This interview is from the website Live The Process
For Dr. Gabrielle Francis, every day is an opportunity to deepen her connection to herself and the people around her.
Raised by Lebanese immigrants in Cleveland, Ohio, she was introduced early to holistic medicine, as her family relied heavily on homeopathy and herbal remedies. She had found her calling, so, after high school, she immediately began studying massage, chiropractics, naturopathy and acupuncture.
Today, the holistic physician has been practicing some form of natural medicine for over 33 years and has consulted on the health of countless members of famous rock bands, among others. That experience ultimately inspired her to publish The Rockstar Remedy, replete with tips for transforming one’s health. Her guidance is applicable to regular folks too, as destructive habits—from drinking in excess to over-scheduling—are not exclusive to the music industry set.
Here, Francis describes the revelatory process of writing her book and explains how she endeavors to cherish each moment of adventure:
Live The Process: When was your interest in holistic medicine sparked?
Dr. Gabrielle Francis: I was first introduced to holistic medicine at the age of 5. My parents took us to see chiropractors and homeopaths before they would take us to see Western doctors and, I must say, this was highly unusual behavior for Lebanese immigrants living in Cleveland in the 1970s. I remember driving with my father and listening to nutrition and herbal medicine tapes that he had of Dr. John R. Christopher, the herbalist. I guess I knew then that I would be doing this someday too.
I studied massage immediately after I finished high school with the intention to practice as I worked my way through chiropractic school, which I did. Then, I moved to Seattle to attend Bastyr University, where I studied both naturopathic medicine and acupuncture; I had a chiropractic practice during that time.
I had gone through seventeen years of medical school, but you could say that I have been in holistic medicine for 33 years as I am 50 now. Seventeen years of medical school gives you the license to learn because the real learning has come from the actual practice.
LTP: Have you learned from your extensive global travel?
GF: The world travel supplemented my medical training by teaching me the essence of how the medicine that I was learning in school was really practiced and taught in the places of origin. For example, you can study acupuncture and Chinese medicine in America, but learning it in China, where it originated, gave me a depth that I never could have had without going there.
In China, the energetic principles that we use in acupuncture diagnosis are incorporated into the language of everyday life. They know that, if they live in a dry climate, the foods that they eat in that region need to be moisturizing. Or, if they live in a damp and cold climate, the food that they eat to balance it should be hot and pungent. These types of metaphorical concepts of energy and balance are part of the local people’s language.
The Chinese practice acupuncture in a non-sterile environment—that you cannot do in America. I am talking about using needles in one person and then putting the same needles into another; the hospitals were filthy. Plus, you have 50 people all sitting around together getting acupuncture in one tiny little hospital room that looks like an office in a mechanic’s garage. Did I mention the dogs running around and the doctors smoking in the same room? Obviously this is not how one practices acupuncture in the U.S., but learning in China was not only eye-opening, it was truly an adventure!
I also learned forms of healing and medicine from indigenous healers, shaman, curanderas and elder healers in many countries around the world. It reinforced my knowledge of the spiritual and emotional components of healing. These adventures in medicine helped me see that healing is a type of transformation that is not so different than making a holy pilgrimage, even if we are doing it in our hometown.
LTP: What inspired your new book, The Rockstar Remedy, and what did the writing process teach you?
GF: I was asked to write a book by a literary agent, the godfather of celebrity doctors. He said I needed to write a book that would appeal to the “health book reader” target audience: that is primarily women between the ages of 25 and 55, who are interested in beauty, weight loss and depression. I found this kind of sad and boring. After all, there are thousands of books out there like that. I find most are so boring that I don’t even read them—and I am in the business.
Then, one day, I was having an adventure in New York, just walking through the city and enjoying the people watching. I had one of those “I have a great idea moments” that I should write my story about working in the music business and how all these rockstars are getting healthy. I could use the rockstars as the ambassadors for my health message and take the message to a new audience. I wanted to inspire people that were not so interested in health to “join the church”—not just preach to the choir. I was elated with my wonderful idea, but this agent thought it was terrible, so I sat on it for a while until another agent serendipitously came to my practice and ate it all up.
I learned that publishing a book is a difficult process that involves a lot of negotiating, but that, when you have an idea and belief that you can feel in your gut, you have to fight for it and not budge. Those gut feelings and intuitions always rule over logic and reason. Then, the other things you have to just let go of and not look back.
LTP: What are some of your personal health rituals?
GF: I start my day with my Rx Star Detox smoothie, which I discuss in The Rockstar Remedy. I have been drinking that as a breakfast for over 15 years, and I am sure it is my elixir to health and longevity. I eat organic foods and I practice TM meditation daily and that has truly rewired my brain and nervous system—the lovely Heather Harnett is my teacher.
I practice yoga and study belly dancing and other forms of dance to bond with others and increase my creativity. I have an adventure one day a week: On Sunday, I unplug completely, have no plans and just let the day unfold in my neighborhood or in another. I live in the moment on Sunday. This inspires my creativity and cleanses me of the week’s stress.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
GF: Happiness is hanging out around my mother’s kitchen table with my big Lebanese family (“big” meaning the entire village), eating home-cooked food, telling stories and laughing. These are the same stories we have been telling over and over for years, but each version has some extra embellishments.
Happiness is landing in a completely foreign city with no hotel reservation and watching how the adventure unfolds.
Happiness is going to a concert and feeling like you are one with the music and the audience and that band. This is church for me.
Happiness is watching my patients take charge of their health and have some true healing—I love this!
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how do you do that every day?
GF: I wake up every day grateful to be given another one to grow and share with other people. I feel that every encounter with another person is an opportunity to see God in myself, and I am blessed with so much love, gratitude and grace.