Should I see a Naturopath or a Doctor ?
With so many options for healthcare these days, it can be confusing deciding which type of practitioner is best for your specific health concerns. While both naturopaths and medical doctors (GPs) have education in biomedical and clinical sciences, and are clinically trained to diagnose medical conditions, their approach to your treatment and tools that they use can differ. The treatment approach of naturopathic medicine’s focuses on finding the root cause of what may be causing your symptoms, and focuses on treatment options that provide the least amount of harm, versus simply treating the symptoms. Medical doctors approach focuses more on
Appointment with a Naturopath
In order to determine the root cause of your health concerns, naturopaths are trained to thoroughly assess each body system and lifestyle factors (such as stress, diet, digestion, mood, energy, sleeping habits, exercise, and social history) to uncover possible triggers related to your symptoms. Initial appointments last 1 hour, to thoroughly investigate what is happening now, as well as what led up to the issue to obtain the full picture of your health. You may also be requested to do some blood tests, food tolerance testing, stool tests or other pathology investigations.
The naturopathic approach emphasises individualised treatment plans for individual people. You may have been diagnosed with the same issue as someone else (such as IBS), but how it affects you and what caused if for yo is unique to your situation. Naturopathic medicine has a large emphasis on prevention – meaning it doesn’t just treat you for what you have now, but what you are at risks of having in the future. We work together to put a treatment plan together to treat today and improve your outlook for the future. This style of treating people also seeks to empower you to take an active role in your health through education and lifestyle changes that work for you.
Naturopathy: a system of alternative and complementary medicine based on the theory that diseases can be successfully treated or prevented with the use of herbal medicine, dietary changes, exercise, sleep and targeted nutrients.
What Types of Treatments Do Naturopaths use?
The word naturopath refers to a large array of treatments, from the traditional, to modern and the evidence based to the energetic. What types of treatments a naturopath uses can make naturopaths very different from one another. The 3 main areas that naturopaths focus on, and what Carly Naturopath uses include:
- Clinical nutrition: Detailed dietary assessments as well as nutritional and supple
ment recommendations based on food sensitivities/allergies, nutrient deficiencies, gastrointestinal and skin concerns, weight, energy, and general health.
- Herbal medicine: This includes the recommendation of herbs in the form of teas, tinctures or supplements which target specific health concerns (for example, hormone-balancing, adaptogenic etc.)
- Counselling: Qualified naturopaths are also trained in mental health and lifestyle counselling, which is usually incorporated into each visit.
Other treatments that Naturopaths sometimes use include, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), massage, hydrotherapy, homeopathy and cupping however it is recommended to ensure that your naturopath has qualifications in these sub-categories before engaging in these treatments.
Mainstream medicine offer a vast array in pathology testing, however naturopathic testing focuses on ‘Functional Testing’ meaning not just testing if an aspect of the body is sick, but how well is it functioning. Such testing includes:
- Food sensitivity testing: IgG or IgA antibody presence to specific food allergens to help guide diet plans and protocols.
- Hormone testing: To help uncover the root cause of specific symptoms.
- Stool analysis: To test for bacteria, parasites or viruses, and issues with nutrient absorption.
- Genetic testing: certain gene mutations can affect absorption, use and need for certain nutrents.
- Most pathology testing that doctors do such as vitamin D, iron, thyroid panels, cholesterol levels
What Do Naturopaths Prescribe?
After investigating your health complaints and developing a treatment plan, your naturopath will discuss prescriptions. This can include:
- Specific targeted practitioner only supplements such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics and other health products. These are superior to those found in retails shops as they are at higher doses, with less additives such as soy, sweeteners, fillers etc.
- Botanical herbs int eh form of tablet, liquid or both
- Nutrition plans tailored to your needs, based on your calorie and macro requirements as well as foods you enjoy
- Lifestyle modifications, exercise protocols, stress management techniques, self-care regimes, sleeping habits
Treatment and Testing Outside of a Naturopath’s Scope
So when should you see a GP instead of a naturopath? When you require:
- Pharmaceutical drugs requiring a prescription
- Administering of vaccines
- STD or STI testing
- Oral contraceptive pill (OCP)/Birth control prescription
- Requisitions for certain pathology and radiology testing
- Referrals to specialist physicians