As I have gotten older and become more knowledgeable in natural health, I have wanted to approach my health from a more natural and holistic standpoint. Not to say your normal conventional MD does not have a place. I have found that the first thing I want to do is better my health with the interventions I have control over, and that carry very little risk. Such as nutrition, functional labs, supplements when necessary, and exercise.
I only see a conventional doctor after I have consulted with my naturopath and tried everything I can that is in my control. I know that the conventional model does not focus on curing, reversing or preventing. It focuses on treating the illness and a lot of times new ailments can arise from the pharmaceuticals and surgery being used for treatment.
I wanted to clarify what a naturopathic doctor (ND) is? A naturopath is a doctor who has done four years of medical school, but their training is focused on natural means of health and wellness. In other words, when you come to see them their main way of helping you is not to write a prescription or to refer you to a specialist who will likely do a procedure or surgery on you. A naturopath will talk with you first about what are you eating, your feelings around food, make suggestions about herbs and supplements you may need. They help you give your body the tools it needs to heal itself. The body is an amazing healing mechanism, and if we give it the tools it needs to heal and reverse inflammation, it will do that most of the time.
They are also able to look at your labs from a wellness standpoint instead of an illness standpoint. For example, your conventional MD may be ok with a fasting glucose of 120, because you have not yet reached the threshold for being diagnosed with diabetes. Clearly, a fasting glucose of 120 is not normal, and this needs to be addressed. Even at 120, you are having some metabolic issues that need to be addressed before they get worse. I think most conventional doctors will warn you that 120 is getting a little high, but they will not focus on nutrition as a way of getting your blood sugar down.
Who do I see – I see Dr. Sherri Jacobs ND who is located in James Island, SC. Her practice is called HealtECoaching. It was important to me for her to be close enough where I could physically visit her. Also, she is knowledgeable in functional medicine, and she has a similar philosophy about health as I do. She also believes meat is part of a healthy diet. I am not saying you need a lot of meat, but you do need some based on my study of the literature. She also is healthy herself and is still quite young. She has a young family herself. This is important because I plan on seeking her advice on what she has done to raise her family healthily.
I also have email access when I have a general question to ask her about my health. She is affordable in my opinion because I pay when I need to see her. I do not have to be on a yearly plan. Yearly plans work well for someone who needs lots of access to their practitioner and who may have been disappointed with their doctors who take insurance. I found them to cost too much for me and it is more access to the practitioner than I need for my families state of health.
My naturopath works in conjunction with an MD who takes the less is more approach. Also, she uses the best of both worlds. She does not use conventional methods and then use natural methods as the leftovers. She will use whatever the evidence shows is the best and then she will consider safety as well. She is a generalist who is looking at all the tools available not just a subset of tools. She also is knowledgeable in functional medicine and believes in this approach. This involves getting to the root of the problem so you can heal yourself and not have to depend on interventions that are not solving your problem.
In the long run, it will be more expensive to keep having to go to a conventional-only doctor who gives you a band-aid and does not approach it from the root of the problem. Having to keep coming back to the doctor will cost you time, expense from lost work, drug cost, fees from the office visits, and maybe unnecessary testing. In the long run, it will be worth it to get to the root of your problem and not go to a doctor just because your insurance covers him or her.
Some disadvantages – Cost is one of them because you can not run your visits through insurance. You have to pay for them out of pocket. I have found it to be reasonably affordable. For example, I spent 295.00 for my first visit with her, and it was ninety minutes long. She will usually follow-up with 30-minute visits as you advance in your care. These are only 95.00 per 30-minute follow-up. So there is some initial investment up-front, but I feel it is well worth it.
It is hard for me to think of disadvantages because I am such a big fan of this method of expert consultation. One thing that has helped me immensely in paying the extra cost out of pocket to see her is having an FSA(Federal Spending Account) or an HSA(Health Savings Account). I have the FSA, and I started the year with 2600 dollars in it. I have to spend all of that on my health or my families health this year except for 500 that I can defer to 2019 if need be. The 2600 is also taken out incrementally in my paycheck before being taxed. This is the main advantage. It also forces me to spend money on my health. I had no problem getting the money I spent to see her reimbursed back from my FSA. Spending the out of pocket cost was a major hurdle for me, but the FSA has helped me to make the investment. Use it or lose it!
I will continue to keep you up to date on what I am doing for my visits and what I am learning through my journey of working with my ND. For now, she is having me do a food diary for at least a week and check my ketone levels the same time each morning. We will do some lab testing in the near future, and I will let you know how those turn out as well.
Have you worked with an ND? How was your experience? Do you have obstacles or objections to seeing an ND for your primary care needs? Please share those with me and others so we can talk about them.
Have a healthy week!