Exuberant, enthusiastic, wise, and absolutely committed to wellness, Holly Lucille, ND, or “Dr. Holly” as she is called by her patients, has a gift for connecting with people—and a practical approach to health that delivers real, lasting results. Dr. Holly came to the art of healing naturally. The daughter of two pharmacists, she has always sought to tease out the underlying cause of illness and to find ways to support the body’s own healing ability. Dr. Holly’s methods have made her a popular guest in the media—and a sought-after naturopathic doctor in the Los Angeles area. She has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, Montel Williams, among others, and is the author of several books including Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Safe, Natural Hormone Health and The Healing Power of Trauma Comfrey. Here, Dr. Holly talks to Good Health Lifestyles about simple and easy ways to reset your health.
Good Health Lifestyles: What’s the number one behavior you see your patients doing that adversely affects their health?
Holly Lucille: They don’t moderate their stress. I’m talking about the stressors people have in their lives—financial, emotional, relationships, work, as well as environmental stressors—the passive ones that we don’t think about that accumulate, too. And what they do in an attempt to manage their stress—like having more caffeine in the morning to encourage the energy they are lacking or winding down with alcohol at night—doesn’t help. In fact, this self-medication around modern-day stressors is a double whammy.
GHL: Do you have one baseline recommendation for most people that helps foster better health?
HL: Be aware. I run into this where people have been getting hints along the way that there was something wrong, or that they were not feeling well. The problem is not listening to that. They think, “Oh, this will go away” or “another cup of coffee is going to get me through.” Pay attention to your body through all of the chaos and the noise.
GHL: What are your best tips for a post-holiday, winter health reset?
HL: Everybody has a health savings account, whether they know it or not. During the holidays, there are a lot of withdrawals from your health account—whether that’s visiting family, travel, finances, obligations, scheduling, or the increase in sweets, cheats, treats, and libations. So the goal is to focus on your deposits. Start with things like taking care of your liver with a supported liver cleanse. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, eat well, and pull back on the amount of food you take in. These simple actions will help you get back to having a healthy health savings account.
GHL: What supplements are helpful when your body is depleted?
HL: Adaptogens. I like a formula with ashwagandha and rhodiola—I call them fuse lengtheners. They help protect your body from the overall effects of these incredible compounded stressors. They help sharpen focus and concentration, and revitalize adrenal function—whether you are in the throes of stress, after stress, or are anticipating stress.
GHL: What else can people do to support the body and spirit amidst stressful living?
HL: Stress can be addicting. We are so digitally “connected” these days that we are disconnected from ourselves. I think people have a really hard time putting down their smart devices and being with themselves—or being with other people and just having a good chat or feeling their emotions. I like to get people over into that area we call the parasympathetic part of the nervous system—where you rest, relax, and repair. Be kind enough to yourself that you schedule a massage, or do self massage or partner massage. Have real, live contact with others (not a text!). Break the fight or flight cycle that’s going on inside, even if we don’t know it.
GHL: What about superfoods? Are they helpful when your body is depleted?
HL: Yes, superfoods, by definition, are nutrient dense. Nutrients are what feed your biochemistry. Any single biochemical process that you have in your body is fueled by a cofactor that is either a vitamin or mineral. The ANDI scale, which stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, measures nutrients per calorie of food. Go for foods that are high on the ANDI list. Kale is number one and spinach scores high as well. Berries—anything with those rich colors are great because that’s where you will have all of your antioxidants.
GHL: What is your personal health routine?
HL: I’m a big advocate of exercise. I coach CrossFit in my practice. And I have a pretty robust routine as far as mixing it up. I’ll take a class here or there, maybe I’ll do some yoga, or I’ll simply work out on my own. I also have an infrared sauna that I utilize three to four times a week. And my diet is on par.
GHL: For a non-exerciser, how would you suggest they get started with an exercise routine?
