Recorded Live, Catch this educational interview with Dr. Rachel Winstedt one of our Science Advisory Board Members. She will be answering all types of questions from common skin conditions she see’s in her clinic to the foundations of naturopathic philosophy.
Read the transcribed version below…
00:03 Dr. Michele Burklund: Hello everyone. My name is Dr. Michele Burklund. I’m the Chief Science Officer here at Puriya. And you might have noticed I’ve been doing a lot of Q and A sessions on Fridays, and another exciting addition is our interview series. And today, I have with me Dr. Rachel Winstedt. Say hello Rachel.
00:24 Dr. Rachel Winstedt: Hi, pleasure to be here.
00:27 DB: Rachel is actually a naturopathic doctor and she’s going to be part of our Science Advisory Board too, so she’s gonna be a part of the team giving lots of great advice. I want you to meet her. And I will give you a little bit about her background, ’cause it’s quite extensive. So I’m gonna give an introduction. And Rachel, feel free to chime in at any time, too.
00:55 DB: Dr. Rachel Winstedt completed her pre-med studies at the University of Washington where she earned a degree in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. After working in the medical field for several years, she was feeling burnt out until she met a naturopathic doctor who introduced her to the idea of treating the root cause of an illness rather than treating the symptoms of the disease. She was drawn to the idea of using this scientific method to treat the underlying cause of an illness and was inspired by naturopathic medicine’s ability to unite cutting-edge technology and research with highly effective therapies. She attended medical school at Bastyr University and over time, she decided to specialize in naturopathic neurology. Ironically, she chose her specialty because many people in her life were affected by neurological disease.
01:49 DB: Dr. Winstedt treats many neurological conditions including chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, depression, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, and Alzheimer’s. She in particularly loves helping patients optimize cognitive function and has a special interest in chronic infections like Lyme disease and heavy metal toxicity. Doctor, scientist, and healer, she tirelessly investigates symptoms to find the root cause. She is particularly interested in the connection between neuroendocrine disorders and gut health dysbiosis as they relate to neurological and mental health challenges. She feels these root causes are often misunderstood in today’s social and medical cultures. She works with methylation, genetic mutations, advanced intravenous and nutrient therapies, injection therapies, heavy metal testings and treatments, including chelation therapies. Wow, that is quite an extensive background Dr. Winstedt.
02:53 DW: What can I say? I’ve spent a lot of money and time on conferences, and just continuing ed. And where there’s passion, there’s a will to learn.
03:06 DB: Definitely. I’m excited that everybody gets to meet you today too and learn more about your background as well. I wanna remind all of our listeners that we will not have time to answer questions live, but feel free to put them in the comments below as well. So sorry, go ahead.
03:25 DW: It’s just, I’m so thrilled to be here and be able to be part of the advisory board. This is a great company. I’m really excited about the direction the company is taking just to help the world have better skin and better brain health, and the potential here to help our world be a better place is immense.
03:49 DW: I guess like any other person, a great motivator for me has been pain. Pain of watching the people I love unable to function. Watching my grandmother pass away before my eyes from dementia has been a huge thing for me. It’s motivating really every step of my career path. Brain health is a huge focus of my practice. But as you have listed, I do a lot of different things to help optimize brain health. And to be honest with you, skin is a big warning sign that something’s not right. Unexplained rashes could be thyroid-related, it could be heavy metals, it could be a stealth infection that causes the brain to not function well. As a result of my many, many, many years of study and treating chronically ill patients, I have discovered that a great approach to helping them heal and overcome the pain in their lives is to use a hybrid approach of diet and lifestyle, botanicals and removing obstacles to cure.
05:13 DB: I love that, I love that. And I think it teaches a lot of people who are watching too, kind of how a naturopathic doctor looks at so many different elements to get the full story, too. And your skin is a mirror for what’s going on inside on so many different levels as well.
05:30 DW: Absolutely, absolutely 100%. It tells us about hormones, it tells us about chemicals you may be coming in to on a day-to-day basis that you don’t even know are affecting both your brain and your skin. Even the flame retardants that we had to spray in California to stop wildfires are now showing up in our wine, and that directly affects our skin. It affects our liver function, it affects our kidney function, it affects our ability to be present. We have to make considerations that’s beyond prescribing a pill. If I haven’t talked to a patient about something beyond the prescription I’m writing them, I haven’t done my job and nor has any other doctor.
