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Natural Healing

Midwifery offers natural approach to pregnancy and birth
By Lynda McCullough
January/February 2001
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In a society with increasing demand for “alternative” or integrative medical treatment, midwives are playing a leading role. Whether they work in traditional ways outside the medical system or with physicians, midwives use a variety of techniques to assist with the processes of pregnancy and birth.

As inheritors of an ancient tradition, many midwives naturally tend to use alternative practices. As practitioners of a new profession, certified nurse midwives are often sensitive to the public demand for their services. Both lay and certified midwives may draw on practices such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, and massage. Some refer women to other specialists such as chiropractors or acupuncturists.

Although some midwives trained as nurses stay within the medical system and don’t use alternative treatments, others, such as Pamela Truzinski of Jewell, Oregon, incorporate integrative medicine into their practices in order to treat the problems of pregnant and birthing women in nurturing ways. Truzinski is a direct-entry midwife (one without nursing training).

Although Truzinski works mainly with naturopathic doctors, many other midwives work directly with obstetricians and gynecologists throughout a woman’s pregnancy.

A growing force for change

According to the Midwives Association of North America, there are now 4,000 direct-entry midwives and 450 certified professional midwives (certified through the North American Registry of Midwives) practicing in the United States. The Bureau of Health Statistics study reported that there were 6,534 certified nurse midwives in 1996. The American College of Nurse Midwives has 5,000 members who are currently in practice. State laws now determine such things as whether midwives can deliver babies at home or in hospitals and to what degree they may or may not be supervised by physicians. Each midwife then makes her own decisions about how to work within those parameters.

Lay midwives often have more freedom to use herbs, massage, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, and other practices to ease pain or nausea, tonify the uterus, raise iron and calcium levels, stop bleeding after birth, or comfort the mother. For example, Truzinski recommends a variety of herbs, such as nettle (Urtica dioica) for its blood-building effects and red raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) to help tone the uterus. She learned about herbal approaches to pregnancy and birth in her midwifery program and supplemented that training in becoming a certified massage therapist. These herbal preparations help prevent problems and provide ways for women to nurture themselves, says Truzinski.

Jane Peterson, a certified professional midwife in Scandinavia, Wisconsin, who delivers babies in the home, uses herbs, homeopathic remedies, hydrotherapy, and aromatherapy in her work. She uses dozens of different remedies for a variety of problems, she says, noting that her approach is always tailored to the needs of the individual woman she’s working with. Homeopathic approaches are particularly specific to each woman. They can be good for nausea and constitutional purposes, says Peterson. She feels that homeopathic remedies are appropriate for the first trimester of pregnancy and for newborn infants because of the remedies’ benign nature.

Examples of herbs Peterson uses include milk thistle (Silybum marianum) for aggravated itching, black haw (Viburnum prunifolium) to abate contractions, mullein (Verbascum spp.) in tea form for breast infections, and herbal combinations to restore qi (vital energy) and health after birth. Other treatments she recommends include soaking in vinegar for varicose veins during pregnancy or soaking in deep tubs of water during labor to lower blood pressure and help with back pain.

Peterson has a bachelor’s degree in biology and training in midwifery, obstetrical homeopathy, and Chinese medicine. She has furthered her education in these areas by attending workshops, seminars, and conferences, by attending meetings of the state perinatal association and other organizations, and through self-study.

As inheritors of an ancient tradition, many midwives use alternative practices. 

A combination of practitioners

Other midwives have their own comprehensive women’s health practices. Womancare in Fort Collins, Colorado, is such a practice. Here, certified nurse midwife (CNM) Dian Sparling works with two CNM partners in a private practice. The partners provide comprehensive care for women, including nonpregnancy care.

“All of us have gone to very traditional Western medicine institutions for training, so we have that piece but yet a broader view of complementary wellness or prevention-oriented care,” says Sparling. Sparling and her colleagues address many early pregnancy issues in natural ways, because pharmaceutical drugs may have side effects. They suggest women try things like ginger (Zingiber officinale) for nausea and vomiting—in the form of ginger capsules, tea, gingersnaps, or ginger ale. They show women how to use acupressure points or suggest using sea bands for the same purpose. In addition, they refer people to other practitioners such as acupuncturists and homeopaths.

Sparling says she and her colleagues also recommend that women use massage and chiropractic pelvic adjustment during the course of pregnancy. Massage is good for well-being, and chiropractic adjustments can correct alignment and help prepare the body for giving birth, Sparling says.

