Dr. Clark is a former high tech design engineer and manager who is now a physician with a passion for using his problem solving skills to further the health of his patients. Trained as a primary care physician, Dr. Clark has a special interest in helping adults with chronic conditions to maximize their health potential. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
Dr. Clark’s naturopathic treatment offerings include:
Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Dear Prospective Patient,
My name is Jeff Clark, ND. I’m a primary care physician licensed to practice medicine in the State of Oregon. I come from what today is considered a large family, and like most of my siblings am demographically a baby boomer. I’ve always been connected to the people around me, my extended family, friends and neighbors. Over my 50 years of life I have been a paperboy, a dishwasher, a waiter, a cook, an auto mechanic, a computer design engineer and high tech manager in a fortune 500 company, a small business owner, a small scale cattle rancher, and a physician.
Being a physician is the zenith of my professional life. It is in this role that I am best able to use my ability to understand and solve complex problems for the most direct benefit of others. In addition to involvement in my profession I enjoy being around the happy people and pets I love, the outdoors, hiking, fishing, vegetable gardening, raising 100% grass fed beef cattle and riding my bicycle to work as often as possible. Below is an essay about how this former high-tech engineer with 5 patents puts traditional natural medicine into context with what is today conventional symptom managing pharmaceutical drug medicine.
Jeff Clark, ND
There are some misconceptions about my specialty of medicine that have led to more than one friendly person look at me funny and wonder out loud how a successful engineer with products and patents to his credit could go into natural medicine. The underlying assumption being that somehow using botanicals/herbs and nutrients to treat disease is less scientific than using FDA approved pharmaceutical drugs. There is no denying that better quality information is always better for making decisions. With human health, uncertainties are always present even when the best possible information is available. Even more important than demanding a maximum quality of information is taking pause to understand the information that you do have.
Pharmaceuticals when used in emergency situations are often the best we have come up with for stabilizing a person and avoiding immediate death. Pharmaceuticals in chronic conditions are another story, they seldom if ever produce cures, usually form dependency, and often create serious side effects that lead to more drugs being prescribed.
Herbal medicines are not without their cautions, but typically we find they are much safer, subtler, and more harmonious with the body’s own attempts to recover health. In my view, correctly prescribed herbs and supplements more often assist the body’s own processes while pharmaceutical drugs tend to completely take over and force the body to suppress a symptom. There is a time and place for every treatment and as a physician I am ever diligent to differentiate. As a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of Oregon I have pharmaceutical prescribing rights. I like to think of my profession as “alternatives” medicine because I can offer the fullest set of choices including the drug choice, and referral to an MD/DO specialist when needed.
Medicine is practiced one patient at a time and this is probably the most important piece of information that needs to be widely understood by patients and demanded from all physicians. Each one of us at any moment is the result of our unique combination of 30,000+ genes, our birth mother’s health during her pregnancy with us, our environment and habits throughout our lives including what we had for breakfast this morning. Until you try a treatment, no one knows for certain how it will work for you. You might be average and on target or you might be in the tail of the population distribution that shouldn’t take the drug, herb or isolated nutrient. Until you try it, no amount of FDA testing will answer that question. After all the huffing and puffing about scientifically gathered data is done, medicine is and always should be practiced one carefully monitored patient at a time and not to an abstract statistic. The art of medicine is in finding what works for you to maximize your health. If you are the only person in the whole world that receives the benefit from that particular treatment plan, every clear thinking person should be satisfied with that success.
Most of the disparaging attitudes toward herbal and nutritional medicine are regarding the basis upon which we choose to give them a try. There is very little, possibly nothing that is FDA approved as a drug that is purely natural, even though at least 60% of prescription drugs are derived from or inspired by naturally occurring substances. FDA approval is very expensive, 100’s of millions of dollars per drug, herb or supplement. You can’t patent naturally occurring herbs and nutrients, so they can’t be sold for the extremely high prices required to pay for that FDA approval. After meeting the FDA requirements, the investors demand a high profit. This is definitely a catch-22. We as a people are left with the choice of only allowing as recognized medicine man-made drugs that do not occur in nature, that can be patented, afford FDA approval, and can be sold for extremely high prices. The alternative is to accept other information sources as valid for tryng the many unpatentable natural medicines that have grown up in the world alongside the human species that are quite affordable, and frequently growing in our very own gardens.
