We are honored to present an in-depth interview with Dr. Elaine Gavalas, a renowned Board Certified Natural Medicine Practitioner, International Best-Selling Author, Yoga Therapist, and Exercise Scientist, who is also the founder of Galen Botanicals. Dr. Gavalas’ journey in natural medicine is deeply rooted in her family’s legacy of practicing Greek Traditional Medicine, tracing back to ancient healers like Hippocrates and Galen.
In this enlightening conversation, Dr. Gavalas shares her unique blend of traditional and modern approaches to health and wellness. Growing up in a family devoted to Greek traditional medicine, she gained invaluable insights from her grandfather, a pioneer Greek pharmacist in Massachusetts known for his effective herbal remedies. Her conventional training in podiatric medicine and exercise science, combined with a doctorate in natural and alternative medicine, has enabled her to integrate Greek Traditional Medicine with Ayurvedic practices, yoga therapy, and biogerontology.
Dr. Gavalas has authored 13 health books, including the best-selling Yoga Minibook Series and two healthy cookbooks, which are testimonies to her commitment to addressing health concerns through natural means. In 2015, she founded Galen Botanicals, where she creates natural anti-aging skincare and wellness products, further cementing her role as an expert in yoga and natural health.
1. Could you share a bit about your journey into naturopathy/nutrition? What inspired you to pursue this field?
I’m a Board Certified Natural Medicine Practitioner, International Best-Selling Author, Yoga Therapist, Exercise Scientist and Founder of Galen Botanicals.
I grew up in a family with a long history of practicing Greek Traditional Medicine, one of the oldest systems of healing on the planet. Greek Traditional Medicine traces its roots back to Hippocrates “the father of modern medicine” (370 BC), Greek physician-philosopher Galen (161 AD), and ancient Greek healing temples dedicated to the god of medicine Asclepius (5 BC).
My grandfather was one of the first Greek immigrants to become a pharmacist in Massachusetts and opened Galen Pharmacy. He also continued practicing Greek traditional medicine. My grandfather’s herbal remedies, salves and tinctures were renowned for their effectiveness. Throughout my childhood I observed him formulate Greek herbal remedies in his laboratory.
I’m also conventionally trained with advanced degrees in podiatric medicine and exercise science. In the early days of my practice, I realized my grandfather’s herbal remedies and yoga therapy could help prevent and treat health problems and promote wellness.
I obtained my doctorate in natural and alternative medicine to expand my knowledge of natural medicine. In addition to Greek Traditional Medicine, my natural medicine specialties include Ayurvedic medicine, yoga therapy and biogerontology.
Over the years, I’ve written 13 health books including my best-selling Yoga Minibook Series and 2 healthy cookbooks to address my patients and clients health concerns and problems. My 11 books Yoga Minibook Series are fitness, diet, and wellness self-help guides. My cookbooks are companion books to the Yoga Minibook Series. I’m currently writing a medical textbook on Yoga Therapy.
In 2015 I founded Galen Botanicals creating natural anti-aging skin care, beauty and wellness products with organic, sustainable botanicals. With years of research distilled into 13 health books, hundreds of published articles, yoga therapy videos, health programs and wellness products, I’m considered an expert on the benefits of yoga and natural health. To help promote the benefits of natural medicine, I continue to be a spokesperson for natural health products, brands and companies.
2. How do you approach treatment plans for your patients? What role do you believe natural supplements play in these plans?
My current practice is based on my natural medicine specialties including Greek Traditional Medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, yoga therapy and biogerontology.
As Hippocrates proclaimed, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”. Hippocrates used plants and herbs from the Greek countryside as a foundation for medical science and healing. This emphasizes the importance of nutrition and natural supplements for prevention, treatment and wellness.
3. In your view, how important is a holistic approach to health and wellness, and how do you integrate this into your practice?
My practice is based on holistic medicine. I integrate this into my practice along with my natural health books, articles, videos, programs and wellness products to prevent and treat health conditions and promote wellness.
4. What are some common health issues you encounter in your practice? How do you address these with natural therapies?
Some of the most common health issues include obesity, hormonal imbalance, inflammation, musculoskeletal injuries, foot problems, infections, mental illness, and age-related degenerative diseases.
I created my health books, articles, yoga therapy videos, health programs and wellness products to address many of these common health issues.
