TRAVERSE CITY — Abigail Ellsworth, ND, is not a typical doctor. Her remedies for physical and mental health problems don't come in the form of prescriptions from a pharmacy.

Ellsworth opened Sleeping Bear Natural Health last fall to offer a different type of medicine. The practice combines naturopathic therapies — like herbal remedies or diet changes — with acupuncture, Chinese medicine and counseling. She claims the treatments can help alleviate health problems like body pain, hormone imbalance, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and autoimmune diseases.

"It's all about what we can do to support the body's natural ability to heal itself," Ellsworth said. "We don't have to use a pharmaceutical intervention all the time."

The self-healing philosophy comes from Ellsworth's background in naturopathic medicine. She spent six years at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, where she earned a doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and a master’s in Oriental Medicine.

"It's a full-on medical school," Ellsworth said. "We have the same basic education as an MD and we're trained in primary care."

But Naturopathic physicians are not licensed to practice primary care in Michigan. Ellsworth can only act as a health consultant, making recommendations rather than diagnoses and treatments. She compensates by offering acupuncture — which requires a state license and certification — and Chinese Medicine.

"I'm using my ideas and my whole toolkit to help get people to where they want to be," she said. "I want to come up with a combination that best suits you."

That means bringing in additional expertise. Chris Bigelow, LPC, works as part-time therapist at Sleeping Bear Natural Health. The two often meet with clients together to come up with treatment approaches.

"The idea is to have two minds with totally different training looking at your situation and your whole story together," Ellsworth said.

Sleeping Bear Natural Health operates in Traverse City and Frankfort. Ellsworth recently moved into the Whole Health building at 1203 E. Eighth St., also home to six other holistic health practitioners offering everything from chiropractic care to nutrition healing.

"They’ve built up this location from patient demand in the area," Ellsworth said. "I’m just hoping to be able to carry that on and collaborate."

She still offers acupuncture and naturopathic consultations in Frankfort at the Betsie Hosick Fitness Center,102 Airport Rd. Call 231-871-0191 for information on naturopathic or acupuncture consultations, 231-871-0206 for information about therapy sessions or integrative health assessments.

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