Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photography Provided by Leah Rife with Leah Rife Photo
As a former personal trainer, fitness instructor and Indiana Pacemate cheerleader, Natalie Slater has always had a passion for health and wellness. She noticed, however, that although a lot of her clients were working out, eating good foods and living healthy lifestyles, when they expressed to their doctors of not feeling well, the doctors shrugged it off if their lab work came back normal, blaming perimenopause or clinical depression.
“These were women in their mid-30s,” Slater says. One topic that Slater found was often omitted in conversations with physicians was nutrition, and that bothered her. These interactions prompted Slater to go back to school in 2016 to become a board-certified naturopath.
Naturopathy addresses the unique aspects of each client and promotes wellness by employing nontoxic, natural therapies, to restore the client to physiological, psychological and structural balance. Slater began working with clients three years ago, but just recently partnered with two other women to launch Journey Health + Wellness, a naturopathic wellness center specializing in immune enhancement and detoxification therapies. The goal is to restore and maintain the balance in the body that’s necessary for optimal health, using client-centered education, root-cause analysis, functional nutrition, and natural detoxification resources and therapies.
Kristie Geitner met Slater when her son was dealing with mold toxicity and Lyme disease. At one point, Geitner and her husband took their son to Arizona for treatment because western states are typically several steps ahead of the Midwest when it comes to offering alternative and traditional medical treatments. While there, he received colon hydrotherapy, lymphatic enhancement therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and microcurrent therapy.
They learned that their son, like most people in their family, cannot rid his body of toxins through normal physiological means. When the Geitners returned home, they had a hard time finding these therapies.
“One day Natalie told me that her dream was to start a wellness center that offered detoxification and immune enhancing therapies,” Geitner says. “I immediately said ‘I want to help bring these therapies to our community.”
Geitner got trained on several therapies and began working beside Slater. Geitner’s daughter, Jessie Kennell, also found her passion within health and wellness and decided to change her career. Kennell is now one of few certified microcurrent therapists in Indiana that assists clients in detoxification and pain management.
The center officially opens to the public on November 7 and offers a number of services (see sidebar). Clients can receive these therapies without having a diagnosis or preexisting condition, and they can bolster anyone’s immunity, regardless of their level of health.
“We see people who are in good health that just want to level up their current health situation or boost their immunity, to those that have had chronic issues or a history of being on medications,” Slater says.
It’s also common for an exasperated client to come in after having been told by a doctor that their tests are within a normal range, despite the fact that they do not feel normal.
At Journey Health + Wellness, they start with the basics, which is what natural health is all about.
“We’re not quick to jump on a symptom and suggest supplements or even a therapy,” Slater says. “We really strip it back to the foundations.”
It all starts with a one-hour consultation called a Ur Story session, in which they gather the facts. They do not diagnose, treat or cure, but rather look at the fundamentals, asking clients about their nutrition, energy level, quality of sleep, movement routine and gut health. It goes beyond sharing symptoms, family health, and medical history, and gets into the nitty-gritty of the client’s day-to-day life.
“It’s amazing how much people will open up when you sit down with them, knee-to-knee, and give them your undivided attention. It’s important to provide an environment where clients not only feel heard, but where they know we are allies in their health journey.”
They do this by assessing the signs and symptoms a client may be experiencing and through shared decision-making, develop a “roadmap” of restoration and enhancement.
“It’s about taking back ownership of your own health,” Slater says.
When it comes to health, nutrition is a vital but often missing piece of the equation in the conventional medical world. Just because you eat clean food doesn’t mean your body is utilizing, absorbing, digesting and eliminating it properly.
“If you’re not addressing the pathways of elimination first and foremost, then the body’s ability to adapt to stress and rid itself of toxins is like pumping air into a tire that always has a tiny hole in it,” Slater says.
This is why people might get frustrated when they feel like they’re doing everything right (like cutting out sugar, dairy or gluten from their diet) and yet still feel awful. At Journey Health + Wellness, they do nutritional assessments and testing to see if the body is nutrient deficient. They also offer state-of-the-art testing to determine toxicity and digestive function.
“A lot of people don’t use the restroom often enough.Waste can build up over time,” Geitner says. “After several days, toxins can weaken the bowel wall and cause a “leaky gut” which can go on to affect the health of other organs.”
She notes that humans should have at least two bowel movements per day, which often shocks people who are perhaps used to only once or twice per week.
“They say, ‘That’s been the case my whole life,’ so they think it’s normal,” Geitner says. “Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s normal.”
Your gut is like your second brain, so when it is off, your brain is stressed.
“Your gut is what produces and regulates neurotransmitters, so it must be attended to for optimal health,” Geitner says. Journey offers colon hydrotherapy, which is an irrigation of the large intestine in order to restore the body’s natural cleansing process.
Even the things you put on your skin can affect your health. Kennell first got interested in naturopathy when she was experiencing some depression, brain fog, painful periods, acne, and thinking of family planning. These days, however, many of her symptoms have dissipated thanks to these therapies.
In today’s world, we’re often quick to pop a pill when we experience a symptom we don’t like. According to Slater, a symptom is a lesson our body is trying to teach us. For instance, perhaps you grew up having constant headaches, so for years you never left the house without Advil. Once you start paying attention to what you put in your mouth and what you put on your skin, the headaches can vanish.
“When you really pay attention to how something makes you feel, it’s a game changer,” Kennell says.
When a client fully commits to the process, they often notice a change in how they feel within the first few weeks.
These days an increasing number of people are experiencing gut related problems, partly because food isn’t exactly food anymore. A lot of nutrients, vitamins and enzymes are taken out of food to improve its shelf life.
“By the time food gets to your table, who knows how many hands have touched it?” Slater says. “From chemical processing of the seed to what was put on the soil, to the way it was prepared, to the additives and food dyes.”
When a food is heavily adulterated, our bodies become stressed. The body perceives the food as a chemical and doesn’t have the proper enzymes present to break it down, so it has to up-regulate the immune system.
“That’s robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Slater says. “Eventually the immune system is going to say, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and that’s when symptoms present themselves.
Again, it all goes back to the foundations of nutrition and how your body is responding to what you’re putting in it.
“This isn’t rocket science,” Slater says. “People are aware of what they should be doing, but for some reason they’ve let go of ownership of it, so we’re here to help them regain that ownership and feel confident in their daily health decisions. Like any worthy journey, it requires knowledge and proceeds step-by-step.”
Journey Health + Wellness is located at 622 North Madison Avenue, Suites 1 and 2 in Greenwood. For more information, call 463-300-4345 or visit journeyhw.com.
Journey Health + Wellness – Services and Therapies Offered: