Michael Roesslein

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About the episode

“Never stop believing in yourself and your ability to heal. Find that healing mindset and be your own best advocate.” – Vashti Kanahele

Productivity culture in the Western world continues to gain traction, making regulating the nervous system and finding community more foundational than sleep, nourishment, and mindfulness. Without that foundation, our tools simply are not as effective.

Many people are living through an epidemic of loneliness, and we find that at the root of many of our clients’ complex illnesses. As coaches, we must help our clients and encourage them to shift into strategies that will strengthen their healing journey. People need communities that are about healing, not only about illness. We can guide them along that path.

Today’s guest, women’s health coach Vashti Kanahele, joins me to talk about her book, Passports and Parasites, and share her experiences living around the world while dealing with her own health challenges.

In this conversation, Vashti and I discuss her path to becoming a women’s health coach, the importance of community, what it was like navigating healthcare systems in different countries, the doctor-coach model she employs to support clients with complex chronic illnesses, why nervous system regulation is a foundational element of overall health and wellbeing, the impact of chronic stress on health, and more.

Enjoy the episode, and let’s innovate and integrate together!



  • Vashti’s transition to women’s health coaching after going through health struggles
  • Why Vashti wrote Passports and Parasites
  • The vital role of community and human support, especially during challenging times
  • How perspectives on family and community vary across cultures
  • Vashti shares her experiences with healthcare systems in different countries, highlighting the differences in access, cost, and proactive care.
  • How a coach can help with navigating complex chronic illnesses alongside a physician
  • Coming back to the vital basics like hydration, sleep, and time in nature
  • Tools for nervous system regulation in a stressful environment
  • Challenges in recognizing and addressing chronic stress
  • Encouraging mindfulness and community engagement as societal practices
  • Opportunities available through a multi-modality clinic


Connect with Vashti Kanahele


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Click here for a full transcript of the episode.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:00:03) – Hi and welcome to the Integrative Women’s Health Podcast. I’m your host, Doctor Jessica Drummond, and I am so thrilled to have you here as we dive into today’s episode. As always, innovating and integrating in the world of women’s health. And just as a reminder, the content in this podcast episode is no substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your medical or licensed health care team. While myself and many of my guests are licensed healthcare professionals, we are not your licensed healthcare professionals, so you want to get advice on your unique circumstances. Diagnostic recommendations treatment recommendations from your home medical team. Enjoy the episode. Let’s innovate and integrate together. Welcome back to the Integrative Women’s Health Podcast. I’m your host, doctor Jessica Drummond. Today on the podcast, I had a fantastic conversation with one of our women’s health coach graduates who is doing amazing things all over the globe, literally. And she’s written a book about it called Passports and Parasites. It’s by Vashti Kanahele and her story of living all over the world, having her family all over the world, having illnesses for her family for or to her family, managing health care systems all over the world, and also dealing with a complex chronic illness involving Lyme and mold toxicity and other chronic toxicities that so many of our complex chronic illness patients deal with.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:01:56) – You are going to love this interview, so keep a lookout for her perspectives on health care systems around the world and what we can all learn from them. So grab your copy of Passports and Parasites and join me for this wild ride of a conversation with WBRC grad Vashti Kanahele. Hi, everyone, and welcome back to the Integrative Women’s Health Institute podcast. I’m your host, doctor Jessica Drummond, and I’m so excited to introduce you today to Vashti Kanahele. She is a recent well, not really recent a few years ago graduate of the Women’s Health Coach Certification. And I’m so excited to talk with her today because she wrote a really phenomenal book that I think is so interesting, and I can’t wait to talk to her about the book and the story behind it, but also how her work is going and how that integrates so that she can be an inspiration for you. So welcome.

Vashti Kanahele (00:03:08) – Hi Jessica, thank you so much for having me on.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:03:10) – Thanks for being here. So of course, the book is a real deep dive into your story, but let’s talk specifically about your story in your work and how you came to be a women’s health coach, and why that was interesting to you and what you’re doing now in your work.

