LAKEVIEW— When Bob Huttinga began his career in the medical field back in 1976, his practice was fairly traditional. As a certified physician assistant working in Lakeview, Bob examined patients, dispensed prescriptions and performed all the duties common to a typical medical practice.
It wasn’t until years later, when he began to experience stress related to his work in the occupational health field that Bob first began to consider the advantages of alternative medicine. A relaxation class and study of the Silva Method of Mind Development of Stress Control gave him the tools to eliminate his stress-related health issues.
Then in the 1990s, Bob became fully immersed in the idea that a more holistic approach to healing could sometimes achieve results that more traditional treatment options could not.
“I worked at the Born Clinic in Grand Rapids for three years back then as a physician assistant,” Bob said. “The Born Clinic does both traditional medicine and herbs and stuff like that.”
Bob missed rural living, however, and eventually returned to the Lakeview area, accepting a position with a practice in Canadian Lakes. During this time, his interest in homeopathic medicine continued unabated and he continued taking classes and learning all he could about the field.
Bob’s wife, Barbara Huttinga, also took an interest in alternative treatment options because of personal health issues. After owning her own hair salon for 35 years, Barbara developed illnesses related to exposure to some of the chemicals used there.
According to Barbara, this led to “a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual journey” that would eventually lead her back to health. Over time, she became a certified massage therapist, reflexologist and naturopathic educator, as well as a certified natural health practitioner. Other studies included iridology, body analysis and muscle response testing.
An ordained minister, Barbara uses all these tools and more to aid in counseling sessions and to help her clients get in touch with their personal emotional states and “better help them move on in their lives.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Healing Center, Bob treats clients using a combination of traditional medicine, herbal medicine, hypnotherapy, homeopathic medicine and other techniques. On other days, he continues to work in traditional medicine at the Urgent Care Unit of Gratiot Medical Center in Alma.
Bob admits that winning area residents over to the idea of non-traditional treatment options has been a slow process.
“It has been interesting,” he said. “About half our business is from out of town. A lot of people come in from Grand Rapids and from as far away as Lansing. The local people are starting to come around now, though there was initially some resistance. People just didn’t understand, I think. But we’re beginning to develop a clientele of people frustrated with traditional medicine.”
Many of Bob’s clients come to him after experiencing problems with prescription medications. Some can be helped with herbal remedies or other non-traditional treatments, Bob says. Others cannot.
“Some have too much damage done to their body and need their prescriptions,” Bob said. “But a lot of times we can take those prescriptions away and still treat the client effectively, without all the side-effects.”
Genetic testing and an in-depth interview process also figure prominently in Bob’s diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Often, emotional trauma or stress can present as physical ailments.
Bob doesn’t hesitate to use his own personal experience as an example.
“When my ex-wife ran off with some guy, it was devastating to me,” Bob said. “For a year I was dealing with this horrible emotional stuff that was giving me pain in the upper back. I went to see a massage therapist and she could tell, simply by the kind of pain I was experiencing and the muscles affected, that it was caused by emotional problems.”
Bob received a series of “emotional release” massages over a period of a few weeks. Through the first one he cried, the second he laughed.
“The third time I slept through the whole thing,” he said. But by then, the problems — both physical and emotional — had mostly abated. Bob was sold.
“The trauma can be a broken relationship, physical trauma, fear, or an abusive relationship,” Bob explained. “It’s almost like post traumatic stress syndrome, only not with the military situation. These kinds of things get stuck in our body. Fortunately, there’s a whole bunch of these release techniques we can do. We match the individual to the right technique and get really good results with that.
“We look not only at the symptoms, but the underlying cause,” he noted.
Though alternative, holistic treatments are not universally endorsed by the traditional medical community, many are becoming more accepted with the passage of time. As proof of this, Bob points to a presentation he gave last year on holistic health at a statewide physician’s assistant convention. It went so well that he has been asked to speak again at this year’s convention and may also speak at the national convention.
The driving philosophy behind the Healing Center is that all aspects of a person are involved in healthy living; body, mind and spirit. Using the right techniques, the thinking goes, most people can heal themselves.
Barb Rodarmer, an employee at the Healing Center who retired not long ago from a career as food service director for several area schools, notes that everything about the center is calming.
“Food service was very stressful,” Rodarmer said. “But working here is just about right. It’s so much more peaceful here.”
The Healing Center is located at 332 S. Lincoln Ave. in Lakeview.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Additionally, the facility hosts Saturday and evening classes on a variety of topics.
For more information, call (989) 352-6500 or visit thehealingcenteroflakeview.com online.