In Memoriam: Konrad Kail, ND, 1949-2011

The naturopathic community lost one of its leading lights earlier this week, with the passing of Dr. Konrad Kail on Monday mornKKailing, July 18, at his home near Phoenix, AZ.

Widely loved for his clinical acumen, wry wit, and can-do spirit, Dr. Kail was among the pioneers of modern naturopathic medicine, helping to formalize, codify, and teach the principles and practices that form the bedrock of the naturopathic discipline. One of the founders of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM), Dr. Kail served on the college’s board of trustees, helping to guide the school through its early challenges and living to see it flourish in its current period of expansion.

He was the second president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), and the first naturopath to sit on a National Institutes of Health advisory council. He also served as chairman of the Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Board of Medical Examiners.

Dr. Kail received his ND from National College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1983. Shortly after graduating, he and his wife, Petie, and a small group of intrepid NDs bicycled around the US to raise awareness about their emerging profession. This “Wheeling and Healing Tour” was the first effort to introduce the public to naturopathic medicine.”I know a lot of people who bicycle across the country. Leave it to Konrad to circumnavigate it!” said Dr. Paul Mittman, current president of SCNM, and a friend and colleague of Dr. Kail’s for decades.

“Konrad was bigger than life, one whose accomplishments could fill the resumes of ten people.  He taught, he invented, he conducted and published research, and he treated thousands and thousands of patients,” Dr. Mittman said.

Prior to becoming a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Kail had earned a Physician’s Assistant (PA) degree from Baylor College of Medicine.

Two and a half years ago, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He struggled with the disorder with determination, making use of most potentially beneficial tools from all the healing disciplines. In an interview on Natural Partners TV, recorded last summer, Dr. Kail reflected on his experience in a new chemotherapy trial with characteristic humor: “I don’t think I got the placebo, because I got all the side-effects they say you’d get if you had the medicine. So I’m pretty sure I’m on the real stuff.”

Dr. Kail’s last years were filled with love and support from Petie, his devoted wife and companion of more than 30 years, and from a wide circle of friends, colleagues, students & patients who knew and loved him.

We, at Holistic Primary Care are grateful for the privilege of knowing Dr. Kail. He was an early supporter  of our publication,  extending a welcoming hand in our first years and helping us build enduring relationships within the natural medicine community (Read, “Vascular Inflammation: The Other Half of the Heart Disease Equation,” for a taste of one of Dr. Kail’s excellent clinical lectures from 2004)

Though he was fiercely protective of naturopathic medicine and ever-concerned about co-optation by “dabblers” who borrowed naturopathic language and techniques without deeper study of the principles, Dr. Kail recognized the value of our effort to share information across disciplinary boundaries. Ultimately, he was devoted to improving health care for all, and he committed his life and his work to that ideal.

In addition to his wife, Petie, he is survived by his mother,  Jean Peterson, as well as family members, Joe Kail, Julie Jones of Tallahassee, FL; Barbara Kail of Silver City, NM; and Rosalie Kail, Tauna Wiltz, Taryn Kail and Twilah Kail of San Antiono, TX, along with several nieces, nephews, and Godchildren.

His body has been donated to the University of Arizona, Tuscon, for research purposes. Donations in Dr. Kail’s memory may be made to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine online at

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