Dr. Darin Ingels is a renaissance man. He is a naturopathic physician, speaker, and author. He is a highly respected leader in natural treatments for Lyme Disease, Autism, and Allergies. His practice, Wellness Integrative Naturopathic Center, is a big proponent of holistic medicine. Dr. Ingels’ and his staff use combined therapies created specifically for each patient to treat their illnesses as a whole. His private practice, blogs, YouTube videos, speaking engagements, and books were created to improve the lives of his patients and those without access to good health care.
Key Paragon asked this prolific doctor to share a story about his thriving small business with a giving heart.
Can you walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today? What inspired you to start your practice?
I started my career as a microbiologist before deciding to attend a medical school. After receiving a degree in medical technology – this was in the early 90’s – I saw a change in the hospital system that I didn’t quite agree with. The insurance companies and hospitals were making treatment decisions based on costs and profits and not necessarily what was in the better interest of the patient. I saw the compromises many doctors had to make – having to treat patients in ways they may not think best for them.
Around the same time, I was introduced to naturopathic medicine by my acupuncturist. The philosophy behind naturopathic medicine, of emphasizing the root cause of the ailment, matches my own. I want to treat my patients holistically instead of offering one solution to one problem. I want to sit down with them and their families and learn everything I could to find the root cause of their health problems. So I decided to go to naturopathic medical school followed by a residency in Seattle. After that, an opportunity came along to work with an old classmate in a practice she purchased, and so I moved to Connecticut.
What were some of the struggles you faced starting your practice?
Well, two months into the practice, the business that my classmate purchased went through a business “divorce” between the two owners and went downhill. So after having uprooted myself to Connecticut, I found myself unemployed. I decided to start my own business even though I did not have any business background. I found a template on Windows that walked me step-by-step on how to create a business plan. Then I joined a local SCORE branch and met a great group of business people who helped me finish the plan and secure an SBA (Small Business Association) loan.
In 2002, I opened my own practice. I had a small group of patients to get started, and it took a long time for the business to take off. When you try to open a business in an area where you’re not from, without family, friends, and a built-in network, you start from nothing. My business took 7-8 years to solidify and get a steady stream of patients.
Initially we got patients by word of mouth since the Internet was new at the time. Then I started doing talks at Autism and Lyme Disease conferences that led to me finding a support group of people who were interested. Connecting with other health professionals really helped. I connected with a practitioner in New York who worked with patients on the Autistic spectrum, and through her, I ended up with 8-10 new patients a week, which was phenomenal. Now that we’ve been around for 16 years, our longevity gives us credibility.
What should we know about your practice – what do you do best, and what sets you apart from the competition?
At Wellness Integrative Naturopathic Center, we look at the body as a whole and our treatment is unique to each patient. I’m an environmental medicine doctor by training so I study the different factors that could have impact on health – allergies, heavy metals, toxins, and pollutants. I really dig deep into a patient’s history. In conjunction with traditional medicine, I work with herbs as well as diet and nutrition. I spend a lot of time educating patients on how to live a healthier lifestyle. So a first visit with me will usually be 1-2 hours and each return visit will be 30 minutes.
The common thread across Lyme disease, autism, and allergies is a dysfunctional immune system. There are several studies that showed those with autism having an immune system that does not work well. They have a lot of mast cells in the brain that disrupt normal neurology. And when they get allergies, it affects the brain – essentially giving them “brain on fire”. So our treatment is to modulate the immune system. We offer immune therapy to desensitize our patients against these allergenic substances and modulate triggers to build immune tolerance. It is essentially a retraining program for the body.
What positive impact is your practice having on the community you serve and your customers?
Usually we get chronic patients who come to us as a last resort. Most of the people I see had not seen answers or good results from previous treatments. So when we are able to help solve their problems, it’s very gratifying. Seeing kids with autism interact with their family more, being able to help people who were not able to be helped by others – that’s the reason I do what I do.
When the hurricane season hit in 2017, I offered a scholarship for free mold and allergy treatment to children with autism who were in hurricane affected areas, like Houston and Florida, as mold can seriously impact an autistic child’s behavior. They get 18 months of free consultations and allergy treatment through TACA (Talk About Curing Autism).
With Lyme disease, the story is a little more personal. Back in 2002, I contracted Lyme disease and became very ill. First, I went through treatment and responded well. But after 8 months of working long hours, I got sick again. This time, the treatment didn’t work. I took antibiotics for 9 months and they didn’t work and made me sicker. I then started Chinese herbal treatment through a doctor in New York that helped, but it took 2 years for me to get back to normal. I wrote a book called The Lyme Solution that is a step-by-step guide to help those struggling with Lyme disease to maintain their health. With Lyme being an invisible disease, many went undetected for years and don’t have access to good doctors.
Do you have any advice for small business owners at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey?
Don’t do it (he laughs). Many started their business with passion and then realized later on that it’s a lot of hard work. My best advice is to set realistic goals and don’t try to sugarcoat it. Another is to “mind the store.” You must be there and available to get opportunities when they come. During the growth period, use the down time to grow the business – marketing, writing, connecting. We live in a world where we have almost an endless reach to the world. We just have to figure out how to connect our products with people.
Don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t work. But we can learn through failure and learn to be disappointed. Sometimes it’s timing. Ideas and concepts may not be right for the moment. James Cameron waited 15 years after he saw the script for Avatar to make it. Instant gratification doesn’t always work. As a society, we’ve lost the ability to wait. It is rare that a new business becomes successful right away. You must have “stick-to-it-ness” and grit.
An Integrative Approach to Health Care
Dr. Darin Ingels’ desire to provide patients with excellent customer service and improved medicine, utilizing the holistic approach, helps improves lives and society. He focuses on the root cause of an illness and operates on the conviction that doctors should have the freedom to treat their patients the best way they see fit. By spending time getting to know his patients and listening to them, he learns about them as individuals and so finds the right treatment based on their unique needs. In his words, it “felt right to care for people.”
Dr. Darin Ingels‘ private practice, Wellness Integrative Naturopathic Center, is located in Irvine, California. His book, The Lyme Solution: A 5-Part Plan to Fight the Autoimmune Inflammatory Response and Beat Lyme Disease is also available on Amazon.
Do you know a Small Business with a Giving Heart?
This blog is from Key Paragon Marketing & Advisory Firm. Key Paragon was formed under the idea of giving individuals of different abilities a purpose, whatever their ability. We aim to create and grow a company that can eventually hire these same individuals.
If you know a small business which gives back to society, let us know. We would love to be able to showcase them in our blog. Contact us here with details.
Sarina is a writer, marketing expert, and entrepreneur. With degrees in Psychology and Visual Arts, she blended both disciplines in careers as an advertising producer, corporate marketing strategist, small business owner, and author. She believes at the core of every challenge lies the human heart, and solutions can only be found by exploring it.
An avid seeker of answers, Sarina is also the founder of Wandering Wonder Woman, a blog site with a mission to close the gap between people and places by sharing travel stories, food recipes, and advice from a global village of women.
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