Bold and benevolent are two words that first come to mind after meeting Shiloh resident Dr. Leah Dukowitz at an O’Fallon Women Empowering Women (W.E.W) meeting in April.
Dukowitz, the co-owner of Vitalize Chiropractic: A Creating Wellness Center in Swansea, is passionate about helping mothers, children, men and families live happier and healthier lives.
“The word ‘vitalize’ is a verb (meaning) to give life; to invigorate or stimulate, and that’s my goal to help improve people’s lives without the use of drugs or surgery because have forgotten the inborn power that our body has to heal when it is free from interference, and we are putting good things into our body, and we can be happy and healthy and develop and grow properly,” Dukowitz said.
Since youth, Dukowitz said she aspired to become a medical doctor, but since then her life goals have changed a little.
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So, why did she choose the world of chiropractic instead of becoming a medical doctor?
Simple. It all started with a common childhood issue. When Dukowitz was five-years-old she went to a chiropractor because she was a chronic bed-wetter, and her parents had tried just about everything from limiting what kind, how much to no liquids in the evening, during dinner and before bed.
“Then they tried this thing we called ‘the beeper,’ and it was a little box device strapped to my wrist at night with wires running (from the device) through my pajamas, and clipped onto my underwear and when it sensed wetness it would go off like a smoke detector, and it would wake everyone up except for me,” Dukowitz said laughingly.
After going to a long-time friend of her father’s who is a chiropractor, and getting several adjustments as a child, Dukowitz said, “I can tell you it worked — I no longer wet the bed.”
Growing up she visited the chiropractor inconsistently until one day a new graduate joined the practice she and her father visited, “and she changed my life,” Dukowitz raved.
In high school Dukowitz said she played multiple sports and would sometimes get adjusted, but while working for a medical doctor’s office as a filing clerk she got a cold she just couldn’t shake. “I tried over-the-counter stuff like Advil Cold and Sinus, but then I was coughing so much I couldn’t sleep at night, so the doctor’s I worked for had me try antibiotics and allergy medications, which didn’t help, so I went to back to the chiropractor, and the new chiropractor explained the relationship between our nervous system and our the rest of our body,” Dukowitz said.
The nervous system is so crucial to our health and well being, according to Dukowitz. “It controls everything in the body. When the brain is able to fully connect and send signals down the nerves that is how our cells, tissues and organs can get the messages that they need about what to do and how to adapt, and then they send those messages back up to the brain. When there’s that connectivity things work, but what happens when we are overloaded by stress, things don’t work as they’re supposed to, and that’s where chiropractic care can help,” Dukowitz said.
There are many forms of stress that people don’t realize are affecting their nervous system and causing conditions or symptoms like headaches, inability to sleep soundly, aches and pains and the list goes on, according to Dukowitz. “Whether it be physical stress like falls, accidents, repetitive motions over the years; chemical stress, like toxin exposure and eating habits or drug use; and then last but not least, psychological stress, so school, family, work — just life in general — those things will overload our nervous system, and things will shut down and over time that will create disturbance that you may feel, but they also may cause underlying functional issues that we may not necessarily feel, similar to a circuit breaker in your house,” Dukowitz said.
So, going back to the incessant cold that wouldn’t go away, the chiropractor explained to the 18-year-old Dukowitz the causation to an individual’s immune system. Little did Dukowitz know, but all it would take is an adjustment.
“That night I went home and I slept all night for the first night in three months, and I woke up the next morning and thought, ‘why don’t people know about this? Why had I been seeing a chiropractor off and on since I was five and I had no idea that is wasn’t only for pain?’” Dukowitz exclaimed.
Dukowitz said from that moment she knew she wanted to be a family wellness practice, and that people need something healthy and natural to do to help support their life and lifestyle first.
So, at a crossroads, she chose the path of preventative, sustainable natural therapy, and from that moment on she knew what life had in store for her — help empower families and children of all ages to live happier healthier lives by becoming a doctor of chiropractic care and wellness. “And I left the the other model of care to the medical doctors for emergency care and those kinds of situations,” Dukowitz said with a tone of satisfaction and clarity.
