Today’s episode is with Charlotte Kikel, author of Eat in Peace to Live in Peace. If you’re listening to this episode, it’s likely you’ve been trying to heal for a long time, and you’re not alone. We’ve all been taught to listen to people in white coats and numbers at the expense of understanding our own inner wisdom.

Charlotte believes that healing doesn’t always look like the media portrays it. True healing is more like a mosaic than a straight line. She believes that it’s possible to live in a way that promotes more health, not more sickness.

Charlotte is a nutritionist, an herbalist and the founder of Eat In Peace Wellness Consulting. She’s based in Austin, where I live, and she sent me her book and I loved it. This is a topic that’s not only near and dear to my heart but it’s also something frankly I just like to geek out on. We ended up meeting in person and we had a great conversation. I really encourage you to stick through the whole episode.

Note: There was a part where my microphone recorder – the memory card ran out of space and I didn’t see it. If I talk like I’m muted in the background for a portion of the interview, bear with me, because we fix the problem later on.

Charlotte Kikel: Hindsight’s 20/20, right? Now, in the more spiritual framework, I think it was Rudolf Steiner that talks about how people’s life’s work can come from a wound you experience as a child.

That was definitely my experience, because my dad ran a sugar company. He was Vice President of Transportation of Imperial Sugar in Sugarland, Texas.

I literally grew up hearing about how sugar did not cause any diseases, had no fat because fat is bad, has only 16 calories a teaspoon, and is totally natural and has no effect on children’s behavior.

Now, my nickname as a child was ‘the exorcist’.

Okay, It should have been Linda Blair to be more accurate.

“But when I was hungry, I was insane.”

My body was so accustomed to sugar, but we didn’t know any of this at the time. It was just a matter of, “When Charlotte eats, she’s happy, when she doesn’t eat, she’s unhappy.”

My wellbeing was totally tied to food. Wven saying that creates a relaxed sensation in my body, just to acknowledge that sugar was very drug-like in my developing brain. It worked.

I would go from crying and angry and kicking a hole in a wall to being sweet Charlotte. It was like a possession of sorts. It all started there.

My dream was to have a bakery, I was going to call it “Room for Dessert,” because I loved baking. Baking made me happy, eating it made me happy, giving it to other people made me happy—until I realized that it was causing me a lot of problems.

When Everything Changed

Charlie Hoehn: What was the tipping point where you started becoming aware?

Charlotte Kikel: Once again, in retrospect, there were lots of signs along the way, which is one of the things that my book attempts to point out. People catch this early to where they don’t end up in the hospital like I did.

That was my turning point, was when I ended up in the emergency room and they couldn’t really tell me what was wrong. What they said was, “It looks like your gallbladder is going to need to be removed.”

I’m laying there, thinking, surgery? I’m in sick for over a month, this is an infection of some sort. And I was not a health professional at the time. I was running a restaurant; I was a manager at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, pursuing my dream of running a bakery, getting a feeling for what that industry was like.

I just said to them, “Before you cut anything, you need to run all the tests and make sure that that’s what’s wrong.”

They did. I was there eight hours, and all the tests came back negative. The IV helped me feel a lot better, because I was very dehydrated. So I knew something was turning around.

I could hear the 6 AM doctor talking in the hallway, and he said, “Has anybody tested her for mono? She’s textbook.”

Now, three days into this experience of this illness—once again, not a health professional at the time—I’d recalled a friend of mine who had mononucleosis in high school who is really tired all the time. She would just fall asleep during class.

Three days into this, I told my boyfriend at the time, “I wonder if I have mono.”

A month later, I’m in the ER after round of antibiotics for a virus, after thinking that they were going to remove my gallbladder, I had Epstein-Barr Virus. Which, there’s nothing anybody can really do for that.

“They told me to go home drink water and rest, and my life was changed forever.”

I was no longer living in the same body.

People can be very casual about a mono infection, but it can mark you. Because the medical system doesn’t have any tools for it, it doesn’t get the full acknowledgement that it should for playing a role in autoimmune patterns in the body down the line.

It just kind of breaks the immune system. Prior to the mono infection, I was very much in command of my body. I was an athlete, I was a competitive swimmer, I was a triathlete, I told my body what, I told it when, I told it where.

Past that point, I had no choice but to listen to my body.

It was the greatest challenge I ever faced, being in that ER and getting that diagnosis and leaving with basically nothing. But it was also the greatest gift. Because now, I had to learn.

I’d been ignoring my body all this time. Pushing myself past fatigue in athletics, eating a ton of sugar when that’s not what it wanted. Yeah, everything changed.

Eat in Peace to Live in Peace

Charlie Hoehn: Wow, which brings us to your book, Eat in Peace to Live in Peace. Your Handbook for Vitality. I loved your book by the way. Sincerely loved it. I’ve read a lot of these books on nutrition, lifestyle.

What would you say – I mean, there’s so much good stuff in this book but what would you say is kind of the big idea of the book? What makes it unique from others?

Charlotte Kikel: For me, writing it is the book I’d wish I’d had when I got sick, right? All the missing pieces. Because I read a lot of books on food, herbs, lifestyles, spirituality, parenting—I wanted it to be a blend.

I wanted it to be a book to teach people how to think versus filling themselves with more knowledge, because I think we’re reaching some sort of knowledge overload.

Charlie Hoehn: Information overload, for sure, I think it was like Derek Sivers who was like, “If all of us followed the information we were given, we’d all be billionaires with six pack abs,” but we don’t need more information, we have all of it.

Charlotte Kikel: Right. All of my teachers that really affected me over the years gave me a new way of looking at things, and that was really what I wanted to do with the book was to give the reader a new way of looking at life to empower them. That we have the capability to heal, but it requires work. And one of the big things that made me write this book was that my healing was very ugly.

A lot of people’s healing is ugly. A lot of emotional stuff comes up, a lot of foods come up that you love but that you realize you can’t eat because they’re actually making you sick. You know, facing that is really difficult. I just see people walk away from their process.

“We’re sold an image in the media that wellness is a white woman frolicking through a field of daisies.”

With her yoga mat and her green drink, just giggling.

My healing process was so far from that, it’s not even funny, I was on my bathroom floor.

Just to give people the hope and the visual that that should, can, and will come up if you’re doing the work. Just keep moving, don’t stop and just throw in the towel.

Slow Healing

Charlie Hoehn: What did the healing process – how did it start, where are you today?

Charlotte Kikel: That mono infection wrecks the immune system. Now we’re connecting, science connecting, inflammation to depression. This idea that with depression, we have a serotonin deficiency. That idea has been laid to rest.

That’s created by the pharmaceutical companies. It’s such nonsense.

I was inflamed. I was eating my food allergies. I had this virus in my body that couldn’t be controlled and that level of inflammation…I was sleeping 12 hours a day and napping three early on in the healing process. I could just have a part time job for a while. I couldn’t work.

There was very much all of this stuff bubbling up for me of who am I? If I’m not what I do, who am I? My dream of a bakery was gone, I couldn’t exercise anymore because it made me exhausted, even though I did it anyway.

In retrospect, these patterns are really hard to break.

“I just kept pushing myself even though I was sick.”

We’ve also been sold a bill of goods with all these tests. Have you been tested for this or that? Some of that can be really useful. I don’t want to take that way from anybody’s healing journey. But then what time did you go to bed last night and what did you eat for breakfast this morning? You know, grounded in reality—how are you living your life?

To bring your question full circle, there was one particular day where I got out of bed, and I was thirty years old and I woke up, shuffled to the bathroom, and my body was so heavy that I could not get my feet off the floor.

