This week I'll start a series on naturopathic medical
Here at NUHS we are fortunate to have Dr. Louise
Edwards as the cornerstone instructor for the philosophical
portion of our medical education. Dr. Edwards has developed a
strong curriculum that incorporates all of the ideas I will be
discussing over the next few weeks. With her permission, her words
will appear verbatim in this blog where the circumstances are most
prudent to do so. This week, I'll begin with the basics, the
Naturopathic Model and our primary goal as naturopathic
Naturopathy is treating suffering (pathos) according to the laws
of nature, using natural means.
We, as students and interns, are trained to use the most
natural, least invasive methods that are within our scope of
practice to help our patients return to a state of health. If
higher force interventions are necessary to help our patients heal,
then we will refer to a specialist for co-management, just as any
other primary care provider would do.
The Naturopathic Model
Through recognizing and working within the Naturopathic Model,
we are able to determine the root cause or "center of gravity" of a
patient's divergence from a state of health. With an understanding
of the root cause, we can then implement the naturopathic
therapeutic order, which I will discuss in coming weeks.
Re-Establish the Basis for Health
Finally, our primary goal as naturopathic doctors is to
"re-establish the basis for health."
We accomplish this through correcting the disturbing factors
impacting a patient's healthy state of being. The patient's
disturbing factors can also be described as their "Determinants of
Health." Next week, I'll discuss these determinants and how they
impact a patient's health, over the short and long term.
This past week was spent finishing and polishing my presentation
for Grand Rounds titled "Safely managing prehypertension and stage
1 hypertension with botanicals." This is a subject that is close to
my heart if you will since hypertension and strokes are a common
occurrence on my father's side of the family.
Hypertension has been called the "silent killer" as a patient
may not notice any symptoms until a significant medical event such
as a stroke or heart attack occurs. A skilled, thorough doctor
performing a routine general physical exam can sometimes uncover
masked symptoms, which a patient may not even be cognizant about. A
well-performed physical exam can help prevent illness or even
prevent an early death.
At NUHS, we are trained on basic physical exam skills beginning
in our second of 10 trimesters. We are taught to fully examine the
patient through observation, listening, touch, and measurement. As
we progress through the curriculum, we build upon our basic
skillset and learn to interpret what we discover. This
interpretation is honed under the guidance of our clinicians in the
Whole Health Center and satellite offices.
A quick rundown of some of our exam procedures includes:
This seems like a lot to do in one visit, especially if the
patient is in a hurry. We have the physical exam presented so
often, that by the time we are in clinic, we can perform this exam
in 30 minutes or less! This gives plenty of time for the remainder
of the patient visit and conversation. The general physical exam is
intended as a screening tool to determine if more focused
examinations are required for the patient. The physical exam
skillset we learn at NUHS helps us to target key systems with
quick, accurate examinations. When in practice as primary care
doctors, we will rely on this skillset each day with our future
patients. These skills will help us save lives.
This week I'm profiling two naturopathic interns, Heather
Bautista and Echaukyei (Chucky) Ndumbi. Today, as the two of them
were sitting discussing their future practices and the lives they
would improve and save, I decided to set up an impromptu
Echaukyei (Chucky) Ndumbi and Heather Bautista
Heather Bautista is a native of the Chicago area. After working
in the pharmaceutical industry for a number of years, Heather saw
how disease was being "treated" and not healed, across the
spectrum. She decided to pursue a career that helped others heal
through learning proper lifestyle choices and habits. She chose a
profession that gets to the root cause of a problem and finds a
way, where possible, to remedy that problem to return the person to
a basis for health.
When Heather was considering medical school, her experience with
the pharmaceutical industry was a strong consideration in her
decision to pursue naturopathic medicine as opposed to allopathic.
She has a strong desire to help people heal rather than take a
course of medications for an indefinite period, many times simply
masking a deficiency or illness. When asked what gives her
motivation for becoming a naturopathic doctor, Heather mentioned
the complete sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes
with helping another human being truly heal.
