Naturopathic Doctors and Global Health

Did you know that naturopathic doctors work around the globe? Learn about the current field work in naturopathic service learning worldwide and how you can get involved! Join the AANMC and Dr. Sean Hesler – Executive Director of Naturopaths Without Borders to shape the why of your career through global health service. Plus, learn how to balance naturopathic medical school while staying involved.
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About the Presenter

Dr. Sean X. Hesler received his medical training from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. He received the 2018 American Association of Naturopathic Physicians President’s Award and the 2011 SCNM Alumni Award for Community Service for his commitment to global and community health throughout his career. Alongside his wife Dr. Sarah Preston Hesler he co-founded the MamaBaby Haiti birth center in 2010. Dr. Sean currently serves as Executive Director of Naturopaths Without Borders (NWB), a not-for-profit organization operating in Haiti, Mexico, Thailand, and Phoenix. In addition to sharing lessons on global health at universities and conferences around the United States, Dr. Sean teaches medical students and professionals in seminars and at NWB’s sites. He is also an adjunct faculty member at A.T. Still University. Dr. Sean uses the tools of root-cause naturopathic medicine to stimulate profound healing and life shifts. He specializes in cognitive enhancement, genomic medicine, biohacking, mental-emotional conditions and pain relief through physical and mental-emotional therapies.

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Cutting Edge Regenerative Medicine for Pain Patients

Join the AANMC and Dr. Casey Seenauth – Staff Physician at the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) for an informative webinar on naturopathic approaches to pain management through the use of regenerative medicine. Learn how he and other naturopathic doctors treat acute and chronic pain, sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions.

Here’s what you can expect to learn:
– Common causes of musculoskeletal pain
– Definitions of regenerative medicine and prolotherapy
– How regenerative medicine fits in with the therapeutic order
– Considerations for creating a comprehensive naturopathic approach for pain management

*Webinar does not qualify for CE

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*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .

To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.


About the Presenter

Dr. Casey Seenauth is a 2013 graduate of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a licensed naturopathic physician in Arizona. He has a passion for treating acute and chronic pain, sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions. Dr. Seenauth uses several modalities in his practice, including homeopathy, physical medicine, nutrition and botanical medicine. He has a special interest in regenerative injection therapies and prolotherapy. Dr. Seenauth completed his BS in biology/pre-medical sciences at Florida Atlantic University, where he also minored in Italian language.

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Changing Healthcare with a Unique Mindset

Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences is a leader in comprehensive team-based approach to natural health. Blending patient care with innovative research and a cutting-edge naturopathic curriculum, both SCNM students and graduates are using a uniquely different mindset to change healthcare. SCNM’s faculty, physicians, and staff work together to prepare students for success in medical school and beyond as they become successful naturopathic physicians. With Arizona’s wide scope of practice, students can become proficient at using all naturopathic therapies to treat and heal, including acupuncture, IV and injection therapy. Keep up with the latest news about SCNM and the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program by visiting Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine’s website and YouTube channel.

 

Changing the World of Botanical Medicine

Arriving in the early months of 2020, the Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Medicine will advance 21st century Botanical Medicine. The Institute will conduct analytical testing, cellular and molecular biology assays, and metabolomic testing on (medical) botanicals. It will expand benchtop and clinical research opportunities for students, and work alongside other academic institutions and leading natural product companies to generate and publish new knowledge, develop new botanical products and improve existing formulas.

Honors Tracks

SCNM has launched five distinct honors tracks in community health, nature cure, pain management, pediatrics, and regenerative medicine. The honors tracks give qualified students the ability to gain a richer and more in-depth experience within a specific emphasis. In addition, these focused areas of clinical education can help position students for competitive post-graduate opportunities and residencies.

 

Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine

Dedicated in 2018, the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine is the first of its kind at any naturopathic medical school, continuing SCNM’s reputation as leaders in the field of naturopathic medicine and stem cell therapy. The center provides extensive research opportunities and additional clinical experiences for students focused on providing non-opioid pain relief options to the patients.

