Interview with Dr. Eric Westman and Jacqueline Eberstein, RN

Eric-Westman-3d-150x150 jacqueline-eberstein-2-150x150I got to talk with Jackie Eberstein last year, but not Dr. Westman, so it was great to finally get with him this year. We had a great chat, which went on a bit longer than I had promised them I would take, but they were both very gracious about it.

Howard: This evening… or this afternoon, we’re talking with Dr. Eric Westman and Jackie Eberstein. Jackie has been on my podcast before and so I’d probably not do as much intro on her. Just refer to a link on my last year’s thing when we talked about how you came to New York and worked for Dr. Atkins and that sort of thing. This is the first time that we had Dr. Eric Westman here. Trying to get a hold of you last time and we kept passing on ships in the night. So had some very interesting things to say last time and this time… I enjoyed your presentation.

Dr. Westman : Thanks.

Howard: Haven’t seen yours yet. You are speaking?

Jaqueline: Yes, Friday morning.

Howard: Anyway, Dr. Westman is a… you’re basically practicing in Durham, North Carolina?

Dr. Westman: At Duke University.

Howard: At Duke University. And your practice is primarily with obesity? And you started out… your career at the VA Medical Center there, right? So you’ve been in North Carolina pretty much all of your career?

Dr. Westman: Since 1990.

Howard: So good 15…

Howard and Dr. Westman: 25 years.

Dr. Westman: 2015 Low Carb Cruise.

Howard: Yes, 2015. So you’re currently working with obese patients and I’m guessing that you have a little bit better success than most doctors because you actually have a scientifically sound approach. Anyway, tell us how you came about this I mean you were… did you come out of medical school as a low carb enthusiast?

Dr. Westman: Not at all.

Howard: So what changed your mind?

Dr. Westman: Like most doctors, I came out of medical school and residency with no knowledge about low carb diets, no knowledge about obesity treatment and so I went through internal medicine training which is intensive training for adult chronic medical conditions like diabetes and obesity. And since I learned to use medications to treat those things so within the VA system, there were a lot of older men on 5-10 medications and they really weren’t getting better, right? I was just kind of palliating the problems and couple of my patients came through having lost a lot of weight. And I asked them how they did it, and they said they were using the Atkins diet; or one other gentleman said they’re eating steak and eggs all day. And that was it. I was kind of shocked. Like most doctors are even shocked today. But for me this was 15-17 years ago now. I was curious. So in my experience, I sent people to my dietician, the traditional dietician for weight loss, and it didn’t work. Most doctors will refer their patients to someone else for the weight loss even today. But so, I saw people doing it on their own, got interested and read the Atkins books, and said it can’t be, it can’t work, there’s no science, no data. And so I wrote Dr. Atkins a letter and he called back and said what do you want… and I said well, your approach seems to work. Where’s the science behind it? And he said, it’s all in my book. I said well, I read the book and it’s a bunch of anecdotes. I can’t… That’s not science. That’s not randomized controlled trials In fact it just came through a training program in clinical trial, design and research. So an anecdote doesn’t really tell you much.

So he finally came to the idea that the best thing’s to invite me to the clinic in New York City. And so I went, I looked and sat in the office of Jackie Eberstein. And saw people come in losing weight with charts and cholesterol values. In which they’re all supposed to get worse and yet they’re getting better.

Howard: And saturated fat.

Dr. Westman: There well all, you know, saturated fat and cholesterol and the blood was better. And I remember it was 1998. For me, it was fresh. For Jackie, this was after 30 years or so of doing it in their clinic. So they knew what they’re gonna find. But so… thinking of how to solve this problem, we had to start to do research on our own. So instead of going out writing a book, or getting involved being hired by the Atkins Center, I got to the point where it made sense to me to ask for a research funding to go back to the Durham VA to do some clinical research there and so as a result, our method and the research was heavily influenced by Jackie and Dr. Atkins’ approach that they had used with 20 grams of total carbs or less. Out of all the different approaches that were used, this one was the most effective. And a lot of reasons for that…

Howard: You actually had to do that at the VA?

Dr. Westman: So the first study we did was 50 people over 6 months, it was successful. We went back and said you know, the first study looked okay but it’s not enough. So you have to do another study. And fund us to do another. By that time, they had a little research committee. Dr. Atkins have created a foundation to fund research and at the same time, Dr. Jeff Volek was the exercise Physiologist then Nutrition Dietician Ph.D. was approaching them at the same time to do clinical research in a different way. So we had two independent groups collecting data on an approach that everyone thought was gonna kill everyone. Just looking back, it was so helpful to be able to sit in a practice that was using it just because everyone else thought it was so bad. But no one believed them. Now that the science is there, and so after 10-12 years of research and now research being done all over the world; this is in Australia and in England, we helped to rewrite the new Atkins for a new book but that… Steve Phinney, Jeff Volek, and I are authors of that book.

