Naturopathic Medicine FAQs
How does naturopathic medicine work?
Naturopathic medicine is a system that focuses on a holistic approach to health care through a more natural lens. Everything from nutrition to herbal remedies to even physical exercise are simple, natural ways to help your bodies heal and function as it is meant to. Learn more about naturopathic medicine at Collective Health Center here
What conditions do naturopathic doctors see?
We see patients with any condition. Naturopathic doctors are focused on whole health and restorative health, rather than a specific disease. At Collective Health Center we work cooperatively with your primary care provider and specialists to optimize your health naturally. We are referred many patients from primary care providers and specialists of patients where conventional treatments have been ineffective or who present with symptoms that the conventional approach can’t help, whose health does improve with naturopathic care. Learn more about naturopathic medicine at Collective Health Center here
What makes naturopathic medicine different from conventional medicine?
What sets naturopathic medicine apart from conventional medicine is its holistic philosophy and personalized approach. Your naturopathic doctor will examine all aspects of your unique self and situation to determine how to best optimize your health. Naturopathy blends conventional and holistic medicine, offering a bridge between the two worlds.
Are naturopathic doctors opposed to drugs and surgery?
No. Naturopathic doctors are not opposed to pharmaceuticals or invasive treatments when they are necessary. In Virginia, we provide appropriate referral for such treatments. We work cooperatively with your primary care provider and care team to provide a holistic scope of care for our patients.
What’s the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy?
Naturopathy is a whole system of medicine that utilizes a wide range of natural medicine approaches, which includes homeopathy. Whereas homeopathy is a system that uses a minute dose of a natural substance to stimulate the bodies own ability to heal. This idea of the use of a small amount of substance to help support a healthy balance in the body is also seen in conventional medicine with treatments like allergy shots and vaccines, that use a small amount of an offending agent to either build immune tolerance or provoke immune response respectively.
Is Naturopathic Medicine safe and effective?
Yes. There are a number of research studies that have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the naturopathic, whole health and whole person approach
[see ‘Research Highlights on page 22] for conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic pain conditions, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, depression, anxiety, and a myriad of complex chronic conditions. Naturopathic medicine is inherently safe due to the philosophy of therapeutic order which prioritizes the use of the least invasive and non-toxic therapies.
What does it take to become a naturopathic doctor?
A medically trained Naturopathic Doctor (ND) completes traditional four-year pre-medical undergraduate program, followed by an additional four years of training of in residence or on-site medical school with standard medical curriculum such as pathology, organ systems, and internal medicine, but with a significant focus on holistic and non-toxic approaches including, clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, and botanical medicine. Naturopathic doctors are thus specialists in prevention and restoration of health, understanding how systems of the body are connected and approaching care through a whole systems approach, rather than being specialists of one system, naturopathic doctors play an important role aside these specialists in putting together the pieces of the puzzle while supporting patients holistically. A medically trained naturopathic doctor must also pass professional board exams so that they may be licensed by a jurisdiction as a primary care or general practice physician. Residency training is available for naturopathic doctors, like PharmD residences these are self-funded, rather than through federal funding like MD/ DO residencies. Dr. Sarah was fortunate complete her naturopathic residency training at Clifton Springs Hospital in New York State. You can learn more about the naturopathic schools and training at Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges
Are all naturopaths or NDs medically trained?
No. Currently, 25 jurisdictions, 22 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have licensing or registration laws for medically trained naturopathic doctors (NDs/ NMDs). However, in other states, including Virginia, naturopathic medicine is not yet a licensed profession, meaning that anyone, may call themselves a naturopath or naturopathic doctors, without any formal medical training. Such individuals may have degrees or diplomas from online correspondence programs, weekend programs or home study and they are not regionally or nationally accredited by any state or federally recognized accreditation agencies. Only state licensure can help to ensure safe patient access to the holistic scope of services that medically trained naturopathic doctors have been formally trained in. As a medically trained naturopathic doctor in Virginia, advocating and leading state licensing efforts in Virginia has been a passion project of Dr. Sarah’s since she moved here in 2011. Since Virginia does not yet license naturopathic doctors, the burden of trying to find a safe and reputable provider is unfairly put on the patient. Patients can check to see if the naturopathic doctor they are interested in establishing with graduated from one of the naturopathic programs that are members of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges and can also to see if the Virginia naturopathic doctor is maintaining their naturopathic doctor license in another jurisdiction. Interested to help to support licensing efforts for medically trained naturopathic doctors in Virginia? Become an advocate today.
What to Expect From Your Naturopathic Visit with Dr. Sarah.
On your first visit, your naturopathic doctor will take time to review your medical history thoughtfully and thoroughly and because of this your initial visit may be longer than what you are used to. This includes a review of past and current medical problems, surgeries, hospitalizations, medications, allergies, and supplements. They will also want to know about your family health history and lifestyle choices such as drug, alcohol and tobacco use, stress levels, physical activity, and dietary habits. All this information will be used to determine the nature of your illness and the best way to support your health. Your naturopathic doctor may also take your height and weight measurement, blood pressure, and pulse and may recommend some laboratory tests. Your naturopathic doctor works to create a safe and healing space so essential for a trusting healthcare partnership. Read more about our 7 Step Approach HERE
How often do patients typically follow-up for naturopathic visits?
