We are happy to announce that Dr. Claire Graser has joined the practice and will be seeing patients on Wednesdays and Thursdays at SFNM as of November 2015. We asked Dr. Graser to tell us about herself and her approach to health care.
What does naturopathic medicine mean to you?
To me naturopathic medicine means healing the whole person, gradually, over time. It means getting to the root causes of illness and addressing the physical, tangible aspects of health as well as the emotional and energetic.
Why did you decide to become a naturopathic doctor?
I grew up in a small town in rural Washington state. I had an appreciation for nature and simple, DIY living from the beginning, and I think it has permeated my way of being. My mom was always very interested in nutrition and my dad was interested in living sustainably and frugally. With that combination of interests, we always had a big garden, stored a lot of things in the root cellar or canned and dried produce and ate mostly whole, plant-based foods.
We also spent a ton of time outdoors so I became familiar with native plants at a young age as well. My grandparents were very interested in botany and made trips to Washington every spring and fall to check out native wildflowers and collect seeds for an international seed exchange they participated in. I loved helping them find berries and pods and processing them to extract the seeds, so my interest in plants and medicine started there.
Later, I became interested in human anatomy and physiology. I thought I might want to be a doctor but I hated the antiseptic smell and harsh lighting in hospitals I visited as a kid and felt like I didn’t want to be in that environment. I think there was maybe more to it than that, but there was some general feeling about conventional medicine that didn’t draw me to it.
I found out about naturopathic medicine early in my undergraduate training, and all the pieces fit. It incorporates nutrition and herbal medicine, physical medicine and movement, psychology and the ethereal. It’s creative and all about empowering people to be their own best advocate and healthcare provider.
What do you hope your patients gain by working with you?
I hope to give patients the information they need to make their own decisions about how they will maintain and improve their health. I guide people based on my knowledge and experience, and I see the best results with people that are self-motivated, interested in learning and ready for change. Then we can experiment and grow together. It’s my goal to help people gain the self-knowledge and self-awareness to realize when something is off-balance with their health and help them find the tools to bring balance back.
What makes your practice unique?
My practice involves a lot of physical medicine including hands-on work that makes a huge difference in the way people move through life. Anxiety and stress are two of the most common issues for people that come in, and many times these are at the root of health problems. People often leave my office feeling more relaxed than when they came in, which is not the typical experience at the doctor’s office. I think it is also unique that my primary goal (in addition to helping people feel better) is to educate the patient so they can take their health into their own hands.
How do you address holistic health in your life?
Mindfulness has become more important to me over the years. I eat healthfully most of the time, move my body on the regular, see a therapist, take time to relax, visit the ocean and the forest, travel when I have the chance—to expand my horizons and keep things fresh. All of these things though are just things that I do—I think sometimes it’s more the way you do something than the actual thing you are doing. If you are washing the dishes and just appreciating the way the soap is bubbling up and that you just had a great meal and you’re comfortable and relaxed, I think that is addressing health holistically—taking notice of what you appreciate and makes you feel good and doing more of that—in a variety of areas.
What is the one thing everyone can do to improve your health?
I think one of the best things people can do, myself included, is to practice being kind to themselves. When the voice in your head is criticizing, putting down, comparing, judging, whatever, just notice that. Pretend you are talking to a small child that you love very much and want to do the absolute best for, and speak the way you would with to them.