Should you see a naturopathic doctor for your autoimmune disease?

16475037 - mortar and mint leavesDo you have an autoimmune disease and have become frustrated with your circumstances? There are some people who prefer to see naturopathic doctors from the get-go, but most people seem to turn to them after all else fails. People with chronic conditions sometimes get fed up with conventional medicine, because it’s not giving them the relief or the answers that they’re looking for. They start looking for other options, like naturopathic doctors. But, should someone with autoimmune disease go this route? We’ll explore a few things to help determine an answer.

What is a naturopathic doctor?

An ND is focused more on helping the body heal through lifestyle changes (exercise, diet, etc.) and natural therapies. They prefer to treat health issues by finding the root cause and treating it. They may run different tests than a medical doctor. For example, they may employ a stool test to see how your body breaks down fats, proteins, and carbs. They may also check the bacteria to see what lives in your gut. They strive to identify what is causing your health issues and then make suggestions on how to correct the issue. NDs treat a wide range of health issues and autoimmune diseases. However, keep in mind, some graduate from 4 year schools and have to pass an exam to get licensed while others are unlicensed naturopaths. If this is important to you, be sure to ask about their education and credentials.

What are the potential benefits of seeing an ND?

NDs believe in finding the root cause of the problem, not just treating the symptoms you’re feeling. They try to find what is causing those symptoms and alleviate the underlying issues. They tend to provide personalized care, working with you to develop a plan of action. Seeing an ND may help you identify other possible treatment options that you hadn’t known about prior.

NDs feel their approach is a safer option because it could help you avoid surgery and/or reduce the need for prescription drugs with harmful side effects. According to The American Association of Naturopathic Medicine (AANP), seeing an ND could also save you money in the long run, because of finding the root cause and avoiding the need to get surgery. These are just two of the eight reasons they list on their website.

What does conventional medicine have to say about it?

Seeing a naturopathic doctor is controversial. Not everyone agrees with the views of AANP. Many in the field of conventional medicine feel there are risks associated with seeing an ND. For one, some are unlicensed. They also feel that NDs offer treatment options that aren’t necessarily evidence-based. There are those that believe it could even possibly be dangerous to get certain treatments that NDs offer.

How should someone with an autoimmune disease proceed?

When you have an autoimmune disease, it can be frustrating. You may be prescribed things like steroids or other treatments that aren’t ideal. However, you rely on whatever is needed to help you feel your best. Sometimes, conventional medicine doesn’t provide the answers you’re hoping for. However, going to a naturopathic doctor can also be tricky. Naturopathic doctors aren’t typically covered by insurance, which means you’ll have to pay out of pocket. However, as the AANP points out, you could save money in the long run. But, ultimately the most important consideration is safety. While some believe treatments carry risk, those who believe in natural medicine feel it’s safer than alternative options. Conventional drugs often have a list of side effects, but so do many supplements.

Going to an ND is really a personal decision. Is it worth trying one out? Probably, especially if you’re not getting the results you desire. It could be helpful to see an ND once or twice just to see what they have to offer you. But, keep in mind that not all Naturopaths are licensed. You can visit AANP’s website to find a licensed option in your area. If supplements are recommended to you, be sure to ask about potential side effects or drug interactions.

An ND may be able to offer another look at your health, and possibly more insight into treatments for your autoimmune disease since they often run different tests than conventional doctors. But, find an ND you feel good about. Check credentials, read reviews, and talk to others you know with an autoimmune disease to see if they have a referral. Ask how their experience was. You may even want to talk to a trusted physician to see what their thoughts are on NDs. You have to choose what you feel is the best route for your health. If you have more questions about what naturopathic doctors do, AANP has a FAQs page for consumers on their website. Just do your research before undergoing any new treatments.


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