Dr. Tim Gerstmar has opened Aspire Natural Health at 16455 NE 85th St., Suite 102 in downtown Redmond.
Gerstmar earned his doctorate in Naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore. Naturopaths are medically trained doctors who use natural therapies, as well as conventional medicine, to treat, prevent and cure disease. Gerstmar is a family practitioner with an emphasis in digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis (UC), Crohn’s and Celiac disease.
“Work better. Play better. Live better,” is Aspire Natural Health’s motto.
Gerstmar said he shies away from the term “optimal health” because “it suggests that you are Superman.”
Instead, Gerstmar asks patients to “strive to be happier, healthier and find purpose in their life, against all the challenges.”
He explained, “My goal is helping them become the person they want to be. It’s not to say, ‘I’ll give you a vitamin or herb instead of Imodium,’ but to move beyond that. Health is about freedom. When we’re healthy, we can do so much. People with IBS, Crohn’s or Colitis feel bound by their disease.”
Looking at their lifestyle and small things they can do to modify their routine is part of helping them control their symptoms, he noted.
In these tumultuous times, with so many people unemployed or afraid of losing their jobs, are digestive ailments on the rise?
“Absolutely,” said Gerstmar. “I see a lot of anxiety and depression, people freaking out. Everything is exacerbated by stress.”
He reviewed what we learned in biology class, about the autonomic nervous system’s parasympathetic or sympathetic responses.
“Parasympathetic is ‘rest and digest.’ Sympathetic is the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome,” said Gerstmar. “To our bodies, it feels like being chased by a tiger, trying to run away. The digestive tract is one of our most metabolically active — digesting food, breaking it down, eliminating waste.”
When that process is disrupted by lack of rest and/or poor eating habits, it can lead to stomach aches.
“Most people can’t move to an island to get away from stress,” he acknowledged. “But there are ways to manage it.”
Gerstmar’s tips include the following:
1) Make lists. Staying organized reduces anxiety.
2) Try meditation or self-hypnosis. “Shift the body out of its sympathetic response.”
3) “Don’t eat in your car, while you’re shaving or applying makeup,” he advised. “The wisdom in old European cultures is that people sit down, relax, enjoy their food. It’s wishful thinking that we can take a two-hour lunch. Many of us have only 15 minutes. But sit down, start with some sort of blessing. Even for those without faith, say ‘Thank you for this food, this moment.’ Carve out 30 seconds. It’s better than nothing.”
4) For those who feel chained to their desks, “take a few minutes to go outside and feel the fresh air or sunshine,” said Gerstmar. “Turn your e-mail and your cell phone off. Take a few breaths. Sit in your car and listen to music if that’s what you need to get away.”
5) The last tip is “not very sexy,” Gerstmar commented, laughing, but it’s a gem that you’ve likely heard from your mom or grandma: “Eat your fruit and vegetables.”
While certain “superfoods” or supplements may have merit, the health benefits of fresh, seasonal produce can not be overstated, he said. Apples, berries, tomatoes, broccoli and cabbage are simple but excellent foods that promote wellness.
For more information about Aspire Natural Health, call (425) 202-7849 or visit www.aspirenaturalhealth.com.