What kind of Doctor are you?
I’m a Naturopathic Doctor (aka. Naturopath, aka. Naturopathic Physician, aka. Nature Doc).
Naturopathic medicine has been a regulated profession under BC legislation since 1936, and a designated health profession under the Health Professions Act since January 1, 2000. However our ancestry is much older, and draws its roots from ancient Grecian, Chinese, Native American and Ayurvedic medical philosophies.
In BC we are primary care physicians with our own licensing body (the CNPBC), which monitors our practice and the profession under the Naturopathic Physicians Regulation and their bylaws & regulations.
Are you a Witch Doctor?
Only on full moons.
Why not go to medical school and become a REAL doctor?
So I never applied nor desired to go to these schools because the job itself and the model of health inherent just wasn’t for me.
I watched friends in undergrad go the pre-med route along with hoards of others pre-med’ers, loathing the insane amount of pressure it was and believing that their lives would only be complete once they got into med school.
Instead I took English Lit, nutrition, biology, psychology, biomechanics, statistics and swimming, among other things. For a while I thought I’d continue working in Nutrition or Kinesiology, or maybe even Journalism.
But the way my heart leapt when I heard about Naturopathic medicine and at the idea of a career as a Naturopath was like no other. To me, more than just being a Physician my job description includes advancing a new standard of health care based upon the human potential to heal.
This job attracts those who are okay with rejecting the status quo. Who are alright with being a bit of an outsider. Aren’t those the people who go on to do the coolest things anyway?
What Does a Naturopathic Doctor Do?
All kinds of cool things
Formally we’re trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems. After taking a full health history we look to find and treat the underlying cause of your symptoms, identify what obstacles might in the way of your healing, and make a plan with you to get there.
Because all of your bodily functions are intimately related to each other, we want to know all of your symptoms (none of this ‘one per visit’ nonsense). You may have heard that NDs “treat the whole person”? That’s you! Your physical pains & mental/emotional strains included.
But solely treating symptoms is like sweeping the house once and pretending that it’s never going to get dirty again. We want to sweep while finding and fostering the innate healing wisdom of your body, giving you the tools to help keep things tidier along the way.
I do this using herbal medicines (Mother Nature’s pharmacy), acupuncture, homeopathy, diet & lifestyle counselling, and physical (hands-on) medicine like craniosacral therapy. ND toolkit’s are large and diverse, and depending on training & certification can range anywhere from Bowen Therapy to providing prescription medications.
How are Naturopathic Doctors Trained?
In Canada there are 2 schools (BINM & CCNM) accredited by the CNME, which is an organization that serves the Canadian public by ensuring anyone with a ‘ND’ after their name didn’t sign up online to get their diploma mailed to them in 4-6 weeks.
I graduated from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine after completing my University undergraduate degree (an application requirement). The ND program at Boucher is 4 years long, about 5000 hours of class and preceptor time, 1400 hours of clinical training, and two monster licensing exams required by the province to ensure we know our stuff. To find out more about what we learn, you can check out the Boucher curriculum here.
Are Naturopathic Doctor’s evidence based?
How sick do I need to be before I come see you?
Health is a continuum, and a journey that is experienced differently by each of us.
Theoretically, you don’t need to be at all sick to come see me because We <3 Prevention. We put oil in our engines and schedule regular cleaning for our teeth to help avoid chaos and keep things running smoothly, why not take the same care for our bodies & our health?
Maybe you’ve been feeling unwell or “off” for ages, tried “everything”, and things still don’t seem to be improving. You could also be acutely germ-ridden & snot-dripping and I would still love to see you.
In each of these cases, there are always ways to help.
Does coming to see you mean that I stop seeing my MD?
Personally I’ve found that combining the best of what various professions have to offer reaps the best results. Fear tactics and bullying from either side of the medical spectrum are not my style. There is no guilt in being on birth control, antidepressants or antibiotics. They only become a problem if either you’ve been guilted into taking them and/or if they are a problem for you.
NDs are trained to recognize and understand any interactions between our medicine and your medications. With you at the center, transparency and communication between you and your healthcare providers is key.
Are you going tell me to stop eating all the foods I love?
Nope. But if you’re feeling rotten I will tell you that it’s time to find a diet that you love. A diet that makes you feel amazing. To be able to recognize which foods are making you feel alive and which ones are probably causing your diarrhea.
Through some investigatory work these foods will get found, either through an elimination/challenge diet, or with a quick n’ easy blood test that’s tested in lab against 50 to 500 different potential triggers.
Personally I am a deep lover of food and how it nourishes not just our physical bodies but more so our sensual lives. I am a moderation enthusiast. A dietary pacifist. To quote Paul Pitchford, “A bad relationship with your food is more poisonous than one of grandma’s sugar cookies”. You can read more about my personal food philosophy here.
Aren’t Naturopaths Super Expen$ive?
I think more accurately medicine is super expensive.
In 2009 the Canadian government (aka. we) spent $183.1 billion on health care or $5,452 per person. Of the three biggest health care expenses, since 1997 the amount spent on pharmaceuticals has increased the most, surpassing that even paid to doctors.
ND’s are currently the ‘mom & pop’s’ of healthcare, and Big Pharma is Walmart. So while you might spend a little more of your own dough up front, you’re supporting a movement towards a medical model that supports everyone’s health in the long run.
The cost of Naturopathic care will depend on the ND, the kinds of treatments they offer, and your perceived value of these treatments. It’s interesting how most people are ok with being on costly medications their whole lives, but will question spending money on a single supplement or few sessions of acupuncture that could benefit them within a few weeks.
I like to talk openly about how much $ my patients feel comfortable allotting to their treatment plan, and we make the very most out of each dollar spent. A few hundred can dollars can go a long way, and thankfully most insurance companies have caught on and included alternative therapies in their extended health care plans.
I like to like to think that I’m teaching my patients to fish so that they can eventually feed themselves. I give the tools, information, and the support to heal in a way that emphasizes self care instead of a lifetime of drug dependency.
Are you going to take away all my Fun?
There’s this perception that ND’s are all horribly dogmatic about “perfect” health. That we hate wheat and meat and dairy and wine and that we are going to tell you to cease and desist all guilty pleasures and things you enjoy.
This is so far from the truth. Health is about balance. It’s about knowing yourself well enough to make decisions that serve the whole of you. Too many restrictions results in resentment, which is way more toxic than the occasional JBC.
How will my life be different if I started treatment with you today?
Starting today means making the commitment to living your best life for always, and when you’re ready to get started, you’ll know.
Over time you’ll begin to have a better understanding of your symptoms, how they relate to each other, and how to avoid their unfriendly triggers. We’ll track your progress using general markers of health such as mood, sleep, bowel function, and energy. Eventually you’ll have clarified what the best lifestyle is for you and have experienced the tremendous influence it can have on your day to day well-being.
People heal. You can too.