Wait a minute! I’m not trying to slam MD’s, not at all – I have a lot of respect for them and compassion for their current, very difficult situation. The point being made here is that ND’s hold a distinct and necessary part of the healthcare system in Canada (and the US). There are certain things we are just going to do better – just like there are certain things an MD will do better. You wouldn’t likely go to an ND if you got into a severe accident and needed emergency care; or if you thought that you were having a stroke or a heart attack. Likewise, if you have a chronic and complex health issue, you probably should be seeing an ND (and possibly an MD too). Here’s the list of things an ND likely will do better than your MD.
10 – Looking at all relevant facts of your situation. This is the ND precept “Treat the Whole Person” – it is ingrained in us and our training. That means we want to know about all your symptoms, your history, your emotional and mental symptoms, your life situation, diet and more. How else can a doctor understand what is going on?
9 – Listening. MD’s are usually in a rush to see as many patients in the day as possible. That means they don’t have the time to listen to the details of all your symptoms (or what is lying beneath those symptoms). ND’s take the time to really hear you.
8 – Physical exam – the lost art of a good medical physical exam has been replaced with labs and diagnostic imaging. Doctors only sometimes touch their patients to feel what’s going on inside. We forget that the hands have so much tactile sensitivity, so much intelligence in them that they can pick up many things that the eyes cannot. It is erroneous to believe that diagnostic imaging is superior to manual palpation in many cases. I will concede
7 – Currency with most recent health information – ND’s are at the cutting edge of health care. We have the flexibility, the variety and training to incorporate most recent findings and information into our treatment plans. The profession is typically 5 – 10 years ahead of the more conventional medical field. And yes, this includes epigenetics.
6 –Individualized Treatment Plans – everyone has a different biochemistry, a different inherent nature, different strengths and weaknesses. It is an ND’s job to find out what is the most suitable way to treat you; not the condition that you have, not what 50% of people with your condition respond to, but you and your distinct situation.
5 – Identifying Underlying/Root Causes – We want to know what is below the surface, deeper than the name of the condition you may have. We want to find out the why and the how. When we know this, we can help you back to high level health.
4 – Using non-toxic, health-supportive therapies – Sometimes prescription medications are necessary, but often they are not. The unfortunate down-side of scheduled drugs is that they usually have unwanted side-effects. ND’s know how to use less harmful and less expensive therapies.
3 – Rebuilding Health – ND’s take their patients through a process of health rebuilding. We know how to move a person from not feeling well or even a disease state, up to high level wellness.
2 – Innovative testing – while Canadians can enjoy free lab tests that are ordered by an MD (one more good reason to have an MD), the labs are typically limited, not innovative or leading edge and are usually just standard screening tests. These are often not good enough to get to the root of the problem. ND’s on the other hand can order standard, but also much more extensive tests. And while I don’t think lab tests tell you everything, they can certainly be helpful.
1 – Prevention – ND’s really are the preventive health experts. While nothing and nobody can guarantee good health, you can dramatically increase your chances of living a long and happy life substantially by deciding to have and stick with a Naturopathic Doctor.