Howard: Did you know Jeff Volek from back then? When you’re doing research?

Dr. Westman: We had met at meetings but we never collaborated in clinical research. All our studies were done independently. But it was only after the science had been collected that we all agreed that we should write a popular book on how to do this.

Howard: All of this was done in the VA Medical Center?

Dr. Westman: Well, the second study was done at Duke. They’re across the street from each other. So these studies were both done under the aegis of Duke and the VA really.

Howard: ‘Cuz I go to VA Medical Center for most of my medical treatments. And they preach low fat, eat lots of vegetables and eat lots of fruit. Your skim milk, you don’t want too much fat. That sort of thing. And they’re still pushing that at the VA. Last cruise I came off, I was visiting with my doctor, my primary care physician there, and I said I just gotten done with the cruise and he said wait a minute, you’ve lost some weight. And I said, yeah, I almost always lose weight on a cruise.

Dr. Westman: That’s unusual.

Howard: Oh really?

Jaqueline: If you do the right kind of cruise.

Howard: Well, any cruise. This was in January, so… it wasn’t a low carb cruise.

Jaqueline: You can eat low carb on any cruise… as long as you’re…

Georgene: Right.

Howard: You basically don’t eat anything with sugar or wheat in it. And you’re practically golden right there. Skip the potatoes and the cooked carrots. And various other things. But I’ve never had any trouble losing weight on the cruise and I don’t miss a meal.

Dr. Westman: Yeah, you pointed out a great issue. That is the science, research can be done but the education… the teaching of that science takes a long time.

Howard: Well there’s “science”, and there’s science. I’ve read a whole bunch of articles and studies after I started getting on low carb. ‘Cuz we kept getting all this abuse about the… you know, that’s just n=1 anecdote it doesn’t count that it’s working for you. It’s obviously not science and all the studies that I read, there was only 1 significant variable. That’s who paid for it… and you know, you see all kinds of studies about Healthy Whole Grains vs Refined Grains; you will not find a study about Grains vs No Grains… there aren’t any. I wasn’t… or at least there weren’t any back then but after a while you say Oh, if I can find out who paid for it, I will find out what the conclusion is. If I find out what the conclusion is, I find out who paid for it.

Dr. Westman: I’m quite familiar with that criticism because the first time…

Howard: Yeah, you were criticized for that…

Dr. Westman: …was funded by Dr. Atkins and I remember, David Ludwig, whose a researcher on Harvard, at the same meeting and you know, of course, in fact he didn’t blame the funding organization, he said well it’s ‘cuz you’re charismatic, Eric. That’s why there was a result.

Georgene: That people lose weight because you’re charismatic…

Dr. Westman: Time changes though. And they’re going on that direction…

Jaqueline: Yeah, coming from him.

Howard: I’d like to know how you do a double blind placebo-controlled study of a low carb diet.

Dr. Westman: You can’t. Unless you…

Howard: I mean, I can tell what I’m eating.

Dr. Westman: We’re also very practical, very pragmatic. Which was an issue for the really fastidious, mechanistic researches. Well how does it work? I’m not quite sure. But people are eating less, they’re less hungry and it seems to work. We’re borrowing a clinical practice for decades and then he always first described it in 1863 in England, by William Banting. So the other… lots of things happening.

Howard: Well according to your lecture, he was actually discovered long before that.

Dr. Westman: Even before, yeah. It’s popularized… written in a treatise then but… And the term Banting was used to describe someone losing weight on a low carb diet in England from 1900-1950 and now in South Africa, it resurfaced since 2013, the Banting diet. To bant is known now using low carb diet to lose weight. Anyway, people eat less, they’re less hungry. People lose weight ‘cuz they start burning body fat. Now the science is starting to shed light on the idea that ketones go up, the sugar goes down and there’s less hunger. But there haven’t been any scientific light studies done for 25 years.

Howard: I still get the stuff about, “oh my God! Ketosis! It’s bad!”

