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Living Well Interview Series with Dr. Csilla Veress on Water Fasting

Recorded Live, Learn all about water fasting from Dr. Csilla Veress; a physician at a medically supervised fasting facility, a leading expert in water fasting, naturopathic doctor and oriental medicine practitioner.  Hear about Dr. Veress’s background and how she found the medicine she really loves, Learn about the benefits of water fasting and the research behind it, Understand the medical conditions that can be helped from this practice, How to prepare the mind and body before undergoing fasting, How to get free from the “dietary pleasure trap”, and how Dr. Veress practices medicine at TrueNorth Health Center.

(00:02) – Michele Burkland: Hi everyone. My name’s Dr. Michele Burklund, I’m the Chief Science Officer here at Puriya and this is our Living Well series, where we interview amazing people and give you the tools and foundation to live a healthy life. And this week, we have Dr. Csilla Veress with us, so thank you very much for joining us today.

(00:20) – Csilla Veress: Thank you, I’m really excited to be here.

(00:22) – DB: But before we jump in and get to a lot of the questions on fasting and detoxification and everything, I’m gonna read your background for our viewers. So Dr. Csilla Veress, ND, LAC, is a primary care doctor at TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, California. Dr. Veress is a graduate from Rutgers University with a degree in biology and obtained her medical degree from Bastyr University, where she also finished her masters in acupuncture and oriental medicine. The focus of her practice and outreach is to educate and inspire individuals to achieve optimal health through nutrition and lifestyle medicine. She lectures at TrueNorth Health and in the community on the impact of whole food, plant-based nutrition, water fasting and lifestyle modification in preventing and treating chronic illness. She’s a contributing writer for NPLEX, helping elevate excellence with ND board examinations. She also has written several articles for Health Science Magazine and has been featured on various podcasts in the whole foods, plant-based nutrition communities. Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss all these things. I think a lot of people have questions just on fasting and detoxification and everything. And before we really get into these questions, I wanna hear more about how you found this medicine, your passion and your story of how you became a naturopathic doctor.

(01:51) –  CV: Yeah. Well, actually, I was already on the road to medicine. So in my college years, I was pre-med and I love the fact that I went to Rutgers ’cause they had this amazing kind of program where they allowed you to go into the hospital system, we had a really really prolific, actually, hospital system down in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and we were able to do volunteer. And so, when we were… When I was in the hospital system, it was interesting. I was seeing people leave, getting sicker. I was seeing doctors and nurses, and they didn’t seem… They didn’t seem healthy, they didn’t seem happy either in the system, it was just… It wasn’t exactly what I was envisioning in my medical training or even my medical path to be. And so, I started… I realized that that was maybe not the right path for me. I actually did graduate with biology and a psychology minor, but I decided I got this really amazing, amazing internship in Australia to do PR Marketing. And so I went over there and I absolutely fell in love with the place… Well, with Australia, and I actually did fall in love with marketing as well.

(03:11) – CV: And so when I came back to the United States, I got a job in Manhattan and I did that for 10 years. And interestingly enough, as I was going… As I was kinda gaining speed in this profession, I was losing myself in one aspect. But when I was there as well, I started just really exploring what it was that I really wanted to do. And I do come… I really do feel like I come from a family of healers, it was just really interesting. And I think that’s why also, when I was working in the hospital system, it just… It didn’t jive with what I thought medicine or the medicine I wanted to do was. And so, when I was in New York City, I actually did yoga. I got Pilates-certified, I did actually a nutritional course as well. So I was finding all these little pieces that really, really spoke to me, but I hit a wall with my profession and I was just… I lost my soul, I really did. And so, I decided I needed to leave my job, I left Manhattan.

(04:18) – CV: And when I was trying to search for what my next career path was, I always had really deep, deep… Even since I was a child, my mom said, I had this deep just environmental spirit. And so, I was looking actually more on sustainability type courses, like sustainability entrepreneurship in Colorado. And I don’t know how it happened, but I landed on Bastyr, which was the medical school that I went to, the website, and it just… It spoke to me, it spoke to me. When I went there, it was just everything that they offered and everything that they stood for, their mission, their values, was exactly the medicine that I wanted to do. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is what I was searching for back in my 20s.” This is now in my 30s. And then interestingly enough, I’m so happy with my education. I feel like it’s really strongly evidence-based, which is why I picked Bastyr as well.

(05:16) – CV: But then afterwards, I… Just serendipitously, my ex-husband got a job in Calistoga, which is 20 minutes from Santa Rosa. I was going to the East Coast for a residency and I found TrueNorth, and I stayed and it has been the most amazing… Not only expression of the medicine that I wanna do, but it has absolutely built upon what I learned at Bastyr as well, and it really allowed me to find my medicine. And that is really to be this ambassador to helping and empowering people to really acknowledge that we have this self- inherent healing ability within the body if we give it the right tools, right? And so, that’s why most of my practice is foundations of health and nutrition-based medicine. And then of course, the amazing, amazing… Just healing power of just water fasting. ‘Cause I see miracles every single day. So it really… It’s kinda come full circle for me where I have… Like my true, true passion. So, yeah.

