first, I want to cover for everyone, for 100% of the population, how can we prevent PANDAS and PANS? It sounds like one of the ways we can prevent it is by, like you’ve mentioned, being diligent with our diet; eating clean food; going that extra mile to make sure the food is clean; to make sure water is clean too; make sure that we’re not waging a war against things. But we understand that there needs to be that balance, so looking to support the environment and the body. What other ways can we help to prevent PANS and PANDAS in the first place?


[01:05:02] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I’m going to be a bit of a bummer here. I don’t know yet, and I don’t know that you can. That’s one of the reasons that homeopathy becomes so vital is because ultimately, it’s not about all of these things. If you have this perfect environment, like perfect diet and your whole family never took any antibiotics, you only ate food that you raised on your organic farm, all of those things. I’ve got patients like that who still have PANS and PANDAS.

It’s not necessarily something you can control, which is where homeopathy becomes this vital linchpin for these kids because homeopathy doesn’t require us knowing exactly what happened in the body or exactly what the underlying cause or trying to manipulate biochemistry or neurotransmitters. What homeopathy does is it treats susceptibility, and that’s really what it comes down to. We have to focus on these again and again.

A lot of parents, when they got the diagnosis of PANS or PANDAS, they get so focused on that bug, and we’re just perpetuating that battle approach to health instead of the diplomacy approach to health.

I will say that homeopathy is more diplomacy because it’s nudging the body in the direction to heal itself; to repair its immune function; to repair its immune response; to restore balance to its hormones and neurotransmitters which we see. We see lab values change with homeopathic medicine when it’s done well. It just takes time.

Homeopathy is treating that susceptibility because you see this all the time. You see parents where their entire life was leading up to prevention of anything—perfect health, exactly what you would recommend as a prevention, and their kiddos still get it. You’ll see that one kid in the family gets it and another doesn’t. And so it’s that one child for whatever reason has that susceptibility and we can’t always identify if this is SNP, if this is gene, if this is bug, if this is whatever. It’s their unique susceptibility and homeopathy treats that.

We also see it happen where I’ve got kids that I treat who are adopted, and all of the kids in the family have it despite the fact that they’re adopted. So it’s not just genes, and it’s not just environment. It’s both. It’s a big question mark for that last little pieces. We, as of right now, define it as susceptibility and that’s where homeopathy comes in.

I wish I could give your listeners some better hope that if you do this exactly right that they’re going to avoid PANS or PANDAS for their kiddo. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to be the case.


[01:07:47] Ashley James: However, we should still eat organic. Do the best we can to make sure our body is optimally healthy.

Eleven years ago, I was very sick. I could barely function. I was constantly on antibiotics. I had type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections, polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility. I had brain fog so bad; I couldn’t process human language in the morning. It took me about 11 AM before I could understand what people are saying. I was really sick.

And we saw this health documentary. Because this was back in 2008, Netflix is just starting to have health documentaries on. The first one we watched streaming, there was the original CEO, the original creator of Whole Foods talking about health and what their mission. He said, “Vote with your fork,” and I understood.

They also talked about shopping on the perimeter. It was like, “Okay. We’re doing it. We’re going to Whole Foods.” We live in Las Vegas at that time. It’s very difficult to get clean food there. We went to Whole Foods, and we shopped their perimeter, which was hard because we’re anticipating not the standard American diet at that point. But we shopped the perimeter which means not going to the aisles where the processed foods are, so we’re eating meat, vegetables, dairy, fruit and that’s it.

We did that, and we chose 100% organic, and in one month I woke up and I realized that that was the first month I didn’t need to be on antibiotics. That was the first month since I could remember that I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t getting an infection so bad that I couldn’t function. It was like, “Oh, my gosh. In less than a month of just eating organic, my immune system recovered.”


[01:09:41] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Probably, it wasn’t just organic. It was organic and more nutrients then, and it was less inflammatory. It was multiple things. I didn’t mean to say that we should keep eating and deal with it when it comes, like eat your McDonald’s and deal with it because you’re going to get PANS and PANDAS anyway. Absolutely not.

My husband worked in conservation before he left to help me run my practice, so I could focus on being a doctor and like be the best doctor I could and all the administrative things. He worked on conservation, so we’re both passionate about the environment as well. It’s part of how we fall in love. It’s in the mountains. And so, we’re focused on the environment which is part of this existential crisis.

Are we doing things that are destroying the environment and our health at the same time by our unintentional or convenience-focused mindset? And so I would say that absolutely, we all need to focus on having not just a health-conscious diet but an environmentally conscious diet because the environment and the impacts of the environment have made a big difference for people with autoimmunity and especially these kids.

It’s about how we have to process trash. Are you buying things that are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, whole foods in a box? That’s not what you should you be doing. That’s still processed food. That still creates trash. A lot of energy still went into making it, and it’s still going to have impacts in your body. We’re not supposed to eat these processed foods. Absolutely, we should be doing our best effort to eat organic foods, and yes, you vote with your fork. Yes, there is some issue, people were always bringing up we have cross-contamination and all these different things. The more people who are demanding organic produce, the more people are going to grow it.

The better practices that they’re going to have are the soil management and the nutrition value of the foods, and the less that we got to have exposure to these toxic chemicals that are creating so much inflammation and hyperpermeability of our gut, otherwise known as the “leaky gut.” All these things are contributing to all of these chronic illnesses. Definitely, think about the environment because what’s good for the environment is good for your health.

I’m a firm believer that to be a truly holistic and integrative doctor, you have to think about the environment as well as your health.


[01:12:11] Ashley James: Absolutely. I’m highly allergic to dairy, and I’m still eating dairy back then. When I took dairy off that was another life-changing event. When I took gluten off, that was another life-changing event. So for me, every time I take out something I’m allergic to and add in more whole foods, it’s life-changing. I’m still learning. We’re all still learning. I’m still learning, and I love learning from experts like you because you’re reaffirming what my body keeps telling me.

What we keep learning every time that we eat healthily is that our body can heal really quickly or can go downhill really quickly depending on our diet.


[01:12:51] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: The question about what is healthy or what is the best diet, people always ask these things. This is one reason that one of the moms that I worked with for several years who’s seen her child recover from PANDAS that we are working together to put some programs together to help moms learn how to do these because one person thinks it’s healthy. I have people come to me, and they have a pretty healthy diet, but when they tell me what they’re eating, I’m like, “Do you realize you’re giving so much sugar? Yes, it’s might be a better form of sugar. It’s not white processed sugar, but you’re still feeding the bugs that are not helping your kiddo feel better.”

And so, we’re working on helping moms learn how to navigate this. One reason why I’m partnering with one of the moms that I worked with is because there’s only so much that a doctor can tell you. When the rubber hits the road, and you got to get your kiddo to eat these things or to change the way that they’re living and to change their diet, it can be really hard. And so having both doctor and mom together can be really helpful to get the good information and then how to make it happen.


[01:13:54] Ashley James: Absolutely, and I highly recommend that listeners go to your Facebook group, Homeopathy for PANS & PANDAS. Search that in Facebook or go to the show notes of today’s podcast because a link will be there as well at

You’re writing a book, is that correct?


[01:14:16] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes, we’re starting with a book first and foremost. But the intention is to start with a book that’s a guide for moms on how to navigate PANS and PANDAS. How to identify and how to navigate all the different things that go into treatment, from the conventional approach to the natural and functional approach to homeopathy. As I said, it’s a mom’s story, a doctor’s tips, and a mom’s advice on how to make it happen. And then the plan is to offer a program as well, to help moms who need a little bit more support in implementing the things that we’ve talked about in the book.


[01:14:49] Ashley James: Got it. But listeners at this point who know that their kids need some extra support from a doctor, you do take individual clients through Skype, is that correct?


[01:15:01] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yeah, through long distance through another program, but yeah, we do work with people virtually.


[01:15:07] Ashley James: Got it. But maybe not Skype because you needed to be secure for medical reasons I understand. Let’s get to these questions. I’m so eager to hear your answers.

So Elaina says, “Are there natural alternatives to the prophylactic antibiotics, antivirals into supporting the immune system during bacterial, fungal or viral flares? What about absence seizures, motor tics?


[01:15:30] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: That’s a hefty question. There are natural herbs and things like that that you can use that work in a similar way to antibiotics. I have mixed feelings about using them just because there’s not as much evidence behind them. I will use them, especially if somebody is sensitive, but you can still have sensitivities to herbs that have similar actions in the body as an antibiotic.

You can also develop a resistance to the herbs. There was a research presentation shared in our annual conference last year that was fantastic. That was also scary. That shows that you can develop antibiotic resistance to antimicrobial herbs just like you can to the antibiotics themselves, and it happens pretty quickly in the test that they did.

There are things that you can use. It’s going to be up to the individual. This is probably going to get a little bit frustrating, but like what I’ve said earlier, a lot of these kids, if you’ve seen one kid with PANS or PANDAS, you’ve seen one kid with PANS and PANDAS. They have similarities, but they’re still so individualized, and what works for one person isn’t going to work for another.

There are some supplements that can be used to help mitigate yeast. Caprylic acid is one that’s used pretty frequently. Saccharomyces boulardii—it’s a yeast-hating yeast. People will give that oftentimes if they’re using the prophylactic antibiotics. Other herbs, like I said there’s not as much evidence behind them, so I’m always hesitant to use them because I have homeopathy as one of my tools. When we’re using homeopathy and when we’re using other natural therapies in my approach, we’re working trying to get people off of needing to take these things long term because we want the immune system fighting it the way it’s supposed to, not having to take all of these supplements and tons of pills, whether they’re natural or conventional just to fight off the infection. We want the infection to be handled and managed by the body the way that it’s meant to.

There’s another further question, but I don’t remember the other part.


[01:17:46] Ashley James: What about absence seizures and motor tics?


[01:17:51] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Those are things that are the susceptibility where homeopathy is going to be the most important component. The conventional medications that are used to control seizures do not have a one for one replacement. Most things in the psychiatric realm don’t have a one for one replacement, and on the rare occasion they do, for instance, Saint John’s wort can be a replacement for an SSRI, it has the same action in the body. The challenge that you face is that they weren’t standardized. If you’re getting something, whether it’s from your naturopathic doctor or your functional medicine doctor or you’re buying something over the counter from Whole Foods or another health food store, one company’s version is going to be different. You need to make sure that you’re getting the right part of the plant. I never recommend that people try one for one replacement because they’re probably not getting it, exactly the way that they’re hoping to get it.

But when it comes to the anti-seizure medications, there isn’t something that’s a clear, natural replacement. People will do things like using the ketogenic diet, which I have mixed feelings about because it has a lot of impacts on the microbiome as well. It’s very hyper-restrictive. I think that we sometimes are looking for a solution right now and don’t think about the long-term implications. I think the ketogenic diet can be that for some people. It is clinically useful for severe, intractable seizures but not specifically absence seizures.

The good news is homeopathy. When you use an individually prescribed remedy based off of your child’s overall presentation as a whole person, you’re going to be treating absence seizure and tics as well.


[01:19:41] Ashley James: Excellent. If a parent has a child with PANS or PANDAS, and they’re doing everything they can to keep them super healthy and then they are not on any medications right now, but then they’re worried that their child is having a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, the best thing to do is to talk to their naturopathic pediatrician to see what they can do.

Are there times when you would say, “We need a medication”?


[01:20:13] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes. I will say that because of the issue that we’ve talked about earlier in the very beginning of our conversation about strep, I actually will tell parents to get their kids on antibiotics for many reasons that include the cost and insurance coverage, and all these different things, and even willingness to take medications. The herbs that we need to use do not taste good, so a lot of kids will not take them. You have to take into consideration not only like a strict philosophy, to look at what’s the best tool and which thing can you do.

I’m also not a big fan of doing tons and tons of tests if there’s not something that you can actually act on after the test. I test for things when I need to test for them. I will test for infections if they haven’t already been identified if I’m going to start an antibiotic to make sure we’re starting the right one. But yeah, I’m more likely to recommend antibiotics at this point than herbs because I know that with the tool of homeopathy, I’m not going to need them forever.


[01:21:17] Ashley James: Great. That is, of course, if they have a bacterial infection, not if they have a fungal or viral infection.


[01:21:23] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Exactly.


[01:21:24] Ashley James: Right. Daniel asks, “How to know when we can stop antibiotics? My daughter has been on them since September. I’m currently waning her off to see how she responds.” I had asked her for a bit more information to clarify, and she says that her daughter has PANDAS from strep and her normal symptoms are gone right now. Thanks to long-term antibiotics, gluten-free, dairy-free diet, and supplements. She’s wondering if she takes her off antibiotics, will all the symptoms return? How does removing antibiotics affect her inflammation, brain, and behavior, when she takes her off the antibiotics?


[01:22:10] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: It depends on what the antibiotics are. There are a lot of kids who worked well, who do well on Augmentin, which is a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid. One of the theories to why Augmentin works better than plain amoxicillin is because the clavulanic acid has some anti-inflammatory components to anti-inflammatory effects. There are a lot of theories that the long-term use of the antibiotics is for a more anti-inflammatory component.

Most people, if they’re doing well, they can come off the antibiotics, and they may do fine for a while. Unfortunately, there’s not a clear cut when this happens, then your kid’s ready to come off and is going to do fine and not have any return of symptoms.

It may be that your child is fine for a while until another big exposure comes that they’re susceptible to, and then they get sick again. I do still think that it’s a good idea to get people off long term antibiotics that are prophylactic antibiotics if they can, because of the impacts that it’s having on the gut by taking this long-term antibiotic.

The thing is when we try work to get these kids off especially if you’re not using a type of medicine, like a homeopathic approach, then we don’t know for sure how well your child has been healing in the process. Usually, when I’m working with patients, I have people gradually wane them off when they’re doing well. And we then can manipulate and change the homeopathic remedy to help the body restore balance when we start to see symptoms return.

In some kids, we’ll have issues come up randomly like loose teeth. Loose teeth actually can cause a really big problem for these kids because it disrupts biofilms. There’s a lot of things that could come into play that may or may not be related to just stopping the antibiotic.

It may be a new exposure, and if they’re getting worse, it’s because you haven’t treated that susceptibility. You’re just going in trying to kill the bug rather than treating the fact why did your child get this as a response to the bug in the first place. That’s a really big component that seems to turn the light on to a lot of moms that I work and to a lot of moms in the group that we host. It’s that susceptibility piece I’ve talked about earlier because like I said one kid in the family can get PANS or PANDAS and the others don’t.

I had mycoplasma pneumonia in November. Why did I get pneumonia and not get OCD? Because I don’t have that susceptibility to mycoplasma, causing that for me, whereas a lot of my patients would get the mycoplasma that has no signs of pneumonia. They would have intractable OCD and terrible tics.

We still have to focus on that susceptibility, not just the antibiotics. I’m afraid that if you haven’t been doing anything other than antibiotics that you’re likely to have a resurgence at some point. And so it’s really important to get other therapies in that can help the body to heal and recover, and then treat that susceptibility with homeopathy.


[01:25:07] Ashley James: It sounds like she’s doing some diet and some supplement components. I’ve had that experience. I was misdiagnosed once and given antibiotics, and then all of a sudden within an hour, I got better.

It was crazy. I said, “This is amazing. I feel amazing. I can’t believe how fast that works.” And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” And then they figured out it wasn’t an infection. It was just a lot of inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects of the antibiotic are what I benefitted from. I didn’t have an infection. It was a raging inflammation.

So, for a child who’s benefitting from six months or more of taking an antibiotic, you’re saying that likely it’s the anti-inflammatory effects. If it’s the antibiotics that are anti-inflammatory, would you then have them take like cortisone, some other supplements to help decrease inflammation and look at diet to make sure there’s nothing pro-inflammatory in them to support the body as a whole to be very anti-inflammatory, and then take them off of the antibiotic and see how they do?


[01:26:26] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes, exactly. There are already supplements. There are undoubtedly going to be some anti-inflammatory supplements. I don’t know a single PANS or PANDAS kiddo, who has come to see me on supplements which don’t have at least three or four anti-inflammatories. Different kids are going to respond to different supplements individually.

Some kids do well with something like turmeric, fish oil. Some don’t do so well. That’s going to depend on their neurotransmitter make-up and genetic make-up, whether they have histamine reactivity, how their body clears histamine, how their body clears other neurotransmitters. I’m always hesitant to give specific supplement advice because it’s so individualized. Does that make sense?


[01:27:10] Ashley James: Absolutely. Anyone who’s listening, this is information. We’re not treating or diagnosing anything. Please take this information and see your doctor. See a naturopathic pediatrician. See Dr. Jennifer Bahr. Take this information and get a professional’s advice with it.

What about NAC as an anti-inflammatory? Is that one that you’ve seen these mothers give their children?


[01:27:39] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I’ve seen a lot of kids on it. Recently, I got a patient who got worse on NAC. Supplements are just like medications that we can have adverse reactions to them. I hate to keep going back to genetics. As much as we know about genetics and Dr. Ben Lynch is fantastic—I learned a lot from him—there’s only so much that we know/ When we’re trying to force one pathway, we can back up other pathways. We can overcrowd things. I’m one of those people who have MTHFR, COMT, MAO, SNPs, and all of these things. If I overdo it in one way, I will feel terrible on the other end. So, it’s really about finding the individual balance.

Again, I keep coming back on homeopathy, but homeopathy works on the epigenetic level. It helps us make the best of what we have so that we do not have to manipulate things.

Back to the question with NAC, it’s a precursor for glutathione which is our major antioxidant in the body, and it’s a really important component for detoxification which is obviously with all of the things that we’ve talked about that soup earlier. Detoxification is important for any human being living today, especially important for these kids who are so inflamed. Their bodies are on fire.

It’s an important component, but how our body can make their transition to NAC to the glutathione is going to be different. Honestly, there are a lot of helpful studies. That NAC can be really helpful for OCD and tics.

I’ve tried it a handful of times with patients and not seen the magic that I’m looking for. I’m envious of these other integrative doctors who are reporting magic from some of these supplements that I don’t see. Maybe it’s because I have the magical homeopathy that really can transform people’s lives very quickly in very dramatic ways that I expect too much from supplements. So, it’s a problem.


[01:29:38] Ashley James: I like it. It’s a good problem to have


[01:29:41] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yeah, but it can be useful.


[01:29:43] Ashley James: Lisa brings up an interesting point. She says, “I often wonder if it’s really strep that triggers these kids or if it’s after they were given antibiotics for strep, and now they have yeast overgrowth in the gut.”


[01:29:55] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yeast can play a role, but I don’t think it’s the yeast, and I don’t think it’s the strep either. That’s where we come back to that susceptibility. If they are having this reaction to strep, it’s their susceptibility to it because most people can get exposed to strep and not have an autoimmune response to it or don’t have this specific autoimmune response.

Yeast doesn’t help things definitely because yeast impacts how our neurotransmitters are produced. A lot of our neurotransmitters are made by our microbiome. Nutrients are made by our microbiome. It manipulates things in a way that doesn’t help, but I don’t think that yeast causes it. I don’t think that it’s because of antibiotics. I do think that the frequent use of antibiotics can contribute to dysbiosis that works against us, but I don’t think the yeast causes it.


[01:30:50] Ashley James: Interesting. I’ve had a few doctors on the show sharing some really interesting insights through their research. One doctor, who’s not a physician, she’s a researcher—you probably heard of Dr. Stephanie Seneff. I’ve had her on the show twice.

She links glyphosate in our food and the MMR vaccine with the increased rates of disease and neurologically more children in the spectrum, glyphosate being a chelator that is putting heavy metals into our kidney and our nervous system, and crossing the blood-brain barrier.

And then I recently had a naturopathic pediatrician on the show say that she believes that vaccines are not the sole cause of autism, but she believes that it is the use of Tylenol after a child receives vaccines that is the major contributor—of course, the environment of the body. Everything can be that perfect storm or that soup like you say, and the environment of the body is very important.

She believes that what tips children over is the use of Tylenol. Because it also crosses the blood-brain barrier, it impacts how the liver detoxes and produces glutathione. So you’re ramping a child’s immune system up with vaccine and then dampening it with Tylenol which is confusing the body.

We have these different theories, but it’s all very modern day things we’re doing to the body that we didn’t have around 200 years ago. We see, as you’ve mentioned, several things. Our genetics have not caught up to this modern world where we’re constantly bombarding our bodies with chemicals that are unseen or we don’t think about. This is only within the few generations that the environment that the body was in, and these are all new man-made diseases basically that are coming up as a result of our lifestyle. We see this taking place. PANS and PANDAS are now so prevalent because they are man-made diseases. They are triggered by, like what you said, what’s happening in our environment and the body’s environment.

Lisa also goes on to asks, “We never went for the antibiotic route but instead focus on healing the gut. My kids are only triggered by yeast overgrowth in the gut, and their labs show mold toxicity. I want to know if my children will ever outgrow PANS? What is happening to the brain when their yeast is high? How can something like yeast trigger OCD and tics and changes in her children’s personality completely?” She’s very thankful that we’re doing it this interview.


[01:33:44] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes, your child can outgrow PANS or PANDAS. I see it happen all the time in my practice. I don’t know if it’s possible if you don’t include homeopathy because again we have to treat that susceptibility. We’re not living in bubbles, and when we try to put people in bubbles, we create other issues. They will be exposed to things, and if we don’t help repair that susceptibility, there is a chance that they’ll have another flare or resurgence or regression with the PANS or PANDAS.

Mold is absolutely a big trigger, and if your child is more triggered by mold, absolutely yeast is going to play a role in that because they’re both fungi. One of the challenges that we’re dealing with when we have yeast overgrowth is that we usually have some level of intestinal hyperpermeability or leaky gut. There’s a lot more evidence that shows that when we have leaky gut, we also have leaky brain. That’s one of the ways that we’re getting things into our brain and across that blood-brain barrier that aren’t meant to be there; and how we end up having the brain fog and the changes in our mood that are contributed to the things that are going on in our gut.

This is in part because we end up getting things into our bloodstream that aren’t meant to be there. Our gut is meant to be this fantastic guardian for us where things have a very specific process to break things down so we got this tiniest little bit of particles that can get into our body and they’re broken down to points that they’re not recognizable as a foreign invader.

When we are not doing well with our digestion, and our gut is leaky, we get things that are bigger particles into our bloodstream that we then recognize as foreign invaders. That’s how we get food allergies. We have things that look like they are bacteria trying to come and invade us, so the immune system ramped up, and then we get inflammation, and then the inflammation can lead to more permeability of capillaries and different tissues. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that keeps going. I think that we have to get the gut healed. It sounds like she’s focusing on that and getting the gut back into control.

I would still recommend adding in homeopathy to treat that susceptibility because, as I said earlier, one meal can change the make-up of your microbiome. We don’t want to live in a world where we have to have such super strict control because we also want to have that joy and that pleasure.

Kids with PANS or PANDAS that have been prisoners in their homes, in many cases, these kids won’t go to school. They won’t leave home. They’re afraid to sleep. They’re so scared. These kids are tortured. They’re prisoners of their mind, and they’re prisoners of their own homes because of this condition. But when they start to feel better, you would want them to go and eat some birthday cake every once in a while.

The way that you can allow that to happen is if we treat that susceptibility, and yes make sure that we maintain as good a diet as we possibly can so that we’re not eating birthday cake seven times a day or seven times a week. But that we want our kids to be able to have that stress release because stress also causes inflammation. Not being able to be a part of a social community also contributes to inflammation and worsening of outcomes, so it’s about balance really.


[01:37:17] Ashley James: You know that leads perfectly into Lisa’s part two of her question. She goes, “Please ask about low dose naltrexone. My daughter doesn’t need, but we struggle more with my son. We have addressed diet for years now. They are on a whole food, clean diet. If I restrict my son’s diet anymore, he will grow up hating me. My daughter has no issues and loves her diet, but my son tells me all the time that when he sees his friends eat foods he can’t have, he gets upset. I’m not willing to remove any more foods from him. What are your thoughts on low-dose naltrexone for those with PANS and PANDAS?”


[01:37:52] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I don’t use it in my practice because I don’t need to. With homeopathy as my main tool that I start everybody with, it’s just never been something that I’ve seen be necessary. I know a lot of people do use it with great success. It can help with some immune system rebalancing. I’m not sure specifically about food allergies. So hopefully you have an LDN expert to come on or already have one that you can reference for people to talk to get a better answer about that one.


[01:38:19] Ashley James: Do you know one that I could interview?


[01:38:22] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I can look and see who. There’s someone who gave a talk about it at our last conference. I could look up who that was.


[01:38:30] Ashley James: Yeah, if you’d recommend them. I’d love that.

Bunny asked, and I love this question, “I know fever is the body’s natural way of killing off foreign organisms. The world wants to reduce fever ASAP, but we know that we need to keep a fever for a time to help the body kill the infection. How long and how high should it go? What temperature do we not want to go over?”

I had a pediatric naturopathic doctor say that 108 is when we should start worrying, whereas other doctors will say 104 is when we need to give the kids Tylenol. What is your take on fevers for children?


[01:39:08] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I always say 104. I stay with the standard at 104 just because there are some greater risks if we don’t address things at 104. 104 is basically the cut-off, when I tell people that they need to get to the emergency room if they can’t get the fever under control with an antipyretic.


[01:39:30] Ashley James: Would you give herb that helps to break the fever cycle or is that when you recommend an over-the-counter medication?


[01:39:37] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I’ll have them go on an NSAID.


[01:39:40] Ashley James: Is there homeopathy you would try first?


[01:39:44] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes, I would get them for an acute appointment so that we could find the right remedy for that particular case. One remedy that most parents will use that can be indicated but is not always indicated is belladonna. It’s really good when we’re having high fevers, especially if there are behavioral symptoms with the fevers. It’s generally really good in inflammation, but it’s not the be all, end all. While it works for a lot of kids, and the flare or with the fever, it’s not always going to be the right remedy.

We’ve talked about this. It’s a good point for me to bring up right now. We’ve talked about it before that yes, there’s not a negative side effect to homeopathy which makes it generally pretty safe. I will say that for kids with PANS and PANDAS, they are so sensitive that they are more likely to have different reactions to homeopathy than what might be typically expected, including a really positive reaction that seems really negative, which is called an initial therapeutic aggravation, where symptoms get a little bit worse before they get better.

Some people will call it a healing crisis. Some parents will see that as actually doing worse when it could be a positive sign. In some cases, there are some kids who actually can have a negative reaction to homeopathy because they’re so darn sensitive, and so it’s not something that I recommend people do on their own based off what they are hearing from people in groups because it’s not as easy to manage in a really sensitive kid who has PANS or PANDAS.

Back to your original question, yes, I would work on it with a homeopathic remedy, and if we couldn’t get it under control quickly enough, that’s when we would be looking at managing the fever and getting it under control using an over-the-counter med.


[01:41:27] Ashley James: Got it. Those with PANS or PANDAS, you want to make sure they’re 104 or less, is it because they’re more sensitive or more susceptible?


[01:41:35] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Well because that’s when we start to have more issues with potential damage to the brain with fevers. I’ll be perfectly honest. Most of the kids who have PANS or PANDAS don’t get fevers until they’re recovering. So when I start to see fevers with PANS or PANDAS, I’m celebrating and doing cartwheels down the hallway in my office because most of these kids are coming to me where the mom says, “They were so healthy. They never got sick. They have this perfect immune system.”

No. They weren’t developing antibodies the way that they should, and they didn’t have the appropriate immune response. I can’t tell you how many kids never got sick, and then suddenly, this happens. A lot of kids too that there was never any sign of strep or never any sign of illness. They just had the behavioral symptoms, and if they have not stumbled upon something like PANS or PANDAS, they’ve never even thought to do a rapid strep test.

The kids who were always fine and never had fevers, often there’s something else going on there. Honestly, when people start to get a fever, I’m super happy, and I don’t try to suppress it until it gets at 104. And yes, we use homeopathy to whether we’re adjusting their chronic remedy. Sometimes you need to adjust their chronic remedy whenever one of those things come up or switch to a short-term acute remedy before we move on to a different potency or preparation of their chronic remedy to help them get through an acute illness.


[01:42:59] Ashley James: Got it. To wrap it up on these questions, she wants to know how long can a child have a fever safely.


[01:43:07] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I don’t remember what the guidelines are.


[01:43:10] Ashley James: If a child has a fever, that is actually a good thing. I get excited when my son has a fever because I know his immune system is kicking in. We can celebrate and not get scared. I think the parents get scared when their child has a fever, but what we need to do is be happy. Of course, monitor them. Hydrate them. Be in touch with their pediatrician, but be happy knowing the body is mounting a defense or a response.


[01:43:36] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Ultimately when it comes to fevers and management of fever, stay on regular communication with your pediatrician because a fever could be a positive thing or it could be a sign of something going in the wrong direction depending on what’s going on. So don’t listen to me or anybody else who’s giving a blanket response about a fever. Talk to your doctor so that you can make sure you’re getting the right information for your kiddo.

I’d hate to miss meningitis or something like that because you’re waiting too long and that’s the thing. Even with strep, like what we’ve talked about earlier, it has to be treated early to prevent some of these things happening to the kidneys and the heart.

Like the test that you had when you were an undergrad, it’s important that we get early intervention. Don’t suppress a fever once you have ruled out other major life-threatening things that can cause a fever. Is that better?


[01:44:30] Ashley James: Absolutely. Can you tell us for those who don’t know? It’s so funny because I always want to take my son to the doctor. Our pediatrician is a naturopath, so she spends at least half an hour. I feel pampered. I love seeing naturopathic physicians. I want to take him all the time when he has issues, not when nothing is going on. But my husband’s always looking at me like, “Really?” He goes, “My mom never took me to the doctor. I don’t know why we have to. Kids get sick, and then they got better. Why are we going to the doctor?”

It’s because I know it’s better to be safe than sorry. But for us who don’t know the signs and symptoms of strep, can you tell us what it is we’re looking for? We don’t want to be the hyperactive parents who every sniff, every sniffle, we end up in the doctor’s office. We also don’t want to feel like idiots taking your kid to the doctor’s office for every sniffle and the doctors giving you a look like, “Your kid is fine. Go home.” But we also don’t want to under react and miss strep. So what are the signs and symptoms of strep?


[01:45:42] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Obviously, the sore throat that doesn’t go away. Fever can be part of it but not always. With kids with PANS and PANDAS, they might have no signs. It may just be behavioral things that are sudden when we’re looking at the behavioral components. If there’s a sudden, seemingly overnight change in your child’s behavior; they were fine last night. They woke today, and they are telling you that their brain is being mean and saying the same things. They can’t stop thinking about something. They have a random tic. Get them checked for strep.

The strawberry tongue is a pretty pathognomonic component for strep, so that’s where the tongue looks like a strawberry. It’s bright red and a little bit swollen. There can be spots on the throat too. So, taking a look and seeing if the throat is swollen, inflamed, irritated, and then like I said that strawberry tongue and some spots on the throat.

Just take a look at your kid. Don’t just ask them how they feel. Look inside in their mouth and see if there’s something unusual. Look inside your kid’s mouth right now while you’re listening to this and see what it looks like normally, so you got something to compare to.

You don’t necessarily need to rush off to the doctor for low-grade fevers. Anything less than 101.4 or 100.4, I definitely don’t worry about it at all. If it’s less than 100.4, it doesn’t even actually count as a fever. Anything between like100.4 and 104, that’s when I was starting to monitor things, but you don’t necessarily need to rush off. If there’s intense headaches, definitely see the doctor. If there’s difficulty like bending your neck, see the doctor.

If their throat looks odd, and its inflamed and got spots, and you got the strawberry tongue, and if you have sandpaper rash, see the doctor because those can be signs that it’s strep. They got that sudden behavior change, too.


[01:47:38]Ashley James: Awesome. If a child does have strep, is it the best route to do antibiotics in your opinion?


[01:47:45] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes. If you have active strep, I always tell my patients to do antibiotics even if we’re still using homeopathy. Homeopathy helps to stimulate the body to heal. It can be helpful in active strep infections, but one of the challenges is there are over 3,000 homeopathic remedies to select from, and you have to get the right fit. You may not get the right fit on the first try — even somebody pretty good with what they do.

I’m pretty darn good at what I do. About 80% of my patients get better, but they don’t all get better on the first remedy that I give them. About 20% don’t have a response to that first remedy, and so I have to try again. We can’t always know that the reactions are going to happen fast enough either.

Some kids, it’s within a few hours. Some people have a response like you did—within 10 minutes, you felt significantly better. Some people, it takes a couple of days to a couple of weeks even depending on how chronic is what’s going on and just the nature of the child.

Relying exclusively on homeopathy when you’re just getting started isn’t wise. When it comes to somebody who I have been working with for a while, and I know how they respond to antibiotics, and how they respond to homeopathy, we’ll make an individual decision for that child. But when I’m first getting started with somebody, if they’re not rocking it on homeopathic medicine and having significantly better immune responses, then yeah I want them on antibiotics.


[01:49:05] Ashley James: This has been such a wealth of information. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all these. To wrap up the interview, is there a message? Is there something that you like to say to those who suspect that their children have PANS or PANDAS or those that know that they do? Is there information you love to make sure parents know?


[01:49:31] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: You know the thing that seems to connect for most parents is that concept of susceptibility. We focus so much on what pills can I give my kid, what diet do I to need to take to battle this infection or to put the fire out of the inflammation, and yes, those things are important. It does play a role in long term success and health for all of us—to focus on not having an anti-inflammatory diet and appropriately fighting infections when we need to.

But we can’t focus just on those infections. It’s that susceptibility. It’s why your kiddo gets strep, the OCD and tics, and your kiddo’s best friend who gives them strep just get strep through and is back to school in four days after a course of antibiotics, while your kid won’t go to school anymore. Susceptibility is really where you have to have that focus to have that long-term healing that you want. Long-term healing is possible. I have kids who after working with homeopathy, and it does take time, but with working with homeopathy then they can get strep and the typical signs of strep and not the atypical signs. They don’t have behavioral flares.

I’ve had a lot of kids that they’re just doing so well with their chronic homeopathic remedy and their healing that they can be exposed to strep like their sibling can get strep throat, and they don’t even get sick. Healing is possible when you focus on susceptibility, and you treat the susceptibility using homeopathy and yes do the other things to make sure that you’re not just bailing out a boat that’s capsizing using a colander, like getting more water coming out as the water’s coming in.

So, yes, you have to focus on diet and lifestyle, but susceptibility is the thing that is the key. I’ve talked to parents about that, and it seems it finally clicked why they’re on this merry-go-round. I can’t tell you how many PANS and PANDAS parents have so many different rounds of antibiotics that their kids have gone through. Seven in one year. Fourteen in another year. They come in with buckets full of supplements; 38 different supplements is the max I’ve seen so far. They have to go and see a lot of different doctors because you’re chasing the symptoms and not addressing the susceptibility. Focusing on that susceptibility can help them get off that rollercoaster of emotions and moods, and off the merry-go-round of meds and supplements.


[01:52:05] Ashley James: How can they learn more about how to focus on the susceptibility? Is that by working with you, going to your Facebook group? You have a lot of free resources on your Facebook group.


[01:52:15] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Yes. I would recommend that people, first and foremost, go to the Facebook group. I have a free mini course that I put together explaining all about homeopathy, and PANS and PANDAS, so that people can start to learn this new type of medicine that’s unfamiliar to them and get a really strong grasp of that.

It’s a great community. Moms offer a lot of support. I interact with people to give them some guidance and direct them in the right direction. I can’t give any medical advice to someone who’s not a patient and definitely not in the format of a Facebook group, but that’s a place to really start to learn and get some good resources.

Yes, I’m a good resource for people who are looking for some help. I’m also really busy as most PANS and PANDAS doctors are. I’m in the process of getting some more doctors here and also doing some training for other doctors. I speak at conferences. But I’m putting together a training program for doctors as well. That’s coming second to that programs to help moms. It’s going to be a little bit of time because first and foremost I need to help the patients get some help right now.

But getting into that group will help you get to learn some resources so that we can get the help that you need so you can understand it; so you can make good decisions whether you are seeing me or somebody who’s working with me, or somebody completely who just happens to be available; so you can make educated decisions about who to see, when to see them, how to consult with them, etc.; and really understand what it is that you’re doing to get the most out of this really powerful medicine.


[01:53:43] Ashley James: I love it. Now your website is Of course, there are links to everything that Dr. Jennifer Bahr is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast in, including the link to your Facebook group. You take on clients around the world, and you have your Facebook group. Is there anything else that we should know about your services or working with you?


[01:54:11] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: I would say that if you are interested in learning about the book and the programs with the mother that I’ve been working with and I have them completed to sign up for our email list. We’ll let people know there first. I’ll announce on the Facebook group to let people know that it’s available. So that’s another thing, a resource that’s coming. It’s not available yet, but you can be first notified if you sign up for our email list on the group.


[01:54:33] Ashley James: Awesome. Well, you’re welcome back on the show when your book is coming out. I’d love to help you promote it during its launch, and have you back and teach us some more great things and also help promote your book. That would be fantastic to have you back.


[01:54:54] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Awesome. I would love to come back.


[01:54:56] Ashley James: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show, and I can’t wait to talk to you again soon.


[01:55:02] Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Sounds good.


[01:55:04] Ashley James: Hello, true health seeker. Have you ever thought about becoming a health coach? Do you love learning about nutrition and how we can shift our lifestyle and our diet so that we can gain optimal health, happiness, and longevity? Do you love helping your friends and family to solve their health problems and to figure out what they can do to eat healthier? Are you interested in becoming someone who can grow their own business, support people in their success? Do you love helping people?

You might be the perfect candidate to become a health coach. I highly recommend checking out the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. I just spent the last year in their health coaching certification program. It blew me away. It was so amazing. I learned over 100 dietary theories. I learned all about nutrition but from the standpoint of how we can help people to shift their life and shift their lifestyle to gain true holistic health.

I recommend you check them out. You can Google Institute for Integrated Nutrition or IIN, and give them a call, or you can go to, and you can receive a free module of their training. Do check it out and see if it’s something that you’d be interested in.

Be sure to mention my name, Ashley James, and the Learn True Health podcast because I made a deal with them that they would give you the best price possible. I highly recommend checking it out. It changed my life to be in their program, and I’m such a big advocate that I wanted to spread this information.

We need more health coaches. Health coaching is the largest growing career right now in the health field. So many health coaches are getting in and helping people because you can work in chiropractic offices, doctor’s offices. You can work in a hospital. You can work online through Skype and help people around the world. You can become an author. You can go into the school system and help your local schools, shift their programs to help children be healthier. You can go into senior centers and help them to shift their diet and lifestyle to best support them in their success and their health goals.

There are so many different available options for you when you become a certified health coach. So check out IIN. Check out the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. Mention my name, get the best deal. Give them a call, and they’ll give you lots of free information and help you to see if this is the right move for you.

Classes are starting soon. The next round of classes are starting at the end of the month, so you want to call them now and check it out. If you know anyone in your life who would be an amazing coach, please tell them about it. Being a health coach is so rewarding, and you get to help so many people.

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Katie Tredo And Ashley James

We hear “pelvic rehabilitation,” and we think “women giving birth.” Hold that thought. Katie Tredo, a physical therapist specializing in pelvic health, explains how pelvic rehab can benefit men and women, adults and kids alike.


[00:00:03] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 353.

Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of Learn True Health podcast. I’m excited to bring you today’s interview because the information is so life-changing for those who need it.

Even if you don’t have pelvic floor issues, you’ll want to listen to today’s episode because she also teaches preventive measures to help us sustain a healthy pelvic floor. Every woman knows someone who has pelvic issues. This is a big deal, and a lot of people don’t know that there is help.

Today you’re going to learn about the natural and effective ways to create a healthy pelvic floor. For some people, it will be life-changing information, so I’m very excited to bring this to you today.

Please visit because in the show notes of today’s podcast, there are some free resources that have been provided for us. Also, while you’re at, I want to let you know about a few other resources I have created for you. We have a 7-day workshop that’s delivered by naturopathic physicians to teach you the foundations of health. You should apply for that. It’s free.

Just go to and put in your email, and every day you’ll be given a video by one of the naturopaths that I’ve worked with. Also, on the website, in the menu bar in the upper right-hand corner, if you’re on a desktop, or click on the little menu bar if you’re on your phone, there’s ‘Ashley Recommends.’ That takes you to a part of Amazon where I have picked out all the things that either past guests have talked about being helpful or I have in my home that is helpful for me–kitchen gadgets, and all kinds of wonderful health goodies, including my absolute favorite replacement for the microwave, if you are like me and you don’t use the microwave because you know of the unhealthy effects that microwaves can create. If you’ve never heard of that and you’re going, “Oh, my gosh, wait! I use the microwave every day. What’s going on? I put my plastic container in the microwave. What do you mean that that’s unsafe?”

Yes, absolutely. We’ve talked about it in past episodes. I wouldn’t get into details here, but there’s a replacement for the microwave that is safe and healthy. I have it in the kitchen section. Just go to and click on ‘Ashley Recommends.’ From there, you will see my absolute favorite health gadgets and wonderful goodies.

There are lots of resources on Learn True Health website, including most recently we’ve started to transcribe all of the interviews that we’re posting. You can go to the most recent interviews at You can read what the guest has said, which is so helpful. The feedback listeners have given me is that they listen to episodes sometimes two or three times while taking notes because of how valuable the information is that’s been delivered by the experts I have on the show. Now, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to be able to go through that information because we’re transcribing the interviews!

Thank you so much for being a listener. I know you’re going to share this episode with those you love because, ladies, if we pee when we laugh, that means we have pelvic floor dysfunction. We can correct it. Men can have pelvic floor issues as well.

If we have a pelvic floor issue, we can have pain, incontinence, pain during intercourse. For children, they can have problems potty training or wetting the bed. This is not just a female issue, but it’s very common for women after giving birth to have a pelvic floor dysfunction. The most common thing we hear from women after we have had a few children is that we pee when we laugh. Guess what? There’s a way to correct that. You’re going to learn it right now.

We are in for such a treat today. We have with us Katie Tredo. She’s an amazing physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health.

Is it only for women–the pelvic rehabilitation?


[00:04:45] Katie Tredo: No. I treat men, women, and children.


[00:04:48] Ashley James: This is cool. I know before we record, we were talking about postpartum health. When I think of pelvic rehabilitation, I think of women after giving birth, and how messed up we are in that area. That’s interesting that what you do can help everyone.


[00:05:09] Katie Tredo: I see a lot of women who have never given birth, too.


[00:05:12] Ashley James: Interesting. Just yesterday morning, I was with a girlfriend. I said something funny, and we both keeled over laughing. She said, “Stop it. You’re going to make me pee.” Of course, I was already peeing. I didn’t know that this was such a common problem that women can develop after having children. I was told that I should see a pelvic rehabilitation practitioner because there are exercises and things we can do to restore a pelvic floor, so we don’t have these accidents every time we sneeze, cough or laugh. That piqued my interest in hearing what you have to do, but you do so much more than that.

We’re going to get into your story, and what is pelvic rehabilitation, how do you know that you need a pelvic rehabilitation. But before we get into all that, I want to let listeners know that Katie is actively in our listener Facebook group, the Learn True Health Facebook group. She’s going to do a giveaway for the listeners.

After you hear this episode, please come into the Facebook group and join the giveaway. It’s a little bit unrelated to pelvic health. However, it is linked to Katie’s story.

She sells a healthy sunscreen. We’re coming into summer here in the northern hemisphere. I keep seeing articles about how sunscreen enters the bloodstream. It’s scary that this toxic sunscreen sold in the stores have carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and they enter our bloodstream. We think that they’re protecting us from skin cancer, but they end up damaging us in a different way.

Katie, can you talk a little bit about the natural sunscreen that you sell and that you’re going to be giving away to a listener in the Facebook group.


[00:07:23] Katie Tredo: Yes. I partnered with a company about a year and a half ago called, Beautycounter, that’s based on Santa Monica, California. Years back, my husband and I were dealing with unexplained infertility. At the time, we started researching what we are eating, what was in the products we were using, and I was blown away when I learned how many hormone disruptors are in our products that we were using.

At that time, I switched to things I thought were safer, but later learned, as I joined Beautycounter, about different things, that there’s a loophole in the United States, that a company can claim to be paraben-free or phthalate-free and have fragrance on their label. That allows them to put any number of chemicals without disclosing what they are. It kind of undoes the claim on their label. It’s something that exists in the US.

Of course, I’m so curious, going back and looking at what I’m using. Everything in my bathroom had fragrance in it, so that’s a little bit disheartening. I started using Beautycounter with my family and getting more passionate about educating people on what I have learned because, in the U.S., there are only 30 ingredients banned from our personal care products. FDA has virtually no control or regulation over the industry.

By joining Beautycounter, I’ve been able to educate people, as well as advocate at the government level for change in the regulation. It’s been so much fun. Like pelvic health, it’s kind of once you know it, you can’t unknow it.

One of my favorite products with Beautycounter is the Beautycounter Countersun Face Stick. It’s a safe mineral-based sunscreen that I love for both myself and my kids. One of your listeners will get that. It uses non-nano zinc oxide, so it doesn’t absorb through the bloodstream. It’s unlike those chemical sunscreens that are getting a lot of press right now for showing up in the bloodstream. This is not absorbed.

Besides our health, sunscreen also impacts our environment quite a bit. This year, Key West joined Hawaii in banning chemical sunscreen. They do not sell chemical sunscreens anymore because it was killing the coral reef in those areas.


[00:09:40] Ashley James: Yeah. I heard that. I heard somewhere in Australia that they also ban it because it was killing coral reefs.


[00:09:47] Katie Tredo: Yeah, that could be. I’m not sure.


[00:09:50] Ashley James: You mentioned 30 chemicals are banned from our products. Do you know how many are banned in Europe? I’ve heard the number is way higher.


[00:09:59] Katie Tredo: Canada has 600 ingredients banned. They’re slightly ahead of us. Beautycounter is in the United States and Canada. Some of our leaders in Canada were just up there lobbying for better regulation in Canada in Parliament this past week. I saw the pictures.

Europe bans over 1400 ingredients. There are 1400 things in Europe that have been found to cause adverse health reactions, and in the US, we only recognize 30 of these. We still have formaldehyde in our products.


[00:10:30] Ashley James: No. Not in the products that you sell, but in America.


[00:10:35] Katie Tredo: No, not in ours. Beautycounter goes above and beyond. It has over 1500 that they have found that can either absorb in the bloodstream or cause an adverse health effect. They go by the theory that something has to be proven innocent before it’s used in a product.

We don’t wait to find out bad research about the ingredients we’re using. We make sure they’re safe before putting them in. They partnered with Tufts Medical School this year to provide medical research on all the ingredients we’re using.


[00:11:08] Ashley James: Cool. Early this morning, I was at Home Depot. I was like, “I ran out of my all-natural household cleaner.” I’m looking through other cleaners. Can I find a safe one? Then there’s this one. It’s called “green” something–I don’t remember the name, but it has the word green in it, so you think, “This must be their biodegradable, non-toxic, all natural one.”?

I flipped over the other side. It has that big warning: “In California, ingredients have been known to cause cancer.” I don’t trust this entire company because they call themselves green in the name. It’s frustrating that company’s try to be “green,” and then they’re using things that are known carcinogens. They’re poisoning their customers because it probably profits them to do so.

So just a recap, in Europe, 1400 chemicals are banned from their products versus our 30.


[00:12:13] Katie Tredo: Correct. What’s even more alarming is the last time we had a major law passed on the personal care industry was in 1938.

There is one right now on the Senate floor, The Personal Care Product Safety Act. Beautycounter was largely involved in getting that introduced in the Senate, and now we’re asking people to support that. I like to talk about this because it makes people understand why there is a need for better regulation.


[00:12:49] Ashley James: It reminds me of the Wild West where I could start a company tomorrow that sold some face cream or some cosmetic. I can put almost whatever I want in there as long as it didn’t have those 30 chemicals that are banned here, but I can put whatever I want in it.


[00:13:10] Katie Tredo: You can take it to another level. The FDA can’t even inspect where you’re making this product. It never has to be tested for safety before it’s sold.


[00:13:22] Ashley James: Wow.


[00:13:23] Katie Tredo: Right? Alarming.


[00:13:24] Ashley James: It is alarming. Learning about our clothing, when we buy new clothing, you always try to buy organic cotton as much as possible. When we buy clothing, the clothing is infused with formaldehyde because otherwise the clothing, when it’s a textile before it’s made into a garment, it could get moldy. They spray it with all kinds of chemicals. People don’t know to wash their clothing after they buy it, and it’s in direct contact with our skin.

My husband got a pair of jeans once from a well-known jeans manufacturer. He just put them on right away. I always wash stuff, but he’s like, “Oh, whatever! I’m in a rush.” He got a full rash from his belt down to his ankles. Our naturopath said, “Absolutely, it’s the chemicals they’re putting in our clothing now. It’s just getting worse and worse.”

We are the ones that advocate. This is me and my soapbox. The Learn True Health podcast helps us all to understand through wonderful guests like you that we need to be the experts in a sense that we need to do a little bit of research before we buy things.


[00:14:43] Katie Tredo: Right. Every dollar you spend is putting a vote towards what you believe in.


[00:14:48] Ashley James: Absolutely. I love that you advocate for a healthy sunscreen. We’re coming into summer. We all should have a healthy one. There’s nothing wrong with getting sun every day on bare skin. That’s great. But if you do buy sunscreen, buy a non-toxic one, obviously, one that doesn’t have the 1400 chemicals that are banned in Europe in our sunscreen.

All right. That has nothing to do directly with pelvic health, but it does have to do with health in general. It does have to do with your story. Let’s dive into your story, Katie. Please share with us, what had you want to become a doctor of physical therapy and specialize in pelvic health and pelvic rehabilitation?


[00:15:36] Katie Tredo: I can admit right now that when I was in PT school, I remember someone coming in. At the time I was in school, we didn’t talk about pelvic health that much, but someone introduced the topic to us. I remember specifically saying in my head, “Who would ever specialize in that?” Here I am. But it’s been a model for everything. Whenever I say I’m not into something, it happens.

I was one of those people who knew what they want to do from a very young age. When I was in eighth grade, I had met a family in my hometown that had a child with cerebral palsy, and I began babysitting. They were such an awesome family. I had an interest in working with children with special needs. They let me go to all the PT appointments. I traveled with them for a surgery their child had. It piqued my interest.

I know from that point on, I wanted to go into physical therapy. I was 100% certain that I would end up in Pediatrics. My first job was a cross between pediatrics and spinal cord injury. I was very fortunate in one of my internships to work with a physician that was working with Christopher Reeves in St. Louis at that time with spinal cord injury.

At the time, he had been asked by John Hopkins to come out to Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland and start this international spinal cord center. I happened to be graduating at that time. I was able to jump on and be part of that process, which was an amazing opportunity.


[00:17:12] Ashley James: That’s so cool.


[00:17:13] Katie Tredo: After about two years, I felt between pediatrics and spinal cord injury, that I was becoming so specialized in an area that if I have to leave Baltimore, which I plan to do someday, where would I ever find a job that would compare to this clinic? We had patients from all over the world flying in.

I met my husband. He had been doing travel physical therapy and was hoping to stop doing that, but I was very convincing. We left Baltimore and started traveling around the country doing different contract jobs. I got a taste of what working in different environments was like. Maybe 15 weeks, I did an outpatient orthopedic practice. Maybe another three months at a nursing home. Seeing the different areas that you could work in as a PT.

I found that I missed working with these major quality-of-life issues. The thing that drew me to pediatrics and spinal cord injury was that you weren’t only treating someone for something like an ankle sprain or an injury that might impact their life, but also you were changing their world. You were helping them to change their world and providing this education to get them beyond that point in their life.

That’s what I’m passionate about within PT. It’s not that I don’t think these small injuries need rehabilitation. Of course, they do. I like working on these big issues.

We were living in Hawaii for a year. I don’t know what it was about pelvic health, but I kept reading more and more about it. I found a pelvic health practitioner in Hawaii. I met with her and made her gave me a list of what classes do I need to do; where do you think I should start; how do I do this.

My husband and I were getting ready to move back from Hawaii, and when I have something in my head, I have to do it right away. On our transition to moving to Boulder, Colorado, I had a four-day layover in Seattle and took my first pelvic health class. I then landed in Denver to interview for a job to start a pelvic health clinic, which was courageous at that time. I wanted to learn as much as I could, so the next several years, I spent flying around taking different seminars and courses, learning as much about the topic as I could.

The type of people that come in my clinic, I know you’ve said like postpartum is what you think of. That is definitely a part of my practice, but the kind of issues that I’m dealing with patients are a few have come in that have such severe pain that’s preventing them from having intercourse with their partner. They can’t tolerate sitting at a meal with their family, sitting at an airplane or a bus to travel. They can’t engage in social activities. Patients have leaked urine and feces, and it can be anywhere from laughing with a friend and having a little bit of leakage to people who feel so isolated that they are afraid to leave their house because they are embarrassed to leak.

And then I work with children. Some of these kids are kids that don’t go to sleepovers because they’re scared they’re going to have bedwetting. They’re nervous about playing sports or be involved in things at school because they’re scared they’re going to wet their pants, and they are beyond the age that that should be happening.


[00:20:50] Ashley James: Very interesting. So, it can be anyone. You are saying either it’s a pain or discomfort or that they’re having incontinence in some way. Are there any other symptoms?


[00:21:03] Katie Tredo: Yes. I treat people with prolapse. I treat a lot of men as well. My patients with pain can be both male and female. I do see a lot of men who have had prostate cancer and are having incontinence after surgery.


[00:21:21] Ashley James: Any other male issues, like erectile dysfunction, or any other issues that are common for men to see you?


