Our Medicine

What is Naturopathic Medicine

What is Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine is primary health care that utilizes natural therapeutics, including both modern and traditional methods of treatment. We treat people of all ages suffering from both acute and chronic diseases, from the common cold and flu to cancer. As you can read in the Doctors’ Biographies, we have a range of experience collectively, treating people with such conditions as arthritis, asthma, cancer, depression, eczema, fibromyalgia, IBS, and more.

Naturopathic medicine supports the body’s own healing abilities and strives to empower individuals to make lifestyle changes necessary for optimal health.

The philosophy of naturopathic medicine differentiates us from conventional medicine and directs how we approach each patient. Our goal is to support the wisdom of the body and to facilitate the body’s ability to heal itself” – - Eileen Stretch, ND

The principles of naturopathic medicine are based on objective observation of the nature of health and disease. The principles that are the foundation of naturopathic medicine include:

The Healing Power of Nature – Vis Medicatrix Naturae
First do no harm – Prinum Non Nocere
Find the Cause – Tolle Causum
Treat the whole person
Doctor as Teacher – Docere
Prevention
Wellness

We work in harmony with the body and with nature. Naturopathy utilizes a holistic approach to healing, addressing the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. The core of naturopathic medicine is to treat each person as an individual and to consider his or her whole being. We do not treat one bodily system as a separate entity from the rest of the person’s body and psyche. It is equally important to care for the mind, the body, and the spirit, in the appropriate manner for each patient.

Who are Naturapathic Physicians

Who are Naturopathic physicians

Naturopathic physicians are licensed primary care physicians trained in natural medicine. We approach health with a philosophy that treats each person as an individual and considers his or her whole being as we facilitate the body’s ability to heal itself.
Naturopathic physicians have attended 4-year accredited medical schools. Enrollment in naturopathic medical school requires a bachelor’s degree and completion of pre-medical prerequisite classes, similar to conventional allopathic medical school. The naturopathic medical education consists of 2 years of basic science classes such as anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, as well as intensive study of the medical ‘-ologies:’ cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, oncology, etc. We also receive 2 years of clinical education in naturopathic modalities at various clinical settings such as doctor’s offices, hospitals, community health clinics, and more.

While Naturopathic doctors treat both short bouts of illness and chronic conditions, their emphasis is on prevention of disease and patient education. Many different therapies are used to enhance the body’s healing abilities including nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, vitamins and minerals, Traditional Chinese Medicine, physical medicine, mind-body medicine, and counseling.

Naturopathic physicians also use pharmaceutical medications when necessary, and we are well-versed in the interactions between drugs, herbs, and nutrients.

Primary Care

Primary Care

ICM offers primary care services for your acute and chronic health needs.
Primary care includes disease prevention, health maintenance, health counseling, education, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.

Our doctors take a thorough history, perform appropriate physical exams and order labs and imaging as required to make an accurate diagnosis. Your treatment plan will be individualized to your situation. As primary care providers, we advocate for our patients in the healthcare system and coordinate services. We encourage our patients to be activate partners in their health care.

Common Acute complaints:

  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Cough, upper respiratory infections
  • Colds and Flu
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Digestive Complaints (traveler’s diarrhea, heartburn, constipation, gas/ bloating)
  • Back, Neck and Joint Pain
  • Rash and skin conditions
  • Headache
  • Anxiety

We offer Annual Wellness visits/ physical exams

Weight Loss

Weight Loss

At the Institute of Complementary Medicine, we offer individualized, healthy, weight loss programs so that you find a permanent solution to your weight and health issues. Instead of patients following a cookie-cutter program that is the same for everyone, we spend much time doing a thorough evaluation of health history and optimizing your health in order to eliminate any potential obstacles on your path to your ideal body composition. Patients are counseled on healthy food choices, proper macronutrient and calorie intake and exercise needs. A Naturopathic Physician guides every step of your journey.

Who needs medically supervised weight loss?

Patients who have established care at ICM and suffer “stubborn weight loss” where diet and exercise alone have not been successful.

People desiring a change in their body composition, such as gaining muscle, losing fat and improving hydration.
How does the program work?

