Dr. Holly Lucille
Jonathan: Hey, everybody, Jonathan Bailor back. Certainly we’ve got a fun show for you today here. We have truly a wonderful woman and a wonderful media personality and a wonderful, nationally-recognized and licensed naturopathic doctor, educator and just general sunshine beam. Dr. Holly Lucille, welcome to the show.
Holly: Jonathan, thanks so much for having me.
Jonathan: Holly, I’m so pleased to have you, because I think you bring such an air of levity and joy to the field of wellness and medicine, which is so important. I feel like when we talk about wellness and health, so often those two words seem to almost carry a negative connotation, like to be healthy is this burden; whereas, it’s actually the furthest thing from that, isn’t it?
Holly: I think so, and I think you’re exactly spot on, especially in our modern day. Because if you think about it really, wellness and health is just basically our natural being. There’s not much that we have to do to be there. It’s what we have done to get out of that that’s been the problem.
I have to tell you, every time I take advantage of these wonderful technologies of social, I would say media, but I think social marketing might be the better word, or when I’m hearing all these diets and people’s opinions on this way to eat and that way to eat, it just completely drives me crazy. I would just like to get it back to the simpleness and really kind of help people just quell some of the —
I know that it’s called the information society, perhaps, that we’re in; and I do think on a daily basis I see that we’re sometimes rather in a misinformation society. People get anxious about it, and I think that’s counterintuitive when we’re just trying to simply be well.
Jonathan: It is certainly an astute observation, Holly. I’m drawing this very simple infographic; everyone likes infographics, and I’m drawing a very simple infographic on my pad, which is an arrow pointed up, which says Information next to it, and then an arrow pointed down which says Health next to it. It seems as though there is an apparent inverse relationship with having more information and worse health. What’s going on there?
Holly: That’s so true, because if you look at how much research and how much information comes out on this subject of health on a yearly basis, and then you watch our numbers as a nation, all of our chronic health issues – obesity, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease – are on the rise. For me, as a talking head, as a radio host, as a television host, as a naturopathic doctor, I have to ask, Where are the disconnects? Because I am not going to — the last thing I want to do, Jonathan, is go out there and add fuel to this fire and add fuel to the misconceptions and the confusion. I want to do whatever I can to put the dots really, really close together and let people, in their own right, connect them.
I’ve got this saying. People talk about a PCP, a primary-care provider. Hey, do you have a primary-care provider? If I did a whole Jay Walking segment — so Jay Leno goes out and says, “What’s a staphylococcus,” and you’re supposed to answer, and he gets all sorts of answers about what people think a staphylococcus is, and it’s really funny. If I went out and did a Jay Walking segment on people and said, Hey, do you have a primary-care provider, I bet you —
And I’m going to do it, so we can revisit this. I bet you people would fumble for their insurance card, they would fumble for the name of the doctor that they see maybe on a regular basis or once a year. My message, if you think about primary- care provider, aren’t you supposed to be primarily in charge of providing care for yourself? That’s what I want to get people to understand; that’s what I want to get people to take back as far as power over their health, because it’s right there.
Jonathan: There’s even an interesting phrase when we say “primary-care provider,” and I’m certainly, obviously, going into the naturopathic field. You certainly have a preference for treating the whole person, but I think people get that and people appreciate that. What I find so fascinating is you mentioned that who’s your primary-care doctor?
A lot of people would not even know, or they wouldn’t even know what’s going on. The concept here, the idea of not having a personal relationship with the person who is basically primarily responsible for your wellness, I think, is indicative of the fact that sometimes in our culture, it’s not a relationship of wellness; it’s a relationship of more like a mechanic, and that’s not the right relationship.
Holly: That’s true, and I think we’re talking about two different things. Because when you take the verb “provide,” then “provide care,” we’re talking about each individual. Shouldn’t you be your own primary-care provider? Primarily first, right? Primary-care doctor, you’re right; do we have a relationship?
