Asthma, Allergies, and Naturopathic Medicine

“I’m okay, it’s just my allergies,” is a phrase heard all too often. Allergic symptoms and allergic disease are among the most common, yet most often disregarded symptoms. Allergies and allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, food allergies and allergic asthma are extremely common, impacting tens of millions of American men, women, and children each year.1 Asthma Canada reports 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from respiratory allergies. The symptoms associated with allergies occur when the body is exposed to something that the immune system over-reacts to.  The appearance of allergy symptoms can be associated with any number of triggers such as foods, creams, touching certain materials (even other people!), insects, pets, pollen, dust, and mold. The body’s immune response causes the symptoms we commonly refer to as allergies. The immune response results in effects on the body which can be mild or severe and can range from sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, watery eyes, runny nose (often called rhinitis), and a scratchy throat, to rashes, hives, swollen respiratory passages, lowered blood pressure, breathing difficulty, asthma and even death in the most extreme cases.

What causes allergies and asthma?

The cause of this immune overreaction is largely unknown, but we have noted both genetic susceptibility as well as environmental influences.2 Heritability rates for susceptibility allergic disease can vary but have been found as high as 95% for asthma, 91% for allergic rhinitis, and 84% for atopic dermatitis.3 It is clear that genetics only account for an increase in susceptibility, and cannot be attributed fully for the dramatic increase in allergic disease worldwide.4 Food Allergy Research and Education reports a CDC statistic showing a 50% increase in food allergy prevalence in children between 1997 and 2011, and a 300% increase in peanut allergies during 1997-2008. 5 Environmental influences and triggers must also play a role. Large studies such as the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood and the European Community Respiratory Health Survey Study have revealed striking patterns showing increased prevalence of asthma in first world, English speaking countries and non-English speaking Western European countries over developing nations. These studies have further shown that asthma incidence increases in developing nations as they begin to embrace more “Westernized” lifestyles.4 All of these factors combined make it clear that lifestyle and environment play a role in the development of allergic disease and asthma.

Naturopathic approaches to allergies and asthma

From a naturopathic medical perspective, allergic symptoms are quite often associated with disruption to the microbiome in the gut, as well as to dysfunction of other systems including the adrenal glands, digestive disturbance beyond the microbiome, and altered immune responses. Determining the cause of a patient’s allergic symptoms including allergic asthma is at the forefront of a naturopathic treatment protocol and may involve laboratory testing combined with diet-symptom tracking via logs and observations as well as special diets called elimination and challenge diets. In terms of management and treatment, dietary avoidance, environmental modifications such as home air purifiers and specific cleaning routines, as well as a variety of herbs and supplements may be implemented.

“Allergies and asthma arise from a complex interplay of genes, food introduction, breast feeding or not, the gut and of course the greater environment. Some patients are hard-wired to develop allergies to pollen and mold. This can cause miserable symptoms, and is sometimes the real culprit driving asthma, but not always. It’s important to keep in mind that diet, home environment, stress, hydration, sleep and chemical exposure all play a role in how reactive someone is. Although allergy is definitely mediated by the immune system in well understood ways, we also want to examine someone’s toxic burdens in terms of how highly fired their system is from day to day. The Environmental Protection Agency has more than 85,000 chemicals listed in its registry, and processed foods contain many of them. Without oversimplifying matters, we do have to think about the impact of all this on someone’s allergic experience. As a naturopathic doctor I think about the whole person and how to restore health and, in that sense, allergies as sometimes a symptom of deeper problems I can help someone with.”

Fraser Smith, ND, MATD

Assistant Dean of Naturopathic Medicine and Associate Professor, AANMC President, National University of Health Sciences

Diagnostic testing

Uncovering the root cause of allergic symptoms is imperative,  and at the same time, can be challenging. There are several testing methods that are commonly employed to assess what a person’s specific allergies are. These include blood testing using various techniques to assess antibodies and immune reactions, testing blood levels of biomolecules associated with allergic responses such as allergen-specific IgE, histamine, and tryptase, scratch testing, and others. The type of testing most appropriate can also vary by the type of allergy being tested for.

When examining aeroallergen sensitization, testing is often done in a combination approach to ensure all sensitized allergens are accounted for. Although there have been many recent advances in testing allergen specific IgE levels, it has been found that using only one testing method may lead to a misdiagnosis with every fourth allergically sensitized patient as being found non-reactive.6 Many studies show that there is discord between testing for serum-specific IgE and skin testing results suggesting that the two methodologies act in a complimentary manner and should not be used interchangeably.

In regard to food allergies, there are numerous laboratory assays that can be performed such as radioallergosorbent tests (RAST), immunoblotting, basophil activation (BAT), leukotriene LTC4 release, cellular allergen stimulation tests (CAST), and others. Other methods such as skin prick testing and fecal testing are also common. Skin prick tests are quite common as they are inexpensive, and relatively low risk, however skin prick testing to foods has a low specificity with a low positive predictive value.7 This means that a positive result, unless confirmed by other clinical data such as a diet-symptom log, does not allow for a definitive diagnosis food allergy. There is also a non-standardization of measurement of positive reactions as evidenced by the identification of cut-off values for the SPT reaction diameter for certain food allergens (milk: 8 mm, egg: 7 mm, peanut: 8 mm) but not their universally acknowledgement.7 Allergen specific IgE testing is also common, but can be extremely costly. Specific IgE levels exceeding a certain value (considered a “diagnostic cut-off”) showed a 95% predictive value for a symptomatic allergy.7 When combined with compatible clinical history, this gives this type of testing the advantage of being able to confirm a diagnosis of food allergy without the need for further challenge testing. However, it is important to note that there are a number of variables that can impact the outcome of such testing such as age and the length of time the person has been avoiding the food. Not all food reactions are mediated by IgE as is true of many cases of sensitivities to foods. In these cases, an elimination diet followed by a re-challenge phase are critical for the identification and proper treatment of food sensitivities.8 This type of testing is considered the gold standard for diagnosis of food allergy.9

“The goal of naturopathic medicine is to reduce the exaggerated immune response to allergens, and bring tone to the mucus membranes of the respiratory and digestive systems. The side effects of the naturopathic treatments include increased energy and nutritional status, greater resistance to colds and flus, and increased cardiovascular health. The side effects of conventional treatments commonly include drowsiness and diminished sense of taste, smell, and sight, rebound congestion leading to dependency on medications, and progression of inflammatory disease processes (especially eczema and asthma). The naturopathic approach is more complicated, and can, in some cases be more expensive, so it is up to the allergy sufferer to decide which is better for them. Often, people elect to manage symptoms for a short transitional period while beginning the naturopathic treatments, just to find they no longer need the antihistamines after a few days or a week and feel more energetic than anticipated.”

