Hello! My name is Heather Rae. I’m a new contributor to Naturopathic Earth. I will soon be starting my own blog series on Naturopathic Earth entitled “Heather’s Holistic Haven of Health.” Gregory and I are very simpatico on our views of optimizing one’s health through alternative medicine, naturopathy, clean eating, and investigating biohacks that might be eschewed or looked askance by allopathic adherents. I wanted to give you a quick introduction as to my background, credentials, and overall passion for holistic health.
Holistic Haven of Health
In the summer of 2016, I opened a wellness retreat in an 1880 house that I had been renovating for several years in Midcoast Maine. It’s called The Wellness Spot. It’s an airy uncluttered space, with luxury cotton linens and toxin-free personal care products. I make the laundry soap from scratch, using essential oils of jasmine and lemongrass.
This upcoming year, at The Wellness Spot will be yoga and energy work, in addition to the infrared sauna and treatments like heart rate variability and biofeedback. Flying Fox Juice Bar in Portland, will serve up guests’ fresh-made green smoothies and detox green drinks, and there will be Cup of Sea’s nutritious teas, blended with Maine seaweeds which are loaded with minerals, omegas, anti-oxidants and essential amino acids.
Listen to a great Holistic Health News episodes on how Sauna’s May Reduce Your All-Cause Mortality by 66%!
By time I hosted my last guests for the 2018 season, I was certified in green building and as an integrative nutrition health coach. I had invested significant brain matter in obtaining a certification in functional nutrition genomic analysis, a cutting-edge and ever-evolving discipline that evaluates the function of enzymes in metabolic pathways. By next season, I will be certified in heart rate variability.
There will be electro-magnetic frequency and other vibrational medicine modalities, too. The idea behind all of these things, from real food to laboratory testing and novel therapies, is to show health-seekers how to become their own health detectives.
What Do You Do?!
The problem is, who, outside of my bubble, has heard of a health coach? And, who — in the US, anyway — has ever heard of a wellness retreat? And who out there wants to take ownership of their own health? Very few people get it when I describe “nutrition” and “genetic variants” (“Sounds mystical,” someone told me yesterday; “no,” I replied, “it’s biochemistry!” He smiled, “you are very passionate about what you do,” which I know, going into my fifth decade on this planet, is a polite kiss-off. What I hear is, “you are woo-woo; please go away.”)
A couple guests at The Wellness Spot thought the retreat was an institutionalized drug rehabilitation program but booked to stay a couple days, knowing that it wasn’t. They had a peaceful get-away, and talked a lot (a lot, a lot!) about addictions, suicides, financial ruin, divorces. (It can be exhausting for me to hear these intense personal stories in passing at the retreat; I am working on my own boundary issues…) “Do I offer manicures and facials?” (No.) “Is this cancer detox therapy?” (No.) Well…not directly but overall naturopathic practices can certainly help with the prevention and possible treatment of various cancers.
Listen to this Holistic Health News Podcast on Long-Suppressed Alternative Treatments For Cancer.
What I do is teach how to use nutrition and other tools to support function. Those tools include software to identify how you, as an individual, can cope with inflammatory triggers, and how well you can clear toxins. I don’t diagnose or treat disease, and actually prefer not knowing what DX a doctor has given a person.
I personally don’t take any medications, and am impressed the way so many people rattle off the names of their diagnoses, along with the names of their medications. (This part of science, people seem to be willing to embrace.) What I want to help people do, for themselves, is figure out the “why?” of root causes, rather than the what of symptoms. Here in That is one of the fundamental differences between holistic/naturopathic principles and your typical Med School-trained allopath. They mostly just treat the symptoms without asking the “why.” And they normally treat it with drugs.
The Marvel of Methylation
Several years ago, a functional health practitioner leaned across her desk and said with earnest, “methylation.” (It was like “The Graduate:” ‘I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Plastics.’) Only, her one word was, methylation.
I had no idea but that was, but it sounded intriguing and important, especially the way she said it, so I dug into it. In the process, I learned why my hair went white in my early 30s, why I get stuck in flight/fight and anxiety, and why eating any form of glutamate slays me flat out feeling like I am going to die. (Which is how I am writing this now, on my back with an intense headache, sweating, and bouts of nausea, because last night, I ate some chicken with unidentified goo on it. Sometimes I kid myself that I can eat goo. I can’t.)
Looking back, if I were to ante up “just one word” it would not be methylation. It would be enzymes. Or more specifically, the electro-magnetic flow of enzymes. Check out the transcripts from a great Revolution Health Radio by Chris Kresser on methylation.
Think Outside The Box
I have been studying functional health for about six years now … and it’s not because I ever liked science. I excelled in school, but I never liked science. (To wit, in 10th grade, I posted a sign at the door of our biology class, “report to cafeteria,” which is where the teacher found her entire class. Once settled back in the classroom, she looked at me (I was a nerd, after all): “I can count on you, who’s responsible for this?”) It wasn’t that I didn’t like science; I hated science.
My husband is a chiropractor. When we met several years ago, he handed me a book by a West Coast naturopath, Dicken Weatherby, called “Functional Biochemistry” in which Weatherby explains the meanings behind standard biomarkers in laboratory blood tests. The book is filled with functional health questionnaires; they are like clues to cracking inexplicable health problem puzzles. I was at once fascinated … and pissed off that I had never seen them before.
