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Practitioner of the Year 2023 Winner Q&A

By Carla Wrenn
from Peninsula Herbal Dispensary & Naturopathic Clinic

1. What is your chosen accredited natural medicine practice?
I am a Naturopath, having completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) & other qualifications including as a Nutritionist. I love learning so over the last 22 years of practice I have also studied Functional Medicine and Integrative Oncology in Australia and Internationally.

2. What drew you to focus on this type of natural medicine?
I studied Naturopathy as a 17-year-old straight out of high school, I wanted to help people and I just kind of found my way to this course and the rest is history. I love our industry and my job! I would not want to do anything else.

3. What is your motivation to deliver this type of care for your clients?
My motivation is to deliver hope to patients with even the most complex diagnosis. I want to empower them with information and lifestyle medicine tips to give them back a feeling of hope and control on their journey, to show them ways they can feel healthier or ‘well’, no matter the diagnosis. I also love to share with them the amazing depth of scientific research that enables us to achieve amazing results in conditions that sometimes have little hope. Examples include all the research I utilise to help my patients minimise the side effects from their conventional oncology care by utilising safe evidence based complementary medicines appropriately alongside their pharmaceutical interventions. In my experience this helps make patients with cancer feel happier with improved quality of life. This also applies for my patients with Long COVID where we already have lots of evidence on complementary medicines like herbs and nutrition, as well as lifestyle advice, that we can use to improve their post viral illness.

4. How does your type of natural medicine support your clients in reaching their health goals?
I work to find the cause of their health complaints, as well as address their concerning symptoms. Using testing, questionnaires, pathology and careful case taking; I look to unravel their complex cases and make a care plan to address their acute symptoms but also to understand what the cause/s of their health complaints are. By addressing these causes with dietary education, stress management, herbal or nutritional medicines, we can often make huge differences in even the most complex and chronic cases. Allowing patients to achieve results that often exceed their health goals. It’s also all about listening and connection, the therapeutic relationship – I am so lucky to get to call this my job.

5. How is the perception of natural medicine changing in Australia?
Over my 22 years in practice, it has changed a lot. I think the huge body of evidence on topics like the microbiome, greater details on how herbal medicine works and better understanding of complex health complaints, have all enabled us to really uplevel what we do and to take an even more important place as part of more and more people’s primary healthcare team.

6. Why are you passionate about your type of natural medicine?
It’s simple…. Because every day I see what we do change people’s lives in big and little ways!

7. What are some of the ways you advocate for the natural therapies industry?
My business Peninsula Herbal Dispensary & Naturopathic Clinic employs one of Australia’s biggest teams of Naturopath’s, we have 11 qualified Naturopaths and final year students. Together we advocate for the industry, educating 5000+ patients a year in our acute care ‘green pharmacy’ setting, many of whom have never used natural medicines before. We are also involved in lots of industry events like Natural Medicine Week and other educational events that strengthen our industry. I personally have helped to educate and mentor 1000’s of other practitioners in my professional courses for practitioners. It’s easy to advocate for something you love.

8. What does the future of natural medicine look like to you?
My clinic Peninsula Herbal Dispensary & Naturopathic Clinic grows every year, next year will be our 20th birthday so that will be a real time to celebrate and look to the future. I can’t wait for 2024 as I also have 2 big new businesses to launch – giving me the opportunity to help even more people… watch this space!

9. What does it mean to you to have won this award?
To win the award Practitioner of the Year is such an honour for myself but also for my team. We all love what we do, the people we help and our industry. Without my team (and my family) I could not achieve all I do. It is such a lovely surprise to win!

More about the author

Carla Wrenn
– Peninsula Herbal Dispensary & Naturopathic Clinic

Carla Wrenn is a qualified Naturopath with over 20 years of experience and is a member of Australian Traditional Medicine Society, Institute of Functional Medicine and Society of Integrative Oncology.

Carla studied for five years at the Australian College of Natural Medicine, graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy and Diplomas in Naturopathy, Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and Classical Homoeopathy. Carla continually studies and has completed postgraduate studies in Integrative Oncology, Autoimmune Diseases and Functional Medicine.