Emily Sebring is used to skeptics. The holistic health care practitioner has encountered a few during the last seven years as the owner of Root 2 Route Botanicals & Natural Medicine, formerly known as Herbalicious, in Casa Grande.

“I’ve had people on 10 different medications tell me I don’t know what I’m doing, and I say, ‘How are those pills working for you?’” she said. “Everything I do is based in science — years of education, years of training, lots of books.”

Naturopathic medicine, according to Web MD, is “a system that uses natural remedies to help the body heal itself. ... The goal of naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person — that means mind, body and spirit. It also aims to heal the root causes of an illness — not just stop the symptoms.” It was brought to the United States from Europe in the 1800s, but some of its treatments are centuries old.

Visitors who walk through Root 2 Route’s front door at 1355 E. Florence Blvd. enter the apothecary, which is an herbal pharmacy. The shelves are stocked with herbs, tinctures (concentrated liquid herbal extracts), oils, salves, powders, vitamins and supplements. When Pinal Ways visited in January, Sebring was still filling her shelves after moving the business from downtown Casa Grande in December.

One jar is tagged “rusty joints,” and its contents are meant to help with joint inflammation. The jar labeled “peace on earth” is for anxiety. Some have more straightforward labels such as “liver cleanser” or “regularity.” Sebring said her natural products help people with diabetes, cancer, headaches, burns, excessive ear wax and countless other problems. Her “smoke” medicines dry the lungs or clean the air of impurities.

In the back is Sebring’s “holistic medical center,” which shares the space with another business, Massage Casa. Sebring meets with clients, examines their lab results and medical records and discusses a plan to use herbal and natural remedies to address ailments and illnesses. When she knows what prescriptions her clients are taking, “I can let them know what nutrients are being depleted.” She also asks about allergies.

She works with her customers’ doctors, though not face to face. The patient acts as intermediary. Sometimes, doctors trained in traditional Western medicine respect their patients’ desire to incorporate naturopathic treatments. Other times they scoff and tell patients not to bother. When that happens, Sebring said, “I leave it up to the (patient whether to continue). They’re either ready to try something new, something that’s been documented for 5,000 years, or not.”

Sebring’s decision to embrace naturopathic medicine began a couple of decades ago. She was diagnosed with chronic ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), an immune disorder, when she was 28. Doctors told her, “you’ll be lucky to see 30.” She took nutrition classes, applied what she learned and spent time living abroad.

She came back to the United States about 10 years ago, and shortly afterward, she said, she put her ITP into remission with “lifestyle changes, dietary changes, education and prayer.” She earned an associate degree in western herbalism from the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, a private school in Tempe, and an associate in nutrition from the Energetic Health Institute, which is based in Los Angeles. She liked that her classes “focused on the whole body, the whole person,” she said. “It’s not just, ‘here’s a food source and here’s a body part.’”

She started Herbalicious of Arizona at a farmers market about seven years ago, and it has grown since then. Though she was drawn to naturopathic studies, she respects traditional medicine and sees what she does as a complement to it.

“If my clients need something I can’t provide, I send them back to the doctor they already have,” she said. “Traditional medicine has a role to play. I love emergency medicine. People with chronic disease who are not getting answers, that’s where I like to work.” | PW

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