06:15 DB: Right, right. And here at Puriya, that’s kind of our focus too is addressing the root cause. We have a lot of great remedies and we’re putting together great supplements, but we wanna help give people the whole package and address all different areas too. So, I’m gonna lead in. We kinda went over your passion for neurology and your family background, so I’m gonna ask you the next question. There’s a lot of exciting research going on right now in neuroendocrine disorders, and gut health. Can you tell our audience more about this connection?
06:50 DW: Absolutely, so when I was in middle school, there is this project called The Human Genome Project and it took us a year to figure out our whole genetic sequence and they had all this money left over, and from that they launched something called the Human Microbiome Project. It’s kind of cool to think that we have more cells that are bacteria in our body and on our skin, than we have cells that are our own. Basically our genetics are about as complicated as a carrot, actually a little less complicated than a carrot. Weird. And it’s actually the bacteria in our body that makes us who we are. It helps us express our genes our DNA in different ways. And one of the ways that it does it is the bacteria in our small and large intestine, especially our large intestine, acts as a little brain. It has a huge influence on our serotonin, which is our joy hormone, our dopamine, which is an important neurotransmitter for focus. A lot of people with Attention Deficit and autism have really challenged GI health, meaning they have chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea.
08:14 DW: When there is an agent in our gut, whether it is a bacteria that shouldn’t be there, a parasite or a toxin, it will interrupt that small brain, and if that small brain is interrupted our big brain doesn’t feel good and our big brain controls our whole body. So there’s a lot of research out there right now and I think we’re only at the beginning, we’re we will soon just have so many medications and therapies that directly address gut bacteria to affect the whole body.
08:56 DB: Yeah, I feel like there’s more and more clinical studies coming out, linking it and showing the connection and giving an evidence-based medicine, with mental illness, anxiety, depression, so many things and it’s just the beginning to see the complexity of the body and how those two different things interact.
09:13 DW: Thank goodness our DNA wasn’t super complicated so that they had the money to start this project. But it’s been going on since I was a freshman in high school or so. So it’s a long history, it’s just taking much longer to get into medical practice.
09:34 DB: Yeah, yeah. That’s part of it too, waiting for all the evidence to show up and all the science to catch up.
09:42 DW: And everyone who’s taught it in med school, to become practicing doctors and seeing their own patients and implementing it.
09:51 DB: Yes. I agree, I agree. So here at Puriya we have a lot of customers that suffer from skin conditions, like eczema, many of them complain that it gets worse during stress. So, I figured we’ll tied us into stress a little bit and what’s going on. As a primary care doctor do you see a lot of patients who suffer from stress or have stress-related conditions? So tell me more about that and what you see in your clinical practice.
10:19 DW: I would say, probably almost every single one of my patients has some stress in their lives. Even good change is stressful. Certainly most of my eczema and skin cases have a component of stress where they are not able to eat well or their hormones are imbalanced and it’s worse during certain times of the month, come on ladies, we all know that our skin breaks out in cycles, or after they’ve had a child, their skin goes crazy. Stress is a huge component of hypertension, of inability to get out and spend 15 minutes exercising a day, which we know helps our whole body, but stress is probably the number one reason people visit their doctor, whether they say the words I’m stressed out or not, it just plays a role systemically in our whole body. And as a primary care doctor, if I haven’t asked you about what’s going on in your life, I haven’t really done my job. I need to know where you’re struggling so that I can offer at least an encouraging word if not a supplement or a suggestion to help improve your stress resilience.
11:41 DB: I love that. I love that. ‘Cause stress affects every area of your life, it lowers your immune system, it increases inflammation, it disturbs your sleep. So it’s such a key component, but it often gets overlooked, I feel like too, when you go in to see the doctor, he might ask you everything, but that. So I think that’s very important.
12:00 DW: And yet it’s kind of the root cause of so many things, as you mentioned, stress, inflammation, loss of sleep. They’re all intertwined. It’s like a tapestry. We can’t just pull one thread out and say, “Oh we fixed you.” It’s not that simple. And I wish it was, it’s just not.
