Don’t Kill The Messenger; listen carefully to the message …

Knowledge is Cleansing
Steven Bailey ND, knowledge is cleansing, listen to your body to learn about your health

The message is often more important than the pain

Conventional, “modern”, medicine has a tendency to kill or stifle the messenger. In comparison, the foundations of traditional, holistic and naturopathic medicine are to take a step back, listen and then interpret the message. The messenger is typically voicing one or more of the following symptoms in response to inflammation or trauma: pain, swelling, fever or redness. These four messengers date back to the time of Hippocrates as the Greek quatrad of dolor, tumor, calor and rubor.

  • PAIN (dolor) is a sign of trauma, metabolic accumulation or lack of blood and oxygen flow to an area.
  • SWELLING (tumor) is a natural response to trauma (splinting via swelling) or inflammation/infection. It is produced by the chemical action (chemotaxis) of our immune system allowing fluid and white blood cells out of the vessels and into the area of concern.
  • TEMPERATURE (calor) is created by immune chemicals to enhance white blood cell activity
  • REDNESS (rubor) is a sign of these chemical actions as the enhanced spread of immune activity creates a reddening change in the surface appearance.

These processes are all needed for the body to completely resolve infection, inflammation or trauma. Pain needs to be tolerable, swelling needs to be addressed and resolved, fevers need to be observed and cause investigated, but not removed and the redness needs to be identified, understood and resolved with something other than a potent immune suppressant or anti-inflammatory. Animal studies have shown that the use of fever reduction in intentionally infected animals results in significant worsening of morbidity and mortality (sickness and death)[1].

Most people are more interested in removing discomforts than understanding the message. The conventional system of care is geared toward analgesics to control pain, anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling, possibly antihistamines as well, antipyretics to reduce fevers and topical agents to reduce the rash and redness at the site. It is certainly important to reduce pain, but it is equally important to listen more deeply, reflect more comprehensively and seek cause not relief.

One of the key reasons that our conventional medical system works the way it does is that the normal function of the immune system present in the pain, swelling, temperature and redness are now considered as diagnostic criterion of disease. Our current system will utilize normal functioning to define a disease and by removing the immune symptoms treatment is often palliative, enter the “gag” in the mouth of the messenger.

The Hippocratic principle of “do no harm” is often compromised with the risky use of pharmaceuticals to control normal functions on a long term basis. One need only look at the PDR for side effects and rare events; whether it is Prednisone, aspirin or Tylenol, Imbrem, Pseudophed, or the more dangerous agents like Methadone, Methyltrexate and the narcotic world of Morphine, Oxycotin and Oxycodone.

I have prescribed almost every agent listed above sparingly as compared to conventional medicine. Pharmaceuticals all have their place and may both help the acute condition and save lives. When you are feeling poorly, listen to the message, reflect on any changes of habits, exposures or other factors that accompany the time line. Try your best to make your health practitioner expand their listening and investigation of the condition. Seek the relief that is essential, but respect the fact that most pain and suffering is a function of an active reparative process that can be guided to completion.   Silencing the messenger may relieve how we feel, but may also delay the opportunity to address the causative problems in their early stages. A problem untreated, merely silenced, will eventually lead to a even greater, louder, and stronger message. Listen to the message, seek the cause and seek the needed solution, instead of just silencing pain.

[1] See Science magazine, November 1984, “A little fever is good for you”.


Facts versus Fiction: Debunking misinformation about juice fasts takes knowledge and expertise.

Knowledge is Cleansing

I have a pretty favorable opinion of the Huffington Post which is why I was surprised to find that their Living Web section retains an article from last year (11-11-13) titled “Do Juice Cleanses Work? 10 Truths about the Fad,” by Melissa Valliant, a journalism major who appears to be focused on debunking popular trends in food and diet as tools for health. I have seen similar articles routinely since I began my own fasting practices in 1968. Unfortunately, there are undoubtedly people making great profit from “Fad” practices, which is why it’s important that knowledge and expertise about the healthful benefits of juice fasts be separated from sensational comments.

As a naturopathic doctor with over thirty years of service dispensing therapeutic levels of food and juicing as medicine, I’m compelled to reply to Melissa Valliant’s article and its conclusions. In “Juice Alive,” my second book on the subject of juicing for health, I presented the history of juicing dating back 2,400 years to the Greek medical practices and even further in the Orient. The fact is that fasting and juice therapy is evidenced in traditional medicine with a very well established history.

“Do Juice Cleanses Work? 10 Truths About The Fad,” begins with Valliant’s perspective including a numbered list of alleged “truths” and ends with Valliant’s conclusion. My response is based on first hand perspective and time-tested conclusions.

The Article
Ms. Valliant proceeds with exploring “what is a juice/cleanse fast?” Valliant focuses on non-pasteurized juices, fails to mention the subject of organic produce and ends with a germ phobic discussion of bacterial dangers inherent in non-pasteurized beverages. This method without concise science or studies to validate the claims is commonly utilized. As a result of my clinical practice, I have tens of thousands of days’ worth of clients and patients consuming raw juices with no food born infections resulting.

The article, written by Melissa Valliant, challenges the need for detoxification, and positions that the body is fully capable of detoxifying without assistance. To do so, flies in the face of thousands of studies recognizing the profound health impact of toxins, solvents, agricultural chemicals and heavy metals on the human body’s ability to sustain health. In fact, Valliant ignores the entire field of epigenetics.

Point One: “It’s dangerous for some people”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: People undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics, people with nutritional deficiencies and kidney disease should not try a juice fast without strict doctor’s guidance. Moreover, I have taken nearly fifty diabetic patients through juice fasts without sugar rises; such incidents are generally associated with the effects of pasteurized juices or high glycemic cooked foods. Valliant’s seems to source the glycemic load theory, but fails to demonstrate understanding that the theory is based entirely on cooked or pasteurized foods. I have found few programs that better address nutritional deficiencies than the effortlessly digested, concentrated nutrients of raw organic juices. Additionally, Valliant includes comments about electrolyte elevations found with kidney disease. In my experience as a naturopathic physician, I have only found such elevations in people engaging strong pharmaceutical drugs that interfere with normal electrolyte balance. As a N.D. and detox expert, I always recommend that diabetics engage juice fasts under the advice and supervision of a doctor with the appropriate expertise in the field, because of the risks of hypoglycemic changes associated with specific daily medicines. Though advanced kidney disease would also warrant insightful supervision, few therapies are both as safe and as reliable as a well guided raw organic juice fast.

Two: “Juicing is not better than whole fruits and vegetables”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: As we need fiber in our regular whole food diet, valuable quercetin found in the white rinds of citrus can’t be understated. The fact is that it takes 5 pounds of produce to result two pounds (one quart) of juice. Most antioxidants survive juicing and can easily be delivered at a two and a half to one ratio as compared to whole foods. Raw organic juices are one of the most nutrient rich forms of quality food that can be produced. Yet, Valliant excludes beets and carrots alluding blood sugar issues, but these have been the cornerstones of my juice programs for more than thirty years, with no harmful blood sugar consequences.

debunking juice fasting myths requires knowledge and expertise

Juicing is not only healthful; it’s an essential component on the path to optimum health.

“Juices are less filling than whole foods”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: Valliant should be mindful not to confuse “filled” with “nourished.” I can cite thousands of clients not hungry and satisfied during extended juicing. The science of fasting and my program can be referenced in my books, The Fasting Diet and Juice Alive.

Four: “Juicing can leave out critical nutrients your body needs to function properly”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: From five days to more than a hundred days of juice and water fasting with thousands of patients, I have never seen gluco-neogenesis (protein conversion to sugar; “starvation”) nor encountered electrolyte imbalances as suggested by Valliant’s article. While monitoring and making incremental adjustments during juicing therapies, I have not found blood work and urinalysis showing glucose dumping, ketones or abnormal functioning. Again, what’s important is the level of knowledge and expertise sought to supervise any extended juicing therapy. Indeed, engaging extended juicing frivolously, without qualified supervision, is a bad idea.

Five: “Like most fad diets, a juice fast is not an effective way to lose weight and keep it off”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: When healthful eating habits are created after a fast, weight loss can easily be retained. Diets that create gluconeogenesis, such as: Cambridge and Atkins, often result a yo-yo effect with lowered metabolism. Alternatively, a healthful juice fast does not lower metabolism. The caution is appropriate when after a healthful fast there is a return to the SAD Standard American Diet; as a consequence, obesity, weight gain, increased risks of diabetes, heart disease and cancer return.

