The 2nd Annual Naturopathic Gathering

 In Naturopathic News

Philosophy in Action:

The 2nd Annual Naturopathic Gathering

Arlan Cage, ND, MS

Whenever Naturopathic students or doctors gather, the conversation inevitably turns toward Naturopathic philosophy and how much of it we get, or in most cases don’t get, in school.  As the push towards “evidence-based medicine” permeates all facets of health care, Naturopathic and other alternative systems rely more and more on double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of single nutrients or herbs.  Most of the Naturopathic schools no longer teach Iridology and many other traditional Naturopathic techniques.  Homeopathy, one of the two major branches of the Naturopathic family tree, continues to be taught but is not part of the core clinical exams required by NPLEX for licensure in all states.  Nature Cure, the second of the two ancestral branches that were merged to create Naturopathy, is seldom taught as a separate subject, let alone a complete department in Naturopathic schools.  The most some schools offer are a few isolated classes in hydrotherapy.  What little philosophy is taught in schools is rarely linked in the clinical setting.  Instead, Green Allopathy tends to dominate, with chromium prescribed for diabetes or Mesotherapy injections for obesity, whether or not these interventions meet the criteria of “Tolle Causam, Treat the Root Cause”.

This trend has fortunately started to reverse as a dedicated group of students at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM), has resurrected a defunct student club at the school, the Naturopathic Society, which has sponsored a seminar dedicated to Naturopathic Philosophy called simply, The Naturopathic Gathering.  The idea for The Gathering grew out of the simple, but elegant plan to assemble a group of the Naturopathic Profession’s elders to discuss how to apply traditional Naturopathic philosophy in a clinical setting.  The first successful Gathering was held in 2004, and those in attendance were eagerly looking forward to this year’s event.

The 2005 version of The Gathering was held on June 17, 18 and 19th on the campus of  SCNM, the theme of which was the Clinical Applications of the Therapeutic Order.  There were presentations from Jared Zeff, ND, LAc; Louise Edwards, ND, LAc; Stephen Messer, ND, DHANP; Letitia Watrous, ND; Jim Sensenig, ND; Robert Broadwell, ND, DOM and Charley Cropley, ND.  There was a panel discussion as well, led by Pamela Snider, ND, which included input from students who synthesized their own ideas with those of the panel.

Each speaker brought a unique perspective of clinical experience that ranged from 15 years up to more than 50 years in the case of Dr. Broadwell. And if you include his WWII experience as a Pharmacist’s Mate and medic, Dr. Broadwell actually been in the medical profession for more than 60 years.

It is impossible in the space of this article to recap the entire weekend and capture the spirit of each speaker adequately, but following are a few of the highlights.

Dr. Robert Broadwell.  Dr. Broadwell’s discussion, as might be expected, included enlightening discussions of an historical nature.  He described the demise of the Osteopathic profession from a holistic, vitalistic system that relied on manipulation as a primary treatment method, to its absorption into the AMA and Osteopathic doctors becoming fully Allopathic.  He had important lessons for the modern Naturopathic profession to prevent this from happening to us, and discussed some dangerous trends toward “integration” that in the long run could result in a similar fate for Naturopathy.  One such trend is the use of prescription medications.  Dr. Broadwell feels that by pushing to gain prescriptive rights, Naturopathic physicians are in essence saying “our medicine doesn’t work”, and he feels we should give up our ability to prescribe drugs.  He views the Naturopathic profession as “alternative”, since we are an alternative to conventional medicine, but he does not like the terms Integrated or Complementary since they imply that Naturopathy can only be practiced in conjunction with conventional, allopathic medicine.  This point was illustrated as Dr. Broadwell stated in his lecture “It’s hard to ride two horses at the same time”.  As always when he speaks, Dr. Broadwell’s lecture was replete with clinical pearls from his more than half century of experience.  One such example was the concept that febrile seizures only occur in patients that are calcium deficient, and described a sophisticated hydrotherapy technique to bring down fevers in children.

