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Larry King Live
Cheryl Tiegs and Rod Stryker Discuss New Additions to Their Family; Andrew Weil Discusses Summer WellnessAired July 14, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a special delivery for 52-year- old Cheryl Tiegs and her husband, Rod Stryker: twin boys, carried by a surrogate mom. And then tips for summer wellness from Dr. Andrew Weil. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Rod Steiger -- Rod Steiger. Rod Stryker -- you want to say Steiger -- and Cheryl Tiegs are with us. On July 1st, two boys came into their lives. I was going to say Cheryl gave birth to, but she did not. A surrogate mother gave birth to her two twin boys, Jaden (ph) and Theo, after unsuccessful efforts to conceive. They did it by surrogate -- How did it work? OK. What -- what happens?
CHERYL TIEGS, ACTRESS: Well, with a surrogate.
KING: Yes. Well, I mean, how does it work? How do you fertilize the -- what is it? It's not romantic, right?
ROD STRYKER, HUSBAND OF CHERYL TIEGS: No, it's not. It's a very deliberate process with a lot of procedures. You know, the big thing is getting -- is getting Cheryl's cycle, where she's going to actually develop the eggs, and the surrogate's cycle in tune. So you're really tricking the surrogate's body to think that it's going to be pregnant so that it can, when you -- yes.
TIEGS: There's a lot of shots.
KING: So you find the surrogate before...
TIEGS: Yes. We met with the surrogate and we liked her very much. She's a lovely woman. She's an angel in our lives, that's for sure.
KING: How old a woman?
TIEGS: She's 32, and she has three children. She loves to be pregnant but she doesn't want anymore children in her life. So she decided to help another couple. And she's just been amazing.
KING: So after you pick her, then what happens?
TIEGS: Well, then we do this thing where she takes -- she gets a lot of shots, I get a lot of shots, hormones.
STRYKER: By me, by the way, which was...
TIEGS: Yes, he gave me the shots.
STRYKER: Not my favorite thing.
TIEGS: And then they extract the eggs from me and they get Rod's sperm, and they put it together in a petri dish. And that's their -- their first days on the planet really are in this petri dish.
KING: Do you watch it?
STRYKER: Well, we got -- we got pictures.
KING: Of the petri dish?
STRYKER: We asked, of our petri.
KING: What do you see? Just a little...
TIEGS: The little cells, and they divide, and then there's the...
STRYKER: It looks almost like a four-leaf clover on the second day, on the first day -- 24 hours later, it's almost a four-leaf clover and it's gone into two cells. And if I'm right, then the following day it's four cells.
KING: If it can collect in a petri dish, do they know why it didn't collect in you?
KING: I mean, you were able to produce eggs.
TIEGS: Yes, right.
KING: You were able to produce sperm.
KING: And sperm and eggs met.
TIEGS: We tried -- we tried for a year, and we tried different methods and different -- and I had in vitro and it didn't work. It didn't stick. It didn't -- didn't produce a baby at all. So -- when never even got -- I never even got that.
So then we find this -- this woman who -- who we then insert the egg, and...
KING: How did you find her? Did you take an ad?
STRYKER: Oh, god no. Not the Internet.
TIEGS: We have a facilitator, Merna Novice (ph), who helped us find the surrogate and then also put us together with Dr. Morris, who was fertility doctor.
KING: So you follow her through the whole pregnancy.
STRYKER: Absolutely, yes.
KING: And she grows and it's your baby, both of your babies.
TIEGS: And it's our baby, yes.
STRYKER: Remarkably. It's really incredible, truly incredible.
TIEGS: Rod came to me and he said, we're pregnant. He said, we're very pregnant. And I said, what does that mean? I mean, it's enough to think, you know, we're pregnant but then very pregnant means two. And I just thought, oh, my god. I couldn't say the T-word for three months.
KING: And they are fraternal, right? They don't look alike at all.
STRYKER: They don't. They're really quite different.
KING: There we see a picture. So you were present at the birth?
TIEGS: Yes, Rod was traveling and he missed the first six hours of their life. But I was there...
STRYKER: It's true.
TIEGS: ... and they're fine. And they were...
KING: There they are.
TIEGS: It was an amazing...
KING: Who's Theo and who's...
KING: ... Jaden?
STRYKER: Jaden's on the left and Theo's on the right. And...
TIEGS: Theo's the bigger one. He was 7-9. So there were big, weighed a lot for twins.
STRYKER: Really healthy. TIEGS: In fact, they were big -- as single babies, they'd be big. One was 7-9 and one was 6-5. So they were big, and when they came out, they were, you know, ready to go home with us the next day.
KING: There's the happy couple. They are healthy?
TIEGS: They are very healthy. Yes, they were sucking and breathing on their own and everything when they came out. So there was no need to stay in the hospital. So we took them home the next day.
KING: Now you have a son from your previous marriage. He is how old?
TIEGS: He's 8 years old now.
KING: What does he think of all this? He's with you, right?
TIEGS: I would -- to put it -- yes. He's with me. On the weekends he sees his father. He doesn't really care. In fact, he's looked at them and he looked at them and he's looked at their fingernails, and that's it.
But you know what, I don't care. As long as -- he can take as long as he wants. If he doesn't really bond with them for years, it's OK with me. I really don't care.
STRYKER: Which I think is important. I think if we forced it on him, that he had to, that he had to become their brother and he had to take care of them right away, I think, you know, he might resent them for the rest of his life.
KING: But he will.
STRYKER: He will, no question about it. He's a great kid.
