Dr. Lindsey Wells – UBSNM

“My favorite part about being an ND is being able to truly make a difference in lives of families and to bring hope. I’m passionate about being able to provide safe and effective treatment options for my patients particularly through the use of herbal medicine, homeopathy, and nutrition.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

“I knew that naturopathic medicine was the right path for me after reading about the naturopathic principles, the healing power of nature, and treating the person as a whole.”

Recognizing that parents of special needs children have one the highest divorce rates, Lindsey Wells, ND was motivated to focus her medical career on keeping families together. After shadowing allopathic doctors and observing some of the challenges with limited disciplines and time spent with the patients, she knew there had to be another approach to care. Her belief that “a child will thrive emotionally, physically, and academically if the family members are also thriving in all aspects of their health” led her to pursue naturopathic medicine. She found that the holistic approach was the best way for her to support children with special needs and their families.

UBSNM as a springboard

Dr. Wells pursued her naturopathic medical education at the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine (UBSNM). She chose UBSNM for its location and for the clinic’s community outreach opportunities.

“UBSNM offered a very strong foundation of the core modalities of naturopathic medicine including homeopathy, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, nutrition, etc. I gained a deep appreciation for the philosophy of naturopathic medicine.”

Dr. Wells knew that she wanted to specialize in pediatrics early on in her education, so she jumped at every opportunity to network with and shadow local pediatric health professionals. Her persistence in following up with an integrative medical doctor eventually led to a job offer at her current practice.

Following graduation, Dr. Wells received job opportunities with pediatric NDs with whom she had mentored with. She began her career as an independent contractor and also began teaching Anatomy and Physiology as an adjunct professor at Sacred Heart University.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“My favorite part about being an ND is being able to truly make a difference in lives of families and to bring hope. I’m passionate about being able to provide safe and effective treatment options for my patients particularly through the use of herbal medicine, homeopathy, and nutrition.”

Dr. Wells currently works with an integrative medical doctor and registered dietitian in Wilton, Connecticut. The practice specializes in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS), Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS), and other neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition, Dr. Wells lectures at Autism parent conferences around the country. She looks forward to being the first naturopathic doctor to speak at the Medical Academy of Pediatrics conference this fall.

Over the past few years, Dr. Wells has been traveling to Ghana to mentor doctors on integrative medicine for children with ASD. She is in the early stages of organizing an ASD clinic with the Nyaho Medical Center in Ghana.

As President of the Connecticut Naturopathic Physicians Association (CNPA), Dr. Wells focuses on legislative efforts to expand the scope of practice for naturopathic doctors in Connecticut. Furthermore, she and the CNPA work to build a sense of community for the naturopathic doctors within the state.

Dr. Wells enjoys hiking and exploring all that nature has to offer with her husband and their dog named Ed. Together, they aspire to visit all of the national parks across the United States. If you stop by her clinic, you might be lucky enough to meet Ed, as he provides emotional support for children and families.

Advice for aspiring NDs

The field of naturopathic medicine offers many career paths and opportunities for those who are motivated, passionate, and invested. “It’s not easy but it’s so worth it!” Put yourself out there and be your own personal advocate.  If you do, the future of naturopathic medicine will be yours!

Learn more about Dr. Wells

www.lindseywellsND.com

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The Role of Naturopathic Medicine in Cancer Care

The Role of Naturopathic Medicine in Cancer Care

Over 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the Unites States. More than 80% of cancer patients incorporate natural medicine in their treatment. Join the AANMC and Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP) President – Dr. Heather Wright to learn about naturopathic approaches to cancer care.

Here’s what will be discussed:

  • Defining naturopathic medicine and naturopathic oncology
  • Patient statistics for naturopathic cancer care
  • Training and goals of naturopathic oncology
  • Research
  • Case studies

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Oats 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Welcome back to your weekly dose of healthy kitchen tips! Each week we explore a new herb and its health benefits. Today we’ll discuss one of the most common grains that you’ll be sure to come across in almost any kitchen—oats. Let’s get started!

Oats 101

Sometimes referred to as Avena (from the Latin name, Avena Sativa), oats are one of the most popular breakfast foods. Walk into almost any breakfast restaurant and you’ll likely see some variation of oatmeal on the menu. To be clear though, the kind of oats that you eat are important, as the glycemic index (how quickly a food gets converted to glucose by your body) can vary depending on how much they are processed and how they are prepared. In general, steel-cut oats have the lowest impact on blood sugar while instant or quick oats have the highest. Also, since grains are less nutrient-dense than other whole vegetables, it’s best to eat them in moderation.

Medicinally, the health benefits can vary depending on the part of the oat plant in use.

Oatmeal (made from the hulled kernel) is the breakfast food we’ve discussed so far. Oatmeal can also be used in an herbal bath for eczema or hives.

Oatstraw refers to the entire plant (both the tops and the stems). It also can be used as a food and may provide calming effects to the nervous system, with uses in both stress and insomnia.

Milky oats or milky green oats refer to the oat tops, and are picked fresh at the height of the season.

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

Despite their popularity today, oats were actually one of the last of the major grains to be domesticated—roughly 3000 years ago in Europe. This is likely due to the fact that they have a higher amount of natural fats and fat dissolving enzymes that make them go rancid quickly. It is these fats that give oats some of their health boosting effects.

