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Hey, welcome back folks. Today I have the distinct pleasure to introduce to you Summer Bock Bock. She’s a trained herbalist certified in integrative nutrition through Columbia University. She was a raver in her early twenties—I’m not sure what that is but it’s probably some cool thing, knowing Summer Bock as well as I do. But she also had devastating allergies and when those emergent left her exhausted and hive-ridden, and she was only able to consume maybe about 30 foods without a reaction—that’s something that totally stumps the medical community. I think it’s right in the backyard of a good health coach. So we invited Summer Bock on because she’s got an amazing program and history and we’re gonna have her tell us all about it. She’s leveraged her background in microbiology and her fascination with the gut.
She transformed her own health, obviously, using wild probiotics in fermented foods and digestive bitters. I know Summer Bock well enough to know she’s got a lot more going than that, so put your seatbelts on. We’ll see what happens as we interview, but she now—also, I want to have her brag about her gut rebuilding program. It’s called Guts & Glory apothecary online. The whole phrase gut rebuilding probably came from Summer Bock thanks to Summer Bock and her efforts. It’s a cornerstone terminology in the health coaching field, and you’re looking at one of the original pioneers here, folks. So Summer Bock, thank you so much for being here. It’s a real pleasure. I look forward to hearing more about your background first. Let’s start with that. Like, what the hell is a raver and what was going on back then?
Well, first of all, thanks for having me here. I’m just thrilled that you’ve created this resource for everybody because I know how important it is. I mean, I started out from literally scratch and every bit of information can really help. So… A raver, it’s a partier, somebody who goes to raves. I used to go to raves all the time and it was fun, took a lot of drugs.
And I would say that really that in conjunction with the earlier trauma of my life, it just set me up to be super sick. It was one of the catalysts along the way. Yeah, it was pretty bad.
So how do you go from raver? ‘Cause look, we all partied, some of us harder than others. Me, I’ve always been very competitive, so I thought I could party. Like, “You’re not gonna out party me, man.” We just call them parties, but I get it. Now, tell me about the allergies and things like that. How do you have such a robust lifestyle, let’s call it, and have allergies? You couldn’t have been getting along very well, right?
No, I mean, honestly it was miserable. My eyes would swell up. The whites of my eyes would actually swell up, like almost above the Iris when it was really bad. I had sores on my nose, on my mouth, I was bloated. I was overweight. I was just swollen and puffy all the time. I had hives most of the time, somewhere on my body. I mean, I would just like eat something and break out in hives or I would touch something or smell something and break out in hives. My body was so over-reactive that I just didn’t function well. I was in a constant state of fight or flight all the time. Now that I look back, I realize I was completely stressed out. I would wake up in the middle of the night sometimes with my heart rate up. I even checked it one time and it was at 188 beats per minute. In the middle—from like a dead sleep.
My renalin and my histamine, everything was just pumping at the wrong times. I was super reactive to everything. I remember being really allergic to tree pollen and grass pollen. And at one time in the spring, I was standing at the bus stop going to school and I saw this like gust of pollen drift through the air as the wind blew through the trees and my whole body like puffed up. I was like, “Oh…”, ’cause I knew what was gonna happen. I sat there, thought about it for a minute and I realized, “Wait a minute, I was born here. Like, this is my world. It makes no sense that I’m allergic to this.” At that moment I realized like, “I’m gonna do everything that I can in my power to heal myself from my allergies, because this isn’t normal.” Even though we accept it in our culture like, “Oh, you have allergies? Just take allergy shots. This is something you deal with for the rest of your life.” I was like, “No, I don’t accept that because it doesn’t make sense that I would be allergic to the world that I was born into.”
That’s really astute. That’s quite an observation to be making for a young raver. [Laughing] Now, you mentioned the allergy medication or something like that. What were the doctors telling you at that time? What was going on with your medical treatment? And obviously, it didn’t suit you, but how were they treating you?
Well, I tried various things. They were mostly having me try various nasal sprays—
and Benadryl and antihistamines and all these things. Yeah. Quite honestly, it’s like I could take all of those things and I still had allergies. Then I would take those things and conk out, which was no fun. I felt drugged up on Benadryl and things like that, or I just felt like amped up from the various kind of antihistamine. It didn’t feel— like I felt worse taking the anti-histamines, even if it would dry stuff up a little bit. So I had to choose between, “Okay, feel like you’re either drugged and you’re going to go to sleep or you’re on speed or have a runny nose and hives and like itchy eyes and be completely miserable.” What a great choice!.
I was like, “This is not a solution!” I think that was really hard, and then I ended up through this whole experience, I went and studied herbal medicine at an amazing program in New Mexico. I was there for a full academic year as a full time program. It was outstanding. The school isn’t there anymore, which is really sad. I wish I could recommend it to people. I learned a lot about herbs there. So I started taking every kind of herb you could possibly take for your liver, to clean up any of the stuff going on that’s causing the allergies. I’d take it for my skin. I’d take it for my adrenal. I was taking just tons of herbs. I remember, I actually ended up getting trained as a health coach and I was working with my doctor and I was working with her patients. So I was doing health coaching with all of her patients.