Vashti Kanahele (00:03:28) – Sure. Back in, let’s see, 2015, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease after the birth of my youngest daughter, and I was really struggling health wise. And I thought as I was getting better, you know how this so often happens? Our own journeys lead us to career changes or to doing different things. And so I had been working in international development up until that point, and I decided, you know, I want to really work with women who may be going through things like me. At that time, it was really working with women with hormonal issues, you know, really around menstrual cycles and things like that. And then I was living in Nigeria at that time, and I was doing group programs for the consulate there and working with local Nigerian women. And so that just sort of was when I started with Integrated Women’s Health Institute, and it was just my own health issues, really, that led me down that path.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:04:22) – Yeah. And so your book is really a deep dive description.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:04:26) – And by the way, everyone should read it. I read it in like two days over the Christmas break. It’s so fascinating. And I grew up in DC, so I knew a lot of people who were kind of in a lot of different federal sort of roles. And so Varsity’s book is a story of that life working and living overseas. And so through that experience, there were a number of very specific health challenges and having to navigate those within health care systems that are not necessarily US based. Talk about why the book now, does it have to do with your current practice? You know, what was your goal for writing the book?

Vashti Kanahele (00:05:13) – The goal for writing the book was sort of twofold. One, it was a little over a year ago. My husband was like, you really need to tell your story. You’ve overcome so much. You know, you’ve led this very unique life. It’s like, I think you could really help a lot of people by telling your story. And I was like, no hard pass.

Vashti Kanahele (00:05:30) – I’m very private, you know? And then I end up writing this book that’s all about my life for the whole world. And so it does have to do with my practice in the essence that I hope that it’s an inspiration and people can see what I came through. And then on the other side of that, you know how I may be able to help them. But then that second part of it is that one of the healthcare providers that I met during my journey, Doctor Fox, who wrote the foreword to my book as well, he was my the physician that really helped me have that healing mindset that I finally really started to feel like I could get better. And I don’t think that the power of having a provider that listens and hears and validates you can be overstated. And so then we transitioned out of that provider patient scenario. And as I went through Integrated Women’s Health Institute and then now finishing my School of Applied Functional Medicine practitioner for a certification, I work with him now. And so we’ve really created this doctor coach model that has really helped our patients and clients get amazing results.

Vashti Kanahele (00:06:35) – Having that coach and the doctor there together. And so that is how the book sort of ties into what I’m doing now.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:06:43) – Yeah, I think that’s so important because one of the most important things I think we’ve learned in this pandemic world is that while we’ve had to walk such a challenging line because the reality is that transmissible, extremely dangerous viruses are still in existence and are still being passed from person to person fairly easily. And at the same time, loneliness is one of the biggest causes of chronic illness and death, actually. And. And so in this collaboration with working with a physician who can sort of maybe even deeper than you could give a list of recommendations, or even if you could do the same thing, which many of us practice, the kind of make the recommendations role, too. It’s not enough without the human support and coaching element. How do you find that that was so important for you, especially because you often had to navigate things in your story and feel free to share any of that that you would like, where in some ways you were kind of dropped into situations that were always very transient, and you had to figure out how to take care of yourself and or find a community for yourself and your family.

Vashti Kanahele (00:08:09) – Yeah, that is something, a real theme that came out of the book. I always knew that community was so important in everyone’s life and specifically in mind. Being in that transient lifestyle. But it wasn’t until I wrote the book that I saw it come up in example after example of things that I had gone through from miscarriages in Beirut to my daughter having, you know, a terrible health issue in Cambodia and really people rallying around us, my husband having illnesses, you know, just like thing after thing that happened to us and really having that community. And when we moved in the summer of 2020, I had to leave Nigeria. We made the decision for myself and my girls to leave Nigeria, and my husband had to stay behind, and it was really challenging because we were leaving a very tight knit community. People were making very difficult decisions and, you know, we didn’t know when we were going to see my husband Craig again. Everything was very, very hard. And the community there that helped him and my community at home, which I had been away from for so long, which included my mom, my best friend, and at that point, Doctor Fox and then Inter, an energy healer because I was diagnosed with PTSD following that time period.

