A few years ago I was experiencing digestive issues. Not to get too graphic, but I was having bloating and that impending feeling that things weren’t 100% “alright” down there. I didn’t seek help from a holistic practitioner at first, however. The reason for this was simple, but kind of silly when I look back, wishing I knew then what I know now: I felt like my symptom, as uncomfortable as it was, wasn’t a real “symptom”. I thought that, if I sought help for something as small as “bloating” (which I’d been told was normal by every other medical professional – common, perhaps, but not normal), I’d be labelled a complainer, a hypochondriac.
Now, of course, I know that not only is the onset of a “little” symptom the perfect time to go to a naturopathic doctor – it’s the first indication that we’ve strayed from balance – any kind of suffering is a legitimate reason to seek medical care. Got bloating? See a naturopathic doctor. Here are some more things a naturopathic doctor (or RSNC intern) can do for you:
1) Help you establish the foundations for health: Are you not sure what to eat? Ok, are you pretty sure of what to eat and just can’t seem to stick to eating those things? A naturopathic doctor can help you create a healthy lifestyle and support you through difficult life stages and periods of stress. Naturopathic doctors are trained in counselling and have a variety of whole-life healing tools to help you learn to care for yourself a little better. We can clear up your health doubts, provide a kind ear and inspire you to live more healthfully. For general health promotion and disease prevention there is no better person to see than a naturopathic doctor.
2) Treat your ailments (even if you didn’t even think they were ailments). Do you have frequent migraines but don’t want to take medication? Tendency to bloat? Less than perfect digestion? Tight muscles? Brain fog? Less energy than you’d like? The nice thing about our naturopathic toolbox is that we have treatments in there for anyone, at any stage in the health-disease continuum. Just because your symptom isn’t a “real” issue based on the disease-drug medical model, doesn’t mean you have to learn to live with it. Chances are, we can help and you won’t have to.
3) Help you manage chronic disease: Have you already been diagnosed with a condition and received medication for it? Naturopathic medicine can help you manage your disease and help your body restore balance while minimizing any symptoms that you might be experiencing. A naturopathic doctor’s approach is unique; we look for the cause of disease and aim to affect change at that level. By doing this, we are often able to reverse the chronic disease state and lessen or eliminate the need for medications. Other times, we prevent the disease from progressing or help manage symptoms naturally. Your condition needn’t control your life. We can help make your life more comfortable and enjoyable and help you feel empowered and cared for.
4) Provide a second opinion: Been told that you’ve reached the stage of needing life-long medications? Did you doctor tell you the only treatment left for you is surgery? Seek an alternate opinion with a naturopathic doctor. Chances are, you are farther up the Therapeutic Order and less invasive things can be done to shift you health back to a state of balance, prolonging or eliminating the need for drugs and surgery. Often times there is another, gentler way.
5) Tailor your list of supplements to your individual needs: Did you see on Dr. Oz that CoQ10 was a good thing to take? Did the health food store clerk tell you to try a certain pill for your acne? If so, it may be time to clarify things with a trained professional who will take the time to learn about you as a person and your specific health needs. While supplements are a great tool for promoting health and healing, they may not be required for everyone. Often-times patients who come to see me are already on a long list of supplements: some of them are indicated but, more often than not, some of them unnecessary and some of them are of low-quality. When this happens, one of the first things we must then do is edit your supplement list by ensuring that you’re taking the correct dose, in the correct way (with food, without food, before bed, etc.), using quality products (not all fish oils and probiotics are created equal!) and deciding whether or not that supplement is even necessary for your health needs at all! In this way, we can save you a lot of time and money, while giving you the security that what you’re taking is supporting your health.
6) Act as your primary care physician: Naturopathic doctors complete an intensive, 4-year program that is very similar to medical school. We are trained in biological sciences, clinical science, such as diagnostics, physical exams and lab testing, as well as our natural healing techniques (called “modalities”). We are more than capable of assessing a case, performing a physical exam, establishing a diagnosis, providing treatment, requesting and interpreting laboratory tests and referring patients to other, more specialized practitioners, if required. This makes naturopathic doctors a safe and effective option as a primary care physician or family doctor.
A naturopathic doctor has the time to explain your medication to you, help you make an informed decision about vaccinations and other medical interventions, provide nutritional and psychological counselling and treat conditions you come to see us for: a weird skin rash, a cough or cold, a urinary tract infection, or any other complaint you might go to your family doctor or a walk-in clinic for. The nice thing about having a naturopathic doctor as your family doctor is that, not only do we provide natural treatment for your health concerns, we also look into what is causing them in the first place – is stress affecting your immune system, for example? – and treat that as well, preventing you from coming back with the same issue again.
For more information on how naturopathic medicine can help you with your health goals, contact me.