She would recommend them to come to me. I was getting great results for them. I mean, I was miserable—[laughing]—because I had all these allergies and stuff and I couldn’t figure it out no matter how many people I went to. I would get diagnosed with candida and I’d have to do a candida protocol. I had all these different doctors telling me different things. I did all these allergy clearings and tons of stuff. So I finally went back to this doctor who was sending her patients to me and I was like, “Help. I really need your help.” I felt like I was taking a really drastic move at that point. ‘Cause going to the doctor was definitely a last resort for me because I had felt so let down by so many doctors at this point and she looked at me and she goes, “What are you doing here?” And I was like, “What?” And she goes, “Summer Bock, you know more about this than I do.”
And I was like, “What?” And she was like, “Here’s, what’s gonna happen. I’m gonna write you a prescription. You’re not gonna fill it. I don’t think it’s gonna do anything anyway. So what are you doing here?” And I was like, “Oh my gosh, the train just left the station. I’m stranded in the middle of nowhere.” I went home and had a total meltdown ’cause I really felt like it was a lot for me to get to the point where I’m going to a doctor and being—like I’m going back to a traditional doctor, allopathic medicine. Like, okay, I’ve tried all these other things. I’ve done all the stuff that I can possibly find. I’ve worked with every practitioner in the alternative world. I’ve done all my own training. I’ve done everything. I’ve done every fast, every cleanse, every single thing I can possibly try and everything worked just a little bit but nothing gave me the real relief.
So I went home and I was just doing some more research. This was not a time where you could search things on the internet and find the answers that you could find even a few years ago. I just remember doing a little bit more research and asking questions and kind of telling some people about my current state, my current predicament. I did find another doctor and she said, “Why don’t you try probiotics?” So I tried probiotics. Okay, interesting, never heard of those. So I tried probiotics and it really made a difference for me. Being trained as an herbalist, I asked myself the question, “What is the whole food form of probiotics?” Like how did my ancestors 500 years ago get probiotics in their diet because they didn’t have little white pills made in a laboratory that they could take.
If this is an essential part of our lives, then there’s gotta be a source. At that time, of course—you know how when you’re looking for answers, like they all come from all directions. I was reading Sally Fallon’s book. My mom sent me a book by Sandra Katz about fermentation and it just all started coming together. The way that our ancestors got probiotics was through naturally fermented foods. They didn’t know that they were getting probiotics. They thought they were just preserving foods naturally so they could make it through the winter and things like that. But conveniently, there was a symbiotic relationship between those foods and those organisms in the food and our immune system and our gut health. I started eliminating all the herbs that I was taking. I decided I’m just gonna focus on my gut and nothing else.
That focus changed everything because just really honing it all into one organ system and dealing with just that one organ system that really was dealing with my immunity. That’s what it was doing, helping me manage this overwhelming immune reaction that I was having all the time. It really helped me get things in order. Of course, because I live in the United States and we like supersize it and we would go to the extreme, if a little bit of probiotics are good, maybe a lot are better. So I was fermenting everything. Reed, I literally would ferment everything before it would go in my mouth. I had all these concoctions on my counter and I went overboard and I actually ended up going too far with it and started getting some histamine reactions from having too much. So this whole process of healing was really fascinating. I learned there’s sort of a sweet spot.
You don’t want to go too far or too crazy with this stuff. And from there there’s just been—there’s many, many layers of that onion to keep unfolding. That was just the very beginning of the process and since then, I have to say like—yeah, go ahead.
I was gonna ask you—I want to come back to the story because it’s fascinating—I love getting to know you better. I mean, you and I have sat and had drinks and stuff, nothing crazy, but I’m getting to know you better than I ever have before. Now, I’ve read Sally Fallon’s Nursing Traditions. I think it probably should be required reading for nutritionists and health coaches, and the other book you mentioned. But where—’cause you started off with, “I knew something was wrong.” Where do you think that comes from? Like, there’s a lot of people in the health coaching world who started with their own health problem, but there’s some who didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t have a health problem, but I’ve been in it for 20 years. So where’s this—did your mom do herbs? Did you read a book when you were 10 that said, “Oh, trees are cool.” Where did you get this from do you think? ‘I know another thing about you is that you believe in intuition and that kind of stuff. What about you? How did you know something was wrong?
Well, I think there’s a couple sides to it. So my mom, she’s a botanist, she’s a horticulturist. She is obsessed with plants. So growing up, she would always put wild food in our salads. She’d pick wild flowers, wild [inaudible], we would go on walks, following my mom in the forest and she would hand me and my sister twigs to chew on and be like, “This is blah, blah, blah. And you chew on this for a headache. And the native people used this root for blah, blah.” She would just teach us all about herbs. I do think that was an integral part of influence for me growing up. So that was, I found that really fascinating. Then the way I really knew something was wrong was actually, I mean there was always a feeling or whatever, but when I was in herbal medicine school, I did, basically it was like an elimination diet, a cleanse of sorts.