Jaqueline: Well, medical people have simply been taught that ketosis is the sign of Diabetic Ketoacidosis or End Stage Alcoholism or whatever other times you can get that. And they don’t even sometimes understand what all has to happen for diabetic to get into ketoacidosis. You know, they’re dehydrated, they lost electrolytes, they’re utilizing muscle because they can no longer utilize glucose, and there’s spilling [sugar in] urine. They have no insulin. And yet we put Type 1 Diabetics at the Atkins Center on a 20 gram induction diet and they are ketosis but they’re not an acidosis. They’re perfectly healthy. Their blood sugars are coming down, not going up. You know, it’s like this list of checklist of symptoms that you have to have to say that it’s ketoacidosis. They’ve completely forgot that. All you have to see is ketones and oh, that’s bad. And that’s hard… that’s a myth that is still out there. But the recent research and I think a lot of it started with the seizure diets and looking at ketones in children, and the work done in Johns Hopkins, we’re now doing a modified Atkins on these kids because it’s a more liberal diet than their original seizure diets.

Howard: Yeah, I saw some of those seizure diets. You know, I wouldn’t wanna do that.

Jaqueline: But it’s a lot better than kids having 20 seizures an hour. And so I think that’s helped to kind of change some of the mentality about ketones. But I also think there’s gonna be people that aren’t gonna accept anything. They’re so biased and they’re gonna have to die off before… being replaced by someone else, yeah.

Howard: The progress is done, right… I have very difficult time getting into more than just the lightest ketosis anyway. At least according to the breath meters.

Jaqueline: Which Eric can tell you was probably… is not… the blood is gonna be a much better reflection.

Dr. Westman: Yeah, and even then mild ketosis is sufficient.

Jaqueline: It’s still ketosis.

Dr. Westman: Yeah.

Howard: I bought one of those ketonix and I got the sport model…

Jaqueline: Yeah, so did I and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Howard: You would not?

Jaqueline: Because it doesn’t do anything other than the smallest amount of ketones no matter what. And I think there are some issues probably since it’s a new thing…

Howard: So you think I’ve got a bad reading?

Jaqueline: Well, I can only tell you from my own experience, we used to have breath analyzers at the Atkins Center… so for decades, I could measure urinary ketones and breath ketones on myself. And I frankly found that the urinary ketones were fairly good reflection of the breath ketones. This ketone analyzer now, I can’t get above small even if my urinary ketones are 4 plus. It never reads any higher than that, no matter what.

Howard: That could explain why I was having a problem with that.

Dr. Westman: You know, the breath, the blood, the urine checks a different molecule.

Jaqueline: Yeah, they use a different chemical.

Dr. Westman: With breath ketones, it’s a different chemical and the biologic variation is not perfectly correlated… any of these things and yet everybody wants to know what’s best… we don’t know. It’s an emerging technology and of course every company’s gonna say that they are the best one.

Jaqueline: Sure, yeah.

Dr. Westman: …to sell their product. But it’d be really nice to have comparison studies of all these different technologies to know… ‘cuz until that happens, I think anything that measures ketones is fine you know ‘cuz a lot of people can’t afford the blood, a lot of people don’t know how to do the breath meter.

Howard: It’s $5 a piece-strip.

Jaqueline: Yeah, and sticking yourself. I mean if you at least see your own pattern is, then you can learn something from that. And that’s part of how I look at it with our parents who have gone home and do it. And you know, I would warn them, especially women just before their period, they can lose their ketones because they’re getting more insulin resistance ‘cuz the hormones are changing and they are not gonna utilize fat the way they did before. And so, just don’t take your ketones before that. Wait until you get your period.

Dr. Westman: Ketones are higher in the evening than in the morning…

Jaqueline: In some people. Not everybody though. I used to have patients who would be the opposite. And if you ask me why that is, I don’t really have an explanation. That’s just how it was.

Howard: Individual variations.

Jaqueline: ‘Cuz I would tell, do your ketones twice a day. Morning and at night. And when you find out where you’re darker then that’s when you should do it. Because you’d have patients every time they were in the bathroom and they go through 10 sticks a day. And it was just a little obsessive compulsive.

Dr. Westman: In my clinical practice which is anybody can get in to my practice, it may take a while, it may take waiting period but I’ll see people who have… their on food stamps, Medicaid or Medicare… I’ll see people who have flown in from out of town to see the expert, you know. And I don’t recommend checking on the urine at first or blood or breath. And I don’t recommend checking ketones. It’s too much work. You don’t have to do it. And they never check ketones for a hundred years in low carb diets.

Jaqueline: Yeah.

Dr. Westman: So if everything is working fine, you don’t need to do it. And you do have to stay generally under 20 grams of total carbs per day.

Howard: 20?

Dr. Westman: Yeah, so that you’ll see 50…75. Everyone has different number but dong the 20 grams total carbs is very, very effective for just about everyone. And you don’t have to measure ketones. You don’t have to log in what you’re eating at home. That’s all too much work.