(06:28) – DB: I love that. Thank you for sharing ’cause it’s… Yeah, it’s such an intense route that you went from very conventional and seeing everything in hospitals.

(06:39) – CV: Absolutely, yeah. And thankfully, I had to do… I think I had to do that in order to have found exactly what it is that I wanted to do. So…

(06:47) -DB: Yeah, yeah, all of that helps ’cause it helps you see what you want and what you don’t want, and then…

(06:55) – DB: And then where you end up. So tell us more about TrueNorth. Like what you do there, what kind of facility it is, ’cause I think a lot of people don’t completely understand that places like this exist or what you guys really do there too.

(07:09) – CV: Yeah, TrueNorth health is an inpatient clinic. So what that means is that we actually specialize in taking patients and they stay at True North. We can see them anywhere from 30 to months and months. We’ve had patients that have stayed there actually for years as well, if they really had to go through quite a big rehabilitation of their health. More commonly, I would say, most people stay from anywhere from three weeks to a month, that’s pretty much average. And what we do is we really specialize in nutrition-based medicine, so we specialize in an exclusively whole food plant-based, no salt, no sugar, no oil, food. And that is the premise of how we start to really affect change in a person’s lifestyle and a person’s health. And then of course, our specialty is water fasting, so we take individuals on a medically supervised water fast anywhere from, we’ve done as short as three days but up to 41 days of water only.

(08:20) -CV: We used to be the only clinic in the United States that did this and Dr. Goldhamer and his wife started around the 1980s, but actually because we are really… Were for such a long time, the only medically supervised water fasting clinic, we have this amazing internship program where we see medical professionals around the world, literally around the world, come and we’ve sat, we have nurses, DOs, MDs, NDs, PAs, all different types in the healthcare field, come and they actually do their training and they can train on this lifestyle approach. And then they can get certification as well. So now actually there is a couple of smaller clinics but we have… There’s… But everybody has been trained at TrueNorth and has gone off and started their own little clinic. So, we have one in Southern California, there’s one in Ohio, there’s one in Florida, I believe as well. So those are the main ones that actually… And Puerto Rico actually, is the other one that has done really, really extensive proper training at TrueNorth and they’ve kind of done an offshoot of what we do, so.

(09:34) – DB: That’s exciting. That’s exciting that’s expanding and…

(09:38) – CV: It’s so exciting. Especially now, because we are… One of our main focuses is research, so we see subjectively and with certain types of testing and imaging people are getting better, people are improving, but now it’s time to actually do the research and really be able to show the medical community that listen, even though we’re seeing this, we’re seeing these results, our patients are seeing these results, let’s really do quantifiable measurements of this and actually bring it into the medical community in that way, so it’s really exciting. So as the research evolves, I’m really excited that there’s gonna be much more clinics that are gonna be able to support. I think this type of modality, which is gonna probably become really, really important as we move toward the future.

(10:27) – DB: Right. I mean, to me, it’s not even a question, but I think we need that science and we need to be able to prove that hey, diet and lifestyle can have profound effects on everything. And so getting that science there will really push the entire medical community to move in that direction.

(10:49) – CV: Yeah. Absolutely.

(10:51) – DB: So, tell us why some people would come to TrueNorth, like some specific conditions that you see there. What can it range from the type of people you see in there? ‘Cause I’m sure it’s a lot different. I’m sure you get quite a bit of different people.

(11:08) – CV: You know, it’s exciting. I think this is fascinating, and I’ve been there for over five years now, which I can’t believe, it’s just… And it’s fascinating to me that you can see the changes within such a small amount of time. I can’t even imagine what Alan has seen since the 1980s, but really, when I first got in there, we saw a lot of diabetes, a lot of hypertension so a lot of… I would say, the king’s diseases where it’s formed having this over-abundance of food and our lifestyles of you know burning the candle at both ends, those types of things. I saw a lot of auto-immune. We still see quite a bit of auto-immune. I would say, if I had to even say, “Do I have a specialty?” that’s probably where I tend to, because we see such a large number of individuals with all different kinds like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, interstitial cystitis, so a lot of those different types of conditions. We see a lot of women’s health as well, so a lot of endometriosis, a lot of uterine fibroids.

(12:21) – CV: And nowadays, the transition has been, and it’s now more we see a lot, a lot of rare cases. So a lot of times people have had just a full work up from MDs to functional doctors to specialists around the world, and they’ve tried everything, they literally have tried everything, and so they’re searching and they’re trying to find what else is out there. And so then they’re like, “Okay, let’s try a water fast.” So we see that nowadays much more. And then, interestingly enough, we actually are seeing a lot of people just wanna do preventative health which is music to my soul. It’s… So, we have people coming in and being like, “I’m really okay,” and they really are, they really have no symptoms, nothing, and they’re just like, “I just kinda wanna do this yearly thing of really trying to protect myself the best in the world that we live in,” and I love that. So it’s really a transition. We still see quite a bit of even cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and hypertension, but we’re starting to see much more, I would say, rare and unusual cases.

