5 Important Principles for Nutritional Consultants

5 Important Principles for Nutritional Consultants 

From Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin M.D.: by: Marcie Macari-EIN graduate.

I had the pleasure of receiving a review copy of Mind Over Medicine, by Lissa Rankin, and subsequently joining her online course for both those with “chronic” illness, as well as both alternative and mainstream health providers called: “Take Back Your Health”. In both the book and the course, Lissa outlines several really useful principles, which are extremely helpful to those of us in nutritional consulting. She references many medical studies which support her theories, and presents them in an easy to read, and entertaining manner. In this review, I’ll highlight just 5 of many.

Nurturing Care: Dr. Rankin writes: “In a study published in The Lancet, which investigated the role of endorphins in how placebos relieve pain, researchers found that, despite the use of a double-blind procedure, the expectations of the physicians still influenced how patients responded to injections of fentanyl, naloxone, or placebo. If the doctor doesn’t believe a certain treatment will work, the treatment may actually be less effective.” While we are not physicians, and don’t treat disease, we are in a unique position to help our clients recognize their own innate ability to heal themselves, and to provide a positive, hopeful environment to assist this process. By approaching all illness with a belief in the person’s ability to get well and in the therapies we are recommending to bring the body back into balance, we can offer them something many clients who seek our care need most: Hope.

The Placebo Effect: Lissa has a fresh approach to this often under-utilized mental phenomenon, by highlighting the science behind the effectiveness of placebos, and how a practitioner can use this belief/self healing cycle to the benefit of their clients. One way, is by providing healthy “rituals” which hold significance to their client. For example: Rather than simply recommending a homeopathic remedy to a client, a nutritionist could activate the placebo effect by recommending the client hold the homeopathic remedy in their hands to “warm” it, and explain how one’s mindset effects how the body will absorb or assimilate the remedy. Telling the client they will get maximum benefit from their remedy by taking a moment to warm it in their hands, take a couple of deep breaths, and imagining what it will be doing for their health-will encourage the client to deactivate their stress response before consuming the recommended product, and this may increase the effectiveness of their protocol simply by activating their BELIEF in it. We know that stress affects both the immune system and the digestive system, and that state of mind has a lot to do with how our bodies perceive what we consume, so it makes sense that positive belief will also do the same!

Trust Your Clients’ Inner Pilot Light: An interesting concept Lissa puts forth, is that for a lot of people dealing with illness, they primarily need someone to ask the right questions. She writes:

“That’s when I began asking my patients two mother-lode questions. “What do you think may lie at the root of your illness?” And most important, “What does your body need in order to heal?” She continues: “When I first started popping these questions, I assumed people would tell me that the root cause of their illness was a hormonal imbalance or an unhealthy diet…But more often than not, my

patients said things like these: “ I give until I’m depleted.” “I’m miserable in my marriage.” “I’m out of touch with my life purpose.”

And when I asked my patients, “What does your body need in order heal?” my patients shocked me with their answers. “I have to quit my job.” “It’s time for me to finally come out of the closet to my parents.” “I need to tell my husband I’m having an affair.” The results these patients (who followed through) achieved were astonishing. Sometimes, a laundry list of illnesses would disappear, often very quickly. My patients were healing themselves after years of medical therapies had proven useless. I was in awe.”

For me, this is a very important aspect of any Holistic Nutrition business. Our bodies need nutritional support and the right kinds of toxin elimination, but our bodies do not operate independent of all other aspects of our lives. When meeting with a client, I feel it is our duty to explore with them the whole of their life and all the “inputs” that may need to be addressed in order for the body to have an optimal environment in which to heal. If in this investigative process, we identify some non-nutritional needs which are outside of our scope of practice, we can refer to trusted professionals to assist in those aspects of our client’s journey to wellness. For this purpose, it is a good idea to have made contact with a few different health care providers to which we can refer comfortably and provide this referral list to our clients.

The Relaxation Response: Activating this response deactivates the stress response, allowing the body to go into repair mode. This response is able to consciously be activated through a variety of exercises, which are outlined in the book. Among these are meditation, prayer, creating something, solitude and specific breathing exercises. This is helpful, because many of our clients come to us in a state of anxiety, fear or hopelessness. Helping our clients learn how to activate their own relaxation response provides an environment in which self-healing can begin. One of the best ways we can help with relaxation is to recommend the Cast Oil Pack application. The softness of the flannel in combination with the oil and heat stimulates the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system and bowels to remove toxins. It also increases the production of neutrophils by 40% in only 20 minutes. Most importantly it puts the person’s nervous system into parasympathetic mode which of course brings about relaxation therefore reducing stress hormones and inflammation allowing the healing to begin.

The Whole Health Cairn: Dr. Rankin uses a self-evaluation tool she calls the “Whole Health Cairn”. It looks like this:

The Whole Health Cairn is her visual depiction of all the aspects in our lives that need to be considered when the body is out of balance. Sometimes a health problem which is manifesting in the body may have its core-cause in a person’s life purpose stone.

She recommends asking clients to spend some time considering how well each of these aspects of their lives are going, and how well they are nourishing each stone on a regular basis. Then, she recommends taking a different color for each stone and coloring it in to represent the amount the client feels it is healthy and happy, which would therefore be supportive of their physical health. Another way to use this tool is to have the individual evaluate how well they are nurturing each of their “stones” on a regular basis. I found this exercise beneficial for women in particular, because we tend to be very relationship oriented, to the degree that it may be unbeneficial for our own health and happiness. Dr. Rankin emphasises that she has seen a significant connection between the quality and happiness of a patient’s relationship stone, and the prevalence of illness. Asking a client to take this home and spend some time considering each stone and how they can improve those that need supportive action, is a great tool to shift the client into a holistic way of thinking.

I highly recommend Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin as both a resource for Holistic Nutritionists interested in improving their own belief system, so as to positively affect those with whom they consult, as well as a tool to recommend to clients who may benefit from reading it. With its many study references, stories of hope, healing and remission, as well as its honest discussion of those cases where there has been work by the client on all of these fronts, and still healing did not come, I personally find it an excellent addition to my resource list.