Jenn Dazey, ND, RH (AHG)

Core Faculty in the Department of Botanical Medicine, Bastyr University

Naturopathic treatment of allergies can involve multiple pathways including treating alterations to the gut micro biome, using supplements, instituting sublingual immunotherapy, implementing dietary considerations, and environmental modifications.

Balancing the gut microbiome

In humans, the gastrointestinal tract is inhabited by a large, complex group of microbes that play a distinguished role in maintaining health. Collectively, this group includes trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses that are known as the microbiome. A person is first exposed to microorganisms as an infant, during delivery in the birth canal and through the mother’s breast milk.10 As time goes on, the microbiome evolves with the individual and exposures to various environmental factors as well as variations in diet can impact the microbiome leading to improved health benefits or increased risk of disease. The microbiome has numerous important functions including producing various nutrients such as vitamin K, prevention of colonization by intestinal pathogens, and modulation of the immune response to name a few.11 The diverse role of the micro biome has led to the idea that its modification may be a target used to restore and maintain balance of the overall individual. Introducing probiotics and prebiotics are a means to accomplish this. Probiotics and prebiotics may be consumed in the form of raw vegetables and fruit, fermented pickles, or dairy products. Another source may be supplemental formulas and functional food. Studies examining the use of probiotics in patients with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) found that adjuvant use of probiotics resulted in improvement in quality of life.12 Probiotic use has also resulted in increased symptom control as evidenced by decreasing scores on questionnaires designed to assess control of allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms.12 Additionally, a meta study examining the use of probiotics in the treatment of allergic rhinitis examined 22 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. Seventeen trials showed significant benefit of probiotics clinically, whereas eight trials showed significant improvement in immunologic parameters compared with placebo.13 All five studies with Lactobacillus paracasei strains demonstrated clinically significant improvements compared with placebo.13

Using supplements

Supplements can provide targeted therapeutic options for the treatment and prevention of allergies. Supplements can address many different factors involved in the expression of allergies and asthma including immune system dysregulation, high levels of inflammation, and oxidative stress among many others. Some examples of supplements commonly used in treatment of allergies and asthma include:

Stinging nettles

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) is also commonly called simply “nettle.” Nettle has a significant research profile as a treatment for allergies and allergic rhinitis.14 National College of Naturopathic Medicine (now National University of Naturopathic Medicine) published a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized study examining the use of freeze dried nettle leaf for treatment of hay fever, asthma, and seasonal allergies found that the freeze-dried preparation was rated higher than placebo in relieving symptoms after just one week’s time.15 Further studies on the use of nettle in preventing the lung inflammation associated with asthma have also been promising. Studies using an experimental model of allergic asthma have shown positive benefit in both immune modulation as well as reduction in inflammatory markers with administration of an aqueous extract of stinging nettle.16

Omega 3 fatty acids

The omega 3 fatty acids docosohexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, better known as DHA and EPA respectively, are found in fish oil and are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and protective effects in inflammatory diseases including asthma and allergies.17 Studies examining fish oil supplementation during pregnancy and lactation have shown to reduce both the prevalence and severity atopic dermatitis and food sensitization during the first year of life for the offspring with a possible persistence until adolescence with a reduction in eczema, hay fever, and asthma.17 A six month study conducted by Johns Hopkins University examined the role of omega 3 fatty acids in the prevention of environmentally triggered asthma symptoms and found that having more omega-3 fatty acids in the diet results in fewer asthma symptoms triggered by indoor air pollution.18

Quercetin

Quercetin is among the most abundant polyphenols representing the flavonoid subgroup. It is naturally occurring in plant foods such as onions (the most studied quercetin containing food), broccoli, capers, apples, berries, and grapes, herbs like dill and is also found in tea and wine.19 Quercetin has been utilized in a number of studies examining factors underlying the development of allergies. Quercetin is known for many different properties including its anti-allergic properties such as inhibition of histamine release, decrease in pro-inflammatory compounds, immune system modulation, and inhibition of antigen-specific IgE antibody formation.19 All of these mechanisms can contribute to addressing the underlying cause of allergy symptoms and asthma. In an experimental model of allergic rhinitis, quercetin has been shown to reduce antigen specific IgE levels and well as mitigate the expression of allergic rhinitis symptoms.20

Sublingual immunotherapy

In years past, allergy sufferers were often subjected to extensive series of allergy shots. These were injections designed to aid in reducing the expression of allergy symptoms. Sublingual immunotherapy is a method of allergy treatment that does not involve injections, rather small tablets or liquid drops containing small amounts of specific allergens to build up tolerance and reduce symptoms. This type of immune modulation aims to decrease the pathologic immune response rather than to cause a return to an immunologically naive or unresponsive state.21 Numerous studies have shown that sublingual application of allergen specific immunotherapy is an adequate, safe and efficient substitution to the injection route of allergen administration in the treatment of IgE-mediated respiratory tract allergies.22 Meta analysis studies have shown that sublingual immunotherapy reduces both the symptoms of allergic diseases and the use of medications, and improves the quality of life of children with the diseases.22

