Nutritional Counseling for Lung Disease
There are different types of lung diseases, including acute conditions and chronic illnesses. Acute lung conditions include bronchitis and pneumonia, and have a short duration, whereas chronic lung diseases are different because it is long-lasting.
Chronic lung diseases may vary from mild to severe. Many types of lung diseases can affect your overall quality of life. Luckily, there are many things you can do to decrease a worsening of symptoms, increase energy and improve your overall well-being.
Types of Lung Disease
Some types of chronic lung disease, such as asthma, may be present from a young age. Other conditions, such as COPD, typically develop later in life.
Symptoms of chronic lung disease may include shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. Fatigue, persistent coughing, and frequent lung infections can also occur.
Common types of chronic lung disease include the following:
- COPD (Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
How Nutritional Counseling Can Help
It might be surprising to learn that what you eat may play a role in your breathing. Eating the right food and getting proper nutrition can help fuel your body and boost your immune system.
Nutritional counseling is beneficial if you have a chronic lung disease. The food you eat provide your body with energy. The better your body is fueled, the more efficiently it can work. Also, what you eat contributes to weight gain. Excessive weight makes your body work harder, including your lungs.
In some cases of lung disease, there is no special diet or restrictions that need to be followed. But for certain other chronic lung diseases, nutritional recommendations may help improve breathing. Consider the following nutritional guidelines:
Asthma: There is no diet specific for individuals with asthma, however, according to the National Institute of Health, some studies have indicated that a diet low in vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids resulted in poorer lung function in teens.
Although more research needs to be done before a definite link can be established between certain nutrients and asthma, there are some general guidelines that should be followed, such as eating a well-balanced diet high in lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Don’t forget to eat plenty of fresh veggies and fruits. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon, and spinach should also be part of a healthy diet.
COPD: The food you eat provides your body with energy and affects the amount of carbon dioxide produced. People with COPD often have trouble exhaling all the carbon dioxide from their lungs.
Carbohydrates produce the most carbon dioxide. Consider limiting simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, baked goods, and soda. When you eat carbs, choose complex carbohydrates that provide nutrients, such as whole grains, veggies, and fruit.
Mucus production is also often a problem for people with COPD. Water helps thin the mucus, which makes it easier to cough out of the lungs. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much water you should drink as some cardiac conditions may require fluid restriction.
Pulmonary Fibrosis: Some people with pulmonary fibrosis take steroids to help with inflammation in the lungs. Long-term use of steroids can interfere with absorption of certain nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Ask your doctor if you should take a supplement.
If shortness of breath interferes with eating, consider eating smaller portions, chew slowly, and take your time. Also, stick to a diet low in trans-fat, added sugar, and salt.
Nutritional Do’s and Don’ts
When it comes to nutrition and lung disease there are several do’s and don’ts to keep in mind, such as:
- Don’t eat food that make you gassy or bloated. When you are bloated, your stomach may push up on your diaphragm and make breathing more difficult.
- Do talk to a nutritionist about types of food you like to eat and don’t like. Discuss your schedule and whether you exercise or not, which may require you to eat more calories.
- Don’t overdo it. Eating too much at one time can make you feel overfull and increase shortness of breath.
- Do rest before eating. If you have severe lung disease and get short of breath easily, resting before eating may help conserve the energy you need to eat a meal without trouble breathing.
- Don’t forget to tell your nutritionist about any other dietary restrictions you have due to other medical conditions, such as diabetes.
- Do try to eat your biggest meal early in the day to boost your energy levels.
- Don’t ignore a poor appetite. Your appetite may vary. But if you frequently have no interest in eating, it can be a sign of depression or another health problem, which can be treated.
- Do wear your nasal cannula when eating if continuous oxygen is prescribed. Eating uses energy and oxygen. If you are prescribed continuous oxygen by your doctor, use it when you’re eating to decrease shortness of breath.
Common Nutritional Deficiencies and How to Prevent Them
Eating a well-balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Most of us probably slack a little from time to time and don’t get all the necessary nutrients. But for some people, their ting habits can lead to a nutritional deficiency.