‘Cause I was just eating super clean. I took out all the common allergens and on day five I was just eating like rice, turkey and vegetables. Very, very simple. And on day five I felt like a wool blanket got pulled out of my brain and it was literally the first time in my entire life—I was probably 20 or 21 at this time—I felt like I was calm and I felt grounded. I didn’t have any anxiety for the first time in my life. I looked around and I was just like, everything looked clearer, crisper. I literally was like, “Oh my gosh, this is how normal people feel.” This is what you’re supposed to feel like! That moment was so profound and so powerful and I realized I needed to figure out how to feel like that all the time, but I couldn’t just eat like rice, turkey and a few vegetables for the rest of my life. I knew I needed to expand my diet a tad.
I just became fascinated at that point, and plus there’s like emotional eating stuff. It was hard to maintain some of those habits until—you have to work through a lot of stuff to get to the point where you can eat in a way that really is good for your body and not be self-sabotaging or running to food to try to numb things or sugar or these other things that we use to literally numb out. That became my quest really. How do I get to feel like that all the time? Because this is really special and I could function here. I think this is how a lot of people probably feel, that feel good. I think there’s a lot of people that are walking around similarly to me for the first 20 years of my life, that are walking around now that are in their forties, fifties and sixties who have never had a moment like that. Who have probably felt like crap their entire lives and they’ve never had a moment of clarity like that. A moment of real true health to compare it to and say, “Wow, all those things I’m feeling everyday, aren’t just part of the normal fabric of my existence. That’s noise that’s being added into my system through foods that aren’t good for me, chemicals, toxins, all these other things.”
I get that, that there’s sometimes these moments of clarity that you probably wouldn’t get from any other system except for one of natural self discovery, self-awareness, looking into what’s really wrong. People who’ve been— they feel like crap. They’ve got that brain fog and they can’t pay attention. They’re not sleeping well, they’re tired and fatigued. They could even have skin eruption—like visibly. They go to their physician and they get a laboratory, they get this blood work done and they get told, “Nothing’s wrong with you? Your blood work looks normal.” Did anyone ever tell you that? Or do you know someone who was told that? Yet there’s something that tells you, “No, I know something’s wrong with me and I’m not crazy.” Have you experienced that or know someone who has?
Yeah, of course I experienced that myself. I had so many tests done and everybody just kept telling me I was healthy. “You’re so healthy. Your blood looks great.” It’s like, “Hmm…”
It really created a lot of distrust. ‘Cause I knew I wasn’t healthy.
I had a lady in my office once and she was getting chiropractic treatment and I was walking her back to the treatment room and I could tell she felt bad. And I said, “What’s wrong?” She goes, “Well, it’s this weight, I’m 40 pounds overweight. It’s because of a medication I take for the hives.” She said, “If I don’t take this medication, I get the hives. And it makes me fat. So I was at my doctor the other day and he said, ‘Look, basically lady, you got your choice. You can be fat or you can have the hives, take your pick.’ And I said, ‘Well, that makes me depressed. And he says, ‘No problem. I’ll write your a prescription for antidepressants on top.'” [Laughing] And she said, “So now I just don’t know what to do. And I feel so bad.” That’s not to mention the pain in the neck that she has, that she’s coming in our office for.
So I said, “Well, did you ever try to find out why you get the hives?” And her head just about snapped off her neck. “What?” I go, “Did you ever try to find out why you get the hives? And then just deal with it at that level rather than just mask the symptoms.” And she just—it was one of those moments of clarity, like you just mentioned, where she just realized that she’s really had the wrong attitude. There’s something that she doesn’t know that she needs to know. So we were able to help her. But tell us more. Now go kind of back to your story about this fermentation thing. You’re fermenting everything, including—I don’t know what that means by everything, but you can’t ferment steak. I mean, were you a vegetarian?
I was eating meat, yeah. I was eating meat. I was eating meat, I was eating dairy. I was fermenting any dairy before I ate it.
I was fermenting literally every kind of vegetable, beans, beans and rice, making miso, making injera, making [inaudible]. I was fermenting literally every single thing I could find in any culture that fermented something. I was looking it up and figuring it out and trying to make it. I realized that when I ate those fermented foods, they were pre-digested and I was digesting them actually much easier. And that’s, I think why I got so into it. ‘Cause I was like, “Oh my gosh, I am digesting this food better.” Then I was making so many fermented vegetables that I started filling up the extra jars with the fermented vegetables and putting them in an extra fridge that I had in the garage. Then people would come over, my roommate’s friends, and just word spread and people would come over and buy it. I had a jar sitting in the refrigerator that just had a little money sign on it and people would put money in and take a jar. They’d just come in my garage and it was just like this little self-serve business that started from literal scratch from just this whole process. It eventually turned into a company that is still around today.
You had a roadside stand with fermented veggies instead of like the real veggies, or whatever. How do you go from that to coining a phrase, gut rebuilding? How do you get—that’s pretty far apart. Did you have this big vision at the beginning or did it just really nurture—? And what were you doing for a living while you were doing all of that? You said you were working in a doctor’s office, but I don’t want you to tell—
Yeah, I was working part time as a health coach and quite honestly, starting out as a health coach was really hard. I mean, for me, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t really understand how to do business. I didn’t know how to run my own business. It was just, it was a lot to figure out all at once. I needed to figure out how to work with people and get experience working with people. So it was kind of a combination of factors. I always had a part time job at that time. I was working either at like a food co-op or I would work at supplement stores, sometimes verbal stores. I liked the environment. I like to be around food or herbs, things like that. I liked those people. So that was the part time thing. Then, I did—I had a sauerkraut businesses as well on the side, which is insane. So at one point I was able to leave the part time work and then I was running a sauerkraut company and running my health coaching business.
