When it comes to naturopathic doctors, one size may not necessarily fit all. Even though they share common naturopathic principles, training and practices, how they deal with you on a personal basis can vary greatly. Here are five ways to evaluate if you’ve found the right naturopathic doctor.
Your ND is empathetic and truly interested in your well-being.
A good naturopathic doctor (ND) should be kind, caring and compassionate; someone you connect with, who is truly interested in your well-being. As patients, we want our doctors to be interested in us as human beings, not just information on a chart.
If your ND took time getting to know you in the initial consultation, remembered your name and asked how you were feeling physically, emotionally and even spiritually, you are on the right track to finding a good doctor.
Your ND takes time to help you achieve your health goals.
“Time is money,” we’ve all heard that before, but we certainly don’t want to hear or even feel that coming from our naturopathic doctor. Nothing is worse than being hurried in and hurried out of the doctor’s office without feeling as if you’ve gotten to the crux of your health concerns. It’s your ND’s job to help you achieve your health goals.
Your first visit should take an hour or so, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). The doctor should record a very thorough history of your diet, lifestyle, stress and environmental exposures — including any medication or supplements you are currently taking. Your appointment should include a physical examination, which may require laboratory tests.
In addition to the conventional tests, your doctor may use unique laboratory techniques, such as the comprehensive digestive stool analysis. This allow an ND to examine your digestive process to determine what nutrients your body is absorbing and to see if you have any food intolerances.
If your ND spends time explaining treatment options and answering any questions regarding specific recommendations or prescriptions, then that’s a good sign he or she has a strong desire to help you be healthy.
Your ND is much more than a supplement dispensary.
You’re not looking for a retail salesperson; you’re looking for a health practitioner. Does your ND spend quality time with you trying to identify the cause of your health concerns, or are they too busy trying to sell you products? Does your ND require you to purchase hundreds of dollars’ worth of supplements from their office each month? If so, then you need to know that up front. If your ND’s main purpose is to sell you something from the shop — with profits first and your well-being an afterthought — then walk away.
You should be able to go anywhere for your supplements. Some NDs even have companies they work with that supply supplements for less than what you would pay elsewhere. It is important to note that some supplements are of poor quality and may even contain dangerous mixes. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that an ND would carry a brand of supplements in their office to provide patients with quality products. Without quality control, an ND really doesn’t know if a patient is getting the right herb, but you should never feel pressured to buy numerous supplements.
If you consult with your ND about your health concerns and they treat more than just your symptoms, such as the underlying cause, then that’s a good sign. If your doctor has quality products in their office, but still makes you feel at ease about purchasing elsewhere, then your ND sounds trustworthy.
Your ND motivates you to succeed.
An amazing naturopathic doctor will motivate and inspire you to live a healthier lifestyle. First and foremost, they should practice what they preach and set a healthy example, such as being a nonsmoker, keeping a healthy weight and maintaining a healthy physique. How is their skin: If they are over 40, do they look visibly younger? How is their energy level: Are they full of life? If you answered yes to these questions, then that’s a good sign your ND is passionate about healthy living and following the philosophy of naturopathic health.
A good ND encourages you to take responsibility for your own optimal health through knowledge and empowerment. You definitely need to have a good rapport with your doctor, but simply being nice may not work for you. If your ND can’t get you to follow a treatment plan, then you’re just wasting your time and money. Don’t make the mistake of spending time with any doctor, ND or even MD who makes you feel worse. There are dozens of supplements and treatments available, so by the time you leave the doctor’s office, you should hopefully feel inspired and confident that you are moving toward a healthier lifestyle.
Your ND is knowledgeable in a variety of natural therapies.
A well-trained naturopath usually displays credentials in their clinic and on business cards and websites. Be cautious if your ND doesn’t display any credentials. It could be that they don’t have many qualifications to display. How did they obtain their credentials? Did they physically attend lectures and student clinics on campus, or did they graduate from a correspondence course?
Some of the more common treatments used by an ND, according to UMMC, include nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, hydrotherapy (water therapy), physical medicine, detoxification, spirituality and lifestyle and psychological counseling. Your ND may also use hypnosis, guided imagery or other counseling methods as part of a treatment plan.
If you require more than just a “general” naturopathic practitioner, look for an ND that specializes in the field of health you are seeking. Some NDs will try to treat everything from cancer to autism, and it’s almost impossible to keep up with research in every aspect of health, which means they may not have enough information to treat any specific ailment completely.
Yet, your ND should stay up-to-date with all of the fields they practice. In addition, a good ND stays informed on what is happening in pathology testing and even pharmacology — to ensure they have the latest knowledge of potential medicine or supplement interactions.
If your ND is well-versed in a number of naturopathic therapies and treatments, and they are willing to research treatments if necessary, then you’ve found yourself an amazing naturopathic doctor!
Everything we experience and everyone we interact with affects us. So, it goes without saying that the naturopathic doctor we look to for healing should impress us with their compassion, desire to heal, ethics, ability to motivate, and knowledge of naturopathic medicine.
Katherine Marko is a freelance writer, author and blog creator. Her areas of expertise include food, health, style, beauty, business and nutrition. Marko holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a diploma in photography, graphic design and marketing, and certification in esthetics.