Rebooting medicine the alternative way

Dr. Jennifer Ruthensteiner shares a hug with patient Glenda Cantrell of Coupeville in the lobby of the Reboot Center in Freeland.


Staff Reporter

Jennifer Ruthensteiner knew from a young age she wanted to be a healer. Her desire, coupled with an interest in nature and the healing properties found there, led her down a path that has brought her to Freeland, where she is the owner of the Reboot Center for Innovative Medicine.

Ruthensteiner is a board-certified, licensed naturopathic physician, which means she is a primary care physician who has studied both modern and natural medicine and is able to diagnose and treat medical conditions. She holds a doctorate from Bastyr University in Kenmore.

“The difference in naturopathic medical school from traditional medical school is really in the last two years,” explained Ruthensteiner. “The first two years are typically all the basic science and pharmacological education, while the last two years, in addition to the clinical aspect and learning western drugs and procedures, we’re taught treatments that go beyond pharmaceuticals.”

With the Reboot Center, which Ruthensteiner opened in 2008, she hopes to provide Whidbey Island residents an alternative to traditional western medicine.

“For the most part, people come to see me because I’m out-of-the-box,” she said. “In naturopathic medicine, we tend to be medical detectives.

“Why does a patient have high blood pressure? Why does someone keep getting ear infections? It’s the ‘Why?’ question,” Ruthensteiner continued. “Let’s figure out what the underlying cause is and treat that.”

Ruthensteiner, who will prescribe medications for acute conditions while working to find the underlying cause, also prescribes botanical herbs to encourage healing while avoiding some of the negative side effects some people experience with pharmaceuticals.

“To me it makes more sense to take something that is bioidentical, in other words, something that’s the same as your body’s,” she said. “Anything you take should augment the body.”

Out of the box

If patients seek Ruthensteiner because she offers an alternative approach to medical care, they will notice differences as soon as they walk through the doors of the Reboot Center.

There are no soft, subtle, calming colors on the wall. Bright, warm hues of yellow and orange add a cheerful vibrancy to the office. There is a typical examination room with a high powered microscope and the usual complement of medical paraphernalia.

But there is also a room for Reiki therapy, an ancient Japanese form of healing therapy, which is provided by Reiki practitioner Sue Averett. Another room houses an

infrared sauna, which is said to help stimulate the immune system and eliminate toxins from the body, among other things.

Counseling is also available through the Reboot Center and is provided by Debby Elwell. Other treatments offered by Ruthensteiner include neural and laser therapies, cranial therapy, homotoxicology, functional blood assessments and diet and nutrition therapy, to name a few.

The key to treatment at the Reboot Center, as far as Ruthensteiner is concerned, is the doctor-patient relationship.

“The patient is king or queen,” she said. “You have to get to know your patient. Treatment is like a dance, it really is. You see how they respond to these lifestyle changes and work with it.”

Ruthensteiner said she wants to get her patients to the point where they only need to come in for annual visits, because that means they’re meeting their health goals.

Coupeville resident Glenda Cantrell speaks highly of the care she’s received at the Reboot Center.

“This gal has saved my gut — literally,” she said. “I won’t go back to western medicine, no matter what. There is a great team of wise women here.”

Living well

Ruthensteiner, who grew up spending half the year on Whidbey Island and half the year in Austria, is the mother of two young children, ages 8 and 5. She was happy to come home to Whidbey Island to establish her practice. She hopes to be able to teach people that in the end, good health comes down to choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

Her back-to-basics philosophy echoes her medical practice, in a way.

“We should eat like our great-great-great grandparents did,” she said. “Eat around the periphery of the grocery store — all the junk food is in the middle.”

Ruthensteiner recommends eating whole foods, reducing sweets and artificial sweeteners and eating lots of fresh vegetables.

“My mom planted the seed in me, I guess you could say,” she said. “My family made me be open-minded to healthy living.

“I consider myself to be very holistic, but very in tune with the acute needs of my patients.”

Where to find it

The Reboot Center for Innovative Medicine is located at 5548 Myrtle Ave., Suite 202, Freeland. Call 331-2464, email or go to for information.