If you have decided to seek help with your health issues from a naturopath or functional medicine practitioner you have made a decision to invest in your health. So it’s only natural that you would want to make sure you get the best return on your investment that you can. Otherwise it can be an expensive process and leave you feeling a bit disillusioned.
So here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your naturopath
Ask questions and seek quality clarification
Many of my clients come in seeking answers to questions. They may have done some of their own research which has left them confused and with more questions than when they started down the rabbit hole.
It’s my job to find as many pieces of the puzzle that is you and then explain what I think is happening for you (as best I can from your symptoms, signs, testing results, past and family history). I then aim to help you understand what you can do to change your situation.
So feel free to ask questions. Sometimes I may not know the answer (there’s a lot to know about the human body and each person is unique) but I will happily do some research and get back to you.
I will generally follow up after a consultation to see if you have any further questions. Sometimes they don’t occur to you until you‘ve had time to reflect on what you have learned during the consultation.
The last thing I want is for you to be confused or uncertain about what we are doing and why we are doing it so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your confidence in the treatment plan is an important component of the plan.
Get them to sort through the chaff for you
In the same vein as asking questions, is getting your naturopath to sort through the minefield of information that’s out there these days. Some of it will be conflicting and/or not necessarily based on sound evidence. It can drive you crazy and cause sleepless nights and I really don’t want that for you.
So take advantage of the expertise of your naturopath. You need to be able to trust them. Wading through research, attending conferences and seminars is something I do on a daily or weekly basis. A good naturopath will know which sources are reliable and which aren’t. They should know how to interpret research and work out its relevance to you.
Your job is to focus on recovery and making the changes necessary to support a healthier you. Leave the minefield to me.
Interpretation and education regarding pathology tests
Many of my clients come to me with a bunch of pathology test results in hand, having been told their pathology tests haven’t identified a problem. However they may not understand what has been tested or why.
One of the things I do (generally in the second consultation) is take you through the tests that have been done. I summarise them in a spreadsheet so we can see the historical trends and the relationship between test results. I then take some time to explain to you what the tests mean, how they relate to your symptoms and whether there are missing pieces of the puzzle.
This is often one aspect of my naturopathic approach that many of my clients absolutely love. They start to understand how their body is functioning and we can see tangible results of the progress they are making as their numbers change.
If you want to learn more about pathology testing you might like to read My blood tests are “normal”. Now what?
Referrals for functional tests
There are hundreds of functional tests now available in Australia but because they are not covered by Medicare, many doctors are unfamiliar with them (not surprising given the strict model of practice in which they have to work).
Functional tests differ from regular pathology tests in that they look at how your body is functioning (e.g. how you are digesting your food or utilising your nutrients) whereas many of the standard pathology tests are really looking for disease (which tends to come on at a later stage than the initial dysfunction of systems).
Functional tests can be a great way to find out what’s going on in there that might be contributing to or causing your symptoms or disease.
The judicious use of functional testing can often lead to faster results and it can help you to understand what’s going on and why a particular treatment plan, diet or supplement is important for you. (I say “judicious” because these tests can run to hundreds of dollars so we want to pick the best ones for the situation if required).
Use me as your health coach and accountability buddy
Having an ally, coach and someone to “keep you honest” can be invaluable when you are trying to change habits. Your naturopath is the person who can help to get you unstuck and work with you to come up with strategies for success.
Knowing that you have someone who will follow you up, help you overcome hurdles and keep track of your goals and plans for change can help you stay motivated and focused.
If you are still unsure about seeing a naturopath or how to choose a naturopath who’s right for you I would encourage you to read 5 questions to ask your naturopath and 5 more key questions to ask your naturopath. I’ve also written 10 things to know about naturopathy before you see me.