Aly Cohen, MD ~ From Rheumatologist to Integrative Environmental Medicine Champion
Aly Cohen, MD is a rheumatologist, Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM) Fellowship Faculty Member, and the founder of Smart Human, LLC. She’s become an educator, author, and public speaker on the topic of Integrative Environmental Medicine over the past 9 years. She took an interesting path to get where she is today, and it all started with her dog.
When Dr. Cohen’s beloved four year old Golden Retriever, Truxton, fell ill, she thought perhaps he swallowed a sock or ate something he wasn’t supposed to. However, tests revealed he had autoimmune hepatitis, which is not common in dogs. As Dr. Cohen began to research his illness, she learned about pet food ingredients, pesticides, plastic toys, and a whole host of other factors that could have attributed to his illness. Her mission to uncover what might have led to her dog’s disease “pulled the curtain back” on the lack of regulation on chemicals and products that not only impact our pet’s health but human health as well. This started the journey for Dr. Cohen to become a proponent for environmental health education.
When Dr. Cohen realized how many healthcare practitioners were not being taught about this important topic, she sprang into action. She teamed up with the Environmental Working Group and created a CME program for doctors to learn more about everyday environmental influences on human health. She went on to lecture at 23 hospitals on this topic. She continued her exploration of integrative health practices and studied at the University of Arizona Integrative Health & Medicine program with Dr. Andrew Weil. Dr. Cohen is also the co-author of the Integrative Environmental Medicine textbook and she recently signed a consumer book deal, so that everyday people can learn strategies to optimize their health. Her book is titled “Guide to Living Healthy in a Chemical World.” She approaches the topic of environmental health in a non-judgemental, accessible and empowering way. She hopes to inspire readers to make safe and easy upgrades to the products that they purchase and implement her tips for limiting environmental toxin exposure.
Dr. Cohen hasn’t stopped there, she is also working on educating future generations about environmental health. She believes the next generation are the ones who will create the change we need to make our environment safer for all living things. Cohen said, “teenagers today are becoming politically active, they understand technology and apps, and they are future parents.” They are the ones who will likely face the very real consequences that will happen due to the lack of regulations on air quality, water quality, beauty and household products that are harming our health. Dr. Cohen is creating a national curriculum that will live online and will educate students on how to clean up their unique environment. Dr. Cohen launched this pilot program by cold-calling high school principles, asking to present this topic. After each presentation, she obtained feedback from the audience to develop and refine her curriculum.
She now has a 6-lecture series on a variety of topics with interesting titles to engage the high-schoolers, like “Is Your Antiperspirant Killing You?”
In June, Dr. Cohen was invited to speak at the Gordon Research Conference in Zurich Switzerland. The conference is an international conference presented every four years and the focus this year was Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. Dr. Cohen presented a poster on her pilot program.
We applaud Dr. Cohen on her fearless pursuit of educating others on potential risk factors for environmental illnesses and sharing practical solutions to promote good health with an international audience. We can’t wait to see what she’s up to next! ~ The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM) is an interprofessional association of integrative clinicians who embrace a person-centered, team-based approach to health care. We provide transformational educational programs, connections to a global network of providers, and valuable resources and toolkits for our members.