Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Autism: The Environmental Connection

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised the numbers on the prevelance of autism to 1 in 110 children. This represents a significant jump in autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in the four years that passed between the 2002 study results and the 2006 study results.

On January 16, 2010, the journal Current Opinion in Pediatrics explored the potential cause of autism. It was stated, “The developing human brain is understood today to be exquisitely susceptible to injury caused by toxic chemicals in the environment. The vulnerability is greatest during embryonic and fetal life, and may be especially great in the first trimester of pregnancy.” They continued: “Given current understanding of the great vulnerability of the developing brain to toxic chemicals, likelihood is high that many of the [documented chemicals] have potential to cause injury to the developing brain and to produce neurodevelopmental disorders,” including autism.

There is both clinical and epidemiological evidence that autism is linked to environmental exposure of toxins. Did you know that in 2002 FDA Pesticide Program Residue Monitoring said that in the U.S. Pesticide use equals 4 billion pounds annually? That is 8 pounds for every man, woman and child in the United States. It is important that we minimize our exposure and help our body eliminate toxic substances from the body. This is important not only for childen who currently suffer with autism, but also for women of child bearing age hoping to become pregnant or who already are pregnant in order to help prevent autism in their offspring.

This is accompished first of all by simply eating better in the form of consuming mor fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. But even doing this can be problematic, as most commercially available produce is tainted with toxic pesticides. It is interesting to note that even the food we think is healthy can contain toxins due to the pesticide usage. It was stated by the Journal of Pediatrics in June 2010, “the organophosphate pesticide malathion is found in 28% of frozen blueberries, 25% of strawberries, and 19% of celery.” This is one reason why organic produce is a better option.

Beyond that, utilizing supplemental nutrients and herbs to help support the body's detoxification pathways is likewise vitally important. To learn more about nutrient-tailored detoxification, see my posts on detoxification. You can access those in the side bar of the blog.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Building a Successful Wellness Practice, part 3

In this third installment on principles for building a successful wellness practice, perhaps it would be good to first of all revisit some facts and figures pertaining to the growth of the wellness industry in order to see the opportunities therein.

Since 1990 there have been more visits every year to “alternative” practitioners than conventional ones. (NEJM, Unconventional Medicine in the United States). A 2004 Study figures from the 2004 National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) ( say that a large percentage of Americans are utilizing some form of complementary therapy or alternative medicine (CAM) -- 36 percent. If you narrow the focus to certain categories, the numbers are much higher. In cases like perimenopause, more than 80% of women who are currently in menopause are experimenting with natural remedies for hot flashes rather than doing the conventional approach. Since 6,000 women a DAY transition into perimenopause, and since there are more then 45 million American women in this category, this alone represents a huge market of wellness-minded patients. Indeed, we could be seeing the beginning of a massive shift toward wellness services.

“Indeed the research is compelling. Combined with upcoming changes in the U.S. healthcare system, the study reflects a milestone in what some term the ‘death of conventional medicine’ as we know it. NCCAM’s research results are from a survey completed by 31,044 adults ages 18 years or older and included not only therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractic, but also diets, supplements, and meditation -- among other therapies.” Alternative Medicine Trends Point to a New Future, Terry Wellington, Your Wellness Guide, 2004

“Additionally, 75 percent of people were found to have used complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) at some point in their lives, with 36 percent having used it in the last 12 months, mostly to treat chronic conditions. 28 percent used alternative therapies because they thought conventional medicine would not help, and 26 percent used complementary medicine because a conventional doctor recommended it.” Alternative Medicine Trends Point to a New Future, Terry Wellington, Your Wellness Guide, 2004

Dr. Terry Grossman, founder and director of Frontier Medical Institute in Denver (, which is participating in a $30 million NIH study on chelation therapy, says, “We are at the threshold of a new paradigm of medical care combining complementary and conventional therapies. Conventional physicians have begun to realize that complementary therapies can help them help their patients.”

The Untapped Market
People are looking for safer and more effective alternatives to drugs and surgery, and they often turn to self-medicating with herbs and nutritional supplements, many of which have questionable quality. The supplement industry alone – only one facet of the wellness industry – is enjoying yearly double-digit growth and is a $30 billion industry. Half of all Americans take supplements; most of them purchase them over-the-counter, mail order, or multi-level. Doctors have only 5% of that market.

