How to Thrive with Diabetes with Dr Esther Onyoni, on The Healers Café with Dr M (Manon Bolliger), ND

In this episode of The Healers Café, Dr. Manon Bolliger ND, talks to Dr Esther Onyoni who is a Pharmacist, Functional Medicine Practitioner and a Certified Health Coach who helps her clients gain their energy and feel better.


Highlights from today’s episode include:

Dr. Esther Onyoni 05:00

To me, it seemed that the people that always tended to make me want to hit the reset button that the people who had chronic conditions, diabetes stood out for me, because I definitely see a lot of those prescriptions. And it’s more, I can see the prescription, and then I can look at somebody’s face. And I could see that that’s probably just not all I need to get to them. So, there is more. So, when you dig deeper into what else is going on, you’re free.

Dr. Esther Onyoni Now the functional medicine portion is because I was really fascinated that you can actually get to the bottom of this. And you don’t have to just keep treating the condition of just managing the condition, you can actually get to the bottom of how you got here.

Dr. Esther Onyoni So, if you help someone in functional medicine, you help find the root cause of why they are where they are, they will see why they need to either get involved into some kind of physical activity or why they need to be involved in any kind of nutrition, healthy nutrition. And so that fascinated me. So, I’m really working into that and encouraging my patients that there is a way you can get to the root cause of this.


About Dr. Esther Onyoni

 Dr. Esther Onyoni is a Pharmacist, Functional Medicine Practitioner and a Certified Health Coach. She works with people living with diabetes who are struggling to keep their numbers within normal ranges and maintain their energy through the day to successfully get their best readings, gain their energy and feel better. Esther’s passion for finding a better way for her clients was sparked after over a decade of practicing as a pharmacist. She took care of people living with diabetes and other chronic conditions and noticed that they were on multiple medications. Their medication lists kept getting longer each time they saw their doctor. Some medications were given to treat side effects caused by other medications. 

That is why she decided to get involved in aiding her clients to manage diabetes. She became a Health Coach and Functional Medicine Practitioner and helps her clients get to the root of their diabetes and take charge of their health.

Core purpose / passion: My mission is to educate and inspire individuals to be active participants in their own health. I’m passionate about teaching individuals that they can hit the reset button and get better.

 Website | Facebook | LinkedIn | |


About Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND:

Dr. Manon is a Naturopathic Doctor, the Founder of Bowen College, an International Speaker, she did a TEDx talk “Your Body is Smarter than you think. Why aren’t you Listening?”  in Jan 2021, and is the author of Amazon best-selling books “What Patient’s Don’t Say if Doctors Don’t Ask”. & “A Healer in Every Household” For more great information to go to her weekly blog:

For tips on health & healing go to:


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About The Healers Café:

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Welcome to the Healers Cafe. Conversations of health and healing with Dr. M (Manon Bolliger), ND.

Dr. Manon 00:16

So welcome to the Healers Cafe. And today I have Andy and Pam Duchovnay with me. Did I say that right?


Dr. Manon 00:15

So welcome to the Healers Cafe. And today I have with me Dr. Esther Onyoni, and she’s a pharmacist, a functional medicine practitioner and a certified health coach. And Esther’s passion for finding a better way for her clients was sparked, after over a decade practicing as a pharmacist, she took care of people living with diabetes and other chronic conditions and noticed that they were on multiple medications. And obviously, all kinds of problems that came with that. So, I’m really thrilled that you’ve accepted to be on our call here, and to share this information with everyone. So, let’s start. First of all, like what got you into this whole world, but not the diabetes first, but the becoming a pharmacist going into healthcare? What started for you?


Dr. Esther Onyoni 01:23

Oh, thank you. Thank you for the opportunity that to share. Yes, I, I will say that being a pharmacist was my dream. Now, it didn’t look like something that was possible for me at first because I grew up in Kenya. And I came to the United States after high school. So obviously growing up in Kenya, I saw people suffering we do have malaria there. And whenever I went to the hospital, I still saw people suffer. And to me, I thought, why am I here, like they need help more than I do. But again, it was government hospitals, they didn’t have enough supply of medicine. So, some people are turned away. So, whenever I went to the pharmacy, there was always someone there to help by giving a remedy to whatever symptoms you described. And I thought that’s what I really want to do in life. But again, I didn’t think I had a chance. But obviously, when I came to the United States, there was the opportunity for me. And the rest was history on that one. So, I have practiced for about 15 years. And in that time, the way of practice was different from how I saw it in Kenya, because of course, yes, we still give medication for whatever ailment somebody comes and described. But it’s more of as there is more access, obviously, then, the way I saw it before. And there is a lot more people taking medication. And so, what I’ve seen in my practice is that sometimes I just want to hit the reset button. Because I feel like there is a there is a medication for everything, which is a good thing. But then when does it stop, because most of the time you find that you’re treating a side effect of …


