Practice setting: Two-practitioner clinic
Location: Huntington, N.Y.
Areas of focus/specialties:
- Women’s health
- Postnatal care
- Pediatrics, especially the use of natural and Chinese medicines
Career highlights and contributions:
- Opened new clinic, Huntington, N.Y., 2009
- Former VP, New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians (NYANP)
- Coauthored chapters for Textbook of Natural Medicine, 3rd ed.
- Adjunct faculty, Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health, Manhattan
Current professional endeavors:
- Promoting new Huntington, N.Y., clinic
- Writing book on healthy pregnancy using natural medicine
- Lecturing at Natural Gourmet Institute, women’s centers and other venues
- Supporting her husband in the completion of his book on natural medicine and depression
Personal passions: Daughter Sophia, born April 2008, and husband Peter; creating meals at home with her husband; yoga and running; reading
Favorite quote: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." – Mahatma Gandhi
Alumni Career Spotlight
Pina LoGiudice, ND, LAc
After curing her nagging digestive problems with diet, herbal medicines and acupuncture, Dr. Pina LoGuidice (loh-joo-dee-CHAY) came to see practicing naturopathic medicine as her life’s work. Through a series of serendipitous events, she followed a path that led her across the country and back, a journey that allowed her to share natural healing with others.
With the help of her family, Dr. LoGuidice now maintains a unique and unparalleled balance between work, marriage and raising her 1 ½-year-old daughter. To support the effort, Dr. LoGuidice and her husband, Dr. Peter Bongiorno, recently opened a new, environmentally green clinic near their Huntington home on Long Island, where they seamlessly integrate naturopathic medicine and acupuncture.
Natural medicine: all in the family
Mixing family and work
The work of integration
A living example
AANMC: How did you become interested in natural medicine?
PL: I’d always wanted to be a doctor. At age 23, I was studying for the MCAT and preparing to enter conventional medical school. I was a little stressed out, so I went to get a massage. The massage therapist was very intuitive and asked me about the various digestive issues I’d had since my teen years. MDs had always told me it was a functional problem and had wanted to prescribe medication. But I didn’t want to be on medication long-term, so I just lived with it. The massage therapist referred me to a nutritionist. After two weeks on a different diet and taking nutrients and herbal medicine, 98 percent of my problems were gone. Natural medicine changed my life. I knew nothing about the field, but I was very grateful, and I thought, “This is how medicine should be.” So I read every book on natural medicine that I could find.
However, I thought all the naturopathic medical schools were in Europe. I was already scheduled to go to Washington, D.C., to do a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which I did. It was also very serendipitous. I became sick with the flu and was referred to a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist. In the same week, I met my future husband, Peter, who told me about an American naturopathic university, Bastyr University. He had already been accepted there but had decided to wait a year to attend, and that was the year I met him. I immediately applied to Bastyr and was accepted. I knew I wanted to complete both the doctor of naturopathic medicine and the masters in acupuncture and Oriental medicine degrees, because I loved how both approaches worked together. So Peter and I did both programs in five years.
AANMC: What is it like being married to another ND?
PL: It’s fabulous. It was lovely dating a colleague because we had the same pressures and schedules. Being married to someone who’s very like-minded makes life a lot easier. He’s an Italian from New York, which my parents love. My parents were born in Sicily, and they weren’t thrilled that I went 3,000 miles away to school. We loved Seattle, but we both knew we wanted to have a family and be close to our families, so we came back to New York to start our practice. We love being in practice together.
AANMC: Are your parents familiar with traditional Sicilian healing methods? Did their experiences provide a bridge to understanding your chosen profession?
PL: When I was young, I was very prone to belly aches. There were tradition Sicilian remedies, like fennel seed and bay leaf teas, that worked amazingly well. I still recommend them to my patients today. And my grandmother used the acupuncture cupping technique for my mother’s bronchitis. So in some ways, naturopathic medicine wasn’t too far of a jump for my parents. And I’ve helped them with their own health, and they appreciate the way natural medicine is improving in their lives. They’re doing remarkably well and they feel wonderful.
AANMC: You’ve recently welcomed a little one into the world. How has having a daughter changed your life?
PL: In every aspect. My time is no longer my own. Everything is centered around making sure my daughter, Sophia, has the happiest, most healthful life possible. I was fortunate in being able to take a seven-month maternity leave. During that time, Peter and I constructed a new clinic close to home. I’m now working three days a week and staying home with Sophia two days a week. She goes to my parents’ home two days a week, and my in-laws come to our home to take care of her one day every week. I can’t thank them enough for all they do. And they’re learning about why, to avoid allergies, we need to introduce new foods to Sophia carefully, and why I chose to breastfeed her. It’s a true blessing.
AANMC: Take us through a day in the life of Dr. LoGiudice.
PL: It’s definitely a team effort. Either my husband or I make breakfast while the other showers. Then the showered one gets Sophia dressed and makes lunch while the other one showers. After breakfast, either my in-laws arrive or I drop Sophia off with my parents. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my husband and I go into the Long Island clinic together. I see patients for an average of one hour per appointment. I call to check on Sophia a couple of times throughout the day. On Wednesdays, Peter leaves early to go to the practice in New York City, so I start seeing patients at noon on Wednesdays in Huntington. When we get home, either my parents or in-laws have dinner ready for us, which is so nice. Then it’s time to get Sophia ready for and into bed. Then I answer emails, write some of my book, get ready for the next day and get to bed.
