Considering the cozy furniture, wall of colorful dried teas and sunbathed interior at naturopathic doctor Avery Colby’s new downtown Camas wellness center, it’s no surprise that a member of the Camas business community recently asked Colby — jokingly — if they could come work out of the apothecary.
Unlike many overly sterilized medical offices, the new Petal and Thorn Naturopathic Wellness Center and Apothecary makes patients and visitors feel like sticking around just a little longer.
That’s sort of the point, says Colby, a Washington native who received her bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis on pre-medicine from Washington State University in Pullman and her doctorate degree from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland.
“I want people to feel comfortable enough that they can open up,” Colby says. “The first appointment is 90 minutes, which is ample time to get to know each other and do a physical exam. A lot of people think, ’90 minutes? What are we going to talk about for 90 minutes?’ but it goes so fast. We get to 90 minutes and we’re not done yet.”
As a naturopathic doctor, Colby treats the whole person rather than focusing on a symptom.
“My approach to medicine is understanding your health on a mental, physical and emotional level in order to help guide you to the best of my abilities,” Colby states on her Petal and Thorn website.
Above a couch in the apothecary, artwork describes the six tenets of naturopathic medicine: first, do no harm; the healing power of nature; identify and treat the root cause; physician as teacher; treat the whole person; and the best cure is prevention.
“I work to identify the root cause of illness so we are able to treat the underlying issues and focus on prevention moving forward,” Colby says.
The youngest of five children, Colby grew up in Vancouver and graduated from Mountain View High School in 2009. Her husband, Alexander, graduated from Camas High in 2009, and that wasn’t Colby’s only Camas tie — her sister, Trista Darling, a chiropractor, owns Camas Family Health Center.
“I grew up looking up to her,” Colby said of her sister, who is 13 years her senior. “She is the one who suggested this space when I was looking for a (naturopathic practice).”
The family turned the former garage, located next to the Camas Family Health Center at 233 N.E. Sixth Ave., into a bright and open space for Colby’s new clinic — with a public apothecary and waiting room facing Northeast Sixth Avenue and private exam rooms in the back of the building.
Although she says she loves all natural modalities, Colby mainly focuses on botanicals — typically taken in the form of a tea — as well as nutrients and vitamins delivered through an intravenous (IV) drip or via injection.
Colby lists a few of her more popular IV drips and injections on her Petal and Thorn site. The remedies range from a vitamin B12 injection “to boost cellular energy production” to The Fatigue Fighter, packed with vitamins C and B as well as amino acids “to boost immune function … and supply the nutrients needed for cellular energy.”
The blend of botanicals and IV therapies is the basis of Colby’s business name — Petal (botanicals) and Thorn (IV drips) — and she says she always tries to individualize treatments, even for someone coming into the apothecary off the street, looking for a tea that might help them destress or boost their immune system during flu season.
“I have the list on the website to give people an idea (of the IV drips and injections), but I always listen to them. Are they in need of relaxation but also feeling tired? Do they have price restrictions? I can always individualize (a treatment).”
Colby, who is board certified in pharmacology and minor surgery as well as naturopathic medicine, says there are some common misperceptions about naturopathic doctors.
“Some people think we’re witch doctors,” she says, shaking her head. “But the most common misperception is that we have no scientific backing. We have to help educate, so people understand (that naturopathic medicine) is evidence-based, science-based.”
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians defines naturopathic medicine as “a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process” that includes “modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods.”
To learn more about Petal and Thorn Naturopathic Wellness Center, visit petalandthornwellness.com, stop by the apothecary at 233 N.E. Sixth Ave., call 360-210-7226 or schedule an appointment online at the center’s website.
The Downtown Camas Association will host a ribbon-cutting at Petal and Thorn during the First Friday on April 5, and Colby plans to serve champagne and tea that evening and offer special discounts on botanicals and B12 injections.