Six: “There isn’t really anything to detox”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: Vallant fails to acknowledge that pesticide exposure has been shown to cause harm three generations later. Heavy metals are being recognized as neuro toxins and associated with a large number of neurologic diseases. Chemical solvents have been linked with infertility and birth defects. The entire field of epigenetic with methylation defects and impaired hepatic (liver) elimination quantify some of these toxic accumulations with their associated disease outcomes. I recommend that Valliant and others consider the science regarding fasts as relevant scientific studies can be referenced with ease.

Seven: “It’s not cheap”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: More importantly, disease is very expensive. Unlike SAD foods and processed foods, which include hidden costs both financially and physically, organic foods charge the entire cost at the register. SAD food and processed food cost in work loss and illness is generally accepted by most of the scientific community as the major contributor of current “western diseases”.

Eight: “But my friend did it and she said she felt amazing”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: I’ve consistently encountered evidence of the statement. My clients frequently move from a highly acidic state to an alkaline state, and their urine from being saturated with daily toxins (specific gravity of 1.030) to clear urine with ample room to carry out remaining toxins (SG or 1.000 to 1.005), which results in an amazed feeling of a healthier physical state.

Nine: “It’s not going to cure cancer”
– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: Never would I say that fasting will cure cancer, and I would hope that no MD would guarantee that chemotherapy, radiation or surgery will cure cancer. Important to note, conventional medicine defines a cancer cure by survival beyond a certain number of years, determined by the aggressive or slow nature of each cancer development. These cure rates have not changed over the years while earlier diagnosis of cancer have helped rocket success rates of conventional treatments* I have not come across this as a normal claim. Nonetheless, I have seen many cancer patients show improvements through fasting, have seen remarkable changes in some and find that most cancer patients are highly stressed and poorly processing dense foods. The self-digested raw organic juices are a comfort and a superior nutrient source for people with processing impairments.


– Response by Steven Bailey, ND: Valliant ends with the suggestion that juices can be safely consumed and may have some good. She recommends no long periods of juice diet and cites standard views that fruits, vegetables cereals and grains and lean proteins are our diet of choice. Unfortunately, Valliant failed to mention the value of essential oils, lecithin for brain function and the critical nature of mineral rich organic foods providing zinc for immune health and brain communication, selenium to help prevent cancer and chromium to protect insulin sensitivity and help prevent type 2 diabetes.

In all, Melissa Valliant’s truths have two statements to which I partially agree, however four of her “truths” I consider false, and the balance of her points will offer substance for debate in the next debunking round to come. Most importantly, I will continue with the knowledge of science, and the expertise from an active practice to employ juice fasts therapy along with a variety of healthful treatments known for creating a balanced and energized life.

Say No To GMO

Action For Health


My favorite sentiment is echoed from one of Thoreau’s quoted that “The dawn is the most glorious season of the day”.

We are at crossroads with our problems growing in proportion to size, population, power and technology. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the complicated harm that we impact upon each other and our world. It is challenging to be informed without also receiving the emotionally provocative messages of multiple media sources. At the same time, the access to information via internet has led to a quantum change in the common views about our food and drug industries. These attitude shifts about the quality and care of our food production has led us to a new dawn.

Oregon will soon vote on a GMO labeling initiative. My home town of Portland is a mecca of Farmer’s markets, co-ops and whole food culture. As a local community we support organic, local and sustainable enterprises. We influence how national chains stock, promote and adapt to our buying patterns.  Americans are choosing a rational course in diet, life-style and health care directions. The old paradigms of recommended allowances, plans and proportions, no oversight on broad nutritional content of both processed foods and the delivery of conventional agriculture are fracturing before our very eyes. We are closing in on the critical mass point where new information and logic replaces the old way of thinking.  Take action for health; say no to GMO.

Is juice fasting safe?

Knowledge is Cleansing
Steven Bailey, ND approach to fasting and detox cleansing is a safe alternative.

The approach that can make the needed difference for you.

The New York Daily News, July 11, 2014 article by Sheila McClear: Experts say Juice Cleanses are Unnecessary, Expensive and often packed with sugar”  This begs the question, is a juice fast or a detox cleanse safe?

Having done juice cleanses every year for over forty years and leading groups in juice fasting and detox programs for more than thirty years, I have seen countless articles like this most recent “flat earth” discussion in the New York Daily News. I am long past being surprised or upset, but wonder how such information continues to be accepted and reported as if it is balanced, accurate, expert or informed. Let me, “your detox exoert’ make some appropriate commentary for this piece of literature.

