Dr Deborah Brunt is a specialist general practitioner and Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practice. She has special interests in holistic women’s health, and Lifestyle and Integrative Medicine. She practices holistic medicine clinic at Ōtepoti Integrative Health in Ōtepoti/Dunedin, New Zealand.
My journey into medicine began as a child in the UK where I spent many summers at Barnsley Hospital pediatric ward visiting my sister. She is one year younger than me but each summer was hospitalized with severe asthma attacks aggravated by her allergies to pollen. I became interested in nutrition, the human body and its function, and how the environment around us influences our health.
These interests led me to pursue studies in medicine at the University of Auckland, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand after high school. I also completed a Masters degree in Health Science writing my thesis on maternal, infant and toddler nutrition, dietary patterns and micronutrient deficiencies.
Early Doctor Experience
I worked as a junior doctor for 3 years before beginning work in general practice in rural NSW, Australia. I had inherited a practice of a retired GP who had practiced integrative medicine and most of his patients were on minimal if any medications.
As I began practice I followed clinical guidelines and treated my patients but was dismayed to see them receive an increasingly long list of medications. Often subsequent medications were being prescribed to remedy side effects of former medications.
After returning from maternity leave I found many of my patients had abandoned their medications, and were feeling better without them. As I spoke with patients about what made them feel well it often had less to do with medications and more to do with their life. The things we often call lifestyle, their stressors, sleep, leisure activities and their diet.
Eating for nutrition, moving their bodies, being in nature, having nurturing relationships. These elements not only aided my clients to feel better, but biochemically their bloodwork improved as did their biometric data on clinical assessment.
I had also personally experienced burnout and somewhat disillusionment with a medical system that is time-poor, focussing on fast interactions with patients without time to get to understand them, their underlying stressors and causes of illness and dis-ease.
From that point onwards I began reading journal articles and attending conferences and training that focused on the wider systems approach to health and wellbeing. I became interested not only in lifestyle medicine – the level at which a patient can act to change their own health, but also the wider social and commercial determinants of health and health environments.
These social and commercial determinants of health have serious impacts of long-term health and require awareness and community and governmental action to improve the health and wellbeing on a community and individual level.
Holistic Health Practice
Returning to Ōtepoti/Dunedin, Aotearoa/New Zealand, I spent 7 years working in general practice while I furthered my interest and study in holistic healthcare. I have now moved to work in the area of lifestyle and integrative medicine. In doing so I am able to take the time to explore the complex and multiple factors influencing the health and wellbeing of my clients, to hear their stories and to collaborate with them on their health journey.
I have worked in general practice since 2012, often working with women with complex medical symptoms and conditions, taking a holistic, integrative approach. I consider the biological, social, environmental and interpersonal factors influencing health as well as stressors that negatively affect wellbeing.
I have over 10 years experience working with women who have experienced sexual abuse, trauma, rape, domestic violence and difficulties with interpersonal and sexual relationships
My particular interests lie in the areas of integrative women’s health, including:
- heavy menstrual bleeding,
- hormonal issues,
- chronic pelvic pain,
- fertility (both partners),
- pregnancy and
- post-partum issues.
I work with people experiencing difficulties with sex and intimacy including
- painful sex,
- low sexual desire or pleasure,
- issues with consent, boundaries and trust.
- sexually transmitted infections,
- vaginal infections
- recurrent urinary tract infections.
I also have an interest in preventing and reversing metabolic health which includes:
- heart disease,
- high blood pressure,
- metabolic syndrome,
- weight and body image.
Optimal gut health is another area of interest and this often overlaps with many of the above mentioned areas of health. In terms of nutrition I focus on prescriptions for wholefood diets which includes whole food plant based diets.
In specific conditions I also work with people with low carb, high fat diets and ketogenic diets.
Outside of work I have an abundant life. I live with my partner and am mama of 6 amazing children.
Currently I love walking/running in nature, yoga, gardening, camping, reading, writing and spending time with good friends.
I would love to work with you to discover more about your underlying health issues and to help you meet your goals to improve your health.