Dr. Mitchell Hubsher – UBSNM

Mitchell Hubsher, DC, CCSP, DABCO, ND is a senior lecturer and supervising clinician at the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine.

Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?

After practicing as a chiropractor for 15 years, Dr. Hubsher suffered a back injury that forced him to close his practice. He went to law school (which he loved) but found that a career in law would not fulfill him. With a yearning to return to healthcare, Dr. Hubsher began looking into programs. In doing so, he came across the University of Bridgeport and the world of naturopathic medicine.

Holding a natural and preventative health philosophy as an integral part of practice, Dr. Hubsher describes the career change from chiropractic medicine to naturopathic medicine as easy. In fact, he discovered that he had been incorporating naturopathic tenets into his practice all along.

In 2005, the University of Bridgeport offered Dr. Hubsher an opportunity to teach physical medicine. “I never thought in a million years that I would be teaching nor that it would have a passion for it. But my alma mater needed some help, and I was willing to give it a try. I found out that I love teaching! I love the interaction with my students and being on a college campus. I love being at the heart and soul of naturopathic medicine.”

What can students learn from you?

“I currently teach orthopedic assessment, therapeutic exercise and sports medicine, physiotherapeutics, jurisprudence, outreach medicine, and general life experience. I also supervise an in-house drug and alcohol rehab clinic and a community-based HIV clinic. In addition, our outreach clinics are open to the general public. Students learn how to provide quality medical care in underserved and underfinanced communities, with an emphasis on HIV and drug addicted populations.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND and educator

“As a naturopathic educator, I am passionate about my interactions with my students and my patients. I have developed a specialty in educating students in outreach practices to underserved communities. I love working with naturopathic students because they have a tendency to think outside of the box and are passionate in their approach to naturopathy.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“Have a passion. If you’re not passionate about naturopathic medicine, if you don’t have a strong philosophy and a strong love of the medicine, then you’re not ready to practice the medicine. Strong naturopathic students tend to have excellent critical thinking skills, a thought process based in a strong philosophical understanding of their profession, and they are people who tend to be very well researched in their studies. They are also greatly aided in their endeavors if they can learn to think outside of the box.”

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Dr. Tasneem Pirani-Sheriff – BINM

Tasneem Pirani-Sheriff, MSc, ND is core academic faculty and Coordinator of Clinical Sciences at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine. She shares her path to naturopathic medicine, passion for teaching future NDs, and advice for prospective students.

Why did you choose to become a naturopathic doctor?

“I have always been fascinated by the human body and an avid scientific learner, so the field of medicine attracted me from the beginning. However, until late in my Masters studies, I had no idea that naturopathic medicine even existed! When a friend enlightened me on the philosophies and principles of naturopathic medicine for the first time, I knew immediately that being a naturopathic doctor was what I was meant to do (and with full confidence, despite having yet applied to any naturopathic schools, cancelled my MCAT registration that very day). I chose naturopathic medicine because I resonated with the spectrum of care used to treat patients: a focus on prevention of disease (most importantly), followed by using the most natural and least invasive methods for less intense conditions, and, intense treatment for more threatening situations. Of course, the wide scope of care to allow for best patient care made most sense to me. In addition, being of Indian decent and having emigrated from East Africa, I grew up using many medicinal herbs not knowing their true value or their mechanism of action in the body. I was intrigued to learn more about medicinal plants and understand the use of traditional medicines – naturopathic medicine was the perfect avenue.”

What can students learn from you?

Dr. Pirani-Sheriff teaches courses in the Clinical Diagnosis department and in the Biomedicine Department as well as co-instructs a Diagnostic Labs & Imaging Course.

“I strive to actively engage students and facilitate their learning by using teaching methods that foster their critical thinking skills. My goal is to always emphasize understanding, rather than memorization so that even when they are in practice several years from now, they’ll have the tools to effectively and efficiently treat their patients. Though I hold both myself and my students to a high standard, I also remind my students that mistakes and some failures will inevitably happen. Being a student allows for this time of trial and error; it’s how they deal with these situations and what they learn from them that truly matters.

