Dr. Raynette Ilg – NUHS

“I love to do the research and figure out the remedies to people’s health problems.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Dr. Raynette Ilg’s career started in office work, but her spirituality and family roots in botanical medicine led her to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine. Dr. “Ray” fondly recalls picking healing herbs from her grandmother’s garden, a practice that foreshadowed her professional calling as a naturopathic doctor.

NUHS as a springboard

Dr. Ray pursued her bachelors of science in biological medicine at the age of 40 while raising her children who were in junior high at that time. “Since I was an older student it was extremely important to me to be able to maintain a family relationship and go to school for my passion.” National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) offered the proximity and rigorous naturopathic education she needed to complete both goals. She valued the hands on courses and resourceful faculty that taught her an integrative approach to working with all kinds of other medical professionals in a team setting.

“Living the dream” after graduation

Following graduation in 2011, Dr. Ray launched Olive Branch Wellness Center in South Elgin, Illinois. She loves the flexibility that entrepreneurship has offered her and her family. Furthermore, she is proud of the office and team she has built. Each of her employees are hand-picked.

In addition to being a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Ray is also the author of Livin’ LaVida Grande: Why You Can’t Lose Weight and has been featured speaker on major networks such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

From her start picking healing herbs in her grandmother’s garden to her established career in naturopathic medicine, Dr. Ray says, “It is a dream come true to be able to help people and not be so invasive! To see people who were told that nothing was wrong with them, even though they were not feeling well, come up to a new height of health and energy is amazing.” Another aspect  Dr. Ray enjoys about naturopathic medicine is the patient-doctor relationship where she has the opportunity to teach her patients. The doctor as a teacher approach puts the patient in control of their well-being with the tools they need to heal.

Advice for aspiring NDs

Dr. Ray encourages prospective students to study hard and take advantage of opportunities to develop a sense of what you want your practice to look like. Seek out other professionals as mentors to help guide you on your path. “Naturopathic doctors are known for their work ethic and for going the extra mile. If you can’t do that, naturopathic may not be your path in life; but if you can,” Dr. Ray exclaims, “Oh, the places you will go!”

Learn more about Dr. Ray:


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NUHS Continues to Engage Students and Grow Opportunities

Throughout 2018, students and faculty in National University’s naturopathic program have been actively engaged in various events promoting the field. NUHS students recently participated in the Naturopathic Medical Student Association conference in San Diego. In March, NUHS hosted the first of its kind conference focused on the latest research in nutrition. With new scholarship opportunities available, NUHS is also expanding its commitment to easing the financial burden of a naturopathic education. For the second year, NUHS will host the Healthy Kids Open House at its Lombard campus.

NUHS Students Score Victory in NMSA Trivia Cup Competition

NUHS students took first place in the annual trivia competition during the Naturopathic Medical Student Association conference in July in San Diego. The NMSA Cup is an annual competition among students at the seven accredited Naturopathic Medicine schools across the US and Canada. The rigorous, three-day competition tests students’ knowledge of the biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, naturopathic philosophy, and clinical therapies that naturopathic doctors employ. “It was very intense, but a well-deserved win–it’s great to put NUHS on the map, so to speak. It feels great to bring the cup to our home turf!” said Kareem Kandil, captain of the NUHS team, the Chicago Chapter of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association. As this year’s team will have graduated from the naturopathic medicine program by next year’s NMSA annual conference, National University is looking for new students to rebuild the team and bring home the 2019 championship.

National University of Health Sciences Launches New Graduate Scholarship and Increases Current Awards

Incoming NUHS students now have even more scholarship opportunities available to them. Starting with the 2018-19 school year, new students in the NUHS graduate-level programs, including naturopathic medicine, can now apply for the Dean’s Award, which awards two installments of $1,000 for the first two trimesters of professional studies. “This is the first new scholarship that has been created in some time,” said Marc Yambao, director of financial aid for National University. “We realize that education is a significant lifetime investment, and we wanted to broaden the scope of our awards to be more inclusive and lessen the financial burden on students and families.” Aligned with that commitment is the decision to increase the financial awards for the President’s Excellence Award from $5,000 to $6,000 and the President’s Achievement Award from $3,000 to $4,000. Both awards are open to students entering graduate level programs. To find out more information on scholarship requirements and how to apply, visit the NUHS website.

ND faculty Dr. Kristina Conner shares success tips for the Ketogenic diet

Many celebrities including Halle Barry and Gwyneth Paltrow have been touting the weight loss benefits of the Ketogenic diet. But before celebrities began using the diet for weight loss, it was first recommended for those with certain health conditions. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or trying the diet for other health reasons, NUHS faculty member Kristina Conner, ND, discusses how you can safely use the diet for weight loss. Read more on the NUHS blog, The Future of Integrative Health.

NUHS 2018 Nutrition Conference a Success

National University hosted the first of its kind conference on the Lombard campus focused on the latest research and trends in nutrition March 24 and 25. The nutrition conference, directed towards health care practitioners, students and the public, provided attendees with the opportunity to learn about various food movements, and how to implement these food diets or strategies to optimize health. Health care professionals received study results from some of the presenters in order to immediately begin putting the latest research into practice. “We were pleased with the quality of the education delivered; attendees walked away impressed with the knowledge provided to them,” said Dr. Jenna Glenn, DC, ND, MS, conference organizer and dean of the NUHS Postprofessional Department. For information about future programs, visit Post-grad and Continuing Education.

NUHS to host second-annual Healthy Kids event

After the success of the inaugural Healthy Kids event last year, NUHS is planning the next Healthy Kids event on October 20. The event welcomes local families on campus to learn about natural approaches to keeping children in optimal health. Similar to last year, NUHS naturopathic, chiropractic, and Asian medicine faculty experts and interns will host activities, classes, and demonstrations for both children and adults to enjoy. For updates on event details visit the NUHS website.

Explore a Career in Integrative Medicine at NUHS this fall

If you’re considering a career in integrative medicine, come visit us! NUHS offers a variety of visit opportunities including Student for a Day and Campus Visit Day at its Lombard campus. Scheduled for Nov. 3, Campus Visit Day allows prospective students to experience NUHS student life through interactive activities and real-life scenarios. You will also have the chance to interact with faculty, students, and graduates of NUHS. Student for a Day offered on Oct. 19 and Nov. 30 is a small group event that will give you the opportunity to sit in on a class lecture, tour our facilities, enjoy lunch with students and faculty, and meet with an admissions representative. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an individual visit, contact the Office of Admissions at 1-800-826-6285 or email admissions@nuhs.edu.

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Cranberries 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Welcome to our weekly dose of The Naturopathic Kitchen where we explore food as medicine. Through this series we hope that you will empower yourself to healthier eating. It can be intimidating to try new things especially when you don’t know what it is good for or how to prepare/cook it. Let’s learn together! Today, our focus is on cranberries!

Cranberry 101

Are you thinking Thanksgiving? If so, you are not alone! Cranberries are probably most thought of as a popular Thanksgiving side dish. Because they are harvested in early fall, they are often associated with the holidays in general. Cranberries can be enjoyed in many different forms—dried, frozen, fresh, or juiced. Fresh cranberries are good for about 20 days but freezing them increases their shelf life to 2 years, making them accessible year-round. Eaten fresh, they can be quite tart as the sugar content is not as high as some other berries, but the health benefits are too great to not include them when they are in season!

Where do cranberries come from? Where can I find them?

Cranberries are indigenous to North America and were a staple for Native Americans who harvested wild cranberries for a variety of remedies, foods and drinks. They were first grown commercially in 1816 and today are grown on more than 40,000 acres of farmland. Cranberries can be found in almost every culture, but outside of North America they are commonly used in the dried form. Their popularity makes them an easy find in almost every grocery store,  ranging from produce, to the frozen fruit section and in the dried bulk goods area. When looking for dried cranberries, be sure to grab the unsweetened variety, and read the label, as hydrogenated oils may be added to prevent sticking. You can also head over to the juice section for 100% unsweetened cranberry juice, just be prepared – it is very tart. Also, be sure to get organic cranberries when possible as conventional cranberries contain pesticide residues.1

How do cranberries help my health?

Most of the health benefits obtained from cranberries come from their impressive antioxidant content. This makes them excellent for prevention of many chronic diseases including, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and even some cancers.1,2,3 Cranberries have also gotten recognition for helping with urinary tract infections, but the research isn’t solid on whether they help during an active UTI though they may help to prevent one from starting.4

What medical conditions/symptoms are cranberries good for?

When should cranberries be avoided?

Cranberries are generally very well tolerated. However, they do contain high amount of oxalate which is a primary component of kidney stones. There aren’t any documented cases of someone developing kidney stones from cranberries but if you have a history of stones it might be best not to consume large amounts.

