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 Naturopathic Medicine: Naturopathic Medicine: Moving to Center Court in Health Care - Interview with Joseph Pizzorno, Jr., N. D.  
Lane Badger ©
Mr. Joe Pizzorno, N.D. is a friendly, energetic man, fit for the rigorous work-out demanded as founder and current president of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. He is author of two textbooks, and a full-time lecturer and promoter of the profession of Naturopathic Medicine. Like his favorite athletic sport, basketball, establishing naturopathy within the American health care mainstream calls for some fancy footwork, a fast-paced team effort and a few long shots. Recently, the Washington State Board of Insurance has ruled in favor of paying claims for naturopathic care - a landmark score for the "Natural Team". It's an exciting time for this emerging field! Eleven states have licensed naturopathy as a profession and with licensing comes new credibility and responsibility. In a few short years, naturopathy has come from the fringe to center court as an increasingly popular choice for those seeking medical attention without the high tech and prescriptions. But the stakes are high and the opponents are numerous. In l994 Americans spent over fourteen billion dollars on alternative health care, and some people don't like these statistics at all.

In his textbook Encyclopedia of Naturopathic Medicine ..Dr. Pizzorno refers to the motto by Hippocrates which modern day naturopaths follow: Vis Medicatrix Natura. These three words, meaning through the healing power of nature, sum up the naturopath's philosophy for the preventing and the treating of disease. Although naturopathy has been practiced informally through the centuries as the folkloric form of medicine found across the globe, only in 1895 was the term coined by Dr. John Scheel of New York City.

The Encyclopedia further recounts how, after gaining steam in the early part of the twentieth century, naturopathy ran headlong into the medical profession. In the 1930's drug and chemical companies subsidized medical schools and backed legislation which helped turn allopathic medicine into a monopolistic field excluding other emerging health care systems. Naturopathic medicine sat it out on the bench for four decades until pioneers like Dr. Pizzorno, who graduated from National College's Naturopathic Physician's degree program, helped move it to public acknowledgement. These advocates of naturopathy are not looking for a great playoff competition between sides - allopathic medicine versus naturopathic medicine, although there are some people on both sides with their banners waving and wagers set. Health care in America is not a winner-take-all gamble. Most advocates of natural medicine would like to see an even playing field where the best of both sides can be fairly evaluated and successfully used to treat illness and insure health for all.

In this light the prestigious Cooper Institute and the Southwest Florida Endowed Chair of Nursing joined together to host the Conference on Complementary Medicine in Naples, Florida on March 16, 1995. It was there that I caught up with Dr. Pizzorno to ask him a few questions. We sat at an outside table enjoying the warm glow of the Florida sun and the pleasant din of the successful conference.

LB: Could you give us an overview of what is happening in the licensing movement now in naturopathy?

JP: There's a lot of activity going on in seventeen states when I last checked! Colorado is probably the closest to gaining licensing, and then North Carolina. There's a lot of activity going on in California too, but I think this state is going to be a tough nut to crack. It's a very big place.

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