Concord naturopathic medicine practice expands as interest in herbal healing increases

  • Dr. Laura Jones of Whole Health Concord sits in her new office in the South End on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff

  • Dr. Laura Jones of Whole Health Concord stands in her revamped office space on Broadway, where Ballard’s Ice Cream used to be. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The sign for the new Whole Health Concord in McKee Square in downtown Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The new offices of Whole Health Concord in the South End of Concord in the former Ballard’s Ice Cream. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/5/2020 7:00:25 PM

Prints from antique botanical textbooks greet visitors as they enter naturopathic doctor Laura Jones’s office on Broadway in Concord.  

Each colorful 19th century design, framed and mounted on the wall, has a unique meaning and purpose. There’s a drawing of the pink and orange flowers of the turmeric plant, an anti-oxidant Jones said is protective against cancer, helpful for increasing circulation and lessening inflammation.

Just a few inches away is the leafy green frankincense, which aids in treating arthritis and asthma. Nearby is licorice root, which is commonly used by people recovering from high stress, Jones said. 

Although the prints are for decoration, they reflect the fact that Jones uses the real-life herbs in her daily practice. 

As a naturopathic doctor, Jones uses botanical medicines, vitamins and minerals to help treat everything from headaches to stress and anxiety to diabetes. 

Jones said there has been a  resurgence of interest and scientific research in recent years in using plants to heal and treat illnesses instead of synthetic drugs. 

“I think a lot of people are ready for more than just a pill for symptoms,” Jones said, walking through her office Thursday in a gray sweater. “They don’t want band-aid solutions, they want a real lifestyle change. The thing that's different about naturopathic medicine is our philosophy is that we want to treat the cause of disease, rather than symptoms.”

Jones said she’s seen so much demand for naturopathic treatment that she and her staff – another naturopathic doctor, a massage therapist, a dietitian and a social worker – have not been able to keep up with it. Jones said she has a wait list of two to three months. 

Jones treats patients of all ages. She earned a Doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a bachelor of science in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. She recently completed her certificate of functional medicine from the Institute for Functional Medicine. 

She just moved into her new space at 7 Broadway – the old Ballard’s Ice Cream building – on Jan. 1. Jones said the new space is double the size of her old office at North State Street. She said by the end of 2020, they will hire another doctor to help take on some of the workload.  

“Two to three months is really just way too long to make people wait,” she said. “We want to give people the help they need as soon as they come to us.” 

In addition to her practice, she is going to have a studio where she will hold yoga, pilates and nutritional cooking classes and a wellness store, where Ballard’s ice cream shop used to be, where people can buy high-quality supplements. Construction on the wellness shop is starting now. Classes in the studio will begin at the end of January. 

Jones said she likes that she’s able to take over Ballard’s old space. She grew up in Concord and used to walk from her Bow Street home to get ice cream there. 

“I ate a lot of ice cream here,” she said, smiling. 

The space is completely changed from four months ago, when Norm and Doris Ballard were getting ready to retire and sell the popular ice cream shop and party store. 

The old party store has been transformed into an office space with a serene, calming atmosphere. In the waiting room, there are plush blue chairs and colorful aromatherapy oils in varieties such as tea tree and tangerine displayed in a glass case. The five patient rooms are warm and inviting – not sterile or cold like the waiting rooms of a traditional doctor's office. 

Jones said the name “Whole Health Concord” is representative of her staff’s outlook on treating patients. 

“The benefit of naturopathic medicine is that we really get to know our patients and try to understand their lifestyle habits and where their weak spots are, either in their genetics or the way they're living,” she said. “We really want to make people feel listened to. We take a look at the whole picture here: eating, sleeping, stress, exercise, and to try to piece together what’s going on.” 

Jones said the majority of her patients are in two situations: Either they are a patient who has been shuffled around from specialist to specialist and hasn’t received answers about causes or treatments for their pain, or the patient is someone who is proactive about their health and is interested in preventative medicine.

Jones said she hopes to reach as many patients as possible. 

Something that’s helped with Jones’s reach is that insurance companies are now covering her services. When she started practicing 15 years ago, no insurance companies in the state covered naturopathy. For the last five or so years, insurance companies have started pitching in. 

Jones said naturopathic care is not a substitute for conventional medicine, but something to experience in tandem with conventional medicine.

“So many people are ready to be healthier, they just don’t know where to start. We’re really good at giving them an action plan, whether it’s moving full speed ahead or baby steps, we’ll go at whatever pace patients need and meet them where they're at for success. We just want people to feel hopeful again about getting help,” she said. “Some people have been sick so long that they really have truly given up on being healthy. I have to remind them, ‘It is possible, you can get your health back, you  just need  to really commit to it follow through.’ ”

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