What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is based on 6 principles:
- First Do No Harm - primum non nocere
- The Healing Power of Nature - vis medicatrix naturae
- Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect -tolle causam
- Treat the Whole Person - tolle totum
- The Physician is a Teacher - docere
- Prevention is the best "cure" - praevenire
We believe that the human body has an innate ability to heal itself and it’s a matter of finding the underlying cause to support this healing process. There are many ways in which we can help support the process such as with counseling, nutrition, herbal medicine, and physical manipulations.
A simple example I like to give to help people understand what naturopathic medicine is to have them imagine a patient coming in with chronic headaches. Almost everyone has experienced a headache at one time or another, but how they respond to the headache varies widely. The common allopathic (aka. conventional medicine) solution to the problem would be to take an Ibuprofen or aspirin. There is nothing wrong with this approach, it takes away the headache usually, and sometimes in that particular moment, that’s what people need. However, if someone using this solution EVERY time they have a headache, they are not looking at the root cause of the problem which may continue to grow to the point where it’s significantly damaging to your health and the Ibuprofen doesn’t help anymore.
The naturopathic approach would be to look deeper at what is causing the headaches, and work on removing those obstacle to cure. It may take longer, but in the end, the patient will no longer suffer from headaches and will not need to use the Ibuprofen as often. The Ibuprofen is simply masking the symptom of the headache, not curing it. What is causing the headache? Perhaps the patient has significant muscle tension in their neck and they need regular bodywork to relieve the tension. Or perhaps the only beverage they drink is coffee and alcohol and they need to add water into the equation. Or perhaps they are majorly stressed at work and need to find better ways to cope with stress. The last one is particularly common. Everyone has some sort of stressor in their life and the added effect of all this stress can manifest itself physically as a wide array of symptoms and/or diseases (some far worse than just headaches). Naturopathic medicine looks to find and treat the cause of these symptoms.
What is a naturopathic doctor? (ND)
Naturopathic doctors (sometimes called naturopaths) are trained as primary care physicians and are currently licensed in 18 states. In licensed states, they can diagnose and treat many medical conditions (see Conditions Treated). They can draw blood, run labs, request medical records, and perform physical and screening exams. After completing their pre-med requirements and receiving a bachelor’s degree, they go through a vigorous 4 to 6 year graduate program through an accredited school with over 1200 hours of training. The first 2 years are similar to allopathic or conventional medical schools in that it focuses on the basic sciences (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and pathology). The next 2 years focuses more on the clinical training aspect and treatment modalities, where we typically differ from allopathic medicine. Our treatment plans integrate both modern day science and research with more traditional natural medical approaches.
Naturopathic doctors work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. NDs practice throughout the United States and Canada. Qualified naturopathic physicians undergo rigorous training before they become licensed health-care practitioners.
In unlicensed states, where naturopathic medicine isn't regulated by the state, anyone can claim to be a naturopathic doctor (and some might even in licensed state who aren't obeying the state laws). They might of received an online degree or went to an unaccredited school. However, to have a fully qualified naturopathic physician in North America, you should check if they have gone to one of the 7 accredited schools in North America, as listed by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC).
What can a ND do in Maryland?
Qualified and licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) can:
- Order and perform physical and laboratory examinations, including phlebotomy, laboratory tests, orificial examinations, EKGs, and physiological function tests
- Order diagnostic imaging studies and interpret the reports of the studies
- Dispense and order natural medicines (foods, vitamins, enzymes, herbs)
- Electromagnetic energy
- Therapeutic exercise for basic services
- Nutrition and health counseling
- Naturopathic musculoskeletal mobilization
However, NDs in Maryland are NOT allowed to prescribe pharmaceuticals, accept insurance, or be considered primary care physicians (unlike in Washington state).
Some Conditions We Can Help Treat
• Acne • Adrenal deficiencies • Allergies • Asthma • Cancer support • Common cold and flu • Constipation • Cough
• Diabetes • Fatigue • Fibromyalgia • HIV/AIDs support • Heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension
• Hypothyroidism/Hyperthyroidism • Infections • Irritable Bowel Syndrome • Insomnia • Menopause • PMS
• Weight loss and management • Wellness counseling and coaching
Your naturopathic consultation sessions may include a variety of the following services.
Weight Loss - Customized diet, exercise, and lifestyle planning to maximize your weight loss and live healthier and happier.
