Activating the “Doctor Within”

by Sara Browning

The Options Center for Health and Education helps people discover their potential: physically, emotionally and mentally.

It’s more than a unique approach to health and wellness; it’s a unique philosophy. Utilizing services and techniques that link mind, body and emotions in a holistic approach to healthcare, the Options Center’s road to good health concentrates on the entire person. From nutritional counseling to tests and activities that enhance learning and attitudes, the Options Center combines one-on-one attention with individualized treatment plans to achieve the goal of total wellness.

According to Helen Cox, RN, BSN, LDN, president and director of the Options Center for Health and Education, the center’s philosophy uses alternative approaches to health and focuses on each individual as having his or her own “menu” of needs and requirements. “Whereas present-day western medicine focuses more on specific illnesses and diseases, our alternative approach to health concentrates on the whole person. The goal of holistic natural healing techniques is to activate your ‘doctor within,’ and we encourage a lifestyle that supports our philosophy using drug-free, natural and effective techniques.”

Licensed and Dedicated
Dedicated to helping her clients achieve their health and learning goals, Cox says her desire to become a nurse was present early in her life. “My mother was an RN, and I really wanted to go into healthcare. Before starting the Options Center, I became an RN and worked in various areas of community healthcare and obstetrics.”

In 1979, Cox began experiencing health problems. She visited a chiropractor who introduced her to alternative health techniques. Once she recovered, others began asking her to work with them. Eventually, Cox began charging for her services, and in 1985, she opened the Options Center for Health and Education to focus entirely on the use of alternative healthcare methods.

Starting the health center was a challenge, she says, having no mentor and little experience running a business. “It was definitely a learning process—a lot of trial and error. I began reading books, attending workshops and participating in correspondence courses that dealt with holistic health. But I had a strong desire to make the business happen, and eventually I became successful.” Now a licensed dietician/nutritionist in the State of Illinois, Cox provides nutritional and wellness counseling for clients, celebrating over 25 years in business.

Focused on Prevention
The Option Center’s two-pronged approach to wellness—its Health Center and its Education Center—allows Cox and her staff to work with clients on all levels. Addressing the physical needs of the individual, the Health Center offers consultations including nutritional counseling, hair analysis, functional test interpretation, cardio metabolic testing, iridology, herbology, homeopathy and various other mind-body techniques. Clients can also benefit from deep relaxation therapy, guided imagery, acupressure and other natural health arts.

Nutritional counseling services offered at the Health Center meet clients’ unique dietary needs, which can be determined through a hair analysis. Hair analysis interpretation, also known as trace mineral analysis (TMA), has proven beneficial for measuring the amount of nutrient minerals and toxic metals in the body. “Nutrient mineral imbalances can be just as devastating to health as deficiencies or toxicities,” explains Cox. “Information from the TMA is used to determine vitamin and mineral supplementation and nutritional recommendations.”

During the analysis, a small sample of the client’s hair is sent to the lab to evaluate his or her mineral content. “A hair analysis determines the best foods to eat and those to avoid. I work with families and individuals and guide them as to how to achieve the needed dietary changes. A healthy diet based upon this information will help my clients become more energetic and increase optimum health.” Hair analysis can also help with disease prevention, as it can detect a disease up to 20 years before blood work could reveal its presence in the body, according to Cox.

Similarly, functional testing using the Adrenal Stress Index, the GI Health Panel, the Post Menopause Health Panel and the Female Hormone Panel offers the potential to detect a disease or condition 10 years prior to detection through blood work. An Adrenal Stress Index test, for example, measures the rate at which the human adrenal gland secretes its steroid hormones throughout the day, a 24-hour cycle known as the circadian rhythm.

“An abnormal adrenal rhythm can influence many functions of the body, some of which include skin regeneration, joint quality, muscle and joint function and immune system health,” explains Cox. The test is recommended for individuals suffering from chronic stress, poor memory, migraine headaches, muscle and joint pain, low body temperature and lack of sleep.

Predicting cardiometabolic (CM) risk can dramatically improve patient outcomes. Studying patients’ CM vitals uses blood work to target potential cardiovascular problems and diabetic conditions before diagnosis. “Again, as with hair analysis and functional testing, the focus is on prevention,” says Cox. “By targeting certain risk factors, I help my clients change their lifestyle.”

Aside from disease prevention, the Options Center also offers “Touch for Health” services. Employing such methods as acupressure points and muscle testing, Touch for Health promotes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual changes in relation to the way a person feels and thinks.

Touch for Health, says Cox, is based on the belief that the body is a whole, and each part affects all the others. “If you suffer from a sore back, the pain affects your posture, how you digest your food, how you think and your mood. Touch for Health uses your muscles to determine where imbalance may be in the body. It locates the weak muscle and resets it so balance is restored.”

Changing Up Learning
Everyone has the capacity to learn and change. At the Options Center for Health and Education, Cox and her staff focus on effective learning strategies to enable those who have difficulty processing information to think and solve problems successfully. “If students know how to learn, they can acquire and process information more fully and easily,” says Cox. “Our focus is on learning how to learn.”

The Education Center offers student evaluations for ages three to adult, presenting specific exercises that allow Cox to evaluate the status of their brain functions. One popular program, Brain Gym, consists of fun physical activities performed by students and their parents. The only certified Brain Gym instructor in downstate Illinois, Cox says the program emphasizes bodily movements and their connection to different parts of the brain.

“Physical movement enables the brain to comprehend, think and learn,” explains Cox. “The belief behind the program is: We learn through our bodies. Kinesthetic memory is muscle memory. The more kinesthetic memory we have, the more efficient we can be. For example, when we write, our muscles have the memory of how to spell most words. This frees up the brain to focus rather than concentrating on how to spell words we’ve been spelling for years.”

In her program assessments, Cox says she looks at how a student takes in information through their eyes and body. “The program helps me know how a student learns so I can assist them in overcoming their frustrations with learning. Learning should never be stressful; it should be natural, easy and fun.”

Brain Gym and other such programs complement the traditional education process. Through participation in skill-building exercises, rather than repetitive drills of content, students learn by doing and develop essential skills they can apply to other areas in their life.

Students practice easy techniques that enable them to reach their full potential and enjoy positive attitudes toward learning. Over time, learning difficulties and behavior problems can be reduced and even eliminated, according to Cox. “Students have increased self-esteem and motivation and less stress. They develop more awareness of their own intelligence and capabilities.”

Seeing the Results
Workshops focused on health and education help patients and their families stay involved and informed. “We offer health classes annually on Touch for Health. We teach clients and their families practical skillsets to manage stress, reduce physical and mental pain and tension, and increase overall energy without the use of drugs. Touch for Health classes also cover such topics as acupuncture pressure points, pulse and pain tapping, and methods for regaining and improving personal health using the five basic elements of the Oriental health system.”

And many of Option Center’s clients say their health education has dramatically improved their lifestyle. One client, Debbie, had suffered from the effects of diabetes for 17 years, battling high blood pressure and even facing the threat of losing her kidneys. Her decision to forego traditional healthcare in favor of holistic healing methods may have saved her life. After participating in guided imagery, herb therapy and other techniques, she says she eventually no longer needed blood pressure medication, her energy levels increased, and the lung congestion she was experiencing dissipated. Using visualization techniques, her kidney function increased from 25 to 39 percent. She also experienced a change in her eating habits, claiming she no longer craves unhealthy foods or “feels obsessed with food anymore.”

“I’m learning a lot of things about myself,” she says, “things I never would have realized without Helen’s help.”

Cox says that helping patients realize they are loved, valued and unique individuals with all of life’s energies available to them is the most powerful prescription available. Good nutrition and health education notwithstanding, wellness, she says, begins with the individual.

“I want to see my clients make lifestyle changes so they can create the wellness they want for themselves. I really want people to experience a good quality of life and feel as good as they want to feel for the rest of their lives.” iBi

The Options Center for Health and Education is located at 4316 North Prospect Road in Peoria Heights. For more information or to set up an appointment, visit options-center.com, call (309) 685-7721 or email options@mtco.com.

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