Conversation with Reine DuBois – Integrated Medicine Pioneer

I think Byron calls you in… I remember being on Belongil beach and having this sense that I was home. I’ve travelled all around the world and have never been anywhere like Byron. – Reine DuBois

Reine du Bois - Naturopath
Reine du Bois has a vision for the future of medicine… it’s integrated!
Reine’s vision for iMedicine Hospital is part of her home altar.

‘How does someone who oozes lightness and playfulness also exude a sense of fierce determination? Tepee ‘lover’, dedicated mother and naturopathic wiz , Reine DuBois, treated us with two hours of her precious time this week, relaying a fascinating Byron story. Softly, yet quickly spoken, she generously shared her passions and vision, leaving us to walk away exhilarated and in awe of the concept of motherhood.

 We started our chat with the usual curiosity of what brought her to Byron?
It was what my partner, Simon, referred to as ‘the breeding program’. It was 1999 and we were living in the West End of Brisbane. I had just finished my Diploma in Naturopathy at ACNM and Simon had just recently divorced. We were both at a loose end with our lives. We knew we wanted to have babies, healthy babies, and since we had both been to Byron before and loved it, we thought it would be a great place to raise a family. So we moved, set up a tepee, did yoga, meditated, swam, ate healthy food for 12 months and prepared for pregnancy. (As you do!)

The tepee was at Broken Head. We set it up on some friends’ land. While we were living there I formulated a letter describing my vision for the future of medicine and sent it to about thirty local doctors. About ten contacted me, mostly in the tone of, ‘who do you think you are pretending to know the future of medicine? I would like to meet with you.’ So I met them and sure enough got my wrists slapped and told to settle down. But two of them said ‘you know what, we think you’re right.’ One was Michael Hayter, and the other Rob Trigger, who I now work with at North Coast Medical Centre in Byron.

Reine du Bois's home
Reine and Si’s family home today is welcoming and warm… just like Reine.
Simon’s animal totem – the pelican – is a humorous twist on the traditional flying ducks!

So your first home in Byron was a tepee at Broken Head…that’s Very Byron! Where did you go after that?
We moved the tepee into the front yard of a share house closer to the heart of town. We were there for 12 months which is where I gave birth to our son, Ky. It’s a housing commission street and Si (Simon) became a bit of a community uncle in the street, looking after the single mums’ boys. When I gave birth to Ky in the tepee – the neighbours were standing in the street listening. I didn’t realise that until I heard the cry ’It’s a boy’ echo up the street. Home water birth; beautiful midwife; big blue tepee; supportive community – does it get any better?

Why the desire to give birth in a tepee?
Because tepees have always been really powerful dreaming places for me, it felt right to give birth there, especially since Ky had been conceived there. The tepee had brought Simon and I together. When we first met in Brisbane he had just built it and needed help erecting it. It is tradition that women erect tepees the first time, as they have to bless it. This handsome man had gone around asking women to help him erect his tepee. I was very glad to help!!!!!

So then we bought a block of land in Lilli Pilli (Byron) and built a house. Si started working in youth services and I was working as a Naturopath. I had a business called Herbal Pharmacy working with Andrew Badman of Wave of Life. Then I got pregnant with Lily, had another beautiful home birth and took 12 months off.

When it was time to go back to work, two medical centres approached me to work in their practices. All of a sudden the future of medicine had changed and doctors were interested in having Naturopaths on board. I chose North Coast because Dr Jen Hunter was working there and I had heard she was really amazing.  That was a great connection because she helped me put iMedicine together.  But I surprised the doctors – I started to muscle my way into their rooms with my patients. It was like ‘here’s my patient and here’s me and we are going to do this together’. And the combined consultation was born – that was when I realised medical integration was my vision.

Homeopathic seminars in Byron Bay
iMedicine Hospital – a pioneer facility in integrated medicine,
is planned to be opened later in 2011 in Byron Bay.