(13:33) – MB: Right, so definitely a little bit of everything for sure in there. And yeah, I think when people know this more as an option then they find it later on too, so getting all of those different groups of people together. What I wanna ask you too, is when people are thinking about starting a water fasting it can feel really overwhelming or scary, just the idea of it or the thoughts of, oh, my gosh, how am I gonna do this, what am I gonna do? So how do you help prepare the patients on a mind… For their psychology, their bodies, how do you help them kind of transition into this too ’cause I think a lot of people love the idea but then it can be scary or overwhelming too?

(14:22) – CV: Gotcha. One of the things I have to say I love about working at TrueNorth is usually, probably I would say 95-96% of the patients, if they have found us… Right, we don’t have… It’s one of our really core, I would say, values is the fact that if you don’t wanna be here and you don’t wanna do this then nobody can force you to do that. And so one of the beauties of working here is that you have pretty amazing, amazing people that are so committed to their health that they are just ready to go. So I think while you are absolutely right, like the mental emotional sphere I think it’s probably one of the hardest to wrap somebody’s head around water fasting. If they’re not ready for it they’re not ready for it, and that’s something that they have to really be like, this is something that I wanna do ’cause I believe in it, I’ve had enough research in it, I’ve looked into this, especially also with whole-foods, plant-based diet. And this is actually the harder route, it’s simple but it’s not easy because of the fact that we live in a society that is really much more higher force interventions. So when something’s wrong, let’s just give a pill, let’s just… Even functional medicine these days or even a lot of our profession.

(15:50) – CV: Like in a group we’re going right towards botanical, so we’re going right towards supplement and sometimes they’re necessary, they’re really necessary but they’re also easier and looking at your lifestyle, looking at your diet and being like, “Okay, I’m just gonna do an overhaul on this.” And so I see a lot of patients that are really motivated. What we do need to do though is get people more physically ready for a water fast because it really is probably one of the most intense experiences that somebody can go through, it really is. And that’s mind, body and soul. And the number of people that said, I kind of expected some of the symptoms or some of the side effects to come up with the detoxing physically but a lot of people at the end were like, “Wow, that was probably one of the most mentally, emotionally powerful things I’ve ever done in my life too,” so there is this whole entire beautiful mind, body, and soul kind of transformation that people go through.

(16:58) – CV: Physically, what we do to prep people is we actually… Dr. Goldhamer has a 30 minute consultation with them so he kind of start the process of talking to them about medications, about what is expected, whether or not they’re actually even candidates for water fasting at TrueNorth, if we really feel that we can help somebody and we do turn people away. It really is such a very specific modality that if it’s not right for a person right then and there that’s something that we absolutely would let them know about. And then now because we’re so busy, we’re actually around booking the ground three to four months out which is so exciting. A lot of times I’m the next kind of iteration where I can speak to somebody and start really helping them change over their diet. I had this little… I have this little analogy of what we do in the real world just so you can get a sense of it.

(17:52) – DB: Yeah, I love that.

17:53 CV: Cause we kind of help people get into more whole-foods plant-based diet and then we ease them into water fasting but it’s kinda like running a marathon race, right? So when you’re running a marathon race you have basically the walkers, you have the joggers and you have those sprinters that just go along, and everybody’s gonna finish the race. It’s just really about the training you need, how hard it’s gonna be, like during the race how much of pain you’re probably gonna be at maybe, and then what you need to really do during it as well. And so I always akin to that because water fasting is like those sprinters, you have to train, you have to train so you don’t get hurt, you have to be really mindful of your body, you really have to be really mindful during… Before and after training. Juicers are like joggers, we’re similar, if you’re jogging in a marathon for 26 miles that could be painful, if you’re kind of prepping for that. And then whole-foods plant-based, no salt, sugar and oil is basically where I fill fast walkers. We see people in the vegan community come in and they are detoxing because once you get salt, sugar and oil out the body can really go through these different kinds of transformations just with that small amount of change, so that’s how we prep people and we really… And I’m able to talk to people. If they aren’t ready we can really talk through as well, what they might need mentally, emotionally, and physically to get there.

(19:28) – DB: I think that’s great. I think that’s great that you guys offer so much support through all of that too and there’s so much processes from just starting with plant-based to full water fasting. And I like how they have all those choices, like you meet them where they’re at and help them get there too.

(19:48) – CV: It’s important to meet people where they’re at.

(19:50) – DB: Yes.

(19:51) – DB: Definitely. So tell us a little bit more about what you guys call the dietary pleasure trap, and how fasting can help break people free of this. ‘Cause you mentioned a little bit, I think, before of the king’s diseases and this and that, but let’s get into more detail about what this is, and how people get into this trap, and how you guys can help.

(20:15) – CV: Yeah, so the pleasure trap that we talk about or that Dr. Goldhamer… And actually, Doug Lisle is a psychologist that really does evolutionary psychology. And it backs up into when we look at our evolution, we are pleasure-seeking, we try to avoid pain, and we try to use the least amount of energy. We’re energy conserving beings. And that makes sense, that makes a lot of sense. Our bodies are super, super brilliant. And so when we look at nature and its habits… And when you look at just natural whole-foods, plant-based as they are, they provide us with so much of the vitamins, the minerals, everything, the sugars we need: So the carbohydrates, the proteins, the fats, everything, everything. But in a way that is really just super supportive for our entire, not only physicality, but also how our brain works, and how we need to make neural transmitters, and how we think, and how we process things.

