Three Lawrence physicians are pioneers.
As naturopaths, they are on the leading edge of a trend they're hoping will catch on in Kansas.
"In Kansas, a lot of people aren't informed about natural medicine. But as people become aware of it, we get to see more of them," said Peter Kimble, a naturopathic doctor who opened his Lawrence practice in the fall of 1999.
"It's just a matter of people becoming educated and learning that it does work."
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians is the unifying professional association for naturopathic medicine. In Lawrence, there are three naturopathic doctors who are members of the association: Kimble; and Mehdi and Farhang Khosh of Natural Medical Care, a naturopathic practice at 2601 W. Sixth St., Suite D. Kimble's office is at 3211 Clinton Parkway Court, Suite 2.
Naturopathic physicians are general practitioners trained as specialists in natural medicine. They study the same basic and clinical sciences as other medical students, as well as the full spectrum of natural medicines and therapies.
Nutrition, herbs, therapy
Naturopathic doctors treat disease and restore health using therapies from the sciences of clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, exercise therapy, counseling, acupuncture, natural childbirth and hydrotherapy.
They're the only primary-care physicians clinically trained in the use of a wide variety of natural therapeutics, according to the association. A naturopathic physician has a doctor of naturopathic medicine degree from a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical college.
In states where they're regulated, naturopathic doctors have to pass either a national or state board exam, and their actions are subject to review by a State Board of Examiners.
Naturopathic doctors are licensed in 11 states and Puerto Rico as primary-care providers, according to the association. Active licensing campaigns are going on in many states, including Kansas.
Naturopathic medicine, say the Khosh brothers and Kimble, is built upon these simple principles: the healing power of nature; treating the whole person; to first do no harm; identifying and treating the root cause of illness; prevention as the best cure; and the role of a doctor as a teacher.
The Khoshes came to the United States from Iran in 1988. They opened their Lawrence practice in the fall of 1999.
They earned their degrees in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle and completed a year-long residency at the Kansas Clinic of Traditional Medicine in Wichita.
They are licensed to practice by the state of Washington.
"Naturopathy is a kind of medicine that follows the philosophy of 'first do no harm' choosing to use the least invasive methods and the least toxic medicines. We treat the whole body; we're holistic," Mehdi Khosh said.
"We talk about the patient's diet, lifestyle and emotions. We find the cause and treat it rather than just suppressing the symptoms."
A first consultation with the Khoshes, which lasts an hour or more, averages about $100. Follow-up appointments cost between $55 to $60. They only accept direct payment, not insurance.
Kimble received his degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore. He graduated in 1999 and is licensed to practice by the state of Oregon.
The cost of a first appointment with Kimble is $100 to $140 for a medical-intake interview that can last an hour or more. Follow-up treatments usually cost between $30 and $60. He only accepts direct payment, not insurance.
Naturopathic medicine is catching on in Lawrence, Kimble said. His patients usually fall into one of two groups.
"One group wants to use natural medicine for everything because of their philosophical beliefs. The other group is people who have used conventional medicine for problems and have had no success."