Dr. Orna Izakson is a writer, herbalist, gardener, naturopathic physician and owner of Celilo Natural Health Center in Portland, Oregon.
Dr. Izakson’s first career was in journalism, with newspaper-experience on both U.S. coasts. Her award-winning work has appeared in publications such as The Los Angeles Times, Multinational Monitor, E/The Environmental Magazine, The Bangor Daily News, Willamette Week, High Country News, Verde.com and Tidepool.org. She has published chapters in two books, Feeling the Heat: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Climate Change” (Routledge, 2004) and “Green Living: The E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly on the Earth” (Plume, 2005). She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.
After nearly a dozen years covering primarily rural natural-resource issues, she turned her attention to making a difference on an individual basis through natural health care. Her career shift came through personal health challenges, an evolving passion for ecology and a lifelong love of plants and the places they grow. Dr. Izakson is an avid gardener and certified Permaculture designer. She has used herbs, food, water and homeopathy as the mainstays of her own health care for nearly two decades.
Dr. Izakson trained in clinical herbalism with veteran community-health educator Colette Gardiner in Portland, Ore., whose 400-hour professional program focused primarily on the uses of cultivated, often-European medicinal plants. Complementing that work, she completed a two-year apprenticeship focusing on botany, wildcrafting techniques and the Use of Northwest native plants with with herbalist Howie Brounstein in Eugene, Ore. She also attended an advanced workshop with Howie on medicinal plants of the Southwest. Dr. Izakson has since studied with herbalists Deb Soule, Ryan Drum, Dr. Robin DiPasquale, Adam Seller, Michael Pilarski, Dr. Deborah Frances, Dr. Glen Nagel, Paul Bergner and Dr. Jill Stansbury. Dr. Izakson has been known to take road trips with tapes of herb-conference proceedings on the car stereo.
Dr. Izakson then attended medical school at National College (now University) of Natural Medicine, the oldest school of naturopathic medicine in North America, earning her naturopathic doctorate in 2009. Naturopathy is a century-old medical practice based on the ideas of the healing power of nature, targeted at individual patients, while identifying and treating the underlying causes of ill health. The rigorous, federally accredited program included traditional natural healing arts such as nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and physical medicine, as well as the medical-school mainstays of biomedical basic and clinical sciences, pharmacology, minor surgery, laboratory diagnosis and diagnostic imaging. Dr. Izakson was among the 20 percent of her classmates who completed all coursework and clinical rotations in four years.
In 2007 completed the New England School of Homeopathy‘s two-year course with Drs. Paul Herscu and Amy Rothenberg. She also has studied homeopathy with Dr. Will Taylor, Dr. Durr Elmore, Dr. Frederik Schroyens, Henny Heudens-Mast and Kim Elia.
At NUNM, Dr. Izakson was selected for clinical mentorships in homeopathy with Dr. Will Taylor and in biotherapeutic drainage with Dr. Dickson Thom, both among the world’s foremost practitioners of their healing arts. She has logged more than 1,200 clinical hours working with hundreds of patients in settings including a remote Alaskan Native hospital, urban clinics for homeless street youth, addiction recovery, women’s health and general health issues. Her specific clinical foci include women’s medicine, acute and chronic illness, mood disturbances, hormonal imbalances and respiratory health. After graduating, she completed a two-year residency with Howie Brounstein in his herbal clinic in Eugene.
Journalism allowed Dr. Izakson to explore the depth, complexity and interdependence of ecological systems. Naturopathy allows her to apply these insights to the physical, emotional and spiritual systems of individual patients, in their social and environmental contexts. Her medical focus is on treating people, not conditions, using plants — as teas, tinctures and flower essences — along with food, homeopathy and hydrotherapy. She believes that many of our health and political ills stem from separation — from each other, from ourselves and from the land that has always sustained us. The practice of natural medicine is about healing those splits and in the process healing ourselves, each other and the land. Natural medicine is the people’s medicine, its cures in people’s hands, cupboards, bathtubs, refrigerators. Dr. Izakson sees her role as a teacher and cheerleader, helping you move toward better health.
In her naturopathic practice Dr. Izakson helps people with their personal health through targeted reintegration with the natural world around them. She also serves as lead physician for the Traditional Roots Institute at NUNM, organizing community- and continuing-education events about herbal medicine, her way of helping bring the people’s medicine back to the people.