Name: Naika Apeakorang
What city do you call home: New York
Occupation: Healer, Naturopath, Acupuncturist, & Herbalist
What lead you on your journey to become a Naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist and herbalist: It all happened unexpectedly and harmoniously. I was preparing to go the conventional path. My dream was always to be a surgeon with a global health organization such as Doctors Without Borders, so that was the path I was walking on. During the medical school application process, I discovered Naturopathic medicine while watching a program about holistic health careers on TV. It was one of the moments that changed everything. You know those type of moments? Where it’s like “wow, this is BIG, and I don’t quite know why!” I felt this immediate resonance and knew that’s what I had to do. Long story short, I did my research, spoke to a few practitioners, then ultimately decided to follow my heart. It really made sense, now that I look back. I had just graduated from Brown University and was taking my gap year to set myself up for my future. I was in a space of exploring healing traditions from Haiti- where my mom is from, and where I ultimately want to do some big work in the near future. I was experimenting with all of these amazing herbs that my people have historically used, and it was then that I fell in love with herbal medicine. When I made the decision to study naturopathic medicine, it just felt very much in line with how I was choosing to heal myself. It felt natural to want to practice a medicine that most accurately reflects how I heal myself.
My desire to practice Acupuncture came along a little later. In my program, we were presented with the opportunity to complete a Masters in Acupuncture at the same time as our Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree, in 5 years- and it instinctively felt like the right thing to do. I had amazing personal experiences with Acupuncture myself in NYC before going to school. I was also exposed to Chinese Medicine while completing a global health study abroad program in Vietnam just a few years before (we also went to Brazil and South Africa.) I love how deeply rooted Acupuncture is in culture, history, and tradition. I studied Anthropology in college, so I just love learning about people and their beautiful customs. So, yeah, that happened organically as well! Everything just aligned and I just followed my intuition along the way.
“ Heal yourself. Heal each other. Heal the world.”
What is the difference between an ND (Naturopathic Doctor) and MD (Doctor of Medicine): I think the key piece is probably how NDs view the healing process. While our understanding of biological processes may be aligned, it’s the approaches we choose to use that are different. I think where ND’s shine is our emphasis on:
2. Understanding and treating the root cause of diseases processes
3. Optimizing wellness and vitality through the use of methods that are closer to nature
ND’s focus on treatments like herbal medicine, nutrient therapies, lifestyle interventions, and more (really depending on what state you practice in). A lot of my clients come to me after trying things that just didn’t work for them in many different ways. It always amazes me how tweaks in food choices, or the addition of certain herbs, or actually explaining the intricacies of their disease, or a powerful conversation can shift the entire trajectory of someone’s healing process. In some ways, our work feels a lot more subtle, yet still very powerful and important. I’m proud to make a really big impact on people’s lives in simple ways. I love what I do.
I have a tremendous respect for MD’s, DO’s, chiropractors, PT’s, nurses, and all the healers out there helping people. That’s really what all of us want. We just choose different paths that teach us different healing modalities. I believe in plurality and diversity. Not only is there enough space for all of us, but there is a deep need and desire for our diverse gifts as well.
Did you grow up in a home that practiced holistic health care: Yes, even though I kind of didn’t know that at the time. You know, my whole journey has been a series of synchronicities and alignments. One of my favorite things about being a Naturopath is that I get to revel in the healing power of nature and all of the different customs that brilliant cultures have used forever. At the same time, I get to have a really solid foundation in things like anatomy, physiology, pathology, and especially research. I did a program that really valued that balance, and that’s something I appreciate. Throughout my program, I was constantly amazed at how much the research reflects the genius of “home remedies”. Like ohhh we used Haitian castor oil for everything because castor oil is actually a really powerful anti-inflammatory, and since inflammation is at the root of all disease processes, it makes total sense that it works for so many ailments. Or like ohhhh those points my my mom used to rub with essential oils are actually acupressure points and those oils are actually used for such and such reason. Or when my grandma used to alternate hot and cold water compresses on my body during fevers, she was doing Hydrotherapy (the study of the therapeutic application of water). And then all those very many teas I used to drink with herbs from Haiti are shown to be effective at fighting infections, improving digestion, and inducing sleep because they have compounds x, y, z. It’s just like wow, we certainly don’t need western science to validate our cultural brilliance, but how cool is it that different ways of knowing can collide in this really complimentary way.
Acupuncture has been around for millenniums. However it feels like facial acupuncture specifically is really having a moment in the beauty world. Can you tell us how it works and what a client can expect after their first treatment: It’s cool right? As a society, we’re all reconnecting to nature. We’re looking to the past to inform the present. We’re paying more attention to nature. We’re challenging the ways we operate in society, and that includes how we choose to heal ourselves. For beautify specially, I think it’s beautiful that we’re choosing to treat our bodies like the temples that they are. Cosmetic Acupuncture is like look, you’re beautiful as you are and you look great. Let’s just enhance what you have. Let’s balance your entire system and heal you from the inside out. Let’s do therapies that are less invasive and less harmful, that could give you the results you want.
Cosmetic Acupuncture focuses on balancing the system while promoting lymphatic drainage, blood flow, collagen progen, and skin repair. Cosmetic acupuncture includes needles, gua sha, facial cups, jade-rollers, and more. People are often shocked during their first visit with me when they realize that Cosmetic Acupuncture is about so much more than beauty. I want to know about your digestive health, your sleep, your stress levels, etc. It’s a real whole-person holistic experience. After the intake process, we move on to the treatment, which is incredibly relaxing and enjoyable. Results are pretty much instant, but the effects are certainly cumulative, just like whole body Acupuncture. We need to do a lot of work at the root for you to see the long-lasting changes you want.
Speaking of beauty treatments, can you tell us how you discovered green beauty: Yes! Around the time that I started exploring the healing traditions of my culture, I was undergoing a bunch of different changes. I stopped using chemicals in my hair, developed a very minimal but effective natural skin care regimen, and radically changed my diet to be primarily plant-based. I’ve gone through different phases since that initial change in 2012, but I’ve retained a lot and expanded upon that green consciousness.
What clean beauty products are always in your makeup bag: I don’t use many products, honestly. And I don’t really wear makeup on a regular basis at all. I really enjoy letting my skin breathe and letting my natural radiance shine through. I use Bare Minerals products for makeup.
You have a gorgeous complexion! What are your skincare must haves: Thank you! I keep everything really simple. I’ve used Dove soap for sensitive skin literally since I was an infant because I’ve just always had the most sensitive skin. I’ll exfoliate occasionally with a homemade scrub that has some baking soda, brown sugar, and natural oils. My friends make fun me all of the time because I actually don’t own or use lotion (besides sunscreen). I strictly use oils and homemade creams. I believe that what you put inside your body is as important, if not more important, than what you put on it. I also believe very strongly in focusing on inner beauty. I don’t take any supplements on a regular basis, but when I feel like my skin can use some extra loving, I start with gut health optimization since the gut and skin are very closely connected. That can look like taking probiotics or liver-supportive supplements, or certain herbs.
What are your hair-care must haves: I aspire towards minimalism, so I keep my hair-care products simple. When possible, I actually try to buy products that can be used on both my hair and skin! My hair loves black soap and bentonite clay for cleansing, then coconut oil, argan oil, and shea butter for moisturization - just like my skin!
Can you share your favorite beauty secret with us: Less is more. Keep it simple. Keep it natural.
What advice would you share with someone who wants to start taking better care of them self and develop a self-care practice: First off- good for you for deciding to put yourself first! Self-care is the same as self-love. If we can’t nurture ourselves with goodness, then we aren’t able to share our gifts with the world as abundantly. I say start small, simple, and consistent, then go from there. You want your self-care practices to really become a natural part of your routine so you don’t want to do too much too quickly or else you may overwhelm yourself. Start by replacing a not-so-good habit with a good one. For example, instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning, sit in contemplative silence for 5 minutes then make a 3 item gratitude list. Or instead of drinking coffee first thing in the morning, reach for a cup of medicinal herbal tea. Instead of watching 3 hours of TV right before bed, use 1 of those 3 hours for 30 minutes of mindful movement such as yoga and 30 minutes of reading. Start slow, be patient and trust yourself.
What are some of your favorite ways to practice self-care: I love making myself herbal remedies from scratch. I adore flowers so I always make sure to have fresh bouquets scattered over my home. I’m really into aromatherapy so I love to experiment with different essential oils and candles in my space. I’ve also started getting body work done more consistently, which feels really good. Deep sleep, clean food, and expressing myself are big too!
At a recent workshop I heard you say “Heal yourself. Heal each other. Heal the world.” I absolutely love that. Why is this your motto: My worldview is based upon the belief that every person is connected to everything and everyone around them. I think each person is part of a bigger story. If we are to raise the collective vibration of the planet and whole-heartedly address some of the world’s greatest challenges head on, we need to do the work. And the work starts with yourself. I recently heard that “the revolution will be internalized”, and I thought that was so poignant. All source of global change comes down to the sum of individual choices. I’d like to see us all get to a space of self-liberation and self-love so we could make better choices for ourselves, our communities, and ultimately the world. When we all can operate with a higher level of consciousness individually, we can put our heads together and collectively really shift our future for the better.
Who inspires you: I’m most inspired by people who are vulnerable; the brave ones. I’m inspired by people who continually choose kindness in the face of adversity. I’m inspired by people who live by example. I’m inspired by people who choose to honor their light and spread that light to the people around them.
I loved the herbal tea recipe you shared on the Natural Feeling Spa and Boutique IG take over. Can you share another one of your favorite morning or evening tea blends and tell us why those herbs are beneficial: Thank you! Herbal medicine is such a big part of my routine. I made a delicious evening blend a few days ago with rose, lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, tulsi, and kava. These herbs are really calming and aromatic. They work together to relax the body and mind, which can help ease one into a nice sleep.
How can people get in touch with you: Email and Instagram are best! Email me at email@example.com to say hello. Check out my website drnaika.com to learn more about me, to schedule a session, and to join my email list. To really interact with me and keep up with me on a daily basis, follow my on Instagram at @drnaikainbalance.