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Season 3, Episode 10: The Truth on Pharmaceuticals with Dr. Lindsey Elmore

By Jodi Cohen

In this episode, Jodi is joined by Dr. Lindsey Elmore, a certified Vinyasa Yin and Aroma Yoga instructor, to discuss simple tools you can use to help reduce anxiety and overwhelm without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Dr. Elmore is a board certified pharmacist and functional medicine clinician. She’s also a world renowned wellness expert, business strategy coach, and author of several books including 75 Answers to Common Questions About Essential Oils and Supplements.

Tune in to learn more about:

  • [01:53] – The universal experience of today’s world
  • [07:54] – Pharmaceuticals vs alternate strategies for anxiety
  • [19:58] – Yama (moral codes) to live by in Yoga
  • [25:00] – Niyama (daily behaviors) to live by in Yoga
  • [31:53] – Get started with breathing techniques

About Dr. Lindsey Elmore

Dr. Lindsey Elmore is a pharmacist, natural wellness expert, vegan cook, yogi, podcast host, and business strategy coach. She translates complicated science into understandable stories, and travels the world educating audiences about natural wellness. Dr. Elmore has spoken to audiences on five continents and more than 35 countries. Her educational materials have been translated into more than 25 languages and she reaches millions on social media globally.

Learn more about Lindsey Elmore here: Website: https://lindseyelmore.com/ | Instagram: @lindseyelmore | Facebook: Lindsey Elmore

If you’re enjoying the Essential Alchemy podcast, please leave Jodi a review on iTunes.

Jodi: Hi, I’m your host Jodi Cohen, and I’m so excited to be joined by my dear friend Dr. Lindsey Elmore. She is a board-certified pharmacist, functional medicine clinician, speaker, author, entrepreneur, and world-renowned wellness expert. Dr. Elmore has an undergraduate degree in chemistry, which we’re gonna dive into from the University of Alabama, a doctorate of pharmacy from the University of California San Francisco. She’s also a certified Vinyasa yin and aroma yoga instructor, a business strategy coach, and the author of Essential 75 Answers to Common questions about essential oils and supplements, and the vegan gluten-free cookbook and workbook, clean slate. Welcome, Lindsey.

Lindsey: Thank you, Jodi. Always an honor to get to chat with you and spend time with you.

Jodi: I know, and it’s funny, we have so much in common, like the yoga and the essential oils, and before we hit record, we were talking about how the world right now, everyone is just in anxiety and overwhelm and they need better tools. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Lindsey: Well, I think what we have all been through as a collective in the past couple of years, trauma is now a universal experience. Every single person has been through trauma and I know for me the day that the lockdowns happened, so I was living in Manhattan, living in New York City when the lockdowns happened, and on that very first day, I just had this deep rooted in my gut sense of this is not the smartest way to handle a virus. 

Like there’s something off, there’s something off here.

And I one day there was nothing to do in New York. All the restaurants were closed, couldn’t go to Broadway, couldn’t do anything. And there were days that I would walk like 12 or 15 miles just because I was like, I am going to absolutely go crazy if I continue to stay in my apartment. And there was one day that I took a walk from Harlem to the center of New York into Times Square. This is a long walk. Friends, we’re talking a hundred plus blocks and keep in mind that 20 blocks is a mile, so five miles at least. 

And there’s a photo of me standing on 42nd Street, and I am the only person in sight. I’m the only person in sight. And in that instant, I was like, okay, I have to leave the city. I have to leave. I cannot stay here. I can’t remain here. A lot of people started having nightmares started, wondering, am I going crazy? 

And so I think everyone has been through trauma, whether that trauma is knowing someone who was affected by the virus, having the virus yourself, having uncertainty about do I take a vaccine, do I not? What’s the best? Global uncertainty.

Jodi: I felt like the target kept changing, like every other day. It was such a moving target. It was hard to feel certainty and safe.

Lindsey: And that’s like the very foundation of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is we have to have safety and security. That’s why safety and security is at the root Chakra. It’s the very base that we are built upon is knowing that we are safe and secure.

Because otherwise if you’re living in a state where you’re not safe and secure, that’s back in the days where people had to do overnight watches to protect everybody, you know? And it’s a very stressful, stressful situation. I look back on it and I just go, what a missed opportunity. Imagine if instead of, stay home, avoid people, be sedentary, start drinking at noon. Like the whole world made it a joke to start drinking at like noon. And I’m like, bake sourdough bread. And we all went through like the cute phase where we baked sourdough bread and watched Tiger King, but then it just kept going and it kept going and it kept going. 