That’s the thing. When I have patients come in, I have to tell you my very, very early years in practice, I had to stop myself from wanting to go home with each and every one of them and just make sure that they followed through. Because I truly care. These people come in, I’m a very curious person, I want to know all about their story; because besides the fact that I’m curious, I think that people’s stories help me understand what has happened to their bodies, to their tissues, to their cells, that have created the clinical presentation that they have, multifactorial in nature. It wasn’t just one thing that happened. Then it gives us the answers to being able to unravel and get them well again.
So primary-care provider, that verb “provide” is for each and every individual. Then you’re right; primary-care doctor, you’ve got to have a relationship with that person, too, a really good one. They need to remember who the heck you are.
Jonathan: Ideally, such a strong relationship that maybe the relationship becomes strained because you’re really not seeing them that often. In fact, if you have that deep of a relationship, maybe this is a little bit weird, but if you keep seeing your mechanic, you might have to say to yourself, Why the heck do I keep going to this mechanic if my car keeps breaking down?
Holly: It’s an awesome point. People will ask me about my fees or my prices, and I’ll give them. I’ll say, But listen, I’ve got the goal to get you not to need me. That is my primary goal. My job, when my patients walk in, I am in the business of empowerment, my patients by me.
I want them to get their health back and get power over their health so they don’t need to see me anymore. I’ve got to tell you, average visits for a patient of mine that walks in the door, or for a new patient, two. That first good, solid visit where we get a lot of information, maybe we run some great tests to confirm any clinical suspicions, we often have a very good follow-up, and guess what? That is it. I tell them, No news is good news on my end; I am here if you need me, I’m a part of your team now, I am a second opinion if you ever need to have one, but I want you to go fight the good fight and keep on becoming. Pretty much, that’s how it works out.
Jonathan: I love it, Holly. One thing I want to circle back to, something we were talking about in the beginning of the podcast, which is the difference between having a lot of information and having good information, which are certainly not the same things. Holly, I’m curious, in your practice, there’s this old joke about someone goes to see a doctor and they’re like, “Doctor, when I do this with my arm, it hurts,” and the doctor goes, “Well, don’t do that with your arm.” That’s the prescription.
Jonathan: It’s a bit of a joke, but when we look back, when we look at the rates of obesity, when we look at the rates of diabetes and heart disease, and we look back just 50, 60 years, at people who are alive today who were alive back then, and we look at how they were eating, and we look at their rates of these diseases, why do we seemingly seem to complicate when it seems like we have a similar situation with, “It hurts when I do this with my arm. Well, stop doing that with my arm.”
We got diabetes and we became obese and we got heart disease when we stopped eating food and started eating edible products. If we would just go back to eating food — why does it seem any more complicated than that?
Holly: Yes. I think it’s a great question, and I think the answer is very simple. I just don’t think it’s easy, and I’ll tell you why. Hopefully not contributing to the misinformation, but a couple of articles that I’ve read and then reposted for information for my community in the past couple of weeks really have been about how addictive these, as you say, edible products and, as I say, food products, are. I say, Look, it’s not food anymore; it’s a food product.
I completely agree with you. When we think about food in our culture, I always like to use at the end of the day in my practice, food is medicine. I think it’s a great tool, I think it’s effective, I think it’s completely inexpensive when it comes to medication, and we can do it. Food can be causative or it can be curative; but food is a lot. It certainly can be comfort, it can be a drug for folks, it can be social, it can be religious, it’s celebratory. Food is a lot.
The very first place I go with my patients before I even start talking about what they ate, I want to understand historically and now, Hey, what’s your relationship with food? What is it?
Because if I don’t understand that right off the bat, then any other question that we have to do with food is pushing sand against the tide. I can get, sure, a 24-hour recall or a dietary log or what have you, but when I want to go use food as medicine, not only things that I would rather people eat but also things that I know have to come out of their diet, if I don’t understand the emotional, psychological, socio-economic relationship with food, it’s a setup for the both of us. I think it’s more complicated. It’s simple, the answer to your question; it’s just not easy, because we’ve got to get through deeper aspects of our person.
Jonathan: I think you hit the nail on the head there, Holly. I’d like to draw the analogy to, for example, if you don’t want to get lung cancer, it’s relatively simple; don’t smoke cigarettes.
