Today we’re talking about how Prevention is the Best Cure. My guest today is Razi Ann Berry. She is the host and publisher of the award-winning journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, The International Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, and the preventive health resource NaturalPath.
Razi Ann Berry has an incredible personal journey from illness to health was the catalyst to her interest in naturopathic medicine and her career. She has spent the last decade educating people to live healthier more purposeful lives through publications that bring together leaders in natural and preventive medicine, as well as empowering millions of people to embrace the philosophy that “Prevention is the Best Cure.”
In today’s interview, Razi Ann Berry shares her powerful story and what we can learn from her experience. We discuss how prevention, addressing the root cause and understanding the healing properties of nature are key to optimal health and a vibrant life.
Topics discussed today include:
- 15 years ago Razi Ann Berry became very ill with body aches and fatigue, it was affecting her entire life, and she went from Doctor to Doctor trying to find help
- She searched all over for help and found an integrative medicine clinic, they helped some, then she discovered naturopathic medicine
- With the naturopathic medicine things shifted almost immediately
- Lifestyle habits and how our bodies really work are the key to finding health
- The rise of patient knowledge is happening faster than the healthcare system is changing
- 5 Tenets of Naturopathic medicine from a patient’s perspective
- Do no harm
- Find and treat the cause
- Treat the whole person
- Healing power of nature
- Prevention is the best cure
The tenets of naturopathic medicine are really beautiful. The healing powers of nature can be effective. It’s a profound philosophy and distinct way to heal the body.
Mentioned on today’s show:
Additional links to check out:
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Dr. Trevor: Hi there, I’m Dr. Trevor Cates. Welcome to the Spa Doctor Podcast. Today, we’re talking about how prevention is the best cure. My guest is Razi Ann Berry, she’s the host and publisher of the award winning journal Naturopathic Doctor News and Reviews, The International Journal Of Naturopathic Medicine And Preventive Health Resource Natural Path.
Her personal journey from illness to health was the catalyst to her interest in naturopathic medicine and her career change. She has spent the last decade educating people to live healthier, more purposeful lives through publications that bring together leaders and natural medicine as well as empowering millions of people to praise the philosophy that prevention is the best cure.
In today’s interview, Razi shares her powerful story and what we can learn from her experience and how prevention, addressing the root cause and understanding the healing properties of nature are key to optimal health and a vibrant life. Please enjoy this interview.
Razi, it’s great to have you on my show.
Razi: It’s great to be here, thank you Dr. Cates.
Dr. Trevor: Absolutely. I want to start off with your story because I know you have quite a story about personal journey that led you to what you’re doing now.
Razi: Absolutely. I definitely stumbled upon naturopathic medicine, but it was a life changer for me. About 15 years ago, I was single, working, really active. I had my whole future ahead of me. I became very ill. I started getting these body pains that nobody could really diagnose so I would get just terrible pains in my body. Back then, fibromyalgia wasn’t really recognized as an illness by most conventional medical doctors. I was getting daily migraines and fatigue, it was so extreme.
I remember one time, I was living at an apartment at the time. I crawled across the apartment to go to the bathroom. I felt like a lined up doll that needed to be wound. It was affecting my relationship, it was affecting my work. I just went from doctor to doctor trying to find the answer because when they would prescribe something for pain, something to help me sleep because that was a big piece of it too; I wasn’t sleeping well. I just wanted to heal, I didn’t want to just cover everything up with pills that made me feel worse.
I found myself at this multidisciplinary clinic that is really famous, I won’t name it for this team approach to medicine. I was really disappointed. It was basically just a whole team of doctors telling me that it was basically my head. A neurologist would only look at my migraines and would say there’s no tumor, there’s no demyelination, you just have headaches, go on this anti-depressant.
And then this gastro-intestinal doctor would say your GI problems and your stomach pain has nothing to do with your headaches. They really weren’t working together, they were just separately prescribing me buckets of medication.
Finally, I went to a [00:02:18] because the pain was so severe and her answer was for me to go on disability. I was in my early mid-20s, and that is not the life sentence that I want for myself.
15 years ago, there wasn’t as much on the internet, you couldn’t go to your website. I was at libraries and reading books. I found the Integrative Medicine Clinic, I had to go out of the state. That was a start, at least they listened to me, they believed my sentiments. It was still sort of just instead of prescribing medication, they were prescribing supplements, it still wasn’t really getting to the cause.
When I came back home from that, I had to find someone that could continue that care. I found naturopathic medicine because here in Arizona is this college of Naturopathic Medicine. It was the first time that a doctor actually spent time with me asking me questions about my sleeping habits, my work, my lifestyle, what I ate. It was amazing and things just shifted almost immediately.
Dr. Trevor: Wow. That’s a fantastic story. How did you feel about that? What was that experience like?