The author begins with the tired pablum of “Experts say your body not only cleanses itself naturally, but juices have lots of sugars, distort a normal balanced diet and may slow your metabolism long after you start detoxing.” I don’t know what retooling means but there is a mountain of evidence that we humans are becoming more and more toxic, suffering disease as a result and live in a highly inflamed state due to our toxic states and poor nutrition. Added sugars and cooked sugars are a concern, but the sugars of raw juices do not conform to the standard science of processed sugars. Raw juice fasting increases metabolism and starvation slows it down. These experts continually confuse starvation with fasting and typically are experts only on the most superficial levels of understanding the physiology of digestion, elimination and detoxification.

The article looks at pasteurized juices, trendy fads and really the most public and superficial programs that are being marketed. Sheila McClear says this “cleanse craze” began in 2007! I guess that when my classmates and I began detox cleanses in the 70’s we jumped the gun. Our teachers who followed their teachers were premature as well. The hygienists of the 19th century who used lemon juice and honey to decongest the elimination pathways of their patients were, I suppose, way ahead of their times. But to provide even more perspective, the 19th centrury hygienists were only following the advice of Hippocrates. Yes, the father of western medicine advocated lemon juice and honey as well as many liquid diets based on vinegar drinks to bring balance back to sick patients. Funny, how 2007 is cited as the beginning of this craze of ancient wisdom.

I invite journalists to Google “detox expert” or contact me directly so that I might offer balance to this discussion. Unfortunately, flat earth thinking will only some day be faced with the reality of the earth’s full roundness. Until then, we must reach out to dispel the superstitions and limitations of the self-proclaimed experts of today. The wisdom of nature, our roots and the great benefits of an organic, raw juice diet, done appropriately proves its own success and benefits.

For a healthy approach to fasting contact me, join my fasting sessions with online guidance or learn the steps needed in my book, The Fasting Diet.


Whole Foods, are they organic or not?

Knowledge is Cleansing

Whole foods from our early heritage, before the use of unnatural methods in agriculture, were organic and healthful. Today, though no less essential for good health, whole foods aren’t necessarily organic, and in fact, have been proven harmful to health. You’ve heard: “organic foods have more antioxidants and less toxic metals, study finds.”

Henceforth, the term “whole food” should always mean “organic foods”. The news cited, though not groundbreaking, shows that conventional foods are both nutritionally inferior to organic foods and are far more toxic. I’m happy that we have a return to whole foods movement in America and around the world, because along with health hazards known, the conventionally grown foods of today’s modern agriculture should be considered closer to processed foods than actual whole food. Feedlot meat, caged birds, farmed fish and chemically raised foods all have significantly more toxic metals and chemicals making them measurably different from their natural and organic origins. The antioxidants alone should lead us to organic, but the increasing harm being registered to petrochemicals of agriculture and heavy metals should end the discussion entirely.

We should recall that it was in the 1920’s that Benedict Lust reported in Nature’s Path, that farmers in Europe who were using the new wave of fertilizers and agro chemicals were coming down with skin conditions, GI distress and respiratory distress. Note that in the 1940’s the US Congress reported on the significant lowering of minerals and trace minerals in our soils due to chemical fertilizers. During the 1970’s, reports revealed that many of the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers kill the soil microbes that are responsible for delivering nutrients into the roots of the plants. Today we know that farm workers in these chemical based farms have higher rates of infertility, birth defects and many forms of cancer. The list grows annually.

The lesson for us all is to invest in a personal or community garden to grow our own whole foods, buy locally or pay for the best options whenever possible so that there are better opportunities for health and longer life. A diet filled with organic, and heritage plant varieties, as unprocessed as possible, paves the road back to the benefits of healthy whole foods and one of the best investments that can be made. Understand that if we don’t try to change our options and look for more beneficial differences in the options we do have, we won’t find the best options. Regarding the current state of our traditional food industry, there is great economic motivation to be superficial. Begin looking to researchers outside the traditional food industry more deeply and encourage awareness about the emptiness and often harm that results from bad science coating our foods.

Smile – Be Happy

Cleanse For Health

Steven Bailey, ND shares expertise in naturopathic medicine and insight for improving health.