(21:24) – CV: The idea behind the pleasure trap is that when we started to become more industrialized and when we started to bring in the super, super, super concentrated, so this, I’m talking about instead of doing beautiful avocados and nuts that have natural sources of fat and all these other kinds of different kinds of vitamins and minerals, you start to concentrate oils, or you take… Instead of having this beautiful piece of fruit that has natural sugars in it, but it has phytonutrients, it has fiber, it has all this amazing stuff, we start to condense it out down to taking a sugarcane and making a white substance that is 10 times the amount of glucose that you would have in a piece of fruit. And so what we… And salt, salt is the same way. We have salts… Sodium is in most foods, but then we kinda condense it down into a white powder substance.

(22:21) – CV: So the idea is that these substances, while we need all of that, right? We need sugar, we need salt, we need fats, that’s not the concern. It’s when we get it into these concentrated forms and when we actually give it like a drug. When we look at how much society is eating of these different foods, you are actually driving different types of neuronal pathways in your brain that, remember, we’re pleasure-seeking. We want to have these pleasures and we want to avoid pain, and we want to do it in the least amount of caloric output or we wanna save energy. So if you get this huge rush, from whatever it is, like a Snickers bar, let’s just put it out there, we’ll just combine all three of those. Your body is gonna say, “Wow, this is amazing. This is… ” and you’re gonna actually spike certain neuronal pathways which are then gonna actually… You’re gonna want more of that.

(23:20) – CV: And so this is where that pleasure trap comes into play, is the fact that our bodies, because of how we evolve, will absolutely be much more kind of driven by these really, really just more concentrated foods in society. Once you get rid of those… This is why we do no salt, sugar and oil. Once you get rid of that, once you’re eating really whole-foods, plant-based as it is in nature, you stop craving those foods. You really do. You stop craving the foods. You start to notice these beautiful health and healing effects of this amazing diet when it’s done right. When it’s not too raw, when it’s not too overcooked, when you have a right balance of everything, you start to notice the amazing effects of it. And water fasting, what it does is it basically when you…

(24:13) – CV: We actually just did a study, so we’re gonna come out with the results, but we know this just from our subjective kind of intake from patients. But when you go into a water fasting, there is a taste adaptation that happens. So individuals that are stuck in this process of being like, “I can’t not have sugar. I need sugar. I need salt in my food. How do you even taste food without having it be salted?” When you get into a water fast, because there’s taste adaptation, because there’s neural adaptation of your taste buds, you come out of the water fast and food, whole-foods, plant-based without the salt, sugar and oil, is actually then… The flavors are then heightened so that people aren’t craving that in the end, so.

(25:01) – MB: I think that’s great. That’s also the hardest part is breaking that, getting to the point and having that support to do that, because it’s so addicting and it’s so easy, in society, to just grab something on the go, or grab something pre-made, and all of these things. Yeah, it makes it harder to eat the most simple way, the way that we’re supposed to, for sure.

(25:28) – CV: Absolutely. People don’t… I think a lot of us wanna believe, even like at salad bars, that they don’t salt the lettuce or they don’t salt certain things, but they do. Even in restaurants, people are really shocked to find they’re gonna salt… Even if you ask for no dressing, they could salt the lettuce and the salad because they want it to taste good. Of course they do. So it’s pretty much very ubiquitous in our society.

(25:53) – DB: Yeah, I like that. I wanted to talk more too about the science behind it. So can you explain to our viewers, in a general way, what happens to the body during fasting?

(26:09) – CV: Yeah, absolutely. So like I said, the body is absolutely brilliant. I love it. Physiologically, what happens is that as you go through and as you eat the last meal that you have, your body starts to transition, and it starts to really… And while you’re eating and while you’re using the last little bit of food, which is around four to six hours after the last meal, you’re utilizing that glucose or you’re gonna store it. If there’s too much glucose, you’re gonna store it then. But as you start to go into a fast and as longer as you’d stop eating, what the body starts to recognize is that, hmm, we’re not getting as much easier sources of glucose in the system.

(26:54) – CV: So then it starts basically talking to the liver and saying, “Hey, we have all the storage glucose, can we start breaking that down?” So then you go into this amazing ability to just break down stored glucose molecules. After that, your body transitions into something called gluconeogenesis, where the body is actually gonna use. This is a fun… This is for all you out there that want this biochemistry lesson over here. So it goes into gluconeogenesis, which is basically the body…

(27:26) – CV: Like I said, the body is so brilliant. It’s gonna say, “Listen, we’re not getting the natural sources of how we really like to run our energy, our energy powerhouses, which are our mitochondria. So let’s actually use different molecules. We’ll use amino acids, we’ll use the glycerol from the fatty acids,” so it starts to use all these different molecules in a process called gluconeogenesis. And it does that up to around five days. Where around 12 hours, where it starts, your body is gonna be using a lot more ketones and around day three, day four, it’s actually gonna start to transition where it’s more using ketones. So ketones are gonna be fatty acids, so it’s your fat molecules that are gonna be broken down into something called ketone acid bodies.

