Founder of Detroit Wholistic Center a true pioneer
Poor health and poor dietary choices are wreaking almost just as much havoc in the black community as gun violence, it’s just not as immediately visible or ‘sexy’ for the media and therefore not receiving anywhere near the attention it deserves. Dr. Jesse Brown has been on the front lines of addressing this crisis for three decades.
Q: Tell us about the Detroit Wholistic Center.
A: Okay. Basically, Detroit Wholistic Center is a place that is providing, I’ll say, natural solutions for common concerns. So, we focus on prevention and we utilize herbs and cleansing and weight loss, those things that relate to diet and lifestyle for people to help themselves.
Most of the problems we’re having, most of the illnesses we have, most of the reasons that people die is from diet and lifestyle. It’s not because they caught something. You don’t catch cancer. You don’t catch heart disease. You don’t catch congestive heart failure and so many of these things that we’re succumbing to. Those are results of the choices that we make, the foods that we eat, the thoughts we think, whether or not we move our body. That’s Detroit Holistic Center. And then there’s the Wholistic Training Institute, which is Detroit’s only state-licensed naturopathic school.
One of my mentors recently passed away. Dick Gregory? And he was one of the first people who told me about health and wellness.
Our relationships are at the basis of everything that we do. One of the best ways that we can love ourselves, love our family members, love those people who are closest to us in whatever form or fashion by taking care of ourselves.
We’ve got to stop whining about dying. We’re not dying because it’s our time. We’re dying because of the choices that we make.
Q: And Dick Gregory started that long ago before people were really into it.
A: Yes, he did. Before it was popular. He went from being a 300 something pound scotch drinking, smoking comedian to the slim, active person he ended up becoming. So, he influenced me and so, I am carrying on that tradition.
In training people with the Wholistic Training Institute, we say, “We’re training a healer in every home.” One in every home, in every family, in every community and every place of worship, so that we are in the process of healing all throughout our lives. And really, it’s the early influence of our parents that’s so important these days. If your parents smoked, there’s a good chance, you’re going to smoke. But if at least one of your parents was active, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be active and exercise and do well.
So, our parents teach us a lot about our dietary habits and so many things. And so, growing up we had castor oil, cod liver oil, enemas and those were the main things. Those were the go-to methods. And so part of what I do through Detroit Wholistic Center, part of what influences me as well, is my early upbringing. I thought everybody came up with that. I thought everybody took castor oil. I thought everybody got enemas. But you know, realizing, everybody didn’t. And so, sometimes we throw the baby out with the bathwater thinking that drugs or modern medicine is the way to go instead of going back to those old wives tales that have sustained us for-since the beginning of time.
Q: So, tell us about the 30th anniversary coming up.
A: For our 30th anniversary, we’ve got some exciting things going. We have a keynote speaker, Dr. Cass Ingram who has written a number of books. He is a brilliant man. We have been planning this since March. I’ve known him for some years and I got him to come in from Chicago. He’s an osteopathic doctor, wholistic doctor. He’s written The Cure Is In The Cupboard, The Wild Tumeric Cure, and The Cannibis Cure as well. He’s doing a book signing on Saturday from 10am until 12pm. He’s doing a keynote at 3:30 on Sunday, October 22nd.
I’m excited because 30 years ago I did not see this. I absolutely did not see this. Thirty years ago I was, “Oh my goodness, if I can make it my first year.” Most businesses fail within the first five years. I was just trying to make it.
And so, coming to the point where we are celebrating our 30th anniversary on October 22, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. is really exciting because it’s never happened in the city of Detroit. No wholistic center has been around for 30 years. And it is a reflection of the support that we’ve gotten from the community. But when I first started people said, “You know, black people aren’t into doing [health and fitness] and black people don’t do this.”
Q: Tell us more about some of the challenges you’ve faced.
A: Oh, yeah. Some of the challenges … Well you know, Al Gore when he was vice-president running for president once said … He said, “When a majority, particularly a white business wants to start, they normally go to friends and family.”
When minorities and people who don’t have the means, people of the underserved community, want to go into business, they look to the institutions. Many times they don’t have the resources. They don’t have the credit. They don’t have the finances. They may not have the background. So, one of the first biggest challenges is access to capital, access to resources and not having a history. So one of the biggest challenges is access to capital, access to resources, a supportive family. Fortunately, I’ve had a good supportive family. But it takes so much more than that to have a business.
Q: Are you the only licensed naturopathic in Michigan?
A: We’re the only state-licensed naturopathic school in Detroit. We’re the only African American-owned state licensed naturopathic school in the country. There are, I want to say, less than a dozen naturopathic schools. That’s schools that teach natural healing as a school. Not individuals who say, “Oh, I teach herbs and I teach cleansing, or whatever.” What I’m talking about, we have a state licensed naturopathic program. We’re approved to teach almost 100 and certify in almost 100 different areas as it pertains to wholistic health.
Q: Does improper diet affect behavior?
A: It absolutely affects behavior. In fact, there was a book, I believe the name of it was Diet Delinquency. It was Diet Delinquency and something else. But there have been a number of studies that have indicated that when you eat certain foods, you exhibit certain behaviors. It’s not only toxic but it affects behavior and it causes more erratic behavior. A lot of the ADD, ADHD and these things that are being diagnosed now are as a result of the chemicals, the GMO’s, the additives and stuff that is in the food. The hormones are getting out of balance. If they pump up the animals with hormones, we get the residual effects of that.
Q: Which is why your business is so important.
A: We’re consumers but we’re just not generating the businesses. That can change the economy of the country around us, much less the communities. We’re talking really healing Detroit, healing our communities one person at a time. I invite people to come out. They can call Detroit Wholistic Center 313-538-5433. That’s 313-538-5433, which spells life. And find out about how you can be a healer in your home and in your family and healing in your community or do great things and leave a legacy worth leaving.