What is
Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of medicine that skillfully combines natural therapeutic traditions with modern science to restore and optimize health.

Licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained to provide primary care and to diagnose and treat patients of all ages, genders, and conditions. During a naturopathic medical visit, a comprehensive biological, psychological, and social history is obtained. Physical examination and diagnostic tests may be included to reach an accurate medical diagnosis. Therapeutic interventions may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical medicine, behavioral medicine, prescribed medications, and lifestyle recommendations.

The ultimate goal of naturopathic care is to support the body’s innate capacity to heal by treating the whole person with an individualized plan and teaching the patient how to prevent further illness.

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are educated and trained at accredited naturopathic medical colleges. NDs adapt natural therapeutics with conventional treatments to best address the needs of each patient based on a cogent philosophy that treats the whole person.

Naturopathic care is guided by the Therapeutic Order. The Therapeutic Order delineates the natural sequence and prioritization of care, providing the greatest benefit with the least potential for side effects. This treatment ensures the patient is an active participant in making health care decisions.

naturopathic doctor male 1

Naturopathic medicine has helped patients of all ages manage both acute and chronic conditions. Naturopathic medicine is effective in helping patients with conditions like chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, infertility, cardiovascular issues, and more.

The Therapeutic Order

1

Remove Obstacles to Health

The first step in returning to health is to remove the entities that disturb health such as poor diet, digestive disturbances, chronic stress levels, maladaptive coping mechanisms, inadequate sleep, and exercise. Naturopathic doctors create patient plans based on an individual’s “obstacles to health” in order to change and improve the terrain in which the disease developed. This allows additional therapeutics to have the most beneficial impact.

2

Stimulate the Self-Healing Mechanisms

NDs use therapies to stimulate and strengthen the body’s innate self-healing and curative abilities. These therapies may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, constitutional hydrotherapy, homeopathy, mind-body medicine, and acupuncture.

3

Restore Weakened Systems

Naturopathic medicine recognizes and honors the interconnectedness of the bodies organ systems. NDs will identify imbalance and work to restore optimal function.

4

Correct Structural Integrity

Physical modalities such as spinal manipulation, massage therapy, physiotherapy, therapeutic exercise, and craniosacral therapy are used to maintain and improve the musculoskeletal system. 

5

Use Natural Substances to Restore and Regenerate

Naturopathic medicine’s primary objective is health restoration. When a specific pathology must be addressed, NDs prioritize safe and effective natural substances that minimize toxicity or additional burden on an already distressed system.

6

Use Pharmacologic Substances to Halt Progressive Pathology

NDs are trained in pharmacology and how to use pharmaceutical drugs when necessary. They are experts in identifying drug-herb and drug nutrient interactions as well. As jurisdictional scope permits, NDs prescribe or refer to medical colleagues as appropriate.

Area of Focus

While naturopathic doctors are trained to provide primary care, some NDs choose a special area of focus. Specialty associations currently exist for Endocrinology, Environmental Medicine, Gastroenterology, Parenteral Therapies, Pediatrics, Primary Care Physicians, Psychiatry, Homeopathy, and Oncology.

Medical Training

Naturopathic medical education (NME) curricula is a comprehensive, rigorous, and well-rounded scientific medical education that is both comparable and complementary to that of MDs and DOs. NME incorporates a foundation in biomedicine, cutting edge natural therapies, and supervised clinical application of classroom knowledge. Naturopathic doctors demonstrate competence through a two-part standardized licensing examination and are required to maintain that competence through continuing education.

Learn more about how naturopathic doctors are educated, trained, and licensed here >>

Sustainable Improvement

Naturopathic doctors have extensive training in Behavioral Medicine, which enables them to empower patients to make and sustain lifestyle changes that improve health. Because of their rigorous training, naturopathic doctors go beyond treating physical symptoms; they help patients understand and address the underlying social, emotional, and psychological patterns that influence health. Naturopathic doctors are trained to utilize a broad range of therapies, counsel patients on lifestyle medicine, and incorporate comprehensive approaches to stress reduction. 

Scope of Practice

Naturopathic doctors are trained to perform or order physical exams, laboratory testing, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, allergy testing, X-ray exams, gynecological exams, and other diagnostic tests. They can prescribe medication. Naturopathic doctors are trained to perform minor surgery which includes repair of superficial wounds and removal of foreign bodies, cysts and other superficial masses, with use of local anesthesia as needed.

Botanical Medicine & Clinical Nutrition

Also known as herbal medicine, botanical medicine is the use of plants as medicine. Many plant substances are powerful, safe, and effective medicines when used properly.

Clinical nutrition, a cornerstone of naturopathic medicine, is the practice of using food to maintain health, to prevent sickness, and treat illness. The application includes dietary recommendations based on presenting symptoms and clinical assessment, which may include the utilization of targeted vitamin and nutrient therapy, given orally and/or by IV.