another medication with another medication


And so that’s what I’ve observed in terms of the differences. So, there is more access to this more people taking medication, I feel like just because it’s accessible, it’s something that India also just being in a very busy environment, or part of the world. So, it sounds there’s a remedy for everything. And that’s just how we go. So, it makes me feel like there is a way to or there’s got to be a way to hit the reset button. And let’s see really what’s going on before we continue piling on. So that’s where I have gotten


Dr. Manon 04:14

Let me just clarify a little bit. So you were saying like in Kenya, your understanding of the role of a pharmacist was different than what you ended up seeing in reality with the excess access that we have in, while you’re in the States, right in North Carolina, that that there’s much more access but because of that there’s also excess or over prescribing or, like you’re saying it prescribing the side effects of the side effects of the side effects, rather than the cause, like going to what can be done is that my understanding?


Dr. Esther Onyoni 05:00

Yes. That’s how I describe it. Yeah. To me, it seemed that the people that always tended to make me want to hit the reset button that the people who had chronic conditions, diabetes stood out for me, because I definitely see a lot of those prescriptions. And it’s more, I can see the prescription, and then I can look at somebody’s face. And I could see that that’s probably just not all I need to get to them. So, there is more. So, when you dig deeper into what else is going on, you’re free. So, you know, you ask, is this how is this working for you? And they would say, well, I am taking my medication, but I get my medication, because it wasn’t quite under control. But what was what else could you do? And that’s where they, for the most part, they didn’t know, you know, my doctor is taking care of me. So, I have the medication. And it made me feel like there’s got to be more to offer the patient than just the medication I was offering. And then I did that for a very long time. And I, I got to a point where I felt like I need to say something more than okay, here’s your medication. And so that’s something about me kept holding me back. And I think it’s because of my upbringing, again, which, you know, I didn’t grow up as this most confident kid. Yeah, I had to have a lot of things that I had to overcome fear of speaking up from the constant being a little kid who was never supposed to speak up. So, I had to overcome that, to be able to tell my patients that I have something more to offer. I, so I had to find a way to, to not be this person whose kind of hiding in plain sight, you know, you want to stay but you don’t want to speak up, you don’t want to cause any confrontation. And so those are some of the things I had to overcome on myself in order to be somebody who can speak up. Because every time I served the patients with diabetes, I had this feeling in me that I need to speak up more, because what I’m doing was not necessarily helping them feel better. And in terms of cure, or even reverse the condition. It was just getting them through. And so, I had to find a group of people who would help me get past that, because every time I want to speak, it had to hold my tongue.


Dr. Manon 08:07

Yeah, it’s interesting what you’re saying too, though, because it’s, it’s kind of different than standing up and speaking out. In general, right, you’re actually in against a non against, it’s for the patients, but it’s against, in the sense, a big body of belief that the drugs are all we need, and it’s prescribed by the doctors and the doctors, some of them that that’s all they know, they haven’t done any other extra research, or maybe don’t even believe that the body is so fabulous and fantastic that we can actually help people heal, right. It’s like, take this drug and you’ll be better or it’ll, you’ll manage the symptoms basically. So that’s the mindset, right? And then you’ve got not just the doctors believing that you then have patients that belief that right, so the thing is, like, you can’t just blame the doctors. The public says “Oh, that’s all I can do. You know, just give me my drugs, I’ll be happy”. You know,


