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Improving Sleep Quality and Anti-Aging Tips: An Interview With Dr. Lisa Merritt

On Friday July 16th I interviewed Dr. Lisa Merritt, as we chatted about getting quality sleep and avoiding the anti-aging traps, and below is the written transcript. If you would prefer to watch the interview you can access it by clicking here [1]:

Here is the transcript:

Dr. Eric:

Happy Friday everyone. Hope everyone is having an awesome day. And with me, I have my chiropractor, Dr. Lisa Merritt. So we’re not going to talk about  chiropractic… well, it’s up to Dr. Merritt, if she wants to talk about chiropractic she could. Maybe that’s part of anti aging traps to avoid, not see a chiropractor. We’ll talk about the anti aging traps, and we’re going to talk about getting quality sleep. But let me first give a brief intro of Dr. Merritt.

So Dr. Lisa Merritt, she is an educator, mentor and founder of the Merritt Wellness Method and Weddington Chiropractic Wellness Center, which is in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since 1980, Dr. Merritt’s diverse fields of disciplines as a functional medicine physician has offered numerous healing protocols using holistic, integrative healing methods. She has over 40 plus years of experience, has many impressive credentials as she is a licensed chiropractor, board certified naturopath and board certified in acupuncture. She’s a certified HeartMath Biofeedback practitioner, certified in physical therapeutic rehabilitation and has received other trainings as well. Welcome, Dr. Merritt, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Lisa:               

Well, thank you for inviting me, Eric. We always enjoy our time together and I’m happy to be here to share the things that you and I love to do.

Dr. Eric:                

Yeah, same here, Lisa. Great to chat with you. I figured we’d start out by talking about sleep, just showing those with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and anyone else joining us on how to get better quality sleep. And then we could talk about anti aging and I know sleep plays a big role also when it comes to anti aging. And also, is there anything else you’d like to share about your background, how you got into anti aging?

Dr. Lisa:               

Well, the first thing is, is that this has been my blood, sweat and tears my whole life. I will be 65 in November, but I was raised under holistic wellness and I was fortunate to have my dad as a role model, and my mother, but he was also a chiropractor, but we had a health food store and probably my calling was very early in life. My senior year was when I worked in a nursing home, they didn’t call them senior living centers. But it really motivated me and created my calling that I had passion for what made people age gracefully, what was the attitude, what were the things that would make me see how people can age, have longevity. And at a young age of 16, I just said there’s something about this that speaks to me and I really wanted to make a difference, and not only on my life. But I think that’s when I started to know I wanted to be a doctor.

The aging has been as I’m also gradually aging, hopefully gracefully, that as a chiropractor I saw people needing the structural health, but I knew there was more going on physically and physiologically, that they needed the psychological help, the inflammatory help, that people were not healing as well, and what were the problems with their repair and that’s what led me to be more in the naturopathy, do acupuncture, study mindset with biofeedback work from HeartMath.

And it just progresses that you have to look at what I call my triangle of health approach, there’s the structural, the chemical or nutritional, and the emotional wellbeing and you can’t leave any one of those sides out. And when we see people lost on one side and not looking and troubleshooting the other, you’re not going to have that total health. We know sleep is when your body repairs. If we don’t sleep well, we’re going to be in trouble for how we function in the day, so that’s why we’re going to go into it a little more with you and everyone here today.

Dr. Eric:

That sounds great.

Dr. Lisa:               

So I’ll go into it a little bit more, that we know … your rhythm of your day. We talk about adrenal health, we talk about what happens with the hormones in our body. This is a hyperthyroid group and hypothyroid. We know that the body is racing and there’s irritability and there’s heart rate that’s just out of control with a lot of hyperthyroid and the system that doesn’t know how to slow down can’t sleep and can’t digest and can’t let the rest of the functions go because the body’s revved up all day long.

And as you have taught them so much about dietary and those habits, we know that we have to think about what our minds are doing and how we can regulate our day, our sleep schedule, even like a baby. I’ve had six babies and knowing how to help a baby go to sleep is what we need to practice too, because you want to have the end of the day start to slow down and a lot of us don’t. We’re watching TV, we are on our computers, we may have stress that we haven’t resolved in the day, the concepts of what are we talking about at the end of the day. We do that even as a baby, slow down, get music going, get the environment to settle down, dim the lights, create a setting that slows us, get a nice bath at nighttime, practice your breathing, don’t do heavy exercises at night, gentle yoga, stretching, just settle your day.

That’s something a lot of people just … They go, “Yeah, I guess I need to do that,” but it is part of our practice to then stay away from caffeine, excess alcohol. You won’t sleep well and your body won’t repair well if you’re not thinking about what are you eating at night, eating too late at night, don’t have a heavy meal at night, but include your proteins. Those are all things that gradually get us to sleep, but most people will say, “But I can’t turn my mind off.” And there’s breathing exercises, there are meditations. Counting sheep help you sleep, but that doesn’t always work if our chemistry’s off too, right?

Dr. Eric:                

Yep. Being that you’re HeartMath certified, a certified HeartMath Biofeedback practitioner, can you talk a little bit about HeartMath and how that also might be beneficial when it comes to sleep?

Dr. Lisa:               

Yes. Well, I’m not sure if you’ve talked to your group about the vagal nerve. It is the tenth cranial nerve and it’s called the vagal nerve because it’s a vagrant, it’s the longest nerve from our brain going into our body. And the vagal nerve works with digestion, it works with our thought patterns, it works with our visceral, or hits the organs in our bodies and HeartMath works with the regulation of your heart rate. And our emotions change our heart rate and the demands of our body regulate our heart rate. So blood pressure, the fast and the slow of the body, like if you have that adrenaline rush, your heart rate picks up.

So what HeartMath actually does is it’s a breathing technique, but it’s also a visual connection of watching your heart rate in a baseline, and then also what happens when we have thoughts that get out of control. So say it could be trauma or post traumatic stress or we even say sometimes you can have road rage and you know what that does to you, but with HeartMath, it is a program of learning what is your base and do you have control of just the base of what your heart rate is doing. So you regulate it by your fingertip or it can go on your ear and it’s a software that shows how your heart rate is doing.

And the thing I love about it the most is it actually makes you connect with your emotions that you might not always want to talk about and then you learn to say, “Oh yeah, look at what my heart rate does when I talk about my mother-in-law or something like that, or something like how somebody can hate their job and then what does that do, “I hate my boss,” and then you see your heart rate do that. So you learn to say, “Okay, I know how to lower my heart rate by breathing. I know how to lower my heart rate by relaxing my body. I know how to lower my heart rate by these techniques of my mindset control.” And you realistically can say, “Okay, I get stressed about this,” so you don’t get in a panic attack, you learn to settle yourself.

Maybe some of the women out there went through natural child birth and one of the greatest things in natural childbirth is you learn to control that intense labor pain by breathing and settling your body. So it’s an incredible experience to learn. I’ve had all my children via natural childbirth and you’re learning to control your breath, you’re learning to control the physical pain, but then the fear and the overwhelming experience and that’s what we learn in life. COVID, I have seen so many patients just have incredible anxiety, incredible fear, and now they’re overwhelmed with obsessive thoughts, and learning to meditate and do this breathing with the regulation of heart rate monitoring is just an incredible tool.

Dr. Eric:                

Yeah. So not only can it help with sleep, but just overall health. And again, if someone’s anxious, again, which also could prevent someone from falling asleep…

Dr. Lisa:               

Absolutely.

Dr. Eric:                

Yeah, so again … I’m very familiar with HeartMath as well, so I’m also an advocate. I have the Inner Balance and the EmWave too. I use the Inner Balance more frequently.

Dr. Lisa:               

Yeah, the cool thing about it is we could practice yoga, or Tai chi, or our prayer time, people have prayer time, and these applications are all tools that we incorporate. When I even do acupuncture with my patients, I teach them a breathing technique. I teach them some physical breathing techniques that people breathe like this and you’re supposed to belly breathe and not over use these muscles. And an interesting point about that, especially with thyroid and going back to vagal nerve tone … I know I can talk in a lot of different directions and you know that’s the way I talk, but my mind has always got a lot of exciting things to share.

But when we breathe too much with our upper body, and when we have a lot of thyroid issues and we’re shutting down a flow, our lymph system gets blocked, our muscular system is viced, our vagal nerve connection is actually on the carotid arteries, it also is blocked. Chiropractically and even therapeutically, our necks may be tight, our vertebrae are also … range of motion is resisted and so all of that connects. And so if we just think about thyroid, thyroid, thyroid, without breathing, without the vagal nerve massage … And I’ll talk about that more if you would like me to share that.

Dr. Eric:                

Sure.

Dr. Lisa:               

Belly breathing, all these things are part of what we need to just look at that segment of our body. You know what I mean? And that’s where it always comes together with people who can’t swallow, that’s also part of this tension. So there’s that structural, chemical, emotional connection for just settling your body at night. A lot of people, they stay in the fetal position for sleep, learning to relax the neck muscles with a good pillow, practicing the breathing, you’ll start to sleep better. And then learning to just have the mindset with the thought patterns.

Dr. Eric:                

All right. Thank you for sharing that. You said you were going to possibly share some vagal exercises.

Dr. Lisa:               

Well, I know you know a lot about the vagal nerve tone and vagal nerve tone exercises are really fascinating. They said that even the monks had very good vagal nerve tone, it helps with cognitive functions and peace of mind, and it’s because they chant and sing and breathe and meditate, those are all vagal nerve tone exercises.

But the vagal nerve tone exercise that’s actually on your throat, you have to do it laying down because you can make yourself pass out, so remember this. And so while I show you, I am not going to really do it on myself because I don’t want to pass out. But we do want to think that each side of your throat, you want to find that deeper area where you will feel your pulse, which is your artery. And as you’re laying down, you want to keep your fingers like three, level, don’t have your finger nails go in too deep. So that’s why I keep my nails short.

But on each side, you will either … Some people like to massage, some people like to really apply just deep pressure for 10 seconds, about 30 seconds. I like to do maybe 10 seconds. Some people have a different thought. But you do it on each side, 10 seconds, three times, and you then will feel the massage, and then you go to the other side. And you’ll do that three times, but don’t do it together, okay? And that’ll start to … just sensory nerve pickup for that vagal nerve to wake up.

Dr. Eric:                

And is there a better time of day to do it if someone’s trying to kick in that parasympathetic nervous system and try to get better sleep? Should they do it right before they go to sleep, or should they do it multiple times throughout the day?

Dr. Lisa:               

Yes. Well, of course if you’re doing it laying down, it’s great to do it maybe twice a day, if not even three times a day. The twice a day would be when you’re going to sleep and then when you’re waking up in the morning. And I like people to even practice the breathing meditation techniques, or even HeartMath, say you’re going out at night or you’re going to have dinner and it could be three, four O’clock, it’ll give you that extra pickup to tone that vagal nerve by doing that exercise.

Another crazy one that I do every morning, and I don’t know how many people out there would raise their hand, is the cold shower, is to do that. I brace myself every morning. I get my hot shower, I’m doing it, and then I’m like, “Okay, got to turn off the hot.”

Dr. Eric:                

Yep, same here. I’ve been doing that too.

Dr. Lisa:               

And you let that cold water go all over you and I count it and then brace myself to turn around and get my back. When I wash my hair, I really get that cold water.

Dr. Eric:                

Yeah, it sounds like we have the same routine.

Dr. Lisa:               

But I know that’s why those … what do they call them? The Polar Bear Club people who jump in the ice water. I mean, there’s a lot of studies about that just brain function, energy function … I mean, it tones that vagal nerve and it’s a form of discipline that you just say, “Okay, it’s in my regimen.” So I do it and I go, “Okay, I’m ready for my day.” I’m certainly woken up by that.

Dr. Eric:                

Thanks for sharing that. How about supplements, because I know people tend to go to the supplements when it comes to sleeping, melatonin and GABA, so what are your thoughts? Is there a time and place for supplementation and even medication when it comes to getting better sleep?

