Health & Healing Tips from Renowned Dr. Lissa Rankin

ChickRx Interview

Dr. Lissa Rankin is not your ordinary doctor. This integrative medicine physician is also an author, speaker, artist, and founder of the popular online communities LissaRankin.com and OwningPink.com. 

And now Dr. Rankin is setting out to lead a new movement in health care. Wanting to empower patients to heal themselves, she sought to understand how our thoughts and emotions affect our bodies and physical health. Dr. Rankin will be sharing her research findings in the upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself, but for now, you can get a taste of this trailblazer's perspectives in our interview with her.

ChickRx: Any health/wellness misconceptions you used to have and laugh about now?
Dr. Rankin: I used to think that, as doctors, we were body experts who knew our patient's bodies better than they did. I now laugh when I think about that. As a doctor, I might know the branches of the internal iliac artery better than my patients do, but I now realize that nobody knows your body better than YOU. As I said in this article about the 10 life-threatening mistakes you might make with your doctor (lissarankin.com/10-life-threatening-mistakes-you-might-make-with-your-doctor), your body is your business, and it's critical that you accept responsibility for your health, listen to the whispers (or rebel yells!) your body is communicating, and share with your health care providers what your body wisdom knows.

ChickRx: What, to you, epitomizes a healthy attitude worth emulating and why?
Dr. Rankin: A healthy attitude is one in which you accept responsibility for your life, stop blaming everyone else, be compassionate with yourself when things don't exactly go the way you anticipated, and take charge of how you respond to adversity. You can't always change what happens to you, but you can always change how you respond. The path to peace is to ditch victim-mentality and trade it in for empowerment.

ChickRx: We all have one...what's your weirdest eating habit you're willing to admit to?
Dr. Rankin: Well, I drink five fresh green juices per day.  A lot of people think that's weird. I'm also a total sucker for raw chocolate, which I make at home from raw cacao powder, raw coconut oil, raw cacao butter, raw coconut butter, Himalayan sea salt, and agave. My most eccentric eating habit, though, is probably my favorite indulgent snack: popcorn with olive oil, truffle salt, cayenne pepper, and nutritional yeast. It’s like natural vegan "cheese" popcorn—I call it "popcorn crack."

ChickRx: What's your best health/wellness/beauty product discovery?
Dr. Rankin: My Vitamix blender and my Green Star 2000 juicer, which I use every day.

ChickRx: Which health issue or cause matters to you most?
Dr. Rankin: I'm currently obsessed with how fear makes us sick and courage helps us heal. It's actually the topic of my next book. So many people are running scared—scared of financial scarcity, scared of leaving a bad relationship, scared of failure, scared of success, scared of shining their light, scared of facing their pain and being brave enough to heal. Whenever the mind feels fear, it triggers the amygdala, which signals the hypothalamus, which communicates with the pituitary gland and then the adrenal glands, and next thing you know the body is in full on "fight or flight" mode, spitting out cortisol and pumping out adrenaline.

But here's the kicker. The body isn't made to be living in fear. The stress response that happens when the mind perceives a threat is meant to protect you, but left turned on, in overdrive, it wears down the body and leads to chronic disease and early death. What we need is thoughts, feelings, and activities that turn on the counterbalancing relaxation response, things like meditation, creative expression, sex, exercise, massage, yoga, and other things that relax our nervous system.

That's why I write my blog about Passionate Prescriptions For Living And Loving Fearlessly (lissarankin.com). As I said in my TEDx talk (youtube.com/watch?v=7tu9nJmr4Xs), it's not enough to eat well, exercise daily, get enough sleep, and take your vitamins. You have to be healthy in your mind. If only we can release some of the fear in our lives, we can improve the health of our minds—and the body follows.
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EXPERT
Evelyn Resh MPH,CNM commented
I would agree that fear-based living is not good for anyone. However, the amount of attention given to mental and emotional health by health care providers and our culture is dismal. We don't often identify mental health and positive thinking as factors that will affect how healthy we are in our bodies. Further, it is very difficult to find mental health providers to help us when we need them. There is a mental health crisis in the US and plenty of stigma attached to those who suffer from mental and emotional illness. I am all for encouraging patients to live fearlessly and embrace all the good that life has to offer. i am also a pragmatist and after having been in practice for over 20 years, I believe the biggest obstacle many of my patients face is not having adequate mental health care to help them do this.