Walk down the cereal aisle of any grocery store and you’ll likely find a container of oatmeal. When shopping for oats, choose steel-cut or rolled oats instead of the instant variety. A frequent question that comes up is whether oats are gluten-free. Oats themselves are completely gluten-free, however the machines that process oats are often used for processing wheat as well. Unless the container specifically says “gluten free” the oats may contain trace amounts of wheat.

How do oats help my health?

Oats are an excellent source of fiber. Because of this, they can help keep you regular while adding protection for the colon.1 They’ve also been shown to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and even regulate the immune system. 2,3,4

What medical conditions/symptoms are oats good for?

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

 

 

Overnight Oats

INGREDIENTS

½ c oats
1 t cinnamon
1 T honey
1 T almond butter
1 c almond milk
Fruit of your choice (berries and bananas are great additions)

PREPARATION

Combine oats, cinnamon, honey, almond butter and almond milk in a bowl and stir. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. Add fresh fruit as desired.

Banana Oat Energy Bites

INGREDIENTS

2 ripe bananas
2 c rolled oats
¼ c almond butter
¼ c honey
2 T cocoa
½ t cinnamon

PREPARATION

Mash bananas in a large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Roll mixture into one-inch balls and place on a tray. Keep refrigerated.

Thank you to TipHero for the recipe!

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Oh, the Places You Will Go with an ND Degree

Ever wonder what you can do as a naturopathic doctor? From the wide range of job opportunities, to the chance to be on the cutting edge of science and technology, there are a multitude of reasons why people choose to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine. For many, it is the sense of giving back to their community that motivates them as evidenced by the outgrowth of community clinics and outreach programs affiliated with accredited naturopathic medical programs. If you are considering going into the naturopathic medical field, having a passion to help others is tantamount to the mission of naturopathy.

global community health

 

One of the basic tenets of naturopathic medicine is education/doctor as teacher. NDs focus on teaching patients how to live a healthier life. As a result, many ND students are drawn to the profession looking for a chance to make a profound change in people’s lives. If you choose to go into a naturopathic medical career, you will have the opportunity to directly impact your home community, or take your volunteer spirit international with a “Peace Corps” style program to treat and educate patients in developing countries. In addition to the educational services that are a hallmark of naturopathic medicine, you may also be able to participate in the following specialty programs:

Nutritional Health – Approximately half of all American adults experience chronic disease that can be ameliorated or reversed through diet and exercise.1 As such, nutritional health, is an area that can benefit many patient populations. By specializing in nutrition, you can work as part of a team-based approach, helping to bring healthier eating habits in different communities, and working with patients to address the root cause of illness.

Major Disease Treatment – HIV and cancer are two diseases ravaging many communities. As a naturopathic doctor, you will have the opportunity to focus on the treatments of these diseases, using natural therapies and treatments to help ease the symptoms and side effects of treatment. Learn more about the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP) or watch this webinar – The Role of Naturopathic Medicine in Cancer Care – featuring OncANP President – Dr. Heather Wright to learn more about how NDs work with cancer patients.

Domestic Violence Clinics – One focus area that some NDs choose to follow is the field of domestic violence treatment. These clinics often provide a safe space for families in the midst of abuse. There is typically an emphasis on whole person care, ranging from treatment of physical ailments, to social services and mental health. As with all of the naturopathic medical programs, these clinics use a team-based approach to bring together multiple specialists and treat the whole patient. An example of a domestic violence shelter is the Sojourner Center at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine.

Drug Treatment Programs – North America is currently under the shadow of an opioid drug epidemic. Naturopathic medicine offers non-opioid, non-addictive alternatives to treating pain. By incorporating holistic health care such as acupuncture, nutritional and botanical medicine, naturopathic drug treatment programs and pain centers will give you the opportunity to do your part to combat this major international crisis. Click here to learn how naturopathic medicine can help patients manage pain and overcome addiction.

Veterans Programs – If you are interested in making a difference, one pathway is to work with community clinics and programs helping to treat veterans. Naturopathic doctors offer integrative primary care options for a variety of issues including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. Watch this free on-demand AANMC webinar – PTSD and the Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine.

International Service – Naturopathic medicine affords opportunities to travel overseas to treat patients through programs such as Naturopaths Without Borders (NWB) and Homeopaths Without Borders. Click here to register for Naturopathic Doctors and Global Health – a free AANMC webinar hosted by Dr. Sean Hesler – Executive Director of Naturopaths Without Borders.

NDs flexible global health opportunities

Specialty Community Clinics – In addition to the opportunity to travel overseas, many naturopathic schools offer specialty clinics that provide care to different patient populations, including immigrants, LGBTQ and pediatrics. NDs students are able to learn in these hands-on, real-world settings and provide valuable care to patients who need it most.

Accredited naturopathic medical college clinics

Learn more about each of the accredited programs’ clinical offerings below.

The future job prospects for naturopathic doctors are growing and are expected to continue to grow. If you are interested in pursuing a career in naturopathic medicine, you will be joining an exciting field that is poised to help local and international communities access safe and effective natural medicine.

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Chamomile 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Welcome back to The Naturopathic KitchenYour kitchen is a mainstay in supporting a healthy lifestyle. This week, we will highlight the popular herb, chamomile. Among the best-known herbs, chamomile is good for more than just a cup of tea. Together, we will learn where it comes from, how it benefits our body and share a couple of great chamomile recipes for you to try!

Chamomile 101

Herbs have played an integral role in human health for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence of the use of medicinal plants dates back approximately 77,000 years.1 Chamomile is one herb that is fairly familiar to most people for its use as a sedative tea. However it’s interesting to note the history of chamomile goes much deeper than a simple cup of tea.

The term chamomile is derived from the Greek term, “Chamomaela,” meaning “ground apple.”2 Early scientific texts reference the similarity of the smell of a chamomile flower to an apple blossom, and this is thought to be the source of the name.

The earliest uses of chamomile date back to ancient times. References to chamomile are found in medicinal writings of the ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Romans. It was used as a fever remedy during the times of the Egyptian pharaohs.2 The crushed  flowers were also rubbed on the skin as a cosmetic. The Egyptians used the essential oil of chamomile as a main ingredient in the embalming oil used in the mummification of deceased royalty and pharaohs.2 The ancient Greeks used chamomile medicinally as well. The writings of Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Galen contain detailed descriptions of the chamomile plant.3 The Romans used chamomile to flavor drinks and in incense, as well as a medicinal herb.

Moving forward to medieval times, chamomile petals often lined the ground at gatherings. The crushing effect created by people walking over them created a pleasant aroma. Chamomile was also used to flavor beer before hops were put to that use. Contemporary use includes Eastern European countries like Romania, where school children are asked to collect the herb and bring it to school.4

Where does chamomile come from?

Though their appearance is very similar, what is generally called chamomile today is actually two separate plants. One variety is Roman or English chamomile, botanically known as Chamaemelum nobile that is native to Western Europe and North Africa. It is considered “true chamomile.” The second variety, commonly known as German Chamomile, is Matricaria recutita which is native to Europe and Asia. This variety is considered “false chamomile.” Both have been widely cultivated in modern times are often used interchangeably.

Chamomile is an old-world plant that is not native to North America. It made its way here with the colonists and eventually became part of the natural landscape. It can now often be found in yards, fields and gardens across the US. Chamomile can easily be grown at home or wildcrafted from outdoor spaces. Chamomile tea is widely available in nearly all supermarkets and dried whole herbs can be purchased from any number of purveyors of whole herbs.

How does chamomile help my health?

Chamomile is generally known for its sedative properties.5 Chamomile tea is often given to children to help calm them for sleep at night. In addition to its use as a sedative, both the Roman and German forms of the herb have been used medicinally as antispasmodics, anti-inflammatories, as well as for anti-microbial properties.2 Chamomile has uses both internally and externally.6 Externally it has been used to treat skin and mucous membrane inflammation, as well as bacterial skin diseases, including those of the oral cavity and gums.6 Both forms are also used in beauty products because they naturally soften and lighten skin and hair as well as treat acne and other skin problems.7

What medical conditions/symptoms is chamomile used for?

When should chamomile be avoided?

Although chamomile has a long history of safe use and is listed on the Food and Drug Administration’s GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list, allergic reactions are rare but possible. Individuals who have a sensitivity to asters, chrysanthemums, ragweed, and other members of the Asteraceae family may cross-react to chamomile as well.

Let’s try out chamomile with these delicious and nutritious recipes!

 

Strawberry Chamomile Chia Pudding

INGREDIENTS

1/2 c boiling water
4 chamomile tea bags
1 c strawberries, stemmed and quartered
1/2 T ginger, grated
2 T maple syrup
7 T chia seeds
1 c unsweetened cashew milk
1/4 c strawberries, fresh, stemmed, sliced
1/4 c raw pistachios, roughly chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine the boiling water and tea bags and let steep 15 minutes.
  2. Squeeze water out of the tea bags, then discard them. Let tea cool completely.
  3. Combine the chamomile tea concentrate with the strawberries, ginger and maple syrup in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, combine the strawberry mixture with the cashew milk and chia seeds.
  5. Stir vigorously until seeds are well combined.
  6. Let sit at room temperature 10 minutes.
  7. Stir vigorously again. Cover and chill in fridge overnight (8 to 12 hours. See Notes.)
  8. When ready to serve, remove from fridge and give one final vigorous stir.
  9. Place pudding in bowls and top with fresh strawberries and roughly chopped pistachios.

Thank you to Mid-Life Croissant for this great recipe!

Raw Chamomile Ginger Lemon Energy Bars

INGREDIENTS

1/2 c cashews
1/2 c walnuts
1 1/4 c dates or dried apricots
2 T whole flax seed
1 T dried chamomile
1 T freshly grated ginger
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 t vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place nuts, dried fruit, and flax seeds into a food processor and blend until chopped up and combined.
  2. Add in rest of ingredients until thoroughly fused.
  3. Form into whatever shapes you prefer.
  4. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Thank you to One Green Planet for this tasty recipe!