The good news is deficiencies can be prevented. Nutritional consultation is a good place to start. A nutritional consultation provides information on what foods to eat to keep your body functioning optimally. It’s also useful to understand more about common vitamins and minerals that you may be lacking. Below are some of the most common nutritional deficiencies.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, which helps keep your bones strong and decreases your risk of fractures. But that’s not all. Vitamin D also plays a role in proper immune system function. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include bone and back pain, frequent infections, and fatigue. Impaired wound healing, hair loss, and muscle ache may also occur.
Who is at risk? There are several risk factors for a vitamin D deficiency including staying mostly indoors, being overweight, and not drinking milk or eating dairy products.
How much do you need? Adults need about 600 IU/day (international units) of vitamin D to maintain strong bones.
What can you do? Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sunlight. Spending a few minutes each day in the sun can help prevent a deficiency in vitamin D. Foods high in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, and milk.
According to Harvard Medical School, about four percent of people in the United States may have a vitamin B-12 deficiency and about 20 percent may be borderline deficient.
Vitamin B-12 is needed for several reasons. For instance, it plays a role in the production of red blood cells. It is also essential for your nervous system to function properly. Without enough vitamin B-12, symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, and mood changes can develop.
Who is at risk? Older adults are at an increased risk of developing a vitamin B-12 deficiency. People who stick to a strict vegan diet and those who have had weight loss surgery are also at risk.
How much do you need? The National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that adults get 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 every day.
What can you do? Vitamin B-12 is found in several types of animal food, such as red meat, eggs, and poultry. For those who do not eat animal products, some breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B-12. Supplements are also available.
Iron is needed for the production of hemoglobin, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Unfortunately, many of us do not get enough iron. According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the most common type of nutritional deficiency worldwide. The most common symptom of an iron deficiency is anemia. Anemia causes fatigue, brittle nails, and pale skin. Chest pain, poor appetite, and cold hands and feet may also occur.
Who is at risk? Blood contains iron. Any condition that causes a lot of blood loss, such as a peptic ulcer, colon polyps and heavy menstrual periods can increase your risk of an iron deficiency. Women and vegetarians have a higher chance of developing a deficiency.
How much do you need? The amount of iron you need depends on your age and gender. Women who have not reached menopause need more iron than men due to monthly blood loss. Men need about eight milligrams of iron a day. Women need about 18 milligrams daily.
What can you do? Eating foods high in iron can help prevent a deficiency. Good sources of iron in your diet include red meat, seafood, and pork. For people who do not eat meat, peas, beans, and fortified cereal are also rich in iron. Women who have very heavy menstrual periods should talk to their doctor about an iron supplement.
According to the National Institute of Health, magnesium is needed for a wide variety of functions throughout the body. Magnesium helps with protein synthesis, blood sugar regulation, and energy production. Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include nausea, vomiting, and weakness. In cases of severe deficiency, muscle cramps, mood changes, and abnormal heart rhythms can develop.
Who is at risk? Although anyone can develop a magnesium deficiency, people who have gastrointestinal disease, diabetes, or alcohol dependency are at an increased risk.
How much do you need? Adult men need between 400 and 420 mg of magnesium a day. Women need between 300 and 320 mg daily and about an additional 40 mg when they are pregnant.
What can you do? Magnesium is easy to incorporate into your diet. Typically, foods that have fiber also contain some magnesium. For example, leafy green veggies, such as kale and spinach, are good sources. Legumes, seeds, and nuts are also rich in magnesium.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Naturally, everyone gets anxious occasionally.
Whether you have a big presentation at work, a blind date, or an IRS audit, chances of anxiety is a part of life, but an anxiety disorder is different. People who have an anxiety disorder often have fear that does not go away. Anxiety can interfere with work, school, and relationships.
Anxiety disorders are common. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder, which is roughly 18 percent of the population. Although the disorder is treatable, only about one-third of affected people seek treatment.