 

SCNM Sage Foundation: Providing quality healthcare to those in need and allowing students to broaden their patient experiences

In addition to on-campus clinical experiences at SCNM’s Medical Center and Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine, SCNM third- and fourth-year medical students treat patients at various community clinics throughout Maricopa County. At these clinics, patients include children in low-income school districts, domestic violence survivors, low-income families, individuals coping with HIV/AIDS and patients recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. This gives students the opportunity to help underprivileged communities and expand their clinical experiences.

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Dr. Spice Lussier – SCNM

“I love being a part of the transformations I see in my patients’ lives with the improvement of their health.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

With a love for science and a passion to provide person-centered holistic care, Dr. Spice Lussier discovered naturopathic medicine while pursuing a career in allopathic medicine. As a medical receptionist, she felt there had to be more to medicine than spending ten minutes with a patient and writing a prescription.  Feeling discouraged with her future in allopathic medicine, she took the advice of a friend and went to Discovery Day at the  “natural school” in town – Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM).  “I still remember walking in to SCNM and reading the naturopathic philosophy banners for the first time – they were exactly what I thought medicine should be! “

SCNM as a springboard

With its convenient location and warm weather, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine was the best fit for Dr. Lussier. “I had a great educational experience at SCNM.  I enjoyed the challenge of didactic and the early integration of patient interactions.  I was very active in the community medicine program and enjoyed providing naturopathic care to the underserved while putting my clinical skills to practice.”

As a student, Dr. Lussier took shifts with local practices to gain experience and to network with other doctors.  Because of these experiences and connections, she received opportunities prior to graduation.

Following graduation, Dr. Lussier took a full-time position as a physician with a startup company. As the first employee, she had the unique opportunity to build a successful practice from the ground up. This experience helped her realize her love for business.

Today, Dr. Lussier runs a thriving practice, Desert Wellness Center and recently launched ND Catalyst, a consulting business in which she works with other doctors to ensure successful naturopathic businesses.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“I am grateful for the privilege of being a naturopathic doctor. I love being a part of the transformations I see in my patients’ lives with the improvement of their health.”

A big advantage of a degree in naturopathic medicine is the variety of career paths. “I have a balanced 40-hour week schedule of seeing patients, running a practice, and growing my consulting business.  I am also a contributing author, lecturer, and teacher. As a mother of two, I love the flexibility of being my own boss and setting my own schedule so I am able to spend my evenings and weekends with my family.  I am so grateful for the ability to have an amazing career and be there for all the special moments.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

Dr. Lussier encourages prospective students to interview or shadow a local naturopathic doctor. Furthermore, if you have the means, visit the naturopathic medical schools you are interested in to determine the best fit for you! Each of the schools has a unique culture, location, and feel.

Learn more about Dr. Lussier

Website

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

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Naturopathic Approaches to Arthritis

Arthritis is a well-known condition that causes extreme, debilitating, life-altering pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis impacts over 50 million Americans, making it the number one cause of disability in the country.1 That means 1 in every 5 adults, 300,000 children, and countless families deal with the ramifications of this painful condition every day. The Centers for Disease Control report that more than 43% of adults with arthritis have work or leisure related activity limitations due to pain.2 Arthritis is really an umbrella term for more than 100 different conditions.3 While all types exhibit the same general symptoms of pain and joint inflammation, each has a unique etiology, some better understood than others. The most common forms of arthritic conditions include osteoarthritis (OA) and inflammatory arthritis types including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and gout.

