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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Wellness Comes First

Oct 01, 2015 01:21PM ● By Marcia Detwiler Scupin

Tucked away in a cozy brick building on the north end of First Avenue is a vast, collective resource for anyone seeking optimal health and wellness. In fact, these professionals named their collaborative integrative medicine business WellnessFirst!, indicating that they have placed their highest priority on helping patients return to wellness.

WellnessFirst! opened five years ago when DeeAnn Saber, Naturopathic Medical Doctor, and her husband Zachary “Zach” Saber—a myofascial release practitioner, board certified holistic mental health provider and ordained minister—joined with Lynda Witt, a certified thermographer, to create the local wellness clinic. The team grew organically from there.

Next aboard was Vonnie Schultz Albrecht, a registered nurse with colon hydrotherapy expertise, who operates under the umbrella of Very Special Alternatives. The most recent team members, who joined in 2014, were Jo Ruddy, Ph.D., and Jodi Hardy, MA, LPC, who offer metaphysical healing, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy.

“We’re a supportive, synergistic team,” says Witt. “I enjoy the collegial atmosphere.” It also enhances the patient’s experience, she explains. For example, a woman may come in for thermal imaging and learn that there is a naturopathic doctor in the house. She may be referred to DeeAnn Saber for laboratory blood workup, or to Zach Saber for myofascial release therapy. She may need a colonic or professional counseling. “This is how a patient can get established with natural preventative practitioners,” explains Witt, who uses digital infrared thermal imaging (thermography) in her business, Proactive Health Solutions, LLC.

Zach Saber adds, “It’s about working together as a team—not to charge extra. We share the overhead so we can pass on savings to our patients.” The Sabers also offer financial help through their individual umbrella of Transformational Medicine, PLLC, in the form of their Optimal Wellness Plan. Patients without the immediate means to pay for DeeAnn’s services can receive $1,800 worth of services annually and pay for them monthly over 12 months. Zach offers his clients the opportunity to purchase 10 myofascial release sessions upfront at a discount.

Albrecht helps her clients save money by offering package deals for sessions. Some services she offers include colonic sessions, colon reflorastation—the introduction of healthy intestinal bacteria into the rectum using a retention enema, which will colonize and rejuvenate the patient—ABO blood typing and ear coning with an inner ear exam.

Ruddy and Hardy’s umbrella, Counseling Concepts, LLC, brings a range of services to the table that includes hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming, past-life regression and psychotherapy. “We shift belief systems which are held in the body,” says Hardy, who worked for three years at Sierra Tucson, a residential treatment center for addictions, trauma and pain therapy, before joining WellnessFirst!

Treating the whole person is the hallmark of DeeAnn Saber’s medical philosophy, she says. “I offer whole care and I take a functional medicine approach.” Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership, according to the Institute for Functional Medicine. Saber listens to the patient’s story, then does an extensive exam and blood work analysis. She specializes in endocrinology, lifestyle and diet. “Most people say it was the most thorough physical exam they’ve ever had,” she says of the two-hour initial visit. DeeAnn also does house visits and she and her husband often visit patients who are nearing their transitions to help them go comfortably.

Zach Saber says what sets him apart is his “discerning eye.” Through his focus on fascia—the bands or sheets of connective tissue fibers under the skin that attach, stabilize, enclose and separate muscles and other internal organs—he helps a client release emotions and his or her attachment to a story that has become locked into a certain body area, which facilitates healing.

“My desire is to see my clients as seldom as possible, believe it or not,” Saber says his goal is to give people back their lives, not to have them become dependent upon him as a therapist. Many people only need to come one time or every three months for a tune-up.

WellnessFirst! was recently honored to receive the Service Firm of the Year Award from the Minority and Small Business Alliance of Southern Arizona. WellnessFirst! is also a member of the Arizona Integrative Wellness Coalition, a community of holistic health practitioners and allies that aims to increase awareness of integrative health and wellness-related practices. On the walls of WellnessFirst! hang locally produced artwork for sale. The practice also boasts a large lending library of health-related books and monthly classes. “People just come and hang out here,” says DeeAnn Saber.

Next month, WellnessFirst! will launch a new program to treat patients with addictions. The program will take advantage of the experience, knowledge and wisdom of its various practitioners and will feature individual and group therapy modalities. According to Zach Saber, the program will treat the client’s “body, mind and soul”.

WellnessFirst is located at 3861 N. 1st Avenue, in Tucson. For more information, call 520-209-1755 or visit, or See ad, page 3.

Marcia Detwiler Scupin is a freelance writer in Tucson. She enjoys writing about spiritual awareness, mind-body health approaches and ancient ways made new again.