Heart to Heart with Anna

Exploring Functional Medicine: Harnessing the Power of Essential Oils and Holistic Health Approaches

October 03, 2023 Ryan Hunter and Valerie Chavez, MD Season 18 Episode 428
Exploring Functional Medicine: Harnessing the Power of Essential Oils and Holistic Health Approaches
Heart to Heart with Anna
More Info
Heart to Heart with Anna
Exploring Functional Medicine: Harnessing the Power of Essential Oils and Holistic Health Approaches
Oct 03, 2023 Season 18 Episode 428
Ryan Hunter and Valerie Chavez, MD

Send us a Text Message.

Have you ever considered how your lifestyle choices could be affecting your health? Ever wondered about the benefits of essential oils or how to improve your gut health? Then you're in the right place. In a riveting discourse with renowned Valerie Chavez, MD, and Ryan Hunter, we delve into the heart of Functional Medicine. Together, we unravel the mysteries behind this unique approach that goes beyond surface symptoms to identify the root causes of illness.

Harness the power of essential oils and understand the importance of sourcing from reputable sources in our exploration of this therapeutic world. Ryan Hunter unveils the secrets of these potent substances, their historical use, benefits in stress relief, sleep induction, inflammation reduction, and more. Imagine enhancing your mental and emotional well-being with the simple application or inhalation of these oils. Intriguing, isn't it? 

As we wrap up, we shed light on the often overlooked sensitivities and allergies many have towards certain foods. Valerie unravels the importance of an elimination diet and the power of listening to our bodies. Find out about natural remedies for pain and stress, from Epsom salt baths to Arnica Montana and essential oils. Empower yourself with the knowledge to take charge of your health. Join us on this journey of exploring holistic health approaches. Don't just survive; thrive.

You can reach out to Ryan Hunter and Dr. Valerie Chavez here:

https://functionalcoachingtx.com/

my.doterra.com/functionalcoaching

https://www.ifm.org/practitioners/valerie-chavez-m-d/

& so much more
A bi-monthly podcast where we share the stories of our Caregivers, patients and...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Anna's Buzzsprout Affiliate Link

Baby Blue Sound Collective

Social Media Pages:

Apple Podcasts
Facebook
Instagram
MeWe
Twitter
YouTube
Website

Heart to Heart with Anna +
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Have you ever considered how your lifestyle choices could be affecting your health? Ever wondered about the benefits of essential oils or how to improve your gut health? Then you're in the right place. In a riveting discourse with renowned Valerie Chavez, MD, and Ryan Hunter, we delve into the heart of Functional Medicine. Together, we unravel the mysteries behind this unique approach that goes beyond surface symptoms to identify the root causes of illness.

Harness the power of essential oils and understand the importance of sourcing from reputable sources in our exploration of this therapeutic world. Ryan Hunter unveils the secrets of these potent substances, their historical use, benefits in stress relief, sleep induction, inflammation reduction, and more. Imagine enhancing your mental and emotional well-being with the simple application or inhalation of these oils. Intriguing, isn't it? 

As we wrap up, we shed light on the often overlooked sensitivities and allergies many have towards certain foods. Valerie unravels the importance of an elimination diet and the power of listening to our bodies. Find out about natural remedies for pain and stress, from Epsom salt baths to Arnica Montana and essential oils. Empower yourself with the knowledge to take charge of your health. Join us on this journey of exploring holistic health approaches. Don't just survive; thrive.

You can reach out to Ryan Hunter and Dr. Valerie Chavez here:

https://functionalcoachingtx.com/

my.doterra.com/functionalcoaching

https://www.ifm.org/practitioners/valerie-chavez-m-d/

& so much more
A bi-monthly podcast where we share the stories of our Caregivers, patients and...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Anna's Buzzsprout Affiliate Link

Baby Blue Sound Collective

Social Media Pages:

Apple Podcasts
Facebook
Instagram
MeWe
Twitter
YouTube
Website

Speaker 1:

What is functional medicine? How can essential oils help people who have trouble sleeping or feel stressed? What is earthing, and how should you consider practicing this technique for your own mental health? Welcome to Heart to Heart with Anna. I am Anna Jaworski and the mother of a daughter with a critical congenital heart defect. She's had three open heart surgeries and is my inspiration.

Speaker 1:

Today's show is functional medicine 101 and our guest, a riot hunter and Valerie Chavez MD. Valerie Chavez is a board certified internal medicine physician and functional medicine practitioner and the founder of GutMed. She started her company after she learned to alleviate her own debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms. At her lowest point, she was walking into walls and had to leave work, distress that she was too sick to help her patients. Valerie started on a journey for answers. She discovered the concepts of functional medicine which allowed her to get to the root causes of her illness and eliminate them.