Dietary considerations

The diet constitutes an important source of nutrients and non-nutrient components with multiple properties that present a potential opportunity to modulate the risk of asthma and allergies. Elimination diets wherein the offending food is completely avoided can be difficult to follow long term. Contemporary studies have shown that nutrition trends during the early childhood years may produce changes that have a lasting impact on human health at later ages particularly on the respiratory, GI, and immune systems.23  Western diets are characterized by the consumption of highly refined, overly processed, energy-rich foods and beverages, typically high in fat, sugar, and salt but low in dietary fiber and other nutrients. Changes in dietary habits mainly the decreased intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and a higher intake of processed foods have previously been linked to an increasing prevalence of asthma and allergies.24Multiple studies have highlighted evidence of a beneficial effect of fresh fruits, and antioxidant vitamins on asthma.25 Additional studies have specifically looked at the quality and quantity of dietary fats as a source of allergenic response. Research has shown that a high fat diet potentiates food-induced allergic responses associated with dysregulated intestinal effector mast cell responses, increased intestinal permeability, and gut dysbiosis.26 The quality of fat has also been shown to play a role in increased risk of allergenic response. In a pediatric asthma study, researchers found that for each additional gram of omega 6 fats consumed, children had a whopping 29% increased risk of being in a more severe asthma category.18 Fiber is another nutrient that is consistently lacking in the standard American diet as well as many dietary patterns of many other developed/“Westernized” countries.27 Consistent with the reported health benefits on other immune cells, dietary fiber (especially polysaccharides and oligosaccharides) and its metabolites (SCFAs) have been shown to regulate mast cell function and mast cell activation can be downregulated by pretreatment with these substances.27 Mast cells play a central role in initiating and maintaining inflammation, particularly in allergies and asthma.28

Environmental modification

Some parts of our environment are out of our control, particularly outside the home. We cannot control the amount of mold, pollen, or other allergenic inhalants that are in outdoor air. But there are steps we can take inside the home to manage our exposure indoors.

  • Rugs, drapes, wall-to-wall carpet, and even overstuffed, upholstered furniture are tremendous collectors of dust and pollen. Removing them or changing styles can help reduce exposure.
  • Using specialized air filters like HEPA filters particularly in the bedroom can be helpful. In some cases, whole house filtration systems may also be recommended.
  • Avoiding toxic inhalants like perfumes, body sprays, scented candles, room sprays, air fresheners, dryer sheets, and other scented products, especially those with synthetic ingredients.
  • Have your home tested for the presence of mold and remediate the source if mold is detected and found.
  • Use zippered, allergen resistant covers on mattresses and pillows. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, encasing mattresses works better than air cleaners to reduce allergy symptoms.28

Dr. Dazey shares a patient success story

“One of my patients suffered from severe, debilitating spring allergies that started each April, and lasted until the end of August. Since he was a young boy, he used an inhaler for asthma, antihistamines daily, and avoided physical activity and being outdoors. This was not enough to stop the symptoms, as he still suffered miserably with irritated eyes, constant dripping nose, sneezes, headache, and generalized fatigue. His allergy symptoms became inseparable from his moderate depression. As an adult, he began looking forward to a Prednisone prescription each June, but dreaded when the effects wore off. He began to notice changes to his body, his mood, and how less effective and long-lasting it seemed each time. When he learned about the long-term health risks of Prednisone, he sought alternative management approaches. He came and saw me at age 55. The first thing I did was to let him know he could continue using all the conventional medications he needed to function and feel comfortable. He was about 50 pounds overweight, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, high fasting blood sugar, and mild benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). We began with the standard protocol of fish oil, nettles, and quercetin, as well as soup broth that was simmered with Astragalus membraneceus root, Ganoderma lucidum powder, and Pacific bull kelp. Since he was a regular soup eater, this was more agreeable than tea, and he was motivated to use the broth in a variety of different soup recipes. The first season that he tried this protocol, he reported much reduced symptoms in April and May. When June came, he got his prescription for Prednisone but later decided it was not needed – he never filled his prescription! He also used an herbal tincture formula that relaxes the airway and found it unnecessary for weeks at a time to use his inhaler. (I am reluctant to list the herbs in the formula because they should be dispensed correctly and used under a physician’s care). He began walking outdoors with his dogs every day and eventually did not need the inhaler at all.”

To learn about natural approaches to combating allergies and asthma, contact your local naturopathic doctor. Click here to find an ND in the US and Canada.

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Naturopathic Doctors as Part of the Health Care Team

While many naturopathic doctors work in private, solo practices, there is increasing demand for NDs as vital members of the health care team. Interprofessional healthcare occurs when different disciplines collaborate to collectively provide patient care. Patients benefit by having the right expert advice at the right intervention point. Improved cross-profession communication also decreases care delays, medication interactions, and promotes team members working together for optimal patient care. Naturopathic doctors are an integral part of interprofessional healthcare delivery in many types of patient care settings. We speak with nine naturopathic doctors in various interprofessional healthcare settings to learn how they work to uncover the root cause of illness, coordinate care with numerous professionals, and ultimately educate and empower patients toward wellness.

One of the nine doctors we interviewed is Dr. Arvin Jenab, a naturopathic doctor at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine (SSCIM) at the University of California-Irvine Health. He serves as the Medical Director of Naturopathic Medicine and the Director of the Naturopathic Residency Program. He works directly with medical residents and patients and is actively involved in research and education. Dr. Jenab also works to develop new programs to increase access to integrative medicine by underserved communities across Orange County, California.

Interprofessional healthcare benefits patients and doctors alike – the days of one doctor treating one condition are behind us – we have moved into an era where patients need a village of doctors and doctors need a team of colleagues!  Interprofessional healthcare results in team-based, patient-centered, compassionate care. Patients feel heard and more extensive efforts and resources go into determining the cause of illness and developing the most effective treatment plan. With the complexity of chronic diseases and overwhelming number of influences that impact health, it is increasingly important to create opportunities for interprofessional healthcare whereby both patients and doctors can engage in meaningful exchanges aimed at changing the context of health.”

Arvin Jenab, ND

Graduate, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

Uncovering the Root Cause

Naturopathic medicine is grounded in the inherent belief that is better to prevent illness and get to the root cause than to suppress symptoms. This is why initial visits with naturopathic doctors are likely to last between 60-90 minutes. Topics such as nutrition, digestive health, family history, stress, sleep, and mental health will be addressed regardless of the issue presented with the understanding that the body functions as a complete system, and that each of these pieces are components and contributors to overall health.

Dr. Sunita Iyer is the Clinic Director and Founder of Eastside Natural Medicine, PLLC where she and her colleagues see primarily perinatal and pediatric patients, offering midwifery care, mental health care, acupuncture, lactation management, minor surgery, and primary care for all ages. Dr. Iyer’s specialties are the Five Ps: preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, parenting, and pediatrics.