[00:21:30] Katie Tredo: Sure. Usually, they present with either incontinence or pelvic pain. But along with the pain especially or with incontinence actually, they can have erectile dysfunction as an issue with that. I’m working closely with urologists, so sometimes they’re testing different medications, those kinds of things. But when there is a dysfunction in the pelvic floor, it can impact the blood flow to the area and those sorts of things, so a lot of times men report that their erections improve after doing pelvic floor therapy.


[00:22:03] Ashley James: What about women’s sexual issues? Do women find that they have an improvement in sensation with their partner?


[00:22:18] Katie Tredo: 100%.


[00:22:19] Ashley James: very interesting.


[00:22:21] Katie Tredo: I advocate taking a holistic approach with these things. I do work with a lot of patients with sexual dysfunction. While the physical part is part of my job, I like to be in a network of whether it’s a sex therapist or psychotherapist. They can also help these individuals or couples work through some of these issues from more the emotional aspect as well.


[00:22:46] Ashley James: Right. Because we beat ourselves up and we feel anxious about it. Maybe we’ve had trauma in our past. We often have emotional issues either around not being able to perform in that area or not feeling good about ourselves in that area. I can see that there are emotions that can come up.

But if someone doesn’t have any emotional issues and then they end up not realizing that there’s not optimal health in their pelvic floor that can lead to sexual dysfunctions, like incontinence and pain and these other things. You can develop emotional issues because you have something physical.


[00:23:39] Katie Tredo: 100%. I was looking up some stuff recently about incontinence in particular which surprise me because I thought I’d see more of these with pain which is very isolating and there’s a lot of psychosocial stuff that comes about after realizing that you’re in pain. But for bowel and bladder, which when you maybe leak a little when you laugh, you don’t think this could be that serious, but bowel and bladder incontinence are highly linked to suicidal tendencies.

In one study I read, 70% of people interviewed felt that experiencing incontinence would be worse than death. In the United States, it is one of the top reasons for nursing home admissions. Fecal incontinence is the second reason why a person would put an elderly family member in a nursing home.


[00:24:27] Ashley James: Wow! Our society is so different from other cultures. Some cultures would never dream of putting their parents in a home. They take care of them no matter what. But in our society, we want to be very clean and sanitized, kill 99.9% of bacteria with hand soap. We want to be clean. We want everything sterile.

Tell me about this pain that people experience. What is causing pelvic pain?


[00:25:07] Katie Tredo: Pelvic pain is a huge area. There are so many different causes and different pain conditions that it’s hard to see in the research what the true incidence of this is because there are so many different names. As a medical community, it hasn’t been standardized.

There can be very different reasons people have pain. There can be nerve pain in the area from the pudendal nerve. Sometimes a hormone disruption will cause pelvic pain or changes in the pelvic floor or the vestibule area, which is like the entrance to the vaginal canal. Another fairly common thing is vaginismus, which is a condition where the pelvic floor is spasmodic. It’s painful. It’s the contraction of the vagina in response to physical contact or pressure and often intercourse.

This is one condition I see a lot of. Often, patients if they have primary vaginismus, maybe as a teenager they tried to use a tampon, and it was very painful, so they just stopped doing it. They avoided medical exams there. Then they go on later, and they’re in a relationship. They have sex for the first time, and they feel like there’s a wall blocking them. Someone descri bed to me that it feels like knives are stabbing them. They think they’re broken. It can destroy relationships. This is truly a problem of the pelvic floor.

Through physical therapy, they can learn relaxation techniques and be educated on their pelvic floor. We do a lot of in-clinic techniques and a lot of education between sessions, the patient working either by themselves or with a partner to relax these muscles.

It’s a terrible condition to have, so I hate when someone walks in and have this. But it’s one of my favorite conditions to treat because someone comes in scared to tell anyone that they have this problem, and they haven’t admitted it to most people in their lives. They feel like their husband has married someone defective. I hear all these horrible self-deprecating stories.

You can sit down with someone and say, “I see people with these all the time, and there are things we can do to get you past this.” One of my favorite success stories was a patient in Maryland. At that time, I had a cash-based practice. For her and her husband, their insurance didn’t have good reimbursement, and it wasn’t feasible to come often. They were both dedicated. I would teach them ways they could work on this at home.

I’d see her kind of spaced out, and then she was getting a litter better–more and more spaced out. Then I stopped seeing her. You always wonder what happens to these people that you’re not seeing. I got an email months later from her, and she said, “Things have been crazy. I never got time to thank you, but I also wanted to let you know that because I was never able to have intercourse or even a pelvic exam, I never in my life thought about preventing pregnancy, and I want you to know that we’re happily expecting our daughter in September.”

It made my day, because here is a couple who had never been able to have intercourse, and they’re growing a family and having pain-free intercourse.


[00:28:38] Ashley James: Oh, my gosh! I love it. That’s amazing. One of my midwives or my doula told me, because I was doing Kegel exercise to correct the peeing after laughing from birth, and one of them said, “Wait, don’t do Kegels because sometimes the problem is having the wrong muscles too tight and other muscles too loose.” She’s trying to explain that pelvic floor health is so much more than doing Kegels. Can you talk a bit about that?


[00:29:16] Katie Tredo: Yes, 100%. I want to make a side comment too that I love these people you’re talking to because your friend that you’re talking to that recommended pelvic floor therapy and this doula you’re talking to, it’s not common. I can’t tell you how many times I’m in a conversation with women and they laugh that they are leaking urine. Their doctors have told them, “Oh, it’s just part of having kids.” I sound like a broken record in my clinic because I’m constantly telling people, “This is common, but not normal.” It is something you need to work on. It’s something that goes beyond just that little bit of leakage. It’s part of your anticipatory core muscles. It changes the way you move, being injury prone, and all that. I am very excited that you’re having these conversations.

As far as your question, that’s 100% accurate. That is probably the thing I get most–people calling, friends that live in different areas that can’t come in, asking me, “Should I do Kegels?” It is very hard to answer that question because if someone has pelvic floor weakness which is very common, especially after having a child, they can present with incontinence, prolapse, musculoskeletal dysfunctions, back pain. They indeed need to strengthen their pelvic floor, making sure they’re contracting the correct muscles is important, and making sure they’re able to relax their muscles.

I have, on the other side, patients that maybe are experiencing frequent urination and overactive bladder symptoms. They may think that they need to do Kegels as well, but they might have a hypertonic pelvic floor, so the muscles are incapable of relaxing. On those patients, the last thing I’d want to tell them to do is to go home and do 20 Kegels.

It depends on an exam. Whenever I see someone for the first time, I explain that it can be anywhere on that spectrum. Through examination, we can determine where’s a good place to start and an appropriate plan of care.


[00:31:29] Ashley James: How do you examine the pelvic floor? I’m imagining it’s like getting a pap smear. In my mind, how else would you examine the pelvic floor?


[00:31:40] Katie Tredo: It’s less scary than a pap smear, in my opinion. It’s an internal pelvic exam. There are no stirrups involved. You are lying with your knees bent on the table. I don’t use a speculum or a device like that. It’s using a lubricated, gloved finger palpating the muscle starting very external working through the three layers of pelvic floor muscles. I’m looking for things like tight trigger points or painful spots that may cause pain there or referred pain. Sometimes, they’ll tell me it gives them an urge to urinate, or I might find laxity in the pelvic floor.

Different muscles can be tight, and different ones that can be lax. Then I’ll have someone do a contraction and try to do a Kegel. I see all sorts of things from squeezing just their glutes to squeezing their inner thighs. Sometimes you see one half of the pelvic floor, the right side or the left side, contract better than the other side, and that could be a recruitment issue. Sometimes women tear their pelvic floor muscles, and it’s left undiagnosed. A lot of times we picked up on that when we see you actually cannot elicit a contraction on those muscles.


[00:32:50] Ashley James: You’re saying ‘see,’ but what you mean is ‘feel’ because you’re not looking.


[00:32:54] Katie Tredo: We need to look at the skin quality and all that, but yes, ‘feel.’


[00:32:59] Ashley James: That’s how you would do with an adult female. How would you do it for a male? How would you do it for children?


[00:33:09] Katie Tredo: Good question. For a male patient, I usually have them lying in the same position. I start with an external exam, starting right at the groin and sinking into the pelvic floor muscles. I always check externally with the female as well because you get different information.

For a male, you can feel if the muscles are tight and painful there. Are they lax? I’ll have someone contract and relax. Sometimes you can barely clearly feel, and sometimes you can. Depending on the case, we may do a rectal exam, having someone contract that way and relax and feeling. If a male is coming in with pelvic pain, a rectal exam is the best way to relieve these trigger points and teach them how to do self-trigger point release at home.


[00:33:59] Ashley James: Interesting. I went to massage therapy college in Canada, which is very different from the States. It’s like a 3,000-hour program. What I learned about trigger points is that–correct me if this is the same thing or something different–it’s a small taut band of muscles that usually where the point of innervation is by the nerve, and that it is cutting off circulation which is creating referred pain. Is that what you mean by trigger point?


[00:34:43] Katie Tredo: Yes, 100%.



[00:34:44] Ashley James: Okay. You can teach people to release their trigger points from the pelvic muscles at home.


[00:34:50] Katie Tredo: Yeah. We do a lot of that work in the clinic. I do use a technique called trigger point dry needling in some cases as well, but a lot of people can use devices called vaginal dilators, or there are devices specifically made for the rectum that can be inserted. They’re kind of curved plastic devices that can help you target these trigger points.

They have massage tools like that, too. You’re putting pressure on different points. I have people think of their pelvic floor as a clock, and they go around that clock, and find where are their trigger points, and do these trigger point releases on them.


[00:35:32] Ashley James: So interesting. In Canada, in some of our provinces, you can be licensed. We call them registered massage therapist, not licensed. But we can be registered or licensed to do a vaginal massage, and you have to go for more training for it, but there’s so much stigma around it. Yet getting that right before or during labor prevents tearing. What I was so amazed by is that while I was in labor, my OB did vaginal massage. She’s like, “Hey, I’m here. We’ve got time. Can I do it for you?” I am like, “Yes!” I was so excited.

It’s not like sitting down in the spa to get a massage, but I’m so excited that she had the extra training and that she was knowledgeable. Our OB happened to be on vacation when the baby finally came, so I got a different one, and I have not met her before, but she was perfect. She was perfect. She sat down and said, “Can I do vaginal massage on you?” It was awesome.

I think we have a lot of stigma in our society. We’re afraid still. In some ways, as women, we look at how we’re dressing and how we’re acting in society, and we’re not prude in some ways.

But then, in others, what is going on? We’re still stuck in 1930 when it comes to talking about our pelvic floor health. We’re so closeted. The idea of having a vaginal massage for health or vaginal PT for health–this is not sexual. This is health. It’s done by a practitioner who’s trained and safe. Releasing that stigma, I think, is important.


[00:37:50] Katie Tredo: 100%. It’s sad to me that this stigma exists within the female culture. Some of it is just historical. Pelvic floor PT is becoming more popular because women are finally talking about these things. You’ll see more things on the news. Cosmopolitan last year had a big article on childbirth injuries bringing awareness that this stuff happens.

This isn’t to throw any physician under the bus, but unfortunately, pelvic PT wasn’t taught, or a lot of doula stuff was never taught in medical school for a lot of the doctors practicing now.

For me, and later on I’ll talk a little bit about the postpartum culture in our society, but I was blown away because here I had been practicing pelvic health for years before I had my children. I moved to Wisconsin. I was pregnant with my twins when I was here. I was going from doctor’s office to doctor’s office introducing myself, marketing what I do and getting very discouraged when OBs weren’t sending their patients into me. I thought maybe they don’t have faith in what I’m doing or whatever.

Then I had my kids. I had a twin pregnancy and twin vaginal delivery. I also was heavily trying to market to my physician. I went to my postpartum eval showing ready to tell her, “I’ve done a self-exam. This is what I think is going on with myself. I don’t have a diastasis. I think I have this.” We never even got to that part in the conversation. I was blown away. I realized doctors are not recommending pelvic PT because they don’t believe in it.

They’re not even checking for the things that we see people for. Again that’s not their training, so I shifted in my focus with marketing to educating physicians and why they should consider sending patients to us saying, “Not only you have to examine them for this, but if a patient mention this, that’s a reason to send them to our office.”

They’re checking for things at the postpartum visits like, “Are you still bleeding? Do you have any signs of infection?” They’re looking for major medical things.

More often if you have incontinence, which by six weeks postpartum is not normal–that should resolve before four weeks postpartum– they’re not necessarily checking if you have a prolapse or if you have a painful scar. I left feeling, “Wow! I’ve been practicing for years in this specialty, and I know what I have, and I know who to see for it. What if I didn’t know that and for years wondered what is going on with me?”

That’s what I see. Often, people that I’m treating for postpartum issues aren’t coming in six weeks or six months after having a baby, sometimes its years or decades after they’ve had a child.


[00:41:04] Ashley James: I have a friend who’s had five. She’s probably listening to this. Hello! Can a woman who has given birth to multiple children even years later go to a pelvic rehabilitation practitioner and see success?


[00:41:24] Katie Tredo: 100%. Sometimes I’ve had patients that have big problems for their first baby, no problems after their second or third. It varies, and there are always things you can work on. Something with moms, and I recently did an Instagram post about this, is our postures and our muscles change while we’re pregnant. Often, we have these compensatory movements or different movement strategies because our transabdominals are stretched out, our pelvic floor has gone through trauma, our diaphragm is not able to descend as it’s supposed to.

All of a sudden we’re not pregnant anymore, but our bodies are stuck in these positions, and we keep on reinforcing those movement patterns, and we never take the time to rehab those muscles that need to be part of the pelvic floor, diaphragm, and the transabdominals. These are anticipatory muscles that before we move, they fire.

They’ve shown these in healthy subjects that helps stabilize us, that helps keep us continent. It helps keep our breathing normal. A lot of time I do see people years later, and they can do great. I always advocate for earlier intervention, but I think it’s never too late. I’ve had people in their 80s and 90s even come in with incontinence that has gotten completely better.


[00:42:50] Ashley James: That’s exciting. To complete our conversation about the exams and sort of what to expect when someone comes in to see you or another pelvic rehabilitation practitioner. For children, how do you do that examination?


[00:43:10] Katie Tredo: With children, it is not invasive at all. Honestly, with children, education is the biggest thing. It’s a lot of education for their parents. A lot of these things someone could work on.

Anyone listening who has a child who’s having problems with bed wetting or incontinence, start paying attention if your child is constipated. It makes everything, and when I say everything like my adults with constipation have worse bladder leakage. They have worse pelvic pain. All of these conditions are compounded with constipation.

The biggest piece of advice to parents is to make sure your child has a regular bowel movement, having enough water, having enough fiber, having enough physical activity. That’s the biggest things for parents.

A lot of these kids go to school, and they dehydrate themselves all day long. They never want to take a drink of water because they’re afraid that they are going to leak, or they’re so distracted and busy at school that they are not doing that.

One thing I see, a lot of teachers and a lot of students are not allowed to go to the bathroom at a lot of schools during their class which can cause some problems for kids that really need to go.

A lot of it are basic things as far as making sure your hydrated and not constipated. When children come in, I have some children’s books that have pictures of how the body works, and how food and urine go through your body.

We do things like toileting positions. The child can be fully clothed, but we’re working on, “Can you contract your muscles to stop pee?” Then things to get the pelvic floor to relax so that they can void or have a bowel movement. We’ll do a lot of things like blowing bubbles with it or learning these breathing patterns, doing it through play.


[00:45:05] Ashley James: I love it.



[00:45:07] Katie Tredo: Sometimes we’ll check the perineum and the skin because we do need to check that the child isn’t having this red, irritated– physical therapists at most states now have direct access, and so if I see something that potentially could be an infection, I need to send them out to a physician who can treat that.

Then I’ll press along the groin, if I have the child’s and the parent’s permission, as the child contracts and relaxes, to see if any spots on their body are painful.


[00:45:41] Ashley James: That is very interesting. Do you have any advice? I know it’s hard because we don’t know what’s going on. You don’t tell everyone to Kegels because that could be the exact opposite of what they might need. So we can’t tell all children that are having incontinence, “Imagine you’re pulling everything up into you,” or try to give them some imagery because we don’t know if those are the right muscle groups for them to be exercising.


[00:46:18] Katie Tredo: We are very far from this in our culture. Nobody knows about the pelvic floor, that it exists until there’s a problem or until they’re having a baby. I think it would be great if we could teach children that there are muscles in their pelvis, and that if they have to go to the bathroom, and they have to hold it, to squeeze those muscles that are holding that urine and feel what that feels like, and then for these muscles also to be able to relax for them to be able to void or to have a bowel movement.

The good thing with the child knowing that they have muscles that control this is when there is a problem, they know it. I see a lot of adults who never know it was an issue or that it was something they could help.

When girls get to puberty too, they’re more prone to musculoskeletal injuries and different things just because of our development and hormonal factors and structural factors in our body, but we’re never taught that.


[00:47:22] Ashley James: Between the ages of 15 and 18, once every three months, I was twisting my ankle, falling down. I didn’t understand, and now I understand what was going on. My body was changing so fast that I didn’t know where the center of my gravity was. I just thought I was a klutz. Thinking back, I haven’t tripped or had any of those problems in years and years. It was only because our body is changing so much during our teenage years that we can be prone to accidents because everything is changing, and we don’t know where we are in gravity.


[00:48:05] Katie Tredo: This happens again in menopause actually, so be prepared. I think what happens is there are often changes on the pelvic floor whether because of hormonal changes and things. Sometimes people can develop secondary va ginismus, like that pain I’ve described before, but its due maybe to hormonal changes or menopause, or they can develop incontinence as part of that as well that they get vaginal atrophy.

At the same time, you see people losing their balance and having morefalls. One thing that I try to talk to other PTs about that treat orthopedics and want nothing to do with the pelvic floor is that those are not separate issues.

Back pain—it’s not a separate issue. If there’s a problem with the pelvic floor muscles, you’re going to present with another problem. So I encourage PTs on their screening form and probably any practitioner to have, “Do you leak urine?”—just a very simple question.

If someone’s coming back and they’ve had back pain over and over, or hip pain, neck pain, jaw pain, and you’re not getting anywhere with the techniques you know, and you noticed that they have written that they’re also leaking urine. There is a problem in those anticipatory muscles, and their core is not intact. That needs to be treated as part of the problem.


[00:49:32] Ashley James: In someone who’s walking, can you see in their gait that they have issues on their pelvic floor? Does it affect the body so overtly?


[00:49:40] Katie Tredo: That’s an interesting question. You can definitely in their posture. People move differently when they have a problem with their pelvic floor. You can sometimes tell from how someone is standing. I always look at posture when I’m looking at a patient because oftentimes someone stands in that posture, a pelvic tilt, with their tail bone kind of tucked under.

If anyone listening right now goes into that position and they try to contract their pelvic floor, what you’ll feel is maybe a little bit of a contraction on the anus, but a lot of gluteal muscles contracting.

If you come to a better seated or standing posture with more of a neutral spine, restoring that lumbar curve, you try to contract, and you can feel that that contraction moves anteriorly. You’re getting your pelvic floor muscles. Often, positionally, even with gait or just static standing or sitting, we can change the body’s ability to recruit these muscles.


[00:50:36] Ashley James: That’s so cool. I had a question pop on my mind. I’m not quite sure how to form it. More people than we are aware of have suffered from sexual assault. It’s one of those topics that is still not completely open. Unfortunately, the victims are left to feel that it’s their fault, and they’re ashamed of it. Some victims even have it in childhood.

Have you ever had patients who’ve come to you with pelvic issues, and in the discovery, you found out that they were sexually assaulted? Does the sexual assault injure the pelvic floor, or the emotions around it cause them to use their muscles in a different way, so it creates an injury?


[00:51:43] Katie Tredo: Yes, 100%. Traumatic events like that can cause people to develop these holding patterns, that clenching on the pelvic floor. People clench their jaws or those upper trapezius muscles. Trigger points on the pelvic floor are no different. Often, if someone has been sexually assaulted, they have been holding that pelvic floor tight and trying to protect themselves. They do develop pain. They also have a lot of psychological damage done from that. I have seen this in my clinic probably more often than you know. I’m glad they come in, but it’s sad.

What I do with these patients is I always tell them that you do not have to do internal work if you’re not comfortable with it. I say that to anyone whether they are traumatized or not. I explained that for me to get the most information from this exam, an internal exam is what is best, but if someone is not comfortable, that’s not best for them then.

A lot of these patients, I explain to them, “Let’s start with working on diaphragmatic breathing because you probably had never breath into your belly ever” or “Let’s work on some of the stretches.” Happy baby pose in yoga is one of my favorite for opening the pelvic floor. Sometimes having their feelings validated, someone willing to work at their comfort level. I make sure that they have seen a psychologist or know of one or get a referral for one. I explain to them that that is not my specialty. I am there to walk them through this and to work with them, but it will be beneficial for them also to see someone.

These patients do great because you can give them the tool they need. If it’s something like, “You need to work on this on your own at home,” if that’s what they’re most comfortable, sure they come back less frequently, you progress their exercise program, and you answer their questions. Often these patients end up becoming more comfortable in allowing an internal exam and internal work.

What I work out in those exams, we don’t do it for very long. It will be a very limited treatment there. I make sure the patient stays present with me. One thing I’ve noticed in my patients, and I’ve one that’s particular in my mind, always I see her eyes go up, and it was like she wasn’t paying attention anymore. I could tell when she’s dissociating from what is happening in her body.

It had been a technique that she had learned because she had to. She had been abused for so long. I try to keep people present with me. “Is this painful if I move your leg this way or if you contract or relax?” or “If we add pressure here, does that decrease the pain?” I keep this conversation going up. “What makes the pain better?” “What makes it worse?” “Let’s find a technique together and try to breathe into that spot.”

Sometimes you can only do that for a couple of minutes before the person is gone, but they continue to improve in that. I think getting back in their bodies and working with the psychologist on that is important as well. That can be beneficial for them because they’ve spent so long just tightening up and blocking people and blocking themselves from feeling anything.


[00:54:59] Ashley James: Have any of those patients shared with you that they were surprised that the pelvic physical therapy was cathartic, was a healing process for them emotionally?


[00:55:13] Katie Tredo: Yes. I have had several patients that I don’t even think they were even sad. It’s just like these tears would just come out. More so like, “I can’t believe I don’t have pain right there.” Do you what I mean as they were getting better and doing that?

I’ve had experience in a patient who didn’t know that she had been sexually traumatized until very recently. She had been by a priest. She blocked that out of her head, and she thought because it wasn’t sex, that she hadn’t been molested. When recent news had come out, and people were talking about it, “All of a sudden, she had this breakdown because she had been molested in her childhood, but had made excuses for it and blocked it out of her head.

She happened to be seeing me at that time. We took a break from physical therapy completely for her to do more talk therapy, working with her body, and ways with a psychotherapist. Then, she came back and did fantastically, but she was coming in for bowel and bladder symptoms, and it wasn’t what she was expecting was related to it.


[00:56:26] Ashley James: So were the problems because she was holding herself tight for so long?


[00:56:30] Katie Tredo: I think so. I think that played into it. She has also had a couple of children at the time. I think for her, it was a lot of urinary frequency and difficulty fully emptying her bladder — a lot of things that go along with having a tight pelvic floor.


[00:56:46] Ashley James: You see these commercials, like the Depends, the adult diaper commercials. They make it sound like this is something to expect, especially for women when they’re in their golden years.

You’ve said that you’ve had even women in their 80s come in, but the marketing is making it sound like when women are older, they’re supposed to pee themselves.

What you are saying is that it’s common, but it’s not normal or healthy. If 50% of the people walk with a limp, we would say it’s common, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. It’s not supposed to be that way. It’s like people are walking around with an injury, and we’re being told by all the marketing that this is normal. It’s just part of aging, or it’s just part of having kids, or it’s just part of life. But it’s an injury, an imbalance we’re walking around with. It is not optimal health.


[00:57:52] Katie Tredo: Yes. We see this in every industry, but people are making billions of dollars off of these, so why would they want you to know that you could get better? But 100%, it is common, but not normal. We kind of put in our heads, it’s either after a baby or as we’re getting older, and that’s when it’s normal to experience this. It’s not normal in either of those cases.


[00:58:19] Ashley James: I haven’t yet gone to a pelvic rehabilitation practitioner. As I’m thinking about it, I’ve been putting it off, because it’s not that big of a deal. “So what? I pee a little when I laugh — no big deal. I’m busy. I’m a mom. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m putting my business and everything else.”

I’m just seeing this. I’m looking at my thinking. I’m thinking like how many women do this? We’re putting everyone else first, and we’re putting our health on the back burner. I keep saying myself, “I’m going to one eventually. In the future, when I have some free time, I’ll make time for my health.” How many of us do that? Now that my listeners know about pelvic rehabilitation, don’t be like me and put it off for years.

What you are saying is that the incontinence is a symptom and that the problem can be far greater, even though that’s the only thing you’re seeing. Maybe you’re not having discomfort or pain, but maybe you’re just seeing that you pee a little when you laugh, but that is actually causing more damage. Can you talk more about that? What’s the damage of continuing life with this imbalance?


[00:59:39] Katie Tredo: It can vary. Obviously, incontinence can become worse. I like to describe the course as a soda can. If you imagine you’ve had the respiratory diaphragm on top, the pelvic floor on the bottom, and the transverse abdominals coming around, and the multifidus on the back—those four muscles make up your canister, your core. These muscles should contract first, and they should stabilize and allow you to move from there to prevent injury anywhere in your body. They keep us continent. They keep us breathing well.

Like a soda can, if you imagine, pop open that can—whether its diastasis recti and you have lost your abdominal tone, you have this bulging herniation at your abdominals or pelvic floor weakness—how easy is that can to crash? You have no stability there anymore. It’s a balance of pressures on our body that’s there.

There was an article in the Medical Research, and I’m just going to read the title of it because it’s my best article to bring to a physician’s office and say, “Look at this. It changes what you think.” They found that disorders of breathing and continence, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor, have a stronger association with back pain than obesity and physical activity.

So what do we tell people when they have pain in their body? “You need to lose weight. You need to exercise.” But these disorders of the diaphragm and the pelvic floor are more associated with back pain than any of those things which are important as well. So it’s a huge problem.

One other thing, as far as how you said you don’t get help for it and how our culture feeds into this, it’s a little off that path, but I think with postpartum women, we are constantly marketed to how fast you can lose your baby weight and how great you can look right after you have a baby. If you’re on Facebook or Instagram or any of those, how many times a day are you marketed, “Join me and lose all this weight.” They’re these hard exercises that people are doing, and a lot of these women have never rehab their pelvic floor or their transverse abdominals.

I’m someone that believes that people can get back to everything after having a baby. I think after most of these that if you rehab correctly and you improve your movement patterns, the goal is to get back to all these. I would never want to tell one of my patients that they have to stop running or they have to stop doing anything.

When I was working in Maryland, I was asked to talk at a CrossFit gym, and I was a little taken back because at first, I didn’t know how this would go. I would see some of these women in these CrossFit gyms doing exercises that I knew they probably shouldn’t be doing.

One thing I was asked in Maryland was from an owner of a CrossFit gym to come in and talked about peeing while you exercise. I don’t know how to approach it exactly because I knew a lot of these women were peeing while they’re exercising because they have never rehab themselves properly to be able to do the type of activities they were doing.

I said, “That’s not normal. I’d love to talk about it.” She said, “Really, it’s not normal? You’ve got to see this YouTube videos,” and she sent them to me.

It was these interviews of someone at these CrossFit competitions going up to people and going, “Do you have the workout pees?” or “Do you pee while you exercise?” All these women like, “Yeah, I lift all these weights. I do all these hard exercises. I pee in my pants. I’m wearing a diaper right now.” I’m thinking, “What are we promoting in our culture that makes this seem like it’s a good thing or normal?”

It took a lot to get these women to step back. I said, “This isn’t that you’re never going to do these exercises, but you need to step back and learn how to move better before you can get back into these exercises.” There were people that came up to me and said, “I’m not going to see you if you tell me I have to take a break from this.” Of course, they never came to see me.

I do challenge people to think about it. We think about the pelvic floor so different than other parts of our bodies. If you strained your hamstring and you were playing a sport, you would rest. You’d work n stretches and strengthening. You’d ice. You’d do all of these things to rehab. You’d gradually get back into your exercise or your sport as you could tolerate because your hamstring was your weakest link. You wouldn’t push past and further injure yourself.

If we think of the pelvic floor as the weakest link in these situations, exercise to your weakest link. Maybe you can do a certain amount of reps or a certain amount of weight and stay continent, and you gradually increase that. But the second you train your body, “I’m going to keep jumping 800 times in a row,” or “I need to lift these weight that’s so heavy, and I completely lose bladder control,” you’re not training your body to move better.

They do want to help people. We have to look at the system. It was 1910, around there, the Flexner Report was created.

People can go on Wiki and see this but Carnegie—maybe he was the richest, I don’t know—who was one of the richest people in the United States at the time owned a pharmaceutical company. He wanted to influence the marketplace. He had a man go throughout the United States and create the Flexner report, which is, at that time, a list of all the doctors who are practicing allopathic medicine, which is a pharmaceutical-based medicine. At that time in history, we have to imagine what we know is not what the world was like back then.

Back then, you could see a chiropractor, osteopath, you could go to an herbalist or a homeopathy practitioner, and everything was an even playing field. You could become any of these different types of therapists. You could become a student of them at any of these universities or these colleges. Everything was an even playing field.

Then Carnegie invested millions of dollars. He put colleges out of business. He told the colleges and universities that he gave his money to that they had to stop teaching anything that had to do with types of therapy that competed against pharmaceutical medicine. He was able to change, and he created what we know now.

Everyone goes to an M.D., and everyone is put on a drug. Seventy percent of adults in America are on at least one prescription medication. We grow up in a system, and we didn’t realize that we think it’s normal. You go to an M.D.; you get a drug.

But back in 1910, right around then, it’s when Carnegie was influencing all the schools. The schools were influenced to teach a certain curriculum that he agreed to, which would then teach doctors to push the drugs and not natural therapies. So, if you have a bunch of people who are peeing themselves when they get older, then you can sell them a drug that might prevent peeing or sell them diapers or whatever.



[01:04:47] Ashley James: Interesting. I’ve worked with trainers before, and they always start with the core. Before we do anything, we’re going to strengthen your core because there is no point in having you do deadlifts or whatever when you have a weak core.

Everyone thinks when you say core muscles—what are your core muscles? My abs and my back. Everyone thinks abs. Let’s work on your core—your abs and your back or maybe your butt. But no one thinks about the pelvic floor as being part of their core.

That’s interesting because when it was described to me by Jennifer Saltzman who’s been on the show before. She’s a 20+ years’ Pilates instructor. She says that the pelvic floor, imagine it’s a big salad bowl that’s sitting in your pelvis holding everything up. It’s holding your bladder and your bowels. It’s holding your uterus for women. It’s holding everything up, and it’s a big salad bowl.

She helps people to understand that they’re walking around with their salad bowl spilling out because their salad bowl is tipped forward or tipped to the side. Looking at and respecting the pelvic muscles are just as important as a part of our core. It’s there a bit subtler. You’re not going to do crunches.


[01:06:19] Katie Tredo: Right. The thing that people don’t realize is that the rectus abdominals are not part of our core. They’re very external muscles, and yet everyone wants them because it can do a six pack, but that’s not part of our core. If you just work on your rectus abdominals, you’re not strengthening your core.


[01:06:36] Ashley James: Your core is needed for stability, and so you’re saying that those with weak core end up injuring themselves more. As they get older though, they’re more prone to falling and injuring themselves.


[01:06:49] Katie Tredo: It can go the opposite way, too. We talked about fixation or immobility. We need our pelvic floors to be mobile and stable. It is this constant kind of balance because we need our muscles to be very mobile. We need them to expand to have babies and to have bowel movements, urination, and all of that. We need its stability to move and do all those things.

We end up at one side of the spectrum or the other, whether it is a very weak, stretched pelvic floor or if it’s a very hypertonic and painful pelvic floor. We’re going to have problems involved in those situations.


[01:07:31] Ashley James: Is this kind of physical therapy fairly new, or can you see when looking back in history that there are types of therapy, or there are cultures that focus on pelvic floor health throughout time?


[01:07:52] Katie Tredo: I don’t know when pelvic floor therapy started in the U.S. I know I’ve been doing it for ten years, and there have been therapists doing it way longer than that here.

There are definitely techniques taken from other cultures that we’ve learned about. I think some midwives in other cultures have been doing some rehab for the pelvic floor.

This isn’t really to speak to the historical aspect of it, but one thing I’m blown away by is I used to work outside of Washington D.C., and I had the luxury of working with people from all over the world because their jobs took them there or their partner’s jobs or whatever. It was eye-opening to me because I had a lot of patients from places like France and Germany that would come right after their postpartum check-up.

I’d say, “What brings you in today? What’s the problem?” They say, “You tell me. I’m here for my postpartum check-up.” It was refreshing. Some of these patients needed ongoing PT for a little while. Some of them, I gave them tips. We worked on their posture, made sure things were moving well, and I said, “Call me if you’re having any of these problems in eight weeks or whatever.” It was ingrained to them that having a baby is a physical event, and you need rehabilitation after. You’re going to go because why wouldn’t you take care of yourself after an event like that.

It’s just not the way it works in the U.S. We don’t support preventative medicine. We don’t necessarily take care of our moms after they have a child. We’re looking at getting people back into the workforce as soon as possible, losing your baby weight as soon as possible.

I think that’s damaging to women. I think more and more people are talking about it now, and there’s a huge demand for this type of therapy.

I encourage any physical therapist who is at all interested in working on this to take some training, even a course or two under your belt. It’s enough to help the most basic things and know enough to refer someone to someone more specialized later because there are just so many people not getting help.


[01:10:04] Ashley James: Absolutely. I’ve talked about this before on the show with other practitioners. Looking at the history of modern medicine—I wouldn’t get into it too deep, but it’s a very interesting topic to dive into to understand what’s influencing our modern-day practitioners.

We go to an M.D. or your OB, and we’re expecting them to know about other resources. If we tell them we’re peeing when we laugh, they should know to tell us to go for pelvic rehabilitation.

I’m not vilifying M.D.’s or any doctor. I think there are individuals who get into medicine because they do want to help people. We have to look at the system. It was 1910, around there, the Flexner Report was created.

People can go on Wiki and see this but Carnegie—maybe he was the richest, I don’t know—who was one of the richest people in the United States at the time owned a pharmaceutical company. He wanted to influence the marketplace. He had a man go throughout the United States and create the Flexner report, which is, at that time, a list of all the doctors who are practicing allopathic medicine, which is a pharmaceutical-based medicine. At that time in history, we have to imagine what we know is not what the world was like back then.

Back then, you could see a chiropractor, osteopath, you could go to an herbalist or a homeopathy practitioner, and everything was an even playing field. You could become any of these different types of therapists. You could become a student of them at any of these universities or these colleges. Everything was an even playing field.

Then Carnegie invested millions of dollars. He put colleges out of business. He told the colleges and universities that he gave his money to that they had to stop teaching anything that had to do with types of therapy that competed against pharmaceutical medicine. He was able to change, and he created what we know now.

Everyone goes to an M.D., and everyone is put on a drug. Seventy percent of adults in America are on at least one prescription medication. We grow up in a system, and we didn’t realize that we think it’s normal. You go to an M.D.; you get a drug.

But back in 1910, right around then, it’s when Carnegie was influencing all the schools. The schools were influenced to teach a certain curriculum that he agreed to, which would then teach doctors to push the drugs and not natural therapies. So, if you have a bunch of people who are peeing themselves when they get older, then you can sell them a drug that might prevent peeing or sell them diapers or whatever.


[01:13:32] Katie Tredo: Or surgery,


[01:13:35] Ashley James: Thank you. I’m getting to that. Surgery is another thing that they can sell you. Again, I’m not vilifying any individual doctor. Maybe listeners have gone to their doctor and told them that they pee themselves. The doctor said, “We have a drug or have diapers,” or “This is just normal,” or “Here’s a surgery.”

This is what medical schools teach because it would harm profits. Think about it–if doctors learned how to cure people, so they no longer needed drugs or surgery, then it would put industries out of business. The whole system is set up in a way to keep people stuck.

I think there are a lot of good people in the system. I think a lot of people are breaking out. I’ve interviewed a lot of M.D.’s that have broken out of the system and gone, “Wait a second. There’s way more than just drugs and surgery. What am I doing?”

At the same time, I love that drugs and surgeries are available should I need them. We want it, but it’s only one tool. It’s not “the” only tool. It’s one tool in our tool belt, and there are a hundred other tools, like what you do, which is get to the root cause and help people heal at the root level.

I want all the doctors listening, and all the patients listening. Let’s educate our doctors and let them know that there is a better way; that we don’t have to get on a drug or get surgery for peeing ourselves. If we have pelvic pain, there’s a viable therapy that gets to the root cause.



[01:15:13] Katie Tredo: I have had experience of working with absolutely fantastic doctors and learning from them too, and being able to observe some of their surgeries, and coming in for their exams, and having these discussions. I think more and more doctors are learning about this. To their credit, as you said, they did not learn about a lot of these in medical school.

My entire practice up until this past August was in private practice. For the first time, I’m working as a pelvic floor therapist in a hospital system. It has been wonderful to work with physicians, to start programs, and talk to doctors about how we may able to help each other.

One thing with surgery, for a long time with prolapse, for patients that was their option. That’s it—do a surgery. Depending on the doctor you go to, a lot more are saying, “Try physical therapy first.” A couple of my favorite surgeons in this area are huge supporters of pelvic floor therapists. It makes sense because if you only do surgery in the people that need that surgery, you’ll going to have better outcomes yourself as well.

One thing I’m working on educating both patients and physicians right now is the idea of pre-op surgery. Prolapse, for instance, I’m not going to say that everyone that walks in my door, I cure their prolapse. I don’t even take credit like that. I teach them to do things. I have some patients whose symptoms are 100% resolved, and they never need to have surgery. I have some patients who are borderline—”We’ll see how you do in therapy.”

I’ve had patients coming off the street into my clinic. I have them bear down, and their bladder is physically coming out of their vagina. I say, “I have a name of a great surgeon I’m going to send you to, and I think you should strengthen your pelvic floor as part of your rehab.”

It’s knowing each other’s specialties, who you can help and who you can’t help. I tried to educate my patients that if you go to somebody—my favorite thing is when a doctor says, “I don’t know. Let me find someone that does,” or “I don’t know. Let me look that up.”

Whether you’re going to a PT or a chiropractor or a doctor, if they think they know everything, that’s frightening to me. I’d much rather have a doctor say, “You know what, that’s not my specialty. Let me give you the name of somebody who it is.” I would much rather hear that.
Unfortunately, a lot of doctors still when they don’t know something, they dismiss the patient’s complaint. One thing that breaks my heart that I hear over and over still is a patient will go into her OB or her primary care doctor and say, “I’m having painful intercourse.”

When you say that, you’ve become vulnerable. You’re opening up to a very private part of your life. I can’t tell you how many times a patient comes in my door, either recently or years earlier their doctor’s advice to them was, “You just need to have a glass of wine and relax before you have sex with your husband.” It’s 2019. If someone’s willing to open up with that, find someone that can help them. Even if you think it is in their head, send them to a psychologist. But there are physical reasons for this pain.

I’m never under the belief that everyone will get better with what I do. I do need to refer out to other practitioners a lot. I think that working together is something that our medical field needs to do more of.


[01:18:57] Ashley James: As a patient, we should have the idea in mind that we are creating a team of holistic experts or a team of experts to surround us — hopefully, a lot of them holistic, but a team of experts. We want them to talk to each other. We want this team to inform us and help us to make the best choices, and we ultimately are the final deciders in the therapies that we’re going to participate in.

A doctor is not to put up in a pedestal. If your doctor has hubris or an ego, then fire him and get one that can step down from their ego and say, “You know what, I don’t know the answer. Let’s get the information. Let’s go find out.”


[01:19:42] Katie Tredo: Right. There is a lot of dangerous stuff by Googling stuff. One positive thing is if you can’t find the doctors, then get a physical therapy evaluation. A lot of times, most states don’t require a physician’s referral. If your particular insurance does, call your primary care doctor, any doctor you know, any nurse practitioner, and have them write a script for physical therapy. It’s rare that someone would say no. When you go to that specialist, whether it’s a pelvic PT or whoever you’re working with, and you have a problem, they probably have a physician to recommend for you because there are a lot of fantastic doctors out there.


[01:20:19] Ashley James: Absolutely. You’re just reminding me of Kristen Bowen. I don’t know if you’ve listened to her episodes. She’s the magnesium soak lady.


[01:20:27] Katie Tredo: Yeah, I’ve heard a little bit of it.


[01:20:32] Ashley James: She told her sisters—she had given birth to, I think, three children at that point—she started peeing after laughing, that kind of thing. Her sister went, “It’s time for you to go get the surgery.” She went to the doctor, and the doctor was like, “No problem. Let’s do the surgery.” They took a tissue from a cadaver, made a little hammock, put her bladder in it, and then use titanium screws to screw that little dead tissue hammock to the bones on her pelvis.

When she woke, she started having 30 seizures a day for two or three years, and she got down to 70 pounds. Then they finally convince the doctor/surgeon to take it out, to remove it. Most of her seizure went away. She got down to three seizures a day. She thinks she had an autoimmune response to the titanium, and also the tissue that was used. It turns out that they think that it was black market tissue because it was not tattooed with the code on it which it was supposed to.

She was not given any choices. She wasn’t told, “Let’s get examined by a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic rehabilitation,” or “Let’s give it a few months of exercises and see if that improves.” It was just immediate, “Oh yeah, you’re peeing when you laugh. It’s time to get the surgery.”

I understand that prolapse, if the bladder is coming through the vagina, then maybe it’s so far gone that PT wouldn’t help that person get back to where they need to be, but that they can use the physical therapy as rehabilitation.

Surgery should always be, unless its life-threatening surgery, should always be a choice you make after we’ve tried other options, like try a few months of physical therapy. It should be mandatory—if it’s a surgery that isn’t life-threatening, it should be mandatory that we at least try a few months of physical therapy first to see if we could make headway or see if we could prevent the surgeries because surgery is dangerous and life-altering, life-changing.


[01:23:10] Katie Tredo: That whole idea of having physical therapy first—I try to tell my patients, and that’s something I’m working on that I didn’t get to do much. When you tell someone that this might be able to prevent you from having surgery, I always tell my patients worst case scenario, you still need the surgery, but you’re rehabbing your pelvic floor, and you’re learning new movement patterns. You are learning how to properly void and not strain when you have a bowel movement.

All of these things you’re doing are going to optimize the results of your surgery. You’re changing the things that are contributing to you prolapse in the first place, so when you have that surgery, you’re not going to need it redone right after because you’re going to know how to move.

It just gets me when I get someone that’s post-surgical, and they have been straining their entire life. How did someone have surgery for prolapse and had not been taught how to toilet without straining? That’s just contributing to the issues.

I feel like pre-operative physical therapy cannot only do that but in men with prostate surgery, if these men came in for one visit pre-operatively, I think we could cut back the number of PT sessions they have after. By the time they come to me, they’ve developed very poor bladder habits.

It’s things a lot of people do anyway, but if they know not to do these things, and they know how to do a proper Kegel, when that catheter is pulled, they can start strengthening right away. They would be less frustrated, more educated, and prevent the secondary problems that they can cause with their habits.


[01:24:50] Ashley James: What about hernias? Can pelvic rehabilitation help with preventing or healing hernias?


[01:25:02] Katie Tredo: I treat a lot of patients for diastasis recti. If someone has a true hernia or umbilical hernia, they’re also seeing a surgeon depending on how severe it is. I’m not sure the answer to that question actually.


[01:25:19] Ashley James: For those who don’t know and I know because I have it, can you explain what diastasis recti is?


[01:25:27] Katie Tredo: Diastasis recti is a split in the rectus abdominal muscles. Sometimes during pregnancy or men with beer bellies or women with beer bellies, it’s not just pregnancy that can cause tearing in the linea alba or that white fascia when you see a picture of the muscular system between the abdominal muscles. When that splits, you see a bulge there, or you can usually sink a few fingers in between. That’s how it’s measured actually, so it can disrupt how you’re moving and how load transfers through your body.


[01:26:04] Ashley James: You can help people to heal it?


[01:26:07] Katie Tredo: Yeah.


[01:26:08] Ashley James: Very cool. How about inguinal hernias?


[01:26:11] Katie Tredo: The patients I see with hernias, either had a hernia repair, or they were sent to me with a questionable hernia. By working on the pelvic floor and the core, their symptoms went away. I’m not sure that they ever had a hernia.


[01:26:26] Ashley James: Thank you. That’s what I was getting at.


[01:26:28] Katie Tredo: I think it’s more of a misdiagnosis.


[01:26:30] Ashley James: Yes, I was misdiagnosed with a hernia, and it was diastasis. How do you say it?


[01:26:38] Katie Tredo: Diastasis recti.


[01:26:40] Ashley James: Thank you. Diastasis recti which is common for people to have or having some symptoms in their pelvic floor because it’s out of balance and its appearing like it’s a hernia. You do the work, and then the symptoms go away. So, we don’t need to know if it was a hernia or not because you’ve strengthened whatever was weak.


[01:26:58] Katie Tredo: Right.


[01:26:58] Ashley James: Very cool. This has been wonderful. I like it when practitioners share tips or exercises, but I’m getting the feeling that it’s personalized. You can’t tell us all to do Kegels because that could be making it worse for some people, but making it better for others. Is there any kind of advice, very general, applying to 100% of the population—exercises or advice that you can give us?


[01:27:25] Katie Tredo: First thing I keep talking about how with constipation that people strain and can’t have a bowel movement, so if anyone listening is sitting, I’m a huge fan of those squatty potties. Have you seen those?


[01:27:44] Ashley James: Yes. Every toilet in my house has a squatty potty.


[01:27:46] Katie Tredo: Same with mine. That’s great. You want your knees above your hips. You want your pelvic floor to be able to relax.

If everyone listening tries to do a Valsalva or pushing or bearing down motion, try doing that, and you’re probably holding your breath. As you do that, you’re holding your breath, what is your pelvic floor doing? When you’re doing that, you should feel like the pelvic floor is contracting and lifting up.

That’s not allowing for a bowel movement. Now if you sit and you let your abdominal relax, your pelvic floor relaxed, and I want you to blow out as you bear down like you’re blowing bubbles. Not a forceful air but just [blows].

Do you feel your pelvic floor dropping down and widening? How simple is that? I mean that is something I work with patients coming in from GI doctors, surgeons, and different people.

You’re an adult, and I had you pretend to blow bubbles, and we’ve just fixed your constipation problem. That’s a big thing—this breath holding pattern—that reflexive tightening of the pelvic floor. That’s one thing I like to tell people.

Another thing is—because it’s such a common issue—bladder issues. Some very simple things that a lot of us have been taught wrong when we were children is stay hydrated. The general recommendation is drinking half your body weight in ounces. I think this varies a little bit between people but in that fluid. That doesn’t mean drink half your body weight in soda. It means you want at least two-thirds of your fluids to be plain, flat water, so no carbonation.

Then you can have some things that have bladder irritants, but if you’re having a problem watching those bladder irritants–everything good like caffeine, carbonation, sweeteners, acidic foods, tomato products, some spicy foods. Some of these things can irritate our bladder and want the bladder to contract sooner and empty.

Pay attention. Some people don’t have a problem with that, but if it is contributing to your issues, make sure you’re at least diluting those irritants by having a good amount of water.

A big thing I hear—I had just someone come into my clinic, and I was like, “Oh, no. Go home and tell your daughter you didn’t mean that.” She was like, “I always teach my daughter never to sit on a public toilet.”

What we’re training to do, it’s very different than in third world countries where they have this deep squat that relaxes the pelvic floor. When you’re hovering over a toilet seat, you are in a contraction, and you’re teaching your bladder that it’s okay to contract or relax.

She said, “But she could get all those diseases on the toilet seat.” I laugh because I’ve never heard of anyone catching a disease from a toilet seat. I want to make a public service announcement that the toilets will be a lot cleaner if everyone just sat down and stop peeing on the seat. Maybe that could be the takeaway.

Then no going just in case. I have to catch myself saying this to my children, but every time you leave the house going, maybe you’ll be going half an hour, you’re going to go just in case because you’d hate to have to void half an hour into your shopping trip.

What you’re training your bladder what’s normal is that the bladder fills to a certain capacity. It’s only half full, but you’re letting it empty every time it gets to that point or way sooner than you’re even getting that first initial signal that you need to go, you’re now training your bladder that when it’s at that capacity, it needs to contract and empty.

People come in saying, “I’ve always had a small bladder. I’ve always known all the time.” They’ve trained their bladder to do this. What’s normal is three to four hours, so if you’re getting it within that time, you need to go and void. If half an hour, you’re getting this message, see if you can distract yourself. Do a few quick pelvic floor contractions. Give yourself positive affirmation. See if you can even stretch it 15 more minutes. You’re gradually training your bladder to get back to that normal bladder interval that can hugely prevent a ton of problems with urinary frequency.

Those are my everybody could learn from those. Moms and dads, stop telling your children to keep going just in case and never sit on toilet seats.


[01:32:29] Ashley James: I laugh there because in my mind you just made the bladder like a lithium-ion battery, where you want to wait till it’s fully empty and then fully recharge it, not just plug it in every time it is 75%. You don’t go pee when you have 25% full bladder. You should wait till the bladder is full, and then pee because it helps tonify and stretch the bladder.


[01:32:55] Katie Tredo: Right.


[01:32:56] Ashley James: That’s some pretty good advice right there. I have been doing a little bit with our son who’s four because I don’t know when he was going to need to go pee. Sometimes he goes like hours without needing to go. I’m like, “It’s been all afternoon, and you haven’t needed to go. You should go right now.” He’s like, “I don’t need to.” And I’m like, “You should. You haven’t gone enough.”


[01:33:14] Katie Tredo: Kids sometimes have a holding pattern. That’s important, too. It is tough with kids. I have three kids. I’m not going to lie. When we have to stop, and one of them has to go potty, it is extremely inconvenient and very challenging to have all three of them in a stall. Sometimes, I don’t follow my advice, but I feel like the best we can.


[01:33:34] Ashley James: Do the best you can. Excellent. I like it. Wow! Thank you so much, Katie, for coming here.


[01:33:42] Katie Tredo: You’re welcome. Thank you.


[01:33:43] Ashley James: Absolutely. You shared a lot of great information. Did we get to everything that you wanted to share? Was there anything else that you wanted to make sure that you covered?


[01:33:51] Katie Tredo: I think I covered everything I was thinking of. The one thing maybe I’ll mention just for people who like numbers or someone out there who’s just learning that this is common is some of the recent statistics in the research, just as far as after childbirth what women are experiencing. Twenty-four percent of women have pain with intercourse a year and a half after childbirth; 77% have persistent back pain a year after childbirth; 49% experience urinary incontinence one year after childbirth.

That’s half of the women are experiencing what you said. They’re talking with their friends. They’re laughing. You have a baby, you go home, you pick up this heavy car seat carrier, and you’re doing all of this stuff. It’ s not that surprising, but these are all reasons.

Twenty-nine percent of people have undiagnosed pelvic fractures after having a baby, and 41% of undiagnosed tears on their pelvic floor muscles. If you’re pregnant out there or having children or have them ten years ago, if you’re having any of these problems, get yourself looked at and evaluated.

I am happy, to the best of my knowledge, to give you resources, and how to find someone who’s trained in pelvic floor therapy, and be available. As Ashley said, I’m on her Facebook page, so if you have any follow-up questions or anything like that, I’m happy to try to help you find someone near you.


[01:35:18] Ashley James: Yes, please join the Learn True Health Facebook group. You can go, which will redirect you to the group or just search Learn True Health on Facebook.

Katie, we’re going to make sure your information is in the show notes of the podcast on Learn True Health so those who want to connect with you can. I know mainly you work with people one on one. You want to see them physically, but I know that you have also worked with some people over Skype as more of a consultation to help them to find the right practitioners for them.

For those who want to reach out and talk to you, we’re going to make sure that your information is on the show notes of the podcast of


[01:36:04] Katie Tredo: Perfect.


[01:36:05] Ashley James: Excellent. It’s been a real pleasure having you here today. I want to implore the listeners to please share this episode with your girlfriends or the female family members of yours who are pregnant or have had kids because the more we spread this information, the more we can finally get this to be—

As you said, 50% of women are having pelvic floor issues even a year after birth. Half the population should be seeing a pelvic floor specialist for one thing or another even if we can do some corrections. It’s like going to the gym for our pelvis, and do some corrections, strengthen and stretch the right muscles, and hopefully, prevent a lot of things from going wrong in the future.


[01:36:58] Katie Tredo: Yeah, and we’ve talked a lot about how behind our culture is in treating these conditions we’re talking about. If we think women have it bad, men are like in the Dark Ages still because now doctors finally recognize these things in women, but these poor men are—I can’t tell you how many times I see someone for pelvic pain.

When a man has pelvic pain, 95% of the time, they do not have an infection, and 5% they have actual bacterial prostatitis. These men are given round after round of antibiotics and told that this is prostatitis.

I want to make that last mention because I probably see 70-80% is female and 20-30% male. I do focus a lot of my education on females, but these men need help too. I feel like there are not enough people talking about the problems that men have.


[01:37:52] Ashley James: Right. Because there’s shame in having pain in that area. Then you go to a doctor, and they’re like, “It’s probably an infection. Let’s treat it.”

Like you’re saying, most of the time it’s not an infection. It’s a pelvic floor issue. This is just eye-opening. Getting on round and round of antibiotics that aren’t needed is so damaging.