Vashti Kanahele (00:09:29) – You know, it was just like, wow, these people who come into your lives for a variety of reasons, it’s really important. You know, people don’t always stay in those roles, but that human connection is so vitally important. We’ve just lived through years of not always having that, you know, and we’re seeing on the other side, I think, how lonely people are, how they may have lost some of those communities, how they’re trying to find new communities, and how my role as the coach can help in providing resources for them to find communities and being part of their community.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:10:06) – Yeah. And I think when we think about community, we often think it has to be something that’s grown and strengthened over time, like your whole family, your whole church community, your whole town community or kids and their friends and their families. But I think what your experience has demonstrated is that it’s okay for communities to ebb and flow.

Vashti Kanahele (00:10:32) – Absolutely. And sometimes you’re just in them like it’s people ask me like, how do you do that? How do you do that? It’s so hard for me to make friends.

Vashti Kanahele (00:10:40) – Somebody might say, and I’m like, yeah, but I just have learned that putting myself out there, sometimes it doesn’t work. You see, there’s an example of that in the book where this girl is like, I’m leaving in a month. It’s just really not worth my time to get to know you. Sometimes those things happen. I also understood later as I really went through multiple moves, what she meant, you know, it was really just keeping herself safe in ways to, you know, so putting yourself out there and having the ebb and flow where people won’t always be there. But now with technology, they can always be there just in different ways. They might not be your next door neighbor anymore, but you certainly still talk to them.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:11:20) – Yeah. Have you found that in other cultures, people are better at this at developing community than we are in the US? And why? Yeah.

Vashti Kanahele (00:11:31) – You know, that’s a really good question. I think a lot of it is multigenerational families often stay in the same home or apartment building or on the same street.

Vashti Kanahele (00:11:41) – I can say in Lebanon, Cambodia and Nigeria, I saw this often. And so you already have that sort of very tight knit family dynamic, but then you have your extended family and friends that have been around and, you know, they might be your auntie or your uncle, not by blood, but you have that. And I feel like that is something that we just sort of leave the house when we’re 18 or whatever, and we might move across the country. And I haven’t lived next to my family in decades, you know, but they’re in different cultures. They take that family dynamic very seriously, and that creates a larger community.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:12:19) – So going through all of the transitions that you went through in your work life overseas, and you did have a lot of really serious health conditions. How do you feel about the structure and the kind of functioning of the health care systems globally versus in the US? We have a lot of complaints about the US conventional health care system, and all of our health care is expensive, whether it’s conventional or integrative, but there’s a lot of access.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:12:54) – So and maybe not really, there’s a lot of access if you have wealth. So from all of your experiences internationally versus the US, what do you think about health care access?

Vashti Kanahele (00:13:07) – I think that access everywhere can be limited by monetary means to some extent, though, most of the countries I’ve lived in have what I would say is better public health care. You know, you may have a public and a private health care system that you can either pay into, but you always have access, just as being a citizen of that country. Right. So like in Beirut, I was in a private health care system at the University of Beirut, but still, I think that was probably more middle upper class people that generally went to that institution because they had the means to pay that extra cost for it, but you could still access a lot of clinics and other things because of the taxes or whatever you’re paying into the system, right? It was that way in Cambodia. Thailand certainly was a really interesting dynamic in having.

Vashti Kanahele (00:14:03) – I had my youngest daughter in Thailand and my oldest in Seattle, and while Seattle was a good experience, it was like I went in, I gave birth and the next day I went home. And in Thailand it was just like, so I don’t know, they were just there for me all the time. And when I went in to give birth, I was there for four days and I was like, can I go now?

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:14:28) – I don’t think you’d ever hear an American woman say that. Like, can I go there? Like, you’re already gone, you’re already gone.

Vashti Kanahele (00:14:34) – And you know, the cash pay price, I think for the four days was something like $2,000 or something like that. Whereas I remember getting my bill in the US and I had it updated on the US. So that did increase the price versus not having one in Thailand. It was like $30,000 for that one night stay, right? Like, what is that?

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:14:56) – Yeah, I had worked in the hospital. I was an employee of the hospital where I gave birth, no epidural, and it was $10,000 out of pocket.