“When patients have each part of their body addressed by a separate health care provider, there is a presumption that health and well-being happen in isolated systems.  We know this isn’t true. When working as an integrated and interdisciplinary team, we can better understand our roles, contributions, and limitations to communicate more effectively about the person we are treating rather than the systems. Patients know that we are all working toward their health together, and that when something isn’t working, we will all problem solve together.”

Sunita Iyer, ND, LM

Adjunct Faculty and Graduate, Bastyr University

Dr. Tegan Moore is the Executive Medical Director and Co-Founder of WHEELHOUSE Center for Health and Wellbeing. Her practice sees a variety of patients from pediatrics to oncology who are looking for a team-based approach and personalized healing solutions for chronic illness. Dr. Moore’s team works together to provide a one-stop-shop for genomic and microbiome analysis, personalized nutrition and lifestyle interventions, acupuncture, and cognitive/behavioral health.

“Naturopathic doctors are trained to search out and address imbalances in the body that cause symptom patterns—a method of doctoring that often requires unique treatment strategies catered to the needs of the patient. This approach to treatment often stands in contrast to allopathic protocol-based treatment plans and can act to augment care plans and improve health outcomes.”

Tegan Moore, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Many times, these conversations with patients reveal symptoms or health issues that may have not otherwise been addressed, and can act as a first line of defense against chronic disease, greatly reducing the need for future healthcare intervention.

Dr. Lisa Taulbee is a primary care provider who specializes in women’s health and gynecology. She works for ZoomCare, which is an on-demand interprofessional health care clinic with specialists who are available to see patients without referrals seven days a week .

“Patients often require multiple approaches and therapies to best manage health conditions.  All the providers on a patient’s care team are able to provide input in regards to their own specific areas of expertise, including naturopathic doctors.  Natural therapies can augment conventional therapies and even prevent the need for conventional therapies that may have adverse risks associated.”

Lisa Taulbee, ND

Graduate, National University of Natural Medicine

Dr. Jacob Wolf serves as a naturopathic provider at Lake Health Integrative Medicine, a practice which consists of osteopathic physicians, medical doctors, and chiropractors.

“With current heavy reliance on opioids and polypharmacy, a growing number of patients are looking for non-drug alternatives that an ND can offer.”

Jacob Wolf, ND, LAc, Dipl. OM

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Furthermore, “NDs are investigative diagnosticians. They take the time to gather a fair amount of information including labs and imaging, analyze and interpret based on defining and guiding principles of naturopathic medicine, develop hypotheses, and follow through with sometimes complex treatment strategies.  Our uniqueness is our systems-based approach to health and disease, and our consideration of the mental and emotional factors that influence patients’ health,” adds Dr. Jenab.

Dr. Dawn Siglain specializes in autoimmune, pulmonary, and renal health at Inner Source Health in New York City. She also is trained as a Reiki instructor and acupuncturist.  Dr. Siglain describes a visit at Inner Source as unlike any other doctor appointment, with an in-house variety of providers for women’s health, pediatrics, mental health, chronic pain, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular health and metabolic syndromes, Chinese Medicine, Lotus Physical Therapy, Pelvic Floor Therapy, and massage therapy.

“Naturopathic medicine extends beyond what labs may reveal about a current physical state.  Using a preventative eye, I assess labs with a narrower reference range which allows for detection of imbalance in the body before symptoms of discomfort may arise.”

Dawn Siglain, ND, LAc

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Doctor as Teacher

The first step to treatment is providing patient education with medical professional insight. Naturopathic doctors take the time to explain how factors could be contributing to illness so that the whole person is treated, not just the symptoms. In doing so, naturopathic doctors may collaborate with other medical professionals to provide the most comprehensive care available. Most importantly, the patient is involved and given options in each step of the process.

Dr. Dan Rubin is a board-certified naturopathic oncologist, founding president of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and Medical Director at Naturopathic Specialists, LLC., where many of his oncology patients are sent to him on referral from medical doctors. His team of interprofessional healthcare providers sees patients for pain management, diet and nutrition, IV therapy, and more.

“As part of an interdisciplinary team, each physician is presented with the same patient, but each physician, given their specialty, is going to see the patient a little bit differently. NDs are very attuned to identifying the cause of illness rather than just addressing the symptoms.  This focus on asking “Why did you become ill?” rather than jumping straight to “do this to get better,” helps to facilitate patient education and draw attention to the patient’s accountability in maintaining their own health.  It’s that vital step that makes personalized medicine and care possible.”

Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Dr. Heather Bautista is a naturopathic provider at Edward-Elmhurst Integrative Medicine Clinic. She works alongside medical providers to offer holistic patient care.

Simply put, interprofessional healthcare gives patients options. Being in an outpatient hospital setting, I often get statements like ‘I don’t want to go on medication’ or ‘I don’t want to be on this certain medication’ followed by ‘What can I take instead?’  It is not about replacing a medication with a supplement, but giving the patient options of what they can do at home with their lifestyle, food choices, possibly looking into environmental exposures, stress levels, detoxification pathways, etc.”

Heather Bautista, ND, CNS, LDN

Graduate, National University of Health Sciences

If the patient desires care outside the specialties or training of one health care provider the naturopathic doctor will make referrals to another.

Dr. Erica Joseph is a naturopathic oncologist at Seattle Integrative Oncology. In this busy practice, naturopathic doctors offer patients additional care in addressing symptoms and side effects from their treatments – a service that other providers do not have time to offer.

“Within the realm of oncology, each practitioner has a very specific role that they play and the different modalities can be quite separate, from radiologists who provide imaging, to surgeons who perform biopsies or curative surgeries, on to medical oncologists or radiation oncologists who provide their respective treatments. As a naturopathic doctor, I work with patients through each of these different stepping stones and help them to have a cohesive and optimal health care plan. By having the option to see multiple providers, patients gain more knowledge about their health and are given more options for treating their health conditions.”

Erica J. Joseph, ND, LAc, FABNO

Graduate, Bastyr University

Many times, naturopathic doctors can work with patients to incorporate lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet, nutrition, and stress management that provide a more natural approach to healing and longevity.