Jonathan: However, if you were alive in the 1920s and you were constantly exposed to second-hand smoke, and everyone thought that smoking was okay, then it becomes very, very difficult to not get lung cancer, even if you don’t smoke, because it’s all around you and it’s ingrained in our culture. How do we survive in a culture, let’s say, like the 1920s was for smoking but now for edible products. What do we do?
Holly: I think that we’ve got to be savvy as practitioners, and we have to take this step. We have to take this deeper step, we have to be able to be willing to go deeper with our patients. Myself as a naturopathic doctor, I always say there’s value in all systems of medicine; so whether you’re seeing your insurance-based, mainstream Western medical doctor, whether you’re seeing an ayurvedic practitioner, a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, a chiropractor, et cetera, we can probably, through our schooling and through our scope, we can drill out a protocol for anybody’s health-care desire.
Let’s say to lose weight, sure, easy, got that, paying the student loans to prove it, got it down. But if we don’t connect with that individual and understand how they’ve gotten to the place in the first place, we’re never going to be able to really help them start unraveling and undoing some of the damage. And also, answer the question of why. I know they know better, so why don’t they do better? We’ve just got to go deeper. You know what? Quite honestly — sorry, Jonathan, very long answer. I do apologize.
Jonathan: No, it’s no problem. Keep going.
Holly: I think that as practitioners, we have to be willing to go deeper within ourselves. We have to be the container that can contain our patients. We have to keep working on ourselves, working on our own behaviors, working on our own humanity, working on our own stuff, so we can be able to contain and hold all of it, all of the things that our patients bring us.
Jonathan: Dr. Holly, you said something in there which I’m curious to dig a little bit deeper into. It was something on the lines of — I don’t remember exactly but it was —
Holly: Because my answer was so damn long.
Jonathan: Somewhere in there, you said something. I’m just kidding. It was something along the lines of that an individual will know what to do, but is seemingly not doing it. I’m sure that’s true once the individual has met with you; but what I see so often, Holly, which I’m curious about is if you did, like your story earlier, you walk around on the street Jay Leno style and you ask people, If you want to avoid obesity and avoid diabetes and avoid heart disease, what are the first two things you would start to do, or you would recommend that someone else do?
I bet 90%-plus of people would say, Eat less, take whatever you’re eating right now, take your existing diet and just eat less of it, and then go jog as much as you possibly can. It seems like, if there is a proven prescription for inefficacy, long-term, it’s starvation and chronic high-intensity exercise. That is still what so many of us believe is the key to health. In some cases it’s we know, we’re just not doing it; so what do we do about that?
Holly: I think it was Maya Angelou who says, “When you know better, you do better.” I think that as much as I love that woman, that is not what I’ve seen. I think we know better and then we stumble for a long, long time before we do better. I think that the proof is in the pudding.
As you said, I think there’s been some — Jonathan, if we could see each other right now, I would… Well, it wouldn’t matter because I know you know the right answers to these questions. But let me give you an example. I go out and I lecture all across the nation, right? I do this to help people understand kind of the spell that they are under.
Now, these are very – in my opinion – very smart and educated audiences. I’ll say, Okay, I don’t want you to think about it, just raise your hand if you think eggs are dairy. I’ve got these educated, talented, very, very smart ladies. They’ll kind of hesitate, they’ll look at each other and then at least 70% of the room goes up, Yes, eggs are dairy.
Then, all right, How many people think corn is a vegetable? How many people? All right, same thing, about 60, 70, 80% of the people, corn is a vegetable. Well eggs aren’t dairy, they never have been, they come from chickens, chickens are poultry, they’re proteins. Dairy is cow, you think of udders and milk, okay. Why in the heck would you think that? Same thing, corn is not a vegetable. I’ve got to tell you, every time I go and like, What’s your vegetable today? They’re like corn, and I’m like, Arrgh, corn is so —
Corn is a grain, it’s always been a grain. But I try to allow people to help them understand why they think these things, why they think that being on a treadmill for 30 minutes, 45 minutes a day and eating less of the diet that they are already eating, which is probably nutritionally valueless, is not helping them in their health-care desires and is also contributing continually to chronic diseases.
