Holistic Health Care PractitionerApril 2015
By Donna Carusa
Life Extension ® member Debbie Sherrick is nothing short of a dynamo. After more than 20 years as a personal trainer, she is now a certified holistic health counselor and herbalist who coaches clients about diet, lifestyle, weight loss, and codependency. In an exclusive interview with Life Extension® magazine, Sherrick talks about her background, what brought her to holistic health, and how she works with patients and promotes her own good health and longevity.
Sherrick’s relationship with good health goes way back. “We grew all our own vegetables and Mom would freeze and can everything for the winter. We always had fresh grass-fed beef and fresh chickens and eggs from a neighbor. We rarely went to the store for anything,” says Sherrick, who was raised in a large extended family in rural Indiana.
She says another key influence was her grandmother, who lived to be 100 and taught Sherrick the value of herbal healing. “Grandma Molly was an herbalist, but we thought she was like a voodoo practitioner,” Sherrick explains. “She would make concoctions and people would come to her from all over with their ailments.” Sherrick realized early on that herbs were like medicine, only more effective. She remembers her grandmother preparing a liquid from horseradish root and giving it to her for childhood asthma. “It was like fire,” she recalls, “but it would bring up the phlegm. We rarely went to the doctor.”
After moving to Florida with her parents, Sherrick began to forget these early life lessons and started to eat poorly. As a young bride with two children, she remembers eating lots of fast food and sugar, skipping breakfast, and even fainting one day in her kitchen. A friend referred her to a nutritionist who diagnosed the young woman with hypoglycemia and started her on a healthy eating plan of lean protein and shakes, herbs, and supplements.
“That’s when I said to myself, ‘Wow. I know this. What was I thinking? I know I need [good] nutrition. I know I need herbs and more raw and fresh foods. I’ve neglected taking care of myself.’”
Sherrick sees this moment as the start of her journey to becoming healthy and learning how to help others do the same.
When her second marriage ended many years later, Sherrick realized she needed to start taking care of herself and decided to become a personal trainer working out of her in-home gym. After much studying and reading, she began to develop the mind-body-spirit approach she currently uses to treat a whole person. With degrees in exercise science and nutrition, a certificate in iridology, and an herbalist license, Sherrick began using a multidisciplinary program to help others get healthy.
A Total Approach
“I decided I wanted to work with the whole body,” Sherrick explains. Her strong belief that physical ailments affect the mind and vice versa led her to learn all she could about both.
Sherrick grew up in an alcoholic home, and that led her to understand how unexplored emotional issues can impact physical well-being. After years of trying to help people with nutrition and exercise alone, she realized this was not 100% effective because many clients had childhood issues and addiction problems that were not being addressed. When she incorporated these into her work, she felt she was finally doing what she needed to do—and treat the whole person.
“My program involves food and supplements, plus helping people work with their doctor to get off prescription drugs, learn to handle stress, have healthy relationships, and deal with childhood and other emotional issues.
“You never arrive,” Sherrick states, “you get healthier and healthier and you have many tools to use, but it’s a lifetime’s work.”
How Sherrick Works
Sherrick aims to discover each patient’s individual needs and then strives to meet them. There is an initial 90-minute consultation where she reviews a client’s diet, genetics, nervous system, exercise, lifestyle, and current health, especially the digestive system, which she thinks is extremely important.
“A lot of people come because they think I’m going to give them something for their symptoms,” she explains. “They don’t think I’m going to look at their roots, their biology, and remove the cause rather than treat the symptoms, which is generally their experience in visiting doctors.”
Sherrick also looks at the bloodwork her clients provide and may use a biofeedback program to assess body energy. “I want to teach people to take responsibility for their health,” she stresses. “Americans are trained not to take responsibility for their health. They believe [in] doctors and food companies and Western medicine. We don’t have health care. We have sick care.”
But Sherrick is now seeing positive changes happening in the health field. “In the last seven years, I have had more referrals from doctors,” she says. “There is more awareness and more belief [regarding whole-body healing], especially among young doctors.” She ascribes this to a recognition that holistic health approaches are more in demand, especially from Baby Boomers, and doctors are now exploring more preventive and alternative care.
Her Personal Regimen
Sherrick’s own healthcare regimen is a work in progress. She begins her day with a glass of purified water containing chlorophyll to put oxygen in her lungs, followed by probiotics to boost her immune system. Next comes 30 to 40 minutes of what she calls “quiet time,” the practice of visualization, breathing, and prayer.
This is followed by a breakfast shake of organic whey protein, fiber, coconut oil, organic berries, and Greek yogurt or almond butter, followed by supplements. Some supplements are taken regularly and others only when needed.
“If I’m feeling more stress, I’ll take more adaptogens and maybe more of the B vitamins,” Sherrick notes. “If I’m feeling a little rundown, I’ll take something extra for my immune system.”
If she feels she may be getting sick, Sherrick might add echinacea, garlic, ginger, elderberry, zinc, rose hips, olive leaf, capsicum, or colostrum. She also takes an herbal trace mineral product that includes dandelion, alfalfa, kelp, wheat grass and hops; food enzymes for the digestive system; krill oil for joints; turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties; algae with spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae; and a calming formula with hops, valerian, and passionflower.
She then does 30 to 40 minutes of exercise, either at home or in a gym.
Sherrick’s number-one piece of advice for living longer is: “Keep moving and do not become sedentary.” Sherrick adds that nutrition is a major factor in a long and healthy life, and recalls a client who began working with her when he was in his 80s and died at age 101.
“I learned so much from him because he knew true health and knew about longevity,” she recalls. “He grazed, eating every two or three hours, mainly organic vegetables and fruits and lean grass-fed meat. He also had never been in a hospital, had a strong spiritual side, and never held a grudge.”
Sherrick also advocates an exercise program that gets you “a little winded and makes you breathe deeply,” plus finding emotional peace of mind.
Life Extension® Benefits
Sherrick loves being a member of Life Extension®, and praises their integrity as well as their free access to health advisors, which she calls “a tremendous service.” Life Extension® magazine articles are often helpful in her work, she adds, including “The Dangers of Using Antibiotics to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections,” which was published in the June 2014 issue. Sherrick quoted information from the article in her online newsletter since many of her clients suffer from this problem and have no idea how to treat it effectively.
“I love to educate people,” Sherrick concludes, “Knowledge is power.”
You can reach Debbie Sherrick on her website at www.insideoutwellnesscoach.com. She helps clients both in person and through Zoom, a video system where she works face-to-face and screen-shares documents and other health information.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.