“If you come in during business hours, it’s a little on the louder side with laughter and happiness (emanating) from patients, but it’s positive here, and more often than not the majority of people coming here are seeking health in a different model, and most are seeking changes in their lives and lifestyle. But others, especially talking about kids, like with me, most parents come here by recommendations, but also because they’ve run the gambit of healthcare and-or treatment options, but it all depends on the needs of the individual really,” Dukowitz said.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Dukowitz said she graduated in 2004 with an Bachelor of Science degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. Moving on to Logan University in Chesterfield, Mo, she graduated in December 2004, which is where she met her husband Troy. Dukowitz said Troy grew up in the metro-east for most of his childhood, leading them to settle in the Village of Shiloh.
The couple has two children, Wyatt, 4, and Watson, 2, have had an office with growing clientele for about nine years now.
“We love to travel together, in fact we (just went) to Pittsburgh with the boys (last) week because Troy (was) speaking at a chiropractic seminar,” Dukowitz said. “But why not bring the family.”
The busy, working mom loves to garden in her free time with her children too. In fact, her Mother’s Day gift was a garden hoe, Dukowitz said with a bellowing laugh.
“It’s so funny, but so perfect because I needed one, and now I can hoe in the garden with my boys,” Dukowitz said.
She attends many fairs, events and W.E.W. meetings in O’Fallon, which Dukowitz said is vital to her drive to have a presence within the community. “I love building relationships, and helping all walks of life succeed, and I love being inspired, and that’s what I love most about W.E.W. because we can all give little tidbits to motivate and be real with people, which is hard in this day and age with social media,” Dukowitz said.
A tip that Dukowitz has shared at W.E.W. meetings and with patients is to sign up for daily e-mail alerts from www.tut.com, for your daily dose of advise or insight “from the Universe.”
“It really sets the tone of my day, and it forces me to look long and hard at my life and the little things too that often get overlooked or tossed to the wayside,” Dukowitz said with a smile. “I recommend everyone sign up for it (because) it’s so inspiring.”
Read more @ofprogress.com.
Meet Dr. Leah:
Q: Do you have words to live by?
A: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better do better,” Maya Angelou.
Q: What is the last book that you read?
A: “Goldilocks and The Three Bears,” one of my boys favorite. “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton, PhD., is the last book I read for my own knowledge however.
Q:What do you do for fun and relaxation?
A: For fun I love being with my family. We like going to the Lake of the Ozarks, boating and playing on the beach. I like to garden. You may also see me at the Zoo, bowling or playing mini golf (my boys’ favorites). For relaxation, I enjoy pedicures and dating my husband, Troy. We like going to see the Cardinals and Blues, as well as, go out to dinner.
Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?
A: Clean and orderly. If you had asked about the drawers — that is entirely different — chaos.
Q:What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?
A: I’ve known since I was 5 that I wanted to be a doctor. When I was 18 I realized that being a chiropractor was the kind of doctor I wanted to be.
Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?
A: My positive attitude.
Q: What irritates you most?
A: As a mommy of 2 young boys, it really irritates me when single individuals use the family rest rooms. There is nothing quite like having to change a diaper, have a preschooler that has to go and wait for that 1 single person to finish when the other rest room is a hundred yards away.
Q:What type of music do you listen to?
A: Rock music, mostly.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Inspiring others to achieve their greatness, in health and in their lives. When people realize that they (and their bodies) are capable of more than they thought possible- their lives and the lives of their families are changed. Happiness, health, earning potential, relationships can all improve.
Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?
A: Chiropractic, being a mommy and advocating for woman’s health and health freedom on a grander scale.
Q: What would people be most surprised to know about you?
A: I had 2 home births.
Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?
A: Jennifer Garner.
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?
A: A lighter to build a fire for cooking and smoke signals.