Gone are the days when seeking a doctor’s advice was your only option for health issues. While their knowledge is valuable, the growing interest in alternative practices has opened up the door to alternative, natural or holistic treatment options.
Most people don’t realise that medical doctors and naturopathic doctors complete almost the same amount of educational hours.
Naturopaths spend nearly 30% more time in a classroom setting, so they go more in-depth on anatomy, physiology, orthopedics and most systems of the body, and they spend a huge chunk of time on nutrition. However, medical doctors spend much more time on surgery and radiology (e.g. x-rays and ultrasounds.)
You don’t have to choose between conventional medicine and alternative treatment. They can often work well alongside each other. However, it is important to tell your doctor and your complementary therapist of all drugs, treatments and remedies you take or use. Herbs can sometimes interact with prescription drugs and cause side effects.
For naturopathic doctors, fixing the root cause is the core component of their education via:
- Acupuncture and other Asian medicine.
- Various lab tests.
- Lifestyle changes.
- Herbs, supplements and botanical remedies.
A few things your doctor may not tell you about your health:
A BALANCED DIETISN’T ENOUGH
Many doctors aren’t interested in suggesting that you should incorporate supplements into your diet. Often, they’ll prescribe antibiotics or medicines to fix illnesses and then encourage you to eat a ‘balanced diet,’ which is not always the right type of diet for you.
Of course, a good diet is important for your overall health, however, it doesn’t always provide you quite enough vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium) or Vitamin C and E, antioxidants or Omega 3 fatty acids (which have been proven to help heart health.) Taking probiotics with some prescriptions will also protect your valuable gut flora.
HEALTHY EATING CAN IMPROVE YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH
GP’s tend to focus on the physical benefits that a healthy and balanced diet can bring. However, when it comes to mental or emotional problems, they generally skim over the benefits of nutrition and recommend other alternatives to fix the problem.
When you think of improving your mental health, you may not think about changing the food you eat. There is a strong link between what we eat and how we feel, with poor nutrition making you feel sluggish, low and increase symptoms of depression and anxiety. But now we are seeing a healthy diet (with a variety of fruit, veggies, nuts and healthy fats) can actually improve mental health.
This is a pretty new and exciting area of research. Headspace.com share two recent studies which investigated whether healthy food could reduce depression symptoms, and the results were clear – people who ate a healthier diet improved their depression symptoms more than people who focused on only social support. It improved sleep quality for the study participants, as well as increased their energy levels and improved their concentration. The study participants also experienced fewer cravings for foods with high sugar, salt or fat.
ACUPUNCTURE CAN CURE YOUR PAIN
Acupuncture can ease migraines and arthritis as well as other forms of chronic pain. In a recent National Institute of Health study, involving data on nearly 18,000 patients, spanning over a five year period, the success of acupuncture for pain treatment was proven.
“We think there’s firm evidence supporting acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain,” said Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York and the lead author of the study.
Dr. Vicker’s goal was to look at all of the known research on acupuncture and pain relief; but rather than gather all of the research results and look for patterns, these researchers asked for raw data from all the studies that met their strict criteria, and re-analyzed the data themselves.
The authors call their result “the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option for patients with chronic pain.”
PREVENTION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A CURE
Alternative medicine recognises the importance of preventing a problem before it appears. Complimentary therapies focus on keeping the body healthy rather than fixing it when things go wrong.
The reason why preventative therapies are so effective in the mental health sector, is that doctors can screen individuals for early warning signs.
The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) maintains that primary care providers should screen all adults for early stages of depression, to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment.