Dr. JoAnn Yanez, Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (right), joins KCAAs “On the Brink” hosts, Erin Brinker (left) and Tobin Brinker (middle) to discuss naturopathic approaches to common health concerns such as asthma and high blood pressure.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
- Addressing the root cause of illness
- Naturopathic approaches to asthma
- Naturopathic approaches to high blood pressure
- Benefits of exercise and healthy eating
- How to check on the quality of your food
- And More…
Erin Brinker: Welcome back I’m Erin Brinker.
Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin Brinker: And we are “On the Brink,” the morning show on KCAA AM 1050 FM 106.5 and FM 102.3 and I’m so pleased to welcome back to the show Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the Executive Director for the AANMC. That’s the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. She joins us once a month. She was supposed to be on last week but of course we were out of town and so she’s joining us this week. Her career has spanned advocacy, academia, naturopathic patient care, and public health. Dr. Yanez is the past chair of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health and is on the advisory board for the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions. Dr. Yanez, welcome to the show.
Tobin Brinker: Nope, I think we lost her.
Erin Brinker: I think we lost her too.
Tobin Brinker: I think we lost her.
Erin Brinker: Okay, she’ll have to call back.
Tobin Brinker: So … Uh-oh.
Erin Brinker: Okay, she’s calling back. Tobin, vamp.
Tobin Brinker: I’m vamping. So, what are you doing today? Oh, I’m not doing much I’m just having a radio show. Waiting for Erin to figure out how to make the board work. This would be a lot of fun when we get our guest on the line. Okay, I think we’re just about back.
Okay, here we go Dr. Yanez.
Erin Brinker: Alright, JoAnn can you hear me?
Dr JoAnn Yanez: I can!
Erin Brinker: Awesome!
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Alright!
Erin Brinker: I don’t know? We must have dropped you. I don’t know what happened.
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Me neither.
Erin Brinker: Me neither. I didn’t touch the phone. It wasn’t me! Technology is great until it’s not.
Dr. Yanez joins us once a month and she was supposed to be on last week but we were out of town, once a month to talk about the naturopathic approach to health. I mean so many things … The normal … I should say not normal. The traditional medicine here in the United States. You know, what you typically see when you go to the doctor, tends not to look at the whole person and the whole body, whereas naturopathic medicine does. Is that fair?
Dr JoAnn Yanez: You know I think … I’m married to conventional physician so I have to pick my words carefully.
Erin Brinker: Gotta have that marital, you know, bliss.
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Marital bliss. I think there are areas where naturopathic medicine excels. Looking at the entire person and looking at the root cause of illness is something that every ND takes as the core of our approach to patient care.
This month we put out a piece on some common health concerns that folks are dealing with. Things like fatigue, headache, and high blood pressure and other ways a person approaches these types of things. But the unifying force here is taking a look at the whole person. And just because you have a diagnosis of headache or a diagnosis of fatigue, doesn’t mean that we’re going to treat every single patient exactly in the same way. NDs are really focusing on that individualized patient care and taking a look at a person and what is the root cause of their issues.
Erin Brinker: So, you know asthma is a big issue here in Inland Empire. I think that our rates of asthma are significantly higher here than in many other places and I think it’s largely due to the way the smog from L.A. kind of gets pushed back against our mountains and just kind of sits here and also you know we are a transportation hub. So, what do you do when you live in an area that has poor air quality?
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Well, I suggest air purifiers. You try and do as much as you can to keep the quality of the air that you are breathing as clean as possible. So, air purifiers, having really good filtration systems, changing the filters in your air conditioning units very regularly. They will fill up more frequently, and even things like having plants in the home. Just having some greenery in your house to help clean your air naturally.
Erin Brinker: Oh. I hadn’t thought about that but yeah that makes total sense.
Dr JoAnn Yanez: So that’s one way of thinking about it and the other things, you know that may be counterintuitive, but it’s not just about … obviously it is about the air quality but it’s also about your body’s ability to handle it and so if you minimize the total load of all the other things that your body is having to manage, from chemicals and particles, your body will be able to handle some of a little bit better.
So, making sure that you are eating clean foods that minimize pesticides and residues, good filtered water and plenty of exercise to move things through your body. And so those are just some ways of addressing that. There are also natural anti-inflammatories that you can take to help your body modulate the immune response a little bit better.
Erin Brinker: I have heard that asthma itself is an autoimmune disease. Is that true?
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Well asthma is an immune response so it’s basically a hypersensitivity to things in the environment that are causing bronchoconstriction. The lungs have tubes inside of them called bronchi and they are really smart. They constrict or they squeeze down and narrow the airway when they recognize something that is not good to be breathing in.
The problem with asthmatics, and in my case with cats, is my body recognizes cat dander as something that isn’t good to be breathing in. And so, you’ll see people hyper-responsive to things that lots of folks are able to live with and/or have cats in their home and will not have an issue. So, there is a hyper response in some individuals to things that should be okay to be around. Does that make sense?
Erin Brinker: It does, it does. So, what do you, I mean if … Say this as somebody, and you know we’ve talked about this, who has an autoimmune disease … How do you get your body to stop …? It affects everything in your system. So how do you get your body to stop doing that?