Speaker 1:

Riot Hunter has a background in psychology and his Valerie's husband. He was inspired by his wife's journey and began to invest in his own health. Starting with cooking, he began to learn about healthy substitutions of food, which progressed to other lifestyle changes, including stress reduction. Riot also had some health issues of his own which had not been helped by conventional medicine. He found that he suffered from non-celliac gluten sensitivity, and avoiding gluten allowed him to become free from allergy medications. Today, ryan and Valerie will be talking to us about functional medicine and how it can help people living with cajolotl, heart defects or CHDs. Welcome to Heart to Heart with Anna Ryan.

Speaker 2:

I'm happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1:

I'm happy to have you here and welcome to Heart to Heart with Anna Valerie.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much for having us, Anna.

Speaker 1:

Well, this is going to be interesting. I learned so much just in putting our script together for today's show and I can't wait to share this information with my listeners. We'll start by talking with Valerie. In segment two. We'll bring Ryan back into the studio. So, valerie, let's start the show with you. I'm so glad my friend, laura Redfern, told me about you when I told her I wanted to do a show on alternative medicine. It wasn't until I found your website and your husband's website that I started to learn about functional medicine. Can you tell my listeners what functional medicine is and how it differs from traditional Western medicine?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely Functional medicine basically means getting to the originating causes of symptoms and disease In general. It also involves a personalized approach. So we have a lot of patients who feel like they're being treated the same for each disease, meaning that there are certain medications that are for certain diseases. But really we are unique and we come with our own set of experiences and issues and I think it's important to really focus on what each person is doing, how they're doing it, what they're feeling, and really factor in all of those aspects into somebody's life, because a person comes in as a mind, body and a soul all wrapped in together when they walk in the clinic and just when they live their lives. Obviously and it's our jobs to consider that and recognize that they're different than other people and we should treat them as the unique folks that they are.

Speaker 3:

But at the same time, everybody has their own sets of originating problems and when getting to those originating problems, there may be things that we may not realize or causing a problem. For instance, in my practice I focus on gut health and intestinal health and there can be some root causes in the dental aspect, just because the mouth is part of the digestive system. It's the first part of the digestive system. Looking in there, there may be infections, say from previous root canals. There could be some corroding metals in there, all affecting the digestive system. Now that doesn't mean that just because you have a root canal or metal in your mouth that it's causing a problem. But it's important to ask those questions and to try to figure out what exactly is causing the original problems.

Speaker 1:

I think that's so true in the congelal heart defect community because so many of our children who are born with heart defects also have gut issues.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. We also need to look at the lifestyle habits as well. That's the cornerstone of functional medicine really evaluating diet, exercise, stress, sleep, spiritual aspects. Granted, I feel like most people feel bad that they're not doing enough, but it's not really about making somebody feel bad. It's about understanding that we are all imperfect people and we're not expected to have it all figured out even in the future. We're just supposed to figure out where we're at and optimize from there, and that's where your functional medicine practitioners, health coaches and a team can help in this.

Speaker 1:

I love this because unfortunately, in Western medicine they don't usually look at the whole person. In fact you'll see one doctor and even though doctors are trained to really understand the human body, because of the wealth of information we have today, more and more people who are specialized in one thing. For example, I took my mother to see her cardiologist, but she had a bruise that wasn't healing. I showed the doctor and I was very worried about it. He said she needs to talk to her primary. I'm not a primary physician.

Speaker 1:

I said but do you think this is something that we need to do something about? He said I don't know. He said all I'm focused on is her heart. That really disappointed me, valerie, because I would have expected a doctor to care more about the whole body. Come to find out that area that wasn't healing was a tumor. I really feel that maybe if he would have given a little bit more credence or even examined it because it wasn't far from her heart, it was in her chest that maybe we might have gotten a little bit more help or gotten some answers sooner than what we did.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think you're talking about what we have a segmental medicine, meaning that we're made up of a bunch of parts when really all of those parts work together. In my practice, even though I focus on gut health, really it's a focus on gut health symptoms while considering the whole body. If there is excessive bruising, if there is fatigue, if there are symptoms that don't necessarily fit into the gut system, it's still important to consider them, just because it could mean the imbalance is related to that aspect.

Speaker 1:

You said you start with the mouth. Yes, absolutely You're looking at everything that's connected to everything else. I think that is so critical. A lot of times I don't feel that in Western medicine they work hard enough to get to the root of the problem. I don't know if that's because that's very time-intensive, valerie. What do you think?

Speaker 3:

That's a great point. In fact, as a former primary care physician, I did feel that way. I felt like I wasn't trained in that. I felt that it was very difficult to juggle all the medicines that people were on At the same time. In medical school, we're not really taught enough about the basic lifestyle changes that we can help empower patients to make. Nutrition is very important, obviously, sleep is very important. At the same time, considering the lack of important information that's discussed with the patient in primary care especially, you also have time constraints, major time constraints, where you have to see so many patients in a small amount of time, regardless of whether they have multiple medical problems and are on multiple medications, I would say the burnout rate is very high for physicians. Unfortunately, it's the patients who suffer the most because of the way health system is currently.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. I've talked to a number of doctors. We've actually done several episodes on Heart to Heart with Anna on doctor burnout, on nurse burnout. There are a number of contributing factors, not the least of which is all the charting that has to be done.