Different types of anxiety disorders exist, including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and panic disorders. Symptoms of anxiety disorders may be a little different for everyone. Typical symptoms may include muscle tension, feeling on edge, and sleep difficulties.
People who have panic attacks may also experience shaking, shortness of breath, and an increased heart rate. Social anxiety often causes feelings of self-consciousness, difficulty speaking in public and fear of being embarrassed.
RELATED: Natural Ways to Treat Depression
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
The exact reason to why some people develop anxiety disorders is not fully understood. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers think it may be a combination of environmental factors and genetics.
Certain experiences may trigger anxiety in people who are genetically prone to the condition. For example, childhood trauma or abuse is a risk factor for developing an anxiety disorder, but not all people who have had a traumatic childhood develop anxiety. The theory is that certain individuals who are genetically predisposed may develop the disorder depending on their life events.
Conventional treatment for anxiety often includes psychotherapy and medication. Both medication and therapy can be helpful, but medication may have side effects, such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and decreased libido. It may be helpful for people with anxiety disorders to consider various treatment approaches including a combination of conventional and natural remedies.
Naturopathic Medicine for Anxiety Disorders
Natural remedies can be an important component in treating anxiety disorders. For example, natural remedies including herbs, vitamins, and minerals may ease symptoms in some people. Naturopathic medicine to treat anxiety disorders may include:
Vitamin B- 12: If the nervous system is not working properly, it may lead to restlessness and contribute to feelings of anxiety. Vitamin B12 is important for a healthy nervous system. Foods high in vitamin B12 include eggs, fish, and poultry.
Chamomile: Chamomile is an herb which may help promote feelings of calmness. The compound in chamomile may bind to certain receptors in the brain, the same way some anti-anxiety mediations do.
L-theanine: L-theanine in a naturally occurring amino acid that is thought to improve feelings of well-being. It might affect chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine that play a role in mood.
Valerian: Valerian is derived from the herb Valeriana officinalis. It is used to reduce restlessness and improve sleep. It is available in teas, extract, and capsules.
GABA: Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain. It decreases the effects of another brain chemical called glutamate, which may increase anxiousness. GABA is also sold as a supplement to decrease anxiety.
Natural remedies usually do not cause the same side effects as anti-anxiety medications. Still, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements since they may interact with some medications.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Anxiety
In addition to naturopathic medicine, lifestyle changes are often an effective way to decrease symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Although lifestyle changes alone, may not be enough to eliminate anxiety, it can help. Plus, the changes recommended to curb anxiety are good for a person’s overall health. The following lifestyle changes may help reduce symptoms of anxiety:
Exercise: The physical benefits of exercise are well documented, but exercise is also thought to improve emotional well-being. Regular exercise burns off excess energy that may contribute to nervousness. It might also increase chemicals in the brain that induces feelings of calmness. Whether you run, walk, or bike, try to exercise at least three to four times a week for 30 minutes.
Limit caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger restlessness and anxiety in people that are sensitive. Consider swapping your morning java for herbal tea.
Decrease alcohol: Although alcohol may seem like it would decrease anxiety, some people self-medicate with a cocktail, which can make anxiety worse in the long run.
Quit smoking: Smoking, especially if started early in life, is thought to increase a person’s chances of developing anxiety. Some research also indicates that nicotine in cigarettes may change certain pathways in the brain associated with anxiety.
Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation places added stress on the body and mind. Often, it is more difficult to cope with stressful events when you are sleepy. Most people need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Learn relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation can decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiousness associated with anxiety.
Natural Treatment for Migraines
Migraines are one of the most common causes of headaches. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, about 12 percent of people in the United States have migraines. Migraines are most common in women; but they also occur in men and children.
Typically, migraines involve one-sided pounding head pain. But what may be surprising to some people is that migraines are not just headaches. Migraines also include symptoms, such as sensitivity to light, nausea, and numbness in the face or extremities.
Migraine symptoms often last anywhere from a few hours to three days. Depending on the severity of symptoms, migraines can be debilitating. In many cases, the problem is chronic, and some people have several migraines each month.
