What is a naturopathic doctor? Is that the same as a homeopath?
A naturopathic doctor is a licensed doctor who undertakes academic and clinical tranining at an accredited, four–year medical school. Naturopathic doctors are licensed as doctors or physicians by the Department of Health of the state they reside in. Homeopaths are not doctors and do not practice medicine but are professionals that have studied homeopathy and prescribe homeopathic remedies.
What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is patient-centered, wellness-oriented holistic health care for all members of the family. Naturopathic Medicine is defined by the philosophy of health and healing; and it is summarized by seven guiding principles (adapted from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians).
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic doctors utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful effects, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore health.
Let Nature Heal (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
The healing power of nature is the inherent self- healing process of living systems. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to support, facilitate and augment this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health (such as poor diet or unhealthy lifestyle habits)
Identify The Cause (Tolle Causam)
A naturopathic doctor is trained to discover and confront the underlying cause(s) of disease instead of treating or masking symptoms.
Treat The Whole Person
Health or disease comes from a complex interaction of mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, dietary, genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and other factors. Naturopathic doctors treat the whole person, taking these factors into account.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
The original meaning of the word “doctor” is teacher. Naturopathic doctors recognize the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship and strive to educate the patient so that they feel empowered to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Naturopathic doctors strive to prevent illness by focusing on the foundations of health (nutrition, stress management, lifestyle, and environment) while taking into consideration genetics and other risk factors for illness.
Establishing and maintaining optimum health and balance. Wellness is a state of being healthy, characterized by positive emotion, thought, and action.
What is the education and training of NDs?
NDs graduate from accredited medical schools where the first two years feature a comprehensive study of the basic medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical and physical diagnosis, and laboratory diagnosis. The second half of naturopathic medical training focuses on the clinical aspects of medicine: endocrinology, gynecology, pharmacology, cardiology, gastroenterology, dermatology, etc. During this stage, students complete outpatient rotations in naturopathic primary and specialty care. A small number of NDs complete post-graduate residencies that further train naturopathic physicians in primary or specialty care, such as pediatrics, oncology and gynecology. I completed an integrative family medicine residency through a Bastyr University affiliate site.
What kind of treatments do NDs recommend?
A naturopathic doctor can have a multitude of recommendations based on their assessment and diagnosis of your condition including diet, exercise, counseling, herbal medicine, homeopathic remedies, clinical nutrition, intravenous vitamins, and physical medicine. Every individual treatment plan is thoughtfully customized to a patient’s values and needs; At times they may prescribe pharmaceutical drugs such as birth control medications, thyroid hormone, or blood pressure medication as well. NDs will thoughtfully integrate your natural treatments with any existing medications, as we are the only doctors with training in drug-herb, drug-supplement, and herb-herb interactions.
Are there treatments or drugs that my ND cannot recommend or prescribe?
Although suturing was part of my scope of practice in Washington state, I am unable to offer this service in California so any lacerations requiring suturing should be directed to your nearest emergency room or urgent care center. I also don’t treat cancer or Lyme’s disease – you should see a specialist from those conditions.
If I already have a PCP (primary care provider), is there any reason to see a naturopathic doctor?
Although many patients come see me for primary care for their family (well child visits, adult physicals, PAPs, sports physicals, etc), I also see patients for adjunctive care, meaning they have a primary care doctor elsewhere but they want adjunctive care with me to address a specific condition or for a more holistic approach to healthcare. I collaborate well with other PCPs (MDs, DOs, ARNPs or other NDs) and am happy to provide adjunctive care to complement your primary care. Some common reasons why patients will see me in addition to their PCP include: wanting to get off a statin medication, natural treatments for infertility, unable to tolerate their medicines and want another option, digestive complaints that conventional testing cannot explain, and sub-optimal thyroid function.
What do NDs think of pharmaceuticals and conventional medicine?
Patients are often surprised that I am NOT against pharmaceutical drugs or conventional medicine. Ever since the discovery of antibiotics and vaccinations, conventional medicine has saved countless lives. There are times when there are no substitutes for conventional care, for example emergent health issues, surgeries, and cancer treatment. I may refer patients to specialist to receive conventional care and treatment if necessary. I may also prescribe pharmaceutical drugs when necessary and of course, if the patient prefers drugs. My decision to practice naturopathic medicine came from a desire to offer patients BOTH natural treatments as well as conventional treatments, and not because I was rejecting conventional medicine. As a primary care provider with a passion for preventative medicine, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to recommend so many different treatments rather than depend on my prescription pad.
Do NDs practice acupuncture, obstetrics/midwifery or chiropractics?
Naturopathic doctors only practice acupuncture if they receive special training in acupuncture; in which case they would have an additional license (LAc) in addition to their ND degree. The same is true for midwifery — a small subset of NDs also have training in midwifery and can deliver babies at birth centers or at home; they are called ND-midwives (ND, LM). Although NDs learn various physical medicine techniques (some which look like chiropractic techniques), they don’t practice chiropractic technique in California unless they receive additional training and licensure for chiropractics (D.C.).
Do you take insurance?
In California, insurers have made it very difficult for naturopathic doctors to credential to be in-network providers. Therefore my practice does not bill insurance and all of my patients are private pay. If you have a PPO plan with out-of-network benefits, I will provide all the necessary documentation to allow you to request reimbursement from your insurance provider. We accept all credit cards and cash, as well as HAS/FSA cards.
Will insurance cover the lab tests you have ordered?
If you have a PPO plan or Medi-Cal, your labs will be covered. Specialized tests like saliva panels, food sensitivity testings or heavy metal testing may have high co-pays or not be covered under your plan. We do everything we can to find testing discounts for our patients.
Will insurance cover my natural medicines or supplements?
Although most medical insurance plans provide prescription medicine benefits for pharmaceutical drugs, dietary supplements are not covered by most major insurers. However, natural medicines may be purchased using flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Please contact your plan’s administrator for specific details. We are happy to provide you with a letter of medical necessity or prescription for your supplements if required by your insurance company.