Linda Elsegood: Today, my guest is Dr. Kirsten Singler, who's a naturopathic doctor from California. Thank you for joining us today, Kirsten.
Dr Kirsten: Thank you so much for having me, Linda.
Linda Elsegood: So first of all, can you tell us, what made you decide you wanted to become a naturopathic doctor?
Dr Kirsten: I was in my twenties going to graduate school on a completely different life path and I got really ill. And I think this is common amongst other physicians that are really passionate and have that drive for good patient care and have that personal experience.
In my twenties, I got really, really sick. I wasn't able to go to my graduate program, and I wasn't even really able to leave the house. And I went to multiple doctors and at that time I only knew really about mainstream medicine. And so I would go from doctor to doctor, and no one could figure out what was going on.
I thought that I was so healthy because I was a raw food vegan and was so conscientious of what I put into my body, but still couldn't function properly. And a friend of mine took me to a naturopathic physician who did acupuncture as well, and it was so phenomenal. The doctor that I saw, a Dr.Brennan McCarthy in Arizona, told me I would be better within two days, and this was after two years of really being ill. And in two days I was better and after that, I was determined that this was going to be my life path. I was so struck by it and even to remember it now I get goosebumps that something that was so grievous in my life turned out to be maybe the best gift that ever came into my life.
Linda Elsegood: if you don't mind sharing what’s the issue that you had what? What was, did you get a diagnosis.
Dr Kirsten: I won't go into too much detail because it was female problems but it did have to do with hormone imbalance so severe that I was basically very, very anaemic and that's why I wasn't able to function. Now that I look back on it within the mainstream, none of the physicians I saw really evaluated my iron, my ferritin, those main indicators that now, of course, I run on every female patient that comes in our office, but at the time, nobody did that workup on me.
Linda Elsegood: okay, when did you qualify as being a naturopathic doctor?
Dr Kirsten: That was in 2015. I graduated from SCNM in Tempe, Arizona. Before becoming a naturopath, I did work as a nutritionist and a herbalist and did consultations for ten years prior to that.
Linda Elsegood: so knowing that acupuncture works so well for you, do you do acupuncture in your practice? Is that a.therapy option?
Dr Kirsten: Absolutely. Currently, our practice is so busy that just this year really, I haven't been doing acupuncture on patients directly, because it's more time consuming for each patient. So I refer to another person too. I did do the acupuncture prior to that I absolutely did perform it, and I love it as a therapy.
Linda Elsegood: okay. So when did you hear about LDN? How long ago was that?
Dr Kirsten: So in fact, the first time I ever heard about LDN was due to your book, the LDN book, it was my first Hashimoto's patients in the clinic. So this was when I was a student, and I had my first autoimmune case and my supervising physician, handed me the LDN book, which I poured over. And then tentatively started my patient on it and had such good success. Then it's been part of my toolkit ever since.
Linda Elsegood: So what conditions would you say you have seen to date.
Dr Kirsten: I don't mean conditions, which is broad, you know, autoimmunity covers like Hashimoto's, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, autoimmune, hepatitis, dermatomyositis. That's a skin condition, a case of polymyositis. And that's—kind of a muscular, joint pain type condition. Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s of course and fibromyalgia. I use it a lot for those cases. I've had pain conditions like trigeminal neuralgia work successfully with that. Also undiagnosed chronic fatigue.
Linda Elsegood: Well, I know that you said it was one of the tools you have in your toolbox. You know, if a patient came to you with let's say, Hashimoto's, what therapies would you use?
Dr Kirsten: Well, we want to primarily work them up for figuring out what's their root cause, right? And figuring out what are the obstacles that they're facing. And then also evaluate their basic function. So we want to always pull back.
You can look at the big picture of their health, and it's kind of zooming out from what their symptoms are, like the trees in the forest, and we want to zoom out and look at the forest and evaluate them for external environmental triggers. Which for Hashimoto's I feel is almost always the case that they have some form of, and for autoimmune in general, some form of external stressor, whether it's a psycho-emotional stressor or a toxic exposure like heavy metals or chemicals or some kind of physical trauma. Or exposure to some kind of pathogen, like a mould or a viral or a bacterial thing going on.