Speaker 1:

I understand, especially in the United States. We live in a litigious society that requires a lot of documentation to prove that the doctor was doing the best he or she could. My goodness, they don't get to spend as much time actually practicing medicine as they would like to. The same is true of teachers. They have to spend so much time documenting and dealing with behavioral issues that they don't get a chance to spend as much time teaching as they would like to, which is a real pity. I really feel like we've done something in our society to not look at the whole person in the proper way, and it sounds like functional medicine is trying to get back to the basics, get back to looking at the whole person and maybe take a moment to really get to know your patient as a human being, not just, like you were saying, as a bunch of parts.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. It's more to look at somebody as a mind, body and the soul as opposed to just looking at them as a collection of numbers and just checking off boxes. And even with the advent of the electronic medical record, which I think is helpful and important because it allows for a lot of documentation to be stored on the computer and clouds and to access it, but at the same time it takes away that personal connection between the patient and the physician. In fact, most of the time doctors are typing away, having decreased eye contact, just because you have to get a certain amount done during the visit, otherwise you will never leave the office, because you're at the office just typing charts nonstop, and it's unfortunate, but that's another aspect.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. I just talked to Dr John Calhoun and he mentioned that exact same thing on our Dr Burnout episode. Let's talk more about gut health because this is something that is so important in the CHD community and if you look on the extreme end, we actually have people who have a very serious condition called protein losing enteropathy and I've actually done a couple of shows on that very serious, potentially life-threatening condition. Can you talk to us about our guts and what we can do in the CHD community to promote good gut health?

Speaker 3:

In regard to gut health. What I like to share is that there's still a lot that patients can do themselves. The first thing I would say is really important is focusing on mindful eating. Now, mindful eating means really paying attention to what you're eating and the state that you're in. For instance, most people will eat around the TV or with their cell phone next to them, and those are distractions that distract you away from the eating process and that can actually also unsettle you, meaning that if you watch something stressful, say the news, or something inflammatory, then your body is not going to digest as well, because it digest when it's in the relaxed state, and that part is really important.

Speaker 3:

In general, eliminating distractions can be very helpful, maybe focusing on gratitude, where your food came from and who prepared it, for instance, working on deep breaths before you take that first bite to let the digestive system know that it's time to focus on food and digest, and also concentrate on the different senses, starting with the sense of smell, instead of just putting that food in your mouth. See how that food smells, the different smells and how they appeal to you, and then, after you put the food in your mouth, chewing. Focusing on the chewing. A lot of people can chew and not really chew enough before they swallow it. So focusing on the chewing will help to allow your brain to understand that we need to chew this food. It needs to be a certain size before it actually goes down and hopefully that will help with, say, choking, but even just digestion, because your teeth help to break down that food so that your stomach does not have to work as hard.

Speaker 1:

Sure, that makes sense, because if you don't chew your food enough, your body probably has to produce more acid to break the food down.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, and there are definitely other techniques to mindful eating, but I think those are really some of the most important aspects of it. It's preparing the body for the digestive process.

Speaker 1:

I love that. As you were saying that, I was thinking yes, how many times do we actually stop and enjoy the creaminess of something or the bitterness of something and focusing mindfully Like you said, you're using your sense of smell, you're using your sense of touch how things feel on the tongue or feel in your mouth. I think that's really brilliant. That's not something I've ever thought about before. Nobody's ever talked to me about that.

Speaker 3:

I'm happy to provide that information and again, it's just something that patients can do. You don't have to wait for somebody to really guide you through this process. You just have to realize that it is another important feature of eating.

Speaker 1:

And Tonight Forever by the Baby Blue Sound Collective. I think what I love so much about this CD is that some of the songs were inspired by the patients.

Speaker 4:

Many listeners will understand many of the different songs and what they've been inspired about. The album will be available on iTunes, Amazoncom, Spotify.

Speaker 1:

I love the fact that the proceeds from this CD are actually going to help those with congenital heart effects.

Speaker 4:

Enjoy the music.

Speaker 1:

And Tonight Forever. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The opinions expressed in the podcast are not those of Heart Tonight the Globe, but of the hosts and guests, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to congenital heart disease or bereavement.

Speaker 5:

You are listening to Heart to Heart with Anna. If you have a question or comment that you would like to address on our show, please send an email to annajewarski at anna at hearttoheartwithannacom. That's Anna at hearttoheartwithannacom. Now back to Heart to Heart with Anna.

Speaker 1:

I am very blessed that I actually had a chance friends to meet Valerie and Ryan in person. I don't always have the good fortune to meet my guests in person, but Valerie and Ryan kindly opened their home to me and a couple of friends and so I feel like we're old friends now, ryan.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I agree. It is wonderful when we get to see people face to face these days in real life.