With the health coaching, what happened was I did various business classes here and there and they were like, “You need to find a niche. Well, what do you know?” And I was like, “Well, I know how to get better or start to get better from this.” At the time, once I figured all this stuff out, I felt a million times better. I was like, “Oh, I just want to shout from the rooftops. Like I need people to know what is going on.” So I primarily, at that time, worked with people who had been diagnosed with candida. That was my main niche at the time and over time it expanded into gut health. This concept of gut rebuilding was really me going through all the steps that I did to heal my body and putting them into a plan and a system that made sense that I could walk people through.
So I did it with individuals at first and then over time I started teaching it online, ’cause I—honestly people would come to my house and meet me in my kitchen for our health coaching sessions. I didn’t like it. I felt like it was a little bit of a violation of my privacy. I felt—I was cleaning my house before people came, instead of really sitting down and focusing on their stuff and reading their health history and all the things I needed to be reviewing. I just felt really self conscious. So I’d rent out various places and tried all of that stuff. It just never felt right. It never fit. I felt way more comfortable working online with people. I had friends in different areas of the country that wanted to work with me.
So it was just like, “Maybe this is an easier step.” So I decided online was a better option. Maybe I can reach more people and maybe it just means I can work from home and not have to clean up my house like crazy before people come over here. There was also a lot of promises, maybe there’s a little less overhead and all this stuff. So I went for it and I was like, “Well, I’m just gonna try this.” It was a really good fit for me. So I led my gut rebuilding class live online many, many times, year after year, until finally I felt like I got really clear about how to create the most engaging program, the most effective way of getting through this protocol, in a way that that helps the greatest amount of people. So at this point in time, it’s an evergreen program that sits on my website and sells. It’s really, really cool, actually.
Yeah, it is really cool. You’re a good business person. We’ve talked about that with some of the other guests on our event here, about not being shy about charging for your services and what is the value of it? What is it worth and stuff? I still want to get from where you left the story last to the gut rebuilding, like coining that phrase and the Guts & Glory apothecary. It could have just been some really slow thing that has been a grind for you all the time. It could have been that you had some moment of—a revelation like, “Hey, I need to be charging what it’s worth”, or something like that. Talk about that a little bit. How do you get to profit from your ideas?
Well, I realized that I needed to come up with a name that other people weren’t using. That was a really key part of this for me. I was like, “I need to name this something that’s positive, that’s supportive.” I wanted it to be a little bit contradictory to what we were being taught at the time. So what we were being taught at the time is that you had to kill off all the parasites in your gut. You had to kill the candida, you had to kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, take these herbs, take all these different things, do this cleanse and like poop out all the mucoid plaque.
Yeah, I remember that.
It was literally—yeah. I mean, everything was all about killing it off because there was invaders in your body. I realized this through various epiphanies as I was studying this whole idea of symbiosis. I really got fascinated by the idea of probiotics when I learned about them and ferments. I started reading scientific papers on every single thing that I could find. There was actually more information out there than I realized and what I became aware of and what I—I studied in college—I studied ecology and ecology is actually a fascinating subject, especially when you think about the gut. ‘Cause ecology has a lot to do with—we would talk about forest ecology. I studied a lot about plants as influenced by my mom, and then talk about all these relationships that the plants have with each other in the root systems and how they connect and like feed each other and communicate. Then about the mycorrhizas, the fungal network all throughout the forest that connects the roots of the trees and communicates to the trees that way. It’s all very, very fascinating and all these organisms are playing nice together, the plants, the animals, and maybe they’re playing whatever a little bit mean sometimes, but it’s all this circle and everything is feeding each other. It’s just a really beautiful, I mean, circle of life, right?
But what’s fascinating is that concept of ecology actually works within the gut as well. So when we talk about ecology, we think about invasive species from time to time, like certain animals or plants or something will get carried from one continent to another. When it goes to this new continent, that animal will go crazy. It will go out of control because it doesn’t have its natural predators in place to keep it in check. So this concept around like invasive species was really fascinating to me because you can apply all of this to the gut because what would happen in human guts as people take antibiotics, it wipes everything out. Then a lot of times the pathogenic organisms or the invasive organisms can come and grow faster in that rough terrain, like weeds. You look at the rocky terrain of certain areas and the weeds can come in really easy there. It seems like these real pernicious, pathogenic kind of things that can grow in more stressed out situations. And that’s what happens in our gut.
So I was fascinated by this concept of just the symbiosis and ecology and realized, “Okay, what needs to happen here? We need to change our viewpoint.” I saw the work that was done with Louis Pasteur and how he talks about the germ theory. I just realized, “No, this isn’t right.” It really is a lot about that theory of bio terrain. You have to have a strong bio terrain and I was super inspired by that. I just kept brainstorming, what are we doing here? Oh, we’re rebuilding the gut! We’re gonna rebuild this so that it’s a strong environment, then the body can naturally do what it’s supposed to and fight anything off and get into balance how it’s supposed to. Because killing off that organism isn’t gonna matter. If you try to kill off an invasive species, it’s not—I mean, you can look across the world at all the places where there’s been invasive species, it doesn’t happen. You can’t do it. You’ve gotta work harder to make the natural terrain stronger.
