Episode #29 Rheumatology - Getting to the Root of Autoimmune Conditions with Aly Cohen, MD

Body of Wonder Podcast

Autoimmune diseases result when the body's immune system attacks healthy cells of the body. The tissue damage leads in the development of chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.

Our guest today is rheumatologist and integrative medicine specialist, Dr. Aly Cohen. Dr. Cohen specializes in treating arthritis, immune system disorders, and women’s health. She has lectured nationally on integrative environmental medicine and recently gave a TEDx talk, “How to Protect Your Kids from Toxic Chemicals.”

In this episode, Dr. Cohen helps to explain the complex puzzle of autoimmune diseases. Who gets autoimmune diseases? What are the causes? And what precautions we can take to avoid triggers of autoimmune conditions? Dr. Weil suggests that low level chronic inflammation may be a culprit in the disease’s development. Dr. Maizes discusses how an integrative lens may be helpful in discerning which patients need medication right away and which may begin with lifestyle approaches.

Please note, the show will not advise, diagnose, or treat medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider for questions regarding your health.

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Andrew Weil, MD and Victoria Maizes, MD



Dr. Aly Cohen is a board-certified rheumatologist, integrative medicine specialist, and environmental health expert specializing in arthritis, immune system disorders and women’s health. Dr. Cohen received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She went on to medical training at Hahnemann University Hospital School of Medicine in Philadelphia and completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Cohen continued her specialist training in rheumatology and autoimmune diseases at Montefiore Hospital/Albert Einstein University Hospital in the Bronx, New York. Dr. Cohen is currently in private practice in Princeton, New Jersey. Her practice, that she founded in 2011, Integrative Rheumatology Associates P.C., focuses on both traditional western medical management of rheumatologic ailments, as well as integrative options for total “wellness”, such as biofeedback, acupuncture, cognitive therapy, diet and exercise counseling, environmental toxin counseling, smoking cessation, stress management and sleep evaluations.

Dr. Cohen is trained in medical acupuncture from the Helms Institute at UCLA and Environmental Medicine from Dr. Andrew Weil and the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. In 2012, she was honored as the recipient of the Jones/Lovell Rheumatology Scholarship at the Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson, Arizona. She has studied and worked alongside Dr. Andrew Weil and his colleagues in the field of integrative medicine over the past two years. Dr. Cohen regularly lectures on healthy dietary and integrative medicine techniques to her patients and the community.

Dr. Cohen’s strong interest and work in the area of environmental chemical exposure and health lead her to a collaboration with the Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) to create a CME accredited presentation on endocrine disrupting chemicals and their. relationship to human health, designed specifically for physicians, nurses and other health professionals. She lectures nationally on this topic to communities, academic institutions, and medical schools. She has been a consultant for major corporations such as Knowledge Universe to help reduce the chemical exposure of infants and toddlers in over 2,000 KinderCare Daycares across the United States. Currently, she is working as a medical investigator in the Paulsboro, New Jersey train derailment in 2012 that spilled thousands of gallons of polyvinyl chloride. In addition to the education of adults on this topic, Dr. Cohen has extended her message to the education of young people. She is currently piloting a program at Princeton High School to integrate environmental health information into the current health curriculum.

Dr. Cohen was honored to speak at NAEYC’s 2014 National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development. She just completed co-editing/authoring the “Integrative Environmental Medicine” text for the Weil/Oxford University Press academic book series, which was published in March 2017. She was awarded the 2015 New Jersey Healthcare Heroes Award for Education in June. She was voted 201 and 2017 Top Docs NJ by her medical colleagues, voted Top Doc Suburban Life Magazine 2017, voted America’s Top Doctors by Castle Connolly, and was honored with the 2016 Burton L. Eichler Humanitarian Award for her work in environmental health education and curriculum.

In 2012, Dr. Cohen created The Smart Human LLC. (TheSmartHuman.com) to educate colleagues and the community on the potential health issues from exposure to everyday chemicals. She performs in-home chemical evaluations (“chemical-proofing”), lectures to schools and camps, consults with corporations and is a legal medical export for chemical exposure cases. She has partnered with a recognized educator to create tailored environmental health and wellness curricula for schools nationally. She is currently on faculty and writing environmental health curriculum for the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM). She has a very busy social media platform, TheSmartHuman.com, Facebook: The Smart Human, and Twitter/Instagram: @thesmarthuman, and posts practical tips and health information regularly.

Dr. Cohen is a regular health contributor to radio and news broadcasts, such as Fox 5 NY, and lectures nationally on various health topics including integrative medicine, autoimmune disease/inflammation, health effects of everyday chemicals and cell phone safety. She works as a writer for TLC.com, EverydayHealth.com, WebMD.com, and Women’s Running Magazine. She is an interviewer and producer for children and adult health programs on an array of network and cable TV channels. She is also a published medical author. Dr. Cohen was recently asked by actress Fran Drescher to join the medical advisory board for “Cancer Schmancer”, her cancer prevention foundation, and Dr. Cohen was the keynote speaker at the 3rd Annual Cancer Schmancer Health Summit in October, and she lectures nationally and abroad on topics of integrative rheumatology and environmnetal health (clean drinking water, personal care products, home furnishings, air pollution, disease and chemicals, climate change e.g.).

Dr. Cohen is an avid runner, participates in area triathlons and ran in the 2009 New York City Marathon, raising thousands of dollars for The Lupus Foundation. She lives with her husband, two young sons, and many pets in Central, New Jersey. 

***She educates the public on all topics of health and prevention on her website, www.TheSmartHuman.com  Facebook: The Smart Human, Instagram & Twitter: @TheSmartHuman!

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