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Dr. Heather Wright – Bastyr

“I chose to pursue naturopathic medicine out of a deep sense of knowing that nature is the best medicine and that food, plants and our environment are integral to human health. I saw a direct relationship between how people lived and how they experienced health.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Following in her great grandmother’s footsteps, Heather Wright, ND, FABNO started her career as a midwife. While completing a pre-medical program with her head set on obstetrics and gynecology, she soon learned that her heart was elsewhere. Her medical education “seemed to leave a huge gap for working with people to build health rather than just address pathology” – that gap was filled by naturopathic medicine.

“I chose to pursue naturopathic medicine out of a deep sense of knowing that nature is the best medicine and that food, plants and our environment are integral to human health. I saw a direct relationship between how people lived and how they experienced health.”

Bastyr as a springboard

“I explored each of the school options but decided I would go to Seattle first, and truthfully, that was that! I saw the food and medicine gardens, the St. Edwards parkland that the school is set on, the lake, the trails – it was all so beautiful. I knew it was the right place for me!”

“Through the great experience of the Bastyr naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine programs, I learned that people have their own wisdom about their bodies and tend to know more about themselves than their doctor. If they share that knowledge with a respectful provider, we can do our work.” This patient doctor relationship is “the heart of naturopathic medicine.”

Furthermore, “I learned my own strength and independence as a person and doctor, and to trust that I was strong, smart and intuitive.”

Naturopathic medicine with a focus on oncology

After graduation Dr. Wright’s friend invited her to learn more about her Seattle-based naturopathic oncology team. Her friend taught her about mindfulness meditation, relaxation practices, and oncology patient care.

Not long after, Dr. Wright began networking in her hometown hospital in upstate New York. The hospital was hoping to build an integrative program and invited her to give a presentation to the board on what naturopathic medicine could offer.

“I pulled out all the stops to put together resources for how they could hire me and what I could do for the community.”

Dr. Wright’s first cancer patient was a member of her community – a young man with stage IV lung cancer and a father of two young children. She incorporated natural therapies along with conventional treatment which provided relief from treatment side effects and improved his quality of life. Dr. Wright learned about his desire to stop treatment and live out his life during their guided breathing meditations. He was continuing treatment because he was worried about his children’s future should he pass away. Dr. Wright worked with the patient and his social worker to prepare a plan. In doing so, he reconnected with his sister and asked that she become his children’s caretaker. This experience opened Dr. Wright’s eyes to the whole-person approach to cancer care – not only did his physical health need to be addressed; it was just as important to provide support for his emotional and spiritual well-being.

After two years in the New York hospital, Dr. Wright learned about plans to develop an integrative team in the Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital. She joined the team and began deepening her knowledge of oncology specific care.

“I believed our profession could integrate into health care and wanted to work in hospital setting as well as in private practice. I saw that the successful physicians in the naturopathic profession were contributing from academic and clinical posts and leading initiatives that help bring clinical integrative medicine forward. My skills in research and writing were part of what helped me navigate beyond clinical care to enrich my career. As physicians we have a responsibility to continue learning – not just for our CE’s and to maintain licensure but because there may be new therapies and approaches (or old ones) that we can apply in clinical care to benefit our patients.”

Today, Dr. Wright is a board certified in naturopathic oncologist and President of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP). She is also the co-research director for the KNOW project – a searchable database of integrative oncology clinical trials. Throughout her career, Dr. Wright has become an expert in the co-management of pancreatic cancer and on intravenous vitamin C for people with advanced cancer. As a specialist in naturopathic oncology, Dr. Wright has worked diligently with countless families to improve quality of life and longevity.

Dr. Wright is a volunteer and clinical board member for Gilda’s club and Cancer Support Community and is a lecturer, writer, and consultant for research and publication project in integrative oncology. She has published articles on intravenous vitamin C as supportive care in Current Oncology, on the power of the placebo effect in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and on tools for integrating natural approaches into conventional care for pancreatic cancer in Natural Medicine Journal. Dr. Wright also consults with organizations to incorporate integrative providers and approaches into clinical settings.

Additionally, Dr. Wright is taking business courses and creating a business plan for an integrative oncology clinic with her pharmacist business partner. Their intention is to establish an infusion center that offers multidisciplinary integrative care.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“I am passionate about helping folks find balance, teaching nutrition, and teaching patients about their organs of digestion. I’m also passionate about growing naturopathic medicine through residency training.”

Dr. Wright’s Philadelphia-based private practice Good Apple Wellness offers integrative care through in person and tele-consultations with specialized expertise on families affected by cancer. She has a large referral network including nutritionists, counselors, acupuncturists and has built relationships with several oncology providers. She balances her family life as the mother of two while seeing patients four days per week.

In her spare time Dr. Wright enjoys gardening vegetables and herbs. Every summer she looks forward to spending time with her family in upstate New York on the St. Lawrence River.

Advice for aspiring NDs

“Naturopathic medicine is a rewarding profession that enriches the mind, body and spirit of providers and patients. Through your education you will have the opportunity to experience healing in your own life and to build a solid foundation in the medical art. Explore the different facets of naturopathic medicine as well as traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture to determine if those meet your interest and long-term goals to use as tools as a provider. Be prepared to trust your intuition and that of the patient as well as the clinical data and traditional knowledge about conditions and therapeutics. Work hard to keep life in balance. This may need to be revisited several times throughout your career as you fine tune a good life.”