Jaqueline: As long as you’re adhering to your program.

Howard: And Grok didn’t do that, right? The caveman?

Dr. Westman: Oh right, the caveman.

Howard: Anyway, we sort of wandered off the main topic that I wanted to talk to you about. And that’s your new venture – the Heal Clinics or healthy eating living or healthy living eating.

Dr. Westman: Healthy eating living…

Jaqueline: Yeah, HEAL. Healthy Eating and Living.

Howard: And it’s primarily geared towards the treatment of obesity and diabetics, right? So what made you decide that you wanted to get into that business?

Jaqueline: Oh there’s a lot of people out there who need a lot of help.

Dr. Westman: The need.

Jaqueline: And we also want to eventually get to the point where we start to see people who are Pre-Diabetic or at risk for Metabolic Syndrome because in my view and certainly I think in Eric’s, is we really have to start preventing people from even getting to the stage of Type 2. Because by the time they’re diagnosed with Type 2, they’ve lost a lot of insulin function.

Howard: So prevention is better.

Jaqueline: You can already start being at risk to having to start to damage small blood vessels and damage the kidneys and the eyes. So prevention is always better. But the way diabetes is treated now it’s mostly take more prescriptions. And the American Diabetes Association is pretty much taught that people with diabetes which is carbohydrate intolerance should be allowed to eat what everybody else eats. Which includes a significant amount of carbohydrates as long as you take all your drugs. And they can’t lose weight; they’re not really getting a lot healthier. So it becomes this vicious circle that people gets stuck in. And often times they’ll get frustrated enough that they will not pay attention to diet. So they’re on a lot of drugs and their blood sugars are sky high. So there’s a need. There’s a strong need.

Howard: Now the HEAL clinic, that was basically your [pointing to Dr. Westman] brain child, right?

Dr. Westman: There were several people coming together. A group of us decided that there’s really no one else that’s gonna do this. The medical mainstream is so far off the track. There’s an epidemic of diabetes and obesity going on. We have the knowledge that works. How do you scale that out? How do you get it going? So I’m president of the largest group of medical weight loss physicians in the country. The American Society of Bariatric Physicians. And I’ve seen…

Howard: Is that a 2 year term?

Dr. Westman: 2 year term. Yeah.

Howard: Oh. Okay. ‘Cuz I knew that you were last year.

Dr. Westman: Yeah, that’s a 2 year term. Rolls over this fall. Then I’m chairman of the board for 2 years.

Jaqueline: They kick him upstairs.

Dr. Westman: Kick me upstairs, yeah. So I see doctors in different ways helping people lose weight… fix diabetes. Usually one doctor, one clinic. Maybe doctors have 2 clinics or 3. This isn’t gonna solve the diabetes and obesity epidemic. There are only 1700 doctors like this in the country that needs tens of thousands of doctors like this. So we worked really hard to find the business model to scale up the knowledge of the low carb diet and make it a viable corporate entity. Which you know, is no small effort. Even the Atkins center in its day had a limited group of people that it could see. And so what we want to do is train practitioners and not M.D’s, there will be some M.D’s, but mainly nurse practitioners and physician assistants who have the knowledge of the medications that we’re gonna take people off as they cut the carbohydrate out and focus on good nutrition. So using the methods that have been used for 150 years but packaging it in a way that will be useful in today’s world… So training lots of practitioners and managing them is the HEAL approach.

Howard: So when did you get it started?

Dr. Westman: It was last year.

Howard: So you’ve been about a year then?

Dr. Westman: Yup and the group that we have together meets regularly. In fact we have the first clinic up and running in Durham. I’m staffing that clinic out of the availability of me being around and the moment I’m doing it for the sweat equity of it you know starting it up so what we’re going to do is to place these practitioners in other doctor’s clinics so that we don’t own or have to build new clinics. We’d actually leverage the other doctors’ office space and their patients so what that it takes a way is the need to advertise and market for all these new patients because if you have a friendly doctor who wants this kind of service, in their clinic population, then they’re gonna be referring their own patients to the HEAL practitioner whose in the practice. And so we worked really hard to find the right model and that is gonna be the one who gets financially… and there is very little overhead and yet the support and teaching can happen in the clinical level. A lot of things going on in the internet and you can do Skype teaching and all these. We feel strongly that the face to face meeting… when someone has diabetes, when the blood sugar is going up and down, and what we’re doing is very clinically powerful that we still have to have that level of clinical rapport and covers or protections really. So taking off these people from medicines is no small feat, and yet that’s what changing the food that the HEAL kind of program does.