Tell us about iMedicine
It’s a proposed integrative hospital where a patient with chronic health issues can enter a residential program for perhaps several weeks, and access the support of a team of medical professionals, such as a doctor, naturopath, osteopath and psychologist. Having a dedicated team sitting in the room with them is comprehensive, intensive and very reassuring for someone in crisis. It was through working with The Sanctuary rehab centre that I learnt the nuts and bolts of this approach to medical treatment. There the team meets twice a week to discuss treatments… so that’s basically integrated medicine, or iMedicine.

Where do you see iMedicine going? Will it be the same as The Sanctuary?
The Sanctuary’s entire focus is on drug and alcohol issues, whereas iMedicine will focus on health in general. iMedicine will be more affordable and people will be able to use their private health rebates to make it even more affordable. A big part of the program at iMedicine will be the food – diet and nutrition. It’s hugely missed in the whole medical, wellness, illness, healing model. It’s a hard one to address because people are attached to their eating habits and you can’t just say I’m going to put you on juice and soups for a week.  It’s too big a jump, you need to help people take baby steps and make psychological adjustments.  That’s a big part of it – helping people look at what they eat and the needs behind that.

Tell us about your homeopathy seminars
I began studying homeopathy when I was pregnant with Ky and soon realised it was under heavy scrutiny and attack. Many doctors said it didn’t work and yet here was all this clinical evidence to the contrary; and it was safe. It has no side affects and you can give it to babies ….so I committed to it and studied in Coffs Harbour with Leslie Meredith – once a month for four years. The quality of education in Australia was poor, so to rectify that I invited presenters to Byron Bay. The upcoming seminar will be the fifth.

I’ve had all the big names in homeopathy come to Byron Bay and its just such a great modality. It’s so simplistic and it can move such deep fundamental disturbances in the vital force. Its’ not expensive, and all the so called evidence that says it doesn’t stand up is just that science doesn’t yet have a model against which to measure it. I don’t understand why we don’t use clinical evidence. I have a patient arrive covered in eczema and in three weeks they return with no eczema. Is that not enough evidence? Why do we need scientific evidence to prove it works? The tricky bit is the diagnostic skill of the practitioner. The seminars are aimed specifically at improving this.

How are you combining motherhood and your ambition?
My absolute priority in life is motherhood. It’s my total joy, its my R&R, it’s what brings me my deepest joy.. soooo, everything else is a hobby and motherhood is my career. Definitely. Bringing two beings into this world and watching them evolve as their journey unfolds… that’s my priority. Anyone can grow a project, run a seminar or a clinic. Their growing independency is a joy to watch. We give them permission to follow their dreams, just as we have followed ours. I also feel they are very proud of what Si and I do. It’s nice to be  an inspiration for your kids.

I wouldn’t want to do it on my own. I have a great partner and what I lack he brings to the table. I’m the spontaneous one who says “Let’s go to the beach and have a picnic”  (even though it’s 10 o’clock at night), and Si will go ‘No the kids need to be in bed, we need to keep them in their routine’. Whereas I would be ‘who cares!’ So we do play, but we do it in reasonable hours and therefore have a great balance in our parenting. He’s nice and strong, yet very supportive of my dreams and parenting.

Reine's family shots
Motherhood is Reine’s joy and everything else is a hobby.

What was the process that brought you together?
It was quick. We were together three months and we found ourselves pregnant. That pregnancy was conceived in the first tepee. But I miscarried because I was so unwell – I had been partying pretty hard. So when I found I was pregnant after 12 weeks and Si asked if termination was an option, I said “no”, and he said “well I guess I had better move in!”. I hadn’t thought it through, but anyway, he moved in and we had 12 weeks to get our heads together about being parents. When I miscarried, we found it was a blessing in that we then took 12 months to get ourselves prepared for pregnancy and parenting.  So we did a big detox, moved to Byron and really committed to getting pregnant. So it was the initial pregnancy that brought us together.

Do you believe that either of your kids is that soul you miscarried?
No, I don’t. That soul had a very specific purpose and I definitely felt that soul had a very short lifespan. Its purpose was to bring Si and I together, and it had a little bit of karma to sort out, but that was it.  So I feel the children I have today are new spirits.