“From a family medicine perspective, the interdisciplinary model is priceless. Being able to see a child, and also take care of the parents, and even grandparents, provides insight not only into the symptoms in that moment; we gain a critical view of all of the social dimensions of health which often supersede the healthcare encounter in terms of effects upon a child’s or family’s health,” Dr. Iyer adds.

Interprofessional Feedback

Naturopathic doctors share the feedback that they have received about their naturopathic approach from their interprofessional team members.

Intrigued by whole-person approach

Dr. Jenab states, “My colleagues are intrigued and interested in learning more about the naturopathic approach to patient care.  Specific feedback is that we are thorough, hold a lot of information in context, are effective at engaging patients, and create a therapeutic space that encourages patients to speak openly about their health including their emotions, thoughts, and beliefs.”

Open to new approaches

As a licensed naturopathic doctor who practices in a pre-licensed state, I am always surprised by the positive feedback I get. My day-to-day interaction in my practice is with osteopathic physicians, medical doctors, and chiropractors who fully understand and appreciate the training of naturopathic doctors and value my approach to patient care. Other colleagues outside of my practice have occasionally been skeptical of treatment or diagnostic techniques that I have used, but have been open to trying new approaches,” says Dr. Wolf.

Surprised by extent of patient care

Dr. Iyer provides a different context on feedback she’s received. “I have a lot of friends who are other healthcare providers: nurse practitioners, surgeons, dentists, and physical therapists.  When they heard that I am a naturopathic physician and midwife, they hesitated.  They aren’t sure what that means.  Do I run wild in the countryside with scissors? Am I anti-vaccine? Am I anti-medicine altogether?  The way I describe my approach is as ‘natural-lite.’  Which isn’t to say that I don’t find natural therapies incredibly powerful or effective in my practice.  What I mean is that my approach is very much a marriage of methods.  All are welcome. Over time, I subject both natural and conventional therapeutics to scrutiny.  I don’t think one side is ‘better’ than the other.  I don’t think that there are sides.  We live, as do our patients, in a system. For our patients to be healthy but also well-resourced, we must work within the system to get their needs met.  Other providers are surprised that the naturopathic approach and the holistic approach involves the larger healthcare context of our patients, and not just using herbs or supplements to treat symptoms.”

Patient Success Stories

Naturopathic doctors share success stories of interprofessional patient care.

Cancer

“As a cancer specialist, I see the benefits of interprofessional healthcare firsthand. I really believe that ‘it takes a village’ when it comes to the treatment of a person with cancer.  If a patient only sees one physician, there’s realistically only so much care that they can receive. By involving medical, surgical, radiation, and naturopathic oncologists, the care they receive is more rounded and the patient is well-supported; it’s a team effort to provide the best care possible. I also believe the principle that ‘iron sharpens iron.’ The interactions and experience that I’ve had with my multidisciplinary colleagues over the years has made me a better physician, and enhanced the care that I provide by expanding my own knowledgebase.”

Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Breast Cancer and Hypothyroid

“I am treating a patient with metastatic breast cancer who has been on a trial drug for about two years. During this time, she has had multiple joint pain, severe fatigue, as well as insomnia. We had been attributing her fatigue to treatment side effect, however upon deeper investigation we found that she was hypothyroid, likely due to the variety of treatments she has received. By improving her thyroid function, she has regained significant energy as well as improved sleep. She was also starting to develop elevated liver enzymes due to her treatment and although she has been responding well, there was concern she might not be able to continue. Working together with her medical oncologist, we were able to come up with a plan to stabilize her liver enzymes which has allowed her to continue treatment. Additionally, I provided her acupuncture, which has greatly improved her pain level and daily functioning.”

Erica J. Joseph, ND, LAc, FABNO

Graduate, Bastyr University

Lower Back Pain

“A patient came to me for acute low back pain on referral from a neurologist. His symptoms were initially concerning for a potentially emergent condition, cauda equina syndrome, but there was no evidence on MRI. Since a surgical treatment was not an option, he was referred for acupuncture. I used a combination acupuncture techniques and targeted supplements to resolve the majority of symptoms including peri-anal numbness, thigh and groin pain, and low back pain. However, he still had a “stuck” feeling in his right sacro-iliac joint when moving from seated to standing. He began a series of biweekly manipulation sessions. Additionally, he began treatment with a massage therapist available in our practice. He now has complete resolution of symptoms and is back to full function.”

Jacob Wolf, ND, LAc, Dipl. OM

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Women’s Health

“A 39-year-old female patient presented initially for an evaluation of acute abdominal pain. She was ultimately diagnosed with NSAID-induced gastritis.  After questioning the patient, she revealed that her high NSAID use was due to severe dysmenorrhea from stage 4 endometriosis.  She had previously desired to preserve her fertility and declined contraceptive options and hysterectomy for treatment.  We initiated numerous natural therapies to help control her pain as well as counseling her on all options, including surgery.  Her pain was so severe and limiting her life to such a degree that ultimately, she made the decision to move forward with hysterectomy.  I referred her to a surgeon I frequently work with who was able to perform the surgery. Though it was not natural therapies that ultimately resolved her issue, I believe that having the time to try multiple options as well as counsel her on the risks associated with surgery and answer her questions as well as address her fears, she was able to make the decision that freed her from the excruciating pain she had been dealing with for decades.”

Lisa Taulbee, ND

Graduate, National University of Natural Medicine

Weight Loss

With hopes of making a full recovery after a work-related back injury, my patient considered the advice of his physical therapist to start exercising and lose weight and was referred to me to help with this lifestyle change. After four months, he lost 84 pounds. You may learn more about his weight loss journey here. Since this story was published, this patient has started intermittent fasting with continued weight loss.