HL: Start low and go slow. If you haven’t been working out, walking for five minutes is a great start. There’s a really efficient exercise routine that I teach people. It’s called Sprint 8 and it is very well-researched. You warm up for two minutes. And then on the two minute mark you sprint for maybe 30 seconds. Then you recover for 90 seconds. Do that eight times. In just 16 minutes and 30 seconds you have this huge workout that is going to have such a benefit. It was kind of the original research for HIIT—high-intensity interval training. You can even do it while walking down the street. Just power walk for 30 seconds—that’s the high intensity part of the workout. Then slow the pace down a bit for 90 seconds before repeating. Or if you are on a treadmill, just increase the intensity for 30 seconds. You can also do it on a bike.
GHL: You mentioned your diet is “on par.” Do you have a certain way of eating?
HL: Research shows that a diverse microbiome is more predictive for better health outcomes. I know if I eat a diverse diet, that’s going to help my microbiome. I grew up eating all sorts of foods and trying all sorts of different diets—macrobiotic, vegan, you name it. When I started eating right for my blood type, I lost eight pounds without trying. For the first time in my life, I felt like I fit in my skin. So I tend to follow that for myself. I also follow the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists as far as buying organic. I like to grow a lot of my own food. I have a hydroponic garden up on my rooftop in Los Angeles.
GHL: How can we keep our immune system strong during this time of year?
HL: I hate to be redundant, but hand washing is still really important! There are opportunistic bugs everywhere so we also always want to increase the resistance of the host (that’s you!). Most of the immune system is hunkered in the gut. So having good prebiotics and probiotics on board are extremely important. Decreasing your sugar intake also increases the resistance of the host. And the antioxidants zinc and vitamin C are great. A formula containing the oils of cinnamon bark, thyme flower, clove flower, and oregano also bolsters the immune response. These time-tested ingredients support your first line of immune defense and promote a healthy bacterial balance.
GHL: What about detoxification? What can we do to help our bodies detoxify, particularly after the holidays?
HL: You want to decrease exposure to toxins first. So start by cleaning up your diet. That’s important. Provide support to your liver with herbs like burdock root, dandelion root, or milk thistle—you can supplement with them. Stay hydrated. Get things out. Think about urination, defecation, and perspiration. Get into a sauna or steam room, do skin brushing, or take an Epsom salt bath. A lymphatic massage is also great. Anything that helps your natural detox pathways eliminate contaminants is great.
GHL: We are nearing Heart Awareness month. What can people take to care for their heart health?
HL: Cardiovascular exercise is really important. Like anything else in the body, once something feels resistance, it’s going to grow back stronger—whether that’s bone health or cardiovascular health. Those vessels get stronger because they are pumping blood. Your blood pressure can regulate. It’s also important to get regular check ups. Too many people, and women especially, that come into my practice have never had their vital signs taken. Make sure you know those numbers! Support healthy cholesterol levels by decreasing sugar and increasing fiber.
GHL: I hear you are a bass player. What does that do for your spirit and well-being? And do you think music has an impact on mental and physical health?
HL: After taking part in a recent conference in San Diego, I went to hear two of my favorite bands at an outdoor amphitheater. You could feel the energy of the music and the people enjoying it. I literally had this fantasy of quitting everything I do and just playing music! Seriously though, I think it has a positive affect on people mentally, emotionally, and socially. It is such a healing art.
GHL: I also read that you are an animal lover. Can you please tell me about your pets and how you think the bond with animals adds to our well-being and health?
HL: After I come home from a trip, the greeting I get from my dog will wash anything away. Also, to wake up to a little being cuddling with you that has four legs and fur, and that purrs in your ear, is something precious. Plus, time spent with a pet calms stress by increasing serotonin and decreasing adrenaline. The bond can’t be beat.
Dr. Holly’s Winter Reset Tips
- Do a gentle herbal liver cleanse
- Stay hydrated with plenty of pure water
- Try to get 8 hours of quality sleep each night
- Eat well and a little less
- Schedule a massage
- Connect with others face-to-face
- Manage stress with adaptogenic herbs
- Add superfoods to every meal
- Exercise regularly
- Take an immune-fortifying supplement
– Kim Henderson