Speaker 1:

And the best part was that Valerie and Ryan invited me and a couple of friends over to their house to learn about essential oils, and now we get to share that with my listeners. So let's talk about essential oils, Ryan. What are essential oils and why they could be important to us?

Speaker 2:

You hit upon a topic that I'm very passionate about. Essential oils are basically plant constituents. Plant from plants have been used for centuries, in some cases by native indigenous relations, for their benefits. So what is an essential oil? Essentially, it's a plant product, a chemical compound that benefits us, luckily, and it's created through, usually a distillation process and way of extracting the beneficial compounds. So these plant products, as I mentioned, are very beneficial for many types of different reasons that we will be discussing today.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So you said that it's been used by indigenous people. Does that mean that you can extract these oils in a very natural way? You don't have to do it in a factory?

Speaker 2:

Correct in the sense that we eat them. For example, when we eat plants we actually adjust some of the essential oils when what I mean by distillation or extraction is more of a concentrated version. So that is a much more potent chemical compound when we use the extraction process. But that has been a bit as well that we can appreciate.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so the essential oils are part of the plant and my impression is that this is a part of the plant that actually can heal us in certain ways. So can you talk to us about what are some essential oils that can perhaps help us with sleeping or help us if we're feeling stressed?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely One of my favorite things about essential oils is how they have more than one benefit. For example, you mentioned sleep. Lavender has been known to help colicky babies If you rub them diluted and rub the bottom of their feet with it. It also helps people lull them into a sedative quality that comes with a well like lavender.

Speaker 1:

Isn't that amazing? Yes, I have had lavender sachets in my dresser or in my closet. I just love lavender, but now I know that lavender is actually good for me.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it has what I like to call beneficial side effects. Imagine there's something like that where you can use an oil like lavender to help you lull yourself into a sleep state, but also if you have a skinny rotation from a fun bite, you can rub it on there and it really helps alleviate that inflammation. I love so many of these different oils help us that way. As far as how do they help us? The cellular level is where these oils really come into play. The plant itself. For example, I like to use Malaluca, known as tea tree oil. It's been used by Aberrygeny in Australia forever. It grows in a very moist and hot human environment, which is a hotbed from the microbes. So it has to have a natural immune system that can fight off many bacteria and fungi. That same immune system that benefits the plant also benefits us humans on the cellular level. Chemically speaking, plants are carbon-based, just like people.

Speaker 1:

That makes sense. That makes a lot of sense. Okay, so in the Kajalda heart-to-fake community we have a number of issues with sleep, especially for babies who have been in the NICU for days on end or have been in the ICU, or our children. They get ICU psychosis. Even adults get this ICU psychosis. How could we use essential oils to help people get back into that normal circadian rhythm?

Speaker 2:

Wonderful question, absolutely so. When you inhale, we're all maybe familiar with this term known as aromatherapy, so to me it's smell therapy. So when you inhale some of these different plants, the aromas that are coming from these chemical plants, it goes through our nasal passage right into the part of our brain that helps with the emotions and the limbic system and it causes a relaxation response. The relaxation response through aromatherapy can be induced by certain oils like lavender, romechamamille or niromi, for example. When you smell and inhale these compounds it helps our nervous system relax and it's a great benefit for something like a psychosis. I know that one of my essential oil mentors was a teacher for 30 years and she would see much improvement and unruly kiddos in the classroom, for example, when she would diffuse certain oils in the classroom and she could see the back. And that's where that aromatherapy term comes from. It's from inhalation of these plant compounds that cause our nervous system to go into a more relaxed state.

Speaker 1:

And friends, let me tell you I walked into Valerie and Ryan's house and immediately felt this sense of calm wash over me, and I think it's because they had some lovely infusers with different fragrances that were totally making you feel welcome in so many different ways, and I think having that sense of smell be one of the first things that greets you, whether you're in a classroom, whether you're in your hospital room or in your bedroom. It can be very beneficial. So what sense would you recommend for that? We already talked about lavender and you talked about rome, rome and chamomile.

Speaker 2:

Yes, we think of chamomile as the cong tea, but there's also a rome and chamomile that has been used Gosh thousands, probably thousands of years. It's a nice little flower that has a wonderful sedative quality and, as I mentioned, you can also rub this on the bottoms of the feet. You can rub it on the babies. Skin sensitivity is something I would like to mention, though. Well, some oils can be considered hot, meaning they can be irritating to the skin, and so it's always good practice to use a fractionated coconut oil, for example, like I'd lute it with an oil before applying it, and just to be safe in that regard, so you don't have a skin irritation. But, yes, rome and chamomile, as we mentioned, lavender the woods there's cedar wood. Maybe a quayac wood is another one where some of these wood essential oils seem to have a natural grounding and relaxing quality about them as well.