I got to the bathroom, looked in the mirror, I had this red rash around my hairline. I just sat down and just broke down on the bathroom floor. I didn’t want to brush my teeth, I didn’t want to do anything, and my prayer was sent out: I can’t live like this.

I didn’t have like any sort of plan for suicide, nothing like that, but it was just this moment in time of ‘no’.

My vitality was gone. Fill me up. I don’t know where to go from here.

A few days later, a herbalist came to talk to our class, I was getting a Masters of Science and Herbal Medicine at what used to be called the Tai Sophia Institute. It’s now called the Maryland University of Integrative Health.

He came to talk to us about life after graduation. He was into Tai Chi and he just had this really, what you would call a healing presence. Just very appealing. I thought, well maybe he can help me.

I showed up in his office, I said, “Please hear my story. Nobody is treating me the way I should be treated.”

Everybody was trying to calm me down, when really, I needed to be given some energy and then I would calm down. I didn’t know that. He heard it. He put this formula together to support my immune system and my hormones. and I took one dose that afternoon, took another dose before bed, and woke up the next morning and my body was different.

My shoulders were relaxed, I effortlessly walked to the bathroom. It was night and day. I felt calm and centered, all this buzzing in my head, all these like constant conversations were gone. I’m not schizophrenic but that’s something inflammation can do. It’s just creates a lot of angst.

“All of that was gone.”

I went to do laundry—I couldn’t have been happier to be doing my laundry. I thought wow, is this what normal people feel like? Where’s this experience been? That was a huge turning point.

Now, I don’t permanently live in that state. But I will say, I touched something there that was so true and deep, that it couldn’t help but alter. The texture of the air changed. Now, I feel really good, I have energy, my diet has even changed more, even since I wrote my book. I’ve changed some things again. That’s the point of the book, is that we evolve our bodies, we’ve got to stay awake to that.

This idea that this is one thing to do, one diet to do is just a lie.

Making Better Choices

Charlie Hoehn: One of the big ideas that I took away from your book that I really loved was like, your food actually, like you said, kind of helps with your transformation as a person. What you eat, it transforms you and it can unlock your life and your being.

I love this concept, but I’m not doing it justice explaining it. Could you kind of just elaborate on that?

Charlotte Kikel: It’s so funny because it’s almost like in our modern world, what we don’t eat matters more than what we do eat. I mean, we just have so many processed foods. Sometimes I question my book or I question my work, thinking this is just too simple.

Charlie Hoehn: The more you can stay away generally from processed foods, the healthier you’re going to feel, the better off your kids and grandkids are going to turn out because of it.

Charlotte Kikel: Yeah. Speaking of kids, you know, it’s a great game to play with kids, just asking, where did this food come from? Where did it come from?

We have to ask ourselves that, it’s not just kids. I’ve got a five year old son, and the thing that we talk about is that we want to choose food made by hands, not machines.

Use that distinction.

“The food that was once alive fills us with life.”

We need to eat things that were once living, and that is the cycle that gets honored. When you take away all of that other stuff, it’s like getting grid of the static on a television set. You can’t hear the dialogue if it’s static-y. So it goes with your body.

Once you start to eat real food that exist in nature, which we are a part of, that’s the big thing. We think we’re separate. We think we own that tree or that lake or whatever it is.

We make lakes, right? We have dominion over and we don’t. We’re evolving with.

Once you eat those real foods, you just tap into something a lot bigger than yourself.

Clear Transformation

Charlie Hoehn: Yeah, what does that look like for, I mean, you have clients and you treat them and help them, what does that transformation typically look like for them?

Charlotte Kikel: I find that some people are ready for overhauls, right? I’m somebody that can handle a lot of change quickly but at the same time, I can be slow getting there mentally if that makes any sense at all.

For example, right now, I’m doing very much a low carb, high fat ketogenic style of eating. Now, I think I figured that out like eight years ago mentally. It took me this long to get here with my body, which creates more permanent change.

If we do things without having a full understanding of it, that’s where you see people coming back.