Dr. Lisa:               

Well, that’s a really good question because a lot of people think melatonin is always the answer and it is not always the answer. In my opinion, we need to check that cortisol level, which has an inverse relationship with melatonin. There’s some people who do not respond well with melatonin, it actually does the opposite and a lot of the autoimmune people could have that opposite.

I am also not always a person who believes in an end product of a hormone, I like to get the body to create as much of it as it can before I say to take a melatonin or other kind of hormones. So to get that cortisol and inflammation down … We know with our thyroid patients, the inflammation is just always an issue for them and you won’t have the melatonin respond because at nighttime cortisol should go down and melatonin should go up and if you’re not in that regulation, then your body’s fighting, using melatonin. Do you agree with that?

Dr. Eric:                

Yeah, I would agree. And what you mentioned earlier about your environment, dimming the lights at night, just make sure your room’s completely dark when going to sleep, those things could help greatly with your body’s own production of melatonin.

Dr. Lisa:               

Yes. And we know at nighttime our body is in the major detoxification and repair time, so taking the wrong supplements or having the wrong diet and you’re not detoxifying at night. And if your blood sugar is not balanced, then you’re also not sleeping well at night. And we know our thyroid patients are not detoxifying and synthesizing their hormones the same, so doing the antiinflammatory and detoxification is going to actually help you sleep better at night and you won’t awaken so much.

The worst thing that I … It’s so hard to get people off of those sleep medications because Ambien is just so dependent and the body has gotten so used to it. And the more your body gets used to something on a chemical, synthetic level, it doesn’t know how to respond and work on its own, because you keep on switching and demand it to go to sleep and it doesn’t know how to reset. But the Ambien patients are never getting REM and REM sleep is when we are still and calm and our body is in deeper time to repair and our body is in deeper time to also help the brain heal and allows the memory and cognitive functions to occur.

So I like magnesium, I test magnesium. If your magnesium levels … and Dr. Osansky knows that when it goes below 2.0 of your blood chemistry for magnesium it’s been like that a while then. So we want that magnesium to be in the system. And I like valerian, I like chamomile teas if you’re not allergic to chamomile. I do think CBD has helped many people sleep better. And those calming teas are very helpful, and hydration.

Dr. Eric:                

How about essential oils?

Dr. Lisa:               

Yes, I love essential oils. The valerian oils, the calming oils-

Dr. Eric:                

Lavender?

Dr. Lisa:               

I use Young Living, I like the Stress Away. Frankincense has helped, which is also Boswellia. The proper B vitamins. Our adaptogenic process is very good to get the body to know how to help that, that time to get the adrenals to shut down and give you the cortisol for the nighttime balance.

Blood sugar is super important. People who can’t go to sleep and have hard time going to sleep, we know that that could be more on the hyperglycemic side, on insulin resistance. Having a little protein will help you keep those carbs lower, no sugar, no synthetic sugar. People say, “Well, it’s no sugar.” I’m like, “No, your brain thinks it got sugar, not a good idea.” People who wake up in the night, it can be a hypoadrenal response, you may need a little protein before bedtime to help you not wake up in the night, that brain needs fuel. So I don’t know if any of your people tried even the glass of water with a little grade B maple syrup sometimes helps them go back to sleep. Those are some things just to pick up the blood sugar a little bit in the middle of the night.

Dr. Eric:                

Okay, great tips. Thank you again for sharing. And I want to make sure we have time to dive into those anti aging traps that I told everybody that we’re going to have you discuss. So what are some of the anti aging traps that people could avoid, so when they turn 64 or 65 they can look just as great as you do?

Dr. Lisa:               

Thank you. My biggest thing, I have been writing my courses and building my vision of how I’m going to speak to people more and more about anti aging and I really … Like I said, that’s structural, chemical, emotional, but the fear of aging is the biggest thing I want people to battle. If you’re so afraid of aging, then you’re not living and you need to be smart. People start to freak out with aging when it starts to get to be too late. We need to think about how our body is at 30. I love teaching the young people, don’t wait till your body starts to shut down, learn the signs it’s giving you.

And so I also just really want people to embrace living and balance their living. Live and love and laugh and humor, and try not to stay so much that you can’t focus on the special things, don’t wait for bucket lists to be too late. My grandmother wrote once that we work so hard and we fail and save and we’re not thinking about what are we doing today to enjoy and embrace it. And you don’t want to be foolish and say, “Well, I’m living for today,” but you do want to savor each moment and think of your day on the good things, even 10 minutes of gratitude and little sharing in moments and laughter. I just think that we know laughter and peace of mind, it heals our immune system, it makes our bodies healthier, it helps our white blood cells just invigorate.

I love hearing older people talk about the things that they tell you is to resolve your issues, tell people you love them. Don’t wait so late in life with grudges, and let go of things and resolve it and share your thoughts today.

But aging is not just hiding and being an ostrich. What am I doing today? Do I have good instincts? We’re always trying to teach our patients about healthy diet and eating vegetables and getting exercise, but if we don’t keep that in check … You want good instincts. Am I moving my body? Am I sitting too long? Am I eating the colors of the rainbow? Am I eating healthy? Or do I have apathy that I don’t want to cook, I don’t have energy to cook? There’s so many people who don’t know how to cook. It’s not that hard, you don’t have to be that fancy. It’s just basically start getting it all … get your pantry full of good groceries.

And I think you learn from your ancestries. I have patients that … The American diet is sad, the standard American diet. What are people eating that their ancestries ate? Go back even to the Mediterranean diet or the Asian diet or the Middle-Eastern diet. What was it that they ate that kept them healthy? And there was a reason, it’s because it was fresh, there was a healthy oil, there was the healthier grains, it wasn’t processed. So those chemicals that are in it, the preservatives that are in it, we need to try to get back to those roots.