Speaker 1:

So, Ryan, I want you to tell me a little bit about what you do with your business, because this was really interesting to me, friends, when I went to Valerie and Ryan's house. He actually works with a company called Dotera and they help to prepare these essential oils so that you don't have to worry about doing all that mixing and diluting. Can you tell me a little bit more about your business and about how people can find you and learn more about these essential oils that you work with?

Speaker 2:

Yes, thank you very much.

Speaker 2:

I am a functional medicine health coach and so my main business was functional coaching and so I worked with people in that regard.

Speaker 2:

I worked with people on lifestyle change in empowering themselves to help implement plans that say a functional medicine physician gives them, and so part of that can be stress and working into routine or building a stress routine that empowers the patient and involved in that stress reduction can be something like an aromatherapy aspect. So Dotera you did mention that is one company that I believe in because of their quality and their sourcing techniques, that the essential oil world is pretty unregulated and so there are a lot of suboptimal products out there. They may have to work fragments on the bottle or be spiked with other things that are not pure oils. So I always recommend folks to look into the company where they're getting their product from, how do they source, how do they test. For example, dotera does have a lot number on the bottom of their bottles and you can go to the aromatic plant research center and type in the lot number and see exactly what chemicals are in that particular batch, and that's helpful, I believe.

Speaker 1:

Wow, that is helpful, especially if you do have some skin sensitivities or allergies to certain products or certain plants.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely absolutely so. As far as my business, functional coaching, my LLC, and that is where I incorporate natural healing methods, mostly dealing with working one-on-one with each individual and their specific issues at the time.

Speaker 1:

So you and Valerie are a perfect match.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for saying so, I agree.

Speaker 1:

But truly I love the way she, as a doctor, is looking at the human being as a whole person and looking at them mind, body and spirit, which I absolutely love. And you're turning around and you're doing the same thing, but you're just using the essential oils to help people. Is that right?

Speaker 2:

That is one tool that I use, but I specifically as a functional medicine health coach, I'm trained in the as my beautiful wife said earlier the lifestyle behavior modifications eating, exercising, movement, nutrition, stress, sleep, these kinds of things where I meet the patient where they're at the time and we together work as a team. It's not an expert approach where a lot of us patients in Western medicine are for lack of a better word trained to go to a doctor with the white coat and they just look at you and say this, that and the other, you do this and you'll get better, and we have only a short amount of time with that physician and then it's something maybe like changing a whole food program. That can be quite daunting. So as a coach, I come in and brainstorm with my client on appreciating what they're doing well and how we can keep that going and also look for more areas to create together some improvements. So meeting them where they're at, what their lifestyle can be Like.

Speaker 2:

I mentioned nutrition. It can also just be how are they sleeping? There can be very simple things that they're not doing, like just creating a routine each night at a certain time to start winding down. These are the areas that lack some modification. That, as a coach, I'm really honed in on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, when I had young babies, I had a very distinct bedtime routine with my children. So we would eat dinner and then we had bath time, because you know what it's like with babies, friends, they get food everywhere. After bath time I always did baby massage, where I was putting lotion here we use that aromatherapy right, because you have lotions that have different fragrances and that human touch is so important. And after we did baby massage a lot of times because I live in central Texas and the weather is so lovely we would go out and look at the stars and I would read a bedtime story, that we had our night song and then we were out Every night. They could anticipate that.

Speaker 1:

But what happens, friends, when your kids are in the hospital? You can't, you don't have control over giving your baby a bath, doing a baby massage or any of that normal routine that we have when we have young children. What could we do in the hospital, ryan, to reduce the stress? Because I think the bath time, the massage time, the going out looking at the stars together and then coming in and reading a story, that's very soothing to the body, but when we're in the ICU, we don't have that ability. What could we do as a functional medicine practitioner to help our babies to relax and reduce their stress?

Speaker 2:

That is a very wonderful question.

Speaker 2:

I would be curious if you and you may be able to help answer this question for me. But you mentioned the power of human touch, and so one thing that comes to my mind is being able to soothe a patient by placing hands on them, whether it's their feet or just creating a more of a relaxing environment and, if it's possible again, you could use an oil to possibly rub the bottom of their feet which absorbs into their bloodstream. It says this again, that cellular components are small enough that we absorb them into our cells, into the cross of the blood brain barrier goes through our skin and into the bloodstream. So one aspect that would be that you could attempt is possibly to touch their feet with a good sedative or calming oil. Maybe use a diffuser, if that's allowed. You mentioned reading to them. I like that comfort of the auditory aspect of a parent or a loved one voice, but this whole idea of creating more of a customized environment for a room such as the ICU, which has many machines beeping, and a certain sterile kind of atmosphere.

Speaker 2:

It's an area of focus that could be maybe explored more. So I really liked this question and it got me thinking.

