Helping people down the road to wellness
Apple Nutrition owner aims to help educate people about improving health

By Josh Perttunen - Enterprise Staff

June 26, 2014

Owner Tonya O’Brien of Apple Nutrition strives to listen to what customers are telling her, before directing them to the appropriate book or passage in a book that pertains to the issue. She also makes sure each supplement she recommends has research that accompanies it.
Josh Perttunen/Enterprise Staff

OCONOMOWOC - Human history is full of civilizations that have devoted hundreds of years to refining their knowledge of herbs, vitamins, plants and dietary supplements, honing in on their medicinal properties. 

Tonya O’Brien of Apple Nutrition at 1400 Summit Ave. in Oconomowoc is a proponent of keeping that knowledge in the public consciousness as well as continuing to monitor the knowledge that comes out of countries that aren’t so reliant upon pharmaceuticals to address their ailments.

She said she never wants a customer to believe the hospital and pharmaceutical are the only options out there, a situation she found herself in for eight years, as someone who was frequently in the hospital. She didn’t realize other options existed until she began to dive deeper into all of the other knowledge that’s out there.

Between bouts of thyroid cancer, O’Brien credits her regimen of natural supplements for helping restore her health while dealing with the effects of chemotherapy.

For seven years, she has operated the health food store on Summit Avenue and has striven to match customers to the products that can help them, while attaching research from doctors to back it up.

She sat down with the Enterprise on Tuesday to discuss her business.

ENTERPRISE: What is one of the reasons that people come in?

O’BRIEN: A lot of it is people being sick and tired of being sick and tired. They just want to feel better. Some of them are looking for a way to address concerns with their health or immune systems.

We exist in a stressful environment and people are tired. They just come in looking for a change.

ENTERPRISE: What do you tell them?

O’BRIEN: We are a teaching store; I want to help people feel better. People in this day and age are responsible for taking their health into their own hands. I tell them that I’m not a doctor or a pharmacist. I can’t diagnose them, but I can listen to what they tell me and direct them to a book or a passage in a book that may pertain to what they are talking about.

There is a lot of information out there. People can get confused about who to believe and I understand that. I also don’t advise them not to use pharmaceuticals. But I believe it is possible to be healthy to the point that they won’t need to.

I never make any promises, but there are some things that are so important for brain and heart health that I feel I have to mention them right away. If you can get those going and healthy, there are some things that take care of themselves.

ENTERPRISE: As you delved deeper into this subject, what were your findings and what surprised you?

O’BRIEN: A lot of this information goes back thousands and thousands of years, and spans across cultures. There is knowledge derived from Asian, Native American and Ayurvedic medicine. Valerian root was used as a sleep aid by the Romans and mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary. 

You also think about the things Americans used to do. My grandmother gave my mother castor oil in the 1930s, which is a great source of vitamins D and A. In the 1940s and ‘50s, iodine was administered to students in schools, which helped with thyroid issues. We don’t do that anymore and we see that thyroid problems are prevalent. We got away from all of that. Why?

ENTERPRISE: That’s a good question. Why do you think that is?

O’BRIEN: We’re really on a different playing field than the rest of the world. We use the most pharmaceuticals in the world and we have a fast-food attitude with our diet. We want it quick and we want it now. A lot of the stuff we should be getting is just missing from the American diet.

ENTERPRISE: What’s an example of something that people are beginning to be aware of?

O’BRIEN: Conjugated linoleic acids is a fat that was in all kinds of foods during our grandparents’ generation. It is a fat that helps break down other fats and develop muscle tone.

ENTERPRISE: How receptive has the Oconomowoc community been to what you do?

O’BRIEN: It’s a very great community, very family-oriented. Work feels like I’m visiting with friends all day.