Razi: It was kind of infuriating and empowering. I was just angry that I had spent so much time and wasted just so much time and even resources just trying to figure out for myself instead of the doctors doing that for me. It was also really empowering because naturopathic medicine taught me that your doctor is a teacher. The naturopathic doctor spends time educating you about your lifestyle habits and the way your body actually works.
We don’t really learn how our body works. When you have a doctor that teaches you that, it becomes a responsibility to take better care of yourself and it also becomes very empowering because now I’m in control instead of just being at the mercy of a medication or a seven minute office visit from a conventional doctor.
Dr. Trevor: Right. I think that you make such a great point about it being empowering and I think that medicine is really changing because those days of the doctor in the white coat just telling you you’re going to do this, no questions asked, this is your plan, do this, go home, that’s it. Those days are ending because that’s not what people want anymore. They want to be involved in their health, they want to be involved in their health care plan for the most part.
Some people just like to be told what to do, but I think most people like to be involved. They like to learn, they want to be a part of it. I see it so much because I have patients come in with stacks of magazines or printing things from the internet or books and bags of supplements because they’ve been doing research on their own. They want that information, they want to take charge of their health.
I really applaud you for learning that. I’m sorry you had to go through that journey to get there but it sounds like it took you to a good place.
Razi: It did. I think you’re absolutely right. It’s changing and people are more educated and more informed. I feel like that the rise of this patient knowledge is happening faster than the health care system is changing. That’s what I love about naturopathic medicine and other forms of alternative medicine is that it kind of operates outside the broken system.
It’s not just the patients that are frustrated. There was a survey done in 2008 and something like only 6% of 12,000 physicians that were surveyed said their morale was positive. Less than 40% of doctors surveyed said that they would become a physician again. The managed care system and the insurance model really dictates how a doctor practices medicine and so for patients to be able to find avenues outside of that is really empowering and I think that is what’s going to drive things further. That’s why I do the work that I do.
Dr. Trevor: Yeah. You’ve shared me you’ve got five tenants of naturopathic medicine from a patient’s perspective. Tell me about that.
Razi: Yes. I never knew about the tenants and the first one is one that all doctors, whether they’re naturopathic physician or MD or DO, it’s an oath that they take and it’s first, do no harm. It’s easy to surmise what that means from a doctor’s point of view. I think that quote was attributed to Hippocrates that it’s a therapeutic order.
You start with the least invasive or least harmful approach to help treat a person’s illness and treat the whole person. As a patient, I have kind of learned to do that in my own life because we’re busy, we have kids, our jobs, our health, busy schedules.
As somebody who is a patient of fibromyalgia chronic fatigue syndrome, there’s no such thing as perfect health. I have my days or times in my life where I don’t feel excellent. I really feel good all the time that there are times of stress or recently when my father passed away that you kind of feel that. The first do no harm tenant is something I always come back to. You have to treat yourself gently.
Part of self love is loving yourself enough to make the right choices. It might not be the most convenient choice, but it’s the healthiest choice.
The next one is find and treat the cause. You really need a good health care practitioner like naturopathic doctors to help you do this. For instance I’m a parent. When your child has a fever and you’re exhausted, maybe the easy thing to do is give them something to take down their fever so everybody can get some sleep. We know that fever is your body’s way of strengthening itself and combating illness. To me, that’s an example of find and treat the cause. You let the fever do its work.
Instead of just charging through, you have to really listen to the subtleness of your body and understand why. Maybe you’re not sleeping as well, maybe you’re saying yes to too many people or to too many projects. Maybe you’re not eating as mindfully. I think those are ways that a patient can incorporate that tenant as well.
The next one is treat the whole person, and I know that you focus a lot on this in your work because as a Spa Doctor, skin is something that’s really important but you don’t just treat there outside of their skin. You look at their whole body systems to make that happen.
As patients, it’s important that we do that also. We look at how our whole body is connected. To move through life understanding that, that our motions and our thoughts, people we surround ourselves with, and the relationships we’re in and our job.
An example for me is I struggled with infertility for six years. I had five miscarriages in a six year period and there were different stages. It was very traumatic and naturopathic medicine had helped me a lot but I still was not able to keep a pregnancy. My naturopathic doctor has said to me, what is it that you need to let go of to make room for this baby? It was really the career that I was in. Sometimes to look at your person as a whole person, you have to ask those tough questions. That was really a big one for me, learning to look at myself as a whole being.
Dr. Trevor: So you had a career that was super stressful, or what was it about your career that was an issue? I don’t want everybody to quit their job unless they really need to.
Razi: It was very stressful. It was contributing to my fibromyalgia in ways that I didn’t realize at the time. At first, I was working in the cosmetics industry which you know a lot about. I was exposed to a lot of toxins and I was in sales as a sales rep.