Dr. Esther Onyoni 09:24

That’s how we were trained. And that’s how I did it for a long time until it felt like there’s got to be more than this. Okay, because our training was definitely more like treating symptom, right? So, someone’s diagnosed with their base, which I think the doctors do a really good job in diagnosing. So that alone and then with my training it went with Okay, so this is the guideline, right you allowed to the most current guideline is you recommend a medication first read for me, and also lifestyle changes, but there is not enough time in the doctor’s office to really explain to someone what that looks like. And what ends up happening is just someone walks in, and now they have this prescription. And they either show up with or right, like, okay, I need to start this medication, and it might be for the rest of my life. And I, this is the end of me. Because if I don’t, if I, if I don’t take care of it, I might end up with all these complications to hear about It will affect my kidneys, I know, family members who had that effect, maybe my limbs. So, if somebody comes in overwhelmed, and just feels like this is the dire end of it. Or you find someone who come in with the, you know, with that mentality of, okay, now I’m going to do something about it. So, I don’t have to take this medication. And both ways are not the best way, because you’re still having the condition that’s been diagnosed in you, and it’s progressing. So, you have to do something, you know, you can’t say I’m willing to take the medication. And you know, and you can’t say, that’s all I’m going to take and do nothing more. So that’s where I saw that my training stopped at the guidelines, okay, this is the guideline, not control, then we add on another class of medication. And the other thing we do in our training is the medication, they’ll tell you that medication will lower the A1C, which is the number that shows your average blood sugar levels in a given amount of time, usually 12 weeks, and it tells the doctor how your blood sugar has been. And so, it will tell you these medications you take, they’ll tell you, this one will lower your A1C by this amount. And if you add on this drug, and then this is how much lower you can go in, sometimes it’s half a percentage point, or one percentage point. And you see for someone who’s a one sees really high, that one or 2% reduction, doesn’t necessarily cut it. And so, there’s always that the fact that there is more that you need to do. And this is where the patients need to be told, or at least encouraged to do more than just taking the medication.


Dr. Manon 12:39

So then then you went into functional medicine, then to, to learn how to get to the like, to all the circumstances and the cause the cofactor causes that and help a person improve or what, tell me a little bit your journey. How did that go?


Dr. Esther Onyoni 12:58

So actually, I went into health coaching first, again, because then I get to step from behind the counter and do more. Okay, this is what’s really happening. And that’s an assembled apart, okay. So with health coaching, you’re able to help somebody see how they could help their condition without telling them, just take that medication and go and work out. Because that doesn’t always work, we know that people will start either an exercise regimen or some kind of diet. And, you know, we could too, it’s too drastic, and they will stop. So, you’re back in that same survey work and the court so that I’ll influence people more by helping them see the reason they need to continue with the different lifestyle to influence the control of their condition. Now the functional medicine portion is because I was really fascinated that you can actually get to the bottom of this. And you don’t have to just keep treating the condition of just managing the condition, you can actually get to the bottom of how you got here. And the interesting thing about this is I learned in the conventional way, how to manage diabetes and then once you come into the functional medicine or the coaching part, you find that you can take a simpler route to manage the condition than all the other mechanisms of actions you have had to explain why you need to choose what medication its entire time you just have to start from a different, lot slower angle really. So, like the patient would say, oh, I don’t know what to eat or and I need to watch what I’m eating. But it doesn’t have to be that drastic. So, if you help someone in functional medicine, you help find the root cause of why they are where they are, they will see why they need to either get involved into some kind of physical activity or why they need to be involved in any kind of nutrition, healthy nutrition. And so that fascinated me. So, I’m really working into that and encouraging my patients that there is a way you can get to the root cause of this. And every time I mentioned that they’re like, that’s possible. There’s such a thing. Okay, tell me about it.


Dr. Manon 15:12

But yeah, I mean, that’s and it’s like a paradigm shift for many people brought up in a system where the only solutions are drugs to them, go back and realize that maybe they could either prevent it from getting worse, they could reverse it, and match themselves. So, what I mean, I, you know, I’m a strong believer that there’s not one size fits all. So, there’s not like, this is the one and only plan for you. But what have you found that you could share with this audience to be part of the biggest changes the biggest successes that people can have? If they were to just find out they have, you know, diabetes, or that they’re concerned? Because family members have it or something like that? What would you generally say, and I, and again, I’m saying it’s general, I know that it’s not specific one to one, because so many factors come in?


Dr. Esther Onyoni 17:01

Okay, so it’s more how I meet people, when especially if they have the diagnosis and how to approach me. One of the ways that they will approach me is to say, how do I take care this. An example is, when they’ll approach me and say, I have been diagnosed and my kidneys are not doing well, what can I take to revive my kidneys? Which is the answer you gave is not necessarily going to do what they’re looking for. But what can they expect is? What else that is to tell them? Okay, so let’s see what you do on a daily basis, which is really basic. And you know, a lot of people give it a second look and go, what do you mean? I mean, I just need a remedy right now. And so, what do you do on a daily basis, and people will mention the diet they have tried? And it’s mostly not even a diet that you need to be on, it’s more of what’s a sustainable thing you can do. An example of what I tell them is, do you know that there is a food that gives you energy and foods that drain your energy? And that will get somebody, what do you mean by that, you know, there is a or just mentioning that you can have your veggies for breakfast, and that’s something foreign. So, there’s simple things I say. So, when I talk about functional medicine is pretty much getting to the root. Not necessarily going crazy ordering labs necessarily, and that’s sometimes necessary, but not always. It’s doing the very basic things.


