As a child of two pharmacists, Holly Lucille’s career path as a naturopathic doctor may seem a bit unusual. Starting out as a nurse, Dr. Holly became very well-versed in the traditional Western medical approach—but, even as a child, she never stopped asking why. “What will this do for me? Will it hurt me? Will I need it all the time? How much does it cost?” This incessant questioning, even from a young age, made her parents wonder if they had brought the wrong child home from the hospital.
Dr. Holly’s desire to solve some of the problems she saw led her to become a holistic nurse, then a naturopathic doctor (ND). Today, she is passionate about her medical practice, taking time to educate her patients so they can take charge of their own healthcare. Dr. Holly believes that every patient is unique in how they present, how they learn, and how they process information.
“No matter who comes in—and I’ve got to tell you I see them all: men, women, and children—I identify and treat the cause, I make sure I’m treating the whole person, and I let treatment be guided by the precept, ‘first do no harm,’” Dr. Holly says. “So, I think about the multifactorial nature of how patients present clinically, knowing that diet, lifestyle, [and] so many things we can do before drugs and surgery can be effective, and that we’re using the least invasive methods first. That’s really what I’m passionate about.”
Natural Solutions asked Dr. Holly to dish on some of the health topics that are on women’s minds. Here is what she had to say:
Slowing down the aging process
There is no silver bullet to slow the aging process. In my opinion, the closest solutions you would come to, if you look at all the studies, are calorie restriction and eating nutrient-dense food—foods with a high ANDI (aggregate nutrient density index score). What does that mean? Really, it means eating whole, nutrient-dense foods, and lots of plant-based foods, and then decreasing your calories. Calorie restriction is by far the most effective thing you can do to slow the aging process. Make sure that you nourish yourself well, that you aren’t overeating, and that you have got plenty of nutrients on board.
Exercise is also very important. I really get behind athletics. I have drunk the CrossFit Kool-Aid and I love it. But I actually use it in my practice. When you think about being fit across many different metrics, you think about endurance—not only to age well and to age longer, but to have a high quality of life—flexibility, and strength—grip-strength, even. These are important. So if you do take a tumble when you’re older, you can catch yourself, and you don’t have another devastating compounded fall. I don’t think you can say enough about how important exercise is. When I talk about exercise, I always say “consistency over intensity.”
This is one thing I think is very important: When women reach the end of natural fertility—so we’re talking about menopause, and even perimenopause—there is a natural decline in hormones. I always remind people going through menopause—and I’ve been through menopause so I can really say it now—“Don’t you remember during your cycle, your natural cycle, there was a period of the month where you felt a little bit more voracious when it came to wanting to have sex or be intimate?” Everybody usually is like, “Yep, yep, yep—that’s funny, I remember that.”
They all have their word for it—what have you. That is biology talking. So, when you’re ovulating, you actually enhance this feeling at that time of the month. To that point, though, when your hormones naturally decline and you go through menopause there’s going to be a natural low. That doesn’t mean we can’t support the person with awareness and giving them the knowledge about what might be happening. It might be actually a normal variant, meaning maybe there’s a time to pull inward.
If you go back to a lot of the Native American studies about menopause, you find that there really is a very introspective sort of metamorphosis that happens. So I think that piece of education is really important—women need to know that nothing is wrong with them. The same thing is really happening to men, but they don’t feel that there is something wrong with them. This comes back. There is a menopausal zest that comes back.
Stress would also be very important, because stress—as I talked about—is such a modern day influencer when it comes to hormonal imbalances. The hormone DHEA, which is a precursor to testosterone, is secreted from your adrenal glands along with a lot of other things. It can be rendered low if a woman has experienced chronic stress. So I think understanding that effect, and being able to support stress reduction appropriately, is really important. Then there are some great herbs, like maca and rhodiola, that we can use to enhance libido.
Important dietary supplements
For men and women who are 50 and above—from all of the studies I’ve read—I do think a good quality one-a-day vitamin is good, just to ensure any nutritional gaps are covered. We’re looking at a compromised food chain, or at compromised soil; sometimes we’re looking at trace mineral issues from an absorption perspective. So I’m still a big advocate of [a multivitamin], believe it or not.
Also, studies show that even elevated levels of cortisol, over a period of time, can permeate your good bacteria. Your good bacteria get obliterated and you’re going to have immune issues—you’re going to have digestive issues, and absorption issues. So I would say that you should take a good healthy probiotic. And then if somebody is not getting those nice cold-water fish full of omega-3s, you should take an omega-3 supplement. I do think, from a healthy eating perspective and from an anti-inflammatory perspective, having a good fish oil on board is important.
My last suggestion would be an adaptogen—a blend of adaptogens. We’re talking about the stress, yes, but we are also talking about how we can protect the body. I think of those good herbal adaptogens: rhodiola, ashwagandha, and holy basil. I think there are some great manufacturing companies that make nice combination blends that really are supportive, so you can meet all the responsibilities that you have but also protect your body from it.
Don’t Be Fooled
Be aware of supplements with label claims. That means whether it’s a list of ingredients at fairy-dust-like dosages, whether it’s a crazy claim like “Acai makes you skinny,” or whatever—versus the manufacturing companies that are doing it right, that are hitting the integrity points, and their nutritional supplement—once you take it—is going to deliver the functional dose. I think that is a big, big, point.
I say, and I shout it at the top of my lungs, “plant-strong and nutrient-dense.” I did this little piece for the CBS website called “Starts With You.” It was about the missteps with the paleo diet and the missteps with veganism—they were the same missteps. For me, I don’t care what somebody is wanting to avoid or restrict from their diet. I’m interested more in what your diet actually consists of.
So spare me if you want to avoid animal products, and you have many reasons for doing that; I think it’s great, but you can’t be a French-fry vegetarian. You still have to stay plant-strong and nutrient-dense. On the other hand, I’ve got my cross-training girls who are all into paleo, but they think they can wrap bacon around sweet potato fries—and that such foods qualify as going paleo. No. You still have to stay plant-strong and nutrient-dense.
Facts About Dr. Holly
>> A graduate of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
>> Featured on Time magazine’s ALT list as one of the top 100 influential people
>> Plays bass guitar and drums
>> Enjoys relaxing by riding her Suzuki Boulevard motorcycle