Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My First Naturopathic Medicine Experience

In case you're not from 'round here - in central Virginia, there isn't exactly much to choose from with regard to alternative living (whether it be food choices, medical treatment, etc.) So when I decided I wanted to see a naturopathic doctor, Richmond Natural Medicine was pretty much the only thing that came up. Their website looked good, phone conversations with the administrative staff were positive, so I booked an appointment with Dr. Courtney Paré. The following is a summary of my experience - but I'd be glad to share further should anyone have any questions!

First, why?

I really became better educated on prevention vs treatment and the body's ability to work with you and for you not against you when I was pregnant. I had educated myself on all the positive effects of a natural birth (on both baby and mom) and was set on having one so I pursued the resources that supported that (the Bradley method birth class, hiring a doula {love you, Alli!!}, etc.) This exposed me to more and more "alternatives" to traditional medicine, and since my experiences have been insanely positive and effective, I decided for my own personal primary care, I also wanted to go this route.

The Appointment

Prior to the appointment, I had to fill out a new patient packet. This wasn't the traditional medical forms I had completed in the past. Yes, it asked my current medications/supplements (keep reading to find out why, though!), but it focused on ME, as a complete human being. They wanted to know why I chose the clinic, what expectations I had both for the initial appointment and long term, the wellness wheel and how satisfied was I in those various areas, what did I do regularly that supported my health and what didn't, etc. Based on the paperwork alone, I knew I was off to an awesome start.

When I scheduled the appointment, the administrative staff informed me it would be 2 hours; and it was every bit of 2 hours, one on one, with Dr. Paré. There was no rushing; it was quiet, calm, engaging conversation. She didn't try to speak for me or interrupt me. We went over my paperwork together thoroughly - and while I didn't have any immediate/current health or medical concerns, we were still able to work together to create a healing plan. I also did opt for the Enzyme test in which they examine my blood to determine if I do have any food intolerances that I may not be aware of - I'll get those results in a couple weeks and meet with their staff nutritionist to go over it.

My healing plan was split into several sections: Lifestyle, Nutrition, and Supplemental Support. In sum, for me personally, I didn't need immediate management of any health concerns, but I could (and have) implemented the following:

  • Trying to get more restful sleep
  • Make it a point to do some mindfulness work daily
  • Discontinue several supplements I was taking - she checked my Shakeology label and said it covered everything.....YEAH! 
  • Take the botanical tincture she made for me on the spot to help me protect my adrenals. She was most concerned about potential for future burnout due to the physical and mental demands of having a full-time job, a toddler, owning a business and being a group fitness instructor.

  • She also gave me some awesome ideas for allergy support, as I tend to have to rely on Zyrtek for months throughout the spring and summer! 

Before I left, she answered the various questions I had, even gave me a list of providers in the area that could serve as my PCP that supported patients who also sought naturopathic doctors. You see, in good ol' Virginia, naturopathic medicine is not recognized, thus they can't technically serve as your PCP because VA won't license them. This also impacts the cost of seeking naturopathic treatment - every cent is out of pocket and up front....which I know makes it practically impossible for most of us to do regularly. So upsetting but maybe time and activism will change the course.

I'll be following up with Dr. Paré in 6 weeks to see how my healing plan is working and also to make another nutritional plan based on the enzyme testing findings. I'm grateful for this experience and I hope to continue with it! The information and guidance alone in the 1 session was worth its weight in gold! I highly recommend you seek out a naturopathic facility in your area. And of course, if you have any questions about my specific experience, just let me know!

In Health,

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