What Is Naturopathic Primary Care?

More and more people are turning towards wholistic health care for various reasons and one of the simplest changes they can make is in their primary care doctor.  A primary care doctor is your general practice physician, who you might see for a sore throat or an ear infection.  They are often the first doctor that you see when you get sick, develop a rash, or when you need a routine physical examination.  Have you considered naturopathic primary care?

As a naturopathic primary care physician, I perform the same tasks as a primary care physician (PCP), but with a more wholistic approach.  I perform physicals, order preventive screening tests, administer immunizations, order diagnostic testing, refer to specialists, diagnose diseases, recommend and provide treatments, and prescribe medications.  As a naturopathic physician, I may recommend herbs, dietary and lifestyle interventions, nutritional supplements, and/or hydrotherapy for treatment of acute and chronic conditions.  

Naturopathic medicine is an approach to medicine that primarily uses natural therapies for healing.    As with all medical professionals, naturopathic physicians “First Do No Harm.”  However, we tend to dig deeper in identifying and treating the underlying causes of disease, as well as treating the whole person, rather than isolated symptoms and body parts.  We do this while respecting and utilizing the body’s innate intelligence and self-healing potential.  

To give just a few examples, naturopathic primary care physicians acknowledge that:

  • Many medications are overprescribed.  The need for prescriptions and possible alternatives should be considered in each situation.
  • A mild-to-moderate infection may often be treated successfully with herbs or other low-force interventions.  
  • Skin disorders may often be caused, at least in part, by dietary factors and digestive problems.
  • Digestive problems can be caused by:  stress, poor sleep habits, lack of exercise, imbalance of intestinal bacteria, specific food intolerances, digestive enzyme insufficiency, stomach acid deficiency, hiatal hernia, as well as the more serious diseases that also need to be ruled out.
  • Fatigue, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain could be related to diet, lifestyle, toxic exposures, or a myriad of other factors.
  • Every patient is different, with different values, motivations, tolerances, and responses to treatment.
  • It is critical to be able to recognize when standard medical care is needed and either provide that care or refer appropriately.

My patients cover the spectrum between those seeking wholly natural treatments (those who don’t want prescription medications unless absolutely necessary) and conventional (those who are suspicious of anything outside of the standard medical protocol).  The ability to accommodate a wide range of patients with different philosophies while integrating both worlds makes naturopathic primary care a valuable resource in our community.