(28:17) – CV: Most cells in your body can actually use ketone acid bodies as a fuel source, so it can be shuttled into the mitochondria, which is our powerhouses, which is what makes our… Which is our powerhouses of the cells that make energy, and can actually be then converted to energy, used ketones.

(28:35) – CV: There’s a few cells… A perfect example is red blood cells don’t use, they don’t have mitochondria, so they don’t use the ketones but… And so glucose is necessary in the system, so there’s always gonna be a little bit of gluconeogenesis happening. But around day five, that really starts to down-regulate, because the body’s brilliant, the body is like, “I don’t wanna be using these beautiful amino acids from muscle cells and other really potentially necessary organelles and things of that nature, if we have fatty acids.”

(29:08) – CV: So that is why somebody can go through 40 days on a water fast and do it very safely as it’s really later on, late stages where the body will need to, if it starts to run out of these fatty acids, will start to actually incorporate more and more vital organs. And that is at the end stage, which is more starvation and we don’t… Many people think that they’re gonna be in starvation after a week of fasting, but actually, usually it takes months and months, so… Depending upon the person, so. So those are the physiological shifts that happen when the person goes through the water fast.

(29:49) – DB: So, is your goal at TrueNorth when you’re taking a patient off of a water fast and you’re putting them on a plant-based diet, do you want them to continue a predominantly ketone-based diet going forward or what do you recommend after they’re finished and they’re going out back into their life, into society, what do you kind of advise them when they’re going back?

(30:17) – CV: Yeah, we do not promote a more ketogenic type of diet at TrueNorth, it’s not the way that our bodies are set up to be, and we really are glucose-burning machines. I mean that is how we are set up to function in society. And actually, one of the things that we try to do when people are coming off of a water fast, we do transition them really slowly to make sure that they don’t go into a refeeding syndrome or anything that is really dangerous. If they’re coming in with autoimmune cases, we want to make sure that we’re preventing flares after the water fast.

(30:57) – CV: What we really, really support is a really well-balanced fool-proof plant-based diet. So usually our re-feeding looks like, we’ll get people into juices, they’re mostly vegetable, with maybe a little bit of fruit in there, and that just starts the digestive process going. So one of the powers, one of the powers of water fasting is not only that you get out of the body’s way and you allow for a autophagy to happen, so you’re allowing for these cells to deep clean, you’re allowing different kinds of hormones to be rebalanced, you’re allowing digestion to really be slowed or down-regulated to the point where all that energy… I think the statistic is like we use around 80% of our energy just for digestion alone.

(31:46) – CV: So when we are not doing that, that energy actually can go in towards healing the body, healing different systems of the body. So when we start the refeeding process, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to slowly reactivate that digestive system as well. So we’re gonna get people into juices first, then we go into raw, which depending upon the person and depending upon the digestive status of the person, we can either do raw or really well steamed food. Then we move them into higher core density foods, like glutens, grains and then nuts and seeds finally… So it’s like this really slow progression, just to get them ready.

(32:24) – CV: Our optimal diet, it changes with everybody depending upon what disease state that they are coming in with or what their goals are post-fast too, but on a whole or typically we really want the majority of it to be [unintelligible] vegetables, maybe even starchy vegetables, and then a smaller portion [unintelligible].

(32:49) – DB: Nice, very nice. Yeah, I think that’s a beautiful diet and it’s just… It’s simple and perfect, it’s how we’re meant to eat.

(33:06) – CV: Yeah.

(33:06) – DB: How we’re meant to eat in the long run. So I’m sure a lot of people are thinking as they’re hearing you, they’re getting excited and they’re thinking, “Hey, why don’t I just do a water fast at home?” So I want you to kind of let us know why is it important to undergo a medically supervised water fast and why should a physician be overseeing people when they choose to go on a fast? Because I think a lot of people get excited and they’re like, “Yeah, I’m just gonna do it.” Tell us a little bit about that.

(33:38) – CV: Absolutely. Yeah. And I love this question because that I feel like, within the last year, probably since the term intermittent fasting has come out, we have had a lot of people reach out to TrueNorth because of the fact that they’ve actually started to do fasting on their own and gotten themselves into quite a bit of trouble. So there is the [unintelligible] it seems easy enough. It’s like, “Well, I’m just gonna stop eating, I’m going to a water fast. But there are very, very specific nuances which can actually create more harm than good to the body, so it really is important to be medically supervised.