[01:38:14] Katie Tredo: It is, and discouraging. Not to mention if you keep seeing someone and you’re not getting better, it’s depressing.


[01:38:21] Ashley James: Right. You said that there’s an increased chance of depression and suicide in people who suffer from this pain.

You’re doing some really important work. I’m excited I had you on the show today. We allowed everyone to know and shed some light on this very important topic. I’m excited to continue this conversation in the Facebook group, the Learn True Health Facebook group, because I know we have a lot of great listeners wanting to thank you and also wanting to share their own experiences. So, thank you, Katie. This has been great having you on the show.


[01:38:53] Katie Tredo: Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to talk about this. It’s actually Pelvic Pain Awareness Month. My passion for this lies in educating people and teaching them about this. Thank you for giving me that platform.


[01:39:04] Ashley James: Happy Pelvic Pain Awareness Month.


[01:39:10] Ashley James: Are you into optimizing your health? Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price? For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to, and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price. That’s Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.

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Cathy Cooke And Ashley James

From a diagnosis of narcolepsy to 10 years of sleep deprivation–this 180-shift in sleep quality led integrative health coach Cathy Cooke to  “go down the rabbit hole of studying everything [she] could possibly learn about sleep.” She’s back on the show to share what she has discovered and done and how that benefited her sleep. Listen and learn, and if you’re lucky, win a free one-hour health coaching consult with Cathy.


[00:00:01] Ashley James: Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today’s episode is all about sleep—deep, restful, restorative, glorious sleep.

After listening to this episode, we will have empowered you with all the tools that you need to shift the quality of your sleep so that you sleep deeply through the night, and you wake up feeling so refreshed. Even if you think you have good sleep now, there’s always room for improvement. I know you’re going to get some amazing pointers today.

Cathy Cooke comes back on the show to share with us all the things that she’s done with herself and with her clients to gain exceptional asleep. I myself have gone through quite a transformation in my sleep back when we recorded this interview in March. I was hunting for an organic bed. I’ve been hunting for it for months, and finally I came upon a company that I thought was very interesting because they had the most third-party studies and science related to a mattress. I didn’t realize how much science could go into a mattress. And so I talked to some of the experts that I refer to, my mentors that I go to, and they all have the same mattress. I thought, “Wow, what am I missing? Everyone I talked to seems to have this mattress.”

So I called up the company. I started talking to them. They sent me many emails filled with the research and the studies and all the science. In fact, they even gave me the ingredient list because some people want to make sure that anything that goes into making it is 100% organic, non-toxic, doesn’t off gas.

I learned through the literature they gave me that memory foam has nine carcinogenic chemicals linked to sudden infant death syndrome. My mind was blown. It kept expanding. It was like coming out of the Matrix when it came to mattresses. I knew that you could have a good mattress and get better sleep, but I had no idea.

So I jumped in, I got this brand new mattress. I’ve been sleeping on it for 34 nights now. So I can definitely say, I definitely have some experience. I’m really shocked that a mattress could have this much of a difference in my sleep quality. Everything we talk about in this interview, I’ve already incorporated in my life and seen some really great results. So I didn’t know that I could get better sleep. Even though with all the good things I was doing, I was still turning and tossing through the night because my old mattress created pressure points. So I’d wake up a few times in the night to roll over. That would disrupt the depth of my sleep.

With this new mattress, I sleep solid through the night without moving because it creates no pressure points. If you sleep on your side, you’ll wake up on your side. You feel totally refreshed. If I fall asleep on my back, I’ll wake up on my back. I don’t roll around in the night. I sleep solid. I’m now waking up an hour earlier than I usually do with way more energy because instead of disrupted sleep, I have solid sleep, and that’s really cool. Considering I have a four-year-old that sleeps in the same bedroom as us, that is saying something.

Between having a husband, a kid, and a cat and everything, you’d think I’d be waking up all night, which I was, and I kept blaming my family thinking that I was waking up all night long because I have a cat and a four-year-old and a husband. But we changed our mattress and I sleep solidly through the night, and we all do, which is really exciting.

I wanted to wait to have a significant amount of time experiencing this mattress before I introduced it to you. It’s been 34 days sleeping on the mattress. I’ve invited the founder of this company. He’s going to be coming on the show in about a month. He put together an educational webinar. I said, “I feel that what you offer is the best of the best for my listeners. I want you guys to give my listeners a discount.”

It’s like a group buy, and I’ve seen some other holistic experts do this for their followers. They’re going to give us a discount. Should you happen to be shopping for a new mattress or want an organic mattress that is the best sleep you’ll ever have, they’re going to give you a discount. They’re going to give you a free mattress protector, and they’re going to give you these pillows that are outstanding. They’re hypoallergenic. They’re my favorite. I said, “I love your pillows. Can you also give my listeners free pillows?” I think they’re like $100 each these pillows, so they’re going to throw in two of their pillows, which is the biggest difference I’ve seen.

I used to go to my chiropractor every week, sometimes twice or three times a week because I’d wake up in pain. You ever had that where you’re like, “How did I injure myself while sleeping?” I’m not getting that old and that’s exactly what kept happening to me. I have not seen my chiropractor in over a month. I’d have not needed to see my chiropractor, and I love him. I love visiting him. He’s great. I have not needed to see him once since getting this new mattress. That’s how powerful this technology is.

It also, for me, solidifies how damaging my old mattress was, and it was a newer mattress. We’d gotten it in 2011, so it wasn’t that old. It was kind of middle of the line, like $2,200. I thought it would last us 10 years, and it started falling apart within two years, which I was really upset about. This new company that I got, the new mattress that I’ve had for the last just over a month, they have a 10-year or 20-year warranty—some crazy warranty that they absolutely guarantee if the mattress becomes warped in any way, they replace it immediately.

Really cool stuff. But I want you to check out the webinar they created. The founder of the company created this educational webinar—really blew my mind, lots of great information. There are two videos that he created, and they’ve put it on a website with the discount for my listeners—for you guys.

You can go to, go watch the video, go get the information. Their staff is amazing. I have asked them so many questions about everything they put into making the bed. It is 100% nontoxic. It doesn’t off-gas. In fact, when we received delivery, we immediately slept on it. You don’t have to air it out like memory foam where it creates a toxic gas. It does not. This bed is amazing—the most enjoyable sleep I’ve ever had.

So go to and check it out. Watch their videos. I am so thrilled to bring this information to you. It’s life-changing because if you’ve tried everything and you still toss and turn, if you’re in pain, if you wake up with an injury of the neck or lower back and you’re like, “What’s going on?” It’s your mattress.

Our mattresses can damage us. They can prevent us from healing, from fully going into a deep healing sleep, so that we stay inflamed, so that we sustain pain longer, create stiffness and pain. That affects our hormones because if we don’t get deep, restful sleep, it affects everything. It affects our brain health, our immune health—everything. Even blood sugar and weight loss can be impacted by poor sleep. Every system of the body needs deep, restful sleep.

That’s why I’m really excited for you to check this out. Go watch that webinar on that page:, look into it, and see what you think. Take in the information, see what you think because I am so excited to bring this to you.

If you have any friends or family, they’re looking for a good bed, please send them to because this information is wonderful, and the bed is absolutely amazing. I’m so impressed with this company. I actually tried a few other “organic mattresses” before coming upon this one. So I took advantage of the other companies’ return policies. All these companies now have return policies. and this one has a 90-day one. I’m 34 days in, you cannot take this mattress away from me. I will not give it back. This is the mattress I will be sleeping on for the rest of my life. That’s how good it is.

I’m really glad that I could share this with you. I know it’s going to make a big difference in everyone’s lives. Enjoy today’s interview. It’s wonderful information about everything we can do to improve sleep, and of course, your mattress is very important. Go to to check out all that great information.


[00:09:59] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 352.

I am very excited to have back on the show, Cathy Cooke. She’s a building biologist and a health coach. She was on our show, Episode 323. It was very interesting. I highly recommend going back and listening to that episode. Today is a continuation because we decided in that first episode we wanted to talk about the importance of sleep and how to create a lifestyle that allows you to have the deepest and restorative healing sleep possible.

So welcome, Cathy, back to the show. It is fantastic to have you here again.


[00:10:51] Cathy Cooke: Thanks so much, Ashley. I had so much fun the first time. I’m super excited to be back.


[00:10:56] Ashley James: Absolutely. I know a lot of listeners reached out. They had questions for you after our first interview. Listeners can go to your website, which is Of course, the links to everything that Cathy Cooke does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at

Cathy has also very graciously offered to give to one lucky listener a free one-hour health coaching consult. We’re going to do that in the Facebook group. After this episode goes live, please join the Learn True Health Facebook group, and we’re going to have a post there for about a week, and everyone can comment what they love learning about today from Cathy in today’s show. And then, we’ll do a random draw, Learn True Health Facebook group and roll the dice, and a lucky listener will get a hook-up with health coach Cathy Cooke.

Let’s dive right in. Since the last episode, the first episode, episode 323, you went into your story and you shared about everything that led to you becoming an expert in not only helping people heal their bodies, but also organizing their environment in a way that’s optimally supportive of their health. We’re going to dive right into this concept of sleep. Did something happen to you in your life that made you want to go down this rabbit hole and learn more about how to correct your sleep or how to help others sleep? What happened that made you want to become an expert in this subject?


[00:12:34] Cathy Cooke: Great question. For the first 30 years of my life, I slept like a champ. I slept actually way too much. At one point, I was actually diagnosed as being narcoleptic. That diagnosis was since rescinded, but I could sleep anywhere, anytime so much. I was falling asleep in class, pretty much every single class from high school and college. It was pretty severe.

And then something happened around the age of 30, and there was a complete shift. It went from this severe narcoleptic-like symptoms to insomnia, and it kind of fascinated me. It was super frustrating, but it was like, “Why would I have this 180 shift from one extreme to the other?” And then for many years, I struggled to sleep through the night and to get restful sound, sleep—the kind of sleep that we need every night.

And so I just went down the rabbit hole of studying everything I could possibly learn about sleep to identify what I was doing wrong, what the underlying issues might be for why I was having these sleeping issues. Fourteen years later, I’ve just learned so much about sleep that I had to put this out there for other people because I know so many people suffer from sleeping issues.


[00:14:19] Ashley James: Absolutely. You just jogged my memory . In high school and college, I really had a hard time staying awake. Even though in college I found every class fascinating—neurology, biology, pathology, anatomy—ugh! I love that stuff. But I could not stay awake, especially later in the day. It didn’t matter how much sleep I got at night, and it took me years to realize that that was because I had an underlying blood sugar problem. I had prediabetes, and it was gearing up to become full-blown type 2 diabetes. But that was my problem. I had no idea that is an early symptom of the blood sugar problems.

[00:15:06] Cathy Cooke: Yeah, that’s a great story. Blood sugar is hugely impactful on sleep, and most people do not ever make that connection. For me, I think that was a very large issue in my first 30 years with sleeping excessively because I was not aware of how to balance your blood sugar. In hindsight looking back, this was in the era of everything needs to be low fat. I was hardly eating any protein. If it said low fat on the box, I was going to eat it.

Clearly, it was getting a lot of sugar because that’s how the low-fat products taste good. They just pump them up with sugar, and I was getting very little nutrients. I wasn’t getting vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients from whole foods, so my body was just exhausted, which sounds was probably a lot like what you experienced.


[00:16:07] Ashley James: Did you fall asleep while you’re driving or talking to people?


[00:16:12] Cathy Cooke: Oh, my gosh. Yes, I hate to admit that. Not necessarily while I was conversing with people, but I had a little system down, and I can’t believe I’m going to admit this to you and your listeners, but I would be at a red light, and I would press my foot really hard on the brake, and I would literally pass out for 20-30 seconds, and then cars would start moving, and I would wake up and drive. It was insane.


[00:16:38] Ashley James: Oh, my Gosh.


[00:16:39] Cathy Cooke: I know. It was horrible.


[00:16:42] Ashley James: Did you ever figure out what caused the narcolepsy? Was it blood sugar? Do you know why you had it?


[00:16:50] Cathy Cooke: It’s interesting because when we talked last time, I had mentioned that I had been bit by a tick when I was 12, and then I had never been the same since. It was probably about a year after. Looking back, I’ve done a lot of hindsight investigating into when all of these symptoms began, and it was about a year after that tick bite that this hypersomnia started.

Looking back, I feel like that bacterial infection that we get from tick bites triggered something in me. I don’t know if it was something along the lines of gene expression or if it was just the bacteria itself or how that happened, but it all started from there. I hear that a lot from people when they’ve had some of these infections that you might get acute symptoms for a little bit, and then nothing happens for several months to a year, and then the chronic symptoms really kick in. And so I think it stemmed from there, but additionally, my diet played a huge role.


[00:18:07] Ashley James: Right. I’ve had several people in the show who have reversed Lyme disease, and they all say that the environment of the body creates this perfect space for the spirochete, that infection from the Lyme, plus the co-infections that tend to come with it. Those co-infections will settle. It’s like a garden that is perfect for weeds, and it’s like the perfect environment that’s set up. You start with one weed, and there’s 10 different varieties of weeds. It’s like the perfect environment for the body to then have all these co-infections. And so like you said, you even though you were bitten by the tick, the environment to your body was undernourished—too much junk food, too much sugar, too much processed food. It was creating a perfect environment for the other parasites to thrive.


[00:19:17] Cathy Cooke: That’s very well said, and I would completely agree. You often have to question why some people get bit by ticks all summer long, and they never have a symptom. Why does one person become affected with all of these symptoms and another person doesn’t? I think you bring up a great point. It’s all about the terrain inside the body. I think that we also want to give consideration to our emotional environment, how is our mental health, because those ACES or adverse childhood events and emotional trauma that we have can really wreck havoc on our internal terrain, and a lot of us don’t make that connection either.


[00:20:08] Ashley James: So all of a sudden it flipped. You went from too much sleep to no sleep or very little sleep. Were you having problems falling asleep or staying asleep or both?


[00:20:21] Cathy Cooke: It was definitely both. It was not consistent. It was kind of all over the place.


[00:20:29] Ashley James: How long were you having sleep deprivation for?


[00:20:33] Cathy Cooke: I’d say that this went on pretty severely for about 10 years.


[00:20:42] Ashley James: Wow.


[00:20:43] Cathy Cooke: Yes, it was a very long time. I’ll just backtrack a little bit. This happened around the time, one, I had just spent a month in Siberia and did some traveling in some underdeveloped countries, so the idea of microbes was heavy in my mind. And two, I started to really jump on some of these health fad, and I started to detox aggressively. I started to juice a lot, and I went on a raw diet. I was actually living in Alaska at the time, which is the silliest thing to do—a raw diet in a cold place like that. So I created the perfect storm of being really aggressive and saying, “I’m going to be the healthiest person in the world and I’m going raw, and I’m going to start juicing.” And then I had horrible, horrible, horrible symptoms of this.

A few months after a lot of these symptoms started, I had a naturopathic doctor look in my mouth, and he was like, “We need to run a heavy metals test on you,” because I had a number of amalgam fillings in my mouth from when I was a child. We ran a heavy metals test and my mercury levels, in his words, they’re the highest he’d ever seen. They were so off the charts. What I believe had happened is I was aggressively trying to clean up my body, and I liberated all of these heavy metals and probably some microbes, and it was too overwhelming for my body to be able to process.

So this is the reason why I always caution people when they want to jump into these colon cleanses or these fasts or whatever aggressive “detoxes” are, you really need to be very cautious and know what you’re doing because if you’re somebody like me who didn’t have any idea what I was doing at the time, and you liberate all of this stuff that the body can’t handle, you can have severe health symptoms like I did, which manifested in 10 years of insomnia, feeling hung over a lot, muscle weakness, and a number of other issues.

But the benefit of this is what I learned, and over the years was able to piece together and I worked with some excellent practitioners who helped me to understand the big picture, and then we could peel the onion back one layer at a time and address all of the underlying issues until I got to the point where I am today, which is significantly better and almost symptom free.


[00:23:50] Ashley James: Right. And this struggle has led you to become a holistic nutritionist and integrative health coach and building biologist. You dedicated your life not only to healing your body, but to healing other people. It’s such a common theme—the best healers in the world suffered for years. That’s what led them down that path.

I would rather see a healer who has been sick than one who cannot relate to me—who’s never been sick. So you have learned so much. You have to put on that detective cap. You have to advocate for yourself and listen to your intuition. There’s so many tools that you need to hone in order to not only heal your body, but then to go on to help others heal

So there you are, 10 years have gone by, what happened? Was there an aha moment? Was there a light bulb? Did you make some changes and noticed that you could sleep perfectly or was there a bunch of things that you had to have fall into place to start to slowly get better sleep?


[00:25:08] Cathy Cooke: Yeah, it was really a process. It was one thing at a time. There are multiple issues that I had to address, including the heavy metals, lyme and addressing or managing the microbial infections, and of course the EMS and the blood sugar balancing and blue light exposure. It was just kind of one thing helped a little bit. And then I learned about another thing, and then I added that in, so it was very cumulative, and it was multiple pieces put together.


[00:25:48] Ashley James: Did you have an Aha moment? Was there any one time when you went, “Oh, my gosh. It’s working. There’s hope.”


[00:25:57] Cathy Cooke: Well, yeah, I would say with each of these issues that I identified, it gave me more and more hope each time. For example, once I learned about blood sugar balancing—oh my gosh—it was dramatically impactful when I started to add in more healthy proteins, and cut back on the processed foods. That was a huge shift, and that piece of it really helped me with the sleep maintenance, with sleeping through the night.

But I still had a lot of issues with falling asleep. I kept hearing about these blue light blocking glasses and this exposure to artificial light at night. I really didn’t understand it, but I bought just a cheap pair of orange safety glasses off of Amazon for $10, and the first night I wore those, I put them on and about five minutes later I was a little dizzy and out of it. And I was like, “Whoa, what’s that about?” I went to bed shortly after, maybe 30 minutes after because I just kind of got tired all of a sudden, and I fell asleep right away. It was like, “Oh, my gosh. That was incredibly impactful.”

There were still times when I wasn’t falling asleep right away. Then I got into the EMS and then I realized, “I’m sitting here watching a show at the end of the day on this couch and my router is plugged in right behind me. That’s probably not a good idea.” And so I unplugged the router, and then I saw even more improvement. My sleep was so bad in the beginning that I made huge improvements with each of these. Each time was like, “Wow, that’s intense. That was so impactful.” And just with each mitigation that I made, the better everything became.


[00:28:05] Ashley James: Very cool. How is your sleep now?


[00:28:08] Cathy Cooke: It’s great. It’s so much better than it’s been before. I do have to take a lot of precautions. Everything with my sleep, it starts the moment I get up till the time that I lay my head down at the end of the day. All of the decisions I’m making through the day in some respect are helping me to optimize my sleep at the end of the day. I have to work hard at it, but it’s fine because those things that I do to ensure that I get better sleep are very important for overall health in a variety of ways. Light exposure first thing in the morning, the blood sugar balancing, stress management, inflammatory foods—everything.


[00:28:57] Ashley James: Can you walk us through your day? Let’s say we just woke up. Do you wake up to an alarm clock or do you let your body wake up naturally? Walk us through your day and explain each thing you do throughout the day to optimize your circadian rhythm and your sleep at night.


[00:29:15] Cathy Cooke: Sure. I wake up naturally, which is definitely what I prefer. There are certainly times when you have to use an alarm clock if you’ve got an early morning meeting or early morning flight or something like that. But I definitely prefer to wake up naturally because when we’re waking up with an alarm clock, if we’re in a certain deep sleep or REM sleep or a certain stage that we’re jolted out of, that can really start our day off on the wrong foot. So I prefer to wake up without an alarm clock, and I usually get up between say 7 and 8 A.M., which is kind of late for some people, but I’ve always been a person that needs about 9-10 hours of sleep, which I wish I didn’t, but that’s just the way my body has always been, and I have to respect that.

So I wake up between seven and eight, and the very first thing I do is drink a lot of water, drink some lemon water. If I’m taking supplements at the time, I take my supplements, and then I put my shoes on and head outside.


[00:30:28] Ashley James: So let’s back it up. Why drink lemon water first thing in the morning?


[00:30:32] Cathy Cooke: Great question. I like the lemon water first thing in the morning, one reason is it can stimulate the liver a little bit so it can help to detoxify some of what’s happened in the middle of the night because your liver is very active in the middle of the night. That’s where it does a lot of its detoxification. And then the lemon water also helps to stimulate stomach acid and prepares you for digestion for the rest of the day. And it’s a little bit alkalinizing as well, which can be helpful for some of us.


[00:31:04] Ashley James: Some people can’t tolerate lemon water first thing in the morning. Would you suggest that they try sipping vinegar or like an apple cider vinegar instead mixed with a little water?


[00:31:15] Cathy Cooke: Sure. That would be fine. I have to be honest, there’s not a plethora of science backing up that lemon water or apple cider vinegar is the best thing in the world for us. There’s a little bit, but I do it mostly because I like the flavor, and I like stimulating that digestion. It’s not something that everybody necessarily has to do, but if you want a little extra of a boost, apple cider vinegar could be fine. Even a bit of orange essence from an orange peelm I find to be really nice. You can infuse your water with lemon rinds or orange rinds, basil, mint—that kind of thing. That can be really helpful. Sometimes the flavor of those things will encourage you to drink more water, which is important in the morning because we haven’t had any liquids for eight hours, so we can tend to be a little bit dehydrated in the morning.


[00:32:22] Ashley James: The number one thing is to get some hydration. I have heard that some people really resonate with a pinch of Himalayan sea salt in their water. Some people prefer room temperature or even slightly warm water as opposed to drinking cold water first thing in the morning.

So we have to play with it, dial it in. But the most important thing is that we’re getting that hydration first thing in the morning, so getting 8-16 ounces. I drink about 20 ounces first thing in the morning, so depending on your needs. I notice I’m definitely thirsty first thing in the morning.

It’s priming the pump. When we drink water first thing in the morning, we tend to drink more throughout the day and continue the hydration. Especially a lot of people go for the caffeine in the morning, which dehydrate us. We want to get on top of the hydration before we start pumping ourselves full of coffee.


[00:33:24] Cathy Cooke: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a great tip about the salt, too. I actually do that exact thing. I use Celtic Sea salt for the minerals, and put a little of that in my water for a variety of reasons, and the electrolyte balances great.


[00:33:40] Ashley James: There’s a big fad right now with juicing celery first thing in the morning. That contains some electrolytes. People could use some celery if they want it, but the whole point is get the water in, and you’ll get the hydration.

So you get some water and some lemon water in you, you throw on your sneakers, and you go outside. Why are you doing that first thing in the morning especially if it’s cold?


[00:34:03] Cathy Cooke: A number of reasons. The most important for me is that sunlight exposure first thing in the morning. When we get sunlight on our eyeballs and on our skin, our circadian rhythm is taking a really important cue that it’s morning. That helps to train our circadian rhythm over the course of the day of what time it is—”My cortisol should be high right now. I should be circulating my blood. I should be moving. I’m getting energetic to prepare for the day.” It’s just a important cue to our body to set our circadian rhythm for the rest of the day. So getting that sunlight exposure, even if it’s cloudy, the sunlight that you’re getting even through the clouds is still very impactful.

Even when it’s cold, even when it’s raining, snowing, I go out pretty much no matter what. If it’s a torrential downpour, I might not, but even if it’s very cold, that cold weather exposure is actually really good for us. Humans aren’t supposed to be in 72 degrees, 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. We’re not meant to be comfortable all the time. Our body actually wants these cues that it’s really hot or it’s really cold because that’s information for us about what time of day it is, about what time of year it is. Our DNA really thrives on having this information so that it knows where it’s at in space, and where it’s at in the time of day and the time of year.

So that cold exposure—because we’re in March, it’s still pretty cold here in Idaho—it’s actually very invigorating to me in the morning. And then the movement that I’m getting just from walking, that circulation, the lymph flow, just getting energetic and I’m prepared for the day, it’s all very important.


[00:36:17] Ashley James: I’ve also heard that when direct sunlight—I mean not staring at the sun, but sunlight and you’re outside. You can’t get this if you’re just looking out your window, if you’re in your car looking out the window. You actually have to be outside with sunlight and it can be through clouds. But when you’re outside in the sunlight in the morning, it burns off the melatonin through the circulation in your eyeballs. I’ve heard that’s how the body is burning off the rest of the melatonin. That’s why we feel so awake and perky after a few minutes outside first thing in the morning.


[00:37:06] Cathy Cooke: Interesting. I don’t know specifically what the mechanism is there. But it definitely makes a lot of sense because as our hormones shift through the night, melatonin is highest at night of course, and then we see it decline, and so it should be very low in the morning. Where’s the opposite curve with our cortisol? It should be very low at night, and then it rises first thing in the morning. So that makes a lot of sense, and the cortisol, of course, is very energizing.


[00:37:39] Ashley James: So there you are, you spend a few minutes outside after your hydration. Now what do you do?


[00:37:47] Cathy Cooke: After that, it depends on my schedule for the day. Generally, I like to block out between 30 minutes to an hour after a brief morning walk to do some kind of movement. That’s usually yoga. It could be some kind of cardiovascular or weightlifting, but yoga is my preferred method because you can get a big cardiovascular workout from yoga as well as strength training.

But I like the mindfulness piece of yoga, and I like that, while I’m getting a good workout often with the yoga routine that I choose, I’m also getting the mindfulness piece. So that helps me to set my day off with good intentions and in a good mental health capacity.

Sometimes it’s not vigorous. Sometimes it’s like, “Ugh, I’m exhausted today.” It just turns out to be more of a relaxing, stretching routine and that’s just fine. But anything that I can do to move my body and prepare my mind for the workday. Sometimes I don’t have time for that, but that’s preferred. And then after I get some movement in, I jump right into the workday.


[00:39:10] Ashley James: What about breakfast? How important is your breakfast for your sleep?


[00:39:14] Cathy Cooke: It’s interesting. We’ve talked a lot about blood sugar balancing already, and what I have found is that if I have to get out of the house, go to work right away, or I’ve got a really intensive day as far as my mental capacity—I have to use a lot of brain power—that eating first thing in the morning is helpful for me. But when I’m working from home and I don’t need quite as much energy in that regard, I find that intermittent fasting works much better.

And so it’s something that I’ve played with over the years, and certain times of the year might be different than other times, so it’s not a hard and fast rule for me. But I would say over the last six months, I probably don’t eat breakfast. I have maybe some warm herbal teas, or I’ll have more lemon water. But I’m usually eating about 12 or 1:00 PM for my first meal of the day. And that works really well for me right now. It changes. Sometimes it doesn’t. But that seems to be where my blood sugar really likes that.


[00:40:27] Ashley James: So you’re listening to your body. I think a lot of people do intermittent fasting without really listening to their body, and the one pitfall that people can get tripped up by is that if they skip breakfast, they’ll eat a second dinner late at night. We have to remember that intermittent fasting is not just skipping breakfast, it’s also narrowing the eating window.

If we’re going to eat our first meal around 11 or noon, then we need to make sure that we eat our last meal around six or seven and eight at the very latest, but that’s getting too late because we want to be on an empty stomach going to bed, and a lot of people overeat before going to bed, and so they’re not sleeping and healing throughout the night. They’re digesting throughout the night.


[00:41:22] Cathy Cooke: Yeah, that’s a good point.


[00:41:23] Ashley James: I thought it was really fascinating to find out that 30% of our energy goes towards digesting. So if we’re doing that in our sleep, we’re not restoring. We’re not healing, and we’re not going to feel revitalized the next day. Also, we don’t really need calories at night. Our body can use up the stores in the liver and in the muscles or the energy stores. We don’t really need to consume calories. So the calories that we consume late at night will end up getting processed and stored as fat cause we’re not exercising in our sleep.

So that’s a big problem that we have is that people will skip breakfast because they’ve heard intermittent fasting is good, or they just drink a coffee and they skip breakfast because they have created a bad habit. But then they’ll eat most of their calories after the sun has set.


[00:42:14] Cathy Cooke: That’s a really good consideration. I’m glad you brought that up. That’s one of the reasons why I mentioned it, that this is what’s working for me right now. It doesn’t always work for me, and it’s definitely not for everybody. I would say in my experience, the more thyroid and adrenal issues that you might have, the harder it is for someone to be effective with intermittent fasting. And you’re absolutely right—I see that exact thing happening where somebody skips breakfast and then they just overdo it the rest of the day.

You really got to pay attention to, is this something that seems manageable and seems intuitively okay for the habits that come out the rest of the day for you? So yeah, it’s really important to monitor what’s happening in your body.


[00:43:10] Ashley James: Because you have found that creating healthy blood sugar, optimizing healthy blood sugar is so important for sleep. Can you give some examples of what you eat for lunch?


[00:43:23] Cathy Cooke: Sure. I like to consider Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine principles, which means that I try to eat with the seasons. So what I eat for my first meal of the day or any meal will often vary by the seasons. So right now it’s March, and pretty soon we’re going to start having things like sprouts and young vegetables and real bitter foods that are going to prepare us for springtime and kind of that shedding of the extra weight or the heaviness that we’ve carried through the winter, which provided warmth and installation for us.

We’re coming into the time where we’re going to start shutting that. So I’ve been adding a little bit of greens and a little bit of sprouts into my meals. But I don’t go real heavy on the raw vegetables because I find that my digestion isn’t really strong enough for a lot of raw foods. Like today, I had a couple of pasture-based eggs, which are excellent, and I had a little bit of pasture-based bacon, which I understand is not for everybody, and I don’t do that often, but that just happened to be what I had today. And then I had some big squash with that and a little bit of some of these micro greens and sprouts that I had mentioned. So that was my meal for today.


[00:45:02] Ashley James: Yummy. Since we’re sharing our meals, I had a quinoa with a vegetable stew that I made with my husband. We took every vegetable known to man and we put it through our veggie bullet food processor to basically make it shaved. So make little shavings of carrot, beet, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, celery, kale and red peppers. So we just basically picked every vegetable, everything we had in the fridge, and we made a big pot of it, and just a little bit of water because so much water gets released from the vegetables as we simmered it. And then we added a bunch of different kinds of beans, and we added some chili spices. We made a huge batch of it, and it’s been feeding us for days, but we recently added a bunch of quinoa to it, so it came out like a delicious stew, and it’s plant based and affordable. It’s all organic, and it tastes amazing.

It’s really funny. When we get into the kitchen, my husband and I, we make some recipes together. We always say, “Why do we ever eat out?” We’re always disappointed. We overpay. We’re disappointed because of the food contamination because we have so many allergies in our house that it’s like a Russian roulette. Our son is allergic to garlic. Try to go to a restaurant and not have garlic on something. My husband is vegan. We’re allergic to dairy, wheat and eggs.

And so when we do go out, it is definitely Russian roulette, but we’re always disappointed. We ended up more and more and more cooking at home, but doing these large batches of food, so that we can eat it for days. People say, “Isn’t that boring, eating the same thing?” And I tell you, it tastes different every day because it’s marinating. And so every time we heat it up, sometimes we’ll add other stuff to it, but we’ve just made this giant pot, and it’s lasted almost a week. We even brought over a bunch to a friend’s house yesterday cause she’s feeling sick.

It’s just one of those things where you can eat super healthy on a budget and save a lot of time. You just have to find the right recipes. But what I love about what we ate, even though there wasn’t any meat in it, it was still very high in plant-based protein because of the beans and the quinoa, and all the carbs that were in it were low-glycemic, and so it doesn’t create a blood sugar spike. So those are two examples—your example and my example of some blood sugar responsible meals that we can have for lunch.

So what happens the rest of the day? What other habits have you created to support healthy sleep?


[00:48:16] Cathy Cooke: I’m working the rest of the day usually. So my EMF environment is a big piece of this. I’m fortunate in that I work from home, so I don’t have to have WiFi or other people’s cell phones or Bluetooth or whatever it is out in thec world that is going to impact me. My computer is plugged in via an ethernet. My phone is off. And it’s a very low EMF environment in my home.

I do notice that, in the past, when I’ve been working for people and I’m working in an office environment or in a building, that my sleep does suffer because you can’t go anywhere without the building having WiFi and multiple people having their phones. It’s everywhere.

The choice for me to work on my own has been partly because of that, so that I can avoid all of that EMF exposure that I would get working for somebody else in a group setting. So I’m at home and my EMF environment is very low. While I am working, I make sure to move often. I mentioned that I do exercise earlier in the day, but I also try to make sure that I get little spurts of exercise during the rest of the day, and that’s usually between 5-10 minutes. Keeping the circulation going, keeping the lymph moving because people don’t realize that our lymph has no pump. If we don’t move, our lymph doesn’t move.

So keeping the circulation and the lymph movement going throughout the day is really important, and also getting outside. So even though I get sun exposure first thing in the morning, really human beings are meant to be outside 24 hours a day. So I try to go outside at least three times a day, preferably more. But just so I get the different intensity of sunlight because again, the bright light in the morning versus the light at noon versus the light in the evening, they’re all different. They’re different intensities. They’re different colors. And those are all cues, again, to our circadian rhythm about where we are in the day. So getting outside throughout the workday, moving throughout the workday is also very important to me.


[00:51:03] Ashley James: I want to go back to the low EMF discussion. For those who didn’t listen to your Episode 323, why does EMF impact sleep?


[00:51:18] Cathy Cooke: Great question. What we know about EMF—that stands for electromagnetic fields. So this is the radiation that we’re getting from our wireless devices, as well as the wiring in our walls, as well as our electronics that have motors, and all of this stuff is putting off electricity in a certain form.

So what we know from the science is that the EMF affect our voltage gated calcium channels. So that means that our body is electric, our body works off of electric signaling, and that’s why we have electrolytes. Hence the name–e electrolytes. It helps signals within our cells communicate with each other. So our voltage gated calcium channels, this means that our cells are not supposed to have a lot of calcium inside the cell. It’s supposed to be on the outside.

And when we get exposure to these frequencies from EMFs that are different than our bodies— our bodies usually run on 60 hertz—and all these other frequencies are just all over the place, way different magnitudes than our own bodies. So this electrical interference is very confusing to the body. We have found through a lot of scientific research that the calcium channels are opened because they work on voltage. They’re opened and calcium can flood into the cell. And when calcium floods into the cell, we get reactive oxygen species, which you can consider as oxidative stress. And that oxidative stress, as you probably know, Ashley, is the beginning of any chronic health symptom or a health condition that you can name. I mean all of our modern health conditions can stem from this kind of oxidative stress because it can manifest in many, many different ways.

So what symptoms do we see from that? All of the symptoms that I mentioned earlier, and then we’ve got this whole nervous system disruption happening. And when you think about the body being compromised on the nervous system, clearly that’s not setting up a stage for rest for our body. Our nervous system is overburdened, the communication is all confused, neurotransmitters are affected. The brain doesn’t know—is it day? Is it night, what’s going on? And it just doesn’t set an environment for the body to be able to rest and to calm down.


[00:54:12] Ashley James: Very interesting, and interesting that you noticed a difference between when you’re in office buildings versus in your own home, which you being a building biologist, that’s a service you offer. You teach people in their offices and in their homes, how to lower exposure to things that are harming them such as EMFs.

Ty Bollinger, the creator of the Truth About Cancer and the Truth About Vaccines, he was on my show and he said that he was in New York City to be on—I can’t remember what TV show—CNN or something big like that. He couldn’t sleep that night, and it was almost painful. He’s used to living out like you—low EMF. He’s not surrounded by it. And when you are in a major city and you turn on the WiFi and your cell phone or your laptop and you see all the routers that you’re be exposed to, you’re being exposed to sometimes 200 different WiFi signals.

And he said he could feel it. He couldn’t sleep that night. It just bombarded his cells. He really, really could tell the difference. And then there’s a specialist here, a doctor local to me, I’ve had him on the show, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, he’s world renowned for helping people to reverse these mystery diseases, and he’s really good at helping to reverse autism.

The first thing he does with children of autism is he has the parents completely remove the child from all WiFi because he sees that it damages their brains because he sees that the those with autism have trouble detoxing. There’s heavy metal accumulation in their nervous tissue, and the heavy metals inside the brain will vibrate at the 60 hertz from the exposure to the WiFi signal, for example, and to other EMFs.

And so he has them immediately changed their environment to be incredibly low EMF and then start them on a very gentle detox. He gets incredible results. He’s had people go from nonverbal to be able to go to college. That level of shift because we’re just supporting the body’s ability to heal itself, to detox correctly, safely, efficiently again, nutrify the body again, nitrify the cells.

Now you brought up lymph, and this is I think a really important topic. I don’t want to pass up an opportunity for those to learn about it. So you mentioned that the lymph system doesn’t have a pump, but people may not know what the lymph system is. So can you explain the absolute importance of what is lymph, why is it really important to move your body in order to make lymph flow through the body?


[00:57:29] Cathy Cooke: Good question. The lymph system is essentially the network of tissues in the body that help rid the body of toxins and waste or unwanted materials. We’ve got lymph everywhere, all throughout the body. Think of the blood vessels throughout your body, and it’s everywhere, and so is the lymph.

Oftentimes people think of lympth being kind of in their neck because when you get sick and you’ve got a sore throat, your lymph nodes in your neck will kind of get swollen. And that’s a really tangible way to think about what’s happening there because the immune system is being activated there to help the lymph get rid of what it doesn’t want, which is in this case, the microbes or whatever it is that’s making you sick.

So that lymph system, the importance there, we want to remove the accumulated waste. Unlike the heart, which pumps and pumps blood all throughout the body, that lymph will essentially just sit there unless we contract our muscles throughout the day. So muscle movement and circulation are what helps the lymph to actually move, and we can actually do this manually too. You can go to a massage therapist who specializes in lymph drainage or lymph massage, and it’s basically gentle touches throughout the body to encourage the lymph to move. Exercise, of course, is going to be the most accessible way that we get lymph movement throughout the day.

But it’s really important because people who are not moving a lot or not exercising, or even if they exercise once in the morning and then they sit for the rest of the day, while you may have exercise in the morning, but that sitting for the next 10 hours that you do is not good. You’re not getting lymph movement and you’re not getting circulation, so things just kind of become stagnant. Of course, that’s not what we want. We want movement, circulation and drainage happening.


[00:59:55] Ashley James: I like to illustrate the lymph system as I think about the individual cell as a water balloon. So individual cells are enclosed and they have their own system going on, and they have all these amazing processes happening inside the cell, and they’re making waste like a car. It’s making exhaust. It has all this waste it needs to get rid of, and we need to get rid of the waste in order to bring in more nutrition, so the cell can continue being healthy.

And so the cell poops out the waste, and some waste is pooped out into the lymph fluid that bathes each cell. Some of our waste does get carried away by the venous blood flow. But a lot of this waste is pooped out from the cell into the lymph, and it’ll just sit there. All this waste, this junk, this material, possible pathogens like mold and bacteria and viruses is just sitting there and stagnating around, surrounding our swamp water, surrounding our 37.2 trillion cells in our body.

And the only thing that’s going to make that lymph fluid move back into the liver, because it all collects and come back up and flows back into the liver for the liver to process, for the body to filter and process, it will only move when we move or deep breathe. Deep breathing is really good for moving lymph as well because it creates this negative cavity in the chest and that pulls it up.

But like you said, someone who’s sick could just do range of motion exercises where they’re just bending their ankles, bending their toes, bending their knees. Because every time we bend any appendage, any joint, the second we bend it to its full extent, then bend it back, you are pumping the lymph because all the lymph nodes are surrounding each joint.

It’s really amazing. When you start to study how the body was created, there’s such intelligence behind it. It really fascinates me that they have the religious people on one sidem and we have the scientists on the other. One says there’s no god. The other one says there is God.

When you start to study the body, it is so complex and so brilliant, and it makes so much sense when you start to understand how the body works. You start to see there’s this world that we don’t understand where we came from. We have ideas. We can all argue about where we came from, but we can all agree that the body is amazing and brilliant, and there’s so much intelligence.

And so if we can just support the body by coming back to nature, like when you said, “Get up and move your body. We were never meant to sit at a chair.” In fact, we really didn’t have chairs growing up as cavemen or whatever. We would squat. We used to be able to squat all the time, and we would move. Our bodies are just meant to move often. The more that we sit at our desks, the more we’re developing problems with our neck like stenosis. We’re having these chronic conditions come up from lack of movement, which is really interesting that we’re developing. It’s purely from lifestyle.

So you’re saying, “Get up, maybe set a timer or have a routine.” If you drink enough water, you’ll need to pee throughout the day. So there’s get up and do some movement. But do you have any suggestions? Let’s say someone has a desk job, but they have the freedom to get up. They’re not chained to their desks like a factory where they have to stay there, but they can get up and move around. Do you have any suggestions for how do we create this habit or when we do get up to go pee and grab a glass of water, do you have some suggestions where we can do for a few minutes just to maximize that movement before we clear the cobwebs and then go back to work?


[01:04:26] Cathy Cooke: Sure. I think that the motivation is going to be different for everyone. I find that for some people, setting an alarm works well. There are several apps that you can download, and there are numerous ones. I don’t have a favorite one to recommend, but they’d be worth looking into and playing with, but different apps that will remind you to get up every 45 minutes or every hour or 20 minutes or whatever it is that works for you. And then they can prompt you to do a different exercise. Say you have to get up and do 10 push-ups or 20 squats or 20 jumping jacks or whatever it is.

I find that people find that really helpful or it’s just, “Okay, I’ve been sitting for an hour, I have to go outside for 10 minutes.” There’s a number of different ways to do this. I found that there’s not one recommendation that works for everybody because some people don’t want to go outside, or they don’t want to do push-ups, or they’re better off with, “At 10 o’clock, I get up and go visit my co-worker who’s down the hall or on the second floor.”

I think people just have to be creative and identify what works best for them and then stick to it, of course. That’s where I find that the apps help a lot because the apps are an outside influence to say, “Hey, you got to stop. You got to do this now.” We just have to take accountability for our actions and actually do it.


[01:06:10] Ashley James: For those who say, “Oh, I just don’t have time to take all this free time out of my work,” my counter to that is that we find that when people do take breaks, even just five minutes every hour to stretch, breathe, move, drink more water, and then get back to it, that break cleared the cobwebs, and now you’re even more efficient at work for the next hour. You’re moral alert, more awake.

Because when we’re in stress mode, our body shunts blood away from logic centers of the brain, and we really end up in this brain fog where we don’t have the full access to our cognitive abilities. Taking those breaks throughout the day are going to re-energize us, restore us, boost our immune system, help us with sleep at night, help us to move the sludge out of our body and detoxify, and then come back empowered to be more efficient at work.


[01:07:10] Cathy Cooke: Great point. I find that you make less mistakes too, so you spend less time in the future going back and fixing your mistakes. I also wanted to mention another one that I just thought of. Have you ever heard of the website called Fitness Blender?


[01:07:26] Ashley James: No, I don’t think I have.


[01:07:29] Cathy Cooke: It’s fantastic. This is something that I recommend to almost all the clients I work with. Fitness Blender is a website by a younger, married couple that it’s just all about fitness, and they’ve got something like over 400 exercise videos and they’re totally free. You can choose anywhere from like four minutes to over an hour. You can narrow down your search. So you say, I’ve got four minutes, I want to do cardio, or I want to do strength training or I want to do stretching. You plug that in, and all the videos come up that meet that criteria.


[01:08:07] Ashley James: Very cool.


[01:08:09] Cathy Cooke: It’s really cool. I find that it’s really effective for that person that’s like, “I don’t have time to work out. I can’t do it.” It’s like, “Okay, got four minutes to do this exercise, and you can do it right in your office.” They don’t take up a lot of space. They are designed just for this purpose—for somebody that’s busy and just needs to get something really quick. I have found huge benefits for people doing this throughout the day because again, everything we just talked about, that lymph movement, that oxygenation, moving your joints around, becoming more productive. So that’s another great tip for people.


[01:08:46] Ashley James: Awesome. So you work in a low EMF environment, and you move your body throughout the day. Now it is getting close to when you go outside throughout the day, at least a few times during the day, so that your eyeballs get sunlight filtering through, so you get that signal to your brain, hey, it’s now later in the day, so the brain starts lowering the cortisol, getting ready to make some melatonin. So now you’re coming up towards dinner. What health habits do you have in the late afternoon/evening for improving sleep?


[01:09:22] Cathy Cooke: Late afternoon/evening, I start to consider toning back the liquids a little bit. One, I don’t like to have a lot of fluids in me when I’m eating my meals because I find that it really dilutes your stomach acid quite a bit. I noticed that significantly, so I try to not eat or not drink anything at least about a half an hour before I’m going to eat, especially dinner, because it just really affects my digestion.

As well as we’re starting to get to the time where if you’re drinking liquids later in the evening, you could get up in the middle of the night to have to pee, and we don’t want that to happen either. Of course, I don’t actually drink any caffeine. My body just does not like it. It does not metabolize it well. But for people that do drink caffeine, be it coffee or tea or, God forbid, sodas or whatever it is. We’re hoping that you stop that before noon or at least earlier in the day, especially if you’re someone that has sleeping issues. You really need to be careful about the caffeine intake, and you also need to consider things like cocoa that have naturally occurring caffeine.

So having chocolate later in the day, I try not to do because that little bit of caffeine can keep me up. And then when I’m making the choice of what to eat for dinner—we’ve talked a lot about blood sugar, and I have found over the past year, so I’ve really been toying with if I reduce my protein intake in the evening and increase some of my complex carbohydrates, how does that impact my sleep? I have found that it improves my sleep, that if I keep the protein, specifically if I’m doing things like animal products, if I keep them to the earlier meal of the day and focus more on a plant based meal or plant based protein in the evening, that actually helps me. I found that to actually be the case for a lot of people.

All of the amino acids in the protein can actually be a little bit too stimulating for us at night, and the carbohydrates for that serotonin is effective and important for sleep. It’s not going to be for everybody, but I found a significant amount of people actually do benefit from being a bit cognizant of that. Choosing what I have for my dinner is going to impact that quite a bit. So if I was going to go out and have a big steak for dinner, it’s almost always that I’m not going to have good deep sleep that night. So that’s a consideration.

Of course, keeping in mind foods that are inflammatory in and of themselves. As a nutritionist, I’m not eating a lot of processed foods. I’m sure you’re not either. But some of your listeners might be saying, “Oh, well, if I have a little pasta, what’s that going to hurt, or if I throw a little cheese on that pasta? It’s just a little bit, it’s not going to be that big of a deal.”

But if you’re somebody that has an inflammatory response to wheat or to dairy or whatever the food is, you got to be cognizant of that, and be kind to your body. You got to remember that that bite of cheese or that pasta lasts about 20 seconds, and then you’re up the rest of the night. Is that really worth it? It wouldn’t be worth it to me.

So keeping in your mind about what those trigger foods are for you or what those foods that are inflammatory are for you—all processed, packaged foods are going to be inflammatory for everybody, so we need to reduce that. We need to consider a whole food diet especially in the evening. Keep in mind what those trigger foods are for you, and keep it a whole food based approach. That’s kind of what dinner and late evening looks like.


[01:13:56] Ashley James: Very cool. My husband, when I met him and he’s originally from Seattle, which is like the caffeine capitol of the world, and he would brag that he could drink a venti coffee and fall asleep. Now I have always been sensitive to caffeine, so if I drink caffeine past 1:00 PM, I am up all night. It just wrecks me.

And so it really surprised me that he would opt to drink coffee at night, or do you know if you watch those TV shows where they’re getting together for coffee, and I’m like, “What are you doing? Who does that? Who drinks coffee at night?” Or someone’s like, “Let’s have some tea,” and you know, it’s black tea, and you’re just like,”What’s going on? In what world do people caffeinate at night? This is crazy.”

But, yeah, sure enough he can drink a venti and fall asleep. Now we’re coming up on our 11 years together, and we’ve discovered in the last year through playing with cutting out coffee, which was something very big for someone from Seattle to do, that he used to wake up about four or five in the morning, very early in the morning, regardless of whether he went to bed at 10 or one in the morning. He would always wake up, and he rarely could go back to sleep. And so he would just start his day that way with some more coffee.

But when he took coffee out of his life, he was sleeping in. For him, sleeping in is like, “Oh, my gosh!” The sun has risen, it’s seven in the morning, and he would roll over and be well rested—he couldn’t believe it. I did some digging and discovered that caffeine has a half-life that lasts about 18 hours. It’ll stay in our body for that long. And for some people it doesn’t affect them falling asleep. Like he said, he never really felt energized from coffee, whereas I get very jittery and very energized. He didn’t really feel like a lot of energy from it.

But what it does for some people is it disrupts them on the other end of sleep. So it disrupts them from falling into the second wave of deep sleep, and it disrupts them late at night or really early in the morning, and so they’ll wake up. Some people can fall asleep with caffeine in their system, but it will make them have a lot later sleep that’s less restorative, and then they’ll wake up earlier feeling not 100% restored.

It was bad. It took him over a week. It felt like about two weeks to be able to get coffee out of his system. He had caffeine headaches for days because if you’ve been on caffeine for many years and then you get off of it, suddenly it actually inflames the blood vessels in the brain. So you feel almost like a migraine. Caffeine headaches are pretty severe, and so it’s best to slowly reduce the coffee down over time, and then wean yourself off of it.

But he was hardcore. He just said, “Okay, that’s it. Let’s try it without.” And so that was very interesting that he now can get very deep, healing, restorative sleep because he doesn’t drink coffee throughout the day. For me, that chocolate thing, if I had even one piece of chocolate at night, I would notice that my sleep was disrupted. That’s really frustrating because I eat organic vegan Stevia sweetened, no sugar added chocolate. It seems to be the healthiest dark chocolate in the world, but it’s still very stimulating.

Alcohol is another thing. I’ve had an HPATH on the show share that there’s a way in which you can monitor your body’s stress levels called heart rate variability, and they find that when you even drink one serving of alcohol, for 24 hours, our stress levels are heightened. Our body is in a state of stress for 24 hours after even consuming just one alcoholic beverage. Some people think that they need to unwind and drink alcohol to help them sleep, but it in fact severely disrupts their sleep.

So alcohol, chocolate, sugar, caffeine. Another thing which I found really interesting—an old school naturopath taught me that white rice consumed after noon or in the evenings can cause nightmares.


[01:18:55] Cathy Cooke: Interesting.


[01:18:57] Ashley James: Yeah. So really being responsible for choosing the glycemic-friendly foods. If you’re going to eat starches, like if you’re going to eat rice, make sure it’s brown rice, for example. It has more fiber. It breaks down slower in the body. Choosing the least amount of processed things possible because the second you process something into a flour to make pasta, for example, you’re removing fiber and thus it converts quickly to sugar.

I like that you talked about eating those complex carbs in the evening to help with the serotonin. Some people find that if they eat some sweet potato, for example, in the evening it helps them sleep. And some people find that if they eat some scrambled eggs as an evening snack, like one or two scrambled eggs, that the fat and the protein helped them sleep. So you have to play around and figure out which one is going to be more supportive for you.

[01:20:03] Cathy Cooke: Right. That’s why it’s really hard to make blanket recommendations across the board because everybody responds differently. For me, adding protein into my diet when I was a hypersomniac back in the day was very, very helpful to help me be more energized. But I also went to the extreme end and was just eating protein all the time and found that that wasn’t helpful either.

It’s going take a lot of trial and error for everybody individually to find out what the best macro nutrient balance is. I often do suggest that people get a blood sugar monitor for themselves, and oftentimes your doctor will give you one for free because the strips are actually what’s so expensive, as you probably know. That’s where they get you. But you can get a blood sugar monitor, and then use it for a couple of weeks just to get a sense of how your body is responding to different foods in different macronutrient combinations. It can be really insightful. Something that you’ve been doing forever, like a piece of chicken and some broccoli and some rice at dinner, checking your blood sugar 30 minutes, an hour, two hours afterwards to see what kind of fluctuations you get will really help you dial in the certain foods that work for you and the certain macronutrient combinations that are going to be the best for you regarding sleep and everything else, too.


[01:21:42] Ashley James: And that’s why hiring a health coach like yourself or like me helps people. Because sometimes this is too much. Like, “Oh, my gosh. You want me to figure out the way food combinations are going to support my sleep and my blood sugar?” If you talk to a health coach, especially if it’s so overwhelming, they help you to bring it back down into something that’s manageable and fun and easy to make these little adjustments over time, so that you can really see big results.

I interviewed Dr. William Davis, the author of Wheat Belly—that was Episode 167, highly recommend listening to it. He’s a cardiologist that reverses heart disease naturally with diet and some supplementation and lifestyle, and that’s his suggestion as well, exactly what you said. He said 100% of the population should own a glucometer, we should take this out of this idea that only diabetics need one—everyone needs one because if we could monitor ourselves like an hour or two hours after eating each meal, we could see how our body is responding to that meal. “Oh, wow. I really am not responding well to that gluten-free pizza. Maybe that shouldn’t be something that I eat on a regular basis,” or “Oh, wow. I can’t believe how well I’m responding to those sweet potatoes and baked beans.”

So you play around with it, but it’s in addition to how you’re feeling. That’s why we want to create a food mood journal and see “How was my sleep? How am I feeling?” But then getting some tests and something that you can do at home that allows you outside of yourself to go, “Wow, this is really affirming how I’m feeling about these meals.” I think that sometimes we talk ourselves or we stop listening to our bodies if we really want to keep the caffeine or alcohol or sugar. Like, “I really like that chocolate fudge sundae.” And we justify it like you said—“Oh, it’s just a little bit of cheese and pasta. It doesn’t really matter.”

But then our sleep keeps suffering. And if we use a glucometer to see how we’re doing, then it’ll really be that great reality check that allows us to go, “You know what, I’m not going to make excuses anymore because my sleep is more important than that 30 seconds of the food in my mouth.”

