Dr. Sal Meli sets up naturopath practice

"Outdoors guy" loves Lillooe

Dr. Sal Meli is enjoying the best of all possible worlds - building his naturopathy practice in Squamish and Lillooet while enjoying all that the great outdoors has to offer in both communities.

A recent graduate of the Toronto School of Naturopathy, Dr. Meli established his Squamish practice in February. He shares a clinic there with other naturopaths, massage therapists and acupuncturists. After meeting Lillooet Wellness Centre manager Laurie McEwen, Meli decided to launch a practice here as well, visiting every two weeks for three office days.

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He told the News there are a "few similarities and definitely some differences" between being a Doctor of Naturopathy and an M.D.

"It's the same four-year schooling studying basic sciences, physiology, anatomy and basic pathological processes," explained Meli. "The diagnostic process is identical, it's more the treatment process that's different, as well as the philosophy that underlines why we would treat in a certain way.

"One of the major principles of naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person," he continued. "Our interviews are much longer; we're not just looking at the symptom that's being complained about. We're looking at the whole picture and treating the whole person. You could say it's a more holistic approach - we cover the physical but also the psychological and emotional."

Traditionally, he says, doctors of naturopathy used lifestyle and nutrition counseling and homeopathic, botanical and chiropractic treatments. Now they also employ acupuncture as well as more modern parenteral treatments using infusions and high doses of minerals and vitamins that couldn't otherwise be taken internally.

He added that relationships between medical doctors and naturopaths are moving towards a "more unified approach.

"It hasn't reached the potential where we work in a system where we both have our space in which to work, but it's not uncommon that for specific patients, basically depending on their medical doctor, we can create a team structure. It's not uncommon for that to happen, but there's still some resistance to that."

Dr. Meli, who's from Ontario, said he visited Lillooet on an early visit to B.C. and "the place captivated me.

"When I spoke to Laurie about her wellness centre, it was an opportunity to bring those two pieces of my experience together - medicine and the small mountain town aspect of Lillooet."

He concludes, "I'm absolutely an outdoors guy. When I'm not studying or practicing, I'm rock climbing or hiking or camping."

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