What are Naturopathic Doctors and How Can One Help You Lose Weight?
When I say I am a naturopathic doctor, the conversation goes something like this:
"What kind of doctor?"
"Naturopathic. I am an ND".
"Is that like a massage therapist?"
"No, I'm a primary care doctor that uses a holistic approach."
"But it's not like you had to go to school for that...did you?"
"Yes, when it was all said and done, I went to school for nearly 12 years."
"So was it like...um, a real medical school?
"In most ways, yes very similar. We learned both conventional and alternative treatments as well as all the standard primary care diagnostics, etc. I went to Bastyr University in Seattle, you should check it out."
"Is that a good school?"
In my particular field, this usually feels like telling someone you went to Harvard Law and they mutter back, "Huh, never heard of it." Sigh...
Bastyr is one of 7 accredited naturopathic medical schools in the U.S., and it's well-respected in both medical and research circles, but what a naturopathic doctor does is still not popular knowledge.
Bastyr and other naturopathic schools train primary care doctors in alternative medicine. Students learn to do what any family practice doc does: check ups, yearly Pap smears, and management of any condition that brings you into the doctor's office from allergies to fibromyalgia to irritable bowel syndrome. Referrals are made for imaging, further testing or to a specialist when warranted - just like your family doctor would do.
What makes them different? It's not that they provide patients with St. John's Wort rather than Prozac for depression — instead it's that they look at you in entirety – as a whole person. Your ND — naturopathic doctor, that is — will help you see how your breakouts, PMS, digestive upset and tendonitis are connected and then treat the cause.
Treatment ranges from more conventional approaches like prescription drugs to more natural treatments like nutrition and botanical or herbal medicine, but in any case the following principles are upheld:
- Choose treatments that will do no harm.
- Be a teacher and guide to the patient.
- The body has a natural ability to self-heal.
- Identify and treat the cause of the illness rather than the symptoms.
- Aid in prevention (the idea is to become more healthy rather than less ill).
- Treat the whole person, not merely any one symptom or disease.
The licensed ND promotes self-healing by helping maintain balance in the various systems of the body -- hormonal, immune, nervous, elimination, etc. While licensed NDs rely heavily on natural and nutritional therapies, they are also skilled in conventional diagnoses and treatment, meaning that your health is always in medically-trained hands.
If you want to see what an ND can do support your health, first make sure you choose a licensed ND. The license means that he or she attended a four-year graduate-level naturopathic medical school (it was a little less like Hogwarts and more like any other medical school – and yes, I was disappointed too), completed internships, and passed two levels of rigorous board exams.
To find a licensed ND in your area, log onto the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website at www.naturopathic.org. See how an ND can fit into your medical team.
As for me, these days I do not work as a primary care physician. I work with women who really struggle to lose weight. I help women like myself — with metabolisms less than cooperative and with years of mental baggage from trying every diet under the sun.
We're frustrated...and we're overwhelmed. We want a better body, a clean kitchen, well-mannered children and maybe even a promotion. It's tough, but we persevere because we want more for ourselves and want to set a great example for those we love.
The women I help have thyroids, ovaries and fat cells that have them ready to melt into a fit of tears worthy of a timeout. Most have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and/or Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism. They feel like their body has betrayed them as they've tried to lose fat, get pregnant, and just have enough energy to live their lives. I help them get both their hormones and their head games under control by letting go of perfect and embracing BETTER.
Dr Brooke Kalanick, ND, MS, LAc is a naturopathic doctor and graduate of Bastyr University - the leader in natural medicine education, research and the training of holistically minded primary care providers. Dr Brooke specializes in PCOS and Hashimoto's hypothyroidism helping these fat loss resistant women feel, look and be better. Her knowledge of both conventional and alternative medicine helps her give patients back the control of their body, their hormones and their life. As a woman and mother who shares these struggles, she helps the women she works with live the adage: between perfect and giving up, there's better.