Many conventional doctors, frustrated with declining incomes because of managed care, have offered “bio-therapeutic agents”(JAMA) to their patients and have turned their practices into successful retail centers that generate into the tens of thousands of dollars per month.

The Waiting Room
The waiting room is the greatest opportunity for influencing the mindset of your patients. Here is where people should see what is on your “menu” of services and what advantage those services are to them.

We can borrow from the business model of McDonald’s here. Although most of us in the wellness industry are diametrically opposed to everything McDonald’s stands for, their franchise does teach us something about effective in-house marketing.

When you walk into a McDonald’s, you don’t have to wonder about their products and services, because they are sprawled on the back wall behind the cash registers for all to see. And once the customer decides on what they want from the giant menu, the teenage cash register attendant will then try to upsell by asking, “Do you want to supersize that?”, or “Would you like an apple turnover?”

So the two points to consider here are that, firstly, your waiting room should provide a “menu” of services that are obvious to the casual observer within the first minute or two after they sit down. If you sell support pillows or nutritional products or shoe inserts or whatever, the patient should know that just by looking around. Display those products conspicuously, and you might also consider other educational/promotional materials and media in order to heighten interest.

Flat screen TVs that provide looping slides are becoming popular components of doctors’ waiting rooms, and in our media-driven world, it’s difficult for people to resist watching them. Mission accomplished. That is a great way to educate your patients, and thus promote your products and services.

If a flat screen TV slide show is not your thing, you can at least explore the possibility of displaying reading materials that promote what you do. Metagenics provides a plethora of well-done flyers and brochures, some promoting specific products, and others that are more generic.

Chiropractic marketing guru, Dr. Donald Hayes, says that when setting up educational/promotional materials in one’s office, there should be no competing materials. In other words, remove anything that would compete for people’s attention, like Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, People, Reader’s Digest, etc. Your waiting room needs to promote YOU and what you do, and if your patients have a choice as to what to read, most of them will take the default position and read something easy and brainless. So don’t give them a choice. Remove anything that is not of a wellness nature, and force your patients to get at least a nugget or two of something that promotes you and your services while they wait for their appointment.

This is what the super-successful wellness doctors already do.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Power of Goals: Building a Successful Wellness Practice, part 2

In addressing this next principle on building a successful wellness practice, I should say up front that this principle is something that you could and should utilize in every part of your life. In my 16+ years in sales, I have observed that the people with the most successful practices set goals for themselves, and in fact, I have learned the power and importance of goal-setting in my own life and career.

Now, let me head off a possible objection right from the start. Some might say, "Well, Andy, I'm a care-giver. My mission in life is to make patients well, not to make a fortune as a business tycoon. So I don't need to set goals."

Well, okay. But wouldn't it be great if you could provide great care to more and more patients all the time and make a lot of money doing it? You wouldn't object to that would you? After all, you are in business to DO business. And to be in business you have to make money. And in order to make money, you have to sell yourself and your services. So whether you like it or not, you are a sales person, and you are in business. If you don't see yourself as a business person, then why are you in business?

Let me give you an example of one of my real-life clients who is doing a great job both on the care side of his practice, and on the business side.

Dr. Reed Kress in Evansville, IN is a GREAT doctor. He has often provided care for me and has been a God-send to my surgically devestated shoulder. I've known Dr. Kress for about ten years, and he and I have developed a close friendship. I have stayed in his home nearly every time I'm in the Evansville area, and early in our friendship I noticed that he had a dry-erase board in the room where I slept. On it were scribbled the various goals he wanted to accomplish, as well as a few motivational and inspirational quotes. Dr. Kress has always been a goal-setter.

Today, still at the tender age of 36 (hey, I'm 44, so 36 seems like a 'tender age' to me), Dr. Kress has one of the most successful chiropractic and wellness practices in town, employing two other chiropractors, 2 MDs, and a massage therapist. He is providing a full complement of great care to the community, and -- oh yeah -- it just so happens that the fringe benefit is that he makes a really good income! And he didn't have to compromise the quality of care that he is providing to do it. He just decided to offer care from other practitioners who specialize in things that he is not good at or doesn't have time to do so that he can focus on what he IS good at and enjoys the most. So he still sees patients at a reasonable pace, but is making residual income from his other employed doctors. And that didn't just happen. Dr. Kress has been setting very specific goals for ten years, and now he is reaping the benefits of seeing his desire in his mind's eye, writing down those visions, and then working toward making them happen.