Osteoarthritis

The concept of the pathophysiology of OA is still evolving, from being viewed as a cartilage-limited to a multi-factorial disease that affects the whole joint.4 Traditionally considered “wear and tear damage” to the joint cartilage, OA is a degenerative joint disease caused by breakdown of the physiological pathways that affect the cartilage and other joint structures. The physiological events that occur in OA result in progressive joint degeneration including destruction of cartilage, joint space narrowing, cysts, spinal disc and facet joint changes, and changes to synovium, joint capsules, ligaments, muscles, meniscus, fat pads, and the layer of bone beneath the cartilage.5  Symptoms of osteoarthritis can include joint pain, loss of mobility, and deformation.6 Currently, only symptom modifying drugs are licensed by the FDA for use. These are largely pain reducing therapies that are limited in efficacy and can have life-threatening side effects as well as significant toxicity.5

“Our goal is to prevent disease before it even begins.  Osteoarthritis can be prevented by maintaining a healthy body weight and by reducing the risk of injuries in young adulthood, such as in those playing athletics.  By teaching safety measures and proper body mechanics to young athletes, we can reduce the risk of injury and the risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.  Avoiding overuse of joints may also reduce the risk of developing arthritis, so teaching patients proper ergonomics and proper posture is an important prevention measure, as well.  Lastly, evaluating for and treating vitamin D deficiency is another possible preventative measure. The treatment goals for a patient with osteoarthritis include controlling pain and improving joint function.  In order to accomplish these goals, naturopathic treatments include anti-inflammatory and analgesic interventions to reduce pain and ideally reduce dependence on NSAID pain relievers. To improve joint function, the naturopathic physician aims to slow cartilage loss and ideally restore cartilage quantity within the joint space.”

Kimberly M. Sanders, ND

Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences and Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Inflammatory Arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis is a category of arthritis, containing diseases characterized by inflammation of the joints and other tissues.6 Most conditions classified as inflammatory arthritis are also autoimmune conditions. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system, which is supposed to protect the body, begins attacking the body instead. Symptoms of inflammatory arthritis can include pain, swelling, warmth and tenderness in affected joints, as well as morning stiffness that lasts over an hour.7 Inflammatory forms of arthritis are systemic and impact the entire body. Because of this, inflammation related symptoms might appear, including skin rashes, development of lumps or nodes under the skin, eye inflammation, hair loss, dry mouth, and fever.6 The prevailing current theory supposes exposure of a genetically prone person to an environmental trigger as the most likely mechanism for initiation of inflammatory arthritis.7

“Setting the foundations of health such as getting sufficient sleep, drinking enough water, and trying to reduce stress are always a good place to start to help reduce the inflammatory burden.  Identifying and removing triggers that stimulate the immune system such as food allergies, improper balance of the gut microbiome, hormonal imbalance and other environmental toxins are the next best approach to help prevent inflammatory arthritis and improve symptoms. Symptoms such as gas, bloating, frequent or urgent stools, constipation, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, early menopause, chronic headaches, chronic congestion or allergies can be indicating factors for underlying triggers.  Helping to correct these other symptoms is part of the approach to reduce inflammation and prevent arthritis. Something to note though is that if there is already damage to the joint, bringing down the inflammation will only partially help the pain and prevent further damage.  Depending on how much damage has been done to the joint, further treatment (if possible) should be pursued to help minimize pain.”

Jennifer Bennett, ND, LAc

Adjunct Faculty and Graduate, Bastyr University

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common autoimmune inflammatory arthritis.7 It affects more than 1.3 million Americans, about 75% of whom are women.8 RA is characterized by persistent synovitis (inflammation of the joint lining), systemic inflammation, and auto-antibodies (particularly to rheumatoid factor and citrullinated peptide).9  The small joints in the hands and feet are most commonly affected, and sometimes RA can even impact organs, such as the eyes, skin or lungs. Over time, persistent inflammation can break down the joint and lead to permanent joint deformity and damage.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis that occurs in some patients with skin psoriasis, but it can occur in people without skin psoriasis, particularly in those who have relatives with psoriasis.10 Psoriatic arthritis is most often seen in the larger joints. It is especially prominent in the joints of the lower extremities, as well as the distal joints of the fingers and toes, and also can affect the back and sacroiliac joints of the pelvis.

