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Dr. Right?

What you should know before you go

By Jill Davis May 19, 2009 Published in the January 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

LOOKING FOR a good alternative practitioner, but don’t know where to begin? We consulted experts at Portland’s top medical colleges for advice.


Credentials By state law, any person calling himself a “chiropractor” must have graduated from one of 17 four-year colleges accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. (For a list of schools, visit Call the Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners (503-378-5816; to make sure a doctor’s license is up-to-date and to find out if any disciplinary actions have been levied against him.

Find a Doc The Chiropractic Association of Oregon (503-256-1601; lists its members in good standing by city.

Sage Advice “Ask yourself if the practitioner is trying to sell you something or is focused on the complaint,” says Dr. Lester Lamm, vice president for student affairs at Western States Chiropractic College. Be on guard against doctors who want to take more than three x-rays for simple back pain or who pressure you with fear tactics.


Credentials Oregon is one of only 13 states to license naturopathic doctors as primary care
physicians. Your naturopath should have a degree from one of the six accredited naturopathic medical schools in North America. (For a list, see

Find a Doc The Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians ( lists naturopathic doctors by neighborhood and specialty.

Sage Advice Because a naturopath typically spends an hour per patient visit, assessing not only physical health but also lifestyle, diet and emotional state, it is essential that you are comfortable with his or her communication skills. Also, make sure your naturopath is willing to work in conjunction with your conventional doctor or has an affiliation with a local hospital.


Credentials Your acupuncturist should have graduated from one of the 49 training programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine. (For a list, visit

Find a Doc The Oregon Acupuncture Association ( lists the state’s licensed acupuncturists by city and neighborhood.

Sage Advice “If you have an internal problem like irritable bowel syndrome, an ulcer or asthma, then herbs can be an important part of the regimen,” says Oregon College of Oriental Medicine Dean of Clinics Robert Kaneko. So you may wish to consult someone who has clinical experience with Chinese herbalism, as well.

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