Jonathan: Some of the pushback I get, Holly, is, People know what to do, they just don’t do it. I see these people at McDonald’s and they’re eating 3,000 calories, and blah, blah, blah. Okay, yes, there is a segment of the population — I would say if you looked at our population, it would be a bit like a bell curve, right?
On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got people that are on the internet, they’re all up on nutrition, they geek out about it, and they’re fine. On the other end of the spectrum, you have people that are just like, Whatever. These are the people that probably also smoke; like they know things are bad for them, and they do things that are bad for them, and they don’t care.
But then you have this segment of people in the middle who genuinely want to be healthy, and even do things to try to be healthy. They might buy diet products, and they might, again, go do an aerobics class. They might try to eat low-fat, edible products, and they may even feed their kids fruit juice thinking that it’s a wonderful source of nutrition for their children, but they progressively get worse. It seems like they get that because they’re getting their information from the very sources of those edible products. So how do we cut through that? How do you compete with a multi-trillion dollar industry?
Holly: That’s the thing. We have to understand that it is an industry. I think we know it’s an industry when it’s managed, it’s marketed and it makes a product. When you’ve got direct-to-consumer commercials on every single day — you know, it’s like SunnyD.
Oh, my gosh. So I think that it is a grassroots movement, and I think that we have to do one person at a time. People who know better, like you and I, we just have to kind of, I think, fight the good fight and keep calmly educating people just one person at a time, really putting the dots close together, helping them connect them, helping them to have the aha moments. When I tell people that eggs aren’t dairy and why they think that, they’re like, Oh, my gosh, eggs aren’t dairy, why did I think that?
People are sleepwalking, I think. We’ve just got to help wake them up, that’s the biggest thing. The show that I had that’s running right now, and I taped it this past summer, it’s called Myth Defying with Dr. Holly because it’s the same thing. It’s like I wanted to take all these crazy myths out there about health like ossaie [phonetic] makes you skinny. I wanted to break it down for people and think about those myths, talk them through, think them through.
My tagline was, Okay, you’ve learned it. Now I want you to go use your own mind and live it. That was my passion. Please, I want you to think out there, you know? I want you to use your mind, please, think, think, think, think, think. That’s what I’m trying to do each and every day.
Jonathan: I think that’s really what we’re all about here, is eating smarter and exercising smarter, rather than eating less and just exercising more, because that’s really — food is in no way, shape, or form the enemy. In fact, eating an abundance of the right kinds of foods, as you mentioned, is the most substantial curative agent you can probably, in addition to sleep and stress management and hydration, one of the most effective things you could ever do out there.
Dr. Holly, this next question may make you get a little fired up here, but what I’m curious about, and what I appreciate about your work is when we talk, it’s a foregone conclusion that what you eat matters. I’m a bit younger, so generationally, the idea that what you eat doesn’t matter is almost foreign to me; but it seems like in a traditional medical setting, to talk about food as being extremely important is not really considered. To me, that just doesn’t even make any sense. What’s going on there?
Holly: No, I think you’re right. I think once again — and I am so sorry, I’m such a stickler for words because this is the thing. You say traditional, I say conventional, because the way you and I think, I think, is much more traditional. When we went to our garden and we just picked a pepper and ate it, that’s the traditional way of eating them.
The way that I think through medicine, I think, is more traditional. Conventionally, you’re right; I think food as far as having anything to do with creating an outcome when it comes to your health seems to be completely neglected. Here’s the thing, and we go back to the industry, we go back to the markets. Listen, my mom and dad are both pharmacists. My dad climbed the corporate ladder of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies my entire life. I think he maybe retired when I was — I don’t know. He just like literally, it was always pharmaceuticals, pharmaceuticals, pharmaceuticals. And we’re talking about a scope of practice.
I gave a lecture once at the University of Boston called “The History of Medicine.” It was a fascinating lecture to me. You know why? Because I had no idea about the history of medicine, and I had to learn. I was asked to give it, and at that point in time in my career, I was just a yes woman. I was like, Yes, I’ll do that. Yes, of course I’ll do that. Yes, yes, yes.