The midwives at Womancare recommend that women who are interested in alternative medicine purchase aromatherapy or herbal products from local stores. These might include herbal sources of iron in tincture and tea form such as nettle, yellow dock (Rumex crispus), or herb mixtures.

For the birth itself, Sparling promotes the use of hydrotherapy to soothe and help with back pain. She recommends herbal tinctures for postpartum bleeding and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) in tincture form after the baby is born to raise milk supply. Other herbs can treat anemia or enhance the process of labor in various ways, she says. In addition, Sparling says aromatherapy can encourage a woman giving birth or strengthen her spirit.

Two-thirds of Womancare’s patients seek care for general health reasons rather than pregnancy, and most of them seek out the midwifery practice because they are interested in a broader look at what they can do to prevent illness, improve their immune systems, or substitute for pharmaceutical drugs, Sparling says. The practice provides Pap smears and other diagnostic tests such as blood pressure evaluation but seeks to discuss health issues, prevention, and concerns about herbal supplements with patients.

“We’ve seen, as has been reported in the newspaper, that people tend to make choices and take a lot of herbal supplements on their own or in consultation with someone at [a health-food store] and yet fail to share that information with their practitioner because they feel that it’s two separate worlds,” Sparling says. “Our interest is in being a place where women can come and say exactly what they’re taking in terms of herbal supplements and yet still have what they need from the traditional Western medical approach.”

The office has a small library and provides resources and notices of workshops or lectures in the community, so that patients can learn more about alternative medicine as well as various health issues.

Working with the medical community

Truzinski refers primarily to naturopaths and transports women to hospitals only when necessary, but Peterson and Sparling have had to find ways to work directly with doctors.

Sparling says that although physicians were skeptical and not welcoming at first, she and her colleagues now have a place in the community. Womancare patients see the midwives throughout their pregnancies, have backup physicians who also help deliver their babies in hospitals, and obtain the alternative treatments themselves.

Peterson says that her positive partnership with doctors helps provide a “peaceful continuity of care.” Physicians’ offices can do blood work, and Peterson talks to them if something goes wrong. In an emergency, patients can be transported to the hospital.

She says she has been able to develop good relationships with physicians and a basis for trust, and those she works with trust her and respect her use of alternative approaches. “They know I’ll communicate; they recognize my certification. I go for continuing education, and they see that I’m providing comprehensive care,” she says.

Perhaps Peterson represents the middle ground in the complex field of midwifery today, a field that challenges, joins, or complements mainstream medicine, depending on the point of view. In her vision, “By doing good midwifery, standing up for who I am and what I believe, trust develops. We share a lot and everybody gets better care.”

Berberine synergy for fighting staph infections

Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, C.N., A.H.G

A compound from barberry (Berberis vulgaris) may hold the key to antibiotic resistance. Combined with antibiotics, the compound inactivates certain types of Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria that are principally responsible for staph infections that patients catch in hospitals.

Herbalists maintain that one of the benefits of herbal remedies is synergy, or the combined action of multiple chemical components in the plant. Chemists from the Department of Chemistry at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, Colorado, are excited about a “two-pronged attack” that barberry brings to fighting bacterial infection.

Berberine is a plant alkaloid with a long history of medicinal use in Western, Ayurvedic, and Chinese medicine. Berberine occurs in the roots, rhizomes, and stem bark of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), coptis (Coptis chinensis), Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), barberry, and tree turmeric (Berberis aristata). The principal clinical uses of berberine include bacterial diarrhea, intestinal parasite infections, and eye infections.

Berberine-containing plants have a long history of being used as antibacterials. But berberine alone is not very active because bacteria have evolved mechanisms to pump it out of their systems (transmembrane proteins that eject the berberine). The scientists found that a plant compound called 5’-Methoxyhydnocarpin (5’-MHC), which has, as far as is known, no antibacterial activity on its own, efficiently inhibits the pump. The level of bacterial cellular berberine accumulation was increased strongly in the presence of 5’-MHC, demonstrating that this plant compound effectively disabled the bacterial resistance mechanism against the antimicrobial berberine. Acting synergistically with berberine and a number of other antibiotics, 5’-MHC inactivates resistant strains of staph. Interestingly, 5’-MHC was previously reported as a minor component of chaulmoogra oil, a traditional Ayurvedic treatment for leprosy, another bacterial illness.