Howard: Now you’re talking about insurance company buy-in for this, right?

Dr. Westman: Well, that’s another big mountain to climb. At first we’re gonna be targeting people who can afford to pay out of pocket. And it’s not a huge amount of money especially when you factor in that people would be paying less on their medications.

Jaqueline: Just the cost of insulin a month is tremendous. People can save hundreds a month just by getting off your insulin.

Dr. Westman: I have one patient paying a thousand dollars a month for insulin.

Jaqueline: It’s wow. And that’s not the only drug they are on. I mean it’s not unusual for a diabetic to be on anywhere from 5-10 drugs. And they’re not better and they’re often not healthier. They’re doing all that just to try to keep their blood sugars from getting too high and further damaging their system. It’s not that they’re healthier with that kind of protocol. And they can’t lose weight anytime because the drugs often get away in their ability to lose.

Howard: Now the Healthy Eating and Living, so you’re not doing just the diet, right?

Dr. Westman: So there’s 3 components to HEAL: the clinic and diet teaching; will have acceptable foods that are available so that people will know that these foods are truly low in carbohydrate and are good for diabetes for example; the third component is the coaching counseling arm and so people will have the clinic visits but they also get the contact from someone who knows about the dietary approach who also knows how to help people make change in their life. Sometimes the hardest things make people fall off their program like their husband’s not doing it or their family is bringing in Oreo cookies. So it’s kind of costly for the M.D. to help with all those things and having a coach…

Howard: A little bit of psychological boost as well…

Dr. Westman: Absolutely.

Howard: How about other aspects of the lifestyle? Like sleep and exercise and stuff like that? Are you dealing with those as well?

Dr. Westman: Yes, but you know, it’s not such a priority at first. The diet is so powerful and most patients who end up with Type 2 Diabetes and obesity are not in any kind of physical condition to start exercising. But exercise… when people are ready, we’re actually gonna help them reintroduce exercise into their life. Interesting you’ve asked about the sleep, because changing the food fixes the sleep.

Howard: My case, it didn’t.

Dr. Westman: Well, in general.

Howard: I have obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Westman: Sure.

Howard: Of course, you can practically diagnose that from across the room now.

Jaqueline: Sure.

Howard: You say, oh, his next size is over 17 and a half… 95% correlation with sleep apnea right there.

Jaqueline: Well but if you can also get a diabetic unless medications get them off insulin which really makes them heavier then you can also help them lose enough body fat that their sleep is gonna get better too so that should go away once the person’s lost enough weight. You just have to fix the metabolism enough so that they can lose.

Howard: I think I actually had sleep apnea back when I was a kid. Back before it had a name. Nobody had discovered it… that Australian doctor who gave it its name did so in the early 90’s or late 80’s. And it was like 1997 or something before I ran into an M.D. that I didn’t have to explain what a CPAP was. So that’s changed a lot too. I do remember when I got in… when I got the CPAP, after 1 week, went back and got another panel of labs ‘cuz my primary care physician at that time was saying – Oh my God, you’re basically a wreck and we need to do a follow-up in a couple of weeks and during that time I got my CPAP and after that, I went back and got another panel. The difference in the sleep really helped. So it’s not really clear which comes first. It’s fixing the sleep or fixing the other problems. In my case it was fixing the sleep.

Dr. Westman: Well, there’s an immediate benefit for most people by having the restoration of sleep by using the machine like that but my approach is to change the diet, make sure it’s working, having people to lose weight. Most people get energy just from the changing to fat metabolism. And then if it’s not working, if someone reaches the plateau, then I go back and reevaluate most of these other second line things. So the HEAL program will look for thyroid, kidney, liver, blood sugar problems…

Howard: How about supplements? Do you do anything with supplements?

Dr. Westman: No. In fact, real food is great supplement.

Howard: I know we [pointing to Jackie] talked last year a little bit about supplements. I think you mentioned… one of the things you mentioned was pretty much everybody’s short on magnesium. And so don’t even test for magnesium. Just take a magnesium supplement.

Dr. Westman: So we’ve had a lot of discussion on do you do the Cadillac program, do you do the Ford model, I don’t know the right analogy. Is it the Carnival cruise or the Royal Caribbean cruise? For a lot of people adding in new nutrition that will help an individual achieve the best that means you’re gonna be excluding some folks who can’t afford it or don’t necessarily need it. But certainly, adding magnesium if someone’s deficient or having multivitamin at a minimum is important. There’s some people who feel like everyone need vitamins 3 times a day for optimum performance, I don’t really think that’s necessary.