The exact cause of migraines is not known. But there are several factors that may contribute to the headaches, such as lack of sleep, stress, and certain foods. Hormonal changes may also lead to migraines in some women.
Traditional Migraine Treatment
Migraines can interfere with work, school, and decrease quality of life. But treatment may be hit or miss. Not all treatments work for everyone.
Migraine treatment traditionally involves medication. Medication to treat symptoms as well as prevent migraine attacks is available.
Different classifications of medications are used to treat migraines including non-steroidal medications, triptans, and opioids.
Non-steroidal medications may help treat mild migraines, but they tend to be less effective with severe pain or migraines that last for several hours.
Triptans work by blocking pain receptors and constricting blood vessels in the brain. Triptans are often effective, but because they constrict blood vessels, they are not suitable for everyone.
Usually, opioids are only prescribed when other medications have not worked. Opioids can be addictive and should be used with caution. They are usually only used short-term until another treatment is found.
A Natural Approach to Migraine Relief
If medication is ineffective or you prefer to try a natural approach, there are several things you can do to treat migraines. Consider the following natural remedies for migraines:
Massage Therapy for Migraines
Scientific research is limited regarding the effectiveness of massage therapy for migraines; however, limited studies do not mean massage is not helpful for migraines—it just means there has not been a lot of research completed.
What we do know is that massage is an excellent way to decrease tension and stress—both of which may play a role in migraines. Massage may increases blood flow and helps with muscle relaxation. A shoulder, head, and neck massage may reduce muscle tension. As muscle tension decreases, there is less pressure on the blood vessels and nerves, which may reduce pain.
Acupuncture for Migraines
Although it may not be effective for everyone, acupuncture may help decrease migraines in some individuals. According to the American Migraine Foundation, a review of 22 clinical trials indicated that acupuncture may reduce the frequency of headaches in individuals who have migraines. In other studies, acupuncture also decreases nausea associated with migraines.
RELATED: Controlled Trials of Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines
Biofeedback for Migraine Relief
Biofeedback involves learning how to control bodily processes, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. The theory is that by controlling blood pressure and muscle tension, it’s possible to decrease pain. Biofeedback therapy can take several sessions to learn how to do, and it is not effective for everyone. But it is a treatment option without the use of medication, therefore, adverse effects is not an issue, making it a good natural alternative.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Migraines
In some instances, lifestyle changes can decrease the frequency of migraines. Consider the following suggestions:
Avoid Triggers: It may be useful to keep a headache diary and record factors, such as what you ate and drank on the days you have a migraine. Certain food and drinks can trigger migraines. Once you determine the cause, you may be able to decrease migraine triggers. Common food and drinks that trigger a migraine include peanut butter, chocolate, and meats with nitrates, such as hot dogs and bacon.
Get Enough Sleep: Sleep disturbances are a common migraine trigger. For example, if you don’t get enough sleep each night, it may lead to a migraine. But it’s not only a lack of sleep that may cause problems. Migraines can also be caused by a change in your sleep schedule. For instance, if you normally wake each morning by seven and sleep several hours later, it can trigger a migraine. Even if your migraines are not caused by a lack of sleep, getting enough rest can help you cope better and feel less stressed.
Consider Supplements: Certain supplements may help decrease migraines. For example, low magnesium levels have been found in individuals with frequent migraines. Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, high doses of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may decrease the frequency of migraines.
Before taking any supplements, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider.
Complimentary Medicine for End of Life Care
No matter how different our lives are, one thing is for certain: none of us live forever. Eventually, each one of us will face the end of our life. In some cases, such as an accident or sudden cardiac arrest, death may be unexpected. But in other instances, a person experiences a gradual fading due to an illness. In cases where death is anticipated, decisions about end of life care need to be made.
What is End of Life Care?
End of life care involves the medical care and support a person receives in the final stage of their life. In some cases, such as a terminal illness, death is expected. But just because a curative treatment may not be possible or desired, does not mean care stops. End of life care can make the final days of someone’s life comfortable, meaningful, and peaceful.