Heather Bautista, ND, CNS, LDN

Graduate, National University of Health Sciences

Pregnancy and Birth

“One of my favorite stories is of a new mother that was in the care of a midwife at my clinic. During her care, she came to me for management of her thyroid with medication, lifestyle, and nutrition, which was very different than what her prior primary care physician was able to offer.  Given the nature of my working relationship with her midwife, we were able to jointly manage her care plan, labs, and follow up.  In the course of her pregnancy, she required a TDaP vaccine, which she was then able to walk right upstairs and receive with our team.  After her baby was born, she was having lactation difficulties.  I was able to step in to help with some botanical lactation support, she was able to see our acupuncturist for milk supply augmentation, and was able to connect with our mental health counselor and psychiatric nurse practitioner to assist with her postpartum anxiety and depression.  I was able to work with both her mental health team members to offer nutritional and supplemental support, and to ensure that her treatments were synergistic, not overlapping, and certainly not antagonistic and causing harm.  Most importantly, she was able receive all of this care in one place. She came in with her baby and was able to move between appointments seamlessly, with each of us shifting rooms to accommodate her while she breastfed or pumped.  While there are so many stories like hers, what we have created in our clinic in terms of interdisciplinary and integrated care that holds families is an incredible experience for us as providers, and for the families that we care for.”

Sunita Iyer, ND, LM

Adjunct Faculty and Graduate, Bastyr University

Psoriasis

“A recent success was the complete remission of an intractable case of psoriasis that presented in the ear canals and genitals and produced chronic and constant itching and irritation that was very distressing to the patient. The team approach included naturopathic internal medicine techniques including specialized genomic analysis of the patient’s inherited gene single-nucleotide polymorphisms that were potential contributors to immune dysregulation, genomic analysis of the patient’s microbiome to address inflammation that could be contributing to the immune activation, personalized nutrition offered by our skilled nutritionist as well as process cognition sessions with our hypnotherapist to support anxiety and improve the patient’s stress management skills. I am happy to report that the patient’s skin lesions healed within six weeks after treatment began and they are still symptom free to this day!”

Tegan Moore, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Mental Health

“I had a patient suffering from mental health concerns which were severely impacting his personal and work life.  He wanted only all-natural treatment; however, he was taking medications to keep his mood stable.  He had an appointment with his prescribing physician, but told me that he wasn’t going.  I strongly advised him that it was in his best interest to go to the appointment, explain his desires to his medical doctor and continue taking the medication as prescribed.  For him, naturopathic medicine could only work in conjunction with conventional medicine.  With the patient’s consent, I reached out to his psychiatrist and sent him my recommendation plan for this patient’s naturopathic appointment. It was so important in this case to have continuity of care including clear communication with his prescribing physician.  We were both concerned for the patient’s well-being.  In addition, this patient needed the support of naturopathic medicine combined with allopathic care to achieve his optimal state of mental wellness.”

Dawn Siglain, ND, LAc

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Continuous Learning and Excellence in Patient Care

Naturopathic medicine serves as a key component to interprofessional patient care. With the collaboration of health care professionals, naturopathic doctors serve as a teacher and guide in navigating patients through their healthcare options. Furthermore, interprofessional care encourages open-mindedness and continued education between providers to establish the best care possible for each unique patient.

I consider myself an idealist and hold a personal vision for an integrated model of care where the naturopathic paradigm helps to inform the overall team approach. Although many integrative health settings currently offer naturopathic care as a ‘supportive’ or ‘complementary’ modality, it is my hope that the heightened interest in holistic and functional approaches to healing makes room for naturopaths to act more often as the central hub in integrated clinical settings.”

Tegan Moore, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

In the words of Dr. Rubin, “In the end it’s all about the medicine and supporting the patient in a positive way. Having a community of health care providers, each with their own perspective and experience, looking at one person and weighing in on what options they have while supporting and enhancing treatment is a wonderful standard of care to aspire to.  In my opinion that’s how medicine should be delivered and exactly the care I would want to receive.”

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Dr. Kaley Burns – NUHS

“There is magic in medicine that does not derive solely from technology or diagnostic aptitude; but rather from our interactions with patients.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Like many naturopathic doctors, Dr. Kaley Burns discovered her passion through her own healing journey. After visiting multiple physicians and specialists with no success, Dr. Burns’ mother suggested she see a naturopathic doctor. Accustomed to conventional medicine, she was aware of naturopathic medicine misconceptions, but also believed that medicine could provide more. Naturopathic medicine gave her the healing results that she long desired. A then-physical therapy aide with dreams of becoming a physical therapist, Dr. Burns changed career paths and applied to naturopathic medical school, supported by the mentorship of her naturopathic doctor.

“Naturopathic training has helped me transform into a uniquely talented individual with experience, understanding, and strengths.”

NUHS as a springboard

With roots in Minnesota and an undergraduate degree from Wisconsin, Dr. Burns is a self-proclaimed “Midwest girl at heart.” She was attracted to National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) for its location in Illinois, and the collaborative programs. Throughout her schooling, she worked alongside chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and other health professionals to expand her knowledge and open doors to integrative care.

Since NUHS is in a pre-licensed state, the limitations in the naturopathic medical scope of practice inspire ND students to develop additional skills for patient care. “I sought training in IV and regenerative injection therapy. Additionally, I contacted clinics and medical professionals for preceptor and observation opportunities to gain an understanding of how I wanted to structure my practice. Furthermore, I worked to advocate for myself, my colleagues and the profession as a whole, with intentions to advance our training and opportunities.”

Dr. Burns also participated in a medical brigade to bring the healing power of naturopathic medicine to an underserved population in Nicaragua. Furthermore, she describes her NUHS clinic rotation at the clinic where she is currently practicing as an integral part of her growth as a naturopathic doctor.

“I am fortunate once again to be part of a comprehensive team, who are all dedicated to bringing the utmost care to patients in the community.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

Following graduation, Dr. Burns took some time off to reconnect with her loved ones before making the move to her first job at an integrative clinic in Connecticut. Since then, Dr. Burns has moved to Montana and practices full-time at a naturopathic primary care clinic.

“I am passionate about regenerative therapies, specifically injection therapies. As much as we know about the human body, mysteries remain. Moreover, the connections between mind and body become ever more prevalent in medicine. There is vulnerability when someone seeks help. Patients will share things about themselves; as doctors we must listen with open hearts and minds. There is magic in medicine that does not derive solely from technology or diagnostic aptitude; but rather from our interactions with patients.”

Dr. Burns enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as building connections in the community. She also values an active lifestyle and recently summited Mount Kilimanjaro.

Advice for aspiring NDs

Naturopathic medicine is rewarding career with many paths. “I encourage prospective students to embark on this journey because you believe whole-heartedly that there is a better way to help patients, a better method of healthcare. The infinite tools and meticulous training of naturopathic physicians allow us to truly treat each patient uniquely.” To learn more about career paths in naturopathic medicine, click here.

