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Common Misconceptions about Naturopathic Medicine

Common Misconceptions about Naturopathic Medicine…That I Might Agree With!

By Anita Kappukatt, ND

 

I hear these excuses and comments from people I love (and people I am trying to love) all the time. You may be surprised that I agree with some of them…kind of. Read on.

 

#1. Naturopathic Medicine is expensive.

Well, here’s where I can agree. It kind of is. Depending on how you look at it. Because what is more cheap than “free”? In Ontario, we don’t pay out-of-pocket for many health services, and we tend to push back pretty hard against any additional costs we are now being made to pay. We are actually paying for our traditional health care system in a severe way! Provincial governments (your tax dollars) spend between 30-48% of their budgets on health care. According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information, we were spending roughly $5,800 per Canadian on our health care in 2011! Says the Toronto Star:

“The province is trying to move away from fee-for-service, a payment method criticized for emphasizing volume over quality. Many doctors, particularly solo practice family physicians, allot only 15 minutes for a patient visit, during which only one problem can be addressed. The arrangement doesn’t work well for patients with multiple health problems.”

Well now, enter a new way of thinking. Paying for a health service that can look at multiple problems and different organ systems at once, while coming up with comprehensive long-term and prevention-focused plans may be worth it for some of you. I also ask you, how much do you pay your hairstylist? Your plumber? Your mechanic? How much do you spend on your car per year? Don’t you think you should invest a little more in your health? It will pay off in the long run!

 

#2. There’s no research to support this voodoo.

My first reaction to this question is to blurt out, “Have you ever looked for the research??” Usually after the person lowers their eyes and says, “Well, no,” I can walk away without using any more energy. I do realize the burden of proof is usually upon the person trying to present new ideas, so my actual answer to this statement is that there is a tremendous amount of research, of all varieties and quality, to support a variety of naturopathic treatments. Usually I ask a person to ask about a specific therapy they’ve heard of so I can specifically answer this question. Nutrition and botanical medicine usually have the most clinical research behind it. Now, PubMed is only one resource for medical research, but here and here is something a bit more specific.  Are you ready to sort through all of this information yourself? Why not let an expert do it for you? I also don’t want to paint evidence-based medicine (EBM) as a panacea. Clinical and traditional knowledge are very valuable, and when informed by quality research, can help many people! Read Kriss Kresser’s article on profit-based medicine, the myth of EBM. He’s an research-loving acupuncturist.

 

#3. Naturopathic Doctors will tell you that everything you are eating is garbage and you have to change your whole life drastically if you want to get better, and I’m not ready for that, so why spend the money.

This is a variation of: I know what they’re going to tell me so why should I go see them? Or, I know I eat a lot of junky food, why should I pay someone to tell me to stop? I already know, I already know, I already know. There are two things going on here. One is the fact that people have access to a lot of information. With the internet, your mom’s advice and Dr. Oz-like shows, why are people still unhealthy? Just because you ‘know’ the basics doesn’t mean you won’t need some help making a plan and putting it into action. Health is multi-factorial and having someone synthesize all of your symptoms and not just look at them one at a time is not something an average person is trained to do. The second fact is that although some people do well with drastic changes, others simply DO NOT. A practitioner that can meet you where you are at and help you create sustainable changes in your life is what you need! People usually come see naturopathic doctors when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. It’s ok to tell your practitioner what has worked (or not) for you in the past, and what motivates you to make changes in your life.  It will only help you out in the long run, and make the process easier!

 

#4. It takes a long time to see results.

Seeing an ND is more of a commitment than signing up for a cell phone plan. Well, sometimes it is. Some people feel better quickly! Some people need to be treated in stages, so their bodies (and minds) stay happy and stable through the process of getting better. If it took 10-20 years to develop a chronic disease, I’m sorry to inform you that it may take more than two visits with an ND for body to correct the damage! That being said, for the most severe health issues, it may only take a small change to make you feel immediately better!

Many of these myths and misconceptions have to do with the way we VALUE our health and the way we think about HOW our health care should be administered.  My advice to anyone looking into alternative medicine for answers is to ask questions! You are allowed to interview your health care providers before making a commitment to see them! Knowing what to expect will help you get the most out of your care.