Not too long ago, while reading the Sunday paper, my wife Rena pointed out an article on human biome researcher Rob Knight and said, "Look, at Harvard they are giving people frozen poop pills instead of fecal transplants!"1
"Duh, that ND in Portland, Mark Davis, the poop guy, is already doing that in his practice" I say.
"That figures; Mark's one brilliant guy," she responds back.
I count myself lucky to know Mark Davis. Actually I count myself lucky to know quite a few naturopathic doctors who are just as interesting, people who I hold in great affection as friends and in great esteem as colleagues.
This article is a short update on what several of these doctors have been up to.
Eric Yarnell, ND
Our longtime friend Eric Yarnell, ND, who once upon a time considered joining our practice (but had the good sense not to), was on sabbatical this past year from his teaching job at Bastyr University. He made good use of the "free time." He is nearing completion of his next book, The Natural Approach to Urology and Men's Health (2nd edition), which he claims to have spent almost 15 years on and which will be similar in size and scope to his earlier massive two-volume set, The Natural Approach to Gastroenterology. Yarnell spent February at the Natural Doctors International (NDI) clinic in Ometepe, Nicaragua (http://www.ndimed.org). He helped in the clinic but also connected it with the Bonafide biodynamic farm and set it up so this farm will grow herbs for the clinic. The first crop is in the ground and should be available by the time he returns with a brigade of herbalists to harvest them in March 2015.
Yarnell completed a research project with the Institute for Preservation of Medical Traditions, housed at the Smithsonian Institute, looking at the herbs that the Roman physician Dioscorides wrote about in his 1st-century classic book, De Materia Medica, in particular the diuretics that Dioscorides described and whether they are still presently in use. Yarnell presented this research at the International Society for the History of Medicine conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, in September 2014.
Yarnell wrote me about his being awarded the "Vis Award" by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians in August 2014, saying, "I was also shocked and humbled" to be selected for it, borrowing the words that I used when I received the same award years ago. In retrospect, I still feel the same way.
In September 2012, Yarnell and two other naturopathic doctors took a group of 14 students to Uganda to work with Reach Out Village Orphanages in Kampala (capital city) and Socolo (a village outside the capital). A student's husband knew the family who runs these orphanages. "We held four days of clinics (two days in each site) for the children and community members. We also taught classes on various subjects including hygiene and self-defense while people waited. We also worked with them to relearn their native medicinal plants and to encourage their growth as 'weeds' around the perimeter of their existing farmland to reduce dependence on difficult-to-obtain, expensive, potentially dangerous pharmaceutical medicines as much as possible."
Yarnell is now back to his usual routine as an associate professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University, teaching gastroenterology, urology, men's health, nephrology, pharmacognosy, and herb–drug interactions, and coteaching the materia medica and formulation lab courses for the naturopathic students. He practices one day a week in a private practice specializing in urology and men's health, and gastroenterological and immune conditions; he supervises one student shift a week and continues to work as president of Heron Botanicals and chief financial and operations officer for Healing Mountain Publishing. He's working on several other books including a second edition of Phytochemistry and Pharmacognosy for Practitioners of Botanical Medicine, Low-Dose Herbs, Natural Approaches to Nephrology, and Western Herbal Formulation (a book that he began writing many years ago with his mentor, Silena Heron, ND).
Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
Eric isn't the only one on my list who received an award this year. In truth, if I make a list of all the awards that Lise Alschuler has received this year, I can't figure out when she found time to do anything else, especially time to consult with me about some particularly difficult patients. Alschuler received the AANP Physician of the Year Award in August 2014, an Honorary Doctorate from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine earlier in the spring, and the Bastyr University Joseph Pizzorno Founder's Award this fall.
Alschuler is the executive director of TAP Integrative, a Web-based service providing clinically based and peer-reviewed expert opinions and research synopses on topics of integrative clinical practice (www.tapintegrative.org).
In August, to my great pleasure, she became the newest President of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.oncanp.org), taking over the organization from this writer, who is ever so pleased with the way that she has taken control of the association and is steering it toward greater achievement.
Alschuler's second book, Definitive Guide to Thriving After Cancer, coauthored with our friend Karolyn Gazella, came out in September 2014 and is already a number 1 bestseller on Amazon! Alschuler is also involved in the launch of a family of nutritional supplements called Pro-Thrivers, targeted for cancer survivors, which she helped formulate. She seems to be on a nonstop road-trip promoting this product line in the company of Tina Kaczor for the past few months.
This past year, Alschuler joined the medical advisory board for Gaia Herbs while retaining her role on the advisory boards for Integrative Therapeutics and Emerson Ecologics. Despite all of these commitments, she continues seeing patients through Dan Rubin's practice Naturopathic Specialists in Arizona (www.ListenAndCare.com), work that she describes as "an incredible learning experience, a privilege and a honor to do."
Gosh, I feel that if I pause writing about Alschuler for even a moment I'll be drowned out by your applause. Applause that she deserves.
Mark Davis, ND
Let's go back to Davis, the poop guy. He is a guy who keeps himself busy; he sits on the board of the Fecal Transplant Foundation (FTF), is the chair of the Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) committee for the C Diff Foundation (http://cdifffoundation.org), and has just recently been added to the editorial board of the Natural Medicine Journal.
Davis's clinic, the Good Life Medicine Center, an integrative medicine clinic where NDs, acupuncturists, and others work together. The clinic has an herbal apothecary, a movement studio and classroom, a hydrotherapy suite, a lab, and a herbal café in the works. (Though given his fecal specialty, I question the wisdom of the last project, though the potential advertising slogans might make it hard to resist.)