So we want to assess them for what's going on externally and then treat that. Say a patient comes back with high Epstein. Bart titers. Then we're also going to accompany the LDN with an antiviral protocol and an immune-boosting or calming protocol. Then we also want to look at what's going on with them intrinsically. Such things as what kind of inflammatory or immune dysfunction is maybe inherent. Or could have been going on lifelong, like how intact is their gut function, were they breastfed his children, were they put on multiple antibiotics, what's their formative nutrition were they raised on condensed milk, sugar and formula? Or were they fed a nutrient-rich diet, or is there a genetic polymorphism going on right. These are snips, changes in their DNA that affect their enzymes. And that can lead to saying, an inability to convert something like selenium in food. The active form in a Hashimoto's patient, their thyroid needs the conversion to perform adequately.
So if they have those kinds of polymorphisms and we want to be moving forward and making sure they get the right form of the vitamin and then evaluating them for other intrinsic type conditions like what's going with food intolerance. Do they have some kind of lactose intolerance or a food sensitivity that's affecting their gut that may be leading to an inflammatory cascade that's affecting their whole body or inhibiting their ability to absorb nutrition?
So it's really zooming out and figuring out what are the areas that need addressing and creating a pretty comprehensive plan for them. And then just taking baby steps with that plan wherever the patients are, you know if they're, say, a mechanic in a garage and they're getting lots of chemical exposure at their profession. And I'm thinking, Oh boy, this guy's got to get out of that garage. Also, I'll start them on a detox plan and educate them about learning how to make better food choices. So at least he's reducing his toxic burden in his food. And then with the goal of figuring out how he can still maintain his profession without having so much exposure.
Linda Elsegood: You mentioned heavy metals. How do you treat somebody who's been tested for having had?
Dr Kirsten: So there are chelation protocols. And for the most part, naturopathic doctors are trained in this. We all take classes in environmental medicine and it's required, at least it was required in my program, to have an environmental medicine shift.
And the chelation can range from oral chelators (those are substances that will bind up certain metals, like bind up, lead, bind up mercury, and pull it out of the body through the alimentary canal). There are other chelators, more aggressive, like IV solution. Now I don't do IV chelation.
If a physician is going to do IV chelation, that's all they should do because there can be so many side effects and patients have varying degrees of tolerability, especially when they're sick. But, the oral chelators are slower going and keep the body more in a state of homeostasis.
Linda Elsegood: Okay. How long does it take if you do it orally?
Dr Kirsten: It varies on the vitality of the patient, the severity of their condition. You know, if, if they have like a severe Parkinson's and are wheelchair-bound versus mild exposure to lead that was stored when they were children. And then they don't have a current exposure and don't really have symptoms. So the vitality of the patient matters. The severity of pathology matters and then the degree of exposure. So has it been like lifelong, for example, you know, were they raised with it? Out on the dock here in California, we have a lot of dockworkers and there's a lot of pollution from the ships coming in, you know, a lot of inhalants.
Were they always there, out there on the docks, since they were kids up until adulthood and now adults, they're working on the docks or you name it. It really does vary based on the individual and their exposure.
Linda Elsegood: Sure. Okay. So if you had a severe case, and they were on oral, would they have to be on it for a year or longer? You know, if it was a really bad thing.
Dr Kirsten: If it was a really bad case. Okay. Say, somebody came back, and they had a severe pathology plus very high levels of heavy metals in their system. We would want to start figuring out where's the exposure coming in and remove that access. And second to that, take it really, really slowly because it takes energy to detox. So when a patient's really sick, and they don't even have the energy to get up and walk around, perform daily activities, you want to drive up their vitality. So that could be starting with doing IV therapy, like IV vitamin C so that you're boosting up their immune system, boosting up their vitality, and then build them up while you are slowly, intermittently, chelating them. So for a severe case, I guess the rule of thumb is for every disease a patient has, you're spending a month of active therapy. So if somebody has been ill for 20 years, you want to anticipate 20 months of active therapy.
Linda Elsegood: Wow.
Dr Kirsten: Okay.
Linda Elsegood: Yeah. I'm just thinking of the age that I am. If you went back it would take
Dr Kirsten: forever. It depends on vitality too. So some people inherently have phenomenal vitality. I had a Parkinson's patient, and she was wheelchair-bound and she had a full manifestation of Parkinson's and her medications were not adequately treating it. That's why she ended up on my doorstep. She was looking for something else. Actually, her children were looking for something else for her. She just inherently had such good vitality that as we started doing the IVs, it was really within three months that she was up out of her wheelchair. And walking around and could smile and could talk. And, you know, the first day I met her, she was mute, she couldn't smile or talk to me. So it does vary from patient to patient. Absolutely.