     As I contemplate the importance for us all to cleanse for health, I’m taken by a very old wisdom brought into our conscious lives in a new song that is being played everywhere called Happy.  The lyrics: “clap your hands if you think that happiness is the truth” is a testament for our ultimate state of being in body, mind and spirit.

      I walk often through my neighborhood, which has two treatment centers and a fair number of homeless neighbors. Often they are understandably less than happy. I believe that they’re not often presented with a smile and may find returning one difficult.  Even though, I’m aware that many of us might take a smile personally in a suspicious manner, I smile as often as I can and enjoy when it seems to touch the person in the right way. Just like I feel the warm release of happy endorphins when the sun hits my face, I choose to smile and find that putting a smile on my face makes me feel better.  A smile seems to lighten tension for my overall nature.  Noted throughout time, a smile is a gift of happiness both to the receiver and to the giver.

      Bobby McFerrin released his one hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” more than twenty five years ago. I had been given an inspirational card of Meher Baba with his smiling picture and the words “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” as the entire text. He was not the first to say this but carried the wise words of his Hindu heritage. In his teaching of spiritual nutrition the prophet Mohammed said that happiness feeds the body in the same manner that good food does. And we are told in a number of passages in The Bible that worry serves us no gain. Norman Cousens shared how focusing on comedic movies and themes drove him from advanced disease to restored health and our own culture has the Readers Digest “Laughter is the best Medicine” as a commonly known adage.

      In an effort to cleanse for health, I suggest that smiling can be your path to happiness and the soulful nourishment needed to free your body, mind and spirit of toxins.  So as you consider how best to cleanse for health, smile and clap your hands knowing that happiness is for you.

– Dr. Bailey



Dr. Bailey shares thoughts about the pillars of naturopathic care

Elder Series

Steven Bailey, ND shares expertise in naturopathic medicine and insight for improving health.

Knowledge is cleansing – Cleanse for health 


Elders Series 

Naturopathic Practice,  The Model I Hold Dear


In 1977 I was living a vegetarian lifestyle, juice and water fasting, doing yoga, meditation, herbal studies, massage, and reflexology.

– Okay, people occasionally called me a hippie.

When I learned of the naturopathic college in my home town of Portland, Oregon, I felt my stars collide and a need to race to catch up with all that the college had to offer. Doctorate degrees at the Northwest College of Naturopathic Medicine were affordable, endorsing individual-centered healthcare options consistent with my own philosophies and practices.

When I joined 78 other new students at NCNM in 1979, I had relevant education and experience. In becoming Dr Bailey, I found the center of my life as environmentalist, student of religions and philosophy, the fasting guy, and social activist, which is the dominant gene in my family. I saw naturopathic medicine as a way to serve my local and world family, consistent with what I held true. I was inspired by some professors and guest faculty, was challenged by some, and tolerated others.


How I see my role as doctor and advocate for my patients...

As I share how I see my role as doctor and advocate for my patients, please understand that this is what works for me. I am no shining example of anything; my childhood is on par with everyone’s and I consider myself on a bumpy path to wholeness. I have sat on many boards, taught at colleges and CE events, wrote over 200 weekly and monthly articles in the 1980s, hosted 22 years of public radio on naturopathic medicine, have taken over 500 students in the preceptoring programs, have published 3 books, and served as speaker of the AANP. It is only in summary that this becomes impressive; for me, these were merely choices in living and contributing to my community. Not counting the books, these activities represent about 30,000 hours of non-paid activities for the profession, for which helping people improve upon health is the truest and richest of any compensation. This is not uncommon among the graduates of my era. I have worked to honor my elders’ work, to strengthen the profession in philosophy, paradigm, and practice that continues to serve both the individual needs of our patients and the evolving global healthcare system


 Inspiration From My Elders 

I am grateful that my education included lectures and relationships with John Bastyr, Joe Boucher, Ralph Weiss, Bill Turska, William Babnick, and other pioneers. These naturopathic doctors were inspirational in their dedication, wisdom, patient outcome, case studies, and most importantly, their nature, or continence.1 The portrayal of their healing art provided me confidence in entering my solo practice. I was prepared for primary care, with nature-cure as my focus.

A clear perception I had of my elders, as I entered into active practice, was of qualitative good. Politically and socially diverse, these men and women shared a love for the trade. Naturopathy was no gateway to fortune or fame, and those that took this road exemplified the humble servant more than the prestigious doctor. The soft compassion of John Bastyr, Joe Boucher, and Ralph Weiss (and so many others) was backed by courage and presence when needed. There was acceptance and inclusion offered to the students at NCNM and John Bastyr College.

