Bastyr University

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Bastyr University
Students 0006.JPG
Former names
John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine
Bastyr College
Motto Leading innovation in natural health education
Established 1978
President Charles "Mac" Powell[1]
Provost Timothy C. Callahan
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 1018
Address 14500 Juanita Dr. NE, Kenmore, WA 98028-4966, Kenmore, Washington,

47°43′49″N 122°15′10″W / 47.7304°N 122.2528°W / 47.7304; -122.2528
Campus 51 acres (20.5 ha)
Colours Cranberry and ginger

Bastyr University is an alternative medicine university with campuses in Kenmore, Washington, and San Diego, California. Programs include naturopathy, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, nutrition, herbal medicine, ayurvedic medicine, psychology, and midwifery.

Bastyr's programs teach and research topics that are considered pseudoscience and quackery by the scientific and medical communities.[2][3][4][5] Quackwatch, a group against health fraud, put Bastyr University on its list of "questionable organizations" as a school which is "accredited but not recommended".[6]

Bastyr University and similar naturopathic programs are not accredited as medical schools but as special programs that are overseen by a naturopathic council which is not required to be scientific.[7][8][9] Bastyr's naturopathic program has been accused by critics of misrepresenting its medical rigor and spreading misinformation about its ability to train primary care clinicians.[2][10]


Bastyr University was established in 1978 as the John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle.[11] Three co-founders, Joseph Pizzorno, Les, Griffith, and Bill Mitchell, named the institution after John Bastyr, a teacher and advocate of naturopathy in the Seattle area.[12] Baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degree programs have been offered since 1989.[13] In 1984, the school was renamed Bastyr College; in 1994, it became Bastyr University.[citation needed]

In 1996, Bastyr relocated to its current location in the Saint Thomas Center, formerly St. Edward Seminary, a Catholic seminary building in Kenmore, Washington.[11] Pizzorno served as president until his retirement in June 2000.[14] During his tenure, Bastyr became the first accredited university of natural medicine and the first center for alternative medicine research funded by the National Institutes of Health's Office of Alternative Medicine,[11] the predecessor to the controversial National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.[3]

Its campus is surrounded by Saint Edward State Park's fir and hemlock forest. In November, 2005, the university purchased the property, which it had been leasing from the Archdiocese of Seattle.[15] In 2010, Bastyr merged with Seattle Midwifery School to offer a Master of Science degree to become a direct-entry midwife eligible for certification.[16]

Bastyr University Medicinal Herb Garden
Bastyr University courtyard - resident turtles
Medicinal herb garden

Academic programs[edit]

Bastyr offers bachelor's completion, master's, combined undergraduate/masters, doctoral, and certificate programs.[13] Average first-year cost (tuition, fees, and books) not including room and board for undergraduate programs is $26,523,[17] and for the doctorate in naturopathic medicine is $39,589.[18] Bastyr presents itself as the "Harvard of naturopathic medicine."[19] The Princeton Review reports that the naturopathic medicine program at Bastyr had an acceptance rate of 68%.[20]

Doctoral programs[edit]

  • Naturopathic Medicine
  • Acupuncture
  • Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine[21]

Master's programs[edit]

  • Ayurvedic Sciences (Program began in fall 2013.)
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Midwifery
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology
  • Public Health (Program began fall 2015)

Undergraduate programs[edit]

The Bachelor of Science degree completion programs require an average of two years' undergraduate coursework at another institution before transferring to Bastyr.

  • Exercise Science and Wellness
  • Health Psychology
  • Herbal Sciences
  • Integrated Human Biology
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrition and Culinary Arts
  • Nutrition and Exercise Science

Combined bachelor's/master's programs[edit]

  • Acupuncture or Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • Midwifery

Certificate programs[edit]

  • Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • Holistic Landscape Design

Continuing education[edit]

Bastyr also offers many non-degree continuing education courses. One course offered alleges to teach the adjustment of cranial bones to influence "craniosacral rhythms," despite this practice being implausible as such rhythms do not exist and the cranial bones in adults are fused together.[22] The Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations offers courses to birth doulas, postpartum doulas, and lactation and childbirth educators.[23]

Main campus[edit]