So that’s really what I focused on in this work and what it took for me for this program to really take off and become successful, it just took me putting myself out there quite honestly. I had to get on as many other people’s blogs and podcasts and summits andit’s not easy at first. If you really don’t have a lot to contribute, how do you get on somebody’s thing that has a big audience? I will say, one of the big first steps that I did was I did a summit and I became a host of the summit, like a leader. I asked people to be on that. I did it on a topic that hadn’t really been focused on before. I invited some really intriguing speakers there. I think that was just a really big first moment for me, where it started to elevate what I was doing in the world. That’s when a lot of people started noticing. I got more and more eyeballs, it was a pivotal moment for me. From there it has just continued to grow.
I agree. Yeah. If you do it right, if you have a good summit manager. I certainly couldn’t put this one on by myself. I partnered up with a really good guy and I can do my part and they do their part and it all works out pretty well. So tell me—I want to go—because we have a lot of nerds listening and watching and nerds are cool ’cause we all have our nerd side. I just finished interviewing Kiran Krishnan and we talked a lot about the nerd side of us where we just have to know how things work. Then there’s this other side of us that says, “I want to help people, I’m very much an altruist.” Then we have this other part, that’s all about the business side. Like, “I want to be independent. I don’t want to just go work in some office for 20 bucks an hour. I want to be able to afford to live the lifestyle that actually sets an example for other people.” That brings in the whole idea of walking the talk. So tell us a little bit more about your walk the talk program. ‘Cause you started in a rough shape, but you had some sense that something was wrong and that drugs weren’t the answer. You started playing around with the probiotics and then the natural wild probiotics, the kind that come from plants and things like that. I know you also—you liked the idea of digestive bitters and you kind of mixed this—Tell us about your apothecary, brag a bit. People want to know.
[Laughing] Well, something that I realized early on is that when you’re in the digital world, people are still separated from you by a screen. I think that while your personality can still shine through and you can still help people in that realm, I felt really strongly that I did have all this knowledge as an herbalist. So I wanted to use that knowledge and put it into practice. So I made these various digestive bitters for my Guts & Glory apothecary. These bitters are really helpful at stimulating digestive juices, helping calm people’s nervous system down, get them into a parasympathetic state, a state of rest and digest so that they can fully extract the nutrients from their food.
So I made these tinctures at first and these various powders for my clients. Then over time, I was like, “You know what? I need to do this bigger because I have this screen in between people. If I can mail it to people, then they have a physical reminder every day that they’re still doing this work.” Obviously it helps too. You spray those bitters in your mouth, your saliva starts pumping, all your digestive juices start pumping. You really notice a difference very quickly. Most people, they experience less bloating and really just like a better feeling of satisfaction when they eat their food. They can often even stop when they’re full. They can tell sooner when they take digestive bitters. So I’m doing this program online with people, and I just started mailing that out to my gut rebuilding clients.
Over time my Liver Lover Warming Bitters has been the most popular one by far. That one just—I mean, we sell so many of those products. It’s just become this thing where I realized, there are my clients, they are sitting at home and they’re taking this little spray in their mouth before each meal, and it’s reminding them of the work we’re doing together. It’s reminding them of me and what I stand for in their lives. Exactly! It reminds them that there’s somebody out there who’s figured out how to get better from this naturally. I think all of those things, that physical reminder is super helpful for people and herbs are strong allies.
They teach us what our body needs to know. I just love the power of herbal medicine. I love having an herbal apothecary and we primarily sell digestive support, but we also sell some products that are designed for helping the adrenals and the nervous system, because I am a strong proponent at this point. After all the work that I did with probiotics and trying to get my gut, right. I am so clear at this point in time, that stress is the biggest catalyst for disease, on this planet. As far as I’m concerned. If you can figure out how to get into a parasympathetic state and stay there as much of the time as possible, you’re gonna get sick way less often because I started studying microbes—Okay, so let’s get a little nerdy—There is a branch of medicine or a science called microbial endocrinology.
This is the study of how microbes communicate with each other and with our system. It’s the way that they use chemicals that they produce and the way they use the chemicals that we produce as communication, as signaling, as stimuli. So what we know is that in the lab, if you want certain organisms to grow faster, you add norepinephrine. Adrenaline, basically. If you add this chemical, which is a neurotransmitter that our body makes, if you add that into the solution, the bacteria, those bacteria will replicate at a much higher rate. So a lot of times this actually—what’s crazy is that many of the bacteria that replicate faster with norepinephrine tend to be more of the pathogenic bacteria.
So what we know then is that in a body, in a system, which is—I mean, this sounds gross—which is just basically a bag of symphony of chemicals happening all the time. All these little text messages, these little chemical messengers that are sending messages to our own cells, but also sending messages to the bacterial cells of our body. If you are full of adrenaline from having high histamine like I did, and the adrenaline was coming in to shut down that histamine response, or it’s just a stress response, or you have an infection that’s causing a stress response. There’s all kinds of things that can cause this, as we know, even lifestyle factors, toxins, or even emotional factors, trauma, relationships, there’s financial stressors., There’s all kinds of stressors, right?