Dr. Eric:                

So it sounds like a lot of the basics need to be incorporated. So for those expecting you to talk about taking DHEA and resveratrol and other anti aging agents … I’m not saying there’s not a time and place for these, but I think there’s also a lot of hype with some of the natural agents to promote anti aging, but you could take all the resveratrol you want, all the DHEA… well, you don’t want to take a lot of DHEA since it’s a hormone. But point is you want to eat well, manage your stress, get proper sleep as we were talking about, or Dr. Lisa was talking about earlier. And you had some great tips, even the gratitude journal. Just the attitude someone has on life can play a big role when it comes to slowing down the aging process, just your outlook.

Dr. Lisa: 

Well, I take supplements, but that’s what we want to remember, they are called supplements. The nutraceuticals that are given to us now are not just vitamins, they’re not just minerals, they’re not just herbals. The research that I have seen over the last 40 years is now have so many wonderful co-factors of adding these herbs or putting this together, or adding hydrochloric acid so you absorb iron better, or adding something that works together so that you absorb it better is so much better than just one little thing at a time, so you don’t have to take a multitude list of tons of bottles.

I have a shake every morning, I add turmeric to it, I add vitamin D. We’re not going to get everything from the food we eat because our environment has ruined the quality. We know that broccoli doesn’t have the same amount of vitamin C as it used to 20 years ago unfortunately because of pollutants. If we all grew organic and we all had our own garden we probably … Of course, shop local, it’s better. We all know how great something freshly picked off your tree or picked off your own garden is just amazingly different, a tomato or a peach. My sister would bring mangoes. We know how delicious they are when they’re just so ripe, of course there’s so many more vitamins and minerals in them. But we do have to supplement.

It used to be the conventional doctors … Excuse me … they used to say, “Oh, you don’t need to take vitamins, just eat your diet.” But now we know, people get tested for vitamin D, people want extra B12. We need our probiotics, we’re not getting it like we used to. But we have to listen to the signs of our body, we have to look how the health of our skin is, looking at our nails, looking at our tongue, looking at how well are we digesting food, do we have heartburn, do we have bloating, do we have gas, do we move our bowels every day. Those are signs that hey, I’m not doing it.

If you’re not going to the bathroom every day, your body’s holding toxins. If you’re getting heartburn, you’re not absorbing nutrients. If you get sinus issues all the time, your body’s not flowing. If you get headaches every day, we know the body is telling you a message. So listening and not hiding it and masking it with medicines is so, so important.

Dr. Eric:

Great. So this all relates to that triangle that you mentioned. So for example you mentioned headaches and that could be chemical, that could be structural, it really could relate to any of the three aspects of the triangle. Correct?

Dr. Lisa:    

That’s right. As far as anti aging, I love when I have a patient who comes in and they could be 80 years old and they’re not on any medications, and I’m like, “Tell me.” And they’re not hiding their symptoms, it’s because you listen to their lifestyle, you listen to some of their habits and they have good instincts and they tell you what they eat. Even if they’re home alone, they cook and they eat fresh and they make sure that they are planning their meals. And they get out and they walk and they still stimulate their brains. The people that are aging gracefully are the ones who are still so proactive. And they’ve been proactive, it’s just natural in their … It’s not just genetics.

Our genetics will help us live longer, but our lifestyle is what keeps us living longer, so healthy lifestyle is that triangle approach. And the ones that are on so many medications, where they’re on one medication and then they’re on another because they may have a side effect, and then they’re on another because of the side effect, and then they’re on eight different medications. And then you can just tell, they don’t have energy, they don’t feel good, they don’t sleep good, they have body aches and pains and they’re not moving and they’re overweight, or they’re not sharp and they’re not happy either.

The ones that are aging gracefully … When I told you I was a young girl going to this nursing home, I had the job of going into … This is what they titled me was I was an assistant recreational director. So when they didn’t want to play bingo or go watch movies, I had to go talk to the people who didn’t want to leave their room, or they couldn’t leave their room, and I saw attitude, not just illness, the ones who were lonely, the ones who had no one come visit them.

And I saw the ones that everybody wanted to visit them, and maybe they were sicker but they wanted to visit them, they still told jokes. It was just amazing to just say, “I want to be like that,” and I hope I will. I want to be that cute little old lady who’s still dancing, right? And you want to be around those kind of people, you don’t want to be around negative people, you want to be around people … That’s why you and I like to get together, you want to be around people that are magnifying and who stimulate your brain, and who are positive and not toxic in your life.

Dr. Eric:

Yep. I definitely agree with that. Exercise, I wanted to talk a little bit about exercise. Does it make a difference what type of exercise? These days a lot of people are promoting high intensity interval training, then there’s just regular cardiovascular exercise such as general walking, weight-bearing exercises. Do you recommend a combination of everything?

Dr. Lisa:   

Well, that’s great a question too, but of course, it all depends on the person. The problem is, is things get to be a fad and we know the fad diets, there’s fad exercises, there’s fad activities that people just … The media and good advertising will just make you feel like you’ve got to be like this, the hottest thing that’s out there. We have to be careful, you have to listen to your body.

There are times that I’ll have patients who I can’t tell they’re the slower movers and I need to get them to move a little more. They tell me … This is a whole other topic, but there could be the person who’s the go, go, go and they would be my marathon, triathlon, they just get on that treadmill and they just don’t stop. And guess what I ask them? “So tell me, do you ever just stretch and would you ever consider yoga?” I could already see them go, “I knew you were going to ask me that.”

And then I talk to the people that do … They’ll say, “No, I hate yoga,” or, “I can’t stand people who do Tai chi, it’s too slow,” and I know they need that. And then there are those that go too slow and I’ll say, “Do you ever try to push that slow walk into a faster walk and move your body?” “Oh no, I never do that and that’s too much to me.” But then you know you’ve got to pump it a little bit more. So those are just different people that have to learn the balance and pacing.

And then we have muscular skeletal issues that maybe people will say, “I can’t do it because of my knees,” right? Well, that’s an excuse, because you could swim, you could do other things. So there’s no excuse for not getting movement. And then there are those that would tell me, “I don’t want to exercise because I work too much, I don’t have time.” So setting time for exercise is very important. And then if you have a lot of muscle aches…why are you getting muscle spasms? Could it be some of the thyroid problems? Could it be some of the issues of posture? So the dos and why’s of people’s lives are so important. Does that answer your question?