“Part of my book is designed to help people get clear within themselves—what’s important and how to do this?”

The biggest intervention that I would say for people I work with is always going to be breakfast because breakfast makes and breaks the entire day.

It’s just that simple. Eating a good amount of protein and fat in the morning affects how you sleep at night, it affects that 4 PM energy crash, and it definitely affects cravings.

Because a lot of people will complain, “Well I just get snacky at night, I want to eat carbohydrates, I want something sweet.” Well, let’s go back to breakfast. Because when you get that protein and fat in the morning, you set yourself up for stability the whole day long.

True Intuitive Eating

Charlie Hoehn: One of the things that you recommend is eating intuitively. What do you mean by that?

Charlotte Kikel: Intuitive eating is an interesting term. True intuitive eating has to do with eating whatever you want, okay? This is an important distinction, because I didn’t get it. If you want the Twinkie, you eat the Twinkie and you really enjoy the Twinkie. If the Twinkie is a symbol of your childhood and you need that nourishment, you eat it and you enjoy it.

That is not my definition of intuitive eating.

My definition of intuitive eating has to do with screening the food choices—does this exist in nature, did our ancestors have access to it, how was it prepared, where did it come from—and then choosing foods from that group.

Because the reality is that these foods like a Twinkie have a drug like effect on the body that yield to people getting out of control with, can you eat just one Twinkie? Maybe some people can, other people can’t.

That’s the biggest part or distinction I make with intuitive eating. It is listening to your body but it’s also respecting nature, it’s also saying I’m not going to eat something that my body might not evolutionarily recognize.

Charlie Hoehn: Can you tell the story of the guy who is eating fast food in his car?

Charlotte Kikel: Yeah, this story came to me while I was studying herbal medicine at school and it was an acupuncture student who stood up to share this. She said, “I had this client come in to me with back pain and we’re having our intake, doing the consultation and he’s a traveler for his job.”

I don’t know if he’s a plumber or repairman or what, but he was in his car all day long, and three times a day, he was stopping and eating fast food. You name it, McDonalds, Popeye’s, Wendy’s, whatever it was, and he ate it in his car and would go on to the next job.

It was literally like that documentary Super-Size Me. Where the guy ate fast food for a month, This was a real life Morgan Spurlock, his name. The acupuncturist said, “I had this thought that maybe this back pain is connected to his diet, and so I asked, ‘Are you willing to look at your diet?’ And he said, ‘No. I just want you to help me with my back, that’s what I came here for.’”

She did that, they had their acupuncture treatment, he got off the table and he said, “I’m feeling a bit better.” And she said, “Well, might you be interested in a little bit of dietary advice now?” He said, “You know, okay, I think I’m open to that.”

“She said, “You don’t have to change anything you’re eating, but I want you to go in the restaurant and eat it.””

“Just go in the restaurant and eat it and respect that your body needs the space to digest and consume your food.”

He did that, came back in a week and said, “I went into those restaurants, and they didn’t smell too good, I didn’t like the way it looked, I didn’t even really like the way the food tastes. Where can I start feeding myself in a different way?”

It’s a wonderful teaching story for meeting people where they’re at. Just like myself, right? My ability to digest or metabolize carbohydrates got broken in my youth because of my excessive sugar consumption, and it’s taking me all this time to get to a diet that is really working for me.

I’m seeing improvement all the way, but it’s the same for that gentleman that just went in the restaurants and said, “Something’s off here,” and took that time. As I say in my book, how you eat changes what you eat, and all change starts with awareness.

If You’re Already Aware

Charlie Hoehn: What about to people listening who are like my awareness is great, where did they start?

Charlotte Kikel: Well, that’s a great question because a lot of people have experienced various forms of trauma, right?

Charlie Hoehn: Which it seems like a heavy word to a lot of people, the reality is like, almost everybody on the planet has experienced it. You can almost safely bet you have been through trauma, multiple forms.

