The body and its ability to heal itself—that’s the main principle of Naturopathic medicine. It is a holistic system, meaning that naturopathic doctors strive to find the cause of disease by understanding the person’s body, mind, and spirit.
Naturopathic doctors examine, diagnose and treat patients with programs tailored to each patient and their health conditions. Treatment approaches can include any combination of clinical nutrition, botanical (herbal) medicine, acupuncture, Asian medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical therapeutics and lifestyle counseling and Intravenous Therapy. The treatment focuses on the underlying causes of illness rather than just the symptoms, often eliminating the need for long term medical care or prescription drugs.
Being a naturopathic doctor for 20 years, Dr. Holly Fennel shares her knowledge with us, explaining the most popular therapies, such as Intravenous therapy, in which a larger dose of vitamins and nutrients can safely be delivered to the body through the bloodstream; the advantages of naturopathic medicine for patients; the importance of having a balanced diet which Dr. Fennel believes is the start pointing of any treatment; and also points out that naturopathy can work in harmony with traditional western medicines resulting in greater care of the patient.
Milénio Stadium: What is naturopathy?
Dr. Holly Fennell: Naturopathic Medicine supports the body in its ability to heal itself by treating the root cause of illness and disease and not just the symptoms. Naturopathic Doctors obtain an undergraduate degree followed by 4 years of specialized training. In Ontario ND’s have certain prescribing rights allowing for individualized non-invasive patient treatment plans.
MS: What are the advantages of adhering to this type of treatment and which are the most common ones?
HF: Naturopathic Medicine has many advantages as it employs non-invasive modalities such as diet, nutrition, lab evaluations and tests, herbal medicine and nutraceuticals to treat patients. In my clinic B12 shots and IV therapy are very popular. I also work with my patients on diet as I believe this to be the most important starting point.
MS: Which areas of naturopathy are already more recognized and considered effective?
HF: Naturopathy has gained considerable awareness. In fact, most private insurance companies provide coverage for treatments. In my practice we look at patient’s blood work and other lab markers to effectively customize treatment plans. Nutraceuticals (vitamins) are widely studied and recognized. NDs are certified in acupuncture which is effective for both acute and chronic conditions ranging from pain to insomnia to migraines.
MS: Explain to us a little bit about how it works and the benefits of intravenous therapy?
HF: Intravenous therapy is a very popular and safe treatment. IV therapy has many advantages as larger doses of vitamins and nutrients can safely be delivered to the body through the bloodstream; this is unlike when a patient takes oral vitamins that must pass through the digestive tract; This results in 100% delivery of vitamins to the body. In my clinic all of the IVs that I compound are unique to the patient and their health needs. We offer high dose Vitamin C treatments for our Oncology patients as well as IVs that help to nourish and support the body’s detoxification process.
MS: Is it possible to combine naturopathy with traditional medicine? Do the two practices work together?
HF: It is not only possible but, in my opinion, essential. I encourage all of my patients to share what we are doing with their entire medical team. Our healthcare system is under a great deal of strain and NDs can help. Naturopathic and Allopathic medicine should work in tandem for optimal patient care. I have noticed over my twenty years of clinical practice that allopathic practitioners are much more open to Naturopathy and the benefits that it provides. With advances in the education of Naturopathic Doctors we are able to be part of our patient’s primary care team.
MS: To what extent does this type of treatment make up for the lack of, or difficult access to, other types of treatment in conventional medicine?
HF: Great question, NDs have access to ordering lab tests for our patients that can be difficult to get but we are no covered under OHIP. This means that if a patient wishes to do testing, they have to pay for it thus I always try to work in tandem with my patients primary care physician. We are able to perform physicals on our patients which aids in diagnosing things such as upper respiratory infections or acute ear infections. We also believe in the practice preventative medicine which can result in less infections and need for conventional treatment.
MS: If used incorrectly, or without monitoring, can naturopathy cause damage to the patient’s health?
HF: Yes, any form of medicine that is not practiced safely can cause damage to patient’s health. NDs are regulated in Ontario and undergo continuing education yearly. As an example if a patient is prescribed bioidentical hormones or thyroid hormones it is vital that they are screened, tested and monitored on a regular basis. You can also expect your first visit with an ND to be at least an hour during which time a comprehensive intake and physical are performed.