Dr. Erica Steele DNM ND CFMP BCND is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor & Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
I always knew from an early age that I was going to be a doctor, my job in my journey and in my career was to discover which type of doctor that I would become in time. At the time I had no idea that I would be a Naturopathic Doctor. My parents are both scholars, multi-degreed, and both instilled in me the desire to learn as well as think for myself. My mother was a nurse and is now a social worker, so for me, caretaking was considered common practice when helping people. She worked with a variety of patients in a variety of settings and while in school brought me to school with her to learn. As a young girl, I sat in organic chemistry classes and ran around labs learning complex structures prior to my maturity. I think this prepared me to be a functional medicine practitioner. This really created a deep understanding of how the body works on a cellular level. My father is in education and my stepmother was a geneticist. Again, I learned how to question things, think independently, and recognize the science to which the art of healing really took place, which prepared me to answer the clues created in functional medicine practice. Coupled with experiencing natural healthcare practices as well undergoing acupuncture, rebirthing, reiki attunements, and participating in native American spiritual work under the age of 12. All of this prepared my calling and my path to become a naturopathic doctor.
As I grew up, a rebellious teen, I left my house to start my career in natural healthcare. At 16 years old, I was the youngest student in my class to complete a massage therapy program. I immediately left the program and began working gaining lots of various experiences across different facilities in natural healthcare. I worked in spas, organic spas, med spas, with chiropractors, in PT clinics, wellness centers, and massage clinics nationwide. I fell in love with the complexity of the body and my ability to help facilitate people’s healing. I continued my education, going to school for neuromuscular therapy, in addition to various other manual therapy modalities as my career in massage therapy expanded before becoming a naturopathic doctor.
I then was offered an opportunity to teach in massage therapy schools, as an anatomy & physiology instructor. This experience served me on many levels, honing my skills to teach people the body as well as gaining an even deeper understanding of anatomy, and physiology. From there, I made the decision to continue my education, while I gained experience both owning my own business, managing other people’s businesses, and eventually completing my associate’s degree in Psychology from the university of phoenix after various start stops in traditional community colleges in Southern California. Working full-time and being a single mother proved to be challenging when in turn balancing college education but I was determined to be a naturopathic doctor. I continued to persevere and not give up on my dreams while also teaching my daughter how to have life and work balance.
I was at a crossroads in my education as to the direction I would take and know that I wanted to be a doctor, but still unsure of which I did more research. I studied allopathic doctors, such as MDs, and the like. Although, I appreciated their philosophies it did not resonate with me and what I felt G-Ds calling was from me. I further explored being a holistic doctor including a chiropractic, osteopathy, and naturopathy, especially since I worked with many of them throughout the years. Although I appreciated chiropractic care, I did not see myself as a chiropractor especially since I had already done manual therapy for so many years. Being an Osteopath disheartened me since they had abandoned much of their holistic practices to merge with the allopathic trends. When I further uncovered being a naturopathic doctor, it really resonated with me, but what made me hesitant was the lack of credibility it had in the medical community. Functional Medicine quenched my thirst by biochemistry and understanding on a detailed level hw the body works. My deepest desire was to bring forth the science combined with the art of healing. I saw that this was a perfect blend in healthcare, just hoped that people would understand and respect why I would take this path. Especially since there were so few credible naturopathic doctors at the time, and so much overall miseducation as well as fear.
I continued my education gaining a Bachelors in Natural Healthcare Sciences, yet still wavered on which direction I would take with my doctoral training. I was passionate and loved the practice of naturopathy, yet still was concerned that it would be an uphill battle politically, and socially. Naturopathic Doctors are not recognized, and the ones that are intended to be considered primary care physicians. Fundamentally, I believe that we are not primary care physicians, nor do I want to be a primary care doctor. I also choose not to prescribe medications or have an interest in performing surgeries. I also believe that we are not adequately trained to diagnose and manage pathologies, nor do I believe that is our place in healthcare. I greatly respect and work integratively with all doctors, respecting and deeply understanding our place in medicine, healing, and healthcare. I thoroughly believe in all the nature doctors before me, interesting my patients on aspects of their human frame, lifestyle, and health behaviors. I believe that our jobs are to motivate, inspire, and empower our patients to live healthier lives and not to diagnose and manage diseases using collections of symptoms. As I saw more and more of the new breed of naturopathic doctor that came into the scene wanting to replace allopathic doctors, merge with, or be considered them I began to generate more of my urge to pursue traditional naturopathy. I also saw that a traditional naturopathic doctor became no more than herb or supplement sales people, not running appropriate labs to understand the human condition with little to no conversation about diets if any, as well as limited scientific education. This truly drove me over the edge and allowed me to final make my decision to become a traditional naturopath with deep biochemical and laboratory diagnostic training. This is why I added the functional medicine component to my training to help me deeply understand the biochemical component of the person.
I researched and found a traditional naturopathic school that laid emphasis on laboratory sciences and functional medicine. I completed my Doctorate in Natural Medicine first and then my Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the University of Natural Medicine, which had an emphasis in laboratory diagnostics. I overlapped my education with a Certification in Functional Medicine from Functional Medicine University; which in all was a total of 12 years of study in natural healthcare sciences.
Falling in love with homeopathy and understanding many diseases end in the physical body, not beginning, and that disease is really dis-ease generated from mental, emotional, psychosocial, as well as spiritual manifestations led me to study more in human behavior in which I completed a 500 hour Clinical Hypnotherapy training, in addition to Handwriting analysis to further understand the subconscious and conscious mind behaviors. Most recently, I completed a secondary Bachelors in Alternative Medicine from Everglades University and am currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health Education with an emphasis in Complementary and Alternative Medicine to further understand the political environment and public healthcare policies already established within our field. I am continuing an additional subspecialty in Integrative Medicine to create more of a bridge between naturopathic and allopathic medicine while looking forward to continuing on to a Ph.D. in Mindbody Medicine. Ultimately, I am a lifelong learner and am on a mission to help others reclaim their health using the healing power of nature finding the causes of their imbalances in health instead of just addressing the symptoms. I have committed my life to this practice and am building a practice that can not only stand the test of time, yet also facilitate healing in millions of families across the globe. I am truly passionate about my mission and vision to help families live naturally as a naturopathic doctor.