In this blog I have identified a list of the practitioners that are considered holistic or alternative. This is not an exhaustive list. It was just a list that my patients tend to have questions about or have seen for support of their health conditions. Naturopathic physicians, health coach, osteopathic doctors, holistic doctors, RD’s nutritionist, chiropractic doctors, acupuncturists are the group I will talk about today. Now that we have a list of practitioners the question becomes, who is best to go to support your health needs. I thought I would give examples of how I refer patients to each of these practitioners. It is not the only way to use the practitioner but it can be used as a starting point if you are unfamiliar with some of the practitioners.
Naturopathic Physician (ND)
My disclaimer is that I am a naturopathic physician, so I think this is the most wonderful field of medicine. When people think about holistic doctors, I believe that they are really thinking about naturopathic physicians. We are trained to use diet, nutrition, herbal medicine, physical medicine, counseling and lifestyle issues as the first line of therapy for patients. We are also trained in pharmaceutics and surgery when required. We have training to create the best of both worlds conventional and alternative medicines. If you decide to seek out a naturopathic physicians make sure that they have graduated from an accredited naturopathic school and NOT a mail order school. There is a huge difference in training between the two educations!
Medical Doctors that use alternative medicine
There is no specific training that medical doctors have in learning alternative medicine. There are some incredible medical doctors that have integrated their medical training with alternative medicines. There are also many medical doctors that do not know anything about alternative medicine and will always say it is dangerous to use in combination to conventional treatments. If you want to use alternative treatments it is important to find a doctor that is open to alternative medicine. It can be dangerous, yes, dangerous to use alternative medicine and not share the medicines or treatments with your doctor because you don’t think they will approve.
Osteopathic Physicians (DO)
Osteopathic physicians have the exact same schooling and residency as medical doctors. They also have a few specialized classes in how the spinal cord impacts disease. When you see a DO they may treat the exact same as a MD or they may incorporate subtle physical manipulation along with pharmaceuticals, lab work and physical exams.
Chiropractic Physician (DC)
Chiropractors tend to work with patients that have pain in the muscles, bone or back/spine pain. A chiropractor uses x-rays and physical exam to create a treatment plan. These treatments usually include physical manipulation of the limbs or back to correct imbalances in the musculoskeletal system. Some examples are adjustments of the body or machinery that stimulates or relaxes the muscle.
Acupuncturists look at energetic channels in the body and blocks in the channels cause disease in the body. Patients tend to use Lac for conditions that cause pain in the body, energy-based problems like fibromyalgia, or symptoms that medical doctors cannot identify but patients are still seeking relief.
These practitioners may have varying amounts of education. They may be self-educated or more formally trained. Their treatments are based on how food or nutrition improve the health of the individual.
Registered Dietitians (RD)
RDs work in institutional settings, creating food plans for groups in the institutions as opposed to, for an individual. Nevertheless, it is also possible for a RD to work with an individual to create a food plan that falls within specific nutrient or calorie-based plans.
Homeopaths can come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are medically trained and others are not. Homeopathy is based on the Law of Similars and that a small amount of a substance can stimulate the body into healing. Homeopathic remedies are created is a specific way and are created from plant, mineral or animal substances. Homeopathic medicine does not include advice related to nutrition or healthy lifestyles. It is based only on the story that the patient tells the homeopath, to pick the right homeopathic remedy for the patient to take.
There is no specific license for a health coaching, they do not have medical training. There are several programs that have been started at different institutions for the purpose of training people to become health coaches. Health coaches act as mentors to motivate individual to create positive healthy choices through lifestyle and behavioral changes.
I hope this listing of different practitioners is helpful to you as you decide which practitioner can best guide you to an improved level of health.
Dr. Dae is a Naturopathic Physician who practices in the Washington DC metro area treating the whole person using safe and effective combinations of traditional and natural methods to produce optimal health and well-being in the lives of her patients.
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