TIEGS: I hope he will.
KING: Have you been married before?
STRYKER: I have not.
KING: Have not, so you have no children.
STRYKER: No children. This is my first.
KING: You're a stepparent to...
KING: To Zach. And now Zach has these two other children in his life.
KING: It's an interesting house. TIEGS: It is.
STRYKER: A lot of boys, by the way. A lot of boys.
TIEGS: A lot of men.
KING: Do you keep in touch with the surrogate?
TIEGS: Well, she's actually pumping, so she gives us breast milk, which is good and healthy for the babies, and god bless her for doing that. So we do keep in touch, but she will probably, you know, not be seeing the babies a lot.
KING: This is a lady who liked being pregnant and didn't want another child?
KING: Most people don't like being pregnant, one would guess.
TIEGS: Well, she loved it, though. I mean, she just -- she -- I think that this was what she was born to do. She just feels very womanly and very, you know, this is her purpose. And so she wanted to get pregnant again and felt very comfortable with it. So...
KING: I saw a quote that you were -- the problem you had, Cheryl, was it was you giving up something here. You feel like -- that was a quote. The quote said that "It's about giving up control over something as important as your baby," because you don't control what the surrogate eats.
TIEGS: Larry, I just want to make it clear that this is not -- you know, a lot of women have said, oh, you've done the right, I mean, you know, you didn't have to go through the pregnancy or whatever. And I just almost feel like crying when they say that, because there's nothing more than I wanted to do than to carry the baby. I think a mother feels very protective of the baby as soon as it's conceived, and to give that up to somebody else is very, very difficult.
And for me, it was -- it was a state of living in denial, because if I ever went that deep and really felt how much I cared to be the mother, even when they were in the womb, I couldn't go there.
STRYKER: There's no question, though, that Cheryl was incredibly courageous. I mean, it was -- on both of our parts we had a lot to do. But you know, for the most part I had pretty much the typical father experience. I went to every ultrasound. I was on the phone with the surrogate all the time. I was in touch. I was getting her the protein powder and the right diet and all that kind of stuff. I was at the nutritionist with her.
So I almost had the real experience of a dad other than I wasn't living under the same roof with where the child was gestating. But Cheryl really had a different experience as a mom, so it required a tremendous amount of courage. And all through this process it required us both to continue because it's such a deliberate thing, Larry. I mean, it's not like getting pregnant in the back of a Chevy. You know, this is -- this is -- every step of the way, you are -- you're working at it.
TIEGS: I think every step of the way you're climbing a mountain, and it takes an enormous amount of bravery, I think, to do this, because it's so scary. It's just...
KING: Are twins fairly usual in this kind of concept, or is it just, it would have been twins if they were -- it was you carrying?
TIEGS: I think it's -- no. I think it's more common because you insert three -- well, we inserted three eggs, and two of them took hold. But when I would see the surrogate, my first instinct, my first reaction would be jealousy, because she was doing what I wanted to do. But I had to get over that each time I saw her. And I would -- you know, it was -- I think, you know, I just -- it's not an easy thing. It's really not an easy thing.
KING: But it's great.
TIEGS: Yes, yes.
STRYKER: It's great. The rewards are great.
KING: Let's take a break. We'll come back with more. We'll include your phone calls. Dr. Andrew Weil at the bottom of the hour. Next Thursday night, Governor George Bush of Texas.
This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Our guests are Cheryl Tiegs and Rod Stryker. They're Mr. and Mrs. Stryker, and they're the parents of Jaden and Theo. Came through her eggs, his sperm, and surrogate mother.
There are some people who didn't believe it. They didn't believe -- they said that these must have been donor eggs.
TIEGS: Right. Well...
KING: The process is hard to conceive.
TIEGS: You know, it's not probable but it's definitely possible. You know, there's chronological age, there's biological age, and there's psychological age. Chronological age, there's nothing you can do about, which is I'm 52. You set that number aside. Biological age, I think because I've been taking care of myself for so long I know not just my reproductive organs but my heart, you know, are much younger than -- than what I am.
It's not -- it's nothing that I really recommend, which is waiting this long. I mean, it was not an easy process. But it certainly is possible.
There was just a woman who gave birth at 64. So you know, it's -- it...
KING: But you were trying to give -- you were trying to be pregnant, right?
TIEGS: I was Trying to be pregnant.
KING: Why at 52 did you want to be pregnant? That's risky.
TIEGS: Well, I guess, but I just feel so strong. Actually, it was probably when I was 50 that we were trying to -- to get pregnant, and I thought that I could do it then. The actress who just had twins at 51.
STRYKER: Also Zach came. Cheryl was -- what? -- 43.
TIEGS: Well, I was 43 when I gave birth to my son. So you know, I also -- I was so scared, as I was saying during the break. I cried for about six months out of this whole thing, because I just thought, what have I done with my life? I mean, it's just -- it's all going to be topsy-turvy or whatever.
I just -- I think it's either going to make me old or it's going to keep me very young. I think it'll keep me young. I think that's part of the reason why I have been so young and young thinking is because I have an 8-year-old now.
And my life for the first -- you know, when I was in my 20s and 30s, I had my career, and I traveled the world, I lived out of a suitcase. I stayed up until dawn. I did all of those things that were very exciting, and now I'm capable and able of...
STRYKER: The best part of this answer, by the way, is that she's not blaming me. So I'm thrilled.
KING: Suzanne Somers called it amazing and said while you and Cheryl are about the same, she couldn't imagine having kids now.
