"Why do you what you do?" – " why did you become a Naturopathic Doctor?" If I could have a dollar for every time I am asked this question, I could probably retire, haha!
Well, here is my story...
From an early age, God always put on my heart a fascination and love for nutrition, but more so, he put a bigger desire to be a wife and mother. When I was growing up, my Mom could see that I cared about people and had a nurturing side that wanted to care for people, so she would say “ You should be a nurse!” I would look at her and just shake my head and say “no, Mom, I don’t like blood!”…….so off to Business School I went. For many years, I worked as an administrative assistant and then God allowed my biggest dream to come true and blessed me with 3 wonderful children (still my best dream ever!)
The desire to help and care for people and my love for nutrition never left me, but when I was younger, I did not know about naturopathic medicine. Did not even know what it was, so of course, did not pursue it.
As I was raising my children, I did things just like everyone did……faithfully took my children to every pediatrician’s appointment and was confused when a friend of mine told me about the controversy of immunizations. I remember thinking “ why would you not want to give your children shots – that is what the doctors tell you to do!”
When my first son was about 2 years old, he came down with a series of reoccurring ear infections. I did what I thought I was supposed to do and put him on antibiotic after antibiotic. I had the sweetest, most cooperative, happy little baby who suddenly turned into a different child. He was uncooperative, hyper, temperamental. It was a total change in his personality that made me feel like a failure as a Mother and was a totally exhausting experience. At the age of 3, he was diagnosed with ADHD. I did not know what to do with him or myself. I had an uncle who mailed me a book about ADHD in children that was written by a pediatrician, Dr. William Crooke. Luckily Dr. Crooke was still alive at the time and he lived several states away, but I did a few phone calls with him and he helped me to understand how the antibiotics really messed up my little boy. At that point, I read another book that suggested homeopathic medicine, so I was able to locate a homeopathic/naturopathic doctor and back 22 years ago, I had my first phone appointment with a natural doctor who really, really was able to help me.
This was my first experience and knowledge of naturopathic medicine. 22 years ago, the phone appointment that I paid for was more expensive than a face-to-face consultation at our Wellness Center, but, honestly, it was so life changing for us and was worth every cent. Plus, this was part of God’s grooming process for me. He put the desire on my heart to do this when I was a little girl – and this was one of the ways that He was teaching me and pushing me to go in this direction.
I remember thinking back then “ This is what I want to do…….I want to help other people. I want to be a Naturopathic Doctor.” Then……….I thought……….”well, wait a minute…….I really want to be a Mom most of all……..” so I went on to have 2 more children.
When my second child, Jenna, was born, I was really starting to question traditional, allopathic medicine, but I did not know what to do... when she was 3, she began having bladder infections. I took her to the pediatrician and of course, they wanted me to put her on antibiotics. I was really afraid to do that because I knew what they did to my son. The pediatricians really scared me and told me that I needed to take her to Children’s Hospital to have testing done and she was diagnosed with reflux of the urinary system or Primary Vesicoureteral Reflex. At that time, they told me that she would have to be on antibiotics for a while. They told me that if I did not listen to them that she may have to have a kidney transplant or be on dialysis. Of course, you could imagine how terrified I was not to listen to them. I took the script for the antibiotics and started giving them to her and noticed again that my wonderful, happy-go-lucky little girl was becoming irritable; moody; whiny and downright uncooperative. I cleared everything from my plate and started reading every book about natural medicine that I could get my hands on and like a maniac Mom I was even bold enough to call one of the authors of the book at her home and plead with her to help me help my little girl. Fortunately, this author did not hang up on me, but graciously took a few minutes of her time to tell me what herbs that I needed to put my daughter on. She also explained to me that this was most likely a pH problem and that I immediately needed to stop giving her orange juice – that the orange juice was mostly likely causing much of the problem.
At this time, I did something rather risky and took her off of all prescription medicines and starting giving her probiotics (hardly anyone even knew what they were at the time) I also gave her herbal antibiotics and cranberry capsules. I also did apple cider vinegar baths and quit giving her orange juice. Jenna was such a trooper and could swallow supplements at age 3. She was taking 12 capsules per day. I was bound and determined not to continue down the path of allopathic medicine and end up with another child with full blown ADHD. To make sure that what I was doing was working, I frequently took urine samples into the pediatrician to make sure that the natural medicines were eradicating the urinary issue. The pediatrician’s just smiled thinking that I was giving her “their” antibiotics, but I was actually giving her God’s antibiotics. We took her back to Children’s Hospital for a recheck a few months later and the Primary Vesicoureteral Reflex was completely cured.
God continued to groom me for what He wanted me to do. By the way, a few years ago, I developed my very own natural antibiotic called Wellness Booster which has been a tremendous blessing to so many people. Another blessing, is to fast forward 18 years and for those of you who are regular patients at the Wellness Center have had the pleasure to meet Jenna, as she now works for me at the Wellness Center full time as a Licensed Massage Therapist and recently completed her degree as a Certified Nutritional Counselor doing weight loss counseling and nutritional phone consultations. God was grooming her too.
I went on to have my third child, Cassidy, who is a junior at Grove City College studying Marketing. I don’t have any scary health stories to share about her, but will say, that she has been on herbal medicine since she was a baby. I surely could use a full time marketer, though! Well, maybe someday she will work for me as well.
When my third child was 1 year old, I took my first class in homeopathic medicine. When I started taking classes, I remember thinking “why am I doing this – I am so busy with my children, I will never have any time to ever do anything with this education.”
Remembering the desire that God put on my heart and the experiences that He gave me, I continue to pursue my education. After about 10 years off and on, I was able to complete my degree as a Master Herbalist; my degree in Certified Nutritional Counseling and my Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine. I am also Board Certified In Integrative Medicine. In 2006, I started seeing clients out of one room in my house and then we ended up growing and converting 1,000 square feet in the downstairs in our home into office space; a waiting room and 2 footbath detoxification rooms.
In 2015, we wanted to incorporate therapeutic massage and moved into our current 2200 square foot space in Bridgeville, PA. In the 10 years of being in business, I have had the privilege to work with over 1,000 individuals. Many of the products that we carry have personally been developed by me.
There have been many typical ups and downs of owning a business; laws in Pennsylvania trying to shut down most Naturopathic Doctors; mysterious deaths of naturopathic doctors that don’t make main stream news (just google it and you will find it) and working 80 hour weeks (too much), but finally God got His way with me and kept pursuing my heart to do what I do today.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that there is a place for traditional, Allopathic Medicine, as my husband is an executive for Ohio Valley General Hospital. I just believe so strongly in utilizing the good and natural medicines that God gave us first hand. For emergency care, we live in one of the best countries in the entire world.
If you are one of our patients at the Wellness Center, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart for trusting your health to us.
Dr. Valerie Nelson