How Can a Better Gut Improve your Skin, Asthma, and Anxiety? Interview with Hope Talen

If you’ve ever experienced persistent skin issues, asthma, and/or anxiety and wondered if they could all be connected to one source, then you’re not alone. That’s exactly what happened to Hope Talen, who, in her journey, discovered that her gut health was affecting her overall well-being.

Hope is a former teacher turned writer and yoga instructor. As someone who has struggled with health issues, she knows the loneliness and frustration that comes with healing. After a decade of illness and anxiety, she now teaches yoga and meditation in a way that supports the healing process with empowerment and encouragement to keep going.

You can learn more about Hope at her website HERE and follow her on Instagram HERE.

How Can a Better Gut Improve Skin, Asthma, and Anxiety? Interview with Hope Talen

Tell me about your story.

So in brief, my story is that I grew up with a terrible diet, always had skin issues and asthma in high school. Then in college, I was diagnosed with colitis by an ER dr when I went in due to blood in my stool. I had no idea what that even meant, but the ER dr gave me antibiotics and sent me home. I felt relatively better after the meds so I moved on with my life.

Years later I was abroad in Uganda doing humanitarian work and was on quinine for malaria prevention (found out later that it’s an antibiotic) – ended up getting malaria, so more antibiotics.

I came back to the US and had terrible skin rashes, gut issues, and yeast infections. I went to so many different doctors who either prescribed more antibiotics or told me it was in my head.

I was miserable for about 4 years before I decided to take a holistic approach. I had been keeping my skin flares at bay with a topical steroid and it took a long time to detox from that. Throughout all of this, I developed really intense anxiety – I thought it was because of my skin and how embarrassed I was, but I’ve since learned that gut issues, skin issues, and anxiety are very closely related.

Healing for me was a combination of therapy, nutrition, naturopathic medicine, and yoga/meditation.

Because of the drama I went through, I am now on a mission to help others find healing because I know firsthand that it looks different for everyone. I feel really passionately about helping people navigate their anxiety because it causes so much mental confusion about how to take care of yourself. Healing looks different for everyone, and often it takes using your intuition to know what’s best for your healing. Anxiety blocks out intuition – so finding ways to cope and manage the mind allows for clarity on the healing journey.

When did you first start experiencing skin issues, asthma, anxiety, etc?

I’ve had skin issues since I was a kid. Eczema and random rashes. In high school, I developed asthma which prevented me from continuing with sports. But it wasn’t until I was 20 I went to the ER with blood in my stool and severe stomach cramps. The ER doctor diagnosed me with colitis and gave me a round of antibiotics and sent me home with no further explanation or follow up. I assumed everything was back to normal.

A year later I was on a trip to East Africa and I began a round of quinine (anti-malaria medication, also an antibiotic) for the next 6 months. After several months and constant travel, I had been having intense side effects from the medication. Unbearable itching and nightmares. As soon as I stopped the medication I got malaria.

I ended up going to the hospital and was put on another round of antibiotics.

When I returned to the States I began to develop widespread eczema. After a few months of trying to manage with topical lotions, I went to multiple dermatologists. Again, more antibiotics and topical steroids. After a year with the topical steroids, I realized the long-term side effects were too dangerous to continue.
I attempted to get off them cold turkey. It was miserable. I had intense, full-body rashes, oozing skin, intense itch, and constant yeast infections. My body was clearly trying to recover but was in need of support. I was completely lost and confused, and incredibly anxious.

How Can a Better Gut Improve your Skin Asthma and Anxiety Interview with Hope Talen

When did you decide to seek help?

I tried to manage on my own, but I was miserable. I tried multiple doctors, most would only prescribe more antibiotics or they didn’t believe me at all. After years of this cycle, I was tired of being miserable. I had exhausted my resources but I couldn’t accept that I had to live like this.

Did you reach out to anyone to aid you in your healing journey?

I finally decided to try alternative medicine because I intuitively knew more medication wasn’t the answer. Through all of this, I had also developed severe anxiety. I assumed it was because of my embarrassment about my skin. But as I came to learn, anxiety has many factors.

What were the biggest challenges you had to face during your healing journey?

The biggest journey I had to face was believing that I was able to heal. After so many doctors, so much money spent on medication, ointments, and remedies, it was easy to fall into despair. My anxiety was so intense it was hard to think clearly or notice any progress or patterns.

What was the main source of your holistic healing?

Healing for me was a long journey with a combination of many things. Therapy, Naturopathic Doctor, yoga and meditation, and nutrition. The main source of healing for me was nutrition. Focusing on clearing up my diet, removing stimulants, and nourishing my gut and nervous system. It took time, almost 6 months before the real, noticeable change was happening. But it was happening.

What is your favorite modality for healing, and why?

My favorite modality for healing is nutrition and meditation. Nutrition is so important for every human, and it’s probably the most complex. However, meditation is something anyone can do, at any time. Calming the nervous system was so valuable for me. From there I was able to truly assess my health and make decisions for moving forward.

Do you face any challenges now, and if so, how do you handle them?

For now, my health concerns are almost nonexistent. When something comes up, I’m able to handle it naturally. Without so many toxins and junk in my system, I’m able to use natural remedies to heal. My anxiety has reduced and I’m able to live my life with ease and joy.

How do you advise people on overcoming these challenges?

I always advise starting with nutrition and then meditation. For my own health, it was calming the nervous system that was the first step in finding health. Everybody is different, and I always encourage people to find what works for them. Never stop asking for help – even when doctors don’t believe you. Keep asking, keep searching. You deserve to be healthy, happy, and thriving. 

Lastly, do you have any resources that have helped you along the way?

Unique Hammond and Karen Hurd were the nutritionists that were the most impactful. Insight Timer for guided meditations for anxiety. Youtube for yoga practices focused on calming the nervous system.

How Can a Better Gut Improve your Skin Asthma and Anxiety Interview with Hope Talen

You can find hope @hope.talen on Instagram for connecting and for writing work related to holistic health and wellness.

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