While vampires and zombies continue to lurch across our media screens, to see a real bogeyman, watch a 1960s commercial decrying the evils of saturated fat. It’s enough to put the fright into anyone. Blamed for heart disease and weight gain, among other calamities, it turns out that saturated fats are actually good for you when consumed in moderation.
“Traditional medicine has said that margarine is better than butter; skim milk is better than whole milk; and to eat low-fat food,” says Dr. Daniel A. Eyink, owner of Dr. Dan’s Natural Healing Center in Newburyport. “Eggs have been put down.” In reality, eating a variety of whole, natural foods is best for optimal health. Dr. Eyink says his center’s message is to get back to eating “real” food. “That’s how to fuel the body,” he says.
It’s a simple philosophy that has been a valuable lesson for many of the patients who flock to the High Street center for treatment. Here, Dr. Eyink, a medical doctor and licensed acupuncturist—along with fellow practitioner Dr. Alia Elias, a naturopath and licensed acupuncturist, and other staff—use acupuncture, nutrition therapy, and nutrition education to try to locate and relieve the root cause of poor health. As Dr. Eyink says, “It’s getting information from the person’s own body.”
“The typical primary care message is: We’ll help you manage this,” Dr. Eyink says. “Our practice is focused on prevention.” First, staff practitioners use kinesiology—the science of human movement—to help identify issues. “Then, we try to help resolve those through herbs, nutrition supplements, and homeopathic remedies. It’s supporting health.”
Board certified in both internal medicine and medical acupuncture, Dr. Eyink’s training in Western medicine and nontraditional healthcare practices, such as acupuncture, give him a unique view across the chasm that sometimes exists between the two schools of thought. In fact, he still prescribes traditional medications, but only when necessary.
Cynthia Rozzi of Newbury began seeing Dr. Eyink and Sara Thielsen, the staff nutrition counselor and patient advocate, several years ago. “I was perimenopausal,” Rozzi recalls, with rashes, thinning hair, and bloating. Rozzi, 63, also had a bad case of Raynaud’s disease, which is characterized by spasms of the arteries in the extremities, especially the fingers.
Rozzi had tried traditional medicine, with little success. “I’ve seen regular doctors, of course, but I always wondered; things didn’t seem quite right,” she says. “I didn’t want to take hormones or any other type of prescriptions that I consider very invasive, strong medicines. The Raynaud’s disease was especially troublesome. “Other doctors told me there was nothing to be done,” Rozzi says. “I wanted to know the reasons for the symptoms and what I could do to heal it totally.”
She saw Dr. Eyink and Thielsen as her last attempt to attain health. Dr. Eyink and Thielsen prescribed a combination of herbs, nutritional supplements, and a new eating style that focused on natural, well-balanced menus. Today, the rashes and night sweats are gone, and the Raynaud’s disease is well under control. “My hair is growing back. I feel great, my energy is great, everybody tells me how great I look,” she says. Rozzi thinks the answer to healthcare today is a combination of naturopathy and Western medicine. “Working together, we would have an unbeatable medical system,” she says.
More than 100 patients a week visit the center’s bright, spacious quarters, with complaints ranging from painful menstrual cycles to back pain, achy joints, and what Dr. Eyink calls “gut symptoms,” a very common condition that sometimes has unexpected origins.
Dr. Eyink was completing his internship and residency in internal medicine at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, when his interest in acupuncture was piqued. Ultimately, he was trained in medical acupuncture at Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles, and practiced as a primary care physician in Newburyport before opening Doctor Dan’s in 2009. “I felt some parts were missing,” he says of his time practicing traditional primary care, so he began studying kinesiology and nutrition. “Nutrition was an important piece,” he says.
Nutrition continues to be a major part of the work at Doctor Dan’s Natural Healing Center. Treatment often involves keeping a food log. Clients learn to “rebuild” their kitchens and are encouraged to buy products from organic farms and experiment with healthful cooking. As Dr. Eyink says, “It adds another layer to traditional care.”
At home, Dr. Eyink and his wife and business partner, Jackie Carroll, practice what they preach, cooking wholesome, flavorful meals for themselves and their daughter. One recent day, the family started the morning with free-range eggs cooked in a bit of lard mixed with olive oil “for the good fats,” he says, served with avocado and sprouts on the side. “We always use eggs from pastured chickens,” he says. For dinner that day, they prepared sautéed bluefish with capers, served with asparagus and new potatoes. There were leftovers, so for the next day’s lunch, he packed a piece of bluefish on lettuce, with mung bean sprouts, potatoes, and the pickled cabbage kimchi (for its probiotics).
Healing the gut with good food, Dr. Eyink says, can help ward off future problems, such as thyroid issues or autoimmune diseases. “It comes back to ‘change nutrition, change the diet,’” he says. Encouraging people to eat wholesome unprocessed foods fits succinctly with the rest of the clinic’s work and its optimistic spirit. “It’s getting back to cooking, getting back to the kitchen,” Dr. Eyink says. “It’s wonderful work we enjoy.”