All of these have the same chemical effect in the body. That chemical effect is the same on the bacteria and it’s not good. So at this point in time, I spent so much of my coaching work helping people figure out how to actually reduce stress in their life and how to get into a parasympathetic state, because we’ve heard the term stress reduction, stress management for decades. It means nothing to most people anymore. It’s very cliche. It sounds boring. Most people have given up on the topic and I just approach it from such a different standpoint. I think that we have to start to look at our lives, take an inventory and start to get the things out that are stressing us out. I think we have to really focus on, what does it mean to be in a parasympathetic state? I can say that word, but most people don’t really know.
Do you know when you’re in a parasympathetic state? Do you know when you’re in a sympathetic state? Do you know how to get out of it? It’s not just like sitting on a cushion and meditating because you should be in a parasympathetic state just walking around your house doing normal stuff. You shouldn’t just be in a stressed out state during your active waking hours all the time, and you shouldn’t just happen to be in a sympathetic state when you’re asleep. There’s an in between that needs to happen and most people don’t have access to that. So that’s the big work I do today. Some of my herbs really focus on that piece too. I use a lot of adaptogenic herbs to help promote that parasympathetic state, but that’s where I’m seeing the biggest healing happen with people because they’d gone everywhere. They tried all the things like I did. That’s the [inaudible] that I find is the most effective, especially with gut health.
It’s amazing that you bring this up because it’s so true and yet it’s overlooked by the people who probably should know it the best. And I completely agree. You mentioned—you drew the relationship between the sympathetic nervous system, which invokes your fight flight. You get cut off in traffic, sympathetic nerves, man, go straight to the adrenal medulla. You release the adrenaline called norepinephrine. And then what? You will initiate the HPA axis, now you’ve got cortisol flying around. Well [inaudible] is not a bad thing. It’s an anti-inflammatory, it’s a painkiller, it raises your blood sugar so you get energy, so you can think straight, regulates that stuff. But you can’t stay there. If you stay there, if the parasympathetic doesn’t come back in balance, we call one fight flight, we call the other—I’ve heard it called rest and digest. I’ve heard it called feed and breed, I kinda like that one. You’re definitely in a different state when you’re like that. So, I know herbs can be important, but when you say adaptogens, most of those are made from herbs. Now are they good if it’s high or low, or are they only good for people who are—would you take them—when would you take them? Adaptogens.
I think you can take them any time, but you just need to adjust the amounts that you’re taking and really play with the various kinds of herbs. So it depends. When I’m working with clients like I actually was working with a client yesterday and she was telling me about her situation where she feels overwhelmed and she feels like it’s so easy for her to get super stressed out by little things. So my recommendations after having a long conversation with her were Holy Basil and Rhodiola. Those are two herbs that have—Holy Basil seems to really work well with the cortisol levels and the Rhodiola we find that it just helps people have a better feeling of wellbeing. I mean, it’s just different. I’ve tried all different kinds of adaptogens on myself. When I was in a state of fight or flight, certain things like ginseng and eleuthero weren’t the best for me, ’cause it would kind of keep—it tended to push me a little bit more into that state.
I’d get a little jittery, I’d get a little bit too amped. I needed things to help break down all of those chemicals. So, it just depends on the person. I really recommend that people try out different blends. I make one called Winning Streak, because that’s really what it feels like. It feels like you’re having a winning streak when you take it. It’s just a really nice blend of herbs. It’s ones that are a little bit more geared towards getting you in a parasympathetic state. And with any herbs, I recommend people start small and build their way up. Don’t do a full dose the first time. You want to start small and get a feel for how it’s reacting with your body. But yeah, adaptogens are such an important part of the process because it’s—again, it’s an herbal ally. It’s like teaching your nervous system, what it could be like.
I think most people don’t know what it feels like to be in a parasympathetic state. I didn’t. I really didn’t know. I lived in a sympathetic state, I think, from the moment I was born for a very, very, very long time. I think 30 plus years until I started to learn more about the parasympathetic state and what this means and learning that it’s profound and it’s something that you can keep learning. It’s a practice and it’s really profound because if you haven’t been there very long, or spent very much time in the parasympathetic state, once your body starts to learn it, you get a little tired for awhile. You have—your body’s like, “Oh, this is good for us.
Like, “Okay, let’s hang out here for awhile.” And you’re like, “Oh, I’m just kinda like—I don’t feel like doing it.” There was a couple months where I was like, “I don’t feel like doing…” I didn’t have that same, you know, kick in the pants drive that was just literally me running on adrenaline, my entire life. I got addicted to that feeling and I had to learn how to function in a different way and not be just pedal to the metal of the time. Even though that’s fun. I still like going into that mode, I know how to get out of it now and not be just stuck there all the time. I think there’s—
That’s a good thing.
Yeah, it’s a very good thing.
