Message from the President: Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

 In Anxiety/Depression/Mental Health, Education, Insomnia/Sleep Medicine

Paul Mittman, ND, EdD

Last fall SCNM adopted 5 new core values: We Achieve Excellence; We Love; We Are Resilient; We Do the Right Thing; and, We Shape the Future. I will frame this college update with the value, “We Shape the Future.”

Part of my job as President & CEO is to find opportunities that position SCNM to address pressing health issues, either through existing naturopathic therapies or by adopting emerging treatments. The following 2 initiatives illustrate how SCNM is shaping health and healthcare’s future, and that of our students and graduates.

Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine

In 2013, the opioid epidemic barely registered in the public discourse; however, it was clear to us that 1) conventional treatment of chronic pain relies too heavily on opioids, and, 2) naturopathic physicians possess a toolbox of safe and effective treatments to help patients suffering from chronic pain. Some of these modalities, such as osseous and soft-tissue manipulation, date back to the inception of the naturopathic profession. Others, particularly regenerative injection therapies, emerged relatively recently. When we designed the Community Commons, a 48 000-square-foot LEED Platinum facility, we allocated a large clinical space to offer patients an interdisciplinary, non-opioid approach to treating chronic pain.

Last November that clinic became the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine. Dr Riordan’s research is known worldwide, with over 70 peer-reviewed publications in the field of Mesenchymal Stem Cell research. Thanks to Dr Riordan’s generosity and support, SCNM will become a leader in Stem Cell Therapy, a 21st century expression of the vis medicatrix naturae – the healing power of nature.

The Neil Riordan Center is staffed by naturopathic physicians who practice pain management, an acupuncturist, an anesthesiologist pain interventionalist, an orthopedic surgeon with a PhD in Sports Medicine, residents, a PhD-registered dietician, and a naturopathic physician with a focus on homeopathy and mindfulness. This beautiful center is fully equipped with a fluoroscopy suite (as well as diagnostic ultrasound) to guide injections. The team spent a year working in a chronic pain collaborative hosted by the Samueli Institute to develop an integrative, patient-centered model grounded in naturopathic principles and the Therapeutic Order.

On February 21-22, 2020, the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine will host its first Annual International Stem Cell Conference. In addition to Dr Riordan, speakers will include Arnold Caplan, PhD, the scientist who coined the term “mesenchymal stem cell.” Our goal is to advance naturopathic medicine to the forefront of patient care and research in this exciting field. SCNM created an Honors Track in Regenerative Medicine to provide medical students the opportunity to develop these advanced skills.


Ric Scalzo, founder and former CEO of Gaia Herbs, made a transformational philanthropic gift that will create a botanical research institute at SCNM. Our longstanding relationship with Ric includes ongoing research collaboration that started with an NIH grant in 2001, a summer elective at Gaia’s farm in North Carolina for 3rd-year SCNM students, and a love of and fascination for the coevolution of plants, people, microbes, and the environment.

SCNM’s research activities over the past decade have explored the healing potential of plants, particularly those with antimicrobial and immune-modulating properties. SCNM faculty and students have regularly presented at annual AANP Conventions and, more recently, at the International Conference on the Science of Botanicals, the premiere international gathering of plant scientists.

The botanical research institute will advance 21st century botanical medicine through scientific exploration grounded in clinical herbalism’s rich tradition. The institute will perform analytical testing, cellular and molecular biology assays, and metabolomic testing, complemented by pilot clinical trials. This work, in collaboration with other academic institutions and leading companies in the natural products industry, will develop new products and improve existing formulations, isolate and identify novel plant compounds for development as pharmaceuticals, and develop FDA-approved Botanical Drug Products.

The architectural design phase is underway, and we expect renovations to begin in July 2019. The institute will open in early 2020. I look forward to sharing an update on these exciting innovations as SCNM Shapes the Future (with Love).

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