Let’s try them out with delicious and nutritious recipes!


Cranberry Orange Scones


1 ½ c organic whole wheat flour 1 ½ t baking powder ½ t salt 1 T orange zest (about 1 large orange) 2 T unsalted butter, cold and cubed ½ c plain Greek yogurt 3 T local honey 3 T freshly squeezed orange juice 1 t vanilla extract ¾ c fresh cranberries, diced 2 t organic milk


Preheat the oven to 425°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the orange zest. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or the back of a fork until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the Greek yogurt, honey, orange juice, and vanilla. Fold in the diced cranberries with a spatula. Using a spatula, shape the dough into a ¾” tall circle on the prepared baking sheet, and brush with the milk. Slice the circle into 8 triangular segments with a sharp knife. Bake at 425°F for 18-21 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Thank you to Amy’s Healthy Baking for this recipe!

Homemade Cranberry Applesauce


4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 2 c fresh cranberries 1/2 c local honey 2 T lemon Juice 1 c water 1/2 t cinnamon 1/2 t cloves 1/2 t nutmeg


In a large sauce pan add water, lemon juice and honey. Stir over medium heat until honey is loose. Add cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add cranberries and apple slices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Thank you to iSave A-Z for this recipe!

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Pumpkin Seeds 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Welcome to The Naturopathic Kitchen! Each week we showcase herbs, food or spices that can easily be incorporated into your kitchen routine to promote healthier living. This week let’s take a look at pumpkin seeds!

Pumpkin Seeds 101

Many of us are familiar with the thin white seeds of the pumpkin that are pulled out when making a jack-o-lantern. Once these slimy seeds have been harvested they can be served in all kinds of ways—raw, roasted or de-shelled and used in salads or baked goods. Pumpkin seeds can even be made into a healthy oil or salad dressing. They are incredibly versatile, tasty and most importantly – great for your health!

Where do pumpkin seeds come from? Where can I find them?

Pumpkin seeds or, pepitas as they are called where they originated from, have been discovered by archaeologists in caves in Mexico dating as far back as 7,000 BC. They were treasured by many Native American tribes who cultivated them for their dietary and medicinal properties.

Today, pumpkin seeds can be found year round in most grocery stores. You might find them in the bulk nut aisles, part of a protein bar or even sold as a small snack pack at the check-out.

How do pumpkin seeds help my health?

Being high in antioxidant content, pumpkin seeds exert many of their beneficial effects by taming free radical activity. Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc and many forms of vitamin E which can help the immune system to be more robust and effective. Historically, they have been ingested for conditions like insomnia, diabetes, heart problems and cancer. Research has shown pumpkin seeds to be cardio-protective, lipid-lowering, hypoglycemic, anti-hypertensive, and can even protect against BPA and chemotherapy toxicities. 1, 2, 3, 4

What medical conditions/symptoms are pumpkin seeds good for?

When should pumpkin seeds be avoided?

Pumpkin seeds are generally well tolerated but in certain circumstances they should be avoided:

  • Pumpkin seeds can interact with lithium and shouldn’t be taken together
  • Known allergy to pumpkin seeds

Let’s try it out with delicious and nutritious recipes!


Spiced Pumpkin Seed Cranberry Snack Bars


1/4 c honey
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 c almond meal
1/8 t sea salt
1 t pumpkin spice
1 T almond butter
1 1/3 c almonds, chopped
1/2 c dried cranberries
3/4 c lightly salted pepitas


Preheat oven to 300°F. Line an eight-inch baking pan with parchment paper with enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the bars from the pan. Set aside. Mix the honey, vanilla, almond meal, salt, pumpkin pie spice and almond butter together until combined. Fold in the almonds, dried cranberries and pepitas until combined. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan and press very firmly into an even layer. You really want it packed in tight- as tight as possible. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack for one hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for one more hour. This helps firm up the bars which makes them stay compact. Remove bars from the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap or parchment. Store at room temperature for one week or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. These bars are freezer friendly. After wrapping individually, freeze for up to three months.

Thank you to Sally’s Baking Addiction for this recipe and photo!

