Skip to content

A Pediatrician’s Holistic Approach for Sudden Peculiar Behavioral Changes


Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Donna Ruiz, an Integrative Pediatric Physician Who Uses Holistic Therapies in Treating Children with a Variety of Chronic Disorders

We are speaking with Donna Ruiz, MD, an Integrative Pediatrician, who’s mission is to restore and revitalize the human body to function optimally (mind-body-spirit) by focusing on treating the root cause of an illness using an individualized, holistic approach.

Tell Us a Story About  a Patient with Sudden and Peculiar Behavioral Changes and How You Helped

Nine year old Erica, always an A-student who rarely got into trouble was now having difficulty focusing and paying attention. Being a sensitive child, she displayed problems with social interaction and sensory issues related to texture. But in January 2015, Erica’s behavior suddenly turned ugly, and she became a rebel in school. She tormented a boy to the point of physical violence. Rocking & shaking hands became more dramatic and her rage attacks became more frequent and scary. Going to restaurants almost always set her off while previously she had no problems. The school principal recommended switching her to a charter school which might better fit her needs.

Erica’s mother brought her to several specialists including a neurologist and psychologist who diagnosed Erica with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but offered no answers. Her primary doctor then referred Erica to a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with anxiety and depression, recommending a trial of anti-psychotics. Her mother declined pharmaceuticals, and instead opted for weekly counseling.

This is a story I hear on a regular basis. Unfortunately, these children are being misdiagnosed and the unsuccessful treatment, or lack of a treatment, is adversely affecting the child, the entire family, loved ones, and classmates. The conditions I’m talking about are referred to as  Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS) and Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS).

Finding the Underlying Cause of Sudden Behavior Changes in Children

In April, 2017, Erica’s mother sought me out. With testing, I uncovered infectious triggers that included streptococcus, Lyme, and Bartonella, a co-infection of Lyme which together with her symptoms indicated a diagnosis of  Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). Later on we also uncovered an underlying mold toxicity. Not a quick fix, Erica’s mother agreed to alternative therapies that would gradually and gently help her daughter get better.

Erica’s course of treatment over the next two and a half years was aimed at safely eliminating the causes of her aberrant behavior rather than covering up her symptoms. This involved several rounds of antibiotics and anti-fungals and IV ozone to eradicate the infections. We also adequately nourished her and boosted her immune system with various herbal and nutritional supplements.

To the delight of her family, friends and teachers, Erica has made a full recovery, doing well in school, and is back to her baseline health as of October, 2019.

Why and When Did You Choose the Holistic Path?

About 15 years ago, I gradually became dissatisfied with the practice of allopathic medicine and started to seek out alternative therapies to help my patients. I was seeing anywhere from 50-70 patients a day in the middle of winter while practicing in the East coast and suffered from adrenal burnout.

At the same time, I saw a rise in autism which in conventional medicine all I had to offer my patients was speech and  Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy (ABA) . I discovered Functional Medicine, Clinical Homeopathy, Medical Acupuncture and other modalities which I added to my toolbox and continue to use today.

My relationship with my patients is now a partnership with the entire family. I now see children heal and recover. Parents grow, and I too have grown and become intertwined into their lives. I feel blessed to witness lives transformed within the framework of Holistic Medicine.

What Lessons Have Your Work and Personal Experiences Taught You?

As physicians, we are quick to give advice and give the usual solutions for common problems, but each person is different. It’s important to listen completely and have the patient talk and tell us their story.

Health is a state of balance, whereas illness is a state of imbalance. As a physician I put forth the effort and intention to do everything possible for my patients to get better. But in the end, true healing comes from the patient’s desire and faith in their healing journey.

Now a student and practitioner of other healing systems, I incorporate Functional Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Naturopathy, and Homeopathy into my practice. These philosophies embrace the fundamental principle that the human body, as an organism, is part of and not separate from nature, and that within each of us is the innate intelligence to heal itself.

What Would You Like Your Patients to Know About Your Services that They May Not be Aware of?

Originally trained as an allopathic pediatrician, I was acutely aware that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work across the board when dealing with chronic diseases. My main objective became finding the underlying cause of a pediatric patient’s illness and not just addressing their symptoms. This change in philosophy, allowed me to provide a more personalized and individual approach by spending more time with each patient. I could address their mind-body-spirit achieving my mission of restoring and revitalizing my patients to function optimally.

I specialize in treating patients with chronic disease who suffer from PANDAS/PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome), mold toxicity, Lyme disease and co-infections. I also treat other conditions including asthma, atopic dermatitis, ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, autoimmune disorders, migraine headaches, to name a few. Treating the cause in my practice involves one or a combination of the following therapies: Functional Medicine, Herbal Medicine , nutritional support, IV Ozone and IV Nutritional Therapies, Clinical Homeopathy and Medical Acupuncture.

Often after healing the sick child, parents are now asking for my services.


Dr. Ruiz earned her MD from University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine & Surgery. She completed her Residency at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Dr Ruiz is board-certified through the American Board of Pediatrics as well as double-boarded in Integrative Medicine through the American Board of Integrative Medicine and American Board of Integrative & Holistic Medicine.

Donna Ruiz, MD
Integrative Pediatrician
Wellness Center for Integrative Pediatrics
29995 Technology Drive, Suite 203
Murrieta, CA   92563

Visit Dr. Ruiz’s Website

Find more Integrative Physicians like Dr Ruiz in our Holistic Health Directory

Andy & Vinny DiLorenzo

About Us

As holistic dentists, we've recommended products and services that supported our patients’ health for decades. In experiencing our own health challenges from mercury toxicity, we worked closely with many natural, alternative, and integrative health practitioners who aided our recovery as well as our patients’. We built this site to provide you with a simple-to-use, comprehensive, informational, and functional resource for your physical, emotional, and spiritual health & well-being.

Sign Up for our Newsletter