Oral History: Lynne Shinto and integrative medicine

Image showing behind the scenes at the recording of Dr. Lynne Shinto's oral history interview; Shinto's face is shown on a television screen along with the recording studio.

This post comes from Roman Block, Student Archives Assistant in the Historical Collections & Archives.

Integrative medicine, which pairs the use of natural medicine with that of conventional medicine, has become a popular and commonly adopted practice within health institutions across the country. OHSU is one of the health centers that has steadily embraced its use, implementing it in multiple locations and programs. In our newest Oral History interview, one of OHSU’s leading practitioners of integrative medicine, Lynne Shinto, N.D., M.P.H., explores the scope of integrative medicine at OHSU and details its evolution over the past two decades.

Within the field of naturopathy, Dr. Shinto is a trailblazer. Her conviction to pursue natural medicine came at an early age and she credits her grandmother, who regularly practiced herbalism, with cultivating her interest. She has been a distinguished figure at OHSU for nearly two decades, following her decision to complete a fellowship at the Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders (ORCCAMIND) in 2001. In the nearly twenty years since, she has participated in and borne witness to the expansion of integrative practices at the university.

Nowadays, integrative medicine is a multi-billion dollar industry as many people spend their time and money seeking out alternatives to conventional medicine. But at the turn of the millennium, the practice was relatively novel, so much so that Dr. Shinto mentions she “really felt like an alien” when she first joined OHSU. Following the completion of her fellowship, Dr. Shinto began working at the Center for Women’s Health, which practiced integrative medicine and was embedded in the hospital. This was completely unprecedented at the time and she cites the center’s innovative work as the catalyst for the expansion of integrative services at OHSU because it “opened a lot of doors.”

Head shot of Lynne Shinto on a blank backgroundDr. Shinto acknowledges that the process wasn’t quick or easy: misunderstandings and distrust between medical professionals from opposite fields often made integration difficult. Gradually, however, perceptions began to change and interest grew with time. The results of this shift are evident, as OHSU has grown to include three integrative medical clinics, the largest being the Comprehensive Pain Center, which has a practicing naturopath and multiple acupuncturists and chiropractors. Dr. Shinto’s work and her career accomplishments also underscore this evolution. She was integral in further facilitating the growth of integrative practices by revising the accreditation criteria for naturopaths at OHSU, ultimately creating more attainable standards for them to become credentialed and able to practice. Additionally, Dr. Shinto made history after being made Professor of Neurology at OHSU, becoming the first naturopath in the nation to be promoted to a professorship, a crucial step forward for integration in academic health centers.

Integrative medicine has evolved significantly in recent years and it seems likely that it will only continue to develop as time passes. Of course, Dr. Shinto’s story doesn’t stop here. To read more about her life and career, visit our Digital Collections to read her entire interview.

Read the interview

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