An Insight Over the Past 20 Years
Over the past 20 years working as a naturopathic doctor, I have come to realize that it is inaccurate to say “every patient who visits a naturopathic clinic, loves naturopathy”. This is unfortunate, but very true. There are several groups of people who seek the treatments and therapies of a Naturopath. Having said that, I must acknowledge this leading group of patients who love naturopathy from the bottom of their hearts, and it shows in their appreciation to the field. This group of patients visit naturopathic clinics once an ailment strikes. They follow treatment protocol and listen to instructions for a treatment, simply because they believe in naturopathic treatment and apply naturopathic principles in their life. They realize that for an ailment to recover; it takes patience, time and 100% of their commitment to treatments.
They do apply patience, time and commitment. Most of these patients still drop in every now and then for a check up or a question. Some of them I have treated since they were infants, and now they come to the office with their children. These patients have some expectation from their naturopath. They expect proper diagnosis of their condition, proper treatment to the diagnosed condition and proper guidance. They in turn, would apply the instructions, take the treatment, adhere to the diet and work in close contact with the naturopath.
However, not all people think the same; and while some may favor naturopathic treatments, others may see a naturopath from a complete different angle. This group of patients may visit a naturopathic clinics seeking a fast solution for a frustrating and chronic ailment. Obviously, this ailment was stubborn enough not to respond to other forms of treatment. Furthermore, the results of any previous treatment could not satisfy the patient’s definition of complete health recovery. As a result, the patient comes to a naturopathic clinic, with many preconceived thoughts ; seeking a fast solution.
relaying the message
This group of patients, for some reason, are in an enormous rush and want the recovery process to happen yesterday. They tend, though, to cut corners, find excuses for not applying the treatment, dislike the diet and find the pills repulsive. They compare the process of treatment of alternative medicine to allopathic medicine. They continue to ask me “are you sure you gave me the right remedies, I am not getting any better..?”
The bottom line for this group of patients is they are not programmed to be involved with the therapy. They find themselves short of time to apply the instructions of the treatment, the diet and lifestyle. Instead, they expect the naturopath to apply the entire work of the diet, the remedies and the change of lifestyle. They do not expect to apply or change anything, yet they expect the cure and recovery to descend from heaven. This attitude places the naturopath under enormous pressure and pain.
There are others who come to visit naturopathic clinics because they stumbled upon a naturopathic office and “ahhh, I was looking for a naturopathic clinic”. These patients visit naturopathic clinics for treatment that is not extremely urgent; however, the symptoms nag at them every now and then. This group of patients have heard a good thing or two about something called naturopathy and wish to investigate it further. They have heard about side effects and chemical toxicity to medications and have been thinking about alternative medicine. However, they wish to apply the theory of allopathic medicine on alternative medicine.
A simple example is worth a thousand words. A patient comes in with
fluoxetine (Prozac) for his depression, Dihydroergotamine (Migranal Nasal Spray) for his migraine and methotrexate (Trexall) for his ulcerative colitis. Now, this patient will ignore my examination, my diagnosis and my remedies prescription, and instead ask me to give natural remedies that parallel his allopathic medications he is taking from his allopathic doctor. Clearly he wants me to give him the equivalent alternative remedy to his medication Prozac, the equivalent alternative remedy to his medication (Migranal Nasal Spray) and the equivalent natural remedy to his prescribed medication Trexall. I explain that it does not work this way. Allopathic medications, were prescribed based on allopathic examination and diagnosis. Our remedies are based on a completely different philosophy and principle. I explain over and over that a naturopath does not work by equivalence. Rather, we base our prescription on the patient’s medical history, patient’s examination and patient’s evaluation.
This group of patients expect a naturopath to be an equivalence shop to replace medication with remedies and ignore my diagnosis.
Naturally, this group of patients expects to get better, by replacement not diagnosis. A naturopath is not given the chance to utilize his years of experience.
One very specific group of patients with terminal health issues seeks treatments from several allopathic and other health disciplines till the point of exhaustion. Once they reach a point of stand still with no results, these patients come to a naturopathic clinic seeking resurrection; the “impossible cure” for their ailment such as allergies, ulcerative colitis, asthma or cancer.
This group of patients tend to forget that the ailment today is much different from the initial ailment. The difference is explained in the following equation:
Current ailment = past ailment + time lapsed + medication (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, cortisone) The ailment today is not the same if compared to the initial ailment. This is because the current ailment has developed further and gone beyond the stages of the initial ailment. The ailment has used that time to develop deeper into the tissues of the body and was exposed to and subsequently formed resistance to current medications. These factors had evolved the initial ailment into a more resistant, more complicated sickness that requires more treatment, patience and time. To overcome their negative and unsuccessful ordeal from previous treatments, these patients ask me to sometimes perform the impossible.
For example; I was asked on many occasions if I would guarantee total
recovery. I, in turn, would ask the patient or the patient’s family whether they requested the same guarantee from their previous physicians. This question is one of the most difficult aspects of my practice. However, because I would do everything within my power to help the patient, the unfortunate answer will always be that there are no guarantees. There are numerous factors that affect the outcome. Furthermore, there are several factors involved in treating an illness that comes from a previous ailment, previous medication, previous recreational drugs, previous treatments, current conditions, current medications, patient’s commitment to treatments, patient’s commitment to the remedies, patient’s diet and even a patient’s attitude. All of these points affect the treatment and the outcome. I continue consulting the blood work to contrast current and previous blood work to study changes. A patient who was exposed to chemotherapy and radiotherapy is not the same as a patient who was not.
I wrote this note to express the amount of stress I face with some issues that face me on a daily basis. I love my patients and appreciate their diversity in the same way my children are. I wanted to express feeling through this page to those patients who feel that it is the doctor’s responsibility to bring the cure. The treatment is a project for many parties to contribute towards, namely; the patient, the patient’s family, the treating doctor and time. We work together towards one goal. This goal is the patient’s health recovery. I do my best and I will always give 100% of my effort to each and every case as I attempt to do unique and tailored treatments.
I urge everyone to work together and share in lifting the load of the treatment off the ground; together though.