I’m a California-licensed naturopathic doctor,
and I want to talk a little bit about what naturopathic doctors are because I think a
lot of people don’t know, and so I’d like to use this little bit of time where we can
do some education around that. Naturopathic doctors, we are primary care doctors, so we
attend four-year medical programs. They are specific naturopathic medical programs. Each
state has a different licensure scope. In California, we are allowed to order tests
like an MD or DO can. And typically, all naturopathic doctors practice slightly differently, but
typically, we use a lot of conventional diagnostic tests, just like all standard blood work and
imaging. And then also use a lot of what are called alternative-type tests, like sometimes
things like functional stool tests or nutrient panels on blood to just help get a larger
picture of a person’s baseline health. Naturopathic doctors are very wellness-oriented in how
they practice, so it’s a little bit about how we practice. The designation ND is naturopathic
doctor, so when you see MD or DO – medical doctor, osteopathic doctor – ND is what
naturopathic doctors’ official designation is. So NDs will typically integrate conventional
medicine diagnostics with natural medicine treatments. We do refer out to specialists;
we do sometimes prescribe pharmaceuticals if absolutely necessary, but our first intention
is to always treat with the most non-invasive medicines possible. So a really important
point about naturopathic doctor training philosophically is we’re always taught that the body really
has the innate ability to heal so that our natural function is health and wellness. And
so if something doesn’t look like that that we really need to be asking why. The body
should always be able to return to a state of health, and so these things that we’re
going to talk about tonight, we’re going to talk about food and lifestyle practices
first that help maintain that, and then these supplements are things that can really enhance
that. But if the body is having difficulty healing or thriving, then we really want to
ask why and what’s going on because the body should be able to maintain health at
all times. One of the reasons why not as many people know about naturopathic doctors is
because we’re really small. There are about 4,000 of us right now in the U.S., and there’s
about 400 in California. So we’re definitely growing, but we’re a much smaller medical
profession. So naturopathic medical programs are four-year post-graduate, similar to an
MD or a DO program. And in the first two years, we learn basic sciences and we take basic
science board exams after that period. And then our third and fourth years, our clinical
focus is on both conventional medicine and natural medicine practices. And then we take
a set of clinical board exams and then we apply for licensure in whichever state we’re
interested in practicing in. Naturopathic medicine just really means “study of natural
medicine,” and so there are lay naturopaths and there are naturopathic doctors, and we’re
all good and we have slightly different training. Because naturopathic means natural, a lot
of people would really lump everything into natural. So acupuncture, which is a great
typical Chinese medicine; Ayurvedic medicine; sometimes chiropractic because a lot of chiropractic
doctors beyond just doing physical adjustments will also use a lot of nutraceutical types
of things in their practice. So a lot of natural medicine practicing doctors, even MDs, will
get called naturopaths because they’re practicing natural medicine. But there’s a distinction
with an ND, which is a specific designation in that they’ve gone to one of these accredited
four schools and have passed certain licensing exams. And if you want to know if your specific
naturopathic doctor is a licensed naturopathic doctor, the state of California has that information
available, and that website is http://www.naturopathic.ca.gov. Natural medicine can be very effective not
only for prevention, but also for chronic debilitating illnesses. Most of my practice
is actually chronic illness. I think that we have kind of this generalization that happens
or an assumption that happens that these types of things are really great for prevention,
but when you get really sick, you need drugs and surgery and that’s the only thing that’s
really going to take care of it. And sometimes there are cases where drugs and surgery are
very appropriate, but a lot of the times, a lot of the diseases that we’re struggling
with in our society are really due to chronic lifestyle choices that are not promoting our
health. And so I really just wanted to do the education piece about that because there’s
a lot of really great supplements to talk about, and I want to give you guys those tidbits
in terms of which supplements really help to maintain wellness, but that’s really
the icing on the cake. The real cake, so to speak, is what you do every day in terms of
your lifestyle practices. So what do I treat in my practice? Really, I do general medicine.
I do lots of chronic illness because that’s just kind of what naturopathic doctors do.
We get trained in so many of the basic wellness principles that when people just aren’t
responding in other care settings, they just kind of naturally end up walking in our doors.
So my first year off the bat, I ended up treating a lot of very serious autoimmune diseases.
That’s just what walked into my door, and so I said, “Okay.” So I had a lot of rheumatoid
arthritis cases, had some lupus cases, some Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is very common,
lots of allergies, lots of fatigue. Fatigue’s a really common one, and it’s because so
many of us are stressed, and stress really leads to fatigue in so many ways. And so fatigue’s
actually pretty easy to fix, but you’ve just got to figure out where it’s coming
from. Is it anemia? Is it stress-related? What’s going on that’s causing that fatigue?
Is it adrenal burnout, which is really common? Lots of headaches, and headaches very typically
are caused by hormone imbalance, tension and stress, and food intolerance. And so it’s
actually pretty easy to get to the bottom of headaches, but in order to solve headaches,
again, you have to get to the root cause of why each person is having a headache. Hormone
imbalance has been a really typical type of thing I’ve treated, so everything from PMS
to perimenopause, and then a lot of thyroid and adrenal issues in my practice. Insomnia,
weight issues, and then just a lot of wellness-oriented work. I really like doing that kind of work.
I do have probably about 25 percent of my practice are people who are just really in
the know, really have done a lot of things to educate themselves on wellness practices,
and then just kind of want my guidance to steer them a little bit more and just test
their basic levels of blood work and things like that and see where they are. And then
I’ve done some corporate wellness programs as well.

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