TIEGS: No, but women are saying, and they say, are you crazy? But because they've had children since they were 20 years old. I haven't. So I had a child when I was 43, and now he's really out with his friends. And I say, is that it? Is that -- I mean, he's already out and about in the world, you know, so -- and would rather be with his friends.
So for me...
KING: What were you going through throughout all of this? She's going through the ups and downs. What are you going through?
STRYKER: I was elated. I was going -- well...
KING: You hadn't been a father before.
STRYKER: ... once I got past the shots, because the shots were really tough, oddly enough, pulling out and then giving my wife an injection once or twice a day, depending on where her blood chemistry was, that was tough. But once we actually got pregnant, I haven't really touched the ground yet since. You know, I really -- there was a sense really of elation.
Clearly, along the way, there was a sense of the risk and that the twins made it more complicated, but I was thrilled. And my wife was going through her dips, and as you said, as she said. But...
TIEGS: We actually went through a thing, because he was on cloud nine and I was very realistic about this, because I knew what to expect. And I was thinking, OK, this and this and this and this and this -- this is how my life is going to change -- and he was floating on cloud line. And we kind of weren't on the same level for a long time. And...
STRYKER: And then I got two sons out of the deal, I mean, which was pretty amazing, you know...
KING: Did you ever give any thoughts to adopting?
STRYKER: We did. We did give some thought to it.
TIEGS: I think that would have been another -- another choice. We decided to try this and it worked right away. So...
KING: Who suggested it? Did the doctor suggest it? Did he say that this is the way to do it?
STRYKER: In terms of the surrogate? In terms of getting a surrogate?
KING: Yes. Let's get a surrogate and let's try to...
TIEGS: I think because we could do it biologically and have our own child we decided to try this.
KING: How common is this? Do you know?
STRYKER: I think -- no.
KING: Are there statistics? How many...
STRYKER: I haven't done the research, but I'm certain in Los Angeles and New York and Chicago probably it's not that uncommon. But you know, just out of curiosity at some point in the process I decided to go into the Net, and in the Net, it's unbelievable. I mean, you -- not only can you get eggs, you can get surrogates. You can get anything you want.
TIEGS: Yes, but I think -- a warning. I think you have to be very, very cautious.
STRYKER: Yes. That's not the way we did it. I mean, I'm not even suggesting that. So I think...
KING: But would you think quite a few people have had it done this way? A women's egg, the man's sperm, and another one carries?
STRYKER: I think more and more, and I think that the factor is, is that couples generally are getting pregnant later in life in this decade around this time. And the fact is I think some women, they run into their late 30s or early 40s, even if they haven't had medical problems, and then they find out they can't get pregnant with the normal means. So...
KING: You will tell the boys how they came into life, will you not, as they grow up?
TIEGS: Yes, absolutely.
KING: Great story.
STRYKER: Well, it's really -- and it's also about...
KING: Products of a millennium medical...
TIEGS: Took us a great amount of strength to get them into the world, and for them to be in the world. I think that their little spirits, you know, just said, well, we're going to be there. So it makes it very special because of it.
STRYKER: And again, it's also a statement of how much we wanted them.
KING: Did the hormones affect your personality, the shots and everything? Did you go through weird things?
TIEGS: I think it affected me physically and emotionally, yes. I did have my ups and downs, but I actually had more ups and downs after the shots were finished and she was pregnant because of the reality of being pregnant with twins.
STRYKER: I get to answer that question, too, and I would say, yes, she did. She was going through all sorts of...
KING: You can answer better.
And now she pumps milk because she has the milk to pump.
KING: Who goes and gets it? I mean, how do you work...
(LAUGHTER) Is it like you get a milk truck...
STRYKER: A milk truck, yes.
TIEGS: Every day we have a man who goes and picks it up, yes.
KING: And you'll keep him -- they're both on milk for how long?
TIEGS: As long as she'll do it.
STRYKER: Yes, as long as she'll do it. And it's not exclusive. We don't have -- you know, it is twins, and it's -- they're getting some. About a third or a quarter of their diet is breast...
KING: And they have their infa-milk (ph).
STRYKER: Yes, that's right.
KING: We'll be back with -- I know the whole scene. Never thought I'd say that word again.
Infa-milk. We're going to break and come back and go to your phone calls. And Andrew Weil later. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Stay there.
KING: We're back with Rod Streiger and -- with Rod Stryker -- why do I -- and Cheryl Tiegs, the parents of Theo and Jaden.
Where did you come up with Jaden?
STRYKER: I went -- I went through one book that had 10,000 names. One book had 20.
KING: You almost had Chance, right?
STRYKER: Chance was top 10. Chance was in the top 10.
KING: Top 10.
But Chance Stryker...
STRYKER: Old Testament. Jaden is from the Old Testament. I mean, one who has heard the word of God.
KING: And Theo?
TIEGS: My father's name is Theodore, but that -- it's always -- I've always liked the name Theodore. I read a lot. It's in a lot of literature. And I just always liked...
KING: Theo Miguel.
TIEGS: Theo means God, I think.
STRYKER: Yes, we sound very religious.
KING: So they're both...
STRYKER: I know.
KING: Let's take a call. Golden, Colorado for Rod and Cheryl. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Hi, Cheryl and Rod.
CALLER: When the surrogate mother knew that she was going to have twins, did that have any impact on the whole situation? Did she have any problem with that or did she have any twins in her history of her family?
TIEGS: No, she did not have a history of twins, and we had discussed all of this before she got pregnant. What if all three, what if two eggs, what if one -- you discuss every scenario.
KING: Could have triplets?