Dr. Eric: 

Yes, it does, thank you. What are your thoughts on fasting because again there has been research, more so on animal studies on caloric restriction. Intermittent fasting, a lot of people, including myself, I do intermittent fasting too. When you’re eating, you want to eat whole, healthy foods, try to eat organic whenever possible, but how about going longer periods of time, like 14, 16, 18 hours without eating?

Dr. Lisa:  

There’s times we instinctively may go through … We may not feel like we’re hungry and the body is telling you it doesn’t have to eat as much, so we do want to listen to that. And Eric, you and I probably haven’t talked about it enough, but there are debates about if the adrenal glands can handle intermittent fasting.

Dr. Eric:   

That is a good point, yeah.

Dr. Lisa: 

Some people just can’t do that. It’s too much.

Dr. Eric: 

Agreed.

Dr. Lisa: 

Their body’s not ready. It’s just like any other kind of fasting, you don’t just want to shut your body down if it doesn’t have the ability to have that resource to provide that repair time because it’s a shock. People do lose weight with intermittent fasting just because they knock out calories, they have to do it the right way.

I think not eating dinner too late and having a little bit of a breakfast, I think it’s still important, we do call it break fast. I like the Mediterranean diet of having the bigger lunch is healthier on our body and easier breakfast and easier dinner. But I don’t think everybody it’s always the greatest for intermittent fasting in my opinion.

Dr. Eric:  

Yeah, and I agree. Most of my patients I don’t recommend intermittent fasting for the reason you mentioned, because a lot of people have compromised adrenals. And of course, if someone has hypoglycemia or even for my hyperthyroid patients, when I dealt with Graves’ I lost 42 pounds, so definitely at that time I was not looking into intermittent fasting. But I always bring it up, because again, when it comes to anti aging, in the literature there is some evidence with caloric restriction, fasting and aging. But if you’re in a healthier state, maybe. If you’re still trying to restore the health of your adrenals, have blood sugar imbalances, probably not.

Dr. Lisa: 

Well, I think it’s just like any other kind of fasting. We talk about putting our patients on a cleanse or a detox, but I have found that it’s very important to educate about the pre fasting and the post fasting, because you don’t want to get your body to all of a sudden say, “Well, I’m fasting tomorrow, so let me have this giant spaghetti meal,” or, “Let’s go to the ice cream store tonight because I’m fasting tomorrow,” or vice versa, “I’m ending my fast and I can’t wait to do everything I hadn’t done all month.” It’s that prep before and that prep after that I think really just …

If you’re just always really balanced, you don’t have to do a lot of crazy stuff. You should know that you can enjoy a great thanksgiving dinner, you can enjoy a birthday party, but it’s that moderation and knowing when you should or shouldn’t and not get overwhelmed with it. A lot of patients who are trying to lose weight, they go through that time of like, “Well, I blew my diet, I might as well forget it,” and they just don’t forgive themselves and get back on track. And it goes through that mindset thing I was talking about again. We can’t do a detox properly if you don’t prep right and you can’t undetox if you don’t just really learn in the long run what you should be doing all the time.

I had a patient who told me, “I do your detox every year that you bring it up,” and then when we review what they’ve normally been eating he goes, “I’m always a little better than the year before.” And my encouragement is to try to say, “But why can’t you just keep it balanced all the time and 90%, 95% just be healthy? What is it that you want or what is it that makes you want the junk food so bad? What is it that makes you slide that you can’t …”

We want to have a balanced diet. I don’t get it because my instinct is I want to have a healthy meal, even if I’m quick grabbing something. My healthy meal would be I’m going to take a piece of turkey and carrot and celery, that’s what I’ll have, it won’t be chips, it won’t be a cookie. And my leftovers are a healthy meal, I’ll eat some leftover green beans and things like that. It’s just what are we reaching for? A handful of pecans, something like that holds me over instead of saying, “Oh, I haven’t eaten, let me grab a Coke, Coca-Cola.” It’s not my instinct.

Dr. Eric:  

Yeah, I get it. I agree. Before we answer some questions, because it looks like there’s a bunch of questions, is there anything else you’d like to mention when it comes to either sleep or anti aging, or both?

Dr. Lisa: 

I think that we know that sleep is something … I was doing a lot of sleep study and I was involved in a group for a while. Before I said my niche was about anti aging, I realized that sleep problems is very dark, it’s a very dismal world, and the people that suffer from sleep hide it and they don’t tell people all day. And so I saw the madness of it and I felt really … I had such compassion about that world of people not talking about why they’ll do anything to sleep better. It’s almost like the addiction of I’ve got to sleep because you know people who are a deficit of sleep, they do go crazy. You can’t think anymore, your moods won’t be balanced.

And I think it’s very important to keep a journal about your day and journaling is to think about the why’s of why you’re not sleeping, your troubleshooting, did I exercise? What happened in my thought process? What did I eat? And if you’re not going to sleep, you’re going to age. And if you don’t give your body the patterns of sleeping, a regular sleep schedule … I work my hours, but I basically wake up the same time every day. We want the same sleep schedule. Everybody, once in a while, stays up real late, but sleeping in and getting your clock off …

It’s just like I said, with a baby, if you want to teach a baby good sleep, you have to have a good schedule for them, because they’ll get off kilter and our bodies are the same way at no matter what age, if you’re 30, 50, 80, if you’re not sleeping like you would on a regular basis. So you want to try to have that same schedule. There are people who say, “I don’t even try to start thinking about going to sleep until 11 O’clock at night,” and you’re keeping that TV on for that favorite show or whatever routine you’re doing, I really advise you to try to shut down your life around that time and get your schedule regular as best you can.

Dr. Eric:  

All right, great advice. And again, thank you for sharing everything with everyone attending. Before we jump to the questions again, people could find you at … Is it weddingtonwellness.com as far as your practice website?