Here's another example of the power of goal-setting on a much larger scale.

In the mid 1940’s war-torn Japan was in a state of devastation. In an effort to rebuild their decimated country, they set a goal in 1950 that they would be the number one producing country in the world of textiles in that decade. By 1959 they had achieved that objective. In 1960 Japan set another goal that they would become the number one nation in the world in the production of steel during the 1960's, in spite of the fact that there is no iron ore nor coal in Japan of any significance. In spite of those obstacles, they achieved that goal during the 1960’s. In 1970 they set yet another goal that during the 70’s Japan would become the number one nation in the world in the production of automobiles. This time they failed to make their goal within the time frame they had hoped, but they missed it by only one year, becoming the top producer of automobiles in the world in 1980. Japan has maintained their status of the number one producer of automobiles in the world ever since.

J.C. Penney, the founder of the department store chain bearing his name, said it best when he wrote, “Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I’ll give you a man who will make history. But give me a man without a goal, and I’ll give you a stock clerk.”

Tony Dungy, the former coach of the Indianapolis Colts football team wrote, "The first step toward creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it. VISION will ignite the fire of passion that fuels our commitment to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to achieve excellence. Only VISION allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action. VISION has no boundaries and knows no limits. Our VISION is what we become in life. "

I know that most of you reading this are left-brain, analytical kind of people. So let me give you some scientific evidence of the power of goal-setting.

A study conducted at Virginia Tech University found that people who wrote their goals (visions) down earned NINE TIMES as much as those who did not write their goals. When asked, “What are your goals for life,” the research revealed that:

-80% said they didn’t know
-16% said they have goals but they’ve never written them down
-Only 4% said they’ve written the goals, but have never gone back to look at them
-1% said they wrote their goals and they review them on a weekly basis

The researchers were diligent to point out that the one percent who wrote down their goals and reviewed them weekly were...


So are you hoping to create a great wellness practice to take advantage of the next Trillion dollar industry, as Paul Zane Pilzar predicts that the wellness industry will be? Here's what you can do:

1. Write down your goals and review them daily. They should be SPECIFIC goals, not "I want to have a more successful wellness practice." Be specific. Put some numbers to your goals. How many patients would you like to see per week? How many wellness/nutritional consults would you like to do per week? How much residual income in supplement sales would you like to make per month? Write it down and review it daily.

2. Convert those goals into specific intermediary steps. In other words, what do you have to work on in order to make those dreams reality? Write that down, too, and review it daily, and WORK IT daily.

3. Assign Completion Dates. What is a challenging yet achievable period of time that it would take to accomplish your goals? Write that down, too. Just as Japan achieved incredible things in industry by setting specific goals and assigning dates for their completion, you too can achieve incredible things by following a similar goal-setting pattern.

Some who read this might say, "Well, Andy, you're just a lowly sales guy. I like you and all, but are you really the one I should be listening to when it comes to my practice? What in the world has goal-setting done for you?"

Good question.

I'll answer that by saying that Napolean Hill wasn't super wealthy when he wrote the book, "Think and Grow Rich." But that book came about as a result of him studying the lives of 500 of the world's richest people over a period of several years and then writing about the common practices of the world's super-rich. I wouldn't care if the messenger was Howdy Doody if he could give me a list of what the super-wealthy do to get super-wealthy. And, of course, studying and writing about those principles helped Napolean Hill to get wealthy himself, due in no small part to pehraps the most ground-breaking self-help book in modern history, Think and Grow Rich.

As for me, who am I to coach the likes of the sophisticated doctors I call on? I'm just giving you the common practices I have observed in successful wellness practices over the last 16 years. You can take it or leave it, but its what the successful people do. And I can tell you that goal-setting has done wonders for me personally, both in the business world and in my physical goals. Of course, I also believe that part of my success in business is due to me REALLY believing in the product I represent, sticking with it even through the ups and downs, and being a passionate devotee of the health principles I talk about every day. I live and breathe this stuff. And if you don't live and breathe what you do for a living, maybe you should consider switching careers to something that you ARE passionate about. As has been said, "Follow your passion, and the money will follow."