Pumpkin Seed Pesto


2 c packed fresh aromatic herbs (basil, parsley, mint, coriander) or leafy greens (spinach, arugula, carrot tops, beetroot greens)
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/2 c pumpkin seeds
1 garlic clove
squeeze of lemon to taste
pepper and salt to taste
1/2 c cold-pressed olive oil


Add all of the ingredients (except the olive oil) to your food processor/blender and blend until it becomes a paste. With the food processor on, feed the olive oil slowly through the feeder. If the pesto is too thick, add a little bit more olive oil. If too runny, add more herbs/greens and pumpkin seeds. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze in ice cube molds.

Thank you to Cocoon Cooks for this recipe!


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Integrative Cancer Care: NDs Work With MDs to Create Better Outcomes

Cancer has long been considered devastating, largely because of how quickly it spreads to attack multiple systems and because the treatments can be so debilitating.  According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), 2018 will see over 1.7 million new cases of cancer in the United States.  Furthermore, it is estimated that cancer will claim the lives of over 600,000 Americans this year.

Integrative Cancer Care Aids in Better Results

The news is not all bleak, NCI is also estimating that by the year 2026, the number of cancer survivors in the United States will increase from 15.5 million to 20.3 million as diagnosis and treatments improve.  One of those newer treatment options offering promise is integrative cancer care.

What is Integrative Cancer Care?

Integrative cancer care involves comprehensive support through each stage of a patient’s journey (from diagnosis to treatment decisions, restoration of immune function and survivorship). An integrative approach to cancer care treats the disease with any combination of the following, including surgery, chemotherapy and other tools, while also supporting patients’ strength, stamina and quality of life with evidence-informed therapies from traditional and naturopathic medicine. In integrative oncology, patients work with an oncologist or naturopathic oncologist and team of clinicians to develop a customized integrative approach that may include nutrition and lifestyle suggestions, counseling, pain management, mind/body medicine, acupuncture, botanical medicine and nutritional support. Integrative care continues with recommendations tailored to every aspect, from remission to active treatment to compassionate end-of-life care. The goal is to improve not just the quality of life of people living with cancer, but also to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Why Seek Integrative Cancer Care?

Integrative cancer care is used to “help patients reduce treatment delays or interruptions and get the most out of life.”  One of the biggest problems for cancer patients undergoing traditional treatments are side effects associated with chemo and radiation therapies.  For instance, many patients cannot keep down food and, as a result, lose their appetites resulting in 80% of them being malnourished. Similarly, 33% of patients experience pain even after the treatments have ended and 70% of them experience fatigue from the treatments.  Integrative care combines these traditional treatments with evidence-based supportive therapies to help manage side effects, resulting in a better treatment outcome due to the collaboration of the medical and naturopathic clinicians.  Besides helping with symptom alleviation during treatment, integrative care can be used to help educate patients at the time of diagnosis and assist with recovery after the medical treatments are completed as a means of bringing the patient back to full health.

For Cancer Care Patients: Understanding the Benefits of Whole-Person Care

For patients, this type of collaborative approach to cancer treatment can be of great importance and help.  Behind the concept of integrative or complementary care is a philosophy that is at the core of naturopathic medicine – treating the whole person, not just the symptoms. As Sharon Gurm, ND, FABNO points out, one of the reasons she got into this profession is because “I realized I wanted to practice medicine differently—in a way that embraced whole-person healing, not just treating the disease.”

Many facing cancer feel their humanity gets lost due to such a focus on taking care of the cancer diagnosis.  The rigors of cancer treatment can cause anxiety/stress, depression, digestive issues, nutritional problems, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, numbness and pain.  But when paired with naturopathic supportive therapies, patients report much better experiences.  As Gurdev Parmar, ND, FABNO of Integrated Health Clinic in Fort Langley said, NDs are “able to provide the highest standard of integrative cancer care.”  Michael Traub, ND, DHANP, FABNO points out that “the combination of naturopathic and conventional oncology work better than either one alone.”

The use of such supportive therapies as acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, pain management and even spiritual support “truly meet patients where they are and work with them” as it “embraces science, available evidence and a rational individualized approach to care that is safe and effective.”

Dugaly Seely, MSc, ND, FABNO

Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre

Students of Naturopathic Medicine: Understanding Naturopathic Oncology

For those interested in pursuing a career in naturopathic medicine, it is important to consider a career in naturopathic oncology.

“My passion for pursuing a career in oncology was reinforced while studying medical genetics at University of British Columbia and clinical research at the cancer agency. The medical and radiation oncologists I worked with were inspirational and became my mentors. It’s a journey and process of growth—personally, academically, professionally.  If you are considering naturopathic oncology as a career, pursue long-term preceptorship opportunities with naturopathic oncologists and if you are still inspired, then consider applying for a Council on Naturopathic Medical Education accredited naturopathic oncology residency.”