Dr. Lisa: 

Yes, weddingtonwellness.com.

Dr. Eric:   

Of course, I know the name of the practice, just not the website… I just drive there because I’m in Charlotte too, I don’t go to the website… But yeah, weddingtonwellness.com, and if you need an awesome chiropractor, again, see Dr. Lisa.

Dr. Lisa:

And we do acupuncture. Dr. Osansky does the chemical side of things, so let him work with you on your blood chemistry, on your testing, let him keep on teaching you because I totally … We meet up as colleagues and as friends and we have very like-minded thoughts and protocols. My brick and mortar setting is there for you if you want to come and see me in Charlotte.

Dr. Eric:

All right, wonderful. And then also your group is Fearless Aging, right? You have a Facebook group and the name is Fearless Aging?

Dr. Lisa:  

Yes. It is primarily a women’s group. I am letting women who are 30 in my group because I don’t want them to freak out with the first wrinkle or the first gray hair and I don’t want them to start thinking they need to do Botox and all this crazy expense on their skin. I wash my face with soap and I use a very mild soap that’s got olive oil and clay and natural things, I don’t use fancy lotions. I hydrate, I eat a lot of olive oil, I love my fish, I take fish oils. So your skin and your eyes and your hearing and your teeth … There’s times I think, “Oh, I need to get rid of the wrinkles,” but those things are … I want the smile wrinkles, right?

Dr. Eric:

All right, yes.

Dr. Lisa: 

People just need to get back to some of the basics again.

Dr. Eric:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I definitely agree with that. All right. Well, thanks again and let’s see what questions we have … I think this first one relates to sleep. We have Darrell who has Graves’ disease. Blood tests are normal. Can’t sleep all night. I guess racing heart. What should we do? Also, my digestive system going, diarrhea every day. It doesn’t make any sense. I’d like to hear your thought. It sounds like digestion is … Maybe a comprehensive stool panel, there could be other things going on, even SIBO. Sometimes small intestinal bacteria overgrowth can present with diarrhea, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dr. Lisa: 

Well, like we talked about, the diarrhea, it could definitely be a gut infection. It could be that Graves’ just making your sympathetic system on go. It could be that you may need to have those gut repairs to get the stool to see if you do have any dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of your good bacteria versus the bad bacteria. You might have a need for the probiotics and repair the gut. Diarrhea is a very … I don’t know if you are looking at your diet of what you’re eating, are you consuming caffeine, looking if you’re having any help with your Graves’ disease.

Talking to Dr. Osansky is very important for you to get some ideas of how your body … I don’t know if any of the pointers I gave you on what you’re doing at night and your breathing practices, but definitely get your digestive system checked, definitely see if your nervous system … acupuncture helps with that, the vagal nerve tone exercises, the meditations. I don’t know what else you’re doing. You certainly don’t want to keep on taking stuff that would be a … the brain health, your brain motility may just be overactive as well.

Dr. Eric:  

Yeah. I agree with Dr. Lisa. But I’ve only got one thing to mention because you say even though you have Graves’ your blood test is normal, so I assume your thyroid hormone levels are looking good, so that’s probably not what’s keeping you up at night. But also parasites, potentially. There’s a lot of things as Dr. Lisa said that could cause diarrhea, but when you mention the racing at night, sometimes infections also could cause problems with sleep, can cause heart racing. I dealt with chronic Lyme disease so I had some of those symptoms, not the diarrhea but some of the other symptoms. I’m not saying you have Lyme, Darrell, but again, parasites, or it could be another type of infection, possibly…just something to consider.

Dr. Lisa: 

And honestly, Darrell, a lot of people think their blood tests are normal. We talk about the functional ranges versus the conventional lab ranges. It’s amazing how many people say, “They said I’m normal,” and then when a functional medicine doctor, like Dr. Osansky and I, review the blood work, we look at so many more things that could be part of a pattern or a warning sign that is on those ranges that are not quite viewed as what we would say as normal. So you really do need a functional medicine doctor to look at the ranges that are normal and outside of even just the thyroid being normal. We want to look at these other lab tests that might give us more indications of what’s happening, like even your adrenal functions, because that, having Graves’ disease or auto-immunities, we could be seeing this as part of it for you.

Dr. Eric: 

Yep, I agree. Thanks for sharing that. And this is just a thank you for having Dr. Lisa here. And yes, I’m thrilled that we’re able to get her on as well. So Darrell asked another question, “Will this all go away or will we have this forever?”

Dr. Lisa:  

Darrell, I know, you feel very dismal about it and losing … Your diarrhea, you are not getting nutrients and you’re malabsorbing, so we have to look and see about that gut infection, because the whole thing with digestion is either are you absorbing nutrients or are you holding toxins. And if you are not absorbing nutrients, all your body is going to just fight you and degenerate. So getting the control of the diarrhea is very, very important.

Dr. Eric:  

Yeah, I agree, that’s definitely important.

Dr. Lisa:

So many things to check.

Dr. Eric:

All right. And then Ramin asks, “How do we learn more about all this?” With anti aging, again, well, I was going to say your website, but it’s for women, you said it’s mainly for women. Do you have anything on your website or any other resources if there are men who are looking for anti-aging tips

Dr. Lisa: 

Well, they can certainly work with you. I am building my website for my virtual course, but that still is building for that. But my weddingtonwellness.com is the avenue for those who want my nutritional and structural, chemical, emotional approach. So I do see people virtually and I’d be happy to do that. But as respect to my friend, Dr. Osansky, he does all these things that can give you even more insight about your chemical needs and nutritional needs.

Dr. Eric:  

All right, great. Thank you. What was the name of the vagal exercise around the neck?

Dr. Lisa: 

You could even just Google vagal nerve tone exercises and it will talk about the vagal nerve massage. It’s funny because in my vagal nerve tone courses that we’ve gone to, Eric, they will talk about different pressures. And then when I was taking it in other courses, because I do some primitive reflex work with the MNRI program, they talk about vagal nerve tone and everybody’s got a couple different nuance of how you do vagal nerve tone.

