Bringing Functional Home
BuxMont Practitioners Offer Healthier, Natural Alternatives
by Elisa SmithWhile functional medicine’s holistic approach to health is only recently gaining attention in many areas, several of BuxMont’s health professionals have been successfully applying these principles in their practices for years. Local residents enjoy a variety of options for whole-person wellness, and most practitioners offer either free or very affordable initial consultations to discuss treatment options.
Wendy Warner, M.D., of Medicine in Balance, is a board certified OB-GYN who has appeared on the Dr. Oz show. Warner, who sits on the board of directors of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, is creator of Balance for Good, a 12-week “therapeutic lifestyle” program that helps patients make better lifestyle choices. “Enjoying a therapeutic lifestyle means making choices daily that enhance health and prevent disease, enabling patients to achieve a full, healthy life,” says Warner. Her program is based on extensive scientific research demonstrating that many chronic diseases can be prevented and treated by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Lifestyle choices—specifically, stress reduction—play a large role in the approach holistic chiropractor Jeffrey Griffin, D.C., takes in treating patients. The founder of the Center for Natural Healing believes that there is an innate intelligence in all living things that works to regulate and heal the body. His approach to wellness involves evaluating the body to locate, identify and reduce or eliminate stress—whether that stress is biochemical, structural or emotional. He uses this “triad of health” as a model to address the interplay and interconnectedness of the whole person. “To get well and stay well you must treat the cause of a symptom or dysfunction,” Griffin says. “Just treating symptoms can be useful in the short run, but never gets you truly well.”
Tina Stashko, N.D., Ph.D., A.C.N., MIfHI, of Natural Health Promotion also believes that each individual enjoys a specific health agenda for optimum health, and because of that, no two clients receive the same protocol. Stashko uses long-established, non-invasive modalities including iridology and sclerology to gauge patients’ strengths and weaknesses and steer them in a positive health direction. She has seen that implementing dietary and lifestyle changes gives each client a marked edge for better health in both the short- and long-term. Many of her clients schedule appointments several times a year to make sure they continue to move in a healthful direction. “Make being healthy a priority,” she says, adding “We are amazingly created; show appreciation for that gift!”
The body’s immune system is the foundation of good health, according to Lynn Feinman, N.D., of Natural Health Options. Calling upon her 25 years of experience, she developed a 10-step integrative approach to boost the immune system, which includes lifestyle management, immune defense, cellular renewal, inflammation reduction, and natural antiviral and antibacterial support. She also offers programs that address emotional balance, healthy digestion and natural women’s health. “Emotional imbalances are better understood and treated within the context of the whole person,” says Feinman. “Clients experiencing symptoms such as depression, anxiety or mood disorders often discover that their symptoms are caused or exacerbated by nutritional and hormonal deficiencies.”
Susan Burger, D.C., also believes the mind and body are best addressed as an integrated whole. The self-described “holistic life catalyst” is a certified Neuro Emotional Technique practitioner, Laughter Yoga leader and teacher in the Embodied Present process. Burger combines techniques that address physical/structural and nutritional components, as well as emotional and stress factors, to uncover imbalances that may need to be addressed in order to create the changes that someone wants to make in their life. “Our health is in dynamic flow all the time and ongoing attention and care are important,” Burger maintains. “All things that support the innate intelligence and wisdom of the body/mind are supportive to life, health and happiness.”
Barbara Meza agrees with that philosophy, and created Conscius Vita as a multi-disciplined healing arts practice. It draws upon healing philosophies from the East and West, weaving complementary theories on dietary wellness, lifestyle practice, massage and bodywork, cupping, herbal kitchen medicine and traditional wisdom, meditation and movement. The traditional Western herbalist holds a degree in natural health, and is licensed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as a holistic massage therapist specializing in lymph drainage therapy. Meza defines Conscius Vita as “an invitation to presence, to being fully present in your own life, in your own body,” adding “I am here to honor and support clients on their personal journeys of transformation.”
Scott Berk, M.D., of Hunterdon Integrative Physicians, also believes in empowering patients, designing his practice as an alternative to what he calls the typical primary care physician’s office. By combining state-of-the-art technology, modern diagnostic testing and an array of contemporary and traditional treatment options, “our patients enjoy an egalitarian atmosphere, emphasizing their role as the ultimate decision-maker in their health choices,” Berk says. Treatment emphasizes the importance of diet and nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle for maintaining patients’ health and well-being, and alternative therapies include herbal remedies and nutritional supplements. Because of the role hormones play in achieving optimal health, Berk evaluates patients’ various hormone levels and offers bio-identical hormone replacement as a treatment option.
Monica Gavin, M.D., of Azani Medical Spa, also believes in the importance of bio-identical hormones in achieving and maintaining health throughout menopause and andropause (menopause in males), reporting what she calls “fantastic results” in about 95 percent of patients over the past five years. Gavin, who is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, has assembled a team of board-certified plastic surgeons, estheticians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and patient care coordinators whose mission is to help every patient manage their age effectively by combining wellness and aesthetic medicine. “Beauty without wellness is not truly achievable," Gavin maintains. “When we feel and look good, then we can live our lives to the fullest, with confidence in our abilities to make the most of the time we have.”
Gavin uses Philadelphia Professional Compounding Pharmacy to provide the bio-identical hormones she prescribes, and she periodically sees patients and consults on hormone replacement therapy there. “The patient-doctor-pharmacist triad is paramount at PPC Pharmacy,” says pharmacist Mario Sellecchia. “Our integrative team approach to patient care is what separates us from other pharmacies.” The pharmacy can also compound medications for children and pets, and can provide specialized dosing, uncommon dosage forms, or allergen-free, dye-free or preservative-free medications, where required. All medications are compounded by registered pharmacists and can be shipped directly to patients’ homes or picked up at their location.
Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine, has said “We need to listen to the patient’s story and develop a response to it. The approach to complex syndromes may be much more profound than just trying to pound a round peg into a square hole to get a singular diagnosis.” Whether addressing an existing condition or taking a proactive approach to health, BuxMont area residents have more choice than ever in pursuing their wellness goals.
Natural Awakenings is honored to be able to introduce our readers to so many practitioners who stand ready to partner with them on their journeys to wellness. If any of these local experts resonate with you, please contact them and schedule an appointment. They look forward to meeting you.
Elisa Smith is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings. She can be reached at [email protected]. January 2016.