Becoming informed about the options for end of life care is helpful to make sure a person’s needs are met. Everyone is unique and may have different concerns regarding end of life care. For example, some people may want to know that everything that could have been done medically, was carried out. For others, it’s essential to maintain a good quality of life until the end.
Providing the best possible end of life care helps the dying person remain comfortable and calm. It also decreases stress for those left behind.
Traditional End of Life Care
Traditional care, which may be given at the end of life may vary from treatment, to try to prolong life with comfort measures. Support to prolong life, such as medications to maintain blood pressure and a mechanical ventilator to assist with breathing, may be administered. Comfort measures may include supplemental oxygen, pain medication, and sedatives.
Complementary therapies may also be used along with traditional end of life care. In fact, hospice services often incorporate different complementary therapies in the care that they coordinate.
Types of Complementary Medicine as Part of End of Life Care
Typically, complementary therapies are used in end of life care to improve physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. The treatment is not used to cure a person or prolong life. Instead, complementary treatment is performed to improve quality of life.
Physical and emotional symptoms may vary greatly in the weeks and days before death. Symptoms which may occur at the end of life vary, based on the underlying illness. It’s common for people who are dying to experience shortness of breath, pain, and restlessness. Additional symptoms, such as nausea, edema, and anxiety can also occur. Complementary medicine may be useful in treating many of the typical symptoms experienced at the end of life.
But it’s not just physical symptoms that are common the months, weeks, and days before death. Emotional symptoms, such as anxiety, fear, and depression may also occur. Complementary medicine may also help improve emotional well-being and promote feelings of peace.
Therapies which may be helpful include:
Massage Therapy: There are different types of massage, which may help meet the needs of a terminal condition. Gentle massage may be especially useful to improve circulation, decrease fluid retention, and ease pain and stiffness. Massage therapy can also promote feelings of well-being and decrease anxiety.
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy involves using essential oils to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. Aromatherapy may also be useful in decreasing sleep difficulties and nausea. Most commonly, essential oils are applied to the body during a massage or are added to a bath.
Music Therapy: Music therapy interventions may vary based on a person’s interests, beliefs, and physical condition. Music therapy may include songwriting, moving to music, and active listening to live music. Music therapy is a non-invasive therapy, which may decrease pain, anxiety, and shortness of breath. It can also reduce feelings of depression, isolation, and fear.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years. It involves stimulating specific points in the body by inserting thin needles. Acupuncture is used to restore balance to the body, which may improve well-being. When used as a complementary therapy for end of life care, acupuncture may ease nausea, fatigue, and pain. It may also be useful to decrease sleep problems.
Reflexology: Reflexology involves applying varying degrees of pressure to specific points on the feet. The theory behind reflexology is the feet are associated with specific areas of the body. By applying pressure to the feet, it can relieve certain symptoms, such as pain, nausea, and insomnia.
Benefits of Complementary Medicine
There are several potential benefits of complementary medicine. For instance, complementary therapies often do not interfere with conventional treatment, such as medication. Therapies, such as those above, usually do not cause negative side effects. Therapies can often be provided in the home, as opposed to a hospital. Certain complementary therapies can be done without having to move or reposition a patient, which may be helpful for people in pain.
Chiropractor Care During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be an exciting time filled with anticipation, but it also means a lot of physical changes, some of which are uncomfortable. Changes to the body occur due to a combination of shifting hormones, increase in blood volume and weight gain.
Although all women are different, pregnancy discomforts can include nausea, headache and back and pelvic pain. Swollen ankles and aching joints are also common. Pregnancy discomforts can be challenging to deal with since typical treatments for aches and pains, such as medication is often not recommended during pregnancy. With that being said, chiropractor care may be a good option to keep your body in balance during pregnancy.
