How would you explain Naturopathic Medicine?
The best example I use when describing Naturopathic medicine is in the case of a headache. Headaches are very common and most people will take medication for short term pain relief. This approach does not address the real cause of their headache. It only takes the symptom away, here being pain. Naturopathic medicine looks to find why that person, specifically, is getting headaches. Possible causes include by are not limited to: dehydration, high blood pressure, stress or vitamins/mineral deficiencies to name a few. Addressing these causes can help prevent headaches from happening and reduce the need for medication.
One of the main focuses for naturopathic medicine is prevention of disease. In my practice I focus on proper nutritional habits, exercise, quality sleep, stress reduction and the proper functioning of our digestive systems as the basic tools for prevention. If we are doing well in all of these areas it is easier to maintain a well functioning immune system to help prevent disease.
What is your goal in treating patients?
My goal in treating patients is to treat the root cause of their condition or their health concern. I see symptoms as a small part of the picture. Symptoms are important to address, but the absence of symptoms does not fully represent health. I often find that people are sometimes not aware that they are experiencing health concerns/symptoms for the fact that it has become "normal" or "common" for them. By exploring all aspects of a person's life including the physical as well as mental and emotional we can best assess one's state of "health".
Why should people consider seeing a Naturopathic Doctor?
People should consider seeing a naturopathic doctor if they are interested in learning about different options or alternative approaches to health care and who are interested in playing a more active role in their healthcare.
What does a ND do that an allopathic doctor does not? How do they differ?
Our scope of practice includes clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling and most recently pharmaceutical medications. I believe we can differ, in that, our first approach is to use natural treatments and lifestyle modifications as opposed to pharmaceutical interventions as first line treatment when suitable. We also receive more hours of training in nutrition and thus may be better able to help patients make lifestyle adjustments with their diet.
Can ND's replace MD's?
No. There have been tremendous medical advancements over the past 50 years with regards to lifesaving treatments including organ transplants and cardiovascular rehabilitation to name a few. These areas, as well as other western medical approaches are not the focus of naturopathic medicine. Our focus is on prevention, improving quality of life and the treatment of chronic illness as opposed to acute emergent care.
Can you see an ND as well as a MD? Do you need to see both to make sure you are getting full health treatment?
Yes and I recommend that patients do. It is in your best interest to gather as much quality information regarding your health as you can. I believe in a patient centered approach to healthcare where the patient is in control of what treatments will be best suited for them. In order to achieve this the patient needs to educate themselves as best they can and that is where health care professionals come in. I see ourselves as guides or teachers that can help direct patients towards their path to health.
What kind of services or range of services do you as a ND provide?
- Clinical nutrition including proper information for the use of supplements
- Botanical medicine
- Laboratory testing
- Disease prevention and Lifestyle Couseling
- Pain Management and Biopuncture (Traumeel)
- Pharmaceutical and Prescriptive Authority
Naturopathic doctors in BC are the first in Canada to have the authority to prescribe from the MDs' drug formulary, provided they have passed a test concerning those drugs. What does this mean to the profession?
Our educational system is similar to that of medical doctors. We do extensive training in anatomy, physiology, physical and clinical diagnosis, pathology and pharmacology. Our education and the work of our College of Naturopathic Physicians in BC (CNPBC) to develop an extensive additional training course oversaw by pharmacists and Medical doctors has been put in place to ensure the safety of the public. Our push for prescription rights has been to further our status as primary care physicians and also to maintain the use of certain natural therapeutics that have become classified as scheduled drugs and therefore inaccessible to NDs, such as high dose vitamins, some amino acids, certain botanicals and hormones. Having access to certain pharmaceutical drugs will not change how we practice; it only provides additional options when appropriate. For example, in the case of bacterial pneumonia where the ND deems antibiotics are required, having the ability to write a prescription reduces the delay of treatment. As well, for patients seeking non-drug alternatives, the ND can legitimately adjust, if appropriate, drug regimens while introducing non-drug therapies.