25% of female deaths are attributed to heart disease.1 64% of women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease have no symptoms.2 Watch naturopathic cardiologist Dr. Decker Weiss’ webinar on naturopathic approaches for women with heart disease.
Approximately 25% of women will develop osteoporosis in their lifetime.1 The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that approximately half of women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.2 Lifestyle factors such as exercising, specifically weight bearing, and maintaining a nutritious diet with vitamin D and calcium are critical to bone health.
Stress can ripple through all aspects of our mind and body. Dr. Brad Lichtenstein shares how NDs help patients identify and prevent stressors, teaching them simple techniques to manage stress, and how to avoid situations that may lead to negative impacts on health and well-being.
12% percent of women have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.1 Naturopathic approaches to improved fertility help couples conceive quickly and safely while addressing the root cause of conception issues.
Over 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the Unites States. 38% of women will develop cancer in their lifetime.1 Drawing on decades of combined experience in naturopathic oncology, Dr. Marcia Prenguber and Dr. Marie Winters review the role of a naturopathic physician from risk reduction to survivorship.
Arthritis impacts over 50 million Americans, making it the number one cause of disability in the country.1Learn about the large toolbox naturopathic doctors have to help those suffering with any form of arthritis.
Millions of American are prescribed opioids to cope with chronic pain. It’s estimated that 21-29% of patients will misuse them, and 8-12% will develop an abuse disorder.1 46 people die every day from overdosing on prescription opiods.2 Dr. Tyna Moore discusses the opioid crisis and non-pharmacological approaches to pain management.
Women are nearly two times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men.1 Studies show that anxiety and depression are related to our genetic tendencies and exposure to stressors. Dr. Peter Bongiorno explains how naturopathic medicine can help resolve mood-related issues.
Most people are embarrassed to talk about problems they experience in the bathroom. With a worldwide prevalence of 10-20%, it’s time to start talking about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).1 Hear from four NDs about why naturopathic medicine may hold the key to uncovering the root cause of IBS.
200 million women worldwide and 1 in 10 women in the United States suffer from endometriosis.1 Dr. Alison Egeland discusses naturopathic approaches to women’s health and a tricky case of endometriosis.
1 in 9 women in the Unites States has diabetes.1Learn how naturopathic approaches to diabetes treatment can relieve symptoms, help patients manage blood sugar levels better, and in some cases reverse disease progression.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss the relationship between depression and heart disease.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
Gender impacts on health
Stress and its relationship with heart health
Adaption to stress
Positivity and gratitude
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: As I was preparing for this morning and thinking about it, something kept popping up in my head and maybe it’s because I’m getting sentimental with my old age and Valentine’s Day, but I was thinking about the role of our minds and our thoughts on the heart and figured, hey everybody talks about heart disease and how you should eat well and you should exercise and some of the things that are better for managing heart disease and preventing heart disease like the Mediterranean diet. I know we’ve talked about that before. How do we do something different today? I thought maybe we would connect the relationship with depression and heart disease.
Erin Brinker: Oh, I think that’s wonderful.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Is that okay?
Erin Brinker: Yes, I think that’s wonderful. Absolutely.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I was looking at the statistics and heart disease still remains the number one killer of folks in the United States, one out of every four deaths. It is very important to understand but one of the lesser talked about issues in heart disease is that folks with heart disease, heart patients, are three times as likely to be depressed at any given time than the general population. I found that really interesting and depression is also twice as common in women than men.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: One of the things that kept coming into my mind and I always look at illness and all patient issues with a naturopathic lens, is how does our role with stress, how does our role with how we handle things, why is depression twice as likely in women than men? Is our existence that much more depressing than the male experience? What is that about?
Erin Brinker: I wonder if women are more likely to recognize their depression and ask for assistance than men are.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: That definitely is part of it. There’s a lot of stigma around men feeling weak or showing “weakness” and anything mental can be considered weakness. You know, “tough it up, be a man,” that whole culture of having to try and stiff upper lip everything and hold it in actually impacts so many different components of our health. I’ve talked before about the role of cortisol and stress in our talks here in the morning, but stress impacts our release of cortisol which is a hormone and that has so many different ripples in the body, some of which can worsen heart disease if it’s already present or exacerbate incidents of heart disease. Cortisol, that’s your stress hormone, that’s ‘run from the bear in the woods’ kind of thing and what does it do? It increases your heart rate, it increases blood sugar levels, which subsequently can have increased damage on your vascular system. There’s a lot of ripples and a connection between stress and heart disease that isn’t often talked about or addressed.