I left NCNM feeling confident that I possessed the knowledge, skills, and philosophy to serve as a naturopathic doctor. I would serve on the NCNM board through 1991, witnessing the creation of student loans, the creation of the CNME, and therefore national candidacy and accreditation for NCNM and the creation of the AANP.


Pillars of Naturopathic Care 

In naturopathic medicine, we lost our long relationship, our familiarity, when our one college, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, produced just a handful of naturopathic doctors from 1956 to 1959, and only 19 graduates between 1960 and 1970! My colleagues, the “Welders,”2 who graduated between 1975 and 1985, likely represent the only doctors receiving, with their own ears, the stories from the mouths of those we revere as our true elders.

The model I hold dear, my original view of naturopathic medicine, comes from the philosophies, practices, and oral traditions of these elder gentlemen and gentlewomen. 

History will show that the Welders drove naturopathic medicine into the public consciousness and paved the way for the successes and conflicts that embody us today. The Welders spent the late 1980s working within the newly formed AANP, codifying the naturopathic principles that stand to define our unique profession alongside other national models. The principles come from our teachers who gathered knowledge and wisdom from their teachers, their own practice, and many traditions. Each of these 6 principles, tried and tested, have become the pillars for our naturopathic care of our patients:

1.  The healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae

2.  Identify and treat the cause (tolle causam)

3.  First do no harm (primum non nocere)

4.  Treat the whole person (in perturbato animo sicut corpore sanitas ease non)

5.  The physician as teacher (docere)

6.  Prevention (principiis obsta:  sero medicina curator) 

These Latin phrases, when embodied in practice, provide continuity of care for both doctor and patient. “Nature-cure” can be a restrictive phrase, depending on personal perspective and definition. Nature-cure as “naturopathy” acknowledges herbal, homeopathic, nutritional, spiritual, physical, eastern and multi-national traditions as being consistent within the scope and practice of the profession.

Today’s graduates, with emphasis on standards of practice, diagnostic assessments of conventional medicine, leanings towards evidenced-based paradigms and debt formerly known only to “medical school” doctors, do not have the opportunity to experience the living nature-cure of the elders. Still, we must continue to adapt to, and not adopt, the conventional paradigm. What makes naturopathy relevant, why we have a distinct educational system, is our identity, our philosophy, and what proves to be both a complementary and a primary field of public health.

I left NCNM, embracing the privilege of becoming a naturopathic doctor. Consistent with Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver naturopathic practices, I entered a field of primary care. My practice has included home births, prenatal care, AIDS, cancer, heart disease, workers’ comp and auto injuries, and acute and chronic diseases of all kinds.

All of these patients were approached with my elders’ philosophy of treating the person and there were no “standards of care” within this model. Much of what we think of today as standards of care or practice were simply given standards within the broader context of full naturopathic care.3

The care I offer…

My personal model of care merges who I am, what I believe, what I have learned in life and lesson, and everything unfolding in research and thought, to strengthen the care of my patients. I can offer thoughts and approaches to naturopathic practice, but in the end each philosophy, each practice and truth, is the work of being a doctor as we travel our own road to becoming an Elder.


The Importance of Wholeness in Our Profession 

Many speak of a divide within our professional family tree. The view, from opposite ends of 2 generations of doctors, fails at times to reveal family resemblance. Still, we are family rooted to our philosophy and able to sustain many branches. There is no view that contradicts the truth that will not eventually fail; the truth always remains. We must not hold to old views that fail to sustain their truth, just as we must be open to the possibility of new knowledge.

I know that wholeness of the profession is possible as I meet soon-to-be doctors as preceptors in my office, enthusiastic and anxious to apply their education. Our “branches” are not opposing, and each can flourish within the naturopathic medicine of today while holding to the principles that stand as our truth. 

The divide we are experiencing does not grow from our root philosophy and practice. Epigenetics has been consistently addressed in our tradition. Most practitioners dispense probiotics to provide balance and harmony within the digestive system; the proof and benefit are proven. The limitations of “evidence-based” scientific paradigms are often counter-intuitive to the outcomes of traditional naturopathic medicine. The evidence-based approach cannot avoid the creations of limitation within standards of practice.

