A good natural health doctor supports your health and healing by using the characteristics of natural medicine.
1. Look for natural medicine practice characteristics.
Study their website or give their office a call to check for these natural medicine characteristics.
- Treats patients as active decision makers and partners in care
- Treats the whole person, provides “holistic care”
- Is prevention and wellness focused
- Prefers natural therapies including vitamins, minerals, and herbs; over pharmaceuticals and surgery
- Relationship-Centered, uses patients’ history and physical exam to determine their diagnosis. Uses technology (X-rays, etc.) only as necessary
- Treats the cause not just the symptoms
2. Know what type of natural health doctor you prefer.
Natural health doctors come with a variety of credentials.
The American Holistic Medical Association provides descriptions of different types of doctors that can help you choose a natural health doctor that’s right for you.
Here’s a summary:
Medical Doctor (MD). MDs typical education emphasizes treatment with pharmaceuticals and surgery, although, more and more MDs are seeking additional training in natural medicine.
These doctors integrate natural medicine characteristics into their care.
For more information, contact these sources:
- University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine
- American Board of Holistic Medicine
- American Holistic Medical Association
- American Holistic Health Association
Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). DOs focus on the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. Their training is similar to MDs including prescribing pharmaceuticals and performing surgery with an emphasis on care of the whole-person.
Visit the Academy of Osteopathy for more information.
Naturopathic Doctor (ND). NDs attend four-year naturopathic medical schools. They have the same basic sciences as MDs along with a wide variety of natural therapies. They focus on preventative medicine and the body’s innate healing capacity.
Not all states have licensing laws for NDs. In the states that have licensing laws, a growing number of insurance plans cover naturopathy and a few states mandate it.
Visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians for more information.
Doctor of Chiropractic (DC). DCs diagnose and treat patients with musculoskeletal system problems including their effect on the nervous system and overall health.
Not licensed to prescribe medications, chiropractors provide natural, drugless, non-surgical health treatments, relying on the body’s inherent recuperative abilities.
Visit the National Association for Chiropractic Medicine for more information.
Homeopathic Doctors treat the whole person. Homeopathy is based on the belief that symptoms are the body’s attempt at self-healing and that suppression of those symptoms drives the disease further into the body.
Homeopathic remedies are derived from raw, natural resources generally from the vegetable, animal, and mineral kingdom. Visit the American Institute of Homeopathy for more information.
3. Ask others for recommendations.
- Ask friends, family members, or members of blogs, or chat rooms for natural health doctor recommendations.
- Ask you current physician for a referral. Let your doctor know you want to explore using natural therapies.You may be surprised. She or he may have an interest in natural therapies that you weren’t aware of, or may know of a trusted and good referral for you.
4. Ask questions to assess your doctor.
Don’t be shy, ask questions to explore how well prepared your doctor is in natural medicine. Here are some examples:
- Where did you get your training?
- Do you have certifications in these therapies?
- Whom do you refer to if a therapy is needed that you don’t provide? This helps assess that they recognize that all doctors have limitations and may need to refer to others in some situations.
Assessing how doctors and/or their office staff respond to your questions is an important indicator of how well they will work with you as a partner in your care.
Use these questions as a guide adding to or deleting them based on your unique needs. Choosing a natural health doctor that’s right for you is an important ingredient for natural health and holistic healing!