Women Practitioners Focus on Family-Oriented Holistic Wellness
Whether it’s nutrition, lifestyle changes, meditation or other wellness practices, women are expanding the complementary and alternative medicine marketplace not just as practitioners offering natural therapies, but also by keeping the needs of women as caregivers at the forefront of their practice operations. Natural Awakenings caught up with three integrative practitioners for their take on how women are leading the holistic wellness arena.
Dr. Toni Engram, of Richardson, Texas, began practicing biological dentistry after conquering her own health challenges through nutrition, stress management and natural modalities. Her practice philosophy embodies many of those natural principles. “I focus on nutrition and prevention, seeing mouth as part of whole body and finding the root cause of problems when they do arise,” she says.
She’s seeing more people—both practitioners and health consumers—interested in holistic dentistry. “But women especially are drawn to holistic care because we embrace the nurturing aspects of our profession, and I think we tend to be open-minded to methods that are outside the box,” she observes. “So when we find other safer ways to do dentistry—and a wealth of scientific evidence supports those methods—it’s a really easy decision for us.”
Engram sees more flexibility in the way the women practitioners operate to meet busy family schedules, benefitting both patients and practitioners. “In my practice and in the practices of my female colleagues, I see patients bringing in their kids. The whole family comes, and kids play throughout the office. I also see moms nursing babies in reception areas and treatments rooms, which wasn’t acceptable 20 years ago,” she observes. “Now we’re starting to view wellness as something the family experiences together, rather than a traditional, structured doctor’s visit.”
Women are also leading the way as health consumers, Engram notes, since they make the majority of health decisions for their families. “I think that one important thing for women to remember is to be persistent. Often we have to gently nudge our family members into making healthy decisions. I encourage women to be persistent with those nudges—in a loving way,” she laughs.
151 Walton Way, Ste. 102, Midlothian
Dr. Robyn Abramczyk, of Smile Ranch Family Dentistry, is a general dentist that practices with an integrative and biological approach. Abramczyk is mindful of dental materials that are placed in the mouth and how they affect the body in negative ways and specializes in removing them using safe protocols. She restores teeth with biocompatible materials that are not hazardous to humans or the environment.
Abramczyk sees women in dentistry not only embracing holistic approaches, but also networking to collaborate and share ideas. “As women continue to merge into the workforce, we’ve seen numbers of female practitioners grow, and women are gaining respect,” she says. “There are still some challenges that persist for female practitioners, but things are moving forward. Overall, times are changing and will continue to change and improve.”
Abramczyk frequently hears from some patients that prefer trusting the care of their family to a female because they feel women are more compassionate, patient and understanding, especially when it comes to children. “I feel that social norms are continuing to recognize that the primary family caretaker is still the mother, whether or not she works outside the home,” she emphasizes. “There are exceptions, but overall I see that patients have a tremendous respect for healthcare providers that are female because we balance being a mom with being a health care provider.”
Mothers make 90 percent of dental appointments, Abramczyk notes, meaning that women are responsible for many healthcare choices for their families. “Sometimes my patients need me to step out of my role as doctor and have a mom-to-mom conversation. They need a listening ear from someone that has compassion, which is a special moment because I’m building a rapport with the mom, and from there we can move forward with trust and care for their children.”
As a mother of three children, Abramczyk is comfortable putting herself in her patient’s shoes and seeing those same challenges. She understands that when mothers have to juggle many balls, something will drop, such as flossing her child’s teeth. “It’s minor, but important at the same time. That’s the beauty of being both a mom and a healthcare provider, to offer support and find workable solutions.”
Smile Ranch Family Dentistry
6700 Horizon Rd., Heath
Dr. Lida Aghdam, of Natural Balance Clinic with locations in Colleyville and The Colony, is a functional medicine physician specializing in many issues including women’s health. “Functional medicine is to go to the origin of the problem and fix the cause,” she explains. “We don't temporarily treat the symptoms with a Band-Aid of suppressing medication.”
Aghdam studied medicine in Iran, Turkey and America, and she did a fellowship in women’s health at the Mayo Clinic. After graduating from medical school in America, she noticed how patients are getting sicker and worse by using medicine. “We had tremendous exposure to nutrition in my country, and we hardly prescribed medicine for common problems. I decided to deviate from current tradition of medicine and combine nutrition and supplements together before prescribing medicine. I saw tremendous results,” she says.
While Aghdam notices that more people in general are interested in natural and holistic medicine, many women are embracing holistic practices because they’re either researching and educating themselves about healthcare choices, or they’re disappointed by costly pharmaceuticals that lead to side effects.
“About 85 percent of my patients are women. I found men to be quieter and not so enthusiastic about seeking medical solutions for their problems, but women are open minded about their health,” she concludes. “I find that women successfully treated by natural medicine are bringing in their husbands and male children to seek natural approaches. I believe women are leaders in the revolution of moving from traditional medicine to natural medicine, and they are very successful in this movement.”
Natural Balance Clinic
7155 Colleyville Blvd., Ste. 101 Colleyville
4819 State Highway 121, Ste. 14, The Colony