Half Italian and half Jewish, Dr. Aliza Cicerone grew up around food and has always loved cooking. Before she entered the medical field, she worked in the food and wine industry, which included teaching cooking classes.
“I tried to translate that into how I work with my patients, not just telling them what foods to eat, but also giving them tools to then bring those foods into their daily life,” says Dr. Cicerone, owner of Spark Health, a personalized natural medicine practice that holistically treats people facing a variety of conditions, including chronic inflammation, hormone imbalances, and digestive disorders.
While a pre-med in college, Dr. Cicerone wasn’t familiar with naturopathic medicine but during that time, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Though she was on medication, she still had problems. But once she completely shifted her diet, in this case removing grains, she was able to gain control of her health. This inspired her to pursue naturopathic medicine. “Realizing the power of natural medicine and nutrition opened my eyes to a whole different side of the medical world,” she says.
After her Integrative Oncology residency at Indiana University Goshen Center for Cancer Care, Dr. Cicerone became a staff physician at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where she saw firsthand the power of integrative approaches to cancer treatment.
She treats patients in a holistic manner, creating a treatment plan that addresses all their needs. And it doesn’t always stay the same. “I truly believe that a treatment plan is not static, because the human body is not a static being,” says Dr. Cicerone. “Everything ebbs and flows, so our supplements and nutrition have to mirror that as well.”
When a patient comes into Spark, they meet with a doctor for an initial appointment to review their symptoms and decide which lab tests to run, from blood work and food allergy testing to comprehensive stool testing. Once that is complete, Spark’s doctors will review the different results with the patients, explaining how it applies to their health issues.
“We put a plan into place that can entail IV nutrient therapy, oral supplements, and a nutrition component,” says Dr. Cicerone. Once they’ve addressed the issues, they discuss the patient’s diet and lifestyle, helping them transition to healthier eating habits. Dr. Cicerone gives her patients recipes that are specific to their likes, level of expertise in the kitchen, and what they want to accomplish through a medical-based nutrition plan. She also prescribes pharmaceutical medication when appropriate, combining conventional and naturopathic approaches. “The core principles of naturopathic medicine is getting to the root of the condition and the disease process, and focusing on prevention as opposed to just palliating with medications for different diseases.”
Dr. Cicerone clarifies, “It’s not about making people feel restricted, but rather helping them embrace nutrition in a really fun, enjoyable way.” She believes patients can still achieve their health goals while enjoying the foods they love in moderation. “There’s always a way to take something you’re craving and reconfigure it in a healthier manner!”