The building is the former St. Thomas Seminary

Bastyr's main campus sits on 51 acres (20.5 ha) of forests and athletic fields near Lake Washington.[11] The Saint Edward State Park forest surrounds it on three sides. Housing facilities include a student village of 11 cottage-style buildings designed to blend into the campus's natural setting and built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum specifications.[24]

The campus includes a renovated chapel,[25] originally built in the 1950s for the St. Edward Seminary, that is now rented for musical performances, weddings, and other events.[26] The chapel is known for its acoustical quality and architectural details, which include stained-glass windows, mosiacs, and a box-beam ceiling.[25] Scores for the films Brokeback Mountain, About Schmidt, Mr. Holland's Opus, Mirror Mirror, and other films, including video games, have been recorded in the chapel.[27] The musician Dave Matthews used the chapel to record the orchestral track for one of his albums;[27] his wife, Ashley Harper, is a naturopathic doctor[28] who received her degree from Bastyr.[29]

Seattle chef Jim Watkins became director of food services in 2011 and introduced meat dishes to the prior strictly vegetarian menu.[30][31]

Bastyr operates a naturopathic teaching clinic in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle.[32]

California campus[edit]

In September 2012, Bastyr University California opened in a two-story commercial building in San Diego with a small teaching clinic on the ground floor.[5] The program offers the doctor of naturopathic medicine program[5] and became accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education as of February 2012.[33] The first students were expected to graduate in spring 2016.[34]


The Tierney Basic Sciences Research Laboratory was the first research laboratory at a natural health university when it opened in 2000.[15] The Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center (BIORC), located at the Clinical Research Center, conducts studies of integrative care for breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other cancers.[citation needed] One study, run jointly with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was funded by a $3.1 million grant awarded in 2010 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health.[35]

Despite receiving research funds from NCCAM, Bastyr has been criticized for studying topics that are implausible or impossible for medical effectiveness, which are considered a waste of precious federal research funds.[36][3] A paranormal study funded by NCCAM and conducted at Bastyr investigated extrasensory perception and "distance healing" of HIV/AIDS patients by psychic methods.[37][38] Bastyr's study was based on earlier work on the topic by Elisabeth Targ, which has been marked as scientific fraud.[3]

Other pseudoscientific topics researched as Bastyr include homeopathy, energy medicine, and remote viewing.[3] These topics are disproved by numerous rigorous investigations that preceded the studies conducted at Bastyr and have been criticized as serving only to justify NCCAM's continued existence.[3]


Bastyr University is not recognized as a medical school by any medical accrediting organization.[9] The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education classifies Bastyr as a "special focus institution," similar to acupuncture schools, midwifery programs, and the now defunct ITT Technical Institute.[9]

Bastyr's Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program is accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), which is a naturopathic organization affiliated with the naturopathic profession.[9] Bastyr University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), as an institution that can grant undergraduate degrees.

The Master of Science in Acupuncture (MSA), the Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MSAOM), and the Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).[citation needed]

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, the accrediting agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has accredited Bastyr's Bachelor of Science with a Major in Nutrition with Didactic Program in Dietetics, Master of Science in Nutrition with Didactic Program in Dietetics, and Dietetic Internship.[39]

Bastyr University has received approval from the state of Washington as a recognized midwifery training facility and provides education for midwifery students in the articulated Bachelor/Master of Science in Midwifery degree. Both programs are accredited through the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council.[40]

The university is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges and Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.[citation needed]


[Bastyr naturopathic students] take classes with the same names as medical school courses, but pseudoscience and nonsensical information is integrated into every course.
Britt Marie Hermes [41]
Homeopathy is a mainstay of naturopathic education even though it is a pseudoscience.

The Bastyr curriculum has been criticized for teaching pseudoscience and quackery, as its courses in homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture, and ayurvedic methods lack a compelling evidence basis.[22][42] Clinical training in the naturopathic medicine program was revealed to be significantly fewer hours than what Bastyr claims to provide its students, focusing on dubious diagnostics to prescribe experimental and pseudoscientific treatments that do not adhere to medical standards of care.[43] Research conducted at Bastyr has been criticized as being a waste of taxpayer dollars by studying implausible treatments inconsistent with the best understandings of science and medicine.[36][3]