Gout

Gout is a form of non-autoimmune inflammatory arthritis that impacts over 8 million American adults and is the most common inflammatory joint disease in men.11 The incidence of gout has more than doubled over the recent 20 years, likely tied to dietary changes and the increased prevalence of obesity.12 Fortunately, it does not result in the system-wide inflammation seen in RA or psoriatic arthritis.3 In gout, the joint inflammation is the result of elevated levels of uric acid in the blood stream (hyperuricemia) leading to the deposition of uric acid crystals inside the joints. The chances of developing gout are increased with a rich diet (red meat and wine are common culprits leading to the increase of uric acid). The outcome is extremely painful joint inflammation. The most common site for gout is the large joint at the base of the big toe, but it can also affect other joints as well.

Naturopathic management and treatment

Although the various forms of arthritis cause pain in different ways, the basics of naturopathic management and treatment options are quite similar across all types.

“Arthritis is a metabolic and systemic condition, therefore lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise and targeted nutritional supplements are key. Decreasing sugar, increasing healthy protein and fats, balancing hormones and getting adequate daily movement and strengthening for the joint are my go-to. Beyond that I employ regenerative injection therapies like prolotherapy and platelet rich plasma as my heavy hitting treatments of choice. But these injections simply do not work or last if the other factors are not addressed.”

Tyna Moore, ND, DC

Graduate, National University of Natural Medicine

Diet

Of the non-pharmacological treatment approaches, dietary interventions are among the most common. In recent years, the role of dietary antioxidants in arthritis management is increasingly being addressed by researchers in reported studies. Although the underlying cause of arthritis is largely unknown, a number of nutrient and non-nutrient components of food have been shown to affect the inflammatory process and, in particular, to influence clinical disease progression.13 Emerging research demonstrates a protective role of fruits and their polyphenols in pre-clinical, clinical and epidemiological studies of multiple forms of arthritis.14 Berries and berry extracts have shown protective qualities with regard to joint structures and overall inflammation levels.14,15 There is also some evidence on the role of specific fruit polyphenols, such as quercetin and citrus flavonoids in alleviating arthritis symptoms.14

“Proper nutrition is needed for joint health. Getting patients to change to a whole foods diet, mostly plants, helps reduce pain and inflammation in as little as two weeks. These benefits are amplified when you remove processed foods such as bread, sugar and dairy products. Foods like salmon contain essential fatty acids and vitamin D, berries are rich in anti-oxidants and one of my favorite supplements to give to people with joint and muscle pain is Vitamin D. So many people are low in vitamin D and it often can make a big difference.”

Joanne Gordon, ND, MSPT

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Movement as medicine

Exercise is recommended as a first-line conservative intervention approach for arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis and strong evidence supports that aerobic and strengthening exercise programs are beneficial for improving pain and physical function in adults with mild to moderate OA.15 Arthritis can be a barrier to physical activity with studies reporting that 43.5% of adults with arthritis reporting arthritis associated activity limitations.16 However, movement may also be preventive in the development of arthritis. Research has found that when adjusted for age, the prevalence of arthritis among adults reporting no leisure time physical activity is significantly higher at 23.6% than the prevalence of arthritis among adults who report meeting basic physical activity recommendations at 18.1%.16

“As with all cases, naturopathic physicians seek to find the underlying cause of osteoarthritis.  If the patient carries excess weight, then weight loss may slow down the progression of the disease by reducing the amount of stress on the joints.  Properly strengthening the muscles around the affected joint is also encouraged to support the joint and improve functioning. Low-impact exercises, especially swimming, are quite beneficial for management of osteoarthritis symptoms as well.”

