Who should you keep happy: The doctor, the naturopath or YOU?

The truth is rarely pure and never simple!

Oscar Wilde

I want to discuss how you can go about decided the best line of health action for you. Deep??? Yes it is and I am hoping to explain something to you that will stay with you forever!

I sometimes witness people struggling with health choices. Struggling because they are  expected to make the “right decision” but often the right decision is deemed right by other people’s standards or opinions, not necessarily yours.

No doubt the advice you get from people who care about you, friends, family, doctors, friends of family, friends of your parents etc are given with good intent. But the art is determining what is BEST for you, what you agree with and what will give you the best outcomes.

I practice as a naturopath and have been doing this for 11 years. I am also a nurse and had 10 years as a pharmaceutical rep. What this means is that I have been lucky to work in hospitals (and still do), and have worked closely with doctors in a team or what is known as a “multi-discipline”approach for years.

My true skill set is with helping people heal, using  nutrition, stress management techniques, lifestyle advice, biochemistry (vitamins and minerals) herbal recommendations etc… It is based on a natural approach (suggesting things that are naturally found in our environment) and a wholistic one (which means considering all the aspects of your health – not just the physical).

BUT I do have limitations. I am not a doctor, I am not a surgeon nor do I do body work (eg chiro). To get a proper opinion in any of these areas you need to see a specialist in the area.

And what they will give you will be “their opinion”and expect it to be suggestive of what modality they practice in. For example if you see a surgeon they will suggest surgery! A surgeon is unlikely (for many reasons) to tell you to do something natural to resolve the issue – why would they? You wouldn’t need their services so it’s counter productive to their business.

When people come to see me that are wanting a specialist opinion in natural medicine (for the skill set I outlined above). It is but my opinion and may or may not be right for you.

You may see a doctor about the same issue and receive a totally different opinion. Hopefully it is representative of best medical advice going around.

Often a doctor will not support what I have recommended. Not because I am radically different or wrong, it’s just not in align with their opinions. And it certainly doesn’t mean that my advice for you is wrong either. It is just another opinion.

When doctors say “there is no evidence based medicine to support it..”I laugh because there are accepted protocols in medicine have little evidence but are accepted as standard. To me it is a cop out and a way of saying “Actually I don’t know the evidence because its not my area of expertise.”

Doctors and naturopaths historically in Australia and other countries see each other as “the opposition”. This mentality is crazy and will deny you the BEST health care possible.

Let’s look at the example of a rash.

Let’s say you develop a rash on the weekend. It may be caused by food, a plant, chemicals from body care products, stress etc.. By seeing a naturopath we will try to determine the cause, stop the cause and help your body with the reaction. A doctor or pharmacist may just suggest anti-histamines or steroid cream and not worry about finding out the cause. They focus on treating the symptoms.  One is neither right or wrong. (I personally just believe that finding the cause is empowering as you can prevent it happening again).

How can you make the BEST choice for yourself?

1. Only see practitioners that you feel comfortable with. A good practitioner (doctor, specialist, naturopath, chiro etc) should make you feel validated and right no matter what direction you decide on. They should be able to explain things to the depth that you need in order to make a decision.

2. Go with your gut feeling. Once you have as many options/opinions that make you feel you have explored things enough, reflect on the inside of yourself with what feels best

3. Thank people (friends and family) for their opinions but let them know that this is your decision. Let’s take the example of cancer . Evidence is falling both ways in support of chemo/radio/surgery as it is with organic eating, toxic free lifestyle and counselling but you must be comfortable with what feels BEST for you. Not your partner or someone else.

4. Do some independent research. Once you have a few opinions see if you can find more information, or other people who have trialed certain things to help you decide what is best for you

5.Write down your values and make sure your decision is in align with these. OK this is heavy but this is the REAL secret to making a “correct decision for you”. Values are the set of rules that we individually live by. For example mine are honesty, eating only the best food sources, fun, loyality, natural first, respect the environment, help others less fortunate always etc.. You will have your own values. They are not right or wrong or relevant to anyone else. They are your values.

For example if someone suggests to take a certain pharmaceutical agent to correct something in your body but you don’t agree with non-natural, then don’t put yourself though the heart ache and self doubt. It’s only when you go against your values that you start to regret your decisions.

6. You can always change your mind. If you commit to something but it doesn’t turn out how you expected (you lose confidence, things get worse, it makes you sicker) then change tact. It’s ok and this may happen often. Don’t be set in stone and always be open to improvements or change if you think they are better suited to your needs at that time.

What you should be demanding in your health coaches:

1. Experience in their field (academically but also in practice)

Do they get good results, do they talk with confidence, do they show you examples

2. Humbleness

I believe a good practitioner doesn’t have any of this “do as I say”or “I am better than you”. Sorry this is BS and you need someone who is willing to show that they are human,  understands that sometimes decision making is tough and YOU definitely don’t want someone who makes you feel guilty if you don’t go with their opinion.

3. Openness

I really believe the sign of a good practitioner is their ability to work with other practitioners, not to feel threatened and to support other modalities.

Be wary of the medical specialist that says there is no evidence to suggest that natural medicines don’t work. To me that is a big fat WARNING bell. I have worked in hospitals and with doctors long enough to know the gaps. There are gaps. It is naive to think that pills and surgery can fix all. Find a specialist that will support your choice to access whatever modalities you want. If they are good, they won’t feel pressured or threatened.

4. Rapport

This is the term we give to a practitioner’s skill of befriending you and making you feel valid, listened to and the MOST IMPORTANT person in the world. Maybe it’s personal but every time some one sits in front of me, they instantly become the MOST important person in the world at that point in time. That is what they are paying me for anyway. To focus on them, to support them and to give them top-shelf natural medicine advice.

So to wrap up, I think it’s important that you make the decision that is right for you. Don’t feel rushed, try not to let money be the influencing factor. Let your values guide you, trust your gut and talk with trusted people.

Leave your experiences and thoughts if you like. 🙂