Birkenstocks and Granola

admin/ September 30, 2015/ Dr. Danielle/

It happens usually about twice a week. It first started way back in 2004 when I first started naturopathic medical school. And still, it happens twice a week. It used to make me really angry, now I find it quite laughable. What am I referring to, you ask?? I am talking about granola and Birkenstocks, witch doctors, voodoo, magic potions, and the infamous “do you prescribe medical marijuana?” comments. The comments themselves come from an array of people, from family members, friends, patients, patients’ relatives, neighbors to complete strangers.

I will never forget the first time it happened. It was at my aunt’s thanksgiving dinner, I was home for the weekend. This was during my very first semester in medical school. And one of my cousins asked me how my witch doctor school was going. I was so angry I couldn’t even reply. I had just written my first mid-term in anatomy and it was one of the hardest feats I had ever accomplished. (Little did I know, there would be a gazillion more insanely hard feats I would have to accomplish before graduating). It was pure science. And it was hard. And I was being laughed at for it??!!?! Ignorance may or may not be bliss. The BEST revenge is that this same cousin has called me on a number of occasions for help with some of his illnesses. (For any legal people reading this: upon his phone call, I was quick to explain to him that I couldn’t treat him because he was a family member). Wink, wink.

As a naturopath, I find it very hard to continue to educate people about what we do. Our curriculum is founded in medical science. In fact, our course load is very similar to that of other medical schools in our country aside from our specific education in modalities. And not only did we have more total class hours, we had more class hours in pharmacology than 2 other Ontario medical schools. We were taught problem-based learning and were made very familiar with all medical journals. Research, from random double-blind clinical trials to case reports, was of utmost importance in deciding a treatment plan. We don’t prescribe things because a witch did it in Salem years ago. We don’t endorse voodoo practices, nor do we talk about past lives and third eyes. Some of us eat granola and wear Birkenstocks but that’s because we like to eat granola, and some of us have pretty messed up feet that makes Birks a good option to wear (and my feet really are pretty messed up). And despite one local MD’s opinion, naturopaths not only believe in bloodwork, we depend on bloodwork to help us get to the root-cause. We are well educated in laboratory procedures. We can take a vial of blood better and faster than most. We know the use of medical imaging to help come to a diagnosis. We do not practice pseudo-science! Our focus is to see the body as a complex whole entity. We consider a patient’s emotions, motivations, lifestyle, physiology, and overall vitality in treating and diagnosing. That doesn’t make me a witch. That makes me a doctor.

In an ideal world, naturopaths and allopaths (medical doctors) would work together to form the best kind of health care there is. So help make the world a better place and spread the word!

P.S. I don’t prescribe medical marijuana.

Until next time, Dr. D.