A high-profile CEO works in downtown Toronto. He is experiencing strange symptoms — fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, and heartburn— the cause of which is unknown. His doctor runs some tests and tells him nothing is wrong with him. The doctor does instruct him, however, to slow down, and tells him that his stressful lifestyle is harming his body. The man knows that it is impossible for him to slow down. What should he do?
A naturopathic doctor (ND) might be able to help.
According to Jennifer Tanner, ND,a naturopathic doctor at Kinetica Health Group, located at 179 Danforth Avenue, stress affects most people. Yet, knowing how to manage stress is key. “I would prescribe him botanicals and vitamins to help him adapt to the stress in his life, so that his body would release less cortisol [the stress hormone] and function at an optimal level,” says Tanner of our CEO.
The solution is not to avoid stress altogether—or to drastically change your lifestyle—but to learn how to adapt to the stress, so its negative impact on you is lessened. “I have helped people balance an ideal stress-level with a high-paced job,” says Tanner.
Naturopathic Doctors VS. Medical Doctors?
According to the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, naturopathic medicine is a “primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease.”
Some of the treatment methods that naturopathic doctors use are clinical nutrition, botanical and homeopathic medicine, and traditional Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture.
Naturopathic doctors can help people in conjunction with, not in opposition to, medical doctors (MDs). “You can see an ND for any condition you see an MD for,” says Tanner.
Sylvi Martin, ND, who works at Fusion Chiropractic and Integrative Health, located at 735 Danforth Avenue, adds that naturopathic and medical doctors learn how to diagnose patients in similar ways—NDs just have different ways of treating illness.
Martin believes that it is important to keep the lines of communication open between MDs and NDs. This means that patients must let their MDs know that they are seeing an ND. “I send a letter to my patient’s medical doctors [about treatment, etc.],” says Martin. This helps build a strong level of professionalism and an open, cordial relationship between both doctors.
“These two professionals need to share diagnostic test results and other information with each other,” says Martin.
She often refers patients back to their MDs when deemed necessary—such as for certain diagnostic tests.
What does an ND do?
There are many ways that a naturopathic doctor can help people. Their role differs from a medical doctor’s role; yet, it can complement medical treatment. Sylvi says that her role is to ask what a client can be doing at home. For example, she looks at diet and lifestyle changes that can be implemented to improve someone’s life. “My feedback to patients guides them, and teaches them how to maintain health on their own,” says Martin.
This involves “broad health promotion” through education, and addressing environment factors (such as stress and diet).
“I am a life coach—not just a doctor,” says Teresa Tsui, ND, whose office is at 658 Danforth Avenue.
Boosting your immune system and eating a healthy diet can prevent illness. Jennifer has found that their diet is the hardest thing for people to change. By motivating people to change their diets Jennifer helps them understand how diet can cause disease and how diet can make an existing health condition better or worse.
Jennifer recalls a time when a woman came to her seeking treatment for her health concerns. She was drinking 15 Monster drinks a day. “I brought in a bag of sugar to show her that that was how much sugar she was eating in a day,” says Tanner. By greatly decreasing the amount of sugar she ate daily, her health began to improve.
“Sugar suppresses the immune system which makes you more prone to illness,” says Tsui.
Why You Might Choose to See a Naturopathic Doctor:
1) Optimize your diet.
Diet is often the most difficult habit for people to change, yet a healthy diet can help your body prevent disease.
2) Detoxify your system.
“I can help your body remove toxins faster so that your body doesn’t store them, which can prevent you from developing diseases in the future,” says Tanner.
3) Get your questions answered.
A medical doctor only has around 15 minutes to spend with you—a naturopathic doctor can spend 30 to 90 minutes with you per visit.
4) Grow a healthy baby.
5) Review your supplements and medications.
A naturopathic doctor can teach you about the side effects of your supplements and medications, plus help you decrease these side effects.