Jaqueline: I think it depends. We had very different model at the Atkins center. Because a part of what Bob did was he used a lot of supplements for treatment. And you have to know what you’re doing and what doses to use and things like that. And that has helped us get a lot of our patients off their meds. What we’re focusing now with HEAL is really to do with Pre-Diabetes, treating their Diabetes with minimum amount of drugs or hopefully getting them off everything. And with that, you start with the food.

Howard: So you’re looking to the first 80%?

Jaqueline: You start with the food and if someone is doing very well and we can get them off their meds, and they’re feeling well, and they are functioning well, and hopefully their energy is better, they gonna want to start exercising. ‘Cuz exercise is certainly important for everyone and it’s not because they need to lose weight. It will of course help insulin sensitivity which is useful but just to stay healthy as you get older, most people should be more active. But we really just want to focus on food and get their blood sugar back in control.

Howard: So how did you get involved in the HEAL project?

Jaqueline: Well, Bruce Rossiter who is the CEO of HEAL, I’ve talked to about 11 years ago. When I first left Atkins Nutrition ‘cuz he had this idea of doing this. And he wanted to set it up in a hospital and I thought there would be problems with doing that because of regulations that hospitals have about what kind of treatments they could use as far as accreditation and things like that and I didn’t think they’d go for low carb. I mean there still wasn’t all that much research at that time. It was 11 years ago. And it just fell by the wayside as far as our communication and I guess you told me last year on the cruise. Eric and I chatted. We got stuck in the airport for hours on the way home. We talked and he asked me if I’d be interested and I told him I’d be interested to talking to Bruce again about it.

Howard: Little serendipity here.

Jaqueline: And then in August, I started to work on my director of protocol, I guess, is one of my titles and I’m in the board of directors. Not board of directors, board advisor.

Howard: So you’re actually doing some of the…

Jaqueline: Doing a lot of the writing; what we’re gonna be using for training manuals for practitioners that need to be trained; doing low carb information to hand out to patients.

Howard: Are you gonna be doing training?

Jaqueline: We haven’t gone that far. It’s possible, maybe through a video or whatever. I mean, you know, we’ll make that decision a little later ‘cuz right now we’re looking for doctors who already know low carb but want to set up a low carb clinic in their office at the HEAL clinic so that there can be a referral. We wanna get as much, as many different people as soon as we can. So we have people in the cruise saying – where can I go to see someone? That’s the question that we really want to focus on and solve, and then training we’ll do when we have to. We’re certainly gonna have to be training nurses to teach them how to do their diets and things like that. Right now, Eric is doing a lot of that in his clinic.

Dr. Westman: The organization, the ASBP, that I had been President of now, has put me in a position where I have been doing a lot of teaching on low carb diets. Just about any weight loss doctor in the US uses some kind of a low carb or low calorie diet with medication. Our program is different. And that we’re not using medications ‘cuz you don’t have to when you teach someone correctly the 20 grams total or less. It’s just as effective as using weight loss medicine for the appetite control. Being in this position, I have attracted at least 40 practitioners on a Facebook group now. We keep in communication and these nurse practitioners – “When can I start a clinic?” So out of people who already wanting to get involved. In fact this is one reason why the timing is right. It’s not just one doctor in here sitting anymore and his staff. There’s a grass roots movement among practitioners and they’re crying out for help in learning how to do it and applying it. We hope not just the US, we want to do this everywhere.

Howard: Even in Australia, where they’re saying – Oh, low carb is killing babies.

Jaqueline: Well, yeah, that was really unfortunate distortion of everything but I’m used to that. I’ve heard that since 1974. The more the establishment begins to see that maybe you’re making a difference, the more aggressive they’re gonna be, ‘cuz they don’t really want to have things changed. And it’s gonna be pushed by… it’s gonna be a grassroots effort… and what’s nice is, we’re gonna see younger practitioners, they’re more open, they haven’t been as influenced for so long by the nutritional biases we’ve heard for decades, they can read the research themselves now there’s an abundance of it for them to read and their patients aren’t getting better. And they went into medicine in order to make people better not just to write prescription of drugs.

Howard: I’ve been seeing things like attacks on Dr. Davis from Dean Ornish.

Jaqueline: Oh well Dean Ornish attacks everybody.

Howard: It basically shows a screenshot of Bill Davis – “Runs a low carb blog, still obese.” Like you know, I’ve met Dr. Davis, he is not obese.

Jaqueline: He was with us a few years ago.

