Welcome to ON BEAUTY, a monthly feature highlighting creative, like-minded people who inspire us.
Through Julie’s journey as a blender, formulator, and purveyor of natural beauty, she’s acquired a few very special teachers who have shaped her ever-growing understanding of holistic wellness. One of these people, Dr. Linda Lancaster, has been a hugely formative influence on Julie’s own health and wellbeing. (You may recognize her from our conversation with Danilo, or you might have heard murmurings of her goat milk fast.) We recently spoke to Dr. Linda about her background as a naturopath, her thoughts on skin health, and how good “good fats” actually are for you.
Everybody’s an individual and we’re all snowflakes with different patterns.
What is the foundation of your practice?
I’m a naturopath, I’m a homeopath. I’m also an energy medicine practitioner, so my analysis has to do with measuring the energy at the cell level. I’m looking to balance health in the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual body. Because we have more than one body. There’s a lot of talk now about the mind-body connection; yes, it is a mind-body, and an emotional body, and it’s a spiritual body. Our bodies are our vehicles to hold this magnificent spirit.
How did you get started on this path?
When I was 21, I started doing yoga. I had some physical issues—I had colitis when I was in my late teens, and I was always looking for a way to heal that. So, I started with yoga, and then I started working in a health food store, learning about natural medicine. I had my children at home, and I only used homeopathy. I had my own gardens. The “back to the earth” that they’re doing now was something I was doing in the seventies.
I continued on that path, and while in yoga with my fellow yogis, I noticed that the biggest obstacle in moving forward in their pursuit of spirituality or understanding of self-realization was how they were feeling. They were sick. And I started to realize that disease was there for us to learn from. So, I put all my yoga training together with my homeopathy, herbal medicine, understanding of the higher fields from the yoga sutras, and the understanding of the higher forces—so I could help those who needed help so they could get back on their path of understanding why we’re here.
Your skin is your outer world. It’s how we relate to the world. Health shows in the skin very often, and as we cleanse the internal body we will cleanse the skin.
How did and do people learn about you?
It’s always been word of mouth only, and from the beginning it’s been busy. I started practicing in 1981 in Babylon, NY. Even though I’m a Brooklyn girl, born in Brooklyn, I wound up living in Long Island for about ten years—actually, 17 years, but for ten years I was practicing. Prior to that I was raising kids. I moved to Santa Fe in 1991, and since then I’ve been going back and forth between Santa Fe and New York City.
I used to teach cooking classes in my house from my garden, and if someone got a cut, I would treat it. My neighborhood started to know—oh, just go down the block, she’s got homeopathic remedies. I started working in a holistic clinic and then I became the director with about 12 practitioners, so I had to learn all that they were doing because my job was to direct the patient to the right treatment. I learned a lot in the process, it was a lot of studying. In my kids, I learned a lot. In those days there was no Google—oh my gosh, this kid has a high fever, what to do? At the time, we were living at a poverty level, but we lived off the land, so you had to figure it out for yourself.
How have patients’ needs changed over the course of your 36-year career?
It’s become more complicated and everybody is putting the kitchen sink in themselves to cope. I like simple. Trusting that the body has an innate ability to heal, and knowing that it needs good fuel without contaminates. Knowing that we need to have organic food; not overdoing it on any of the fats. A lot of people are overdoing in coconut oil now, and that’s getting clogged up. A lot of people use olive oil to sauté vegetables…oh my gosh! Don’t heat olive oil. Olive oil needs a very, very low flame or is a condiment on top of food. People are turning that fire on, throwing that olive oil on, and it changes the healing ability of the olive oil.
There’s a time for cleansing and there’s a time for repair. You skin is a detoxification organ—that means that stuff is going to come out there. I always say, it’s better out than in, but sometimes it’s hard to cope.
Something new comes out and everybody does a lot of it, you know? I mean berries now: “I eat berries.” “Uh, how much do you eat?” “Oh, at least a cup or two a day.” I go, what?! That’s a lot! Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Everything in our life should be balanced. Eat a small bowl of berries if you have berries. Yeah, you do ok with goat cheese but that doesn’t mean that you eat it all day long. So, it’s simple diets. Lots of vegetables.
What are your general thoughts on the skin as an indicator of health?
Your skin is your outer world. It’s how we relate to the world. Health shows in the skin very often, and as we cleanse the internal body we will cleanse the skin. When there are problems with the skin, I look on the emotional level—how we connect with the outside world. And/or toxicity that’s stuck in our lymphatic system, and the next place to go is the skin because it’s the biggest eliminative organ that we have!
