How to Find a Naturopath

How to Find a Naturopathic Doctor

Finding a naturopathic physician can be an intimidating chore if you have never done it before, but it can be well worth the effort. A naturopathic doctor is an important member of your health care team, which includes your general practice family doctor and any specialists which are required based on your particular case. A naturopath can add a valuable dimension to both prevention and cure.

I have been using a naturopath for the last 10 years, in concert with my family doctor, medical specialists, and chiropractor. In my experience, an ND has been critical to finding a workable hormone balance during my menopausal years. I know several people who have used naturopathic care to support their body system during courses of radiation and chemotherapy. Their quality of life during these procedures was greatly increased due to naturopathies.

Finding a naturopathic physician is as easy as opening your local phone book, or searching the web for your area. Better yet, talk to your friends and colleagues to get a referral. You can also ask this friend or colleague more details about their doctor and what to expect during an appointment.

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Your First Visit To A Naturopathic Doctor

On your first appointment the ND (naturopathic doctor) will take time to gather a wealth of information from you. An accurate and detailed patient history is absolutely critical for getting good care. If you are unsure of a procedure, or you don’t understand the value of a particular question or treatment method…ask! A good ND will take the time to make sure you understand everything that is going on and will respect your wishes if you do not want to proceed in a certain direction.

Be completely honest with your ND. Tell him/her about all the medication you are taking at the moment, including dosage amounts. Better yet, bring the bottles along. Don’t be shy – men, if you are taking Viagra, let the doctor know! Also, don’t try to edit out any bad habits during your history-taking. Be honest about alcohol, drug use and how many times per week you hit the fast food drive thru. Your ND needs the real picture to be able to have a positive effect on your health.

The reverse is also true. When using a naturopathic doctor to complement your health care, be sure to explain what you are doing to your family doctor and any other medical specialist you may visit. To be honest, some GP’s are not excited about a naturopath being involved, however more and more, mainstream medicine is coming to accept that we, as informed patients, are using alternative methods. If you are on any special naturopathic therapies or medicines, your family doctor must be made aware.

Making the Appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor

Making the Appointment

When you call, there are a few questions to ask:

1.         Credentials — is this doctor licensed as a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), and is the licensing applicable to the country or province in which you live? If they are not licensed in your area, ask which regulatory bodies they belong to. For example, two provinces in Canada are currently working on their licensing criteria, so your ND may be licensed or affiliated with a governing body in another province. This affiliation ensures that your ND is operating to a set standard.

2.         Area of Specialty – NDs often practice in areas of specialty, just like mainstream doctors. Find out if the doctor you called specializes in family care, fertility, or whichever aspect of care you are interested in. If your issues are menopausal in nature for example, you may choose not to use an ND whose specialty is fertility.

3.         Costs – the cost for naturopathic health care is most often the burden of the patient. Some corporate health plans are recognizing the value of this alternative care in the prevention of illness and disease and are including these costs in their coverage packages. Check with your administrator to find out what is covered for you. A visit to a naturopathic clinic will have an office fee, testing fees and then fees for any remedies you may choose to buy based on the results of your evaluation.

If you are on a budget, have a candid conversation about this with the person on the phone. In small clinics, the office staff usually have a very good idea of how flexible fees can be. If the staff don’t have answers for you, discuss this with the doctor on your first visit. Also, testing can be broken down into different modules. For instance, if you want to be tested for Candida (yeast overgrowth in the intestine), you can perhaps forego the food allergy testing for the time being. Your goal here is to see if the clinic can work with you and the budget that you have set for yourself.

4.         Does This Office Provide Vega Testing – Vega Testing is a resource which some ND’s use to broaden the scope of the examination. It is a painless, non-invasive test which can help determine areas of concern.  My naturopath uses Vega testing and I have found it to be an effective component to my visits.