NCNM Launches Traditional Roots Institute

New Organization Will Focus on Community Herbal Education

PORTLAND, Ore.(May 21, 2013) — National College of Natural Medicine today announced the launch of its newest community-education initiative, Traditional Roots Institute. The organization’s mission is to raise awareness and forge a deeper understanding of the healing power of botanical medicine. The new herbal institute will offer a wide range of lectures, workshops, herb walks and conferences to appeal to the interests of both healthcare professionals who want to expand their understanding of herbal therapies, and the general public who want to deepen their understanding of plants and botanical medicine.

Traditional Roots Institute joins NCNM’s growing roster of educational programs and organizations for the public, which includes the Women in Balance Institute, the popular Food as Medicine Everyday cooking classes and the ECO Project workshops.

Dr. Orna Izakson, a graduate of NCNM, returns to her alma mater to lead the new organization. Izakson, a naturopathic physician and a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild, has extensive botanical training beyond the requirements of her naturopathic degree program. In addition to her private medical practice, Izakson lectures on botanical medicine and is a respected health and science writer who has published articles in The Los Angeles Times, Utne Reader and other publications.

NCNM President David J. Schleich, PhD, notes that NCNM graduates receive a strong foundation in both botanical and pharmaceutical medicine before they are licensed to practice medicine. “Who better to lead this effort than one of our own? We’re delighted to have Dr. Izakson at the helm of the Traditional Roots Institute,” Schleich said.

Schleich believes that the time is ripe to offer licensed healthcare practitioners and lay people alike opportunities to learn more about herbal medicine—the root of naturopathic medicine.

“Plants have been used for healing by indigenous people for thousands of years. This system of knowledge is well documented in both Chinese and naturopathic medicine,” Schleich observed. “While the origins of most pharmaceutical medications used today are primarily plant-based, there is a disconnect among most Americans about how pharmaceutical medicine is derived,” he explained.

“At the same time, we are seeing a surge of interest throughout the country in plant-based, natural medicine as more people seek complementary and alternative health care. The ancient medicine is experiencing a revival. And NCNM’s Traditional Roots Institute will be at the center of that renewal of interest,” Schleich said.

Herb Pharm, the country’s leading herbal extract company located in Williams, Ore., donated $70,000 to help NCNM establish the new organization. The company cultivates certified-organic herbs for its tinctures and other products. Herb Pharm has a longstanding relationship with NCNM and the NCNM Clinic

Traditional Roots Institute’s free kick-off event, “Nature Health + Ecology,” will take place from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on June 1 on the NCNM campus. Portland is a host city for the celebration of World Environment Day, a day the United Nations Environmental Programme dedicates to global positive environmental action.


Founded in Portland in 1956, NCNM is the oldest naturopathic medical school in North America and an educational leader in classical Chinese medicine and CAM research. NCNM offers accredited four-year graduate medical degree programs in naturopathic and classical Chinese medicine, and a Master of Science in Integrative Medicine Research degree. Its community clinics provide low-cost medical care throughout the Portland metropolitan area. In addition to the campus-based NCNM Clinic, NCNM practitioners attend to approximately 40,000 patient visits per year. Until July 2006, NCNM was known as the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. The name change reflects the diversity of the college’s programmatic degree offerings.