How Chiropractor Care Can Treat Pregnancy Discomforts
During pregnancy, weight gain and the increase in the size of the uterus can put pressure on various nerves throughout the body. It can also lead to some changes in the lumbar spine, as well as a misaligned pelvis. Changes in the thoracic spine may also develop. The thoracic region may compensate for the lumbar spine misalignment and bend the opposite way leading to even more problems.
Misalignments in the spine may cause an uneven distribution of weight, which leads to pain, but that’s not all. Misalignments in the spine and pelvis can stress a women’s nervous system. When the nervous system is stressed or overloaded, it can lead to a variety of other problems including impairment of the organs.
Pelvic misalignment is not only a problem for you, but it can also cause problems for your baby. The muscles and ligaments can become tense, which can constrain the uterus and may prevent the baby from getting into the correct position for birth. If the baby cannot get into the correct head-down position for delivery, it can result in a breech birth, which increases the chances of complications.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy helps keep the spine and pelvis aligned throughout your pregnancy, which may alleviate many common pregnancy discomforts.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy
Chiropractor care can be beneficial during all three trimesters of pregnancy for several reasons including:
Decreased back and joint pain: Between pregnancy hormones that relax your ligaments and carrying extra weight, your back may start to lack support. The joints can also ache from the added stress placed on them from carrying a little one for nine months. Regular chiropractic care can help a woman maintain a healthy back throughout pregnancy.
Improved posture: The extra weight women carry in their front from pregnancy can cause a curve in the back. The protruding tummy and increased curve place stress on the lower back, which can lead to posture problems. Chiropractic care can help restore correct posture and prevent any long-term posture issues.
Pelvic alignment: It is very common for pregnant women to experience pelvic pain. When the pelvis is misaligned, it can lead to additional problems, such as hip pain. Chiropractic care can help maintain correct pelvic alignment throughout pregnancy.
Shorter delivery time: Correct alignment of the spine can improve overall nervous system function. When the nervous system is functioning optimally, your entire body works more efficiently. Some research has indicated that women who have regular chiropractor care during pregnancy have shorter delivery times.
Keep in mind; continued chiropractor care can be beneficial. Chiropractic care may also be helpful after a woman delivers. For example, as a woman’s milk comes in, it can lead to a heaviness in the chest that causes back discomfort. Delivery itself can lead to a misalignment of the spine. Also, carrying around a baby can lead to tension in the shoulders and neck. Regular chiropractor adjustments can ease some of the aches and pains many new moms may feel.
RELATED: Benefits Of Acupuncture During Pregnancy
Precautions and Safety Tips
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are no known contraindications for chiropractic care during pregnancy. Although chiropractic care is considered safe for most women throughout their pregnancy, it is always best to talk with your family doctor, ObGyn or midwife first. There may be unusual circumstances, such as if a woman has a history of premature birth or multiple miscarriages, which chiropractic care may not be recommended.
All chiropractors should be trained to treat pregnant women, but some chiropractors go on to receive further training specifically in prenatal adjustments. Before scheduling an appointment, consider asking the chiropractor if she/he has any additional training related to care for pregnant women.
Chiropractors who are trained to treat women during pregnancy may have expertise in using special techniques, which are especially gentle. For example, chiropractors may use techniques that avoid putting unneeded pressure on the abdomen. They may also use special tables and pillows that are more comfortable for pregnant women.
Before scheduling an appointment with your chiropractor, make sure you inform him about your pregnancy. Also, you may want to avoid any chiropractic x-rays during pregnancy. As always, be sure to talk to your chiropractor about your specific aches and pains and any concerns you have.
Debunking Myths About Naturopathic Medicine
When it comes to naturopathic medicine, many people may not fully understand what is involved.
Naturopathic medicine involves treating the whole person instead of just the illness. Treatments often include a variety of approaches including nutritional counseling, homeopathy and manipulative therapies.
There are often misconceptions out there about what naturopathic medicine is and how it can help. Separating the myths from reality can help you decide if naturopathic medicine is right for you. Consider some of the common myths below:
Myth: Naturopathic doctors do not have special training.
