written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Dr. Ashley Russell grew up in Southern California. Her Dad worked for UPS and her Mom was a school teacher. They’re now retired. She has a ‘goofy and fun’ younger sister who studied Film Theory and works at the USC Film Library.
“I grew up with acting and singing. I’m a ‘lefty’ and I was more on the creative side but eventually found my way into science. I got my Undergraduate Degree in Applied Ecology, so worried about environmental concerns and things like that.”
She went to Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona. All of her friends were from the East Coast. “All of the West-Coasters, I could not get along with for some reason.”
That prompted her to think about moving to the East Coast. Initially considering a move to one of the bigger metro areas like New York and DC, she found herself falling in love with Frederick.
“I love the sense of community. It’s kind of a small town but we still have big-city conveniences here. Once I decided Frederick, I didn’t look back.”
She added, “Things kind of worked out in a very serendipitous way for me to actually move out here, so it seems like it’s the place I’m supposed to be.”
In her spare time, Dr. Russell loves baking — “especially trying new recipes like vegan gluten-free treats. I like hiking and outdoor stuff.” She also likes spending time walking her ‘adorable’ dog, Honey, in the park.
Here, she’s sharing the 6 benefits of Naturopathic Medicine.
- Health Detective – There are sometimes multiple symptoms being treated by multiple specialists. “We’re the health detectives that put the pieces together to figure out what the main cause is that’s going on.”
- Options – “We give options for people. We don’t have just a tool box of natural health options but we have a tool shed because there are so many that you can’t fit them into a tool box.”
- Shared Decision Making – “I’m not the doctor that dictates to you what you have to do and I’m going to be mad at you if you don’t do that. We decide together — since you have to live with these decisions and make lifestyle changes — what’s actually going to work for you.”
- We’re Doctors That Listen – “I spend about 90 minutes with a new patient going through all their health history. We really listen and hear you and hear exactly what’s going on to build that relationship with you.
- We Treat The Individual – “You might have 5 different people with high blood pressure but, because everyone has a different cause, every treatment is going to be a little bit different and individualized for that person.”
- Empowerment Through Teaching — “We explain what’s happening to people, what’s going on and how these changes that we make can greatly impact their health for the positive.”
Dr. Russell’s Childhood Experiences Led Her To Help Others
She confided, “I actually suffered from major depression starting at age nine and had seen counselors for about a year. Nothing was really helping.
We ended up starting with psychiatrists and getting on all kinds of medication. I was literally put on — at age nine or ten — a page-long list of different psychiatric medications. None of which helped. They just made things not as bad.”
She went on to suffer painful periods in her teens. She has since been diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition that occurs in about one in ten of all women. “The only solution for that is birth control or more medication.”
And, there’s more. “I actually also suffer from migraines with which, again, is more medication. I was told at age ten that I was going to be on medication for the rest of my life.” Dr. Russell took that as a challenge.
“I’m very stubborn. I did not like that answer and I didn’t think that was going to be true.
Once I got a little bit older, in my late teens, I started working on things like nutrition and investigating other options. As of maybe seven years now, I haven’t been on any medication for any of those things.”
“I’m very happy. I don’t have painful periods any more. I have normal moods. I get migraines once in a while but I’m able to treat them with a more natural route.
I was very inspired once I learned about Naturopathic medicine. And, though I never wanted to be a doctor, once I realized there were these kinds of options for people, I knew that I had to pursue that.”
She added, “I just love being able to help empower people. Meds aren’t the only way.”
Opening and running her own practice at Serenity Natural Health Center comes with very specific challenges. She shared, “No one even knows about Naturopathic medicine, let alone how to pronounce it. So, it’s quite a difficult marketing issue.”
Advice From Dr. Russell To Her Former Self
If she could turn back time and start this endeavor all over again, she knows exactly what advice she’d give to herself.
“I’d tell myself that I actually need to own the business and that you are a business owner. When I started, I was more focused on being a doctor, which I think is all good and well. You need to develop your clinical skills and always be learning.
You don’t get great business classes in medical school. I didn’t have a business plan when I started. I didn’t balance the books.
So I’d tell myself that you’re a business owner, so take the appropriate steps to learn what the heck you’re doing.
How can you do your passion if you’re not making money?”
Making A Difference Makes It All Worth While
Prompted to share a recent experience of making a difference in someone’s life, Dr. Russell recalls how she helped a little girl who reminded her somewhat of herself at the same age.
The young girl had OCD and difficulty sleeping because of her fears concerning a video game ‘bad guy’ character she had heard about. The parents had tried counseling for a year or so but without any improvement.
Dr. Russell prescribed a homeopathic remedy that was very individualized. Upon a follow-up visit, the little girl said that she could no longer think about bad things happening any more because she falls asleep within minutes.
“This child’s life is changed for the better after suffering with this for years. We can have that impact now.”
What Internet Resource or App Does Dr. Russell Rely On?
Microsoft OneNote! “It’s a note-taking app that integrates to your iPhone. I have all my school notes on there from way back when, disease conditions, business stuff…you can make ‘to do’ lists…it’s pretty amazing.”
And, A Favorite Quote To Pass Along?
“Every human being is the author of their own health.” – Buddha
“I just love that because it’s true. You have the power to change and take care of your health.”
Reach out to Dr. Ashley Russell at Serenity Natural Health Center for more information or to schedule a consultation. Her practice focuses mainly on women’s health, mental health and alternatives to conventional medications.
Serenity Natural Health Clinic
250 East 6th Street
Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast #047: Eric Verdi Interviews Dr. Ashley Russell