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What It’s Like to see a Naturopathic Doctor

I’ve always been interested in naturopathy and have wanted to see a naturopathic doctor; I like the idea of viewing my body as a whole, complex system. And I’ve taken the little kiddos to the doctor enough times to start to understand how different parts of our bodies are interconnected.

I’m also a generally “healthy” person in the sense that I don’t have any major health issues and don’t take any regular medication. I get my fair share of colds and seasonal illnesses, but I see this as being pretty healthy considering all the ailments and illnesses out there.

However, it seems like cancer is swarming around me, waiting to pounce at any moment. My mom survived breast and lung cancer. My oldest brother—not even 50 years old—is dying from tongue cancer that’s spread to his neck and bones. A 40-year-old coworker of mine is in the middle of chemo for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Another friend of mine, in her early 30s, was just diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. And I work at a cancer diagnostics company. 

I’ve also recently been struggling with abnormally high levels of stress and anxiety. As an attorney, stress and anxiety quickly became part of my daily life, but now they’re interfering with my life and seriously impacting my sleep. I’ve been working on addressing this through trying to relax, consuming healthier foods and more water, taking more time for my hobbies, and practicing yoga and meditation. My efforts were having little impact.

So, my poor mental and emotional health levels, combined with this cancer cloud that seems to be following me, finally pushed me to be proactive in my wellbeing and seek out a naturopathic doctor to help me better care for my entire body.

Getting started

I started by checking out local naturopaths online and found one who seemed to click with my personality and what I was looking for in this experience. I totally appreciate that a website photo is NOT the same as an in-person meeting, but I figure if I’m not digging your online bio, chances are slim that we’ll gel when we meet. I really liked a naturopath I found, so I booked an appointment.

What it’s Like to See a Naturopathic Doctor

Prior to the appointment, we had a nice, brief chat about why I want to see a naturopath and what my goals are for our first session. She also talked me through how to prepare for our consultation, which is generally a lot of information gathering (including collecting my prior labs and medical records) and completing a food journal for 6 days. I can tell you, I already knew that food journal was going to be ugly!

The visit

I showed up at my appointment armed with my records, food journal, and a willingness to talk. After introductions and a review of my file, we launched into a discussion of my entire body and wellbeing. Though it probably sounds intimidating—and after reflecting on everything we talked about, I realize we covered a LOT of ground—it was so refreshing to be able to tell her all the things that were going on instead of just focusing on one aspect of my health.

What it’s Like to See a Naturopathic Doctor

We discussed my newer issues—namely poor sleep, heightened stress and anxiety, and increased frequency of headaches—as well as some of my more “chronic” conditions, like the fact that I’m always cold and have extremely dry skin (and not just since I moved to Colorado!)

In giving her the entire context of my health, she was able to connect the dots among my various problems to identify potential causes and provide some pretty simple solutions. I won’t go into details (nor do I want to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about), but one striking example is that I likely have a vitamin deficiency that’s never been diagnosed before. The super cheap and easy “fix” to that is to eat more whole foods with that vitamin and add a supplement to my diet.

In addition to reviewing my health history, she also recommended I get some basic blood work done and take a food sensitivity test. These suggestions were based on the issues I described to her, with the idea that having a more holistic view of my body will help her narrow in on the causes of these issues (and might also rule out any more serious conditions).

The thing I liked most about my initial consultation is that we established a shared goal, which was to get my mind and body operating at optimal, healthy levels naturally. Yes, I may be taking some supplements now, but ultimately I hope to change my lifestyle to replace these supplements so that I can fuel and care for my body myself (barring any serious issues, of course).

Next steps

So, where does all this leave me? First and foremost, I’m implementing the suggestions I received during the first consultation. So far I’ve been taking my supplements, increasing my protein intake, practicing yoga more frequently, adding long walks (at least 45 minutes) a few times a week, and—shocker—RESTING. She had some other suggestions, too, like massage (yay), so I left my appointment with lots of ways to start improving my wellbeing.

I’ll get the results of my blood work and food sensitivity tests and we’ll see if there are any adjustments I should be making to better support my body. I’ll also visit again in six to eight weeks to see how things are going, and whether I’m at a point to stop or reduce any of the supplements or to add anything new to my diet and routine.

What it’s Like to See a Naturopathic Doctor

And so far, in just a few weeks, I’m already feeling significantly better. I think some improvement is due to the fact that I was able to unload all these concerns and history onto one person who was willing to listen and help. But I also think her suggestions are really working, particularly the rest and walks. It’s funny to me how easy and simple those solutions are, and how I was incapable of seeing that on my own.

Final thoughts

If you’re interested in seeing a naturopath, one additional note to you would be to triple check with your insurance company before scheduling your appointment. Most insurers do NOT cover naturopathy appointments, so it’s very likely you’ll be paying out of pocket. You may be able to use HSA or FSA funds, so if your insurer won’t cover a naturopath, see if that’s an option.

Lastly, I’m truly grateful for all of the healthcare providers—Western-focused and otherwise—whom I’ve been fortunate to see because I’ve always felt well cared for (read: I’m not putting down traditional medicine, and in fact, I value it).

Taking care of others’ needs, especially in light of our healthcare situation and the related politics today, can be really taxing and it takes a special person to do it well. So whether you prefer a “traditional” doctor, naturopath, or some other practice, I hope you have a person in your corner helping you be healthy and well.

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