Charlotte Kikel: Absolutely. I am a huge fan of the therapeutic process. You know, having a therapist to work with in terms of awareness has been a huge gift to my healing. Not just having someone tell me what to eat but having someone help me to learn to be aware of my body because when there’s trauma, you go somewhere else. You disassociate.

And we want people to come into their bodies to go deeper into their bodies. You’ve got to have partners to help you do that, whether it’s a nutritionist, a therapist, a life coach, a health coach, someone you resonate with—start there and essentially tell the universe that you’re ready for awareness.

“It’s definitely something that has to be cultivated.”

And, I talk about in my book too, how things like coffee and alcohol and our food sensitivities. The top four are going to be wheat, dairy, corn and soy, all of these things. Those interfere with your awareness.

I’m 42 now, I got sick when I was 26. It’s been that long of a process—over a decade. I now don’t have caffeine, I do have a little bit of dark chocolate here and there which is a stimulant, but when you eat dark chocolate, you can only eat so much, like a few squares do it, right?

I don’t drink alcohol, my food allergies have been removed from my diet, and what I’m left with is really feeling me. It’s scary and it’s real and that is a significant part of the healing process.

How do I know if I’m anxious or if it’s the coffee, right? How do I know if I’m happy or it’s the alcohol?

A huge epiphany I had when I was coming off of sugar was in response to that, “Oh my god how am I going to live life off sugar?” And then there was this aha-moment of sugar is always going to be there. Coffee is always going to be there, those things aren’t going anywhere if it feels appropriate to have them back.

And for me as a highly sensitive person and more empathic, it’s been a really important part to know how I feel versus the drugs that I am ingesting.

Recommended Exercises

Charlie Hoehn: What else do you recommend?

Charlotte Kikel: Once again, it’s getting quiet, not running onto the next task. So when you eat, eat. That is the focus. Chewing your food until you cannot recognize what you just put in your mouth—that’s an exercise of slowing down and one of just mindful eating and mindful living as well.

To chew your food to the point where you don’t know what you just put in your mouth will shock you. You will be sitting there a lot longer than you think.

And once again, you don’t have to do it all the time, but it’s just an exercise.

I think asking the body to talk to you, it sounds corny but you can just say, “Body, I am ready to hear what you need. Tell me what you want me to eat.” And you might get a vision of asparagus or you might think about lamb or you might think about chicken or strawberries. Just honor whatever comes up. When you move with that honoring, it’s a relationship you are developing.

And then it says, “Oh you’re going to listen to me. I’m going to give you some, here.” And then the next message might be that thing you do every morning with your black tea or your coffee isn’t working for you.

“Take a break and see how life shows up without that.”

So there is this idea of adding foods and there’s this idea of removing foods, and sometimes adding is easier. Then when the wisdom comes up, the removal comes later. I think just recognizing that that wisdom is within you, but our culture and society sort of tunes it out.

I would recommend just having a different conversation with your body, and that is certainly what I did even as a woman when I took sugar out of our house. We were living in an apartment in California and there was nothing to eat.

Everything, the ketchup, the peanut butter, everything had sugar in it, and I felt weird, what now? All I had cooked prior to this point was baked goods. So now I had to figure out how to cook a meal.

So literally I would go to the grocery store and just stand in the produce section and say, “Okay, broccoli, good. That sounds good.” Just one step at a time.

Let’s Talk About Poop

Charlie Hoehn: Yeah, I love this topic. I don’t want to go out completely on food because you have other great topics in the book, how do you drink in peace, how do you poop in peace, how to rest in peace, move and heal in peace and finally, live in peace. So let’s talk about poop. People are not talking about poop enough and it is an essential part of your existence, let’s dig in.