Dr. Westman: There will always be people who criticize something that they’re not involved in or they didn’t help create. And if your essence is not helping everyone using lots of different approaches, if it’s just promoting what you’re doing, then you’re gonna get crazy sorts of criticisms like that. For example, the timing wasn’t right 10 years ago.

Jaqueline: No. That’s right.

Dr. Westman: Although the science was coming out. And this is part of our research that was coming out in 2003-2004 and all the scientists we’re saying this is gonna be big, a huge splash. This was the low carb craze. And then Dr. Atkins dies.

Howard: And then you read all about – Oh, he had a heart attack or he was obese when he died, and such garbage.

Dr. Westman: Which was not true. But so the politics of it matters but now, Dr. Ornish is being seen as kind of an extremist. He’s not a mainstream, go-to guy anymore.

Howard: I’ve seen pictures of Dr. Ornish… he looks sick.

Jaqueline: Yeah, he is very frail and…

Dr. Westman: You know, I hate to ad hominem for anyone, even Dr. Ornish. It may not be the diet, it might be something else. So Dr. Atkins dies doesn’t mean the diet doesn’t work. Dr. Pritikin who created the Pritikin Diet which is the granddaddy of all low fat diets, ultra-low fat, died when he was relatively young from leukemia.

Howard: The HEAL clinics, so it’s been underway for about a year, you’re still looking for funding?

Dr. Westman: Yeah.

Howard: So… in what sort of funding? Investors… or?

Dr. Westman: In any start up, we did a first “friends and family” round of fundraising over the last year. We’re still in that phase where we hope to raise about $600,000 and then go to the next level of crowd-source funding or “angel investor” funding. Over this year though, we’re not just fundraising, we created the first clinic, and are seeing patients and bringing in small amount, albeit, but we have the system in place with the medical records, the set-up with the financial flow… so we’ve actually come a long way with a very little funding at first. But to do the scope that we want to do, we really need more investors. In the low carb cruise, I remember being nudged in the direction of what can we do, why aren’t we doing something on a bigger scale. So that’s one reason why we come to places like this for people who want to help and want to get involved.

Howard: So if somebody wanted to invest in HEAL clinic, where would they get information on how to do that?

Jaqueline: Well we have a website. Our preliminary website. And we’re gonna be expanding that and putting a lot more information on it but there’s an information there about, there’s a header for investing.

Howard: What’s your url?

Jaqueline: And it’s healclinics.com

Howard: healclinics.com so H E L…

Jaqueline: H E A L

Howard: H E A L

Jaqueline: Clinics

Howard: clinics dot com. Healclinics.com

Jaqueline: and there’s right up the top you can click on a word that says Invest… Investor. There’s a bio of the officers – Bruce Rossiter, the CEO and Richard Cochler, who’s the COO and Eric who’s the Medical Director.

Howard: And if somebody was interested in investing, what kind of stake are you looking for? Are you looking for somebody to chip in a thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars?

Dr. Westman: That information is all there and we have fund raising team that could help people with that. I think the minimum is 5000 dollars to get involved at this time. Most people put in ten to twenty thousand dollars. And this is the kind of investment that could be getting into the ground floor to be a very big increase over time.

Howard: So your model now is to educate practitioners and move them into other people’s practices. And you’ve got one clinic going now and how fast are you planning to scale this up?

Dr. Westman: You know it’s funny; the scaling is not a matter of time. It’s a matter of money. So the faster we get the money, the faster we can scale it up. We have people on the bench ready to get in and play, that’s practitioners. We have the training program all set to go. So the limitation isn’t time, it’s getting the money to get the engine going.

Howard: Do you use anything like Kickstarter or Indiegogo or any of those projects?

Dr. Westman: That’s Bruce Rossiter’s…

Jaqueline: Yeah, that’s our CEO. He knows all these. I’ve never heard those… but I’m a medical person I’m not investing and fundraising. Let somebody else do that part. The medicine’s easier for me.

Howard: You mentioned last night that Ramona was your first…

Dr. Westman: Ramona Denton. The Low Carb Cruise.

Howard: Dana is also an investor?

Dr. Westman: Dana Carpender who has written cookbooks. 1001 Low—Carb Recipes. Really one of the pioneer cookbook authors for every man …

Howard: The first I ever heard of Dana Carpender was from her book – How I Gave Up My Low-fat Diet and Lost 40 Lbs.

Dr. Westman: Well, we’re trying to get the A-Team… the best people and who would you look to see who knows anything more than Jackie Eberstein in terms of the clinical program, really? Who knows more about cooking, and implementation and writing a cookbook specifically for HEAL than Dana Carpender? Nope. So who knows more about the clinical application today and a model that we’re using? Well, that’s me for the medical side. So I think we have the best team that is available today and we’re really excited to keep on moving on this.