So, let’s talk lymph:
The lymph is part of our circulatory system but—you know that the blood is pumped by the heart through the arteries and veins—the lymph has these little lymph nodes, and these little lymph nodes have little gates on them, so it doesn’t flow by itself. We have to open those gates in order for the lymph to flow. In saying that, there are several things we can do for the lymphatic system. One is dry skin brushing, using a natural bristle brush to move the lymphatic system. The other is, of course, sweating. Especially good for the lymph is yoga, swimming, and rebound, or jumping on a rebounder. And in the naturopathic world there are different herbal combinations that we use to help move the lymph: one being Echinacea; for deep lymph maybe using cleavers. But we have to physically move it, and we need to use herbals to move it.
Why does the lymphatic system get congested? Very often it’s the poor assimilation of fats that get stuck in the lymph nodes, because those fats have not been emulsified by the activity of the gallbladder. That has to do with diet and what kind of fats we’re eating, and whether our body is working well enough to break them down. If the gallbladder is not breaking down the fat, then you have fat globules in your bloodstream, and where does it go? To the lymph system, and you get what we call a congested lymph system.
Aging…I don’t like to use that word. I think at any age we can get a glow and that glow comes from the inside because everything inside is working well.
So, whenever I look at the skin issues, I look at the liver and the gallbladder, and I look at how the lymphatics are moving. And sometimes it’s a low-grade infection. Ah, there are so many things. Everybody’s an individual and we’re all snowflakes with different patterns. But when asking from a naturopathic point of view, that’s how I look at it.
Can you tell us your thoughts on these three common skin conditions: aging, acne, and rosacea?
Aging…I don’t like to use that word. I think at any age we can get a glow and that glow comes from the inside because everything inside is working well. It’s got to do a lot with the foods we eat. Aging is about food with energy. Food with energy is our organic food, nice and clean and not too complicated. A lot of people are doing smoothies and basically putting the kitchen sink in. I like to keep my drinks pretty simple.
Acne very often can be low-grade infection—it can be parasites in the system. I recommend cleansing for acne, detoxification. Sometimes acne can just be a hormonal problem. It depends on the age, is it a 13-year-old going through puberty? Then it’s a whole different story. They may have been born with a weak hormonal system or weak reproductive system. Sometimes they need a little support, and there’s herbal medicine for that. There are tonics to help with the hormonal system. And again, it’s clean diet and keeping our lives simple and looking into different detoxification programs.
In the case of rosacea, this is usually a low-grade bacteria. Whenever there’s inflammation, you have to cut down on the spice, take the heat out of the foods. You must not use cayenne, or any kind of spice that really stirs things up. Get off the ginger, get off anything that’s going to heat up the system, because you’ve already got this inflammation going on and you have to calm that down. And then, again, detoxification.
Detox and elimination diets have been buzzy in recent years…
There’s a time for cleansing and there’s a time for repair. You skin is a detoxification organ—that means that stuff is going to come out there. I always say, it’s better out than in, but sometimes it’s hard to cope. Clean up your diet first. Get the sugar out of your diet. Get all the breads, cookies, cakes, pastries out. Then do a simple cleansing diet: fresh fruits and vegetables and proteins. Carbohydrates would be the whole cooked grains, such as brown rice or quinoa or oatmeal for breakfast. Not too complicated. We have a lot of gluten-free products out there, and frankly, it’s still a baked product and it still has sugar in it and it’s sometimes more complicated to eat than the regular stuff.
What are you favorite In Fiore products?
I love all the oils for sensitive skins (Comfrey, Calendula, Calme, Fleur Vibrante), and the solid perfumes—they’re beautiful gifts!
What's on the horizon for you?
I’m in the process of writing a book right now that will be coming out in Fall 2018. I am also the president of The Global Foundation of Integrated Medicines (GFIM), so I'm preparing for the 2018 World Congress which will be held in NYC.
About Dr. Linda
Dr. Lancaster is a Board Certified Naturopathic Physician and Homeopath. She has been in practice since 1981 and founded Light Harmonics Institute, an Energy Medicine Clinic and Educational Center based in Santa Fe, New Mexico and maintains clinics in Santa Fe and New York City. Her training includes Classical Homeopathy, Radionics, Medical Radiesthesia, Subtle Energy Healing, Emotional/Spiritual/Grief Counseling, Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Ayurveda, and Detoxification Methods. Her health and cleansing programs have been offered to her patients for more than 30 years.
Light Harmonics Institute has been in the forefront in the current trend of the Integration of Medicines. Thousands of students have trained with Dr. Linda over the years, and she continues to teach the art, philosophy, and understanding of “healing.” She has treated more than 10,000 patients in over 30 years of practice and has developed a system of medicine, which is now referred to as Light Harmonics Healing.
Dr. Lancaster was Yogi Bhajan’s personal physician and remained by his side until his passing. He honored her with the Conscious Healer and Humanitarian Award in 2002.
To create peace in healing, Dr. Linda founded The Global Foundation for Integrative Medicines (GFIM) and is current GFIM President.