When it comes to learning, being curious and open-minded are critically important characteristics to have, not only as a physician, but also as a scientist and researcher. It excites me to engage in thoughtful discussion with my students, as it stimulates ideas and, often, areas for innovation. Not only does it bring me joy to contribute to the profession by educating and igniting passion in the doctors of the future, but being a teacher also keeps me on my toes and at my best in practice and when treating patients. I love learning from my students, as much as I love teaching them.”

What aspects of naturopathic medicine are you passionate about?

“I have an insatiable hunger for learning, a passion to empower my patients on how to find optimal health, and a powerful drive to teach the best naturopathic doctors of the future. I love being part of a diverse and passionate community of naturopathic colleagues who are not only devoted to helping guide their patients, but also bettering this world as a whole.”

Aside from teaching, Dr. Pirani-Sheriff operates a private practice where she occasionally allows fourth-year naturopathic medical students preceptorship opportunities.

“I enjoy the balance between teaching and practice. Teaching keeps me up-to date and fresh on the core foundations and knowledge of medicine, and allows me to provide the best patient care, while practice allows me to put into practice what I teach and share cases and examples with my students to help facilitate their learning. I believe I have the best of both worlds.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“Being open-minded, curious and ready and willing to learn are imperative qualities, particularly for an ND student. A strong ND student also embodies compassion, gratitude, strength, adaptability, and professionalism. As part of the admissions team, I look for students with a strong academic record, a passion for the field, experience with naturopathic medicine, and for those who have taken the time to reflect on their future endeavors.

Ask questions, reflect, and then ask more questions. The best piece of advice I would give to prospective naturopathic students, and really anyone looking to find the field that would serve them most, is to talk to those in the field and experience naturopathic medicine for themselves. Ask NDs about their likes and their dislikes. Ask what they would do differently if they were to start their career over again. Check out the schools and speak with current students. The more diverse and thorough the inquiry, the better prepared a prospective student will be to make an informed decision. If after this, they feel willing and ready for the journey ahead, I’m sure they won’t regret it – I know I don’t. Naturopathic medicine is an amazing field.”

Learn more about Dr. Tasneem Pirani-Sheriff

Website

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Dr. Jeffrey Langland – SCNM

Jeffrey Langland, PhD has been the instructor for Medical Microbiology, Immunology, and Concepts in Research courses for the past 12 years at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM), and also serves as the Research Department Chair. Additionally, Dr. Langland is joint faculty at the Arizona State University Biodesign Institute.

After graduating from Arizona State University with a doctorate degree in molecular virology, he was a post-doctoral fellow at University of California Davis studying oncolytic viruses, followed by a post-doctoral position at the University of Wyoming comparing similarities between plant and human defenses against viruses. Dr. Langland returned to Arizona State where he instructed several courses including General Virology and The Biology of AIDS, until becoming faculty at SCNM in 2007.

Why did you choose to be faculty at a naturopathic institution?

“I spent the first 20 years of my career doing research in understanding how the body combats viral infections and helping to develop improved vaccines.  This portion of my career was rewarding and led to success and recognition in the field, but it was personally lacking related to how my research could make a difference in society. When I joined SCNM in 2007, I wanted to apply my expertise in molecular biology to botanical medicine.  At that time our lab was working on the virus responsible for smallpox.  Scouring through the literature, we found an article published in The Lancet journal in 1862 about a botanical remedy for smallpox. We got a hold of this botanical, a carnivorous pitcher plant, and not only found it could inhibit smallpox replication, but we also defined the exact mechanism of action for the botanical. From here, I went on to show this botanical could also kill other viruses, including herpes and papillomaviruses. But this is not where it ended. We worked with naturopathic doctors and were able to use this botanical to treat patients with cold sores, shingles and cervical dysplasia. Moving our research from the laboratory to patient care changed my career. The outcomes of my research directly improve people’s lives.  No longer is my research ‘trapped’ and lost after being published in a journal, but rather it is being used to improve the field of botanical medicine and the options available for treatment.”

What can students learn from you?

“I mentor students in evidence-based botanical medicine research and train residents in the preparation of case studies. With my background in research, I try to bring new insight and a cutting-edge approach to research and teaching for students and to the field of naturopathic medicine.

