It wouldn’t surprise me if you didn’t know much about naturopathy. There aren’t many naturopaths in the US and the 5,000 or so we do have are mostly located along the east and west coasts, seriously outnumbered by 800,000 MDs and 100,000 DOs (osteopaths). Just to remind you: these are difficult days for health care in the US. In terms of overall quality, the US ranks 37th (just below Costa Rica but above Slovenia.
The system is controlled by huge industries (insurance, Big Pharma, spurious “not-for-profit” hospital systems) that place your Slovenian well-being at a lower priority than shareholder returns and obscene CEO salaries. The result? Despite the happy people gallivanting through Big Pharma commercials, correctly taken prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the US. And despite billboards of actor-doctors who bask in the glow of grateful patients, most primary care physicians are overworked salaried employees whose production rates are carefully monitored by MBAs and time-study specialists.
One result of this is medical error, which is well known as the third leading cause of death in the US. Honestly, would you fly anywhere if plane crashes were the third leading cause of death?
Naturopathy speaks your self-care language
These cheerless statistics help explain why I’m so thrilled to have a fully trained naturopathic doctor join the WholeHealth Chicago team. Here are the guiding principles of naturopathy. See if they resonate with you as distinctly as they do with me:
Primum non nocere (first, do no harm). The naturopath should utilize methods and substances that are as nontoxic and noninvasive as possible. Methods that suppress symptoms without removing underlying causes are considered harmful and are to be avoided or minimized.
Vis medicatrix naturae (the healing power of nature). Patients can be taught to heal themselves. Naturopathic medicine works to remove the obstacles to healing and recovery. A naturopath must acknowledge and respect a patient’s ability to heal herself.
Tolle causam (identify and treat the causes). Treat the underlying causes and remove them, rather than suppressing symptoms. It was from naturopathy that the term “functional medicine” first appeared.
Docere (the doctor as a teacher). Naturopathic doctors educate their patients and encourage (rather than discourage) self care.
Treat the whole person. A naturopath takes into account a person’s physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social aspects. In other words, a holistic approach.
Prevention. A naturopath focuses on preventing disease by assessing risk factors, heredity, and susceptibility to disease, and making appropriate interventions in partnership with her patient to prevent illness.
Dr. Scott was trained as a primary care naturopathic doctor at the National University of the Health Sciences in nearby Lombard. Because there is no separate licensing of naturopathy here in Illinois, she’s required to work with a licensed physicians.
In the 16 states that license naturopaths (notably all pleasant places to live) they can work independently, write some prescriptions, and perform minor surgery. In 2018, Pennsylvania becomes the 17th state to license naturopaths, with more states quickly following suit.
Changing landscape of care
As headquarters for the AMA, I’m not holding my breath for Illinois to have a sudden change of heart–we were among the last states to license acupuncture. But patients are becoming thoroughly fed up with the current health care system. Between the internet and an increasing interest in natural medicine (both as treatment and as a career), a change in the healthcare landscape is likely.
From all this, you can see how Dr. Scott is an ideal fit at WholeHealth Chicago. The WHC staff knows how hard our patients work at self care. You eat healthfully, exercise, and try to keep stress under control, despite the very stressful place our world has become. Virtually nobody smokes.
When I think about what you want to bolster this investment in your health I think about this:
- You want your primary care doctor to match your efforts, to speak your self-care language.
- You don’t want someone who reflexively hands you a prescription drug or refers you to a specialist for every symptom.
- You don’t want someone to tell you to stay away from Dr. Google and who won’t even glance at what you’ve printed off the internet.
- You do want someone who can explore what might have gone wrong, who can answer “why did this happen?” That sort of defines functional medicine, the major diagnostic tool of naturopathy. The why of your body.
Oh, and if you also want an occasional check-up, Dr. Scott can see you. Same for a bad cold or a review of your eating habits or supplement list.
Finally, you always want a person who knows her limitations. If it looks like you need a prescription drug or a referral to a specialist (one who won’t disparage you for having a naturopath as your doctor), you want these options to be available. This is why physicians are always on hand.
I hope I’m conveying my excitement about having Dr. Scott on board. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve been waiting more than two decades to find the right naturopathic associate.
David Edelberg, MD