Ten years ago, a team of naturopathic doctors, Dr. Makoto Trotter and Dr. Aileen Lim-Trotter, husband and wife, bought some commercial property at the intersection of Carlton and Jarvis streets in Toronto and Zentai Wellness Centre was open for business.
As with any newly established practice, there were a number of challenges to face. Being on the third floor of a commercial building meant no storefront presence and little walk-in traffic. To introduce their business, during the first several years after the clinic opened, Dr. Trotter and his wife spent every spare hour, evening and weekend giving free talks, handing out flyers, attending community events, hosting open house events at the clinic and networking.
In addition to dedicating all her time to Zentai, Dr. Lim-Trotter took time off as a practitioner for the first year to work as office manager instead.
“Having a naturopathic doctor/clinic owner answer every phone call and answer questions helped turn almost every open inquiry into a confirmed appointment at the clinic,” Dr. Trotter says. “It also helped streamline what we wanted and needed from an office manager since we personally were able to experience this role.”
Currently, the 1,400 square-foot clinic offers naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, pediatrics, digestive health, naturopathic dermatology, registered massage therapy, child psychology and psychotherapy. The clinic also offers lab tests and has a dispensary.
“We wanted to create an integrative clinic with naturopathic medicine at the core of a qualified, licensed wellness team that matched our philosophies. And we wanted to offer these services in a space that had a Zen, yet professional atmosphere,” Dr. Trotter says.
The clinic’s name originates from Japanese. The character “zen” means “whole” and “tai” stands for “body.” Dr. Trotter emphasizes that no matter what their patient’s concern is, their goal and philosophy is to help them become healthier as a whole.
Dr. Trotter holds an honours Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry-biotechnology and his wife – a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences. Both of them are licensed naturopathic doctors. Dr. Lim-Trotter focuses on dermatology and pediatrics. She helps both adults and children with eczema, rosacea, acne and food allergies. Dr. Trotter specializes in digestion and hormonal health. He sees many patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, menstrual irregularities, menopause, andropause and fertility issues. Dr. Trotter says because most tests are usually quite expensive and patients have budgets, he often starts with looking into his patient’s diet first, adjusting it, analyzing the progress and then, he recommends relevant testing if required.
“Nutrition is always the foundation – whether it’s a hormonal or digestive health concern, we always start with a diet,” says Dr. Trotter. “Sometimes hormonal issues may be resolved by making diet changes before we need to pursue further testing.”
Dietary changes are also necessary for patients with food allergies. In addition to allergy testing, Dr. Trotter may also recommend a hypoallergenic diet. Although there is a lot of information online on how patients can improve their health concerns through diet, Dr. Trotter believes people need professional help to find an individualized and “realistic diet” that they can incorporate into their busy life styles.
Dr. Trotter also sees patients with fertility problems. While a number of them have some underlying health issues, including hormonal ones, for many patients, “it’s just a technicality of timing and understanding when you are fertile.”
“Of course, we try to rule things out whether it’s sperm, ovulation or hormonal issues. There may be something underlying, but a lot of times, it might just be the fact the person is not tracking their cycle properly.”
While many women use a variety of mobile apps to track their periods, Dr. Trotter also gets them to track symptoms, such as cervical mucus, spotting and basal body temperature, which helps determine the best time to conceive.
Dr. Trotter and Dr. Lim-Trotter have created a work culture that aims at providing best care to their patients. The Zentai team currently consists of two office managers as well as a doctor with a PhD in child psychology who specializes in the assessment and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders. There is also a registered massage therapist with a background in athletics and a psychotherapist who has a focus on wellness assessments. While their treatment rooms are now continuously full, Zentai would expand their practitioner team if someone fits the current team and philosophy.
Dr. Trotter says they have created their team by patiently searching for qualified, skilled practitioners who also have great interpersonal skills.
“We also choose practitioners who are responsive. It is all too common for professionals to not take the few minutes to reply to their clients’ queries when they need simple reassurances or clarifications. This ensures the high quality of service that we all strive to provide to our clients at Zentai, particularly in a time when communication is so accessible.”
Dr. Trotter says their team is interested in wellness in general and that conversations about vegan diets, popular health trends and organic farming are only a few of the topics the staff discuss during their day.
“We encourage our health practitioners to meet and discuss how their practices and therapy can help benefit other patients of the clinic and keep up with continuing education and share knowledge with one another,” Dr. Trotter says.
Now, ten years after Zentai first opened its doors, Dr. Trotter still attends the same networking group that meets weekly and passes referrals to one another. He is also a health expert on CP24 as well as recently being the author of two books.
Dr.Trotter says that public interest in naturopathic medicine has increased over the past 10 years and more Canadians are now seeking out naturopathic doctors to be a part of their health care team. As a result, extended health insurance plans have improved their coverage for naturopathic medicine.
With current success, Zentai continues to look forward. Dr. Trotter says they are continually researching new lab tests and products to provide quality care to their clients – both current and future.
“When starting our clinic, we hoped to build a wellness team that was qualified and passionate about their work. Today, we are fortunate to have put together our ideal team at Zentai Wellness Centre and we are eager to continue spreading the word about proactive integrated healthcare.”
Zentai Wellness Centre team:
Makoto Trotter, BSc(Hons) ND
Aileen Lim-Trotter, BSc ND
Dr. Julia Broeking PhD, C.Psych
Vaishali Patel, MS EdS CCC
Colin Baird, RMT, BScKin – Registered Massage Therapist
Lily Phan and Maria Karmela Salanga – office managers