Former president of Bastyr, Joseph Pizzorno, has been criticized for promoting dangerous and ineffective naturopathic treatments.[37][4] Pizzorno co-authored the Textbook of Natural Medicine, which includes recommendations to treat diseases ranging from acne to AIDS using combinations of vitamins, minerals, and herbs at doses that would cause toxicity.[4] Pizzorno is an advocate of the discredited blood type diet, developed by fellow naturopath and Bastyr graduate Peter D'Adamo.[37] Pizzorno called the diet "the medical breakthrough of the ages" and described D'Adamo as "the best Bastyr has to offer.[37] (The consensus among dietitians, physicians, and scientists is that blood type diets are unsupported by scientific evidence.[44][45][46][47][48])

Naturopaths trained at Bastyr are required to study various non-medical folk remedies, including homeopathy.[49] David Gorski has been highly critical of this requirement; for him this makes the university fail the "litmus test" of whether it adheres to "science and reality".[50] In 1998, Bastyr offered an elective course in iridology, a debunked system of diagnosing medical conditions by looking for irregularities in the pigmentation of the iris.[51]

In 2007, Bastyr University was found by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to have violated the standards of academic freedom and shared governance for faculty members who were fired without cause of academic due process.[52] Bastyr has been placed on the AAUP censure list for violating generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.[53][54]

Notable alumni[edit]

Britt Marie Hermes runs a blog, Naturopathic Diaries, that is critical of naturopathy and Bastyr; she won the 2016 Ockham Award for Best Blog, given by The Skeptic magazine.[10]
  • Britt Marie Hermes, a 2011 graduate of the doctorate of naturopathic medicine program, who went on to practice for three years in Washington and Arizona.[55] She then became an outspoken critic of naturopathic medicine and Bastyr University.[10][56][41]
  • Mavie Marcos, an American singer and songwriter, currently residing near San Francisco, California. She attended Bastyr University from 2001 to 2003.