I would just fake it until I made it, because I just wanted to talk and be involved in the conversation, right? I do all of this study and research on the history of medicine, and it was fascinating to me that when you look at conventional, mainstream medicine, it is rooted in a science called reductionism. So you are reduced to a blood test or a lab value or a diagnosis or a symptom, and it’s very protocol oriented.
If you look at how these folks go through school, I always tell my patients, Don’t get mad at your doctors. They’re like, Well, why did my doctor… They weren’t schooled to do that; it’s not in their scope. Their scope is if your TSH is high, you get diagnosed with hypothyroidism and you are on Synthroid. That’s it. That is how they are taught, that is how those programs are oriented, period. That is it.
And it works, you know what, quite honestly, in some cases. I blew out my shoulder, I wanted an orthopedic surgeon to reduce me to my shoulder. I couldn’t care less if he knew about how sad I was that my dog died the week before. I wanted my Lunesta on board to sleep, and I wanted Vicodin because I was in so much pain. There was a place for everything.
But when it comes to our everyday common and chronic health care, I would say diseases and also desires, not wanting to be so tired, not wanting to be so fat, not wanting to be so depressed, we have to be looking at lifestyle, we have to be looking at food, I think huge big parts of the puzzle. You have to look at them in a very comprehensive, common-sense way. That is more traditional medicine, and that’s where we need to go back to.
Jonathan: It certainly makes a lot of sense, Holly, to make that distinction, which I love, between traditional and conventional. Because traditionally, there was about a two-percent obesity rate, traditionally. Traditionally. That is the traditional. And traditionally, people ate stuff you found directly in nature, and that was really it.
I mean it’s just traditionally, these things weren’t that much of a problem. What I wonder sometimes is it’s almost if you want to do an unhealthy activity and remain healthy, that is extremely complex; but if you do not do unhealthy activities and you want to stay healthy, you will.
That’s the default state of the body, is one of health. Everything about us is meant to propagate life. That is the point of human evolution, is to optimize us, to thrive in our environment; but when we manipulate that environment, then stuff just comes off the rails, and to try to keep it on the rails, you end up with duct tape on this and all these unnatural complexities. We just need to take a step back, it sounds like.
Holly: Absolutely. Look, I think it’s going to get a little worse before it gets better, but we’ve got people out there like you. We just have to keep simply coming back. Look, I even say, because I am a Western herbalist, I had to not only take pharmacology in medical school but also pharmacognosy of all these incredible medicinal botanical plants, but I always say it’s the approach over the agent, right? If somebody comes in for depression, it’s not that I’m like, Oh, I’m going to give you St. John’s wort because I feel like I practice more naturally. No. St. John’s wort over Prozac is not what we’re talking about.
We’re talking about looking at causitive and contributing factors, we’re talking about identifying and treating the cause, and we’re also talking about eating for an outcome that we actually — as you said, Jonathan, the body has an innate ability to heal, it’s always wanting to come back into balance. So what do we do? We wonder where the obstacles to a cure are, where are they?
Where are they? Are there things that might be deficient: Nutrients that drive our biochemistry that have accumulated over the years, stress-induced nutrient depletion, drug-induced nutrient depletion? All over the place, are the things deficient? Are there things that are in excess: Inflammatory food products that we’re eating every day that’s just causing all sorts of symptoms that you think are going on because, Oh, it’s hereditary, my mom had it too. Well, listen, when I talk about genetics, they can load the gun, but your lifestyle and how you nourish yourself pulls the trigger.
Jonathan: Certainly, we have so much control. I think that, in some ways, might be part of the problem, Holly, which is that at the end of the day, in some ways, if we can say it’s this medication’s fault or it’s this treatment’s fault, or it’s I just need this pill, it in some ways can absolve us of some of that responsibility. Sometimes we might perceive the absolution of responsibility as a good thing, but when you think about it, that’s actually terrifying, because if you aren’t responsible, that means you aren’t response-able.
Jonathan: Meaning you have no control over your health. You can believe that. If you want to believe that you have no control over your health, godspeed. I don’t want to believe that.