What are your tips re preparing for pregnancy?
Nine months of good water, exercise, fresh fruit and veg. Identifying deficiencies and correcting them because a healthy pregnancy means a happier baby…so no alcohol, smoking, drugs. Coming off prescription drugs if you can. Exercise is very important. There is a lot of research about the telomeres and their benefits re anti-aging. The telomere caps the ends of the DNA (which helps keep it together) and exercise is shown to be the only thing that keeps the telomeres in place.

 Fresh food for healthy pregnancy
Reine’s pregnancy tip – fresh food, lots of water and exercise
help create a healthy pregancy and healthy baby.

What are the joys of living in Byron?
The lighthouse walk; whales jumping and frolicking so close to shore; mother whales and babies on their way south; the beaches; the coffee – such good coffee here; a community of like minded people – the community was one of the main drawcards for me, I felt ‘my’ people were here; access to fresh organic produce; the weather; a great place to bring up children and it has that little- city vibe.

Obviously, it’s easier if you have a good income. I know it is very difficult for a lot of people. It’s one thing people did say about Byron – you’d be lucky to last two or three years. Si and I have been lucky enough to land on our feet. We both have a good income and make ends meet. Our industries are very inclusive in Byron… Naturopathy is a favourite industry of Byron. People see me as their primary health carer and then go and see a doctor as a secondary option, whereas other places are not that way inclined.

I think Byron calls you in… I remember being on Belongil beach and having this sense that I was home. I’ve travelled all around the world and have never been anywhere like Byron. It’s really very special and it holds you here. There is also this theory that because of the previous volcanic activity there is a lot of quartz in the earth and quartz is an amplifier of your issues. So people can process their issues and move through it and if they are courageous enough to sit with it and hold those issues then Byron is the place for you. But if in having those issues amplified and it becomes too unsettling, people usually just leave, which brings that transient side to Byron – which I like too. It brings interesting people to this area, moves the energy around. I don’t have any problem with the tourism. It keeps this town going. It makes it vibrant, colourful, youthful.

What are the challenges of living in Byron?
Down sides – I don’t have any. Parking!!! (LOL) Hate the potholes. You can loose yourself in those potholes. Another downfall is the beautiful people that live here and then move on… like our friends Lizzie and Ness. We made a beautiful friendship with them and because they couldn’t derive an income they had to move away…so we definitely became a little more reserved in our friendships… in opening our hearts to strangers…. but we are still really good friends with them.

Reine playing ukulele
Well who would have guessed our fave Naturopath has a hidden talent! Ukulele no less.

THE BYRON QUESTIONS

1 Which Byron café is your favourite?
The Balcony – good spot, out on the balcony, interesting people, can just sit and people watch all day and they make a really good espresso martini!!

2 What’s your favourite thing to do in Byron?
Go to the beach with my family – Tallow Beach – Beachcomber. Watching the landscape change which keeps me in touch with how life is changing.

3 Can you name any one person who has inspired you in Byron?
My mum – Rose Wanchap – because she is humanitarian, has a high level of integrity and her courage is amazing. She teaches me not to fear and just go for it.

4 What would we find you doing on a typical Saturday morning?
Playing the ukulele, but not very well – Lily’s singing teacher was trying to get Lily to play and she put the instrument in my hands and before I knew it, I was sitting there playing. It makes such a beautiful sound.

5 Do you have any favourite blogs or websites?
The iMedicine Face book page!

6 Do you have a favourite shop in Byron?
I’m loving the NEW/USED clothes shop on Jonson Street. They have a $5 table in the middle and they put ‘new’ stuff on it nearly every day. Really good shoes and hats.

7 What’s your locals tip for a visitor to Byron?
Do the lighthouse walk – first thing in the morning – and go out to the Bluff. It’s a great spot for a picnic. But it’s a secret (so you will have to ask Reine for the directions!!!)

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