The CSU scientists speculate that the frequent failures to isolate active ingredients from herbal medicines may be due to searching for one compound that’s ineffective without its partner compounds in the whole plant. It looks like this study may be the beginning of verifying the synergistic action of traditional whole herbal medicines.

Reference

Stermitz, F. R., et al. “Synergy in a medicinal plant: Antimicrobial action of berberine potentiated by 5’-Methoxyhydnocarpin, a multidrug pump inhibitor.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2000, 97(4):1433–1437.

Memorial Gail Ulrich 1951–2000

Rosemary Gladstar

Gail Ulrich, beloved New England herbalist, author, friend, and mentor to many, passed away on July 23, 2000, surrounded by her family and close friends at her home in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Diagnosed with a very aggressive form of colon/liver cancer in May, Gail ardently followed a succession of treatments that encompassed a wide spectrum of healing arts, but, tragically, the cancer was already seriously progressed when diagnosed.

Gail was widely known in the herbal community not only for her many contributions to herbalism, but for her warm, vibrant personality. She was the founder of Blazing Star Herbal School, a founding member and president of the Northeast Herbal Association, and was the founder and co-director of The New England Women’s Herbal Conference and of the Healing with Flowers Conference. She wrote Herbs to Boost Immunity (Keats, 1998), was the owner of New England Botanicals, and was known internationally as a popular teacher and herbal educator.

Death brings to those of us still on this journey an ever-deepening awareness of the gift of life, and those who are closest to us bring us many gifts in their passing. Gail touched so many peoples’ hearts with her grace and radiance, and that light is ever growing and continues to grace us.

The stories of how she touched our lives continue to circulate and help to keep her flame alive. They will be forever part of the landscape of our hearts. She was one of my dearest friends, a sister in spirit, and co-worker in the green. On my last visit with her, a few days before her passing, I asked her if she was afraid. There was a long, labored pause before she answered, “No. I just feel like I’m climbing a big mountain.” She reached the top and soared.

Gail lives on in the hundreds of people whose hearts she touched through her kindness, and her teachings will continue to thrive through the lives of the hundreds of people she taught. The Women’s Herbal Conference, a gathering she dreamed of and seeded many seasons ago, will continue as a living monument to her.

A few weeks before Gail was diagnosed with cancer, she had asked me—several times, in fact—to send her a poem I had read to her months earlier.

For years I never knew whether the twilight was the ending of the day or the beginning of the night. And then suddenly one day I understood that this did not matter at all. For time is but a circle and there can be no beginning and no ending. And this is how I came to know that birth and death are one. And it is neither the coming or going that is of consequence. What is of consequence is the beauty that one gathers in this interlude called life. —W. O. Abbott

There are few people I know who walked the beauty way more than Gail did. May her journey be in beauty, beauty before her, beauty behind, beauty above and below. Beauty all around. May she know beauty always in her heart and continue to spread beauty on her journey into the spirit world.

Heart-rate training

Kelli Rosen

Fitness 

Heart-rate training is a tool that can help you easily reach your fitness goals safely and more effectively. Knowing how fast your heart is beating per minute is a surefire way to know if you’re working too hard or not hard enough. It allows you to modify your activity when it counts—as you’re doing it—instead of finally changing your routine after a few months of not seeing results.

It wasn’t long ago that monitoring your heart rate meant stopping your exercise, feeling for a pulse either somewhere in your neck or on your wrist, looking at your watch or the clock on the wall, and then counting the beats per minute. Certainly not the most accurate method, considering the propensity for human error. Plus, the idea behind heart-rate training is to monitor your heart rate during exercise, not once you’ve slowed down to check a pulse.

With the advent of wireless heart-rate monitors, keeping an eye on how hard your heart is working is as simple as checking to see what time it is. Available at most sports specialty stores, the monitors come equipped with rubber-covered electrodes and fasten around the chest with an elastic strap. Heart-rate data is displayed immediately on a watch worn around the wrist—or fastened to a bike’s handlebars, if that’s more convenient. It’s the fastest, easiest, and most accurate way to receive information about your exercise intensity.

Resting heart rate

Monitoring your resting heart rate is important because it’s a good indicator of your progress. If you’re checking it on a regular basis and it’s getting slower, this may indicate an increase in your fitness level. Cardiovascular workouts such as running, swimming, and aerobics classes increase the heart’s sensitivity to the parasympathetic nervous system and can eventually lower resting heart rate. A consistent increase in resting heart rate, on the other hand, may mean you’re overtraining or you’re dehydrated; it could also signal emotional stress or illness.

