Acupuncture vs Angioplasty [Interview][Transcript]

dr_jyothi-rao_holistic_medicineGuest: Dr. Jyothi Rao
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Jyothi Rao, MD, ABAAHP, FAARFM, has been practicing medicine for the past 16 years. She received her Doctorate of Medicine (MD) from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and completed her internship and residency at the prestigious New England Medical Center (Tufts) in Boston. Before opening Shakthi Health & Wellness Center, Dr. Rao practiced medicine in New York and Maryland. She is the co-author of Finding Balance: Empower Yourself with Tools to Combat Stress and Illness.

Segment overview: Dr. Jyothi Rao, MD, co-author of the book “Finding Balance: Empower Yourself with Tools to Combat Stress and Illness,” discuss combining modern medical treatments with holistic practices.

Health Professional Radio – Acupuncture vs Angioplasty

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you for joining us today. Our guest is Dr. Jyothi Rao, she’s here with us as co-author of “Finding Balance: Empower Yourself with Tools to Combat Stress and Illness.” She’s with us as a returning guest to talk about combining modern medical treatments with holistic practices. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Doctor.

Dr. Jyothi Rao: Thank you very much.

N: Thank you so much for returning. In other segments, we talked about your book, “Finding Balance: Empower Yourself with Tools to Combat Stress and Illness.” You’re the co-author of this book, why did you write this book?

R So my colleague Dr. Aggarwal and I were looking for finding a resource for patients because both of us had very busy medical practices and the concept of adding lifestyle, often times patients hear things like ‘Go diet and exercise, get more rest.’ But that’s it, that’s all we are able to give them in our limited time span of the ten minute appointment. So we decided to write this book on well-researched aspects of lifestyle changes which can directly impact and reduce chronic illness and really start the body to heal.

N: Now is your book a book about simply healing the body or does it combine mental, physical, and spiritual aspects to heal?

R: So our book has these several sections and a lot of it has to do with lifestyle changes that are dealing with nutrient changes and I won’t call it diet because it’s more of a life plan. The removal of things that are inflammatory for the body such as certain food, adding back things that are high nutritious foods as well as working on other things that affect our gut, and our mind, and body such as sleep, exercise, yoga meditation, deep breathing, these kinds of things are outlined in the book so that we can give patients several tools on trying to balance their life.

N: Do you find that patients that come in wanting to completely remove pharmaceuticals from their intake, do you ever advise against that even though you are implementing some holistic modalities?

R: Absolutely. We are trying to be very evidence based in our practices, so for patients who are walking in with a heart attack, or strokes, or some illness, or diabetes, we’re not trying to take them off their medications. What we’re trying to do is give them tools to try to reduce their need for medication, so I believed that taking people off prescriptions directly is not very safe. So we have to do things where we add lifestyle changes and then maybe wean to people off, we follow people very closely and overtime the need for prescriptions gets less and less, but there are certain medications that patients have to stay on sometimes when they have certain chronic illnesses such as insulin for diabetes and certain cholesterol medicines and aspirins, and blood thinners if they have heart attack and stroke. So we’re not opposed to medications per say, we’re more about trying to give people options and tools to try add to the medications that they need to.

N: Sometimes, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that it may be a difficult task to change a patient’s mind when it comes to traditional versus holistic or combining the two especially when they are the ones who have this vested interest in what the outcome is going to be. But from the medical the practitioners’ standpoint, what was it that happened with you to kind of change your mind because you did not start out as a holistic practitioner?

J: No. I was a traditionally trained internist and when I first started I was more frustrated with the fact that everyone was kind of walking around in a fog, and tired, and sad, and I didn’t really have good prescriptions for these and I felt very frustrated not having enough in my toolbox really to kind of heal people. So I did go and get certified in acupuncture, which then did change my practice, but then after that, I was trying to find honestly tools to help myself have more energy, function better, sleep well, and a lot of my path has been about trying to fix myself in terms of just being the best and healthiest that I can be and functional medicine was really the path that kind of fell on me in terms of finding the root cause of illnesses and finding the root imbalances of nutrients, of hormones, or gut health, things like that and that seem to work very well so I started trying a couple of things and patience for getting much, much better. So it just kept me going along this path and now that we are kind of employing lifestyle changes into our practices, I will tell you it’s a much more satisfying practice than just giving people band aids for their illnesses.

N: When it comes to acupuncture and other types of non-traditional treatments, what type of reception do you get when you offer some of these results to traditional practitioners and say, ‘Hey, here’s the evidence.’ What types of reception do you get?

J: Right. So that’s very interesting because when I first started doing acupuncture it was about 16 years ago and the reception was very, very unfavorable. In the beginning, really other doctors didn’t understand it and there wasn’t that much enthusiasm for it but now I actually get, as the data has come out, and the NIH has backed it, and there’s a lot of studies going on in the realm of acupuncture and other integrative modalities. I get referrals from my colleagues who are gastroenterologists, cardiologists, as well as arrhythmic surgeons, and pain management doctors for acupuncture for their patients, because the success rate have been very, very positive in terms of incorporating that into a traditional program.

N: How invasive are some of these holistic practice as you talked about patients having heart attacks and strokes? Are we talking about replacing angioplasty with acupuncture?

J: No. I don’t think that acupuncture can replace angioplasty, but I do think that it reduces a stress burden which can contribute to further heart attacks and strokes. So what I used acupuncture for is kind of initiating the healing mechanism of rest for the body and along the way, it can help with certain pain patterns and such. But it is basically a background tool try to help people be calmer, more relaxed, have less pains, sleep more restfully, which is always good for the body. So it would never really replace an angioplasty or ever replace their medications, but it does give patients a modality to reduce their need for these other things, other prescriptions.

N: Oftentimes, we hear even traditional practitioners talking about breathing exercises to get focused and meditate for lack of a better term. Do you employ meditation in your practice as well?

J: Yes. So one of the things we do often when we have large groups when they’re talking to patients and people who have kind of skepticism about what we’re talking about, we ask them to breathe a 4-7-8 breath where there breathing in for 4, holding it for 7, and exhaling it for 8 and we have them do it several times and it is amazing how much calmer people feel and they realize how useful this tool it’s because their breath is always with them. We also have people often stand up and do some yoga poses and do something called sun salutation to just wake their body up. So those little things that we do, do kind of encourage patients and people who are listening to us to try at least find out more because they do feel better with a couple and simple intervention, stretches, and some poses, as well as some breathing techniques. I think it’s very powerful to have breathing tools in terms of relaxing the nervous system and combatting that adrenaline response all those walking around with often.

N: In your experience, do you see a rise in practices combining or offering both traditional modalities as well as holistic?

J: Absolutely. I do believe this is the practice of the future, I think patients are demanding more than just medications. I think physicians are also getting frustrated practicing with limited healing tools, so there is a huge need and I think if you look, there is about 400,000 or more practitioners that are now doing integrative medicine. Whether they’re nutritionists, or they’re physical therapists, or they’re physicians, or whatever it might be. There’s a huge ‘boom’ I think in terms of the need as well as the training programs and I think we’re only going to see this grow.

N: Now where can our listeners get a copy of your book, ‘Finding Balance: Empower Yourself with Tools to Combat Stress and Illness?’

J: They can go to my website called, or my colleague’s website, or to the Amazon website.

N: Great, thank you so much.

J: Thank you for having me.

J: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at, and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and listen with Dr. Jyothi Rao, co-author of the book, ‘Finding Balance: Empower Yourself with Tools to Combat Stress and Illness.’

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