  1. ^ Isaacs, Deanna (19 June 2015). "Bastyr University hires Charles Powell as new president". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Atwood, Kimball C., IV (2003). "Naturopathy: A critical appraisal". Medscape General Medicine. 5 (4): 39. PMID 14745386. (registration required)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Atwood, Kimball C. (2003). "The Ongoing Problem with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine". Skeptical Inquirer. 25.7. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
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  5. ^ a b c Sisson, Paul (8 December 2012). "Med school embraces natural remedies". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
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  8. ^ "MMS Testimony in Opposition to H. 1992 and S. 1205, An Act to Create a Board of Registration in Naturopathy". Massachusetts Medical Society. Massachusetts Medical Society. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c d Hermes, Britt (29 August 2015). "ND Confession, Part II: The Accreditation of Naturopathic "Medical" Education". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c Thielking, Megan (20 October 2016). "'Essentially witchcraft:' A former naturopath takes on the field". STAT. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d Eng, James (31 March 1996). "Bastyr University Aims to Meld Traditional With 'Natural' Medicine". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  12. ^ Birkland, Dave (1 July 1995). "Dr. John Bastyr, 83, Renowned For Naturopathic Medical Skill". Seattle Times. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  13. ^ a b NWCCU Institutions A - D
  14. ^ Biography: Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., ND
  15. ^ a b History & Heritage | Bastyr University
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  17. ^ "Fund Your Undergraduate Degree". Bastyr University. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "Fund Your Graduate Degree: Graduate Tuition". Bastyr University. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  19. ^ "History & Heritage". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  20. ^ "Bastyr University - School of Naturopathic Medicine". Princeton Review. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b Atwood IV, Kimball. C. (March 26, 2004). "Naturopathy, pseudoscience, and medicine: Myths and fallacies vs truth". Medscape General Medicine. 6 (1): 33. PMC 1140750Freely accessible. PMID 15208545. 
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  24. ^ "The Dorm Gets a Holistic Upgrade". Sierra Magazine. September–October 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  25. ^ a b Long, Katherine (10 August 2009). "Bastyr Chapel architect sets record straight on acoustics". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  26. ^ "Rent the Bastyr Wedding Chapel". Bastyr University. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  27. ^ a b Long, Katherine (July 1, 2009). "Bastyr Chapel is feast for ears, eyes". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 2012-06-21. 
  28. ^ "Rocker Dave Matthews’ Sustainable Winery is Truly the ‘Best of What’s Around’". The Culture-ist. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  29. ^ Kroll, David. "Ontario naturopathic prescribing proposal is bad medicine". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  30. ^ Cicero, Providence (7 January 2012). "Mindful eating is Bastyr chef's mission". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  31. ^ Hopkins, Katy (7 June 2011). "Colleges That Offer Courses, Choices for Vegetarians". U.S. News and World Reports. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  32. ^ Stojnic, Niki (11 June 2014). "Mainstreaming Alternative Medicine". Seattle Magazine. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  33. ^ Bastyr's California Campus Receives Accreditation | Bastyr University
  34. ^ Kunkler, Aaron (25 November 2015). "Dr. Charles Powell sets agenda for Kenmore's Bastyr University following busy summer". Bothell Reporter. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  35. ^ "Bastyr/UW Oncomycology Translational Research Center". Grantome. Grantome. September 29, 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  36. ^ a b Mielczarek, Eugenie V.; Engler, Brian D. (2014). "Selling Pseudoscience: A Rent in the Fabric of American Medicine". Skeptical Inquirer. 38.3. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
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  38. ^ Offen, M. Louis (1 May 1999). "Health Care Fraud". Neurologic Clinics. 17 (2): 321–333. doi:10.1016/S0733-8619(05)70135-3. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  39. ^ "Didactic Programs in Dietetics". Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  40. ^ Accreditation | Bastyr University
  41. ^ a b Kirkey, Sharon (7 July 2017). "Naturopaths not ‘real’ doctors, despite video claims they are ‘medically trained’: critics". National Post. Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  42. ^ Palmer, Brian (3 June 2014). "Quacking All the Way to the Bank". Slate. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  43. ^ Hermes, Britt. "ND Confession, Part 1: Clinical training inside and out". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  44. ^ Leila Cusack; Emmy De Buck; Veerle Compernolle; Philippe Vandekerckhove (2013-07-01). "Blood type diets lack supporting evidence: a systematic review.". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 98 (1): 99–104. PMID 23697707. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.058693. 
  45. ^ May-Jean King (2000-07-04). "2: ABO Polymorphisms and their putative biological relationships with disease". Human Blood Cells (Consequences of Genetic Polymorphisms and Variations). World Scientific Pub Co Inc. p. 44. ISBN 978-1860941962. doi:10.1142/9781848160309_0002. As it is not possible to comparatively re-interpret all of the published data, we have tried to present this data with a reasonably "open mind", so that you may "find your own truth". However, it must be stated that an "open mind" should not extend to some of the non-scientific literature where there are books on the ABO system of pure fantasy. 206 The most recent and incredulous of these claims that individuals of each ABO blood type must subscribe to a specific diet in order to stay healthy, live longer and achieve an ideal weight! 
  46. ^ Katherine Zeratsky (2010-08-12). "Blood type diet: What is it? Does it work?". Mayo Clinic. Archived from the original on 2011-06-12. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  47. ^ David C K Roberts (200). "Quick weight loss: sorting fad from fact". The Medical Journal of Australia. 175: 637–40. PMID 11837873. Archived from the original on 2011-08-24. 
  48. ^ Wang, Jingzhou; Bibiana García-Bailo; Daiva E. Nielsen; Ahmed El-Sohemy (15 January 2014). "ABO Genotype, ‘Blood-Type’ Diet and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors". PLoS ONE. 9 (1): e84749. PMC 3893150Freely accessible. PMID 24454746. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084749. 
  49. ^ "Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Program". Bastyr University. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  50. ^ Gorski D (21 February 2011). "Naturopathy and science". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  51. ^ Ernst, E. (2000). "Iridology". Archives of Ophthalmology. 118 (1): 120. doi:10.1001/archopht.118.1.120. 
  52. ^ American Association of University Professors (2007). Academic Freedom and Tenure: Bastyr University (PDF) (Report). American Association of University Professors. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  53. ^ "Censure List". American Association of University Professors. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  54. ^ Academic Freedom and Tenure: Bastyr University by AAUP
  55. ^ Belluz, Julia (2 September 2015). "Why one naturopath quit after watching her peers treat cancer patients". Vox. 
  56. ^ Senapathy, Kavin (31 May 2016). "Why is Big Naturopathy afraid of this lone whistleblower?". Forbes. Retrieved 31 May 2016. 

External links[edit]