Ultimate Stress Management Program - Dr. Alice specializes in stress management and offers a wide array of tools to help you cope with the stresses in your life. Stress is a major component of nearly everyone’s life, but it is often disregarded or not handled as well as it could be. Numerous studies have shown that prolonged stress can have a negative impact on person’s physical health and mental and emotional wellbeing. Signs can include, but are not limited to: fatigue, depression, anxiety, pain, decreased immune function, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Perhaps we cannot always change the stressors that come up in our lives, but we CAN change the way we respond to stress. There IS a different way you can live, let her show you how.
We can also evaluate your adrenal function with various screening exams. As well as test your cortisol levels to assess how optimal your adrenal glands are functioning. Click here for more info on the Adrenal Stress Index Panel.
Life Enhancement - Live your life to the fullest. Receive the support, encouragement, motivation, and education to improve your wellbeing and health on all levels (mental, physical, and emotional).
Food Allergy and/or Sensitivity Testing - If you are experiencing any digestive issues or seem to be sensitive or reactive to certain foods, we can help! Dr. Alice can help you with the elimination/challenge diet, as well as offer support and guidance on the process. In addition, we can order a blood test that can check for possible food allergies or sensitivities.
Hormone Testing - Hormonal imbalances can led to PMS symptoms, migraines, irregular menses, fertility issues, and more. Whether you are a male, cycling female, peri-menopausal, menopausal, or post-menopausal, finding out more information on your hormone levels can help us figure out the best approach to treating your conditions. Click here for more info.
Micronutrient Testing for Nutritional Deficiency - There is overwhelming evidence confirming that nutrient deficiencies have been shown to suppress immune function contributing to chronic disease process including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer's. Click here for more info.
Biofeedback and Meditation - Biofeedback is the process of becoming aware of our physiological (aka biological) responses and learning how to regulate these processes (such as breathing and heartrate) through the use of machines or people who offer feedback about those responses. Once we learn to regulate these, we can generalize it to our whole life to where it can impact our mood and autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system involves your sympathetic (fight or flight; stress response) and parasympathetic nervous systems (rest and digest; relaxation). Balancing our autonomic nervous system will allow us to better cope with the many stressors of daily living and ultimately improve our health and immune function. There are many various modalities within biofeedback, but I primarily focus on breathwork and meditation to help with emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing.
It is recommended to do weekly biofeedback sessions for a minimum of 4-6 weeks for optimal results. This is somewhat of a relaxation training program that will help you respond to stressors in a healthier manner.
It does involve 10-20 minutes of daily practices and exercises, therefore requires a committed individual.
Biofeedback is highly recommended for clients who have difficulty relaxing or reaching the “trance” state in hypnotherapy.
Some condition biofeedback can effectively treat include:
• Relaxation and Stress/Pain Management
• Anxiety and Panic Attacks/Disorders
• Hypertension / Cardiovascular disorders
• Hyperventilation syndrome • Lung function – increase stamina in COPD
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Hypnotherapy - Hypnotherapy is somewhat of a blend between counseling and meditation; I will put you into a relaxed (or trance) state and converse with you over your areas of concern, as well as guiding you in visualizations. This approach is called neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). It involves accessing the subconscious mind to help your healing process. Useful for smoking cessation, weight loss, stress management, confidence and motivation, relationship issues, performance, anxiety, inner conflict, personal growth and change. There are many other uses also.
In a hypnotherapy session, you will be in control the whole time. You will be aware of what is said and done during the session and continue to remember it afterwards. Anyone is able to be put in a trance state. The level or depth of the trance varies from person to person, but usually it becomes easier to go deeper into trance after the first few sessions.
It is safe and powerful tool in working towards mental and emotional wellbeing.
The number of sessions needed varies person to person and depends on what their goals are. If a goal is to develop a healthier habit (examples: eating healthier, quit smoking) then typically weekly sessions are recommended for about a month to build and sustain that healthy habit. Thereafter the patient can come in on an as-needed basis (perhaps once a month until they feel strong enough to continue on in this way on their own). If a patient has trouble relaxing enough to get the most out of their hypnotherapy session, biofeedback training is recommended.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) - This modality involves tapping various acupressure points with the goals of relieving negative emotional symptoms such as food cravings, depression, anxiety, anger and fears. It can also be useful in physical pain management. I had a patient who had raved about it so I decided to go out and learn it. I learned EFT from Dr. Sharum Sharif and have found it to be amazingly useful in myself and others.