Erin Brinker: I know that people who deal with chronic pain can become depressed because the presence of pain that’s with you all the time is depressing. I mean, I’ve known enough people who have had like back pain and they really fight depression. Is this a chicken and the egg thing? Does the depression come first and then the heart disease or the heart disease and then the depression, or does that really matter?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I think it depends on the patient, Erin. There are so many different factors and I don’t think that we can say there’s just a one size fits all reason why folks have cardiovascular disease and it’s the number one killer. I would say that diet is definitely, at least in the United States, a major component, but what happens when folks are depressed? Depression in and of itself lends you to not want to exercise, not want to get out and talk to friends, and self-isolate, maybe grab more carb heavy foods, and things that will increase your weight and increase your blood pressure. It becomes this vicious cycle that just continues to feed itself. I don’t know that we can pinpoint any one thing but being depressed will … How motivated are you if you’re feeling down to go out and exercise? Funny thing is that’s exactly what you should do when you’re feeling down, like get out, get out of the house, don’t sit and mope and wallow in it. Go take a walk, go call a friend. I think there are many better adaptive coping mechanisms that we can do to our stressors but some of that just is around how do we adapt to stress. If you’re stressed do you instantly go to like anger or anxiety? Research has shown that the folks that when they’re stressed, they go to anger and anxiety, they have higher levels of heart disease.
Erin Brinker: Interesting.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: How we manage our stress is also important. Recognizing the things that get you stressed out … I can tell you mornings stress me out. Getting a six-year-old up and out the door …
Erin Brinker: Ah, yes.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Getting ready for school stresses me out and so what I’ve tried to do, what we’ve tried to do in the house, is do as many things ahead of time so get the clothes out, make breakfast the night before or have things that are quick and easy to grab for breakfast and get a routine set so that we can head off at the path at least some of the things that will lead to more stress. Some things are going to be in our control and then there are going to be things that are not in our control and we still have to manage how do we respond to that; do we find the silver lining or do we mope and wallow in it. Yesterday, I was having a morning yesterday like it sounds like you guys are having today and I ended up … I had just gotten back into town after a week away, breakfast wasn’t made, and so I found myself running out the door to try and go grab breakfast at a store for my son, leave the house without my purse.
Erin Brinker: I have had … That has happened to me and you just want to cry. Oh, my goodness, I am so sorry that happened to you.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, but like in that moment of like okay, I’ve got a hungry kid, he has to eat, I’ve got no purse, like what do we do? Okay, what do we have in the car? Then I realized that I had some emergency cash stowed away in a pocket, like ah, okay. But like you could, you could just sit and just give up and cry or you can just go into alright, how do we make the best out of it?
Erin Brinker: Right.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Go ahead.
Erin Brinker: One of the things about depression is that you do isolate yourself and the people around you may not know how to say … How to pull you out, to help you work through that stress. I had a pretty stressful day yesterday and Tobin makes me laugh when I’m stressed, even if it irritates me a little bit when he starts, by the time he’s done I’m really happy that he did it and so I think we need to be cognizant of what those around us are feeling and going through and we can help.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Absolutely. You know, there’s so much, and we’ve talked about this before, check in on your friends. Recently, I’ve had several friends lose parents and loved ones and you make check on them initially, but check on them in a week or two or a month later. Keep checking on your friends, keep making sure that they’re okay. Stop in, make them laugh, take them to a funny movie. Do those types of things that will help elevate and just be a good human being, I think at the end of the day.
Erin Brinker: Just start there.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Start there, be a good human. You wish you didn’t have to tell that to people but you know.
Erin Brinker: You know, we get … I know when I get busy, I get tunnel vision and it’s a good reminder to say hey, have you checked in on your friends lately? Have you sent a note and said I’m thinking about you? It’s so easy to do with a text or social media post or whatever, it’s so easy to reach out to people now.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is. I think, again, it’s just we all get tunnel vision, we all get caught up in our day to day and making a choice to stop and check in on your friends and also stop and check in on yourself. That’s one of the things that I think when people get really busy and caught up, it’s easy to ignore feelings and how you’re doing and your attitude, really impact your emotional state. We can sit and focus and dwell on the things that are missing in our life until the cows come home. We can think about all the things we don’t have, all of the stuff that we wish we had, all the things we would want to have, or we can focus on the blessings we do have right here and right now. That practice of positivity and of gratitude … Yesterday I was having kind of one of those days and I forced myself before I went to bed, I’m like okay, focus on the things that you’re thankful for. What are the good things in your life and leave those as the last thoughts you have before you go to sleep.