Naturopathic doctors create patient plans based on an individual’s
obstacles to health to change and improve the terrain in which diseases develop.

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Deb Hubers

Debra Hubers is a serial entrepreneur and has started seven businesses; ranging from an advanced genomics to an employer health care purchasing cooperative. Deb has over 35 years of experience in healthcare finance, education, technology, and pharmacogenomics.

Ms. Hubers has dedicated her career to measuring and improving healthcare outcomes. Her expertise is leveraging technology to deliver personalized, preventative medicine. Ms. Hubers co-founded La Vita Compounding Pharmacy in 2007. Collaborating with her business partner, physicians and strategic partners, Deb has grown La Vita to be one of the most respected and sought-after personalized medicine providers on the west coast. She is also Co-Founder of EpigeneticsRx, a leading provider of precise, personalized, prevention which positively impacts genetic expression.

Alex Keller, ND

Dr. Alex Keller, ND, AFMCP is a graduate of the University of Ottawa with an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences and Psychology. Although originally intending to attend conventional medical school, following a three-month volunteer internship at a rural Kenyan hospital where he observed how doctors used local food to treat patients, he shifted his career goals and pursued a degree in naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

After one year of practicing with the esteemed Dr. Chris Pickrell, ND, RH in a community acupuncture setting, in 2015 he and his wife Dr. Jenn Keller, ND moved to rural Ottawa, Canada where they started an organic farm and retreat center. In the same year, Alex and his athletic therapist sister Jess Keller combined their practices to form Keller Active Health, an integrative physical therapy clinic.

Ever curious and passionate about the education of evidence-based natural medicine, in 2017, Dr. Keller joined a fledgling Ottawa-based health tech startup named Fullscript. He serves as its Medical Director and oversees the development of medical education content for practitioners across North America.

Prior to medicine, Alex worked in the renewable energy sector, where he developed a deep passion for sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. This connection between medicine and agriculture now drives Alex to focus much of his energy on bringing awareness to the quality and sourcing standards in the supplement and organic agriculture supply chains.

Today, he splits his professional time practicing as a clinician, working for Fullscript, and expanding the farming operation while chasing his kids with Jenn and occasionally running ultra-marathon trail races. He is also currently completing an Executive MBA through the Quantic School of Business & Technology with a focus on supply chain innovation.

Pamela Snider, ND

Pamela Snider, ND, is Executive and Senior Editor for the Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project, producing a first of its kind international textbook of Naturopathic medicine through a series of international retreats and symposia. A nationally recognized integrative health and policy leader, she is active in both national and regional integrative health initiatives. Dr. Snider serves on the Board of Directors, was founding Executive Director and co-founder of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Health (ACIH/ACCAHCa consortium of the councils of schools, accrediting agencies and certifying bodies of the licensed, traditional and emerging integrative health professions, and is currently Vice Chair and co-founder of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC).  Dr. Snider served as a founding Board Member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine from 2014-2016. Her public policy work includes completing a two year appointment to the DHHS Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee (MCAC); serving as a Steering Committee Member for  the HRSA funded American College of Preventive Medicine NCCIM Integrative Medicine in Preventive Medicine Residency program, co-directing in USPHS Region X the Building Bridges Between Provider Communities Group, an exploration of interdisciplinary collaboration and common ground between public health and CAM; serving for 22 years on Washington State’s Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program Advisory Committee (HPLRSP); providing technical assistance to and developing key language for the enabling legislation for NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH/NCCAM); and staffing Joseph Pizzorno ND during his appointment as Commissioner on the White House Commission on CAM Policy.

From 1994-2003, Dr. Snider served as Associate Dean for Public and Professional Affairs and Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University, dividing her work between academic and public affairs activities, including chairing the Naturopathic Medicine Program Curriculum Review Committee.  Dr. Snider has been teaching, publishing and lecturing widely on Naturopathic philosophy, theory integrative health, public policy, and other topics for over 30 years. Currently, an Associate Professor at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Portland, OR, Dr. Snider also continues at Bastyr University in her 22nd year as a faculty member teaching naturopathic medicine history, clinical theory, and global context. Among her Naturopathic medicine professional roles she serves on the Institute for Natural Medicine’s Leadership Council.  In 1989, she co-led the naturopathic profession with Dr. Jared Zeff, in developing a unifying definition of naturopathic medicine and its principles of practice adopted unanimously by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) House of Delegates. She was a co-investigator in the 2004 NIH NCCAM research study, the North American Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda and CAM Advisor in NIHCCAM’s Financing Integrative Health Care (University of Washington).  Her areas of experience include healthcare education; naturopathic and interdisciplinary clinical theory, curriculum development; clinical practice; government and legislative affairs, public policy, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community organizing.  Dr. Snider has received the Ontario Naturopathic Physician of the Year Award, the Physician of the Year Award from the AANP, the President’s Outstanding Vision Award and Distinguished Alumnus Award at Bastyr University, AANP’s President’s Award, an honorary Doctorate of Naturopathic Philosophy from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), the William A Mitchell Vis Award from the AANP and The Gathering – NMSA’s Beacon Award. She received her ND degree in 1982 from Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences and is a licensed naturopathic physician in the State of Washington. She lives with her husband and children at their homestead in North Bend Washington, in the beautiful mountain to sea landscape and home of The Revival – Restore the Vis, an annual student-led community gathering.