Reality: Although naturopathic medicine is not regulated in all fifty states, qualified naturopathic doctors go through an extensive educational program that includes classroom work and clinical practice. Programs for naturopathic doctors must go through a review process to make sure they meet certain standards. To become licensed, naturopaths must complete a program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. Although the curriculum is different, in some ways, their requirements are like medical doctors. An undergrad degree is required before being admitted to a doctorate program. Programs for naturopaths are usually four years. The first two years are spent taking science classes. The next two years of training involve hands-on experience in a clinical setting. Post-graduate residences are also completed in which naturopaths can choose a specialty.
Myth: When it comes to medical care, you must choose between either convention or naturopathic medicine.
Reality: Naturopathic treatment is not always an all or nothing option. In many cases, aspects of naturopathic medicine can be incorporated into a conventional treatment plan. It is critical to get all practitioners on the same page, so everyone knows what treatments are prescribed. In some instances, certain naturopathic treatments may be contraindicated depending on the conventional treatment used. But medical and naturopathic doctors can work together to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that utilizes treatments from both philosophies.
Myth: Naturopathic doctors are anti-medication and surgery.
Reality: One of the philosophies of naturopathic medicine is the body’s ability to heal itself. But that does not mean that naturopaths are anti-surgery or medication. Many naturopaths are not opposed to certain types of surgery or other conventional treatments. In fact, naturopaths may make referrals to the appropriate practitioner as needed.
Myth: Naturopathic medicine is pseudo-science
Reality: Naturopathic medicine sometimes gets a bad rap. Some people who hear the terms alternative or naturopathic medicine, automatically think it is a pseudo-science. But the reality is many of the treatments and philosophies associated with naturopathic medicine are supported by science. In fact, some natural products, such as herbal remedies, have given rise to traditional medications commonly used. The effectiveness of natural medicine is being studied more frequently, and clinical studies continue to examine the therapies and treatments.
Myth: If it is natural, it must be safe.
Reality: Just as in conventional medicine, there may be risks associated with some naturopathic treatments. Also, not all homeopathy medicines are approved by the FDA. Typically, homeopathic medicines don’t have to go through the same approval process as conventional pharmaceuticals. Keep in mind, naturopathic and conventional treatments can both have side effects. But that does not mean that all naturopathic treatments are risky or unsafe. Whether you are having conventional treatment or naturopathic treatment, it is essential to be well informed about the risks versus the benefits of treatment.
Myth: You can’t ask your physician about naturopathic medicine.
Reality: Because of some of the myths associated with naturopathic medicine, patients may be hesitant to bring the subject up to their medical doctors. If you’re interested in natural medicine or just have questions, it is critical to speak up. Your medical doctor can discuss various options and let you know if something is unsafe or contraindicated due to your current treatment. For example, certain herbal remedies may interact with your current medications and can be harmful. Increasingly, medical doctors are understanding more about naturopathic medicine and may be able to offer advice on what natural therapy or treatment may be beneficial for your condition.
Myth: Naturopaths only treat minor illness and conditions.
Reality: Naturopaths can treat a wide variety of illness and conditions from minor to serious. They can treat acute problems, as well as chronic conditions. Naturopaths consider the underlying cause of the disease and treat the whole person, which is beneficial to a person’s overall wellbeing. In some instances, one medical condition causes another health issue. For example, people with lung disease often develop heart problems at some point. Conditions that naturopaths treat include diseases of all body systems, including the respiratory, digestive, reproductive and circulatory. Diseases may include COPD, asthma, lupus and high blood pressure.
Myth: Naturopathic doctors mostly prescribe herbal remedies and massage.
Reality: Naturopaths may prescribe herbal remedies, but that is only a fraction of what they do. They also order diagnostic tests including blood tests and imaging studies to determine the patient’s problem. A treatment plan will vary based on the condition but can include hemopathy, injection therapy and dietary counseling. Treatment may also involve prescription medication, acupuncture and minor surgery. Part of the role of a naturopath is also to focus on preventive medicine. Additional therapies and treatments may be recommended to prevent future illnesses.