You will be individually assessed using body measurements, body weight and a body composition test (BIA). Your doctor may also perform a waist to hip measurement.

What is BIA technology?

This is a bio-impedance assessment, which uses a microcurrent to calculate body fat percentage and mass, lean (muscle) percentage and mass, hydration status, intra (inside) and extra (outside) cellular fluid percentage, basal metabolic rate (how many calories you burn just by being alive) and phase angle (measure of metabolism). This information helps guide the process so that you can be successful.

Food tracker:

You will be asked to track your diet and exercise with an online tracker. This program allows the doctor to generate reports and get a comprehensive understanding of your diet and exercise.

Putting together the pieces

One of the major difficulties with losing weight is that no one program works for everyone. Your body may not respond well to a low carb diet that requires you to eat every three hours, whereas other people will do great with this type of program. Individual assessment is at the heart of ICM’s weight loss program. Your doctor will put together the information from the body composition test and 1-2 weeks of your food logs to generate an initial plan.

Frequent Follow-Up is Key

It is important that once you start the plan that you follow up regularly to assess how your body is changing. Most patient’s who suffer stubborn weight loss become very frustrated that they are not losing weight fast enough despite heroic efforts. Frequent body composition tests allow the doctor to adjust your plan to

  • Increase lean body mass
  • Decrease fat mass
  • Increase hydration (which drives metabolism)
  • Maintain or improve basal metabolic rate (which many low calorie diets decrease)
  • Improve cellular metabolism (measured by the phase angle)

Higher Force Interventions

Your doctor uses many tools for weight loss. Central to naturopathic philosophy is using the least invasive intervention to help you reach your goals. Naturopathic medicine is founded on the belief that you body has the innate capacity to heal and that lower force intervention will ultimately offer a more sustainable solution. That said, many patients suffer severe nutritional depletion, disorders of metabolism, hormonal imbalance and behavioral patterns that can undermine their weight loss success. Severe cases require higher force interventions to move the scale in the right direction. Your doctor will discuss the speed at which you want/ need to lose weight in a way that will ultimately be safe and effective for your overall health.

Interventions that your doctor may choose as part of your plan:

  • Specialized diets: Paleo, intermittent fasting, keto just to name a few. ICM docs are specialists in the medical management of specialized diet.
  • Specific exercise guidelines
    Supplements to support metabolism, energy and digestion
  • Hormonal support to correct imbalances
  • Nutrient injections to boost metabolism and prevent weight plateaus
  • Appropriate prescription medication

Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative Medicine

Overview of Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine at ICM refers to various injection procedures, such as Prolotherapy and Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). These therapies stimulate the body's innate healing processes to regenerate the connective tissues of joints, ligaments, and tendons harmed from overuse or injury. Conventional treatments, such as surgery, steroid injections, and pain relievers commonly do not address the core issue, improve the patient’s musculoskeletal dysfunction, or provide lasting pain relief. Regenerative medicine, in contrast, addresses the root causes of pain and aims to heal the connective tissue structures causing dysfunction, potentially offering lasting relief and well-being.

These emerging technologies of regenerative medicine are backed by evidence-based research and are reversing the ailments of degenerative disease and aging. Conditions addressed with these therapies include chronic overuse injuries to the ankles, knees, and shoulders, arthritic joints, chronic back pain and degenerative disc disease, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee ligament tears, partial thickness rotator cuff tears, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and IT band syndrome.

Regenerative treatments include the use of mild-irritant solutions such as dextrose (glucose) or Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) are injected into injured musculoskeletal structures in order to activate the healing process. Prolotherapy acts as a local irritant and creates an increased inflammatory response. This increases protein synthesis and collagen formation and increases cell proliferation. Prolotherapy is also thought to increase the presence of immune cells into the affected area and to increase platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) (chemical building blocks), which improve connective tissue thickness, mass, and strength.

