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Intersection of Western + Holistic Medicine with Lorissa AgroRay, RN

Sep 15, 2022 | Hemp + Heart Journal

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” ~ Sir Isaac Newton

These days it seems there are two solid camps in the arena of medicine: the western model, which is rooted in pharmaceutical interventions, diagnostics & the aim of fixing physical ailments at all costs and the holistic model, which is a conglomeration of hundreds of years of teachings and healing modalities including ‘alternative’ measures that address balance in the body, mind & soul.

It’s imperative that we blend these two worlds of medicine, as they are compatible and ultimately the combo will yield better outcomes. My unique behind-the-scenes lens that shifts between these two worlds is sometimes maddening, yet always eye opening. I witness traditional docs throwing shade on alternative practitioners for their interventions which they deem ‘not evidence based.’ On the other hand, I watch alternative practitioners eye rolling at any western medicine or pharmaceutical intervention. As a holistic nurse my aim is to build more bridges. Here are my top 4 ways that western medicine and holistic medicine can work synergistically….


Plant medicines and pharmaceuticals CAN co-exist.

Often patients are told to stop all supplements and herbs when they are on pharmaceutical medications, however this is not always thoughtful advice. Many pharmaceutical medications were originally formulated using the wisdom of plant medicine. For example -digoxin is formulated from chemicals found in foxglove, and the active compound in willow bark, salicin, would later be the base for aspirin. While caution is always advised, there are ways to utilize these medicines complementarity. In herbal medicine we recommend nutritive herbs with proven safety profiles that are high in vitamins and minerals -i.e., nettles, raspberry leaf, milky oats, red clover, rose hips, etc -when formulating for a client who is taking pharmaceuticals. We also cross reference for any drug interactions. If you are willing to get creative and do your due diligence you can find a way to layer your medicines.*


Identify the strengths on each side of the bridge.

Rather than pointing fingers and building walls we can put our humility in check by recognizing that while we specialize in one skill, others also have equally valuable skills to bring to the table. Western medicine shines when it comes to emergency care. If you are in acute need of life saving support, there is no better place to be than in an emergency room. However, if you’re on a quest to heal your auto-immune condition or chronic pain or gut issues perhaps you’ll choose a different, ‘alternative’ lane of medical care. Holistic healers so often have tons of experiential hands-on work and evidence when it comes to their chosen practice. They often have started their healing journey with themselves which makes them invaluable in their knowledge and understanding of specific disease processes and healing modalities.


There’s value in layering different medicines.

I’ve seen many patients navigating a new diagnosis who explore their options with a primary doctor, specialists, herbalist, body worker, therapist, psychic, trainer and more! Having a team on your side is a powerful thing. Recognizing that each team member will bring a unique and valuable perspective is just smart. Layering the benefits of traditional interventions with herbs, spiritual & emotional work, a solid detox, acupuncture, massages & more adds up to a balanced wellness plan. Sometimes the more eyes we have on a problem, the more problem solving and therefore healing that can happen!


We all have something to learn from each other.

Let’s face it -often we need to just stay in our lane and be humble. We each came to this lifetime with a set of assets and liabilities from which we can learn, grow and teach. Our fellow travel companions have racked up their own experiences and knowledge from which we can learn. Ever find yourself just waiting to prove someone else wrong? Maybe next time we can pause, listen deeply, and remember that we’re a small speck of stardust in this vast galaxy. We can trust that there’s no need to compete, there’s more than enough to go around & that so much of life exists in the gray space of the unknowns. My vision of the future is one in which practitioners on both sides of the bridge can peacefully coexist while learning and loving one another. <3

*Always work with a knowledgeable medical provider when making changes to your medications or utilizing herbal remedies.

Disclaimer *** This is not intended to be medical advice. Seek care from your medical doctor before adjusting or changing medications or when starting on herbal remedies.

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Written by: Lorissa AgroRay, RN

Lorissa’s journey into the world of the Healing Arts began as a critical care Registered Nurse at a local hospital. While she can appreciate the values of traditional bedside care, she quickly realized that her healing gifts would best be utilized in a more holistic atmosphere. She has since layered her nursing training with Healing Touch, Holistic Nutrition & Herbalism certifications resulting in a unique fusion of healthcare modalities.

Lorissa works as a bridge between medical paradigms which allows her a modern-witchy perspective that unites & heals on so many levels. Her style of patient care centers on the human in front of her, rather than merely diagnoses. She assists individuals on their healing journey by reflecting & activating their own innate healing wisdom. These days you can find Lorissa working as a bilingual urgent care nurse, tending to her blossoming urban garden, and cuddling the most adorable rescued senior chihuahuas.

IG: @missrissbotanicals

My mantra: “If you never start, you never get there.”

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