And then another great thing you can do with the glucometer is if you have a disrupted sleep in the middle of the night, take your blood sugar in the middle night and see what’s going on because some people have really low blood sugar or really high blood sugar, which on both ends can wake us up in the middle of the night.

Taking blood sugar right before bed, in the middle night if we do wake up, and first thing in the morning really allows us to get that great picture of what’s going on beause we might discover we have an underlying blood sugar problem that we can catch really early on and then correct before it manifests as a disease.


[01:24:48] Cathy Cooke: Great points. I totally agree. And I oftentimes, with somebody who’s got some really severe sleeping problems and they’re waking up in the middle of the night, I suggest that they often will have a snack right by their bed so that they can eat that in the middle of the night. Of course that sounds maybe counter intuitive. We shouldn’t be eating in the middle of the night, and we shouldn’t have to eat in the middle of the night. But until we can, peel back all those layers of the onion and address each underlying issue. You might just need some band-aids right now, and that’s okay. We want you to sleep through the night.

In my work, what I do with clients, sleep is number one. You can have hormonal issues. You can have diabetes. You can have lupus. You can have whatever it is. But we have to get you sleeping before anything else can happen, before anything else can start to repair in the body, because if you’re not sleeping, the body is going to be unable to address everything else that’s happening.

So in the meantime, when somebody is having some chronic sleep issues, they might have to have a little bit of snack in the middle of the night. That might mean a little bit of collagen and a tiny bit of diluted orange juice or a handful of nuts—there’s many different options. To have that available so that somebody can fall back asleep when they’re having that blood sugar crash, and then over time, we are addressing all the rest of the issues, so that we don’t need that anymore.


[01:26:31] Ashley James: Brilliant. I love it. During my pregnancy, my naturopath said I needed to eat some protein in the middle of the night, and that did seem to help, so I like it. We need to figure out what’s going on right now and then address it, and know that in the long term, we’re going to get ourselves back to a place where we won’t need it anymore.

That’s the thing with these broad health statements—never go to bed on a full stomach, or never eat food before bed. I know a naturopath that says people with blood sugar issues should eat some scrambled eggs right before bed. That really helps some people, but some people, it doesn’t. So we have to experiment. That’s where working with someone like you comes in, where we can experiment, but at the same time bring the science and the experience.

So it’s the evening time for you. You’ve eaten a meal that’s more plant-based, more complex carbohydrates, that you choose not to have the animal protein because you find that that works best for you. When do you put on your blue blocking glasses?


[01:27:46] Cathy Cooke: Great question. Perfect segue. When the sun goes down, they’re usually on, but of course, that’s going to depend on where you live. I used to live in Alaska and that wouldn’t work because it’s 24 hours of daylight during the summer, and the sun goes down at about 4:00 PM in the winter.

So typically, if we live in more southern latitudes, it’s a good rule of thumb to have the bluelight blocking glasses on when the sun goes down. Otherwise we say about two hours before you want to be asleep is a good rule of thumb. There are more research happening out there about just filtering the bluelight from any of our artificial lighting, any of our light bulbs whatsoever, or our screens because this is what we call junk light.

It’s just like junk food. It’s junk light. It’s predominantly blue. It’s not the full spectrum that we get from the sun. This does have a lot of impact on our mitochondria, which can result in a number of health symptoms. Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Jack Kruse?


[01:29:01] Ashley James: I am not.  


[01:29:02] Cathy Cooke: Fascinating individual. He’s a neurosurgeon. He’s heavily into light, bluelight, and EMF exposure. That could be a good resource for your listeners to check out. He can be very overwhelming because, of course, he’s a neurosurgeon, and some of the terminology he uses can be really daunting and over your head. But he’s done a significant amount of research into the topic of the mitochondria and how the mitochondria is affected by our light, bluelight and EMF exposure. When you see interviews with him, for example, anytime he’s on a computer or a screen or under artificial light, he’s at least wearing glasses that filter out the blue component even if it’s in the middle of the day.

I have actually found that to be pretty effective. Dr. Mercola does a similar thing. When you’re working on the computer and having not full on bluelight blocking glasses , but some tent to block out the blue light no matter what time of day it is. And then in the evening, we put on the darker ones that are going to filter much more of that light. If you want to go outside, of course, you can go outside anytime of the day and not have any glasses whatsoever because, of course, you’re getting that natural light, and you’re getting the full spectrum—all of the colors that are in sun.

So even though the sun does have blue, it’s got green and yellow and violet and red and orange, and those are all excellent. So you can be outside any time of day and you don’t need the glasses, but pretty much any time you’re inside, the lights are on, the computers are on, having some kind of protection for your eyes, and then the darker glasses about two hours before you want it to be asleep is what I’ve found to be the most effective thing for most people.

[01:30:57] Ashley James: I had an interview with a guy, James Swanwick. He produces blue blocking glasses that look really cool. Of course, you could buy them, like you said, for $10 or $20 on Amazon, but they look like safety goggles and no one wants to look goofy when they’re in downtown L.A. He was living in downtown L.A., and he would basically wear ski goggles. He’s like, “I need a better solution than ski goggles,” so he invented Swanwick’s blue blocking glasses, and they just look really cool.

He sent me a pair and I thought, “This is complete rubbish. You’re telling me that I’m going to wear some yellow glasses, and it’s going to help me with my sleep.” I just thought this was such poopoo. I put them on about 9:00 PM, and by 9:30, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I went to bed at 9:30. I was like, “I am done.” They’re more effective than some sleep aid. I was really impressed. I think it’s going to be a few more years then we’re going to see everyone wearing them. It’s going to really catch on because they work.


[01:32:11] Cathy Cooke: They do work. I’ll tell you a quick story. My sister got married back in December, and so I was at home in Kansas City for her wedding, and it was an evening wedding. And then, we had the reception afterwards, and I was at the reception, and thankfully I was a bridesmaid and my dress was red, so I pulled out my red glasses at the reception. I was like, “I don’t care. I want to sleep tonight. We’re going to have fun. I can still have fun with my red glasses on.” So I put them on and everyone’s like, “You’re such a dork. What are you doing?” And I was like, “I don’t care. My sleep is more important.” And then, I was able to educate everybody about it, and they’re like, “Oh, interesting.”

We sometimes do look like big dorks when we’re doing this stuff, but I don’t care. I want to feel good the next day, so I’m okay with it.


[01:33:03] Ashley James: How was your sleep that night?


[01:33:05] Cathy Cooke: Oh, it was great. Well, I was out a little bit later than I normally would be, so it wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely considerably better than had I not been wearing the glasses.


[01:33:16] Ashley James: That’s actually something really important to bring up. I learned this from Dr. Molly Niedermeyer. She’s a naturopathic physician here in Seattle. She used to be the dean of the Naturopathic College in Bastyr, and she’s been a naturopath for over 30 years. She’s delivered over a thousand babies, and she told me that if you’re awake after 10:00 P.M., somewhere between 9:30 and 10:30, our body hits a second wind.

So if you’re awake, you’re cleaning the kitchen or watching TV on your computer, whatever you’re doing, if you’re awake at 10:00 PM and the lights are on and you’re staring at screens, you’re telling your body that it is noon. You’re getting basically noonday sunlight being mimicked from the lights being on, and your body will reset and go, “Okay, you’re getting a whole bunch of cortisol right now. We are stopping the production of melatonin.”

And so people noticed that if they stay up late, “I’m just going to watch one more episode,” and so now it’s 10:30 and now they’re wide awake. “Geez, I don’t even feel tired. I’m not going to go to bed. I’m going to watch another episode and watch another episode and watch another episode.” Now it’s two in the morning, and we wonder why we can’t fall asleep.

I really did notice a big correlation between being on my computer in the evening—I tried not to go. I often do not go into the office after dinner because if I do even a little bit of computer work, I am up to like two in the morning. So that’s the blue blocking glasses aspect. But also if it’s like 10:00 PM, and I’m still getting some laundry done or just doing some late-night stuff, if I’m not winding down in bed reading and just starting that descent down into sleep then I’m awake till one or two because it hit that second wind.

That’s another reason why we all need to shift our biological or [inaudible 01:35:15] our biological clocks back a few hours and say to ourselves, “We need to be in bed with lights off by 10,” and really we need to be in bed at 9:30, winding it down, reading a book or something with low lights, so that we prevent getting that second wind, that second spike of cortisol where the brain goes, “We’re not going to produce melatonin right now. We’re just going to produce more energy,” which is really disruptive for healing. It increases inflammation in the body. It makes us exhausted the next day. It makes us cranky. And it can just be this downward spiral where it takes sometimes days to recover. 


[01:35:59] Cathy Cooke: Yeah, I agree completely. I always tell everybody, it comes back to that circadian rhythm and you need to be in bed by 10—exactly what you’re saying. In traditional Chinese medicine, they say every hour of sleep that you get before midnight is worth two hours more than the hours that you get after midnight. So that sleep before midnight between 10 and 12 is really important.

I’ve worked with a lot of people that are like, “There’s no way. I can’t do it. I go to bed at 2:00 AM,” and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s why you’re here working with me because you feel like crap. You got to get this dialed in.” Part of it is, we’ve extended our days to be infinite with the advent of the light bulb. And now we’ve got social media 24 hours a day, and all of these things that are stimulating to us at the end of the day.

But I really liked what you said about the winding down. It’s not just, “Oh, it’s 10, turn the lights of, go to bed.” You need to take a lot of time for the body to mentally prepare to wind down. That’s why I also talk a lot about sleep hygiene and winding down is part of that. So going through a nightly routine that you do every day, because again, we’re getting those signals—”Oh, I’m brushing my teeth. Oh, I’m washing my face. Oh, I’m preparing a hot water bottle for my bed. Oh, I’m closing the blinds.” All of those little routines that we go through each night are more signals to “Oh, it’s bedtime. I need to be calming down. I need to be producing more melatonin.” It’s really helpful for us to wind down, so that when we do lie down, that we can fall asleep quicker rather than lying awake for another hour.


[01:38:09] Ashley James: I had a really hard time getting our son to sleep as a baby and as a toddler. It was pretty ridiculous how much he would fight us. It took us sometimes two hours to get him to fall asleep, and he would just be fighting us, and then there will be times that we just let him stay awake. We’re like, “Okay, let’s just see. Maybe his body will tell us when he wants to fall asleep.” He’d be two years old, midnight, totally awake, and we’re like, “Okay, that experiment did not work. This kid will not go to sleep.”

And then I discovered this magnesium soak. I’m sure you’ve heard of it—the Living the Good Life Naturally Magnesium Soak. Kristen Bowen, who I’m going to have on the show again soon, I discovered her through a friend of mine who invited me to go to her health lecture when she was here in Seattle. And so I brought home a jug and you can put kids in it in the bathtub and it was a miracle. Our son doesn’t eat sugar. We don’t feed him processed food. We don’t feed him stimulants like chocolate or caffeine. He already had everything set up in his life that should give him—and he gets plenty of exercise throughout the day. So he should fall asleep at night, but why is he fighting us?

But for us, I believe it was a mineral deficiency. He was deficient in magnesium, and so he started to soak every night in nice warm bath with magnesium and he wouldn’t fight us. He would actually tell us, “Okay, it’s time to go to sleep. Can I go to bed now?” We’re like, “Oh, my gosh. He wouldn’t even say because we had this routine where we’d read five books before going to bed because it took us about five books to get him—


[01:40:01] Cathy Cooke: Oh, my gosh. That’s a lot.


[01:40:01] Ashley James: It was a two-hour bedtime routine to get him to go to sleep. It would take us five books before he was even willing to lie in bed. And lying in bed, he would fight us and fight us and fight us. It went from five books down to he would say, “Okay, I only want one book tonight.” We were just like, “Oh, my gosh, this is a miracle.”

So this magnesium soak is really great. There’s a bunch out there in the market, but my understanding is that this one is very specifically is highly absorbed by the body, highly bioavailable. I noticed that I felt really relaxed and calm after starting to use it. So we use it in our baths, our foot soaks, or we put it in his bath. It’s, their magnesium foot soak, and then she gives the listeners a discount. The coupon code is LTH, as in Learn True Health. That was life-changing for our son, and it was great for our whole family because we all just noticed we’re calmer. But for him, it went from fighting us to sleep to actually just being really cool about winding it down, going to bed. He falls asleep fast now. That was the missing link for us.

Sometimes it could be a mineral deficiency or nutrient deficiency. I’ve heard that even B vitamins, sometimes it’s hormonal. So there’s some kind of a biochemistry aspect going on that if there’s one thing missing, it could be that missing link that when you find it, everything falls into place. But you have to have everything else, like you said, sleep hygiene. We have to have the environment. We have to have all the habits set up throughout the day to support that amazing restful healing sleep.

So can you unpack what sleep hygiene is and that checklist of things that we should make sure we have to create good sleep hygiene in our bedroom?


[01:42:14] Cathy Cooke: The routine is great, like I mentioned. And then also just having a really conducive sleeping sanctuary as we like to say, and building biology. But your bedroom should be a place free of distractions. Don’t have your bedroom and your office be in the same room because that association with, “Ugh, I got to do this and this and this, and seeing your file cabinet and seeing your notepad, and seeing your computer or whatever it is, that’s stimulating, that’s thinking work.

The bedroom should not be used for anything besides sleep and sex and that’s it. We should not bring other work-related things into the bedroom or computers, or even your phone, or your computer or iPads like I mentioned. People love to bring their phones into their bedroom and get on Facebook as they’re falling asleep, which is about the worst thing you can do because, for one, for the blue light; two, for the EMS; and 3, the mental stimulation from whatever it is that you’re viewing on Facebook, those are all very stimulating.

So the bedroom should be completely free of electronics. Even, I’m an alarm clock, I do not recommend because alarm clocks give off significant magnetic fields, which can disrupt your sleep. If you have to use an alarm clock to wake up, you at least want to put the alarm clock on the other side of the room. Some people use their phones for an alarm clock, and that’s okay. But keep the phone in airplane mode. Do not have it sending out a radio frequency signal throughout the night. Keep an airplane mode and make sure that you turn off the Bluetooth and the Wifi so everything is off. But your alarm will still work when it’s an airplane mode like that. So if that is your alarm clock and you have to have it, then that’s okay. But I would also recommend to put the screen in a night mode.

Different phones have different settings where you can dim the blue light on the phone. So I mean, I would recommend just don’t look at it at night or you can look at it if you’re wearing bluelight blocking glasses . But otherwise, you can install free software like Iris or iflux. I’m not sure if iflux is available for phones, but I believe Iris is, and that will automatically dim the blueness of the screen at night. So that’s a good idea.

And then we want the bedroom to be very comfortable and cozy. Of course you have a mattress that works for you—not too firm, not too soft. You have comfortable bedding. I can’t believe sometimes when I am visiting family or friends and I’m sleeping in a bed with really stiff, scratchy sheets or uncomfortable comforters. I’m like, “How do you guys sleep like this? This is so uncomfortable for me.” And it sounds simple, but they’re important factors because if you’re not really comfortable in your bed, you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night, and we don’t want that.

Whatever that looks like for you, silk sheets or satin sheets, or down comforters or whatever, you just want to make it as pleasing and as comfortable for you as possible. You also want to keep the bedroom nice and cool. Plenty of research out there is showing that we sleep better when the body is just slightly cool. Any excess heat will cause disruptions in sleep. Anybody who lives in a hot climate or has summer has experienced this. When it’s blazing hot outside, our sleep really suffers, so do your best to keep the bedroom cool.

Again, I don’t have a set temperature to recommend because everybody’s tolerance is a little bit different on that. I like to make sure that there is a window open always all year round. It doesn’t have to be wide open, but you do want just a little bit of circulation of fresh air coming in through the window. You’re going to have to play with your preferences on that, but that fresh air is critical to keep ventilation happening. Even just the smells of the environment, it’s another little connection to nature, which is an important signal again for our DNA. We really like to be in nature, so that can be very calming to our nervous system.

There’s even some science showing that some of the scents from pine trees can reduce cortisol. So having that little bit of fresh air can be very helpful. And then, of course, some of the basics like the light, having blackout curtains if you need it, depending on where you’re at. If you’re in the city, you may need blackout curtains. If you’re in the country, it might not be necessary. You could maybe just have regular blinds or whatever it is. But you don’t want any light coming in through the windows at all.

I wear an eye mask because even sometimes the moonlight can be a little bit too much for me just because I’m that sensitive. So I wear an eye mask and I also wear earplugs. We’re in an environment in the middle of the city. We’re in a suburb. There are dogs, and dogs bark at night, and cars drive past. Little noises like that can actually interrupt my sleep, so earplugs and an ear mask are essential for me. Took me a little bit of time to get used to doing that, but now I am in a total panic if I find myself somewhere, and I don’t have earplugs because I know my sleep is going to suffer.

Paying attention to all of those things in the environment and creating a conducive bedroom for your sleep, focusing on that sleeping sanctuary, and of course, we’ve already talked about the EMF, so making sure that there are no EMFs penetrating into the bedroom, and you can get a lot of tips from the previous episode that I was on about that, like turning off the breakers and not having your Internet on and those kinds of things. Those are pretty much the basics.

There are other things you can do like taking a warm shower before bed or a warm bath, which can be really nice, doing a magnesium foot soak like you mentioned, having that as part of your nightly routine can be really helpful. There are a few other things, but those are the basics, I would say.


[01:49:19] Ashley James: Wonderful. I started learning about sleep hygiene and implementing one thing at a time, and it really does make a difference. We got blackout curtains for our bedroom, and we have an Austin Air filter, so it creates that white noise, and so we don’t hear cars going by or the coyotes that we have in our neighborhood because they all get together and howl. We’re out there in the country a little bit, so we have bears, coyotes, woodpeckers, owls, and all kinds of things that could keep us up.

Before the air filter, we would hear everything. I’d hear the coyotes, I’d hear the owls, and I would stay awake. But yeah, we turn the air filter on, and it has a nice little white noise that blocks everything out. The curtains that block out most of the light—it’s pretty dark in the bedroom now. So we have to watch out about the tripping hazards and make sure it’s a comfortable bed. Like you said, bamboo sheets are amazing. They’re antimicrobial, they breathe, and they also are a wonderful for feeling soft.

And then also considering the vacuuming—if you have carpet, vacuum daily. Get out the vacuum and vacuum your bedroom every day to minimize the dust mites because the dust mites, we basically are constantly breathing in their poop. When we’re breathing that in, it will lower our immune system. What we can do is take our pillows and put them in the freezer because that kills the dust mites as well. Wash your sheets often, wash your comforter, put stuffed animals and put pillows in the freezer for as long as you can, 12-24 hours, to kill the dust mites and do that on a regular basis.

But I noticed that the noise from the Austin Air filter helps us sleep now. When it’s not on, I really now notice how every little noise can wake me up or disrupt my sleep.

In terms of the EMFs—I’ve shared this before on the podcast—think back to the last time you had a blackout in your neighborhood. If you don’t remember, keep it in mind for the next time. The sleep you get when there’s a power outage is the most deep restful sleep. Unless of course you’re worried that you won’t hear your alarm clock in the morning because worry can keep you awake.

But no EMFs, like I cannot believe—I first noticed it. We were living in an apartment building, and we were surrounded by over 30 different WiFi signals all the time, and all the EMFs from everyone else’s apartment.

When there were power outages, it was amazing—the sleep I’d get, the depth of that sleep. I feel so restored in the morning. That was the only difference. You can’t see it. You can’t hear it. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it. You can’t touch it. It’s invisible to us, but the EMF really does disrupt sleep.

Since learning about that and now living in our house, we’re fortunate enough that we cannot see anyone else’s WiFi signal. We’re that far away from neighbors, and we only turn our modem on when we absolutely need it. Other than that, we don’t have any WiFi in the house. We have almost nothing plugged in the entire bedroom, so that we lower the EMF as much as possible, and it really made a difference.

In fact, recently I plugged something in, and then I forgot to unplug it, and it was near our bed. That night, that was a few nights ago, I had really bad sleep. I woke up in the morning going, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t believe I forgot to unplug that thing.” It really does make a difference.


[01:53:30] Cathy Cooke: Yeah, you’d be so surprised. I was doing an EMF assessment in a home just a couple of days ago, and they had their phone charger in the outlet right next to their bed. And they’re like, “Well, the phone is not plugged in, so it’s not that big of a deal.” I put my meter on there, and the electric field was off the charts. And so I’m like, “This is right by your head, and this is voltage. This is all the voltage that you’re sleeping right next to your head.” You’ve got to consider those little things because clearly you’re not going to sleep really well with voltage running right next to your head, right?


[01:54:08] Ashley James: Absolutely. It’s just amazing. You’ve given us so many points today that we can implement immediately and run with. Is there anything left unsaid about your evening routine or your bedtime routine, or going to sleep at night? Do you take any supplements? Do you recommend melatonin?


[01:54:33] Cathy Cooke: I just wanted to touch real quickly on the dust mites that you mentioned. I’m really glad you brought that up because allergies play a big role in sleep. If you’re inflamed from allergies, you’re not going to sleep that well. So another tip is to have your ducts cleaned. A lot of people are like, “Oh, right. I’ve been living here for seven years and I’ve never had the ducts cleaned.” They’re just not thinking about it, but that’s an important consideration.

I like to recommend people have their ducts cleaned every two years. I think the EPA recommends maybe every two to three, but just think about all the air that’s circulating through those ducts, and all the dust that settles in there, and all of the microbes, and the bacteria, and the mold. Having your ducts cleaned is a really important piece.

And then I’ve also got a post on my website about not making your bed—that’s what we recommend from a building biology standpoint because of the dust and the dust mites that you just mentioned. When you think about the fact that you’re sleeping at night and a lot of us will perspire in the middle of the night, we’re creating this really nice warm, moist environment, and then we get out of bed and we pull the covers over that and we’re creating just the perfect little nest for microbes for dust and bacteria to flourish. You actually want to leave your bed unmade or the covers off the bed so that you can air it out, and that will actually help to cut back a little bit on the dust, the dust mites and the microbes.

But I do want to address your comment about the supplements. I think that’s a really important topic because so many people are taking supplements and melatonin, and all of these sleeping aids. Of course, none of your listeners will be surprised to hear that I’m not a fan of pharmaceutical sleep aids. I’m sure you’re not either. Insomnia is not an immunodeficiency, so we don’t need to be taking sleeping pills to sleep at night.

But along those same lines, people want to take Valerian or Hops or all of these different formulas or combination of sleeping herbs. While those can be helpful for some people sometimes, they’re not something that you want to depend on for the rest of your life. So if you say, “I just can’t sleep without Valerian,” then I say, “There’s an underlying issue that still has not been addressed.”

You shouldn’t need to take Valerian in order to sleep. Even though it’s natural, even though it’s an herb, we still want to identify what the underlying issue is. Along those same lines, you mentioned magnesium. So magnesium is a great sleep aid, and when you take magnesium and it helps you to sleep, that’s probably indicative of a mineral deficiency like you mentioned.

Some supplements like a magnesium or different minerals can be very important, and that is something that we want to pay attention to. We want to get our minerals in balance. Of course, we want to start with food, maybe eat some magnesium-rich foods. If that’s not quite cutting it, we can go to a mineral supplement.

But when it comes to things like herbs, maybe passion flower or so many different sleeping aids, we need to be careful about that because we don’t want to become dependent on them in the same fashion that we can become dependent on a pharmaceutical sleep aid. We still need to identify what the underlying issue is. They can be helpful in certain times. You’re traveling, you’re in a very stressful circumstance—fine, it’s okay once in a while. But we still want to address all of these other lifestyle habits.

And then as far as the melatonin goes, melatonin is not something that we want to take long term. Melatonin is a hormone, and when we take a hormone like that exogenously, we can disrupt the body’s own production of melatonin. So if we take it every day and we’ve been taking it every day for a year, the body is not going to do a good job in making it on its own because it’s like, “You’re giving it to me in a pill, so why do I need to create it?”

So I caution people with melatonin. It can be helpful in certain circumstances, like if you’re traveling over a number of time zones, it can kind of help you to reset your circadian rhythm. But I don’t generally recommend that people take it for longer than two weeks. The shorter amount of time, the better. And if you absolutely can’t sleep without melatonin, then again, there’s an underlying issue that we need to address. I have found that those bluelight blocking glasses are what’s the most impactful for that melatonin release at the end of the day.

And then lastly, we can put all of these pieces into place and yet there are some people that are still going to have some issues. When that happens, we need to consider a more advanced or more complicated situations. That would be an area where you would work with someone like yourself or someone like me to identify, “Maybe I’ve got hormonal imbalance, maybe I have an infection, maybe I have SIBOs—small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, maybe I have a parasite, maybe I have heavy metals.” Those are a little bit more complicated, and where functional lab testing can shed a significant amount of light on the piece that we’re missing.

So for people that are putting all these steps into place and just not quite getting it, sometimes we have to dig a bit deeper. Of course, I mentioned the emotional piece of it prior. Sometimes people really need to work with a trained professional, a mental health professional to address some of their emotional issues, their emotional traumas that are still left undealt with. That’s an important consideration as well.

And then lastly, I have actually a pretty comprehensive e-book on my website and it’s all about sleep. It’s called “Sleep Like You Mean It.” It’s about 30 pages, and it covers a lot of what we talked about today, but it goes into a little bit more depth, and it’s got resources and the science behind a lot of this.

That’s totally free. If anybody wants to go to my website and download that, please do. I got over 10 years of information packed into there that I’ve learned over the years and I’ve uncovered from some of the best researchers across the country. So yes, download that. If you need a little bit more help and, of course, always reach out to someone like Ashley or someone like myself that can help you if you’re just still struggling because nobody should be struggling. We all deserve to feel really well.


[02:01:59] Ashley James: Absolutely. Your website is


[02:02:03] Cathy Cooke: Yep, that’s right.


[02:02:05] Ashley James: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show today and sharing your wonderful health tips. This has been enlightening. Is there anything that you’d like to say to the listeners to wrap up today’s show?


[02:02:16] Cathy Cooke: Oh, gosh, we covered a lot. I guess I would just say to somebody that has listened, and they do have sleeping issues or other health challenges, don’t get overwhelmed. We presented a ton of information today. It’s all about baby steps. It’s all about picking out that one thing that’s manageable for you and doing one thing at a time. You don’t have to do all of this immediately. Sit with it, think about what resonates for you, try to tackle one little piece at a time, and over time you will start to see big benefits. Don’t get overwhelmed, and again, we are here to support you, so reach out to one of us if you need a little bit more guidance and help.

[02:03:06] Ashley James: Beautiful. So great having you back on the show.


[02:03:09] Cathy Cooke: Thanks Ashley. I’m so happy that we were able to do it again, and this has been really fun.


[02:03:14] Ashley James: Are you going to optimize your health? Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price for high quality supplements? And to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you? Go to take your and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price that’s takeyour that’s takeyour be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.

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Dr. Erika Krumbeck And Ashley James

Her personal experience with postpartum depression led Dr. Erica Krumbeck to focus on postpartum depression (PPD) and maternal mental health. Listen on and find out true health gems about PPD, how to deal with it, her recommended supplementation, how she works (or not work) with vaccines, what to do with flu, ear infections, nutrition, sleep, and other big pieces of advice one can only get from a naturopathic pediatrician.


[00:00:03] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 351.

I am so excited about today’s guest. In fact, I announced in our Facebook group, the Learn True Heath Facebook group, that we’re having a naturopathic pediatrician on the show, and it exploded with comments. Within minutes, we got over 30 people commenting. It was just a huge explosion of questions.

I know you guys are really interested in learning from a holistic doctor when it comes to supporting the health and development of our children. Dr. Erica Krumbeck, welcome to the show.


[00:00:46] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here.


[00:00:47] Ashley James: We’ve had some fun scheduling issues trying to get you on the show. I’ve been excited to have you on. Finally, the timing is right. I believe in divine intervention. I believe the universe brings forth the right interviews at the right time, so I know everyone listening, this is the information they are here to receive right now.

I’d love to start by learning a bit about you. Before we get into all the questions that the listeners have, I’d love to understand what had you want to, first of all, become a naturopath as opposed to becoming an M.D.? And then what had you wanted to specialize in pediatrics?


[00:01:24] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: That’s a great one. I’ll try to make it short. I’m sure everyone’s story is a very long story, but I started in undergrad as being a double art and biology major, and strangely enough, I wanted to do medical illustration. That was my goal in undergrad. Part way through undergrad, I realized that most medical illustrators spend their life in a cadaver lab, and that was not super exciting.

So I thought about nursing and medical school. I studied all through undergrad with all my buddies in OCAM and everything. We’re going to med school, and they were all taking their tests and everything. I took a little break. I thought that  I was going to eventually apply in med school, and I ended up doing an AmeriCorps program in the health care field in National Tennessee, and I hated it with a passion. It was painful to see the conventional medical approach. I was not happy with any aspect of it. And if we talked about divine intervention, that was probably completely divine intervention, too.

I spent two years in Nashville doing crazy, silly things like playing music and doing this AmeriCorps program and a bunch of other stuff with my soon-to-be, now husband. While I was there, my dad had a stroke back in Seattle, Washington, or Kirkland, Washington, right by Bastier. My childhood home is right behind Bastier University, where I ended up going to naturopathic school.

The long and the short of it with him is he did the whole conventional medical route for stroke treatment. At some point, he plateaued in therapy, basically physical therapy, and didn’t progress any further. At that point, you get kicked off insurance for future therapies, and my family ended up spending quite a lot of money out of pocket doing all these alternative therapies. He was doing acupuncture, [inaudible 00:03:36] therapy, anything in the alternative world, although interestingly not naturopathic medicine.

My dad wanted me to move home, so he wanted me to enroll in Bastier because his acupuncturist was a teacher there. It’s just funny the way the world works. I went and took a tour of the university before I knew anything about naturopathic medicine. I fell in love with the school. The thought process behind naturopathic medicine, before I knew what I was getting into and applied and got in, which I highly recommend not doing the approach that I did for future students because I didn’t know what I was getting into until I was multiple years through school.

I’d tell people in the future, be sure. It’s a huge investment of time and money. It’s a life-long career choice. But for me, it just happened to work out. For me, every day I was in school, I fell more and more in love with this medicine that I stumbled into, which was providential.

And then out of the same process, my husband ended up going to physical therapy school. From my dad having a stroke, it ended up with both of us being in medicine. It’s an interesting thing.

I thought I was going to work way more in mental health when I was in school than pediatrics. I had no focus on pediatrics. I just fell into it. I’m not sure how I fell into it. Somehow I fell into it and started doing a couple of well-child checks and remembering that “I love this. This is great.” You get to play when you’re with kids, and it’s super fun.

I ended up falling into peds, and then when I had my daughter, who’s now seven, I had a severe experience with postpartum depression. She had severe colic, too. That changed the whole course of my career to focus on postpartum depression and maternal mental health, which is so important. I feel like the circle came all the way around for me that I could treat mom’s postpartum and work in mental health even though it wasn’t the field that I thought was going to be in.


[00:06:07] Ashley James: Interesting. Is there a link between postpartum depression and colic?


[00:06:12] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I don’t know that that that’s been studied, but it makes sense. I mean, for her there’s obviously sleep deprivation as a pretty strong trigger for PPD. In her case, she was waking 10-12 times a night, screaming uncontrollably, could not be calmed in any circumstance. It’s stressful to have a child who’s suffering uncontrollably and to feel powerless in your ability to help your child. I don’t even know the best word—it’s a disempowering feeling and a terrifying feeling. I feel like I can relate to parents now going through something very scary because you can’t help the person that you are meant to help in your life. It sort of makes sense when you have your cortisol levels off the charts for nine months to a year. I don’t know how you could not end up having severe anxiety or depression.


[00:07:16] Ashley James: Absolutely. My son had some colic. He only woke us up six times a night, not 12 times.


[00:07:23] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: But at that point, what’s the difference between 12 and 6?


[00:07:26] Ashley James: Right. I definitely saw that sleep deprivation impacted me. I felt so grateful to have built a team of holistic practitioners around me during the pregnancy, so we had cranio. We had lots of homeopathy and pediatric acupuncture. I even had practitioners who became friends. They came to the house. All of it helped a little—diet and making these little fennel teas, rubbing his belly with essential oils—everything.

Homeopathy for me was the one that had the fastest and the best results, which I was constantly stunned by. But it wasn’t curative, so he still woke us up six times a night. But what a difference between my experience and a typical going to an M.D. experience, where the parents go to an M.D., and the child is possibly put on over-the-counter medication for gas and not guided to shift diet or other modalities that might help with the colic.

Even to this day, there’s not a very strong support structure for women who are suffering from post-partum depression. What do you do now when you work with families, and you see that there might be postpartum depression? What kind of advice do you have for those women?


[00:08:59] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I’m very vigilant about screening very quickly. I’m checking in with parents very often in that first couple of months of life and even beyond. I started using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screening Questionnaire early on before that become standard of care. Now, I find most OBs, at least in Montana where I’m at, are using that regularly and having moms fill it out regularly. When I first started, no one had even thought about that.

I quickly got involved in the postpartum depression group here of providers and therapists, some of whom had their postpartum depression issues, and so they’re active in creating this group. It just exploded in terms of awareness, so now they’ve done everything.

One of my colleagues became a licensed clinical social worker and had her job at an OB’s office. She created this entire position for herself, and it’s only counseling for moms who have lost babies, who have postpartum depression, who’ve been working with infertility. It’s incredible. It’s been great.

For me, in my office, I’m often screening, but if there are any signs, I strongly recommend the women to schedule with me immediately. I always find room for them in my schedule. I tell them that. I just told a mom this morning that it’s newborns and them that take priority, and I tell women all the time that when mama goes down, the ship goes down. I’m more worried about the health and impact of the parent’s than I am the kid’s most of the time. I also strongly believe now that the purpose of the well child check is not so much to make sure that the child is healthy–I think that’s number two. It’s important, of course. That’s why we’re here. We’re going to weigh the baby, make sure they’re okay. But number one is to encourage the bond between the parents and the child, and that cannot happen without parents having good mental health. I screened quickly, and one of the first things that I’ll do with a woman who has postpartum depression is to get some basic blood work done.

Postpartum thyroiditis occurs in 5% of women. Postpartum depression occurs in about 20% of women, and there’s a really strong overlap there. I don’t think I’ve known any woman with postpartum thyroiditis that hasn’t had postpartum depression. It’s really important to find that and correct that early because it can make a world of difference.

And then we have so many tools as naturopathic doctors, anything from homeopathy to herbs, to nutrients. Basic nutrients, like a good quality prenatal and high-dose fish oil in about half of my patients—just those two alone will be enough to pull them out of postpartum depression or anxiety state. I could talk about that for a whole hour, too.


[00:12:10] Ashley James: I already told Dr. Erica that I would be having her on the show for multiple sessions because we’ve decided that we have so much that we could talk about.


[00:12:20] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yeah, I can’t stop. [laughs]


[00:12:22] Ashley James: Please don’t.


[00:12:23] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I stop in place, but it’s hard to.


[00:12:26] Ashley James: If someone is listening to this currently with postpartum depression, what actionable steps should she take today to help her get on the path? Should she schedule some sessions? She has a newborn, so it’s hard to leave the house and go for counseling. What are some critical things that she should do today to help herself get on the path to feeling better?


[00:12:54] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I’m going to take a step back and explain something super important first, and that’s the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression. Just as a warning, I might lose my train of thought and forget the question you asked. I want to go through this first because some women think that they have postpartum depression, and they don’t.

Eighty percent of women have what they call baby blues. I don’t like that name because it connotates something negative. What most women describe is the sensation of having every emotion simultaneously. They’re so happy they have their baby, “So why am I crying?” They’re crying, happy, joyful, exhausted, and it’s everything mixed. It feels completely overwhelming. They are just wondering, “What the world is going on?”

That classically happens shortly after birth. Usually, it peaks right around the same day that milk comes in, which is a good way to figure this out. That’s because of the hormone levels that have dramatically shifted. In pregnancy, we have high progesterone levels. We have estrogen levels.

Postpartum, those plummet quickly because the placenta holds that progesterone, and so the placenta comes out. We have less progesterone circulating. And then prolactin inhibits the production of all these hormones as well. Prolactin will peak right when milk comes in, and it’s just overwhelming. Plus we have fluid and blood pressure changes, and you’re usually sleep-deprived—it’s overwhelming.

Baby blues happen to 80% of women. It usually peaks on the day that milk comes in, and it’s typically gone by two weeks. If the symptoms are either not gone by two weeks or starting after two weeks or just continuing to go down, then we’re talking about more like a slide into postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, or something like that. Does that make sense?


[00:14:54] Ashley James: Absolutely. Someone who has postpartum depression might not have a newborn still. It might be a baby that’s three months old.


[00:15:02] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Exactly. The lowest the progesterone levels get is somewhere around three to four months postpartum. Usually, postpartum depression is at it’s worst at four months, and then slowly, slowly, slowly they start to come out of it.

Sometimes moms feel like they’re in the clear because maybe the baby is sleeping a little better, and then they can’t figure out what’s going on, and their progesterone levels are super low. It’s important to understand that progesterone act on our GABA receptors in our brain. It acts on the same receptors as Valium, so the postpartum state is like a Valium withdrawal state. Sometimes it helps women to understand that.

This isn’t the case for all women, but for a lot who tend to be anxious, they might feel better in pregnancy and then all of a sudden, the anxiety comes back, and it’s very severe postpartum, and that’s just from that progesterone state. So there are some women postpartum, the thyroid is looking good, but postpartum is pretty severe, we will do a trial of oral micronized progesterone to see if it works. It doesn’t work in all women, but the women it does work for, it’s very fast, and it’s very dramatic.

You might have seen that postpartum depression medication was recently approved by the FDA, like within the last couple of weeks. It’s 32,000 dollars, I believe, and it’s like a 72-hour infusion or something insane like that. It’s a pregnenolone or a progesterone analog. It binds on the same receptors.

It’s really silly because you have a 32,000 dollar medication, or you could give progesterone and pregnenolone, which are bio-identical and have the same effect.


[00:17:03] Ashley James: People can go to the health food store and buy topical progesterone cream. Is that the same?


[00:17:09] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: No, I would not recommend that. One, for some reason, oral micronized progesterone seems to have a better happy brain effect. I haven’t been able to figure out why exactly, but that was a trick taught to me when I was in school, and so I’ve been sticking with that. I would never recommend over-the-counter progesterone for a nursing mom. So you’d be careful about progesterone levels, and so I would want to get it either compounded by a pharmacy.

Even if for some reason you did do cream, I don’t think I’ve ever done cream for postpartum depression. I’ve always prescribed oral, and it’s covered by insurance usually, so if you can at least code creatively for it. It hasn’t been FDA-approved for postpartum depression, but if the progesterone levels are documented to be really low, you can code for that.

Most women do not have any inhibition of lactation with oral micronized progesterone. But I always recommend that it’s given under the supervision of a physician just in case that did happen. I’ve warned every woman I’ve ever put it on that it can, and I’ve never seen it happen. We know for sure that estrogen will inhibit lactation, which is why women are put on the mini pill postpartum, and not a combined oral birth control pill.

The mini pill is a progestin, and this is something that is not well known in conventional medicine. I had an argument with a woman who was teaching the postpartum course that I attended last year at St. Pat’s hospital here. She was talking about supplementing women with the mini pill. She couldn’t quite figure out why that wouldn’t help women with postpartum depression. A synthetic progestin that is in either birth control or the mini pill, so either a combined birth control pill or the mini pill inhibits our bodies’ progesterone but does not act on our happy brain receptors.

So it is actually worse, and that’s why Dr. Julian Brayton has this whole book called Beyond the Pills. Breast control pill has been around for decades now. Many women have complained about the side effects of depression. It was only up to a couple of years ago that they finally studied it and found that yes, sure enough, women who are on long-term oral contraceptives have higher rates of depression, and that could be two-fold.

One, they’re not making progesterone, so they don’t have the happy brain effect, and two, now we know of course that birth control pills deplete vitamin B6, which is a super important co-factor in making all our happy brain chemicals. It’s a double whammy. For that reason, I would ask women who are postpartum taking the mini pill that they be cautious about that. If they feel their mood is sleepy, they might want to stop the pill and do oral progesterone, but it is not good for birth control. It is not as reliable as a birth control method. You got to be a little careful.


[00:20:23] Ashley James: That’s interesting. I’ve had a few different interviews about birth control and all the nutrients it depletes from the body is pretty crazy. When you see the cons versus the pros, the cons are just way outnumbered that it affects our mental and emotional health, and of course, our physical health in the long term. Really scary.

Getting back to my question, if someone is listening to this, and they’ve heard you talk about baby blues versus postpartum, and they suspect they have some postpartum, or maybe they even have a diagnosis, what steps should they take right now? Should they go to their doctor and talk about getting on progesterone?


[00:21:09] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Number one, if you’ve got a naturopathic doctor near you, go to them first. Don’t go to your OB because half of the OBs are a loss. Five or six years ago, I didn’t feel like our professionals were doing a great job with this at all. I don’t think that we were talking about it nearly enough. I don’t think we had enough options. Now, I feel like most of us who’ve done anything in women’s health feel pretty darn confident treating postpartum depression. If I have a colleague who doesn’t feel that way, you’re welcome to email me directly. But I feel like most of us feel pretty confident.

So go there first. If you don’t have a naturopathic doctor near you, you can go to your OB. I would request to have your thyroid checked, to get a complete blood count done and check on your iron levels. A lot of women do hemorrhage postpartum. Iron is yet another co-factor in making happy brain chemicals, and so if you feel exhausted, it could be anemia as well. And then I would request anti-TPO antibodies. Those are thyroid antibodies that are elevated in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and the postpartum onset of Hashimoto’s is super common, so I would definitely do that.

If you end up having elevated anti-TPO antibodies, your OB is not going to know what to do with you other than give you thyroid medications, so you need to go back to a naturopathic doctor anyway or read a lot. But I think that’s a smart place to start. I don’t know that many OBs truthfully that prescribed progesterone. The midwives in town here at least definitely do, so you might also want to contact the midwife who is much more familiar with this, and then be careful about self-prescribing supplements. It’s easy to get a good quality prenatal multi and high-dose fish oil on board, but a lot of the herbs and certain nutrients that we commonly use for depression are not necessarily safe in lactation. There are a lot of things that are not safe in pregnancy, and in lactation, we have a lot more options for treatment. But even things like St. John’s where I only use basically at the last case and usually not till babies are much bigger, so there is definitely some research that St. John’s can either cause colic in babies, or they can become sleepy, and so that’s not a great choice for a lot of women. 5HTP is a common depression supplement, and that has not been studied for safety even though I know a lot of midwives prescribe it. I’m not comfortable with that if that hasn’t been prescribed. There is just a lot that maybe is not super safe. I will often prescribe a basic B complex for a lot of women though, and one of the good professional brands. You don’t want an over-the-counter one for those, but that can help if you get a little extra – methyl B12 and metafolate. That can perk women up right away.

I would also wait until the baby is a little bit bigger, and so in those first couple of weeks, that’s not going to be appropriate. The baby is going to get stimulated and agitated by that. It’s usually at least a month but often when the baby is two or three months old.


[00:24:32] Ashley James: You mentioned fish oil. I’m such a believer in omegas. What is a good dose for an adult—6 grams a day, 9 grams a day? What are your thoughts on that?


[00:24:56] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: There has been a couple of studies. One, women who have better omega-3 levels in pregnancy have lower rates of postpartum depression. That’s awesome.

Two, women who supplement with fish oil in pregnancy, their babies have a 50% decreased risk of asthma. That’s cool, isn’t it?


[00:25:16] Ashley James: Very cool.


[00:25:18] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: That was on a really high dose of fish oil, and some of those babies ended up being much chunkier than their non-supplemented counterparts. We might not want to supplement that high. I usually recommend a gram in pregnancy. Again, you do need to talk to an OB though because this is a podcast—don’t take medical advice over the internet. That should be the motto for everybody and especially for us.

And then postpartum, yes, I dose high, high. It won’t work if you don’t dose high—at least 6 grams, and yeah, 9 is a good aim. It must be a high-quality brand because what you don’t want to do is get that cheap over-the-counter fish oil, have it contaminated with mercury, and then have mercury toxicity for you and your baby. Please don’t do that. So get a good professional brand on that, and yeah, I dose really high. Moms are losing so many fatty acids because they’re all going to the milk. So you need way more than someone who is not nursing.


[00:26:30] Ashley James: Absolutely. You brought up something—you said certain herbs are not safe in pregnancy or during lactation. Ironically, one of our listeners, just this morning, she wants to be a surrogate, and she really likes the family. She’s passionate about it, and now she has hit a wall with the surrogate family because they’re insisting that she do the flu shot during the pregnancy and the whooping cough vaccine, and she’s never had those vaccines. She isn’t someone that participates in the vaccine in her body, and she’s concerned about this, so a very lively discussion was formed in the Learn True Health Facebook group in support of her, but she wanted everyone’s opinion on it. In doing so, I googled some interesting studies that show there hasn’t been anything definite because you can’t ethically test. You can’t do a study on women that are pregnant. There is no ability to test whether flu shots are safe.


[00:27:48] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Actually, there are quite a few studies though, and they have been studying vaccinated versus unvaccinated women in pregnancy for both Tdap and influenza. Are you sure you want to start with this one?


[00:28:01] Ashley James: Yeah, I would love to hear. You’re a holistic doctor. I would love to know what are your thoughts if a woman comes to you, and she’s healthy—eats healthy, not deficient in any nutrients at all. Is it healthy to get a flu shot and other vaccines during pregnancy, or is it healthier to not?


[00:28:29] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Listeners, please don’t send me hate mail. My general approach to vaccinations is to support families wherever they’re at. This is important.

In my practice, I basically lay out the evidence for and against vaccines and allows families to choose. I’m a very strong advocate of that. I might have my own opinions, but I want to keep my opinions out as much as possible and just present what we know.

Now, that’s why I asked if you’re sure that you wanted to start there because the pregnancy topics, they’re almost harder to go over, but at least, we do have some data.

So let’s start with the flu vaccine first because they have been studying vaccinated versus unvaccinated women. They do not do double-blind placebo-controlled trials because that’s considered unethical. But they have been studying the vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations.

The other hard thing is, depending on where we’re at in the research cycle, this is my knowledge to date. If you’ve given me any warning, I will look up probably 87 studies because that’s what I do. I can’t tell you that I’ve read every study up to May 2nd of 2019.

For the influenza vaccine, the last data that I saw showed that women who get the flu vaccine in the first trimester of pregnancy have slightly increased rates of miscarriage. That’s not the case for the second trimester and beyond. There is data that women who do get the flu have significantly increased poor outcomes.


[00:30:34] Ashley James: If they’ve had the flu shots?



[00:30:36] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: No. if you get the flu in pregnancy, the rates of the baby having autism, birth defects, or having early labor—if you get the virus while you’re pregnant, it’s bad.

There is that piece of research that shows that the flu vaccine in the early pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for the second and third trimester. I don’t know what to say about that.

The really hard part about the flu vaccine is that we never know if it’s going to match from year to year, and so it makes it hard for me to counsel my patients on it because on years that it matches well, that’s awesome. It feels like we can be like, “Hey, look. It matches,” and at least we can have some evidence of efficacy. On years that it doesn’t match, then it’s like, “What’s the point?” There’s always the risk of side effects on all vaccines.

I do want to be clear on that—to be clear and to be unclear at the same time that it’s hard to capture data on a vaccine that changes every year. We never know whether it’s going to match usually well into the flu season, at least until January of that year. Does that make sense?


[00:32:04] Ashley James: Uh-huh.


[00:32:05] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: So at least that’s like an answer/non-answer for that.

For Tdap, this is a little different. Tdap is the pertussis vaccine. It’s tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis. It does not come as a non-combo shot. Whooping cough is pertussis. Whooping in very tiny babies is extremely dangerous. I have people argue with me on that one, but it really is. It’s very dangerous.

The idea of vaccinating women in pregnancy is—and it must be vaccinated in pregnancy. It doesn’t count if you get it before becoming pregnant. The reason is if you get that Tdap in pregnancy, the woman’s body creates maternal antibodies which cross the placenta and reach the baby so that when the baby is born, they already have antibodies for the first 2 to 6 months of life. Basically, the baby has antibodies against whooping cough before they’re even eligible for their first round of vaccines at two months of age.

This could be another hour-long conversation. They have studied vaccinated versus unvaccinated mothers. They found no difference in neonatal outcomes from vaccinated versus unvaccinated babies. They have found an increase in antibodies in newborns whose moms were vaccinated, which is the point, so that part does work. I don’t know that we have enough long-term data to show differences in whooping cough rates in babies whose moms have had that versus not because there is usually not large enough outbreaks to compare the two populations. They’re trying to keep away.

There is a little bit of question about whether babies whose moms are vaccinated if they’re developing the same immunity from their primary vaccination series as babies whose moms were not vaccinated. That’s a future conversation. But right now, at least the data does support that there is no difference in outcomes. And they have studies tens of thousands of women in multiple countries at this point. They’re not small studies right now.


[00:34:32] Ashley James: What about the concern that the thimerosal crosses the—


[00:34:37] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Can we talk about the thimerosal?


[00:34:38] Ashley James: Yes. It’s mercury. It’s an adjuvant.


[00:34:45] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: No. Let’s be very clear. I’m excited to talk about this because I want to clear this up, and I get frustrated even by our colleagues who see this wrong all the time. Thimerosal is not an adjuvant. Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative that was found in a number of vaccines, primarily the hepatitis B vaccine, up until right around the late 1990s that they switched.

At this point in time, please listen to me: There is no more thimerosal in vaccines. The only vaccines that contain thimerosal in any amount are the seasonal flu vaccines in multi-use vials only and tetanus only vaccine, which I can’t even find anymore, so it’s a moot point. It’s only seasonal influenza vaccines and multi-use vials that we could possibly be exposed to thimerosal.


[00:35:48] Ashley James: So heavy metals are in vaccines then?


[00:35:51] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yes. Let’s talk about that. That is aluminum, and aluminum is considered an adjuvant. It is not a preservative. I often hear people say, “They just replaced mercury with aluminum,” and that’s completely not true. It does totally different things.

Again, thimerosal was a preservative. Now, aluminum is an adjuvant, and adjuvate means something that makes the immune system reacts. Let’s say for Tdap, the whole point of the Tdap vaccine is so the body can make antibodies to tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. The little ‘a’ stands for ‘acecullar’ in the Tdap vaccine.

If you injected Tdap without aluminum, the immune system would basically wave at it and say “hi” and just let it go because it’s not exciting to the immune system at all. Those vaccines are not live virus vaccines or bacteria because those are bacterial products.

Let’s say MMR and chicken pox vaccines are viruses. They are a live virus, which is why you usually only need one dose to become fully immune from both of those vaccines. There is no need for an adjuvant. The immune system sees the actual virus itself develops antibodies to it and then most, 90-95% of people, are functionally immune.

When we’re talking about bacterial products, let’s say [HEB 00:37:22] pneumococcal, which is a pneumococcal bacteria, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis—these are all bacteria. There’s no way to inject a live bacteria into us. That would be bad. It would cause sepsis. They take a component of the bacteria and then add aluminum as an adjuvant. When it’s injected, it creates inflammation, specifically designed to create inflammation, so that the body recognizes a vaccine component and creates antibodies to it.

It is hard to have this conversation in a short period of time. That’s why I go over all these details in my Vaccines Demystified course, which I try to set up and be as neutral as humanly possible. But it’s really important to me that everybody understands the difference between thimerosal and aluminum and which vaccines contain thimerosal and aluminum and why.

You can completely avoid mercury. You don’t have to worry about that. Aluminum is a totally different story. It’s in a ton of vaccines. That is something to talk about in addition, but I do want everybody to be clear on that.


[00:38:43] Ashley James: You’d mention your course, and I want to let listeners know the links to all of your websites are going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at They can go to, click on ‘Shop’ and they’ll see right there that you have an online course, a webinar that they can take where you go through and explain in a neutral way the pros and cons of vaccines and inform consent fully, inform parents and parents-to-be, so that they can make fully informed choices.

This is a very polarizing topic. We’re not shaming people. I have my very passionate and firm beliefs about vaccines, but I do not impose them on others, and I’m getting the feeling that you are the same. I believe in freedom, and I believe in information, and I do not support an idea that we should ever be forced into any medical procedure. We should use and share information to make knowledgeable decisions.

Your online course, you are offering 20% off to the listeners. They can use coupon code LTH, and all that information is going to be in the show notes of the podcast. I am very interested in having listeners who are passionate about learning more about vaccines to take your course because we want as much information as possible from that neutral standpoint so we can see the pros and cons clearly.

It is when we polarize this, argue for argument’s sake and take a stand because we have a belief, that is where we lose the ability to see the science for what it is. We need to come to the science from a place of non-judgment. I’m glad that you are clearing up these misconceptions.

We’re not saying that anything from a pharmaceutical company is perfect. There’s not one pharmaceutical in the world that doesn’t have a list of side effects.


[00:40:57] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Absolutely. Let’s talk about all of them. It’s really important. I hear people say that vaccines are not regulated as pharmaceuticals. That’s true—they’re not. They’re regulated as biologics, so they’re regulated under a different type of category. But they are regulated.

What do I want people to understand? So many things. One, I am happy to support families in my office regardless of what they decide. Whether you pick all vaccines, no vaccines, some vaccines, I will support you. This is not about me; this is about you. That’s why I lay out what we know.

The other thing is that all I lay out is the evidence that has been studied. There are things that haven’t been studied. There are questions. There are thoughts. There are concerns in some places. I actually lay those out, too.

This is not about me at all, which hopefully spares me a little bit of hate mail because being neutral or somewhere in the middle means that I’ve gotten hate mail saying that I’m killing babies from both sides. Let’s stop that.