Learn more about Dr. Burns:

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NUHS Integrative Care Focus, Business Education Lead to Success

By offering programs in naturopathic medicine, chiropractic medicine, acupuncture, oriental medicine and massage therapy on one campus, National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) students have the unique option to earn a second or third degree in less time — saving money and starting their careers sooner.

Jane Drobin (pictured to the right) grew up in Elizabethtown, PA., with parents who were interested in alternative medicine. But it wasn’t until she started researching natural lifestyles for herself that she discovered naturopathy.

“The naturopathic philosophy aligned with my personal interests,” Drobin said. The opportunity to earn both a doctor of chiropractic and doctor of naturopathic degree in less time than earning them separately at different schools led her to NUHS.

Naturopathic students are also drawn to NUHS in Lombard, IL., because it is dedicated solely to science and health care careers. The ability to learn and work with students and faculty in other natural health care disciplines gives NUHS naturopathic students a competitive edge.

“NUHS does a good job of exposing you to everything, and you can decide what you love,” Drobin said. For example, after finding acupuncture students to be great resources, she added 100 hours of acupuncture instruction to her curriculum. “I’ll be able to refer my patients for acupuncture treatment because of the knowledge I now have,” she noted. She also plans to offer cupping in her practice.

With more hospitals and specialty clinics providing integrative health care options, NUHS graduates are trained to work with MDs, DOs, DCs and other medical specialists, co-managing patient cases as part of an integrative medical team.

Integrative Clinic Experience

Naturopathic students at NUHS spend a full year in the clinical internship program in one of its integrative medical clinics, learning to collaborate with professionals in other natural medical specialties. Students may also intern at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, gaining experience treating a wide range of pathology while meeting the needs of an underserved population. They also have unique opportunities for clinical observations in other specialties such as homeopathy, with an on-campus clinical observation experience and a clinical rotation at the Center for Integrative Health.

Rigorous, Science-Based Curriculum

A rigorous curriculum with a strong foundation in basic and clinical sciences is important to naturopathic doctors’ success. Students learn anatomy and physiology through full-cadaver dissection in its gross anatomy laboratory. While the basis of the program is in the naturopathic philosophy of looking for underlying imbalances and determining what is necessary to support the natural healing process, NUHS takes students deep into naturopathic clinical theory, which equips them with models for case analysis and treatment, and helps them to apply the principles in action. This comprehensive approach prepares NUHS graduates to be exceptional diagnosticians and physicians.

Experience a Hydrotherapy Suite

In 2017, the Lombard clinic opened a new hydrotherapy suite with state-of-the-art equipment. Hydrotherapy is an important healing modality in traditional naturopathic medicine.

It employs the therapeutic benefits of water at various temperatures applied in one of several ways to promote a specific outcome in a patient’s treatment plan. In NUHS’s hydrotherapy suite, students have the opportunity to experience the use of Constitutional Treatments, Russian Steam Baths (pictured to the left), Peat Immersion Baths, Far-Infrared Sauna and Colon Hydrotherapy.

Learn to Manage Your Career, Run Your Business

Naturopathic doctors need to be both excellent practitioners and knowledgeable businesspeople. National University’s business program gives graduates the confidence and real-world skills to succeed in what they want to do in today’s health care marketplace. Instructors in the business program are successful doctors who know the demands of the professional world.

Students learn about the many career choices they have and receive guidance in how to find the right fit for them. Those who go into private practice gain the knowledge needed to successfully managing their own businesses and develop a business plan for their private practice before graduation.

NUHS understands and supports every naturopathic student’s educational journey with their goal to have a successful career in mind. To learn more, follow the real-time year in the life of an NUHS naturopathic student by subscribing to the Naturopathic Student Blog. Keep up with the latest developments in naturopathic and other complementary and alternative medical fields on The Future of Integrative Health blog for aspiring professionals.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

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Therapeutic Benefits of Pets

We all know that eating fruits and vegetables, exercising, controlling stress, and getting enough sleep each night are vital components to overall health and longevity. But what if you found out you could further reduce your risk of heart disease and death without limiting carbs or taking another supplement? What if the same thing could reduce the risk of your kids developing environmental allergies, and improve mental health and well-being? Interested? Then it may be time to check out a local pet adoption event because these benefits (and more) are all associated with pet ownership!

“I can’t imagine life without pets. Animals provide unconditional love and acceptance. There is no way to describe all that these wonderful companions give to us.”

Gaia Mather, ND

Graduate and Assistant Professor, National University of Natural Medicine

According to a 2018 national survey, 68% of US households own a pet.1 Pet ownership comes with more than just unconditional love and endless entertainment. Additional health and wellness benefits of pet ownership include:

Improved cardiovascular risk and lower mortality

Pets are often responsible for filling their owner’s heart with love, but studies have also demonstrated that owning a pet can have added cardiovascular benefits and may even reduce the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease (as well as other causes). A 12-year long Swedish study involving 3.4 million people aged 40-80 showed that dog owners had a lower risk of death over the course of the study.1 Pet ownership has also been associated in a number of studies with reductions in cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, improved cholesterol patterns, as well as increased heart rate variability and autonomic function.2

Reduced risk of allergies and stronger overall immune system

The term “immunity” refers to not one specific thing, but a collection of mechanisms employed by the body in an effort to guard against agents in the environment. This includes microorganisms, foods, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, environmental allergens such as pollen and animal hair/dander. Pets can be a great source of a number of these, and interacting with a pet may affect immunity levels. Researchers have hypothesized that pets increase exposure to a greater number of allergens and other microbes. Published research has shown that growing up with a cat or dog can lead to fewer allergies later in life.3 Further research demonstrates that having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33%.4 The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology revealed that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.4

Enhanced stress management capabilities

Pet therapy is becoming increasingly popular and is used in a variety of ways. Many people rely on animals for support, whether in an official capacity as a trained service animal, or in the role of a house pet or registered emotional support animal.

“I know plenty of people whose lives would be significantly different if they didn’t have their companion animals helping them through life: a woman whose dog would alert her when she was about to have a seizure, and people whose assistance dogs help modulate their anxiety levels to function more fully in the world.”

