Naturopathic health care thrives on Vashon

Since hanging out her shingle on Vashon in 1998, Dr. Kelly Wright’s naturopathic medical practice has grown to approximately 2,500 active patients. Recently, Wright realized it was time for her to get a little back-up. This fall, two new physicians, Dr. Amy Clewell and Dr. Angela London, joined Wright at Vashon Natural Medicine, providing more primary care options to the Vashon community.

“Naturopathic physicians tend to spend a lot of time with their patients,” Wright said. “We also don’t employ nurses, so for all these years it’s basically been just me in the practice.”

It was an obvious fit for Clewell to join the practice, since she has been working as a private practitioner out of the Vashon Natural Medicine office for two years.

Clewell, who attended Bastyr University as well as Brenneke School of Massage, specializes in preventive care and chronic disease. She has worked in medical research at the University of Colorado and Stanford University and presently works part-time as a research associate.

Clewell uses a variety of naturopathic and conventional treatments to help patients strive to reach their “optimal health.” While attending medical school, she worked as a massage practitioner on the Island and still incorporates this and other hands-on modalities into her practice, especially for conditions such as chronic fatigue and muscle pain, according to Wright.

London is also a graduate of Bastyr University. For about six years, she has practiced naturopathic medicine at her own clinic, London Health Center, in Ferndale, Wash. Since joining the Vashon practice, London still sees patients in Ferndale, but only two days a week. Although London treats patients of all ages and for most acute and chronic conditions, she specializes in women’s health care including menstrual disorders, menopause, acne, fibromyalgia and annual exams.

All three physicians are preferred providers for most insurance companies.

Those not familiar with the Vashon Natural Medicine office can look for the white wooden farmhouse surrounded by a white picket fence along the highway just south of town. Vashon Natural Medicine provides holistic medical services including naturopathic medicine, massage, counseling, nutrition and midwifery.

Naturopathic medicine, a primary health care system, treats health conditions by using the body’s inherent ability to heal. Naturopathic physicians aid the healing process by incorporating various therapies based on the patient’s individual needs, including nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine and lifestyle counseling. Diet, lifestyle, work and personal history are all considered when determining a person’s care. In addition to using holistic methods for healing, naturopaths are licensed to prescribe antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and hormones such as birth control and natural hormone replacement therapy when appropriate.

Naturopathic physicians licensed in Washington state have graduated from a four-year naturopathic medical school after completing a college pre-med program. Licenses are awarded after the successful completion of a state medical board exam. As for the future, Wright said, “I grew up on Vashon and came back here to practice because I love it. I’m here for the long-term and will keep maintaining this naturopathic primary care facility for Vashon.”

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