CLICK HERE to watch Dr. Wright’s naturopathic oncology webinar on-demand!

Learn more about Dr. Wright

www.goodapplewellness.com 

www.oncanp.org

www.knowoncology.com

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

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Dr. Wright’s published Articles

Klimant E, Wright H, Rubin D, Seely D, Markman M. Intravenous vitamin C in the supportive care of cancer patients: a review and rational approach. Current Oncology. 2018;25(2):139-148.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29719430

Green J, Wright H. From Bench to Bedside: Converting Placebo Research into Belief Activation. The Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017; 23(8): 575-580. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28719223

Wright H, Samson K. Evidence based treatment of digestive symptoms in pancreatic cancer patients. Natural Medicine Journal 2016;8(8). http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2016-08/evidence-based-treatment-digestive-symptoms-pancreatic-cancer-patients

Green J, Seely D, Wright H. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Naturopathic Oncology: Maximizing outcomes using KNOWoncology.org Part 1. NDNR.  Nov 1 2017. https://ndnr.com/oncology/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-nsclc-naturopathic-oncology/

Green J, Seely D, Wright H. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Naturopathic Oncology: Maximizing outcomes using KNOWoncology.org Part 2. NDNR.  Dec 1 2017.

https://ndnr.com/oncology/nsclc-naturopathic-oncology-maximizing-outcomes-using-knowoncology-org-part-2/

Schor J, Wright H. Review: Artificial Light at Night Increases Breast Cancer Risk. Natural Medicine Journal April 2017; (9) 41: 24-26 (suppl). http://www.pageturnpro.com/CHAT-Inc/78146-April-2017-Womens-Health-Special-Issue/default.html#page/1

Naturopathic Specialties

One of the most common questions the AANMC receives from prospective students is about specialization and specialties* within the field of naturopathic medicine. This topic is highly nuanced, and ultimately, the choice of whether or not to be a generalist or choose an area of focus comes down to each individual doctor, and what he or she is seeking from their career in naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic Education

Naturopathic medical education is extremely comprehensive and trains graduates for primary care delivery. New doctors may choose to develop an interest in a specific area of medicine, or maintain a broad practice, seeing a variety of patients and conditions.

For those NDs who graduate with a passion for a particular area of focus, there are many options to pursue that interest. Some naturopathic doctors seek out residencies in a specific field. Others begin practicing as generalists and naturally gravitate toward continuing education and patients with similar health journeys. The naturopathic profession offers career path flexibility that can grow and mature with a doctor’s clinical skill and professional trajectory.

 

Specialty Associations

Within the naturopathic medicine community, there are several officially recognized specialty associations focused on specific areas of medicine, including oncology, environmental medicine, and pediatrics. Please see below for the complete list.

All specialty associations are open to licensed naturopathic doctors and ND students. Anyone who meets these criteria, shares an interest in the specific field, and wants to learn more about an area of interest is eligible to join. For instance, in order to join the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians, you don’t have to be a doctor who exclusively sees cancer patients.

Each of these associations provides a host of benefits to members, from educational resources to mentorship and networking opportunities.

“Membership in our organization allows for considerable benefits including free CEU courses/webinars, ‘find-a-doc’ online resources, a sense of community, and an exclusive member forum.”

Joshua Goldenberg, ND

President, Gastroenterology Association of Naturopathic Physicians

“We are reaching out to the students in AANMC schools to engage them in building their interest and confidence in pediatric care with an eye to increasing the service naturopathic doctors can offer to families and children. Pediatric care is the epitome of the naturopathic principle of prevention—by providing education, promoting health, and establishing a strong physiological and behavioral foundation in childhood, the population as a whole is healthier.”

Leslie Solomonian, ND

President, Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians

“OncANP is of extreme value in terms of community, continuing education, like-mindedness, sharing of clinical pearls, sharing of legal advice, sharing of treatments, new diagnostics, helping each other grow within their local communities, setting the stage for other specialty organizations, protection of the public, shared legitimacy in practice, and legal protection.”

Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO

Founding President, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians

Formal Specialization

In addition to creating an educational and professional community for a particular area of naturopathic medicine, some specialty associations also offer formal specializations. This means they provide a path to become board-certified in a specific field.

Currently, the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians are the only two groups that have board certification exams. Several other groups are actively working toward the creation of specialty board certification examinations.

Choosing Your Path

Many students wonder how to proceed given the varied nature of specialties. Those who already have a strong desire to practice a specific type of naturopathic medicine should get involved in a specialty association as a student. Student rates are typically very affordable, and include all of the same benefits as full ND membership. If you aren’t gravitating toward a specific field, you can still join multiple associations to learn more about conditions and treatment advances. Membership can also be valuable to help guide career choices and post-graduation employment opportunities.

As a practicing ND, joining a specialty association is a way to find community and learn more about clinical best practices and recent developments in evidence and research for that area of focus. There is a path to becoming a specialist, which involves taking a board certification exam and meeting the association’s criteria—such as completing a residency and practicing for a certain number of years. This is available with the Oncology and Pediatric Associations.

