As a “weekend” fitness boot camp trainer in San Francisco, I meet quite a bit of active, busy people who are doing phenomenal things in this world. From directors of non-profits, to students doing cancer research, they are all committed to feeling strong, energetic, and ready to take on anything that comes their way. (This in fact is the exact reason why I show up every week – to send helpful reminders that we most definitely can “have our cake and eat it too” – careers, family, and our health.)
Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with one of my students after a body-boosting sweat session, Dr. Thalia Farshchian. It didn’t take us long to hit it off, as we immediately connected on holistic wellness, our passion around healthy food, and our shared belief in proactive health. Dr. Thalia was bright, humble, and comforting – all qualities that I knew you would enjoy as well. After a few email exchanges and virtual introductions, I invited her to lunch to meet Springer…and from there it was history. The more we spoke, the more we realized how beneficial it was to bring on such a talented and respected doctor to our team of Eat Life Whole-ists.
Join Springer and myself as we welcome Dr. Thalia to our family of contributors. She will be answering questions and feeding you helpful knowledge all around our bodies – of course in a fun, light, and beautiful way that we enjoy here at Eat Life Whole.
Read on to learn more about her journey to become a doctor, how she stays fit, and her top three tips for healthy living today.
What exactly is a naturopathic doctor?
A naturopathic doctor is a medically trained doctor, like a general family practitioner – educated both in drugs and alternative therapies like herbal medicine, nutrition, intravenous therapy, and physical medicine. The therapies are safe and effective, but the defining factor lies in the naturopathic approach. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes treating the cause of symptoms and having your doctor serve as your teacher, so you walk away with a better understanding of health.
What inspired you to go this route?
As a child I had always wanted to be a doctor. In high school, I had my first serious medical experience via my father’s cancer diagnosis. I was disheartened when I observed the lack of attention, oversight, and lack of compassion throughout the process. Going into undergrad, I decided not to go into medicine as it was not as I envisioned. While in college I started having my own health challenges affecting my hormones that sent me straight to the doctor.
After every scan and blood test under the sun, I didn’t have cancer and my hormone levels were normal. I asked my doctor about the next step and she offered me medication. The treatment did not make logical sense as everything showed up normal. I asked, “why?” And her response was, “it’s just what we do.” I denied treatment and explored other perspectives in search of the “why.”
I was referred to a holistic doctor who spent two hours being present and listening to my story. After specialized lab testing, we learned that the pathway that detoxifies hormones in my liver was sub-optimal. I was given one herbal supplement derived from broccoli and I started seeing relief within one month and complete relief after just two months. Beyond relief of symptoms, I felt assurance in understanding why and empowered by being an active participant in my healing. Who knows what would have happened if I had masked my symptoms with a medication?
After my second visit I asked my naturopathic doctor, “what do you do and how do I do it?” Since then, I never looked back.
Describe the common obstacles that your patients encounter and your approach to healing them?
I have a general practice with expertise in autoimmune, hormonal, and digestive conditions. The most common problem for my patients is that they lack cohesiveness in their care resulting in a feeling of being overwhelmed by their ailments.
For example, a woman came to me for fatigue, depression, acid reflux, and weight gain. Conventionally, she was given anti-depressants and antacids as treatment. This treatment is compartmentalized and symptom oriented. My job as the body’s Sherlock Holmes is to use the symptoms as a clue to the cause.
A little history – she had a two-year course of steroids followed by one year of antibiotics. This was the pivotal time in her childhood where her symptoms started. I mapped her complaints on paper and connected the dots leading me to focus on the gut. The year-long antibiotic course wiped out natural gut bacteria, which can cause bloating. The good bacteria that she was lacking are responsible for 80% of our happy brain chemical, serotonin.
Treatment included specific botanical and nutritional supplements, diet modifications, and physical manipulations. After 6-weeks, she was down to 2 cups of coffee in the morning from 9 cups prior, energy increased, mood improved, weight was down, and no need for antacids. After 3 months along with her psychiatrist, we were tapering her antidepressants successfully.
The beauty of being a general practitioner is the ability to tie all of the pieces together. My job is to find the common thread between multiple conditions and offer solutions to create balance. It is my favorite part of what I offer people.
How do you work with other physicians, doctors, and healers (or do you)?
I am happy to work with other physicians, doctors, and healers and find it incredibly important to have a wellness team you trust. At my current practice, Discover Health, our primary care providers, pediatricians, and myself work together for truly integrative care under one roof. I prefer this model vs. practicing alone because coordination of care is far more effective and provider communication is key to our success. Medicine encompasses numerous specialties and perspectives, which is advantageous to customizing care to an individual’s unique needs.
What are your biggest challenges to staying health given a long, client list and a busy schedule? What do you do to keep healthy?
Like most people, the challenge lies in making time and fitting it all in. Healthy habits do not manifest overnight. While in medical school, we were able to implement the knowledge of how the body functions in balance and tools for a healthier lifestyle. Even when I was 24/7 immersed, the changes were challenging. Like any new change, think it through first and start small.
My number one tool for success is proper planning.
I set one day a week aside to get my life together for the rest of the week. Every Sunday I am at the farmer’s market gathering my fresh produce for the week, organizing daily rations of supplements, and looking at my schedule to plan my workouts. Once the plan is set, execution is within sight. I spend about a ½ hour that day chopping up salad veggies, washing them in the salad spinner. I prepare enough for most of the week, so I can just toss them with meat/other toppings in a Pyrex during the week. Packing a lunch deters you from resorting to quick, easy, and usually less healthy alternatives.
If you could name 3 tips for living healthy TODAY,
what would they be?
Life’s too short to not enjoy it!
Make a list of what energizes you versus what depletes you. What actions can you take to increase your energizers and minimize your depleters?
Make a list of healthy changes for you.
Choose a change you feel confident in and commit to implementing it for two weeks. It’s rinse, lather, and repeat from there.
We are creatures of habit and routine.
Try one new recipe a week to avoid monotony.