For those new to FMT, it is literally the transplantation of fecal microbiota from one person to another. Microbes are sourced from the stool of a healthy person and transplanted into a sick person. Davis became fascinated with FMT while in naturopathic medical school, but no one in Oregon was using this process at that time. He had to seek guidance from world experts in FMT, including Tom Borody, MD; Alex Khoruts, MD; and Thomas Louie, MD.
FMT provides helps create a healthy gut ecosystem to properly regulate the immune system. Davis is confident that FMT offers benefit for people with infectious and autoimmune colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); evidence is emerging that FMT may benefit people with MS, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other conditions.
Davis is the first physician in North America (as far as he knows) to have run a donor-bank driven FMT program serving people with inflammatory bowel disease. He and a small group of clinicians are performing research advancing the use of FMT through using frozen material and centrifuged/encapsulated material. He's been preparing encapsulated FMT, and frozen FMT caps since early 2014.
To me, Davis is the quintessential Portland hipster. He's got four kids, Asher, 9; Jaia, 7; and twins Isaac and Daphne, almost 3 years old and lives in what he describes as "a somewhat intentional community with the children, their mothers, wonderful neighbors, dogs, chickens, orchards and herbs."
Dugald Seely, ND, FABNO
If Lise is receiving accolades in the front of the room at conferences, I see Dugald Seely as the quiet guy lurking at the back of the room, eager to get back to his work. For an unassuming guy, he gets things done – actually, an amazing number of things done – with little fanfare. Both as a doctor and a researcher, he is playing a leading role in developing the fields of integrative and naturopathic oncology.
He is the founder and executive director of the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Center, an Affiliate Investigator with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and director of Research & Clinical Epidemiology at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto. Seely may be best known to those of us south of the border for the dozens of synthesis reviews and meta-analyses related to naturopathic oncology that he has supervised over the years; he is the prime driver behind the growing body of evidence that supports integrating naturopathic medicine into medical oncology.
He is one of the most well published authors in our profession, with 56 publications in the peer-reviewed Medline Indexed literature, and with 13 research projects currently in progress.
Seely completed his MSc in cancer research at the University of Toronto and is a Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO), a past board member of the Society of Integrative Oncology (http://www.integrativeonc.org) and has recently joined OncANP's board of directors. As a clinician scientist, Seely has been awarded numerous grants and funding over the years from groups including CIHR, CBCRA, the SickKids Foundation, the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, and the Gateway for Cancer Research.
The biggest of these grants is a recent one for $3.85 million that will fund the largest clinical trial on integrative naturopathic cancer care ever conducted in North America. This study will follow 300 patients undergoing thoracic surgery for cancer and follow them for 11 years to see if a combination of naturopathic and conventional therapies will improve long-term outcomes.
Gurdev Parmer, ND, FABNO
I always keep an eye out or an ear open for what Gurdev Parmer is up to. Gurdev and his wife, Karen Parmar, ND, employ a total of 45 people, including 9 naturopathic physicians, at their clinic in Fort Langley, B.C. Gurdev uses hyperthermia, along with nutrient supplementation and IV therapies integrated with standard of care, to treat his cancer patients. Parmer's research caught my attention at the 2013 Society of Integrative Oncology Conference. His reported 3-year survival statistics for glioblastoma patients are among the best that I have seen documented. Now with over 600 patients who have been treated with hyperthermia, both a 5-year retrospective study and also a prospective longitudinal study on cancer outcomes have been started.
Ruth Adele, ND
Over the last few days as I have collected these brief biographical tidbits, I confess to being the most moved by the simple recognition that our dear friend Ruth Adele has recently received. Adele practices about an hour south of us in Colorado Springs. Every year her local newspaper, the Colorado Springs Independent, confers a series of "Best Of" awards. Your local newspaper probably does something similar; awards go to the best Thai restaurant, dance club, or slice of pizza. Back in 2011, her newspaper started the category Best Naturopath. She won the "Best" award 3 years in a row, always competing with an unlicensed "traditional practitioner" or two who ended up in second and third place. This year the paper changed the award to "Best Holistic Practitioner." Adele still won it. That's 4 years running.
Adele is a 1983 graduate of Bastyr University, back an era when her main clinic doc was John Bastyr himself, and she preceptored with Bill Mitchell.
She practiced in Olympia, Washington, for 8 years, then in Colorado Springs for 23 years (we opened our practices within a few months of each other). She served on Bastyr's board of trustees for 3 years, on the Council for Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) board that accredits naturopathic medical programs for 10 years, various committees of the AANP, and as vice president of Colorado's state naturopathic association. Mostly, though, she has practiced naturopathic medicine, seeing patients day in and day out for decade after decade.
For the past 10 years, Adele has also been deeply involved in animal rescue, including many years as president of her local dog rescue nonprofit organization, and 8 years in charge of all health-care decisions for 50 foster dogs at a time. She is proud to have saved many puppies infected with parvovirus and with pneumonia using naturopathic medicine. She currently lives with her own 3 dogs and 1 cat, and 1 foster dog and still finds time to hike the beautiful mountain trails several times a week around her home.
It was a mistake to try writing something like this, as I've left out far too many people who deserve to be mentioned just as much as those I've included. At least it's a start. I am amazed at how many interesting and hard-working, devoted people this profession brings me in contact with.Notes
1. Draper E. CU gut check: Humans' important relationships under the microscope. Denver Post. Nov. 9, 2014. Available at http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26899760/cu-gut-check-humans-important-relationships-under-microscope.