From Physician to Patient – About Orthomolecular Physician Laura Leichtenberg

How getting an autoimmune disease changed my view of medicine

Graduating as a physician and Graves’ disease

At the end of my fellowships (a one-and-a-half-year internship at the end of medical school), I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an
autoimmune disease
of the thyroid gland. In the case of Graves’ disease, your immune system is overactive and your thyroid gland is working too hard. Because this is a disease that develops over a long period of time, and your thyroid is an organ that controls and influences many different processes in your body, it is the case that such a disease can cause a variety of different “vague” symptoms, both physical and mental.

Being sick was a rollercoaster for me, and unfortunately I often felt lonely in it. I didn’t feel that doctors, or people around me, really understood me. In retrospect, I can say that I am extremely happy that I finally took control, started working with my lifestyle and (then vegetarian) diet, reduced my stress, and followed my heart and dreams. Although I used to see it as a weakness that I got sick, I now know that it is actually my strength; having also experienced the role of patient, I know exactly how my patients feel, what they are going through, and I can help them even better.

About Laura Leichtenberg

Really helping people

I became a doctor because I really want to help other people; to add value to someone else’s life. And of course, also because I have a great interest in our health and the human body.

Unfortunately, mainstream medicine did not allow me to help people in a way that suited me, was satisfying and felt with integrity to me. For me, the main reason was the way the patient is viewed in mainstream medicine. From my point of view, a family physician still looks at the patient most “as a whole” because “at the hospital gate, the patient is pulled apart,” as Barbara Havenith, integrative gynecologist and orthomolecular physician, also says.

Too much focus on complaints, not enough on the cause

The focus is often on the symptoms a person is experiencing and opportunities to reduce those symptoms. Little is looked at from a holistic perspective, or the whole patient, and searched for the possible causes behind the onset of the complaint(s). Fortunately, there are also more and more doctors from mainstream medicine who do look that way. For example, this holistic view of medicine is shared by former family physician and researcher Machteld Huber, who created the concept of “positive health” and founded the Institue for Positive Health.

From this perspective, it is important to identify and treat possible causes and risk factors for the development of symptoms so that the underlying problem is resolved. Here, in the case of autoimmune diseases, you can think of the influence of diet, stress, etc., on the intestines and digestion, which can then eventually result in (chronic) low-grade inflammation. As a result, the immune system can become overactive and then symptoms can arise.

So in treatment, from a holistic point of view, one way to think about adjusting diet is to focus on “anti-inflammatory” (non-inflammatory) foods. Support (temporarily) with natural supplements can also be very helpful. Furthermore, stress (reduction) is important in many cases. In addition, I look at the influence of other lifestyle factors, such as exercise, sleep, et cetera.

Improvement of chronic symptoms is possible

Since the beginning of this year I have my own practice

BodySwitch Rotterdam-Kralingen

and I am very happy that I can contribute in this way to the health of my clients. Of course, sometimes (especially in the acute phase) it is necessary to use medication. However, in many cases patients are told they have a
chronic disease
that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, when that need not be the case at all and symptom improvement is very often certainly possible.

BodySwitch Rotterdam-Kralingen

Would you like to know more about me? Then visit my personal BodySwitch page.

Finding and tackling the cause behind the complaint, in order to achieve better health and a reduction of complaints, means to me that I can really help someone further.

Click here to visit my personal page:
BodySwitch Rotterdam-Kralingen

Orthomolecular physician,
Laura Leichtenberg

Laura Leichtenberg - Physician Rotterdam-Kralingen


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