Charlotte Kikel: Yeah and just to add to poop, I am pretty obsessed as an herbalist with every excretion coming out of our bodies. One of the most popular, I don’t know if it is a newsletter or a blog I wrote was about the mucus membranes and looking at the mucus coming out of noses and chest if we’re sick and what color is it, what’s the texture. Same with sweat and pee—all of these excrements that we’re taught are gross is really good information. Menstrual cycle fluid, all of it is good stuff.

So pooping in peace. Poop should be easy. It should be a simple thing that happens as a part of the day, but it obviously gets messed up for a lot of people. The key point that I make in the book is the lack of bitter taste in our diet.

So these bitter phytochemicals, we’ve literally bred out of plants. Our vegetables, even though they’re not sweet are on the sweeter side because people eat bitter and they go, “Eww, that’s not good, I don’t want to eat it.”

“And the very thing that will heal our sugar addiction is this bitter taste.”

It re-educates the tastes buds and increases peristalsis in the gut—so that toothpaste squeeze effect. That results in a glorious bowel movement. It starts with peristalsis and bitters encourages that squeezing motion.

The other things that eating bitters does is it increases hydrochloric acid production. It increases bile flow and bile production in the liver and in the gallbladder. It increases the pancreatic enzymes that digest our food and it also will help regulate insulin which regulates our blood sugar.

Bitters do all of that, and it is the one taste that people don’t—except for coffee and beer and chocolate—that’s the one taste that people don’t want to experience.

And it is also why I think those foods become so valuable to our diets, why they’re on this pedestal, because we don’t eat the bitter cruciferous vegetables or things like dandelion root and ginseng and globe artichoke—those are the three herbs I talk about in the book.

Herbal medicine has been categorized as a drug, like what can I take, what plant can I take instead of this drug? Versus having herbs as a part of your daily life. It’s just getting accustomed to what is growing around outside—that dandelion isn’t a weed, its medicine.

So to talk about pooping in peace, many people suffer from what I would call traveler’s constipation, meaning that when you sit your gut gets stagnant. So stuff isn’t moving appropriately right?

You are not moving, the gut is not moving, and you don’t poop sometimes for days. It wasn’t until it was a year into my herbal training that I realized I was traveling and pooping. It’s just herbs. Some people say the bitter taste is what makes it an herb.

“It’s distinct from food.”

Part of the idea is that bitter could be “poisonous for us,” so the body up regulates digestive function just in case to get rid of it, but it’s not enough to be poisonous and often it is not poisonous at all. But that bitter taste is associated with the poison so everything up-regulates.

And my theory is that every cell in our body up regulates and perks up and makes us more vital by saying, “Hey what is that? What did you just ingest? Is that a friend? Is it a foe? Do I need to do something with this or not? Oh it’s okay. It’s just an herb. We’re good.”

But you still benefit. The technical term for that is hormesis—what does not kill us makes us stronger.

Adding Bitter to Your Diet

Charlie Hoehn: Okay, so you were saying some of the bitter stuff that is available in stores, and we were talking about dandelion greens.

Charlotte Kikel: Absolutely, all you have to do is take a bunch of those home, clean them up, rip them up or chop them up however you want to do it, cook some bacon in a pan, throw in the greens, cook them down, maybe a little broth.

If you don’t have any broth put a little water, cook it down a little bit more and then do some chopped garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice. You’ve got a totally bitter green lovely side dish for your meal. It will enhance your digestion.

Charlie Hoehn: Love it, excellent. Bacon side dish. Those are the best types. So apart from dandelion greens, are there others that people can easily get?

Charlotte Kikel: Yeah, beet greens are awesome. Your liver loves beets, and red foods build the blood. But that root is obviously distinct from the greens, so you can also cook those up.

Any leafy green pretty much will do it, even if it is not fully herbal. Just having those as a part of your meals three or four times a week, or a part of your ritual daily if you could.

Charlie Hoehn: Is that why kale became a popular thing?

Charlotte Kikel: Oh yeah kale, kale is my least favorite leafy green. It’s also really can be hard to digest. You really have to cook that one down.