Vashti Kanahele (00:15:06) – Yeah. It’s so crazy. And so that really opened my eyes. Wow. We have so much healthcare inequity in our country, you know? And then you’re having people going into medical debt that they can never get out of. And I think also just going back to my time in Beirut, my doctor was very proactive. It was 2010. We weren’t testing for Mthfr really very much in the United States unless you had many multiple, multiple miscarriages. I had friends who were having 4 or 5 miscarriages and they’re like, oh, sorry, you know, whatever. But they were normal. Just try again. I had had two miscarriages at that point and he was like, no, we’re doing all of these tests. And that’s, you know, we found out mthfr late, in fact, five all these things that were really impacting my ability to stay pregnant and so I really credit those health care systems. Well, they certainly probably have issues as all health care systems do. I have found it’s easier to navigate in some instances and have that care that you want.

Vashti Kanahele (00:16:11) – Like I can choose who I want to go see versus it being dictated by my insurance. And so I can’t speak to how that goes for everybody that lives in those countries. But that’s my experience.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:16:25) – Yeah. And so now that you are working with the physician, that really helped your healing. What are some of the things you think that a coach really brings to that relationship with the client or a patient that helps with things like community and navigating systems that are challenging and implementing complex recommendations, because you have experience with a lot of complex, chronic illnesses, as I’m sure a lot of your clients do, Lyme and viral activations and mold toxicity. And it’s very difficult to, you know, I think one of the downsides of what we’ve done in functional medicine in the last five years, especially, is gotten almost so hypervigilant about some of these things that people are really stuck. It’s like, well, I can’t live in this house. It’s too dangerous. I can’t see my friends. It’s too dangerous.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:17:20) – I can’t eat this food. It’s too dangerous. I think a coach can really come in and help people navigate that fear factor.

Vashti Kanahele (00:17:29) – Yeah, absolutely. And for me, I have been where so many of these people are. So I can completely relate to carrying around like that suitcase of supplements and being like, oh my goodness, I can’t do anything outside of the schedule because then I’m not going to take that supplement and it’s going to derail everything, right? And oh my goodness, you know. And so yeah, you’re like living almost in this hypervigilant state, which is the exact opposite of what we’re wanting people to do. And so for me, it’s the coach. You know, they see Doctor Fox and they have their sessions with him, but then they see me in between those sessions, and they actually see me more often because I can help them with, hey, how is the supplement regimen going? You know, what can we maybe take away? Or how are you feeling making food less scary and more simple, but yet nourishing.

Vashti Kanahele (00:18:20) – You know that people really get hung up on that too. And really, for these complex chronic illness patients, it’s a lot of handholding. And I love that, you know, and it’s people asking me questions and just being able to respond back to them and helping them get through that. Because so often in a complex case, they might fall off the wagon. That’s totally fine and understandable, right? You’re dealing with brain fog and all of these other things, and you’re just like, I don’t even remember what they said. You leave the doctor’s office and you’re like, okay, and then you’re just stuck in activity.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:18:51) – Yeah. And not making any progress towards the healing. And I think what was inspiring to me about your story is that at one point in the book you mentioned, you know, you’re dealing with mold and you’re trying to do like your own treatments and you can only do them in Seattle. But at the time you were living in South Asia or something. And so you’re like, okay, I can do these like twice a year.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:19:13) – But I think what’s so inspiring about that is despite not being perfectly on whatever protocol and moving and living in places that probably had mold and chemicals and, you know, the carpet chemical problem.

Vashti Kanahele (00:19:30) – Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:19:30) – You know, you still were able to heal. Do you think you were able to still heal in those environments just more slowly, or it took until you got somewhere that was safer, if that makes sense.

Vashti Kanahele (00:19:42) – I think it’s both. I think I was very lucky to be living in places where I could have someone help me in the home, and that provided me space to heal, specifically in that Nigeria space. I had glottis and you. I was able to nap. Going back to these basic things of sleep, hydration, mindfulness, you know, basic things that really are the first things to go eating well, nourishing your body. And she really helped me. And so I think that while I was far away from my care team, having someone there that was helping me was huge. Though.