But then, I moved into new construction sales and real estate. It was high pressure, high sales in Phoenix where the real estate market was just booming, it was just nonstop. On top of that, I was surrounded by chemicals. I had chemical exposure all around me from the off gassing of different materials of construction, paint, solvents, carpet glues. In the sales office too, everything had to look pristine so there were air fresheners plugged in every outlet. That was really lucrative.
I had started slowly putting everything together to start the Journal of Naturopathic Doctor Interview and I was so afraid to let go of this job that was secure and very stressful. I was making really great money at the time and I let go of that, I just decided what I want to do is to empower naturopathic doctors, teach people about naturopathic medicine, and it was a terrifying risk to quit that job but I did. I got pregnant a couple months later.
Dr. Trevor: That was probably a culmination of the balance in your hormones from not being so stressed out. That was probably a big part of it, and then also you mentioned the environmental toxins that you were exposed to may have been impacting your fertility and impacting your hormones as well and making it difficult for you to get pregnant.
When you eliminated that excess exposure of those toxins, both emotional and environmental, then you were able to be in a healthier place because you were in a naturopathic position, you were probably eating a healthy diet, and you were doing a lot of things to support your health overall. You needed to remove that burden of both emotional and environmental toxins to let your body truly heal.
Razi: Absolutely, you’re right. As a naturopathic doctor, you see this all the time. That was just new to me. I didn’t really understand. What you’re saying is sometimes naturopathic medicine is remove the obstacle here, right? Sometimes it takes people outside of you to help you see what those obstacles are, and that goes back to the physician as a teacher.
To take that from a patient’s point of view, it’s finding the right team. I had to learn to fire or hire a doctor. If they don’t allow you hope and they aren’t open to your ideas and things that you want as a patient which naturopathic doctors are excellent at, they really are your partner. You’d have to know when to let go, when to prune the bush of roses.
Dr. Trevor: Absolutely. Fantastic.
Razi: My favorite tenant is the healing power of nature. I grew up in the suburb, I didn’t go to the beach in the summers, I didn’t ski in the winter, I was in a chlorinated pool in concrete. Probably the most beautiful thing I got from this journey to naturopathic medicine is really knowing that you can connect with nature whether you’re in a city or in a country. You don’t have to buy a farm and become a homesteader. I bring nature into my life through gardening and making herbs and worrying about how my lively works and teaching my children that.
Your body has such wisdom and I really learned this from naturopathic medicine. That vital force inside every living being, in Science we call it homeostasis. Your cells are striving for health and if we get out of the way and connect to nature, it’s amazing.
The whole Earth thing movement and grounding is kind of a trend now. Dr. Suzanne who is beloved naturopathic elder in the community, she has written a lot about this and how the Earth has free electrons that are unbound and then when we connect to the Earth, they act as antioxidants in our body. That is amazing, it’s like a scientific understanding of why it feels so good to go skiing or go camping or just to be out in your garden.
Dr. Trevor: That’s fantastic, I love that. I love that you’re going through these naturopathic tenants. I don’t think we’ve ever really discussed these on my podcast before going through them one at a time.
Just so people are aware, when we go to naturopathic medical school, what I attended and what other naturopathic doctors attend, the accredited naturopathic medical schools, this is something we learn from the very beginning. In our very first year, we’re taught naturopathic philosophy and what the core tenants of naturopathic medicine are. They really are beautiful.
As you’re going through these, I’m just reminded of the beauty of this and how as naturopathic physicians, we really incorporate these in our practice everyday in our lives. I love that you’re talking about it from a patient’s perspective, but as a naturopathic doctor myself, I also use these in my day to day life as with my kids and my own life. I think it’s great that you’re going through this.
The healing power of nature for example, I think that’s so key and these are so instilled in me because of going through four years of naturopathic medical school and I’m always talking about our principles. Every time we have an American Association Naturopathic Physician Conference, these are brought up.
When I was working in spas and dermatologists were telling me an aestheticians were saying natural skin care products don’t work, I thought how is that possible because I know of the healing powers of nature. I know that from being a naturopathic physician, so how is it that natural skin care products can’t be effective? That’s what led me to create my own skin care products. Again, this is another example of how I took one of these principles and applied it in a different way, not just with my own patients but to help create a product.
Razi: Yes, and you really hit the nail on that head because it’s inside you, it’s your philosophy, it was engrained in you in medical school, probably a part of the reason you chose naturopathic medical school. It’s your operating system, it’s not just giving vitamins instead of drugs, it is a very profound philosophy, it is only in naturopathic medicine.
I’m not saying that other alternative health care forms or practitioners aren’t great, but everything is different. A cardiologist is different from this, a massage therapist, there’s room for all sorts of things. It’s like a symphony of beautiful health. Naturopathic medicine is just distinct in this way.
