What does a Naturopathic Doctor do? What to know before going to a ND
Naturopathic doctors are trained as distinct primary care providers, who are experts at using natural medicine and use a holistic approach to treat the underlying cause of symptoms. There are several factors that may be different regarding how a naturopathic doctor might approach health and disease, and a few key aspects are explained below.
A naturopathic doctor will want to understand your diet and what you might typically eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. They might ask you keep track of your dietary intake in a diet diary or using a diet tracking app. Dietary recommendations might include optimizing or shifting your macronutrient intake (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) for optimal health or to address an underlying imbalance or condition. In addition, you might be advised to increase your intake of certain foods to improve your vitamin or mineral intake, such as selenium, iron, vitamin B12, or calcium.
A naturopathic doctor can also help you identify whether you have a food sensitivity using a simple blood test and guiding you through an elimination and reintroduction diet. Food sensitivities are an immune system response to certain food proteins. Food sensitivity reactions can affect any system in the body and can cause symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, bloating and digestive complaints, joint pain and swelling, congestion, headaches, and mood changes.
The underlying food philosophy of a naturopathic doctor is that there is no one-size fits all approach to diet and nutrition. Your naturopathic doctor will take into account your individual needs based on your health and wellness goals, underlying imbalances and conditions, physical activity level, as well as your access to healthy foods, and any cultural or ethical food choices. They will take the time to work with you to optimize your diet, knowing that it is one of the most important actions you can take to improve your health and prevent disease.
You might think that your lifestyle is referring only to whether you exercise or not. But the word lifestyle actually means “the way you live,” and that includes many factors that can influence your health and wellbeing. A naturopathic doctor will assess all of your lifestyle habits, including your activity level and exercise, sleep habits, diet habits, stress levels, and stress management techniques, for example. They will then recommend simple techniques that will improve your health and well-being.
A naturopathic doctor is trained to analyze lab testing, including blood tests and imaging in order to diagnose medical conditions. If you are having symptoms and your traditional doctor has told you that your “labs are all normal,” a naturopathic doctor can help you dive deeper to identify underlying imbalances that might be affecting your health. In additional to standard lab testing, they might suggest food sensitivity tests, complete hormone panels including your adrenal and thyroid levels, nutrient testing, and/or neurotransmitter testing.
It is common for a naturopathic doctor to utilize and recommend nutrition and botanical supplements. Vitamin and mineral supplements are typically recommended if a nutrient deficiency is identified or if a higher nutrient intake is required to improve certain medical conditions. Your naturopathic doctor can recommend a simple blood test to help identify specific nutrient deficiencies. Depending on the severity of the deficiency, a naturopath may recommend that you increase your dietary intake of the nutrient, or they may recommend a supplement.
In addition to nutritional supplements, a naturopathic doctor utilizes botanical medicine (also called herbal medicine), which refers to using different parts of a plant (root, leaves, flowers, or fruits, for example) or plant extracts. Botanical medicine has been used for thousands of years by many cultures around the world to improve health and treat illness. Now, modern research has shown that many types of herbal medicine are effective and safe for many acute and chronic conditions. A naturopathic doctor is trained both in the art and science of using botanical medicine.
Working with a naturopathic doctor can often help you have more clarity and understanding regarding your health and wellness. A naturopath will take the time to assess your diet, lifestyle and laboratory testing and help you understand why you have symptoms. They will then use safe, effective, and natural treatments to help restore balance so you feel great!
At WellnessScript, we focus on solving health problems others can’t. Our video appointments bring experts from across the country into your home or office and are great for everyone as they fit into our crazy and hectic schedules and ensure that you have the time you need to feel heard and get all of your questions answered.
Functional & Naturopathic Medicine
$200 Initial Consult - 1 hour
Dr. Julie Briley
Follow-up Appointment: $100 for 30 min/$200 for 60 min
Expertise: Food sensitivities, gut health, detoxification, nutrition.
Clinical Experience: 10 years practicing naturopathic and functional medicine, including advanced training in digestive disorders and food as medicine.