Sharon Gurm, ND, FABNO

Port Moody Health

Although cancer treatment is often thought of as a very taxing specialty, both Dr. Parmar and Dr. Seely praise the collegial attitude of NDs in oncology.  Dr. Parmar mentions specifically that “I cherish our annual meeting and every opportunity I get to collaborate and work together” while Dr. Seely adds “The community of naturopathic oncologists is a super collegial, bright and dedicated group of NDs. There are also allied health care professionals with like-minded goals who can really help as well and are fun to work with. “

Ultimately, if you are interested in pursuing a career in naturopathic oncology, there are some things that you have to keep in mind.

You have to not only have respect and rapport with your colleagues, but you also need to “be prepared to embrace both the intellectual and spiritual challenges of this field. You need to achieve and maintain balance in life to sustain the energy and resilience demanded of you. Dedication to spiritual practice, to staying physically active and cultivating a spirit of joyfulness are vital.”

Michael Traub, ND, DHANP, FABNO

Lokahi Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic cancer care brings about the best of both worlds.  By integrating the traditional medical approach to treating the disease with the naturopathic approach to treating the patient and his or her individual root issues, it helps the patient deal with one of the harshest diseases they may face.

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Turmeric 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Welcome back to the Naturopathic Kitchen ! Each week we gather the latest research on common herbs you may encounter in your local produce or spice sections and teach you the benefits of introducing them to your kitchen. To make it easy, we include a recipe at the end of each article so you can easily start to incorporate these new habits into your diet! This week we will be discussing the powerhouse, turmeric.

Turmeric 101

Turmeric is arguably one of the most powerful herbs on the planet. With over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles, turmeric has an extremely impressive resume of data supporting its therapeutic indications. Curcumin, the beneficial component of turmeric, is the subject of most of these articles. Not only is turmeric great for your body and mind, it is also an excellent addition to all kinds of dishes. But be careful, it can stain! (Historically it has even been used as a dye).

Where does turmeric come from? Where can I find it?

That distinctly yellow turmeric powder comes from the Curcuma longa plant that grows naturally in India and other Southeast Asian countries. Because of this, turmeric has a long history of use in these areas dating back over 4000 years. In Southeast Asia, turmeric is a principal spice which is often incorporated into religious ceremonies. Today, turmeric is sold all over the world and can be found in almost any grocery store in the spice section. You might even be able to find whole turmeric root in health food stores, though it is not necessary to have the full root to enjoy the health benefits.

How does turmeric help my health?

Turmeric’s list of health benefits is impressive. It can be employed for use in diverse conditions affecting the entire body. Part of this is due to its incredible antioxidant properties and the way curcuminoids act in the body. From head to toe, turmeric can be indicated in brain health, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic stress, skin conditions, wound healing, abnormal clotting, joint pain, type II diabetes, inflammatory diseases, nerve pain, and even help to metabolize and excrete environmental toxins! 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

What medical conditions/symptoms is turmeric good for?

When should turmeric be avoided?

Turmeric has a long track record of being very safe. Adverse reactions are extremely rare and typically mild. In general though, you might want to avoid turmeric if you have:

  • A hypersensitivity to turmeric or curcumin
  • A bleeding disorder
  • Gallstones or a bile obstruction
  • Surgery scheduled in the next 2 weeks
  • Hormone sensitive cancers

Let’s try it out with delicious and nutritious recipes!


“Golden Milk” Turmeric Latte


1/2 c coconut milk
2 c almond or cashew milk
1/2 T coconut oil
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t cardamom
1/8 t black pepper
2 medjool dates, pitted
1/2″ cube fresh ginger, peeled


In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, whisk together milk, coconut oil and spices until warm. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Once mixture has cooled, transfer to blender cup with pitted medjool dates and fresh ginger. Blend mixture until smooth.

Thank you to The Mitten Kitchen for this recipe!’

Cinnamon Turmeric Sweet Potatoes


3 medium-large sweet potatoes
2 T turmeric
2 T cinnamon
2 T thyme
2-4 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into bite size pieces. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add extra virgin olive oil to lightly cover. Add spices, herbs, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Place the potatoes on a sprayed baking sheet. Cook for 45-60 minutes. Serves 4.

Thank you to One Green Planet for this recipe!

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