Over the years I have been asked many questions by clients and prospective clients. Here are a few I hope you consider before you trust someone with your health.
What are your naturopathic qualifications?
Absolutely anyone can call themselves a naturopath in Australia. As a profession, we are still waiting for registration. As such, be careful who you choose to guide you in the most precious matter of your health.
My degree was four years full-time. It was a government-accredited course. Furthermore, it gives me sufficient credentials to be a full member of my chosen professional association, the Naturopaths and
Herbalists Association of Australia as well as being a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) and the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM). I am required to complete further professional education every year to maintain my credentials. Finally, these credentials mean that my services are recognised for rebate by Private Health Insurers.
Should I see a naturopath instead of a doctor?
Most certainly not! It is in your best interests to have an ongoing relationship with a GP with whom you feel comfortable. Your GP can order tests under Medicare, refer you to a specialist if necessary and is skilled in diagnosing your health problem. The pharmaceutical medicine they prescribe can be vital to your good health.
Ideally, your naturopath should be happy to work in with your GP and support the work they are doing. They should certainly be taking account of any pathology tests you have done. Your naturopath should have the time to delve into your health history and look at the factors that might be contributing to your symptoms as well as provide detailed dietary and lifestyle advice.
Will I need to change my diet and lifestyle if I see a naturopath?
In all likelihood some modification to what you eat and the way you live may be required. To ignore the role of diet and lifestyle in your current health would be silly when we know that what you eat and how you live plays a significant part in virtually every aspect of your health. If you are not open to making some changes then there may be a limit to how I can help you. In that case, at best I can provide some symptomatic relief (i.e. a bandaid solution) but the real power of collaborating with a naturopath is identifying and correcting the underlying causes and factors that keep triggering your symptoms.
It doesn’t have to require a complete overhaul. Your naturopath should be able to work with you and make suggestions that will work in a practical day-to-day sense in the context of your life.
Do I need to be sick to see a naturopath?
Not necessarily….although, in reality many people come to see us after they have been diagnosed with a condition. In these cases, they are looking for help to correct an underlying problem, reduce their dependence on medication or avoid further complications. Others might have been given the all clear and yet they don’t feel “themselves”.
However, many people see their naturopath as their trusted “go to” person for general health advice and guidance to keep them well, preventative health issues or to “fine-tune” their performance.
What don’t you do as a naturopath?
Firstly, be cautious if a naturopath starts making promises which seem too good to be true, “miracle cures” and the like. To my knowledge there are no magic bullets and sometimes the “fixes” aren’t always “quick”.
Personally, I don’t see children. I’ve made a conscious choice not to specialise in the area of paediatrics. I also don’t assist people with fertility problems. If you need help in these areas, my colleague Lee Copeland is your go-to naturopath. We have a similar style and philosophy but different areas of interest.
I tend not to use tests or treatments that don’t have good evidence behind them. Again this is a personal choice. I like science.
Finally, I try not to make recommendations that are impractical or unworkable. I don’t believe in “one size fits all” so the solutions have to fit you. The last thing you need is the added pressure of trying to live up to a long list of unrealistic expectations from your naturopath…that’s just setting you up to fail. But it’s not to say I won’t encourage you to look at the way you live and perhaps explore some new options.