Posted on January 1, 2018
In an area — and an era — where people are putting greater emphasis on overall wellness than the often reactive approach of traditional medicine, options continue to arise that present new, exciting, and effective ways to address health. Naturopathic medicine is just one means to treat issues or promote wellness that is rapidly gaining momentum. As the number of practicing naturopathic doctors (NDs) increases locally, there’s another option for San Diegans interested in seeking integrative health and medicine: Bastyr University.
Bastyr University was founded outside Seattle, Washington in 1978 and has grown to be a venerable name in the naturopathic world that enjoys a distinguished reputation and collaborative relationship with area hospitals. When the California Naturopathic Doctors Association urged the university to expand to the Golden State, Bastyr chose San Diego following a comprehensive study due to our city’s study, interest, and adoption of integrative medicine. The San Diego campus, located in Sorrento Valley, welcomed its first students in September 2012.
Among its 30+ programs offered, the ND program — a four-year naturopathic medical doctorate degree — is at the core of the school’s offerings. For a better understanding of how naturopathic doctors are both alike and different from medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO), Raul Martinez, Clinic Program Supervisor, offers clarification. “The first two years [of the four-year program] are the same as any other MD student education program, with all of the basic sciences. The main difference is that ND students receive more than 200 hours of nutrition and botanical medicine, where traditional MDs get about five or six hours of nutrition,” he explains.
The university and its on-site teaching clinic present not only a reputable choice for those interested in studying the natural health arts and sciences, but they also provide a tremendous resource for the greater community. At the clinic, Bastyr students receive their clinical education under supervision of a licensed naturopathic doctor. According to Martinez, the clinic sees approximately 8,000 patients per year who come to Bastyr for its diverse array of offerings including craniosacral therapy, ultrasound, cold laser treatments, infrared treatments, prolotherapy, hydrotherapy, massage and acupuncture, even an infrared sauna.
Additionally, the clinic offers IV therapy, where vitamins and minerals are administered intravenously. Many Bastyr patients seek IV therapy to improve their quality of life as they undergo aggressive cancer treatment. Though NDs cannot diagnose or treat cancer directly, Bastyr doctors work collaboratively with a patient’s oncology team. Because it is a teaching clinic, these therapies are often at a greatly reduced cost than at other sources.
An initial consultation at Bastyr’s clinic starts in the familiar way — paperwork, listing allergies, medical history — but then the 90-minute meeting covers other elements that can affect health, including the patient’s support network, current stressors, sleep habits, and diet. The resident ND joins the appointment after a recap from the student doctor, and any treatments or next steps are then discussed.
“The patients we get often come from the category where they have a primary physician but have something that hasn’t been appropriately addressed or diagnosed. They’re still experiencing symptoms. They may have had some diagnostics tests but fall within normal ranges, but they still have issues,” says Martinez. “They’ll come to a naturopathic doctor to seek adjunctive care or to try to figure out the underlying root cause of what’s happening.” In short, he says, “Naturopathic medicine addresses the whole patient.” bastyr.edu, bastyrclinic.org Deanna Murphy