Vashti Kanahele (00:20:16) – I had so many issues with logistics of the air quality and having chronic respiratory issues there and then Covid, but then it was getting to Curacao, where ironically, the pandemic made us all slow down. I wasn’t able to be out and about all the time. However, living on a very arid island and being everything is outside, we were still able to be outside a lot. So having that sun and that warmth. And we know that people with autoimmune specifically really tend to do well in dry, warmer climates. That is where I started to feel better, and I think it’s probably a combination of the weather, the clean air there, the clean water, all of that. And that required slowing down.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:21:02) – . Yeah. I think what’s so interesting about the culture now that we’re evolving, I think rapidly to be sort of even more productivity focused, even more 24 over seven work capacity and on our phones and, you know, connected via devices more than in person. I’m seeing clinically that physically people are really starting to miss the basics.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:21:32) – They’ll spend one day in nature and they’re like, I felt fine.

Vashti Kanahele (00:21:38) – Yes. And that is something that we in our practice are working with. And I have a program that we do is called the Vital Basics because people just forget about them. We all do. I mean, it’s just human nature, as you’re right. Like we’re in this productivity state. How much can we do? You have your phones. You’re sort of like, oh, I have to work all the time because I can actually see the messages and all of that. Right? The things that we do to ourselves. And so it’s just coming back. And when people work with it, that’s like the first thing they do is go through this vital basics, you know, how’s our hydration? How’s our sleep? Are we having time in nature? Because without those things, those are the foundations of the other elements of health.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:22:20) – Yeah. And do you find that once people get that more dialed in, the healing either accelerates or it’s just simpler? They don’t need as many tools.

Vashti Kanahele (00:22:30) – I think what you’re setting yourself up, they’re helping to set themselves up with these tools. So then we can do that deeper work.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:22:38) – In a regulated nervous system.

Vashti Kanahele (00:22:40) – Exactly. And I was talking to somebody yesterday. I’m like, we really must get your nervous system settled down. And people don’t understand how difficult it is to heal in a hyper nervous system state. So just getting back into that parasympathetic nervous system is so key. And that was something I had to do, because in the book, I was living in a chronic stress state for a decade.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:23:07) – Yeah. So that’s what I was going to ask you first of all. So yes, you know, you’re moving to Lagos, you’re moving to Curacao, you’re in Beirut when the book starts. Like these are not chill places, some more than others. But I’ve known a lot of people who lived in Lagos because of the oil industry. We used to live in Houston and Houston is a rough, hot climate, but Lagos is crazy, so I would love to hear in the midst of really uncomfortable environment.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:23:41) – What are some of your best tools for nervous system regulation?

Vashti Kanahele (00:23:44) – Oh, that’s a really good question. I didn’t have those tools when I was in Baghdad. I was just like, okay, we’re getting an incoming fire, I’m in the bathtub, blah, blah, blah. You can see that in the book. We are leaning much more heavily on alcohol and other things like that, because that’s what we’re sort of taught to do in our society. And then Beirut, sort of that same until I was pregnant, you know, sort of thing of leaning heavily on the alcohol. And then when I got sick, I started thinking, okay, well, I gotta change this, and I’m a huge researcher. So I was looking at all of these things and thinking, oh, well, these were all red flags before that, you totally ignored and just kept on going. But I think for me in Lagos specifically, because while it’s not a war zone or anything like that, it is a megacity.

Vashti Kanahele (00:24:33) – There are like 25 million people that live there, right? It has terrible air pollution, rampant poverty, all things, and the traffic. It can take you for hours to go a couple of miles, right? These things press on you day after day after day and create stress. So for me, I was really. Really having a hard time emotionally and in the beginning. So yoga was one thing that I really did the whole three years that we lived there. For me, massage is huge. It’s not for everybody, but for me. I was able to get weekly massages there and it was that time where no one bothered me. Plus it’s medicine, massages, medicine and I could just relax. So that’s something that I also was able to do a lot of in Curacao. Not so much here just because the cost of massages like much more here. But those are the things that I like to do. And lately I’ve been trying to get back into just a mindfulness practice of starting the day 5 to 10 minutes of just breathing, being in my breath.