If you have very strong feelings about vaccines, it probably doesn’t help anybody to go to the other side and tell them that they’re killing babies. I want to be very clear about this. The reason we’re also passionate about this subject is that we all care about children very much. That’s why it becomes such a polarizing topic because some people have had experiences, which might not line up with what literature says, which doesn’t make sense, which is so confusing to people.

So we’re comparing, sometimes oranges to apples to bananas. It can be so confusing. I urge everybody to take a step back, take a breath. Let’s examine what we know. We can add life experience in with that. We can talk about it in a way that doesn’t shame or guilt, and talk about how to support our bodies and our kids, and come back together and not make this so heated because it’s not helping anybody.


[00:43:29] Ashley James: I knew we were going to get into the topic of vaccines, having a naturopathic pediatrician on the show. You mentioned some of the concerns that maybe haven’t been studied, but there are concerns nonetheless. I have had some doctors in the show talk about the concern that at least the current vaccine schedule where they feel that it is too aggressive. It’s causing a rise in autoimmune disease by overstimulating the immune response. Have you seen this, or seen any evidence to support that the current vaccine schedule is increasing autoimmune disease?


[00:44:12] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: There is no hard evidence of that right now. They have studied that in multiple places. There are a couple know autoimmune conditions like idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura in MMR vaccine, and that is a direct link. There are a few other things, particularly with the MMR vaccine. It’s such an old vaccine that we have decades of research now, but most of the autoimmune diseases that a lot of people talk about with MMR, either like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitisAutism isn’t an autoimmune disease, but that’s a whole another discussion topic.

A lot of the ones that parents have reported, they’ve specifically studied and have not shown to be associated. There is a lot of discussion in the literature right now, and there are some unknowns, particularly about aluminum as an adjuvant and a possible trigger for autoimmunity. It seems like, every time the researchers try to study one vaccine and break it out to see if kids have an increased risk of X, Y, and Z against that vaccine, it’s very rare that they find any direct correlation. Truthfully, it could be due to just variance in the population.

There are so many different things to think about, but for some people getting a virus is a trigger for their autoimmune condition. In that case, it makes sense that if you got a vaccine, it could be a possible trigger for an autoimmune condition. It’s also possible that if you get the disease, that the vaccine is designed to prevent, it could also trigger an autoimmune condition. So remember with autoimmunity, there is always a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger. Vaccines could be an environmental trigger. There is also a huge number of other things that could be environmental triggers as well. How many environmental things do you think we are exposed to nowadays? It’s a lot.

That was a total non-answer. I’m sorry. We have to be through each vaccine individually, and I do in most cases and in my webinar. Again, most of the research we have is in MMR. I’m breaking my brain trying to think of all the other ones that could be potentials, but I would watch each section individually because I do talk about well-reported adverse events in each section.


[00:47:06] Ashley James: You’re saying that having a virus could trigger autoimmune disease, which could be from the vaccine, but it also could be from getting it naturally.


[00:47:22] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Right.


[00:47:24] Ashley James: Got it. Measles is quite a hot topic right now. I live just down the street from where you grew up. I’m in Snohomish, in between Woodinville and Monroe, so I know Kirkland. And here in Washington, I believe our passing a bill to take away the ability to opt out of the MMR vaccine, and there are talks of going after religious exemptions as well.

There is definitely fear and concern around an outbreak. I believe 700 cases have been reported in the United States in the last year. What would you like to say regarding measles? Before the measles vaccine, we would get the measles. They’re even showing that people who have had measles naturally and survived and went on to have natural immunity have lower rates of cancer. They see that in some ways, it stimulates and helps the immune system. You have to survive it though.


[00:48:40] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yeah. Measles has about a 0.01% chance of death. Again, only the people that have survived—oh, man. I don’t know how much I can do justice to this topic because I think that MMR topic in my course is 25 minutes long. But there’s a couple of things that I want to mention.

We can’t interview the people that died from it. Of all our “vaccine-preventable” diseases, measles probably has the highest permanent complication rate and permanent death rate. It can be just a fever and a rash, but it does seem to have much higher rates of encephalitis. It particularly attacks the neurological system, so permanent deafness and/or encephalitis. Obviously, not in everybody. It never happens to everybody.

The question is—yes, the weak ones—people who are genetically susceptible or have weak immune systems, historically probably would not have survived the measles outbreak. The question now is, “Are you willing for that to be your kid?” because I don’t want my kid to be the one who has the weak immune system and didn’t make it?

There are a couple of other things too. Actually getting measles significantly causes almost a year-long immunosuppression. Folks who get wild-type measles have a doubled risk of all-cause mortality the year following natural infection. That’s pretty significant.

Wow, I don’t like having the conversation this way because I don’t like to present it like, “Hey, here’s a fear tactic,” you know? That’s not what I’m about at all. This is a weird way to have this conversation and be like, “Ah, measles. We’re all going to die.”

That’s the problem with the media, too. We have not had a death this year, but there are, I’m sure, children who are going to have permanent neurological complications from measles.


[00:51:28] Ashley James: I just saw an interview with two doctors about this. I think they were citing some studies that those who have vitamin A deficiency have a much greater chance of having complications or not surviving measles.


[00:51:45] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Oh, yeah. That’s in a developing world. That has been cited amongst naturopathic doctors and the holistic medical world prominently, so a lot of people have been saying, “Just give vitamin A.” But that only seems to hold true for developing nations.

So if you give a child in a developing nation vitamin A and they get the measles, their survival rate goes way up. That has not been documented to be true in Western nations, but we also have really low rates of mortality in Western nations with measles because we have access to excellent healthcare. The rate of vitamin A deficiency, like natural vitamin A deficiency in Western nations is really low.


[00:52:31] Ashley James: So we’re not diving too deep into this. As you said, you have a 25-minute talk in your—


[00:52:37] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I kind of feel bad. Again, this is not how I like to present this information. I know we’re in the midst of a measles outbreak right now, and I was thinking about recording an extra add-on piece to my MMR lecture about a couple of these things like measles causing immunosuppression and all sorts of things. I apologized to our listeners because this is not the way that I like to present this in an unbiased format and not a fear-based format.

But I think that we should talk about the actual consequences of measles. It can either be way played up in the media or way played down in conventional and alternative medicine where people say, “It’s just measles. It’s not a big deal.” The reality is somewhere in between. It’s not like, “We’re all going to die” but some kids statistically speaking will, and some kids who get measles infection, even if they have the best treatment, probably are going to have serious neurological complications. I do know of a case of a child with measles who is now partially deaf in the US and Canada. Just be aware of that. There’s somewhere in between, and let’s talk about it. It’s not Shmeasle Measles like I’ve seen Mama Blog talked about. At the same time, it’s not like the world is ending either.


[00:54:07] Ashley James: So you’ve brought up some good points about it—somewhere in between like you said. So measles, if you contract it a year afterward, your immune system is compromised. You can, therefore, develop other complications. You have a percentage of a chance. There’s a chance that you can develop long-term permanent neurological complications and a very small percentage, there is death.

A good chunk of people though go through measles. Like you said it’s a rash, a fever, your body fights it and mounts a response, and you’re done. But even so, even the healthiest of those who survive measles with no complications, still have a year ahead of them. Like getting mono, where they have a year ahead of them being depleted.


[00:54:59] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: That’s a good way of describing it.


[00:55:00] Ashley James: People can go through any virus and end up feeling crappy for a whole year. I’ve heard of even chronic fatigue being a long-term consequence of being exposed to a virus.


[00:55:15] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: That’s specifically those human herpes viruses, and I don’t mean to herpes simplex, like the cold sore virus. It’s a strain of the virus that’s called human herpes virus. Sort of like HHB6, EBV, CMV—these are all not family, and yes, they’re going to cause long-term immune suppression. So yeah, that’s a great way of characterizing actually.


[00:55:35] Ashley James: You painted one side of the picture. Let’s paint the other side of the picture coming from a very wonderful neutral stand. I don’t feel like you’re fear-mongering. You want us to know the truth.

The truth is life is messy, and we could get exposed to anything. You can cut your finger and die of an infection. Not to be morbid, but we are surrounded by unseen bacteria and viruses all the time. The best thing we can do is build up our bodies. Make our bodies as healthy as possible. Make our bodies just as healthy as we can because we’re always going to be exposed to germs, and that’s at least in our control. We can choose to eat at McDonald’s, or we can choose to eat at the organic salad bar? One choice is going to lower our overall health, and the other choice is going to help support our overall health. We do have daily choices. We make 50 choices a day that could build our health or destroy our health.

We have the ability to make choices to build ourselves up. Let’s talk about the other side. I bring up choices because the fear-mongering make us feel helpless. These viruses are unseen, and it leads us to feel like we’re helpless. Therefore, we can’t do anything about it.

And the marketing that is used to make us want to go up and get a flu vaccine, for example, is all the fear-mongering like you said. So no—don’t give in to fear mongering. Let’s listen to Dr. Erica. Let’s listen to the reality of it that there are consequences. There are pros. Let’s look up both of them. So having outlined what would happen if you got measles, this could be someone who’s vaccinated but is a non-responder, or someone who has chosen not to vaccinate.


[00:57:30] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Right. It’s about 5%.


[00:57:32] Ashley James: So even if you’ve been vaccinated, you have a 5% chance of getting the measles anyway. Here’s the information. Now, let’s look at the other side. What are the known cons of getting the MRR vaccine?


[00:57:46] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I keep answering a different question. Can I take one step back?


[00:57:53] Ashley James: Please do.


[00:57:55] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: This goes back to our autoimmune piece. Maybe this will help put it together. One of my absolute no-no’s around the time of vaccination or illness is suppressing the fever. This point is totally opinion, so this may not be medical fact at all. This is completely Dr. Erica opinion.

I think that autoimmunity has been triggered by suppressing a normal, natural immune response to either a vaccine or an illness. This is what I’ve been telling my patients not to do. In times of fever, if we suppress the immune system, then I think the immune system gets confused and starts attacking itself. That’s why absolutely, no Tylenol—anywhere around the time of vaccines, and I also want to be clear on this—the MMR vaccine has been studied up, down, backward, sideways. They’ve done studies of 20 million children at this point and have not found an association with autism.

Now, I know you’re going to have a listener who’s going to tell me that their child had a reaction to MMR, and I’m not discounting that. There’s quite a bit of discussion of whether things have been under-reported or not reported. But I do think at least some of those cases were from Tylenol exposure and not from the MMR vaccine itself. There is more evidence now that Tylenol is triggering autism than there is the MMR vaccine, and probably particularly the combination of the two is dangerous. So talking about an event where you’re putting a live virus into the subcu tissue, the immune system is acting upon it and trying to create antibodies against what you have just injected into subcu. You suppressed the immune system. Where does it have to go? It doesn’t know what to do. And so, I think, that’s when we’re causing problems is when we’re starting to suppress fevers.

And you’re right. I hadn’t seen measles, but for sure from having high fevers from a strep infection reduces the rates of cancers. And so I think we’ve suppressed so many fevers. We’re so afraid of fevers now. It’s dangerous. I think that many more people would do better if we just let them have their fever because it runs its course on its own. Does that make sense?


[01:00:26] Ashley James: Absolutely. I love that you brought this up. I had an anesthesiologist who’s turned holistic doctor. She left anesthesiology after her son—her son is autistic, and she saw this world of holistic medicine, and he went from not being able to function in a “normal” school to completely able to function in a “normal school.” He goes to a Waldorf or something, but not having to go to very specialized autistic schools for those in the spectrum

He’s not highly functioning, and she did it with him using holistic medicine. She says that the most important thing in development is a fever. She sees a neurological leap in development after a child has had a healthy fever that wasn’t suppressed.


[01:01:26] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I’ve never heard of that before, but I completely would believe it. It’s so important to have an immune system that does something. That’s what our immune system is supposed to do. When you don’t, then you’re going to get eczema, asthma, chronic illness.

That’s what our immune system was designed for. Why are we so afraid of that? That is one of the things that I hammer into parents. I wish we would throw out our thermometers. A 105-degree fever can be normal. A fever is not intrinsically dangerous until at 108. It’s shocking to parents.

If you don’t believe me, go to Seattle Children’s hospital and type in [A Fever Mess], and they’ll back me up. For some reason, I put that all over Naturopathic Pediatrics, and again I have people telling me that I’m killing babies. It was just not true.

It’s so pervasive in parenting culture that you must treat a fever, and it’s completely not based on any evidence in any way. It drives me absolutely crazy. There is no degree of fever other than 108, which kids never get to, that is dangerous at all. Kids who do get high fevers often will get febrile seizures. They are super scary. But the studies are really clear that febrile seizures are not dangerous. They are probably dangerous to the parents’ blood pressure. They are really scary, and so I get it. I have total empathy with parents that it’s absolutely so scary, but the kids are okay. It’s just a really scary process.

The warning signs—one, fevers in newborns are not normal. So please don’t [mishear 01:03:13] me that. Any fever from newborn to 28 days is worked up incredibly aggressively in the hospital, and I mean lumbar puncture, IV antibiotics, IV antivirals. They’re aggressive. So that’s anything over 100.4 on a [inaudible 01:03:31] thermometer which is I usually recommend. It needs to be worked up immediately. Even babies who are up to three months of age, a fever is not considered normal, and they need a workup by their doctor within 24 hours, unless they’re looking sick and then they need to go to the ER right away. Anything that children at three months and above, they could get any degree of fever, and I’m not worried about it as long as, A, they’re hydrating, and B, they look okay. They’re going to be fussy. They’re going to be probably sleeping more than usual, but they should not be listless, non-responsive, lethargic—all of those would be warning signs that something is more dangerous. Don’t touch it. Just let it go.


[01:04:12] Ashley James: I love it.


[01:04:13] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: And then I can come back to MMR if you want me to.


[01:04:15] Ashley James: At this point, someone might consider you to be pro-vaccine in your sharing. You’re not pushing vaccines at all. You’re just giving the information. But the information you’ve presented makes them sound safe and a really good choice. Am I wrong? Is there anything you’d like to say to add to this conversation? Do you have any concerns about the safety of vaccines?


[01:04:48] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Of course. When I’m in a group of alternative medicine providers, I always sound like a crazy pro-vaccine, and when I am in a group of conventional medical providers, I sound like so crazy antivaccine. That’s part of the nature of good old-fashioned Jesuit education, where you’re just like our contrarian no matter what. That’s part of examining the evidence.

So again, I like to present both sides very clearly, and again it’s more because you’re interviewing me and asking these questions that are coming from listeners who, I think, in alternative medicine, tend to be biased against vaccines. It makes me seem like I’m really skewed for vaccines, and part of that also is because I’m discussing things that have become such a part of the culture, and they’re just factually untrue like the thiomersal piece. It’s just not true.

And so we need to talk about that. It’s not true that thiomersal is in vaccines. It’s not there, but aluminum is. There is no aluminum in the MMR vaccine. I do go through a section of aluminum in my webinar as well. I don’t think there’s truthfully great evidence on either side in terms of aluminum itself. There is one large safety study on aluminum exposure and why at least conventional medicine in public health considers aluminum safe in kids, and it’s based on a safety study done in two New Zealand white rabbits. I don’t love that. How can anybody make inferences of safety in humans based on white rabbits? That’s just so frustrating.

And so I have a few things in MMR that are incredibly frustrating, too, in terms of immunity. I have a section in my webinar where I say—this is the actual quote from the CDC. It says, “Measles antibodies develop among approximately 95% of children vaccinated at the age of 12 months, and 98% of children vaccinated at 15 months. That’s based on unpublished data. We don’t even have—when I try to find the actual research citation for that, it’s published in a pink book, which is like cites itself in the CDC, which cites itself again. There is no data for that. It’s absolutely freaking up the wall.

So what I’m trying to do is give families evidence, and how can you give them evidence if there’s no data? It’s just like, “Ugh!” I wish I had something. There are no guarantees in life. I wish I could tell you it’s safe to give your child an MMR, and I also which I could tell you, it’s totally safe to let them have the measles. I just can’t. There are no guarantees. Statistically speaking, there is always going to be a child who reacts poorly to the MMR vaccine. We’ve reached the tipping point. At this point, we’re up until this year probably there are more kids having adverse reactions to the MMR vaccine than there were kids getting measles. And then it skews because then people don’t want to vaccinate then it skews to not having coverage to the point where then the measles can come back and spread. I will be very honest about me. I am not comfortable with my children having a wild type measles infection. I don’t love the MMR vaccine at all, but I feel like the odds are kind of in favor of actually getting MMR, so it would be great if no one had to have the MMR vaccine and there’s no measles. That would be ideal right? Wouldn’t it be great? But we don’t live in that world.


[01:08:55] Ashley James: So then it sounds like you did vaccinate your children?


[01:09:00] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Oh, boy. I usually don’t tell people what I did. [laughs]


[01:09:04] Ashley James: Well, no. My next question then is a relevant question. For those who have vaccinated, how do we support our child in being healthy in the face of all those chemicals? Read the full insert. It’s pretty bizarre—the carcinogens.


[01:09:21] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I go through all of those though. It’s great because I go through each individual ingredient in my webinar. Some of them look scarier than they are. Some of them are not great at all. Some are more kind of terrible. But some of them are like nowhere [inaudible 01:09:38] People like to publish all sorts of weird things about—I don’t know. The things that some people on the internet have gotten all hung up about on the vaccine ingredients, I’m like, “What?” That’s sodium phosphate. That’s salt. Let’s talk about the ones that we need to be talking about.


[01:09:57] Ashley James: Well, they’re scary. The scary ingredients—like we’re talking about aluminum in your brain or your bloodstream. It’s not healthy in high doses. What do you do to support a child in detoxing and being healthy after a vaccine?


[01:10:18] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I always feel like legally this is a risky place to talk about all these without having the time for it. In my office, almost all families who come to me who want to vaccinate are vaccinating on an alternate schedule because they come into my office. Why else would they be in my office if they want to get all of them at the same time? They go to a pediatrician down the road.

Almost all of my patients, if they’re vaccinating, they are vaccinating on an alternate schedule. I have an alternate vaccine schedule that only gives one aluminum-containing vaccine at a time. I also go way out of my way to find the vaccines that either has no aluminum, or low aluminum or are preservative-free. I do my absolute best. In some cases, that’s available. In some cases, it’s not available. In my office, I typically only give two vaccines at a time.

The nice part about that, with only giving two at a time, is that you can identify quickly which vaccine is causing the problem and which isn’t. So that makes it much easier. It’s very rare for families in my office to have vaccine reactions. I mean anything other than—I don’t even have any fevers truthfully. I’ve had one child ever show any signs of developmental regression, and we immediately stopped vaccinating and gave them glutathione, and he came back on track.

Interestingly enough, he was an IVF baby, and I don’t know if that was some part of it, but that’s the very first one I’ve ever seen in my office. I am extremely cautious about vaccinating babies. One, and this is probably the other thing that’s happening in conventional practices, is babies/toddlers, whatever age you’re vaccinating, whatever age you choose to start vaccinating, they must be well.

Why are we vaccinating? Not me—I’m not vaccinating when they’re sick. But in conventional physicians’ offices, they’re routinely vaccinating kids who are sick. That’s another guaranteed way to get a vaccine reaction. When your immune system is already doing something, and then you throw in all—of course, they’re throwing in six to ten antigens at once, I guess research says that that’s okay, but that—yeah. That’s why I’m a naturopathic doctor, but it’s probably not the antigens maybe that are even the problem because in some ways the antigenic load is slightly lower than it was in the 80s because DTP, now it’s DTaP and the DTP vaccine, was highly antigenic.

Just so listeners are aware, the DTP vaccine we had in the 80s is different than the DTaP. The DTaP now seems to be well tolerated. DTP then was not well tolerated. The downside of DTaP now is it’s not as effective as it was as the DTP vaccine back then.

One, kids must be well. Two, if they’re showing absolutely any signs of anything other than fussiness, I’m giving liposomal glutathione immediately. I probably would give it to every child across the board except its expensive, and probably most kids don’t need it. Remember, only kids who are genetically susceptible to glutathione depletion are going to have glutathione depletion. But you can supplement lipo glutathione around the time of vaccination, and it works great.

Probiotics have good research for both improving the immune response to vaccines and reducing side effects, which is great. It helps our immune stimulation in our gut, and it makes a big difference there, too. Kids should be supplementing vitamin D to help immune systems, but the two biggies are kids are well, and they do not have fever-suppressing medications.


[01:14:38] Ashley James: When it comes to flu season, when there are large outbreaks, have you ever talked to other clinics and seen that your patients statistically, because they’re following your instructions and choosing a healthy lifestyle as possible, that statistically your clinic has fewer cases of flu than others?


[01:15:04] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I don’t know. I have had cases of flu in my office. There hasn’t been anybody who was needed to be sent to the hospital. Flu spreads. You might get flu whether or not you’re perfect on your supplements, and I want to reduce the guilt for moms a little bit, too. Having your child have a perfect diet and supplementing perfectly doesn’t mean that they’re never going to get sick. And if they get sick, it doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. Sometimes they get sick, you know? They do. Whether they eat the perfect diet, they have the world’s best supplements on board, whether you vaccinate or not vaccinate, whether you think you did everything right or you didn’t think you did everything right, the most important thing you can do for your child is to be there for them.

It’s so important. We have to lay aside the guilt. We are not going to do it perfectly with our kids, but you got to be there for them. I don’t want you to go to McDonald’s. I think it’s terrible. If you do it and you’re in their life, you did it. You made it.


[01:16:35] Ashley James: I love it. That’s very well said. A lot of mothers look back and regret making some choices around medical things, and then they learn something, and they realize that it might not have been the right choice. But we can’t change the past, and feeling guilty about it is not going to help us in the now. We’re in our child’s life. We’re filling them with love, and they’re going to have a good outcome in life because we’re there for them and just beaming love at them and really caring. Regardless of where we stand on the vaccine—I don’t want to say issue, but—


[01:17:14] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Conversation.


[01:17:16] Ashley James: Yeah, it’s a conversation. It’s not a fight. I like that you advocate for an altered schedule because you’re doing it in a way that’s respectful of the child’s immune system, and you’re watching. Every time they get one vaccine, you watch to see if there are any issues.

I had Dr. Paul Thompson [Dr. Paul Thomas] on the show, and he also discussed this. That’s why I asked you about the flu thing because when I interviewed him, it was last February. His practice is in Portland, and he has four or five other pediatricians in his practice—a nice-sized practice. Thousands and thousands of patients on a Friday where all the local hospitals had four- or five-hour wait times because the flu was prevalent in the community, the entire clinic closed early because they got not one phone call for the flu.

Again, you can be the healthiest person in the world but still catch the flu. It’s more about how quickly you bounce back, how healthy your immune response.” I remember when I was a kid, and I had a naturopath that my mom took me to. When I was sick, it was just very quick. I get a fever, I’d go to sleep, I’d wake up, and I was better. It was just, boom, the immune system kicks in, does its job. We don’t impede it, and I’ve seen this in my son. If he gets sick, it’s just a big fever, and he sleeps and then he’s better.

It can drag on really long. If someone is diminished, depleted, if their body is toxic, like you said, the person can’t produce enough glutathione. Dr. Paul Thompson [Dr. Paul Thomas] was saying he recommends the same thing you’ve recommended that the family supplement, eat healthily and avoid bad food, get out in the sunshine and move around and do the basic, what we think is common sense. But it’s not taught by every pediatrician unfortunately or emphasized as standard.
In his clinic, he’s had what seems to be fewer cases of flu because of that advice. So I was curious to know if you’d possibly seen that.

You’ve already talked a bit about vitamin D, vitamin E, good clean multivitamin, fish oil. Can you recommend what would you want to be in every single family’s medicine cabinet, some go-to either homeopathics or essential oils? What’s great for babies and children for us to use when dealing with the common things that come up?


[01:20:24] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I’ve got lots, way too many. One thing quickly about that, seeing differences in flu cases—Maybe I just don’t know because I’m not comparing directly to other urgent care clinics. They’re probably slammed, and I get busy with cold and flu season, but I don’t know how to compare the relationship between the two. I did want to say one other thing too about vaccines in my office and that’s that in Montana where I am, if kids want to be in daycare or preschool, they must be not completely fully vaccinated but close and on schedule. That’s another reason why families have to have their vaccines basically on time if both parents are returning to work.

And so that’s different. Just to put that in context for the listeners in case they feel like, “Whoa, she gives a lot of vaccines early.” We’re stuck to that based on the vaccine requirements.

So to go to your actual question, hopefully, all kids are being supplemented with vitamin D. All breastfed babies should be supplemented with vitamin D, at least 400 IU daily. I recommend up to a 1000 IU daily way up here in Missoula, Montana, because I’ve been testing babies’ levels and they’re all low—super low.

So I was doing maybe like 3000-4000 IU a week, and I’ve just upped it to 1000 IU a day because they’ve never seen one normal. They’re super low. But I mean that’s up here, too. We’re in a different spot than a lot of people in the country.


[01:22:02] Ashley James: What is a normal level for a child?


[01:22:05] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Still above 30 is like a bare minimum. I see them in the teens, below teens, in babies, and that’s worrying.

The theory was that if you give mom a certain amount of IU, 10% pass to the babies. So we used to supplement mom with 5,000 IU and hope that the baby gets, 500 but if mom is deficient, that does not work, and so I stopped doing that. I do not recommend that as a reliable method of supplementing the baby with vitamin D because we don’t know how much mom is putting in breast milk. She might be just taking all of it for herself. I do recommend supplementing babies directly with Vitamin D.

My absolute favorite thing to have in our herbal medicine cabinet is lemon balm glycerides. I love it. I have a series of well child guides on the naturopathic shop. They only go from newborn to 12 months. Right now, I’m working hard on getting the 15 months to 4 years age range, and they correspond with all the well child visits for each age group.

My thought behind this was this—they call them anticipatory guidance handouts that you get at a pediatric visit. All they tell you to do is how not to kill your baby. “Don’t smoke around your baby. Always buckle them up in a car seat.” And I’m like, “Really? That’s the best you can do. I pretty well could figure that one out.”

What I wanted to do was give families extra information, not just about how to not kill their baby, but how to support them, what’s normal sleep times, what’s the normal amount of time for babies to fall asleep, what’s normal development at that age, what’s not normal development, and when is it concerning. I do have a little list of vaccines, and right at the top, it says what is typically recommended at each age. And right at the top, we say we want to support families regardless of how they vaccinate. I still wanted to put that there because I still think it’s important for families to know what’s typically given at certain ages, whether or not you choose to vaccinate your child.

At the end of each one is an herb guide, and it includes dosages based on weight. I mean babies under four months are too young really to supplement with any significant, meaningful amount. I think I have a little bit in there for fennel at the two-month visit, but at the four-month one, I have an herb guide for lemon balm, which is my favorite ever.

You can make a tea out of lemon balm. It grows like a weed here in Montana, which is great because we have an overabundant supply. But in a glycerate form, it’s like a tincture, only they use glycerin instead of alcohol to make the liquid, and you can give it to babies. It’s a great substitute for Tylenol. It will not artificially suppress a fever. It will help break a fever that’s already ready to come down on its own. It’s an anti-inflammatory if that fever is ready to come down on its own.

Another pro tip for parents, dehydrated babies have a really hard time breaking their fevers. It can be helpful to give them even spoonfuls of tea or liquid or something. Nursing them is ideal, but if you can’t get something into them, camomile tea, just a spoonful at a time can help hydrate them.

Lemon balm is great for pain relief, too. The same thing—it doesn’t block the pain like Tylenol does, which by the way, Tylenol works by an unknown mechanism in the brain. It’s centrally acting. It works at the brain itself—a little disturbing because we don’t know what’s happening. We don’t know whether the negative effects of Tylenol are from glutathione reduction or from actually working directly on our endocannabinoid system, which is super disturbing. We don’t know what it’s doing.

Lemon balm is fantastic. It would be my number one. I would always have a source of vitamin C. I use vitamin C orally for ear infections to help reduce inflammation in the eustachian tube. That’s another great one. I have a course of 10 vitamin C mix, which has a little extra antimicrobial and flavonoids support and it tastes delicious, mixed in applesauce for babies six months and up.

Passionflower glycerin is another nice one for a little bit older babies and toddlers and all the way through elementary school children. It’s a fantastic herb. I’m an herb lover. I love and adore herbs. Mullein tincture is one of my faves too for coughs. It’s super gentle, and it helps both wet and dry coughs, kind of. It’s relaxing. It’s a gentle mucolytic. I also use it orally for ear infections to help drain mucus and help the eustachian tube to open up.


[01:27:34] Ashley James: What is passionflower for?


[01:27:37] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: It’s an anxiolytic. It’s mild happy herbs.


[01:27:43] Ashley James: When would you give it to a child—when they’re going through an illness?


[01:27:48] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Teething is great. It’s very gentle. It’s safe. It’s great for nursing moms too. Oh, gosh. I have so many more, but maybe we should stop there so that we can stop at some point.


[01:28:10] Ashley James: Do you have this information that people can purchase as your e-books on your website? Is that correct?


[01:28:17] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yes. Right now, there’s a couple of different options. One, each of these is available for each well-child guide, so say for two months there’s information that’s relevant to the two-month timeframe, and then at the end there is an herb guide that I thought is relevant for that age. So herbs that are safe for that age group is what I put and attached to each of the well-child guides.

You can also get all of them from newborn to 12 months as part of the My Infant Health Binder, and my idea behind that—this is what I do for families in my office. The first visit they have with me, they get a three-ring binder as a place to store both growth charts, but also these well-child guides that are about six pages of information, places to write down questions for the doctor, a place to track milestones and development. I have a little section on what to expect.

In the two-month well child guide it says what to expect between two months and four months, which is your next scheduled well child check, and then the herb guide that goes with each of them. My Infant Health Binder has all of them in it plus extra places to store information, particularly for families who have a child with a complex medical health issue.

That could be a full provider list, a full supplement list, and a start and stop date for all the supplements that have been tried—just a way to organize everything. I am big about this because there’s so much information. There’s more information than I can go over in a well child check. There’s more information I want to give than I could possibly talk about in a well child check. For families who do have complex medical health issues, they need a way to organize all that information.


[01:30:11] Ashley James: Absolutely. Anything you want to add before we move on to the next question?


[01:30:16] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Oh, geez. I’ll say no.


[01:30:19] Ashley James: For those parents who have young children, they can go to, click on “Shop” and then choose the guides that support them during that developmental stage and use the coupon code LTH to get 20% off, and you’re going to be coming out with more guides in the future, which is exciting.


[01:30:38] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yes.


[01:30:41] Ashley James: Clone yourself.


[01:30:42] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yes, I actually am. This is what I’m working on. This is my new endeavor with It is literally how to clone myself because I get emails from people all the time, “Where can I find a doctor like you?”

My practice is closed to new patients. I have 40 people on my waiting list. I can’t keep up with demand. There are tons of you guys who are listening who are like, “Whoa, there’s so much information. This is so cool,” and I don’t have time for all of you.

What I’m trying to do is put more information up on I seem never to have time. I’m trying to run a practice, and I have two kids that are 7 and 3, and I’m trying to be a mom at the same time. It’s a little bit crazy.

The long-term goal of is to provide providers, naturopathic doctors or functional docs with trustworthy pediatric resources and references so that I can clone myself so that we can all do this because there’s no reason that we can’t. Clearly, there’s a huge demand for it.


[01:31:56] Ashley James: Great. So then, those who are listening who aren’t in your area and you’re not taking new patients right now anyway, although I know that you are expanding your practice as well. But for those around the world, they could ask their pediatrician to check out your resources on your website.


[01:32:12] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yes. Just started it, but right now it’s at, and there’s only a very small chunk of things up on that section. But my goal—I was hoping by the end of the summer, but it’s probably not going to happen—is to have a hundred hand-outs on that page. I’m working on that, and I’m also working on finishing all these well child guides up until age 10 and develop templates for all of us too, so there’s one place to look for information rather than just the conventional options for everything.


[01:32:58] Ashley James: I love it. I love the work you’re doing. I love your website, and I love your mission. Naturopathic medicine saved my life. I was very sick, and I’d exhausted all the resources in conventional medicine. It was like spring air. It was like a light bulb turning on to go from an MD allopathic medical system back to naturopathy.

I grew up with a naturopath, and then I kind of lost my way, and then I came back to it. I had type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections. I was on courses and courses of antibiotics. I was miserable and sick all the time. I couldn’t even process human language in the morning. My brain was so shot, and I was just in so much brain fog. I felt like a prisoner trapped in my own body. I was going through yoyos of hormone issues. I also had a polycystic ovarian syndrome. I was told I’d never have kids, and I was infertile.

Naturopathic medicine—I had conceived naturally. I have a four-year-old now that I conceived naturally. I look at how big he is. I’m like, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe.” He grows so fast. It was all naturopathic medicine in the last eight years that saved my life and got me to where I am now.

That’s why I do this podcast because I want everyone else who is going through what they’re going through to learn that there are alternatives that can support their body in coming back into balance. Of course, we want to respect science as well. That’s why I love the type of work you do.

For me, it was a natural step to bring our newborn to a naturopath pediatrician, and it is much like seeing one as an adult. They spend an ample amount between 30-60 minutes every appointment. I’ve never seen that with an MD. There are couches, and we sit down, and it is a good long hour, sometimes 40-45 minutes, whatever our needs are, and then we’ve emptied out, and then the naturopath or our pediatrician is like, “Anything else? What about this?” And we’re like, “Wow! We can really empty out.”

Our son had some asthma attacks, and I was concerned. I love Children’s Hospital in Seattle. Just always, they’ve taken such good care of us. Our naturopathic pediatrician said, “We need to do some allergy testing.” It turns out he’s allergic to about five different foods and dust mites. We did all the dust mite mitigation. It didn’t make a difference.

That’s when we turned to the food testing, and we have removed the foods that he was allergic to, the foods he ate every day like avocado, salmon, eggs. I was really surprised that these are foods that he had been eating since he was six months old. No wonder he had been having these problems. We removed the foods he was allergic to or sensitive to, and immediately overnight, the sniffles went away. The wheezing went away.

Unbelievable. I can’t imagine how many children have asthma out there with inhalers, steroids, and trips to the emergency room, and it’s because they’re exposed to foods that are perceived as healthy, but their immune system can’t handle it. If he goes to someone’s house that is not vacuumed very well, he’ll get wheezy just a little bit. But no more rushing him to the emergency room. Since removing those foods, it has cut down all the problems by 70%, and then the dust mites are the other 30%. But this is the care I don’t think I would ever have gotten going to an allopathic practitioner.

What you do as a naturopath, you look at the family unit as a whole. You look at mental health, emotional health. You look at food. You’re looking at the whole picture, and I respect that.

A lot of my listeners had questions about ear infections. Can we get into that a little bit?


[01:37:29] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yeah, for sure. Remember that ear infections in babies is primarily because the eustachian tube doesn’t drain. It’s horizontal rather than at a semi-vertical angle like it is in adults. The main reason that kids get ear infections is that anytime they get a cold, the eustachian tube backs up, and rather than draining into the throat, it just stays there behind the ear.

Ear infections are a fluid management problem. They’re not an infection problem per se. It’s that the fluid persists behind the eardrum. That’s what creates a breeding ground for bacteria. It doesn’t matter that it’s like the bacteria per se. If you can drain it, you don’t have to worry about it. It’s pretty rare in my office that I have a child that we can’t “cure.” I don’t know about cure but treat naturopathically. I think I’ve had two or maybe three kids over the last three years that we finally sent for ear tubes. I think in all three cases, their parents also had a history of needing to have ear tubes placed.

Now Missoula, Montana, also has terrible air quality, and so this is contributing to like a massive tonsillar enlargement all the time here. And so that’s also kind of an obstacle to cure that I cannot cure because we have wildfire smoke for at least two months in the summer. There’s nothing I can do about that even in the best case.

In the winter when there’s not smoke, we sit in a bowl, and so we get all of this air pollution. It’s terrible. Most of the time, kids can be treated naturopathically. There’s a sweet little easy eustachian tube massage you can do by putting your thumbs underneath your lobes, putting some gentle traction, and then gently dragging down the neck. It helps pop open the eustachian tube behind your thumb there. It’s hard to describe. I should video that. I might put that up on the nat ped site at some point.

And then using things like vitamin C to help reduce the swelling of the eustachian tube. I’m doing some gentle mucolytic is important. And then I do treat topically with garlic mullein ear drops as well. The eardrum must be intact. It has to be fully there. If the eardrum is ruptured, then it’s dangerous to put anything actually into the ear canal. We used to say that those garlic mullein eardrops were antimicrobial. I don’t know that the garlic penetrates the eardrum well enough to kill the infection, but they feel amazing. They’re awesome. Have you ever tried them?


[01:40:12] Ashley James: Oh, yeah.


[01:40:13] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: People criticize naturopathic doctors like, “That onion ear muff is so pseudosciencey.” Have you ever tried it? It’s awesome. The onion earmuff is the other one. You take a half an onion, you either microwave it for 20 seconds or simmer it in a little bit of water, like a half an inch of water until it’s soft, wrap a towel around it, hold it against the ear. It is amazing. It feels so good. Why would you criticize us for that? It’s so cheap. It’s so easy. It feels amazing.

Lots of little tiny ones won’t hold still long enough to put the onion over there. But the garlic mullein drops, if you warm them—they must be warmed to body temperature. Stick the whole bottle in a little cup of warm water. The reason for that is if you put anything into the ear canal that’s either too hot or too cold, it’ll trigger nystagmus in the kids. The eyes will beat, the eyes will go sideways, and it’s dizzy. You never want to put something cold in the ear canal, warm it up to body temperature, and it feels great. It’s fantastic for pain relief. Maybe there’s some antimicrobial benefit. I don’t care. It works fantastic.


[01:41:22] Ashley James: It has to be anti-inflammatory. The calendula at least is a very nice pain reliever. I went through a series of ear infections in the last few years, and I figured out I wear studio headphones all day long, and they were trapping all the moisture, and then I was sleeping on a latex pillow, which I think I’m allergic to.

I chucked the pillow, and the infections cut down, and so I would start to feel it coming on, and I used the garlic mullein we have for our son. Oh, my gosh. It feels so good. You’re right. It feels so good.

I’ve done the onion ear muffs. I put them in the oven and then cut it. I just put the whole onion in the oven, warm it up, then cut it in half and stuck it right on my ear. That felt good too, but nothing feels as good if you have an earache as the garlic mullein oil. I’d wait until my son fell asleep and then put it in his ear because he will not sit around for putting something in it. A toddler does not like that.

My understanding is that when a child has ear infections, we look to the diet to make sure that cow’s milk, for example, it can cause or contribute. Can you talk a bit about how we can prevent ear infections beyond the fact that it’s not draining? As you said, it might be physiological. It’s not draining. But beyond that, what can we do to prevent them?


[01:42:54] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yeah, so it’s still swelling to the eustachian tube. Usually, it’s triggered by some cold, so any virus, then there’s mucus from the nose, and it’s draining back into the throat. [inaudible 01:43:07] elimination works a certain percentage of the time. I don’t know that the kids that have severe or chronic ear infections; I have not seen it be that helpful for it. But again, that may be one because I don’t have a ton of recurrent ear infection patients.

It seems like usually once we treat it for most kids, it’s gone. Some kids get unlucky and have recurrent ear infections, and we will remove cow’s dairy. Maybe I see that help in 30-50%. It could be a confounder though because again I think our air quality is pretty poor here in Missoula.

I think that’s contributing to extra inflammation. So yes, cow’s dairy products and citrus fruits can be mucus-forming. And so if kids are getting recurrent ear infections, then eliminate those foods, at least around the time that they have the ear infection. If there are kids that have more than two ear infections, then we cut out dairy for the long term.


[01:44:11] Ashley James: Would you say that they could get on lemon balm, mullein, passion fruit, these things you mentioned?


[01:44:17] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Passionflower. Passion fruit wouldn’t work—totally different. Tastes delicious, but it would not work. Yeah, for pain control, if they want to.


[01:44:29] Ashley James: I’ve heard from my chiropractor friends that often a good adjustment will clear it up.


[01:44:37] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yes, that’s a great one. I have referred to pediatric chiropractors all the time, and there are different ways of doing it. Some are manipulated in the cervical bones. Some are just doing an endonasal kind of treatment. You can also reach in and gently massage. It’s uncomfortable— the opening of the eustachian tube into the pharynx itself.

There are lots of different ways to do it, but yes, for a couple of the kids. I have one family who we finally did send them to the ENT to at least get the consult for ear tubes because here’s the deal—for a lot of these kids, they have ended up on recurrent antibiotics. It’s very rare for me to prescribe antibiotics for an ear infection. I’ve hardly ever done it. But when you’ve got kids who are having bursting eardrums, then we’re at the point where we’re like, “You know what, what else are we going to do?” In those cases, basically by the time naturopathic therapies have failed, almost all the time I see antibiotics fail, too.

It doesn’t seem like the antibiotics are doing anything. Either the eustachian tube is so swollen, or genetically they have such a twisted eustachian tube, it’s not going to make a difference. So that’s when I refer to the ENT because then our only other option is drainage out of the ear into the ear canal itself because there’s no other way to do it. I’m not going to keep having kids be on recurrent antibiotics forever and ever. I’d rather have them put a tube in. But this one family did go to the chiropractor and cleared it in that amount of time. I was thrilled. I was really happy.


[01:46:12] Ashley James: That’s very cool. Do you have other big pieces of advice that someone would have never gotten if they went to an MD and are very happy to get from you?


[01:46:28] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: That’s really broad.


[01:46:30] Ashley James: I know it’s broad, but like, “Go see a pediatric chiropractor is really effective.” Is there any other kind of effective forms of therapy? Do you have like these big, “I recommend all children only get two hours of screen time”? Do you have any one of those big powerful recommendations that help most children?


[01:46:59] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: So many. One, any child with ADHD, autism, or neurological issues, I strongly recommend turning off Wi-Fi at least at night. It makes a difference. A huge percentage of kids don’t notice the difference, but why do we have Wi-Fi on at night anyway? And then I have a certain number of kids that actually can tell their parents when Wi-Fi is on. That’s so freaky. Turn off that Wi-Fi. That’s one.

For constipated kids, dairy protein intolerance is really common in constipation. Oftentimes, a dairy elimination diet will completely cure constipation. Speaking of constipation, because I have a constipation guide in the shop as well because that’s a really common complaint. I can’t remember how many millions of children statistically we’re affected every year—tons and tons and tons.

Probiotics are super helpful for constipation, but I know families do not like laxatives. I hate Miralax. It’s never been approved for use in children at all, not to mention long-term use, and it’s the absolute standard of care for pediatricians.

I prefer other types of laxatives. Magnesium citrate is a great laxative. There are other ones as well, but I want to explain the point of that quickly. That’s when kids are chronically constipated. Their rectum or colon expands, and it makes it so that the colon can no longer squeeze effectively. There is a vicious cycle and chronic constipation where then they become so impacted, and the muscle is stretched out, and the nerves are stretched out, so it can’t even squeeze anymore.

The point of long-term laxative therapy, and I mean like 6-12 months is so the stools stay at a mashed potato consistency so that the rectum can shrink back down and kids can regain the control of their bowel. That’s important.

Kids with chronic constipation can be allergic or sensitive to all sorts of other things—gluten, eggs. I could go on forever. There are so many other little tidbits. There are about a hundred of them, and there are so many different things.


[01:49:26] Ashley James: Tell us about all the guides you have created so far.


[01:49:30] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I wish I had time to make so many more.


[01:49:32] Ashley James: I know you will. I mean this podcast evergreen. I’ve been doing this show for just over three years, and I still get people downloading the first 20 episodes. You’ll have people listen to this for years to come. I know that when we all go to your website, Naturopathic Pediatrics a few years from now, you’ll have many more, and I love what you’ve already created. Let’s talk about what you’ve already created. When people go to your website, and they click on ‘Shop,’ you have wonderful guides. Just tell us what you’re proud of and what you think all parents can benefit from.


[01:50:09] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: One is if there are questions about vaccines, that’s the main one. That’s my Vaccines Demystified webinar for anyone who has any questions about vaccines. My only caveat with that is if you already have very strong opinions one way or the other, please do not buy it. It’s not for you. You won’t be happy. But if you’re somewhere in between, go for it. You’re laughing at me.


[01:50:34] Ashley James: No, I’m laughing because I’m very strongly on one side, but I’m also the biggest open-minded skeptic. I love it when I can be pulled back towards neutral from my radical views because I want balance and I want the science. I would love it. I think people are like me will upload your webinar.


[01:50:58] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Good. I hope so. Just don’t send me hate mail. I gave you the warning. That’s the funny part about being in the middle. I said that then I literally get hate mail from both sides, and I just got tired of it after a while. I stopped promoting my vaccine webinar because I got so tired of the hate mail. It’s just unbelievable, and it’s seriously from both sides. I’ve had entire blog posts on the internet about how terrible I am from both sides, which is like phenomenal to me because I do support all families in my office, and I’m happy to support all families in my office.

So the other stuff I’ve got up in the shop, I have the well child guides from aged newborn to 12 months. Again, I’ll be expanding that soon. I have a constipation e-book. I have an ADHD e-book. I am working probably within the next 12-ish months or so. We’re probably going to expand that constipation e-book into a whole webinar series that I’m going to do with a pediatric physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor for children. So that’s going to be exciting, too.

Again, I am such a dreamer, and I have so many more ideas than I ever have time for, and we’ll be working hard on developing practice and resource guides for providers as well. So stay tuned, there’s so much more. If only I had time to implement all of my dreams.


[01:52:23] Ashley James: Absolutely. When it comes to just making sure that kids are fully nutrified, what advice do you have? For every question I’ve asked, we could do an entire interview, and I know I’m just not doing this topic any justice by skimming over that. We usually dive deep into one topic for an episode. But I love the tidbits you’re providing. I think they’re valuable.

Anything you could leave us with in terms of nutrition? Are there some things to look for that you want to let us know about? What tidbits do you have to support us in making sure that we’re giving our kids the best nutritional support possible, from diet or supplements and both?

I love the idea of leaving the vegetables out while you’re preparing dinner as an appetizer kids can snack on. I love that, and I read once you have to expose a child—I’m talking about like a toddler—you have to expose a child to avenge the new vegetable like eight times, and they’re going to reject it like the first eight times before they’re going to say yes to it. And some parents get to see the rejection once like broccoli, and they go, “Oh, no. My kid doesn’t like broccoli,” and then they never offer it again.

The best psychology is just don’t put any emotion on it. Don’t shame them or yell at them or whatever. Just keep putting it in their field of vision. Like my son, if I give him a vegetable, he will not eat it. But as he’s sitting in the grocery cart, he will eat an entire head of kale, or he’ll start peeling a cabbage, or he’ll grab asparagus, or bean, or peas, and he’ll start munching them.

We have a kitchen garden, and he’ll sit there and eat right out of the ground. But it’s because it’s his will. It’s his choice. He’s very strong-willed. So if I’m offering it to him, absolutely not. But if he’s choosing, it’s gangbusters. Do you have any advice like that that can help us to fill our kids with nutrition?


[01:54:27] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yes. First, most babies, when they’re being introduced to solid foods, are open to everything. Even at 12 months is usually pretty good, somewhere between the first year and the second and a half year of life. So somewhere between age 1 and I’d say 2-1/2, often kids start to restrict their palate and then not like veggies in particular, but sometimes other foods.

Now I got unlucky, and I have, of course, the naturopath’s kid doesn’t like veggies or fruit. He’s like the [inaudible 01:55:06] syndrome kid that I talk about on the website. Thank goodness, all I serve is whole grains because that’s all he ever wants to eat. This is another key one. He’s three and a half, and we’re just figuring out he’s got sensory issues. He’s terrified, shaking uncontrollably if we make him taste fruit. So that’s counterproductive. We’ve gotten to the point for fruit where all I’m doing is having him hold the orange.

It sounds so silly. I know some of your parents, they’re watching, listening to this are going to judge me for this. This is legit. But I also know, and this is what the research shows us that exposure to foods, but in my opinion it’s, it’s well beyond eight times for some kids.

I saw this with my daughter, who was not afraid of fruit. She’d be a fruitarian if she could. It did take her almost four years to eat lettuce, and it was repeat exposure again and again and actually eat it. There’s no problem.

Strangely enough now Leopold, my little guy, he’ll eat lettuce and spinach, but he’s still afraid of fruit. So we’re thinking there is some kind of sensory thing. It must be the smell that’s too strong.


[01:56:25] Ashley James: I’m really curious. What if you put it in a smoothie, and he doesn’t see that it’s fruit? Is it once it’s touched his palate and then he’s afraid?


[01:56:32] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: No, he will not have a smoothie.


[01:56:35] Ashley James: Is it the color of the fruit? Can he eat fruit if it’s hidden, or is it the taste or the color?


[01:56:46] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I think it’s the smell. I think there’s a sensory processing issue going on with him, which we’re going to get evaluated by OT here really soon. I’m quite positive there. I think that there’s like sensory stuff in our family basically, so that’s what I’m working on. That’s another story.


[01:57:10] Ashley James: He could be a super smeller. There’s one woman, I think she’s in the UK, she can actually smell Parkinson’s. People who are going to get Parkinson’s smell different, and she can detect it.


[01:57:26] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I think that that that’s him. The only flavor of anything that he will have is chocolate or vanilla. Anything like Halloween candy, forget it. He’s scared of it. Early on, he was afraid of huckleberries, and my husband almost disowned him—Montana man. A lot of huckleberry picking.

We were like, “No, you’re going to like this. Of course, you’re going to. Who doesn’t like huckleberries? Are you kidding me?” So we put some in his mouth, and he started crying, and we’re like, “Aw, I’m so sorry.” He does not go huckleberry picking anymore.


[01:58:07] Ashley James: No kidding. Next time, he has a cold, and his nasal passage is stuffy.


[01:58:11] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: It does not work. We’ve tried that.


[01:58:14] Ashley James: Darn it. I was going to be like, “I fixed it.” Just plug his nose.


[01:58:19] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Tastes and textures. He will have applesauce and not apples. We’ve got a lot of sensory things going on with that guy. So we’ll be doing some other stuff, which makes supplementing him impossible. He’s the kid that I haven’t figured out how to supplement because I’m not going to hide stuff in chocolate every day. I feel like that’s a no go.

The long and short of it, going way back, what research has shown now is that repeated exposure is helpful. That’s what we’re doing with Leopold, saying, “You have to experience this vegetable.” At least, we started with the vegetables. The fruits we’re still going to work on for a while. They have to try.

So now I tell all families, we talk about my plate guidelines. The food pyramid that they used to do when we were kids, they no longer do, thank goodness, because it was pretty much like all carbs and then a few other things. It was crazy. They’ve developed the My Plate guidelines, and it’s a quarter protein, a quarter starch or grain, a quarter veggie, a quarter fruit.

The long and the short of it is, for families, I don’t even care as much what’s on the half of the plate that’s the protein and green side. I don’t really like mac and cheese, but if you are coming from that’s all you eat, then okay, let’s stick mac and cheese on that one side, the other half of the plate must be fruits and veggies.

What I’ll often tell parents hopefully it will progress beyond mac and cheese at some point. Some parents get there; some don’t. I don’t even care if kids eat all of their fruit and veggie sides. I want them to know it’s there because when they see it on their plate, the studies have shown that kids then at least by the time they’re in late elementary school or adolescence, they know that that is what a healthy plate looks like and they will eat it eventually. It can take years of exposure.

The other thing is that kids must try, so I often tell the kids in my practice, “Dr. K says you don’t have to like your veggies, but Dr. K says you have to try your veggies.” So that means every day they’re trying at least two bites of everything on their plate. And then the research has also shown that kids will try veggies if they also have something on their plate that they already like to eat. Hopefully, that’s not something junky.

In the case of Leo, it’s an organic sweet potato cracker with flaxseeds, which thank goodness he likes. He’s got lots of fiber that he has on his plate. Then it is encouraging them to try something else on their plate.


[02:01:02] Ashley James: Coming back to this idea that the universe sets us up for success, by giving you these challenges, you have become so much more knowledgeable in these areas, and thus you can help so many more people. If you had children that had absolutely no issues, you wouldn’t need to be diving into learning, about learning deeper beyond helping your clients and your patients. You’re learning for your children, and you have a deeper level of compassion and connection that someone who’s the pediatrician who’s never had to deal with this and their family could ever have.


[02:01:44] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Oh, man. I see so many parents judging each other too, and we’ve got to knock that off. I have so many parents that they buoy themselves up like, “My kid eats all their veggies,” and they’re so great and then their next kid doesn’t. We got to stop that. I don’t want to serve my kid mac and cheese. There’s no nutritional value of it. I turn around, and my hubby does it anyway, and it drives me crazy.


[02:02:11] Ashley James: That’s what I’m telling. My husband has a younger brother. That happened in his family. I’m an only child, but my parents still managed to do it. They compared me to one of my friends who seemed perfect, “Why aren’t you more like Jane?” Every chance they got—“Jane says please and thank you. Jane eats her broccoli.” They could do vegetable shaming with other friends, and it’s not productive. It does not help with self-esteem. It doesn’t make the kid want to eat the vegetables. It’s not helpful at all.


[02:02:45] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: But at the same time, you can’t cave. Just because Leopold got fed an Oreo by Grandpa, it does not mean I’m going to feed him Oreos. I’m not going to put an Oreo on his plate. He’s going to have a protein, he’s going to have a green, and those grains are going to be whole grains, and he’s going to have a fruit, and he’s going to have a veggie, even if he cries about having orange on his plate. But it’s still going to be there. I’m not going to force him to the point where he’s crying because that’s counterproductive. So we’re just going to work, moving step by step, and we’ve got to let go of the guilt, and then we’ve got to let go of the shame.