After the initial visit, further follow-up visits are typically recommended every one to three months, depending on the patient’s individual needs and progress.
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes, when done with a licensed acupuncturist, treatments are exceptionally safe, with a low risk of serious adverse events.
Is acupuncture painful?
Despite the cartoons and intense portrayals that you might see in the media or on television, acupuncture is well tolerated by most patients. Acupuncture is performed with ultrafine, sterile, stainless-steel and is different than the needles used for blood draws and tattoos. Patients typically sleep or get into a state of deep relaxation during a treatment. In our experience, acupuncture is not well tolerated by those who are severely averse to needles or who faint while getting blood drawn and we do not recommend acupuncture for these individuals.
What conditions do acupuncturists see?
Acupuncture is best known for treating musculoskeletal pain conditions, however, over the past 60 years, high level clinical research points towards acupunctures benefits in many conditions beyond musculoskeletal pain, affirming what we have known for centuries. There is strong evidence of benefits for: allergic rhinitis, knee osteoarthritis, sciatica, migraine prevention, chronic low back pain, postoperative nausea and vomiting, headaches (tension type and chronic), chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (with antiemetics), postoperative pain. There is also evidence of potential positive effect for several other conditions including: acute low back, sciatica, anxiety, neck pain, lateral elbow pain, temporomandibular pain, obesity, perimenopausal and postmenopausal insomnia, hypertension (with medication), insomnia, menopausal hot flushes, aromatase-inhibitor induced joint pains, plantar heel pain, asthma in adults, stroke rehabilitation, post-stroke insomnia, back or pelvic pain during pregnancy, post-stroke shoulder pain and spasticity, cancer related pain and fatigue, depression (with antidepressants), restless leg syndrome and dry eye.
Is there anything on the needles?
No. The acupuncture needles used are single use, sterile, ultrafine, and stainless-steel; nothing is applied to the needle prior to application.
How does acupuncture work?
Unlike many conventional drugs and treatments, acupuncture has numerous ways in which it works. Acupuncture improves the flow of blood, which carries oxygen and essential nutrients through the blood vessel system to nourish the cells in our body and promote healing. Acupuncture also stimulates the nervous system by activating sensory nerves that send the signal to the brain which then releases natural pain killers to shut off the pain signal, reduce inflammation, and eliminate the pain. Acupuncture can also help to stimulate the release of endorphins and encephalins, our feel-good hormones and helps to balance hormone levels in the body. However, likely the most central way in which it works is through stimulating and regulation of the purinergic signaling to all tissues and organ systems of the body. Acupuncture needles, through their twisting of the connective tissue, stimulate purinergic signals in the extracellular matrix which connects our entire system together; everything in our body is truly connected. Early Chinese physicians saw illness as imbalance in the energetic systems in the body and developed acupuncture to rebalance the body through the 12 main meridians, which are the pathways that the vital energy or Qi flows through in the body. Essentially, acupuncture helps to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
What are the advantages of acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a wonderful, non-toxic, non-drug, and safe method to reduce pain, inflammation and help rebalance the body. It is not habit forming and has minimal side effects, other than the occasional bruise. Aside from helping with pain and inflammation and a myriad of other conditions, most patients have the added benefit of deep relaxation during treatments.
Can I receive acupuncture when pregnant?
Yes. Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy and can provide relief of many discomforts of pregnancy and postpartum conditions. There are some acupuncture points that are contraindicated in pregnancy, so it is important to inform your acupuncturist if you are pregnant.
Where do the needles go?
The needles are placed at specific acupuncture points to help rebalance the body and to relieve specific symptoms. Depending on the specific condition, needles are commonly placed at or below the elbows and at or below the knees, as well as the back, abdomen, head, and ears.
How often do patients typically follow-up for acupuncture visits?
After the initial visit, for acute pain conditions twice weekly treatments are often recommended for 10 to 15 sessions and for more chronic conditions weekly treatments for up to 10 to 12 sessions may be recommended. We re-evaluate progress midway to gauge if the treatment is working.
What can I expect from my acupuncture visit?
On your first visit, your acupuncturist will take time to review your medical history thoughtfully and thoroughly. This includes a review of past and current medical problems, surgeries, hospitalizations, medications, allergies, supplements, lifestyle, and family history. While your acupuncturist might make some recommendations on nutrition, exercises, herbal formulas or supplements, the focus of the visit is the acupuncture treatment. If you are more interested in a thorough review of your health and a personalized natural treatment plan, then a naturopathic visit is recommended. Learn more about naturopathic medicine at Collective Health Center here
How can I prepare for my acupuncture treatment?
The best way to prepare is to consume light meal or snack prior to treatment, as blood sugar levels can decrease during treatment. Wearing loose clothing is also recommended, so that the arms and legs are easily accessible for treatment. However, we do have gowns and drapes available should these be needed. Drinking a glass of water after treatment is also recommended to help maximize the benefits of the treatment.