What is a Naturopathic Doctor?
When I speak with a new patient, I always ask “have you seen a Naturopath before?” I ask this simple question because I’ve lived all over and people have a wide variety of experience with natural medicine and Naturopaths. I like to make sure we have a shared understanding of the definition of my profession before we begin a visit.
In the spirit of the first visit experience, I’d like to explain what a Naturopath (ND) is and describe what a first visit with me is like.
What is a Naturopathic Doctor?
A Naturopathic Doctor (ND) is a physician who has trained as a general practitioner whose focus is not only on modern medicine, but on traditional healing methods and holistic healing as well. Naturopathic Doctors are able to order labs and imaging, diagnose and treat disease -- like your conventional doctor. The difference is, in naturopathic medicine we attend to the whole person and excel particularly in the treatment and prevention of chronic illness. Naturopathic Doctors use the healing power of the body to assist in regaining and maintaining optimal health. Naturopaths look for things we call “obstacles to cure” when assessing a patient and attempt to remove these barriers to create internal and external balance in the body.
Naturopathic doctors utilize a hierarchy of treatments which move from the least invasive to the most invasive. Treatments such as lifestyle modification, diet changes and a healthy routine are initiated first as they are the least invasive. Next, natural substances or modalities may be used such as botanical medicine (herbs) or hydrotherapy might be introduced. Then the physical body may be addressed through physical medicine. Further along, options such as prescription medications or surgery may be recommended.
Naturopathic doctors work in a variety of settings from private clinics to hospitals and community health centers all over the world. Qualified naturopathic physicians undergo rigorous training before they become licensed healthcare providers. I attended my naturopathic training at National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon - one of the six accredited institutions of naturopathic medicine in North America.
Naturopathic doctors treat all medical conditions. Commonly seen conditions in the Naturopathic practice include: allergies, pain, digestive issues, hormonal symptoms, heart disease, respiratory conditions, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. NDs can perform minor surgeries such as removing cysts or superficial stitches, but they cannot perform major surgery. NDs are also trained to utilize prescription medications but typically prefer to use natural interventions first and foremost. Source: www.AANP.com
What is your first visit with Dr. Katie like?
Before the initial visit, new patients will have filled out their intake paperwork so I can get a clear idea of their concerns and current state of health before they walk in the door. The first visit is roughly 60 minutes and gives me a good amount of time to talk with you about your main concerns, establish a connection with you, get to know your health history and lifestyle. The information I gather helps me determine what types of treatments will be best indicated for you. During the visit, a physical exam and vitals check will be done. Treatments may be done on this first visit as well. You will always leave my office with a written or electronic treatment plan. I will also typically order labs for you at this time.
Follow up visits are typically shorter and involve closely tracking your progress on your current treatment plan. Adjustments to a treatment regimen are always considered as we move along on the journey together.
It is my goal to create a safe space in my office where my patients feel at ease and feel comfortable sharing their health information but also asking questions. It is important to me that my patients improve but also that they feel empowered -- after all our health is really in our own hands.
If you have more questions about what a Naturopath is or about scheduling a visit with me, please visit my schedule page to set up a complementary 15 minute consult.
8/17/2021 06:33:53 pm
Thanks for pointing out that qualified naturopathic physicians undergo a rigorous training before they become licensed healthcare providers. My husband and I are feeling down lately due to chronic back pain and stress. We are hoping to find experts on Monday who can develop a program to address all underlying issues so we can get back to our normal lives.
8/19/2021 08:38:31 am
Hey thank you so much for writing such well defined informative blog. It's really great to see people getting such significant healthcare knowledge on the internet and all thanks to people like you who put it here for us in the most understanding way possible. hoping to see more blogs like this in the future as well.
12/3/2022 05:43:58 pm
Thanks for sharing such informative blog. I think by practicing some basic holistic health techniques, you can feel better and start to improve your overall well-being. Keep it up
3/9/2023 07:32:21 am
I'm looking into alternative sources of medicine. It makes sense that I might want to look into finding a naturopathic doctor. It's nice that they have experience with modern and traditional medicine.
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Dr. Katie is a next-generation natural medicine doctor and proud dog mom living in the mountain west.