I’m so excited to kick off my Doctors & Healers section with one of my favorite doctors, Susan Blum, M.D., author of the best-selling book: The Autoimmune Recovery Plan: A Doctors 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease. As many of you have read in my book, Eating Clean, Susan Blum pretty much saved my life. It all started with this woman. If it wasn’t for her, I’m not sure where I’d be right now. It’s quite emotional for me to think about how she came into my life. It’s also a beautiful story that started my 10 year healing journey, which is why I wanted to highlight Susan as my first feature for this section.
I was in my early 20’s, had just gotten back from a week at Mayo Clinic where I had my 2nd bone marrow biopsy. I was on steroids, pain killers and water pills and I was on disability from my corporate job. I had just started TheHealthyApple.com and Susan’s PR team reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in interviewing her so they set up a call for Susan and I to connect. I can still remember where I was when Susan called me a week later. I was walking on East 61st Street across from Central Park and had the most inspiring and incredible talk with Susan. She had just opened The Blum Center for Health, and she invited me to come up and talk to me to try to help me heal. Within the first five minutes of our session, she told me she was taking me off of steroids because they were depleting my adrenals, she asked me about the pipes in the home I grew up in and took 2 hours to sit and work with me to get to the root cause as to what was going on in my body. Needless to say, Susan helped me heal my gut and brought me back to life. She’s an amazing woman that I truly admire, which is why I send many clients and desperate people who email me, to her practice. I trust her. I believe in her work and I am delighted to share with you a deeper look into Susan herself: how she detoxes, how she decompresses and the symptoms she sees regularly. I hope this inspires you. I’ll be having Susan on my Interview Series podcast soon so we’ll be diving into more of all of this.
AV: I know thyroid conditions, gut imbalance and autoimmune diseases are all on the rise along with many other conditions. Can you tell us the top symptoms you see?
SB: People often come in to see me because they have symptoms with no answers: their doctor hasn’t been able to help them feel better or figure out why they feel that way. The most common symptom is fatigue, which includes the whole spectrum from wishing you could have more energy to needing a nap every day to not being able to function or work. Other common symptoms are difficulty concentrating (often called brain fog), and feeling puffy, stiff and inflamed in the hands or joints or muscles.
Functional medicine offers people the framework for doing the detective work to figure out the WHY. Why do you have these symptoms? I think we are great at prevention for this reason because these symptoms I described can be the first sign that something is out of balance and if left untreated, could become a disease in the future. Now is the time to figure that out and prevent that from happening.
Fatigue, brain fog, and inflammation are definitely early signs of possible thyroid issues, and autoimmune disease, which is why I screen all my patients for both general autoimmunity (ANA, and if arthritis RF and CCP), and also for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is the number one autoimmune disease and effects the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s is a problem in the immune system, and if detected early, the immune problem can be fixed and the thyroid gland function can be restored without medication.
Other symptoms of a sluggish thyroid gland, can be weight gain, cold and heat intolerance, hair loss, in addition to the fatigue and brain fog. You can also have a sluggish digestion.
Other symptoms that are very common in my practice are all digestive related. Reflux, constipation, bloating, gassy issues that are very common. Conventional medicine calls this IBS, a phrase used to label any and all these kinds of symptoms. However, from a functional point of view, it is clear that something in the gut isn’t functioning right. Emerging research tells us that in many cases, the gut microbiome, or flora is out of balance and this is the cause. But we also know that food is the culprit for many people, and the cause of their symptoms. Helping people figure out which foods are an issue and helping them repair their gut and eliminate their symptoms is probably something I end up treating and working on with every patient.
AV: When do you feel most at peace?
SB: During my morning meditation or when out walking the dog. I also feel really good at the end of the day after seeing all my patients; a deep satisfaction that the day is over and we accomplished a lot.
AV: You’re a busy mother, successful doctor and author, how do you de-stress and nourish your body?
- I wake up and meditate every day. This is my preventive medicine!
- Most of the year I am out in nature walking the dog 4-5 days/week. We live in a heavily wooded area.
- I make sure to nourish myself with healthy food. I live by the 90% rule. My daily routine is clean clean: gluten, dairy, corn and sugar free, no alcohol or sweets, organic, Non–GMO. Mostly vegan with a little fish and chicken (once each, weekly). This keeps me filled with energy and clarity of mind. And less cranky.
- I make time for my family and make it a priority. I manage my schedule with this intention and set boundaries. My husband and I have date night every Saturday and we go out and I eat what I want and have a glass or 2 of wine. Sometimes a glass of wine on Friday night at home.
AV: Favorite ways to naturally detox daily:
- For sure my diet. Eating organic, lots of color and antioxidants.
- Annual detox program with the team at Blum Center: classic 21 day detox with liver support supplements
- Drink organic cold pressed low sugar juices from Organic Pharmer, high in antioxidants and detox supporting nutrients.
AV: Favorite meal to cook:
SB: Sprouted lentil salad (not really cooked)
AV: Typical breakfast:
- Winter: chicken bone broth, 1 tsp ghee, 1 cup of parsley blanched in the broth
- Rest of the year: acai berry bowl with mixed berries, acai juice and 2-3 tbl hemp seeds and sometimes sunflower seeds
AV: Finish these Sentences:
Health is…ever changing and needs to be tended to.
The future…is bright and exciting.
Happiness…is an inside job.
Life…brings great challenges and great joy.
There’s a time and place for…everything.
There is too much… suffering.
There is not enough….joy.
In the end…self-realization is the goal.