Kimberly M. Sanders, ND

Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences and Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Acupuncture

The philosophy behind Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture involves the belief that energetic forces circulate in the body on pathways known as “meridians.” When the free-flowing circulation of the energy in the meridian is blocked or hampered, disease and dysfunction occur. Acupuncture, which involves the stimulation of an individualized aggregate of acupoints found along the meridians, is a means by which energy circulation is restored and health and balance are restored. Acupuncture has been reported as an effective treatment for many chronic pain conditions, including arthritis.17 The use of acupuncture is associated with significant reductions in pain intensity, improvement in functional mobility and quality of life in those with arthritis.17

Supplements and Herbs

There are a number of supplements and herbs that have been studied for their benefits on various factors involved with arthritis. Some focus on inflammation, others on supporting cartilage regeneration, and others on factors such as immune balancing. Among the most common supplements utilized for joint pain are glucosamine and chondroitin. This duo has been evaluated in several trials, both as separate supplements and in combination. Studies of glucosamine alone have found it to be equivalent or superior when compared directly to ibuprofen.18 Chondroitin has consistently been found to be superior to placebo.18 Trials examining the two together revealed moderate to large benefits that were relatively consistent for both pain and functional outcomes.19

Omega 3 fatty acids are well known for their inflammation modulating activity and studies using experimental models have shown benefit in a variety of inflammatory conditions.20 With regards specifically to arthritis, research has found omega-3 fatty acids to be superior to placebo in improving outcome measures and decreasing the long-term requirements for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.21 Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to have a therapeutic role in decreasing pain in arthritic patients, particularly those with rheumatoid arthritis.22 Other fatty acids like gamma linolenic acid (GLA) have also been studied. GLA-Rich oils have been shown to have anti-angiogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant activities.23 A meta-analysis of studies investigating the impact of GLA-rich oil found that taking GLA resulted in a near 33% decrease in pain intensity and a 15% improvement in disability.24

Herbal supplements have also shown benefit for those with arthritis. Studies of the impact of the herb Boswellia serrata on osteoarthritis, indicated that a 90-day treatment with 100 mg of enriched Boswellia serrata extract improved symptoms such as pain and physical function compared to placebo.25 Studies have also demonstrated that the herbal extract curcumin has both defensive and therapeutic effects on the occurrence and development of RA.26 A curcumin extract was evaluated for its impact on inflammation and synovial hyperplasia in rheumatoid arthritis in an experimental model. Researchers found that curcumin inhibited the RA induced infiltration of inflammatory cells into the synovium as well as synovial hyperplasia.26 Further, the study found that curcumin reduced the levels of pro-inflammatory markers in both the serum and synovium.26 Green tea and green tea polyphenols have also been investigated for their benefits in those with arthritis. Green tea impacts inflammation via multiple pathways. Consuming green tea polyphenols prevented both the onset and progression of arthritis.27

Of course, because naturopathic medical protocols always seek to find and remove the cause, there will be individual variances in treatment based not only on the specific condition and its cause but more importantly, on the individual patient as well. These might include therapies like hydrotherapy, homeopathy, orthopedic regenerative injection therapy with stem cells or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in patients with OA, immune balancing therapies in cases of inflammatory arthritis like RA or psoriatic arthritis, or very specific dietary considerations in those who experience gouty arthritis.

 

Naturopathic doctors share patient success stories

Inflammatory Arthritis

“Connie, a retired health professional, had painful arthritis in her left thumb and knee such that she could no longer knit, spin yarn, or take care of her new 8-week-old puppy because of pain. Connie eliminated some of the common inflammatory foods like sugar and dairy, got her vitamins and hormones in check and then received a few sessions of prolotherapy. Connie noticed a significant difference in her pain levels and she is now able to knit, care for two Cairn terriers and take care of her other farm animals.”

Joanne Gordon, ND, MSPT

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Rheumatoid Arthritis

“Many patients show improvement in their arthritis symptoms, and some are even able to come off their medications with time. One patient of note was a woman diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 32.  She had been on a combination of Leflunomide and methylprednisolone for many years with limited success.  Her other symptoms included irregular menstrual cycle (cycles swinging from 65 to 33 days), chronic migraines and chronic stress.  After one year, we were able to regulate her menstrual cycles with herbs like flax and vitex to every 31 days, which consequently reduced her chronic migraines and joint pain.  We also worked on implementing an anti-inflammatory diet and corrected her gut microbiome with berberine and high dose probiotics.  We were eventually able to taper her off her steroid with minimal joint pain or flares, and we are currently working to taper her off her Leflunomide dosage.  To date, she remains relatively pain free and recent imaging shows no progression of joint damage after a year and a half.

