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Hansen: Bridging the medicine gap

November 10, 2011|By David Hansen
  • Linda West-Conforti of Nurses for Safer Access.
Linda West-Conforti of Nurses for Safer Access. (Coastline Pilot )

About 30 years ago as a U.S. Air Force medic working in intensive care units, I saw my share of illness and death.

Even though I eventually got out of medicine, I have noticed many changes since then:

•The way we do basic CPR has changed dramatically.

•Once-sacred medicines have been outlawed.

•Cardiac surgery is now almost an outpatient procedure.

But one thing that hasn't changed is the near holy war between East and West. Shaman versus scientists. Herbalists versus pharmaceutical companies.

So it was with some interest that I saw the advertisement in the Coastline Pilot asking the question, "Suffering From Cancer?"

The ad, paid for by Laguna Beach-based Nurses for Safer Access, is soliciting people with cancer to use a "secret herbal recipe" of essiac tea.

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Founder Linda West-Conforti is a nurse and has seen the shortcomings of Western medicine, so she said she wants to help.

"I've been in nursing almost 30 years, and I've seen a huge change in the delivery of health care," she said. "We're indoctrinated into this thinking that technology is best, but when you step back, the perfect analogy is CPR, the ABCs of life, how that has changed so drastically."

What hasn't changed, according to West-Conforti, is "nature's medicine" — the broad array of botanicals used for thousands of years and now have names like "Dragon's Blood," "Cat's Claw" and "Amazon Vitality."

"I don't know why we have a tendency to trust something that is as far from man-made as possibly can be, such as some of the drugs from chemotherapy and other things, and yet won't trust something that's from nature," she said. "Yet 25% of the pharmaceutical medications are made from plants from nature."

Her new shop, at 1968 S. Coast Hwy., shares a building with Taekwondo, yoga and Pilates. While she lives in Lake Arrowhead, she chose Laguna because she has family here, including a nephew, Blake Chapman, co-founder of the store. Chapman, a Laguna Beach High School graduate, originally thought of the idea for the store.

"What I'm trying to do here for Nurses for Safer Access is to empower clients to take charge of their own health care, understand your disease entity very deeply and ask your physicians the appropriate questions," she said.

West-Conforti believes there is a more natural approach to health with fewer side effects.

"I don't think a pharmaceutical is always the answer, especially when we're dealing with sleep disorders and anxiety disorders," she said.

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