If you have a fantastic eater, that’s awesome, and I’m so happy for you. If you have a friend whose kid doesn’t eat that, let’s get them help because some of the kids—like my guy does need to go to occupational therapy. That’s what OTs do—help desensitize kids.


[02:03:38] Ashley James: Yes, I love pediatric occupational therapy. Maybe you could tell us some other reasons that would be good for going to one. I don’t think that parents know enough about that resource. What other issues come up commonly that are great to go to a pediatric occupational therapist for?


[02:04:02] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Any kid who is actually on the autism spectrum should be fully evaluated and should probably go to an OT. It depends on your state. In my state, we have an organization that does all of these screenings. Often, they’re called like a 0-3 program. It’s different from state to state. If the child is actually on the autism spectrum, most of the time they’ll qualify for services, it’ll be covered by the state or federal government. If they’re not. But a lot of kids do still have some sensory processing disorder, and that’s when they’re dysregulated.

There’s a lot of symptoms involved in that. It might be sensitivity to noise, sound, taste, texture, touch, inattention, things like that would be an appropriate referral. There are sensory processing questionnaires that you can fill out if you’re kind of curious about that.

Sometimes kids are dysregulated, so they’re having explosive meltdowns for no reason. They might have a sensory processing disorder. It is not just being completely dysregulated. That’s a little hard to tell because toddlers are dysregulated anyways. That’s sort of their job is–to be constantly dysregulated.



[02:05:19] Ashley James: When in doubt, you can get evaluated and see if that’s going to be beneficial.


[02:05:26] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yes.


[02:05:29] Ashley James: We could go on and on for hours. I’m going to ask one last question. We’re going to wrap it up and definitely going to have you back on the show because we’ve got plenty of more topics to explore.


[02:05:40] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Sure.


[02:05:40] Ashley James: Sleep.


[02:05:42] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: [laughs] You threw that one as last! Oh, boy!


[02:05:49] Ashley James: I’ll share what happened with us. Our son, he’s an Aries. He’s very typical Aries. He is full of energy. You can’t stop this kid. He’s going places. We don’t feed him sugar. We feed him fruits and vegetables. He’s going to get sugar naturally. I would hate to see this kid on a standard American diet. We had a problem. He had always fought sleep. He wants to be awake. He wants to go. Ever since he was born, he wants to go, go, go.

We discovered this magnesium soak–really effective, very easy to absorb through soaking in it. I interviewed the founder of it, and you can even do blood tests, and you can see that your magnesium or red blood cell count or the magnesium goes up in the bloodstream from soaking in this. We started adding it to his bath, and he started to calm down the evenings and tell us he was ready to go to sleep, which I thought was cool. We have this routine no screen time. We avoid screen time as much as possible.

We’re reading books. There’s a routine, and that helps. But for those who they feel like they’ve done everything, and their children still fight sleep, we also noticed that we had to start sleep routine around 5 PM. People think that their kids can go to bed at nine. It’s like, no, Kids should be asleep by like six or seven, so maybe talk a little bit about like how long children should sleep and what are the most beneficial sleep routines, especially for children who fight sleep?


[02:07:41] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yeah. I have no way of figuring out how to do this quickly. Kids usually need more sleep than we think. The rooms really should be dark, although lots of kids are scared of the dark in developing nations. We are in Western nations. We’re one of the very few cultures that do not sleep in the same room or same bed as our children. If you’re going to bed share with a baby, you got to do it carefully.

But a lot of other cultures consider us to be barbarians for putting our kids to sleep in a different room than us. For some kids, it can be normal for them to sleep in the same room as mom and dad up until five or six. It’s biologically advantageous to be in the same room as mom and dad.

Some of those kids have this heightened awareness, and they would have been great in tribal society because they’re thinking like maybe the tiger is going to come and get me, so I better be alert and be vigilant. That would be great if we’re going to try, but we’re not in a tribe anymore. We should go to sleep, but we don’t. It’s okay if you still need to sleep with their kids. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

Magnesium is great. I think it’s a great idea to do it in the bath. There are also magnesium topicals. There are tons of magnesium chewies. There are all sorts of magnesium—very safe. If you dose magnesium orally and you dose it too high, you’re just going to get diarrhea. So back up the dose. We call that dosing to bowel tolerance. I do think that’s short term, or at least a low dose of melatonin is pretty safe. It’s been studied and is pretty safe. There aren’t long-term studies on safety in melatonin, but I do think that now we have a lot of melatonin inhibition of our body making its melatonin because we’re just too exposed to light, noise, sound, Wi-Fi and everything. In some ways, we might be replacing melatonin to where it’s supposed to be. That’s just scratching the surface. Yeah, we could do a whole sleep episode if you want.


[02:09:48] Ashley James: I’d love that. That’d be cool. What dosage is a generally good dose for melatonin for children?


[02:09:59] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: I start low at half a milligram or less. Sometimes kids who are dosed too high of melatonin can get nightmares. Don’t do that. I’m never dosing melatonin in toddlers. I don’t think that there’s usually a need for that. It’s very rare that I am.


[02:10:24] Ashley James: So you try everything else first.

Anything else first? I love talking to you, and we’re going to have so much fun. You’re going to come back on this show. We’re just going to keep diving into these wonderful topics. I encourage parents and grandparents to go to your website in and explore all the free resources that are there.

And if you do choose to buy something, use the coupon code LTH, get 20% off. Only write Dr. Erica love mail and none of this hate mail. Dr. Erica is on our side. She’s supporting us and getting good information out there. You’re probably going to get some love mail. My listeners are the most loving and passionate individuals. We have a great Facebook group. I’d love for you to join it. It is Learn True Health on Facebook. People can go to Facebook and search Learn True Health, or they can go to They’ll redirect them to the Facebook group, a very lively and active community of passionate, caring individuals who all want to learn holistic health to improve their health and their family’s health.

We’ve got a lot of parents there, too, so I know that you’ll be welcome. There’s zero hate speech in our Facebook group.


[02:11:47] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yay! Thank you for supporting each other.


[02:11:50] Ashley James: I’ve been so thrilled that my Facebook group has never attracted bullies or negative people. It’s just been grounded down to earth people who want to be healthy and support other people in being healthy. So we’ve got that great support system there.

I can’t wait to have you back on the show. It’s going to be so wonderful. Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview? Just anything you felt has been left unsaid?


[02:12:18] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: The only thing I would tell parents is don’t Dr. Google and trust yourself, but don’t trust Dr. Google. It will always convince you that you have cancer.


[02:12:28] Ashley James: It’s kind of scary. It’s a big bag of worms we can open. But you can go to


[02:12:37] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Yeah.


[02:12:39] Ashley James: Thank you so much, Dr. Erica Krumbeck. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. Can’t wait to have you back.


[02:12:46] Dr. Erica Krumbeck: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.


[02:12:50] Ashley James: Are you into optimizing your health? Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price? For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to, and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price. That’s Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.

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Tony Bussey And Ashley James

Morbidly obese at 567 pounds, Tony Bussey’s life was “a self-made prison.”  In this episode, be inspired by his experience in the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire and how it flamed the desire for self-improvement to regain a whole new life of physical freedom and more.


[00:00:03] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 350.

I am so excited about today’s interview. We have with us an inspiring man, Tony Bussey. You went viral.

I saw you on Facebook. You went viral, and your story has inspired me. I said I have to get him on my show. I can’t wait for my listeners to learn from Tony.


[00:00:35] Tony Bussey: Thank you.


[00:00:36] Ashley James: I want [inaudible 00:00:37] your show, and I want to dive right into your story because when I saw you went through the Fort McMurray wildfires—I’m originally from Canada. I live in the States now, but I have a lot of friends in Alberta, and I have a lot of friends that were displaced and lost their homes. It was quite tragic.


[00:00:56] Tony Bussey: I’m jealous of the United States right now because it looks like you guys are going to get the Stanley Cup again. You’re Canadian. That’s pretty heartbreaking, but that’s another broadcast.


[00:01:08] Ashley James: [laughs]


[00:01:11] Tony Bussey: I’m very sad right now, but that’s okay.


[00:01:14] Ashley James: I had to explain to my husband why and how hockey is the best sport.


[00:01:19] Tony Bussey: Oh, yeah, by far.


[00:01:20] Ashley James: [laughs] So Tony, you had quite an experience going through the Fort McMurray wildfires. But that’s not the topic for today’s show.

The topic is that you transformed your health and your life because of them. I love for you to take us back and tell us your story. What happened to you that transformed your life?


[00:01:46] Tony Bussey: For years and years, I lived a life that was just horrible, I guess you could say. I like to tell people that I was in a self-made prison.

I’m not that tall. I’m only between 5’8” and 5’9”, but I was over and around 600 pounds. My top weight was 567 pounds, and I was that size for years. Life was horrible at that size. There’s nothing designed for people to live day to day life—to get into a restaurant, to get into a vehicle, to get on a bus, to buy clothes. Everything is a struggle.

Leading up to the fire–I was evacuated twice from that fire. During the second evacuation—because they had flown us back north of Fort McMurray. We weren’t allowed to go back into the city, but I work in a mine north of the city, and the city itself was still a dangerous area, but north of the city at that time was okay. They had the mine shut down, but they’re trying to get everything back up and running. The fire seemed to be dying down quite a bit.

But when we got up there, almost like overnight, it got really bad again. There were a couple of camps up there that was on fire. One completely burned to the ground.

It was during this evacuation, the second evacuation, that my life changed. At that time, we left the camp, and there was a line up to get on this huge coach style bus that they had coming around picking people up like those Greyhound buses. I was in the line-up, and I was in the back of the line, and a gentleman came along—a manager. He came along, and he took me from the back of the line to the very front of the line.

Anybody listening to this that is extremely overweight does understand how anybody that’s obese, you don’t like any extra attention. You’re already stared at enough. You don’t blend in, and that’s all you long for, to blend in with people.

So when he picked me out of the back and put me to the front, right away all of these eyes were on me—”Why is that guy going to the front?”

But looking back on it now, I understood why they did it because you don’t want a man that’s almost 600 pounds in well over 30 degree Celsius heat. I’m not sure what it is in Fahrenheit.


[00:04:21] Ashley James: It’s in the 90s in Fahrenheit.


[00:04:23] Tony Bussey: You don’t want anybody in over 90-degree heat, that size, up there in the middle of nowhere passing out basically. So they put me on the bus, and the bus was packed, except there is an empty seat next to me. But I was spilling over in that seat too much that they couldn’t sit anybody there.

You look out the window of that bus, you can see a long line of people—men, women, somebody’s wife, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s husband, somebody’s son waiting to get ahead of that hill basically, and now somebody has to wait even longer because I’m taking up two seats.

So they brought us up to an airport, and it was the same situation. I had to get on a plane, then all these planes land in another airport. They would land, they would fill up, and take off, and more planes would land. That’s all it was.

When I got on the plane, it was the same thing. The plane was packed. It was full except there was a seat next to me that I was taking up too much of that seat for them to put anybody there.

That was the final straw for me. Everything over the years, every struggle, every sadness, every bit of depression, every bit of hate that I had for myself because I was so huge, it all culminated into that.

And then, I couldn’t get those image of that people out of my head, and I kept thinking, “Okay, now you’re affecting other people.” I knew I always was like my family and stuff, but for some reason, that wasn’t enough. But then through that fire—I mean we didn’t know how bad it was going to get. I didn’t know how long these people were going to have to wait. But because of me, somebody has to wait there even hours, who knows at that time—maybe another day longer.

Everybody got out, thank God, but that had such an effect on me, and then when I got home, I got down to Edmonton, Alberta, that evening—that’s where they flew us to—I had enough. From that moment on, I changed everything.

I changed my eating habits. I think I started walking, [inaudible 00:06:31] the next day, but I changed everything. I haven’t looked back since.


[00:06:37] Ashley James: Now, we’re coming up on the 3rd anniversary of the Fort McMurray fire—it happened in May. Tell me, how long did it take for you to start to lose the weight after you changed your eating habits and started to walk? Tell us about that journey.


[00:06:56] Tony Bussey: It was fairly quick. Now, I was 567 pounds. I couldn’t get on any normal scale to see how big I was. I had to use a warehouse for the company that I work with, one that they would forklifts on. That’s the only thing that I could weigh myself, and when I weighed, I was 567. When they allowed us back into Fort McMurray, I went back to work, and everything was back to normal on June 10th, I believe that was.

I started this both the third week of May, so by the middle of June, I was down 30 pounds. For the first in my life, the scale had gone down and not up. I will never forget it. When I have seen it that day, it was like I won the lottery. What an overwhelming feeling of joy that finally—I keep referencing saying a prison—when you got 30 pounds gone, it’s like somebody has taken a set of keys to that prison door and they’re putting it a little bit closer to you. You’re getting closer to getting yourself free, and that’s the way I felt. I was starting to become free again.

There are two types of freedom in this world that people long for. That’s physical freedom and financial freedom. If you can tame one of those, you have a life that’s more beautiful than ever.

I had 30 pounds gone, and then I had 100 pounds gone by September. That’s when my life started to change. It’s been a beautiful ride ever since.


[00:08:48] Ashley James: Looking at you now, no one would know that you were once almost 600 pounds. You look super healthy, super fit, and you’ve done this within less than three years.


[00:09:02] Tony Bussey: Yes, I think it took me about two years. I’ve been maintaining the weight now for about a year. The thing that I did in the beginning, I do to this day. I eat the same. I go for my walk. I walk 3.5-5 kilometers a day. Now walking to me, it’s more of a mental thing than a physical thing. I’ll get up at 4:00 or 4:30 in the morning, and I’ll go for a walk before I go to work, and I work a 12-hour shift.

That walk in the morning, that crisp air, that alone time, the time to think, just to reflect and remember that three years ago, I couldn’t do that. So I smile, and I start my day, and it’s like a fresh cup of coffee. I miss it if I can’t get out.


[00:09:54] Ashley James: Your walks are like a meditation in motion where you’re bringing in gratitude and reflection into your life.


[00:10:02] Tony Bussey: Oh, yeah. Anything that you might be dealing with it, it just has a way of clearing your head. That weight, that size, for years and years it was my biggest disadvantage because as soon as you would wake up in the morning, you knew how big you were. As soon as you took your first breath, it was a struggle.

That is so ingrained in my memory that now that has become my biggest asset because for years and years and years, I long to be out of that prison like I keep saying. And now that I’m finally out, it’s like a dream come true.


[00:10:41] Ashley James: So while you were overweight, you longed not to be overweight, but what stopped you from taking the actions to accomplish that?


[00:10:50] Tony Bussey: It was mental. I had myself convinced that I didn’t deserve anything else. I had myself convinced that that was my life. I had myself convinced that I was trapped. I would go to bed at night, and there were nights I would go to bed and just pray that I wouldn’t wake up because it was so horrible.

If anybody is listening to this right now that is struggling with their sin, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be weight, it could be drugs, it could be alcohol, it could be anything. But you get to the point of despair where you don’t care about yourself anymore. You get to a point where you don’t care if you live or die. Basically, what I was doing was eating myself into an early grave.

For whatever reason, and I still look back, and I still struggle with the reason why I didn’t start it then. I used to try at times, but it was never successful. But for some reason, seeing those people waiting for that bus and waiting for that plane, something clicked in my brain. There was something that clicked that said, “This is enough, Tony. Now you’re affecting other people. Life is passing you by. Let’s get this changed because you’re not going to have another chance.”

I didn’t think I’d be alive right now to even talk to you if I stayed that size. But now, I wake up in the morning, and I’m not reminded of that life. I wake up in the morning and reminded of a new life, and I smile. I smile every time I put socks on.


[00:12:43] Ashley James: [laughs]


[00:12:45] Tony Bussey: I have had people sending me socks in the mail, and it’s been wonderful. That is my biggest treasure right now, a dresser drawer full of socks that I can wear.


[00:13:03] Ashley James: When you were at your heaviest, could you not put on your socks?


[00:13:06] Tony Bussey: No. I went about three years where I couldn’t put on socks, so to walk without socks on—I work in heavy industry, so I’m wearing work boots without socks on. I would take my work boots and put up on a table, and I would tie them loosely so I can slide my foot down in because I couldn’t bend over to tie up my boots. So I would slide my foot down in them, and then you got a boot on with no socks on, so your foot is sliding around in this all day—just physical pain.

When I could do that, I  think I had about a hundred pounds gone. I mean that first day when I put socks on again, it was—yeah. I’m Canadian, and I have cold winters. It’d be like in the middle of January, andyou get a blast of warm summer air coming against your face for five seconds. Just a feeling of happiness. I was like, “Ah.” It would be like if we won a Stanley Cup again.


[00:14:19] Ashley James: [laughs]


[00:14:23] Tony Bussey: That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s just a feeling of pure joy,


[00:14:29] Ashley James: Tell us about some other times during your journey towards your goal weight where you had those first moments, like the first time you could fit into a booth at a restaurant or go to a movie theater for the first time. Do you have any more of those?


[00:14:49] Tony Bussey: Yeah, like the first time I got in my car. I had a seatbelt extension in my car, and I couldn’t even wear a seatbelt then. So I still keep that seatbelt extension in my car just for a reminder. But the first time I could put a seatbelt on normally—you talk about a movie theater. I used to take my daughter, and we go to the movies. She would have to sit two seats over from me. Now she sits right next to me.

To go to a normal clothing store, nothing is more frustrating or depressing or demoralizing when you go into a Big & Tall, like a George Richards clothing store for big men, and they don’t have clothes to fit you. I used to pray and wished there was a store called Short & Obese, but there wasn’t. It didn’t exist. I would assume that I have to go out and buy a tarp. I was starting to feel horrible.

So when I could go just to a normal clothing store and buy clothes, when you go into a normal grocery store—because for big people, like really big like I was, when you go anywhere where there are crowds, you always get stared at. And when you would go now to places where there are crowds, people don’t give you a second look; you’re just one of thousands. Everybody wants to be extraordinary. Everybody wants to stand out. An obese person wants to blend in.

To finally achieve that, to go to a restaurant and to not have to worry about if they have tables or boots—I can go, and I can fit into a booth now. To get more personal, I went on my first date in years. At that size, you would never go and ask a woman out because you never had nice clothes. You didn’t feel good about yourself, everything that went with that, right?

And to finally be social again, to meet new people, or like I said, to buy socks—to wear socks again, to get up in the morning and take two seconds to put socks on. I bought my first pair of sandals. I never wore sandals before. Right now I’m sitting here wearing shorts. This would be the first summer I wore shorts in about 25 years.


[00:17:12] Ashley James: Wow.


[00:17:13] Tony Bussey: Yeah. I went on my first international trip. I went down to Mexico last November. I’ve never been to the United States before. Years and years ago, before we needed a passport, I drove through northern Michigan, but I’ve never traveled through the United States. I definitely want to see a beautiful country. I want to come down see New York, Washington, San Francisco, all across. I want to travel.

So when you get on a plane, and you can fit into a normal seat, you don’t need a seatbelt extension, you can put the tray table down. And then you see people coming into the aisle, and they’ll sit next to you, and they don’t give you that nasty look like, “Oh, look at that big guy.” They sit next to you as a normal person, and they don’t know your story. You’re filled with so much joy because you’re just normal–just to do every day normal activities.


[00:18:11] Ashley James: So many people take it for granted. But for those who are living in the larger bodies, what other people take for granted, they only wish they could have.


[00:18:24] Tony Bussey: Oh, yeah. Like to call a cab. Before, if I needed to have a cab, cabs didn’t fit me. I couldn’t get into just any car. Now I can call up any cab, and get into and go anywhere. If you get to an airport, one of the things was having trouble fitting on a plane, but you could always buy two seats if you have to. Now, I hardly flew at the time, but the biggest thing was getting to an airport, and if you had to rent a vehicle, what if there are no vehicles big enough for you to rent? Things like that.

I used to worry about getting sick. How would a hospital take care of me? Could I fit in their bathroom? Could I get on a stretcher? Things like that. It’s all of these things that would give you anxiety.

I live alone, so I used to wonder, “What if I had a heart attack? Who’s gonna know?” I had a friend of mine that used to call me because we worked shifts; I wouldn’t see him for a while. But if he didn’t hear from me in two, three days, he would call me or text me and make sure I was okay.


[00:19:33] Ashley James: How many years did you spend living in a larger body?


[00:19:38] Tony Bussey: I was always kind of large. I remember I moved to Fort McMurray in 1999, and I was over and around 300 2,330 pounds, I believe, at the time. It was, I believe, in 2004. I’m originally from Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada, and I drove home then. When I came back, none of my clothes fit.

From then on, from 2004 up to about 2016 is when I put on all that weight. And I would say from 2006, 2016, I was getting big. It seems like once you hit a certain level, whether it’s 350 or 400 pounds—I didn’t like weighing myself much then—but the weight would snowball. As soon as you hit a certain amount, then you go up, and you go up even faster because what happens is you care less, and you do less and less activity because it becomes more of a strain on your body to do so. And then you get depressed more, so you’d turn more and more to junk food to feel a little bit of happiness. And then it becomes a vicious cycle.


[00:20:56] Ashley James: There’s a TV show with a doctor named Dr. Nowzaradan.


[00:21:00] Tony Bussey: Oh, yes. I watched.


[00:21:02] Ashley James: It’s “My 600-Lb Life,” and he says that at this weight, like you said around 400 pounds, you’re either gaining or losing. It’s very difficult to maintain. In his experience, he sees that you’ve gone to maintain momentum in your weight loss or else you’ll start gaining again. How did you maintain your momentum?

Did you ever have an experience where you go on the scale and you didn’t lose weight, or maybe you gained a few pounds, or the weight loss wasn’t as significant as you thought it would be? Because there are those moments where people end up giving up in a program, where they get on a scale or they measure themselves, and they’re dissatisfied with the result, and they throw in the towel. Did you ever come up against those moments?


[00:21:56] Tony Bussey: Well, there were times where—when you work night shifts like I work night shifts, that could screw up your metabolism. So if you weighed yourself after doing six- or seven-night shifts, you wouldn’t be down any weight. And then about three, four days later you would have five pounds gone type of thing.

But overall, no, because the scales are just one aspect. I didn’t even own a scale for the first two and a half years of my weight loss because people get so concentrated on a scale that if they do have a bad day or so, they would get too discouraged and they would go back to their old ways. A scale, in my opinion, in the beginning, is the worst thing that you can have.

What I would do, I would go down through the hospital and weigh, or I would sneak up into one of the floors and use a scale in the hallway. I’m sure the doctor used to wonder what I was doing every couple of weeks, but I show up and weigh myself and take off. But I didn’t want to have that scale in the house. So then if you did have a day or whatever, or maybe you never got out for a walk or something, you were feeling a little bloated, you didn’t have the scale there to discourage you. I would weigh once every two or three weeks, and that was it.


[00:23:21] Ashley James: Smart. Did you ever come up against though, like a number you weren’t happy with and then after you wrestle with that little voice in your head that said, “What’s the point? What’s the use?” Did you ever have any of those moments?


[00:23:37] Tony Bussey: I can honestly say no. The only thing I measured myself by—I didn’t own a scale—I would go by my belt. I would go for walks, and when I could wear jeans again, I started wearing jeans, and I had my belt. As long as I didn’t have to go up a notch, I knew I was okay, and I will keep going. And then when I would have to, I will get a knife and create another hole in my belt. And that’s when sometimes when I would go and weigh. I still have that belt this day.

But those memories of being 567 pounds, we’re so seared in my head that even if I stayed the same at the scale, I wasn’t back to that old weight. I still have the ability to do things, to walk, and I kept eating right and everything.

You’re not going to gain weight by eating apples and bananas. You’re not going to gain weight by eating healthy. To this day, I don’t touch junk food. It’s been now almost three years since I’ve had any junk food. I don’t have a cake on my birthday. I don’t have candy. I don’t have chocolate. I don’t have chips. I don’t have ice cream. I don’t have anything.


[00:24:53] Ashley James: That’s interesting. I’d like to expand upon that. You said you don’t have cake on your birthday, and I see some people, they’ll eat healthily, but then they’ll say, “Life is so short. We should have the cake on our birthday, and we should allow ourselves to have whatever we want at Thanksgiving as long as we eat healthy through the year.” Why do you think that that is a trap? Why do you avoid that behavior, and you choose to eat healthy 365 days a year?


[00:25:28] Tony Bussey: I would look back at those people, and I would say, ”Would a cocaine addict go and snort a line once a month to celebrate a birthday?”


[00:25:37] Ashley James: [laughs]


[00:25:38] Tony Bussey: Right? Would an alcoholic go every Saturday and say, “I’m going to have a drink today for a treat.”?


[00:25:46] Ashley James: It’s a slippery slope.


[00:25:48] Tony Bussey: Why go back to the very thing that took away your happiness for so many years? It’s like getting punched in the face, and then finally having your black eye healed up, and then going back to that guy and saying, “Punch me again.” Why would people do that?

We got to stop treating food as an award, as a treat. There are other treats out there. Buying clothes, going for walks, going on trips, meeting new people.

Now I admit I was at the extreme side of waking, but for me, I have to treat it as an addiction. I’ve come to the realization that for the rest of my life, I will never have junk food. And right now I don’t crave it. I don’t want it. I mean if you or I was sitting here right now, and you were sitting down with a bag of chips and a chocolate bar, it wouldn’t bother me one bit. I look at that stuff, and I get angry at it.


[00:26:56] Ashley James: Interesting. Tell us about your strategy. You get angry at the foods that harm your body.


[00:27:03] Tony Bussey: Yeah, because I look at that stuff and it put me in a prison. It almost took away my life. It took away my freedom. It took away my relationships. It took away a social aspect. It took away any joy. It took away any love. It took away years and years off my life. It took away memories. It took away trips. It took away money. It took away health. It took everything from me.

Now, it was my fault. I don’t blame anybody. Nobody forced me to eat the way I did. I choose that. But I also choose now never to have it again. And now, I don’t look at, “Poor Tony can’t have cake. He can’t have chips.” I might’ve lost that, but I’ve gained freedom. I’ve gained happiness. I’ve gained friendships. I’ve gained a social life. I’ve gained the ability to be free and travel. I’ve gained so much.

I’ve lost over 330 pounds, but I’ve gained a whole new life. Like I’ll go into convenience stores, and I’ll look at all that stuff, all it does is bring back those memories to me.


[00:28:20] Ashley James: Some people would think, “I don’t want to be deprived. I don’t want to feel deprived.” Do you feel deprived when you eat apples, bananas, and vegetables when you eat? When you eat healthy food, do you feel deprived or have you discovered that eating whole real healthy food tastes amazing? Have you discovered a whole new—were you surprised? As someone who ate junk food all the time, we think junk food is delicious, right? But then we get into eating vegetables. You Go, “Oh, my God. I didn’t know how delicious vegetables were until you get into it.” Have you discovered how delicious healthy food is?


[00:29:03] Tony Bussey: It’s amazing. I love those huge big apples. You sit down with a nice crisp, cold apple, that’s not raw and all in the middle, and you open it up, and it’s just delicious. It’s refreshing. You don’t get the sugar. I used to get a sugar high, and then you would crash after. I don’t get any of that anymore.

But the natural food that comes from the earth gives you such a natural feeling. There’s no crashing. There are no bad side effects. It gives you the energy to go and have a beautiful life. I tell people when I get talking to friends and stuff, and I’ve used this example: if you’re 18 years old or 16 years old, you have your license, and your father or mother comes up to you and says, “Here you go. Here’s a vehicle. Here’s a brand new car for you. But the only drawback is that’s the only vehicle you can have for the rest of your life.”


[00:30:10] Ashley James: [laughs] You’d baby that dude. Oil changes every thousand miles.


[00:30:18] Tony Bussey: Yes, the best fuel. You would have that car detailed inside and out. You would avoid all the puddles. You would have the best tires on it. There wouldn’t be a scratch on that vehicle.


[00:30:30] Ashley James: Amazing.


[00:30:32] Tony Bussey: We should treat our bodies the same way. Life is so short. Life has gone like a warm summer breeze before you know it is over. Why live filling ourselves up with junk?


[00:30:47] Ashley James: That’s very beautifully said. I love it. You touched on that you noticed that when you did that 12 days in a row of night shifts or 5 or 12 days in a row of night shifts that you hadn’t lost any weight, but then you would get back into routine for day shifts and you’d lose weight. Is that because you had sleep deprivation? What do you think changes us when we do night shifts, or when we lose sleep that has stopped losing weight?


[00:31:21] Tony Bussey: I had a friend of mine, she was a nurse, and she used to tell me that your metabolism will slow down. People are not meant to work nighttime. Your body is meant to be sleeping and everything. It just screws everything up. I’m not sure the exact science of it, but if anybody is listening to this right now going through their weight loss journey, a bit of advice I would give you is never to weigh yourself after a night shift. The scale won’t show anything, and I wouldn’t want them to be discouraged and say, “I ate great for a week, and I haven’t lost a pound. Screw it. I’m going to go back, eating ice cream.” Your body does different things. That’s all. It could be [inaudible 00:32:07] food longer, all kinds of different things. But night shift screws you right up.


[00:32:15] Ashley James: I noticed that. I used to be diabetic, and I used food and natural medicine to reverse. Type 2 diabetes is 100% reversible. What I noticed is that when I had poor sleep, I had really bad blood sugar, and I would eat more. I’d have stronger hunger the next day. I’d want to eat more food. And if I didn’t get enough sleep, there was a direct correlation between how much sleep I got and how many calories I consumed the next day.

And so, on times where I had a wonderful sleep, I ate less food. I was less hungry. My blood sugar was more balanced. I was just wondering if you noticed that when you work the night shift, it screwed with your sleep, so you didn’t get enough rest, and your body was hungry, so you’re eating more food, and maybe you didn’t get enough exercising because you’re tired. It’s how sleep affects our ability to stay on track with our goals.


[00:33:17] Tony Bussey: Oh, yeah. Like I’ll do 12-hour night shifts, so I’ll usually eat around 10:30 or 11, then I’ll snack for the rest of the night, and I’ll have a bit of fruit at five in the morning. And then that’d be it until I wake up at two or three in the afternoon. But then I’ll go for a long walk, and then I’ll come back and make an omelet, and then I’m good to go. But, oh yeah, definitely I wake up and I’m hungry, but sleep is a huge thing with health. Your body needs a certain amount of sleep, and I still struggle with that to this day. I think I drink too much coffee, but that’s Canadian in me. I’m a Tim Horton’s addict.


[00:33:58] Ashley James: Right? They don’t know Tim Horton’s where I am.


[00:34:01] Tony Bussey: That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.


[00:34:04] Ashley James: Isn’t that the saddest thing ever? The closest Tim Horton’s is about three hours north of me. So yeah, I have to deal with that here. I think all Canadians are addicted to Tim Horton’s.


[00:34:15] Tony Bussey: Oh, yeah. It’s the only thing that’s keeping Canada from breaking up. [laughs]


[00:34:24] Ashley James: So Tony, you’ve mentioned that you’ve done this by eating healthy and going on your walks, but what does eating healthy look like to you? There are so many diets out there that are conflicting. What did you discover that works best for you?


[00:34:42] Tony Bussey: I will tell you what I ate before first. For example, there’ll be some evenings I would get off work, and I would go and get five pieces of fried chicken, a couple of large things of rings, two large root beers. I would eat that. And then about 20 minutes later, I would get a coffee with three sugar, three cream, three or four donuts, and I would go for a little drive. And then about 20 minutes, a half hour after that, I will get a large bag of chips, three or four ice cream sandwiches, and a couple of chocolate bars.

This was within a two-hour span, and this was practically every other day. I wouldn’t come home unless I had junk food in the house. I drank a lot of pop. I was drinking 10, 11 cans of diet pop a day. A lot of chips, a lot of chocolate, a lot of ice cream. I love ice cream. It could get minus 30 up here, and I’d be sitting down with an ice cream sandwich.

But now I cut out, for example, I still drink coffee by drinking black. I go to Tim Horton’s now, for example, here in Canada, now I either get a black coffee or just half a cream, but no sugar. I stay away from all processed sugar. I eat eggs. I’ll have cheese. Usually, I’ll make it three eggs with cheese and mushroom, make an omelet. I’ll have steak. I’ll have chicken or salmon. I eat a lot of vegetables, and I eat a lot of fruits. I’ll have a couple of apples, usually a couple of apples and a banana every day.

And I don’t eat after six, so between five and six, that’s my last meal for the evening, and I walk every day, about three and a half to five kilometers a day. That’s what I’ve been doing all the time.

Cutting out the processed sugar, that was hard in the beginning. I got a lot of headaches and stuff for about a month, but diet pop, that’s the worst thing that you can have. I found that it gave me cravings for junk food.


[00:37:03] Ashley James: Wow.


[00:37:05] Tony Bussey: Yeah, I couldn’t get enough in me for whatever reason. I got no scientific basis. I’m sure having one diet pop or whatever would be okay. But as I said, I was drinking 8, 9, 10, 11 cans of this a day. And it seemed like the more I drank, the more I would crave junk food, the more I would crave, the more I would want diet pop, and it would just go hand in hand. I couldn’t get enough of either in me.

And now I, I haven’t had pop in almost three years. I don’t touch any junk food. No treats, what you would call normal treats. I don’t have any of that. I stay away from breads and pasta. And I don’t eat late at night.


[00:37:51] Ashley James: I like that you said don’t eat after six. That’s something I just started doing, and I’ve already noticed I feel better. I choose to eat healthily. I have for the last few years, and I’ve been on my health journey. But I noticed that I had gotten into this routine of eating a second dinner because we would eat supper early because we have a young kid in the house. And so we would get him fed around five, and then get him to bed. And then I’d stay up until 11 or so. And of course, a few hours later I’m hungry again, so I’d eat again. That became this slippery slope of eating out of habit, out of fun. It could be like “healthy food,” it’s still consuming more calories at night before going to bed.

What do I need to do consuming 500 calories before bed? All I’m doing is sleeping. I don’t need to eat more. And so choosing to not eat after six, like even having a piece of fruit in my hand because we just went to the Asian market, got some really cool stuff there.


[00:39:04] Tony Bussey: They got a lot of cool stuff there.


[00:39:05] Ashley James: Right? We’re going to a barbecue this weekend. My husband’s vegan and I have a day 23 of me not eating any meat, and I feel fantastic. It’s a personal journey. I don’t believe in any one diet dogma. I don’t think everyone should be vegan, or everyone should be paleo. It’s everyone’s journey to figure out what their body needs.


[00:39:30] Tony Bussey: We should never judge anybody. I dated a girl there for a few months and a wonderful lady, and she was vegetarian. So out of respect for her when we were together, I would eat vegetarian with her, and I loved it. I didn’t I was lacking or anything.


[00:39:48] Ashley James: Right. And I feel great. I can’t believe it. I’m enjoying it. We’re going to a barbecue this weekend at a friend’s house, and so we’re bringing a jackfruit with us. We’re going to cut it up and barbecue the jackfruit. It’s going to be a lot of fun.


[00:40:03] Tony Bussey: That sounds delicious.


[00:40:04] Ashley James: So, yeah, yesterday we were at the Asian market. I picked out this exotic looking fruit. I thought this is great because we had already had dinner. It was going to be dessert. I get into the car. It was 6:20. I said, “Okay, I’m going to have this fruit tomorrow.” I’m not eating after six no matter what, and I can’t believe it. I feel so good. It’s sort of like intermittent fasting where you open up your eating window.

So if you stop eating at six, then you don’t eat again till like 9 or 10 the next day. You decrease the amount of calories you consume, but also your body gets more time to rest and to heal.


[00:40:43] Tony Bussey: It’s a mental thing, too.


[00:40:45] Ashley James: It is because now I want to go to bed sooner. It was like, what do I need to do staying up, I know how important sleep is, but I’m actually noticing my body is telling me, around nine o’clock, “Hey, it’s time to wind down,” because I’m not going to the fridge. I’m not eating any more tonight. Now I’d say, “Hey, it’s time to go to sleep. What are you doing?” It goes hand in hand. Not eating after six and making sure you get to bed on time because if you plan on eating more, you’re going to stay up later.

And then when you’re sleeping, you’re still digesting, so that interrupts your sleep. I liked that you said that—no eating after six. What I want to know is, the night that you arrived in Edmonton from the fires from the second evacuation, where you had stolen someone’s seat and the impact of your weight and the weight of that on you emotionally, how did you know what to eat? You had spent your entire life eating poorly. How did you know to cut out sugar, to eat fruits and vegetables, to cut out pasta and rice? What informed you?


[00:42:07] Tony Bussey: I had a friend of mine. She lives down in Virginia. She’s Canadian, and she’s married to a US Army airborne. I think he’s special forces, but he runs triathlons and stuff also. He’s in great shape and everything. I guess she got some advice off them, and she called me one evening, and she keeps in touch sometimes, especially during the fire and stuff. She said, “Tony, eat this and this and this, and don’t eat this, this and this.” She just gave me a little bit of advice, and that was it. I just went with that.

I just started cutting out sugar. Basic common sense will tell you what’s good and what’s bad, and the little things that you would pick up, a little bit of advice from friends and stuff over the months and everything, and then what seemed to work for me, and I just kept going with it, and that was it. The big thing, like I said, like no eating late at night. For my trick, what I do, I get up early in the morning, like today, my day off, and I was up at 5:30 still. But now tonight, as you said, around nine o’clock I’ll be getting tired. So now your tired instincts are taking over your hunger instincts. I think you go to bed, and then once you’re in bed, you’re too lazy to go to a fridge because you’re too comfortable in bed.

And then I wake up—as soon as the daylight comes in the morning, and I wake up, and I was like, “Oh, I can eat again.” So I get up and make a breakfast, and I go for a walk and so on. She told me some things, and then I had some friends who would give me a little bit of advice here and there. But I just kept doing the same thing because I could feel things are getting looser. And then when I came back to Fort McMurray, and I realized I had 30 pounds gone, I was like, “Wow, this is working.” That was it then. It was the [inaudible 00:44:14].


[00:44:17] Ashley James: That is so cool. It sounds like part of what you did was listen to your body and listen to your intuition because you had a lot of advice being thrown at you. How did you know at a gut level what was working?


[00:44:35] Tony Bussey: You learn like through your own life experiences, I guess. I had one person tell me, “Be careful. I’m going [inaudible 00:44:44] what you eat.” To me, that’s the reason why people give up so easily because they get all of these things thrown at them. All these things that seem so ridiculous, and they’re like, “I can’t do it.”

Just filter out all of that stuff. Use your common sense, and then go with that and feel yourself what works. I guess my gut instinct- I’m very, very stubborn. I just went with that, I had the 30 pounds gone, a few things work, and I was fine. Then the longer I went from processed sugar, the less and less I craved it. And I was eating completely healthy.

So I guess to me, my mindset was, if you’re exercising and you’re eating healthy, and you keep doing that, you’re going to lose weight, because how can you not?


[00:45:48] Ashley James: The hardest thing we’ve seen with weight loss is maintaining it. It’s pretty ridiculous. Something like only 0.8% of people who had been significantly obese are able to, in the long run, not gained back the weight. There’s a very small chance, and I know you’re doing it.


[00:46:12] Tony Bussey: That’s the same chance that Canada gets the Stanley Cup again.


[00:46:14] Ashley James: [laughs]


[00:46:16] Tony Bussey: I had to throw that in there. I’m just a sad, sad specimen here today. But all my hopes are on Toronto tonight, but I’m just a sad, sad state. But yes, it’s a very small chance. A lot of the most major things that have happened in this world, in the beginning it seemed very impossible that it was ever going to happen, but people kept at it.

If I would tell people, “Don’t get discouraged,” I mean, you look at the moon landing. There was a small chance of that happening in the 60s, and it happened. Things that are happening every day—there are miracles happening every day that there’s a small chance of happening, but it happens. If you look at most people that are successful, what they all have in common is they’re very, very stubborn. They don’t give up.

I look back, and I see people that have lost weight but have put it back on, and the one thing that they all seem to have in common is that they go back to eating junk food.

Just get rid of it. Just convince yourself that you’re done with it. Especially with people that were my size. If you’re listening to this and you’re 400, 500, 600 pounds, get in your mindset that “No more am I ever going to have junk food.” Treat it like an alcoholic would treat booze.


[00:47:59] Ashley James: It’s ruining your life the same way as alcohol to an alcoholic.


[00:48:03] Tony Bussey: Hugely. For me, it was. This earth didn’t start by having junk food in gardens. It was fruit and vegetables and things like that. We don’t need it. You can treat yourself in other ways. So if you stay away from that, you will keep the weight off. Just keep doing what you did in the beginning.

I guess you can apply that to not only weight loss, but even relationships and everything. If you keep doing what you did in the beginning to meet a person, it will always be a success. Keep doing what you did in the beginning to lose the weight, and it will always be a success.

The problem with anything that people fail in, they always go back to the old ways. Just get in your mindset that you’re done with that. If I can do it, anybody can. I was 41 years old. I was 561 pounds. I was living alone. I was eating all kinds of crap and putting into my body. I added muscle pain. I had foot pain. I would come home from work, and I would have blood rolling down from my belly because of the chafing.

I went through all of that, and I still lost the weight without surgery just naturally and just by eating right. To this day, I still haven’t joined a gym. I tell people this so they can realize that there are no excuses. If they come to me and say, “Tony, I can’t because my back hurts. Tony, I can’t cause I’m 400 pounds.” I was 567.

“Tony, I can’t because I’m working too long days. I work 12-hour shifts.” “Tony, I can’t because I’m going and getting out of breath.” Well, so was I. There are no excuses.

But regardless of what choice you make, life is still moving on. Each day passes by. It’s up to you. How do you want to live it? Every day we get up in the morning is a day closer or that we’ll be done with this earth. Do you want to live the rest of your life trapped in addiction, or do you want to finally be done with it and go out and enjoy the world? It’s full of beauty. That’s the way I look at it.


[00:50:39] Ashley James: You live in some of the harshest climates. I live in a very moderate climate just outside of Seattle, where we get barely two inches of snow on most winters. We got rain, and I’m always using weather an excuse not to go out for a walk. We’ve got beautiful hiking; we call it hiking. It’s hardly hiking. It’s just a path in the woods. You can’t call it hiking.

So we go hiking because it makes us feel like we’re—


[00:51:12] Tony Bussey: On Mount Everest.


[00:51:13] Ashley James: Yeah, exactly right. Really adventurous. We have these beautiful trails in the woods near our house, and they’re so easy to walk. It’s so beautiful, and it’s so relaxing, and I use all the excuses in the world. “Oh, it’s too sunny today. It’s too rainy today. It’s too cold today. It’s too windy today.” It’s just so silly.

Here you are in negative 40 degrees with the windshield and the snow in the winter going for your walks no matter what.


[00:51:43:41] Tony Bussey: No matter what, I’ve walked in everything from minus 52 to plus 35.


[00:51:48] Ashley James: That is very hot and very cold.


[00:51:53] Tony Bussey: I’m not trying to make things sound simple, but I guess you just got to pick your pain. Do you stay trapped in that body that’s almost 600 pounds, and that is a full-time pain? If you don’t do anything about it, you’re going to be that way till the day you die. Or do you go out in the minus 50 or the plus 30? Do you walk with the back pain and foot pain and go through the hunger cravings. But as you do that, you’re losing the weight, so that pain becomes temporary.

Either you stay with a full time, permanent pain or you go and do something, and you go through a temporary pain to have a life that you dream of. But either way, life is moving by, so you got to pick the way that you want to live it.


[00:52:55] Ashley James: I want to know what happened in the early 2000s that led up to the weight gain that happened in 2004. Was there anything going on in your life emotionally, between the year 2000 and 2004 that had you want to go to food for so much pleasure during that road trip?


[00:53:22] Tony Bussey: I think about it a lot, and I’m a big proponent of self-responsibility. I don’t blame anybody for what happened. Nobody forced me to eat the way I did or to live the way I did. But I believe it was a lot of loneliness.

I was with this wonderful woman there for about four years. She was pregnant at the time when we started dating, and the little girl that she had, her daughter, is still in my life to this day. We stay close, she calls me dad and so on. But when we broke up, I think that had an effect. The fact that it took me a while to move on from that, and then just being away from family. All my family live on the east coast and so on. I think it was the loneliness that triggered that.

As I said, I’m not blaming her. A lot of people go through breakups and stuff and don’t eat the way I did. Nobody forced me. We have a wonderful friendship now. She’s a wonderful woman, but that might have been part of it. Like I said, just being away from family and so on, but just a lot of loneliness, so I turned to food for comfort.

The one thing about food, unlike other drugs, I guess you could say, it’s readily accessible. You don’t have to go down a back alley to find it. You don’t have to pull up to some shady looking car or whatever and get a little paper bag full of chocolate bars at midnight. You can go anywhere and get it, and for that brief moment, it gives you pleasure.

For that brief moment, while you’re eating it, whether it’s a big old box of chicken wings or five gallons of ice cream or whatever it is, you forget everything. But that temporary happiness brings your permanent pain.

So I think a lot of that. It was a lot of loneliness and just being away from everybody and so on. And then like I said earlier, as you put on more weight and you gain more weight, you become more depressed. After a while, not even anything to do with the loneliness. Now you’re just becoming depressed because you’re so big and now that’s making you more lonely because the bigger you are, the less you want to go out. The last thing an obese and extremely obese person wants to do is to be around people because you’re constantly stared. You just become a hermit.


[00:56:20] Ashley James: It exacerbates the problem.


[00:56:24] Tony Bussey: Oh, yeah. Food becomes your best friend. If something good happens in life, you get food. If something bad happens in life, you get food. If you’re bored, you get food because you have no social life anymore. That’s your social life.


[00:56:40] Ashley James: What’s that syndrome where you love your captor?


[00:56:44] Tony Bussey: Oh, yes, the Stockholm Syndrome.


[00:56:46] Ashley James: Yeah, you have Stockholm Syndrome around food.


[00:56:49] Tony Bussey: Yeah, “chip-drome” syndrome, I guess you could say—”ice cream-drome syndrome.” But yeah, I guess you could say that.


[00:56:59] Ashley James: It’s interesting that you had withdrawal symptoms for a month when you cut out sugar and all the junk food. Yes. How did you get through it? How did you make sure you stuck with it? Did you ever have any doubts while you’re going through those headaches or in all the withdrawal symptoms, or did they motivate you further? Did you say, “Wow, this is how bad the stuff was for my body. Look, my body’s having withdrawal symptoms.”

[00:57:27] Tony Bussey: Well, it’s just, you got to push through it because like I say you got to pick your pain. I knew I could not keep going on with that old life. I didn’t know how long I had left. My life was destroyed. It’s almost like something in my head was saying, “Tony, if you don’t do it now, there are no more chances.”

So you push through it because either you push through the withdrawals, you push through that pain because either way you’re going through pain—physical, mental pain. So I guess in a way that was my advantage because if you’re going to go through pain regardless, then you pick the pain that at least got a positive outcome if you go through it. So you push through that sugar withdrawal. You should push through the physical pain of walking and all that stuff because at least, at the end of that there’s a positive outcome. There’s freedom—there’s freedom of movement, there’s physical freedom, there’s mental freedom, there’s everything. You finally have the life that you’ve always dreamed of.

But if you stop then and you give up everything, and you go back to your old ways, now you’ve got physical pain of being obese, and all that leads to is death. So you pick one, and that’s what I did. I pushed through it because I knew I couldn’t keep living the way I was living.


[00:58:55] Ashley James: For those listeners who are currently battling an addiction, whether it’s with food, drugs or alcohol, what advice do you have that can help them to get to that place mentally where they can pick their life back up, where they can transform themselves as you did on that day in May of 2016 when you were flown into Edmonton, and the light switch went on in your brain? Can you help us to switch that light switch in us as well?


[00:59:40] Tony Bussey: I would say to that person that you’re worth it. You’re worth the love—just to love yourself, to look into that mirror and love yourself. What I mean by that is that anybody that’s listening to this now, if they got a loved one that needed them to get up today and walk five kilometers to give them something or do something for them, they would do it. Then why can’t you do that for yourself?

You’re valuable. You’re worth the love. You’re a wonderful creature. You’re a wonderful person. No matter what you’re going through, if it’s drugs, if it’s alcohol, you’re meant more for a lot more in this life than to be overcome with addiction all the time. No matter who you are, no matter who is listening to this, you’re a beautiful person with beautiful abilities, and you’re worth the struggle, and you’re worth the pain to overcome those addictions.

The strength is in your mind to do it. You just have to tap into it. I’m not trying to sound cliche or corny or anything, but the ability is there to change your life. Just get up in the morning and say this is the day and keep going. Because either way, if you’re going through addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, whatever, that’s painful. That’s a horrible life.

So if you don’t decide to go through the pain of the withdrawal of that, then you’re going to go back to the pain of the addiction. So either way, you’re going through something. But pick the one that leads to a positive outcome. You are worth it, and you can do it. And then you have a life that you could only dream of, but you are worth it.

Just start. That’s what I would say. And don’t give up.


[01:01:44] Ashley James: That’s beautiful now. For those who are struggling and want to transform their lives, you have a beautiful book that you wrote. Tell us about your book.


[01:01:55] Tony Bussey: My book is called Through Thick and Thin: How the Wildfire was a Wakeup Call to Transform My Life. Next book I put out, I’m going to try to get a longer title.


[01:02:04] Ashley James: [laughs] Yeah, that’s a really short title. I sat down with a friend of mine, Mark Griffin, and we wrote the book together. I wanted to write a book because I wanted people to read about my day-to-day experiences of what it was like to be obese. I want people to read this and say, “Holy cow, Tony went through everything that I’m going through now. Every time I turn the page, there’s another experience that he had that I’m going through right now.”

No matter what you’re dealing with—addictions, bad relationships, financial problems, whatever—there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re the only person in the world that’s going through it. And if somebody can read my book and realize, “Okay, I’m not the only person that’s going through it. There’s somebody else that went through everything that I did and maybe even worse so, and he lost the weight, and there was no gimmick, no fad diet, no expense…” (I actually saved money because buying junk food is horrible. It’s very expensive. I didn’t even join the gym. Just walking and eating right.)

And if they can see all of that, then that hopefully will give them hope and encourage them to start their journey. So I just wanted them to read the book and realize that there are other people out there that are struggling like they are. The book is very real. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely very real, and they can definitely get a sense of what I went through day to day and hopefully relate to it.


[01:03:51] Ashley James: Since you came out with your book, what kind of stories of success, what kind of testimonials have come from your readers?


[01:04:01] Tony Bussey: I’ve had people write to me and say they started walking. They started exercising. I have people writing to me and saying they were crying when they read it. I don’t like making people cry, but yeah, they would say that. I’ve had gentlemen come up and talk to me and say they’re starting their weight loss and shake my hand and stuff, and thanks for the encouragement.

There was one message I had in particular a couple of years ago or a year ago. This was before my book, and they wrote to me on Facebook. It was a gentleman down in the States. I forget his name, but he was dealing with cancer. He said that gave him encouragement to keep going on and stuff like that. That’s what means the most to me—getting the messages of encouragement and knowing that people are starting their weight loss journey or dealing with own things in life, and they’re getting encouragement and strength from it. That means a lot to me.


[01:05:05] Ashley James: That’s beautiful. I love it. Well, I love what you’re doing.


[01:05:10] Tony Bussey: Thank you.


[01:05:11] Ashley James: I’m a big fan of your mission and your story. Your website is a We’re going to have the link to your site and the link to your book in the show notes of today’s podcast at so listeners can definitely check you out.

Now I have to thank you because you work 12-hour shifts at a difficult job and that on your day off, you chose to spend your precious day off with us. I feel so honored that you could come.


[01:05:51] Tony Bussey: I’m the honored one. I feel privileged that you wanted me on your show. I admire you greatly. I think you’re doing a wonderful thing. You have thousands of listeners, and if just one person out of all of this can be changed with this, it’s a success.


[01:06:12] Ashley James: Absolutely.


[01:06:14] Tony Bussey: People ask me what I consider success. If I’m 85 years old and I’m on my death bed, and somebody comes up to me and says, “Tony, I changed my life because of what you did,” then your life is a success. That’s all I want.


[01:06:27] Ashley James: Absolutely. You’ve already accomplished that today. I just know it. You’ve changed my life. All the other listeners are like—I want to say icing on the cake, but what’s the healthy version of that? Like they’re the crunch in the apple.


[01:06:44] Tony Bussey: Natural peanut butter on an apple.


[01:06:46] Ashley James: There you go. I like it. Very cool. And you want to get into public speaking. I think you’re a wonderful presenter. So for those listeners who are looking for a keynote speaker or looking for a speaker for their event, please consider Tony because I think your audience, just like I know my audience loved hearing from you today, I know that any audience would be happy to learn from you. So I encourage listeners who are looking for a speaker to reach out to Tony.


[01:07:17] Tony Bussey: I got an Instagram account, tonybussey123. They can write to me there. Write to me on my website. Add me on Facebook. I have a speaking engagement here in Fort McMurry. Later in June, I got one down in Edmonton. Next month, I’m speaking to a women’s group down there. I enjoy it. I spoke to Ashley at Bodybuilding Group last year in Calgary. I gave out some awards and stuff. It’s fun. I really enjoy it.


[01:07:46] Ashley James: That’s cool. Awesome. To wrap up today’s interview, I’d love for you to complete this interview by sharing. Do you have any final thoughts or homework for us, or is there anything that you want to say that was left unsaid?


[01:08:05] Tony Bussey: I would say if anything, realize—and I try to get it through people when I talk to them—life is really, really short. It definitely is. It goes by, and I keep saying this, just like a warm summer breeze. From a Canadian perspective, very, very, very fast.

But you don’t have to be trapped in any bad situation. You have the freedom, and you have the power in your mind to change that. I’m proof of that, and now you can’t wipe the smile off my face. I would suggest to anybody that’s listening to this episode right now, to sit down with a piece of paper and write down what it is that you want to change in your life. What is it that’s making your life unhappy, that gives you unhappy moments, and then use that and change that. Write down steps to change it and start because—it’s kind of hard to explain, but everybody has goals, and they’ll always say, “A year from now, I want to be here. Two years from now, I want to be in this stage of my life.”

The two years have come, and it’s here like a blink of an eye, and they get there, and it’s like, “Okay, I’m still in the same boat.” But when you start that goal, it seems like two years is such a long way away, it presents a big obstacle. I guess kind of what I’m trying to say is time is your advantage, that if you just start every day and start doing your thing, the two years will be here before you know it, and you will finally have the life that you want. It’s kind of hard for me to explain, but that’s what I would suggest.


[01:10:00] Ashley James: I totally get it. You imagine yourself two years from now having achieved your goal and then use the fact that time flies to your advantage to keep motivating you to keep moving towards your goal. Because if you do a baby step every day for two years—boom! Two years are here, and you’ve achieved it.


[01:10:21] Tony Bussey: Two years is gone like a blink of an eye. But when we sit down and we say two years in the beginning or five years, whatever it is—


[01:10:27] Ashley James: It’s daunting.


[01:10:28] Tony Bussey: Yeah, it seems like a huge mountain. But before you know it, you’re on top of that mountain. You’re looking down, and then you realize that happiness—I mean right now I get up in the morning and it feels like a dream come true. I can’t believe because less than three years ago, I was in a body that was 567 pounds. I was having blood from skin chafing. My feet were killing me. My back was killing me. My legs—I would get up in the morning, I have to stand by my bed for 20 minutes to get the circulation back through my legs. I would wake up in the middle of the night choking because my weight was collapsing on me and I couldn’t breathe.

Then on top of that, I was completely alone. I was just sad. I was depressed. I felt totally trapped. And just from small steps in the beginning and keeping at it—just repetition—here I am now, I weigh about 235 pounds. I walk four to five kilometers a day. I’m out meeting new people. I’m traveling. I’m eating healthy. I don’t touch any junk food. Life is a wonderful trip right now.

I sound like somebody from the 70s, like Dr. Johnny Fever of WKRP. But it’s true, though. It’s a natural high. Coming from Canada, where everything is basically legal. That something to be said.


[01:12:08] Ashley James: We want to get high off of life. We want to get so high off of healthy food and walking, love and connection, and being in love with our body and in love with life. We want to get high off of all this stuff that’s good for us.


[01:12:24] Tony Bussey: And they can’t tax that, so there.


[01:12:26] Ashley James: So there. We want to get high of all the stuff they can’t tax. I love it.


[01:12:30] Tony Bussey: Yes, perfect.


[01:12:32] Ashley James: Groovy. Tony, it’s been so awesome having you on the show. I love it.

[01:12:38] Tony Bussey: This has been one of my favorite interviews. I love this—just talking. You’ve been absolutely wonderful, and I thank you for having me. It’s been quite the honor, and it’s the highlight of my day and my week. I appreciate it.


[01:12:49] Ashley James: Thank you. Wonderful. I’m going to make sure that we post in the show notes on We’re going to have some of your before and after photos. We’ll definitely check those out. We also have a Facebook group, the Learn True Health Facebook group. You’re welcome to join it. We’d love to have you join us.


[01:13:08] Tony Bussey: Yes, definitely will.


[01:13:09] Ashley James: After this episode airs, we can start a conversation. So all the listeners have questions for you that want to tell you what impact your story had in their life. You’ll be able to hear that in our Facebook group. That would be awesome.

So listeners, come to the Facebook group and chat with Tony. Tony, you’re welcome there. Can’t wait to see you in the Facebook group. Just search Learn True Health on Facebook or go to to redirect you to the Facebook group.


[01:13:35] Tony Bussey: Perfect.


[01:13:36] Ashley James: It’s been such a pleasure, Tony.


[01:13:37] Tony Bussey: Awesome. A lot of fun.


[01:13:39] Ashley James: Please stay in touch. We want to continue to hear about your success and the impact that you have on the world. It truly is inspiring to hear your story and the ripple effect that’s taking place because you’re choosing to dedicate your life to sharing your story with others.


[01:13:55] Tony Bussey: I hope it does. I hope even just one person, and it can change their life—I’m a happy man. That and if Canada ever gets the cup again, that’s another.


[01:14:03] Ashley James: [laughs] God willing.


[01:14:07] Tony Bussey: Holy cow. That’s definitely a miracle right there.


[01:14:12] Ashley James: Thank you, Tony.


[01:14:13]Tony Bussey: You’re welcome. Thank you. Have a good day. Bye Bye.


[01:14:17] Ashley James: Are you into optimizing your health? Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price? For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to, and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price. That’s Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.

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James Templeton And Ashley James

Cancer survivor (33+ years and counting!) James Templeton tells the story of how he beat the dreaded disease with macrobiotic diet and vitamin C. Part 2 of an inspiring and instructive interview replete with true health gems.

[00:00:00] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 349.

Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. This is Part 2 of my interview with James Templeton. Episode 348 was Part 1, and this is episode 349. So please, if you haven’t listened to the first part, you definitely will want to go back and listen to episode 348. We ended that episode right on a high note, right at the climax of his story, and he has so much more information to share. So here’s Part 2. I know you’re going to enjoy it.

One of the things he does talk about is the importance of taking vitamin C and a lot of vitamin C. He’s gone through and tried a bunch of different kinds, and we discussed some of them. After I did this interview with him, which actually was a few months ago because he wanted me to wait to publish it until his book came out. It’s just being released right now, which is exciting. A link for his book is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at, so you’ll be able to go and check that out. Definitely support him and his cause by buying his book if you’re called to do so.

I tried a few different kinds of vitamin C, and I’ve discovered that my favorite one—I tried -the Dr. Matthias Rath one, and I’ve tried a few others. My favorite one ultimately that rose above the rest was the one that Kristen Bowen sells on her website. It’s acerola cherry powder, and it’s fair trade, very clean. What I like about acerola cherry powder is it tastes good. It has co-factors, and it’s from a whole food source. So you’re getting a whole food source instead of something that’s been synthetically made in a lab, but it does taste good. I noticed my body seems to buzz with it instead of react negatively towards it, so I recommend trying that. As you’re listening to the rest of this interview and hearing about the importance of vitamin C, if you think you want to try one, give Kristen Bowen’s vitamin C a try. It’s the acerola cherry powder.

I’m going to have a link to it in the show notes, but you can go to That’s her website,, and in the shop section under the Supplements, you’ll be able to find the acerola cherry powder.

Now she does give all the listeners a discount. The coupon code is LTH, as in Learn True Health, and while you’re on her website, if you haven’t already, try her magnesium soak. It is life-changing. Definitely go back and listen to a few of my episodes I’ve done with her. It’s been phenomenal. We’ve had hundreds of listeners go through and try her magnesium soak and share with me the effects that it’s had on them.

Those two things are phenomenal. Use the coupon code LTH on her website, and all these links are going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at

Thank you so much for being a listener. I’m so thrilled that we’re on this journey together. My goal when I set out to do this podcast was to publish at least a thousand interviews, so we are more than a third of the way there. How exciting is that? And we’re just going to keep uncovering more and more amazing information like what James Templeton shares today.

 So enjoy the rest of the interview, and please join us in the Facebook group, search Learn True Health in Facebook, or and that’ll redirect you to the Facebook group. Join the conversation.

Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day. Thank you for sharing the podcast with those you love, and enjoy the rest of the interview.


[00:04:13] James Templeton: I remember sneaking down the side of the hall on one side of the wall where nobody could see me. I snuck down some stairs. I literally was crawling. I was so weak from this. I’d threw up I can’t tell you how many times, and it was awful. I snuck down those stairs, and I went out into my car, which had been sitting out there in the parking lot. I got in that car, and I drove out of that place. I never looked back, and I made up my mind at that point, I was not going to do any more of that medical stuff. I wasn’t going to do it. I was going to go all out, and I was going to do the macrobiotic diet, lifestyle, vitamin C, and I was going to keep an open mind going forward.

So I left there, went to my stepmother’s house, and stayed there for a week recovering. I stopped twice on the road, throwing up. I was so sick on the interstate highway. I remember that. I was just weak, and I was down to probably 120-130 pounds. I just had no energy. I never looked back, and I ended up going back to Dallas and dug in. I really dug in this time even more because I was weak and sick from the treatments, but I knew what to do now, and it didn’t take me very long to start getting a lot of energy. When I got back to Dallas, I decided after a while, “This is a tough life.” I’m working all day long, cooking for myself. I’m eating leftovers for lunch, which I didn’t mind doing. It was very lonely because I was by myself. The only people I talked to were the employees that worked for me. They were very, very supportive, but it was a tough go. I knew I needed to have support, and I needed to do something else.

That’s when I decided to go to the macrobiotic center, which was the Kushi Institute up in western Massachusetts at the time and take a residential seminar. I spent a week up there, and I took off from Dallas and took off a week of work to go up there because I knew there was more things I need to learn, plus I needed a really good break. I was doing really well then. This has been a while after all this hospital stuff. I was getting a lot stronger. I still couldn’t walk as well as I’d like to, and I couldn’t run very well, but I was getting stronger and stronger, so I decided that if I couldn’t walk very well still, I was going to get me a bicycle.

So I went down to a bicycle shop, and I got me a 10-speed bicycle. I would go out in the afternoons, and I’d fit it in every day. I’d ride as much as I could. I worked up to a hundred miles a week riding my bicycle because I was determined to do whatever it took because I had been a runner. I didn’t want to lose my ability, my endurance which I had, and I wanted to stay strong, so I started doing that. And then, when I did go up to Massachusetts, I had a lot of strength. I was in pretty good health. I was doing pretty well.

But when I got up there that week, that was probably the best week of my life. I ent there, and this was the place to go if you want to learn about macrobiotics. Macrobiotics was an interesting lifestyle. It’s just a lonely one when you’re by yourself, and you don’t have the support. Going up there, there were all these people for this residential seminar that had a lot of different problems, from cancer to Epstein Barr virus, to maybe their mother or father had cancer or had passed away, and they were interested in it for their own sake.

So I met a lot of very interesting people and while I was there, the general manager of the place, I had a conversation with him, and he said that if I wanted to come up there sometime and live there and do work study, that was a possibility. I had been thinking about, what was next? What could I do next?

So he offered me a position to come up there and do work study, which would basically mean I’d have room and board. I’d wash dishes, cut firewood, whatever I was able to do. At that point, I look pretty strong. He also told me there was a famous writer, a macrobiotic writer, and a teacher that lived in Dallas that I should get to know. His name was Alex Jack, and Alex Jack was one of the top writers. He wrote a lot of books along with Michio Kushi, which was the macrobiotic guru at that time.

When I got back to Dallas, I met Alex Jack and his wife, and we became really close friends, and we shared meals at night together. It was wonderful to have that relationship with him and that support with them. It wasn’t long before Alex decided to go up and live at the Kushi Institute, and he was going to take over the general managership. He suggested I might want to come up there with them.

I’d been thinking about it, going up there, after this general manager that was there offered it to me. So he went up there, then I followed a little bit after them and went up there. I just walked away from the business I was involved in. I hated to do that, but the people were very nice. They were very supportive, my friends. I owe them a lot for giving me that opportunity at that time. It was a wonderful experience, but I got to go to the Kushi Institute and work there. Eventually, I became the operations manager.

That meant that I would be in charge of getting the supplies to the facility, picking people up from the airport and the bus stations, making sure there was fuel for the heaters, just whatever needed to be done to keep the operations of the place going. I enjoyed that a lot.

I was there for several years, and I met a lot of just unbelievable people. I was lucky to be living at a place that was so renowned for the macrobiotic studies, and here I am in the thick of things. The only thing I hated about it was, when I moved in, it was a long ways from Texas and not getting to see my daughter. But I would take a trip to Texas when I could to see her. I just felt it was something I needed to do for myself. I did that, and it was wonderful.

While I was there, I met a fellow, and his name was Herb Shapiro. Herb Shapiro was a businessman from New Jersey and had a chain of health food stores. He was up there, dealing with some of his health issues, living there for a while. I met him, and he was a great friend to me also. To make a long story short, we became good friends, and he offered me a position to move to New Jersey and cook for him and also help him within his health food store so I could learn the business. I knew that it was time for me to do something else because I was doing better. My health was thriving. I’ve learned a lot about macrobiotics. I’ve learned a lot and met a lot of nice people.

So Herb was seeing a nutritionist and this nutritionist that he would see and was up in what they call the Berkshires up in western Massachusetts, which was actually where the Kushi Institute was in that area. She was living up there, and her name was Ann Louise Gittleman, and I think you’re familiar with Ann Louise.


[00:13:45] Ashley James: When you said ‘the nutritionist,’ I’m like, “Oh, this is how you guys met. That’s so cool.” Yeah, I’ve had Ann Louise on the show. I’m a big fan. I absolutely adore her. That’s so exciting. I know the Berkshires. I’ve spent a few months at Kripalu, which is a residential yoga center there. I’d love to visit the other centers in the area. It’s my kind of party—a holistic party.


[00:14:17] James Templeton: It’s great. I spend a lot of time going over there because they had these beautiful grounds around there, and I would hike in the mountains, the hills—I guess they’re hills, but I would hike around there and hang out. They had a little bookstore—you remember that? I would hang out in that bookstore. I met some nice people over there, and some of the people that lived at the Kushi Institute, they had lived there also. They were kind of free spirits, and they were interesting people. They had a lot of experience with a lot of different places like that.

I found it very interesting. I would say I would go there maybe like on a—I can’t remember what night it was. It was a Tuesday or Wednesday night. They would have these things where the public could go in, and the yogi was Yogi Desai, and he would give these seminars for the public once a week. I would go over there sometimes. It was a very interesting place, and I used to look forward to going there sometimes.

But anyway, my friend was seeing Ann Louise Gittleman as a nutritionist, and he had offered that there was—he told me about a seminar that she was giving in the Berkshires, and it was on intestinal parasites. It was a weekend-long seminar that Ann Louise was teaching on intestinal parasites. He told me he thought it was very interesting and that I would enjoy it very much. And so I took him up on it, and I went with him to one of the seminars. We drove up from New Jersey to the Berkshires and went to see Ann Louise speak. Ann Louise was there, and I’d never met her before. I’ve never done anything about or other than what he did. Sad. And she was remarkable. She was a great teacher. She had a huge crowd of people. We were there, and she was teaching about the issues with intestinal parasites that people were harboring, and it was causing a lot of different health issues.

I found it very interesting. She even mentioned that a lot of people that had cancer, she felt, had parasites. After the seminar, my friend and I went up to see her, and he wanted to introduce me to her. She says, “I’m glad you got to come to see me and all this.” I said, “Ann Louise, you’re remarkable, and I want to ask you a question if I may.” She said, “Sure, ask me.” And I said, “Do you think I might have parasites? You know, I’m a cancer survivor. I’m wondering if I have parasites.”

She kind of looks at me, and she just looked at me for a second. She says, “Yes, I think you have parasites.” And I said, “Really? How can you tell?” And she says to me, “Well, you just got that parasitic look.” I went, “Oh, my god. Here’s this nice-looking woman here, and she seemed to be very smart, and now she thinks I’m parasitic-looking.” I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.” I think I felt like things were crawling on me instantly or something. But she could see that I was interested and wondering a lot about what she had said and thinking about it.

And she says, “If you want to, there’s a doctor in New York City, and his name is Dr. Hermann Bueno.” Dr. Hermann Bueno is a world-renowned parasitologist, and he’s right downtown in Manhattan, in New York City. She said, “You should go see him and have him have him check you out because if anybody would know, it’ll be him.” And I said, “Maybe I should go.”

She says, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll even go with you. If you want to go, I would drive along with you or ride along with you. I haven’t met the man. I’d like to meet him. I’d be happy to do that.” So I said, “Well, I’ll take you up on it.” Within a week or two, I got an appointment, and she went with me. We drove to New York and went in.

Dr. Bueno was there. He was a very nice man. He was from Colombia, and he had this Colombian accent. He was just very like, “Hello, my friend.” Just this really nice man, and he was an older man. I told him what I had been through, and he took a tissue swab sample to where they basically go up in your rectum, and they take a swab, a sample. He put it under the microscope. He had one of these teaching microscopes. He had two-sided lenses where I could see it, and he could see it at the same time.

So we sat there, and we looked at this. I didn’t know what I was seeing. He says, “Oh, my lord. You have Entamoeba histolytica,” and I said, “Oh.” He said, “That’s a one-celled organism. It’s a parasite.”

And he says, “Oh, you have Giardia. Giardia is another parasite.” And then he says, “You’re loaded, my friend. You also have something called Ascaris.” And I said, “What is that?” And he says, “You probably know of it as roundworm.” And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.” All of a sudden, I’m thinking, “Oh, I have all this stuff.” He said I had a lot of it. I thought, “More stuff to do here, but I was going to listen.” He said to me, “I’ll tell you something, I’ve never seen a case of cancer or AIDS that didn’t have some parasitic involvement. I think that it’s a good thing that you came here today.”

I started to think instantly about all my friends that had cancer that I had met at the Kushi Institute and thought about all the people that had suffered from the same kind of things that I had gone through. And I thought to myself maybe they have parasites, too. I got to get rid of this stuff, and then maybe somehow know that I can help them. That’s the kind of thing that went through my mind.

And so he gave me some herbs to take and told me to go on back and come back and see him in about three months. So I went back to the Berkshires, and at that time, I had moved up there, and we were living up there. I went there, and I was taking these parasite herbs and doing all this cleansing, and I’m telling you, it was unbelievable, the stuff I started to see. I was detoxing like crazy. When you start to see stuff, you start to believe, and when you believe, it makes a big difference in sticking with something.

But I didn’t feel good taking these herbs. I felt like somebody had a ball peen hammer and was hitting me about every two seconds. I had a terrible headache with taking these herbs, and I told Ann Louise, and Ann Louise told me that I might want to consider taking something that she had formulated for a company a year or two back, and it seemed to work pretty well for people and didn’t have these side effects.

So I took her up on it. I started to take those herbs, and that seemed to do the trick, and it was a lot better. After another three months, I went back to see him, and everything was clear. He said, “Everything is clear.” So I know that I did the right thing and I felt a lot better. I actually started to gain weight again.

So I knew that whatever I was doing was making a huge, huge difference. After that, I got very interested in the parasite thing, and I got thinking about what I was going to do next with my life. I met Ann Louise, and we got to spend time. I was actually cooking for my friend. He had rented a house in the Berkshires, and he was there. He was seeing Ann Louise—it was Herb—the same fellow, and he said that to me that she was thinking of moving in the house and that she would be living across the hall from me because she was leaving the apartment that she was living in and needed a place to live, and they were doing some trade. So she would be living in this house that we live. It was a big house. I don’t know how many bedrooms it had. It was a big house that he had rented, and we all shared this house, and I did all the cooking.

So Ann Louise was there, I got to know her and got to spend time with her, and I was doing so much better after the parasite thing. I found her so interesting that little by little, we became very close and eventually became a couple. It’s funny how that happened, living across the hall from each other, sharing meals, and spending time, talking about interesting things.

After we got together, I came up with this idea of starting my own company. I knew I needed to do something. I’d been in the convenience store business, and I wanted to do something else myself. I started thinking about it, and I woke up during the night with an idea about starting a company, and the company would be called Uni Key health. Uni Key would be a company that stood for a universal key to health, and that would get to the root of health problems such as parasites, other toxic substances that needed to come out, and then we would detoxify, and we would rebuild and maintain health after that.

So I got very excited about that. And my first thing would be that I would get into the parasite cleansing herbal side of things. I decided though that I would do that in New Mexico because I love New Mexico. As a younger person, I had spent time in New Mexico around Taos and Santa Fe, and I love that area. So I decided that maybe I should move back out there, and then I asked Ann Louise if she would go with me, and she decided she would.

We went to New Mexico. There was a teacher of Ann Louise’s there, and her name was Dr. Hazel Parcells, and Hazel Parcells was a very well-known doctor in certain circles, especially in the alternative health field at that time. She was over100 years old, and it was Ann Louise’s original teacher that got her interested in nutrition in the first place. She was telling me I would love her, and I needed to meet her. I guess I thought she’d be in a wheelchair or barely get around, but boy, was I wrong because when I got there, and I met Dr. Parcells—That was the first thing we did. We went to see her–She came in to greet us, and she was unbelievable. She was walking around. She was over a hundred. She was a maybe 102 or 103 then, and I couldn’t believe it. She was so vital and had so much energy.


[00:27:17] Ashley James: Wow. When you first saw her, if you didn’t know her age, what age would you thought she was?


[00:27:24] James Templeton: She probably looked like she was maybe 80—someone like that, maybe an 80-year-old lady. She was just so jolly and so full of energy, so bright and so smart. She had her own story. She had been written off at the age of 40 or 42—I think it was 40 when she got sick, somewhere around there. She had tuberculosis. She had owned a beauty shop, and she had gotten sick, I guess from all the toxic chemicals, and eventually had tuberculosis. Her5 old system was run down, and they told her she only had two to three weeks to live. They told her that she should go to a sanitarium.

She didn’t do it. She got up, and she started eating vegetables. That’s what her body felt like eating. She ate all the vegetables she could, especially spinach, because she couldn’t get a lot of the things back then. So she ate all the spinach, and within a month, this kidney that had been three quarters gone, one of her kidneys was three quarters gone, had almost completely regenerated within a year. But within a month, she had all this energy, and everything was starting to be better. And when she went back a year later, that doctor could hardly tell anything ever had been wrong with her. It was amazing.

So she got interested in health and started to study and became a naturopathic doctor, a chiropractor, and a Ph.D. in nutrition. She was a nutritionist at a university for many years until she was in her 70s, and this was her second career. So she almost died.

So then I met her. At that time, I was getting ready to start my company Uni Key Health, and I wanted to learn everything I could from her. Anything that she could teach me, I was going to try to learn. So I got to spend a little time in her lab working with her, learning how to develop products, and learning the way that you formulate.

She was a miracle. She was unbelievable. Of all the people I’ve ever worked with, Michio Kushi was a real master, but she was something else too. I’ve never met anyone like that. She had all the answers pretty much to health. So anyway, I got to know her, and one day we were having lunch, and she says, “Come on in here, honey, and let’s have some lunch.” She always cooked in a crockpot, and she would have all these vegetables and things in the crockpot. That day she had beans and ham hocks. I’d been on this macrobiotic diet. I would never get off the macrobiotic diet. There’s no way back then. There’s no way I was going to stop that.

She told me, she says, “Look, I’ll tell you something now. You got to start eating meat again, honey. If you don’t, you’re going to get sick. I can tell you I’ve worked with many people over the years. You don’t look healthy. Your color is not good. You got to start eating more protein to feed your glands. Your glands are getting weak. I’m telling you, you need to consider this.”

I looked at her, and she is so vibrant and so much the picture of health that I said—at that point, she’s probably a 104-year-old woman—who’s going to argue with her? So I took some of it, and that’s when I started eating meat again.

I wouldn’t eat meat for quite a few years. She got my attention. Without her, who knows what would have happened. But she was into the parasites big time. She was into detoxifying the body, taking a load off, rebuilding the glands. It helped a tremendous amount of people.

She taught me so much, just from her. Ann Louise taught me a lot, and then I started the company, Uni Key. I started to develop my products. I’ve been in this business, Uni Key, for 28 years. It’s thrived over the years, and it’s been a wonderful business. The main thing that we started was the parasite cleansing. We’ve done so much over the years, but the whole thing is that I’ve done very well over the years, and I still keep myself on the path of health. I’m proud to say that I keep learning all the time. There are always new things. Not only was it the macrobiotic diet, it was vitamin C, the parasite cleansing.

I also learned about another thing that I did through another one of my friends and teachers that I looked up to. It was called Iscador, which is a mistletoe, which stimulated my immune system. I did that for a year where you inject yourself with mistletoe from Europe.

So I’ve always been open to what’s next until I kind of figure out all the pieces of the puzzle. Today, I do a lot more things. Over the years I’ve done so much more than that, but just eating this macrobiotic diet, which was so detoxifying and so healthy—it had all these vegetables—your cruciferous vegetables, your cancer-killing vegetables with the phytonutrients. And I stopped eating sugar, which feeds cancer.

That’s the big thing. You got to get off sugar and starve the sugar out of your system, and the vitamin C will do the rest. It does a lot—the vitamin C. So I’ve, I’ve done a whole lot more now than I’ve ever done and things I’ve done now, but we can get into that if we have time.

[00:34:37] Ashley James: Absolutely. As long as you have time, I’d love to get into that. I’m just so inspired by your journey. Thank you for laying it all out and haring what it took to get here. They should make a movie out of your life. I love how there’s divine intervention.

I know some people don’t believe in the wisdom of the universe or a creator, but when you sit back and examine your life, you see that there are these miracles that occur, that it’s not chaos in random. But even if it’s just our intentions, even if we can just believe that when you set out to pray that day in the hospital right after your surgery, you said out an intention to seek information. You were asking for the universe or asking for people to help that you’re also opening yourself up. That hope, that perspective was allowing when information came to you, you were receptive enough to receive it. That’s the part of the brain called the reticular activating system.

We can look at neuroscience and get that on a scientific level for those who don’t believe in God, or a creator, or divine intervention by setting an intention and something like prayer. With an intention, you are telling your brain to be a heat-seeking missile for what you’re looking for.

I believe that there’s this wonderful part of our unconscious mind that we can tap into and ask to help us to seek information by using things like prayer to align our conscious and unconscious mind to be open enough to receive the information. But then you look and see that there’s so much divine intervention that occurred in your life. It wasn’t like a pinball machine where it’s just random bouncing here and there you were. People were put directly in your path, literally in your hospital room to bring you the information that you needed, but you were also ready to receive it.

Those who are listening today are hearing this information, not by accident. They hear it because they’re ready to receive the information. They’re ready to learn. They’re receptive because they’ve chosen to open their mind.

I love the saying, “Open your mind so much; your brain will follow.” Just open your mind to the possibilities, especially that the body has this innate ability and innate wisdom to heal itself, and we need to stop putting obstacles in our body’s way towards health. Sometimes healing is getting out of our way. Stop putting toxins in, help get the parasites out, give the body the nutrition it needs, the diet it needs. And that means sometimes adjusting the diet as you go along, depending on where you are at different stages in your health, and then just let the body do its work.

So you are this shining example of the fact that we can heal and that there are resources out there that, there’s so much wisdom in holistic medicine and looking to the wisdom of the body’s ability to heal versus wait to get sick and then get a new drug. I love your story. Thank you so much for laying it all out.

Of course, we’re all curious now to hear about your new book that’s coming out; learn a bit more about the macrobiotic diet; of course, learn about your protocols for detoxing parasites. We’d love to hear it all.


[00:38:25] James Templeton: There’s a lot to it. The thing that I think that helps anybody the most, myself included, is to believe in what you’re doing. When you’re doing something, you start to see results, and you will see positive results. Once you start to get all the toxins out and you start to get the immune system back in order to where it should be, and you start to take nutrients and things that you’re deficient in, and you start to exercise on a regular basis—I’m not talking about going out there and running marathons.

We could talk for three or four hours about this story, but you can’t say every little thing or tell every little detail. But the exercise, just walking every day and doing deep breathing as you sometimes walk, get plenty of oxygen and keep the lymphatic system moving and get your system where it detoxifies on a regular basis and eliminating the way it’s supposed to. We all have 75 million cancer cells, they say. A lot of times, people will say that we all are walking around—the average was 75 million cancer cells in our body. People think, “Really?”

But it’s true. We all have cancer cells. We all have cancer, but it hasn’t gathered into a tumor, I guess you could say. After about a billion cells or more, it becomes up to a thousand-milligram tumor for every billion cells. The thing is that if you don’t take care of yourself as you get older, and some of us younger like I was—I was exposed to a lot of things. When I look back at the things I was exposed to, I’d lived several places next to one of these high power lines. These big, double, huge strand, major power lines. Sometimes one place was right out my back door. The other place I lived for almost ten years around one—well, it wasn’t ten years. It was probably maybe seven or eight years around one that was no further than 50 yards away. You’re getting this energy all the time.

And then I was in the gasoline business, and when I was in college, I pumped gasoline. You’re around all these petrol chemicals. You’re breathing all this stuff. Before that, I worked construction—this was before I got sick—at one point for seven years on and off, and I was exposed to PVC glues every day. You’re breathing all this stuff in, and when you’re young, you think you’re invincible. And so I’m breathing this stuff, and I’m not taking care of myself—I’m probably drinking too much, eating fast food, or whatever we had back then. The last thing I was going to do is focus on my diet.

Here I am exercising myself and running up to 60 miles a week. When I was running all this time, I wasn’t supporting myself properly, so no wonder I ended up with cancer. It’s not just, “I got too much sun out there.”It’s because maybe I had a weakness from too much sun here or there or chemicals, but like the melanoma, a lot of people say it’s from chemical exposure, toxicity, and lack of immunity.

When I started to feel sick all the time like I’m getting the colds, flus, and allergies like I’d never had in my life–Why is that? I had polyps in my sinuses. I had everything. My whole system was breaking down as a young man. No one ever thinks anything about it, but it’s not normal. You shouldn’t ever get sick very often. You shouldn’t get sick, but occasional. I mean, everybody’s going to get sick sometime, but I can honestly say after I discovered all this stuff and after I started changing my ways, I probably hadn’t been really sick with anything. Maybe three or four times in 30 years and that was like maybe a head cold and maybe flu one time.

That’s unusually the usual because most people get the flu a time or two every year, and it’s because they’re just not taking care of themselves. They’re not thinking about it. They’re probably not until something bad happens to them, and they start to feel really lousy. But with all this cancer in everybody, you would think it would get their attention, but most people don’t even know this. It’s just out of control, no wonder, so much of this stuff.

One thing I found out through all this through the vitamin C, which I took 20,000 milligrams of vitamin C from the beginning, and to this day, I probably take 16,000 a day still, I never had any side effects, never had any problems. Maybe if I take too much, you’ll get a little bit of loose bowels because that’s what happens with vitamin C. I never did IV vitamin C which you can get nowadays, which is a lot more powerful. But I did all this vitamin C, and to this day, I still do a lot of vitamin C. You’ll probably have a hard time getting me not to take it because it’s helped me.

But cancer—Linus Pauling did a lot of research, and he did some studies later on in his life not long before he died. He did a cancer study, and it was vitamin C and cancer again, but he added another matrix to it. He added lipase and proline, which are amino acids, and he added a green tea extract. He used that in this combination, and he treated people of all these different kinds of cancers. At that time, I didn’t know why the vitamin C works so well other than I was afraid to stop it because, in his first book that I read, he says people did well on it as long as they were on it. There was no way you’re going to get me to stop. But this study showed that cancer is a collagen disease, and it spreads through the collagen, which is the connective tissue. It metastasizes, and when it spreads through the collagen, it starts causing damage and inflammation in different areas of the body, in organs and tissues.

The thing about vitamin C is it helps to stop it from spreading. That’s why when someone is first diagnosed with cancer, they got to get on something fast. You can’t mess around with it. Cancer is not something you can fool around with and think, “I’ll see if this works. If this doesn’t work, I’ll do something in two or three months,” or because it can double in 90 days. The average, I believe they say, cancer cells can double in 90 days. If you have a tumor going on, it can double in size in three months, and some fast, aggressive types can grow faster.

All that causes inflammation, and then you start to have a big problem when it gets in an area. Vitamin C is, is remarkable. The other thing about vitamin C is that vitamin C, along with iron and copper in the cell, create hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidant that destroys cancer cells. We naturally have catalase in our body. Catalase is an antioxidant normally found in the body, which in cancer cells have it, too. It’s very little compared to the human so they can handle a lot of hydrogen peroxide. We can’t handle it, and our body deals with it through the catalase antioxidant process.

So that’s the big deal with that. Also, when cancer gets in contact with vitamin C, I think it is probably from the hydrogen peroxide, but in general, it commits suicide, which is called apoptosis. There’s no way in the world, and anybody that has cancer shouldn’t be taking high amounts of vitamin C. I can tell you that because if you do that, your chances of survival went way up in my book.


[00:48:22] Ashley James: I have questions about the vitamin C. There’s so much controversy around the quality of vitamin C, whether it’s synthetic or naturally derived, whether made from GMO corn or rose hips. I’d love to know what your thoughts are because what I understand from Linus Pauling Institute, what I’ve read on their website is, vitamin C is vitamin C. It doesn’t matter where it’s sourced for one. It’s a little bit of a sticky wicket. And then two, how do you take that much? Do you work your way up to being tolerant, or do you need to take high-quality vitamin C to absorb that much?


[00:49:06] James Templeton: Well, here’s what you do: you take the vitamin C—and I’m not sure that the vitamin C matters or not. I’ve heard that, too. I would think that you don’t want to take GMO because why add more glyphosate? It’s in the GMO foods, the corn. A lot of vitamin C is made from corn. Why add more toxicity, more cancer-causing things to your body? You want to take away as much as you can of the cancer-causing toxicity in your body, and you also want to take on as much food as you can that are cancer-fighting foods like the cruciferous vegetables. You can look a list up that is anticancer, and you want to stay away from a lot of fruit.

A lot of people eat way too much fruit. Vitamin C is in fruit, but you have to eat an awful lot of fruit to get the kind of vitamin C. You want to stay away from that to get the vitamin C because I know a lot of people that live on fruit, and they wonder what happened to these people. They fed the cancer—all this glucose, the sugar that they produced.

The vitamin C—you want to make sure that it is buffered. If you can find one that’s buffered, meaning that it’s easy on the stomach—I like it if it’s buffered with magnesium, maybe lysine and magnesium. There are certain powdered vitamin C’s out that is well absorbed. There’s one I know of that is 80% absorbed. It’s almost like an IV form. It’s so efficient with the absorption. That one is very gentle also. I could give you that. I don’t sell it or anything. American Nutritionals is a company that has Vitality C—I believe is the name of it. That is an excellent one to get started on. They have an excellent product. Then there’s Dr. Rath, the doctor that worked with Linus Pauling. He’s a doctor that they’ve pretty much about run out of the country because he’s helping people is what I feel.


[00:51:42] Ashley James: I love Dr. Roth’s work. I got into his work in 2005 back when the Internet was still so young compared to what it is now. You could download all of his books for free. He gave away all of his books for free on his website, and I think he still may do that. But I read all of his books that were available at that time, one of them being “Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks and People Do.” That completely blew my mind open to the ideas about nutrition. It was one of the mind-opening experiences that kept me going on this path of seeking holistic health.

What vitamin C do you take?


[00:52:29] James Templeton: Well, the vitamin C that I take is the Dr. Rath formula, and he’s got two different ones. If you call up Dr. Rath or, they’ll tell you they’ve got people that you can talk to there. They might even have a medical doctor you can talk to and get advice from on the type of vitamin C and how much they recommend. But I use the Dr. Rath vitamin C and A. I also use the Vitality C, the one I’m talking about to mix it up. If I had cancer again, and I had to deal with this, I would probably find someone that could do an IV drip and probably get 50,000 milligrams up to 100,000 milligrams of vitamin C. You can hit much in a week sometimes.

So it depends. You might start with 25 and work up to 50, and into a hundred. But if you go to someone that does this is very knowledgeable, which they should be and get the drip form, it’ll saturate your body faster. That’s the key thing. You want to take vitamin C as quickly as possible so that the cancer has less ability to spread. You want that, and you want to get on a lot of other things also.

But that’s what I take. I take the Rath, and I take the Vitality C. I’m sure there’s a lot of great products out there, but these are the ones that I found. I think L ascorbate is the one that a lot of people recommend for absorption. It’s a little higher priced, but they say that that absorbs better. 

But again, I don’t know. For years I probably took things with glyphosates and everything else. I don’t know—you get what you get, and you take what you take, but I’ve always taken something that was buffered with magnesium or lysine. I’ve enjoyed that one a lot, and the one I’ve taken. Now I’m using Dr. Rath and the Vitality C. I don’t have problems. You don’t have any problems going into the bathroom. I’ll tell you.

And the other thing, I’ve gone to get my arteries checked out several times. This is a quick story. It has nothing to do with cancer, but it has to do with my heart, which I come from genetically a background of heart disease. A few years ago, I went and got checked out and had a calcium score scan done when I was in New York. I went to this place, and they did back then. There’s probably more of it now out there, but it was a scan where they could see in your arteries to see the calcium buildup in your arteries. I decided that I needed to have my heart checked out. I went and had this test done. It was almost like you’re doing a CAT scan. They run you through this tube and back through it. And then the guy says, “Go have a seat, and we’ll give you the results here in a few minutes.” The guy comes over and says, “Can I talk to you?” And I said, “Sure, you can talk to me.” I’m scratching my head here. I thought I was going to tell me, “Oh, man, you’re a clogged up, and we better get you straight to the hospital or something.”

The guy says to me, “I haven’t seen this kind of thing very much at all. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it like this.” And I said, “What are you talking about?” It scared me. I think I was 52 or 54 then—I can’t remember, but he says, “Your arteries look like a baby’s arteries.” I said, “Is that good or bad?” He goes, “That’s good. They’re clean.” He said, “At your age, usually people have some plaque buildup, but you don’t have any. That’s unusual. What are you doing?”

And I said, “It must be from all the vitamin C and all the antioxidants that I take.” And he says, “Well, I don’t know, but you better keep doing it. This is like a little kid’s arteries.”

So I know that it works, and the year before last, I went and did the same thing—the same thing. I know it has to be that vitamin C. I take a lot of vitamin C for many, many, many years along with a lot of supplements. People look at me and think I’m nuts. You probably haven’t seen anybody take as many things as I do and people will say, “That can’t be good. Your liver got to detoxify all that.” But I can tell you one thing, and it’s probably overkill, but I have more energy, as much energy as most people in their 30s. As I said, I don’t get sick very much or anything. I can’t remember when I got sick last time. I feel good. I only mainly do it cause I’m in the business and I want to see how well things work, and I’ve just become the guinea pig—I guess my guinea pig over the years.

But the vitamin C is, I think, is starting to get its due. It’s just so important for people whether they have cancer or not to take vitamin C. I would probably take at least five or six grams a day of vitamin C at least. It wouldn’t hurt if I spread it out through the day for absorption. I take more than that, but I think that people will get the benefits, and they’re going to see that it’s going to make a big difference along with a lot of other things which we can talk about if you want to.


[00:59:23] Ashley James: Absolutely. I thought it was really interesting. These are numbers I heard back in 2005 when I was really diving into Linus Pauling’s work and Matthias Rath’s work. Most animals produce their own. A goat will regularly have something like 16 grams of vitamin C coursing through their veins where a wolf will have something like 32 grams. So if you think about it, you’re probably what—two and a half wolves? How many goats do you think you are? That amount of vitamin C, if that’s what a goat produces to stay healthy—you don’t hear of flu epidemics in animals. You don’t hear like, “Take your cat to get the flu shot,” or something like that.

But these animals produce their own vitamin C, and they have grams all the time. Their body is circulating grams of vitamin C. We’re not getting enough vitamins from our food. First of all, we’re not eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables to sustain ourselves optimally. That’s why over 70% of the adult population is on at least one prescription medication because they are experiencing symptoms of nutrient deficiency and toxicity, so they go and get a drug to manage symptoms instead of looking to the root cause, which is we’re not giving the cells enough nutrition.

The farming practices in the last hundred years have robbed the soil of so many nutrients that the plants aren’t able to even make enough vitamins and definitely aren’t absorbing enough minerals for us. I absolutely believe in responsible supplementation. Sometimes when I take my supplements, I feel like I’m having a snack. I have a huge thing of water, and I’ve got a big handful of all my supplements. By the time I’m done taking them, I’m full. So I know exactly what you mean.



[01:01:22] James Templeton: I don’t know. It takes me about four big glasses of water to get all my supplements down.


[01:01:27] Ashley James: When you say megadosing vitamin C, for example, we got to do it responsibly. We have to look at the co-factors that the body needs. What I’ve learned is that if someone were to only high dose vitamin C, it would throw copper out of balance in the body. I like that you’d mentioned that copper was a co-factor that was needed. How do you address that? You megadose certain nutrients. How do you make sure that the co-factors are always in balance?


[01:01:58] James Templeton: One of the things is—I mean, I take a lot of things. Everyone should take a multiple no matter what—a really good multiple, not just some little cheap multiple. They should take multiple vitamins, no matter what. That’s just the key thing so that they don’t get deficient.

They need to do a hair analysis or a blood test regularly. A hair analysis will tell you if there’s a low mineral ratio going on in your body to other minerals. I take so much vitamin C, I’ve dropped it down a little bit, but I haven’t had any deficiencies or anything like that because we probably do a blood test at least twice a year. Just the basic blood test will tell you that. If you’re going to get a blood test, if you have to see a doctor, I think you can get a blood test through Request A Test, I believe it’s called. You don’t have to see a doctor to get that, but you need to understand how to read it. You can find out how to do that online.

That’s just if you don’t have a doctor that will let you do preventative blood testing on a regular basis. But you can go to a Quest Lab. I believe it’s called Request A Test, but Ann Louise talks about it all the time, and I’m not sure exactly the email for it, but if anybody has a question, they can email Ann Louise on her website, look up and ask that question, or go on the Facebook. She could answer that because I know that that’s her specialty, one of her specialties.


[01:04:15] Ashley James: Sure. We’ll make sure we have the links to everything you do, and we’ll make sure that the links to Ann Louise’s website and social media also, like you said the Facebook, just so people can contact you and check out your book and all of your websites and also check out her resources as well. I know you guys are a wonderful team so we’ll make sure all those links are in the show notes of today’s podcast at

This is quite fascinating. I feel like you’ve opened a can of worms, but it’s wonderful. It’s so wonderful, especially for those who have a cancer diagnosis or have had a family member have a cancer diagnosis, or they are worried it’s going to come back. To give someone hope—the idea that people on a regular basis, by nutrifying the body, are able to prevent cancer, reverse cancer, go into remission, live long and healthy lives without cancer. That gives so much hope and gives us a direction to look in, the direction of what is working.

But there are so many things—I have a friend who’s, I’m battling cancer, and she has spent probably $100,000 towards natural medicine, and her fight is not over. She’s winning, but her fight is not over. It’s hard because one person will say do this. The other person says to do that. You just don’t know. What should you do? What shouldn’t you do? What direction should you go? What kind of advice do you have for someone when there is all this information out there? We could spend a fortune on going in these different directions, but how do we know what the right direction is for us?


[01:06:07] James Templeton: Thing about it is if you have a diagnosis of cancer, you know, there are two ways you can go. One is conventional, and most people will find out through conventional methods that they have cancer just like I did. Sometimes people select to go the conventional route. It’s up to them. It’s something they have to pray about or meditate on, or whatever they feel inside that they need to do. Some people feel comfortable with going the medical route. But for me to sit here and say, “Don’t do that,” or “Do this or that,” I can’t say that what they did for me—the surgery and the chemo that I did do—that it didn’t help. I don’t know that.

But what I do know is they didn’t give me much hope or give me much to look forward to. My body wasn’t responding, and I was getting sicker and sicker. I’ve decided that instead of being there, doing their thing, I was going to get up and do something. So I did.

But if I were someone, the first thing I would do is I would read as much as I could, and I would get my book, I Used to Have Cancer because I’m going to tell you what I did and what I would do if I had to do it over again. There’s a lot of things you need to know, and it’s really easy to read, but it’ll give you the information. It’ll also give you some other books to read and other things that would be very helpful.

But if you look at the newer research, there’s a lot of things out there that help slows down or kill cancer. A lot of it is natural, herbal. There’s a lot of things they could do, and I feel that their chances are very, very high of getting well when you take control of yourself and when you really get down and knock heads with it.

We use a natural method. But again, it’s just up to the person. I’ve had really good friends lately pass away from cancer. It just made me sick, but it was their choice. They went the conventional route, and they didn’t do very well. I wanted them to do other things, but it’s just everybody has a different way of looking at things. I understand it, but that’s why I started my foundation because I got sick and tired of seeing people die left and right. I wanted to give back. I felt like all these years, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve made a good living, and now it’s time to give back.

With this nonprofit thing and not do it for any other reason other than to give people hope, and my intention as we’ve already started this is to interview on video as many people as I can who have survived serious, advanced stage, Stage 4 cancer. That’s through my foundation, Templeton Wellness Foundation. They’re going to see people just like them that have survived for ten years or more, that have had cancer. Basically, these people were given up on.want people to know that cancer is not a death sentence. Cancer doesn’t have to be and you shouldn’t even think like that anymore. There are so many things you can do—vitamin C, enzyme therapy. Enzymes are huge. That’s the next thing that I want to get into. Enzymes are a big deal, your immunity and your gut flora, which is 70-80% of your immune system. You’ve got to detoxify. You’ve got to build your system up with cancer-fighting nutrients, and you got to get the immune system up at the same time.

When you do that, you’re going to start to believe, and the emotional side is going to kick in. You’re going to start to believe you’re going to feel better. You’re going to start to trust in the survival word and believe in it. Because if you start to feel negative, that’s going to take your immune system down and you want to surround yourself with like-minded people.

Don’t be around day negative thinking people that are going to keep you negative because that’s going to take you down more. Cancer, to me, is just about all about the body being out of balance. The more advanced it is, the more out of balance it is, the longer it’s been out of balance, if you want to get well, then you’ve got to make changes. You’ve got to be willing to roll your sleeves up, get to work, go to battle, go to war—whatever you want to think.

To me, I feel that anybody can survive. I understand sometimes people wait too long or they’ve been through the mill. They’ve been through all the treatments, and their immune system has nothing left in it, and it’s tough sometimes. It doesn’t work for everyone, but you’ve got to do it. Once you believe and start to see, and you have to have the attitude like I’ve had, “If it doesn’t work for me, it’s not going to work for anyone else.”

Now if I’m going to do something, I’m going all out 150%, and it’s not an easy route. But like this psychotherapist told me in the hospital, and I always can go back to that and think about it, he says, “There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way. If you do it the right way, I believe you could get well. If you don’t then, then it’s not going to be as easy. You have to do it and do it the right way.”

There’s so much out there now that you can do. I believe that with every cell in my body, that everyone listening to this, everyone’s friends that’s listening to this, everyone’s family—everyone out there can benefit and get well because if I can do it, they can do it and stay well. Because when you’re getting not much hope, five years seems like a long time, and there’s five years survival rate, and as you said earlier, six years, it still counts. That’s usually lower stages of cancer, but that’s okay.

You also have to think about the quality of life you’re going to have. Maybe you’ll survive 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, depends on your age. But I just feel very strongly that with the right supplements, the right nutrition—get off of sugar, you’ve got to stay off of sugar. Sugar is your enemy. Sugar is terrible. You got to stay off of anything that’s processed. You got to eat less meat.

If you have cancer, in most cases, some cancers you can eat a little more protein, but at the beginning, you have to be pretty strict, and you can widen out a little bit. I eat meat some; I don’t eat meat every night. You got to be careful with fish nowadays because of all the toxicity and all the heavy metals and all the PCBs and all the parasites. You definitely don’t want to eat sushi because if people eat that, that’s the end thing. They started to eat sushi. Meanwhile, they’re getting parasites. Parasites are one of the most immunosuppressive things, according to Dr. Bueno and Dr. Parcells, known to man.

You have animals, and they get parasites, the first thing the vet looks far is parasites. If you have parasites there, that’s the thing that they’re concerned about more, and our doctors don’t even look at it. They don’t even think about it. That’s a problem right there.

But you want to have vitamin C enzymes. You got to stimulate and keep your immune system strong by supplementing for something that helps support the thymus and the spleen. In some cases, red bone marrow is very good, but you want to make sure it’s GMO-free, organic, and grown without hormones. You don’t want to keep adding more toxins. You got to get smart, read labels, and ask questions. You’ve got to really study this, and you’ll see that the knowledge and the truth will set you free from all this fear. You too will survive, and you too will be able to say, “I too beat cancer” down the road. You’ll be able to say that, “I used to have cancer,” like the title of my book. That, I think, is the key to all of this.

[01:16:09] Ashley James: Tell us a little bit about the Uni Key Health Systems. You’ve mentioned you’ve created some supplements. It’s been around for over 20 years.


[01:16:20] James Templeton: Uni Key stands for universal key to health is what I talked about it earlier, and that’s getting to the root of health problems. That’s getting down to the nitty-gritty, like detoxifying the parasites, detoxifying yeast and fungus out of your system, which is a big problem that’s caused from fungus, mold and too much sugar in the diet, too many carbohydrates in the diet.

I’m not a believer in getting totally off of carbohydrates. I believe that whole grains are important. I probably wouldn’t have as many as I did and on the macrobiotic diet, but you need that fiber. Fiber is prebiotic. Fiber will help that promotes your immune system. But Uni Key stands for getting to the root, and that’s the key to health. That’s the universal key to health—getting down, getting to the root, and cleaning up from the ground up. Because if you don’t go clean house, if you don’t go clean the system out, you won’t absorb anyway. What’s the point of eating all these vitamins and eating all this food if you’re full of toxins?

You got to eat the right foods, the foods that help detoxify, the foods that are high in nutrients and minerals that will help chelate these heavy metals out of your body, the chemicals, and pesticides. That’s what Uni Key is all about. It’s about having product and testing modalities that we have to help people determine the underlying causes of toxicity so that they can detoxify and rebuild. Uni Key is more of a supplement business and health supply.

We sell water filters because water is probably the most important thing that you can put in your body. People can live a lot longer time on just water, but they can’t live very long without water. They can live quite a while away from food, but we want to make sure that this water—that is such a big part of our system and our blood. That’s pure water. So many people are drinking water out of plastic bottles nowadays. They are drinking water in restaurants. They are drinking water in their own home that is full of heavy metals. It’s full of chlorine, full of aluminum—all this stuff that’s causing toxicity and full of parasites.


[01:19:11] Ashley James: I love it. I’m so fascinated, and I’m thrilled that you created this company, Uni Key Health Systems. What is the website that people can go to see your supplements, your testing, and your water filters?


[01:19:27] James Templeton: It’s


[01:19:34] Ashley James: You mentioned you have the Templeton Wellness Foundation. I’m inspired by that. What website do they go to? Is that


[01:19:46] James Templeton: Yes,


[01:19:49] Ashley James: Anyone can access the videos of your interviews with the cancer survivors.


[01:19:55] James Templeton: Yes. It’s all free to the public, and my goal is to interview as many people. If anybody out there knows someone that has gone through a stage 4 or 3 probably type of cancer and has survived for ten years or more using the combination of conventional and natural healing modalities are all natural. I would love to speak with them, and they can contact us at a Templeton Wellness Foundation. If you want to contact [email protected] that would be great. We would love to interview these people, so the more we can help people. That’s all we’re about.

We’re not selling anything. We don’t have any affiliates. I’m not promoting my business. This is about helping to sell hope and giving people knowledge based on real-life stories—living proof stories, I guess you could say. That’s my goal.

It’s pretty simple, but I was inspired by the people that I read about. They got well, and many others that we didn’t even mention that I felt like if they could get well, then I could too. What did they do? We’ve interviewed several people now, and we’re trying to get started here, but the people that I interviewed have similar common threads they’ve used in healing modalities.

I find that very interesting. The things that are working are very similar, and vitamin C is one of them. There’s a number of things that I’m finding, but it doesn’t shock me at all that people with pancreatic cancer, 10, 11 years down the road, they’re still doing well. They were written off that many years ago, and they’re still doing fine. Yes, they changed their diet. Yes, they changed their lifestyle a little bit. But, my gosh, you know, they’re living and thriving. They have their businesses. A lot of them are giving back to help others. They get to see their grandchildren grow up and, and that’s what life’s all about. It’s not like you get a diagnosis and you’re a goner. There’s hope, whether it’s cancer or heart disease, whatever. You just got to be willing to make changes and roll up your sleeves and get after it. It’s there for the taking, but it’s up to the individual. Some people want to do it, and some don’t. You can’t make anybody do anything they wouldn’t want to.

When people know—just like me, when they know, they know. It’s like you don’t have to have someone try to talk you into it. It’s like you just know. It’s like when I do something, I know I need to do it for myself. I know deep inside of me, I got to do that. I’m supposed to do that, and I got to do that. I don’t need someone to be beating at my door to try to convince me.


[01:23:35] Ashley James: I liked that you said to roll up your sleeves and get to work, do the hard work because when it comes to healing and transformation, it does start with mindset. People who are morbidly obese, people who have diabetes, people who have Lyme disease—the first step is the decision to roll up your sleeves and change because you can’t change disease state with the same lifestyle, diet, and habits that created that disease state. And so it does take overhauling your whole life, and yeah, that’s hard.


[01:24:12] James Templeton: Well, it’s like the water’s rising. Do you want to swim, or do you want to drown?


[01:24:17] Ashley James: Exactly. It is very hard to stop eating sugar. But you know what’s harder? Living with the disease. So I liked that you said roll up your sleeves and get to work and we can all do that. We don’t have to have a diagnosis of anything. We can all roll up our sleeves and go, “You know what, it’s time to cut out the sugar or the coffee,” or whatever advice that you know down in your gut has been moving you in the direction of ill health.

So I love that you pointed that out and I think that your videos are going to be a tremendous help to so many people, spreading hope and wellness information. Thank you so much for doing that. I’ll make sure the links to everything you do is in the show notes of today’s podcast at

One last thing, can you please tell us about your book that’s coming out? Of course, we’re going to have a link to your book, I Used to Have Cancer. Tell us about it.