Linda Elsegood: It's interesting that you said about Parkinson's patients. I have a friend who I went to college with who has Parkinson's and she came last week, and it's very difficult for her to get up.She's still walking, but when she goes to go through, or whether it's the stress of going through the door, I don't know, but she starts to do what she calls a dance, and she's popping up and down, and she can't get her legs to move. And it's every door that she goes through. Where would you start with somebody like that? Do you think maybe she has some of these conditions cause it's not that easy in England to see a naturopathic doctor. So that is a challenge in itself.
Dr Kirsten: In England, do you all have evaluations? Do they evaluate for heavy metals and chemicals? Do they have tests like that?
Linda Elsegood: I wouldn't know. I've never had a test. I have multiple sclerosis, but as far as I know, I've never been tested
Dr Kirsten: There is a lab company that we use a lot. It's called great Plains labs and, I think that they are available internationally and their evaluation is through either urine, stool, and saliva evaluations.And I think that that might be a place to start. She could look into that lab company and see if one of her physicians would be willing to run that lab and find out what kind of chemicals are going on. If there's heavy metal exposure, usually heavy metal testing is within the mainstream, you know, it's like a urine evaluation. I could look into it further and find out resources in your area. I can always email you.
Linda Elsegood: Okay. That would be really interesting. That's good. We will have to have a look at that. She certainly could use some help. So have you found that your patients that take LDN and thyroid medication that they have to be very careful and reduce their thyroid medications?
Dr Kirsten: Well, yeah. Thyroid in my experience is ever-changing. I've had patients that reduce their thyroid script just based on removing inflammatory foods from their diet. So the better the gut functions, obviously the amount of inflammation is going to go down, which calms the autoimmune response. Number two, they absorb their medications more efficiently. So, a good rule of thumb that I always follow is I run my labs every six months on the patients, and I'm always expecting them to change. Every once in awhile patients will come back stable. You know, these are people that have already seen naturopaths for years. They know their body. They're on a really good health program. But when people are first starting out, I am expecting to modify their scripts.
Linda Elsegood: now you talk about the guts, and you did say at the beginning that you used to be on a raw vegan diet. Is that the diet you're still on.
Dr Kirsten: I'm not, but I do really subscribe to a philosophy of eating a lot of vegetables.
I get most of my nutrition and most of my food from vegetables. But they're going to be cooked and varied. And I'd say I'm definitely omnivore. I think everybody should get most of their nutrition primarily from a vegetable source.
Linda Elsegood: Now looking in supermarkets, and especially people that have several children to eat healthily, it's very expensive. I would think it's out of the reach of a lot of families where they have several children, you know, do you think in years to come, we're going to get rid of this high sugar, high salt, snacky type food? Do you think we will be able to educate people? You know what you eat, you know what goes in the gut really does affect your health.
Do you think that is likely to happen or is that just me being in cloud cuckoo land and you know, cheap food is going to always be there, and it's going to be full of sugar and salt, and people are going to continue to become type two diabetics because they are upsetting their immune system and having autoimmune diseases and thyroid problems and the like, you know, what's your opinion?.
Dr Kirsten: You're right. Similarly, I might be too idealistic, but I think that as they're teaching in the schools, and they're teaching children how to grow vegetables and cook, that it all comes down to being able to cook for yourself. So I'm going through school. You know, when I was too broke to even buy toothpaste, right? I put myself through medical school and worked full time during that time and definitely knew financial pressures. Even during that time, I still cooked for myself. And you know, what I cooked was a lot of beans. I cook rice, and I cook a whole grain and actually did grow vegetables in my little garden in Arizona.I was successful in that way, but that all comes down to education. You know, cause I was raised in a family, that taught me how to grow vegetables and taught me how to cook beans and sprout seeds and like that. So for me, it comes as like second nature. I know it very well, but I think that with education, that will change.
And that's what I'm really hopeful for and excited about out here in California. There are lots of programs, to educate kids on how to grow food and cook and changing the food systems within the school districts. And I hope that it just spreads throughout the United States, everywhere.
Linda Elsegood: Yes. And you know, if you went to buy, if you've got four children and you went to buy four apples, you know, the mother might go for the cost of the four apples of buying what we would call biscuits. You call them cookies and crisps, which you call chips and could end up with a basket full of snacky foods for the same price as for apples.
