At Roots of Health, we offer Functional Wellness Programs to help you attain optimal health.
Our mission is to deliver superb care for people of all ages with an emphasis on health, wellness and prevention. Our goal is to do this in a vital and sustainable practice, where we love to work, our patients love to come, and where care is collaborative and supportive.
Lonna Larsh, MD
Lonna Larsh is a Medical Doctor with a passion for helping to identify and treat the root causes of illness. She has been practicing family medicine in Santa Cruz for over 25 years. After a decade of working for Santa Cruz Medical Center (now PAMF), she grew frustrated with the corporate structure and demands to see more patients in less time. With a commitment to be more accessible to her patients and take the time needed to deeply listen, she left PAMF in 2007 to start her own practice. Her interest in the roots of illness led her to compete a 10 year certification process through the Institute of Functional Medicine. She is now board certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine as well as Family Medicine. While drugs and surgery can be useful tools, she discovered that the deepest healing takes place when people are guided by a knowledgeable doctor to play an active role in their own health.
She founded Roots of Health in 2018 with the goal to educate people using holistic modalities and to offer the team support needed to help them attain optimal levels of health. She wants you to know that, with a proper diagnosis, a clear path forward, and a commitment to do what it takes to get well, you can enjoy better health not just in our time working together, but for the rest of your life. She lives in Santa Cruz with her husband, daughter, parents, two dogs, and 7 chickens.
About Amber Weiss, PA, LAc
Amber Weiss is a Physician Assistant and Licensed Acupuncturist with a passionate interest in holistic and integrative medicine. After graduating from Stanford University, she completed her Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine at Five Branches University in Santa Cruz in 2002. She saw patients for several years at Aloha Acupuncture, a clinic she co-founded in Soquel. With a desire to deepen her understanding of Western medicine, she applied to Stanford Medical School, where she completed their Physician Assistant training.
She has been working with Dr. Lonna Larsh since 2012, utilizing her vast skill set to support people in reaching their health goals. Amber has spent hundreds of hours studying functional nutrition and is in the process of completing a certification in clinical homeopathy. She enjoys connecting deeply with Roots of Health practice members and guiding them to use the tools that will create powerful and long-lasting changes at the levels of body, mind and spirit. She lives in Santa Cruz with her wife, two young children, and two adorable kittens.
Alison Altmann, Front Desk Manager, Health & Fitness Coach
Alison is the front desk manager at Roots of Health where she supports Dr. Larsh and Amber Weiss with all various office duties, overlooks all client relations and organizes presentation talks. Alison (aka “Coach Ali”) is also the health and accountability coach for our program members. Her soulful purpose is helping others live a healthier, happier life. She uses accountability in her coaching arena to help program members set attainable goals with small, sweet, steps of intention.
With a background in physical fitness training, Alison leads our members in a boot camp every Sunday morning. Alison is a 4th generation Californian raised in the Central Valley and resides in sunny Santa Cruz.
Cindy Custodio, Phlebotomist
Cindy is a Certified Phlebotomy Technician, or, as many patients like to call her, “the vampire” of the office. When she’s not drawing patients’ blood, Cindy is assisting Dr. Larsh and Amber Weiss with various office duties.
Aside from her phlebotomy certification, Cindy received her Bachelor's degree in Human Biology from the University of California Santa Cruz.
Cindy aspires to become a physician who can help educate people living in low-income communities on how to live a healthier lifestyle.
Tammy Pittenger, Virtual Assistant
Tammy has been with Roots of Health since 2017, assisting the office remotely to help primarily with pediatric care. She also supports Amber Weiss behind the scenes with a multitude of virtual tasks.
Tammy studied Psychology in college and is passionate about health and wellness. She lives in Santa Cruz, where is married, has four young daughters and is currently working on her first book.
WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE?
Functional Medicine focuses on the goal of restoring optimal function and balance to the body. It is a science-based approach that examines each individual's biochemistry and lifestyle to find the best, individualized therapy for each patient. Instead of just suppressing symptoms, it deals with the root causes of disease. It is less concerned with making a diagnosis and more concerned with the underlying imbalances, which are the mechanisms of the disease process. Functional medicine treats the person and not the disease. In addition, it provides a framework for the practice of medicine that uses all the tools of healing, both conventional and alternative, to address the whole person rather than an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine is dedicated to improving the management of complex, chronic disease by intervening at multiple levels to restore each person’s optimal functionality and health.
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE IS GROUNDED UPON THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:
- The approach is patient-centered rather than disease centered.
- Health is a positive vitality, not merely the absence of disease.
- The human body functions as an orchestrated network of interconnected systems, rather than individual systems functioning autonomously and without effect on each other (much like the function of our entire world).
- Core clinical imbalances are examined to look for the underlying causes of chronic disease.
- The body has its own natural healing ability, which simply needs to be awakened in order to promote optimal health and well-being.
WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is an ancient healing art that originated in China 3,000 - 5,000 years ago. It involves the placement of thin needles through the skin at defined locations that induce a change in the body’s natural healing and pain relief mechanisms.
WHAT CAN ACUPUNCTURE BE USED FOR?
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medical treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:
- Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, neck pain, frozen shoulder, osteoarthritis.
- Digestive disorders: gastritis and hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea.
- Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections.
- Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems.
- Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension, stress and emotional conditions.
Bredesen Protocol for Alzheimer’s
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with dementia?
While Western medicine has very little to offer to promote brain health, at Roots of Health we use the research-based Bredesen Protocol to help prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s dementia. Read more about this here.
In our practice, we look for the four most common underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease, we order the best tests for evaluating cognitive decline, and we teach our practice members the lifestyle factors that are key to preserving brain health. This approach is also highly beneficial if you have a family history of dementia and you wish to preserve your cognitive function. If you aren’t feeling as sharp as you used to and want strategies for supporting brain health, this approach could radically shift the next decades of your life.
Lonna Larsh, MD and Amber Weiss, PA-C are both Certified Bredesen Practitioners.
We have created 6 to 12 month programs to help people with cognitive decline to slow or reverse their symptoms.
709 Frederick Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Monday to Thursday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Friday: By appointment only