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Women In Wellness: “Your DNA is not your destiny” With Dr. Donese Worden

DNA is not your destiny. We constantly turn genes on and off with every thought, food, movement or lack of. We all have exposures to toxins. Many of us feel overworked and tired. Ultimately your health is your responsibility. Give yourself the gift of time to learn what you can do to increase your life […]


DNA is not your destiny. We constantly turn genes on and off with every thought, food, movement or lack of. We all have exposures to toxins. Many of us feel overworked and tired. Ultimately your health is your responsibility. Give yourself the gift of time to learn what you can do to increase your life span and more importantly, your quality of life. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. Being healthy isn’t easy. It takes education, discipline, and practice as well as self-trust in your own intuition. That being said, what you need to do is pretty simple.


As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Donese Worden, NMD, who heads up Repower Medical Clinic in Arizona. She is a globally renowned health educator, researcher and highly sought after expert physician with the distinction of being a board certified NMD (Naturopathic Medical Doctor). Dr. Worden is in the unique position of combining traditional Western approaches with leading alternative therapies providing solutions to not only symptoms but core causes. As a researcher herself, she is able to offer patients scientific information behind their medical decisions, often empowering and thus, repowering her patients with knowledge to help them make significant contributions to their own healing.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Dr. Worden! What is your “backstory”?

My mother was a naturopath without a degree. She read every health article that could be found and cooked and cleaned accordingly. I remember she had me eating yogurt before anyone really knew what it was. After receiving my master’s degree in broadcasting I worked as a news anchor for an NBC affiliate and had my own television talk shows. That was an exciting career but I always knew there was a better calling for me. I married and ran my former husband’s political campaigns and taught classical violin and piano while my son was young. However, I was moved to stretch myself into an area I had always had an interest in, science and medicine. Following my family heritage of farmers, turned engineers and scientists, I began to study what Mom had been advocating all along. I worked in nutrition and exercise and I saw first-hand what it could do for athletes and for some very sick people. This inspired me to find a career that would include science, medicine, and research. I found a medical school that taught both “sides” of medicine, traditional and alternative medicine. I entered with a passion and desire to be able to educate patients about their options for their health and medical treatments. During the first week of medical school, they asked my class what we wanted to do when we graduated. My classmates said, “I want to be a doctor and work in a practice.” I said, “I want to be a physician; however, I really want to be an educator. I want to utilize my previous media experience to be able to empower people to make informed choices for their healthcare and their lives.”

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing

DNA is not your destiny. We constantly turn genes on and off with every thought, food, movement or lack of. We all have exposures to toxins. Many of us feel overworked and tired. Ultimately your health is your responsibility. Give yourself the gift of time to learn what you can do to increase your life span and more importantly, your quality of life. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. Being healthy isn’t easy. It takes education, discipline, and practice as well as self-trust in your own intuition. That being said, what you need to do is pretty simple.

#1 DON’T GIVE UP. If you don’t feel good after 30–60 days on a program, try something else. You are unique. Listen to your body, it will give you the feedback you need. What works for someone else may not work for you. Be a courageous explorer. It can be fun trying new foods, supplements and health products. Eat more veggies and put some greens on every plate every day. What’s the perfect program? Knowing the right foods for YOU (according to your DNA and your food sensitivities), and the right exercise that you enjoy is a great start. Physicians can tell you the right things they think will be beneficial for you. But the real problem may be in your mindset and your emotional reasons for why you’re not doing what you already know that could help. That means you have to dig deep.

If your still not where you want to be, work with an integrative physician for unique laboratory testing to help diagnose why you’re struggling and then be open to novel treatments including working on emotional eating patterns.

#2. MOVE. Interval training takes 5–10 minutes a day. If your mantra is: “I just don’t have time to exercise,” I ask you to challenge that statement. It’s not a lack of time. This is where being honest with yourself comes in to play. Put it in your calendar and make a 14-day commitment to do it, and then re-commit. It will be a habit. Stand more…sit less…get a sit-stand desk. Fitting in Yoga as much as you can, will also nourish your mind, and spirit, as well as your body.

#3. BEAT THE STRESS. Couch potatoes don’t live as long as those who are workaholics. The real reason may be that if you’re loving your work, there’s a difference between stress and overwhelm. There is good stress and bad stress. Meditate, pray, walk in nature, get some sunshine and moonlight and stop surrounding yourself with negative people. If you’re telling your body to run from a bear and produce bad stress hormones all day…then it can’t repair. It’s simple as that.

