006 Let Nature Be Thy Medicine - Dr. Michelle Gerber

 Upper left: The restorative waiting room at Dr. Gerber's office at GraceFull in Los Angeles (via  GraceFull.com )

Upper left: The restorative waiting room at Dr. Gerber's office at GraceFull in Los Angeles (via GraceFull.com)

What makes a naturopathic doctor is not so much which tools we use, but our principles…[it] amounts to having a different perspective on health and disease [that looks] at the body as a system that’s constantly trying to heal itself.
— Dr. Michelle Gerber

Groundbreaking physician Dr. Michelle Gerber joins the podcast this week to discuss naturopathic medicine -- a radically different approach to health and disease that is urgently needed in a modern world besieged by skyrocketing rates of chronic illness, and where few answers exist in modern medicine for those suffering, save for a disease name and a pill to treat the symptoms. I know few more qualified to dive into this topic: As a licensed naturopathic doctor, board-certified naturopathic pediatrician (the only in Los Angeles), and a certified professional midwife, Michelle is a triple threat primary-care physician perhaps unequaled even in the mainstream medical world. And as such, she not only has the holistic perspective of caring for patients from birth through adulthood, but through naturopathic medicine is able to draw on a breadth of traditional medical systems and knowledge (including Western medicine) to both support long-term health and uncover the underlying physiology of chronic disease.

Yet remarkably, naturopathic medicine is still well outside the mainstream, even though the roots of naturopathic medicine extend back thousands of years. Indeed, naturopathic physicians have practiced in America for over a century (naturopathic doctors attend four years of medical school and must pass extensive board exams just like conventional medical doctors; they are currently licensed to practice in 21 states). In our conversation, Michelle delves into why that’s so, and also lifts the curtain on everything you ever wanted to know about this timeless (and now, timely) branch of medicine: how a naturopathic doctor works to treats patients; naturopathic medicine's comprehensive and synergistic approach to uncovering the root of disease; the naturopathic doctor's critical role as patient educator; plus Michelle's wisdom on the modern dilemma of biological dissonance, nutrition and the microbiome, preconception care and more. Whether you or a family member are struggling with a chronic illness and are frustrated by the confines of conventional medical care, or you're simply curious about a medical paradigm that can promote wellness in an ever more uncertain future, you won't want to miss this episode! 

Here’s what we talk about:

  • What is naturopathic medicine? Michelle dispels the myths
  • How naturopathic medicine examines the underlying biochemistry and physiology of illness to help the body heal itself
  • Naturopathic medical school training and Michelle’s early work with underserved populations
  • A “naturopathic doctor” versus a “naturopath”
  • The amazing perspective of being both pediatrician and midwife
  • Michelle’s ’80s Midwest upbringing, and her journey to becoming a naturopathic doctor
  • The plethora of naturopathic doctors in the Pacific Northwest versus LA: “Most people don’t know what it is that I am or what it is that I do”
  • The types of patients Michelle sees
  • Seeing health preventively versus “waiting until something bad happens”
  • Navigating the minefield of America’s medical system
  • The affordability of naturopathic and midwifery care
  • Hormonal issues, and the problem with the conventional one-Pill-fits-all approach
  • The myriad traditional systems naturopathic medicine draws on
  • The importance of the doctor-patient therapeutic relationship
  • Michelle’s synergistic treatment approach: “We’re complex people. We don’t usually have one thing that caused ‘the’ problem or ‘the problems’”
  • Epigenetics and the importance of preconception care
  • Biological dissonance and our modern-day epidemic of chronic health issues
  • Michelle’s nutritional philosophy
  • Sugar, vaccines and antibiotics
  • Naturopathic medicine as adjunct to conventional medicine: It’s not either-or
  • Michelle’s approach to balance in her own life, and her fixer-upper cabin in the woods
  • The dream: teaching as a naturopathic doctor in a mainstream medical school

You can connect with Michelle and learn more about her work and local class offerings (the latter for my Los Angeles listeners) via her website. Her naturopathic medical practice in LA is at GraceFull and her midwifery practice is at TLC Midwifery Care. Understandably, her schedule is a bit too packed these days for social media, but you can follow Michelle's work and mission via GraceFull on Facebook and on Instagram

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Learn more about naturopathic medicine: 

Bastyr University - About Naturopathic Medicine
National University of Natural Medicine - History of Naturopathic Medicine
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Naturopathic Doctor News and Review