Lara Zakaria

About Dr. Zakaria

Lara is a Integrative pharmacist, nutritionist, professor, and public health professional specializing in Functional Medicine. Integrative Medicine implies the blending of specialties to create a unique and effective approach to personalized healthcare.

Combining her background in pharmacy and training in Personalized Nutrition, Functional Medicine, and herbalism, Lara designs personalized protocols that incorporate whole food, herbs, nutrigenomics/pharmacogenomics, medication history, and lifestyle modification to help patients achieve their health goals.

Lara works with her patients to find practical and delicious options to help them thrive within the demands of their unique lifestyles. She’s experienced in working with complex cases addressing digestive problems, metabolic disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disease, and cognitive health layering in customized therapeutic dietary plans.

"Every health advocate I know has a story - a moment when they realized that This isn’t working anymore and something has to change."

Here’s how I got here...

The story begins shortly after I graduated from Rutgers (go BIG RED!) armed with a degree and license to practice pharmacy.

I entered the workforce putting in long shifts at a mega retail chain with the (naive) ideology that I can help my patients achieve optimal health through basic pharmacy skills I’d been taught – drug utilization review, patient counseling, and ensured medication compliance.

"I figured that as long as I put the right pills in the right bottle, told my patients to take their pills as prescribed, and to follow the doctor’s orders, my patients would be healthy… I was wrong."

It didn’t take long for me to notice it wasn’t really working out like that.

I watched patients start new blood pressure medication, only to return in a few months on a higher dose. And a few months after that, they would come back with a prescription for cholesterol lowering medication. A year or two passed by, and then they would be coming in for treatment for type 2 diabetes.

This scenario would continuously play out, time and time again.

And after a while I started questioning whether or not dispensing these medications and counseling on “compliance and safety” was enough. Something was missing.

Meanwhile, I could see doctors getting frustrated. With shorter time allotted to see patients and increasing pressure from insurance companies, this was hardly what they dreamed of as they shed blood, sweat , and tears to get their education!

To top it off, I was also struggling with my own personal health issues...

I have always been active – a dancer well into my college days, then a snowboarder, yoga and pilates enthusiast, a runner and cyclist.

But at that point – in my late 20’s – I was dealing with sugar addiction and frequent hypoglycemia episodes, mood swings, brain fog, stomach pain and digestion issues, unexplained weight gain, swelling and joint pain.

The joint pain got so bad, I was having trouble doing my job, let alone even getting through a yoga class.

yoga at sunset

I couldn't ignore it anymore…

I had always been mindful of what I ate, thinking I was making healthy choices. I was one of those people that counted calories meticulously and exercised regularly to “burn off what I ate”.

Yet, at 28, I felt like I had the body of an 82-year-old (and to be honest, some 82-year-olds were doing better than I was!).

I was in pain, unable to concentrate, and holding on to extra weight…

"I wish I could say that one day it “clicked” or that I had a magic answer. Alas, it’s not so simple."

The next several years are a blur. I started to read everything I could get my hands on. I became obsessed with nutrition and discovered Functional Medicine. I’d eventually decided to go back to school, first for a Master’s of Science in nutrition, then a Post- Bach in Medical Herbalism to educate myself where my allopathic training left gaps.

Fast forward a few more years, I completed 3 internships, one in a kidney clinic at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NYC and the other two under the mentorship of two distinguished Functional Medicine physicians. That would help me earn my CNS certification from the Board for Certified Nutrition Specialists and Certification in functional medicine through IFM (IFMCP).

What I discovered was chronic disease does not have to be our destiny. Chronic disease is not a “natural” consequence of aging. That the evidence and guidelines respected by clinicians globally all agree that diet and lifestyle have to be a priority.

When I started in healthcare as a pharmacist I only had one set of tools in my toolkit. As I learned more about Personalized Nutrition and Functional Medicine, I learned that the same chronic conditions that years before I simply dispensed medications to treat – like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, thyroid disease, and autoimmune disease – could be managed and improved with diet and lifestyle interventions (sometimes in conjunction with medication).

Personally, I was able to get to the root of my own health issues, lift the brain fog and joint pain that had plagued me for most of my 20’s. But the most valuable lesson I learned was that consistency and sustainability of these powerful diet and lifestyle interventions can be

really challenging when real life happens.

"I try to bring that lesson into every single consultation and design programs that are practical and applicable for your real life."

In the last few years, my mission grew. In 2015, I was lucky enough to join The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) on a life – changing medical mission to Jordan for the first time. As the Crisis in Syria was getting into its fourth year, I felt like I needed to help in any way I could. It was a turning point in my life and an experience I’ll never forget and eternally be grateful for.

In fact, my work with SAMS taught me a valuable lesson about access, health communication, and program development, and inspired me to go back to school again, this time for a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) and a doctorate in Pharmacy.


Together we go far…

One of my favorite sayings is “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

This quote has been the inspiration of the last decade of my career. It embodies the deepest values I hold – community, education, and empowerment.

My mission is to make Personalized Nutrition and Functional Medicine more accessible and practical for everyone.

I envision a world where we combine the best of allopathic and lifestyle medicine to reverse the chronic disease epidemic and make fresh, healthy food more accessible.

If this vision resonates with you I invite you to join my community on Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn or join my email list.

I believe that together we can change the conversation about healthcare – I invite you to come be a part of the evolution.

Bio & Professional Experience

Bachelors of Science in Pharmacy (Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University)

Doctor of Pharmacy (Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado)

Registered Pharmacist (RPh)

Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP)

Certified in Medication Therapy Management (MTM) by the American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA)

Masters of Science in Functional Nutrition (University of Bridgeport, CT)

Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS)

Certified Dietician Nutritionist (CDN)

Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Medical Herbalism from Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH)

Certified Health Coach (CHC) and Lifestyle Educator (LE)

Candidate, Masters of Public Health (Milken Institute of Public Health, George Washington University)

Member and volunteer Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)

Professional Highlights

Stay In Touch!

Join my mailing list to keep up with all the latest nutrition & FxMed learning opportunities