The debate regarding the origins of human behavior, and the conflict between nature versus nurture, has been philosophized, researched, and argued for over a millennium. In the last 30 years, however, a field of genetic-biology has positioned itself to wholly restructure the fundamental basis for the debate: neuroepigenetics.
A4M valued member Karrent Leggett, DO shares insight from her professional experience in this Member of the Month feature.
I joined A4M during my fellowship in Geriatrics. But I had actually started going to A4M conferences during my last year of Medical School. My mother was real Maverick in her day and started using bioidentical hormones 35 years ago and subscribed to quite a few early Anti-Aging physician newsletters. So, she was constantly nudging me to expand what I was learning in med school and pretty much insisting that pharmaceutical drugs should be used last and that I needed to focus on prevention of disease using nutrition, bioidentical hormones, herbal medicines, supplements and so forth. Though I always agreed, I actually remember feeling overwhelmed when we talked about it, and I’d think to myself “I need to just make it through med school first, Mom!” But I never admitted that to her! But by the time I was in my last year of med school I was ready. I couldn’t wait to get to my first A4M conference. I recall that first conference really well in Las Vegas – I was like a kid in a candy store and couldn’t stop talking about it when I got home from the conference.
Q2: What anti-aging techniques have you incorporated into your practice? And how did you so?
My practice has evolved into a fine specialty – one that keeps my passion on fire. I help Amazing Midlife Women renew their own passion for life by helping them balance their 4 major hormones systems: Adrenal, Reproductive, Thyroid and Bowel (or GUT), Hormone systems. I call it the ART of Balancing Hormones.
Teaching is THE critical piece of my practice. I have always thought of myself as a teacher and in fact, the Latin derivation of Doctor is “teacher”. I am an avid reader and writer, and so this is how I love to reach midlife women – through my weekly newsletter, blog, webinars, workshops and on line virtual events. We are currently planning our very first LIVE 3 day conference for the public now, and this really excites me because I have already held a 3 day conference for midlevel providers – Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. I have to say those 3 days were probably the most fun I’ve ever had in my career. I’ve decided it’s time to have a LIVE conference for midlife women who want to have a powerful life changing experience in a loving, supportive environment filled with everything healthy from head to toe.
Midlife women are starving to know what to do to help themselves! They know they are important, but they have been left out in the cold for so long, so many of them are about to give up by the time they find me. The first thing I have to do is help them realize their worth. But this is actually easy because what I believe is so basic and true and presenting this truth is the “ah ha” moment most midlife women have needed and been waiting for.
I believe that women hold the true power to control the aura of their environment. When a woman feels good, everyone around them feels good. Our men only want us to be happy and healthy. And since how we feel is directly related to how we act, it’s critical that we feel our best. But unfortunately, as we enter our midlife years, so many of us are also dealing with excessive responsibilities and demanding schedules, and still caring for everyone else putting ourselves last. Then comes the decline of our sex hormones. Bam! We lose ourselves! My ladies are really savvy women. So, we call ourselves “Savvy Sisters.”
I like to start with showing them how easy it is to balance their sex hormones first. Since all of my Anti-aging practice is midlife women, they all tend to have some imbalance in their sex hormones… early on Progesterone deficiencies and then on to the full spectrum sex hormone decline or imbalance as they get closer to and past menopause. I am a very conservative with sex hormone supplementation, but I cover everything from restoring levels to more Youthful levels to the importance of their metabolism into safe metabolites.
Since hormone decline is inescapable, and correcting sex hormone imbalances and deficiencies is as easy as applying a bioidentical hormone cream, and often results in resolving quite a number of their frustrating symptoms right off the bat, (like insomnia, hot flashes, dry vagina), this is the perfect place to start. These symptoms put such a strain on the Adrenal Axis, so by getting them taken care of quickly and easily, my Savvy Sisters are ready to work on the next step, if needed, which usually involves the Adrenal Axis and Gut Axis. They are ready to focus on losing weight at this point and this is when it gets really fun because I get to reach them holistically with nutrition and crucial supplementation. I especially love seeing the often Testosterone to Estrogen imbalance correct when we tackle these next steps.
Thyroid fits in there of course as well, and I love to add neurotransmitter balance in the picture as well. All along the way, I slowly and strategically add any component they need to succeed in making the second half of their adult life as energized and rich with passion as the first half of their adult life.
Q3: What are the benefits of practicing anti-aging medicine? (as a professional, and for your practice?)
Oh gosh. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a woman regain her passion, drive, and excitement for life. Women really are the most amazing beings; they never cease to amaze me. I love hearing their stories about their lives, and I am frequently flabbergasted by what they accomplished and how they give to others. Serving these women is a true honor. I could never go from room to room in an office and spend my day writing prescriptions to hide symptoms of underlying imbalances, knowing I was doing nothing to empower them to be their best. How does that help them, their families and the World as a whole? Being on the forefront of preventing disease and changing the course of a disease is exciting, and truly changing people’s lives.
Practicing Anti-aging medicine also makes us stronger, healthier and happier. It’s important that I be MY best and that I be the example that women are looking to be. If I can do it, anyone can do it. And yes, I have a personal Anti-aging doctor as well. In fact, I travel 900 miles to see him.