But back to the herbs, one of the ways that I like to blend these into people’s world is through beverages. So there are a few different—I mean they call them coffee substitutes, but we have to be honest, there is no substitute for coffee.

But you can get a bitter dark beverage, and it can taste good. So my three favorite of those—and you can get these mostly online, although some stores carry them—are Dandy Blend which is water soluble, super easy to make just add it in hot water, done. The other one is Rishi-Roast which an herbal friend of mine put together and that’s got rishi and chicory root in it and dandelion root, milky oats, chaga mushroom.

“You are getting good immune support and good liver support and that bitter taste.”

You make that in a French press like you would coffee. Excellent.

And then the third one I recently discovered is Rasa Koffee, and it doesn’t have any cacao in it. So some people do have sensitivities to chocolate. Rishi-Roast has cacao in it, Rasa Koffee does not.

Same idea, root herbs that are bitter that mimic coffee in terms of color and texture. Coffee is coffee, so it’s not exactly the right flavor, but it’s delicious.

That’s an easy way to get these bitter taste into your life.

Rest, Move, Heal

Charlie Hoehn: I know we’re both a little limited on time but we could do it rapid fire. Rest, move, heal.

Charlotte Kikel: Rest move heal, yes, all of these could be related. So we have an over emphasis on our culture on movement.

More is not always better, and walking is hands down the best activity that you can engage in. If you want to read more about that in an unusual book, you can get Strong Medicine by Ryan Donaldson I believe is the guy’s name. He was put in charge of soldiers with PTSD, and he literally had them walk off their PTSD.

He just had them on a significant walking regimen and now science is showing that when we walk, we’re scanning with our eyes left and right and that is literally removing trauma from our bodies, allowing our experiences to integrate in a new way.

So I just want to say for the people who don’t have time to read this book because that is the point here: walking, something called slow burn, which is once a week strength training exercise. That keeps your body strong but is making you more resilient and not weaker.

“It is giving the body enough time to repair, because that is where the strength comes in.”

If we lift weights three times a week, some people may need to do that because they are professional athletes or whatever is going on for them. But the average Joe Blow doesn’t need all of that.

We need to repair, and that leads into the rest conversation right? So ideally and this shocks people when I say this, but ideally, we need to be going to bed as close to 9 PM at night as possible.

It’s such a struggle. It is a struggle for me too especially as a mom. I am sensitive to the fact that sometimes we put our son to sleep and that’s the only time my husband and I have a chance to have a complete full sentence conversation.

But in the Chinese medicine clock, each organ system has a particular time. So from 9 to 11 is your thyroid and your adrenal gland, your endocrine system. That’s what makes us feel the most alive. So I know within my own body, I need eight to nine hours of sleep.

If I go to bed at midnight and wake up at eight or nine, that is a different experience of life than if I go to bed at nine and wake up at six.

My message to the listeners is that when you are resting, your body is very, very busy and that’s the paradox.

Learning to Heal

Charlie Hoehn: Okay so rest, movement, you covered with walking. Now healing in peace.

Charlotte Kikel: Okay, so this is probably my favorite chapter in the whole book, this is where I am most violated in my youth and then also with the mono infection but that is the idea that in our country, we get sick and we keep working.

So basically there are two theories of acute illness. One is the bug, the pathogen, the bacteria, the virus that that’s the problem. The second theory has to do with the tissue state, is your body or your tissues, your mucus membranes—are they a good home to these microbes?

Because if everything is functioning properly, your barrier systems, your mucus membranes and your sinuses, your mouth, your lungs, your vaginal tissue, your eyes. If they’re working right, your immune system is right there to deal with an invader.

But if you didn’t sleep, if you ate sugar for breakfast, if you are jacked up on coffee in the morning and then drinking alcohol at night, your immune system is struggling ,and so those bugs come in and they make a good home.