I try to get my students to think outside the box in trying to understand and apply concepts to create a foundation of knowledge that can then be utilized to solve problems. I don’t want my students to memorize the material I present; I want them to understand it and be able to apply that understanding to other courses, their patients, and their future career.”

In the summer of 2020, the campus at SCNM will undergo a major change with the opening of the Rick Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research. I will become the Research Director. This Institute will change the field of botanical medicine and advance our knowledge and understanding of botanicals to a new level. The Institute’s mission is inspired by nature to create novel botanical solutions that support people, the planet, and plants. Unlike any other naturopathic institution, the Research Institute’s analytical and bioassay laboratories will elucidate the mechanism of action of botanicals, optimize botanical extraction methodology, identify active constituents, and add quality control for botanical therapies. By deciphering the specific mechanism of action of herbs, novel botanical blends will be designed and traditional formulas optimized to target different aspects of diseases. Our research team, which includes SCNM students, will broaden our understanding and discovery of new botanical therapies for a multitude of global health concerns, as well as providing students with opportunities to sharpen their critical thinking skills, offer unique insights into the realm of botanical therapies, and exposure to career opportunities.”

What aspects of naturopathic medicine are you passionate about?

“The field of naturopathic medicine needs research. The field is rich in tradition and historical use of botanicals for treating an array of diseases.  However, in today’s world, botanical medicine especially is filled with products on the market which are adulterated or filled with false claims. I appreciate and love the value of botanical medicine. But the public, and our naturopathic doctors, need to be using products with proven efficacy.  With today’s research capabilities, botanicals can be taken to a new level to understand their precise mechanism of action and synergistic effects. Botanicals on the market need to be standardized and manufactured under quality measures to make sure patients are receiving efficacious remedies. I believe in the use of scientific exploration grounded in clinical herbalism’s rich tradition to develop new botanical products and improve existing botanical therapeutics.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“The public is demanding treatments for their medical conditions beyond the traditional allopathic or pharmaceutical approaches. The field of naturopathic medicine is often times the answer. Getting an ND degree can put you into this growing field of medicine.  But students need to understand this is a real medical school. The courses and studies are demanding.  So, come in prepared.”  Additionally, you need to have the “motivation and ambition to learn and continue to learn. Believe in yourself and seek advice and support from others. Your peers, friends and family need to be part of your life to keep pushing you to succeed.”

Learn more about Dr. Langland’s research

Cahill, T., Ruiz, G., Turner, T., Wagner, C., Jacobs, B., and Langland, J. (2018). Antiviral  activity of metal chelates of caffeic acid and similar compounds towards herpes simplex and ebola viruses. Antiviral Research 160:143-150.

Turner, T., Alonso, J., Wise, J., Naser, G., Jeffries, B., Arnold, K., Morin, T., Chen, M., Fiorillo, M., Finazza, T., Sukhorukov, E., Ford, M., Clark, D., Stein, A., Drought, K. Steen, T., Wright, B., Irwin, R., Ruiz, G., Kozin, A., Nelson, E., and Langland, J.O. (2018).  Botanicals with potential efficacy against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Phytotherapy Res. 2018 Sep 25 doi: 10.1002/ptr.6198

Nelson, E., Lasku, A. and Langland, J.O. (2017). Treatment of an Athlete’s Plantar Warts using a Synergistic Botanical Blend: A case report.  Alt Ther Health Med 23:51-54.

Ruiz, G., Turner, T., Nelson, E., Sparks, L., and Langland, J.  (2017). Development of resistance to antimicrobial botanicals. Journal of Evolution and Health: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 3. https://doi.org/10.15310/2334-3591.1065

Nelson, E., Kozin, A., Ruiz, G., Turner, T. and Langland, J.O (2016). Quality control of botanical tinctures: Endogenous bacterial flora present in botanical extractions. J. Alt. Comp and Integrative Med. 2: 012 DOI: 10.24966/ACIM-7562/100012 .

