March 12, 2021

Meet Our MD Board-Certified Neurologist, Dr. Ilene Ruhoy

Dr. Ruhoy is a board-certified neurologist, who works with chronic and complex diseases. She runs her own private practice, where she treats her patients with an integrative approach and helps them with the prevention of illness and disease. Dr. Ruhoy also serves as the Medical Director of the Connective Tissue Disorder Center at Mt Sinai South Nassau. She works with wellness groups and organizations to promote ways of healthy living including nutrition, movement, supplements, sleep, and stress management. She has a PhD in environmental toxicology, and carries the awareness of the toxicity of our environment into her health and treatment practices.

We sat down with Dr. Ruhoy for a short Q&A to get her perspective on GEM, integrative medicine, and plant-forward nutrition.

Tell us about your discipline in neurology and integrative medicine – what is it and why is it important?

Integrative neurology is the optimal combination of conventional and alternative approaches and the ratio for each patient is different. It is important to personalize because, while we are all very much the same, we have important distinctions with regard to our genetics, our lifestyle, our environment, our stress factors, and our trauma history. This can influence how our organ systems behave and respond. Conventional neurology has some answers but not all and many pharmaceuticals may have risk of toxicities. There are many alternative approaches that can either be monotherapy or help support conventional therapy. The "best of both worlds" can help support prevention, treatment, management, and decrease risk of recurrence/progression.

When it comes to brain health (or integrative medicine), what are some of the biggest myths and misconceptions? Why is it important to understand the truths?

Understanding truth is key to making informed and appropriate decisions. Having said that, the brain is complex and somewhat mysterious. We do know that the brain's preferred energy is the glucose molecule (and not from cookies and doughnuts). Our bodies have intricate pathways to break down complex carbohydrates is a way that delivers the glucose molecule to the brain. The brain will use fatty acids for a period of time but eventually will need glucose. Additionally, the brain is vulnerable to exposures, toxicity, and inflammation. A focus on gut health, anti-inflammatory foods, non-toxic living, meditation, sleep (when the lymphatic system is most efficient), and stress management can help maintain brain health.

Speaking of nourishing your body for ultimate brain and body health - what does “food as medicine” mean to you and why is it important?

Food as medicine is simply that, what we eat each day should nourish us. It should provide the substrates and co-factors our bodies need for the many biochemical processes that take place each minute of the day and night. We are only well when these enzymatic pathways are functioning at an optimal level. The compounds needed for these reactions are present in food from the earth. A largely plant-based diet and appropriate supplementation will help keep our bodies in a natural state of health.

We’d love to hear how you describe GEM to your patients and what role it plays in the future of your field of work.

I have been a longtime advocate for the idea that our nutrition is our medicine. And GEM does this beautifully. One of the many challenges people face is how to choose the right variety of foods - on a daily basis - so that they nourish their bodies and minds. It can be hard with a busy and active life. But GEM takes these ingredients and formulates them into a bite size supplemental option which can in turn help support systems that are critical for our health and well-being. I offer not only patient care but health coaching for many who just want to be and live better and GEM is something that should be incorporated in their daily lives.

What are some of the best nutrients inside GEM that support brain health?


Astaxanthin (found in GEM in our red algae)

  • What is it?: A carotenoid, also known as a beneficial antioxidant that can protect you from disease and enhance your immune system.
  • Why is it important for brain health?: It is an important antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and maintains health of vessels and improves circulation.


Magnesium (found in GEM in our seawater)

  • What is it?: A mineral.
  • Why is it important for brain health?: It helps to synthesize macronutrients, improve DNA repair mechanisms, stabilize cerebral blood vessels, and help in energy production by the mitochondria for the very metabolically active brain.


GABA (found in GEM in PharmaGABA which is a natural form of GABA manufactured via a fermentation process that utilizes Lactobacillus hilgardii, the same bacteria that is used to ferment cabbage in the preparation of the traditional Korean dish known as kimchi)

  • What is it?: A Neurotransmitter.
  • Why is it important for your brain health? It is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. Helps to balance excitatory neurotransmission which can contribute to anxiety, headaches, and poor sleep.
What other nutrients might you recommend people seek out when focusing on cognitive functioning and health?
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are important to regulate inflammation and support cognition and central nervous system function.
  • Folic acid is a vitamin also important for healthy nervous system function. Other B vitamins as well.
  • Anthocyanins protect the brain from free radical damage.
  • Curcumin reduces build-up of protein associated with cognitive decline.
  • Vitamin K for protection from stroke.
  • Lions Mane for neurogenesis (growth of new nerves).

This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and contains trusted sources.

Our goal at GEM is to give readers up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics. GEM content is written by experienced health and lifestyle contributors and articles undergo an extensive review process.

All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.