Current Specialty Associations

There are 10 specialty associations that are affiliated with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and this list is growing. Here are the current professional affiliates:

Academy for Parenteral Therapies (APT)

American Association of Naturopathic Midwives (AANM)

Endocrinology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (EndoANP)

Gastroenterology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (GastroANP)

Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP)

Institute of Naturopathic Generative Medicine (INGM)

Naturopathic Association of Environmental Medicine (NAEM)

Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP)

Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians (PedANP)

Psychiatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians (PsycANP)

*Use of the term specialist may vary based on regulatory jurisdiction​.

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Boucher Makes Naturopathic Medicine More Accessible

Introduction to Naturopathic Medicine Course for International Medical Graduates

Are you an International Medical graduate interested in naturopathic medicine? The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine is offering a 25-hour introduction to naturopathic medicine course to International Medical Graduates and health care practitioners this August.  The goals of the course are to provide insight into the application of naturopathic medicine and the value to patient outcomes using this natural approach to healing.

The course begins with a discussion on history and philosophy of naturopathic medicine, including the naturopathic principles and therapeutic order. Then, it provides a thorough examination of the naturopathic modalities. The remainder of the course will cover an in-depth study of the application of the medicine in clinical cases that allow a clear view of how the philosophy and naturopathic therapeutic order are considered in the diagnosis and treatment options.

Sign up for a free webinar to get more information here.

International Medical Graduates, are you looking for the next step in your career?

If you are an international medical graduate interested in becoming a naturopathic doctor, you may be eligible for advanced standing and receive course credit based on your previous medical experience.  Click here to get more information and review our Advanced Standing Policy.

Online continuing education program

Boucher Institute now has an online Continuing Education program! Discover our first course “Clinical Applications of Cannabis for Health Care Practitioners,” that brings together some of the lead experts from Canada, Italy and Spain to present the basic research into the ECS and phytopharmacy of the cannabis plant together with the best practices in the medical application of medical cannabis.  Approved for category C for CNPBC. You may learn more here.

Boucher students perform above average on NPLEX exams

Once again, for February 2019 exams, Boucher Institute is proud to have its students consistently performing above the average pass rates of all accredited schools for the licensing exam (NPLEX).

Be part of the next cohort at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine!

We are happy to announce that our September cohort is filling up quickly. If you think naturopathic medicine might be the right path for you, send us your application and it will be considered for next year’s intake. Did you know that Boucher Institute has entrance scholarships? Check them out here.

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Naturopathic Approaches to Headaches

Headaches have plagued humans for thousands of years. Ancient human remains with evidence of an early form of neurosurgery known as “trepanation” have dated back as early as 7000 BC.1  Trepanation involved removing a portion of bone from the skull. A common belief during this time was that headaches and other neurological disorders like seizures were caused by evil spirits trapped inside the head. The hole presumably allowed the spirit to escape. This procedure was recommended as a treatment for migraines as recently as the 1600s.1

Today, many people think a headache is just a headache, but for some, they are much more than that. Headaches are an incredibly common condition, in fact, they are the most common form of pain.2 Every 10 seconds, someone in the U.S. goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain, and approximately 1.2 million visits are for acute migraine attacks.3 Nearly everyone has either had a headache themselves or knows someone who has. They can be extremely debilitating, and may impact the ability to live and work normally. Headaches are a major reason why people miss work or school or visit a health care provider.2

Not all headaches are the same. Differences exist in everything about them including what triggers them, the type of pain one feels, the location of the pain, and what makes them better or worse. As always, the goal of a naturopathic physician is to treat the cause so there is no single approach to the treatment of headaches or migraines. Instead, naturopathic medicine has many treatment options to offer when managing headaches and migraines that enable the naturopathic physician to tailor the protocol to the individual patient and the cause of the problem.

Common Headache and Migraine Triggers

  • Stress
  • Emotional distress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Certain foods or food allergies
  • Environmental exposures,
  • Infection
  • Constipation
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Fatigue
  • Eyestrain
  • Nutritional deficiencies.

Types of headaches and clinical features

Tension Headache: These are the most common type of headache experienced by adults and older children/teens. Also known as stress headaches, they tend to come on slowly and can be episodic appearing only every now and then or chronic appearing more than 15 days per month for months on end. They are typically non-progressive, involving mild to moderate pain and a tightness similar to the sensation of a band around the head. The pain is typically dull and diffuse effecting both sides of the head and may be accompanied by tenderness of the scalp, neck, or shoulders. They can be brief lasting less than an hour to extended, with pain lasting a week.

Cluster Headache: Cluster headaches are less common than tension headaches or migraines but are the most severe headache type.4 They are typically characterized by intense, piercing, burning, sudden-onset pain often localizing behind one eye. Cluster headaches, as the name implies, are likely to occur in groups over a period of time from weeks to months and may occur daily or even multiple times per day with the pain pattern tending to recur in the same manner each time. They can last from one-three hours and there may be months or even years between cluster episodes.