Ruiz, G., Nelson, E., Kozin, A., Turner, T., Waters, R., and Langland, J.O. (2016). A lack of bioactive predictability for marker compounds commonly used for herbal medicine preparation.  Plos One 11(7):e0159857

Denzler, K., Huynh T., Jacobs, B., and Langland, J. (2016). Melissa officinalis extract inhibits herpes simplex virus I glycoprotein B interaction with heparin sulfate. Herbal Medicine: Open Access Vol 2, No 2:12.

Denzler, K., Moore, J., Harrington, H., Waters, R., White, S., Morrill, K., and Langland, J. (2016).  Characterization of the physiological response following in vivo administration Astragalus membranaceus. Evid. Based Comp. Alt. Med.  Vol 2016,6861078. doi: 10.1155/2016/6861078

Ferreira, V., Dickerson. W., Farr, D., Barraza, M., Banker, R., Dutton, J., Cervigni, M., Willhauck, M., Tifre, L., Mayman, S., Stone, S., Bushman, S., Hull, G., Morgan, R., Hoover, T., Mittman, A., Sparks, L., Smithers, J., Miles, D., Calvert, D., and Langland, J.O.  (2016).  Characterization of the effect of botanical tinctures and oils on the growth and differentiation of Candida albicans.  Herbal Medicine: Open Access Vol 2, No 2:14.

Ferreira, V., Ruiz, G., Jacobs, B.L., Denzler, K., Waters, R., Chamberlain, R., Proefrock, K.J., and Langland, J.O. (2016). Treatment of Verruca Vulgaris (common warts) with a synergistic botanical blend: case report. Nat. Doc. News and Review (May, 2016).

Snowden, R., Jeane, L., Morrill, K., Garrity, J., Orian, M., Lopez, E., Rezaie, S., Hassberger, K., Familoni, D., Harrington, H., Moore, J., Virdee, K., Albornoz-Sanchez, L., Walker, M., Cavins, J., Russell, T., Guse, E., Reker, M., Tschudy, O., Wolf, J., True, T.,  Ukaegbu, O., Ahaghotu, E., Jones, A., Rochon, Y., Waters, R.,  and Langland, J. (2014). Comparative anti-Staphylococcus aureus activity of commonly used botanical extracts. J. Alt. Medicine 20:375-382.

Morrill, K., May, K., Leek, D., Langland, N., Jeane, L., Ventura, J., Skubisz, C., Scherer, S., Lopez, E., Crocker, E., Peters, R., Oertle, J., Nguyen, K., Just, S., Phair, M.,  Humphrey, M., Payne, D., Jacobs, B., Waters, R, Langland, J. (2012 Sep 27). Spectrum of Antimicrobial Activity Associated with Colloidal Silver. J. Alt. Medicine 19: 224-231.

Arndt, W., Mitnik, C., Denzler, K.L., Waters, R.F., Jacobs, B.L., Rochon, Y., and Langland, J.O. (2012). Rediscovery of a 19th century cure for smallpox. PLOS ONE 7(3):e32610. Epub 2012 Mar 9.

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Dr. Preety Shah – NUHS

Dr. Preety Shah is an instructor of clinical sciences at National University of Health Sciences (NUHS). Dr. Shah earned her chiropractic degree from NUHS, and her naturopathic medical degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM).

Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?

“As a child, my Dadi (grandmother) treated me with homeopathy and home remedies. Even to this day, my Dadi often calls to tell me about a home remedy she read about and experimented with. I always thought I wanted to be an allopathic doctor, but when I shadowed various MDs, I realized it was not the medicine for me. Shortly after, the universe brought me in contact with a person who had been treated for melanoma using only naturopathic treatments. He led me to SCNM, where I fell in love with what I knew from my childhood. I loved the use of natural therapeutics such as nutrition, herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture and water treatments to strengthen the body’s vitality. The principles of the medicine went hand in hand with my spiritual belief, that the body is a genius work of art; made by an all-knowing, intelligent creator. Given the right environment, the body has the ability to heal itself. In our anatomy class, I remember being in awe of the human body when we dissected cadavers; and even more so when we learned how numerous biochemical reactions alter the physiology of the body. Understanding not only the normal physiology but also the compensatory mechanisms helps understand why a particular person is in a state of dis-ease versus a state of health.”

