Tracking Healthcare's Rapid Changes

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Interviewer: Doctor, you have a book that you co-authored called "Slim, Sane, and Sexy". What can somebody learn from that? Who might want to take a look at that?

Dr. Erin Lommen: Yeah. Because I've been doing this for over 25 years, that we wrote the book in 2007 or 2008 . . .

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Erin Lommen: You know how it takes . . . 

Interviewer: Something like that.

Dr. Erin Lommen: Yes. Well, it took longer than we thought it would. So when he says, "Write a book," and you think, "Well, I've been doing this forever, that should be easy." It just took time. The book is for anyone, any woman, that's looking to understand their hormonal process better, and we talk about the conditions under-lying hormonal imbalance like adrenal stress, like insulin resistance, as well as talking about literally what the hormones are doing. And then, especially coming into menopause, we look at ways to think about that. We have sections in each chapter called action steps that are about self-care and optimizing health.

So it's a combination of all of those things and at any given time, each woman is very individualist to her preparedness to make changes in those areas. I feel part of the art of practice and probably what I've enjoyed so much is it's very individual. But we look to do the things that we can do to help someone feel well now, but then also set the stage for guiding them into a program that sustains good health long term, whether they're seeing me or not in that sense. And so that book really is kind of like a reference for that and a support to get someone there. We actually, I have to say, added a chapter at the end for physicians because one of our concerns is that women are seeking the help and can't find physicians, wherever they are, that understand or are familiar with working with it in a more natural way. And so, there is a chapter that says, "Physician's Guide," and they can take the book and ask to work with their physician on it.

Interviewer: And you said, you've been practicing for about 25 years? Is that right? How much has changed in that time from when you started practicing and how many things are you doing differently now and how quickly does it change?

Dr. Erin Lommen: Yeah. How many do we have, in terms of just how much times have changed? And imagine, when I was being trained, there was no such thing as an herbal preparation in a freeze-dried supplement. So herbs weren't being given in pill form or supplement form. They weren't on the shelves anywhere. You think of the industry that's risen around that. We learned how to formulate herbs through the tinctures, which is from an alcohol base most of the time, and we would mix and match and make things, and our training probably has changed quite a bit, from then to now. And that doesn't seem that long ago to me because it's my lifetime. But I wouldn't go back to that either for the most part because the advance with the industry is that we can prescribe so many things and people can find access to really good, natural supplements.

You say, "How things changed. There's so many directions I could go." Think about vitamin D, and I was trained that long ago. We knew optimal vitamin D level is what we needed to give. So I was exceeding that by 10 times, most of the time at least. And my labs would show high and I'd call whoever was doing the labs and I'd say, don't put that X on it. You know, I'm good. We live in Oregon. And it took quite a while for that air to change even though my profession trained me with the science behind it and we knew that we were all pretty deficient. Even though, if you average a population of deficient people, you're going to have a range that looks very deficient. So that's an example of how much medicine has needed to change. That's true, also, of cholesterol levels and blood sugar. We used to average populations to say what was healthy. We can't do that anymore. We know that's not healthy. Anyway, yeah, vitamin D, 10 times the dose, that was the RDA, is accepted now and understand to be needed.

Interviewer: So here's a tough question. If we look back and laugh at some of those things that were recommended or suggested back then, what are some of the things right now that we'll look back and just go, I can't believe this is how we did it?

Dr. Erin Lommen: Or that it's being argued, yeah. I feel we have to. My own stance, even though I'm an alternative practitioner, there's a medical culture and that wheel has to turn at the pace that it turns, and we just have to hold fast to what we know and what's helping people. For example, in the hormone arena, what I would say will be so understood, it won't be debated anymore, is probably the usefulness of progesterone for men and women. Men are often surprised like, "No. That's a women's hormone, isn't it?" And the data is so clear on brain function. They've used it in IV's to help soldiers with traumatic brain injury. Things like that, but it's going to take probably a few decades for it to get comfortable for the medical establishment, let's say. That one comes to mind. There are probably many others.
Dr. Erin Lommen discusses how quickly healthcare can change and how physicians and patients adjust. She also discusses some beliefs physicians had just a few years ago, are now not entirely true and how things doctors do now might seem laughable in just a few years.

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