(34:22) – CV: And these are just some of the things that I hear about all and I actually talk to many of these patients. So these are some of the things… So one is what happens is if you aren’t prepping like I said, if you don’t do a food prep to get yourself ready for this extreme state of enhanced detoxification and healing. What can happen is people can actually start to have intense vomiting, intense nausea, people can have really really horrible different kinds of pain patterns that come up that they don’t know how to deal with. And just a little bit of vomiting is not that big of a deal, but sometimes people get into super vomiting and they don’t know what to do, so they end up in the hospital because they actually get dehydrated a lot of times. Another thing is, during a water fast. So what we do at TrueNorth we actually, when you come to TrueNorth you’re gonna see one of us or one of our attending physicians, and so you’re gonna be seen head to toe like you’re gonna have a full intake, you’re gonna have a full physical exam, you’re gonna have blood work done to make sure you’re safe to water fast, So some conditions… Just so you can understand that if you’re on multiple medications, we need to be weaning you off of that or you need to be weaning yourself off of it with your doctor at home to make sure that you can water fast without any medications because it’s just not safe. So that’s where the risk [unintelligible] fasting.

(35:50) – CV: The only one that we allow really is a thyroid and we really accurately modify that during the water fast. But then on top of it if somebody say has arrhythmia or a-fib, he might not be a candidate for water fasting. So if somebody has diabetes type one, they’re not a candidate for water fasting. Most chronic kidney cases like chronic kidney disease are not a candidate. So these are things that we could pick up and look at lab work, and see where a person is. Extreme anaemia, many times is not a candidate for water fasting. So this is the thing… These are the things that we’re really monitoring and watching out for because in some cases when you juice cleanse, it’s gonna be super more impactful than even doing a water fast. So that’s what happens when you first come in. When you’re there or when you’re here at TrueNorth, what we then do is that we will monitor you twice a day. So we’re taking vitals in the morning, we’re doing vitals at night, we are really assessing a person. People have 24/7, 24 hours, seven days a week access to online on-site person that is there. We are always on call, just to make sure if somebody is in trouble. And so and then also we do testing along the way, we’re doing urine tests we’re doing once a week, we’re doing blood work once a week.

(37:09) – CV: There are many cases, I will be honest, there are many cases where a person feels great, and they’re like, “I have no symptoms.” They’re not having any of the detox symptoms, but then their lab work comes back and we start to see severe maybe kidney hypo-functioning or we start to see electrolytes start to drop. And they’re really, they’re taking in enough water, they’re not taking in too much water, they’re doing all the right things, but we start to see this shifts because that’s where the body’s at. And so we can make accurate modifications to their program in those situations, so they don’t end up in trouble because when I talk to people who do water fasting outside of a medically supervised facility that’s what I see. People end up in the hospital and they’re like, “I don’t get it. Why did I end up in the hospital?” Or, “Why am I feeling so lousy?” Or, “How do I get out of this state? And I don’t know whether or not this is normal or not.” And when you have people that have been doing this for years or for decades even. We can also inspect whether this is a flare and this is something that really needs to be stopped right then and there, or if it’s a healing crisis where the person is just beginning to get much better and gonna get improvement from it. So that’s the difference, and that’s what’s so important about medical supervision.

(38:28) – DB: Right? Yeah, I think it’s just, it’s that support too. And then understanding where they are, doing all those exams, and being able to monitor it is, yeah, it’s incredibly important for everyone starting it. So I think it’s a great way to motivate people, but also to tell them that somebody needs to be watching it the whole way through too.

(38:50) – CV: And also just to say, also the emotional mental support as well. So there is a level where I’ve had many patients say, “I probably,” and I’m gonna say this really loosely. But they were like, “I wish I could have done this on my own,” like the shorter one, like a five-day one. But the fact that they had a medical team around that actually knew the nuances and the ins and outs of what would come up or how to treat and how to interact at certain stages was so much more relaxing for them because you need to be in a relaxing state. The body, it’s so much harder for the body to heal if you’re not in a true true relaxed state. And that’s what TrueNorth offers, is that you’re gonna be in a state where you’re so taken care of, and so monitored, and it’s a beautiful facility that you are able to get the highest level of healing that you can get.

(39:46) – DB: Right. And that’s so nice to just to be able to talk to somebody about what’s going on ’cause things change in your body and feeling comfortable with that during that time too. There’s a lot of changes on the way, I’m sure, going through it. So tell me about some of the top health benefits that you have seen through this process, through the fasting process.

(40:12) – CV: Yeah. There’s so many in the last… I really do, I feel so blessed because I can honestly say that pretty much every day, I witness a sort of miracle happen where people are just like, “I never ever thought I would have my health back,” or “I never thought I could walk again,” or “I never thought I could take a full breath,” or whatever it is. And so what I have seen, so as I kinda of mentioned briefly, there’s so many amazing effects that the water fasting can bring. It can, it has the ability to reset the microbiome, it has the ability of resting the digestive systems, it’s on a cellular level, autophagy is happening. So we’re helping with the receptor types so people can actually improve their sensitivity and start to reverse insulin resistance and diabetes. I’ve seen people reverse those kinds of chronic diseases. I see it pretty much every day where people are able to reverse hypertension.

