Doctor Doni

Natural Alternatives to Pharmaceuticals with Dr. Lindsey Elmore (Episode 176)

In today’s episode I want to introduce you to Dr. Lindsey Elmore. She is a pharmacist (PharmD) and wellness expert. She’s also a speaker, author and podcast host. She specializes in helping women to take full ownership of their health from wellness in the physical body, to stability in mental health, to robustness of spirit, to freedom in finances.

Today we talk about what options there are for people who may want to try a more holistic approach for their health instead of the medicine that pharmaceutical companies produce and commercialize.

After suffering from an injury to her anterior cruciate ligament, Lindsey ended up attending an acupuncture session which opened this whole new world of homeopathic and holistic medicine for her. She then started accumulating knowledge about traditional Chinese medicine, started going to integrative medicine forums, hanging out with shamans, and learning more about indigenous medicines. Lindsey eventually got a reputation of knowing as much about alternative medicine as western medicine. She became very practical about the integration of the two because she believes that to embrace natural medicine does not mean to deny western medicine as they are not mutually exclusive.

Do Pharmacists Get Training on Natural Approaches vs Conventional Medicine?

So, pharmacognosy is the study of plants as medicine and if you back up 150 years, a pharmacist was nothing more than someone who was there to put the medicines together using herbs and natural substances from plants that proved to work for certain illnesses. They understood the application of plants as medicine. 

In our modern world this is not so much the case. Now you have to go out in search of it and that is because the division between western and alternative medicine became very bold after the Flexner Report came out about 100 years ago. They basically dismissed any kind of medicine practice and even schools that were not based in drugs and surgery. 

Nowadays, if a doctor does only prescriptions, it is most likely because they don’t know any better. 

There is no medicine out there, even the over-the-counter ones or supplements, that does not have any side effects. Over the counter medications can cause significant harm and have major drug interactions so be sure to know your medicines and know your pharmacist. Your pharmacist should be able to talk to you about your medications and to teach you about the safety of those medications and the alternatives out there.

There are so many alternatives to prescription drugs and surgery out there that are less invasive and have less harmful side effects. It is the responsibility of your health care provider to let you know what they are.

How To Navigate This World of Alternatives to Conventional Medicine and Drugs

You can start with anything you would like to try to get healthier. Sleep 20 more minutes each day, get up and get your circadian rhythm kicked off by going out into the sun first thing in the morning, lifting weights, eat one plant based meal, increase your water consumption, meditate, etc. 

Lindsey names eight root causes of disease: stress, toxins, allergens, infections, dysbiosis, nutrient excesses and deficiencies, sedentarism, lack of sleep and then there’s the sociogenomics. One place to start is with stress. There’s no disease that stress does not make worse and no disease that stress does not cause and so it’s really important that we figure out how to mitigate our stress by intentionally crafting safety for ourselves.

The harder situation comes when you’ve been doing everything that you’re supposed to do to feel good, but something is still wrong and that’s when you start getting into things like lab tests, blood work, allergen testing, hormones, or maybe some more sophisticated interventions like imaging, but we have to start with the basics.Going back to stress, it’s not about having zero stress. Some amount of stress is necessary and even healthy. It’s about how do we help ourselves recover from all the stresses and toxins that we’re exposed to. We need to start simple with lifestyle changes that can allow for that space of recovery.

What About Choosing the Right Probiotics and Rebalancing the Microbiome?

One of the most popular ways to feel better and healthier recently is getting the right probiotics and addressing the microbiome. There’s so much research now helping us understand how important these hundred trillion bacteria living in our gut are to our health. 

The microbiome is so critically important, we cannot live without our microbiome. Our microbiome helps us to metabolize foods, extract energy from complex and digestible sugars, they also ferment our dietary carbohydrates and fibers to produce what are called post biotics, it uses our food to produce vitamins, it helps with mineral absorption, and they also metabolize our bile acid which helps us to regulate our cholesterol levels. 

The microbiome has this huge metabolic function. It also has a protective function where it creates layers for our immune system to be educated as well as to provide a barrier function for bad bacteria to be kept away from our system. 

Our microbiome can also help us turn genes on and off. It strengthens the gut barrier, it changes fat deposition, it influences our growth, it influences changes in the body. 

We also have this really important system called the gut-brain axis. We have this interplay between good bacteria and bad bacteria, good viruses and bad viruses that are just part of how we educate and train our immune system. The gut-brain axis modulates our response to stress, mood behavior, it governs our food cravings, it manages our circadian rhythm, etc. The gut-brain axis plays a very important role on our mental health. The microbiome is critically important for brain development in early life, and it also helps with the education and regulation of the immune system. 

Between birth and age 3 the microbiome goes through a maturation process and this maturation process is very important. This is why it’s critical not to over sanitize our children because this leads to allergies, chronic disease, immune disorders, etc. Early in life the microbiome is teaching the immune system how to operate correctly, then later in life the microbiome and the immune system continue to communicate, and this is what helps to balance out pro and anti-inflammatory responses.

We are getting more and more sophisticated in our knowledge of different strains of bacteria and what they do in our bodies. We can look for a specific strain that reduces cortisol or one that helps with constipation or one that helps with digestion. We get to be very specific about what’s the intended end point for what we hope to happen by taking a specific supplement. 

We now have all of this research and new information about how important the microbes living in our bodies are to our health. There are more and more products being developed to support balancing our microbiome and benefit from it. And the products we choose will depend on what we are looking to achieve, not everybody has high or low cortisol, not everybody has constipation or digestive issues, or anxiety. We’re on the path of becoming way more specific when it comes to choosing the right product for the right purpose.