The ideal time to measure resting heart rate is first thing in the morning, before you’ve gotten out of bed. Even better, always measure it in the same position, because sitting up will potentially yield a different result than lying down.

Maximum heart-rate

Before you start heart-rate training, you must calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR), the highest number of times your heart beats in one minute, because all training zones will be some percentage of that number. The easiest way to calculate this figure is to employ the equation 220–(your age) = MHR; therefore, a thirty-year-old person will have an MHR of 190. Keep in mind, though, this is just an average and is certainly not the most accurate method, as actual MHR could vary from this calculation by as many as fifteen beats per minute. To get the most accurate reading of your MHR, have it clinically tested by a health-care provider.

Your MHR is also sport-specific and varies according to the size of muscle masses used during exertion. For example, your MHR during freestyle swimming will be lower than your MHR while running.

Target heart rates

Your target heart rate is a range of rates (beats per minute) expressed as percentages of your MHR that are safe, but challenging, goals for you to achieve during exercise. Your fitness goal will determine your target heart rate, because training at different percentages of your MHR yields various results—endurance, strength, and speed. The most well-rounded athletes incorporate all types of target heart rates into their training schedules throughout their weekly regimens. For example, maybe they’ll go for an hour-long bike ride one day and then head to the track for some sprints the next.

For most healthy people, the American Heart Association recommends an exercise target heart rate ranging between 50 and 75 percent of your MHR. To calculate a particular target heart rate, simply multiply your MHR by that percentage. So if your MHR is 190 and you want to calculate 75 percent, multiply 190 ¥ .75.

50 to 65 percent of MHR: This is generally the easiest intensity that will still improve overall fitness. If you’re just getting started or have health conditions that limit exertion, this should be a comfortable zone.

65 to 75 percent of MHR: This is typically referred to as the endurance zone, because it trains your body to be more efficient by strengthening your heart and improving its ability to pump blood. In this zone, you should be capable of having a conversation with a workout partner.

75 to 85 percent of MHR: Typically referred to as the strength zone, working at this level builds power in the muscles. Even though you should still be able to carry on a conversation, you should not be able to sustain this heart rate for as long as you can in the endurance zone.

85 to 92 percent of MHR: This zone is generally reserved for more advanced athletes. If you choose to elevate your heart rate to this point, you should only do so for very short periods of time (less than one minute). Many elite athletes incorporate this target heart rate into their training schedule during interval workouts (they elevate to this level and then come down to the endurance level, and then elevate it again, and so on). This increases muscle tolerance to lactic acid.

Be sure to check with your health-care provider before beginning any exercise routine, and tell him or her if you’re taking any medications because some affect heart rate. 8

Send your fitness questions to Kelli Rosen, 243 E. 4th St., Loveland, CO 80537; e-mail KelliR@HCPress.com.

Kelli Rosen, managing editor of The Herb Companion, is a former personal trainer and fitness instructor, and was the 1993 Pennsylvania bodybuilding champion.

Herbal Remedy Gardens: 38 Plans for Your Health & Well-Being

Dorie Byers

This fun, creative book provides lots of information in a concise, easy-to-read format. The book first discusses (and illustrates with simple drawings) how to make herbal preparations such as teas, tinctures, and infused oils. Next, Byers writes about selecting plants for your region, outlining several great medicinal herbs to grow.

Medicinal uses, growing information, and harvesting tips are given for individual herbs such as feverfew, valerian, chamomile, and calendula. The book’s garden-planning section has useful facts about soil types, choosing a location for a garden, and composting.

The most interesting part of Herbal Remedy Gardens is the “Designing a Garden for Your Special Needs” section. Byers explains plans for twenty different gardens designed to treat different health concerns. For example, the cold-and-flu garden contains peppermint, catnip, cayenne pepper, echinacea, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and yarrow. Following this plan are great recipes for using each of the herbs. Other planned gardens include a hair-care garden, a first-aid garden, and a relaxation garden.

Packed with useful information, detailed garden drawings, and easy recipes, this is a book to read this winter to inspire plans for a spring herb garden (or gardens)!

Ordering information:

Storey Books, paperback, 220 pages, $16.95.
Available at bookstores, www.amazon.com, www.borders.com, or by calling (800) 441-5700. Visit www.storey.com for more information.