I’m glad to hear it ’cause—I was born the other way, I was very much parasympathetic dominant my whole life. I’ve been pretty laid back. I think maybe that’s why I landed in Southern California, where I could just suck up the sun and chill. It doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. Parasympathetics have incredible endurance, we can work all night and get a few hours sleep and get back up and work some more, but we will take our rest. We will take our naps. We will make sure that we totally chill. And the sympathetic kicks in like—I notice the opposite of what you notice. You notice, “Wow, I really enjoy this parasympathetic.” Well, I can’t say I enjoy the sympathetic, but I know when it’s kicking in. Like when my yard caught on fire. That’s when you need that sympathetic man, boom, your adrenaline, your cortisol, and you’re aware, and you’re just hypervigilant, and these kinds of things. But we need to be balanced.
We don’t want to be too much of one or the other. If you’re too parasympathetic, you’re catatonic. You’re just kind of like—this is why I think—I’m certain actually—that we have children who are so different from one another in the same family. So a mom might be like, “God, my one kid, he’s like ants in his pants, always bouncing around and doing things, finger poking, and getting in trouble or whatever it is, can’t sit. And the other one won’t get off the sofa.” That’s actually the distribution of energy through the nervous system, one is parasympathetic. So you do need to get them off the surface sometimes, and they need to get a little more on the sympathetic side. So one’s not bad versus the other. I want you to talk—’cause we’re winding down here a little bit. Just ’cause time constraints. I love talking with you Summer Bock. Tell us about the fermentationist certification program.
Yeah. So I created the fermentation certification program because I spent so much time researching all these microbes and learning about where they come from, what they do in our bodies. I realized through all of this reading of articles that basically all the different bacteria have different jobs in the body. When you look at fermented foods, we have—I call them the functional ferments. So the functional ferments are the fermented foods that have a very clear health benefit. I mean alcohol is a ferment. I don’t—you could argue alcohol all day long, but I don’t really have that listed in my functional ferments list. Coffee is a ferment, there’s chocolate, there’s bread, there’s various things like that. The functional ferments for me are really things that have a strong health benefit because of the various bacteria that are in them and because of the byproducts that those bacteria help create. So, just as an example, sauerkraut kimchi. This is a very common example, but a final batch of these foods can have as many as 23 different kinds of living organisms in it.
When you eat these fermented foods, you’re getting a diverse array of these bacteria in a form that our bodies are used to. Our ancestors have encountered these various fermented foods, most likely. As you eat that fermented food, you’re not just getting the bacteria, you’re also getting all of the byproducts. You’re getting the lactic acid and all the various—they call it bacterial sins—the glycolic acids, everything that’s created by those bacteria is also entering your body. Those are used as fertilizer by the gut. I mean, it literally helps balance out the pH, it’s used as a natural anti-microbial. What I learned over time is that there are all different kinds of effects based on these various kinds of fermented foods. There’s certain fermented foods that are good for certain health conditions and some that are not. You need to really understand the nuances of these functional ferments in order to know how to use them in your practice.
Because we live in a world that is curated by media and the media loves soundbites. The soundbite is that our guts are out of balance, we need probiotics, fermented foods are great, eat fermented foods. Like that’s the soundbite, right? But the reality is way more nuanced, as we know. I think that’s like the beauty of this field, of doing functional nutrition and all of these things. The beauty is that you find that every human is different. Just like you’re talking about your nervous system versus my nervous system, we have different needs: the different kinds of food that we eat, the different herbs that probably resonate better with our bodies. It’s the same with fermented foods.
So I teach this. It’s a four month long certification and all my students go through 13 different ferments. They learn how to make them, they have a handbook and they learn all the different probiotics. They learn what health concerns work well with these foods and which ones don’t. Then they have to make that ferment, document it, and they go through the whole process, and then at the end they have to teach a class, they have to submit some other final projects. It is a super fascinating, super fun program, but what I love about it is that so many of my students, they get done with this and they either start a fermented food company of some kind, where they start making a ferment and selling it, or they are able to go into their practice. We have naturopathic physicians, we have acupuncturist, health coaches who use this in their practice and they’re able to make better recommendations for their clients.
They’re not doing what most doctors are doing, who read like a blog post about it and they’re like, “Oh, everybody should eat sauerkraut.” No, not everybody should eat sauerkraut. Yeah, it’s my favorite ferment, personally. I recommend it to a lot of people, but not everybody should. There are times to eat it and there are times not to. You can say that about all the different ferments, like miso, injera, [inaudible], tempeh. There’s so many different kinds of functional ferments out there and they’re delicious. They’re amazing. They’re fascinating. But what I find most fascinating is the fact that there is just a very different microbial profile with each ferment and just knowing how they’re broken down, understanding the science behind it. Like with injera, injera is an Ethiopian pancake, it’s teff.
Teff is the grain and it’s [inaudible] which is the smallest grain in the world and it’s fermented for a period of time. Then it’s cooked in a way that makes it really delicious and wonderful, and it’s a slightly sour pancake. Well, this is extremely good for you. It’s high in iron and it reduces all—the process of fermentation reduces all the phytates. So it’s like taking out the part—these enzyme blockers, these parts of food that are hard for us to digest and then amplifying the various nutrients of that food at the same time. So if you’re working with somebody who’s low in iron, this is a great ferment to be recommending to those folks because it actually amplifies the iron intake of that food more so than if you just ate teff by itself. Now you’ve amplified this. So that whole process, I find it utterly fascinating to learn how things ferment, how it works. Really I’m just totally blown away by the idea that humans have been doing this for tens of thousands of years. This is like part of our DNA.