Howard: You know, I was kind of disappointed I never got an opportunity to come and visit with you.

Dr. Westman: You’re welcome to…

Howard: I did get to Jimmy Moore’s book signing which was a day off of when you were gonna be in the same place.

Dr. Westman: Oh no. Okay. Well let’s do it again. You’re welcome.

Howard: I don’t know when I’ll get back to North Carolina. But I’ll probably see you next year. We’re all planning to… if it’d be possible; we’d be on it pretty much every year. She [points off-camera to Georgene] loves to cruise.

Dr. Westman: Right.

Georgene: I’m easy to convince.

Howard: The disembodied voice behind the camera is Georgene and there’s another person in the room who hasn’t said a word at all and that’s Conrad. Conrad is Jackie Eberstein’s husband. And you guys just celebrated which anniversary?

Jaqueline: 42.

Howard: 42.

Jaqueline: May 19.

Howard: 2 weeks ago… So congratulations to you guys.

Jaqueline: Well, thank you. I still quite don’t know how that happened.

Georgene: One minute at a time.

Jaqueline: Sometimes, sometimes.

Howard: You didn’t know how a lot of things happened. You’d could go in and tell Dr. Atkins you think he’s a quack.

Jaqueline: Yeah, I’ve worked for him for 30 years and he’s been gone now for a while. And we’re still talking about him and trying to carry on his work. And Eric is who I see is the successor to Bob. I’ll tell you quickly a story. A couple of years before Bob died… and he died after an accident so it’s not like he had expected he wasn’t gonna to be around for a while… we were chatting one evening after work and he said, You know Jackie, he said, I don’t think I’m gonna be around to really see this to be accepted. But in your lifetime, I think you will. And he was a spiritual guy and he said, when my time is done and I’ve done as much I can with this, then it’s gonna be time for other people to pick up where I left off and carry on. And so I think that that’s what we’re talking about, we’re the people that want to carry on.

Howard: Hopefully the real science will prevail someday.

Dr. Westman: I think it will.

Howard: But as I’ve told several folks, the only persistent problem I had with low carb was the constant barrage of well-meaning fools telling me how unhealthy it is. And basically that’s what I came back with anybody who starts telling me how unhealthy it is and I’ve only been on it for 15 years and my kidneys haven’t fallen out yet.

Dr. Westman: Just wait, it might happen tomorrow.

Howard: It might happen tomorrow. You can never tell. Well it’s a pleasure having both of you here. Kinda gave short shift to Jackie but we really had a good interview last year. You have a website…

Jaqueline: controlcarb.com

Howard: And you got a separate website, right?

Dr. Westman: No, my web presence will be within entirely in the HEAL clinic.

Jaqueline: Yeah, I would recommend people to go into the HEAL site, ‘cuz I’ve been doing writing and putting my writings on there now. ‘cuz I haven’t really added much to my site although it still have a lot of good information on it but the more recent writing and commenting on some articles that are in the press now sometimes supporting what they’re saying, other times correcting what they’re saying, and giving our point of view with HEAL to certain nutritional information that’s still out there. So that’s all gonna be in the HEAL site.

Howard: I will get this posted as quickly as I can but right now we’re in a state of chaos because when I get back off from this cruise, then I’m going to go up to Tulsa to look for a place to live because I’ll be starting work the week after for Flight Safety International.

Jaqueline: That’s soon. Well, Good luck with that… having just relocated… it’s not easy…

Howard: It was like a whole bunch of things just happened all at once that I wasn’t really expecting.

Georgene: Last year wasn’t hard because we knew it was temporary. We just moved what we… just a little bit of stuff… just little bit of you know… a pot and a pan.

Howard: Oh dear, I think we have blown the 20 – 30 minutes.

Jaqueline: Oh. Okay.

Howard: It has really been interesting. Thank you for coming by. Thank you, Jackie.

Jaqueline: You’re welcome. Good to see you both again this year.

Howard: And nice to see you again, Conrad.

Jaqueline: And good luck with your move. I know what that’s like.

About Mr. N=1

I am co-owner of NEquals1Health.com, along with my wife, Georgene (Mrs N=1). Read more about me on Howard’s about page.

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One Response to Interview with Dr. Eric Westman and Jacqueline Eberstein, RN

  1. Pingback: HEAL Clinics – Interview with Dr. Westman, Jacqueline Eberstein, RN, and “Hurricane” Melanie Miller |

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