Naturopathic Medicine is not a new form of medicine, but it has gained a lot of traction recently and has become a popular option for people who are looking for alternative or natural options for their health. You might have heard about Naturopathic Medicine, but a lot of people still don’t know what to expect when they visit a Naturopathic Doctor. We sat down with Integra’s ND, Dr. Shannon Vander Doelen, to find out what Naturopathic Medicine is, and what someone should expect from their first visit with her!
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
This is definitely one of the most common questions I am asked! Naturopathic Medicine is a form of complimentary and alternative health care, which is defined by a set of principles. Naturopathic Doctors treat someone as a whole person, and take into consideration the physical, mental and emotional factors that might be playing a role in your health. We always aim to find and treat the cause of your symptoms or disease, not just mask the symptoms or disease itself. Naturopathic doctors also have a very in depth understanding of how the body wants to work (normal physiology) and by seeking to understand what’s gone wrong in that system (pathophysiology), we can utilze treatments that help restore that normal functioning physiology and help you to feel well.
What types of treatments do you use?
In my practice I really focus on diet and lifestyle medicine. We find realistic ways to add the things that will help you achieve health (nourishing foods, reduced stress, movement, quality sleep, etc.) and try to reduce the things that hinder your health (processed foods, high stress, being sedentary, too little sleep, etc.) I also utilize acupuncture and supplements (vitamins, minerals, nutrients and/or herbs) when I feel someone’s physiology needs a little bit of extra support. I utilize these tools to help restore balance in your system, or replenish something your body might be deficient in. It’s also important to know that these treatments can often be used in conjunction with the medications or treatments you are using already. I always check to make sure any supplements I recommend are safe to use with your medications. Just because they are “natural” doesn’t always mean they are safe! Ultimately the treatment plan has to be simple and sustainable. There are no crash diets and no magic pills. I do believe that these treatments, while relatively simple, are very effective, especially when someone makes a daily commitment to bettering their health.
Is it actually based in science?
Yes! This is definitely a big misconception. I do practice evidence based medicine – which means I look at what the best available research tells me, what my clinical experience and education tell me, and what my patient’s values and preferences are. There are some limitations in the body of research when it comes to dietary medicine, lifestyle medicine and natural health products, but just like Naturopathic Medicine is gaining traction, more and more research is being done with really promising and exciting outcomes.
Do Naturopathic Doctors specialize?
Not in a formal way like Medical Doctors do. You will find that some Naturopathic Doctors have special interests or areas of focus in their practice. My focus is in women’s health, especially those who are thinking about getting ready to become pregnant, who are having trouble conceiving, or who want some alternative options and choices to support their health while they are pregnant. However, I definitely work with men and women, young and old, who have a variety of health concerns that they want alternative options for. I also focus a lot on health promotion and disease prevention. You don’t actually have to be unwell to benefit from seeing an ND.
What should I expect at my first visit?
Mostly we do a lot of talking! You will be given an opportunity to tell me about what you’ve been experiencing and what your health goals are. I will ask questions about your sleep, your stress, your diet and digestive system, your mood, your health history, and more. I will do any physical exams that are necessary, review your lab work if you’ve had some done recently, and then together come up with our plan of action and follow up steps. The first visit is about 75 minutes in duration, with follow up visits being 30-60 minutes, depending on what we are doing in terms of treatment.
Dr. Shannon is currently accepting new patients. She offers complimentary 15 minute meet and greet visits so that you can meet her, ask any questions you have, and find out if Naturopathic Medicine is the right fit for you. To book a meet and greet or your initial appointment with Dr. Shannon, check out our online booking system, or call us at 416-777-9355.