But like I said, do not do it standing up. The massage can either be a total pressure and you do it three times. It can also be a massage itself. And I found many times with my thyroid patients that they do have a blockage on one side more, definitely sensitivity on one side more, and that’s almost the side that needs more stimulus because that nerve itself is more deadened and needs stimulus. I had an article that I wrote about vagal nerve tone exercises. I could share that and Dr. Osansky can give that to the group, if you want, Eric.

Dr. Eric: 

Yeah, that would be wonderful. You could post it, you’re a member of the group too.

Dr. Lisa:

Okay.

Dr. Eric:

I’m probably going to be looking at it as well.

Dr. Lisa: 

I don’t know, have you ever done a blog on it, because maybe you can share that too?

Dr. Eric:

Yeah. Different types of vagal nerve exercises, not the one you described. But I do have an article that I wrote on the vagus nerve and yeah, I could definitely include that as well.

Dr. Lisa: 

I even like Stephen Porges’s work. He did the Polyvagal Theory, which is more than just vagal nerve tone. It was a very impressive book about how much learning disabilities and autism and cognitive and Alzheimer’s are tied together with this disconnect of brain to the rest of the body. So the Polyvagal Theory is a book by Stephen Porges that I would recommend.

Dr. Eric:

All right, great. Thank you for that as well. Anita asks, “I heard that humming can stimulate the vagus nerve?”

Dr. Lisa:

Yeah, humming’s another one. That’s why I was saying that about chanting and humming, and those are all fun and happy things to do. They say when you go driving down in your car, you should be singing really loud. There is vibrational music that also increases more vagal nerve tone. These are all things that connect to our brain, brain exercises. I could go in so many directions, color therapies, those are all frequencies in our body.

Dr. Eric:   

Yeah, and singing loud, not just humming, but singing loud stimulates the vagus nerve, vigorous gargling, coffee enemas, things like that.

Dr. Lisa:

So singing in the shower really loud and cold water, you could accomplish a lot at that whole time.

Dr. Eric: 

Yeah. All right, I think this is a response to Darrell, just another user mentioning with the diarrhea, could it be SIBO or SIFO, small intestinal fungal overgrowth, and it’s possible. Again, that’s where it gets challenging, with diarrhea, it could be a number of different factors.

Dr. Lisa:  

Yes. And Darrell, SIBO is a very difficult diet, it is. It does require sometimes a medication. It does not always remedy just with a herbal therapy. I don’t know if Dr. Osansky agrees with that, sometimes you’ve really got to get that. SIBO is the small intestine bacteria overgrowth. You want to get those patients back to a normal diet as much as possible because it eliminates so many healthy foods that SIBO, it’s a bear to work on, but you need to be tested for it. And one of the big SIBO signs is after you eat, your stomach blows up like a big beach ball. It’s not just a little bloating, it’s like a helium balloon blow up. Right, Eric, that’s what you would say as one of the given signs?

Dr. Eric:

Well, everybody’s different, not everybody will present with that. I do agree some people do need to take Rifaximin or Xifaxan, it really depends. With diarrhea, it’s usually more hydrogen dominant. There’s methane dominant SIBO, hydrogen dominant SIBO. So usually when it’s diarrhea, it’s more hydrogen dominant, which is easier to treat. It’s not easy to treat, but when compared to methane dominant. Methane dominant SIBO, if someone were to take an antibiotic approach, usually they’d need to take two antibiotics, usually they’d take Rifaximin and then maybe something like Neomycin, but it really depends.

I do like to start people with an herbal approach, and one reason also is because if they can’t get the Rifaximin covered by insurance it is very expensive. But besides that also, I guess with my background, I just try to go natural whenever possible. But sometimes, you’re right, sometimes the herbs don’t work, they’re not effective and then they’ll need to take a look at antibiotics.

Dr. Lisa:

The biggest thing is get tested. Get tested and do that breath test. It’s not just found so easy. Even H. pylori is not always just found by blood, you have to get a good stool test. I like the three day sample, I don’t know about you, Dr. Osansky, if you do stool testing and you get a three day sample. What do you like to do?

Dr. Eric:

I used to. When I was using Genova Diagnostics and Doctor’s Data, I used to have patients do the three day samples compared to the one day sample. More recently over the last few years, I’ve been using the GI-MAP from Diagnostic Solutions because it’s DNA-based.

Dr. Lisa:

I’ve done both.

Dr. Eric: 

But yeah, if there’s the option of doing one day versus three day I’d go with the three day… and I think with Genova and Doctor’s Data, I’m not sure, but I think it’s the same price if you do three samples compared to one. And even if you have to pay a little bit more, it probably is more worth it, because again, that’s the downside of stool testing is false negatives are common.

Dr. Lisa:

Right. And then even some blood testing can be false negatives. But the SIBO test, it is something that the breath is a good test to get that will define it.

Dr. Eric: 

Yeah. It’s not perfect either, but there’s no perfect test. So I agree, I do like the SIBO breath test as well, because again, otherwise you’re just guessing. If it’s negative and …someone mentioned SIFO and that can get challenging because that won’t present as being positive if someone’s doing a SIBO test, because with SIFO, there’s really no great diagnostic test. But I agree, if you’re suspecting SIBO, it’s a good idea to do a breath test, then, if it’s positive, then of course treat, if not, you might have to dig a little bit deeper.

And a few people (in the comments) mentioning Graves’ don’t need to fast, nobody with Graves’ needs to fast. So I agree, even though I will say the majority of people with Graves’ and hyperthyroidism Graves’ are losing weight, but some people do gain weight. Now, with that being said, I still wouldn’t say to fast, even if they’re gaining weight with Graves’. And even if someone has Hashimoto’s, as Dr. Lisa was saying, a lot of people have compromised adrenals and really if you’re going to consider intermittent fasting at all, you would want to restore the health of the adrenals. And if they have blood sugar issues, especially more so hypoglycemia than hyperglycemia, then that’s another reason why you wouldn’t consider intermittent fasting or any type of fasting really.

Dr. Lisa:   

Right.

