NEWS OF A FORMER CONGREGANT
This is an article from the Voyage Phoenix staff, featuring former Great Falls long-time resident and Aitz Chaim member and physician Mona Morstein.
FEBRUARY 1, 2018
Meet Mona Morstein of Arizona Integrative Medical Solutions in Tempe
Today we’d like to introduce you to Mona Morstein.
Mona, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story begins between the ages of 10-16 years old, when I suffered from odd seizures when physically active (looking back, due to low blood sugars), and obsessive compulsive disorder. Stopping my refined sugar intake when I was 16 years old cured me of both conditions within 2 months. My interest in nutrition began then. I wound up getting a Summa Cum Laude BS in Foods and Nutrition from Arizona State University in 1984. During my years there I also wound up with another annoying medical problem–recurrent bouts of diarrhea. I miraculously cured with a couple of herbs I bought from the old Gentle Strength Coop, and made into a recipe for tea I discovered in “The Herb Book” by John Lust. My interest in alternative medicine was growing. I had been discouraged with my nutrition education. I had not learned how to use nutrition to reverse medical conditions. By chance, in the ASU bookstore, I came across a book called “Holistic Health Handbook” put out by the USC Berkeley. In this book, nearly all alternative medical fields were discussed, from acupuncture, to chiropractic to massage, etc. I discovered naturopathic medicine in that book, visited a naturopathic physician in Scottsdale, and decided that was my next education step. There were only two post-graduate accredited naturopathic medical schools in the US, one in Portland and one in Seattle. My parents agreed and I went to National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland for 4 years, did a year residency there, and then bought a naturopathic practice in Great Falls, MT where I set up my first clinic.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, there are always struggles. We did not learn good business practices in medical school, and so learning how to set up a practice on my own was hard. I had a cash practice and learned to not to set up account receivables, as one day, adding those up, I discovered patients owed me over $17,000 (!). I was embezzled by a dishonest office manager. I was doing naturopathic medicine on my own, the only ND in Great Falls, MT, for 11 years mostly before computers, Google and email; I was a lone dog doctor doing my best. I worked hard reading journals, going to medical conferences and accumulating more knowledge to have better success with patients. I wound up buying a medical condo hoping to develop a large multifactorial clinic with many different practitioners, but that never really developed no matter the work and advertising I put into it. Overall, nonetheless, I loved Montana, and Great Falls, and discovered hiking, camping and environmental activism. I wound up developing a solid medical practice that treated patients from Great Falls and all the smaller towns within 1-2 hours of Great Falls. I really grew and matured there.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am a naturopathic physician. We are, essentially, the equivalent to medical GPs; we can write prescriptions, do blood work, imaging studies, and physical exams. However, our focus is on working with patients to remove all the obstacles to cure they may have that have led to the development of their medical condition(s), and then use–as much as possible–natural modalities to stimulate their body’s capacity to heal. So, for example, if you present with psoriasis to an MD, you’ll probably get hydrocortisone cream or a strong biologic drug to block the psoriasis from coming out. With me, I’m going to do a food sensitivity test, a diet diary where you record what you eat for 7 days to learn your nutrient intake, and how pro-inflammatory is your diet. In my 1.5 hour first office visit, we’ll discuss any stresses your life, and how well you may or may not be handling them. We’ll go over sleep, exercise, and investigate how healthy (or not) your gut functioning may be. All of these aspects of a person can cause a chronic dermatitis, for e.g. I’ll teach you how to remove any food sensitivities, how to eat to heal your skin, dose supplements specific to what you need, help strengthen your gut health, and so forth. There are many different tests an ND does outside the conventional world of MDs that can be very helpful in finding the reasons someone is unhealthy on a mental/emotional or physical level. I specialize in gastrointestinal conditions and all hormonal conditions (diabetes, thyroid, adrenals, reproductive); in fact, I recently had my book published: “Master Your Diabetes: A Comprehensive, Integrative Approach for Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.” Someone told me it’s the best-selling book on diabetes on Amazon now. I am also the founder and Executive Director of the Low Carb Diabetes Association: http://www.lowcarbdiabetes.org an education non-profit designed to help educated patients about using integrative medicine to prevent or control their diabetes. I see both adults and children as patients.
But, I see many other conditions as well, such as skin, migraines, cardiovascular, auto-immune. In general I use these healing modalities: conventional and integrative testing, nutrition, nutraceutical supplementation, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, counseling/motivational support, vertebral manipulation, bio-identical hormonal therapy, medical prescriptions. You can check out our clinic at drmorstein.com
What were you like growing up?
I think I was a handful growing up! I had a lot of energy, was very athletic, and liked doing what I wanted to do. One of my earliest memories was when I was around 2-3 years old watching Saturday morning cartoons. There was a commercial where there was a STOP sign (I recognized that from being driven around by my parents and grandparents) and some words written beneath it. I remember thinking I couldn’t wait until I could read and know what those words were meaning. I have always been an avid reader. My first big person’s book I read was “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury when I was 10 years old. I was fascinated by it! I have never stopped reading. I think I might have gone into the publishing world if I hadn’t gone into medicine.
I was good in school and always did well. I had a speech impediment though, the letter “r”. It took years of speech therapy before I overcame it. Thank G-d for speech therapists!
I’m lucky I always had a good feeling about myself, and was confident I was a good person. Not egomania, mind you, just a positive view of myself no matter if I was teased for my “r” impediment, or a teacher yelled at me, or I was bullied, or a friend snubbed me or some other, you know, childhood disappointment occurred. I simply liked myself and knew I was a worthwhile person. I was lucky to live in a functional household and I always knew I was loved by my parents.
We moved from New Jersey, and my grandparents, when I was 9 years old and that devastated me emotionally. I don’t particularly handle grief very well; it lingers and it hard to get over. That’s when my health went and I developed the seizures and OCD. When I was older, in college and med school, at every school break, several times a year I flew back to New Jersey to be with my grand-parents, and now and then visit my other grandmother up in Brooklyn. I loved being with my grand-parents.
I still am always reading a book. I love hiking every Sunday morning, and I believe there is no town as great as the Valley for those who hike alone. I love the McDowell/Sonoran Conservancy, the Superstitions, South Mountain, Thompson Peak, etc. I exercise at home the other days of the week. I am active in my religion, Judaism, at my shul in Chandler. And, I strive to be a great cat mommy; my neighbors regularly see me walking my little furry boy (morning and evening), and occasionally my little furry girl tags along, too.
• Address: Arizona Integrative Medical Solutions
4657 S. Lakeshore Dr. Ste 1
Tempe, AZ 85282
• Website: http://www.azimsolutions.com or http://www.drmorstein.com
• Phone: 480-284:8155
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Twitter: @drmonamorstein