12:20 DB: No, this is great going into the next question, because as a naturopathic doctor, you learn about treating the whole person and the foundations of health. Can you explain to our viewers right now, what that means, treating the whole person, and what are the foundations of health?
12:38 DW: Sure, the foundations of health is a principle that says we deserve clean air, we deserve rest, we deserve food that is healthy. It’s basically all those things that your mother told you when you were in pre-school; to drink water, to sleep, to go to bed on time, to brush our teeth, those things that help us function and be vital. It’s the therapies that provide us the building blocks to be strong, to be nourished, and to let the body heal itself. So that’s a big component of naturopathic medicine is trusting that once we’ve removed the obstacles to healing that the body will have the resilience to heal itself, and that our pain will reduce and go away.
13:34 DW: Treating the whole person, for me, means looking at us like a house. It doesn’t make sense for us to add a second bedroom or build on an extension if our foundation is crumbling. To that effect, I talk to my patients about how are they eating, when are they eating, what’s their sleep look like, are they getting enough water, how are they pooping. Yes, I talk a lot about poop ’cause it tells us directly about the gut-brain connection and also tells us about just the internal environment.
14:11 DW: If you’re not pooping, there’s a good chance that your brain isn’t happy. You may have anxiety or depression, you probably have inflammation, your skin certainly will start breaking out, your liver will be congested. You’re gonna feel just like the world is not a great place to be. And, again, all these things will increase your stress. So talking about the foundations, treating the whole person, is a great way to heal inside and out. And, again, it goes back to me being selfish and not wanting people to be in pain and watch someone they love suffer from a neurological disease like dementia or ADHD. I’m selfish like that. I don’t want my patients to hurt.
14:58 DB: You’re an amazing doctor and I think everybody is very lucky to have you, and to have you looking out for them in all different areas too. And I think that’s just such a great thing to show our viewers is how a naturopathic doctor can do it differently by looking at all these variables and even simple, simple changes can have profound effects if you have the foundation correct.
15:23 DW: Even being dehydrated by 2% can make your brain feel slow and sluggish. Lack of focus? Have you had a glass of water recently? It’s just common sense and, again, it’s something my mother probably could have told me when I was a child but I get to tell my patients this. And the cool thing is it’s free. So many of these therapies are inexpensive and free, and help give us the freedom to live pain-free.
15:53 DB: Definitely. Yeah, I was in China a lot over this last year and clean air is a luxury there and it’s something we take for granted in the States, and in a lot of places. And then you learn such simple things, like fresh air, when you go to a new place to breathe. The true foundations of health, something so basic and that’s taken for granted can have such a profound effect on your health. So, yeah, that was a lesson right there. Something I never thought about, I had to really consider when I was there.
16:28 DW: And this is how a naturopathic doctor can tailor your treatment. They know what is in your environment. They spend an hour, or an hour and a half, getting to know you and they can ask, “Oh, where have you traveled?” “Oh, China.” “Okay, what was the weather like in China?” “Smoggy all of the time; everyone wore a face mask?” “Hmm. Let’s check and see if you have environmental toxicity. That may be the root of your symptoms.” And I just feel so blessed that in my career, I’ve been able to have long conversations with my patients ’cause my patients tell me what is going on, what’s wrong and it’s me who has to listen closely. Our patients are wise, their bodies are wise. I just give the right words and some therapeutic suggestions to the problems that they already know and tell me they have.
17:33 DB: Yeah, it’s listening too. It’s the art of listening that I think, that’s so important. So I’m gonna jump on to the next question. Statistics say that the number one reason people visit their primary care doctor is because of pain. And so a large group of our viewers and our customers here at Puriya suffer from muscle aches, arthritis, a lot of different issues involving pain. So what are some treatments that you would advise for people who suffer from this condition? And I know, of course, it’s all individualized but let’s hear your thoughts overall.
18:11 DW: Oh, wow, you’re right. Pain is a big reason why people come to the doctor. Actually, botanical medicine is my favorite go-to for getting people with arthritis out of pain. Turmeric is this wonderful thing that’s used in Indian curries but it’s also an anti-inflammatory. It is a systemic botanical, meaning a herb or plant that is medicine, and it can help reduce inflammation in more effective ways than even things like ibuprofen and Tylenol can.
