My Journey to Naturopathy: Part 1

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IMG 2343 thumb   My Journey to Naturopathy: Part 1

My first visit with the Naturopath Doctor was exciting.

In a 1-hour consultation, I felt like we made more progress with my health issues than the past few years with my regular family physician.

My regular family physician tends to dismiss everything I tell him and I feel like I’ve had no resolve for any of my digestive and reproductive issues. [I’m not saying that all family physicians are like this. I know there are great doctors out there.] I’m looking for a new doctor, but no one seems to be taking on new patients right now, especially because I already have a physician. I would have to first terminate my relationship with my current doctor and go on a wait list, which of course is a big risk when I’m not guaranteed to find a doctor right away. So I’m still on the hunt.

This is partly what made me seek out a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. Because it’s a private health care service, finding a doctor is easy and quick. The only downside is the cost. My insurance covers $15 per appointment, so most of the expense is coming out of my pocket. I’ve heard so many great things about ND’s, so I feel like the benefit will outweigh the cost.

I arrived about 15 minutes early and was greeted by the ND himself. He gives me a warm smile with kind eyes, while shaking my hand with what I think is the gentlest handshake I’ve ever felt. I feel like I’m crushing his hand and I quickly loosen my grip. I’m given a few forms to fill out which are mainly about my health history and present concerns that I would like to address. After filling out about 4 pages, we head into his exam room for the consultation.

The next hour was life changing.

After a brief chat, the doctor told me about his training and background. Impressive to say the least.

“What do you know about Naturopathy?”

Oh shit.

I mumbled something about treating the whole person and made wild gestures with my hands.

He smiled and nodded in a way that made me feel like a genius. I like him already.

I learned that Naturopathy is based on a holistic approach to health. In other words, it looks at the person as a whole. All of the psychological, physical, and social issues that make us who we are today are taken into account. You cannot treat an illness until you find and address the root cause of the illness. The goal is to help the body heal itself rather than using medication (unless necessary, of course).

The doctor told me that his main areas of clinical interest are gastrointestinal health, detoxification, and treatment of anxiety and stress related disorders.  

The next hour was filled with relief. He listened to me as if what I was saying was the most important thing in the world. He didn’t dismiss anything I said. He was empathetic.

He even cracked jokes when he sensed that I was starting to squirm when talking about my poop.

That’s a good doctor.

IMG 2338 thumb   My Journey to Naturopathy: Part 1

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{ 208 comments… read them below or add one }

Mackenzie @ Eat. Exercise. Evolve September 29, 2011

Sounds great! I hope you two figure things out!

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Moni'sMeals September 29, 2011

Ang, I am so happy for you, I think this approach is the way to go for you and it only compliments the lifestyle you live (with being into natural foods and health.) Best of luck.

It is the BEST feeling to find a doctor on board with you and who really cares about your needs and concerns. I have to say, I have had MANY awful experiences in this big city where I live (LA). They see a ton of people in a day (so waiting 2 hours to see them for maybe 5 mins!), no follow up, no concern, etc. When I lived in a smaller town, wow I felt like a queen. I am still keeping my positive outlook that I will too find a great doctor that also, does not charge a small fortune!! :)

ps Yes he is a great doctor, with that question if you know what I mean, haha. ;)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

Thanks Moni :)

ps- I’m in such a small town there is NO doctor…lol.

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Lizzie September 29, 2011

So great that you are off to a good start. But please also applaud yourself – takes courage to make the steps to feel better :) Looking forward to hearing more about it!

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Tia September 29, 2011

Moving outside of the standard health system is courageous. People are so quick to dismiss alternative angles from which we can view our health. Good for you, Ang.

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Radha September 29, 2011

You certainly have my attention. I am looking forward to part 2. I hope you are feeling better. I love you ange and want the best for you. You are a light in my world. Love to Eric and Sketchie <33

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Ashley September 29, 2011

So happy for you. :)

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Jacqueline September 29, 2011

I don’t think you should wholly dismiss our MD’s. I think its a matter of finding one who isn’t seeing a huge amount of patients and getting people to come in and out without really paying attention to what they are saying or how they are feeling. Especially if you feel like you have an issue that does need to be looked at by modern medicine, it is great to use an ND for alternative therapy and as a complement to modern medicine but do not give up on the MD’s who are at your disposal. We are lucky in Canada that we don’t have to pay for things out of our pocket like CT scans or ultrasounds, which will diagnose serious issues and cost a fortune for people without insurance in other countries.
My GP sounds a lot like your ND and it took me a long time to find her. I also find that a lot of issues are a manifestation of anxiety and MD’s see that and so may act dismissive towards certain symptoms especially if they know you have an anxiety or stress disorder (in which case they should refer you to the proper therapist who can take more time to discuss in depth what is going on). Anyways, I am still glad you had a positive experience with the ND and I hope you heal fast!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

I’m not dismissing traditional physicians. I said that I’m actively looking for a new family doctor and I def. still want to continue seeing one on a regular basis. I truly believe there are great doctors out there! Sometimes it just takes time to find the right one.