Herbal medicines have a very long history of use. The Ayurvedic and Chinese traditions from the far east go back thousands of years. The western herbal tradition stretches to before Hippocrates and after him Galen of the 2nd century AD, both considered fathers of western medicine. European Christian monks kept knowledge of western herbal medicine alive through the chaos of medieval times a thousand years ago. Herbal medicine in Europe was developed further during the Renaissance and can still be found in European apothecaries sitting next to modern pharmaceutical drugs. These information sources along with ethnobotany — contemporary studies of what indigenous peoples from the Americas and around the world have traditionally used for medicine, all give us a strong basis for trying non-patent, traditional herbal medicines in the treatment of diseases and ailments. Better quality contemporary information is always a boon, and comes now from basic scientific research often looking to isolate a single compound hoping to find a new patentable drug. FDA drug approval is never going to find a source of financing for these natural, unpatentable compounds.
For a person trained in the botanical traditions there are proper indications that allow us to work comfortably and safely with herbal medicines. Herbal medicine has always worked, has been extremely safe when used under trained supervision, and remains so today. While FDA drug status is economically out of reach for unadulterated herbal medicines, the modern scientific basis for their use continues to grow through the efforts of organizations such as the American Society of Pharmacognosy.
The world is full of effective medicines. Its an oddity of America that we have thrown out our oldest, most traditional, least expensive, and safest medicine sources in favor of the most expensive, most dangerous forms of man-made medicine that truly need FDA scrutiny and approval. It is only we here in America that have allowed a government created drug cartel control what may be officially viewed as medicine.
Nutritional supplements are the direct product of science. They are the practical application of what has been learned in contemporary times from the efforts of basic research in biological science that has described the structure and function of most nutrients and human enzymes and hormones at the biochemical level. These are the nutrients and other compounds that in health our bodies utilize to function properly. These too cannot be patented in their naturally occurring form and therefore afford FDA drug testing and drug status.
Yet nutritional food supplements can be applied to health conditions with powerful logic stemming from what we do know scientifically about the ingredient roles in normal body structure and function. With founders including Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine continues to document advances in the science of nutritional medicine. Adjacent to the orthomolecular people there is another group of holistic physicians that practice treatment of many diseases with nutrients, calling their very scientific school of thought “functional medicine”. The Institute of Functional Medicine being a leading organization. There is a further move by forward leaning medical educational institutions to include non-drug status herbs and nutrients in conventional practice under the heading of “integrative medicine” Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.
A more recent advancement in “modern” medical thought is the category of “lifestyle medicine”. Where conventional “preventative medicine” seems to consist of taking a daily baby aspirin and expensive screenings for early cancer detection, lifestyle medicine gets more firmly to the root of prevention. Much of our most common diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, degenerative joint diseases and pain disorders stem directly from the way we live our lives. We eat highly processed foods from an industrialized food supply where stable shelf life is valued over providing optimal nutrition for people. Many have forgotten or never learned how to cook with fresh whole foods. We drive our cars and move very little. As a nation we have become obese with wildly disregulating hormones. Lifestyle medicine has always been the foundation of naturopathic medicine and is the key to the greatest success for patients that utilize my services.
The good physician is always going to listen and observe their patient to decide if a medicine is helping, hindering or hurting. The excellent physician is going to always be seeking a way to help the patient recover true health and not just manage or mask symptoms of an ailment. There is much more capacity to recover, cure and heal than conventional medicine sometimes seems to allow. It is always the person themselves that does the healing, never the drug, herb nor nutrient, and certainly not the physician. A motivated patient and a wise doctor can work together to create true health. True health looks good, feels great!
Jeff Clark, ND