Astrid Boeckelmann, Naturopathic Physician (ND)
I grew up on a small farm in northern Germany, surrounded by nature and its plethora of homegrown foods and herbs, which my grandmother used as home remedies for minor tummy aches and scrapes. Despite my grandmother’s herbal care, I suffered from recurring bladder infections, which none of the exams, lab tests and prescription medications could explain or alleviate. In a last effort, my mom took me to see a naturopath, who over the course of two years completely cured the infections, never to return.
After this experience I developed a persistent interest in alternative medicine and even considered a career in naturopathy. However at the age of 17, I was not quite ready for a profession that was met with much skepticism, and I chose to study Biology as the closest alternative.
During university, I was most intrigued by plant biology and its connection to medicine. My university did not offer a medical program, so the available courses were limited to pure plant biochemistry without any link to how plants could be used as medicines. To venture outside this confining box, I decided to participate in an exchange year with the University of Calgary, which offer the opportunity to take courses in human physiology and medicinal chemistry and started my long-term love affair with Canada.
After a year in Calgary, I finished my biology degree in Germany, and returned to Canada in 2004. I was dreaming to find a way to work with medicinal plants; however, the work field was more interested in plant biochemists, so that for the next 2 years I worked as a research associate, followed by 2.5 years as a Master’s student studying the biochemistry of lavender. The work I was doing was exciting in its own ways, and provided the necessary legal prerequisites to become a permanent resident in Canada. Nevertheless, I felt trapped in a career path that was tantalizingly close to my passion for alternative medicine and medicinal plants, but never to reach it. I finally had to admit to myself that I needed a complete career change, and I was finally ready to study Naturopathic Medicine.
The following four years at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine were probably the most challenging and the most rewarding years of my education. As a student clinician I volunteered in underprivileged communities in Nicaragua and Kenya, and worked with cancer and HIV positive clients in downtown Vancouver. To better aid clients suffering chronic disease and muscle pain, I trained in chelation therapy and gained extensive knowledge as a research assistant for Bowen therapy. Chelation offers one of the very few routes to permanently remove atherosclerosis, which is a harbinger of heart disease and diabetes, while Bowen is a gentle and effective way to realign the body and provide permanent pain relief.
I recently moved to Prince George to work at the Northern Centre for Integrative Medicine. I am very excited to practice in a smaller town, close to nature and similar to my own roots, and with two very knowledgeable and caring colleagues.
I practice as a general physician, providing comprehensive, alternative health care for kids, adults, women and elderly alike. Naturopathic medicine offers an abundance of possible treatment options and I believe that the best treatment should be used for each unique individual and situation. I start with a thorough history followed by physical exam, structural and diet assessment as necessary. I find out who you are and what’s important to you. I decode your body’s symptoms and identify the lifestyle changes and therapies that will restore balance and function. From this information and with my guidance, you choose the path back to your optimal health and vitality.