We have got to learn how to handle the pain of a fever and work with it with hydrotherapy, with baths, with water. If you have a baby, with cold socks.

Any number of things can be used that we’ve lost in our homes because we’ve relegated everything to this system.

Being sick is uncomfortable. The cytokines that come out that fight infection they make us hurt, that deep ache.

“People are scared of fevers, and fevers are a therapeutic event.”

And they need to be respected. When we interrupt them and say fever’s bad, we’re screwed. So this is particularly important for our kids and there have been times where my child has been sick, and it has concerned me. We would call people for support.

But in the end, we let his body go through its process, and that is such a gift.

Because for me, I lived on antibiotics, steroids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or over the counter Tylenol, Ibuprofen. Those interrupt healing events.

Charlie Hoehn: We need to go to the doctor to get this medicine and stuff and the doctor is happy to give that and bless the doctor but why not trust yourself?

Charlotte Kikel: Yeah, absolutely. So, while it’s important for kids, it starts with the parents. Had I not learned over the past almost two decades to work a fever in my body, I wouldn’t trust his.

So it all starts with you. The invitation is that when you are sick, give yourself the space to be sick. Now I know that people are dependent on incomes. They have jobs to show up for. I get all of that. But something has got to change, just like something’s got to change in our culture around maternity leave and for the dads too.

Charlie Hoehn: I’ll tell you, my wife and I made the decision that we wanted at least one year where she could be with our daughter the whole time and it’s been financially challenging at times, for sure, but we found ways to make it work because like all the research and stuff we’ve seen is like, “Well this is societally incorrect.”

And if employers aren’t going to make it part of the system, then you kind of have to rebel and just do your thing.

Let Your Body Do the Work

Charlotte Kikel: That’s it, you know? You’ve got to find that spark of vitality in life in you that pushes up against the system. Nowhere is that more prevalent than in childbirth, having babies, and also being sick.

It’s this sacred process that we go through to become a different person.

Just to say that we are also obsessed in wellness with cleansing, right? Detoxification, we’re dirty, we need to be cleaned.

In actual reality, when you get sick and your body has become hospitable to a bug and then you have to see out that infection for however long it takes, that’s your cleanse.

You don’t need to go buy a box of cleanse.

Charlie Hoehn: Your body is really good at doing the thing. If we don’t mess it up.

Charlotte Kikel: But what do we do? We dry up the mucus membranes, we dry up the diarrhea, we take antibiotics when we have a viral infection, the list just goes on and on.

Once again, all of those things that drugs are always there if we need them. They’re not going anywhere either.

“Why not give your body a chance?”

Fine a healthcare practitioner or a doctor that understands this that can work with you. Because you can build these muscles of trust with someone by your side.

Charlie Hoehn: In fact, at the beginning, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do it by yourself because you’re still learning about this

Charlotte Kikel: Yes, starve a fever, feed a cold and when we’re sick, our body has better things to do than digest our food.

Connect with Charlotte Kikel

Charlie Hoehn: Can you give our listeners information about where they can go to follow you, contact you, potentially work with you?

Charlotte Kikel: If you want to learn more about all of this, you can go to, that’s my website. I put out a weekly newsletter that is very heartfelt, I would say.

Yes, I use science at times, but it’s much more about what’s moving through my work right now and wanting to inspire and educate you guys on to the next step, whatever that may be for you. I really enjoy that newsletter.

Charlie Hoehn: Excellent. The final thing is, what’s a challenge, something listeners can do this week or today even that will have a positive impact?

Charlotte Kikel: Yeah, going back to breakfast and do that seven-day breakfast experiment. Basically, eliminate carbs in the morning and just go after that protein and fat and what that looks like is about 35 grams of protein with fat.

An egg has seven to eight grams of protein, an ounce of meet has seven to eight grams of protein.

That allows you to do your math with whatever’s appropriate. Do it for seven days and then just go back to your old breakfast and you will be surprised at how bad you feel.