[01:25:09] James Templeton: I’m very excited, and the book is going to tell my story. It’s about my memoirs. It talks about my life. A lot of it talks about where I come from. It tells you about what I went through, my feelings on a deep level. It talks about the three knocks on the door, and it tells you all that kind of puts the pieces of the puzzle altogether. It tells you the things that I did and how I felt and why I felt like I got well, and then it tells you about the things I would do if I had to do it all over again knowing what I know today. This would be very helpful for those going through it today, and it will inspire you—I know it. It’s a very good story, and it’s an easy read.

It’s I Used to Have Cancer. It’s on Square One Books, and you can preorder it at, of course. I think it’s going to do well. It was selected as one of the best new up and coming books for the spring, Publisher’s Weekly, which they say as a big deal, I don’t know. I mean, cancer is a big deal—one out of two people. Everybody knows somebody. It’s not rocket science. It’s actually easy. The hard work again, is rolling up your sleeves and doing the work.

But once you do it, you start to feel better and better, whether it’s getting off of the sugar or whatever. After a couple of weeks or a little bit more, you start not to miss the sugar because it’s amazing how the body starts to transform and starts to bring itself back to that balance that we talked about.

That’s the real key—once the body becomes balanced again. It doesn’t take more than three, four, or five months to get things going in the right direction. Once you see that, you’re going to start to see the numbers come down into where it needs to be, and you’re going to start to believe. Seeing is believing as we always say, and the sky is the limit.

Sometimes a cancer diagnosis could be considered one of the best things that ever happened to us because it makes us sometimes get into the things that we’re here to really do. Our true calling sometimes is based on something that just gets our attention. A lot of people don’t like to hear that, and they think that’s terrible, but I feel that way. I feel that that’s a blessing sometimes. Some of these problems we have in life because they’re obstacles are the key factors that create change.

[01:28:26] Ashley James: Brilliant. Thank you so much for sharing this information, especially the hope that you give people to take back control of their life, and the knowledge that they can do that even when they have a late stage diagnosis of cancer. I love your work. I am such a big fan of you now just like I’m a fan of your partner Ann Louise.

Listeners can go to episode 284 to hear her interview, and please listeners, share this information. Share these two episodes to spread this information and help as many people as possible to know that they can heal their body and that cancer is not a death sentence.

James, it’s been such a pleasure having you on the show today. Is there anything that you’d like to say to the listener to wrap up today’s interview?


[01:29:20] James Templeton: Ashley, it’s been wonderful to be with you this time to let me share my story and to help as many people as I can out there. I wish everyone that’s going through a cancer battle or know someone or are as close to someone in any way understands that getting well is available, and cancer is not a death sentence. And the last thing I like to always think is whether you believe in God or believe in a higher power or believe in just something good happening on a larger level.

But I like to always say that God helps those who help themselves. You just have to ask, and when you get that message and it’s not easy, but it will come to you when you needed it at the worst time.


[01:30:20] Ashley James: Brilliant. Thank you so much, James. Thank you for coming on the show. It’s been such a pleasure. You’re welcome back anytime.


[01:30:27] James Templeton: Thank you so much.


[01:30:28] Ashley James: Are you into optimizing your health? Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price? For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to, and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price. That’s Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.

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James Templeton And Ashley James

Cancer survivor (33+ years and counting!) James Templeton tells the story of how he beat the dreaded disease with macrobiotic diet and vitamin C. Part 1 of an inspiring and instructive 2-part interview replete with true health gems.


[00:00:03] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 348.

I am so excited for today’s guest. We have with us an amazing man. James Templeton has beaten the odds. Not only did he survive cancer; he beat it. He thrives, and he has gone on to dedicate his life to teaching people how they can live a cancer-free and healthy life using natural medicine and supporting the body’s ability to heal itself. He has a wonderful book coming out. I’m really excited. James, welcome to the show.


[00:00:45] James Templeton: Ashley, it’s such a pleasure to be with you today. It’s great to talk to you and share my story with you.


[00:00:52] Ashley James: Absolutely. I know all of our listeners want to hear how you were able to beat cancer. Not only that, in the mainstream terminology, you beat cancer when you don’t have it for five years, but if you get cancer again in six years, they still consider that a success. So you are a success time and time again because you have beat it for 30 years now. Is that correct?


[00:01:21] James Templeton: That’s correct. It’s been about 33 years and a little change. It’s been since 1985. It’s something that you deal with. It’s a little harder at the beginning, and then as you get older and things are going good, you can’t ever let up. You just keep one foot on the path all the time. You widen out, you do different things, and you learn along the way, but in my case, it’s been quite a journey. Now, I’m able to help others, so it’s very exciting to share my story, and I’m looking forward for people to read my book.


[00:02:06] Ashley James: Absolutely. You have statistics on your website, One out of two people will get cancer in their lifetime. This is a statistic we’ve talked about on the show before. I believe it’s one in two men and one in three women, or is it one in three men and one in two women? I always get the two mixed up. Either way, that’s a shocking statistic. If there are two people in a room, one is likely to get cancer. That’s kind of ridiculous.


[00:02:34] James Templeton: It really is. I think it’s one out of two men and one out of three women, but it’s getting to be to where it’s almost one out of two of us, and we’re going to get cancer. I guess it depends on what stage it is when you find it, whether it’s an early stage or later stage. Sometimes we’re not as lucky to find it in the early stage, but it is a scary thing. I see people out there, and they’re walking around. They don’t seem like they’re too concerned the way they eat and the way they live. I guess you could say a lot of people are walking time bombs. It’s scary because we all know someone that’s had cancer or died of cancer.

It scares me all the time. Cancer is a scary word because it’s nothing more than a man-made word, dripping in fear. When someone says the word ‘cancer,’ something has been made up, and probably one of their biggest fears in life, whether they admit it or not, is the ‘cancer’ word or the cancer diagnosis. I think heart disease beats cancer out maybe just by a thread, but the thing is from age 0 to 65, cancer wins out. And then over 65, if you count everyone up over 65, then heart disease is in the lead. But we don’t worry about that as much until we drop over or we have problems, or we end up going to the doctor and getting bypass surgery or whatever.

I find it remarkable when I go out to eat, or I go somewhere, even on a flight somewhere, and if I’m lucky enough to be in first class, nobody in the first class section even cares about what’s in the food—90% of them anyway, probably 99%. They think that’s the way it is, and they don’t worry about things. Maybe that’s the best attitude, but in my case, I worry a little bit more.


[00:04:56] Ashley James: I bet. We definitely want to hear your story. I am interested, however, if you could dive in a little bit. Before we get into your story, if you could explain what you meant by ‘cancer’ is this man-made dripped in fear? My mom passed away from cancer, and my dad died of heart disease that was also brought on from obesity. I watched both my parents die in my twenties of things that now, having spent almost eight years dedicating my life to studying holistic medicine, I see they were preventable, reversible, and diseases of lifestyle.

But at that time, my mom was the healthiest person I knew, so for her to have a cancer diagnosis shocked me. And then there’s so much fear around it. I saw her wither away and die from the fear of it. And so I understand what you mean about the fear. Can you explain what you mean that it’s a manmade diagnosis? We can see the cancer on the scans, so why is it man-made?


[00:06:08] James Templeton: It’s man-made because it’s the persona of it. It’s people in a laboratory or researchers, and they have come up with this word. Everything has a word, whether it’s a bladder infection or cancer, and it’s basically put together. Instead of saying that your body is out of balance and you’ve got an extreme imbalance in your system in your body, and your immune system is not able todeal with it. They come up with the word that everyone puts death hanging around it, and then it becomes very fearful because there’s this fear that, “If I get cancer, I’ll probably die,” or “If I get cancer, I’ll have to do all of these and my life will be miserable, and if I do survive, it will  be a miracle. I’m going down to the guy in the white jacket, the doctor, and do what the doctor says because I don’t know what else to do.” And that’s my biggest fear.

But I think it’s, the way I look at it, it’s really an imbalance. If they said your body has the extreme imbalance, and you can turn it around, you got out of balance, now you can get it back to balance, and these are the things you need to do. I don’t really feel that there’s a real cure to cancer. If there is, it’s not going to be a magic bullet because even if they did find a magic bullet, which would be an herb or some drug or something that you took and all of a sudden it turned off all the cancer cells to where they couldn’t spread any longer, couldn’t multiply.  That would be great.

But then people would continue to get it constantly because of their lifestyle, because of what they eat, because they’re the toxicity levels, and because of their lowered immune system and all that goes along with it. That’s kind of what I meant by it. It’s just a word that’s created. Instead of saying, “My friend, you’re just out of balance, and we need to get you back to balance before it’s too late.” This is kind of a last warning here.


[00:08:45] Ashley James: That could be said about all the chronic illnesses out there. As you’re talking, I was thinking about everything else that is prevalent. Diabetes—I’m thinking type 2 diabetes—is 100% reversible. But if you go to an allopathic physician, they will put you on metformin, or they’ll give you insulin, and they won’t give you a way out. They’ll just say this is how it is for the rest of your life. They might give you American Diabetes Association approved diet that’s still has a fair share of carbohydrates and allows for foods that are not healing for the body and not nourishing. They look to maintain the diabetes and manage the blood sugar within the ranges that they say are healthy but for a diabetic, meaning for a healthy person, incredibly unhealthy. They say that it is fine.

And then if you go to a holistic practitioner, they’re like, “Let’s get you filled up with nutrition and balance your blood sugar with a diet that’s healing, and let’s detoxify the body. Let’s look at your lifestyle and your emotional health, your mental health.” And then all of a sudden, a few months later, you don’t have diabetes anymore.

What is diabetes? The second we get this diagnosis, people buy into “This is my life—on drugs and managing bad blood sugar” versus doing a complete overhaul of their life, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, energetically, and healing what got them sick in the first place.

You’re saying that cancer is like, if we give into this idea that there’s a big bad thing called cancer, then it has power over us and we’re powerless. But if we get that it’s a symptom of a body out of balance–was that your message?


[00:10:47] James Templeton: It is—exactly. Good job. If the body is out of balance, and when the fear sets in from this overall knock over the head that’s dripping in fear hit you, then your immune systems are already lowered because you have cancer in the first place. Now you’re under this stress, fear, and anxiety, and now your immune system is even lowered that much more, and the cancer is already ahead of everything. Now it’s got a real big lead running out in front of you, and it’s very hard to catch it.

So you have done to understand that hey, it’ll be not normal at all to be not fearful because I’m fearful of it. I’ve conquered it and survived for 33 plus years, but I’m still fearful of it. But I know what I need to do and I know what causes most of it, and now—what’s the saying? The truth shall set you free. There’s a lot more freedom there, a deep feeling of freedom and a deep feeling of “I can do this, and I know what I have to do” than before.


[00:12:03] Ashley James: I’d love to hear your story. You’ve got me so curious. Can you take us back 33 years ago to your cancer diagnosis? How did you heal it and survive it? Did you give in to the chemo, radiation, and surgery? I would love you to take us back and share with us your journey.


[00:12:27] James Templeton: It was in 1985; I was 32 years old. You might can tell I’m from Texas. I don’t live in Texas all the time now, but I’m from there originally. I’m a fifth-generation Texan, and I’ve always been very proud of that. My grandfathers were fighters, and they were some of the first settlers in Texas. They fought for Texas’s independence, and they were a big part of that. So I was always proud of being a Texan and living here. I grew up in Texas, and I thought back in those days that I had the world by the tail because I was a young man that was successful. I had several businesses, and I had a little baby girl that was less than two years old, had a beautiful wife. Everything was going great for me. I just thought it couldn’t get much better at that time when this all broke open.

I was running a lot. I was in a tremendous shape. I worked out a lot, and people would see me running around town. And they would say, “My gosh, this guy runs all the time. Everywhere you go, you see this guy running.” I’d run out to the country. I’d run up hills. I would push myself. I worked out in the gym two or three days a week at least, and I did everything. I worked hard. I had cows and animals—I had dogs, cats, and hogs. I had a little farm I lived on. It was wonderful. It was like a wonderful setting. I had a little fish pond behind the house. What else could you want when you’re 32 years old and had very successful businesses?

And I did all this exercise and everything that I was doing because my father died at the age of 46, and he had a massive heart attack. His father died at the age of 36. They say it was heart problems or heart trouble that he had. And so I thought, I better do something so that I don’t have this thing. Besides that, my mother when I was less than two years old, and then I had a little brother that died at the age of 8, so I had all this death around me. Besides that your grandparents that you love dearly, they die, and you remember all that, and you start to think that all these people died at an awfully young age.

I better do something. So I started all this exercise. Once when I was in college, I didn’t even really care at that point. My father died when I was in high school and when I went to college, I think the only reason I went was because my stepmother that raised me said, “Your father would want you to go to college.” I was very depressed after he died. I thought I’d never make it to 30.

I decided to go out and have a good time and party. I went to college. I was there. I don’t think I went, but I was there, and I had a good time while I was there. But I wanted to have fun because I honestly thought deep inside of myself that I’m only going to live till 30. So I had this attitude, and that’s not a good attitude to have, but I think I was pretty much depressed and having this attitude.

But as I got out of school, I dropped out of school because I thought that I could do something better, and I wasn’t really into this college. After my third year, I decided to call it quits. I met a young lady, and we got serious. I got married, and now I started to think that maybe I needed to take care of myself a little bit more. She was a runner. She got me into running, and we started to run together a little bit. Then I started running a lot as I was talking about earlier. Then we had a little girl, and everything was wonderful. My whole outlook started to change, and I thought that maybe I wouldn’t have to be like my father or my grandfather, and I would have a chance at a long life. So that’s why I did this.

But there was a guy back then that was a big deal in the running movement. Some people that will hear this might remember this guy, especially if you’re my age. His name was Jim Fixx.


[00:17:42] Ashley James: Oh, yeah.


[00:17:44] James Templeton: You remember that name?


[00:17:45] Ashley James: Yes, I do because he died of a heart attack while running.


[00:17:50] James Templeton: Yes. So Jim Fixx was this guru in the health and fitness arena back then. Jim was a guy that I heard and read about. He talked about running, how his father had died of a heart attack, and running was going to save his life. He could just about eat anything he wanted and do anything he wanted. He was in tremendous shape and all this.

I thought this was the ticket for me, so I started all this running based really on my past and also the advice of Jim Fixx. One early morning I went into the office, and I had several businesses—I had these convenience store type businesses with gas and convenience store groceries—I was there one morning early. I did my early morning duties, and I went into my office, I put my feet up, and I said, “Life is great, everything’s going good. I’d had my morning run already.” I was looking back at everything, and here comes the delivery service that delivered newspapers to the store, I looked at the newspaper, and I started thumbing through there. I got into the sports page, and it said, “Jim Fixx Dies of Heart Attack.” I could not believe it. I was just like, “Wait a minute, is this for real?” Jim Fixx, of all people, die and this is the guy that I’ve been thinking as a big deal. How did he die of a heart attack?  I started reading through that, and I got nervous after this. I thought I was doing the right thing, and then maybe I’m not doing the right thing after all. I better go and get checked out. I’ve got to get my heart checked out because I’ve been enjoying life and eating pretty much what I want to eat. I figured I better go and find me a doctor that can do this stress test.

So I went to an internal medicine doctor there in town. A lot of times that’s the kind of doctor you go to get these kinds of things done—either that or a cardiologist, but I went to this internal medicine doctor. I went in there, I got an appointment, and he said to me, “Take your shirt off, and we’ll get you on the treadmill.”

They got me on this treadmill, hooked me up with all these wires and everything like they do for an electrocardiogram. What they do for the stress test—I’m not sure if they do them the same way anymore, but there was a treadmill, and you’re on that treadmill, and they get that thing going slow, then they build it up and before long, it’s going really fast, and you’re running on there. They looked at my heart and everything, and then they said, “Okay, that’s great. You can go in and put your shirt on, and I’ll be in there in a few minutes to talk with you.” So I go in, and the doctor says, “I want to tell you something, you’re in tremendous shape. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody in this kind of shape.” He said, “You set the record. We see all these people, and no one has been able to surpass you on this device.” And he said, “You are in unbelievable shape. Your heart is in excellent shape.”

So I felt really good then, like, “Oh, my god, thank God. I’m really feeling good. Maybe I’m going to keep on living, and things are going to be wonderful.” He looked at me like when you’re getting an exam and everything, and then he says, “Well, there’s only one thing I found during my examination. There’s a mole on the right side of your back. That mole looks a little suspicious to me. It looks different. It doesn’t look like a mole that is like the other moles. It’s probably nothing to it. When you get a chance, why don’t you go down to the dermatologist? He’s actually in this building, and you go down there and get it checked out. I’m sure it’s nothing, but it just looks a little different.”

I didn’t think much about it other than I remembered at that time when my stepmother had told me that sometimes these moles could have cancer in them and it can kill you. All of a sudden, I took a gulp, and I said to myself, “Well, I better get checked out because this might be probably nothing to worry about, but I’ll get an appointment and get it checked out.”

So a couple of weeks later I went into the dermatologist office and like before they said, “Go take your shirt off, and the doctor will be there in a minute. Sit up on the table.” I went in there, and I sat on a table, and here comes this doctor. He goes, “What seems to be the problem?” I said, “I went and had a stress test done over at Dr. so-and-so’s, and he said that I should come in and have this mole I have on my back checked out because it looked a little different. He didn’t think it was anything, but he said to get an appointment over here with you, and that’s what I’m doing, coming in here to have it checked out.”

He turns around, looks at me, and he goes, “Oh, my gosh. Oh, my goodness.” The guy got all excited all of a sudden. He started acting like he had won the lottery or something. I’d never seen anything. It scared me to death when the guy was jumping around. He goes, “I think you have melanoma.” And I said, “Melanoma?” It was a scary-sounding word. I heard this word, and all of a sudden, I probably turned as white as a ghost. He just said, “You got melanoma. I’m sure of it.” He didn’t know for sure, but that’s what he was saying.

He says, “We might have to remove a large portion of your back with surgery.” He was excited. I don’t know if he had never seen one before. I can’t imagine that, but he acted like he was so excited. It scared me. He said, “Let’s schedule for surgery,” and all this kind of stuff. I said, “I’m going to have to think about this.” I got up and left that office, and I tell you, I never went back to that guy.


[00:25:14] Ashley James: You know why he was so excited?


[00:25:16] James Templeton: Why is that?


[00:25:16] Ashley James: Because he realized that you were going to be his boat payment.


[00:25:20] James Templeton: Oh, yeah, probably. I mean, this guy had zero bedside manner. It wasn’t like, “It looks suspicious. Let’s get it checked out. I think it’ll be all right. And if it is anything, there probably won’t be a lot to it.” It makes you feel like at least they could do that. How much is that to ask for a doctor to be sensitive?

We’ve all been to doctors that are nice, and we all had been to them that are semi this way. But to this day, I have never seen one like this guy. He was either money hungry or cancer happy or something, but I never went back to him. I tell you, I left that place, and I was shaking and had chills running up and down my body. I’m surprised I even made it home because it was about a 10-mile drive to where I lived.

I got home, my wife was there, and I said to her, “I went to the doctor, and he said a good chance I have melanoma, and he was jumping up and down. He scared me to death. I don’t know what to do.” She suggested that I go and get a second opinion. She said, “You remember that doctor you went to see.”

Several years ago when I had a basal cell, which is a skin cancer, on the back of my head, upon the crown of my head, which was a very young age to have something like this—when I was 24 or 25. I had skin cancer, and I went to this doctor in downtown Houston. He was a really nice man. He took it out, and he told me, “You’re going to have to be careful because this skin cancer is probably going to show up again sometime in your life. We want to keep an eye on things.”

So I remembered that, and I went down to see him. I got an appointment, I went in, and he said, “It looks very suspicious to me also. I think that if it is anything, it’s probably in early stage.” He went on to say, “My wife had melanoma, and it was stage 1. We removed that, and we’ve never seen it again. She’s never had another problem. That’s probably what it is.”

But he said, “For now, I’d like you to get an appointment with this world-renowned doctor that I know in a medical center down in Houston. We’ll get you in to see him. He’s a friend of mine, and he’s renowned. If anybody has to go to somebody, this is the guy to go to.”

So I thought, “I’m lucky.” I felt a lot luckier than this small town guy that was going to do me in. Before he even knew, he was going to take half of my back off and remove all this stuff he thought he was going to have to remove and, who knows, tens of thousands of dollars.

So I got an appointment, and I went to see this other doctor, and he was an oncologist, a big-time cancer doctor. I thought to myself that I was lucky to be there at the time. He had good bedside manners, a nice fellow, so I appreciated that. He came across as a good old boy as we’d say down in Texas.

And he said to me, “It looks a little suspicious to me, but the only way we’re going to really know is to get in there and take it out and just see what it is.” He says, “If you’d like, I can do that right here in the office.” I thought, “I might as well get it done and see what it is.”

So he took a big plug—it was probably a 2-inch square plug out of my back and real deep. He took a deep plug, and he sewed it all up and everything. He told me, “I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks, but we’ll try to do it a little sooner. I think we can get it done a little quicker because that’s a long time.”

He said, “There’s nothing you can do. Just go home. Don’t worry. Chances are you’ll be fine, and there won’t be much to it. Maybe it won’t even be anything.” So I went home, you know, and I felt a little bit better because the guy had such a good way about him and everything. I went back and, of course, I didn’t stop worrying because it’s hard for someone not to worry when they’ve told that there’s a chance they have cancer. That’s sometimes the worst part of it all is at the beginning when you’re told that there’s either a chance, or you’re getting a biopsy, or you’re getting something like this done.

But anyway, I was not fun to be around, I’ll tell you, after that. I didn’t want to do much. I was kind of depressed. I was walking on the floor pretty much. Didn’t sleep very well, either. It was probably almost two weeks before I got a phone call from this doctor. It seemed like a year. It was forever. I don’t know why it takes them so long. That’s the thing I don’t understand. I guess there’s a lot of people getting all these biopsies, and it takes a long time, but it drives a person nuts when you have to wait so long to get anything done.

But he called me up on the phone, and he says, “I got some good news, and I got some bad news.” And I’m like, “Oh, boy. That doesn’t sound good. He goes, “The good news is that it’s melanoma, and we got it all.” I’m thinking, “It’s melanoma, and it’s good news? How could this be good news? I’ve never heard anything.”

He says, “But the bad news is that it’s very deep. That concerns me. We’re going to have to watch it real close because when it’s this deep, that means it’s stage 4.” I’d heard stage 4, but I didn’t know much about cancer back in those days. It didn’t sound good to me. He says, “It’s more likely to spread. It’s more likely to metastasize. It’s more likely to end up in other organs or other parts of the body, so we’re going to have to keep a really good close eye on it.”

And he said, “There’s nothing you can really do. You shouldn’t worry. The only thing we have to do is have you come in every three months and get checked out. You come in every three months, and we’ll look at everything. For now, go live your life and don’t worry. We’ll hope for the best, and maybe we’ll get lucky, and chances are we’ll never see it again.”

I thought to myself, “Boy, how could this be happening to me?” I’m lying there, sitting there, standing or whatever I was doing, this guy tells me all this stuff on the phone while I was just in shock, and now I knew I had stage 4 cancer, and that I didn’t want to do anything now.

Before all this, I was very ambitious. I worked all the time. I ran. I couldn’t wait to try to figure out ways to do more business. I wanted to make something out of myself. I was at the point in my life to where now I was, “Maybe I’m not going to get the heart disease, but who knows after Jim Fixx,” and now get I this diagnosis. This was all in a very short time here.

I had noticed though that I was feeling tired, and when I looked back, I was feeling tired a lot. I was getting colds and flus a lot. I was starting to feel tired. Here I was barely over 30, and I’m feeling like that. I thought, “I guess I’m getting older.” I thought that was the deal on it, but when I looked back, my body was trying to tell me that my immune system was suffering and wasn’t able to do its job the way it’s supposed to.

I became very, very depressed. I didn’t want to do anything. I wasn’t fun to be around. Before that, I’d been the life of the party. I had friends. I like to go out. I like to have a good time. I was easygoing most of the time. I’m sure it was very hard on my wife for her to have to listen to this and put up with all this. Here it comes out of the blue, and I had this little girl and everything. It started to affect my relationship. I could feel the energy was changing in our relationship. Besides, who wants to be with somebody who could be dying of cancer?

I started to read, and I started to try to search for as much information as I could. Back then, there wasn’t the internet. The internet wasn’t the way it is now, so you couldn’t just go on there and Google something, and so I found out through friends of mine. My wife had a doctor friend that we met skiing one year. He said, “With stage 4, he’ll be lucky to live three years.” And I was like, “Oh, my god. You got to be kidding me. Here I am, a young guy—three years?”

That’s what you hear, so I became very difficult. Before I knew it, it was time to go back and get checked out again. I went back three months later, and the doctor says, “Everything looks okay. Everything is going okay. I think we keep doing the same thing. Don’t worry; just go home.”

Well, I was worrying all the time and, my relationship, my marriage became a little bit more and more stressed out. It just wasn’t the same. I guess I can’t blame her because I wasn’t easy to be around. I didn’t have any ambition anymore. I’d even decided that I wanted to start living out some of my bucket lists. I always loved Colorado and skiing, and we had a little ski house up in Colorado. I decided that I wanted to get out of the businesses and moved to Colorado and do something up there. I felt like I better do it now, or I’m not going to be able to do it possibly in my lifetime.

So I started to be a little selfish, I guess, and think of myself. I wanted to start to look at the possibilities of not being around much longer. Before I knew it, my marriage ended. My wife moved into town and took my daughter. After this happened, I didn’t care what happened after that. I lost my whole desire really to care anymore. It really affected me. I didn’t have that support anymore, so I started hanging out and running around with old buddies, drinking buddies, and started going out drinking and having a good time when I should have been taking care of myself.

The doctor said, “Don’t worry, there’s nothing else you can do,” so that’s what I did. I went out and did that. I wasn’t a happy camper, I’ll tell you. A friend of mine, one of my best friends, one of my old running buddies, we ran together almost every day. He was involved in the business, and he suggested that I go with him and his partners and help run a business up in the Dallas area, which was about three hours north of where I was living. I’ll go up there and run a business for them, and it would be perfect for me because I had a business background, and it would get me away from where I was living in this small town in Texas—Huntsville, Texas was the town. It would get me out of there and get me away from all the stress, and it would be good for me to get my mind off things.

I took him up on it. Right then, I thought, “Well, I’m doing okay. The cancer hasn’t raised its head again, so I’ll go up there and do this.” So I went up there, and things started happening. We had this business; it was very successful. I was running things, and we were busy. I was busy. I was inspecting houses. Back in the 1980s, around ‘85, right in there was when it was, there was a lot of foreclosed homes on the market because there was an oil boom, and when the whole bottom fell out of that oil business. I went up there to Dallas and started helping these mortgage companies refurbish these homes that they were taking back as foreclosures.

So we were going in, and we were fixing these houses up and spending a few weeks on each house, getting them back into sell shape. Along with these other guys, we put together a business up there that would refurbish these foreclosed homes, and things were going well. I thought life was not so bad again, but here it came, it was time to get my checkup again.

I’d already been through about three successful checkups, and everything looked fine, and I thought, “Maybe the doctor is right, I’ll never see it again.” So I went in to see the doctor. I flew down to Houston. I went in to see the doctor, and he says, “You got a little lump on your groin here. It’s like a little, tiny marble.”

He says, “It’s probably nothing. Just don’t worry about it.” Well, I kind of worried about it, and I said, “You sure we don’t need to worry about what you found?” He goes, “No. Come back in three months.”


[00:41:45] Ashley James: Oh, my gosh. Come back when it grows big enough for me to cut it out of you.


[00:41:50] James Templeton: Yeah, right. So I go back to Dallas, and I noticed things getting bigger. It started to get bigger and bigger pretty quick. I called the doctor up, this was probably a couple of months later, and I said, “Doctor, this thing is growing.” I was not too happy about it. I was pretty nervous about it. But I said this thing is growing. He says, “Well, we better go in and see what it is. Come on down here, and let me look at it. We’ll put you in the hospital and see exactly what it is. We will take it out.” And then I went down there, and he says, “Meet me in the hospital in the morning” and all that.

So I go in, and he takes it out, and he says—well, before that he told me there’s probably nothing to it, and it’s just a little something going on. Maybe it’s a lymph node that’s swollen or infected or whatever, but we’ll find out. I went in. He did the surgery. When I woke up, I knew I was in trouble because I had this huge bandage that’s on my lower groin area. I knew I wasn’t in good shape because, of course, I was out of it from the surgery. I never had surgery before. I’ve never been in a hospital before. He came in and shortly after I come to, he says, “I got some bad news. It was the news I was hoping we wouldn’t have to deal with. You got cancer in your groin now, and the melanoma had spread to your lymph nodes. That’s not good. That means that it’s pretty advanced, and we’re going to have to really, really, keep after it now.”

He says, “I want you to do 80 chemotherapy treatments–experimental chemotherapy treatments.” This is not regular chemo. This is experimental chemotherapy where they use a hypothermia type treatment. “We’re going to elevate your temperature,” and this is all experimental back in those days.

He says, “We don’t know of anything else that works well with this at all, and this sometimes doesn’t even work that well, but it’s all we know to do. We’ll do 80. We’ll do five each time. Now you’ll have to come into the hospital for every five treatments for a week, and then two months later, we’ll do another five because it takes you two months to recover.” And I thought, “Oh, my gosh. What’s going on here?”

He said, “It’s going to take you about two to three weeks to get over the surgery, and after that, we’re going to do these treatments. So we’ll keep you in the hospital and get you to recover some from the surgery,” which I was gutted there and it was like really painful. I was lying there in the hospital, and I was miserable from the surgery. More than anything now, I knew I had this terrible cancer that had spread, and it was all over in my lymphatic system. Who knows where it was going to go? I was in terrible pain.

I remember the nurse would come in and say, “Don’t you want some painkillers?” I’d say, “No, I’m not going to take any painkillers. I’m going to tough it out.” It didn’t take me more than a day or two to realize that I needed something because of the pain. They started giving me morphine just like they do with anybody for a painkiller, like shots. That puts you at ease real quick. After that you don’t really care what happens because when you’re on morphine, you’re sort of like, “Life is not so bad after all. Turn up the music. I don’t feel anything.”

That’s kind of how you felt. But I knew that it wasn’t good, and when the stuff would wear off, I would be miserable, and I started to worry. The doctor comes in, and I said, “Doctor, what are my chances? What do you think my chances are?” He didn’t want to tell me anything. He just sat there, and he would say, “All right, I’ll tell you what I think. You’ve got a 20% chance of survival if you can get through these 80 chemotherapy treatments. That is if you can survive these treatments, I’ll give you a 20% chance of surviving three to five years. Even with these treatments, I don’t think you’ll live more than three to five years.”

So he tells me that, and I knew I was a blown up duck when he said that. I knew I was in really bad shape, and I didn’t know what to do. I was getting desperate. It’s been a week or so or after the surgery, and I was very, very upset. I just felt that was the end of my life, and it was going to happen sooner than later. Here I was 32 years old, my wife had left me, and I had nothing to live for anymore. I was just a miserable young man. I felt like nothing was going my way.

I got a phone call, and this is when things started to turn around. I got a phone call, and it was from a preacher. It was a minister of a church that I went to sometimes. I wasn’t a really overly religious guy or anything. We went to church, but I was a guy that probably didn’t have the time, who was busy all the time. But anyway, I knew the fellow, and he was a nice man. I ran with him a few times. He was older than me, and he’d been a professional baseball player, and I looked up to him. I thought he was always kind of funny and had a good side to him.

He calls me on the phone, and he says to me, “I heard you were in this hospital. I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you. God loves you, and I know that you can beat this cancer. You’ve just got to get down and dirty and beat it.” He said to me, “You have to beat this son of a bitch of a cancer.” That’s the exact words he said to me. He says, “If anybody can do it, you can.” He told me this, and I was shocked because I’d never heard him talk like that. I felt like I was in a locker room, at a football team or some sports team, and we’re losing, and the coach is trying to get some energy going and getting down on us a little bit. He just laid it on me, and he told me that.

That was the last time I ever talked to him, but it got me to thinking—it got me to thinking, and it lit a spark under me, and it made me start to pray. And I tell you what, I never was a big prayer. I didn’t pray a lot or anything. And then I’ll tell you what I prayed that day—I prayed so hard to God, to the higher power, whatever you want to call it. I prayed, and I said, “God, I need your help. I never had this kind of thing happened to me. I’m desperate. I need help. I really, really, really need your help.”

I felt like every cell in my body was praying. I never had that kind of feeling. It just was the strangest feeling. I’ve said a prayer, the kind of prayer where you’d go to church, and someone says a prayer. It is fancy sounding, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it just didn’t seem to have a lot of deep meaning to it.

But I’m telling you that day, between me and the higher power, I had a prayer. I felt things that I can’t imagine. I can’t even explain it to anybody, but I did. I didn’t know what else to do, and it was getting that bad. I tell you, probably about 20 minutes later that prayer—I’m always trying to figure out by how long it was, but I think it’s probably about that time. It wasn’t any longer than that. I heard a knock on the hospital door, and this friend of mine comes through the door.

I said, “Come in.” My friend comes through the door whom I hadn’t seen in seven years from college. He worked at the gas station with me when I was in college. I worked at a gas station, and he worked there, and we became friends then. You know in college you have a bunch of buddies and friends, and he was one of them. This fella comes through the door, and he’s waving this piece of paper in his hand, and he’s saying, “I hear that you were in the hospital through one of our old friends, and I felt terrible, and I wanted to figure out something I could do to help you. I was talking to a friend of mine at the office, and he had another friend that he was talking to at lunch one day.”

This guy is somebody they knew had cancer or something. This guy brought him an article about cancer and about a guy that cured himself of cancer. He said to this guy, “I have a friend who’s got a friend. I know this is going to help him. I think this is a thing he probably would appreciate. Can I give this to him or take this to him?”

The guy brought it to me, and it’s about a guy that cured himself of cancer. I didn’t know what it was when he’s walking in the door, waving his arms. I said, “What do you have in your hand?” He said, “I got an article about a guy that cured himself of cancer using the natural diet.”

Well, I never heard anything like that. Where I come from, you go to the doctor just like I’d done. You get sick, and you go to the doctor. But I said, “Hmm, let me see that thing.” And I saw it, I looked at it, and I immediately knew this was what I was going to do. I knew that this was the ticket for me to heal. Something inside of me says, “This is it. This is what you’re going to do.” I told my friend, “I’m going to do this.” He says, “You haven’t even read this yet.” I said, “I’m going to read it.” I haven’t, but I know this is what I’m going to do.

I got very excited. I started to look at it a little bit. It was about a guy, and his name was Dirk Benedict. Dirk Benedict was an actor. He had been in movies, he had been on a TV show, and he had cured himself of what he thought was prostate cancer. I think he was a renegade. He was told that he had prostate cancer by someone, and he went out and got on this diet and got well. He had terrible prostate problems—bleeding and all this stuff—and he was a young man.

I read this, and I said, “I’m going to do exactly what he did.” Dirk Benedict was a guy who was on a show, and the show was the A-Team. Back at that time, there was a show on TV, and a lot of people will know that also. His name on the show was Templeton Peck, and they called him Face in the show. He was a good-looking guy. It wasn’t because he had a nice face. That wasn’t the reason, but they called him Face, and he was the guy, and I knew who the guy was. He talked about how he was from Montana, and I being from Texas, and he grew up on a ranch, and I had had cows, and he had a farm out in Texas. I kind of related to the guy. I felt like I was kind of a cowboy almost.

He talked about being a cowboy, and I thought, “Well, I can relate to this guy.”

Anyway, I got very excited. The diet that he was on was called a macrobiotic diet. I’ve never heard of anything like that. I asked my friend, “Have you ever heard of macrobiotics?” He goes, “Nah, I’ve never heard of that.” And I said, “This guy claims this cured his cancer and saved his life. You got to go out and get this book for me because this was just a little book review article. It was just for two or three pages. It’s about this guy, and it was a book review article. I said to my friend, “I got to get this book—his book. Will you go out and get this book for me?” And he said, “Sure, I’ll go out and get it.”

So he went out, got that book, and brought it back to me. I started reading that book, and I was excited. I felt like if this guy can do it, I can do it. It just felt right inside of me, like somebody, something somewhere was trying to get me to do this. I didn’t know anything about it, but I was open to anything at this point.

So I got this book, my friend went out and got it, and I’ll tell you, I never saw my friend again. I hadn’t seen him to this day. It’s funny, but I’m sure he’s alive still. I need to get ahold of the guy, but it’s an interesting way that he brought this to me. I read this book from Dirk Benedict, and it was called Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy. It was an excellent book. He’s an interesting character. I really could relate to a lot of the things he did. So I was very excited, and now all of a sudden this depression I had was starting to leave my body, and I started to have some hope. This hope was what I needed desperately.

Anyway, I went to bed that night, to sleep that night, and I felt like I had hope now, and that my prayers were starting to be answered. I tell you, the next day I got another knock on the door, and it was my stepmother. My stepmother came up there to visit me, and she brought me a book. It was a yellow book. I remember that it was a book by Linus Pauling, and Linus Pauling, as you’re probably familiar with, was a researcher and was a brilliant researcher. He did a lot of work on vitamin C and different types of things with vitamin C from cancer to heart disease. He’s done a lot of studies on vitamin C, but this was vitamin C and Cancer—the book. I’m trying to remember the name of it offhand. It’s in my book. It’s listed in there, but I can’t think of the name. I think it’s Vitamin C and Cancer. But it was by Linus Pauling.

I read this book and it talked about people that took high amounts of vitamin C, even terminally ill people that had cancer, survive for much longer periods of time as long as they took this high amounts of vitamin C, and that when they stopped taking the vitamin C, a lot of them would die. I got very excited about this vitamin C thing, and I felt that, hey, I got the new diet, the macrobiotic diet that I was going to learn about real quick, and now I’ve got the vitamin C. I thought to myself, “I’m going to do both of them. I’ll do the vitamin C and the macrobiotic diet, and I’ll probably do the chemotherapy. Why not? If a little is good, a lot’s better.

So I got excited. I was really excited now, and I felt like I got enough ammunition now, that my prayer was answered. I was excited and—I don’t know—it just all happened all at once. The next day I got another knock on the door, and it was the strangest thing. I got a knock on the door. There was a fellow that came through the door, and he says, “I’m your psychotherapist for the hospital, the cancer ward.” He said to me, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been depressed. I hear that your outlook is not real good. I would love to talk to you. Do you have time to talk to me tomorrow?” And I said, “Sure, come on in tomorrow, and I’ll talk to you.”

The next day he comes in. By then I’d been reading up on the macrobiotic diet, and I’d had another friend go out and get me some more macrobiotic books. I was excited. I was reading drugged up and all.  The next day this the psychotherapist comes through the door, and I said to him, “I want to ask you a question before we get started here. Have you ever heard of the macrobiotic diet?” He looks at me, and he says, “Hold on a second.” He goes over to the hospital door in my room; I was in a room by myself. He shuts the door.


[01:01:14] Ashley James: [laughs] I’m liking this tale already.


[01:01:17] James Templeton: He comes in, and he says, “I’m going to tell you what I know about it, but I’m going to have to get you to promise me right now that we never had this conversation. You never talked to me.” He says, “If you tell anybody that I talked to you about this, I’ll lose my job, my bench, my retirement, everything. I don’t want to lose all that. I’ve been down here working here 25 years. I don’t want to lose that. So you have to promise me.” By then, I was about ready to drag him into the bed with me and tell me everything he knew. I knew I was on to something now if he’s acting like that. When he went in there, and he shut that door, and came back and told me all that, I said, “I’ll do anything you want, just give me the information.”

He started telling me, “Look, this is a great diet for some people. This diet has saved a lot of people’s lives. It’s very difficult though. It takes a lot of time and energy. You had to put a lot of your energy into it. You got to do a lot of cooking. You got to do certain exercises. It’s a whole way of life.” And he said to me, “I don’t know if you could do it, but you seem like your energy is not as depressed as I thought it was. What I’ve heard, you seem like you’re excited about something. You don’t seem like a sick person that I thought I was going to end up talking to.”

And he says, “You know, I tried this diet. It just didn’t work for me because I couldn’t stick with it. It takes a lot of self-discipline. I don’t have it. I just couldn’t do it. I just wanted to do it because I thought it sounded like a good idea to be healthier.” But he says, “You and your condition, I think you should do it. And I think you could do it because you seem like you have the right attitude.” And he told me, “There’s one thing—you got to do it right though. There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way. I’m just going to tell you that right now. If you’re going to do it, go all out. If you’re not going to go all out, don’t do it. I think this could help you.”

This guy got me so excited; I wanted to hug him. It was just like, “My god. This guy is telling me something here. There’s something really to this.” So I got really excited. He left, and now I had all this ammunition, and I was a different person. It was like I discovered the key to the universe or something, and I was very, very excited.

But I had to still do this chemo. I thought to myself, “I’ll do the vitamin C, the macrobiotic diet, and I’m going to do too with the idea that if it doesn’t work for me, it won’t work for anyone. I’m going to take

this guy’s advice, and I’m going to give it 150%. I’m not cutting any corners. I’m going to be the model for doing things right with this macrobiotic diet and lifestyle. I will do it, and I will do the chemo.” Because at that point I thought, “Well, I’m doing everything I can. I’m going to kill the cancer one way or the other.”

So I went through the five treatments, the chemotherapy treatments, and it was just flat terrible stuff. It made me sick. They’d raise your temperature. They throw these heavy blankets over you—weighted blankets. You know what I’m talking about, these big weighted down blankets, and that was because they elevate my temperature with the hypothermia treatment with the typhoid serum. They elevate my temperature as high as they could without it killing me basically. They’d raise it to 104-105. When it’s that high, you’re shaking in your boots. You’re freezing to death because you’re hot, but your body is fighting, and everything has kicked in, and you are just shivering all over. They put these blankets so that you can lie still enough in the bed without jumping around like a jumping bean.

I did this chemo for five days, and I was sick. It makes you throw up. It was awful. It was about eight to ten hours a day each treatment.


[01:05:49] Ashley James: Oh, my gosh.


[01:05:50] James Templeton: It was done with an ivy drip about an hour or so for the typhoid serum to drip in. And then once your temperature is up, then they hit you with the heavy duty chemo. They put this ice cap on my head to keep my hair from falling out. That was the idea anyway, but I think half of it fell out, but it was freezing. I was just like a guinea pig lying on that bed. I lied there, and I took that chemo, and I gritted my teeth, and I made it through it. You’re just sick.

I remember leaving, and I didn’t have a wife anymore, so I went to my mother’s house to recover for a few days after I got out of the hospital. I’d been in the hospital for over three weeks. After I got to my mother’s house, I was determined to start eating the macrobiotic food. You’re not going to get it in the hospital, that’s for sure.

I got to my mother’s, started to do the best we could. We’re just learning, and we did pretty well. After a week or so, I had to go back to Dallas. I have still work up there, and I had people counting on me. So I had to go back, and I started working there, and I felt really lousy. I’d put my head down on my desk a lot of days, and I just felt like I had the flu. It just makes you feel like the worst flu you’ve ever had—that chemo did. I could never imagine having any flu like that. If somebody would have given me a hammer, I would have knock myself in the head with it or anything because it was terrible.

I got back there in Dallas, and little by little though, I started getting into the macrobiotic diet really heavy duty. Little by little, I started to feel better. One of the things I had to do from the surgery that I haven’t even talked about was after the surgery, I had to do this lymphatic drainage pump on my leg where they removed all these lymph nodes.

One of the things I’d had to do in the hospital was elevate my leg and put this lymphatic sock. It’s like a sock, and it would sit there and pump. I had to do that while I was in the hospital. Now I had to do that also because the doctor told me if I didn’t do it, I could lose my leg. He said, “You don’t want that. You don’t want too much lymph fluid getting in there.” My leg was twice the size of the other leg, and it was awful. They had tried to drain it the best they could and all that, but it was awful, and I had this pump.

I was trying to work too because I still had to make a living. I would sleep with that thing on at night. I realized if I slept with that sock on my leg, this electrical pump on it, that would pump and release, and anybody that’s had lymphatic surgery, they know what I’m talking about. I did that every night, and then I would make it through the day, instead of doing it throughout the day. It just took too much of my time, but I would do that, and then I would go to work.

Some days I’d have to drive 300 miles during the work inspecting houses, and it was a lot of work. We were very busy. But I was determined, and little by little life is getting better and better with my macrobiotic diet. I didn’t want to cut any corners, so I was reading everything I could get a hold of when I wasn’t working and in between. I’d get up at 4:30 in the morning and cook my breakfast. I would cook a macrobiotic breakfast, and I’ll get into macrobiotics later if you want to.


[01:09:51] Ashley James: Absolutely.


[01:09:52] James Templeton: I’d cook that breakfast, my miso soup and my soft brown rice porridge in the morning. I would have greens and a little bit of vegetable usually with it. I’d get up in the morning, and I couldn’t walk very well, but I was trying to walk. I was limping around because my leg, after surgery and all that stuff, I was barely able to walk without crutches.

So I started to try to hobble down the street. I’d hobble as far as I could and turn around and come back. And then I got to where I could walk a little further every day because, in the mornings, I was determined to keep moving, keep the exercise. And then little by little I started to do stretching as much as I could because after the surgery is set me back so much. I started feeling better and better, and two months later, after all this and all the work I had been putting into everything, I had to go back and do more chemo. After two months, I had to go back to Houston, check in the hospital, and do another week of chemotherapy treatments.

I go down to Houston. I go into the hospital. I remember checking in, and the day I checked there were two or three people who are checking in, and they were all excited about getting checked in and getting their chemotherapy treatments. They were really looking forward to getting it done, so they can go out and live their life again. I remember talking to this one really nice lady, and she says, “Well, I’ve had my chemo treatment, so I can go home and get back to normal.” They weren’t doing what I was doing. It was a different type.

By this time, I felt a lot better from the surgery. I still had issues. I still had to use the leg pump and all that stuff, but I was doing better. After two months, I was doing better. I got there, and I started these treatments. They must have doubled the treatment because I never felt so bad in my life. This stuff was terrible. It was worse than the first time. When I told, “If a little is good, a lot’s better,” they must have decided to grant my wish.

So they did, and I’m telling you what, I was sick. I was really sick. I couldn’t eat hardly anything that whole week. I was throwing up. I couldn’t keep anything inside of my stomach. I felt like I had the worst case of flu I never ever had and then some many times over. That’s how bad I felt. My whole body was just dying inside. I had gotten really thin after the surgery and after everything. I guess the cancer probably was going to town on me, and I was getting thin and weak.

I remember every night I’d been in that hospital bed, and I’d hear people moaning and groaning down the hall. It sounded like a torture chamber or something. People were just like making all kinds of noises. And then there was always this commotion in the hallways at night. I asked one of the nuns—it was a Catholic supported hospital. They had nuns that would come around at night and visit some of the patients, most probably all the patients.

I remember these nuns would come in. There was one that came in, and she always had this white habit on. She almost looked like an angel or something. She would come in, and she was very peaceful. I said to her, “What’s all this commotion out in the hallway?” And she’d say, “Well, so and so passed away tonight.” And I went, “They passed away?” She said, “Yeah, they had cancer, and they passed away.” I’m like, “Oh, my god. They died?” And then she told me this woman that I thought was so nice, she died, and I could not believe it. The woman a few days earlier seemed to be fine. I found out that she had died of pneumonia. So they got pneumonia in there with their body and their immune system so depleted and so down, that it doesn’t take much to trigger pneumonia. That’s what gets a lot of these people. It’s not the cancer. It’s the treatments or pneumonia.

Anyway, I just said, “I got to get out of this place. They’re going to kill me in this place. I’m going to be the next one they’ll roll down the hall at night.” I remember one day I was getting the chemo, and here was this nurse coming in, and I was just totally almost unconscious. I remember that I couldn’t even open my eyes, and I was lying there, and I had no life. It felt like I had no life in my body.

I remember this sound, this voice saying to another nurse, “What in the world is going on in here? Who’s taking care of this patient? His temperature is way over the limit. He could die in here. You’ve got to get his temperature down now.” So I remember them coming in and mopping me with all these freezing ice cold towels and everything to try to get my temperature down after that. I was just like lying there. I had no energy at all. I just felt terrible.

So anyway, I couldn’t eat or anything. The doctor comes in, I don’t remember if it was that day or the next day, and I said to the doctor, “Doctor, they’re going to kill me in this place.” I told him what had happened and he didn’t say anything. I said, “They’re going to kill me in this place. Ain’t there something else I can do?” And he says, “Well, there’s nothing else we know to do.” And I said, “Well, what would you do if it was your son or your daughter?” Because I could have been almost his son or daughter, age wise. I said, “What would you do if it was them? Would you do the same thing?” And he said, “Yep, I’d do the same thing.”

I said, “Even though it’s not working.” He goes, “Yep, that’s all we know to do.” And I said, ”What about a diet? What about nutrition? What about vitamin C?” He goes, “Oh, that stuff doesn’t work. That’s a waste of time.” And I said, “Well, I’m going to die and here. This stuff is going to kill me.” He goes, “Well, we’re all gonna die someday.” That’s what he told me.


[01:17:02] Ashley James: Oh, my gosh.


[01:17:03] James Templeton: Well, you know what I did? I was weak, and I had no energy, and I was sick as a puppy dog. And I raised in that bed, that hospital bed, and I looked at that guy, he was standing there next to my bed. I looked at him, and he was the top doctor. And I said to him, “You listen here, you son of a bitch. If I could get out of this bad, I’d tear you apart. That guy turned, he looked at me, turned as white as a ghost, and he turned around and ran out the door.

I never saw that guy again because two nights later, I decided to sneak out of the hospital at two in the morning. I had made my plan for escape. I said, “They’re going to kill me, and I don’t want nothing to do with this anymore. They have nothing else to offer me. What am I doing in here?”

And so I had made a plan, and at two in the morning, I was so weak that I barely get my clothes on. I remember sneaking down the side of the hall on one side of the wall where nobody could see me, and I snuck down some stairs. I was crawling, and I was so weak from this. I threw up like I can’t tell you how many times and it was awful. I snuck down those stairs, and I went out into my car, which had been sitting out there in the parking lot. I got in that car, and I drove out of that place. I never looked back, and I’d made up my mind at that point, I was not going to do anymore that medical stuff like that anymore. I was going to go all out, and I was going to do the macrobiotic diet lifestyle, vitamin C, and I was going to keep an open mind going forward.



[01:18:51] Ashley James: That wraps up Part 1 of our interview with James Templeton. I hope you’re enjoying his awesome story. It gets even better in Part 2. Join us next episode, will be released very soon. And it will be the completion of our interview with James Templeton.

He gets into some really awesome stuff, and one thing I love is that he talks about this website of resources that he’s created 100% for free. It’s him giving back to the world, and it’s a website filled with testimonials and stories and interviews with other cancer survivors. So if you want to be inspired and learn from dozens and dozens of people who have used more than just the conventional way to heal their body and to support their body’s ability to thrive after cancer and live a long and healthy life, then you will love learning more from James Templeton in the next interview in the next episode.

I’m glad you enjoyed today’s interview. Please visit my website,, because I have some great resources for you, one of which we’ve started to transcribe all of our interviews, and so the latest interviews are transcribed. We make it so easy for you to gain access to all the notes and all the resources that the guests will share with us.

Also, I have a free doctor course that I created with my favorite naturopaths. So you can go to the website and right at the top of the menu, click the “Free Doctor Course” and sign up. It’s for seven days. You’re given a video each day that we filmed with our favorite naturopaths, and they teach us how to create the foundations of health—very strong holistic foundations of health.

There are some wonderful resources on, including the search box. If you are faced with a sore throat, or a fever, or some skin rash, infection, maybe a chronic illness, or you’re looking to optimize your emotional health, your mental health, you can type different things into your different search terms into the search box.

And all of the episodes where we’ve discussed those things will come up. I have, as you know now, over 348 interviews that you can take advantage of and learn from these wonderful guests.

Also, I do holistic health coaching. I love working with my clients. If you would love to work with me as your coach, let’s have a free conversation. Let’s sit down together over Skype or over the phone and see how I can help you. Go to to sign up for your free discussion to see if working with me is right for you. I’d love to chat with you.

Excellent. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day. Please. Let’s help as many of our friends as possible to learn true health with us.

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Amy Leigh Mercree and Ashley James 

Medical intuitive Amy Leigh demonstrates how your mood can get the maximum benefit from crystals, how to banish loneliness through a heart-based bath ritual, and more. Tune in to Episode 347 and learn about her recommended tools to take ownership of our health and be the architect of our life.

[00:00:13] Ashley James: Hello, true health seeker. Welcome to another exciting episode of Learn True Health podcast. You’re in for such a treat. This is a very interesting episode. Before we get to it though, I want to tell you some exciting news. Recently, Learn True Health hired a transcriptionist, so now the episodes published on, instead of having show notes as we had in the past, you will have the entire transcript.

When you go to share the podcast with your friends and family, you can find the episode once it’s up and published at You can take that episode and share it with your friends and family, and even the friends that you have that don’t listen to podcasts, they can read the transcript of the entire interview. How exciting is that?

It’ll also make it easier for you to use the search function on the website. This is episode 347, so we have 347 episodes available and counting at the Learn True Health website. You can use the search function to type in everything you’re interested in—thyroid, autoimmune, weight loss, vaccines, herbs, essential oils, parasitic cleanses—the list goes on and on.

As things come up in your life and you’re interested in learning more about them, you can type in the search box at, and since we’re now transcribing all the interviews, you will have the ability to search through the website to find exactly what you’re looking for. Also, it will be easier for you to share it with those you love.

Some of the listeners have told me, “I definitely share these episodes, and I want the information to come across to those I love, but some of my friends or family don’t listen. They’re not listeners. They don’t like to listen to podcasts.” Th