Erin Brinker: Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. An attitude of gratitude is a game changer, it really is.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is and it has been for me. I always joke, I come from a long line of worriers and anxious people, so it’s long bred in my family to be anxious and so I consciously have to say okay, you’re going a little too far on one side on this Jo, come on back, remember the things that you do have, remember the blessings, and be thankful for those because you’ve got it pretty good compared to a whole lot. Not to brag, but we have a house, we have a roof over our head, we’ve got food in the fridge, you know I’ve got family that loves me. That’s a really good place to start.
Erin Brinker: Indeed, and that will be our last word for today. Let people know how they can find you and follow you and learn more about the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.
Join Dr. Jonathan Prousky for a powerful presentation focused on naturopathic clinical management of depression and anxiety.
Suicide Prevention – Naturopathic Clinical Management of Depression and Anxiety
Here’s what you can expect to learn from this webinar:
– Review statistics on suicide and mental distress (a.k.a. psychache or mental pain)
– Naturopathic approaches to mental health
– Case studies of patients under naturopathic clinical management of depression and anxiety
– Naturopathic clinical management – what that looks like
– Suicide assessment and effective management of the suicidal patient
Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor
Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!
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 suicide and the interplay between the microbiome – the bacteria colonization in our gut – and the synthesis of hormones and how that all plays together to impact our mood, behavior, thoughts and activity.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
Social media’s role in suicide
The current stigma surrounding mental health and how we can change it
Root causes of mental illness
The gut microbiome and its relationship with mental health
Genetic predispositions for disease
Erin Brinker: Welcome back. I’m Erin Brinker.
Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin Brinker: We’re On the Brink, the morning show on KCAA AM 1050, FM 106.5, and FM 102.3. So excited to welcome back to the show Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the executive director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. She joins us once a month to talk about health and wellness related issues, and today we’re talking about suicide.
Erin Brinker: Dr. Yanez, welcome to the show.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Good morning Erin and Tobin, this is a topic very close to me personally, and one that’s impacting kids and grownups, all across the country. It’s a topic people aren’t always comfortable speaking about, but depression and anxiety can ultimately lead folks to a very dark place where they don’t feel like there’s any hope. And so, I would love to talk to you today. If this talk could prevent one unintended death, I would love for that to be the outcome.
Erin Brinker: I think that the first thing is that we still stigmatize mental illness. I mean, you don’t stigmatize heart disease but you do stigmatize … not you, but we, as culture stigmatize depression, or anxiety, as if there’s something really wrong with the person.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes. I know we’ve spoken about this before. If somebody is having a flare up with their blood sugar, it’s due to the diabetes, and they call into work and say, “I’m really not feeling great today. My blood sugar’s all over the place, boss. I’m not going to be able to come in today.”
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: “Okay, sure. Feel better. Get your blood sugars in line.”
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: But if somebody says, “I’m having a really bad mental health day today. I need to take the day off.” What is the perception that people have on that? Or, “I was up all night with anxiety and I couldn’t sleep at all. I need to have the day off.” You know? People’s perception on that and the stigma, like you said, around depression, anxiety, mental illness, mental health, is still prevalent in our system. Just if you look at the reimbursement model. We will reimburse for your diabetes, your heart disease … not yours, but … You know? We will reimburse for those types of illnesses.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I remember patients having a very hard time getting reimbursement for counseling; sometimes it’s covered, and sometimes it wasn’t, and sometimes there were just very strict limitations on the amount of counseling that they could access. And so why is that seen, as an insurance component, as any different than any other component of us? So the naturopathic physician, we look at the mind, we look at the body, we look at the interconnectedness of how everything relates together. And it’s funny, in naturopathic medicine we always joke. There’s a lot of talk about nutrition, and gut, and poop, and everything else, and folks are like, “Why are you going into this much detail?” And there’s a lot of new data now coming out about the interplay between … They’re actually calling it the gut-brain axis and the interplay between microbiome – the bacteria, the colonization in our gut – and the synthesis of hormones and how that all plays together to impact our mood, our behavior, our thoughts, our activity.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: As an ND when we’re looking at mental health issues, we’re not just addressing, “Oh, you’re feeling sad,” or, “Oh, you’re not sleeping well. You’re anxious. You’re depressed, “but we’re looking at the whole person and, “What’s the root of this? Are there nutrient deficiencies? Is there a gut imbalance that is predisposing you to a shift in your neurotransmitter production? Is there a past trauma that’s unresolved, and that’s the real root of your issue. Do we need to help you with that? Are there unhealthy coping mechanisms that you’ve just never been taught how to cope with your day-to-day stressors that come up?”