When Taking the Wrong Treatment Makes Things Worse: Bacterial Overgrowth

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth as well as small intestinal fungal overgrowth is very important to address. Many people are told they have IBS or heartburn and given a medication that doesn’t actually resolve the issue. 

When someone has chronic heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux for example, they tend to take antacid medicine, but this medicine is not safe to use for long periods of time because it depletes our bodies from nutrients, it affects bone health, it affects your ability to digest. You actually need acid in your stomach to correctly digest food. So, this is not a real solution to this problem because again with drugs you are not addressing the root cause of the problem; you are just treating the symptoms.

What is typically happening with heartburn is a small intestinal bacterial or small intestinal fungal overgrowth, and as a byproduct of the bacterial/yeast metabolism, they generate hydrogen gas, and this gas is going to be forced to go upwards and will bring with it the gastric juices. 

The problem is sometimes people already have an overgrowth of bacteria and they start supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics and they get sicker. It’s worse because there were already too many bacteria. What we have to do is work to bring the microbiome into balance so that we have the correct distribution of good and bad bacteria.  

If you know you have a small intestine bacterial overgrowth, it’s important first to use a prokinetic to make sure your bowels are moving well. Then use digestive enzymes to make sure you are digesting well. Then you can work on restoring your microbiome. 

If you would like to learn more about what you can do to balance your microbiome you can watch Episode #169 of How Humans Heal here.

Naturopathic vs Conventional Medicine Approach and Pharmaceutical Companies Abuse

A good analogy to understand the difference between a naturopathic or functional medicine approach and conventional medicine and drugs is when a western medicine doctor walks into a room that is flooded he says “Oh my gosh the room is flooded, let me mop it up” and a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner walks into the room and says “Oh no the room is flooded, let me turn off the faucet”. And so, we’re trying to look at where is the faucet to turn off versus just mopping the floor because mopping is not going to do anything.

Everybody’s looking for magic but what we really need to be looking for is our simple, down to earth, grounded decisions that we make each day that will ultimately lead us to finding the miracle that is being healthy and being well. We have to stop looking for the magic pill.

This whole concept of evidence-based medicine being the only kind of medicine and the only way to inform guidelines and the only way to practice is simply not true. There are so many conflicts of interest between pharmaceutical manufacturers and the evidence they produce. If you send in a paper to the New England Journal of Medicine and they send it out to 10 people for peer review and they send it back and say yes, this is good enough to be published it gets published. The problem is nobody is required to go back to the pharmaceutical manufacturers and actually verify that the data that they presented in the paper is factual. 

Take valdecoxib for example. Merck outright knew that valdecoxib was causing massive amounts of heart attacks and they did not care. They lied about the data, got it published in journals and now fast forward we know that thousands of people died from the side effects of it. 

We need to have a much higher transparency in evidence-based research if we are going to live in a society where we live and die by treatment guidelines. The people that write the guidelines cannot be the same people that are doing the research for the pharmaceutical companies and manipulating the data in order to say this is what we recommend.

We have to be able to rely on the fact that we are going to get actual tangible information out of pharmaceutical manufacturers or we’re simply putting patients at risk for harm. 

We don’t have governmental oversight of drug pricing, and this generates a problem because pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever they want. And a lot of times the medicine could be a natural substance and then pharmaceutical company will just add colors and fillers so that they will be able to patent the substance and probably raise the price on it.

There’s a lot of ways that these companies go about manipulating patent laws in order to keep drugs on patent. An example of this is the antidepressant citalopram where pharmaceutical companies made a simple chemical manipulation of the extraction to change the name to escitalopram, which is the the S-enantiomer of citalopram. Another example is the pain medication oxycontin, where the Sackler family convinced the FDA to allow onto the label that oxycontin was non-addictive and had an effect that lasted 12 hours vs other drugs that lasted less hours.  

We have to do the research ourselves; we have to go deep into the factual data before taking any drug. We have to educate ourselves and become more aware and learn more whether through a pharmacist or health care provider before even bringing the substance into our home. We need to be empowered owners of our own health. 

If you want to reach out to Dr. Lindsey and learn more about how she can help you, please make sure to check out her website. She is also on social media as @lindseyelmore (Instagram and Facebook) and @doctorlindseyelmore (Pinterest/TikTok). 

Her functional medicine wellness platform is called Wellness Made Simple where you can find many resources to improve your health. 

If you want to learn more about how stress and trauma affect us, and how to recover so that you can get back to feeling your best, you may want to read my book Master Your Stress Reset Your Health

In the book, I describe what I refer to as SelfC.A.R.E. based on your Stress Type. C stands for Clean Eating, A for adequate sleep, R for recovery activities, and E for exercise. I share the research behind how C.A.R.E. works in a daily routine to help us process stress.

To know your Stress Type, which is your unique cortisol and adrenaline levels based on how stresses have affected your adrenal function, you can take the quiz I developed. You can find the Stress Type® Quiz in the book and on my website.

Then, if you’re ready to start rebalancing your cortisol and neurotransmitters, to help your adrenals reset after stress exposure, you can start by ordering this home test kit. And you can also sign up for my Stress Warrior Online Program to guide you here.

If you’re interested in a safe and effective body, mind and spirit detoxification that will actually make you feel better and that you can do without affecting your daily routine, you can check out my New 14-Day Detox Program here. In the Detox Program I teach you to connect with yourself, and use mind-body tools, such as biofeedback, to process emotions.

For the most comprehensive support, even with the most difficult health issues (physical or mental), it is best to meet with me one-on-one, which is available to you no matter where you are in the world (via phone or zoom). You can set up a one-on-one appointment with me here.

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