18:50 DW: It also is very gentle on the liver, it’s great for the brain, it can help reduce inflammation in the brain and detox out things like aluminum, which is one of those things that we don’t even realize we’re getting on a day-to-day basis. It’s in our cooking utensils and pans, and turmeric is fantastic for that inflammation, especially for arthritis type pain and muscle pain. It also works really synergistically with something called Boswellia. Boswellia is also known as frankincense. It is a botanical medicine that’s been used for thousands of years. It’s actually one of the gifts that the three wise men brought to the baby Jesus in the Bible, and it works to reduce arthritic pain almost better than anything I can prescribe over-the-counter from a pharmacy.
19:50 DW: The other botanical I love to go to for arthritis is castor oil. Castor oil is this thick, very anti-inflammatory oil that I have patients apply to joints or over their liver. It’s one of those things where it’s inexpensive, people can do it in the comfort of their own home, and the only side effect is it may stain your favorite T-shirt if you are so inclined to wear your favorite T-shirt while doing the therapy. Overall, just a really safe, wonderful group of therapies to reduce pain, and they work really quickly.
20:36 DB: Very nice, yeah. Here at Puriya we have our Ultra Relief Cream, and it’s a combination of menthol, so you have that cooling effect that reduces the pain sensation, you have chamomile extract to help as like a nervine, and MSN to drive it in deeper. And all of these things combined, I think, are the perfect combination to help relieve it topically. And I’ve been doing a lot of research on pain this week because we have a question and answer on Friday about it. And there’s such a huge mental-emotional component.
21:11 DW: Absolutely.
21:12 DB: As well.
21:14 DW: Absolutely. There’s actually research that shows when you go in to get a massage, if your pain is above a seven, it will change the structures of your brain. So there is a neurological response and remodeling of the brain to pain. We need to help people address pain, not only the mechanical joint itself, but the nerves that innervate the joint. They innervate the tissue layers above it, meaning the skin and the muscle. If we can reduce the muscle pain and the skin pain, we can directly affect the joint pain. There may be nothing we can do to repair a knee that’s bone on bone, but we could certainly help reduce that inflammatory response in the layers above, especially with the chamomile and the MSN and the menthol. I love that combination. That’s a fantastic combination.
22:17 DB: Awesome. Well, thank you for talking about pain. I feel like pain can go on forever, even in my question and answer session. We can just go on and on with this one.
22:27 DW: I’m trying to be brief because, you’re right, we could write a whole novel on pain and the wonderful botanicals that can help people live pain free and strong.
22:39 DB: Yes, our goal is to put together a guide for certain conditions here at Puriya, and pain management or arthritis is going to be one that I’m going to be developing over the next couple weeks. So we’ll integrate different hydrotherapy and mental-emotional components for that as well. So I’m gonna move on to the next question, and this one’s a tough one. It’s, if you could give some general advice to our listeners right now, some general health advice, what would it be?
23:14 DW: Oh, it’s so hard. There’s so many things. How long do we have? Okay, just a couple things. Schedule time in your life, and, I mean, hopefully on a daily basis, for yourself. Take 10 minutes before you brush your teeth in the morning to stretch and move your body. Drink water. Most working professionals that I work with, and I work with a lot of really high-powered people in the technical field, they don’t stop to drink water and their brains are feeling really sluggish. Take time to enjoy your meals. Sit down with your family, put your phones away, detox some of that electronic over-stimulus, and look at how your food is. Are you eating vegetables and fruits that are on the dirty dozen? If you are, switch over to the organic forms of them. God, we could go on forever on general advice.
24:32 DW: But one last piece is take five minutes to do deep breathing. We want to oxygenate your whole body. Oxygen is one of those fantastic things that will help us repair tissues, clear out toxins that cause inflammation, and help us digest our food better. And we know happy gut, happy brain, happy skin, it’s all connected.
25:00 DB: It is, it’s all connected. I think that should be the tagline for this one. It’s all connected somehow.
25:06 DW: Oh, it should be, ‘Bodies are weird, it’s all connected.’
25:12 DB: Sure, everyone’s individual and it’s all connected. So here at Puriya, we love botanical medicine. And I want to ask you, what are your favorite five medicinal plants and why?
