Inside NWA’s Local Wellness Retreat: A Conversation with Dr. Aunna Herbst of SALT Health

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The new health and wellness facilities at SALT Health, combined with the center’s integrated approach to medicine and the latest technological advances, has put Bentonville, Arkansas on the map as a wellness destination. We are so lucky to have the doctor behind the wellness center, visionary family and functional medicine specialist Dr. Aunna Herbst, here in our community providing accessible integrative and innovative care to locals and visitors alike.

Recently, we were able to schedule some time for a health and wellness chat with the brilliant and busy Dr. Herbst. Here, she discusses the new facility’s bells and whistles, her unique approach to care and the immune-boosting treatments her patients are flocking to during the pandemic.

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The Scout Guide: You offer a combination of both functional medicine and primary care medicine. Can you tell us about that approach?

AH: It’s really different because we are able to provide the functional medicine side of care along with traditional care. So, I can order a strep test for a patient and give her a prescription for amoxicillin but I can also make sure we don’t wipe out her gut by prescribing probiotics. Or, I can coach her through a more holistic treatment plan that doesn’t include an antibiotic if she chooses. It’s having the combination of treatments and diagnostics available and giving patients a choice, which is very empowering.

TSG: What do you mean at SALT Health when you talk about on-demand care?

AH: In a more conventional medical office, you only have access to your physician when you have a pre-scheduled visit in the office. With our on-demand plan you get access via text, phone and same-day appointments to myself and our entire medical and wellness staff here at SALT Health any time you need us. You have a team treating you that includes me, a dietitian, your personal trainer and more, and we are really available whenever you need us. We have many local patients, but we also have patients who come from all over the world. So we have a very robust telemedicine program to meet our patients’ needs no matter where they are, or when they need us.

TSG: Where do you begin with your patients?

AH: We always begin with basic lab work, where we are looking for optimal levels—not adequate levels. All of our care is focused on optimizing the basic function of our patients’ health. For example, we will order a full nutrient panel, looking at vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acid levels and finding all the ways we can optimize those levels. I’ve had pro athletes who want to jump higher or run faster and executives who want the machine functioning at the highest level. I’ve also had some clients who can’t get out of bed. That specialty nutrient panel allows us to begin maximizing function from the very beginning of care.

TSG: Can you tell us more about the DNA panels you provide?

AH: Our advanced, medical-genomics and nutrigenomics testing provides comprehensive, clinical-focused knowledge of health risks and benefits within your genetic make-up. With that information, I can individualize a treatment plan based on exactly what your DNA tells me. This test is so cutting edge and so accurate from a diagnostic perspective, it changes everything. This level of testing empowers our members with actionable, personalized care. It is also worth noting, SALT Health is the only provider in our region of this advanced testing. 

TSG: You very recently opened a brand-new, state-of-the-art wellness center. Do your patients have access to this any time they want it?

AH: We use the term “country club of health” to describe our wellness center. I am a huge believer in the healing benefits of the sauna, so we have an infrared sauna (below) and a steam sauna on premises. Most of us could benefit from just 10-15 minutes in the sauna daily to reduce cortisol and inflammation. I often include the sauna in the prescriptions for my patients. Our patients have exclusive access to these facilities and may use them at their convenience.

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TSG: What other amenities are available at the wellness center?

AH: We also have a cold plunge shower, which is like a cryotherapy treatment in that you cool the body rapidly and lower inflammation. It is a great way to rinse off those toxins after time in the sauna. More health and wellness amenities include a eucalyptus inhalation room, a fitness center (above) with group fitness classes and on-staff personal trainers, and IV therapy suites.

TSG: What happens in your IV therapy suites?

AH: IV therapy delivers nutrients or therapies directly into the blood. In our IV therapy suites, we will offer a course of nutrients to our patients. A very popular therapy right now is NAD+ Therapy, where NAD+, a coenzyme of the Vitamin B3, is delivered via IV. NAD+ Therapy is a cutting edge therapy used for addiction and cognitive improvement, plus it also has huge cosmetic benefits. It offers mitochondrial support, giving a boost of energy, reducing brown spots in the skin and slowing down the aging process. We have even had some patients here with COVID-19 who were on an IV therapy of Vitamin C and other nutrients and have been having a lot of success.

TSG: Have you been treating patients with certain ways to help build immunity against COVID-19?

AH: We have absolutely been focusing on immune boosting for our patients. Mainly we are optimizing Vitamin D, which has been shown to be very helpful against the virus. Zinc is also shown to be effective, in addition to elderberry extract as a preventive measure, which has been shown to reduce the viral load. Access to a sauna is also part of our preventive plan for all of our patients during this time.

Some of the things we are loving at SALT Health right now include immune-boosting personalized IV nutrition in the privacy of their IV therapy suites, the detoxifying benefits of SALT’s state-of-the-art infrared sauna and the new group fitness class, “Walk with the Doc.” In this class, Dr. Herbst leads a gentle walk along the Razorback Regional Greenway with accompanying health-focused conversation. Interested in meeting Dr. Herbst and taking a tour of the wellness center? Sign up online for a SALT tour, call 479.715.4645 or stop in Monday-Friday between 8am – 5pm. Discover the many benefits of becoming a SALT member and begin the membership process online. Be sure to tell them The Scout Guide sent you! 

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