Speaker 4:

Manager Worski has written several books to empower the congenital heart defect, or CHD, community. These books can be found at amazoncom or at her website, wwwbabyheartspresscom. Her best seller is the Heart of a Mother, an anthology of stories written by women for women in the CHD community, and as other books, my Brother Needs an Operation, the Heart of a Father and Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. A handbook for parents will help you understand that you are not alone. Visit babyheartspresscom to find out more.

Speaker 5:

Heart to Heart with Anna is a presentation of Hearts Unite the Globe and is part of the Hugg Podcast Network. Hearts Unite the Globe is a non-profit organization devoted to providing resources to the congenital heart defect community to uplift, empower and enrich the lives of our community members. If you would like access to free resources pertaining to the CHD community, please visit our website at wwwcongenitalheartdefectscom for information about CHD, the hospitals that treat children with CHD, summer camps for CHD survivors and much, much more.

Speaker 1:

Now Ryan and Valerie are both in the studio with me and let's talk about adults. We've been focusing on babies with most of my questions, but a lot of our adult CHD patients have heart failure and they need to take medicine, and many have issues with absorbing vitamins and minerals, particularly iron. So what suggestions would you all have for increasing vitamin and mineral absorption in this population?

Speaker 3:

And, valerie, I'll start with you for that one yes, so my opinion I think it can be very helpful to evaluate for pro-inflammatory foods in the diet. Obviously, there are many people who have sensitivities and sometimes even allergies that other people don't have, but the one item that seems to affect everybody is sugar. Sugar is very inflammatory to the body and I'm not saying don't eat any sugar, although there are some sensitive people who should stay away from sugar in general. But what I can tell you is that sugar doesn't necessarily make your body feel well. It may give you a high, it may make you excited, but do you really feel well after consuming sugar? For most people that's a no, but it can be so addictive it gets in the brain, it causes cravings and withdrawals and it can be hard to regulate the amount that you consume In general. Sometimes you just need to decrease and watch out for the quality of the sugar that you're consuming. Trying to stay away from high fructose corn syrup really bleached and processed sugars, and even the artificial sugars may not be as good for you either. So listening to the body, I think, is where you can really get more clues, especially if you think that you may have some kind of sensitivity to another item.

Speaker 3:

In my practice I do see a lot of sensitivities to foods, meaning that people react to proteins in foods.

Speaker 3:

They may not have the allergy reaction like hives or difficulty breathing that some of the obvious reactions involve, but it could just involve getting a runny nose, not feeling as well, having stomach upset or really any adverse effect after eating specific foods, and some of the top ones that I usually see include gluten, which includes wheat, barley and rye, cow, dairy, soy and eggs, and if there's any question that may be one of these items may be causing an adverse reaction to the body.

Speaker 3:

An elimination diet can be considered. I usually recommend one where you stay off of that item for three weeks and then you reintroduce it three times a day for three days, and usually it's during that reintroduction that people notice the most difference. If you get any symptoms, whether it is stomach upset or even weight changes, maybe even increased blood sugars, then it might be a good idea to stay away from those specific foods. But in general, I think just an evaluation of the diet can give you a lot of clues, help you understand that if your gut is inflamed, then it's not going to absorb nutrients as well, and maybe it would be helpful to take out some of the inflammation from the diet.

Speaker 1:

That's such a thoughtful response, valerie. Yeah, it makes sense that if your gut is inflamed it's not going to absorb food the proper way. I hadn't even really given that much consideration. And is it possible that this can change over time? And the reason I ask this is because for a while I started having a real sensitivity to eggs and I just completely cut eggs out of my diet, and I did so much better. But then over time I've been reintroducing eggs slowly back into my diet and now I don't have a problem with that.

Speaker 3:

It's absolutely possible to be able to eat items that you had previous difficulty eating, and in general, my goal is to help heal up the gut in order to allow people to eat things that they miss, and you should be able to eat a variety of things. Now your body will tell you if it can't handle it. The question is are you able to listen? Now? We are very busy, we have a lot of things on our minds and it's not always easy to focus on our body's reactions, and I think this is now a great time to really do that, to really try and see if your body is trying to communicate with you. But if you can heal things up, if you can rebalance things in the body, then yes, I think it's possible to eat those items again, except for, maybe, sugar. I think we always need to kind of limit that.

Speaker 1:

I think you're right. My husband's diabetic and so we have cut out white flour, white sugar, and I don't miss it at all, and in fact, if I have something that has a lot of white sugar, I don't feel good.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and fortunately that's very common.

Speaker 1:

Oh is it. And to eliminate it then introducing it back in. You just don't want it. That's good, though, because it really reduces craving.

Speaker 3:

Yes, it can reduce craving and, interestingly enough, what I found is that gluten loves to encourage sugar cravings as well.

Speaker 1:

Really.