Chucky is a native of Cameroon. After his family immigrated to
the United States in his early teens, he decided to continue the tradition of
becoming a healer, as his family has been in Cameroon for
generations. Chucky remembered how healthy his friends and family
were as they consumed vegetables, fruits and meats from their farms
and lived a healthy, active lifestyle. Chucky came to his decision
to pursue naturopathic medicine as it espoused a lifestyle that is
crucial to the basis for health as well as being eclectic in
preventing, as well as treating, and curing disease, when
prevention is not enough.
Chucky chose NUHS based upon the location of our campus to his
home in Maryland. Chucky knew he wanted to pursue naturopathic
medicine and he said he truthfully could not have prepared himself
for the rigors of the basic sciences portion of the curriculum here
at NUHS. Essentially, when he visited campus, he fell in love with
NUHS. Chucky feels that NUHS is preparing him to become an eclectic
naturopathic doctor who will use the proper modality to help his
patients heal to the greatest extent possible.
Each of the students who roam the halls of the naturopathic
clinic know that when strictly looking at the mathematics of the
cost of naturopathic medical school vs. allopathic medical school,
the costs are very similar. At the same time, the residencies are
not as plentiful, the backing of huge pharmaceutical and medical
supply companies is non-existent, and the starting salary of a
newly matriculated and licensed naturopathic doctor is a fraction
of a new allopathic doctor's. While these are the hard facts as the
profession stands today, we are growing as a group.
The success stories are mounting as NDs set up practices
throughout the country. We are licensed in 17 states and U.S.
territories at the time of this entry's publication. As our numbers
are currently around 6,000-7,000 NDs in the USA and Canada, the
word is spreading that our medicine works to get to the root cause
of illness. Somewhere I've read that about 25,000 practitioners is
the critical number to truly have an educated populace who knows of
our profession and how we approach medical care. If this is the
case, we are doing a pretty good job until now getting out the word
about Naturopathic Medicine, in 17 of the 50 states so far.
As Heather and Chucky expressed today, most naturopathic medical
students are not here for a huge paycheck. While we all acknowledge
that we need to make enough to repay our student loans, pay our
bills, live a good life, and save for retirement, our true purpose
here is to save lives.
This past week we were introduced to two of the more interesting
classes I have taken here at NUHS over the past three years. These
classes are Minor Surgical Techniques and Environmental
Minor Surgical Techniques is perhaps our best
example of medicine's greatest force of intervention, while also
following one of the Naturopathic principles of "do no harm." The
task of bringing injured tissues together (so that they can heal
more completely without complication) while piercing that tissue
with a needle and suturing material (some tissue damage in order to
help the whole person heal) can help prevent local infection
building and possibly invading the circulatory system, where it can
infect the person's entire body.
While many of us will never use the procedures taught in minor
surgery, some of our licensed states require that the naturopathic
physicians in that state be able to perform all procedures that a
primary care doctor would perform in their normal duties.
Environmental Medicine is a review of the
"total load" of today's environment upon the human body. We look at
all sources of toxins from our food supply, items of everyday
living, air, water and electronic sources. We measure the impact of
these sources upon the human body, both in the short term as well
as over a lifetime. We research ways of detoxifying the human body
from these influences and ways of helping the human body, mind and
spirit recover from an overload of toxins.
These classes roll up many of the concepts we learned in the
basic sciences portion of our curriculum from anatomy, inflammatory
process, tissue injury and healing, our bodies' built-in filtration
systems and just about every process we learned. Now, as I have
said before, the concepts are being applied on a daily basis, both
in our classes as well as when we see our patients at the Student
Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, I'm taking the bully
pulpit of this blog to honor two of the veterans who have given
their lives for our country, our freedoms, our people--not just for
their generation, yet for those who follow, both born here and who
immigrate here for a better life. These men are my uncles: U.S.
Army Private First Class Edward Ammons, who was killed in action in
1945 on Luzon Island in the Philippines during the waning months of
World War II after having fought much of the Pacific Campaign; and
U.S. Army Private First Class Otto Ammons, who was killed in action
in early 1952 near the 38th Parallel during the
Korean War. Our family has never forgotten them and I will do my
best to ensure that none of our veterans who have given their lives
willingly for our country and innate liberties, regardless of the
war, action or operation are forgotten.
• Combined Classes
• Observing in Clinic
• Botanical Medicine
• Minor Surgery
• Intern Skills
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