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: So we work with patients one on one to make sure that they understand and can identify that root, and we start to work with them there. Does that make sense?
Erin Brinker: It makes total sense. People take medications for depression. And I’m not poo pooing those medications but they, to me, are masking the problem: that there’s an underlying issue that’s causing it, and I’ve never thought the gut biome as affecting mental health the way it does.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: There is a very strong connection with how the gut interplays in the synthesis of precursors to neurotransmitters, and all of the chemical pathway that is. The gut has so much connectivity in there as far as immune regulation, stress regulation, and it’s really amazing. I bet that in the next 10, 15 years we’re going to see even more developments in the science behind it. It’s funny, in naturopathic school we sometimes joke, “We’ve been talking about this for 20, 30, 40 years and now the science is just catching up,” but that was, like I started out saying, we always joke that … You know? Go in to see an ND and you might come in for a headache, and they’re like, “Why is the doctor asking me about my poop? I came in for a headache! Why are you talking to me about … this doesn’t make sense!” But for us it actually does because the gut regulates so much.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Our genetic expression, for example. We’re all made up with our own very unique genetic recipes. Those recipes, those genes, can be either up regulated or down regulated – so turned on or turned off – depending on what we expose them to. Some people – even though they have a genetic predisposition to something – can turn off or lower the expression of that genetic predisposition based on the environmental things that they expose themselves to, based on the types of foods, the chemicals, the pesticides that are the total load on their body and so it all is very important. I think that we’re just getting into the genetic science and understanding that more, the genome and how foods, how environment, can up or down regulate that. It’s fascinating, and it’s so exciting, and I’m just excited every time I see the science developing further. It really is a wonderful way.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: But getting back to that component of severe depression which suicide is often the manifestation of. I think the more we can do in our culture to de-stigmatize suicide, to de-stigmatize mental health, to get people the resources they need before things hit crisis point … So many times in our medical system, folks don’t get the care they need until things hit a steeper pitch. I do want to just emphasize, if you’re seeing somebody in your family or a loved one who is going through a hard time, just reach out with some kindness. I was listening to your last segment and the judgmentalism of that mom, of the $1,200 formula for an instant that she’s just trying to keep alive, and then having to go to the supermarket and see these peering eyes at her. What does that do to a person? So that judgmental nature that folks can have … What’s that saying, “Don’t judge somebody until you’ve walked in their shoes?”
Erin Brinker: Indeed.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I think that we really need to get back to a spirit of kindness and empathy in this country. I was at a meeting just the other day with a bunch of executive directors in Southern California, and a gentleman summed it up so well. He said, “We’ve gone from almost working in a peacetime environment to feeling like we’re at war.” You know? Folks are in a war of ideals. If you have an idea that’s different from someone else’s, they’re against you. Everything is this judgment, and pre-decision on someone before you’ve even really met them, or gotten into them, based on a quick assessment. “Oh, she’s buying food stamps and she has a brand-new cellphone,” or, “Look at the car she’s driving,” or whatever it is that we’re making those snap judgments on folks unfairly. I think if we can just go back to a spirit of kindness to each other and empathy, that a lot of our problems will maybe not melt away, but get a little bit better.
Erin Brinker: Indeed. You know what? This is very interesting. I’m going through this in my mind. Sorry, I’m still processing. There needs to be a study. Because mental illness has really gone up, and suicides have gone up dramatically, I wonder if there is a link between all of the suicides and mental health issues and the overuse of antibiotics when people are children. Over the last 20, 30 years, and it’s starting to taper off now, but antibiotics were used every time you got a cold. Right? Are we seeing that maybe gut health is so poor … Maybe that’s why we’ve seen this spike in mental illness and suicides. You know? I mean mental illness. I mean, I’m really talking about depression and bipolar disorder. Maybe there’s a link there.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well there are links between the onset of more severe psychiatric disorders like personality disorders, and schizophrenia, and so on, that start to happen in the late teens to early 20s. And that also is when we start to see a spike in suicide, a spike in gun violence, especially with young males. The literature actually supports that. But another component, Erin, that I don’t know if we’ll really know the answer – or at least if there is literature out there right now I’m not aware of it – is social media and the glorification that folks can go out in a blaze of glory. They can get their last little bit of fame by bringing attention to their death or kind of going out in that blaze of glory, so to speak. There was a study years ago that I read that I’m a little fuzzy on the details on right now. But it talked about when there was one suicide in a community, there tended to be more suicides in that community because it brought awareness to suicide as an option. And I’m thinking of a colleague of mine right now whose teenage daughter just lost two friends in the last week to suicide-
Erin Brinker: Oh, my goodness.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: And drug overdose. So I think that when we think of … You know? Mental health, it’s a very complex issue and I don’t know if we can point to one thing like, “Oh, there were more antibiotics used,” or, “Oh, there are more environment chemicals now,” or any one of the things that we might want to point a finger to because there are so many factors that go into play. Just as naturopathic physician I’m not going to say, “Oh, there’s one cause for your illness.”