TIEGS: Possible, yes. And you discuss...
TIEGS: And she was willing before she even got into this that she would carry twins. So...
STRYKER: I think we all took a big deep breath, though, when we heard it was twins, no question about it.
TIEGS: None of this was by happenstance, though. I mean, it wasn't like, oh, my god, you know.
KING: Since it was twins, did she carry very large?
TIEGS: Yes, and especially 7-9 and 6-5. That's already, you know, a lot of pounds for her to be carrying, just babies alone.
TIEGS: So, yes, she was...
STRYKER: But she hung in there. We were just blessed. We just got a fantastic woman. And so she hung in there.
KING: That's -- that's the key to this.
STRYKER: It's major, major.
TIEGS: She -- her spirits were up, and she was very positive, and she just wanted to bring healthy babies into the world. And...
KING: Does this cost a lot of money to do?
TIEGS: It does cost a lot of money. I don't know a way of getting around that really.
KING: You have to pay the surrogate?
TIEGS: You have to pay the surrogate.
KING: A person who finds the surrogate?
TIEGS: You don't have to have -- you don't have to have a facilitator, which would find the surrogate, if you can find a surrogate yourself.
KING: But you did?
STRYKER: Yes, there are so many things involved. It's...
KING: How about legal questions?
STRYKER: That's just it. She helped the legal questions, because there's -- there are legal questions.
TIEGS: But then we had to have a lawyer, of course, and we have had, you know, hundreds and hundreds of pages of documents and contracts and all of that that we're signed...
KING: Because this is an interesting thing...
TIEGS: It is, but the Supreme Court's on our side. I mean, it's -- so I felt very confident.
KING: It's your baby?
TIEGS: It's our baby.
KING: We'll be back with some more moments and some more phone calls as well, and then we'll meet Dr. Andrew Weil. Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with Rod Stryker and Cheryl Tiegs, and we go to -- back to your calls.
Scottsdale, Arizona, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I'm also a woman who had to turn to a surrogate to help me have a child, and my sister's currently pregnant with twins. After many failed IDF cycles with my own eggs in my 30s, unfortunately I did turn at 40 to a donor to help me have a child.
My question for Ms. Tiegs is within the community of people who have suffered through IDF, there is a huge question as to whether she did use her own eggs or she had to turn to a donor, because we know of no one past 46 -- there's no documented cases. And all of this did check. There's no documented cases of any woman getting pregnant with her own eggs past 46.
TIEGS: Past 46. Well, then I'm on the record. What can I say? No, I gave birth...
KING: But, ma'am, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) question, are you doing this from a point of disbelief?
CALLER: Yes. I mean, she would be part of the Guiness Book of World Records right now if she were pregnant with 52-year-old eggs. I mean, I'm not saying that Ms. Tiegs has to reveal whether she used a donor or not, but she has come forward saying very specifically in all the magazines and all the media that she did use her own eggs. And at 52 years old, I don't think there's anyone that I know -- there is no one that I know of. And every physician, every reproductive expert that I have talked to, nobody believes that she did use her own eggs.
TIEGS: Well, it's not up to me really to -- whether people believe me or not. It's -- it's interesting, because when we were trying to get pregnant, I produced one perfect egg, and then when we did the one with the surrogate, I had three eggs. So I don't see why that's such an impossibility. When my system is in -- still in good working order.
It's not easy. I had to have a lot of shots. But I don't see why -- it's certainly is possible
KING: By the way, if it were a surrogate mother with a donor egg...
TIEGS: Which we would have done.
KING: Why wouldn't you have said that?
TIEGS: Exactly. No, no, no...
KING: I mean, why would you hide that? TIEGS: Why would I come out after all of this and hide that fact. I mean, I -- we definitely would have done that. We were considering doing that. But -- and actually that would have been the next step.
KING: And then I guess you can get someone who would charge in: DNA could prove it. Couldn't it? Or could it?
TIEGS: If DNA...
KING: DNA would be -- you know, if there's an uproar over this -- why do people seem to get angry over it? Do you think because they may have had failed...
TIEGS: I think because it's not an easy thing, and I think that a lot of women can't get pregnant in their 40s, you know, and I gave birth in my 40s.
But I think that either they have had, you know, failure or their cousins or mother, whatever -- you know, it goes on down the line. They just can't believe that it's possible. And it's definitely, definitely possible.
KING: What was it like to look in the dish?
I mean, you watched life.
STRYKER: Yes, yes. It's a miracle and it's still a miracle. I'm still having the same feeling, although I maybe have a different sense of it, because I really did see four -- four -- the cells divided once or twice, and now I'm looking at two incredibly healthy, vital, glowing, wonderful boys.
I'm just -- we're both participating in a miracle, really, is what it seems like to me.
KING: How long when they -- they inserted it into the surrogate do you know it took? Do you know right away?
STRYKER: Ten days. Ten days.
KING: In other words, that's...
STRYKER: That was the call, yes.
KING: Boy, that's a hectic waiting period.
STRYKER: That's a tough 10 days. It's a tough 10 days.
TIEGS: I was OK with the waiting period.
I mean, I just -- you know, it just was something that was, you know, that I knew, or I thought it would happen or not. I just thought it was in God's hands, and I was -- I was OK throughout the entire pregnancy.
KING: You're a yoga master? That's what you do for a living?
STRYKER: Yes. I've taught yoga for about 20 years. Yes.
KING: Are you going to continue with your career?
TIEGS: Oh yes, definitely.
KING: Do the model and act and do all of the...