Speaker 3:

If somebody is sensitive and you can get them off of gluten, then you can also reduce their cravings to sugar, at least in some of the cases. It's fascinating to watch that, but gluten as well as sugar also encourage yeast overgrowth. So if somebody has an issue with yeast, it is important to reduce both of those items at the very least.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to turn my attention to you right now, Ryan, because I saw on your website that you wanted to work with a doctor who understood functional medicine. How appropriate that you happen to live with such a doctor. I think that's pretty cool. Tell me about how the two of you are able to work together you as a functional medicine coach and your wife is a functional medicine doctor.

Speaker 2:

Wonderful question. Yes, so, as I stated a little bit earlier, there will be often a plan implemented for the patient and we're trying to get to the main issues of what's going on with an individual. It's going to involve some empowerment on their part, meaning they're going to make a lifestyle change, and often that has to do with food, as we just spoke about. For example, if someone say that they see Dr Chavez and they now have to eliminate gluten in their diet, what does that look like? Moving forward, and as a cook myself and a person that loves to prepare foods, he realized the benefits of their nutrients and minerals that when you're lacking, it's important to take a look at that as a whole. For example, eat the rainbow is one of my favorite terms when it comes to mineral absorption, because we in America often eating what they call the standard American diet, also known as the sad diet, and it's usually the white stuff you mentioned and the sugars, the flowers, maybe some cheese and some bread, and it's very colorless.

Speaker 2:

So, introducing the rainbow of food choices out there. Lots of fruits and vegetables can help us and absorb more of the nutrients that we're missing. But as regards to working together with a practitioner, when a functional medicine physician sees a client of mine and they give them a plan again, the client and myself will work together on coming up with ways to implement that plan, and it's usually just a little step. Each time we meet we progress on a journey, so it's a little step at a time. How that looks is different for each person where they may get their meals from, how busy their day is, can they prepare their own foods, can they do the shopping, these kinds of things. But implementing that plan that a physician gives a patient is where I come in, because the physicians, less than they, just don't have a whole lot of time that often to spend with the individual patient and how that will look in their daily life, and that's where I like to work with functional medicine.

Speaker 1:

I loved visiting your home because, like me, you love gardening and being a gardener and being the kind of person who grows his own herbs or grows his own vegetables. It gives you such a sense of satisfaction and when you eat it it tastes so much better than what you get in the store, doesn't it?

Speaker 2:

Yes, and you know where it came from, how the soil was worked, for example, what chemicals were not used or were used, those kind of things. But I believe you build more of a relationship with the bud. There's a certain satisfaction as you do grow your own herbs, for example, and I find joy and a passion and I have been gardening for decades. I've still fasted that I can put a seed into the ground and then months later, how it's something that I can use in the kitchen and not have to run out of it to the store and say I'll need a pepper.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and in Texas, and obviously, since I'm in Texas, ryan and Valerie are also in Texas. We are so lucky because I went out yesterday to my husband's garden and I harvested more jalapenos. The pepper plants have been very happy, but I think it's very rewarding. We have a huge rosemary bush. I love to make rosemary chicken or add a little bit of rosemary to some of my dishes. That's another very aromatic plant and I think it is very healing to have some of those herbs in your garden. So it sounds to me as a life coach that you might even be able to give some practical advice for plants that people could even grow in their own garden.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. You mentioned rosemary. Rosemary is aromatic and actually has anti-fung properties I know the essential oil of rosemary does and peppers are one of my all-time favorites. They probably are what got me into gardening, and you are correct that even mine are still producing.

Speaker 4:

That's amazing.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if you know this, anna, but you can actually cut them down and make them go dormant. Some people will cut them down and bring them inside, repot them and put them in the dark for the winter and they bring them back out and reclant them. I had luck with just mulching them and covering them, maybe during the worst couple of times of the year in Central Texas, and they will produce again for you next year, so it's like a gift that keeps giving.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, but some of these.

Speaker 2:

And, as we mentioned earlier about chamomile, you can grow maybe some chamomile in an herb garden where you can make tea. That's relaxing. Reganot is good for the guts they can gut hell, uh-huh. And I feel that there's a connection between the gardener and the herb and the vegetable that you get by cultivating that into your diet. That you just can't get when you just go buy something in a store and a package.

Speaker 2:

I think, there's a mental, or maybe an emotional or spiritual quality too that keeps me going back, year after year, to the garden. The garden is another passion, anna.

Speaker 1:

I know we could do a whole show just on gardening.

