Preventative medicine is the key to affordable healthcare. The more we can work to keep ourselves well, the greater contributors we our to our community. Many states in the U.S. have taken the steps to license Naturopathic Doctors in order to establish their place in the medical world. Most primary care doctors are licensed as an MD, which means they have completed medical education within the conventional
medical, or allopathic approach to health. This system is ideal for handling emergencies and extreme health imbalances, yet it often has little to offer in keeping people well. A common recommendation to “watch and wait” with a sub-clinical disease process leaves little hope for improvement.
with Dr. Sara Hart, ND, MSOM, LAc
Naturopathic Doctors are trained in the western medical system equivalent to the conventional medical education. However, the emphasis shifts in the third and fourth years of training to incorporate herbal medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, spinal manipulation, physiotherapy, and more. The ideal healthcare system incorporates all systems of healthcare to take the best of each and apply them in an effective manner. For a comparative review of the education of leading Naturopathic and Allopathic medical schools in the U.S., visit here and here.
Licensing Naturopathic Doctors benefits communities in a variety of ways. It makes more physicians available in an era where there is a national shortage of primary care doctors. It allows the option for the first point of contact for patients to be with doctors who emphasize what people can do for themselves to improve their health. Naturopathic Doctors spend much more time with patients traditionally, allowing for more personal attention and an opportunity to explore the mind-body relationship. Naturopathic Doctors are experts in herb-drug and food-drug interactions providing a close watch and notice when dosages may need to be changed to support the changes in the individual’s body. This expertise is critical in a time where patients glean a great deal of their health information from online sources and natural food store clerks. People often end up taking a wide variety of substances without any oversight of how things may be working together in their body. For more information on the naturopathic profession, please visit here.
As a healthcare practitioner, my experience spans over twenty years in a variety of roles. Initially working in home health and institutional care as a Nurse Aid, I observed the end stage of care for a wide variety of chronic health conditions treated exclusively with allopathic therapies. From there, I witnessed thousands of patients diagnosed with chronic diseases improve as a medical student intern in Integrative Medicine clinics. As a medical researcher with the Helfgott Research Institute in Portland, I got to know the process of determining what works in healthcare from the evidenced based model. While the research in natural therapies is generally smaller, studies due to financial constraint, there is plenty of data to support its use, once we begin to look.
Licensed as a Primary Care Physician in Portland, Oregon I was able to provide both natural and pharmaceutical tools for illness covered by health insurance. Some patients prefer to avoid pharmaceuticals altogether or have responded negatively in the past to drug therapies. Still, there are a wide variety of options to choose from when treating illness with natural medicine. Other patients present with a health condition that will improve more quickly with pharmaceuticals, but whose underlying health can be supported with natural medicine to prevent long-term damage. Many individuals experience a state of health that is not clinically ill, but not 100% well either. This is where natural medicine can make dramatic change in a person’s life. Using tools from all systems together gives us the greatest potential to improve health and have lasting change.
Colorado House Bill 13-1111 concerning “Regulation of Naturopathic Doctors” will protect the consumer by allowing them to check credentials and file complaints against anyone using the title, Naturopathic Doctor or ND. This legislation will protect the health and well being of Coloradans to conveniently and easily:
- Determine who is qualified to be called a Naturopathic Doctor and who has completed a four-year graduate level clinical doctorate degree from an accredited naturopathic medical program, has passed a national exam, and has met other qualifications for regulation.
- Be confident that when someone is called a “doctor,” that he or she has the training to provide the safe and effective care inherent in the title.
- Be assured that their Naturopathic Doctor will communicate and collaborate fully with other health care providers as a member of the health care continuum.
- Be assured that the Naturopathic Doctor they choose has completed annual mandatory continued competency and carries adequate malpractice insurance.
DORA has reviewed this profession numerous times since 1993 and has recommended that Naturopathic Doctors be regulated in 1998, 2005, and in 2008 which is the last time that Colorado law allowed Naturopathic Doctors to undergo the Sunrise process.
Thank you for your time in supporting natural medicine and working toward affordable options in healthcare. For more information, please contact me at Stillwater Healing Arts Clinic in Lyons.