Excellence in naturopathic medicine delivered to an under-serviced community
IHP is striving to highlight clinics from across Canada, which brings us to the Fredericton Naturopathic Clinic in New Brunswick. Opened by Naturopathic Doctors Parissa and Judah Bunin in 2003, the clinic can be found in the Kchikhusis Centre, which is located on a First Nation’s reserve within the city of Fredericton, and is easily accessible from both the north and south sides of the beautiful Saint John River that runs through the city.
After becoming naturopathic doctors, this husband and wife team moved to Fredericton to open up their clinic because they felt a need to strengthen the profession in New Brunswick. At that time, the population was very conservative regarding naturopathic medicine and relatively few naturopathic doctors focused on evidence-based medicine. Therefore, the Bunins considered themselves “pioneers” and decided to focus their treatment approach on those naturopathic therapies with the most scientific support. As the clinic has evolved, they have witnessed an evolution in the public’s perception of the profession. The clinic staff has been working hard to develop trust in their community. This trust continues to strengthen as evidenced by increasing numbers of referrals in recent years from medical doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, and massage therapists, among others.
In addition to being a naturopathic doctor, Parissa is also a registered massage therapist. Her strong background in physical medicine has influenced the modalities practiced at the clinic where physical modalities, such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation are employed frequently. The clinic also expanded to include another registered massage therapist, Emily Durling.
The Fredericton Naturopathic Clinic has seen a slow, steady growth over the past 11 years and currently, 40 to 50 patients are seen each week. Judah and Parissa are happy with this rate of growth because upon opening their practice, they agreed that they did not want the clinic to grow too big too quickly as they had young children and placed a great importance on family life and community involvement.
The small clinic is now at the point where it is advancing into different special areas of focus. Parissa recently completed a parenteral therapy course in Ontario, while Judah plans to focus more on oncology and recently attended the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physician’s inaugural convention. Judah notes that no naturopathic doctors in the Fredericton area have expertise in oncology, so there is a void that needs to be filled.
The Fredericton Naturopathic Clinic is 850 square feet with two large treatment rooms, a reception area, and a dispensary. The dispensary carries a variety of different products that include both professional and retail lines, such as AOR, Thorne, Seroyal, Vitazan, St. Francis, Sisu, Natural Factors, and Trophic. The practitioners felt that it was necessary to carry retail lines in an effort to increase convenience for patients while also providing some affordable alternatives to potentially more expensive items. Being cognizant of financial realities in Fredericton, a limited number of integrative tests are performed, such as food sensitivities, salivary hormones, urinary neurotransmitters, stool analyses, and finger-prick vitamin D from such laboratories as Rocky Mountain Analytical, Neuroscience, Doctor’s Data, and ZRT.
Judah and Parissa are registered with the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (BDDT-N) in Ontario, since naturopathic medicine is unregulated in New Brunswick. They wanted to register with the BDDT-N as it provides assurance to the public that they have, in fact, received the necessary education and passed the board exams required of naturopathic doctors in regulated provinces. They are also actively involved with the New Brunswick Association of Naturopathic Doctors, where Parissa has served as Treasurer and Judah is the current President. This association is working hard to achieve the goal of regulating naturopathic medicine, which has required a significant investment of time and energy by the Bunins, but they are optimistic that regulation might be a reality within the next one to two years.
The Bunins also keep busy by teaching science-based courses at the Atlantic College of Therapeutic Massage. Judah teaches biology, physiology, pathology, nutrition, and research literacy, while Parissa teaches pharmacology, microbiology, and communications. Judah also dedicates a few hours each week conducting research at the college. In fact, he is currently involved in a joint project with the Kinesiology Department at the University of New Brunswick to study the physiological effects of massage on circulation in fibromyalgia patients. As the research coordinator at the college, he was heavily involved in designing the study and writing the grant that ultimately awarded the research team $15 000 to conduct this research. The team has presented its findings at three different conferences, including last year’s Health Fusion in Calgary, and will soon be submitting a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal.
IHP has great respect for practitioners who are trying to increase awareness and acceptance of evidence-based integrated therapeutics, so we commend the Fredericton Naturopathic Clinic for all of its efforts. We wish them much success and thank them for allowing us to draw attention to a successful naturopathic practice in an under-serviced province.