Tucked next to Walgreens at South 48th Street and East Elliot Road is a center for those seeking alternate approaches to mainstream medicine; the Phoenix Holistic Health Center.
Owner Gayle Palms moved the center to Ahwatukee Foothills in May 2009 from her Seattle location of 10 years. Palms first entered into holistic health in 1999, after members of her family became ill.
Dr. Betsy Yurgel, RN NMD, who came to the center in August 2009, said most of their patients came to them because of negative experiences with conventional medicine. For Yurgel, it is a familiar feeling; she was first drawn to naturopathic medicine after her daughter became ill.
“I went to all these doctors and it was all about what drug they could give her,” she said. “So I kept searching and I found out ‘Wow, there are these doctors that do way more than that. They really look at health, they look at your spiritual/mental/emotional part.’”
After that, she returned to medical school to become a naturopathic doctor. Yurgel has been a naturopath for three years and has been a psychiatric registered nurse since 1984. She said she works at the geriatric psychiatric hospital Haven Senior Horizons on the weekends and through the state of Arizona, working with the seriously mentally ill.
As a doctor of naturopathic medicine, Yurgel said she can prescribe and do diagnostic testing like any other MD, but she’s also trained in alternative medicines.
“I do accupuncture, I do homeopathy, nutrition, chiropractic stuff sometimes, mind-body medicine,” she said.
The center has its own apothecary, an alternative pharmacy of sorts that deals with herbs raw, in gel caps and in teas rather than conventional medicines.
There are multiple treatments available at the center like massage therapy, colon hydrotherapy and acupuncture. Palms said almost all of the treatments, except sometimes acupuncture, are not covered by insurance. Some patients are put on a sliding pay scale proportional to their income.
She also instructs people on colon hydrotherapy and nutrition at the center; Palms certifies them so they are licensed to practice colon hydrotherapy by the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy.
Palms said one of her biggest goals is to help people with drug abuse; to that end, they treat drug users with their infrared sauna, ionic foot baths, coffee enemas and acupuncture.
“We have a grant writer that’s looking for grant money for us to help detox people and we’re trying to also work with the drug facilities here,” she said.
Yurgel said that naturopathic medicine is no more a magic health solution than allopathic medicine.
“Doctors really are not the people who decide how you live your life, what you do to stay healthy. They can suggest things, but it’s really from within the person that makes the changes.” she said. “I prefer the kind of patients that really want to make changes in their life because there is no magic pill, there is no magic herb, there is no magic anything.”
Phoenix Holistic Health Center is located in the Ahwatukee Mercado Shopping Center, 4747 E. Elliot Road, Suite 13. For more information, call (480) 753-0888 or visit http://phxholistichealth.wordpress.com.
Christopher Ogino is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a senior at Arizona State University.