Nadine Hokayem’s holistic approach

When prospective patients visit Nadine Hokayem’s naturopathic clinic, Medicine by Nature, most likely they’ve come there for one reason.

“Usually the first couple sentences out of their mouth are ‘I’ve visited so many doctors and nobody can figure it out,’” Hokayem said. “‘Nobody can help me.’”

For 12 years, Hokayem, a trained physician, has made a career in alternative treatments for patients suffering from everything from gastrointestinal problems to diabetes to fibromyalgia.

Their common link: Traditional medicine hasn’t worked for them.

Medicine by Nature, on High Ridge Road in Stamford, values natural remedies over traditional medicine. Instead of aspirin, there’s botanical treatment. Where you might’ve received an injection, there’s acupuncture. And where diet pills may have been prescribed, instead there is a focus on developing and maintaining a healthy, natural nutrition plan.

The clinic does a steady business in patients from the tri-state area and Massachusetts. In her appointments with them, Hokayem delves into their life habits. It’s not just the feeling of helping others that Hokayem enjoys about her line of work but also the lasting relationships she builds through her alternative approach.

“I really enjoy catching up with patients every couple months,” said Hokayem. “I’m always finding out about their personal growth one layer at a time.”

For Norwalk resident Bob Lamb, seeing Hokayem was the difference between life and death. About a decade ago, Lamb experienced chronic stomach problems. His internist couldn’t identify the cause.

His wife, a patient of Hokayem’s, suggested he pay her a visit to see if she could provide a diagnosis.

Hokayem examined Lamb and told him it felt like his liver was a little enlarged, which could be treated. Then, she noticed an abnormally high pulse rate in his abdominal area. She sent Lamb for an ultrasound, which revealed an abdominal aortic aneurism, a potentially deadly condition if not treated.

It was growing at such a rapid rate that it was at risk of bursting at any moment. Lamb went through a successful eight-hour surgery, attributing his survival to Hokayem’s thorough examination.

“The aortic artery feeds that whole part of body and it could have burst just from lifting heavy items,” Lamb said. “There’s just no chance you survive that. I owe my life to her.”

Growing up in the Chelsea section of Manhattan in the 1970s and 1980s, Hokayem said she was exposed to a progressive way of thinking.

Organic markets were plentiful, and natural remedies were sold in shops throughout the neighborhood. But the movie “Wall Street” had just come out, and Hokayem decided to become a banker or something similar. Though she earned a degree in business administration from Baruch College, she soon had an epiphany.

Hoyakem had loved the sciences while studying at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa., so she enrolled in the University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine, one of only six such schools in the country and the only on the East Coast to offer this specialized type of medical program.

She now teaches there, serving as a visiting physician. She works primarily with fourth-year medical students, an experience she calls a “labor of love.”

“As I started to mature and understand myself, I saw myself more in-line with holistic medicine,” she said. “It meant … a body-mind connection and a spiritual connection.”

When she first started her practice, Hokayem anticipated treating adults, most likely in the 30- to 60-year-old range. Then, parents starting bringing in their children and suddenly she had all age groups.

She added that she is not always the primary physician and often encourages patients to continue traditional medicine while they are seeing her.

Hanging on the wall above Hokayem’s desk is a copy of the Hippocratic Oath, which serves as a daily reminder of her primary purpose.

“I listen to my patients and I care about them,” she said. “I’m always looking for ways to help them improve their lives.”

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