PRP is derived from the patient's own blood and then separating out the plasma through a centrifugation process. The resulting substance (PRP) is an injectable solution with high concentrations of platelets, containing large reservoirs of healing compounds, including transforming growth factor beta (TGF-B1) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), both of which increases tissue repair. PRP stimulates the wound-healing process resulting in new ligament, tendon, and cartilage formation. SEE FINAL SECTION

Overall, PRP and Prolotherapy are similar, in that they both initiate the body’s innate wound-healing response and both follow an identical injection procedure. PRP provides the healing process with more resources for tissue regeneration than Prolotherapy and is also more expensive than Prolotherapy. Each of these therapies are beneficial for different medical applications, depending on the current state of the patient’s degenerative condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often are treatments needed?
Treatments with Prolotherapy or PRP range 1 to 6 sessions, spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart. The average patient needs approximately 2 sessions for maximum benefit.

What’s the likelihood of a successful outcome?
The healing outcome depends on a number of variables, including the patient's overall health, the region of the body being treated, and the quality of nutrition received during the healing process. At the Institute of Complementary Medicine, we have formulated a nutritional supplement to enhance connective tissue healing following regenerative medical procedures. The majority of patients receiving these procedures at ICM report notable improvement; however, like all medical procedures, these procedure do not succeed in all cases.

Are Prolotherapy and PRP procedures painful?
Pain varies according to the part of the body being treated, the choice of solution, and degree of physical trauma present in the injury. Sometimes these procedures can be moderately painful; however, a local anesthetic is used to palliate pain, and your physician is focused on successful pain management before, during, after your procedure. Treatment typically results in swelling, achy pain, and restricted range-of-motion for 1 to 7 days. During this phase, patients commonly report that their discomfort is palliated with Tylenol.

Healing Mechanism of Prolotherapy & PRP

The procedures of Prolotherapy and PRP work by initiating three distinct phases of wound healing: Inflammation, Granulation, and Remodeling. Figure 1 displays the phases and time requirements for complete wound healing.

In the first phase, Inflammation, the inflammatory response is activated via a precise injection of a mild irritant directly on the torn, stretched ligament or tendon. During the first 100 hours after the injection, a blood clot forms, sparking several cellular and chemical reactions. The clot gathers platelets, which contain numerous growth factors that drive the inflammatory phase. The platelets attract various white blood cells (leukocytes and macrophages) to the site of injection. These white blood cells kill bacteria and clean up the dead tissue within the wound (neutrophils), and further progress the repair process. The platelets also send chemical signals to the healthy cells adjacent to the wound and the incoming macrophages specifying which ligament, tendon, or cartilage is wounded. Furthermore, platelets direct the reparative cells to “download” the regenerative information needed from their genes to reconstruct the damaged tissue. Once the chemical reactions are finished and the cells have obtained the necessary genetic information, the inflammation phase ends.

The second phase, Granulation, begins 100 hours after the onset of the injury, initiating reparative cells to multiply and change shape. Macrophages morph into fibroblasts, which secrete collagen (building block of ligaments, tendons, and joints). Angiogenesis is stimulated at the wound site, creating new blood vessels that supply the regenerating tissue with oxygen and nutrients. Working together, the fibroblasts and blood vessels surround the injury and granulate the wound with newly formed collagen. This cycle of collagen formation proceeds for the next 3–5 weeks until collagen reorganizes into the matrix of the injured connective tissue.

The final phase of wound healing, Remodeling, lasts for 12 weeks. Within the reconstructing collagen, a handful of fibroblasts morph into a different functioning cell called a myofibroblast. In response to mechanical stress and instability sensed on the collagen, these cells synthesize muscle-contractile fibers into the area, firming the collagen into a uniform, compact matrix. This process continues until all of the myofibroblasts no longer sense the mechanical stress and instability placed on the newly formed connective tissue. In the conclusion of the Remodeling phase, the gelatin is securely organized into new connective tissue, repaired to its original strength and length, and is indistinguishable from the original tissue, with no scar formation.

Figure 1.

Ravin TH, Cantieri MS, Pasquarello GJ. 2008. Principles of Prolotherapy. Denver, CO: American Academy of Musculoskeletal Medicine.
Figure 1. Ravin TH, Cantieri MS, Pasquarello GJ. 2008. Principles of Prolotherapy. Denver, CO: American Academy of Musculoskeletal Medicine.