Erin Brinker: Sure. I just was-
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You know, there … Go ahead.
Erin Brinker: I just was wanting to see if maybe a study might be worthwhile.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I’d have to look and see if any were done already, but I’m not up on if that is the case right now. But it would be fascinating to understand the interplay between all the different various factors, and gut health and the microbiome and what impacts that. Antibiotic use, and then you also have antibiotic use in animals. Is that impacting you when you drink your milk and that has the remnants of some antibiotics it? Is that impacting your gut flora as well, in addition to just the antibiotics somebody is taking themselves?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I think there are so many different downstream impacts on the gut bacteria, that finding that one thing … You know? We don’t live in a bubble where the antibiotic is the only thing that person has been exposed to. You know? Now they’re finding drug residues in our water supply so who knows?
Erin Brinker: Who knows? Well how do people get more information about this? I think you have a seminar coming up on this topic. Am I correct?
Erin Brinker: So, it’s always a treat to have you on, Dr. Yanez. Let people know where they can go specifically to get this information.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Sure. Our website is AANMC.org. We’re also all over social media – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, et cetera. So check us out, and I hope that we can connect you to somebody to help you be the healthiest you.
Erin Brinker: Wonderful. Well Dr. JoAnn Yanez, the executive director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges, thank you so much joining us today.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Thank you, Erin and Tobin. Have a great morning.
Erin Brinker: You too.
Erin Brinker: All right. So with that, it is 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. We’ll be right back.
Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor
Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!
“The sky is the limit with naturopathic medicine. You really can choose any path you like.”
Diversity and an eclectic nature is at the forefront of what has drawn Dr. Jaquel Patterson to the profession. In her own practice, she covers a variety of medical conditions from autoimmune diseases to allergies and from Lyme disease to anxiety/depression. It is this wide variety of coverage, coupled with the passion naturopathic doctors are known for that helped inspire her and continues to motivate her in the profession.
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
For Dr. Patterson, the path to becoming a naturopathic doctor included a very personal inspiration. During her teen years, she saw her mother “struggle with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).” Both of these autoimmune conditions are debilitating, and Dr. Patterson felt that the conventional medicines and treatments did not address her needs fully. Prior to that, she had already been interested in alternative medicine as a child, having seen the benefits at home.
When she attended an open house at UBCNM and was able to hear ND’s speak about their profession, she says that, “I knew I was in the right place. It felt like I was going full circle back to my roots.” The fact that the campus was close to where she lived and serviced a variety of diverse populations just served to seal the deal for her.
Dr. Patterson greatly appreciated the opportunities to learn at UBCNM and how it helped transition her into the community health side of medicine. She participated in the community clinics and then began to serve in a variety of community outreach capacities, including acting as the Health Chair of local chapter of the NAACP. She has also served with the Southern CT Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and was elected on the National Board for Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.
“Living the dream” after graduation
During her third year at UBCNM, Dr. Patterson attended New York Lobby Day. There, she met the CEO of a health center that saw over 65,000 patients. It was this contact that gave her an entrance into the field when she graduated. From there, she excelled by leading “quality improvement initiatives for childhood obesity, which was the highest in the Bronx at the time, diabetes and hypertension. My work was recognized by Community Health Care Association of New York State and was used to help develop models in other FQHC’s in the state.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND
Since getting her start, she has continued working not only as a naturopathic physician, but also as an administrator, eventually becoming VP at a large community behavioral health agency. Her work directly impacted the behavioral health needs of 21,000 patients. Today, she has her own practice, Fairfield Family Health where she works “with a robust team of 6 other healthcare providers including naturopathic physicians, primary care consultant, pediatric nurse practitioner, nutritionist and physical therapist.” She is also the first UBCNM graduate to be elected President of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, as well as the first person of color to hold this position.
Advice for aspiring NDs
To sum up her advice for aspiring NDs, Dr. Patterson has this to say: “It is a rare opportunity to find something that appeals to your heart and that creates butterflies in your stomach. If you have that feeling about naturopathic medicine, you need to make sure to follow that path.” She feels that this bold step will be the key to success and a life without regrets.