And I look back and I go, imagine if people had come on TV and said, Hey, listen, friends, we’ve got something coming towards us. We don’t know what to expect. Therefore the advice that we’ve been giving you for all these years, to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, get eight to nine hours of sleep a night, spend five minutes in deep breathing and meditation, exercise regularly, have genuine human connection. If we had told people like, we actually need you to take that very seriously right now because we don’t know what’s about to happen. And it also, I had a friend say to me the other day, she’s like, but there’s a new variant. And I was like, yeah, it’s a virus. There’s always of everything. So it’s a collective trauma that has led to a lot of arguments and a lot of pitting humans against each other. And we’re supposed to stick together, we’re better together as people. And it has led to also an anxiousness. 

I don’t know, but if you’re like me, I had to kind of relearn how to look people in the eyes. Cuz we had been so distant from one another, like I had to relearn some of these social skills. And that also is very unnerving.

It makes you very anxious when you’re out in public and you’re like, I don’t know how to interact anymore. And so I do think that it is trauma became universal and the ripple effect of the anxiety is still very palpable even to this day.

Jodi: I have a 17 year old daughter who all of her friends are anxious wrecks and the challenge is most of them kind of that good advice that’s being withheld. They don’t even know what to do with their anxiety except for going on pharmaceutical drugs. So I’d love it if we could kind of delve into some things that, alternate strategies, including yoga.

Lindsey: Because the thing about pharmaceutical drugs for anxiety is, The SSRI drugs, the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, the Prozac and the Paxels of the world, they don’t work that well in most people. In some people, they’re absolutely life changing and they will quash that anxiety, but in a lot of people, they don’t really work, and they also have very significant side effects, including weight gain, which is unhealthy, including sexual dysfunction, which if you have a healthy sexual relationship and then all of a sudden you don’t, that is anxiety inducing. 

And so they have lots of side effects that happen and we also know that when people are in chronic stress, chronic anxiety, just not feeling good, they don’t have enough amino acids to even begin the building process of serotonin and dopamine and all the things that it goes into it. And so you’re taking this medicine that helps to prolong the action of serotonin. But you’re serotonin deficient and you don’t have enough serotonin to begin with.

I am not anti-medications, but if you’re going to take an SSRI med, why don’t we at least make sure that you have the building blocks to make it work? And so if you are someone who you’re like, I’m on an SSRI, and it’s just not doing anything for me, go to your local grocery store and get a bottle of amino acids and start taking an amino acid supplement every single day. 

The other medications that treat anxiety are the benzodiazepines. The first ever million-dollar drug in the United States was a drug called Librium. And I hate the marketing so much. I don’t know how many of your listeners are familiar with the opioid epidemic, which you wanna talk about another major stressor that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. The family that created Oxycontin, that’s the Purdue Pharma, the guys that are in charge of it, they’re called the Sacklers. We think of them as being real jerks cuz they made Oxycontin and then completely falsely marketed it. 

They are third generation in this game of false marketing of pharmaceuticals. And so Librium, the first ever benzodiazepine was marketed by the grandfather of the people that marketed Oxycontin as mommy’s little helper. Ladies, we do not deserve to be told that we need an anti-anxiety drug to get through the day. I also think that it’s become fun to get your three-year-olds together and drink wine in the afternoon, like that does not compute. And so we’re doing all of these behaviors that we know are toxic to us. When we think about what’s the toolkit to reduce our anxiety… on my Instagram feed, I do “ask me anything” a lot and I get all these questions about what do I do for generalized anxiety? And I’m like, I need you to learn to breathe. What do I do for my asthma? I need you to learn to breathe. What do I do for feeling sleepy in the afternoons? Learn to breathe.

We’ve lost the art of breathing in this country.

Jodi: Wim Hof actually has a good YouTube video where he works you up to holding your breath for three minutes. Most people can’t hold their breath for 10 seconds.

Lindsey: That is astonishing. So if you really wanna know how to breathe, number one, your lips must be closed all of the time. If you are someone who wakes up in the middle of the night with your mouth gaping open, you need to fix that because guess what? You are engaging your sympathetic nervous system the entire time that you are asleep. If you are breathing in and out of your mouth, train your children to breathe with their mouth closed. Tongue positioning is very important, so when your mouth is closed and you are breathing, the tip of your tongue reaches the roof of the mouth. 