Can you share the interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I started my medical career specializing in pain management and traveled the world learning and teaching novel injection techniques, frequency devices, and natural products. I never thought about specializing in any ONE disease but patients with cancer and research opportunities kept driving me toward oncology. I kept resisting it but the suffering of cancer patients and new research opportunities kept coming to me. Finally, I surrendered and now the knowledge from researchers I collaborate with for cancer, brain diseases, and other serious conditions has become my passion. I’ve learned to be open to change and trust that all the answers we are looking for, are right in front of us, if we are mindful. We can plan all we want but sometimes we are needed in areas we never expected.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of my biggest learning curves was that I trusted a man I thought was my mentor and I didn’t ask him to sign agreements nor did I watch my monies as I normally would have. Here’s the take home, four years of litigation. That means hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and a four-day jury trial. I won and I was even awarded the attorney’s fees. And so that sounds great, right? Not so fast, my former mentor appealed, so I had to hire a different attorney for another year, more attorney’s fees and grueling preparation. Once again, I won and was awarded even the appeals attorney’s fees. I was relieved that I might recoup some of my money if not my energy and faith in mentors. Again, to my surprise, my former mentor changed the name of his business and long story short, I could never collect my monies. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. And in this case, it doesn’t matter if you were actually found to be correct in a court of law. There’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back. Think twice before letting someone else collect your monies and co-mingle funds. Collect your own and have protections in place and always get everything in writing. This can alleviate “I don’t remember it that way” amnesia. That being said, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going work in your favor or even protect you. This is not meant to be negative. It’s about being aware. It was a big wake up call for me.

When it comes to health and wellness, how are you helping people making a bigger impact in the world?

I’ve spent almost two decades treating patients and utilizing therapies and products that make a real difference in lives. I’ve lectured globally and taught physicians in novel therapies. Now is the time where I’m combining that experience with my media background to educate and empower the public as a female face in medicine to facilitate truth in medicine.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Success can be defined in many ways. Financial and reputation seem to be at the top of the list for most people. However, my husband Barry Goldstein has taught me that success is not just about hard work and helping others. It’s also about being successful in my personal and spiritual life. I teach a course I developed at ASU called Ancient Healing Traditions for Modern Times and the department encourages mindfulness practices. Barry has shown me that heartfulness may be a better way. Getting out of our “heads and minds” and into our hearts allows a peacefulness that energizes us to find and develop our passion. When we allow our lives to be about something greater than ourselves the real success happens for all involved including yourself. Instead of looking at the biggest revenue makers, look for what you enjoy doing. What is your passion? When people ask, “what do you do for fun”? my answer is “my work, which is my passion and my fun.”

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Truth in Medicine. I’m involved with a global movement in metabolic medicine for researching novel therapies for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. It’s sad to say that one in two people will have cancer at some point in their lives. It’s a bold statement to say that the way we are studying and treating these diseases needs to be challenged. I believe we can do better and so do other physicians and researchers. I support all efforts that are coming from non-biased scientific research. There is already a lot of information to share with the public and with physicians. My mission is to get the new information to the public so they are aware of their choices.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

First, being a voice for Truth in Medicine has helped open the eyes of physicians, researchers, and patients. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. Knowledge can be powerful, so I contribute a large portion of my time to design and conduct research. Now I’m also able to educate the general public with novel information that can help them lead happier and healthier lives.

What is your “I Thing I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

Learn to say no. I’m still working on this one as I tend to have a hard time saying no by nature, I’m more of a “yes let’s do it” person. Don’t take on every project or opportunity that comes along. They may be exciting but focusing on only a few at a time is much more productive in the long runand you won’t burn yourself out in the short run.

Do you have any “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would they be?

Posthumously, Helen Flanders Dunbar (1902–1959) ranks as one of the least read medical authors but the most cited having the largest amount of published research in her area of medicine. She is known by many as “the mother of holistic medicine” stemming from her 40 years of psychosomatic research. She earned multiple graduate degrees in medicine, theology, and philosophy in a short period of time in the ’30s from esteemed institutions such as Columbia and the NY Academy of Medicine. Dr. Dunbar brought mind/body medicine to the forefront with her research and she spoke of the organism as a whole and the organism in its environment. Her accomplishments include publishing the first of its kind medical journal, being a political activist, physician, researcher and authoring several books including Emotions and Bodily Changes, Psychosomatic Diagnosis, Mind, and Body: Psychosomatic Medicine

No one really knew her at the personal level which makes me even more curious to know more about her as an individual. She was very passionate about her work and even though she was shy, she still managed to upset the system on political and theoretical grounds.

A quote by Charles MacKay that I have always identified with, seems to personify Dr. Helen Dunbar, You have no enemies, you say? Alas, my friend, the boast is poor. He who has mingled in the fray of duty that the brave endure, must have made foes. If you have none, small is the work that you have done. You’ve hit no traitor on the hip. You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip. You’ve never turned the wrong to right. You’ve been a coward in the fight.”

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health takes priority for me. In my opinion, the mental health system in the U.S. is broken. There are many who are suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders and we need to support them. The more connected we are to ourselves, and to others, recognizing them as an aspect of ourselves, and the planet, the better decisions we will make and become advocates for truth. Otherwise, we are denying our destiny.

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