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Business Profile: Pathways to Natural Health

Coastal View by Marian Van Der Kar

When Dr. Lizzie Clapham discovered naturopathic medicine, it dramatically changed her life. Not too long after, she became interested in yoga, and now she incorporates the two.

Clapham said she had the classic story of being sick often and was introduced to naturopathic medicine around age 20. Yoga intrigued her to learn more about the body, so she returned to school “to get a better foundation for natural medicine” she said. She got more than a foundation for the medicine, she became a licensed naturopathic doctor.

Clapham began teaching yoga 11 years ago after completing a year and a half teacher-training program as Sun and Moon Yoga Studio in Arlington, VA. The registered and certified yoga teacher now teaches at the Carpinteria Woman’s Club on Wednesday evenings. She recommends that almost all her patients do yoga because she believes it is a huge benefit to anyone in any health condition.

“I recommend they do yoga, if they’re not doing another Eastern form of movement or meditation practice,” she said. “So, it really works both ways. I recommend some of my patients here to come to yoga and then some of my yoga students come to see me as a doctor.

“I’ve actually seen lot of patients get significantly better from adding yoga to their lives. It’s amazing.”

Clapham earned her doctorate in 2003 from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, Ore., which is the oldest accredited naturopathic college in North America. Here she was taught to diagnose in the standard Western way.

As a naturopathic doctor, she is a general practitioner and she does the same labs and diagnoses as a medical doctor. However, her treatments differ from those of medical doctors.

“I have all the same equipment in the office as a medical doctor will have - blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. So all the diagnoses and lab tests are the same, it’s just that our treatments tend to be quite different – anything from botanical medicine, to vitamins and minerals, to homeopathy, to physical medicine.

Clapham said she starts at the place of least intervention and reverts to the place of greater intervention if her practice was to be looked at on a continuum. For instance, antibiotics would be on the end of more intervention compared to botanical medicine on the other end.

After graduating NCNM, Clapham completed a residency program in integrative medicine and family practice at the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine in Orlando, Fla.

At the beginning of last summer, Clapham made another cross-country move and transplanted herself in Carpinteria. She opened her business, Pathways to Natural Health, in Santa Barbara in late August. According to Clapham, what she does in her office can be quite different from the next naturopath down the street.

Her practice “includes some of the basic principles of health, which are prevention and treating the whole person – not just looking at the symptoms, but looking at the broader picture of what else is going on,” she said. She focuses on the healing power of nature and she identifies and treats the cause, not just the symptoms.

Something else that sets her apart from other naturopathic doctors is that a huge focus of her practice is women’s health, including balancing hormones for women in their twenties to menopausal women and older. Bioidentical hormones, which are made from plant substances that are modified and mimic what the body naturally produces, have been “the latest” in the last five or 10 years since a big study came out against HRT for women, she said.

According to Clapham, there is nothing like having a career that is actually fulfilling.

“What I like most is sitting down one-to-one with a patient for a long period of time and not just understanding their current symptoms, but also what brought them there,” she explained. “My feeling is that symptoms are just a reflection of imbalances that have been there for awhile, so allowing the patient to really connect to that is really powerful for them and it’s really fulfilling for me to be part of that.”

Clapham sees patients of all ages. When she is not in her office or teaching yoga, her favorite thing to do is walk the beach in Carpinteria.

Pathways to Natural Health is located at 2958 State St. in Santa Barbara. For more information, call 679-1189 or visit pathways2nh.com. Clapham teaches yoga at the Carpinteria Woman’s Club on Wednesdays from 5 to 6:30pm.