Practicing Anti-aging medicine is something I am extremely proud of. We are the leaders of ALL of medicine in my opinion. Anyone can follow a flow chart and guidelines set out by a board of physicians and write prescriptions all day. But it takes a very special person to think beyond the nose on their face and understand how best to prevent disease, stop the course of a disease and even reverse the processes of disease. Anti-Aging physicians help people live their lives more fully and as they imagined for themselves as younger people! And when you practice Anti-Aging medicine, you have the best opportunity to give as much to yourself as you are to others. That’s crucial to everyone’s happiness.
Q4: What are the changes you see in your patients?
I am fortunate to see the entire gamut of life change in my Savvy Sisters. My ladies truly find their Youthfulness through the wisdom they have earned through experience and the knowledge I help them gain. It starts with elimination of the frustrating symptoms that keep them up at night tossing and turning and exhausted all day by balancing their sex hormones. From there they start finding the energy and motivation to move forward into to giving to themselves, eating healthier, using appropriate supplements to support their nutrition, and even getting a hold on what is most difficult – becoming more active and losing weight, protecting their bones, caring for their skin and hair, and rediscovering their passion for their work and in their relationships.
My goal is always to see every Savvy Sister be empowered with knowledge to change HER own life AND thereby change the lives of her entire family. This is truly every Woman’s true gift to the World.
Q5: Why would you recommend Anti-Aging Medicine to your peers?
Practicing Anti-aging medicine is a no-brainer. It’s fun and exciting to talk with people all day who are motivated to make change. It’s satisfying to be responsible for setting the foundation for people to be empowered to live healthier, happier lives. It’s financially rewarding and far less frustrating to have a practice that survives with fair and profitable professional fees and avoiding greedy insurance giants. And it’s the best opportunity a doctor could be given to stay focused on his/her own health and BE the Change, setting a good example for others.
And for me, Anti-aging medicine is the ONLY medicine that makes sense to practice that truly helps people live healthier, happier lives and be empowered to make the best decisions for themselves.
Q6: Where do you see the future of Anti-Aging medicine 20 years from now?
Anti-Aging Medicine has already been on the path of skyrocket growth for over 20 years, and that aspect is going to stay the same for the life of man on Earth. What will determine the speed of its growth will be in the hands of the leaders of Anti-Aging Medicine.
For the shorter 20-year vision, I personally would like to see a team approach between experienced Anti-Aging practitioners, medical training (including Anti-Aging fellowships), committed medical students and residents, and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine as the founding, leading, and directing entity that brings about the necessary growth within generational learning.
My generation is leading the pack, and each generation following is becoming more interested in taking care of their health while limiting themselves to toxic exposure. Technology has been very helpful for everyone allowing easy access and discovery of toxic wastes and exposures that threaten our health. People are demanding change in careless industry and this trend is exploding and going to continue. Not only is this good for our planet, it is also important for our personal health, and our perception on the best medicine for our bodies as well. The demand for organic foods continue to rise, and people are investing in themselves and their health more than ever before.
With the growing interest in taking care of our Earth, even preschoolers are being exposed to its importance as well. Children being taught to respect their planet and the Universe as a whole, leads to respecting and caring for themselves as well. This is opportunity and natural progression for Anti-Aging Medicine as these children grow up and seek medical attention in the future.
Healthy nutrition, exercise, stress relief, and even respecting technology is going to be critical areas of focus for all of our children. Currently, teaching stress relief and recognizing the effects of 24/7 exposure to technology is very poor for our children, and the generations after me are now suffering from this lack. A dysfunction in the Adrenal Stress Axis is a huge factor in disease and unhappiness today, and it started with the overexposure to technology and excessive stimulation to all of our senses – leading to significant demands on the Adrenal Axis. Thus, it’s a natural course for Anti-Aging Medicine to take the lead and help change this current and dangerous path.
This is where I see one of the biggest potential changes for Anti-Aging Medicine over the next 20 years. There will be a growing interest in all ages, but the focus of education for Anti-Aging, preventive, natural, and addressing root causes of disease, and genetics playing a role in Anti-Aging Medicine, will involve children far more than it does today.
The second major change that I see will occur, is also already happening but will become far more defined in the next 20 years. And that is the division of very specific Specialties under the umbrella of Anti-Aging medicine. Anti-Aging medicine is exploding with research and with this comes the need for Specialists. Anti-Aging cardiologists, Anti-Aging hormone specialists, Anti-Aging orthopedics, Anti-Aging pain management, Anti-Aging neurologists, and so forth. And how about this one… Anti-Aging Geriatricians! What fun that would be!
In regard to how Anti-Aging medicine will be paid for, it’s very unlikely that insurance will be covering Anti-Aging Medicine in 20 years from now. Insurance companies, including Medicare, were never designed to cover preventive medicine. Plus, insurance companies have zero desire to actually help patients – it’s only the bottom line – their profit margin – that counts with insurance companies.
So, people who recognize the importance of Anti-Aging medicine are already a step ahead of the Insurance Company mentality. Success of those interested in Anti-Aging doesn’t come in a pill or even a handful of pills. And those who “just want a pill” will either be delayed in their understanding or simply never “see the light”. We Anti-Aging physicians are happy to leave this job to Conventional medical practitioners. We don’t have interest in investing our time and knowledge on people who aren’t willing to do their part as well. Anti-Aging Medicine will always be a team approach between the physician and patient. That is one of the joys of practicing Anti-Aging Medicine. You have motivated, smart patients. I can tell you, my ladies are super savvy, and they are very interested in learning and putting into practice all that I can share with them. And this makes my job so much more satisfying. And for the most part, these same patients are very appreciative of our help and guidance, which just slathers the icing on the cake!