Dr. Trevor: Absolutely. Yeah, I completely agree. I have friends that are doctors of all different types, and they’re all fantastic. I think they’re all important and we need cardiologists, we need dermatologists, we need gynecologists, we need all of them and my hope is that we start working together more to have a work as a team approach in helping patients rather than only working on one aspect. I think it’s important to work together.
Razi: Yeah. You do that and it’s fantastic with all the different energy developed in your products and your spirit influence. The tenants were so beautiful and profound to me that when I started naturopathic review, I made sure that they were present in every issue. It’s something that kind of set it apart.
The very last one is something that we’re kind of working on together, prevention. Prevention is the best cure. I’m so delighted that you practice that way as well. You’re part of the Natural Cancer Prevention Summit that teach everyone about skin health and skin cancer prevention.
I think that rates of melanoma for example have tripled since the 1970s. It can’t just be this time, because we’re under the same sun that we were under in the 70s. I’m excited for everyone to hear that presentation for you, just about whole body ways to keep our skin healthy and to help prevent cancer just like skin cancer.
Dr. Trevor: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s talk a little bit about the summit. When is it and tell us a little about it.
Razi: The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit is May 16 through 23. There’s 36 of the leading experts in naturopathic and preventive medicine, such as yourself Dr. Cates. There are 41,000 US deaths from cancer in 1900. In 2015, 589,430. I’m not a rocket scientist, but I do the math over and over, that’s a 1400% increase.
Dr. Trevor: Wow.
Razi: From 1900 to today. At the Cancer Prevention Summit, we’re just discussing all the ways that the environemtn, our diet, lifestyle choices, our thoughts and emotions impact in a genetic way how we create disease. For a long time, it was the genetic model and it’s still in a lot of avenues being preached as this genetic model.
John Ventner who was the man who first sequenced human genome, I’d love to read a quote from him. This says it all.
“Human biology is actually far more complicated that we imagined. Everybody talks about the genes that they received from their father and mother, this trait or the other, but in reality those genes have very little impact on life outcomes. Our biology is way too complicated for that and deals with hundreds of thousands of independent factors. Genes are absolutely not our fate. They can give us useful information about the increased risk of the disease, but in most cases they will not determine the actual cause of the disease or the actual incidents of somebody getting it.”
This is from the man who sequenced the human genome. He is saying what naturopathic medicine has been saying for a really long time. It is your environment that impacts your health, your internal and your external environment.
That is what we delve into at the summit. There are a lot of conversations that need to be had about cancer but I think prevention is the most important. This summit does it in a not fear based way, in a very empowering way.
Dr. Trevor: That’s fantastic, I’m really excited about the summit, it’s going to be really great. I think it is great, it’s very empowering to know that the lifestyle choices that we make are what really determine if we’re going to develop chronic disease and including cancer. It’s not that it just runs in your family, certainly you might need to pay a little bit more attention to your lifestyle if you have these genetic predispositions. There’s so much that we can do to take our health back in our own hands.
Thank you so much for putting a summit together, really excited about that. Also, thank you for doing NDNR. I wanted to talk a little bit about that too so people know what that is. Is it available to everyone, or just doctors?
Razi: Naturopathic Doctor News and Review is really a journal for doctors. It’s written by naturopathic doctors for all doctors. We have lots and lots of medical doctors and holistic nurses that the Naturopathic Doctor News and Review, it’s a print journal but there’s also many articles online here. It’s a little bit above the patient’s head, so to say, I’m a patient so I don’t mean that in the negative way. We also have a site for patients and that’s available here. That’s more digestible for patients.
Dr. Trevor: That’s great. Actually, I didn’t even know that you have that, that’s fantastic. I love the NDNR journal, that’s one of my favorites. You just take it on the airplane and read or whenever I have a moment to look at. That’s fantastic, thank you so much for doing that. Anything else that you want to share with audience before we go?
Razi: I just want to say take these tenants. The body is just really so intricately and amazingly designed to move towards health. There’s just so much hope in that.
Dr. Trevor: Thank you so much, Razi, for your interview today. I’m really excited about your upcoming Cancer Prevention Summit.
Razi Ann Berry: I’m so excited that you’re a part of it and thank you so much for taking time to have me today.
Dr. Trevor: Absolutely. Thank you!
I hope you enjoyed this interview todaRazi y with Razi Ann Berry. To learn more about Razi and the publications and online journals that she talked about, you can go to my website here, go to the podcast page with her interview and you’ll find all the information and links there. You’ll also find the information on the upcoming Cancer Prevention Summit that she mentioned and that I’m speaking on.
Also, while you’re on my website, I encourage you to join the Spa Doctor community or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you don’t miss any of our upcoming shows.
If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend you get your customized skin report here. It’s free and based upon answer to just a few questions, you’ll get your own customized skin profile.
Also, don’t miss out on the latest tips for glowing skin and vibrant health. Thank you and I’ll see you next time.