"Health is my passion. Your health is our Mission" Dr. Olivia Joseph
In addition to being the founder and co-owner of The Wellness Connection, Dr. Olivia Joseph holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology, a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree, and is board certified in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Dr. Olivia is also a clinical nutritionist.
Outside of her practice, Dr. Olivia is an expert instructor for one of the largest vitamin and nutrigenomics companies in the world. She is also an active member of the St. Louis Institute of Integrative medicine.
Olivia has a passion for sharing and helping people discover healthy living and cooking. She loves to teach her patients how diet and lifestyle can profoundly impact “your” health.
Dr. Olivia is responsible for changing lunch menus at 3 private schools into much healthier and nutritious meals. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Olivia has conducted over 250 educational workshops to schools, churches, businesses and social groups on the topic of “Great, Yummy & Healthy Nutrition.”
Dr. Olivia is married to Dr. Bryan Joseph, and they have three children, Carmen, Blake and Jude. Olivia loves to travel and spend quality time with her family. She is fluent in Polish and can even read and write her parents first language. She also enjoys music, reading and exercising; pretty much anything to do with improving one’s health naturally!
My Story: Passion Born Out Of Pain
When I was about 3 years old, I started to tell my mom, “My tummy hurts.” And like any good mom would do, she took me to the pediatrician, who told her I would grow out of it. By the time I was about 5 years old, I hadn’t grown out of it, and I remember I was prescribed a green medicine. I still remember how terrible it tasted and the very thought of it would make my stomach hurt, but mom said, I had to take it because it would make my tummy feel better. It didn’t. After several months of taking this medicine as prescribed, I was given a new prescription medicine. This new medication was pink, and again, tasted terrible, but I was a good patient, and wanted my tummy to stop hurting.
By the time I was about 9 or 10 years old the pediatrician told my mom she should take me to counseling because I had a nervous stomach. I went weekly for about 9 months, and on a drive home from one of my appointments I told my mom, I’ll keep going, but my stomach still hurts. At this point, a family friend who was a physician recommended my mom bring me in for a blood test to check for H. Pylori, a bacteria that causes ulcers, and sure enough, I tested positive. Finally, we had found the cause and I could take medication to kill the bacteria and would finally feel better for the first time in almost my whole life. I took 4 medications for 1 month. During that month I missed half the month of school from being so sick from the meds. The days I did make it, I usually came late, left early or just lay in the nurse’s office. That was a miserable month, but I was willing to do whatever I had to in order to make my stomach stop hurting. At the end of the month we re-tested, and the H. Pylori, and the bacteria was gone, but the stomach pain was not.
The next step was to go to a gastroenterologist for more testing. I was referred to the top gastroenterologist in the state of New Jersey, and waited on a one year waiting list. At this point, I was in high school, and was getting pressure from my guidance counselor to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. With as much exposure as I had to medicine and doctors, I was naturally fascinated, and knew I wanted to be a physician of some sort. I thought at the time, an oncologist, as I saw my mom kick cancers butt multiple times. She made cancer look like the common cold, and I thought it was a field I wanted to go into, helping women like my mother. Once I finally got in to see the gastro I was scheduled for an endoscopy, and turns out, I was diagnosed with gastritis, which is inflammation in the stomach. I’m pretty sure I self diagnosed myself at age 2 or 3. I started my new meds, and sure enough, nothing. No relief. I even went to the school library and looked up gastritis, and was surprised to find I really didn’t have any of the symptoms. I couldn’t wait to go back to my doctor and tell him! Doctors love patients like us, don’t they? I went to my follow up and told the doctor I faithfully took my meds and they didn’t help, and that I didn’t think I had gastritis. He said, “I know what you have…Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Now I understand today everyone has IBS, but this is 20 years ago, it was a very new diagnosis. In fact, my new medicine prescribed wasn’t covered by insurance because IBS was so new, and the medications were so new, no one would cover it.
I remember I went to pick up my prescription, and it was several hundred dollars. I have no idea how my middle class working mother scraped up the extra change to pay for it, but somehow she did, without insurance coverage, for almost 6 months. Again, it didn’t help. I actually went back to the library, and believe it or not, IBS was in the encyclopedia! Sure enough, I was misdiagnosed, I didn’t have any of the symptoms, no wonder the meds weren’t working! I couldn’t wait to go back to tell my doctor. I took my meds, faithfully for months, costing my mother hundreds per month that insurance wouldn’t cover, even though I had no relief, none. I went back to my appointment with the gastro and couldn’t wait to tell him my news. “Doctor, you misdiagnosed me, I looked up IBS in the encyclopedia and I have none of the symptoms, plus, these meds aren’t helping me at all!” He looked at me, palpated my stomach, and put his hand on his chin and said, “I know what this is, it’s a nervous stomach.” And then I was prescribed Zoloft, which is an antidepressant, which is not FDA approved in anyone under the age of 18, due to serious, sever and potentially fatal side effects. Like a good patient I left with my script in hand, and went to the pharmacy.
I was off to college at this point to start in a pre-med program in which my classes went from 7 am to almost 9 pm. I started college, and my meds, and within two weeks I experienced night terrors and insomnia, which I had never experienced before. I called my doctors office and asked to speak with the doctor because I was experiencing horrible side effects to the meds, the nurse picked up, and after I told her what I was experiencing she said to me, “Honey, you’re just going to have to tough it out.” I was on one of those giant cordless phones with a big silver metal antenna, and I was so upset I slammed it down and it broke into pieces. I went to another phone and called my mom sobbing and told her I was just going to live with it. I was done with the medications and being poked and prodded and none of it did any good. I had lost hope. My mom told me I was to come home that weekend and she was taking me to the chiropractor.
My exact words were, “Mom, what’s he going to do, adjust me, and my stomach’s going to stop hurting?” She said, “I don’t care what he does, but we are not giving up.” Smart mother, now having 3 children of my own, I know, you don’t ever give up. When it’s your children, you listen to your gut, your maternal instinct, and you search for the answer until it feels right.
I came home that weekend, and I went to the chiropractor, and guess what he did? He did a food sensitivity test. It seems so obvious now, what is it that I was eating my whole life that was making my stomach hurt? No one, not one time in 19 years of being treated asked me a single question about my diet, what was I eating, what was I drinking? It turns out, I was highly reactive to wheat, dairy, potatoes and corn. Now corn is in everything, and I’m a good polish girl, we love our potatoes! Every time my stomach hurt I would eat dry toast, plain noodles and dry cereal, and my poor mother saw me wasting away and made me put milk in my cereal, cream cheese on my bread and high fat cheese sauce on my noodles so I could get some fat on me!
Everything I put in my mouth was making me sick. I gave up all of those foods for 6 months, without my mothers help because I was away at college. Today, gluten free, dairy free is everywhere. This is over 15 years ago, and I was away at school, this was all on me. And guess what? I did it, it was worth it, and now I can eat these foods in moderation with no issues. Guess what else, I’m not an oncologist. My own experience led me to a career, a life, a passion for natural health care, nutrition, Chinese medicine and as a chiropractic physician. The rest is history. No regrets, the pain was all worth it. I now have an amazing practice, 3 beautiful children, amazing health and energy and sharing my passion for reducing inflammation and using science based nutrition to help my patients.
Health is my passion. Your health is our mission.
Dr Olivia Joseph