By Marcy Stamper
Naturopathic physician Brendan Smith likes to quote one of his instructors about the advantages of being a naturopath: “You can send someone to a shaman and a cardiologist in one day — and that’s OK,” he said.
Naturopaths aren’t really shamans — in fact, they have the same education as practitioners of conventional medicine. But they incorporate diet and nutritional therapies, mind/body therapies, and herbal and traditional Chinese medicine when treating patients. “The basis for treatment is to work with the body’s own ability to heal,” said Smith.
Smith began seeing patients at Family Health Centers in Twisp this month. He joined Family Health Centers a year and a half ago and works at the organization’s Omak and Tonasket clinics.
“My practice style is very much rooted in evidence-based medicine. It involves shared decision-making. Patients should be involved in the choices about their health,” said Smith.
Smith does conventional diagnostics and treatment, but complements those techniques with traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Traditional therapies can be a gentler way of treating chronic issues, he said. In addition to conventional pharmaceuticals, he may prescribe herbs, teas, vitamins and minerals.
Smith employs nutritional therapies both where they might be expected — such as for chronic digestive disorders or diabetes — and for conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, where choosing foods that require less energy to digest can preserve energy for breathing, he said. He also does manipulations and sports medicine to address pain.
Smith studied naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle, did his three-year residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, and taught there before coming to Okanogan County.
While teaching, he had a clinical practice, specializing in diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endocrinology. He also provided care for homeless youths, focusing on general health and on chemical-dependency and mental-health issues.
Another of Smith’s interests is in men’s health. His addition to the Twisp clinic means it now has a male practitioner.
Smith is seeing patients in Twisp every other Friday. He’s available as both a primary-care physician and as a consultant for people seeing other care providers. For more information, call 997-2011.