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White Paper: Naturopathic Physicians as
Whole Health Specialists

“This white paper is a timely tool for informing the medical community about naturopathic medicine and how it is strengthening systems of care with evidence-based approaches for addressing chronic disease.” – Michelle Simon, PhD, ND

Against the backdrop of 2021’s International Day of Natural Medicine, the Institute for Natural Medicine announced the publication of a white paper designed to raise awareness of the principles of naturopathic medicine and reaffirm the profession’s commitment to a collaborative model of clinical care. Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists, The Future is Whole Person Health Carea collaborative effort with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant contributions to preventive, whole-person care while citing effective models of integrative practice that have called on the expertise of naturopathic physicians in both primary and specialty care environments. The 44-page paper was issued at a time when the nation’s healthcare workforce is facing a significant undersupply of physicians to meet the growing needs of a system encumbered by pandemic-related requirements. The authors’ intention is to demonstrate how licensed naturopathic physicians, who have graduated from accredited naturopathic medical schools, are uniquely equipped to address this workforce dilemma, respond to healthcare disparities, curb increasing costs, manage chronic conditions, stimulate a passion for prevention and health promotion strategies, and solve some of the challenges associated with declining patient satisfaction in healthcare today.

“This white paper is a timely tool for informing the medical community about naturopathic medicine and how it is strengthening systems of care with evidence-based approaches for addressing chronic disease,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, ND, president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Natural Medicine and one of the paper’s 11 section contributors. “I have worked alongside medical doctors and other healthcare providers throughout my 19 years in clinical practice; our patients have come to rely on this multi-disciplinary approach, and this paper reveals a clear roadmap for how collaboration among naturopathic doctors and other healthcare providers can be maximized in clinical, hospital, and academic settings,” she concluded.

Michelle Simon ND

Michelle Simon, PhD, ND

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Whole-Person Care in the Clinical Setting

The paper also features case studies that illustrate naturopathic approaches to conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD) and Long-Haul COVID-19, as well as a research section that summarizes successful clinical outcomes in patients with cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, type 2 diabetes, and other illnesses and diseases.

Laura Culberson Farr headshot

Laura Farr

“Policymakers are scrambling to find ways to expand the healthcare workforce, improve patient outcomes, and lower costs,” said Laura Farr, executive director of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and one of the paper’s contributors. “This white paper provides the framework for how naturopathic medicine has the research behind it for cost effectiveness and patient outcomes, and a foundation of preventive patient-centered philosophy now known to be critical in achieving a more effective healthcare system,” she continued. “We call on all policymakers to take immediate action to remove barriers in the healthcare system currently preventing the rapid deployment of naturopathic physicians into all healthcare environments.”

Joining Dr. Simon and Ms. Farr as section contributors were Amy Rothenberg, ND, DHANP; Arvin Jenab, ND; Coquina Deger, MBA; JoAnn Yanez, ND, MPH, CAE; Julie Tran, ND, FAAEM, MBA; Melanie Henriksen, ND, LAc, CNM; Moira Fitzpatrick, ND; Pamela Snider, ND; Len Wisneski, MD, FACP; Susan Haeger and Kimberly Lord Stewart.

“As a Professor, co-founder of the Integrative Medicine Initiative, and Director of the Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences graduate program at Georgetown University, I found this white paper to be comprehensive and enlightening regarding the emerging field of Naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine is a field that embodies many key elements of the patient-centered and personalized healthcare model emerging in the 21st century. It is imperative that healthcare professionals have access to the information and understanding presented in this document. A collaborative allopathic and naturopathic approach to patient care will contribute to better management of chronic diseases and holds great promise for helping us all become healthier people.”

– Hakima Amri, PhD

Professor, Physiology and Biochemistry, Director, Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences Graduate Program, Department of Biochemistry and Cellular & Molecular Biology, Division of Integrative Physiology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Co-Editor, Molecular Medicine. IntechOpen Book, Co-Author, Avicenna’s Medicine: A New Translation of the 11th-Century Canon with Practical Applications for Integrative Health Care

“People are not the mere sum of their parts, and all good care is duty bound to respect the greater whole– and to be, accordingly, holistic. That elusive imperative is best served when patients are empowered with options; when root causes are given the attention they warrant; and when care genuinely encompasses the cultivation of health along with the reaction to disease. These objectives and more are served by effective, respectful, and responsible collaborations across disciplines. Where allopathic medicine most often falls short, naturopathic medicine tends to shine. This thoughtful paper evinces a bridge between the two, highlighting the contributions naturopathic care can make to the shared goals of all healers. Follow carefully where this reasoning leads, and our patients will be the beneficiaries.”

– David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM

Founder, President, True Health Initiative, CEO, Diet ID, Founding Director (1998-2019), Prevention Research Center, Yale University / Griffin Hospital, Past President, American College of Lifestyle Medicine

“I have been involved in the development of Naturopathic Medicine since 1976 when first introduced to this approach to health care. This magnificent contribution to the understanding of the foundations and approach of Naturopathic Medicine will have a enduring impact on its adoption as an important contributor to the evolution of health care at a time when this system of healing is so needed”

– Jeffrey Bland, PhD, FACN, FACB, CNS

President, Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute, Founder, Institute for Functional Medicine

“For over a century, naturopathic medicine has been a champion of whole person health. This outstanding and attractive White Paper effectively describes healthcare which focuses on helping each person understand their unique physiological needs and the many ways that natural medicine can promote health and reverse disease by supporting our powerful healing systems.”

– Joseph Pizzorno, ND

Founding President, Bastyr University, Chair, Institute for Functional Medicine, Editor-in-Chief, IMCJ, Author, The Toxin Solution, Co-Author, Textbook of Natural Medicine

“It was refreshing to see a medical field that is interested in a holistic approach to personal care. I was especially impressed with the emphasis on prevention and balanced nutrition. I can envision the day when there is increasing collaboration between MD and ND practitioners and scientists.”

– Kent Thornburg, MS, PhD, FAPS

Professor of Medicine Emeritus, Former and Founding Director, Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University

“This document is filled with wonderful information and is expansive as well as succinct. It is an excellent tool for NDs to use in their practice and for naturopathic universities to use in their communications. It can also be utilized to educate communities and populations both nationally and globally. It is a stellar document.

– Sandy Gooch Ph.D.

Founder of Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Foods Markets 
Author of ‘”If You Love Me Don’t Feed Me Junk”
Founder of Healthy Meals Team, Los Angeles City School

“As a family physician dedicated to advancing health justice, I have worked inter-professionally with naturopathic physicians for two decades and helped set up the first ND in a Federally Qualified Health Center in California. I can say that naturopathic physicians will be an essential part of addressing health inequities. The focus on whole person care while utilizing accessible, low-cost therapeutics such as nutrition, exercise, mind-body techniques, botanical medicine, and other non-pharmacologic approaches can lead to improved outcomes and patient safety for a myriad of chronic diseases including chronic pain, depression/anxiety, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Everyone deserves good medicine!

– Sharad Kohli, MD

Co-founder, Integrative Medicine for the Underserved

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