Dr. Nicole Apelian’s story of personal triumph in the face of multiple sclerosis is nothing short of inspiring. An herbalist, biologist, and anthropologist who boasts more than 20 years of experience, she has used her personal journey as a springboard to mold her extensive scientific knowledge into a philosophy of health and well-being in service of others.
Above all, her approach to health and her overall mindset concerning well-being have benefitted not only healthy individuals, but also many who suffer with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune disorders.
Dr. Apelian leads the way in demonstrating how knowledge and skills can be applied to manage one’s health and personal wellness.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
MS is the most common autoimmune inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. It can result in neurologic symptoms and reduced function or impairment in vision, strength, and cerebellar function. As the condition worsens, symptoms usually include difficulty with mobility and performing the routine activities of everyday life.
Among those with MS, the rate of progression of the disease varies widely, with a significantly higher risk among women. National statistics reveal the prevalence of cases among women as 224.2 per 100,000 individuals. By contrast, the incidence among men registers at only 71.6 per 100,000 individuals.
A Shift toward Wellness
Similar to others who have suffered from a chronic health condition, when Dr. Apelian was diagnosed with MS in 2000, she realized she must make changes in her lifestyle and eating habits.
Shortly after her diagnosis, she realized that the everyday consumption of high doses of a wide variety of medications was robbing her of her health. Unwilling to be defined as an individual with a chronic illness, she dropped the pills and adopted a different path to regain a healthy life.
With a more natural approach to eating and overall wellness, she developed healthy living strategies that would allow her to manage the disease and reverse its effects.
Be Part of the Ecosystem
A lot can be learned from Dr. Nicole Apelian’s story. Her mindset toward life—and, on an even larger scale, her relationship with the universe as a whole—are a great testimony to all that we can learn from the natural world around us.
Dr. Apelian participated in Season 2 and Season 5 of the History Channel’s television show Alone. In both seasons, she managed to do more than just survive in the wilderness; she made it her home.
In contrast with other contestants, Dr. Apelian developed a unique relationship with her environment during her time in the wild by naturally blending in with the ecosystem around her.
In Season 2, the series was filmed on Vancouver Island: an environment in which she became one with the animals in their own habitat. Remarkably, the bears respected her territory, and the birds were no longer alarmed when she walked in the forest.
Building on her rich background in ethnobotany, Dr. Nicole Apelian now makes healing salves and herbal infusions from completely wild-harvested and organic herbs. Check her website for more information.
In his book, Vitamin N, Richard Louv suggests that our connection to the world around us can be defined as the body’s demand for Vitamin N (Nature). He goes on to say that a significant lack of this nutrient essentially results in Nature Deficit Disorder.
With an understanding that the process of healing or wellness requires much more than the practice of a healthy diet and simply being physically active, doctors in Japan currently prescribe specific doses of time spent in nature for patients who exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression.
It is clear that the wellness journey unfolds on a larger scale with greater elements involved. Practicing the mind-body connection may not be enough to support health processes in the long-term. As we choose to supplement our awareness of this connection with time spent in nature, we must engage in these practices as a way of life.
Books -Dr. Nicole Apelian: