A common question I receive as a Naturopath is “Are you a “Real” doctor?”. In a culture of fad diets, pill popping and a bombardment of advertisements for pharmaceuticals, I then pose back the question “Who are the “Real” doctors?”.
Growing up in the Bronx with a single mother, pollution and stressors, along with a processed school lunch diet caused my development of several common urban childhood illnesses. Even as a child I was able to sense the unfairness of what being an urban kid meant. I wanted to change that.
I began medical school in 2006.
During endocrinology, we learned that within 10 years all those who underwent weight loss management protocols, including lap band surgery, regained their original weight.
In cardiology class, we learned that statin drugs eventually cause myocardial infarction, ironically, what people with the need for statins need to avoid.
For our recommended Nutrition class, 6 out of 100 students showed up.
My patient intakes were trimmed to take less than 15 minutes adapting to the well-known time pressures of modern medicine.
I was quickly disillusioned.
Confident, after an experienced and intimate journey of healing myself with holistic medicine, I made the switch, and instead embarked on a journey to begin Naturopathic Medical school.
Both Naturopathic and Medical doctors undergo 4 years of premedical studies and 4 years of graduate study. In addition to this rigorous medical curriculum, the naturopathic doctor also studies clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine and counseling. Both have extensive board exams and potential residency training.
The major differences between the two: time, tools and philosophy.
A Naturopathic visit lasts for at least an hour, offering a unique experience empowering oneself to heal. Our tools are food as medicine, herbs, vitamins, homeopathy and important, basic lifestyle changes. Our philosophy is to find the root of what is causing a person’s ailments and then find a cure using the bodies own healing potential.
Tom, a TV editor was in acute pain with herniated discs and also had high blood pressure. After surgery in 2005, he was taking a daily cocktail of Vicodin, Oxycodone, Metaxalone, Neurontin and Amlodophine. His workplace is highly stressful. Tom’s diet was standard American; what I like to call the “Sad” diet. His early childhood was spent in an abusive household.As a PTSD survivor, his job played on his entrapment feelings with its serious deadlines and tight quarters. Any bodily movement offered Tom slight relief. I encouraged Tom to move, take time for himself, watch the sun rise, eat less inflammatory foods, more veggies, and connect his physical to his emotional pain. I recommended a homeopathic remedy, Rhus Tox which is used to stimulate the body to heal itself. It is associated with pain that works better with movement mentally and physically. Tom is now off all of his medications. For the first time in 11 years Tom was able to take long walks with his wife, even through a challenging trek of rainforest in Puerto Rico, pain free. Tom says he feels like a Rock Star, and honestly he is.
Everyone has a definition of what a “Real” doctor is, for me its a teacher who encourages you to heal yourself, simply and naturally using your bodies own healing potential and to perhaps become your own version of a Rock Star.