Jennifer Bennett, ND, LAc

Adjunct Faculty and Graduate, Bastyr University

Osteoarthritis

“Steven is a 56-year-old male who first presented in June 2018 for management of left knee osteoarthritis which he rated a 5/10 in severity.  He was morbidly obese with a BMI of 47.8.  Upon physical exam, I noted mild effusion in the left knee but no erythema or pain upon palpation.  There was restricted flexion of the left knee noted as well.  The right knee examination was normal.  On his first visit, I ordered basic labs to evaluate his blood sugar and cholesterol levels, along with vitamin D and thyroid panels.  His fasting glucose returned slightly elevated at 101 mg/dL, A1C at 5.8%, and his insulin was high at 21.8 uIU/mL.  His vitamin D was also low at a 25 ng/mL.  His cholesterol panel was within normal limits.  Based on these findings, I determined that insulin resistance was contributing to his obesity, which was a likely underlying cause for his left knee osteoarthritis.  In addition, his vitamin D insufficiency could also be an obstacle to cure, as lower vitamin D levels may be related to worsened osteoarthritis progression.  My focus for the patient was on symptomatic control in the short-term with a long-term goal to improve insulin sensitivity and promote weight loss to reduce tension on the joint.  He was given an exercise and dietary plan to improve insulin sensitivity along with vitamin D replacement therapy, a bioflavonoid complex, high EPA omega-3 preparation, and a curcumin preparation for symptom control and anti-inflammation.

Steven returned in August 2018 with updated labs.  His fasting glucose remained elevated at a 103 mg/dL but his insulin was now an 11.6 uIU/mL.  His A1c% was not re-run since only two months had passed.  He had not yet noticed weight loss or pain reduction, but also admitted to irregular compliance with the diet.  He did comply regularly with the exercise regimen, which is likely responsible for the drop in insulin noted.  After another two months, his fasting glucose remains elevated at a 106 mg/dL but his A1c% is now a 5.5%.  His insulin is still an 11.1 Uiu/mL, and his vitamin D is now a 31 ng/mL.  Most notably, however, is a 30% improvement in his knee pain and function at this visit.  He noted that the combination of curcumin and high EPA fish oil preparation seemed to provide great relief after consistent use, despite not yet losing weight.  At our last visit with Steven in February 2019, his insulin continues to hold at 11.2 Uiu/mL and his A1c% is now 5.3%.  Now that the holiday season has passed, he notes better compliance with his dietary plan since the new year, and has already noted a 16-pound weight loss.  His knee pain remains a 2/10, and he has reduced his dependence on ibuprofen by instead using curcumin and high EPA preparation.”

Kimberly M. Sanders, ND

Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences and Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Inflammatory Arthritis

Helping my patient find relief from their pain is my passion. My favorite case was a patient with a frozen and painful shoulder. She could barely use her arm or raise it more than a foot off the side of her body. She wanted platelet-rich plasma, but I knew better. Too much, too fast, too strong can make that type of condition much worse. We started slow and low with more gentle regenerative injection types, incorporated hormonal balancing and general care, worked our way up from there with the strength of the injections, incorporated rehab and strengthening, and within a few treatments she was 100% pain free and able to enjoy full range of motion. She threw her arms fully above her head, and shouted “Look at me!” Seeing her relief from pain brought a lot of joy to my heart.

Tyna Moore, ND, DC

Graduate, National University of Natural Medicine

Naturopathic medicine has a large and deep toolbox to draw upon to help those suffering with any form of arthritis. Click here to find an ND near you in the US and Canada.

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