Education: National College of Natural Medicine (1981)
In practice since: 1980
Clinic: Lokahi Health Center
Practice setting: Private practice(s)
Location: Based in Kailua Kona, Hawaii (licensed state since 1925); part-time practice in Corte Madera, Calif. (licensed state since 2004)
Areas of focus/specialties:
• Naturopathic oncology
Career highlights and contributions:
• Chairman of the Board of Examiners for the State of Hawaii
• Board of Medical Examiners, American Board of Naturopathic Oncology
• American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) Physician of the Year Award (2006)
• “Best Alternative Medicine Practitioner” - Hawaiian Island Journal (2005)
• AANMC task force chair for the White House Commission on CAM Policy (2000–2002)
Current professional endeavors:
• On staff at North Hawaii Community Hospital in Kamuela, Hawaii, since 1995
• Founder and program director of Hawaiian Residency Training Program
• Study of vitamin D supplementation
Other professional achievements:
• Past president of the AANP
• Past president of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians
• Past president of the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners
• President and treasurer, Hawai'i Center for Integral Healing
• Vice president, Hawai’i State Consortium for Integrative Healthcare
• Former secretary/treasurer, Federation of Naturopathic Medical Licensing Boards
• Former board member, Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination
• Former board member, West Hawaii AIDS Foundation
• Advisory board member, Naturopathic Formulary Advisory Committee, California Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine
• American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)
• Hawaii Society of Naturopathic Physicians (HSNP)
• State of Hawaii Department of Health HIV/AIDS Community Advisory Panel
• Steering Committee of the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium
• Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP)
• Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP)
• California Naturopathic Doctors Association (CNDA)
• New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians (NYANP)
Personal passions: Meditation, retreats, tennis, swimming and snorkeling
Favorite quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Gandhi
Alumni Career Spotlight
Michael Traub, ND, DHANP, CCH, FABNO
Dr. Michael Traub is a true pioneer and leader of naturopathic medicine. A West Coast native, he attended school in both England and Kansas, earned his premed degree at the University of California, Irvine, and his naturopathic medicine degree from the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, Ore. Dr. Traub continued his postgraduate studies in Oregon prior to moving to Hawaii in 1985, where he maintains a strong presence in the naturopathic profession. In fact, in 2005, the Hawaiian Island Journal voted him “Best Alternative Medicine Practitioner.”
As a naturopathic doctor (ND), a diplomate of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (DHANP), a fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO), and with a certificate in classical homeopathy (CCH), Dr. Traub has delved deep into the heart of holistic health to amass an impressive background. He is a highly sought-after speaker and has presented at events such as the International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Paris. He promotes the naturopathic movement tirelessly and is co-author of the landmark “Final Report of the National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care: Finding Common Ground, 2001-2002.”
Dr. Traub has done a great deal to forward the intersection of naturopathic medicine and mainstream medicine. He was the first naturopathic physician appointed to the hospital staff of North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH). While chairman of the hospital’s Integrated Healing Committee (1996–2001), he conducted a pilot study on integrated treatment programs for breast cancer and successfully advocated for the addition of botanical, nutritional and homeopathic medicines to the hospital’s formulary. In 1998, he created the Hawaii Residency Training Program, for which he continues to serve as the program director. These accomplishments represent only a few of the many prominent leadership positions held by Dr. Traub. (Reference left sidebar for more complete list.)
He also believes strongly in educating the next generation of doctors about the benefits of naturopathic medicine. Dr. Traub has been an adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University, National College of Natural Medicine and the University of Minnesota; he has also held the position of visiting professor at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, University of Bridgeport and San Francisco State University. Dr. Traub is also active in naturopathic medical education, teaching both naturopathic and conventional medical students in preceptorships. He advises and mentors students and other physicians in addition to seeing patients.
AANMC: The theme of our December 2009 AANMC eNewsletter issue is the phenomenal growth of naturopathic medicine over the last few decades. You are an integral part of this movement, having significantly helped to expand the role of naturopathic medicine in North America. As a pioneer and a strong influence in the profession, what are some of your observations and experiences regarding this positive shift? What is your perspective on the major changes you’ve seen in the profession?
MT: Yes, I do think there have been some major instances of the increasing prominence of naturopathic medicine. The profession has grown fairly consistently over the last 30 years, with more students, schools, doctors and licensed states emerging. Naturopathic medicine has gained prominence as well, in terms of the participation of naturopathic physicians in a number of organizations--some on the national level. For example, naturopathic doctors have been appointed to positions in national healthcare organizations, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) White House Commission, and naturopathic students are now affiliated with the American Medical Association (AMA).
AANMC: It seems that more patients, as well as conventional medical doctors, have become aware of naturopathy. What are some examples of naturopathic medicine finding acceptance within the conventional medical world?
MT: Absolutely. 20 years ago, most conventional doctors hadn’t even heard of the term ‘naturopathic medicine,’ but now they at least have some idea of the nature of it. I think that the Cancer Treatment Center of America is a good example of the progress made over the past few decades; a conventional medical establishment that has successfully integrated naturopathic medicine in its various hospitals and continues to expand in that direction. It’s a great model of how conventional medicine can work collaboratively with naturopathic physicians.
AANMC: You have helped significantly to expand the naturopathic medical profession. What changes do you feel you may have influenced personally?
MT: Well, I have been involved on many levels to educate others and change policies. On a more personal level, for example, I enjoy a wonderful professional relationship with the local oncologist on this island, who regularly refers patients to me while they are undergoing conventional cancer care. In less than two years, this connection has not only had a big impact on my practice, it’s also made a tremendous difference in the lives of those affected by cancer in my community.
We continue to modernize the law here in Hawaii, expanding the scope of naturopathic medical practice and bringing its standards up to those which now exist in the western states. Prescriptive authority and insurance equality are top of the list.
AANMC: You no doubt lecture often. Do you see a difference between today’s students of naturopathy and those a few decades back?
MT: As far as the contrast of the students, well, let’s say that today they appear to be better trained, but not necessarily more intelligent. They do seem to have a deeper overall understanding of medicine than perhaps we did 20 or 30 years ago. The curriculum nowadays is much more sophisticated than when I went to school.
AANMC: What would you say was missing from the curriculum back then?
MT: Back then, most “pure naturopathic medicine” was taught, but we had no prescriptive authority and no hospital privileges, so we had to rely strictly on naturopathic medicine as it had evolved up to that point. I treated hundreds of kids for ear infections and never once prescribed antibiotics (and still don’t). In areas where NDs can write such prescriptions — I don’t know this for a fact — but some may be more likely to prescribe antibiotics. Under the influence of particular conditions, some current doctors and training centers may be drifting towards the conventional; back then, we had no choice but to dig deep into traditional naturopathic methods.
AANMC: It must be very satisfying, the difference you’ve made as a teacher and mentor to other students. How do you feel about the legacy of your teaching?
MT: I am glad to have made a difference, and now I can assist others during a great time to enter the profession. I hope naturopathic medicine will continue to grow as it has.
AANMC: What are the biggest challenges to the profession today, from your standpoint?
MT: I am utterly surprised that the health care system has gotten as bad as it has. We need a better system of serving our patients, who have suffered from a lack of proper care, both conventional and naturopathic. We need to create a system under which patients and doctors are the beneficiaries rather than drug companies and insurance companies. I am extremely hopeful, however, at this moment in history; we have a real opportunity to transform our national health program to help everybody who needs good preventive and medical care.
AANMC: What is it like practicing medicine in Hawaii in contrast to the mainland?
MT: I haven’t seen a dramatic difference. I practiced in Oregon for four years and saw lots of patients who lived natural, healthful lifestyles and were conscientious of what it meant to be healthy. Then again, it’s easy to live a healthful lifestyle here on the islands, and a lot of people make fitness a priority in their lives here. With the abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish throughout the year, it’s fairly easy to take good care of yourself.
AANMC: What is the best part of living and working in Hawaii?
MT: I am able to get in the ocean and play tennis almost every day of the year. And being close to nature helps me find balance in my life.
AANMC: Surely many students would be intrigued by the idea of living and practicing in Hawaii. How feasible is it to do so?
MT: There is a huge need for more naturopathic physicians here in Hawaii. There’s plenty of room to enter the practice.
AANMC: You have been a lifelong educator of naturopathic medicine. What is your message or advice to someone considering becoming an ND? What are your main points of guidance to your students?
MT: I strongly advise them to cultivate an attitude of compassion, empathy, openness and acceptance. I also emphasize that it is incredibly important to act with confidence; to not be timid around your patients. In terms of medical knowledge, I tell them to prepare themselves to be lifelong students of medicine and healing--school is just the beginning, not an endpoint. A solid embrace of naturopathic medicine principles is needed to balance the rigors of learning about health and disease. And I encourage them to recognize the beauty and the power of naturopathy.
It’s always a challenge of balancing work with rest. This is true of most professions, but particularly so in the service/health professions. We spend so much time giving of ourselves; we need to recharge our batteries so that we can continue offering optimal service.
AANMC: Establishing a practice can be daunting. What can you share about making it easier?
A solid work ethic is really important. It takes a lot of initiative to establish a medical practice--you have to work hard. In establishing a practice, it’s important to keep your overhead low and not add to the burdensome debt of medical school. One helpful idea that’s often overlooked is to ask your patients for help. If you have a successful outcome with a patient, ask him or her to refer you to others. Build by word of mouth. websites are helpful, of course. We didn’t have them when I started out, so to me they’re a relatively recent phenomenon, though I do appreciate all the inquiries I receive from those who visit my website.
AANMC: You’ve been involved in the world of medicine in so many capacities. What is it about naturopathic medicine that makes it so special to you?
MT: The professional life of a naturopathic doctor can be (and has been for me) extremely rewarding thanks to the collegiality and friendliness of fellow naturopathic physicians. In the allopathic world, the surgeons and cardiologists and other specialty groups tend to become exclusive and sometimes act as though they are better than others. They are in competition. In the naturopathic field, we tend to value each other for who we are. It’s like a fraternity--a wonderful thing to experience. We are like a family. The annual AANP convention is like a big reunion.
AANMC: What are your future hopes and plans, both for your practice and for your patients?
MT: I hope to continue to educate other doctors to do the best we can, to provide great healthcare and be examples of good doctors. We should all strive to practice what we preach. To further my own abilities as a doctor, I want to continue to engage in research. Most importantly, my message is to balance work with downtime and to live well.
Dr. Traub sees patients at a wellness center established in 1986 called Ho‘o Lokahi, which means “to bring about oneness, wholeness, agreement, peace and harmony” in Hawaiian. The natural treatments offered there are designed to complement conventional medicine and science, bring the body into balance and keep it there. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including the Alternative Medicine Review, Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, and Holistic Primary Care. Recently, Dr, Traub authored Essentials of Dermatological Diagnosis and Integrative Therapeutics, a textbook on an integrative approach to dermatological conditions. His current focus is on healing cancer patients and helping them cope and thrive even through conventional treatments. Always on the cutting edge, Dr. Traub is currently conducting a study on vitamin D supplementation.