Root Cause Medicine +  Health Co-Creation

This is for anyone who has ever been told “everything looks fine,” when they don’t feel fine. For anyone who has felt frustrated with the lack of explanation, education, and solutions they need to resolve their health problems. This is for you if you know there must be a better, smarter way to rebuild your health and you are looking for a personalized approach so you and your family can create extraordinary health and live an extraordinary life.

Welcome to Thriving Force. Our clinic is focused on partnering with patients to investigate, identify, and resolve the root causes of your health concerns. And provide you with the education and support you need to learn sustainable health stratagies and skills.

We start by listening to understand your story. Your experience combined with your health history and discussion of major life events helps us identify the causes of your health concerns.

In addition, we use functional lab testing to identify root causes at a cellular level to eliminate blind spots and personalize your treatment. (For example: Identifying chronic infections that burden the body with high levels of inflammation or discovering the key nutrient deficiencies that prevent your mitochondria from producing enough energy for you to feel good, think clearly, or carry out everyday metabolic processes properly).

This approach puts you in charge of your health so you can say goodbye to the limitations of annoying and painful health concerns.

Conventional wisdom isn’t always wise—
it’s merely conventional.

But, your body is.

The Thriving Force Method

  • Proactive: Focused on resolving the root cause of illness to reverse and prevent disease.
  • Restorative: Restores proper function of the body to reverse disease, prevent illness, and promote optimal function.
  • Patient Centered: Treats the patient and modifies treatment for each individual’s needs.
  • Unlimited Options: Combines the best of conventional and root-cause medicine into an intelligent hybrid to provide unlimited treatment options.
  • Evidence Based: Based on the latest research and clinical observation.


A Smarter Approach To Health

Struggling with fatigue even though your thyroid levels are “normal”? You might be surprised to learn that conventional screening methods for thyroid disorders miss 80% of hypothyroid diagnoses.

Looking for medication free ways to support your mood and mental health—plus eliminate brain fog? The newest research on anxiety, depression, and brain health is showing better results by treating digestive function and inflammation than using antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds.

Looking for a comprehensive approach to healing autoimmune diseases? Through nutrition, immune balancing natural medicines, and identifying and treating the trigger that caused immune dysfunction in the first place (It’s different for each person, but toxic burden, gut infections, and chronic viruses are a few examples) you can heal and reverse inflammatory symptoms and diseases.

Suffering from zombie-level insomnia? The approach to treating your insomnia will often depend on one majorly overlooked factor: Whether you have issues falling asleep—or staying asleep.

And those are just a few basic examples where functional medicine meets and exceeds what conventional medicine offers us — not just providing a temporary band aid to cover a symptom, but providing a way to heal the from the inside out.

Dr. Sara DeFrancesco ND, LAc

Dr. Sara DeFrancesco is a Naturopathic Doctor, Licensed Acupuncturist, Functional Medicine Practitioner, and the founder of Thriving Force.

Dr. DeFrancesco’s approach is focused on your unique story, root cause solutions, and personalized care.

This approach includes a comprehensive evaluation of your health function (not just a routine screening for disease markers), advanced lab testing to identify commonly overlooked causes that cannot be identified by a health history or physical exam, and creating a personalized plan so that you can feel your best.

Dr. DeFrancesco’s treatment protocols include targeted nutrient and botanical therapies, natural medicines, nutrition and lifestyle medicine, acupuncture, and providing you with the right education, tools, and support.

Passionate about public education and patients learning to unlock their Thriving Force, Dr. DeFrancesco is the host of Thriving Force Radio and a public speaker who has shared the stage with some of the most innovative physicians in the world including Dr. Sachin Patel, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, and Dr. Kelly Brogan.

National University Of Natural Medicine

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Master of Science in Oriental Medicine

Professional Associations & Memberships

The Institute Of Functional Medicine
International Association Of Functional Neurology And Rehabilitation
The Living Proof Institute
Paleo Physicians Network
Re-Find Health
Thyroid Change


My Story


When I was a kid, horses were my life. I trained, competed, and spent every free moment at the barn with the horses and my horse friends. I thought my future as a professional in the equestrian world was certain, until I had an accident that broke both sides of my jaw and I was lucky to have survived. No one talked much about brain injuries or PTSD in those days. Certainly no one talked about how brain injuries induce leaky gut and chronic inflammation.

I got back in the saddle, but I was scared.

The brave young woman and top competitor in me was gone. I used to wake up in the middle of the night to the cracking sound of hoof meeting skull. The thing I loved so much, the thing I thought made me – me – became a terror.

Having this experience and wanting to help others heal their minds and hearts, I began to study psychology. I thought THIS was my path, my calling. But soon I realized that the treatment approach I was being taught reduced people to labels and protocols that ignored the patient’s mind and heart completely.

I was lost, heartbroken, depressed and I was only 20 years old! Have you ever lost your purpose and not known what is next for you? My heart goes out to anyone who has ever been there. It was rough.

Eventually I realized that there was a way to help people that honored their individual needs and put them in charge of their health. When I began my journey in Naturopathic and Chinese Medical School, I would love to tell you everything got better from there – but it didn’t.

The first semester in medical school, I had my first panic attack – during a histology test. I didn’t know what was happening, but I suddenly had the feeling that I was ashamed of myself, that everyone would laugh at me, and that I might die right then and there. I remember wiping tears off of my scantron and not being able to look my professor in the eye and say thank you when I handed in my test (which by the way, I did pass – never underestimate the power of subconscious knowledge when you’re well prepared!). I went to hide in the bathroom and let my tears loose, where a friend consoled me and helped me get to the school clinic for help.

That began a 5 year journey to ending my anxiety and panic attacks. Most of my doctors wanted to give me supplements and botanical medicines to calm my nerves. Some even tested me for genetic mutations. My symptoms waxed and waned, but never completely resolved.

The problem was no one was taking into account my full history and using it to find my root causes. No one considered my family history of panic attacks and horse kick to my developing brain as clues to a pathology deeper than supplements alone could reach.

What did my doctors miss?

One of my root causes was Celiac Disease.

I had no digestive symptoms and thought I could eat whatever I wanted. I’m a 3rd generation Italian, so I never bought into giving up bread. And like most people, I didn’t know that the #1 type of Celiac Disease symptoms are neurological (anxiety, depression, panic attacks, ADD/ADHD, OCD), NOT digestive. And the root cause of Celiac Disease and leaky gut is commonly overlooked, especially when it comes to brain problems.

It’s been more than 6 years since I’ve suffered from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. I don’t miss them. But I’m grateful for the lesson – to never stop digging until the root cause is resolved and health has returned.

Work with Thriving Force, become one of your own.