If you've ever dealt with a medical issue or chronic health problem, you've likely seen a doctor. Maybe you started with your primary care physician who thought it was one thing and prescribed some medication. When that didn't work, you were sent for a battery of tests and, based on those results (or lack thereof), you were directed to a specialist who prescribed a completely different set of meds. When that didn't get you anywhere, you decided to seek help elsewhere, all the while growing discouraged, maybe because your issue wasn't going away or maybe because your symptoms were getting worse. And if you're a parent trying to navigate a maze of medical appointments and treatments for your child with no solution in sight, the feeling of helplessness can be more painful.
Even if you haven't experienced any of the above yourself, you certainly know someone who has. And that's the problem. So many of us find ourselves or our family members on a hamster wheel of disjointed doctor appointments, specialist referrals, confusing test results, and a medical system that nearly always defaults to prescription medication and little focus on preventative care. There have got to be other alternatives, we so often think. We just have no idea where to find them.
And that's where Provocare comes in. Founded by two Bergen County residents, Jennifer Kottke and Denielle Nunez, as well as Dr. AnnaLisa Pastore, the respected founder of the locally based Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine, Provocare is a newly launching platform in its beta mode. Provocare's mission is to help you more easily navigate your integrative health journey, empowering you with continuous curated knowledge and guiding your search to find a naturopath, acupuncturist, reiki healer, herbalist, integrative internist, or Nurse Practitioner who is open to thinking outside the traditional western medicine box.
Several years back, Kottke had been struggling with neurological Lyme disease and placed on a nightmarish months-long antibiotic cycle. "Every time I tried to wean off the antibiotics, the symptoms came blazing back. It was so frustrating, and nobody could seem to help me fully recover," she recounts.
Meanwhile, Nunez was dealing with chronic health issues herself, while her young daughter was plagued with a "trifecta" of eczema, allergies, and asthma. As instructed by the family's primary physician, she'd been taking her daughter to an allergist, a dermatologist, and a pediatrician to separately treat all three issues. "It was a revolving door of appointments and one-size-fits-all treatment. My daughter was suffering and as a result my family was suffering trying to manage this. I refused to put topical steroid creams on my daughter for the rest of her life," says Nunez. "I kept saying, 'There has to be more. I don't believe this is the final chapter.' And I went into mega research mode."
Both women found their way to Dr. Pastore, whose integrative approach looks at each patient's body as a whole, rather than as separate components, since each relies upon the others working in a healthy manner to function properly. The emphasis is less on the diagnosis and more about symptom-led treatment. Pastore focuses on figuring out why the body is out of balance and how to get it back in balance – in order to bring relief, while taking into consideration everything from family history to diet to even work life and relationships, often utilizing bio-energetic and functional testing when warranted. Dr. Pastore created wellness plans for both families and set them on the path to healing. "Dr. Pastore is truly amazing. Denielle and I both have so much repect for her, and we knew she had this need to help and touch more people and have a bigger impact than just the patients she can see at her practice," says Kottke. "I've spent years running a local business that lifts up other local businesses and it's become so clear how important community support is. And that also translates to how you heal."
Nunez and Kottke already had the idea for Provocare brewing after years of being the go-to gals whom friends would turn to when anything was bothering them, and were both super passionate about helping others understand integrative medicine and all the other healing options out there.
"Chronic disease is on the rise along with life-threatening food allergies, environmental toxicity, and so many other lifestyle-induced conditions. We have to be an active participant in our own healing journey, and this is our way to do it," say Nunez. "Our mission is to make this conversation mainstream and bring awareness that you don't have to suffer with these debilitating chronic health issues you've been labeled with."
Serendipitously, they realized that Dr. Pastore was just the expert they needed to make the project a reality, and truly impactful. She was on board. All good things happen in 3s.
"This to me is a dream. I want to be able to share knowledge and put it into the hands of people and famlies. I think that that's where the true healing magic happens," she explains. "I've spent a lot of time trying to educate and empower my patients, but I want to translate more in a very real way. When I told [Kottke and Nunez] of this vision, they realized it's the same vision they had for themselves, too."
And thus Provocare, a platform they've jokingly dubbed an "Angie's List meets Tinder" for integrative medicine was born. The women's biggest focus is on Provocare's burgeoning and diverse community. A community grounded in sacred healing – the idea that the mind-soul component of the mind-body-soul equation is central to integrative health. A community that is ready to take back control of their healing journey by equipping themselves with knowledge and the thirst to constantly learn more. With a database of local practitioners whom the trio has vetted personally; a dashboard to help members keep track of everything they need in one uber-organized central place; and insightful content from Dr. Pastore on a wide range of relevant topics, Provocare is here to support, encourage, educate, and lift up its community members – a growing group of "spiritual warriors" who will never be passive patients again.
"The way I practice medicine and even the way I approached residency and training, is to offer a lot of education to empower patients and put them in a position to advocate for themselves so they are able to navigate their healing journeys on their own with the support of practitioners," shares Dr. Pastore. "Provocare in its mission is really looking to do that and offering this to families is impactful, meaningful, and will hopefully have a big ripple effect."
While the platform continues to evolve in beta, join Provocare today as an email subscriber to get immediate access to informative content and connection to local healers. Sending you good vibes on your newly empowered journey!