August 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Health Blog

An increasing number of people now seek health advice from Naturopathic Physicians and Naturopaths as they become disenchanted with mainstream medicine – but how do you find the right Naturopathic practitioner?

It can be confusing for the general public to find the right Naturopathic Practitioner that will have the knowledge and clinical expertise that is required to treat their health problems and help them prevent future disease. So what’s the best way to find a practitioner that you can put your trust in?

Answering the following 7 questions may help you to choose the best Naturopathic practitioner to help you achieve optimum health, high vitality and disease prevention:

1) Is the Naturopath Well-Qualified?

Well-trained Naturopaths are usually proud to display their credentials in their clinic; on their business cards and/or on their website so be cautious of those that do not include these details publicly because chances are they won’t have many qualifications to display. In addition, find out if they only obtained their credentials from a correspondence course or whether they physically attended lectures and student clinics on campus. Ask if they also have a university health science degree or similar university degree in addition to their naturopathic college qualifications as university study in the science field is incomparable to a basic advanced diploma in naturopathy, which unfortunately is all many Australian Naturopaths have. Also, find out if they have provider numbers with all of the major health funds. If they do – this can be a sign that they have the appropriate qualifications (although not always) but if they don’t have provider numbers it means their credentials do not meet the minimum standards required by the health insurance companies which should be a red flag to not consult them for health advice.

2) Have They Only Recently Graduated?

If the Naturopath has only recently graduated from college or university they would lack the clinical experience that may be necessary to be truly effective practitioners. Do you really want to be their guinea pig? It can often take several years of clinical experience to develop the necessary expertise to identify the underlying causes of people’s health problems and to know which the best treatments are to resolve each condition. The same applies to other forms of health care too – from medical doctors and dentists through to physiotherapists. I wouldn’t want a newly graduated surgeon operating on my body the same as I wouldn’t want advice from a health practitioner – naturopathic or otherwise – if they lacked the clinical experience.

3) Are they a ‘Jack of all Trades’ and Master of None?

Does the Naturopath specialise in a few areas of health or are they trying to be a ‘Jack of all Trades’? Some practitioners will try to treat everything from heart disease and cancer through to autism, skin problems and childhood illnesses but, chances are, they won’t have the required knowledge to treat any condition very well. It’s just not humanly possible to keep up with the latest research in every aspect of health so it would be best to find a Naturopath that specialised in the fields of health that you are seeking help with, rather than a ‘general’ Naturopathic practitioner.

diag1For example, I specialize in women’s health and these days I only consult in the following areas: Mental health (anxiety, depression, OCD, insomnia, etc) and the underlying causes of mental health problems (e.g. biochemical and metabolic imbalances and genetic polymorphisms such as Pyroluria, MTHFR, etc); Chronic Fatigue; Hormonal problems (menopause, PCOS, PMS, Endometriosis, menstrual-related migraines, etc); Thyroid disorders (Hypothyroid/Hyperthyroid); Digestive system problems (IBS, bloating, colitis, reflux, heartburn, GORD, constipation, diarrhoea, yeast infections, food intolerances, etc); and Auto-immune diseases (Hashimoto’s, Graves, MS, SLE). Epigenetics is also a field I have been researching for a number of years due to the preventative treatment strategies that can be applied to prevent the genetic expression of certain conditions and diseases.

It’s always best to consult a practitioner that is skilled in the areas of health you need help with as it’s more likely they will be reading the latest scientific data and text books on these particular problems and attending seminars and conferences that are specifically related to these issues. The practitioner should also be able to draw upon many years of clinical experience in the fields they practice in – which means you should benefit from their clinical insights.

4) Do They Keep Up With the Latest Research?

Following on from the previous question, does the practitioner stay up to date with the latest evidence? The science is changing all the time in the health field so it’s vital that Naturopaths keep up to date with the latest research in the fields they practice in, for the best possible treatment outcomes for their patients. However, Naturopaths also need to try and keep updated on what’s happening in pathology testing (in case there’s a cutting-edge test that their patients should know about) and in pharmacology – to ensure they have advanced knowledge of potential medicine or supplement interactions. A practitioner may be well-qualified and have years of clinical experience but if they do not take their work seriously enough and fail to attend annual seminars and don’t read the relevant health industry journals on a regular basis – then they probably won’t achieve high success rates with the treatment of disease in their patients. The same applies to mainstream practitioners as well – if they are not passionate about their work they may not be bothered keeping up to date on the latest research in health anymore.

5) Do They Practice What They Preach?

Does the Naturopath have a normal weight? Great skin? Are they hardly ever sick? Do they have high energy levels? If they are over 40, do they look young for their age? If you answered “Yes” to all of these questions, it may be a sign that the Naturopath is passionate about living a healthy life and is more likely to be practicing what they preach. I don’t mean to sound harsh but why would you trust someone with your health unless they were actively seeking excellent health themselves and were following the philosophy of naturopathic health?

6) Are They Familiar With Clinical Pathology Testing and How To Interpret Your Results?

If the Naturopath doesn’t have a thorough knowledge of the pathology tests available from the various labs and what the tests are able to identify, they may lack the necessary skills that are essential to resolve their patient’s health problems. It is equally important that the Naturopath knows how to interpret those results for the patient and that they are aware of the most effective treatments, based on the test results provided.

diag2In addition, just relying on conventional test results (that are only designed to detect acute or end phase health problems) is inadequate when trying to resolve chronic disease or aiming to prevent serious illnesses in the future.

Without receiving results from the appropriate pathology tests, the practitioner would be unable to provide treatment advice based on science and wouldn’t be able to take into consideration the metabolic and biochemical needs of each individual patient – which is one of the factors that differentiates advanced naturopathic health care from basic health care and is often the key to achieving optimum health. Therefore, it is vital that the Naturopath is well versed with the range of tests available from the various pathology labs and that they know which tests each patient requires so that they can help their patients in the best way possible by understanding what their body requires to repair, heal and regenerate or prevent disease.

7) Is the Naturopath Just Acting as a Glorified ‘Shop Assistant’?  

Does your medical doctor stand behind a counter and provide free advice to customers? I’m sure they don’t and neither should a qualified Naturopath. If you seek your health advice from a Naturopath that does this – I would run like the wind because there are probably a number of things happening in this situation:

a) They are equivalent to a retail sales assistant (rather than a practitioner) and their main purpose is to sell you something from the shop floor (e.g. pharmacy; health food shop, online store, etc);

b) They need to meet monthly sales targets for the shop or pharmacy owner – with profits coming first and your wellbeing is a clear afterthought;

c) When you consult them about your health they just try to treat your symptoms (rather than the underlying causes) and they fail to organize any pathology tests or if they do, they don’t appear to understand them – so how will they have the necessary skills to identify the underlying causes of your health problems or know how to resolve them?

d) No comprehensive amount of time was spent with you to try to identify the causes of your health problems because they are too busy trying to sell products to you and other customers!

This is not what genuine naturopathic health care is about at all. Advanced Naturopathic medicine considers the unique genetic make up of each patient, along with the individual physiological and psychological factors that affect the way your body functions. 

So if you are seeking genuine solutions for your health problems and you are serious about trying to prevent future disease by finding out what your biologically-unique body requires to achieve optimum wellness and high vitality – then make sure you find out the answers to all of the above questions when you are looking for a Naturopathic Physician or a Naturopath to help you improve your health.

Yours in Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MHATO 
Naturopathic Medicine practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher

Specializing in Anxiety & Depression | Women’s Health | Chronic Fatigue | Hormone Imbalances | Thyroid Disorders | Digestive Health | Autoimmune Disease | Genetic Polymorphisms & Nutrigenomics | Nutritional Medicine | Counselling | Optimal Wellness & Disease Prevention with a Clinical Focus on Identifying & Resolving the Underlying Causes of Symptoms and Disease. 

 Earth Medicine TM
Web:   www.EarthMedicine.com
Email: [email protected]
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Science-Based Naturopathic Health Care to help you achieve optimal wellness, calm and contented mental health, hormonal balance and disease prevention with personalised, professional naturopathic health care, specialized clinical pathology testing and high-quality naturopathic medicines. 

Limited appointments are available by phone, skype or in-person at Strathalbyn, SA. (Australia). 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. Please note: I am not a medical practitioner

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