Vashti Kanahele (00:25:45) – And that is something that I’ve taught a lot of clients because it doesn’t cost any money.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:25:51) – Yeah, yeah. And I think I’ve interviewed quite a number of people now on their perspectives on nervous system regulation and the basic sleep and things of that nature. And what I think is so challenging is that it takes many steps before we get there. Right? Like because we can try a lot of the tools. It’s not as obvious to many people who haven’t literally lived in war zones that they’re nervous system even is dysregulated. And why that might be happening because it’s so normal. It’s so normal even in the US, in a safe neighborhood with relative access to everything, it’s very normal to be living under a chronic stress of any number of things, childcare issues, you know, aging parents. And if you add any chronic illness or divorce or anything like that, it’s going to make it even worse. So now that you’re back in the US, where on the surface, you know, The Truman Show of it all, it looks fine when there’s not obvious air pollution.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:26:59) – There wasn’t logos, but what do you think we might be able to do here to bring awareness of that stress and then help people choose their tools to be able to use the more consistently.

Vashti Kanahele (00:27:15) – Moving back here has been a bit like whiplash. I was away for six years. Most of that, a little bit in Covid had come back to the US, but I was shocked. I was actually texting one of my friends who had moved to Texas. We were both in Curacao together and I was like, I forgot the pace of American life. Also, coming from a Caribbean island, you know, you’re just like, whoa, people, slow down. I think it’s just this keeping up with the Jones. It’s the. And I’m part of the shuttling my kids constantly to different activities after school and all of these things. And I think it’s what can you not do and still be okay. And I think it’s really hard to look at that because when everyone else is doing these things, that is creating a chronically stressed out country.

Vashti Kanahele (00:28:04) – I mean, we are more so than any other place, maybe outside of Nigeria that I’ve lived. The stress here is palpable.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:28:11) – Which I think it’s important to emphasize what an important statement that is. I mean, you lived in Beirut and Baghdad when we were bombing them. Yeah.

Vashti Kanahele (00:28:24) – Baghdad. Just every conversation, because that was like a encapsulated stress because of a war. Right?

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:28:32) – Okay. But you did live in really stressful situations. So to be able for your body to feel that the US pace of life or I would say Western world, you could live in London, you could live in Maple and Milan or something. Same thing. But if you’re living in a kind of western city, it’s just as stressful. It just doesn’t look the same. Would that be true?

Vashti Kanahele (00:28:57) – Yeah, and I think we don’t take time to sit and settle down. For instance, in Lebanon, Sundays were like family day in Curacao and most everything is shut down on Sunday. Again, it’s a family day.

Vashti Kanahele (00:29:10) – People go to the beach, they barbecue, they do things, they get together with their community. Same thing in Beirut. Like I just said, you know, we would be invited to these huge family feasts. Of course they’re cooking and stuff, but like, it’s their joy because food is such an important part of their culture, too. And family. And so they take that time to reconnect, I think, with what’s important. Whereas we don’t tend to do that, we don’t have the spaces for that necessarily. If people are living in apartments, we don’t have great green spaces everywhere where people can come together. I think there’s a lot of literature about certain societies that are having more of that in. The neighborhoods come together in the evenings and everyone is talking to each other. We don’t. Do that. We don’t really talk to our neighbors. We don’t even have that neighborhood community for the most part anymore, which I think and I’ve seen in other places.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:30:05) – Yeah. So in your practice, individually and for yourself and your family, there are things you can do get people to start focusing on their mindfulness.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:30:15) – Do you think there are any really simple steps we could do as a society? And one of the things that it occurs to me is you said, you know, it feels weird to do it here because you have to put yourself out there, but you had to there to. Do you feel like if we just maybe got a little more comfortable with that, that would help?

Vashti Kanahele (00:30:33) – Yeah, I think so. I think if we got back to talking to other people and just being like, hey, when we came back, my girls were in taekwondo and my youngest daughter, Kate was talking about a friend she had met in school, and they happened to also be at the taekwondo place, which is kind of a cool little community place here in our neighborhood. And I was like, well, okay, I’m just going to talk to the parent. And I was like, it was so weird because other places, when you are in that sort of expat community or whatever, is sort of required of you to go out and meet other people.