This creates a tunnel almost where the air gets directed down into the trachea. We also know that when we take a breath, we need to take a breath very slowly. And steadily, and we need to take a breath. That is descending down into the belly. If you are breathing using your chest, you’re breathing wrong and it’s engaging your sympathetic nervous system, and it’s keeping you in fight or flight all day long. So listeners, if you can do nothing else other than this one thing after listening to this, it is take a moment each day to breathe and breathe with intention. Breathe with gratitude. Breathe with a sense of what a true miracle it is that you’re breathing, you know? 

You mentioned yoga a second ago.

This is one of the limbs of yoga. I think people think of yoga as the the postures. But the postures came about secondary to the meditation. So the guy that created yoga, we don’t know if it’s one person or like a collection of just 10 people that all kind of contributed to this manuscript, but there’s a book called The Yoga Sutures of Paton, and Paton is the guy that kind of wrote down what yoga is, and I think people think of yoga as like, okay, I’ve got on my super amazing Lululemon pants, which are covered in toxins, friends covered in toxins. 

My friend is a very, very clean, crunchy lady and she found a study where they analyzed like clothing from Lululemon and for many different yoga studios. I’m not hating on Lululemon, but it’s covered in toxins that are causing anxiety. And so people think of yoga as a skinny white woman in tight pants doing some like twists and pretzels and this and that. Sun citations, sun salutations, all the things, but that is not what yoga is. Yoga is actually a practice of eight different behaviors that can help to reduce anxiety on so many levels. The asanas are great, but the asana were only developed to still the monkey mind. That’s what yoga is for. The practice of yoga is to still the monkey mind and when you think about just how important pranayama is. So pranayama is the breathwork that it takes to go into yoga. 

If you’re practicing Asana and not breathing through them, that’s just working out. The thing I love about pranayama is that you can use them for different reasons. The most classic pranayama is called samvriti. And that is basically where you inhale through your nose, slow and steady, and then you exhale through your nose, slow and steady.

And the aim is to get the inhalation and the exhalation to be the same. So another bad breathing pattern that we have is we take these like really short breaths. We take very short breaths and we tend to have our inhalation longer than our exhalation. Well, that’s a problem because inhalation is sympathetic. Exhalation is parasympathetic, and so when you get your pranayama going and you’ve got samvriti, first work on just evening out the breath, and then work on creating an even more slow and steady exhale. But there’s other pranayama too. And so you could do pranayama if you’re angry and you would like to not be angry anymore. 

Maybe you do a lion’s roar where you stick your tongue out of your mouth and audibly make up. Put the anger out, like let it go. So another thing that I just think is going to help you to stay less anxious in general is another concept. In yoga, it’s called Prema Hara. It is the intentional withdrawal of the senses. And so this may be where you can withdraw your senses in a million ways. You can practice what is called buhari breathing, or like the humming bee where you press your thumbs on that protrusion in your ear called your tragus. And so press that tragus down and then cover your eyes and then you just kind of like, hmm mm hmm. Just kind of hum like a bee. And it’s so soothing and so calming. 

But you can also deprive your senses by turning off your tv, staying off of social media, stop arguing with people online, like just stop. You can practice sense deprivation by saying, you know what? I know that when I eat gluten and dairy that it tastes delicious, but for three days I feel more anxious and more constipated, and my stomach is upset, and all of the things. So we can withdraw.

Withdrawal of the census is also like, okay, I’m not going to artificially inflate my dopamine with drugs and alcohol, is another idea about it. There’s also just like rules to live by in yoga.

Jodi: What are your rules to live by? I’m curious cuz I have some.

Lindsey: I’m a huge fan of the fruits of the spirit, like goodness knows if I can show up and whether you’re Christian or not. I was talking with my guest on my podcast. She and I were talking about how there’s universal human goodness. I think it’s gorgeous that it’s summarized into such a beautiful list in the fruits of the spirit. But whether or not you’re Christian showing up with love and joy and kindness and patience, and self-control and gentleness, all of those things are amazing. 

And you think about in yoga, which you know has rules to live by as well. So there’s the yamas, which are like moral codes, and then there’s the niyamas, which are like your daily behaviors. And all of these make sense as anti-anxiety measures as well. 

The yamas include ahimsa: Nonviolence, non harming. You are going to be kind to yourself. You’re gonna be kind to other people. You’re not gonna blow a gasket at the store because something’s out of stock. You’re not going to kill things and harm things and beat things and all those things. If anybody is doing that to you, you have a spot to reach out to. Go call someone, because you do not deserve that. That is the very basic, that’s the first rule in yoga is don’t harm other people. Don’t harm other people.

