A focus on holistic medicine

Mar 14, 2024 • 3 min. read | By Samantha Kupiainen

(photo by Aris Harding)


Back in 2005, Tabetha Smith, a certified family nurse practitioner by trade, started to notice redundancy in her medical practice.


“I was working in a family practice and I was getting frustrated because I felt like every woman came in with the same set of symptoms,”  Smith said. “They were tired, they were moody, they were depressed, they were gaining weight.”


Between the typical bloodwork and prescriptions for Zoloft or Prozac, she felt there had to be another approach for treating her patients other than giving them anti-depressants.


Fed up with it all, she decided to start her own Wilmington practice, Restore Health & Wellness, as a functional medicine provider.


Smith describes functional medicine as “trying to look for the root cause, and treat the root causes, so that hopefully you may not need a prescription drug because you reversed the disease process and healed yourself.” She was first introduced to the more natural treatments and approaches when her local medical center pharmacy sent her to a conference.


Nearly 20 years later, Smith’s practice has grown to about 10 employees. She works with another nurse practitioner, Brittany McNeil, registered nurse Karla Vavra Melcher and various support and front-desk staffers.


Restore Health & Wellness most commonly sees patients with issues surrounding perimenopause and postmenopause, Smith says. In those instances, patients are often worried about fatigue, brain fog, hot flashes, night sweats and irregular periods. Other common issues patients report are are gastrointestinal and gut-health related.


The practice often treats the prevailing hormonal issues through bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Instead of using synthetic hormones, the bioidentical hormones are “derived from wild yams and refined by biochemists to be identical in molecular structure and function to match human hormone molecules,” according to Restore Health & Wellness’ website.


“For the other issues, we try to correct things with supplements and nutrients, diet changes, lifestyle changes, exercise, sleep, stress reduction,” Smith said. “We try to customize all of our treatments based on exactly what we see in the patients’ bloodwork and what they need.


In recent years, both McNeil, the practice’s other certified family nurse practitioner, and Smith have noticed an influx in patients seeking their functional medicine approach to health care instead of the traditional Western approach. They say they believe this trend is largely a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“With the pandemic, a lot of patients are looking for that type of approach to health care and actually healing their body and giving it the tools it needs to function optimally,” McNeil said.


As patients continue to turn to more naturopathic medicine, the team at Restore Health & Wellness hopes to expand too.


“We definitely need a bigger space,” Smith said. “We’d like to have another nurse practitioner.”