Water’s healing powers take new forms

Sarah Kelch

There’s nothing quite like a hot bath after a long day or a refreshing swim in a cool lake when the temperature rises. More and more indoor fountains ar­e appearing in homes and on office desks for their ability to calm us subtly. Water has an innate ability to soothe, comfort, and relax, and it can also be therapeutic.

For centuries, people all over the world have “taken the waters” for relaxation and therapy. Jonathan Gibbs, a student living in Farmington, New Mexico, uses the warmth of hot springs to relax his muscles after a long hike. In the 1880s, people traveled to hot springs resorts such as Harbin Hot Springs in northern California to treat such conditions as dyspepsia, rheumatism, and gout.

About a hundred years later, Harbin Hot Springs became the birthplace of a form of hydrotherapy known as watsu, created by shiatsu master Harold Dull, director of Harbin’s school of shiatsu and massage. While watsu was being created in California, a similar form of hydrotherapy, wassertanzen (water dancing) was developed in Switzerland. Similar to watsu, this form of therapy is done underwater, involving not only the body but also the breath.

What is watsu?

Watsu is passive aquatic shiatsu, done in water heated to skin temperature, or around 95 degrees. The watsu recipient attaches floatation devices to their legs while a facilitator supports the person’s upper body and head during various postures and holds.

“The person totally surrenders control, allowing the water to move them,” says Susan Wilmot, owner of Splendor Mountain Spa in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Watsu is a series of dancelike, full-body stretches that allow for releases within the body, says Wilmot. “It’s not so passive that nothing physical’s going on,” she says. “[A release] also happens within the mind which allows the body to let go.”

Wilmot says the motion of the water lulls people into a relaxed state and absorbs the body’s tension, slowing the heart rate, respiration, and brain waves. It is in this relaxed state that healing takes place, she says.

Watsu healed Lon Denney, a fifty-five-year-old retired rancher who suffered from chronic back pain after a back injury in his twenties. Denney tried chiropractic help, massage, and acupuncture but found no relief until a watsu treatment.

“I swear by it now,” he says. “Watsu takes the pain away completely, and there’s no pain or stress involved.”

Wilmot suggests watsu for anyone, even if they’re not suffering from pain or injury. “Anyone can get benefits from this work, but it can be like a miracle for someone whose range of motion is limited,” she says.

Flotation therapy

Another hydrotherapeutic approach to chronic pain, stress, and daily tension is flotation. At Float For Health in Fort Collins, Colorado, psychologist Joan Welsh provides float sessions in mineral salt pools about the size of a twin bed. The amount of salt in the water allows for effortless flotation.

This therapy is said to relieve patients with most pain conditions and also to reduce stress and induce a meditative state. Jessica Henley, an advertising sales representative living in Fort Collins, says the ability to float and the feel of the water rippling over her body was relaxing and rejuvenating.

Studies at Washington State University found positive results from flotation. A 1987 study reviewed in the paper The Enhancement of Human Performance had twenty college students in a chemistry class listen to a class lecture. Ten of the students listened while floating; the other ten listened while lying on a couch. Testing after the lecture found that the students who floated performed significantly better than the other students, especially on questions requiring conceptual analysis.

Exercising in water

Underwater treadmills are used by everyone from Olympians to the elderly and people who are overweight. By exercising on a treadmill underwater, the buoyancy of the water takes weight off the legs by as much as 70 percent, according to Tom Hopkins, former president of AquaCiser, Inc., and developer of the AquaCiser underwater treadmill. In addition, the water pressure aids the return of blood so that the heart doesn’t have to work as hard.

“[The treadmill] allows people to train at a tremendously high level without incurring injury,” says Hopkins. Underwater treadmills were originally used in hospitals for patients with osteoarthritis, diabetes, leg and sports injuries, obesity, and those recovering from heart attacks and strokes.

In a study from Lutheran General Hospital in 1993, researchers found the underwater treadmill to be an effective form of rehabilitation for patients with osteoarthritis in regard to strengthening and conditioning.

Even just being in the water is beneficial for patients, regardless of whether they’re using a treadmill. Researchers at the University of Missouri–Columbia found water exercise to be extremely therapeutic for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Research from Denmark and Sweden found that water training helps these patients increase their aerobic capacity, muscle strength, and overall activity levels.

Lavender bath ritual

Lorene Wapotich

During the winter, most people’s energy, like that of the earth around us, slows down. Winter is a time for reflecting on and integrating the experiences of the year, in the same way that nighttime is for resting and rejuvenating from the activities of the day. By honoring this natural shift, you can reduce the likelihood of illness and disease in your life.