The next one is tell the truth. Tell the truth. You show up and you tell the truth. And then the next one is, don’t steal things. That is going to make your life so much less anxiety-ridden. I was redoing my will the other day and my attorney gets on and he says, there are worse things you could be than a busy attorney. And I was like, oh dude, yeah, you could be a busy criminal. Like, that sounds terrible. That sounds like the worst job ever. You think about people that break the law and you just go, how much anxiety do they have about that? You know, and if they Don’t steal things.

Jodi: I love our colleague Christine Schaffner, she is meticulous about giving credit for every idea, and I love that about her. She’s not presenting anything as her own.

Lindsey: It will make people respect you more and I learned from Stephen Covey on my podcast the other day. He said, if you really, truly want to get people motivated and get the best out of people, trust that they are inherently an amazing person and inspire them so much, well, you can’t do that if you’re stealing credit for their work cuz they’re not gonna like you anymore. 

The next thing in the yamas that is gonna make your life less stressful is called the right use of energy. This is sexual restraint. This is saying, Hey, I’m in a monogamous relationship and I’m gonna have respect for that. Or it’s saying, I am not going to indulge the worst of my sexual self. This could be an excellent place to say I’m not gonna watch pornography because it skews my brain. And we know that from studies. And then the last of the yamas that I think is such an important lesson, especially for women. Women are trying to do it all.

They’re trying to juggle 15 bajillion things all at once and I say that out of respect for all the women that are working, that have husbands that are, have kids at home and this and that. I got two pets and I feel like I’m overwhelmed. But the last one is aparigraha, just let it go. Non-possessiveness is what aparigraha means. You can work hard on something, but don’t be so wedded to the outcome that when things aren’t perfectly like you envision them in your head, that you feel defeated. So just let it go. Let go of all of the everything and simply show up each day with your best self. 

The niyamas, those daily behaviors. The first one is purity. I took a shower before I came on your show today, Jodi. I did because I have respect and all the things, and that’s gonna make your life less stressful. It’s gonna make your life less stressful. I mean, think about it. Do an annual parasite cleanse. Maybe do some enemas to clean out. Surround your home with products that are non-toxic so that you’re not disrupting your endocrine system along the way. 

Then there is the practice of santosha, which is contentment. I am where I am and that’s enough. I hate listening to people say, I’m not far enough along and therefore I can’t start, or my anxiety has been so long, so bad for so many years, it’s never going to get better. That’s a lie that we tell ourselves. And there’s several others. Just having discipline and saying like, okay, I am going to get up every day and have my morning routine and I’m not gonna allow something more important to get in the way of my daily breathing, daily exercise, daily gratitude, journaling, whatever it is, like maintain that discipline to have these behaviors that intentionally reduce your anxiety.

The last two of the niyamas are studying. And so reading something, y life has been deeply affected by alcoholism and therefore, I attend Al-Anon meetings. And so Al-Anon is a fellowship of peeps that have been affected by alcohol. And one of the things that we talk about, there’s a poem that I love and it’s called Just For Today. And it’s great cuz it’s like you don’t have to be everything all of the days, but just for today, you can do these things. And one of the things it talks about is like, just for today I’m going to challenge my mind. I’m going to read something, I’m going to challenge my mind because it’s good for me. 

And then the last of the niyamas that makes my days less stressful and less anxious is I recognize that there is some being bigger than me. Believe in purpose, believe in that it’s not just you out here on your own. Even if you say, I’m a staunch atheist, believe in your fellow human man. Believe in the goodness of people. We talked about the postures, the breathing practices, the withdrawal of the senses, but then the last three of the, the eight limbs of yoga, concentration, meditation, and then eventually when you do it all right. 

In yoga and in Hinduism, they call it samati, which is merging with the divine, the Buddhists, call it nirvana. Christians call it going to heaven. Whatever it is that merges you, that gets that greatest goodness out of you is what we’re ultimately after in yoga.

Jodi: This was so amazing. You’ve shared so much knowledge. I wanted to ask a follow-up question on the amino acids. If there was any brand you like better than others for people to look for.