Dr. Eric: 

Okay. Another question from Darrell, when I go to the bathroom and have a bowel movement, every morning my nose runs like a faucet. Any idea?

Dr. Lisa:   

In Chinese medicine, the large intestine and your mucous membranes are in their mind the same, and so you want to help large intestine, you help sinuses. And so this could be a little connection for you, but it is the body trying to … This mucous is trying to release from your body. I don’t want to get into too much detail with you about your diarrhea, but if there’s mucous and maybe the mucous here, and it could be that sympathetic response of the body trying to rid and letting the poisons out of your body. If you haven’t got a good functional medicine doctor helping you, Darrell, I highly recommend one … A lot our questions sounds like you need somebody to dive in a little deeper for you particularly.

Dr. Eric:

Yeah. We’re both going to be biased because we’re functional medicine practitioners, but yeah … I mean, there’s a lot you could do on your own with diet and stress management and some of the vagus nerve exercises and just keeping active, but there’s definitely a time and a place for working with someone one on one, so I agree it’s something to consider. Let’s make this the last question because we’ve been going well over an hour here. “I’m wondering about Graves’ and sports. My heart rates are very high when in activity. It takes time to go back to normal, so I stopped exercising since I’m not sure if it’s good. Any cure for that? We need more of this types of discussions.”

So yeah, that’s one thing with Graves’, I would be cautious when it comes to … I mean, really anybody. Like Dr. Lisa was also mentioning, there are people who go too slow, but then there’s definitely people who over train. But with Graves’, when you have an elevated heart rate, you want to be especially cautious when it comes to doing any type of cardiovascular exercise. I would say most people could do light walking, some light weight-bearing exercise, but a lot of people, even just jogging, that’s not high intensity interval training, but still, for some people it’s probably a good idea just to take a break if you do a run every morning and you have Graves’.

Dr. Lisa: 

And it’s the time of day. I mean, what time of day are you … This Facebook question is if you’re that person who’s exercising late at night, especially with Graves’, I wouldn’t have, the body can’t shut down that fast. And I know it’s hard to think about a better time of day for you to exercise, but maybe that might make a difference for you to feel like your body settles at night to heal and rest and get into a better rhythm for your sleep and for your body to heal. But the same thing goes with you’ve got to know maybe some of those vagal nerve tone things and learning heart rate might be an exercise that is part of the practice that you may need.

Dr. Eric:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Dr. Lisa: 

There’s never one answer to everything and we all want to have one answer and we all wish there could be that miracle answer. And sometimes that one answer is the answer and one time … I know that and Dr. Osansky probably agrees. I had a patient with pancreatic cancer and had part of her pancreas removed and I was a young doctor and I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is going to be a really, really hard case for me.” This was 35 years ago or something and I thought, “Wow. Okay, I’m going to do my best.” And I was thinking I might not do very well, but I gave this patient a protocol and thought it was going to be one of my hardest, it turned out to be one of the best. I gave her some pancreatic enzymes. She didn’t need my help for many, many years later until she went into menopause. And I always thought to myself, “Wow, that was an easy one. She responded differently.”

And then sometimes we may have a migraine patient that is very detailed, very involved and a lot of things that you wish you could just snap it and help them and there’s more layers to unravel. We are doctors that have to find a protocol, sometimes we nip it and we find it and we’ve got the nail on the head for that patient and definitely have our priorities of what we decide is the first step, second step, what phase is best for that person. And just like any kind of thing, we have an educated trial and error. We know what we want to do, but there are different nuances that are involved that have to have us know what step to take. Like with the gentleman about the diarrhea, there’s a lot of little things that we were already thinking, but we don’t know this, we don’t that, we haven’t met you, we haven’t seen other things. You want a doctor who is passionate with their work, dedicated to their work, who is a curious doctor.

And I would definitely say Dr. Osansky and hopefully I would say that I’m a humble doctor. I am always looking at finding the answers. I want to say that I don’t always get to help everybody, but my integrity and my passion and my just finding the answers … and functional medicine definitely gives you a lot more avenues, so many more avenues. It’s not like well, we’re just going to do surgery, or well, we’re just going to do this medicine. There are so many little tangents that people are hungry for, people are wanting more answers.

We as doctors in our field of natural medicine, drugs and surgery are last and that’s just … You want to get to it before it gets so bad. And all of you out there, we want to inspire you to listen to your body. Get somebody who’s an extra brain. Obviously this patient or this person, Darrell, you have great knowledge, get an extra brain from somebody like Dr. Osansky and I. You need that extra brain. We all need that extra brain, all of us do. And get the answers for yourself.

Dr. Eric:

This is just a followup from that other person who’s saying they’re doing meditation, they’re actually doing acupuncture which is helping.

Dr. Lisa: 

Yes.

Dr. Eric: 

Which is great. You are very welcome, Darrell. We appreciate you. We appreciate everyone asking questions and showing up on this Friday. Thank you so much. Thanks for attending. And thank you Dr. Lisa for sharing-

Dr. Lisa: 

Thank you.

Dr. Eric: 

… and going over time. I appreciate you sticking around to answer questions, I know you have a busy schedule and we all appreciate it.

Dr. Lisa:

Well, I’ll be happy to come back on any time you want. You know you and I love to talk. Dr. Osansky and I will have lunch together and he keeps me on my watch, he goes, “What time do you have to get back?” because we’ve gone over before and I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” So we always eat close by and he gets me back to my office because I like to chit-chat quite a bit with him.

Dr. Eric:

Yeah, we have a good time when we talk. Yeah, all right. Well, I’m going to wrap this up and let everybody enjoy the rest of their Friday and I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead. And same with you, I hope you, Dr. Lisa, have a great Friday, a great Saturday and Sunday.

Dr. Lisa:

Thank you.

Dr. Eric: 

And yeah, look forward to doing lunch with you again.

Dr. Lisa: 

All right. Take care everyone. Bye-bye.

Dr. Eric: 

Bye. Take care everyone.

Note: I mentioned a blog post on the vagus nerve I previously wrote, and you can access it by Clicking Here [2]