A delightful way to nourish yourself during the winter is to indulge regularly in an herbal bath ritual. This ritual reduces stress, promotes relaxation, and enhances sleep. To do the ritual, you need some quiet time alone, a bathtub, candle, journal or notebook, a large pot—about the size you would use to cook pasta—and some dried lavender (Lavandula angu-stifolia) flowers.

Fill the pot full of water and place it on the stove. Bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add a handful of dried lavender flowers to the pot. Cover and let steep for twenty minutes. While the herbal infusion is steeping, fill the bathtub with hot water. Place the candle in a safe location near the bath and light it. You may want to put on some soothing music to listen to as well. Strain the herbal infusion into another pot and add it to the bath water, or strain it directly into the tub. Adjust the temperature of the bath water so that it’s comfortable.

Ease yourself into the bath and relax. Give yourself time to enjoy the experience, staying at least twenty minutes. I like to drink filtered or spring water while in the tub to avoid dehydration. When you’re finished soaking, take your candle and the journal or notebook to bed or another cozy location. Spend time journaling before you blow out the candle and complete the ritual.

I often combine the lavender flowers with dried St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) flowers. Well known for its antidepressant properties, St. John’s wort is also a wonderful muscle relaxant. If your body is achy or feels tense, add a handful of St. John’s wort flowers to the pot along with the lavender. Be aware that because of the resins it contains, St. John’s wort will turn your bath a rosy color and leave a slight ring around the tub.

Practitioner Profile

Name: Todd Nelson

Age: 42

Occupation: Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.) and Founder of Tree of Life Wellness Center in Denver.

Education: Graduated in 1982 with a four-year post-graduate N.D. degree from the International Center for Natural Health Medicine in Northern Minnesota. Although the school no longer exists, the degree was granted from its sister school, Brant Ridge Forest School, located in Sussex, England.

How did you first become interested in alternative medicine?
I became interested in alternative healing in my late teens and was most influenced by two different people. The first one was a chiropractor who was making house calls to care for my mother’s back. He helped me with a stomach disorder by teaching me to change my diet. The second was a friend who worked in a health-food store and educated me about things such as herbs and detoxification. I witnessed breakthroughs in my own health and started to think to myself, “Why doesn’t everyone know about this?” I was only sixteen or seventeen years old when I began to consider a career in alternative health. It was truly a spiritual awakening for me. I felt it was my mission to help people. When I was eighteen, I heard a naturopathic doctor speak at a seminar. I knew right then and there that’s what I wanted to do. That speaker, Dr. Robert Cooper, ended up being the president of the naturopathic school I ended up attending.

What do you see happening with the interaction between Western medicine and alternative healing?
I believe it’s going to be a marriage, I really do. I feel very optimistic about that at this point. Both consumers and clients are looking for a blend of medicine and alternative care. I’m even mentoring a medical doctor, an internist, in nutrition. I really enjoy having a network of referrals within the medical field. Naturopathic doctors have such a broad-based bag of tools that’s very complementary to [Western] medicine.

What is your advice to someone considering alternative medicine?
I may be a little biased, but I always recommend seeing an N.D. Everyone can benefit from natural healing. Depending on a particular condition, that person may need a blend of both naturopathic and [Western] medicine. For those who aren’t too knowledgeable about alternative care, they should find a savvy health coach—in other words, an N.D.—who will guide and refer them to others, if necessary.

What is your daily routine of alternative healing?
I do just about everything. I eat exceptionally. I love eating well—lots of whole, organic foods. I exercise almost every day. I do Pilates, and I walk, bike, stretch, and occasionally do some yoga. I schedule massages twice a month. I meditate and take herbal supplements. If something comes up in my life, I may look to acupuncture or counseling. I definitely walk the talk. My wife and I are spa junkies. We love to travel, and our favorite spa is the Anara Spa on the island of Kauai.

What do you do in your spare time?
I have four daughters ranging in age from ten to sixteen, so being a dad keeps me very busy—between dance classes, soccer, and time at home. I enjoy writing poetry—mostly spiritual poetry. For the last twenty years, I’ve written for myself. I’m now looking to publish some of my poems so that I can share them, too. I also have two books coming out this year from Putnam Publishing. The first is Arthritis Survival. I’m coauthoring it with Robert Ivker, D.O., and it should be out by May, and the second book is Asthma Survival, which is due out this fall.

— Kelli Rosen


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