Joseph Pizzorno, ND

Why I am even more radical today

Dr. Joseph Pizzorno – Founder of America’s first accredited college of naturopathic medicine- explains the risks he took, and how his convictions that conventional medicine is not working have strengthened over time.

The Interview

One of the big challenges when I was a student back in the ’70s was that there was only one naturopathic college left in all of North America and it was just holding on by the skin of its teeth. Two years before I entered, nobody entered naturopathic medical school that year. It’s almost like the profession died. So after I graduated in 1975, with $200 I started Bastyr University. Year by year we built the school through basically a lot of volunteer work and a lot of hard work with very low salaries. We had a vision and we had a mission and we were able to draw people who resonated with our mission, who realized that in order to solve the healthcare crisis, we had to bring in natural medicine. By 1989, we were the first accredited college of natural medicine anywhere in the world.

I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, as I’ve seen more and more complex patients, patients that have been medical failures, and looked at the research, I’ve become more radical and more angry at conventional medicine. On the one hand, conventional medicine does some things that are miraculous. So I’m a motorcycle rider. I love riding motorcycles. If I get involved in an accident, you’ve got to put me in the emergency room to fix me up. Don’t take me over to a naturopath because that’s not their skill base. But when you get outside of those areas where they’re so good and we get to the day-to-day practice of medicine, not only is conventional medicine not very good but much of what conventional medicine does makes people sicker.

If you look at what is the true promise of natural, integrative, functional, whatever name you want to apply to this body of knowledge, is that it is about treating people rather than disease. You have to diagnose disease. Sometimes the disease itself requires treatment, but the vast majority of the time it’s the person that needs the treatment. Our ability to understand the true reason why people are sick and to put them on the path to healing is the most powerful and profound it’s ever been. I’m so excited about the future of our medicine because we are the solution to the healthcare crisis, because the only solution is to promote health and not simply treat the symptoms of disease.

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