My name is Beth Cleavenger and I am a 2012 University of Montana Pharmacy School graduate. I was born and raised in Montana and moved to Arizona in the summer of 2012 to start my pharmacy career. It was this move would change my life, my health, and the direction of my career forever. In pharmacy school my classmates and I were taught to believe the lie that alternatives to conventional medicine were simply unnecessary and unreliable. We were led to believe that the only medicine and treatments patients could trust were rooted in clinical guidelines and FDA approved drugs. Ironically, after battling a “mysterious” chronic illness for four years it was naturopathic medicine that saved my life.
I was halfway through pharmacy school when my health began to dramatically decline and I wholeheartedly embraced the medical wisdom I thought I had gained. Over the course of three years I went to 7 physicians and 3 specialists only to be dismissed as “normal”. I was hopeless, desperate, and on the verge of needing a medical leave of absence from my job. Realizing I had nothing else to lose, I made an appointment to see a naturopathic physician.
At just 27 years old I was battling a severe case of chronic fatigue syndrome, stage III adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances, and a number of food intolerances. Little by little I have regained my health back with the help of natural supplements, a real-food diet, and even the anti-viral drug, valacyclovir, for my high Epstein-Barr viral load.
This journey has taught me more than the value and effectiveness of natural and alternative medicine. It has made me not only a more compassionate pharmacist, but a better one. This experience drives me to educate patients, colleagues, and friends on the benefit of integrating both natural and conventional medicine to improve quality of life.