Which would be gone in minutes, you know? And that's what I find really hard. You know children are being given the wrong foods when money is a problem, which then causes lots of other issues further down the line. I don't know if we can get healthier food at a more reasonable price. Yes, that might be an answer, but of course, it all costs money too for the farmers and things to supply the supermarket chains that also have to make a profit. And so it goes on. But it would be nice if all the snacky foods became slightly healthier as we go on, we have the sugar tax here. I don't know whether you have that yet, and they're trying to reduce the amount of salt that's being put in pre-packed food. So that's the style. But I think things have got to go a lot further. I mean, we were far healthier. I'm 62. My mother, when she was growing up, she grew up post-war, and they were very limited to what they had. I think she was quite old when she had her first banana. She'd not seen a banana or an orange.But they lived on a farm. Had a pig, and a cow, and then when they slaughtered one of them, all the neighbours had bits and pieces, and then when they slaughtered something else, everyone got some of those, it was all similar to a barter type system. And they grew vegetables, so she only grew up with fresh meat, fresh fish, and vegetables. And I think they as a generation were far healthier than my generation where, you know, fast food came in, you know, all of these prepacked foods, which I mean, in my mother's day, they didn't have,
I think we need to, instead of carrying on the path we're doing is to revert. Act how it was years ago in that eating your own vegetables. But for some people, that's still not an option if you live in a flat. And you've got no way you could, you could grow things, but that's really interesting, What do you say about, if you had to give me the names of four top supplements that you mostly use. What would they be?
Dr Kirsten: Oh, that's a great question. The pharmacist that I talk to the most, I send a lot of the patients to our compounding pharmacy and he was teasing me that I use magnesium for every single patient, which I have. I would say, okay. Magnesium is definitely on the list. I do think that people benefit from magnesium and commonly vitamin D. I've run a vitamin D lab on every patient, and they almost always come back in the deficient category. You know, I don't think it has to do with sun exposure. Everybody's either using sunblocks or staying out of the sun, and not eating vitamin D rich foods. I almost always prescribe vitamin D3. I would probably put some B vitamins in that cluster of supplements too, so many of our patients, again, are compromised with their absorption. So either they're having issues, they're on like a. Proton pump inhibitor or there's something going on in the gastro system, and their B vitamins are deficient. Whether it's a B6 or a B12. So I'd maybe put a B complex for those. And, getting back to the gut, I put almost every patient on a probiotic eventually. So it might not be the first go-round that we meet. But most people I think are gonna benefit from a good pharmaceutical grade probiotic. And then. I will eventually put most patients on a detox.
So that could be mild. I could be taking botanical teas that helped move their liver and get their liver to function better. Or it could be more aggressive, like a box kit, like something like the Standard Process detox kits cleanse that takes them through a list of foods that they can eat, have a list of foods that they can't eat, and then supplements that are really going to be pushing their liver through the phases of detoxification. I think that that would be my general toolkit for most patients.
Linda Elsegood: So with the box detox kit, how long would you have to eat certain foods and restrict.
Dr Kirsten: Well, there's a low intervention kit, by a company called Metagenics. That's a ten-day cleanse. And I like that when patients that have never done a detox before in their life, it helps them get confidence, know what to expect and get results. So usually, it's a one week cleanse and usually they're gonna feel more clear-minded, have good energy, and almost always lose weight because that's another component. Patients are always tracking their weight. Usually. And, it bolsters them. So after they've done a ten-day detox, then they could graduate to, you know, the next time they need to do a detox. they could do a month-long, a 28 day cleanse. I like to start patients where they're at. You know, sometimes I get a patient that has done multiple detoxes and then we can go straight into month-long cleansing. But I usually am going to start where they are.
Linda Elsegood: Well, it's been amazing talking to you. I'd love to have you back another day and find out more from you.
Dr Kirsten: I would love that.
Linda Elsegood: Well, thank you, Kirsten. Absolutely amazing talking to you, and thank you.
Dr Kirsten: Oh, absolutely. It is so nice to get to talk with you, Linda. It really means a lot to me. I've admired everything that you've been doing for a long time.
Linda Elsegood: Thank you very much. This show is sponsored by Mark Drugs who specialize in the custom compounding of medications, assuring that the client gets the proper prescriptions for their unique needs and conditions. They work with practitioners integrating knowledge and treatment of experts to create comprehensive health plans. Visit Markdrugs.com or call Roselle (630) 529-3400 or Deerfield (847) 419-9898.
Any questions or comments you may have, please email me. Linda, linda@ LDN t.org. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for joining us today. We really appreciate it. Until next time, stay safe