TIEGS: Yes, I am. And I'm, you know, thinking about doing a yoga video and coming out with a book and all of that. So I will definitely continue with my career.
KING: That's very nice.
KING: I congratulate you both, .
STRYKER: Thank you, Larry. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.
KING: Ain't it great being a father?
STRYKER: I'm in love.
TIEGS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) love, too.
KING: Well, hey...
TIEGS: OK, OK.
KING: You're not too crazy about this, are you?
TIEGS: No, I have -- I have got my feet on the ground. You two are just -- you're on cloud nine.
STRYKER: You know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- we've got a little pride about this.
KING: Boy, he went through a tough pregnancy.
STRYKER: Long one, two years.
KING: Thank you.
TIEGS: Thanks, Larry.
STRYKER: Thanks, Larry. Thanks very much. KING: Rod Stryker and Cheryl Tiegs, Mr. and Mrs. Stryker, the parents of Jaden and Theo, born July 1st.
Dr. Weil's next, and I'll ask him about this whole concept as well as a bunch of other things. Don't go away.
KING: It's always a great pleasure to welcome Dr. Andrew Weil to LARRY KING LIVE. He's made many appearances. His most recent book is "Eating Well for Optimum Health." There is its cover. It is no surprise that it is a major bestseller. He's director of the program of integrative medicine at the University of Arizona and founder of the Foundation for Integrative Medicine in Tucson, Arizona.
What's the definition, by the way, of "integrative medicine"?
DR. ANDREW WEIL, AUTHOR, "EATING WELL FOR OPTIMUM HEALTH": It's the new model of trying to teach doctors to combine the best of conventional and alternative medicine new and old.
KING: The new and the old.
WEIL: The new and the old.
KING: Doesn't dismiss the old.
WEIL: Not at all. And it's the interest of finding cost- effective, solutions that people want, and combining high-tech and low tech.
KING: All right, speaking of high-tech, what do you make of what we just discussed?
WEIL: Well, these new technologies are fantastic; you know, that women who are unable to conceive can do it. The -- you have to realize these are expensive procedures. They're not easy to undergo. This is a big decision to do something like this. And I think we are also -- another aspect is that we are stretching the limits of human biology. You know, when you hear of a woman at age 64 giving birth, that raises lots of questions. I don't know how all this will unfold, but I think it has made the possibility of conception available to women who otherwise wouldn't be able to.
KING: Do you wonder why so many people are questioning whether it was her eggs?
WEIL: That is curious. Yes, that's very curious. I wonder and, you know, I think that jealousy might be a factor in that. I don't know. But seems to me, listening to her, that why would somebody conceal that fact when they're so up front with all the rest of it?
KING: Well, you are a physician, and you're into all of that. Amazing that you can watch life on a...
WEIL: Amazing, amazing. And I think it also forces us to really think, you know, what is the beginning of life? When do we define the beginning of human life?
KING: Now, you encouraged people -- with regard to integrative -- you encourage even infertile parents to look at other methods, right?
WEIL: You know, I would say before you make decision to undergo these very high-tech, expensive, difficult solutions, you certainly want to exhaust all of the low-tech, natural remedies. I often send patients with fertility problems to traditional Chinese medicine, which has a very good record in this area. And that is the whole package of herbs, dietary adjustment, acupuncture, that can be useful for both men and women.
And another solution that I sometimes try is to send people for mind- body solutions, including even sometimes sending them to a Shamans for some kind of...
KING: What is a Shaman?
WEIL: Some kind of magical or spiritual solution.
KING: Come one, Doc, you are a Harvard-trained doctor.
WEIL: This is true. But listen, how many stories have you heard of couples that have tried to conceive without success, then have adopted -- and, as soon as they adopted...
KING: They conceive.
WEIL: ... there's been a pregnancy. There is some connection there between belief and the reproductive system. And there are ways of taking advantage of that. So that should be tried.
KING: How different is this acceptance of alternative medicine, now since when you started?
WEIL: It's a day and night difference. You know, this has become a mainstream phenomenon. We're approaching a time when almost half of the people in America are using alternative medicine of some form or another. The National Institutes of Health now has a center -- a national center -- for complementary alternative medicine, which is being increasingly funded by Congress. Insurance companies are beginning to look at ways of reimbursing for this. And, to me, most gratifying is that medical schools are beginning to open to the possibility of teaching some of this.
KING: They're still not though.
WEIL: Still not, but coming.
KING: Because young doctors are interested?
WEIL: Because young doctors are interested, because patients are demanding it, because the conventional system is so strained economically, I think for all these reasons.
KING: As a Harvard-trained physician, what got you even into this?
WEIL: You know, I got interested in it long before I went to medical school. When I look back, it seems to me that my interest in plants goes way back. That was something I got from my mother that she got from her mother that led me to be a botany major at Harvard as an undergraduate; started me on a career of investigating herbal medicine, medicinal plants. I got interested in the mind-body connection when I was a teenager.
I remember picking up a book on hypnosis that fascinated me. And eventually, that led me to take a course in medical hypnosis for physicians at Columbia University that was great, one of the best courses I took.
KING: Why did you go to medical school?
WEIL: I knew that I was interested in human biology. I wanted to understand human beings. I thought that would be a good way -- I was interested in the medical education. I thought...
KING: Were you a maverick?
WEIL: Yes, always.
KING: But you had to make rounds, had to do internships.
WEIL: Oh yes, I did all that, sure.
KING: You had to say: Take two aspirins, call me in the morning.