Like our elders, we must keep abreast of research, practice enhancements, laboratory refinements, and, as appropriate, integrate them for our patients’ benefit. With understanding of the original intent of naturopathic philosophy, nature-cure, and principles, “primary care through nature-cure” need not be a bombastic contradiction, but an interesting and vital consideration.

Humility, service to our patients, compassion, passion for continued learning, personal gratitude and continence, and respect and tolerance for others’ individual views and beliefs are some of the embodiments that, as doctors, can keep our tree from splitting. These qualities helped our elders, and their many distant members work in balance for the good of the profession.

The Foundations Project exists as a 3-volume text (soon to be in print) that documents the contributions of all doctors, beginning with our true elders; hundreds of people have worked for over 10 years to bring comprehensive understanding to our view and practice. This will greatly serve the present and future.

Our elders would be at the forefront of current science and would easily incorporate the new evidence of diagnosis and treatment but with a clear view that held to the truths of time and not the tides of man. We may wonder how the many faces of our practice share a family tree, but to me it is obvious. The more things change, the more our tools and practice must adapt, but the truth of the complex natures of man and woman will remain elusive as integrating the body, mind and spirit continues to be the individual challenge of practice within our work. Our principles are strong, our education is clearly meeting the standards of the Department of Education, and our graduates remain a vital piece of the evolution of our healthcare system. An ounce of prevention, food as medicine, minimal force, pursuit of true wellness – these are the foundations of our healing work.


The Art of Medicine

 I want my patients to be greeted into a safe and welcoming environment.

My dear friend, elder pioneer and mentor, Ralph,4 suggests daily prayers of “send me only people I may help” and recommends that all medical equipment receive prayers of safe and effective intention. Clearing energies is ceremonial and balancing in both doctor’s and patient’s environments. We must be attentive, focused and present with our encounters and whether we find this embodiment through meditation, energetic practices, prayer of just personal discipline, these qualities define how I attempt to practice; the tools, medicinary, techniques and approach to naturopathic care are equally individual to each practitioner.

Our greatest strengths should come from our own evidence of positive outcome; hence, the “art of medicine” is a dynamic process in our profession and can only minimally be defined within standards of care or practice.

 I maintained these views and hopes upon graduation and while the student loan debt of today drives a faster insurance-driven model of practice, naturopathic medicine is still quite affordable both in prevention and alternative treatment approaches, as compared to conventional medicine. Our graduates are still seeking to treat the whole person. If our individual philosophies allow us to respect and honor our patients’ views and needs, embody doctor as teacher, seek causative origins of distress and disease, and understand our own strengths and limitations (do no harm), naturopathic medicine can stand strong, supporting both the nature-curist and the evidence-based practitioners of disease treatment protocols. While our future remains unspoken, many choices are yet to unfold. The question beckons: “Will our differences of opinions and philosophy outweigh our shared purpose and principles?”

I hold possibility that we may move forward, adapting and thriving within the necessities of our complex medical system, growing as one strong family tree.



Elder/Pioneer: Those naturopathic doctors graduating before 1960

Welders: Graduates of NCNM and JBC up to 1985

Elders: Welders and other graduates with at least 15 years of active practice

CNME: Council on Naturopathic Medical Education



1.       I have to admit that some of my elders were foul-mouthed and truly irascible, but those that shined, like our living legend, Betty Rattlett, inspired much admiration.

2.       “Welder” was a term coined for the students and teachers representing the profession from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. Without their presence and determination, the college may have ceased to exist. The Welders bridge the early creators of the profession to the evolving world of natural medicine.

3.       The educational move toward “standards or care” (or practice) faces not only a gestalt of disassociation from the whole, but removes the long-held reverence for the person and not the invading condition – the box of conventional medicine. Editorial comment: Two hundred years after Paracelsus and others dispelled the humors, conventional medicine gave up the leaches and purges. The humors may well still be present in the numerical ascriptions to alien “diseases.” Naturopathic medicine, neo-Platonic roots, that connect Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Paracelsus, and Kneipp to our own tree, recognize the whole person, the body, the mind, the emotions, and the spirit.

4.       Dr Ralph Weiss is my co-author of his own story of our profession and his life called “The Reluctant Healer” (Square One Publishing, 2013). See his philosophies of practice, including the “three R’s” and other pearls.