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Sarah September 29, 2011

This is sub exciting news to hear! I am currently awaiting my nutrtition consulting course to start, but can truly appreciate the benefits of the homeopathic doctor! So much time is spent at the traditional doctors office when they seem to have tunnel vision when looking into the root of an illness. Wishing you the best of luck! Xo

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Beth September 29, 2011

Sounds so productive! I’ve been considering doing this myself, so I’m watching you expectantly to see how things work out for you!
PS: I don’t know what I ever ate before I found your blog because I use your recipes for nearly everything I make now. I always have the Lightened-Up Granola and the chocolate chip cookie dough balls on hand, as well as frozen bananas, and last night I tried the Salt and Vinegar Chips. Husband loved them!

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty September 29, 2011

awwwh.. left hanging!! I can’t wait to hear more. I’ve been a few times, but mine was no good at all. She pushed her own brand of stuff on me, costing over $600 per month, when I said I couldn’t afford it she said “well it’s for the cost of your health”… thank you!! haha

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Candice September 29, 2011

That’s awesome :) I can’t wait to hear more.

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Michelle Hunt (PeachyPalate) September 29, 2011

I’ve been suffering for years with digestive problems and was told by a professor of medicine the only option was major surgery. I recently decided to visit a herbalist and I have been feeling amazing. The difference is astounding. It just shows that “conventional” isn’t the only option. So glad I sought out alternatives, even if it did take me a few years!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

I’m happy to hear that :)

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Jen @ keepitsimplefoods.com September 29, 2011

Glad you had a good experience!

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Felicia (Natural + Balanced) September 29, 2011

you will continue to have such a positive experience with this angela! i’m so happy you are going the holistic route with your health issues. i went back to school for a masters in acupuncture and holistic medicine (after working as a nurse and realizing what our healthcare system really is about, and wanting to help people in a different approach) and our entire approach is treating the patient as a whole, taking note of their spirit and surroundings, etc. everyone is different, theres no cookie cutter one-pill-cures all, and thats the beauty of this medicine! good luck to you, and i’m looking forward to reading about your experience!

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Karen September 29, 2011

Thanks so much for sharing this with us…you are so generous Angela! It’s so rare for healthy living bloggers to share the less positive sides of their lives, but when you do so you become even more relatable and your blog so much more educational re. real issues that affect us all. I’ve been pondering taking this path for similar issues, so I can’t wait to hear the next installment…

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Ashley September 29, 2011

I’m so happy that you are making progress with your health issues. I too have had digestive problems (I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease). My regular doctor never suggested any natural ways of healing my symptoms. He just prescribed stronger and stronger drugs till my symptoms were lessened. I did my own research and have made significant changes in my diet with awesome results. I really wish I would have met with and neuropathic doctor earlier. It could have saved me from all my symptoms early. Thank you for spreading this message!

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Kristina @ spabettie September 29, 2011

I am excited for you, Angela! while I still visit my GP on occasion (and even made her meet WITH me and my ND!), I am so very happy with natural medicine, and gladly pay the cost myself.

again, I am VERY excited for you!!

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christina September 29, 2011

After 3 years of being very sick and countless physicians, I was lucky enough to find a great ND. My Candida problem was quickly found, and I am feeling better than I have in years! Now I have enrolled in nutrition school, and it is my Passion to educated people on the healing power of whole foods and Integrative nutrition. I really enjoy your recipes, and am very inspired by people like you! :)

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jennyv September 29, 2011

Good for you for going off the beaten path! My husband is a chiropractor and it is exciting to see that people are seeing that many general practicioners are not helping them to get well. They are looking to alleviate SYMPTOMS — not go to the cause of the problem. Chiropractors remove pressure on the central nervous system which allows the nerve impluses to flow freely from the brain to every cell, tissue and organ in the body. The focus in our office is much like a naturopath — stress management, eating healthy foods, getting adequate exercise, and detoxification. I love naturopaths as they are looking to adress the individuals health by looking at the mind, body, etc. Good luck w/ everything :)

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Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans September 29, 2011

I love the idea of a doctor that actually listens. I often feel rushed and that much of what I have to say is dismissed when I visit my physician and that has led to me going less often. I believe I would greatly benefit form the opportunity to review my health from a holistic perspective.

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Ali September 29, 2011

There are some great doctors working out there in integrative medicine (collaborating with complementary and alternative health professionals). Here’s a link to one such place in Burlington – I’m not sure where you are in Ontario, but if you google integrative clinics you might be able to find someone open-minded and willing to refer out to people such as naturopaths for chronic issues. I find that MDs are great for acute things, but they are not trained very well in terms of nutritional issues.
http://www.sweetmedicine.ca/

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

Wow that sounds great! Will check it out. Thanks

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jenna September 29, 2011

i’m very curious to hear more about your experience with the nd.

what are you drinking in the last picture? it looks so warming yet refreshing.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

It’s a lemon herbal tea :)

I’m trying to cut down on the caffeine as the tannins can irritate stomach lining.

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Ellen September 29, 2011

So glad to hear you met someone you clicked with! I’ve been having some problems myself and keep reminding myself that I have to be my biggest advocate. Speak up and stay strong!

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Starla September 29, 2011

Cant wait to hear what is next ! Alternative medicine facinates me even though I worked in the health care industry for several years. I see Dr.s just treating symptoms and never getting to the root of the problem…Hope you are better soon.!!

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Carolyn @ HealthKitten.com September 29, 2011

I too am excited to hear about part 2 of your visit.

I lucked out with my general practitioner; she feels that diet and exercise can cure a lot of ills rather than prescribing drugs to stifle and ignore the problem. Yes, there are times when one needs medication to overcome a problem – e.g. I have to be on allergy meds all the time because of my allergies to chemicals and perfumes – but a lot of times simple nutrition can cure a lot of ills. I had horrible joint aches in my body, but once I eliminated artificial sweeteners from my diet, it disappeared completely! (turns out I’m also allergic to those nasty chemicals too!)

Glad to hear you had a positive experience and that you’re keeping your mind open to all possibilities with your health.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

That’s interesting about the artificial sweeteners!
I used to eat them all the time and felt so much better when I stopped.

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Carolyn @ HealthKitten.com September 29, 2011

Yeah, t’ll only take one Diet Pepsi to make me feel like I’m a 90-year-old arthritic woman! But there are days I miss that diet soda…but I know I’m healthier (and pain-free) without it! :D

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Jen @newellnd September 29, 2011

What a fantastic introduction to naturopathic medicine for those that may not know about this option of healthcare or for those that are hesitant to visit a naturopath themselves! I believe that an integrative system of healthcare is optimal and allows people to consult with a number of practitioners to achieve their goals. As a naturopathic doctor, I too often hear of people who feel they have to choose between their MD and their ND which is not the case. Both offer different options and different specialties and should be considered as a team that works towards a similar goal – helping you feel vibrant, energized and healthy.

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AGS September 29, 2011

This is good news. I’m glad you are looking to both an ND and regular MD. I don’t really understand why you are having such a hard time finding a Dr. who is taking patients. Is that common in your area of Canada? It seems there are lots of options for everything where I live (Washington, DC).

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

Unfortunately, it’s extremely common to not be able to find a doctor in Canada. I know many ppl who have been on wait lists for a year. :\

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Maureen Pluthero September 29, 2011

I lived in Mississauga Ontario for 5 years and could not find a doctor taking on new patients except one who was not affiliated with a hospital and who I never felt comformatable with. I have just moved to Hamilton so the search begins anew!

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Faith @ For the Health of It September 29, 2011

This is going to be such an interesting series! I love hearing alternative health ideas and learning more about the holistic treatment side to medicine. Thank you for sharing this from a first-person perspective!

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Anna @ On Anna's Plate September 29, 2011

My husband had really, really bad stomach issues (IBS), and all of the “regular” doctors he went to just told him that there was basically very little he could do about it. When we finally went the natural route, he FINALLY saw some results, and now he feels about 95% better, about 95% of the time. I really think that using alternative medicine and holistic methods can be very helpful with certain health issues!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

That’s so great to hear. :) I’m happy he has found relief!

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J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) September 29, 2011

Sounds lie a wonderful doc and human being! I’m looking for someone just like that, except I live in NY. :)

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Maureen Pluthero September 29, 2011

I also had severe stomach issues and thought it was because I was aging however my daughter who was studying to be a Holistic nutritionist (she is not a registered RHN) at the time had me try a vegetarian diet. I cut out all meat, eggs and a lot of processed food and it was life changing how much better I felt. Funny story someone at work asked me why I did not eat meat and I expalained my health issues and how much better I felt not eating meat. She suggested I see a doctor because surely he had a pill I could take so I could still eat meat. Now except for the occasional eating of cheese animal products are not a part of my diet and the stomache issues are a distant memory.

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Maureen Pluthero September 29, 2011

I mean she is NOW a RHN

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Karen Cohen September 29, 2011

Hmm.. perhaps this is more of an email question for you Angela but I live in the Burlington area and also need to start looking to a naturopath as I am 29 and hoping to start a family within the next 2 years and would love to have my body be in a happy and healthy place. I am constantly lethargic boarding on depressed at times, and have started eating a more clean way of life and taken up mosksha yoga. It has helped and I feel a lot better but recently on top of life stresses, I as well have IBS and seem to have started a flare up again. I am at my wits end trying to sort it all out. Feeling overwhelmed at times by everyone’s suggestions. Do you mind if I ask who you are seeing as there was a naturopath I was interested in going to in Mississauga but heard that they pushed their “own line” of treatments as well. Your experience has given me new hop!

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Natasha Kay September 29, 2011

I hope you can find a great naturopath Karen! My friend’s IBS had gotten so bad that she almost had to have her bowels removed. She was able to take control of the disease and stop it in it’s tracks by going gluten-free after seeing a naturopath and getting a specific diet for her condition. I encourage you to keep hunting and don’t give in to the western medicine’s approach of throwing drugs at it until they run out of other options.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2011

Emailing you the info Karen :)

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Lindsey September 29, 2011

wait…you live in Mississauga? OMG I have expended family that lives there…That’s funny. It’s a small world. It’s a nice little area.

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Jen @newellnd September 29, 2011

Hi Karen,
Finding a good “match” is really important when seeking out a practitioner to include as part of your healthcare team. I recommend that people who are interested in visiting a naturopath, see if the practitioner they are considering offers free 15 minute consults so you can determine if your goals and the practitioners methods would be a good fit. I am located in Port Credit, Ontario; please check out my website at http://www.newellnd.ca or my clinic’s information at http://www.lakesidehealthcentre.com; I would love to assist you in either addressing your health concerns or recommending another ND that would be a good fit for your needs.

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Karen September 29, 2011

Thank you all very much for all the positivity!!!
Thank you Jen I will look into it
Thanks Angela:)

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Maya@DessertisinaDifferentPocket September 29, 2011

I think this is a great approach. So many doctors these days are taught to just overtreat, and not treat the whole person. I strongly believe nature, and our bodies, have a high capability to heal us without having to use more invasive/chemical methods. Good for you! I hope everything works out great.

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megan September 29, 2011

I cannot wait to hear part 2!

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angela @ PattycakesnPancakes September 29, 2011

I’ve seen my share of doctors so I feel like a professional now. Most don’t realize that we don’t know medical terminology and forget to treat us as the patients that we are. I’m so happy that you started a relationship with someone who wants to get to the root of the problem. Congrats !

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Caitlin @ Vegetarian in the City September 29, 2011

wow glad you found a good dr! it is so hard these days.

Keep us posted!!!

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Katrina September 29, 2011

This is really interesting. Looking forward to part 2!

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Tina September 29, 2011

I had digestive & skin problems for a while. I went to tons of different MD and none of them could help me. They just kept wanting to give me pills and I asked if it could be stuff I am eating and they said no. I went to a dcotor for Naturopathy and she help me lot and I don’t have the problems anymore. Good luck and cant wait to read more about your experiance!!

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Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes September 29, 2011

It sounds like you have made the perfect decision for you!

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Toby September 29, 2011

Going to an ND is life changing if the patient is truly ready to change. I wish more people would do it, though I think many people don’t want to put forth the effort – they’d rather get a prescription and continue to make unhealthy choices.

Congrats on your new doctor, I look forward to reading about how it goes for you.

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Sara September 29, 2011

This sounds a lot like my experience with my Tibetan physician. It’s nice to go to someone who considers everything about you to be interrelated, as opposed to “I’m just looking at this ONE symptom and ignoring the rest” sort of situations. Good luck with the rest!! :)

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