(41:31) – CV: I see, I just had a patient and it was just phenomenal, she had rheumatoid arthritis, she was on multiple medications, and literary at the end of her fast, she had no pain. And before, she wasn’t even able to move her fingers. At the end I remember seeing her and I was like, “Oh my gosh. Are you moving your fingers?” She was like, “Yeah, I totally forgot [unintelligible] Yeah, so it’s just really exciting [unintelligible] Case studies where we’ve had follicular lymphoma where lymph nodes have regressed. And so [unintelligible] in remission. We’ve seen, oh my god, there’s so many things, skin. Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis. I have one patient that I am following now, and he just continues every day.

(42:22) – CV: You should see it. It is like the psoriasis has just like is continually disappearing as he… From fasting and eating more of the whole foods plant-based diet as well. Yeah, it’s just really profound. Really, really profound and even interestingly enough even individuals that have been put into, say, nursing homes or individuals that have thought that they’ve lost their cognitive ability, just switching them into a whole food plant-based diet helps them. We’ve seen people come to life. We see people start to do that word recall or start to have a little bit more energy or be able to function more in day to day life. That’s what it looks like. So I don’t even, I don’t even need to be water fasting, many people can get such profound effects just from food or even a juice cleanse so.

(43:18) – DB: Hey, I love that, I love to hear all of that too. It sounds amazing that you got to see all of these things every day too, just from teaching the foundations.

(43:26) – CV: Absolutely. Absolutely.

(43:29) – DB: So do you have any specific research studies that you like that you wanna share with us about water fasting in general? I know you guys are putting together a lot of them right now, as we speak. Do you have any favorite ones or anything that you like to use?

(43:46) – CV: Yeah, Well, some of… Just to set the stage too, you can look on healthpromoting.com, that’s TrueNorth’s website, it has an amazing… We actually have a whole research arm that we are really [unintelligible] So, like I said, it’s so exciting. And on the website, you can actually access all the research that we’ve already done and also links to some that we are going to be doing. But some of my favorites probably include [unintelligible] done a couple and [unintelligible] profound in even two weeks. This is, on average, on average in two-weeks how people can really reverse their hypertension and this is from being even years on medications. And never thinking that they have the ability to be off of medicine and be normal [unintelligible]. Those are probably some of the most… Those are some of the more profound ones. Like I said, it’s part of the research but there is an amazing amazing case study that we published about follicular lymphoma. It was a 41 year old female that was able to go into remission with just 21-day water fast and she’s still in remission after a year. Actually, it’s more than a year now. One of the other amazing amazing case studies that we have is a woman who’s had like 17 years of chronic chronic headaches and after 2 40-day water fasts, she was basically cured of her headaches.

(45:28) – CV: So that was one of the most amazing case studies. I really do love the work of Valter Longo he is an amazing, amazing researcher out of Italy, and he’s also in Southern California. And he’s the one that really kind of, I think, put intermittent fasting or fasting into the public’s eye and he has the longevity diet out, but he has a couple of different research papers that really show the benefits of even just doing shortened fasts, like even anywhere from three to four days. And he’s showing just the profound effects on how fasting alone can contribute to longevity overall, and so he gets really specific into the cellular mechanisms involved in that. So that’s really powerful. And those are some of my favorite ones. And you could find him on PubMed as well. So those are probably the ones that I always… And actually he has one too where now even in the oncology world, people are recognizing how powerful it is to be in this ketosis state for general healing and also for allowing chemotherapy to work. So he…

(46:46) – CV: We now know that if you are able to fast before even maybe during and then after chemotherapy, and there’s actually oncologist now that are actually recommending that which is super, super exciting. So those are probably the research studies that I just go to and just really recommend people looking into if they’re really interested, but the website is really powerful if you wanna just look at what we have.

(47:15) – DB: I think that’s a great resource to get people started and to read. I wanna read more too definitely about it. You’re getting me excited.

(47:24) – CV: And it’s been around for centuries and centuries. But now we’re finally understanding what we used to do probably more than we do in today’s society, what the power is behind it.

(47:41) – DB: Yeah, having that science to show what it’s actually doing, that cultures and monks and different people have been doing this for thousands and thousands of years and…

(47:51) – CV: Yeah.

(47:53) – DB: Now we’re understanding it more. So I wanna talk about the science of fasting. You have this amazing background in acupuncture, oriental medicine, naturopathic medicine. So tell us how you incorporate all of this knowledge into your patients and how you use that to help them in different areas too?

(48:18) – CV: Yeah, actually, great question. So, while fasting… I’ll start here. While water fasting is super super powerful, what I will say, and this is what I always kind of prefaced my lectures on, is that water fasting is not a cure-all… And so what I mean about that is that there is this amazing… And I wish I had it, but there’s an amazing image that it’s health continuum image. Which is one side, you have chronic disease, so that could be anything: Cancer autoimmune, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease. And then in the middle you have this comfort zone or perceived comfort zone, and then you work towards optimal health, right? This is like freedom… When you think about it, one of my taglines is: Health is true wealth. And I love that because it really is, if you think about it, there is nothing in the world that feels as good or tastes as good or that is as good as what healthy feels like, when you feel so good and you’re sleeping well, and you have bounds of energy, and you can think appropriately, and you have good memory, and you’re reacting well to situations, and you don’t have pain in the body, you can walk, you can do all this stuff. That is optimal, that’s optimal health.