Vashti Kanahele (00:31:10) – And so people just do it here. You don’t. So I was like, I felt so weird. I was like, hi, I’m Kate’s mom, you know? But it worked out. Our families have become friends. We do lots of things together. So I think it’s important to take those small steps because you never know what’s going to happen, how good a friends are going to become. I think another thing we could do, and I think the schools are kind of starting to do this, is to start teaching mindfulness at a young age, in both Lagos and in Curacao, at the international schools. My kids had mindfulness practices that they started the day off with and then even had them at like lunchtime after lunch. And I think that that is a really beautiful way to start creating these practices for them at an early age, because it can be hard. We weren’t raised that way. At least I wasn’t, you know, and so I think that’s something that just the schools could start doing.

Vashti Kanahele (00:32:02) – It doesn’t take long a few minutes and you start doing that and that helps the kids be mindful. But I think it also, you know, helps to provide empathy, sympathy and these other things that are now lacking in our society.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:32:16) – Yeah. More self-compassion I think, you know, having a child who has a lot of anxiety, I find that just normalization of, you know, your nervous system is activated. This is normal, this is what’s happening, can be valuable. And I have also learned that they are teaching, you know, essentially nervous system regulation, mindfulness tools more and more in Scandinavian schools, which is, you know, a global leader in education. And then the adults in our practices who haven’t learned these things yet, we can start where they are now.

Vashti Kanahele (00:32:53) – Yeah, we always have to meet our clients where they’re at. And something I like to do at the beginning of sessions is to start with 3 or 4 deep breaths, because sometimes they’re coming to us nervous because they think we’re going to be upset that they didn’t follow the plan or other thing.

Vashti Kanahele (00:33:11) – You know, they’re in a great deal of pain or they’re flaring. You know, any number of things have happened. So to just start with, let’s just take a deep moment. And I actually, I think learned that from you because we used to do that in class. So I think that that is really important too. But it’s meeting people where they’re at. And most of our clients are in upregulated nervous system states because that’s just the norm.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:33:35) – Yeah. Yeah. So even if you’re not sick, that’s just the norm. And so it becomes even more difficult to regulate if you are.

Vashti Kanahele (00:33:44) – And it drives disease and people don’t realize that. And so I think sharing and explaining it to them so that they can mindfully be aware more and more of their bodies and what’s going on.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:33:57) – Yeah, it’s so important. And I think that’s what’s so inspiring about your experience, is that you have seen that despite transition, see, despite difficult environments, despite being separated from your own family, if you do two main things, one is create your own community wherever you are, however long that’s going to be, and being comfortable with the fact that it’s going to even flow through life, which I think is normal.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:34:25) – And then having those tools of whether it’s touch based, like massage or mindfulness space or nature based, there’s so many different ways to regulate our nervous system, and some are just obvious and natural to the culture. And when they’re not, we have to put those into place individually..

Vashti Kanahele (00:34:46) – Yeah. I think like you said, nature is another one that we’ve become so disconnected from nature. And I think the pandemic helps a lot of people get. Acquainted with nature. And I just hope that that remains, you know, because I already see that flip back into like, go, go, go, go, go. And so hoping that people can remember. Yeah, you know, nature can be so helpful and beneficial.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:35:10) – Yeah, absolutely. So what’s next for you? What is your life and practice look like now? It’s volume two.

Vashti Kanahele (00:35:18) – Volume two. We’re here in Virginia for, you know, another year or so. I think people keep asking me when I’m writing the second book and I’m like, I’m still recovering from writing this book, because really, that was a very big thing for me.

Vashti Kanahele (00:35:33) – I didn’t realize how incredibly stressed it had made me. It was incredibly healing to write the book, but also I pushed myself to the very edge is just right, right, right. Edit, edit, publish all of these things. It’s very stressful. So I’m recovering from that and just growing the doctor coach model with Doctor Fox is really important. I can do a lot as a coach, but together we can provide this wonderful container for people because he has the opportunity to just do things at a different level than I can, and that is something in these multi-modality clinics. It’s wonderful because you can bring a lot of different things for people. And so growing that and getting the word out there for us as well as other people, to maybe bring that into their practice is kind of where we’re going next. And I’m going to because community became such a huge theme in my book, I’m creating a Reignite Your Life community. So hopefully at the end of quarter one that will be available for people. And it’s not it’s for anybody who’s searching for community wants that safe space.

