My Experience Visiting Alternative To Meds Center As A Naturopathic Student

Last Updated on August 3, 2021 by Chris Weatherall

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team

I visited Alternative To Meds Center as a student of naturopathic medicine just before Christmas of 2018. I attend Bastyr University where I studied naturopathic medicine. I was drawn to check out Alternative To Meds Center because I also have a strong interest in treating mental health using orthomolecular medicine.

Currently in America, 66% of adults with a diagnosable mental disorder do not get treatment. I believe this is because many do not have access to psychotherapy or are uncomfortable talking to a stranger. Many are also fearful of the side effects of psychotropic drugs, understandably so. My goal is to offer an alternative option for people who do want treatment, but fall into that 66%.

alternative to meds center sedona arizonaI spent one week at ATMC observing the medical staff and touring the facilities as part of my preceptorship requirement for my naturopathic school. My first stop was the Detox Shoppe, and it was amazing to see how many supportive services they offered including sauna, massage, and heavy metal detox. I believe that detoxification is an important aspect of ensuring optimal nutrient absorption, which many people are lacking.

I experienced lunch in the kitchen which was gluten-free, organic, and consisted of whole foods. I know first-hand how important a role nutrition plays on mental health. The staff is composed of psychologists, integrative psychiatrists, nurses, and a naturopathic doctor, all working collaboratively. I appreciated seeing this model first-hand because it is unique and innovative.

For many people, a place like this is kind of a last stop; and it was really refreshing to see people being supported in a way that uses alternative and Western medicine collaboratively. This experience is similar to the sort of work I intend to do when I am out of school. As a naturopathic doctor, I plan on focusing on targeted amino acid therapy, nutrition, and detoxification to treat issues like OCD, Anxiety, Depression, eating disorders, and Lyme Disease and other cognitive manifestations of infectious disease.

I currently see patients at my school clinic as a student clinician; and it is not uncommon for people to come in with anxiety, depression and poor sleep. For some people, amino acid therapy has been really wonderful, and the fun part for me is figuring out what is going on with each individual because there is no one-size fits all protocol. Everyone is different.

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Posted by Alternative To Meds Center on Wednesday, December 19, 2018

For example, I have seen melatonin work wonders for some people in getting them to fall asleep. And for some people it causes grogginess in the morning, called the “melatonin hangover,” which is why we don’t give everyone melatonin. Also, it’s important to look at what heavy metals may be in effect and what essential nutrients someone is deficient in. This is why I’ve found that it’s important to work with a naturopathic doctor that can look at your case from a more comprehensive viewpoint and look at areas that may have been missed.

I also look at genetics which are important because that heavily influences what will help or even make things worse. Some people get a little anxious from vitamin B12 and some people actually calm down. It has a lot to do with how they methylate their B vitamins. Some people also have an issue being able to utilize or absorb intrinsic factor, which can be affected by diseases (such as atrophic gastritis), which affects the efficient absorption of vitamin B12. That’s why it’s key to look at their lab work and see what’s going on genetically as well as internally. Another example is having a VDR snp, which can influence how well someone absorbs vitamin D. We tend to see vitamin D deficiencies a lot with this particular snp and it’s not uncommon for their serum levels to rise very very slowly. Vitamin K2 may not be enough in this case, and it can help to add magnesium which arguably is even more important in the activation of vitamin D.

There are a myriad of aspects to look at when having any health issue, but especially mental health. What’s important to remember is that there are options and there is hope. I am glad that there is a place like ATMC offering that support. Additionally, the center is in Sedona, which is also great because it is a dark sky community. I love that because I believe that many people are sensitive to electromagnetic fields, so limiting that exposure can be helpful. What I loved about Sedona is its small population. It’s not very crowded and it’s very peaceful. It does help for a lot of people who are going on a healing journey to be in a place like this.

This was my first visit to Sedona and I really enjoyed it. I only got in one hike but it was amazing. One step at a time, right?

Originally Published Jan 14, 2019 by Dr Julia Britz NMD

This content has been written by a licensed Naturopathic Doctor.

Julia Britz

Julia Britz is a licensed naturopathic doctor who received her training from Bastyr University in San Diego, CA. She specializes in supporting people who are struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety, OCD and eating disorders; as well as a chronic illness like autoimmunity and mold toxicity. Her passion for working with individuals suffering from these lonely conditions is that she too was a “hopeless case”, but got better.

Dismissed by doctors, she was told over and over there was nothing else she could try beyond pharmacotherapy, and so was inspired to create, a site dedicated to documenting the daily life of OCD and related disorders. Through this project and holistic therapies, she found new levels of wellness, and in 2014 did a TED talk called “MyOCDdiary: an imperfect story.”  

She utilizes natural and integrative modalities including targeted amino acid therapy, peptide therapy, micronutrient therapy, NAD+ and IV therapy, botanical medicine and epigenetic analysis. Dr. Britz listens to her patients and respects where each person is on their healing journey. She understands that each individual has unique needs and she is passionate about finding creative ways to support them and optimize their health. She is passionate about the work being done at ATMC, by the healthcare team and the residents, because true healing happens when we all heal together. 

In her personal life, Dr. Britz loves to paint, go backcountry camping with her siblings, bake and explore ghost towns. Originally from Las Vegas, she now enjoys living in Arizona with her adorable cat, Icky Thump.

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