Migraine Headache: Migraines are the third most prevalent illness in the world, impacting around 1 billion men, women, and children worldwide.3 Migraines are much more than just a really bad headache – they are a neurological condition accompanied by extremely debilitating neurological symptoms. More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.3 Migraines typically occur only on one side of the head (though in around 33% of cases both sides are affected) and involve severe, throbbing pain that is often accompanied by other symptoms such as visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.3 Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to several days and can occur in both episodic and chronic patterns. Around 85% of chronic migraine sufferers are women.3 Migraines may also involve a genetic component. A child who has one parent with migraine has a 50% chance of inheriting it, and if both parents have migraine, the chances rise to 75%.3

Naturopathic Management of Headaches and Migraines

Supplements

Riboflavin: A prominent member of the B-vitamin family, riboflavin (vitamin B2) has been investigated for its role in the prevention or headaches, particularly migraine type headaches. Multiple clinical trials have shown the benefit of riboflavin for migraine prophylaxis.5 Riboflavin use has been associated with reduction in frequency of migraine attacks as well as reduction in the use of anti-migraine medications.6

Magnesium: Low levels of magnesium have been detected in those suffering from a variety of headache types.7 Magnesium has a long history of effective use in migraine prevention. Additionally, magnesium has been shown to be effective as an acute treatment option for headaches including migraines, tension- type headaches and cluster headaches, particularly when administered via IV to those with low blood levels.7

CoQ10: CoEnzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, is used by the cells to generate energy. CoQ10 is naturally present in the human body but can also be taken in supplement form. It has potent antioxidant properties and is well known for its cardiovascular benefits. Studies of the use of CoQ10 in headache management have yielded positive results. A 2017 study suggests that CoQ10 might reduce the frequency of headaches, and may also make them shorter in duration, and less severe, with a favorable safety profile.8

Herbs

Butterbur: Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) Butterbur is a shrub that grows in Europe and parts of Asia and North America, typically in wet, marshy ground.9 Historically, butterbur has been used to treat many ailments from the plague to skin wounds. Studies have validated the use of butterbur in the prevention of migraines. In a randomized clinical trial, a standardized extract of butterbur was shown to decrease the frequency of migraines by up to 60% with no adverse events reported.10

Note: Butterbur that is raw and unprocessed contains chemicals known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids or PAs. These chemicals can be harmful and may cause liver damage or result in serious illness. Commercial butterbur products have typically been processed to remove PAs and are labeled as PA-Free. These are the only types that should be used.

Feverfew: Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a member of the daisy family and is native to the Balkan Peninsula. It has yellow—green leaves and yellow tubular florets with numerous small white flowers that resemble those of chamomile (with which it is often confused). It has a long history of use as a treatment for headaches, particularly migraines. Research shows that consuming feverfew reduces the frequency of migraine headaches and headache symptoms, including pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise.11

Diet

Diet plays a major role with nearly all medical conditions; headaches migraines are no different. The mechanisms though which diets may precipitate headache include their effects on neuropeptides, neuro-receptors and ion channels, inflammation, sympathetic nervous system, release of nitric oxide, vasodilation, and cerebral glucose metabolism.12 Substances found in foods such as caffeine and MSG can be related to headaches. Withdrawal of caffeine or administration of MSG have produced very strong and reproducible results in terms of resulting in headaches.13 Other foods such as those containing gluten and histamine as well as alcohol are all well-known headache triggers. Food allergies may also play a role. Multiple randomized controlled trials reported that an elimination diet of IgG positive foods significantly decreased frequency of headaches and migraines.13

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of very thin needles into various points on the body. It is not painful and has extremely low risk of side effects. Acupuncture has been investigated for its benefits in pain management in multiple clinical trials with good success. A systematic review of 22 clinical trials found evidence that acupuncture reduces the frequency of headaches by 50% in over half of the participants.14 This effect is similar to that seen with preventive medications.

Environmental Medicine

Exposure to environmental toxins, including pollution, smoke, chemicals-based cleaning products, perfumes, air fresheners, as well as off gassing from household goods may lead to headaches. Avoiding these exposures is an effective means of preventing headaches that are due to environmental exposure. Eliminating personal and household use of scented products such as dryer sheets, perfumes, air fresheners, and scented candles can go a long way towards minimizing exposure. Utilizing fewer toxic methods of cleaning such as steam, vinegar, or essential oils can also be helpful

Other Therapies

Other therapeutic options such as biofeedback, mind-body therapies, physical medicine, craniosacral therapy, naturopathic adjustment techniques, massage, stress management, meditation, yoga, tai chi, as well as energetic therapies like reiki and homeopathy may also be included in a naturopathic headache protocol.

Having your case reviewed by a clinically trained naturopathic physician is the best way to determine which naturopathic therapies might be of the most benefit for your specific circumstances. Because each person is unique and naturopathic physicians are more concerned with the individual versus the diagnosis, they focus on the specifics of the individual and what they are experiencing in order to develop a comprehensive plan to address the root cause of the issue and resolve the problem for good.

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The Difference Between a Traditional Naturopath and a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor in North America

Guest Post by Valerie A. Gettings, CNHP

Having a career as a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) is exciting and rewarding. However, choosing what type of educational program to enroll in is often a confusing decision for many potential students, who come across numerous different types of naturopathic doctor and naturopathy programs advertised. How do you choose the right one for you? Some schools offer online or correspondence programs, while others are accredited four-year, in-residence medical schools. With all of the programs out there, it’s important to know that not all naturopathic doctor programs are created equal, and that graduates of these programs leave with varied degree/certificate titles and professional training, which can create confusion for patients. This is especially true when it comes to knowing the difference between a traditional naturopath and a licensed naturopathic doctor/physician (ND) in North America.

