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Vanessa was an artist and designer until she got into a serious car accident in 2010. She was told that she would never be able to work as an artist again. At the time, Vanessa had already been thinking about switching gears in her career.
"I was ready to move on to the next thing anyway because for over 45 years I have lived a natural lifestyle," Vanessa says. "I have actually lived that old-school naturopathic model that the body will heal itself. I have been my own doctor." She says that her friends called her Dr. Vanessa and would come to her with any health-related questions that they had.
After the accident, Vanessa's husband encouraged her to go into the holistic health field. "My husband said ‘this is what you really should be doing,’" Vanessa says. She then went on to get her Certificate in Wellness Consulting through ACHS as well as becoming a certified Colon Hydrotherapist affiliated with the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy.
Vanessa talks about raising her children with a natural lifestyle. “I’ve raised two kids without antibiotics. Back then, you had to make your own tinctures. You couldn’t buy them. I drove over two hours just to get organic produce once a month," Vanessa says.
Vanessa didn't always live this way. She, like many of us, grew up eating typical American foods. “Having grown up on the standard American diet, I was suffering from a lot of health problems. If I hadn’t adopted this lifestyle, I would be one of those women who couldn’t even squat down and get up again.” Vanessa recounted how she easily squatted and then stood back up at her 40-year class reunion and several of the other women said, “Wow, you can still do that?”
Vanessa describes how she first became introduced to the natural lifestyle: "I started by following some of the old-school naturopathics and was introduced to juicing. I went for a two-week detox at Hippocrates Institute," she says.
Bridge to Health
As Vanessa describes it on her website, Bridge to Health "offers a variety of wellness services designed to support healing and a progression toward a healthier more balanced lifestyle,"
"What I put forward to people is ‘let thy food be thy medicine.’ It all really begins and ends with a really healthy diet," she says. The online programs that Vanessa offers on her website include a variety of detoxes, including a seasonal detox. In addition to online services, her business also offers in-person wellness consulting, colon hydrotherapy, and lymphatic drainage.
“Americans, when they get sick, don’t take time to rest. At my business, I just bring forward these common-sense things. Let’s just start thinking with our intuition and get out of our heads for a while. Stop working at stuff and start listening to your body. This is a really scary thing for a lot of people to do because they’re spending so much time avoiding feeling anything that when you do get them in touch with how they feel, they just have to cry for a while,” Vanessa says.
Vanessa says that the type of patients that she works with often have chronic illnesses. “The focus of my practice at this time is that I’ve developed wellness consulting, ongoing support plans for people. Teaching them there is no magic bullet, what got most people into bad shape is some stressful precursor situation that leads to the decline of their immunity. I do a really thorough intake with them," she says.
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The missing link in the healthcare system
Vanessa says that she is currently focusing on reaching out to integrative health clinics and doctors in order to support their patients.
“I’m looking for doctors who are working with patients with chronic illness, and I want to establish with them that through my practice I can become a support person for their patients. I can take what the doctor is recommending and can help make it a reality in the life of that person. Help them figure out how to integrate all this stuff into their life and how to incorporate what the doctor said," Vanessa says.
The doctors that Vanessa has spoken to say they have trouble getting their clients to make lifestyle changes. Therefore, she wants to step in as extra support and encouragement because patients often don't have someone who can assist them in their path to wellness. “It is the missing link," she says.
Advice on detoxes
Vanessa explains that detoxes can be dangerous if you don't prepare for them properly. "What I tell people is that you have to work to accustom your body to doing detoxes by doing a simple one day detox per week. Just have one day a week where you only eat fruits and vegetables. I don’t think anybody should go on any kind of drastic routine until they have really gradually gotten their body there. Detox symptoms can be profoundly disturbing if you just jump into some crazy program," she says.
Vanessa says that it’s natural that during times of the year we would go without food in the past, and that is what she explains to her clients. "We call it a detox now, but what we’re really saying is we are putting you on a diet. Unless people can get 30 to 60 days on a natural foods diet, they’ll bounce right back to eating junk food in 3 to 4 weeks. Because it’s addicting. You have to break the addiction cycle.”
She also warns people not to try out fad diets. " “What I recommend to people is that they don’t follow fads. Fads are a sure way to get off the track. I’ve been doing this for 45 years and have watched every crazy fad come along," she says. Vanessa says that the best way to detox is with the support of a wellness professional.
Experience at ACHS
Vanessa says that ACHS made her feel prepared and confident in her career: “My experience at ACHS really set me up to be able to do this because it taught me how to research and find information regarding such a wide range of subjects. I now feel very confident that I can research a particular aspect of health or wellness as it may relate to the clients that present to me, and have knowledgeable answers for them that are oftentimes more informative to them than any information they ever got from a doctor.”
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the Social Media Coordinator of the American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
About American College of Healthcare Sciences
Founded in 1978, ACHS.edu is a Portland, Ore.-based, accredited college offering online, on-campus, and study abroad integrative health education. With undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and continuing education units in integrative health, ACHS makes holistic health and wellness education accessible to a diverse community, including healthcare professionals, military students, stay-at-home parents, and lifelong learners. Specializations include aromatherapy, herbal medicine, holistic nutrition, and integrative health. ACHS is a Certified B Corporation® and was named two of 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon 2017 by Oregon Business magazine. ACHS is also accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). In response to our commitment to service members, veterans and military spouses, ACHS has been designated as one of the top 16% of military-friendly institutions in the U.S. for nine years in a row. For more information visit achs.edu.