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Well you have to minimize the load. You really need to let your body reset. There are lots of different ways through supporting the immune system, supporting the adrenal gland, there’s exercise. There are numbers of different ways to help naturopathic doctors that work with patients. You know though in some cases, there is just avoidance that has to happen for a certain amount of time to let the body reset. And then there are other folks where you’re just never going to be able to reintroduce something because their body is super sensitive to it.
Erin Brinker: So, let’s talk about some of the other conditions that are pretty common, and high blood pressure is also very common. What can a naturopathic doctor do to help, or naturopathic medicine do to help high blood pressure?
Dr JoAnn Yanez: In the case of high blood pressure again, often times, you know our body is so smart. There is something called homeostasis and we have the ability to regulate all of our bodily functions including temperature, pulse, heart rate and blood pressure. The body will constrict blood vessels and in doing so raise the pressure of the blood.
What happens is there are lots of different ways to modulate that response and figure out why is the body doing that. Are they filled up with plaque? Are you having a reaction or sensitivity to foods? What is going on in the system that your body is responding. One of the best ways of lowering blood pressure is by exercise and weight loss. Folks never want to hear that.
Erin Brinker: Because it’s hard!
Dr JoAnn Yanez: It’s not the easy way. It’s not as easy as taking a pill but it can be extremely effective. What happens when you exercise is you actually … So, years ago I worked with a cardiologist and we saw a patient who after we did their blood workup and their cardiovascular workup should have been dead. They had massive blockages around a good portion of the major vessels in their heart and the only reason that they were alive was they were … This person was a very avid marathoner and triathlon racer and had essentially built alternate pathways around the heart that took the blood from the areas that were totally blocked off and allowed for the person to still be alive.
Erin Brinker: Wow!
Dr JoAnn Yanez: So, exercise, you know I cannot stress enough how important exercise, good physical daily exercise is for our health, for our body. Having a healthy weight. Eating a good balanced, nutrient dense diet. So, there was just recently a study done in Italy on the Mediterranean diet, which has gotten a lot of great press and is really a fabulous diet for many people. However, what they found was folks that who are following the Mediterranean diet that did not have as high-quality food, did not have the same cardiovascular benefit.
Erin Brinker: Oh!
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Yes! So, what that tells us is whole grains … Good, under or not/no processed foods. Not frying your foods. Using high quality oils, high quality fats is important. Granted this was just one study, there were some issues with the study. Folks always want to see multiple studies on things like this. But you know it does point to some evidence that hey, you know the quality of the food we are eating does matter.
It isn’t so much about just eating fruits and vegetables but make sure that they are good quality fruits and vegetables. Is the soil healthy that they’ve been grown in? Just think of your environment. If you’re not feeding yourself good food, you’re not going to be feeling so good. If we’re not feeding the plants and animals that we’re eating so great or we’re just giving them the very minimal types of nutrients, you know you should expect to get so much out of it.
Erin Brinker: You know it’s interesting when you talking about the quality of the fruits and vegetables, my brother has a full farm. He’s got chicken and he’s got an orchard and he’s got a vegetable garden etc., etc. We had some tomatoes out of his garden that were divine. They were so good. They’re gone. We’ve eaten them all and so we went to the grocery store and purchased some tomatoes to make a salad and they were terrible. They were bland. The skin on the outside of the tomato was so thick. It was almost inedible. I mean I ended up throwing away four of them. So if you don’t have access to these foods, what are you to do?
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Well you know it’s funny. My mom was a war baby so she was born right after World War II and that was the time of the victory garden where people were encouraged to grow their own food like similar to what you said your brother is doing. That is, if you can’t afford quality fruits and vegetables, organic produce and things of that sort, growing your own can be an option. So, can joining a CSA or cooperative farm and getting delivery of produce for a less expensive cost.
Eating seasonally is another way. You know folks often think, “Oh yeah???” Well you know here in California seasons are a little bit different but in the Northeast where I just came from you can see strawberries year-round in your supermarket and you have to wonder, “Okay, well strawberries aren’t growing right now in December.” But I think eating seasonally will guarantee that you’re fruits and produce at its freshest and most nutrient dense peak. It also really promotes eating within the season, eating what is bountiful at that time of year.
Funny right now we have a fig tree, totally ripened in the back of our house and I’m trying to figure out what to do with all these figs. In the past, people would eat a lot of one type of thing when it was growing. We eat very differently now expecting to have lots and lots of variety and lots of different things at any given point in the year and that really isn’t how nature works. You know when something is blooming or when something is fresh and ripe, you eat all of it, just like you did with the tomatoes. And then you know something else will be ripe and then you eat all of that. And so, eating seasonally will help get more nutrient dense food and also lower the cost.
Erin Brinker: So how to people get more information about naturopathic colleges, about finding a naturopathic doctor, etc.?
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Come to our website! Everybody’s got a website nowadays. Put www.aanmc.org that’s A apple A apple N Nancy M Mary C Charlie .org and you get all that information on that on the colleges, and it can also point you to information on how to find an ND near you.
Erin Brinker: Wonderful! Well Dr. JoAnn Yanez it’s always a treat to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Thank you for having me! Have a great day folks!
Erin Brinker: Thank you, you too!
Dr JoAnn Yanez: Mm-hmm (affirmative) bye bye.
Erin Brinker: Bye bye. Okay, it’s time for a break. I’m Erin Brinker.
Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin Brinker: And we are “On the Brink,” the morning show on KCAA AM 1050 FM 106.5 and FM 102.3, we’ll be right back.