What is the difference between a traditional naturopath and a licensed naturopathic doctor?

While both traditional naturopaths and licensed naturopathic doctors aim to help the body heal through natural substances such as food, herbs, and water, their education is very different, and their scope of practice and regulatory status vary from state to state and province to province—and in some states and provinces there are not yet any regulations pertaining any types of naturopathic practice. The titles “traditional naturopath” and “naturopathic doctor” (or “naturopathic physician”) are not interchangeable. A licensed naturopathic doctor (ND/NMD) is a primary care physician who is trained to diagnose and prescribe, while a traditional naturopath is not able to do either. In some states where naturopathic medicine is not yet a regulated medical profession, a traditional naturopath may on his/her own, choose to use the title, “naturopathic doctor,” which is likely to be confusing to patients looking for a licensed ND.

What is the education of a licensed naturopathic doctor?

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, a naturopathic medical student in the United States or Canada attends a four-year, professional, in-residence doctoral program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The CNME is recognized as an accrediting body by the U.S. Department of Education, and it is the only accrediting body for naturopathic medical programs in the U.S. and Canada that qualify graduates for licensure. Students from accredited naturopathic medical schools complete a more than 4,100 contact hours of instruction, including at least 1,200 hours of supervised, hands-on clinical training. The schools’ evidence-informed curricula consists of biomedical sciences—including anatomy (with cadaver lab), physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and embryology)—similar to conventional medical school, as well as clinical medicine, homeopathy, botanical medicine, lifestyle management, nutrition, pharmacology, radiology, physical medicine. Additionally, the curriculum includes specialized classes in such areas as pediatrics, fibromyalgia, oncology, and sports medicine. Some schools also offer the option of studying Asian medicine and acupuncture, which enables graduates to become a licensed acupuncturist in addition to a licensed ND.

In order to become licensed, naturopathic medical graduates must also pass the two-part national board exam, Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX), which consists of biomedical science and clinical medicine portions. Some licensed ND students go on to complete post-doctoral residencies in health care facilities across North America.

Currently there are six accredited naturopathic medical programs across seven North American campuses. NDs are regulated in 22 states and 5 provinces, as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. In some of these states and provinces, licensed NDs are able to prescribe pharmaceuticals, administer vaccinations, and perform minor surgery, as well as order labs, diagnostic imaging, and food sensitivity tests. NDs follow different career paths and work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, integrative oncology care, private practice, medical schools, and government organizations.

What is taught at a traditional naturopathic school?

Online and correspondence naturopathic doctor degree or certificate programs do not have a standardized curriculum or accreditation of their programs as recognized by the US Department of Education. These programs are not accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. They may teach a variety of classes that help students understand the healing power of nature and the innate ability of the body to heal itself. The classes may consist of botanical medicine, homeopathy, orthomolecular nutrition, introductory anatomy, reflexology, and iridology, among others. Program length can vary from a few months to a few years to complete.

Since classes are mostly offered online in traditional naturopathic programs, these programs lack standardized, on-site, clinical training in treating patients under the supervision of experienced licensed NDs. Also, faculty in traditional naturopath programs are not required to be licensed NDs, which is in contrast to CNME-accredited four-year naturopathic medical programs where naturopathic faculty must have an ND degree and other faculty must have terminal degrees in their professional fields (e.g., PhD). Some traditional naturopath programs are entirely online, and students in these programs may never interact with faculty in person.

In addition, traditional naturopaths are not eligible to write the NPLEX national board exam or obtain licensing. For that reason, many traditional naturopaths choose to practice in unregulated states and provinces, and use their knowledge primarily to help family and friends, or for their own personal health use. Some individuals trained as traditional naturopaths subsequently choose to attend a four-year, CNME-accredited naturopathic medical program in order to become licensed.

Which program should I attend?

1. Determine your end-goal

First, it’s important to determine what you want to do with your education. If you want to be trained as a primary care physician and act as a partner in health with your patients, then becoming a licensed ND may be the career for you. However, if you want to learn more about botanical medicine, nutrition, or homeopathy, and use that education to help yourself or family, there are many other programs that may fulfill that desire.

2. Do your research

Find out what the degree you are looking at will allow you to do. Each state and province are different in terms of scope of practice and regulation of both naturopathic doctors and traditional naturopaths. Also, the term “accredited” can be confusing because many online or correspondence naturopathic programs are “accredited” by organizations that—unlike the CNME which accredits four-year, doctoral level ND programs—are not recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. These other types of programs will not make you eligible to obtain licensure or write NPLEX. So carefully research your options before deciding.

3. Fall in love with the curriculum

Whatever program you decided to attend, make sure you fall in love with the curriculum, and that it will enable you to reach your desired end-goal.

For more information about CNME-accredited ND programs and becoming a licensed ND, click here.

About the Author

Valerie A. Gettings, CNHP, is a fourth-year naturopathic medical student at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and the President of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA). She is also a traditional naturopathic doctor graduate from Trinity School of Natural Health. Prior to her path in naturopathic medicine, Valerie was a public affairs specialist and director for community outreach for U.S. Navy Medicine. Valerie received her B.A. in public communication and international relations from American University, Washington, D.C.

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