Not only that, the information that our body is gathering from that food, it’s so much more vast than eating a carrot. You have all of these chemicals being produced by these bacteria that are now communicating with your immune system and helping it to calm down, helping you to identify good bacteria and helping it to identify the ones that should not be living there and just helping your body manage that whole process of immunity that’s happening inside the gut.
It’s so beautiful. I think you’re doing so much for the health coaching community Summer Bock by offering your course. Why keep it to yourself? So I think any wellness professional who wants to become adapted to making and teaching clients how to use the functional ferments is gonna really enjoy your course. We’re gonna put all the information about it in our shownotes. Summer Bock, do you think there’s something else that we could be doing to provide leadership in the health coaching field? I mean, you teach your course. I teach my course. We have other people teaching courses. I just wonder collectively what we could do to expand the backyard of the health coaching profession to elevate it?
Well, I think that overall coaches need way more confidence in themselves and in the power of their work. I think at this point in time, it’s really easy to get blown over by a lot of the doctors that are now speaking out and saying the things that we’ve been saying for over a decade.
That’s amazing! I know.
Yeah. I think what happens with—I mean, many of these people are my friends and I’m proud of them and the work that they’re doing. These doctors that are speaking up and saying this, and they’re validating many of the things that we’ve been saying for a long time, but I think it’s important to really think about the work that you’re doing as a health coach and how integral that is. It doesn’t matter if a doctor is saying the same thing that you’ve been saying for a long time or that you believe, just because they’re a doctor doesn’t mean there’s not a place for you. Even though they’re saying it. We still need health coaches doing this work because health coaches know how to work with people to change habits. We take the time to coach them. We take the time to listen.
I think about it as almost like going to the mechanic, taking your car to a mechanic. Like, you’re not going to take your car to the mechanic and say, “Hey, fill it up, put some gas in here for me.” No, you take it to the mechanic to get it looked at under the hood. I feel like the health coaches are more like, “Fill it up.” That’s our job. We don’t need the doctor to be doing the job that we do. So I always encourage health coaches, remember you have such an important part of the face of healthcare right now. It really involves us having the confidence that we know what we’re doing, and we know how to work with people. We can help them change and we can help them get real results in the work that they’re doing. My personal belief as to how you do that is you continue to get training, keep getting trained, take various certifications, take FDN, take my fermentation certification, take other certifications that you’re learning about here at this summit, because every certification you take will give you more tools to do your job better.
The truth is is I think that health coaching is so desperately needed more than almost anything else right now. The coolest part about it, I live in the South, so I feel like I see what the mainstream looks like. It’s like the Petri dish of the mainstream is right in my backyard. I don’t live in California where it feels like everybody’s already caught on to a lot of stuff. The truth is, is there’s people who are just now figuring out that gluten-free might be the answer for them. There are millions and millions and tens of millions of people who still need this work and still need this help. They need someone that they can actually just talk to on a regular basis to get the support, to make the changes, because you can tell somebody something, but when you leave them to their own design, what are they going to do?
They’re either going to slip off and not do it anymore, or they’re just gonna give up because they don’t know all the information and get stuck. They have obstacles that they’re facing that they actually need help unwinding. That’s the work that I’m doing every day when I work with my clients. Helping them to unwind the habits, the self-sabotage, all of these pieces and doctors aren’t trained in that area. They’re just not, they’ll tell you what to do and then you’re just supposed to go home and just do it. It’s not that simple. If it were that simple, literally everybody would be healthy ’cause we all know we’re supposed to eat our vegetables and get some exercise. You know?
I think you’re right. We could just end there with those wonderful words of wisdom, but I just am compelled to say that it isn’t just the habits, ’cause doctors could use health coaches just to get people to comply with their orders, and that’s not what we’re about either. We’re not here to make sure you take your medication, ’cause it’s to get on this—much more what you said about the discovery and awareness and that there’s ways to get healthy and you don’t have to just live on medication for the rest of your life. I mean, some people do because of what has happened, but most people can actually get healthier and that’s the real backyard of a health coach. Not just to be compliant with doctor’s orders. So thank you for that so much. Great words of wisdom and experience. I look forward to the next time we get together and chat some health talk. I think I’d like to have you come on one of our other programs and I’ll hook you up with the proper staff for that. If you’d be willing to do it.
I would love to. Thanks so much for having me and hey, I can also give everybody—I have a fermented foods pairing charts that goes with various health symptoms. [Inaudible]
Yeah. Tell us about your free gift. I’m sorry. I just forgot about it.
Yeah. I have this amazing chart that lists all the functional ferments and the top 33 common symptoms and which ones go with which. I think people would love to be able to use that. It’s just a cheat sheet that will help you figure out what you should be recommending based on your client’s symptoms.
Okay, fantastic. We’re gonna put that in the show notes too. We’ll talk to you again. Thanks so much for being here and sharing.