WEIL: I did all that. But, you know, part of my mind always questioned that. And I always was interested in other solutions. Then when I got out on my own, I looked for other ways of doing things.
KING: Let's discuss some things dealing with the time of year. This is summer.
KING: It's time to think about health. Absolutely true, the sun is bad?
WEIL: I think we've gone a little bit over to the other extreme now.
KING: Sure (CROSSTALK)
WEIL: People are scared of the sun, I know. But, you know, it is healthy to get moderate amounts of sunlight. But there is no question that the sun can cause damage to the skin. It is a major cause of skin cancer. It's a major cause of premature aging of the skin. You know, when you see these pictures of Indians my state of Arizona with these incredible wrinkled faces, that is sun damage. And, I think the -- what's important here is to realize that there are times of year, times of day when should you stay out of the sun.
KING: High noon.
WEIL: Yes, between the hours of 10:00 and 2:00, and you know, the closer to the equator you are, and around the time of the summer solstice.
KING: How about sun block?
WEIL: Well, there's questions about that, you know.
KING: You're kidding.
WEIL: The question is, that sun block may not protect against the most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma. It may very well protect against basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the common kinds. But by giving a sense of security and protection, it may encourage them to stay out in the sun longer, and actually increase melanoma risks. So I use sun block. You know, I've been bald for a long time. I'm real careful about my head. But I think it's not a substitute for wearing protective clothing and staying out of the sun.
KING: What number block do you use?
WEIL: I usually use 25 or 30. I know some dermatologists say above 15, it doesn't really matter. But you have to keep reapplying it. I think a higher number is better. Another change are all these new fabrics that are becoming available, that are woven in a way that block UV light. And these are available for kids as well. You can get hats, shirts.
WEIL: It's comfortable clothing. It dries quickly. This is another option that is good.
KING: But the sun is not all bad.
WEIL: The sun is absolutely not all bad. In fact, I think not getting enough sunlight is also not good.
KING: How about eating habits when it's very hot?
WEIL: Well, I think this is very individual. But many people find that eating lighter when it's very hot agrees with them more; maybe eating smaller meals more frequently. This is the time year when we have great produce available, you know, especially, fruits in season. And, as you know, I'm a huge fan of the antioxidant potential of fruits, especially berries -- you know, all the...
KING: Berries, you love berries. WEIL: Berries are great. Blueberries are a wonderful food. And they're full of antioxidants that retard aging, that protect against cancer, protect against heart disease. So I would fill up on berries right now.
KING: So, and is it good idea -- it's a bad idea to eat heavy in summer?
WEIL: Again, I think this is individual. You know, you've got to find what works for you. But you know, I find, when it's very hot -- And especially in the middle of day -- I don't necessarily want to a eat any food.
KING: Any danger or problem with the barbecue?
WEIL: That is a good question. You know, grilling food is appealing. It's fun. And it's tasty. I think there are some real dangers that people should be aware of. One of them is, it is not good idea to use charcoal lighter fluid. I hope everybody knows that, because...
WEIL: Yes, the residues of that get into the food. You can smell it all over. That is not healthy stuff to be breathing. If you are going to use charcoal briquettes, the way to light them is with one of those chimney lighter that you stick some newspaper in the bottom. That is much better than using any of these flammable liquids. The real questions, though, are that when you grill meat -- this is red meat and poultry -- that when flesh turns black from heat, it produces carcinogenic substances.
The research is contradictory here, but it seems very clear that these are cancer-promoting substances in animals. It is not a good idea to eat blackened flesh. You should at least cut that part away. And you can also reduce this potential by marinating meats, even fairly briefly, not in barbecue sauces that have a lot of sugar in them -- because that may accelerate the burning -- but in simple, you know, in a simple oil and vinegar or wine marinade or a teriyaki sauce. That cuts down formation of these chemicals.
KING: Does that mean ordering blackened swordfish or blackened steaks in restaurants is also bad?
WEIL: Well, there's a difference between fish and meat. And fish actually has a much lower tendency to form these compounds than meat. So, if you are going -- if you want to barbecue an animal food, and you want to do something blackened -- I'd say you're better off with fish. Now, also, vegetables are a great option. You know, you can make delicious grilled vegetable dishes -- you know, big thick onion slices for example, portobello mushrooms. You know, you can make very tasty things that way.
KING: Right back with Dr. Andrew Weil on this addition of LARRY KING LIVE. We will include some of your phone calls too. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: We are back with Dr. Andrew Weil.
What about water? You drink a lot of water?
WEIL: Absolutely. You know, that's one of the commonest mistakes that people make, really throughout the year, but especially when it's hot. And those people who are physically active, you can lose a lot of water through perspiration. One of the kindest things you can do for your body is to make sure it is getting enough water, because the kidneys -- which are just miraculous organs for filtering the blood and removing toxins and metabolic waste -- they need an adequate water flow through them in order to work right. And I don't know that you have to concentrate on a certain number of glasses. I just tell people, you know, pay attention to your urinary output.
Just drink water until you notice that you're urinating a little more frequently. And if urine looks dark or concentrated, you are not drinking enough. So, it can't hurt to drink more water. It should be good quality water.
KING: Now, what does the man of integrative and alternative medicine think of insect repellents?
WEIL: I'm concerned about them. You know, the compound that is used in most effective ones, deet, I think is a not particularly safe chemical. It's certainly absorbed through the skin. I'm very concerned about putting this on frequently or in large amounts; concerned about using in it kids. The natural alternatives that I see out there don't work as well. You know, you have to keep reapplying them. But the classic one is citronella from lemon grass.
