Therapist Spotlight: Richa Puri
Hi Richa! Can you tell us a little more about yourself?I’m a specialist women’s health and fertility nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner and yoga teacher. I use a mind, body and spirit approach when helping my clients to achieve their goals of balancing their hormones or helping them in their fertility journey. I’ve also been a pharmacist for over 10 years and currently work in a GP practice. Over the years I have worked alongside approximately thirty GPs and have more recently started working with some Fertility Consultants as a nutritionist. In the GP world, I have a special interest in diabetes, with a holistic nutrition and lifestyle-based approach. When I’m not doing all of this I’ll be outdoors walking, reading about nutrition, spending time with friends and family, especially my nieces and nephews and of course cooking!
What led you to a career in nutritional therapy?I had several health issues since a young age including infections, digestive issues probably caused by all the antibiotic use, hormonal imbalance including teenage acne and mental health issues. I was put on the contraceptive pill and took it for a number of years to help control my acne. It wasn’t until I decided to stop taking it nine years later that I then realised the true degree of my hormonal issues. My period did not return for at least four years and my acne was worse than it had ever been. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). I had already seen a nutritionist once to help with my digestive issues and decided to see one again to help my hormonal issues as somehow I knew there must be another way. I saw a nutritionist myself and my mind was made up that this is what I wanted to do. The focus and specialising on hormonal health and fertility was a natural extension from my own health.
My career as a pharmacist was another driving force as I saw so many patients being prescribed a variety of medication and I kept thinking surely there is more that I can do. Even from very early on I used to advise my patients to try more homemade, natural-based remedies before the drugs or to try them alongside them.Our whole beings are made of food and nutrients; food is not just fuel, it’s so much more.
As a practising pharmacist, nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner, you use science-based evidence to advise your clients. Could you tell us a bit more about this approach?We know that nutrition is the fastest moving science. As nutritional therapists and functional medicine practitioners, we want doctors to recognise this as a complementary field and to encourage patients to use a more lifestyle and nutrition-based approach, rather than relying on medicine which only gets you so far. We use the latest and most comprehensive research in the form of randomised controlled trials to inform our decision-making. We also know the original definition of evidence-based includes practitioner and patient experience so anecdotal evidence is also taken into account to guide bespoke protocols for our clients. For example, specifically for fertility and hormones, there is a large body of evidence supporting the use of certain nutrients and supplements but we also see things like ‘seed-cycling’ having an effect which has not been supported by a research study but its benefits have been seen for a number of women.
You’re a qualified Akhanda yoga teacher. Can you tell us a little about how this complements your work with nutritional therapy?Akhand means whole. In modern medicine, we look at things individually such as the gastric system or the cardiac system but in nutritional therapy and functional medicine, we look at the body as a whole and how all systems are integrated and connected. Akhanda yoga is a very spiritual based yoga practice. We learn a lot about the power of mind and breath-work for health. We now live in such a stress-fuelled environment but we know that the breath is so powerful in switching from fight or flight to rest and digest. We know that when we are stressed our digestion and reproduction shuts down and both are pertinent to our hormonal health and our fertility outcomes. I have also studied some Ayurveda as part of the advanced yoga practice and here we recognise how we are made of nature and how nature affects us from not only the food we eat, to when and how we eat and our daily rituals and practices.
What can clients expect from their first chat with you?I offer a 30-minute complimentary discovery call to find out about the client and the journey with their health which has led them to where they are now and why they are seeking nutritional support. We discuss how my services work and how nutritional therapy works to help clients with their transformation such as ‘imagine having a regular period again to help you conceive’ or ‘imagine being pain-free during your period’. Most importantly the clients will feel fully reassured that they are finally in the right space to help them on their health journey.
Have you got any advice for someone interested in trying nutritional therapy?Just try it! It’s the best thing I have done for myself. Our whole beings are made of food and nutrients; food is not just fuel, it’s so much more. When seeking nutritional therapy support for hormones and fertility, nothing else makes more sense as every process is affected by vitamins and minerals and what we are feeding our cells. All of our sex hormones are made from fat or more specifically cholesterol, this comes from internally but also the food we eat. Egg and sperm health are dependent on antioxidants and having optimal amounts of specific nutrients. Often, with any hormonal related issues, women will be offered the pill, but this like most medications only masks the symptoms. They will always be there when you decide to come off it along with a whole host of other problems due to some of the side effects and how it works, including altering the gut microbiome, causing nutrient deficiencies and turning off our bodies' hormonal signals. Nutritional therapy offers permanent solutions by working on the root cause of the problem, often leaving you feeling the best you have ever felt.
Where can people find you?You can find me via my profile, on Instagram and Facebook under @thealternativepharmacist. Please feel free to download my Hormone Balancing Hacks.
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