HERBALIST AND FERTILITY EXPERT
Sakara's co-founder, Danielle, just gave birth to an angel baby girl (Leo season!). On her 9 month journey prior, she joined the leagues of women before her who transition from Maiden to Mother, and learned about the whole universe of fertility + prenatal care. Long story short, Sakara was introduced to the extraordinary Aimee Raupp, author of several books (including Yes, You Can Get Pregnant), herbalist, acupuncturist, fertility expert, and champion of women. She enlightened us about radical health modalities, squashed myths about aging + conception, and set the record straight about how thoughts shift everything. Read on!
Can you share your journey with us, and how you became an herbalist, acupuncturist, and fertility expert?
It was always my plan to go into the medical field. I got a biology undergraduate degree and always had plans to go to medical school. But one of my greatest blessings in life was that I did not get accepted to medical school the first time I applied. With that, I went on to study neuroscience and that is when I was exposed to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). My mentor, while studying neuroscience introduced me to a book called, The Web Has No Weaver written by Ted Kaptchuck, Harvard professor and practitioner of TCM. It all kind of fell into place when I decided to pursue TCM (including acupuncture and Chinese herbology) studies instead. I’ve now been in clinical practice for 15 years. Over those years my practice has evolved and I now treat many women on all spectrums of women’s health and fertility. It’s what truly speaks to me, as I don’t only focus on nutritional and physical health but emotional and spiritual health. When I work with the women in my clinic, I not only see their health beautifully unfold, but their lives and their love for self.
Can you share with us your thoughts on the fear, shame and guilt that surrounds pregnancy and and why you think it's so pervasive?
I see the most fear, shame and guilt when women focus on their age and the when behind trying to conceive and when they are going to get pregnant. So much of this comes from media and unfortunately from our western doctors. There’s not a lot of research to back up the fact that your western doctor will tell you that over the age of 35 your fertility is greatly compromised. In fact, the research doesn’t quite support that statement at all.. yet women are inundated with fearful messages about their body and how it will fail them as they age. It’s extremely disempowering, leaving women feeling at a loss about their bodies and their ability to conceive. My mission is to empower women and to encourage them to take back their power over their health and fertility. Bottom line— when you are in thriving health, your fertility will thrive, even into your 40’s.
You spoke at our Wellness Wednesday talk last month about the emotional hostility that comes with the cellular hostility of an autoimmune condition... Why are we as women so harsh on ourselves?
It seems that in our society women are expected to do it all, and that is just not true nor is it sustainable. But what is happening is that the women think they need to do it all because they see other women “doing it all” on social media and any other similar outlet that we are exposed to. This sets the stage for extreme self-criticism and very little self-compassion. What I see every day in the clinic is women are extremely hard on themselves because they don’t think they’re doing enough and that their body isn’t doing enough. They are filled with doubt, fear and shame, and this is creating a ton of emotional hostility in the body that lends itself towards systemic inflammation in the body, which will lend itself to illness. Women need to take back the reins and be able to look at themselves with love and compassion. What I see in the clinic is that it's not only possible, but when they do it their health transforms and their entire life.
What are some healing modalities you prescribe when it comes to healing our personal relationship with our bodies and our pre-conceived notions about becoming pregnant?
I teach women to re-connect to their bodies and their heart through whatever modality works for them- meditation, journaling, community, spiritual practice, movement. The most important thing is that they begin to tune in and hear the conversation they are having with themselves in the privacy of their own mind. It is only then that they can begin to shift their beliefs and say kinder things to themselves. One of my favorite tools is to sit quietly— perhaps do this after a meditation— and ask yourself, “how can I better nourish you? How can I better support you?” And listen to what you hear. This is how you can truly begin to reconnect to your body and honor it the way it deserves.
I personally love acupuncture and feel like it has been such a powerful healing modality in my life, but can't describe why it's so healing— can you break down what it really does for us, and why it's especially healing for hormones?
As I always say- acupuncture encourages the body to function better. It’s all about bringing the body into balance and removing any energetic blockages that are inhibiting optimal health. From a western scientific perspective when acupuncture needles are inserted the body has a physiological reaction causing increased blood flow to the area of the needle. Plus the needle insertion triggers the body to release neurochemicals which further promote homeostasis and an endorphin release (which is why you feel so relaxed during acupuncture). It’s all about supporting the body on its return to balance and vitality.
Beyond having a hard time getting pregnant, many people are suffering from autoimmune issues, a lot of the reason being the toxicity of the environment and our food supply being irrevocably changed. But you also talk a lot about how we mentally/ emotionally do a number on ourselves when we are attacking ourselves. Can you speak about this and what are some physical AND emotional tips you can give to healing autoimmunity?
As a trained practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine I am trained to also look for the emotional component to the dis-ease or illness, and when we are looking at autoimmunity, the cells in your body are attacking themselves, they are confusing self from non-self... so, in Body Belief I go deep with the reader as to where on an emotional level are they attacking themselves; where are they misidentified with themselves; where have they lost touch with who they are. I touch upon some of the most common health -thwarting beliefs in the book. The most common ones I see in the clinic (& the one that I suffer from) is, “I’m not enough or I’m not worthy of a thriving health.” Another very common one is, “It’s my genetics, I was born this way, this is my lot in life.” And yet another one is “I feel bad feeling good.” Many people are afraid to have thriving health because they see so many others suffering so they hold themselves back and don’t believe that they are worthy of the help that they long for or desire. The Body Belief plan helps you renew these beliefs. For example, the belief, “It’s my genetics. I was born this way” can be transformed to, “I have the power to change my beliefs and radically shift my health,” which is much more health-supporting than health-thwarting. And most importantly, be easy on yourself in this process. There are going to be good days and not so good days so have some compassion for yourself some love some grace and know that you were on your path and that you do have the power to radically change your health and feel better.
What are some of the wildest things you've done in the name of wellness?
Ha! Gosh I guess it’s just how I live now but I only use acupuncture and herbs and diet as a form of first line medicine in my home for myself and my family. I’d never ignore continued symptoms and always seek advice and support from western physicians but I am definitely an at home remedy kind of girl. I guess for myself when I first discovered how incredibly toxic our bath and beauty products are I started making my own (now those handcrafted products are another arm of my business). I also make all my own cleaning supplies and have fired cleaning people on the spot if they don’t abide by my non toxic rituals. And as I do with all of my clients I challenge the “accepted norm” when it comes to health and wellness.
How should we begin to prepare our body for pregnancy if it's something we're thinking about longer down the road but not immediately?
Treat your body like the precious temple it is. If you have any health challenges - figure them out and get the support you need. In order to become the mothers our children deserve we must first learn to nourish ourselves on every level-nutritionally physically and emotionally.
What advice do you have for women who are trying to get pregnant?
Your fertility is an extension of your health on every mind body level. Be patient with your body. Trust your body. Have more hope than fear. And by all means, own the fact that your body knows how to do this.
When you think of the mark you'd like to leave on the world, and your life in terms of legacy, what does that mean to you?
It means guiding women to own their power.My ultimate goal is to reach as many women as possible and empower them to reconnect to themselves and honor their recipes body mind and soul.