And there are other herbal ones that I see that have strong odors. They work, but you have to use them frequently. But I would prefer to use that than to use, deet. I was just in Costa Rica in the rainforest. And I took a variety of these along. They worked fine. I just had to use them more frequently.
KING: And exercise less in summer?
WEIL: No, I think, again, you pay attention. You know, if it is very hot out, if you are tired. You know, summer is also a great opportunity for doing more exercise. You can hike. You can swim in great places. I think for people who have been sedentary throughout the year, they should be careful about suddenly engage in strenuous exercise. You know, make sure you work up to it and that you're in shape.
KING: I understand that you're researching now a book on healthy aging, right? Is that your next?
WEIL: I just started, yes, I just started researching this. And, you know, obviously -- my friends and contemporaries all tell me to hurry up and write it. They want the information. I'm very interested in what are factors that allow people to get into old age in -- with everything working mentally and physically. You know, clearly, genes play role in this, but the more we look at it, it looks as if lifestyle factors are at least as important and probably more important. And those are things you have control over.
One -- just some preliminary information that I have looked at -- the two big areas that I think are hugely important, are maintaining physical activity throughout life -- you know, whether that is walking, dancing, something, you want to move. And the second -- and I think, equally important -- is maintaining social and intellectual connectedness. You know, and a great problem in our society is that we tend to isolate old people. You know, we severe those connections.
KING: We put them away.
WEIL: And I think that is a problem. I think that, you know, that leads to a restricted world -- intellect world, social world. And that seems not to be associated with healthy aging.
KING: It's also stupid, isn't it. You're not taking advantage of experience.
WEIL: Of course. I read a wonderful story in the "New York Times" -- this was about a year, year and a half ago -- about a group that took a group of senior citizens from the U.S. up to some Eskimo villages in Alaska. It was a fairly strenuous trip for them, and they were very proud of doing it. But they went to this culture where there is a very different view of old people. And old people are the most valued citizens. You know, they're really revered. And they're revered for their accumulated experience, and very much integrated...
KING: They don't send them off to a home, either.
WEIL: Don't ship them off. I also -- when I was on your show once before, I told you I had come back from Okinawa, which is a section of Japan that has the highest concentration of sedentarians in the world. And there's lots -- I'm going to back there in the fall to see if I can untangle, you know, what are all the factors there. Their diets are different. Genes are different. But very clearly, the old people there, especially people in their 90s and over 100, are integrated into the community.
And a great effort is made by villages, you know, that these people are sought out. They are actively encouraged to participate in community life. I think that's a big factor.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Dr. Andrew Weil. We'll include your phone calls. His newest best seller is "Eating Well for Optimum Health." Tomorrow night is the one-year anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. and we will replay interview with the late son of the late president tomorrow evening. Speaking of health, Monday night, Jack La Lanne. He's 85. He is going to hop into the studio.
Next Thursday, Governor Bush of Texas; and next Wednesday, two of the more famous convicted murderers in America will be with us.
We'll be right back.
KING: We're back with Dr. Weil. Philadelphia, hello.
CALLER: Hi, yes. I just joined a tanning salon. And I go for about 20 minutes a day. I was wondering if that will do any effect to my skin as opposed to being in sun; what effect that would have on my skin.
WEIL: You know, I got to say that going to tanning rooms seems kind of silly to me, because the whole point -- you know, the whole point of being in sun is not just the ultraviolet light making your skin tan, which is a protective reaction. It's being outdoors. It's getting fresh air. It's being active. It's all that stuff. And the suntan is kind of an incidental thing. And we associate suntans with being healthy because people are outside.
KING: Also, when people are too tan now, they look a little weird.
WEIL: Do you say don't go. Is there any health reason not to go?
WEIL: I think, you know, that despite what the tanning parlors say, there is no difference between tanning rays and burning rays. You know, there is no safe rays that make your skin tan. The skin is tanning in reaction to protect it from ultraviolet light. I think you're much better off getting this outdoors, rather than just going for a cosmetic effect.
KING: We haven't had a chance to ask you. What do you make of this genome thing?
WEIL: Well, it is, you know, this is big stuff. I think it's...
KING: We going to live forever?
WEIL: I don't think we're ever going to live forever. And I think the technical and ethical questions that are going to be raised by all this are going to be thorny beyond belief. But I think there is real promise for developing specific drugs and specific therapies that are going to work much more precisely than drugs we have now. I was just talking with an expert in asthma who was pointing out that, for example, that we tend to treat asthma and many other diseases as if it's one disease.
You know, maybe we separate allergic asthma from something else. But, basically, it's treated as one thing. But there probably are many different variations of asthma that have to do with genetics. And if we can understand these differences, we can have therapies that are targeted to the individual. They are very precise. So I think that is one of the great medical promises that is going to come out of the genome project.
KING: We are going to know if -- we are going to be able to know...
KING: ... that your little baby maybe have cancer when she's 60. And do you think we will ever splice and change genes?
WEIL: I think that is all within realm of possibility. How -- whether it is going to be economically feasible, whether it's going to be available to all people, I don't know. But certainly, it's a new frontier.
KING: Obviously, we are going to get older, right?
WEIL: We all get older.
KING: I mean, no, we are going to live longer.
WEIL: I think we will live longer; how much longer I don't know. But, you know, I really don't think that the number of years you live is as important as the quality of life you live. You know, who wants to live more years if those years are not going to be satisfying physically or mentally? So that is the real question.
KING: If all drinking and smoking stopped, wouldn't the age -- average age go way up?
