Over the past few decades, the internet has provided people with exponential amounts of easy to access health information. This combined with the pandemic has increased the public’s desire to understand themselves better, and to be healthier. As a result, naturopathic medicine has earned a bigger spotlight.
At the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM), we find that many people have a level of distrust with online information unless it is from a trusted health care source—one that explains how and why certain approaches are better than others and provides natural options. Since our inception in 1993, INM has become a trusted source of information about the foundations of naturopathic medicine. We have become a valuable partner to help the public understand how and why to utilize natural medicine.
The idea of root cause medicine has risen in popularity because people inherently see value in the idea that there are lower-level interventions that should be used first and if possible before drugs and surgery. Interventions like diet, lifestyle and nutrition. Whether it’s called root cause medicine, whole person medicine, or common-sense medicine, it’s all naturopathic medicine. And as such, it is a model for where health care transformation could, and should take us.
INM has had many successes over its 30 years including:
• Placing of naturopathic doctors (NDs) in community health centers and the launch of a Primary Care Task Force to increase awareness about NDs as primary care providers. We have plans to do this across the country and change the fabric of a community medicine approach to include diet, nutrition and lifestyle education.
• Creating standards for primary care naturopathic residency training and establishing a model that engages major naturopathic academic centers plus stakeholder support to fund two-year primary care residencies. Our goal is a residency for every graduate.
• Building childhood nutritional education video programming, like Naturally Well, which is taught by a naturopathic doctor and delivered to after-school programs in three states so far. This program belongs in every after school setting.
• Researching and documenting at-risk communities using a novel Food as Medicine program to improve metabolic health for two groups in North Carolina and California.
• Founding of American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) and the Naturopathic Medicine Collaborative (NMC), an assembly of 80 stakeholder organizations.
• Achieving successful funding for numerous joint-proposals that included AANP (American Association of Naturopathic Doctors), several state associations, the naturopathic medical student association and specialty societies.
• Creating and funding the AANP Director of State Relations in 2018, which has contributed to six new state licensures.
• Producing the first ever “Natural Medicine Housecall” webinars and podcast series, called “The ND Will See You Now,” which interviews naturopathic doctors. Each one of these digital media formats educates the public about naturopathic medicine and the dedicated, talented naturopathic physicians who do such amazing work.
INM was recently recognized as a “Charity of Choice” by the Spiegel Burn Foundation. This is further proof that the naturopathic model for a healthy functioning health care network is inspiring to others and INM’s work is being recognized.
Our goal is to continue to work with our partners to raise awareness that naturopathic medicine is an option for patients. We will support the AANP in achieving licensures for all states. We will continue to connect patients to licensed NDs. We will continue to support and fund research on and about the profession. And we will work to demonstrate that this model of health care can positively influence conventional systems to improve patient outcomes, patient satisfaction and the health of our communities.
Our work at INM is collaborative. Our success depends on the many partners we work with. We welcome hearing from anyone who wants to support or join us as we increase public awareness of natural medicine options.
The work that we are doing will only be more recognized and garner us increasing levels of support and resources so that we can grow the team and our impact on health. The future is very bright for INM. Come join us at https://naturemed.org.
Michelle Simon, PhD, ND President & CEO, Institute for Natural Medicine
In 1992, the leadership core of naturopathic doctors established the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM) as a not for profit organization dedicated to advancing natural medicine. The purpose of the INM is to increase awareness of, broaden public access to, and encourage research about natural medicine and therapies. Among its milestones the INM counts the launch of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) as an independent organization, leading California’s efforts to obtain licensure, developing an interactive childhood education program focused on healthy eating and lifestyles called Naturally Well in 2017, and expanding residency access by establishing and funding a residency program in 2018. INM has joined forces with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), serving as the charitable arm, to deepen access to naturopathic care, public education and research. Dr. Michelle Simon serves as president and CEO of INM, is a licensed naturopathic physician, clinician, educator and leader in many organizations dedicated to improving the quality and delivery of health care. In addition to holding a naturopathic doctorate from Bastyr University, she also holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Simon has served on the boards for the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC), the AANP and the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI). Dr. Simon also served nine years on the Washington State Health Technology Clinical Committee which is part of the Health Technology Assessment program that examines the scientific evidentiary basis for efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness of health care technologies. She was also an invited participant for health care economics at “Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public” at the Institute for Medicine (IOM) in 2009. Dr. Simon was recognized as the 2018 Physician of the Year by the AANP.