Commercial Break 19:04

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Dr. Esther Onyoni 20:06

First, so when I mentioned that it helps them take a backseat. But what really influences them is just saying, how I can change their mindset, because that’s where you need to start in order for any of this to even be possible. So, if I tell them, okay, how about physical activity? I know you say you, you know, you work out, how are you doing this. I have met someone who does the working out twice a day, like just drastic. And I say but that’s not sustainable. So, let’s try something more sustainable. Because you’ll get tired so quickly, you’ll get burnt out and you will stop, and the condition continues to affect you. So, what the one thing that you love to do, let’s go there first, and they will take a backseat and go Okay, well before that. And I found, I find that after the mindset, and I can introduce all these things to people, and they will respond.


Dr. Manon 21:24

So just to repeat the mindset that you’re dealing with first? Is, is what though? What are you? What’s the biggest thing that has to shift for them to go Hmm, okay, I’m going to listen to you.


Dr. Esther Onyoni 21:44

Okay, so that’s the other part, I do some educational webinars. So, I teach, I teach about the condition, and what’s really causing diabetes, what’s causing you to be where you are, that kind of gives them the insight of Okay, so there’s definitely something I can do to help with what we say what I say is to help reverse the condition, and I’m talking about type two. But before that, they had never heard of such a thing as reversing, because all we’ve heard is once you’ve been diagnosed, you know, you’re here, it’s here to stay. There is no cure, but there is reversing. And so, we just make that clear. And these are the things to do. So, when I do the teachings that are…I feel like they’re very inspiring, because it helps them see how they got where they are, they respond more in that way.


Dr. Manon 22:50

Mm hmm. And the main things that you have found, that gets them to developing diabetes is and that they’re willing to change it are what?


Dr. Esther Onyoni 23:06

Okay, first of all, they didn’t get here, in one day, something that’s been evolving, it’s more of the boundaries they’ve not built for themselves. So, someone just gets for instance, if it’s the stress they’re dealing with, they keep dealing with it for a long time. And not dealing with it just makes them buffer. You know, so they’ll buffer with the kind of lifestyle, so obviously, people tell me, I could eat better, or I could pick up and walk sometimes. So, you’ll find that people know, what they could do that they’re not doing. And it’s just telling or helping them see why they should do it to help influence their condition. So, I find that for the most part, there is stress involved. And then people either stress eat, or just not worry about what they’re eating. And then there is just the Patria there is all this easy pick me up food because they also lead that a very busy lifestyles, you know that their family, whatever they have to do to get through their day. So, they have the mostly available, easily packaged foods that they eat. I know, a client that I introduced to Okay, you could do this for breakfast like eat pumpkin, which is called, it’s not, it’s not better, it’s not better but better crap pack in a different pack pumpkin. So, all you do is literally boil it and it’s already sweet and it’s got the texture that you don’t have to go adding sugar or baking, you just boil it eat, you can eat that with, let’s say, whatever the girl or even if it’s an egg, whatever it is for breakfast. And there was so surprised that they could do that. And it’s versus having to always feel like it’s leveras to fix a breakfast meal. So, they had to always go and purchase something on their way to work. It’s something they already have. So, you know, just seeing that it helps open up their mind to Oh, there is more I could do.


Dr. Manon 25:54

Yeah. So like what I’m hearing you say, which I’m very much in agreement with, or I’ve noticed in my own practice, first you have to give people, they need to know that they can change that, first of all, that they can heal that, that they have agency over their own bodies and choices, that’s the first thing. And then you have to deal with the misconceptions that they’ve been habituated into, and how little changes can make big differences. Right. So that’s, like, a big thing. And, and, and it’s so such a positive thing that you’re sharing, because people can do this. It’s not impossible, right? It’s possible. possible and yet, when you don’t even think that you can make a change, then why would you bother? Right? And so that’s why I was stressed, like you’re saying, I mean, who doesn’t have stress, but if stress becomes the excuse that this is the only way I can deal with it, because I don’t know anything else. And I can’t deal with one more thing I’ve got to look up. But you’ve got something like okay, just, you know, put the squash or whatever, to this, have an egg with it, or beans or whatever you know, and it’s five minutes healthy, you’ve got something that you can do that’s actually less busy than stopping somewhere and following that. I know I had some patients that came from the diabetic society, and they were they were they have to buy their low sugar jello. And then like, no, you don’t actually have to buy low sugar jello, you don’t have to eat that. It’s like, full of chemicals. And it’s like, I mean, there’s like, there’s such a misunderstanding of what is actually healthy anyway. So go ahead. Yeah, I can see you want to say more on this.