Lindsey: What I have in my cabinet is just the Whole Foods brand. If you or someone you know has an account with full script, there are some great options there. And so I don’t know that there’s one that’s like the best of the best, but you do wanna make sure that you’re getting the whole, at least you want your essential amino acids, because those are the ones that we cannot make. And so we wanna be sure that we’re getting those. I just take all of them. Some people who are looking to have more muscle development and muscle growth have the branch chain fatty acids. There are some fatty acids that specifically raise dopamine. 

Evan Brand said it to me yesterday. He was like, if you’re somebody who gets bored easily, you lack dopamine. And so you might choose to take an altheine supplement for dopamine production. And there are so many different amino acids. And we just wanna be sure that we’re getting all of them. We think about Phenyl Alanine maintaining a healthy nervous system, and there’s valine that helps with the muscle growth and the immune system. We just really wanna make sure that we’re getting a good collection of them so that we have building blocks that we need in order to make our amino acids, tryptophan so important in the production of vitamin B3 and serotonin. I think we think of melatonin as like the hormone that puts us to sleep, but serotonin is also extraordinarily important in regulating our sleep. And you wanna talk about just something that causes anxiety. Insomnia. Insomnia is so anxiety-provoking because you don’t drain your brain at night.

Jodi: Do you have like a favorite breathing technique, like box breathing, Woff? Is there one that you recommend people start with?

Lindsey: I recommend people start with samvriti. Which is just where you’re inhaling. Close your mouth in through the nose. Out through the nose. I also love box breathing. But I kind of take it to the next level, this is called naughty shodana, and so you create a hand gesture. This is called Dear and you make Dear Mudra by bringing your ring finger in. And this is my right hand, so my ring finger comes in, index finger and middle finger together, pinky extended. And then you place your index finger in your middle finger on your third eye, and then your pinky and your thumb help you to alternate. And so you can inhale through the left nostril, close both. Exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril. Close both. And then exhale through the left. And that is one round of naughty shodana. Do that three times. It’ll take you 40 seconds to do it, and you regulate your sympathetic and your parasympathetic nervous system. And you balance the hemispheres of the brain, this is the two hemispheres of the brain, actually drives oxygen to each side individually, because our tracks are crossed. 

So when we’re doing something, perceiving something on the left side of the body, it’s actually the right side of the brain that interprets all of it. And so we’re intentionally driving towards one side or the other. But listen, if all of that sounded too complicated, just sit down and breathe for take 10 deep breaths in, 10 deep breaths out. And I also laugh, one time I was in a bad mood, Jodi. It happens sometimes. And my friend Ed, who has practiced yoga for many, many, many years, he says, stop. And I was like, okay, fine. And he says, jump up and down. And I was like, what? And he’s like, jump up and down 75 times. And so I started jumping because Ed’s my dear friend and colleague and I know he knows this stuff.

And by the time you’re done jumping up and down, you think you’re gonna be angry. And again, no, like you can use a physical movement in your body. Same thing with anxiety. Your brain can’t quite hold on to all the anxiousness when you’re jumping up and down. Or when you’re bouncing or when you know you go for a walk. All the things.

Jodi: That’s my pivot. When I first had my daughter, my sister-in-law was like, whenever they’re crying, just take ’em outside, just change scenery. It works like a charm. It works for me too.

Lindsey: It works for all of us. I have a very active dog. She will gladly walk or run as much as you want to. And there are days that I don’t want to go. There are just days where I don’t wanna go. I catch myself and I go, I never regret it. You never regret getting up in the morning and going outside in the sun and going for a walk. You’re never gonna regret it. My dad told me years ago, you’ll never regret the time that you spend away from alcohol. You’ll never regret the time that you spend paying attention to your children. We allow the world to kind of spin around us when we could be creating some intention in our life.

Jodi: This was amazing. Is there anything else we haven’t touched on that you’d like to share?

Lindsey: I think I would encourage your audience, just keep coming back, keep listening to this show. Jodi is just such a wealth of knowledge and just knows so many smart, brilliant minds who are gonna help you to overcome your anxiety.

You do not have to live this way, friend. I say on my show, my podcast all the time. This is a podcast for people who believe that they deserve to be healthy. I believe that you deserve to live in a relaxed, parasympathetic state, and Jodi’s gonna teach you how to do it.

Jodi:  Thank you so much for joining us. Can you share where people can find out more about you?

Lindsey: You can go to LindseyElmore.com or you can listen to the Lindsey Elmore Show, anywhere that you listen to podcast. @LindseyElmore on Instagram and Facebook, and @DrLindseyElmore on Pinterest and TikTok. 

Thank you so much.

About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.