Check this book out now below. It’s amazing!
After that, I wanted to build a functional medicine practice. My husband and I were one of the first, if not the first, to offer food, mold and additive sensitivity testing in our area, a blood test. I had been through some extraordinarily stressful events when we met, and my stomach was distended as if I were many months pregnant. (I was over 50 years old; we were perplexed!) I was not pregnant, of course. I had severe gut inflammation and hyperpermeability, and my immune system was on fire.
Since becoming a health coach, one that goes far beyond exercise and nutrition, I remain astounded at the disconnect between people and their bodies, brains and health, and how little they want to understand what makes them tick, as individuals.
The size of the disconnect is oceanic.
To be fair, I remind myself of my own mindset prior to learning about chiropractors and naturopaths and vibrational/energy medicine: as a younger person, I believed in the conventional duality of health / disease, that my status in one camp or the other would be determined by bloodwork and analyzed by a medical doctor who would diagnose and then fix me.
Cancer came down and touched you, bad luck, like pixy dust. My uncle’s lymphoma. My grandmother’s leukemia. My father’s melanoma. Metabolic syndrome “just happened to you.” Genes and bad luck. All I had to do was exercise, eat well and rely on my good genes. Only that wasn’t true, and I knew it.
Learn about Common Household Agents That Are Directly Linked To Cancer
Back then, I also believed in the fairness of institutions such as the FDA and the CDC, and corporations like Enron, and the criminal justice system. As Dr. Suzanne Humphries’ might say, these, too, were Dissolving Illusions.
Find The Source Of The Problem
Since those wide-eyed years, I have given up on conventional medicine ever helping me, because it has had no answers for the conditions that dogged me my whole life: insomnia, constipation, anxiety/depression, bouts of extreme fatigue and brain fog, unbearable PMS with heavy bleeding, heart flutters, a social shyness that could send my heart pounding through my chest, and high sensitivity to my environment, for starters. My bloodwork was never off. In earlier years, I inhaled NSAIDs for pain, took the travel vaccinations and birth control pills, only to wonder now what damage they did to my liver and brain.
In 7th grade, the social studies teacher introduced us to yoga; in college I did zen meditation, and later, tai chi and bikram yoga. It is only now that I recognize OM pranayama breathing activates the vagus nerve which stimulates the autonomic nervous system. Those breaths are an energetic, physiological, AND spiritual breathing exercise. I had gone to a chiropractor for stress years before, as well as an acupuncturist, but neither explained anything about what that they were doing.
To me, muscle testing and meridians and chakras and biofields and homeopathic remedies were mystical. I don’t believe that at all now, nor should anyone else, but visiting these practitioners without the context or understanding the basis for their discipline, training and craft was wasted on me.
This is why I became a health coach and opened a wellness retreat … to give context and understanding to tests, treatments, different healing disciplines and modalities, to build awareness of and self-efficacy in wellness care. I curated a small selection of books for the library shelf at The Wellness Spot. (I recommend Dr. Carolyn Dean’s “Magnesium Miracle,” Dr. Simon Wu’s “Accidental Cure,” and Dr. Richard Gerber’s “Vibrational Medicine.”) In short, I don’t make up this stuff: here’s the science.
See my recommendations below:
This past spring, I shared a lunch table with a woman at Lois’s, a natural food store and cafe along Route 1 in Scarborough, Maine. She was in her 60s and talked about retiring from her work as a licensed clinical social worker, saying that she was burned out and fatigued.
She said she had been working with an integrative doctor to chelate lead from her body, but it was making her feel sick (detoxing heavy metals can make anyone feel sick … you are, after all, releasing toxins into the bloodstream, which makes its way all around the body including the brain).
She asked me if I thought it was important, really, to ‘get the lead out.’ (Well, yeah). I talked a little bit about mitochondrial pathways (mindful of the kiss-off) and she responded, matter-of-factly, “I don’t like science.” She gave me her business card, so I sent her a graphic of the biochemical pathways that are the bread and butter of nutri-genomic analysis. The graphics indicate where lead can block pathways, and make you/me/anyone sick. She wrote back, “Thank you, but I don’t like science.”
I put together an adult education class on “how to be your own health detective” for the small Maine town where my great-grandfather owned a successful shoe company way back in the 30s. I was so excited to share the functional diagnostic nutrition material that I had learned from Reed Davis, and Weatherby’s questionnaires, and the class I had taken on brain health with Dr. Datis Kharrazian, and so much more.
One person signed up! I hear from business coaches of health coaches, that it is not what you know, it is what you can do for someone.
The Wellness Spot is what I can do. I can’t make people overcome their disdain for science, or re-evaluate their faith in pharmaceuticals and surgery, but I can offer up a quiet space for detoxification and spiritual renewal in the heart of Maine, and I can explain a lot of this stuff in a comfortable safe place … when people are ready!
I hope you continue reading Heather’s Holistic Haven of Health. Please feel free to shoot me a comment. Is there a future topic you would like me to cover in my Holistic Haven of Health series?
Heather Rae is a functional health coach with certifications in integrative nutrition, functional genetic analysis, and “green” building. Her practice is informed by chiropractic, traditional naturopathy, and functional, environmental and energetic medicine. Heather owns and operates The Wellness Spot, a boutique retreat for detoxification and spiritual renewal in the heart of Maine, which has hosted over 280 guests from 11 countries.