A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

Business Spotlight: Serenity wellness, Cloquet

Is your digestive system not working the way it should? Do you struggle to lose weight or eliminate daily, get bloated easily, react to certain foods or feel tired and run down? Are your periods a problem? Do you struggle with acne, even though puberty is in the rearview mirror?

Then maybe it's time to have a functional medicine visit with Cloquet's Natalie Swanson, of Serenity Wellness.

"Clients often come to see me when they want to look into their health from a different angle. They have been to the doctors and found nothing wrong but still feel bad," said Swanson, a certified integrative nutrition coach and functional medicine academy practitioner. "My mission is to help people feel their best, live their longest, healthiest, happiest life."

Functional medicine, she said, combines data-driven Western medicine with more-alternative medical treatments that focus more on the person than the symptoms.

"I am able to do different labs than what you typically get from the doctor that look into different things, like what is happening with all the bacteria and biomes in your intestines, what is lacking and what is overabundant and creating an imbalance. Or are there any viruses or parasites that we are unaware of, wreaking havoc on our health?"

Swanson is not a doctor, although she works with various doctors who interpret any laboratory tests that are done.

"We also do a deep dive into a person's health history, even to the extent of how they were born, because there are important bacteria that you get from a vaginal birth that are nonexistent if you're born by C-section," Swanson said. "[Not having those] can mean you fight infections differently."

Swanson decided to follow her dream and study functional medicine and integrative nutrition after she and her husband, Chris, sold their small business. It was a subject near and dear to her heart, because she spent years trying to figure out her own health. It all started in her 20s.

"I had Lyme disease, leaky gut, chronic fatigue, anxiety and chronic constipation," Swanson said. "Brain fog, itchy skin, cracked heels, elevated liver enzymes, and hypothyroidism. And lots of food sensitivities. I was a hot mess."

She was diagnosed with one thing after another, except when she wasn't and doctors suggested she was a hypochondriac. "I felt like I couldn't eat anything without reactions."

Swanson rattled off all the things she couldn't eat, including nuts, gluten, dairy and pitted fruits.

"It wasn't until I sought alternative methods that I started to get relief and understand what was really happening inside my body," she said, revealing that they found heavy metal toxicity and candida fungus, plus leaky gut, which was causing most of the issues with food sensitivities.

Like an onion, they tackled one layer at a time, the most important things first.

"I healed my gut," she said. "Now I can manage around what triggers me."

Gluten, she knows now, is a trigger for her and many of her family, so she avoids it.

Aside from her own experience, Swanson said her mom's experience fighting cancer with traditional versus functional medicine also made her want to bring this option to Cloquet.

The typical Serenity Wellness Program includes a deep dive into health history, testing and report of findings, and four months of two half-hour visits a month for maintenance. Costs depend on what kind of program one chooses, plus the costs of the tests, which can be covered by health savings accounts.

"I just want people to know it's not their fault they have ended up where they are," Swanson said. "It's because of our stress-filled world, our face-paced living, the chemicals in our food," she said. "We are not all the same and cannot all eat the same. It's really hard to know what your body needs. I offer individualized nutritional guidance into what will work for your body."

Book a free 15-minute consultation online at http://www.serenitywellnessbynatalie.com or by calling 218-390-0166. You can also find Swanson on Facebook at "Serenity Wellness by Natalie."