Dr. Esther Onyoni 28:05

Yeah, I was going to say that’s, that’s the thing when you tell someone that you could do this, and it’s too simple. And then they have to sometimes doubt and then just have to give it a try. But yes, all the other things I learned in the functional medicine about it’s not just the nutrition is not just the physical activities, not just the stress events sleep. And I like all I wanted to say, oh, you can just sleep and you actually kind of get it under control. If the toxins which nobody ever thinks about, at least I know I never did before. And so, when I mentioned to people the suggestions for what they could eat, because most of the time they’ll approach me with what, what can I change in my diet? And I have to add that, for the most part, sometimes I tend to meet clients who are not necessarily American. So, they will say, okay, this is the staple food I ate in the country and from what can I substitute it with? So that’s another way to look at things because even they have come here, and they’re used to eating the American diet, because that’s what’s available. And we go back and start talking about all the foods that are not always in our regular grocery stores. And they say, oh, we used to eat that. Oh, yes. And you kind of guide them to where they could find it. And it helps because they’re more inclined to go for it. This is what they’ve been doing. Yeah,


Dr. Manon 29:58

Yeah. Well, it’s like going back to simple, healthy, common sense. Which is, which is greatly missing these days. But it’s true.


Dr. Esther Onyoni 30:13

It is. And I think that just because also the patients who have the who have grown in the environment where we’ll just do what the doctors say that it’s hard for them to open their mind to do something else, I know when, when some people go to the data, and they told just watch what you eat, they don’t pay attention to the fact that they were not really told what they should eat. And this is creating a whole other cause of confusion because I don’t know what to eat. And then there is the marketing in the stores of this is the low sugar, you know, sugar free, and nobody’s mentioning that It could be simpler than that you don’t need anything that’s been reduced with anything, you just need to simply, if you can’t buy natural food, even just going to the grocery to the freezer section of the grocery, and buy the frozen veggies, because it’s packaged, yes, but it’s more natural, maybe fewer chemicals than all the ready to go foods. And you can easily find recipes. So, when I work with my clients, I that’s what we’re really doing. Like this is suggestions from what you could eat, and it helps them see that this is the place where they can start and keep themselves under control.


Dr. Manon 32:00

Anyway, thank you. Thank you so much for sharing that and giving hope. Because, you know, I do think that we overcomplicate things, and now more than ever, we have a very, we have a big part of the population that believes in these experts or in this authority, they lose touch with their own bodies, and they lose touch with the capacity of our innate healing ability and our common sense of, we don’t work, we were never born deficient of drugs, you know, we, you know, we really can start with very common sense things. And yes, it’s good that there are drugs that are, you know, and other supplements and other things, because sometimes we need them, but we’ve made it as if this is like, we’re deficient of it. So, we need to keep taking it. So, I really appreciate your experience and your perspective. And as we’re wrapping up, is there a way that people can get? Do you have any things that people can get hold of you or, or trainings that people can find out a bit more about you or, or website or something?


Dr. Esther Onyoni 33:23

Sure. Thank you for that. I mostly on social media, so with my name on Facebook, and only in also, I am on my website on And I believe that there is a way, and it is possible to just be well and live well. And so, I call it that. But on top of that, what I’ve noticed is my clients will also have this, especially once diagnosed, they don’t know what to ask their doctor, you know, they don’t know what to say they, it’s more kind of the reason I get into it too, like okay, I’m the dentist and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say I don’t know what to ask the doctor. And so, I have a listeners add checklist of questions they should ask the doctor, or they can ask the doctor in order for that visit, to be very meaningful to them to help them know what to do you know when they get home. And definitely if you want to reach me, I am full of information about simple things that you can do because it’s something I’m excited about because I did not train in this you know in pharmacy training did not give me this but then I’m glad that I saw that there is really a lot that we can do and brain controller and use medication.


Dr. Manon 34:57

Thank you very much for joining me.


Dr. Esther Onyoni 35:00

 Thank you so much for being here.


Dr Manon  31:28

Thank you for joining us. For more information, go to