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Chris’s Story: Cultivating Healthy Habits

The following is a patient story from Chris Camplin as told to Kimberly Lord Stewart about how naturopathic medicine improved his life. Chris has seen various North Carolina–based naturopathic doctors for allergic reactions, leaky gut, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome. The interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


In 2016, Chris Camplin thought he was onto something good by doing a cleanse using a powdered smoothie mix with a long list of supplements in it. “In hindsight, I got a little bit crazy and put a bunch of things in my body that I probably shouldn’t have,” says Camplin.

A few days into his smoothie diet, Chris noticed a rash that spread from head to toe. “I broke out in hives, what I called modern-day leprosy. My entire body was covered,” he says. 

Chris quickly recognized that he was probably reacting to the ingredients in the smoothie mix. He saw his doctor and was prescribed steroids. “It was the typical steroid pack. When I was on it, I was fine. And then, as soon as I came off the steroids, boom, it came back,” says Camplin. He returned to the doctor, where he was given more potent steroids. “And sure enough, as soon as the steroids were done, boom, it was back again.” 

Chris was in agony and tried to resume his life with the hives covering his body. It was futile. “I couldn’t sleep at night because my whole body itched. I had sores, and I looked horrible. I’m now retired, but at the time, I was working and had to give presentations to my boss while I was covered in hives. It was embarrassing,” Camplin says. 

Camplin’s wife suggested he see Dr. Maggie Thibodeau, her naturopathic doctor. He admits that he knew little about naturopathic medicine but needed to find a solution to his misery and embarrassment. “I was in such agony, so basically, I went to Dr. Maggie out of desperation,” he admitted. 

Dr. Thibodeau tested Camplin for allergies and sensitivities to food. “I forget exactly the numbers, it was like a 1-3-5 kind of rating, five being you’re not just sensitive, but you are freaking allergic to this. My test came back with a lot of threes and no fives. She recommended that for 90 days, I avoid a bunch of foods, including coffee and alcohol. In about two weeks, things started clearing up,” he says. 

During her assessment, Dr. Thibodeau tested Camplin for leaky gut syndrome. She suspected that the intercellular junctions in his intestines allowed compounds to enter the bloodstream, hence the severe skin reaction. Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition where the lining of the intestines becomes more porous, allowing substances such as toxins, bacteria, and undigested food particles to leak into the bloodstream. This can trigger an immune response and lead to various symptoms, including bloating, gas, abdominal pain, fatigue, food sensitivities, and a rash.1Leaky Gut Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Tests & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22724-leaky-gut-syndrome Chronic inflammation, poor diet, stress, and certain medications can contribute to developing a leaky gut.2Aleman RS, Moncada M, Aryana KJ. Leaky gut and the ingredients that help treat it: A review. Molecules. 2023;28(2):619. doi.org/10.3390/molecules28020619 Naturopathic doctors treat leaky gut by improving gut health through a balanced diet, reducing stress, and utilizing supplements that support gut healing.

“I learned that I had to heal my GI [system] to heal my skin,” says Camplin. “It was a turning point for me. I was amazed. Dr. Maggie put me on several natural medicines, like N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), and told me to avoid certain foods, and I got better. Maybe the hives would have improved as everything left my system, but I would never have known about leaky gut. I would have never been back to my usual self without Dr. Maggie,” he says. 

A few years later, during his second year of retirement, Camplin had gotten into bad habits of overeating, drinking too much, and not exercising. “I was really out of shape. That is when I started going to another naturopathic doctor, Dr. Amy Hawkins, who was closer to my home. My bloodwork showed a lot going on and bad stuff.” She discovered that Camplin had high blood sugar, and high cholesterol, two common signs of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It is characterized by a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. These factors, when present together, can lead to serious health complications.3Metabolic Syndrome — Symptoms and Causes. Mayo Clinic. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351916

It is essential to proactively manage and treat metabolic syndrome through lifestyle changes,4Bassi N, Karagodin I, Wang S, Priyanath A, Massaro E, Stone N. Lifestyle modification for metabolic syndrome: A systematic review. Am J Med. 2014;127(12):1242.E1-E10. doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.06.035 such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet. Dr. Hawkins first suggested that Chris take small steps for improvement, such as walking 5,000 steps daily, eating a salad and an apple daily, and curtailing drinking. 