Speaker 2:

She has so many benefits of gardening and really it's basic, though these are important because you can get grounded working with the soil. You can be getting grounded from the earth's magnetic energy. You can get vitamin D from the sun. The soil has microbiomes that come out of the soil as you inhale. So, yes, there's just so many health benefits to actually being a gardener. But you can still not be a gardener and reap the benefits of, say, eating your friend or your family members garden. It's fresh, you said. It can even taste better because it's so fresh.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. I'm going back to you, valerie, for a very specific question, and that is in the CHD community, because so many of our patients have had open heart surgery, they have musculoskeletal pain and they even have injuries from the surgeries. They've had their sternums cracked open, they've had their ribs spread apart and that affects their bones and joints in so many different places. Is there anything functional medicine can do to help with shoulder pain or rib pain or back pain?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. There are definitely a lot of techniques that I like to use for those specific issues, but the nice thing is that you don't need a functional medicine practitioner to implement them. In fact, some of the ways that I recommend improving on musculoskeletal pain include basic stretches. Yes, I know it sounds like it is so easy, but stretching out those muscles can really help to make sure that they move better, that they're not as stiff, and magnesium is a great electrolyte that can also help your muscles function. Now, magnesium deficiency is very common amongst pretty much everybody, and it can also lead to insomnia, constipation, headaches and anxiety. Now, with patients who are on diuretics, specifically, or any other complicated medications, it's usually best to ask your physician if you can take magnesium. But one way you can get magnesium through the skin without a problem is by just taking Epsom salt baths. Salt is magnesium sulfate, and if you put in two cups of Epsom salt in a bath, you get the benefits of having the magnesium get through the skin and it may help to take those aches and pains away.

Speaker 3:

A few additional items include topical or even just oral by mouth Arnica. Arnica Montana is something that is sold in a lot of different stores Now it's always good to make sure you have good quality Arnica, and that is something that won't interfere with other medications. Usually, just because with anybody on medications at least more than one you have to be careful with interactions and even with some of the topical medications. So I would recommend the Arnica, and even there is an essential oil called Deep Blue that doTERRA makes. It's a great combination of different oils, and just putting that topically on musculoskeletal pain can be very helpful.

Speaker 3:

Now I would say that when I was back in primary care, it was very difficult to treat this pain because with the typical medications that we have, especially the anti-inflammatories, they could do so much, but you also had to deal with adverse effects, for instance, stomach irritation, sometimes swelling, kidney dysfunction and these are medications you can buy over the counter as well, but they may not be safe for everybody to use. That's why I like to have people consider some of these items and just evaluate okay, is this safe for me, is this something I'm interested in, something that resonates with me, and just have more tools in the toolbox, if you so choose, to use them.

Speaker 1:

I love that, and the nice thing about epsom salts is gosh. A million years ago when I was a little girl, my dad used to come home after work he was a teacher and he was also a coach and he would soak his feet in epsom salts and I remember what those smelled. But now you can go to the store. You can buy lavender scented epsom salts. You can buy epsom salts with rosemary, so we can incorporate some of that aroma therapy even while we're using the epsom salts.

Speaker 3:

That's a great point, anna, and I will caution people, because anything with the word fragrance you can have a lot of different chemicals in that particular product. They're considered a trade secret and you don't always know exactly what's in there, so you could have artificial fragrances causing the lavender smell. In general, I think it can be helpful if you get the plain epsom salt and just add good quality essential oils that you know are quality. Now, we love doTERRA. That doesn't mean that you have to use doTERRA. There's some other great quality essential oils, but do your research on those oils just because it's important to focus on quality pretty much for everything nowadays.

Speaker 1:

So can I add some of my own rosemary from my own rosemary bush, to the epsom salt bath? That's a great idea.

Speaker 3:

I think it's important to mix things that seem to be helpful to you and that may mean a different item or a different natural growing item for each person, whether it comes in the form of an oil, whether it comes in the form of a plant outside of your house. I think that's a great idea.

Speaker 1:

Okay, great, this has been so helpful. Thank you so much for explaining what functional medicine is and how we can have a functional medicine coach Friends, I will put links to Valerie and Ryan's websites so if you'd like to contact them with additional questions or if you want to reach out to them to work with you because I have a feeling lots of people in this EHD community are going to want to work with somebody like you to get over, maybe, some of those aches and pains or to deal with stress and anxiety. So many of our members have problems with stress and anxiety because of the trauma they have experienced. So thank you so much for coming on the program today, ryan.

Speaker 2:

It's my pleasure and I very much enjoyed this conversation and thank you for putting those links up. I'm happy to be an accountability partner for anybody in the audience said looking to improve.

Speaker 1:

Awesome and thank you so much for coming on the program today, Valerie.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, anna, it was a pleasure.

Speaker 1:

Friends, that does conclude this episode of Heart to Heart with Anna. Thanks for listening today. Please leave a review, on whatever platform you use to listen to the program. It helps other people to understand what our program is all about. And remember, my friends, you are not alone.

Speaker 5:

Thank you again for joining us this week. We hope you have become inspired and empowered to become an advocate for the congenital heart community. Heart to Heart with Anna, with your host, anna Jaworski, can be heard at any time, wherever you get your podcasts. A new episode is released every Tuesday from Noon Eastern Time.

Functional Medicine 101
2nd Segment
(Cont.) 2nd Segment
3rd Segment

Podcasts we love