AANMC: Have you been able to integrate work and family life to your satisfaction?
PL: I think we’re doing pretty well. But there are constant challenges balancing work and family. I’m doing more lecturing and marketing now to publicize our new office location. So weekends are a mix of family and marketing. The personal life is what suffers, which is true for most moms: we tend to put ourselves last. When she was nursing, my daughter was waking up every one-and-a-half to two hours. So I’ve been putting off exercising until I could get a full night’s sleep. But my daughter is now 1 ½, and I realize I’m still not getting a full night’s sleep, so I just decided to start exercising again anyway. It’s so important, because there’s no pill, no vitamin that can do what exercise can do for you. I said to myself, if I can’t figure this out, how can I tell my patients to do it? So one of the ways I’ve found balance is to exercise with my husband on the weekends.
PL: I love everything. I can’t envision myself doing anything else. It’s amazing, working with people and seeing the beautiful changes that the human body can make when given the opportunity through natural medicine. I focus my practice on women’s health, infertility, pregnancy, postnatal care and pediatrics. Helping women achieve pregnancy naturally is a miracle, and I feel honored to be a part of that process.
AANMC: Share some of these women’s success stories with us.
PL: One 38-year-old woman had been trying to conceive for two years and did not want to use artificial means. She was about 60 pounds overweight and was having irregular periods. We changed her diet, changed her stress and got her hormones on target. After about eight months without getting pregnant, she decided she was going to pursue fertility treatments. I honored her desire, but I told her I thought she could do it on her own. She went ahead with the consultation. The day she was supposed to pick up her drugs, she found out she was pregnant. And she now has a beautiful baby girl.
Women who have had problematic pregnancies also come to me, and I help them detoxify their bodies so that they can have more successful future pregnancies. When it comes to questions of age, I don’t believe in the conventional wisdom that 35 is a breaking point for having babies. Fertility is a state of health; unless there’s an anatomical problem, if you’re in a healthy state and you’re eating foods that are supportive of the body, there’s no reason you cannot conceive.
I also love helping women have the healthiest possible pregnancies. And once the baby is born, I love educating new families on the connection between food and health. If children can be taught to make smart decisions about how they eat early on, what a wonderful world we’ll have. Children understand how their bodies feel. Even at an early age, children can understand that if you eat too much sugar, you don’t feel good. They will say, “That gives me a belly ache, and I don’t want to eat too much of it.”
AANMC: How do you integrate acupuncture with naturopathic medicine in your practice?
PL: It’s a beautiful blend. The human body can present with a lot of symptoms. When you look at it from a conventional Western standpoint, it’s difficult to see which bodily system needs support. Chinese medicine teaches the connections between seemingly unrelated symptoms. Naturopathic medicine works extremely well, but the process can be slow. Acupuncture can expedite the healing process.
If someone is experiencing digestive discomfort, for example, I give them herbs and nutrients to heal the digestive tract. That can take a couple of months. But with acupuncture, I can relieve a person’s discomfort the same day.
And with infertility, when a patient is already receiving in vitro injections, acupuncture enhances the likelihood of implantation. One patient came to me after she had tried IVF three times unsuccessfully. I used acupuncture and we decreased the inflammation in her body through nutrition. It worked, and she now has a beautiful baby boy.
AANMC: How do you define success?
PL: From a professional standpoint, I’m successful if I’ve assisted my patients in achieving optimal health and the ability to conceive. From a personal standpoint, success means ensuring my daughter’s health and wellbeing and being true to myself; knowing my spirit is settled, that I’m doing the right thing. On the monetary side, there’s a big misconception that you can’t succeed financially as an ND. But my husband and I have been able to build a very successful practice in two locations in an unlicensed state, and even expand. And we are still early in the development of our careers. You do have to work hard, as with anything. I think it’s the work ethic.
AANMC: What is your message to someone considering becoming an ND?
PL: It’s first and foremost about being a physician. If that’s in your soul, it’s something you should do. There’s a calling for all kinds of doctors, and there’s a time and a place for things like surgery – I’m glad it’s around. But if you are inspired by the idea of “docere,” which is Latin for “doctor as teacher,” then naturopathic medicine might be your calling. Teaching is where naturopathic medicine excels the most, in my mind, compared to other medical programs — whether osteopathic or allopathic — because patient education is so integral to naturopathic medicine.
And don’t be deterred from practicing in an unlicensed state. Here in New York State, NDs are not permitted to diagnose or treat with pharmaceuticals, and that’s fine: our patients come to us with diagnoses, and we have so many wonderful natural treatments available to us.
As a 37-year-old mother of an infant girl, Dr. Pina LoGiudice is a living testament that a woman who practices a healthful lifestyle can have children through her 30s and 40s. But Dr. LoGiudice doesn’t just empower women to have successful pregnancies and healthy families. She, her husband and their parents offer an inspirational example of how family and work can be woven together in such a way that each feeds, supports and stimulates the other. “Vivo i nonni” – long live grandparents!
Patty Bates-Ballard writes about diversity, ecology, wellness and politics. She is the owner of WordSmooth, co-author of Navigating Diversity, and developer of a series of diversity workshops implemented in school districts, non-profit, corporate and governmental organizations. Patty works from her home in Dallas, where she raises her sons, Kory and Kaden.