She was also very concerned that lifestyle changes may not be enough to improve Camplin’s health. “She encouraged me to see a conventional medical doctor to complement what she was doing. Considering my past history, I didn’t want to go, but I went anyway.” Camplin’s medical doctor recommended medication to control his blood sugar, but he was concerned about the side effects.

I told the doctor, “I will do whatever I can to lose the weight and prove to you that I will not be diabetic. It’s a matter of exercise and eating right.” Camplin said his medical doctor was hesitant, but less than 30 days later, all of Camplin’s bloodwork results were perfect. He recounts Dr. Hawkin’s response: “That’s amazing. You’re one of my best students. I’ve never ever had anyone turn things around so quickly.” Since then, Camplin has seen her regularly, and at press time, he was due for another progress check. 

Camplin took Dr. Hawkin’s advice to heart. He increased his steps to 10,000 daily, which worked for a while, but his hip hurt too much. She referred him to a chiropractor, Dr. Karen Fairfield, who specializes in kinesiology and nutrition. She aligned Camplin’s body. “I had tears of joy. I didn’t know my body could feel this good. I had been dealing with that since I had a motorcycle accident when I was 21. She also helped me loosen up muscle tension in my shoulders to play pickleball.”

Camplin says he has made dramatic changes, but it is still a work in progress. “My next goal now is to get my weight to something that starts with a one when I step on the scale. My weight is the lowest in 20 years, but I’m still not satisfied. I want to play better pickleball on the court. It’s tough on the knees; losing 10 to 15 pounds will make a difference.” 

“I’m in bed most nights between 9:30 and 10:30, almost religiously. When the sun comes up, I’m up. And nearly every day includes at least an hour and a half of pickleball, sometimes two and a half hours. I usually eat a salad every day. I started mixing my smoothies instead of the kind that made me sick. I like all the natural stuff – pineapple, apple, collard greens, spinach, kale, cinnamon, and a little agave. I have plenty of energy to get through the day,” Camplin says.  

Camplin surprised a lot of people, including all of his doctors. “When I saw the conventional doctor, he said, ‘You are one of the only patients I’ve ever seen that really took diabetes and turned it around.’” After his experience, Camplin now firmly believes that treating the symptoms doesn’t really get to the root cause. He also knows much more about how his body functions, which motivates him to make good decisions. “It’s also because people don’t know what to do or how to do it. My naturopathic doctors taught me how my body works and what I needed to do to turn things around when I was up against some big challenges. They also supported me every step of the way.” 

Camplin says he will always see a naturopathic doctor. “It’s a mindset. You have to have the personal experience and perseverance to push through because nine times out of 10, problems can be solved with healthy food, natural supplements, exercise, and changing bad habits.”


This article was produced jointly by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Institute for Natural Medicine as part of the Campaign for Natural Medicine, a public awareness effort to broaden understanding of naturopathic medicine and support access to naturopathic doctors.

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About The Author(s)

Author INM Team

Kimberly Lord Stewart

Kimberly Lord Stewart is the director of youth programming for Naturally Well, the Institute for Natural Medicine’s youth culinary nutrition education program. Stewart is also an advocate, author, and writer in support of the adoption of healthy eating and helping youth overcome food social-justice barriers.

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Institute for Natural Medicine Staff

Our dedicated content team of professional staff writers represents decades of experience covering essential natural health topics in an accessible, evidence-based, and engaging way. Guided by a shared passion for holistic well-being, each and every one of our writers strives to empower our readers to take charge of their health.

Supported by a rigorous fact-checking and medical editing process from licensed naturopathic doctors that examines the latest in peer-reviewed research, our team brings their in-depth knowledge of natural health practices into every piece of content we produce. We strive to be the gold standard for evidence-based natural medicine, providing trustworthy information and inspiring narratives to help you live your best health, naturally.

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