Susan Haeger

Susan Haeger is Founder/Principal of Transformative Health Solutions Inc. She has applied her twenty plus years in executive leadership to help shape and drive adoption of progressive health policy for whole person healthcare. She was a section contributor to the 2021 INM/AANP published professional white paper, Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists: The Future is Whole Person Health Care that provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant and unique contributions to preventive, whole person care and models of integrative clinical practice.

Bruce Barlean

Bruce Barlean is an owner and founder of Barlean’s, a global dietary supplement manufacturer located in the Pacific Northwest in Ferndale, WA. Bruce has been actively involved in the Natural Products industry since 1989 and is passionate about making a difference in the world and positively impacting the lives of others.

Bruce believes that people can make a difference in the world through ordinary purchases. He is committed to improving the quality of life for every person on the planet by making the best products and by using the profits to support outreach programs. Bruce summarizes it simply, “We make good stuff to do good stuff”.

In the late 1980’s Bruce became passionate about how health could be dramatically improved with Flax Oil Supplementation. Bruce along with his entrepreneurial parents saw the potential to improve the lives of many people and in 1989 they began selling Flax Oil under the Barlean’s name. From 1989 – 2000 the business grew an average of 40% year over year. While most companies saw a decline in business in the 2001 recession, Barlean’s continued to grow and soon became America’s #1 selling flaxseed oil and continues to be to the present. The brand has since expanded to include additional oils, green food concentrates and other premium supplements. Bruce continues to drive innovation and over the years his products and company have won countless awards including: Eight consecutive Vity Awards for #1 EFA, Six consecutive Vity Awards for #1 Greens Food Supplement, Natural Choice Award for Best Specialty Supplement, Best Product of the Year, Best New Product, Gold Medal Taster’s Choice Award, Gold Medal American Masters of Taste Award, #1 Health Food Store Brand for Consumer Satisfaction by Consumer Lab, and Manufacturer of the Year.

In 2013 as the company was on the eve of celebrating the 25th year in business Bruce and his parents decided to take their desire to help people to a new level that they call Pathway to a Better Life – which is now seen in the Barlean’s logo. Bruce and his parents had always been generous in their giving and support of charities, but as part of the Pathway to a Better Life they decided to increased partnership with charitable organizations such as: Vitamin Angels, Compassion International, KidsTown International, Autism Hope Alliance, Engedi Refuge, Project 92, and others. And because so many people are unable to meet basic nutritional needs, Bruce created a comprehensive Omega-3 and multivitamin formula that he distributes free-of-charge to local food banks. In addition, Bruce decided the company would supply food banks with organic coconut oil to provide people with a health alternative to standard cooking oils.

Always generous with his time Bruce has served as a youth leader for his local church for several years and continues to mentor youth. He has been on several not for profit boards including; Whatcom County Pregnancy Center (2003-2006), Natural Products Association (dates?), and the Institute for Natural Medicine Leadership Council (presently).

The Barlean family have been avid supporters of Bastyr University since the 1990’s and in 2013 were given Bastyr’s most prestigious honor, the Mission Award, which recognizes their leadership over time in improving the health and well-being of the human community.

Bruce currently resides in Ferndale, WA with his wife Lisa and their two dogs: Heinz & Shadow. When he’s not helping others he can be found fishing (catch & release).

Get Involved!

Michelle Simon, PHD, ND

President & CEO

As president and CEO of INM, Dr. Simon brings her passion for working with organizations dedicated to improving the quality and delivery of healthcare. This desire stems from her years of practice as a licensed naturopathic physician. In addition to holding a Naturopathic Doctorate from Bastyr University she also holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She has served on boards for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI), and several advisory boards. Dr. Simon served nine years on the Washington State Health Technology Clinical Committee, as Ambassador to the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) and was recognized as 2018 AANP Physician of the Year. Dr. Simon shares with her husband a passion for adventure travel, preferably by boat or motorcycle. She also enjoys teaching a women’s off-road motorcycling class.