What Does a Naturopathic Doctor Do?

Some of the most common questions I receive focus on what a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) is and what we do. I am also frequently asked what Naturopathy is. Those questions can be Blank chalkboard with wood frame, erased and ready for your messagesomewhat difficult to answer, as every ND uses a wide variety of different approaches, each of which is well within the legal parameters and each of which has a solid scientific foundation. Following is a general overview of how most Naturopathic Doctors view their practice. Please note this post refers to Naturopathic Doctors, not Naturopathic Medical Doctors. For more information on my personal philosophies, please read A Unique Approach to Wellness and Meet Dr. Pamela.

Naturopathic Doctors Focus on Finding the Root Cause of Physical Challenges

Most NDs have a primary goal of identifying the true root cause of physical challenges. In the midst of finding the cause they will also make recommendations to alleviate symptoms, but NDs firmly believe in addressing the cause of an issue instead of alleviating symptoms without finding what’s causing them. Root causes may include nutritional deficiencies, systemic weaknesses, emotional blockages, physiological or chemical imbalances, excess toxicity, or other basic imbalances that can cause the body to perform poorly. The assessment techniques used to identify needs can vary widely, but may include laboratory testing of saliva or urine; a review of current eating habits; Biologic Ionization testing; energetic assessments; Iridology readings; muscle response testing; tongue and fingernail analysis; pulse analysis; measurement of metabolic factors; and others. 

Naturopathic Doctors Address the Whole Person, Not Just a Symptom

Naturopathic Doctors recognize that the body requires balance in body, mind and spirit in order to restore balance and reverse challenges. Our emotional and spiritual health directly impacts our physical health. It is therefore imperative to ensure steps are being taken to achieve the maximum level of balance and health in all three areas. Naturopathic Doctors may address emotional stressors by measuring physiological factors such as neurotransmitter levels to ensure ho physiological imbalances are causing the stress. They may also refer their clients to a counselor or psychiatrist depending on the severity of the challenge. In my practice, I often quickly recognize that a client is consumed with bitterness, anger, fear or other negative emotion. For that reason, every care plan I create includes specific steps the client should take to help improve emotional and spiritual balance. I often refer clients to other professionals. I am also trained in several simple techniques used to clear emotional blockages and often train my clients how to use them at home. My primary focus is on restoring physical health, but I know from personal experience that emotions can prevent health improvements.

Naturopathic Doctors Believe the Body was Created to Heal Itself

Our bodies were designed to reverse minor health challenges on their own. Few of us rush to the emergency room when we get a paper cut because we know our bodies will heal the cut as long as we take necessary steps to assist the body’s own healing abilities. Naturopathic Doctors believe the body is capable of reversing many health challenges, but that simple factors often prevent the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Those factors may include physiological deficiencies or excesses; structural abnormalities; nutritional imbalances; excess toxicity; overactive autoimmune systems; a lack of belief wellness is possible or an excess of negativity; etc. Let me also say that I am a Naturopathic Doctor who is not opposed to mainstream medical intervention when needed. We are blessed to have an amazing wealth of knowledge and resources at our disposal. Naturopathy is very effective for many conditions, but should not be used as a substitute for medical intervention when it is needed. I am blessed to work very closely with many of my clients’ physicians. The blend of natural and conventional approaches often helps achieve wellness very quickly.

Naturopathic Doctors are Firmly Committed to Doing No Harm

An ND’s goal is to improve your health in every way possible and to never cause more harm. I am very careful about what I recommend, and am very thorough in explaining why the recommendations will benefit your health. My goal is to educate and empower my clients to improve their health. The client calls the shots, not me. I operate in a team environment where every decision is discussed with the client in detail. Natural recommendations made by NDs may include dietary changes, lifestyle changes, supplements (herbs, homeopathy, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, etc.), Bach Flower Remedies, essential oils, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, detoxification assistance, weight loss counseling, programs to improve digestive health, programs designed to balance hormones and/or neurotransmitters, etc.

Naturopathic Doctors Can Assist with Chronic and Acute Challenges

Many people assume NDs can only assist with chronic health issues, but that is simply not true. One of the  most frequent calls I receive is from people who have a cold or the flu and need advice about how to alleviate their suffering and boost their immunity. I’ve also consulted with more than one ER physician about what would best benefit one of my clients who had an acute need. Although Naturopathy can definitely help find ways to assist with controlling chronic conditions using natural methods, it can also be used to assist with short-term challenges. I have worked with and assisted people who had a wide variety of physical ailments including broken bones, pleurisy, bursitis, obesity, infertility and more. In each case, I worked with their physicians and made recommendations that nicely complemented the mainstream treatments they were receiving. I also have a wide variety of clients who are in good health and simply wish to remain so. I work with them to help establish better lifestyle habits and to quickly spot and reverse any signs of impending struggles.

There you have it. Did any of this surprise you? What questions do you have?

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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