Q: What should I expect in my first visit to a Naturopathic Doctor?

A: During your first visit to a Naturopathic Doctor, you will spend between 1-1/2 and 2 hours. Prior to your visit, you should have filled out a detailed health history. First, this history will be used to foster discussion with your physician about your health concerns. Next, a methodical review of your body systems will be performed, which may be connected with your chief complaint. All medications and prescription drugs as well as supplements will be examined. You will also discuss your diet, physical activity, lifestyle, social setting and support systems. A Naturopathic Doctor will listen to your complete story and perform a physical exam as needed. The doctor will then recommend and discuss appropriate diagnostic tests, if needed. Based upon findings, your ND will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan and health management strategy.

Q: Why do Naturopathic Doctors spend between 1-1/2 and 2 hours with Patients in an appointment?

A: While normal consultations with conventional doctors last an average of 20 minutes, ND’s spend between one and two hours face-to-face with Patients in an initial appointment, and 30 to 60 minutes in subsequent appointments. Since ND’s are trained to treat the whole person, it takes time to explore the many factors that affect your health. Intake appointments are guided by the Therapeutic Order, a set of guidelines ND’s use in clinical decision-making to help uncover and evaluate multiple causes of health concerns, including: diet, lifestyle, family genetics, psycho-emotional, spiritual, socioeconomic and environmental issues, and more.

This framework, which guides ND’s in clinical decision making, prioritizes minimally invasive therapies. These therapies are aimed at supporting the body’s health-restoring and maintenance processes, as opposed to just reducing symptoms. So, the extra time an ND spend with you is often focused on identifying the underlying cause(s) of your health concerns, and empowering you to engage actively in restoring and managing your own health. Research shows that whole-person care leads to high Patient satisfaction and improved outcomes.

Q: How will a Naturopathic Doctor empower me to achieve optimal health?

A: Empowering people to become more informed about their health options, more involved in decision making about their health, and more capable of maintaining the best health possible, can lead to better health outcomes and lower costs. Naturopathic Doctors area trained to empower Patients to make lifestyle changes in order to achieve optimal health. They spend extra time in initial and follow-up appointments in order to educate and guide you through these changes, so that you are encouraged and supported to maintain the positive changes you have made.

Patient-centered care is especially valuable when it comes to prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Among U.S. adults, 90% of type-2 diabetes, 80% of cardiovascular disease, 70% of stroke and 70% of colon cancer are potentially preventable by modifiable lifestyle changes. Such approaches take time, require Patients to actively participate in their own care, and are a focal point of Naturopathic Medicine.

* Provided by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM)