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Just Keep Swimming

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If you’ve ever Googled “Alternative treatment for ___” or “Natural treatment for ___” then this blog post is important for you to read. You are very likely googling for other options on how to treat something because you either –  1) don’t like pharmaceutical drugs, 2) you’ve tried pharmaceutical drugs but they aren’t helping, or 3) you don’t have access to a Naturopathic Doctor, so you’re going to go with what Dr.Google prescribes. Now, there are so many things I can tell you about all of these options – actually I’m feeling super overwhelmed with all the thoughts running through my head right now. So, as I do, I’m going to have to break this down.

Let’s start with #1 – you don’t like pharmaceutical drugs. And that’s cool. You don’t have to like them. But you should like some of them. I know I do – but only in the legal sense if you catch what I’m sayin’.

With Ontario’s new regulation that passed last summer (wahooooo), ND’s now have the option to gain prescribing rights. But we have to complete a course and a pretty rigorous exam, as it should be.I am happy to report that I am just waiting to find out whether or not I passed (so feel free to think of me in your prayers tonight).

I first learned to appreciate pharmacology (essentially the science behind drugs) in medical school when we spent many classroom hours learning the method of action of (what felt like) Every.Single.Drug. It was bigger than any other concept I had been asked to learn up to that point. It was interesting, intriguing, and scary all at once. Presently, that appreciation has grown stronger, now that I am learning the therapeutic application of these drugs. Don’t ever judge your medical doctor for referencing a resource in the middle of an appointment with you – there’s just simply too many on the market, all of which can affect patients very differently.

Now let’s talk about evidence based medicine (EBM). Which is the basis for our current medical system. EBM infers that there is evidence to back up the drug or treatment choice. But what classifies as evidence? Is it randomized control trials? Double-blind, placebo, triple flip, case report, prospective cohort, somersault, camel spin studies? Or is it clinical experience? Well, it turns out that it’s about 50% research, and 50% clinical experience. And I must say, that I apply that same principle to my treatments. I like research, but I might prescribe something simply because I know it works – I’ve seen it numerous occasions, despite the fact that there is no research behind it.

Essentially, the point I am trying to make is to try not to automatically rule out a drug as an option for treatment. There are usually more than one option, and once you look at risk reduction, and possible side effects, then make an informed decision. It’s very likely that your family doctor doesn’t have the time to explain all of this to you – but guess what? I can!

#2 – you’ve tried pharmaceutical drugs and they don’t work. This happens! Like I said earlier, drugs can affect patients very differently. May work for some, and not for others. And this is where I can be helpful. What you want to try to avoid, is Googling for treatments, or getting advice from your neighborhood healthfood store (please see blog entitled “That Awkward Moment when you Smell Like Vitamins” for more info). Naturopathic Doctors are fully capable of assessing and understanding pathologies and perhaps finding a successful treatment for you that you might not have found otherwise. Plus, you get the added bonus of knowing that you are being given sound advice that won’t interact with anything else you might currently be taking, or that simply won’t waste your time or money.

#3 – you don’t have access to NDs. This makes me sad. We aren’t covered by OHIP. So that automatically limits our access. Most benefit companies do cover our services. This makes me happy. But then I get sad again when I think of all the people who don’t have benefits. Or maybe the area you live in doesn’t have an ND in the area? That sucks too. All I can say to this is just do the best you can. Be vigilant, advocate for your own health, and most importantly, trust your gut instinct.

To end, I’m just going to touch on the negative media coverage that ND’s have been receiving of late. As an ND, I am fully aware and comfortable with my scope of practice. I know when to refer to an MD, and do, often! And am happy to say that I get MD’s referring to me, as well! I will NEVER deny the value of Naturopathic Medicine because I see it work every, single day.

So in a sea of extremism, deceit, lies, and fear-mongering, we’re gonna just keep swimming…

If you need me, you know where to find me,

Dr. D

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