For example, Ayurvedic Panchakarma can help overweight adults manage weight, improve well-being and support longevity in a short period of time and can be repeated periodically. In the yoga tradition, panchakarma therapy, an Ayurvedic detoxication program, is a highly effective way to boost energy, strength, and overall health during the change of each season. Panchakarma consists of a series of body treatments to detoxify, balance, and rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit including herbal massage, yoga therapy practice, meditation, herbal steam bath, aromatic inhalation therapy, Ayurvedic adaptogen supplements, cleansing diet and intermittent fasting.
A landmark study reports Panchakarma for middle-aged adults over 40 is linked to a lowered risk of obesity, hormonal imbalance, inflammation, diabetes and heart disease. Researchers found the Panchakarma group had measurable decreases in blood-based metabolites associated with obesity, hormonal imbalance, inflammation, diabetes and heart disease risk.
5. How do you perceive the connection between gut health and overall wellness? Could you share your insights on this?
“All disease begins in the gut” is a famous quote attributed to Hippocrates.
We know that changes in the composition of our gut microbiata is associated with many gastrointestinal problems. Our gut flora can be negatively affected by an unhealthy diet, medications, infections, stress and environmental toxicity.
Natural medicine can help prevent and treat many gastrointestinal disorders. For example, In Greek traditional medicine, masticha sap resin has been taken for millennia to treat gut problems and promote gut health. Masticha sap resin is harvested from the lentil bush grown on the Greek island of Chios. Research studies found masticha has many health benefits. A recent medical study published in The Journal of Ethnopharmacology reports masticha can heal stomach ulcers.
In Ayurvedic Medicine, triphala three-fruit herbal complex has been taken for millennia to treat gut problems and promote gut health and rejuvenation. A review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found patients with gastrointestinal disorders reported triphala treatment reduced constipation, mucous, abdominal pain, hyperacidity, and flatulence while improving stool elimination.
6. What general dietary and nutrition advice do you often find yourself giving to your patients?
I often recommend the Greek Mediterranean Diet and Ayurvedic/Yoga Diet. I wrote about these diets in my healthy cookbooks to help my patients achieve and maintain their desired weight goals, make their best food choices, and enjoy a lifetime of nutritious eating and good health.
7. When introducing supplements into a patient’s regimen, what key factors do you consider?
Key factors include if the patient is pregnant, nursing, trying to conceive, taking any supplements or medications, or has a medical condition.
8. Without disclosing personal details, could you share a memorable success story from your practice involving natural treatments?
Nail fungus is a common infection and can be difficult to treat. My grandfather would create a topical solution of wild Greek oregano oil and olive oil from Greece to treat nail fungus. In Greek traditional medicine, this remedy has been used for millennia. Since that time, there have been many studies demonstrating the effectiveness of wild Greek oregano oil as an anti-fungal.
I formulated a topical solution of wild Greek oregano oil, olive oil and other beneficial anti-fungal plants. I began testing it in several podiatric trials. The participants using my nail fungus solution showed significant improvement in nail appearance and fungus elimination without side effects.
9. What are some challenges you face in the field of naturopathy/nutrition, and how do you overcome them?
Challenges include lack of education and public awareness of the benefits of natural medicine, supplements and nutrition. I’m committed to helping increase education and public awareness with my health books, natural health products and programs, yoga therapy videos and my spokesperson blogs and videos.
10. Where do you see the future of naturopathy and functional medicine heading?
As health care costs and an aging global population continue to exponentially increase, naturopathy and functional medicine will play a bigger role in the prevention and treatment of health problems and wellness support.
11. What personal wellness practices or routines do you follow to maintain your own health?
I continue to personally practice what I have written about in my yoga therapy books, healthy cookbooks, health programs and wellness products.
12. Finally, what advice would you give to individuals aspiring to enter the field of naturopathy or nutrition?
Naturopathy and nutrition offers a wonderful opportunity to forge your own path utilizing your unique interests, talents and service. Naturopathy and nutrition are continually evolving, requiring a lifelong commitment to scientific inquiry, medical research and service to others.
Connect with Dr. Elaine Gavalas
To learn more about Dr. Elaine Gavalas’s work and to stay updated with her latest insights and offerings, we invite you to visit her website and follow her on social media:
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CanXida. The content provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Readers are encouraged to consult their healthcare provider for any health-related questions or concerns.