By Tim Leeds
Ursula Waln, N.D., has opened a new medical office in the College Park Plaza in Havre, and a new sign for the business is being installed this week.
The office is Bear Paw Natural Medicine, where Waln practices as a naturopathic physician. She opened her practice the week after Thanksgiving.
Waln said the main treatments in naturopathy include nutritional and lifestyle counseling; herbal medicine; homeopathy, or treatment with minute doses of drugs; craniosacral therapy, the use of gentle massage to the skull and sacrum to alleviate a large number of symptoms and problems throughout the body; hypnotherapy; stress management; exercise, and working with substance addiction, as well as more traditional treatments.
"I see it as I have all these tools to work with," she said. "what would be the best way ... It really just depends on what a person is working with."
She said naturopathy has been around a long time, but with the advent of antibiotics and many modern treatment methods had fallen into disfavor in the United States. She said there has been some resumed interest here recently, however.
Waln described the discipline as a mixture of Western medical philosophy, with its emphasis on what is scientifically understandable and substantially proven, and a vitalistic approach, working with the vital force that ties the body and the whole person together, the body's ability to heal itself. She said it's like walking with a foot in each world.
She said being a naturopathic physician means working with both philosophies and trying to strike a balance, working with whatever a patient is willing to do and try.
She said she became interested in the discipline while working as an instructor, tutor and career counselor at Montana State University-Northern. Her husband, Randy, is also an instructor there.
Waln said she found out about naturopathy while counseling a student about career choices. She said she had always been interested in the field, but hadn't realized you could actually go to school and get a degree in it. So she enrolled in Bastyr University in Seattle, and that's exactly what she did, including a four-year residential program. Waln is licensed by the State of Montana as a primary care physician and has passed the National Physician's Licensing Exam for Naturopathic Medicine.
She said that her practice is not appropriate for emergency medical treatment, although she has received training in emergency care. Waln said the first two years of study are almost identical to traditional medical school, and the second two years are similar to it, with a different emphasis.
She said the treatment is probably most appropriate to chronic problems, often where traditional treatment has not provided relief, although that is not a necessary factor. She said it can go both ways, as well, where naturopathy does not solve the problem and more traditional treatment might.
Waln offers a free 15-minute consultation to help people decide whether naturopathic medicine is right for them or not. She said her hours are basically 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, although she is currently teaching at the university from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and is not available then.
For more information or to set an appointment, call 265-6867.