Travis Elliott has always been drawn to the teaching profession. He was a high school science teacher for the Teach with America program in Portland, Oregon when he realized the classroom management part of the job had less appeal for him. While looking into teaching at the graduate level he learned about the National College of Natural Medicine in his hometown. He liked that the four-year program would have a wide-ranging curriculum which would allow him to learn how the human body works.
Elliot still wasn’t sure he wanted to be a doctor but when he discovered that one of the principals of naturopathic medicine is to see the doctor as a teacher, he decided to enroll. “Teaching is what I do during patient visits,” he said. “I set up a treatment plan and educate people.”
In keeping with his background as an educator, Elliott has prepared a number of interactive on-line classes for his patients on subjects like digestion, adrenal health and autoimmune disease.
Last summer, after practicing for over a decade in Oregon, Elliott and his wife decided to relocate to Shelburne. He has taken over the Tracy House space formerly occupied by The Common Deer.
Part of the reason for choosing Shelburne was education. Elliott’s children have always gone to Waldorf schools and they can continue to do so in Shelburne. “We were really attracted to this area of the country,” Elliott said. “I realized this state and this community had everything we were looking for in a place to live. In addition, people are very open to holistic medicine.”
Elliott also noted that in Vermont, insurance re-imbursement is available for naturopaths which lowers the access barrier for those in the lower income brackets.
Elliott explained that naturopathic medicine looks at the whole person rather than the disease. “Instead of suppressing heartburn,” he said “we look for the underlying reason why someone has it. Heartburn can be caused by an infection, by stress or by food, so we try to restore the body’s normal function.”
Elliott practices what he calls functional medicine. As an example he stated that when someone is tired he investigates the internal systems that provide energy like the thyroid and adrenal glands. If there is a problem, he tries to restore normal functions with supplements and dietary changes rather than drugs or surgery.
Elliott said he has been embraced by the Vermont medical community. He is involved with the local chapter of Business Network International and has met with doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists and other naturopaths. “We’re very integrated into the medical community here,” he said. “There is mutual respect.”
There are other reasons why Elliott is thankful he chose Shelburne as his new home. Last summer he learned to sail and he has taken advantage of the lake, as well as Shelburne’s proximity to the mountains. “I’m more physically involved with the landscape,” he said. “I used to live in the city and swim in pools but last summer I was jumping into Lake Champlain with the dogs whenever I could. I feel more a part of both the human community and the natural community since moving here.”