Vashti Kanahele (00:36:42) – Maybe you have illness, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re just looking for that space. So we’re providing tools and guest speakers and things like that, but just to have that space for people to connect, but also to help you remember, sometimes we forget why we’re alive and to bring into that adventure. You don’t have to travel the world to have adventure. You can go in your own backyard. But you know, bringing those points to it as well.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:37:08) – I love that because I think as a society, you know, one of the reasons we’ve lost community is we’ve lost spaces of gathering and customs around gathering. A lot of that used to have to do with churches and things like that or families. But now that those things are not nearly as strong or not always in the same location, this is so valuable because otherwise, I think one of the negative things that happened is that people are gravitating towards communities around their illnesses, and there’s a subconscious problem with that, and that you have to stay identified with your illness versus this is more about women being identified with their adventure.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:37:54) – Or, you know, we have to, I think, replace face these things with what are you going to identify with instead. So that’s cool. Yeah.

Vashti Kanahele (00:38:03) – Because I think a lot of people, like you said, they go into these groups that can be really well-meaning, but often they just bring on more fear, more. I’m never going to get better because you’re feeding on the energy that is within that group. And we hold on to energy. People don’t really realize how much energy of others that we take onto ourselves, and that can really be hard on our health as well. So providing that space, I think I’m really excited about putting it together, and it was just something I was like, I need to do this because I want to, but I’ve seen how important it has been in my own healing journey.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:38:41) – Yeah, I love that. Excellent. Well, is there anything else you want to share? Everyone go buy her book Passports and Parasites. Yeah, it’s available.

Vashti Kanahele (00:38:52) – At Amazon and Barnes and Noble, some in the DC area.

Vashti Kanahele (00:38:55) – It’s in stores and so just my advice to people is to never stop believing in yourself and your ability to heal, and finding that healing mindset and to always be your own best advocate.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:39:08) – Yeah, very, very good. Thank you so much for being here with us today. And I will put in the show notes how people can find you and your new community. We all really need to reengage with community. It’s so important. It’s, you know, it’s as important as stopping smoking, honestly. So I’m glad you’re back in the US for a bit and can’t wait to see what you do next.

Vashti Kanahele (00:39:32) – Thanks so much for having me.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:39:33) – Thank you. Wow, that was a fantastic conversation. Go out and get the book. Passports and parasites. It’s everywhere. Books are sold. And oh my gosh. I think our key takeaways from this conversation are that the regulation of. The nervous system and finding community, no matter where your client is, is foundational, even more foundational than sleep and nourishment and mindfulness.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:40:07) – Those are also, of course, nervous system regulation strategies. But people are really feeling an epidemic of loneliness. And if a family that had to move every two years or so all over the world could find transient and flowing communities by sometimes, you know, she had to just put herself out there. This is something we can do and we can encourage our clients to do, because loneliness is becoming epidemic. And it’s at the root root of many of our clients complex chronic illnesses. So go grab a book and, you know, see the show notes to learn more about her program. Because we need more programs like this. This is a great program for you to think about being inspired by and modeling in your practice. People need new communities that are about healing, not necessarily about illness. I’ll see you next time. Thank you so much for joining me today for this episode of the Integrative Women’s Health Podcast. Please share this episode with a colleague and if you loved it, hit that subscribe or follow button on your favorite podcast streaming service so that we can do even more to make this podcast better for you and your clients.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:41:34) – Let’s innovate and integrate in the world of women’s health.


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Dr. Jessica Drummond

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At the Integrative Women’s Health Institute, we’ve dedicated 17 years to crafting evidence-driven, cutting-edge programs that empower practitioners like you to address the complexities of women’s health.

Dr. Jessica Drummond’s unique approach focuses on functional nutrition, lifestyle medicine, movement therapies, nervous system dysregulation, trauma, and mindset – essential elements often overlooked in traditional health education.

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