Dr. Letitia Watrous: Dr. Watrous of Spokane, Washington, is a second-generation Naturopathic Physician.  She took over the practice of her father, Dr. Harold Dick, and is one of the leading practitioners utilizing Constitutional Hydrotherapy in the country today.  Her outstanding lecture included historical photographs of many Naturopathic pioneers and discussed a number of traditional Naturopathic techniques pioneered by O.G. Carroll and her father.  Among these was a discussion of the Bolen Clotting test, a microscopic blood analysis to assess inflammation; Iris Diagnosis, Chapman reflexes, which uses reflex points on the body to assess organ function; the Carroll Food Intolerance Test, a blood serum test to assess non-immunologically mediated adverse food reactions; and the use of the Acoustic Cardiograph to use heart sounds as a diagnostic tool to assess the state of other organs.  Dr. Watrous also corrected a number of misconceptions in the proper administration of Constitutional Hydrotherapy.  Her presentation included numerous examples of clinical cases.  Training classes in these modalities are occasionally offered.  Contact Dr. Watrous for more information .

Dr. Stephen Messer. Dr. Messer’s presentation was entitled “Toward an Understanding of Naturopathic Medicine and Treatment Anomalies Through a Logic of Process”.  He compared the traditional philosophical logic systems of Aristotle and Hegel, and showed how the holistic thought process of Naturopathic Medicine could best be described by a new system of logic he calls the Logic of Process.  One clinical example of this is to consider diseases as Verbs instead of Nouns, i.e., as processes instead of states of being.  In this thought system, for example, instead of a patient “having diabetes”, we might say that the patient “is Diabetesing“.  Changing the paradigm of how we think about disease and disharmony could then radically affect our clinical approach to treating the patient.

Beacon Award. As part of The Gathering, the Naturopathic Society International initiated its annual Beacon Award, to “Honor a Naturopathic Physician who, by example and practice, has kept alive the naturopathic principles that continue to guide us today”.  The presentation of the inaugural Beacon Award was made during a ceremony on Saturday evening, June 18th, to Dr. Robert Broadwell.  Dr. Broadwell attended the American Therapy University, College of Naturopathic, in Arcadia, Missouri, graduating in 1951.  He later earned a doctorate in Oriental Medicine from South Baylo University in Garden Grove, California.  He served as the Director of Basic Medical Sciences for National College of Naturopathic Medicine when the first two years of the program were taught at Kansas Newman College, and later as one of three Executive Directors at National College in Portland.  Dr. Broadwell is currently in private practice in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, California.

The Naturopathic Society. The Gathering 2005 was one of the most organized, professionally run seminars I have ever attended.  The people responsible for this phenomenal, inspiring event were the members of the SCNM Naturopathic Society. Kim Palka – The Gathering Chair; Committee Chairs: Joel Morgan, Jaspreet Mundeir, Nate Champion, Kelly Collins, Teresa McBride, Kristin Wilson, Natalie Metz and Rhonda Steinke.  Naturopathic Society officers at SCNM are President: Mary K Martin, VP: Joel Morgan, Secretary: Joe Holcomb, Treasurer: Jenna Blasi, and PR: Tara Peyman.

The fact that the organizers of such a successful event were all students who did this in parallel with their full-time jobs as Naturopathic medical students is a testament to their dedication and professionalism.  If you missed The Gathering this year, you can buy the entire set of presentations on CD.  For details, contact Jaspreet Mundeir at

The Naturopathic Society has now spread to include student chapters at each of the Naturopathic medical schools, as well as a larger “parent” group, the Naturopathic Society International (  The Naturopathic Society is expanding beyond student chapters at the various colleges to include practicing physicians.  In progress on their website is a new Diplomat program in Naturopathic Philosophy.  Visit their website over the next few weeks and months as it matures, if you are interested in more traditional Naturopathic philosophy and its clinical applications.  Also, watch their website for information on next year’s gathering.  This resurgence of traditional Naturopathic Philosophy is not to be missed!


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