25:27 DW: It’s hard to pick five, but my first one is coffee. As a working mom of two young kids, I rely, sometimes a little bit more than I should, on coffee. It’s fantastic. It is a bitter digestive, it helps with priming my whole body to use the nutrients that I’m eating for breakfast and lunch more efficiently. It also helps encourage dopamine production in the brain, which helps with focus and concentration. Definitely my favorite. Other ones that I really love are dandelion root, and leaf, but the root especially, it’s great for liver support. On a day-to-day basis, I am getting toxins in ’cause I drive a car to my office. And just a little bit of dandelion in my tea during the day can help me detox all those chemicals that are potentially causing changes in my adrenal function and my hormones.
26:35 DW: Third favorite is rosemary. Rosemary is one of those cool botanicals that we also use in our kitchen. It helps increase blood flow to the brain and can help with memory and focus, as can peppermint, but probably rosemary is just a little bit more, my favorite. Oh, you’re making me choose between all my favorites. Other ones that I really love are licorice. Licorice is a wonderful plant. No, I don’t mean the red licorice you get when you go to the movies. What I mean is the black licorice, Egyptian licorice. It helps support adrenal function. In addition to adrenal function support, it’s also a fantastic antiviral, so it can help stave off those colds and infections that we all seem to get, especially the folks who have young children. Last one curcumin. I love curcumin, hands down one of my favorite anti-inflammatories. It helps with systemic inflammation in the muscles, it helps with even detoxing our heavy metals, it can help detox our liver. It’s fantastic just as an overall pain relief. If you had to make me choose, those are my top five.
28:06 DB: Very nice, and that makes me ask one last question, because this is the month of Mother’s Day and mothers are being celebrated. And you, a mother of two. And so I want to ask you, how do you find the balance? How do you maintain self-care and get through the day, with everything you have on your plate? With seeing patients, having two amazing kids, how do you do it? Tell us all.
28:33 DW: It’s not easy. I don’t know if I have achieved balance, but I kind of came to this realization that you could have work-life harmony. Where sometimes my work life would take more and sometimes my home life would take more. I’m really blessed to have two great kids. They’re healthy, they’re for the most part, happy. It’s always a wonderful thing to have healthy, happy kids. And I work with some fantastic people at my clinic. They really help me put our patients first. Mothers, we work a lot, either at our professional jobs or at our home life. And I guess I just, I would say I do the best I can. I try to make time for myself, I enjoy my cup of coffee in the morning before my kids are up and that’s my time. I schedule time, it’s in my Google Calendar to exercise and I really try not to ignore that. It’s 15 minutes in my day where I will swing my kettlebell or I will do stretching. There’s a fantastic number of apps, for free, that have all these quick, easy workouts that you can do. And that’s what I do to help, kind of keep myself in balance. But you’re right, Mother’s Day, mothers work hard.
30:05 DB: Yes, and this month is all about celebrating mothers. And I think that you’re a great example of keeping the balance and the balance is always a work in progress, I guess. But you do an amazing job with everything you have going on.
30:19 DW: Moms, give yourself a break, you’re working hard. Ask for help when you need it, you deserve a little bit of help or a lot actually, a lot of help.
30:30 DB: Okay, awesome. Do you have anything else to talk to our viewers today? I’m glad they got to meet you, and they’re gonna see a lot more of you in the future.
30:41 DW: Oh, there are so many things we could talk about, but probably not for today’s discussion. We’d be here all week, honestly. I’m so thrilled to be part of this company. Puriya is working so hard to help create content and resources that are scientifically based, and a good marriage of both scientific research and traditional therapies that are effective with the least number of possible side effects. I’m just so thrilled to be here with you all today.
31:23 DB: We’re excited to have you on the board. So I’m glad this was a great introduction and we had a lot of great questions for you this time around, too. So I will let you go, I know you’re busy and that you’re seeing a lot of patients today as well. So thank you for fitting us in.
31:39 DW: Oh, it’s my pleasure.
31:42 DB: Okay, Rachel. Well, we will see you soon. Take care.
31:50 DW: Thank you.
31:50 DB: Bye.
31:50 DW: Bye.
We named our interview series ‘Living Well’ based on the Ancient Greek term “Eudaimonia” translating to doing and living well. The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle uses this term in relation to balance in all areas of life. At Puriya, we believe that living well encompasses much more than health but all aspects of life.