Susan Luck

Susan Luck RN, BS, MS, HNC, CCN, has worked in the field of nutrition, holistic health, and immunology for over 20 years. As a holistic nurse educator, medical anthropologist, and clinical nutritionist, she has been practicing in integrative healthcare models both in the U.S. and abroad. She is a national speaker and consultant on Integrative Medicine. She is founder and program director of the Earthrose Institute, a not for profit organization for environmental health education.

Ms Luck is also the Director of the Integrative Nursing Institute, and believes that holistic nursing education is essential for healing our broken health care system. She is a contributing author for Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice, and editor for Lippincott nursing textbooks on Nutrition and Herbal Medicine. She is producer of the award winning video, “At the Heart of Healing: Experiencing Holistic Nursing”.

Currently, she is adjunct faculty at the University of Miami, working on an NIH grant for integrative care for women with HIV. Ms. Luck is the Clinical Nutritionist for Special Immunology Services at Mercy Hospital in Miami, Florida. She also maintains a private practice in nutrition and wellness counseling in Miami, Florida.

Frank: You were the first person to really make me realize how important Nutrition is and that was over 20 years ago. You were my first Nutrition guide in those early days….so I thank you

And I thank you for our collaboration. I imagine that we are gardeners and we may never know where we drop a seed along the path, that grows, blossoms, and then new seeds are disseminated. That is my way of saying that who knew when I invited you to accompany me to a Jeffrey Bland Conference many many moons ago where it would lead you…..

That is an inspiring example of the wondrous journey we are all on.

Who are your role models?

Even before becoming a medical anthropologist, Margaret Mead has long been an inspirational role model.

Her words inspire community and encourage grass roots movements. She wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” And as witnessed in this recent election, this is how CHANGE happens.

You also are one of the ”Mothers” of the Holistic Nurse Movement, wanna talk about it

Florence Nightingale is another inspirational leader. Considered to be the mother of modern nursing, she was a “pioneer” holistic nurse and an outspoken environmentalist. For example, she wrote about the need for quiet, sunlight, fresh air, and nourishment for healing to occur.

She also foresaw the direction of where modern medicine was heading at a time when hospitals were just coming of age. It was prophetic when she wrote, “It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm.”

I view the nursing profession as unique within our culture. It has deep roots as a healing art that cares for the whole person, body, mind and spirit. Holistic nursing in today’s medical milieu represents an exemplary healing model especially in a time when we are rethinking our current disease based system and we move toward a new wellness healthcare paradigm.

I have been inspired by the many nurses I have known whose intention is to help and heal others and who persevere in the adversity of a system that does not appreciate or support their work and all too often burns them out. They are definitely SPENT!

As a holistic nurse and educator, I have known many nurses who learned and integrated healing modalities at the bedside thus reconnecting them to the meaning, purpose and intention for choosing nursing. As they reclaim their intuition and wisdom and in small and big ways, they have transformed and healed their own lives and have brought caring into an often perceived heartless system.

You started the Earthrose Institute, can you tell me

I started the EarthRose Institute ( with the intention for it to serve as a vehicle to disseminate environmental health information and promote research, advocacy, and ultimately impact health policy.

Working in the field of women’s health, immunology, nutrition and community health for many years, I have studied and observed how new health patterns have emerged. I have read the research that is out there on the impact of the environment on health, concerned that this crucial information was not reaching the public or health care providers for that matter.

So many people, younger and younger, experience complex health issues associated with changes in our external environment that impact our internal environment. After all, we are but a microcosm of the world we inhabit.

In my professional practice, I counsel families of autistic children and young women with breast cancer. Although we talk about lifestyle changes and diet, it is the environmental links that are the most revealing yet so often overlooked.

As a concerned citizen, and as a practitioner, I felt compelled to reach as many people as possible and to share the information and research that has been published but does not reach the public for a variety of reasons including politics, special interests, and lack of oversight by industry and governmental regulatory agencies.

Did you know that it is estimated that 80% of all health related symptoms have an environmental component? If we can understand how our environment impacts our health, I believe that with new awareness and knowledge individuals and communities can create grass roots movements that in turn will force change on environmental and health policy. Back to Margaret Mead and Florence Nightingale.

As Native American wisdom traditions knows: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”

You are also a Medical Anthropologist, how has this influenced your work?

I had the unique privilege to live and work in an isolated Maya community in the mountains of Guatemala where I volunteered in a field relief effort after a devastating earthquake. As a young western trained nurse, I was witness to the community’s healing rituals with their shaman who served as priest, doctor, psychologist and worked on the mind, body, and spirit using herbs, oils, chants, and calling in the ancestral spirits. As people returned to health, my western world view was definitely shaken and challenged and I began to ask myself the deeper questions of “what is health” and what is healing? As I continued to question my cultural construct of health, I decided to study and did my graduate work in Medical Anthropology focusing on other cultural healing systems. That was over 25 years ago. I am still inspired by wisdom traditions and what we can learn from diverse cultural healing systems. I am often struck by how much we don’t know in our western way of thinking and believing.

Another theme of all healing traditions is an understanding of our relationship to our environment.
So, it begs the question, if our world is toxic, drained of energy and so far from balance, and how is it that we, as modern humans can be so far removed from the awareness of our oneness with nature. How do we learn to see with new eyes that the same cancer or hormonal influences that are” gender benders” (for example, male frogs and reptiles carrying eggs) that plagues all creatures in these times, from fish to humans, is the same distress. How can we treat cancer with chemotherapy when the chemicals that are in our air, and food, and water, and skin products continue to be taken up by every cell in our body? How can we heal ourselves without healing our planet?

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my innate belief and hope, that as a species, we can create a healthier world for ourselves and for future generations.

Still an idealist (after all these years) I believe that if we each contribute in our own unique way, and can make a commitment to put our intention into action, however large or small, and then, anything is possible. …..

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