What can students learn from you?

“I was fortunate enough to be an instructor for the first graduating class of the naturopathic program at NUHS in 2006. I have taught various courses through the years such as Foundations of Naturopathic medicine 1 & 2, Advanced Nutrition and functional medicine, Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Currently, I teach Naturopathic Management of Special Populations, Applied Naturopathic Clinical Theory, Intravenous Therapeutics and Clinic Internship I, II and III, Clinic Observation and Hydrotherapy Clinic Rotation.

Students can expect to learn how to work through patient cases using the principles of naturopathic medicine. Conversations with students often consist of understanding the determinants of health, obstacles to cure, engaged organ systems, differential diagnosis and using the least force necessary for stimulating health. Each day my goal is to transfer my passion for the medicine and guide my students on what it means to stay true to the profession.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND and educator

“Students bring energy, enthusiasm and a curious mind. I appreciate how intelligent students are and how they keep up with the latest research. I learn something new from my students all the time. It is especially fulfilling when they see naturopathic treatments change the lives of people they treat and how homeopathy, nutritional counseling and botanical medicine are effective in bringing about the conditions of health.”

As a naturopathic doctor, “I love how I am able to be a part of someone’s life journey and connect at such a deep level. This medicine is unique in that it empowers people to take their health in their own hands and not feel like they are a victim of their disease. Naturopathic medicine utilizes biochemistry, empirical evidence, as well as current research to treat health. I feel grateful that I get to be and continue to be a student of this incredible human body.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“Be ready to work hard and to fully commit to naturopathic medical school. It is a rigorous program. You are learning everything allopathic doctors learn plus the various natural modalities.” Dr. Shah adds that curiosity, attentiveness, and respectfulness are all qualities that make a strong ND student.

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Dr. Kelly Baltazar – NUNM

“I was captivated by a profession that strives to find and treat the underlying cause of disease and that treats the whole person, aspects of my own personal health care that had been missing.”

Kelly Baltazar, ND, DC, MS is an attending clinician and assistant professor at National University of Natural Medicine. Dr. Baltazar earned her chiropractic and Master’s degrees from National University of Health Sciences, and her naturopathic medical degree from Bastyr University.

Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?

“I was a highly competitive gymnast in my youth.  When I was 13 years old, I sustained an injury that ended my gymnastics career.  At that time, I saw multiple medical specialists without any resolution of my pain. After being told there was nothing more that could be done, I started my own journey of healing which led me to naturopathic medicine.  I was captivated by a profession that strives to find and treat the underlying cause of disease and that treats the whole person, aspects of my own personal health care that had been missing.

Being trained as a naturopathic doctor has provided me with so many tools for patient care.  When a patient doesn’t respond to one treatment, I know there are many other options I can offer.  I also resonate with the principles of naturopathic medicine – most specifically docere (which translates to ‘doctor as teacher’) which also may be why I love teaching students. Throughout the years, I have seen the therapeutic effect of just sitting and being present with a patient.  I have also repeatedly seen how very low intervention therapies can have the greatest benefit on patients.”

Aside from teaching, Dr. Baltazar worked as a naturopathic oncology provider at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Chicago and served on the Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physician’s board. She has provided training on sarcoma to CTCA residents, presented on MTHFR polymorphisms, and childhood obesity. Dr. Baltazar has been a medical volunteer at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer three day walk, and at multiple races in the greater Chicago-land area.

What can students learn from you?

“I have been teaching for eight years.  The first six years I was the Chief Clinician of the Naturopathic Medicine program at National University of Health Sciences.  I have just started my third year teaching at National University of Natural Medicine where I teach in each year of the program and in a variety of courses: Physical Medicine: Musculoskeletal, Orthopedics, Exercise Physiology and Rehabilitation, Rheumatology, EENT, Oncology, Structure and Function, Pediatrics/Geriatrics, and Psychology, and Mental Health.  I also have two clinic shifts which have a focus on Physical Medicine, Integrative Oncology and Primary care.

