National University of Natural Medicine and its Helfgott Research Institute are at the forefront of naturopathic research. Active projects and initiatives include NIH-funded research of natural products, research embedded within ND clinics, and NIH-funded research training programs, plus ongoing support for those entering research careers.
In 2018, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health supported a grant between NUNM, Oregon State University, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to study the compound xanthohumol derived from the hops plant. The project includes an FDA-approved Phase I trial to evaluate safety and Phase II trial to determine effects in participants with Crohn’s Disease. Both conducted at NUNM, the Phase I trial was completed in spring 2020 and the protocol for the trial published in the journal Trials. The Phase II trial is currently recruiting participants. This trial exemplifies the strength of collaboration and the potential for NDs in NIH research.
Developing Training Opportunities for Naturopathic Researchers
NUNM is committed to developing pathways for naturopathic researchers to access training, gain experience, and launch their research careers. Two years of NIH funding have been awarded to provide training and mentorship for Blake Langley, ND, MSOM. The program is a golden opportunity to increase competitiveness for future NIH research training programs.
Two recent NUNM research-trained ND graduates, Christine McClure, ND, MS, and Alex Speers, ND, MS, have been accepted into the ORCCAMIND T32 training program at Oregon Health & Science University. These positions highlight research training trajectories available to ND graduates.
Earlier this year, the NIH renewed the innovative Building Research across Inter-Disciplinary Gaps (BRIDG) training program via grants to NUNM and the University of Washington. Started in 2015, the BRIDG program trains both complementary medicine practitioners and conventional scientists in clinical research. This year, NUNM graduate Luciano Garofolo, ND, MS, was accepted into the University of Washington’s T90 program. Dr. Garofolo recently published a case report on ND contributions to vaccine education in the Permanente Journal, along with commentary by Helfgott Director Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH.
Conducting Research to Better Understand Student’s Health
The International Cohort of Lifestyle Determinants of Health study (INCLD Health) is a longitudinal research study investigating how self-care choices affect health outcomes among students. Diet, nutritional status, self-care practices and stress management are tracked in relation to changes in the microbiome, hormones and cardiovascular markers. Two NUNM residents, Katie Pickworth, ND, MS, and Adam Sadowski, ND, MS, and student research assistants, Hadil Sarrar, Ryan Wexler, Tediana Torrens and Jillian Moehle, are gaining research experience by leading study visits, analyzing study data, and developing presentations.
Publishing Peer-Reviewed Research on Natural Approaches to Health
NUNM students and alumni are contributing to the natural medicine research literature. Nini Callan, ND, MS, published a manuscript in the October issue of the Journal of Translational Medicine evaluating the impact of orally administered “specialized pro-resolvin mediators” (SPMs) in adults with chronic pain.
Jennifer Ryan, ND, MS, has a forthcoming publication in the journal Integrative Medicine looking at the safety and tolerability of a high CFU count, multi-strain probiotic supplement. Results indicated that the studied probiotic was well-tolerated and most likely safe.
NUNM alumnus and current resident Adam Sadowski, ND, MS, has an accepted systematic review and meta-analysis in Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology investigating alterations in heart rate variability (HRV) associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The review evaluated the HRV of subjects diagnosed with IBS or IBD compared to healthy controls.
NUNM is committed to helping NDs in the field conduct rigorous research to evaluate outcomes from their innovative practices. NUNM Investigator Andrew Erlandsen, ND, and Corey Tichauer, ND, from Bear Creek Naturopathic Clinic in Medford, Oregon, are evaluating the impact of high-dose IV vitamin C on health-related quality of life in patients with chronic Lyme disease. NUNM Investigator Nini Callan, ND, MS, and Heather Sandison, ND, from North County Natural Medicine in Encinitas, California, are working on an individualized and multi-modal protocol on cognitive health in patients with cognitive decline. Both physicians and their clinical staff have received research training, methodological assistance, and regulatory support from NUNM throughout these studies.
For more information on research and academic programs available at NUNM visit www.NUNM.edu
*All images in this article were taken prior to COVID-19; NUNM is following all state and government guidelines for safety