(49:46) – CV: Many times what we’re doing is we are fluctuating between this entire continuum and it is a continuum. At any stage we can be working towards chronic disease at any stage we can be working towards optimal health. Water fasting, it’s not a cure-all because remember, you can’t water fast for the rest of your life. This is… It’s a very specific treatment modality that we utilize to get people going towards optimal health, but it really is what people are doing post water fast… And the reason I set that stage is because while somebody’s in water fasting, I utilize some of the things that I have done, like acupuncture, so I can do active pressure points in a water fasting situation where I can help relieve some of these, “Side effects or detox symptoms that come up.” I do cranial sacral therapy as well, so we can help patients, especially with traumatic brain injury, really go through the fast a little bit easier.

(50:44) – CV: And just on note, we have massage therapists, we have chiropractors, we have people who do different kinds of therapies that can help support someone during the water fast with me afterwards. There are people that come out of a water fast they do feel better, they do get improvement, but they’re not in that optimal health. They’re working towards that, but they’re still even in that in that spectrum of like disease state. And so that’s where naturopathic medicine comes into play and that’s where acupuncture comes into play, and it’s about supporting the person. So here’s just an example, in a case of, let’s say, auto-immune case, like rheumatoid arthritis. Potentially, it’s not just about saying, “Hey, you have auto-immune,” it’s about why did you… Why did this happen in your body? Like what caused it? And I’m always searching and always going deep into let’s find out what’s the underlining cause. Is it just stress, is it maybe multiple viral infections, is it mold exposures, is it toxicants? There’s so many things and sometimes it’s a variety of each that could then maybe create a little bit of dysbiosis in the gut and maybe there is increase intestinal permeability.

(52:00) – CV: So there are these different stages. Water fasting is amazing ’cause it gets the person one level up and maybe allows them this beautiful sense of decrease symptom, but then there’s a lot of support that goes into play. So that’s where my training comes in, where I can offer botanical medicine ’cause like I said, there’s a time and a place for everything. We can talk about diet. How do we change up your lifestyle where you’re sleeping more, you are maybe less stressed or how you’re responding to stressors is a little bit better? How do we build a strong sense of community, if that’s what’s missing in your life. How do I help? I help patients find… Not find their sense of purpose, but also start to recognize how beautiful and important it is for you to wake up loving your life, loving where you are and finding things that are gonna give you that sense of joy, right?

(52:51) – CV: It’s not… What I do is not necessarily difficult, it’s more about really helping people understand that they have this amazing ability to heal themselves. And it’s about giving them basically the tools in my toolbox and helping them steer and steer them in the right direction. And sometimes I use supplements, sometimes I even do hormone replacement. So it just depends upon where they are and what they need in order to get to that level of optimal health. So that’s how I utilize what I’ve learned with what I’m doing currently.

(53:26) – DB: Right, and that’s so great too ’cause you have so many amazing tools, and you can use them here and there and figure out and adjust as you go.

(53:36) – CV: Absolutely, yeah.

(53:37) – DB: I think that’s great. Well, thank you very much for sharing all of this amazing information today. I think it’s an amazing resource for people to learn from, to hear about and tell us how we can get a hold of you. How we can find you? How our listeners can find your websites or?

(53:58) – CV: I love it, I love working with you. Yeah, and I love talking about this because I feel like it really is something that we need in today’s society. And I feel like it’s so exciting that we’re doing research, and we’re gonna be, I think, hitting larger and larger groups of people. But you can reach me… So you can definitely reach me through TrueNorth. So healthpromoting.com. I do… You can reach the front desk and get consultations. And actually I see people on not only an inpatient, but we also have an outpatient as well. So if you’re local to Santa Rosa or local to California, I do see a lot of patients in that setting. I just launched my website. I’m so excited. That was a long time coming, so it’s drcsillaveress.com, so D-R-C-S-I-L-L-A-V-E-R-E-S-S.com. You can find me on Twitter. I’m not as prolific on Twitter. And then I’m also on Instagram, so that’s Csilla Veress NDLAC. So those are the main kind of avenues I’m using right now for social media. So.

(55:09) – DB: Perfect.

(55:10) – CV: Sorry, Facebook too. Of course, Csilla Veress. I keep forgetting about that one. Yeah.

(55:18) – DB: Yes, the one that we’re launching on here too but we’re having everywhere else, too…

(55:23) – CV: Truth be told I try to have a healthy balance with social media. So it’s hard in today’s society, but I’m trying to really have a really good awareness around it, I guess you could say.

(55:39) – DB: It’s all about the balance, it’s balancing everything out there… Okay. Well, thank you very much for joining us today, and I’m glad everybody can find different ways to reach you. And we’ll make sure to list that all when we post this interview as well.

(55:55) – CV: Awesome.

(55:56) – DB: Thank you very much.

(55:57) – CV: Thank you. Have a great afternoon.

(56:00) – MB: Thanks you too.

Want to connect with Dr. Csilla Veress?  Visit her here.

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