Holly: Yes. No, that’s a brilliant distinction, Jonathan, it really is. Because I’ll do this with folks all the time. They’ll say, Hey, what do you think about, let’s say, Fosamax?
I’m on them, Well, why are you asking?
Well, my doctor has me on it.
I’m like, Okay, what do you think about it?
Well, I don’t know.
I’m like, Well, wait a minute; you’re taking something each and every morning. My point is, Your doctor has every right to write you a prescription and give you a medication, to give you a recommendation, I should say. After you leave that office, you going down to the pharmacy, filling it, taking it home, taking that cap off each and every day, putting it in your body, that’s on you. You have to know.
I ask people, I say, Please, I want you to talk about it differently, I want you to reframe it. Your doctor prescribed you Fosamax, you chose to take it. Let’s start there. And I immediately say, I’m not picking on you, I just want you to know how much power you have in this situation. When you’re informed, you’re empowered. If you can inform yourself about this medication, the risks, the side effects, the benefits if you actually do need it, then you can choose with confidence your health-care measures each and every day, even if it is a medication.
We’re not talking about the agent, once again; it’s talking about the person and taking that, as you said, as I say, primary-care responsibility. You are primarily in charge of taking care of yourself. You’re your own primary-care provider. You are providing care by thinking about things, by eating for an outcome, and by truly taking responsibility.
Jonathan: Holly, it gets us back to the earlier point. I love this, this is such a wonderful place to wrap this show up, because we talked early on about trying to simplify things. When you talk about making the individual primarily responsible for their care, it can also simplify this world of all this, Is this good for me, is this bad for you, is this whatever.
Because there’s a really simple test, I’ve found, that individuals can take should they choose to take the responsibility of their health into their own hands. That’s try it, does it make you feel better or worse, does it bring you further or closer to your goals? Because ultimately, I can’t tell you how many people, even in my own life, where I have done something because I read that it was right or someone told me that it was right, but it made me worse. At the end of the day, the barometer for whether or not something works for you is whether or not it actually works for you.
Holly: Yes, and in order for you to understand whether or not it actually works for you, guess what? You have to be conscious, you can’t be sleepwalking. You can’t just say to a very popular person on TV or myself, Oh, I just do everything you say; because that doesn’t get us anywhere. Feel your body, listen to your body, trust yourself, learn to trust yourself, and truly take care of yourself.
Jonathan: I love it, I love it, Holly. What’s next for you? You’re all over the place. You’re on Oz, Doctors, you’re running around spreading the goodness. Where are you going next?
Holly: I think what’s most important for me is that I stay close to my community, I keep practicing because — people say I’ve got lot of Hollyisms. Guess where I got them from? Who I am in these days, they call a brand. I get all of that from being with my patients every day that I am in my office, it comes to me. My tagline on my email says, Let’s think this through. Because after getting very curious about folks and getting all this clinical acumen, I’d push my chair back and I’m like, All right, well, let’s just think this through. I would say it over and over again. It’s not like I went to tagline school, like, I need a tagline for my brand. What’s my tagline?
It is like this is what I do, this is who I am. It’s very relaxing for me because I always trust that this stuff is inside of me. I think what’s really important for me no matter what I do, whether it’s continuing to grow in the media — and not just for me. Like you, we get this larger platform to perhaps empower people and put the dots close together so that they can connect them. Anything I do, that’s just what I want to wake up and do, every single day.
Jonathan: I love it, Holly; and I love you continuing to practice, continuing to be out there. Certainly individuals, if you happen to be in the West Hollywood area, that is where you can find Dr. Holly Lucille. If you want to learn more about her and you’re not, or even if you are in the West Hollywood area, you can check her out digitally at DrHollyLucille, and that’s L-U-C-I-L-L-E, .com. Of course, she’s all over social media. Holly, I really want to thank you for sharing your time and your insight with us today. You certainly got me smiling, and I’m sure our listeners are doing the same.
Holly: Jonathan, thank you so much for being part of this, for having me on, and just being part of power to the people.
Jonathan: Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you again, Holly. Listeners, thank you for joining us. I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did. Certainly, this week and every week after, remember to eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Talk with you soon.