Maybe you could begin your goal-setting process with something small and simple. One day I sat down with a medical doctor who just wanted to crunch some numbers. So I suggested that if he could get just 30% of his patients on two foundational products, Multigenics and EPA DHA Complex, which would cost the patient about $35.00 per month, he would be shocked at what he could make just on those two formulas. So take the number of different patients you see in a month, and then determine the percentage of people that you think you could get started on just foundational nutritional support. Maybe for you a more do-able number would be 40 or 50%. I think 30% is challenging yet achievable for most docs. So if you could get 30% of your patients in the Month of June on those two products, and then keep them on it while you get a fresh batch of patients on those products the following month, the numbers compound, and now you are REALLY talking some serious revenue in the months following. (Getting patients on certain formulas and keeping them on for the long haul hinges upon patient education, but that is a subject for a different post.)

In closing this post, I like what the late, great Ronald Reagan said about goal-setting:

“My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose – somehow we win out.”


By the way, a REALLY great book that provides a lot of great insight and instruction on goal-setting is Steven K. Scott's national bestseller, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon's Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Building a Successful Wellness Practice, part 1

I have traveled the highways and biways of the Midwest for going on 17 years as a consultant to wellness practices. I have met all kinds of practitioners, some successful at what they do, and some still hoping to be. By virtue of my nature, I'm an observer of people, and in these 17 years I have observed some commonalities of practitioners who are the most successful at what they do. So beginning with this and the next few posts, I will discuss some of those common denominators.

I was inspired to address this topic because as I was listening to the monthly audio CD from Success Magazine (good investment for any business person, by the way), I was struck by one point that was brought out, that difficult economic times often birth some of the most successful business endeavors. In fact, several Fortune 500 companies were birthed during the Great Depression, and are still going strong today. So while the mainstream media and talk at the workplace breakroom may focus on the doom-and-gloom of challenging economic times, the fact is, the movers and shakers actually tend to do BETTER when times are tough for everyone else. I guess it's all a mindset.

Also, along those same lines, and specific to caregivers, economic prognosticator Paul Zane Pilzer's book, The Wellness Revolution, predicts that the next TRILLION dollar industry will be in the field of wellness. SO YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME, but knowing how to cash in on that trend is a different story altogether.

So for my first post on Building a Successful Wellness Practice, I want to focus on the importance of Practicing What You Preach.

I've called on more "wellness" practitioners who I care to count who are not living the very principles they preach to their patients. So let me ask you a question. Would you go to a marriage counselor who has been divorced three times? Would you go to a financial advisor who is currently in bankruptcy? You get my point. Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." If you are carrying a few extra pounds that you know is related to poor eating habits and lack of exercise, then only you can do something about that. And it's important that you be the picture of health if you are to be the kind of practitioner who inspires and motivates others to get healthier themselves.

Do you prod people to take their supplements but you are not consistent in taking them yourself? Do you try to coach people on eating healthier but you make poor daily choices? Do you attempt to motivate people to exercise but haven't seen a gym in months or years? As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. As a Christian missionary once told a young understudy, "Preach the gospel everywhere you go, and if necessary, use words." In other words, mere talking will have little impact if people cannot see the reality of your message being lived out in your own life.

For the most part with very few exceptions, I have observed that the most successful wellness practitioners are themselves pictures of health. They tend to be fit. They eat right all the time, not just some of the time. They take the time to be well-groomed and care about their appearance. I didn't say that they are necessarily magazine cover material, but they take the time to make the best of what God has given them to work with. In other words, they aren't sloppy-looking. They also have a working knowledge of good lifestyle habits including effective exercise, food choices, and supplement regimes, and practice those principles in their own lives and the lives of their family members. In a nutshell, it's a LIFESTYLE that they themselves practice.

And it shows. You can tell a wellness practitioner who is living the lifestyle just by looking around in the waiting room. You can tell that he or she is passionate about wellness, because the magazines reflect that passion, the waiting room displays reflect it, and sometimes even the staff reflects it.

So in closing this post, one way you might consider getting inspired, equipped, and educated to not only bone up on implementing health and wellness in your clinic, but also in your personal life, is with the First Line Therapy certification course. This is a 4-day course designed to equip you to manage patients with body composition, cardiovascular, and blood sugar issues, which make up probably 80% or more of your patient base. Most practitioners who attend the First Line Therapy course come away newly inspired and energized about the importance of health and wellness in their practices, but also in their personal lives. And it's not just a motivational course, but one that equips doctors to help patients make the necessary changes to be all that they can be, and assists them in the implementation process and business side of a wellness clinic as well. You can find out more about First Line Therapy here: click here

Stay tuned for more common denominators of successful wellness practices in more posts to come.