I visited Alternative To Meds Center as a student of naturopathic medicine just before Christmas of 2018. I attend Bastyr University where I study naturopathic medicine and I’m in my final year of coursework. 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%.
I 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.
Posted by Alternative To Meds Center on Wednesday, December 19, 2018
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?