Gaia Mather, ND

Graduate and Assistant Professor, National University of Natural Medicine

Veterans, children and students are just a few groups who have shown that people can experience less stress when a pet is around. A 12-month study of veterans with PTSD symptoms who were involved in a therapeutic dog ownership program revealed that participants experienced significant reductions in symptoms of post-traumatic stress, perceived stress, isolation, and self-judgment accompanied by significant increases in self-compassion.5

“As someone living with PTSD, animals have been a great source of comfort and truly a gift on my healing journey. I started riding at the age of five and cannot imagine my life without a horse. Just being in the presence of my horses, I feel a sense of peace and tranquility that heals my body, mind and soul. Horseback riding and being in nature allows me to re-balance and reconnect with myself and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.”

Holly Wurtz, ND

Graduate, National University of Health Sciences

Children often have less developed emotional and physiological responses to stress, as well as reduced cognitive coping mechanisms to self-regulate their stress response.6 In a study of typically developing children between the ages of 7 and 12, it was found that perceived stress during a novel stressor is buffered in the presence of a dog.6 University students are another group who experience a good deal of stress. In a study of pet therapy, students experienced a statistically significant reduction in stress markers, including stress as measured on the state trait anxiety inventory and blood pressure when interacting with therapeutic animals.7

Pet therapy may also benefit the workplace. Stress is a major contributor to employee absenteeism, poor morale and burnout, and results in significant loss of productivity and resources.8 Researchers examined how the presence of dogs impacted worker stress throughout the course of a work day. They found that dogs in the workplace may buffer the impact of stress and make the job more satisfying for those with whom they come into contact.9

For some, time with pets is the ultimate stress reliever. “As a practitioner, business owner and mom, my stress levels are inherently high. Cats make a huge difference in helping me recover from stress, giving me a chance to take a break and be in the present moment.”

Doni Wilson, ND, CNS, CPM

Graduate, Bastyr University

NDs share how they incorporate the therapeutic benefits of animals in patient care

“One of my patients was a depressed mother of two small children. Myself along with her other therapists, suggested that she get a dog.  She rescued a boxer and within a few months, her outlook on life and connection with her children improved significantly.”

Marizelle Arce, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

“A 60-year-old woman who complained of stress and anxiety, especially related to her health, got a cat. In taking care of her cat, her anxiety levels decreased, and she felt a sense of companionship. Many people feel isolated and alone, which actually becomes a stressor and causes further health issues. Having a pet can make a huge difference for these patients.”

Doni Wilson, ND, CNS, CPM

Graduate, Bastyr University

“I ask patients about pet ownership and find that pets often have a significant role in people’s lives.  Many pet owners view their pets as family members.  For example, I saw a patient who was experiencing a high level of stress due to work and a recent divorce. As part of his wellness plan, I suggested that he make time to take his beloved golden retriever to a dog park.  He started going to the dog park on a daily basis and felt more relaxed and better able to cope with life’s circumstances.”

Holly Wurtz, ND

Graduate, National University of Health Sciences

Decreased risk of obesity and augmented activity level

Despite intensive campaigns to promote awareness and lifestyle interventions for obesity, obesity and physical inactivity continue to climb, reaching epidemic proportions. In the US, over 60% of adults are overweight or obese, and fewer than 50% achieve recommended amount of physical activity.2 Studies have found that people who walk dogs tend to have lower incidence of obesity and are 53% more likely to meet recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity.2 The benefits are not limited to adults. The US has seen a threefold increase in childhood obesity since 1970 with around 20% of children aged 6-19 being considered obese.10 However, research has shown that for younger children, the odds of being overweight or obese were cut in half for those whose family owned a dog versus those who did not.2

Fosters social interaction

Creating, developing, and maintaining social connections with others is an important part of maintaining our long-term health. However, for many people, this is no easy feat. Social anxiety, communication difficulties, and lack of opportunity can all be challenges in forming social bonds. Pets can be great social networkers, helping to facilitate new connections, building support and rapport with others. A 2015 study found that people who were pet owners were over 60% more likely to meet and get to know the people in their neighborhood.11 Although dog owners were the most likely to make new friends while spending time walking their dogs, other types of pets such as cats, rabbits, and even snakes can support a sense of connection as well.2

NDs share how they’ve become involved in the community because of their love for animals

Dr. Mather has volunteered at the Oregon Humane Society with her niece.  She adopted one of her two cats while volunteering.

Gaia Mather, ND

Graduate ad Assistant Professor, National University of Natural Medicine

Dr. Arce and her husband donate toys and blankets to the Yonkers animal shelter. They also volunteer their time to the Mount Vernon animal shelter and Wildlife SOS in an effort to help people realize the importance of rescuing animals. Dr. Arce and her husband are pictured below with their two dogs, both rescued from North Shore Animal League. They also have two cats which were also rescued.

Marizelle Arce, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

“I have five cats, three dogs and two fabulous horses. My furry companions add to the richness of my life. I have volunteered with pet rescues for over 20 years and currently work with two rescues, FurKeeps Cat Rescue and Adopt a River Cat Rescue. I foster cats and kittens until they can find their forever homes and am very privileged to work with a remarkable group of people in rescue who are dedicated to helping both animals and people. We encounter many situations when working in pet rescue in which people need temporary homes for their animals due to unfortunate circumstances such as illness, job loss, domestic violence or homelessness, for example.  We also connect people with resources in the community to help provide support.  It is very rewarding to be able to help my community and be of service to both animals and people in need.”

Holly Wurtz, ND

Graduate, National University of Health Sciences

“I run a not-for-profit organization called Cat Care. Our mission is to care for feral cats in Port Jefferson on Long Island. We also care for a colony of 25 cats on my property. We also have a dachshund and a snake.”

Doni Wilson, ND, CNS, CPM

Graduate, Bastyr University

In summary, pets can serve a multitude of therapeutic functions in addition to being a loving member of our family. The decision to bring a pet into a home should not be taken lightly, however. Pets are a lifelong commitment – so make sure you research care, temperament and lifespans of the animals you are considering, and adopt from reputable locations or rescue organizations. By picking the right pet for your family, you will not only improve your health, but the health of your pet as well!

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