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Life & Work with Hilda Gonzalez of Saffron & Sage

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hilda Gonzalez.  

Hi Hilda, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Growing up in Los Angeles as a first-generation Angeleno with poor access to healthcare I watched as my parents relied heavily on traditional and lifestyle medicine. From accompanying them to appointments with hueseros, yerberos, and the occasional acupuncturist who would find a way to communicate with them despite both parties having limited English. I watched as the acupuncturist felt the pulse, palpated their abdomen, and came to a treatment plan- it was all so beautiful and fascinating the way they were able to communicate with the body without the impediment of language. 

My mother, a traditional herbalist and later a licensed nurse, learned traditional Indigenous herbalism in Michoacan, Mexico from her grandparents, and would merge traditional medicine and conventional medicine when caring for our family. My father, who put himself through culinary school and became the head chef of a longevity center in Santa Monica instilled the importance of “food as medicine” concept that later became my inspiration for much of the work I do.

Years later, when I found myself toppling over in pain while waiting 16 hours at the county hospital, I knew it was time to tap into what my parents had long instilled. The power of self-healing with traditional medicine at the forefront and conventional medicine as support. That is how that journey led me to where I find myself today, as the Clinic Director of San Diego’s premier holistic health clinic, Saffron & Sage.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Yes, there have been many struggles but every single one brought me to this moment. If I step back and look at the long road behind me, I now realize everything has been a lesson or course correction to bring me here. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am currently the Clinic Director of Saffron & Sage, a holistic health clinic in San Diego, Ca. where we specialize in integrative and complementary medicine. I oversee the day-to-day appointments, manage the flow of the clinic and support my fellow practitioners by offering training & mentorship. I am also part of the clinic’s executive team and see myself as the representative and advocate for the other practitioners within the executive level of the clinic. 

As a practitioner within the clinic, I specialize in preconception planning, integrative fertility, women’s health, and lifestyle medicine. This is something that came about by accident during the initial months of the stay-at-home orders. My first passion was in sports acupuncture and pain management, and as I was treating my mostly female patients, they would discuss that they were having challenges getting pregnant. I had done additional training and several internships while in school on fertility and prenatal health, but I did not feel it was for me after leaving school. 

However, here I was, with patients that had initially come in for their neck and shoulder tension now needing fertility support, so I stepped up and supported them through the process by creating comprehensive integrative treatment plans. Preconception, fertility, and prenatal treatments are challenging on their own, but to do that work during such a scary and uncertain time is definitely something I will always remember and be thankful that I was given the opportunity to hold that space. Over the last few years, there have been a lot of tears for both loss and joy and it is the most fulfilling, beautiful work I have ever done. 

What matters most to you? Why?
My husband, my family, and creating community. My family has always supported me and guided me, and though we are not close in miles we are close emotionally and talk almost every day. My husband, who is also in medicine, is the most grounding energy around me. I can come home and it always feels like a safe sanctuary wherever he is. We share so much in common. From the work we do, to know the importance of holding onto our traditional indigenous practices and walking within two worlds. 

I am also a big believer in community care as an important pillar for individualized care. If the community that surrounds us is not healthy then we as individuals have a more challenging time obtaining balance- we can all attest to this after the last few years. This is why I love the work we do at Saffron & Sage. Despite the challenges of coming together, we continue to stress the importance of community and connecting with one another. From hosting a hybrid Virtual and Socially distanced Women’s Health summit in 2020, to our recently opened in person Sacred Sunday celebrations and our upcoming wellness retreat on the beautiful coast of Oaxaca, Mexico, we continue to do the best we can to remain connected. 

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Saffron & Sage

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