The Healing Power of Integrative Medicine: Q&A with Dr. Leo Gallego
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Here on the balmy Florida Suncoast, we have a host of wellness benefits—the healing sunshine, the salty ocean breeze, the biodiverse ecosystems and health practitioners who combine the latest science of conventional medicine with the ancient wisdom of holistic care.
One such practitioner is Dr. Leo Gallego, DOM, AP, a new associate at the Sarasota Center for Acupuncture and Nutrition. Dr. Leo is on a mission to make quality, sustainable, empowering healthcare accessible to everyone, and I had the honor of speaking with him for this month’s Community Spotlight.
Natural Awakenings: What specific qualities drew you to join the team at Sarasota Center for Acupuncture and Nutrition?
Dr. Leo Gallego: This might sound cliche, but I’ll say it. Sarasota Center for Acupuncture and Nutrition (SCAN) encompasses all I have ever wanted in a healthcare clinic—acupuncture, nutritional counseling, functional medicine (or as I like to call it, systemic holistic medicine) and so much more. The SCAN clinic aims to provide optimal wellness care to the entire community of Sarasota and its surrounding areas.
SCAN sees patients daily for a multitude of health concerns such as pain management, internal medicine, mental health, weight loss and insomnia, just to name a few. My goal as an associate at SCAN is not only to provide the best healthcare possible to my patients, but also to create an environment that resonates with everything this clinic stands for—integrity, respect and a sincere commitment to each patient’s well-being. This includes empowering and educating patients to take an active role in their own health journeys.
NA: Can you summarize both your educational and professional background within the holistic or alternative healthcare space?
Dr. Leo: It started with a passion for nutrition and science during my experience with weight loss as a youth. This led me to pursue an undergraduate education in Public Health with a focus in Nutrition. I worked in the prevention and education sector with an HIV/AIDs non-profit organization for several years. As a medical case manager, I saw firsthand the many obstacles and gaps in our conventional healthcare system.
I subsequently left that position to work as a Medical Education Coordinator in St. Petersburg General Hospital, where I built out continuing medical education (CME) programs for various medical specialties. During this time, my respect for science and medicine grew, but I also could not overlook certain limitations in conventional healthcare, which sparked my interest in holistic and integrative medicine.
I returned to school here in Sarasota to receive my graduate education in Traditional Chinese Medicine and became a Nationally Board-Certified Diplomate of Oriental Medicine and Licensed Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM).
For the past two years, I have been privileged to work alongside Dr. Chistina Captain (DAOM), the founder of SCAN clinic, where I continue to see the success of this medicine on a daily basis. Now more than ever, I can attest to the powerful and effective symbiotic relationship between both conventional and integrative medicine.
NA: What treatment modalities do you specialize in, and what unique attributes do you have to offer the patients who walk into your office?
Here at SCAN, we offer a variety of modalities such as Acupuncture, Acupoint Injection Therapy (AIT), Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM), Nutritional Counseling, Herbal Supplements and more. These are the modalities I primarily focus on. My specialties lie in chronic pain management and interventions for depression, anxiety or other mood disorders. In my 20s, I practiced yoga with a renowned international yoga teacher named Jade Skinner. Through this, I learned the importance of the mind-body connection.
Many times, emotional trauma can either cause or exacerbate physical pain—and vice versa. In my own experience as a teacher and practitioner of movement therapy, I have not only witnessed this phenomenon, but I have also encountered it myself. Therefore, when I meet a patient for the first time, I view this person as a whole, from every angle. I consider their fitness level, occupation, dietary habits, social interactions, stress management and other lifestyle factors. As a result, I can form a treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.
I am also a firm believer that each patient’s wellness is in both of our hands—mine and theirs. This is the most efficient and effective way to provide sustainable results. In the clinic setting, we form a practitioner-to-patient relationship that includes honest communication and collaborative goal pursuit. I will invest my time and knowledge into the health of each person, and I encourage all of my patients to do the same.
NA: As a new clinician at Sarasota Center for Acupuncture and Nutrition, what are your main objectives for this practice?
Dr. Leo: My mission is simple—to continue offering the best healthcare possible to Sarasota and its surrounding communities, while also promoting the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine in conjunction with other more conventional modalities. As a native of beautiful Cali, Colombia, I also aspire to reach our local Latinx community and welcome all Spanish speakers with open arms. Sí, se habla Español.
At SCAN, my goal is to educate all patients who walk through our doors, so they can leave the clinic with the resources and confidence to empower their lives. We treat a multitude of conditions at our clinic, so I feel it is important for each patient to not only find hope, but also to access education on how to feel their best in the long run.
NA: What excites you the most about helping and empowering others to improve both their wellness and quality of life?
Dr. Leo: Everything. I respect each patient from the moment they walk in, knowing they are coming to me in a humble state, to the moment they walk out the door, trusting they will do their own part to continue the healing journey. I feel a powerful sense of gratitude for everyone who seeks out my guidance and entrusts their healthcare to me.
Of course, it’s always rewarding to see a patient come into the clinic and show off their newfound abilities to dance without pain or share how refreshed they feel after finally achieving an entire week of sound sleep. However, the whole process from start to finish is truly a blessing, and I am so thankful for all of it. Generally, I see a patient more than once, and it is a pleasure to learn about them and their experiences. These authentic interactions provide me with insight on how to approach each unique healing journey—I would not have it another way.
Sarasota Center for Acupuncture and Nutrition is located at 2650 Bahia Vista Street, Suite 101, Sarasota. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 941-951-1119 or visit https://www.sarasotacenterforacupunctureandnutrition.com/