I strive to bring my clinical experience into each class discussion as a way to make topics more practical and engaging.  On my clinic shifts, my goal is to provide students an environment in which they feel comfortable asking questions and asking for help.  I hope that by the end of our time together that they have had at least one clinical encounter that pushed them beyond their comfort, whether it be performing a physical medicine technique on a patient or sitting with a patient with stage 4 cancer. It is in those moments that help sculpt students into the physicians they will become.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND and educator

“Students bring such great joy and excitement to their learning process.  In so many ways, their excitement continually reminds me of why I chose this profession.  I greatly enjoy when I can be part of, and witness a student’s experience of understanding a concept for the first time, or when they perform a successful spinal manipulation for the first time. ND students tend to be a very eclectic group and come from such diverse backgrounds.  Having this diversity in one room allows for such engaging discussions where I, too, am always learning.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“If I were to choose three top qualities that make a strong ND student they would be: passion, self-motivation and balance. It is a rigorous journey but the result is so rewarding. Naturopathic medicine is the only profession that is trained to approach patient care with the principles of naturopathic medicine and the therapeutic order guiding us – a very powerful and effective approach to patient care.”

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Dr. Chris Pickrell – CCNM

“Teaching students the tools of learning empowers them for lifelong learning.” 

Chris Pickrell, ND is a registered herbalist and the head of the botanical medicine program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) – his alma mater.

Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?

“I always knew I wanted to be in healthcare in some capacity, and for many years, I assumed that would be as a medical doctor. The more I learned about naturopathic medicine, the more it felt like the way I wanted to contribute. The best answer I can offer here, though I borrow it from a line I once saw written as an answer to this specific question, is – I want to be part of the solution.”

What can students learn from you?

“I coordinate the botanical medicine program at CCNM and teach the second-year botanical course as well as the advanced botanical elective course along with a senior colleague. I also teach botanical medicine and Chinese medicine within our specialized program for International Medical Graduates (IMG), a program that allows IMG students to use their training as medical doctors to become naturopathic doctors.

There are two ways I try to focus student learning. The first is to reframe the student problem. Most students come from undergrad with the primary focus of passing their classes and achieving good grades. Nothing wrong with that. But, as we move from that mindset of achievement-as-outcome into a broader approach to learning that includes both the mind and the heart, we reframe the context of learning into practical clinical application.

Similarly, the second aspect, another reframe, is to move the agency of learning back to the student. I often start class by saying, ‘We’re not teaching botanical medicine, we’re teaching how to learn botanical medicine.’ It is neither possible nor desirable to cover every single herb for every single condition. Teaching students the tools of learning empowers them for lifelong learning.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

The flexibility of a career in naturopathic medicine is very rewarding. “In my 10+ years of practice, I have started a walk-in community acupuncture clinic, a walk-in naturopathic clinic, and created a practitioner clinic with a focus on offering affordable naturopathic care to everyone. I have also enjoyed teaching, supervising in our student clinic, and even starting a botanical business on the side. I’ve also taken groups of CCNM students to Traditional Chinese Medicine hospitals in China.” There are so many opportunities in naturopathic medicine!

“I am most passionate about finding ways to support NDs offering affordable care. I’ve got a standing offer of support for any practitioner looking to make affordable care a focus of their practice. I want to see our profession do everything we can to make sure we stay part of the solution, for everyone.”

What qualities make a strong ND student?

“The qualities that make a strong ND student are the same as those that make a strong ND in practice. Foremost is integrity. Compassion, equanimity, passion for lifelong learning, and a broad mind are all required to excel as a naturopathic doctor.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“Deciding to join any profession or take on any significant amount of schooling is always a major decision. Take your time, test it out, spend some time with at least a few different NDs, and visit a couple of the schools. Then, at a certain point, you’ll have all the information you can gather. With decisions this big, you can never know every possible variable, and that is okay. When you’re ready, sit down somewhere quiet and you’ll find you already know the answer that’s right for you.”

Learn more about Dr. Pickrell

Website

Perfectherbs.ca

The Herbal Clinic and Dispensary

The Health Happens Podcast

Advanced Botanical Prescribing

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