WEIL: Health would go way up. And certainly, I don't know that we would extend human lifespan. But we would certainly extend longevity, because there's a lot of people who die prematurely as a result of those habits, absolutely.
KING: What did you make of that verdict today in tobacco in Florida?
WEIL: I think it's great, long overdue and great. You know, I think the tide is really turning, you know, that there is a consensus developing in this culture against this, you know, all these years of seeing tobacco as a psychological habit, that people did it because they wanted to. This is the most addictive substance known. And I say that as expert on addictions and psychoactive plants. And that...
KING: You couldn't do stupider thing than take up smoking.
WEIL: Except that I think, in fairness to the user, I think many people who start smoking have no idea what are they getting into; that is before they even realize that they are physically addicted. And I think what the cigarette packages should say. It shouldn't be warnings about lung cancer and emphysema. Those are distant things that don't mean anything. It should that -- in big black letters -- this substance so is addictive that you shouldn't try it even once.
KING: And that includes cigars too, right?
KING: We will be back with our remaining moments with Dr. Andrew Weil. Don't go away.
KING: Before we take our next call, any new information on the relationship between aluminum and Alzheimer's?
WEIL: I think that is no longer seen as a causal factor. We noticed this...
KING: Twenty years ago, they were talking about it.
WEIL: Twenty years ago, they thought that. But now, I think the focus is more that there is an inflammatory component to Alzheimer's, and that is one reason why anti-inflammatory drugs seem to retard its development.
KING: Do you think we are going to beat that disease?
WEIL: Yes, I think that is coming.
KING: You also think diabetes is on the way.
WEIL: Diabetes, I think we're on the way. I think, especially juvenile diabetes that we are going to be able to either transplant pancreatic tissue or correct the genetic defect so these people be able to produce insulin.
KING: Seattle, hello.
CALLER: Hi, I want to know about pickled garlic. Is it just as good as having it fresh?
WEIL: No, absolutely not. Fresh garlic has all these wonderful effects on the heart and blood vessels. It lowers cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, thins blood, has antibiotic properties, anti-cancer properties. Almost anything you do to fresh garlic lowers those properties. And pickling certainly destroys a lot of it. I like the taste of pickled garlic, but I wouldn't use it for its medicinal effect.
KING: Is Garlic one of the most healthy foods?
WEIL: Excellent. I think it is good to include more garlic in the diet; onions also. But garlic is one of the best researched medicinal plants -- lot of interesting effects.
KING: Is there a food you would eliminate if you had the power to swathe it.
WEIL: Margarine, and all other partially hydrogenated oils, which are in so...
KING: Margarine's worse than butter?
WEIL: Much worse than butter. And they're -- you go into a supermarket, almost every chip cracker, pastry cookie, they've got partially hydrogenated fats. I want to see people get aroused enough about this that we get it out of the foods.
KING: What do you make of that new product with potato chips. What do they call it?
WEIL: The Olestra?
WEIL: The problem is, you know, the real issue is, it's going to increase consumption of low quality foods. These are the wrong kinds of carbohydrates. They're the kind of carbohydrates that promote weight gain in people. So you've got a nonfat potato chips. People think they can eat them with abandon. And they are going to get themselves in worse trouble with it.
KING: Are we -- we're obviously more hooked into fitness and more -- is -- that trend continues to grow.
WEIL: That trend -- you know, the odd thing is, it's gone -- you see both trends. Because at same time, the statistics are that kids today are less active. And that is one factor in the epidemic of childhood obesity, along with all the eating of fast food and junk food. So, I see both things, you know. In the affluent, educated sector of society, I think people are very fitness-conscious, educated more. But across the board in young people, the trend is toward declining activity.
KING: Are we the worst at that?
WEIL: I think we're pretty bad, you know. We're the ones that are most reliant on automobiles, and elevators, and computers, and televisions. I think all that stuff undermines fitness. And, yes, we are the most advanced in that and...
KING: That's the dichotomy, right?
WEIL: That's a dichotomy?
KING: We know the most about fitness...
KING: We are the most educated about fitness.
KING: And we're the least fit.
WEIL: Yes. Yes. That is the trend.
KING: Something is missing here, right? There's a...
WEIL: There's a disconnect.
KING: There's a missing genome, right? Now, you have got more and more people interested in integrative medicine? WEIL: It's wonderful to see this trend. You know, there is, I think, a real national movement toward making integrative medicine happen, making it available to everybody, having it get reimbursed , in whole or in part, by insurance. I think clearly this is future. I think this is going to be good for all of us.
KING: I mean, HMOs would even cover it?
WEIL: Absolutely, because they will see it as being more cost- effective, and in the end, saving them money.
KING: It saves them money.
WEIL: It saves them money and brings more clients in, because this is the kind of medicine that people want.
KING: Thank you Dr. Weil.
WEIL: Good see you again.
KING: Speaking of aging and longevity, a wonderful lady passed away today: 92-year-old Josephine Brown Johnson (ph), the mother of Tom Johnson, who is in charge of all of the CNN news groups. He runs the show around round here. He's a great guy. And was a wonderful lady. She lived to 92. Going to be a lot more people doing that. And we send our condolences to the Johnsons, and wish her eternal rest.
Tomorrow night, John F. Kennedy Jr.: We will repeat our interview with JFK. He will be dead a year tomorrow. Time goes awfully quickly. Jack La Lane will be with us on Monday night. And don't forget, Governor George W. Bush of Texas next Thursday.
Have a great weekend. Thanks for joining us. Good night.
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