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Visiting a Naturopath

Posted Feb 01 2012 6:14pm

After the surgery I very gradually started to feel better. Veeeerrrrrryyyyyy gradually. I was still having nausea and I had no appetite. But after about 4 or 5 weeks I started to feel worse. Everyone said, “It just takes time.” But remember lesson 1 ? I trusted my intuition and went to see my doctor thinking perhaps that since I had lost a lot of blood that my hemoglobin was low. The doctor listened to my complaints, and didnt say “It just takes time”, which I appreciated. She did test my hemoglobin, and also my b12 level. The hemoglobin came out normal (she considered it normal, I thought it was a bit low at 11.6), but the b12 level was low – very low. Normal levels of b12 are 200 – 900, optimal levels are over 300, and my level was 147. She said I would need to take b12 injections, one per month, and get tested again after 3 months.

I had my retest a couple of weeks ago after my 3 months of injections, and my level only went up to 158. The doctor’s suggestion was to take 3 more months of injections, and when my level gets to 200 I could switch to an oral b12 supplement.

I was not happy with this. I am having symptoms, which some of my doctors attribute to the b12 deficiency (not knowing what else to attribute them to), which include dizziness, light headedness, and tremors. Every time I get up I feel like I am going to faint, and my hands shake so badly that I spill, drop, and break things. So I contacted a naturopathic doctor who I had researched a few months ago, but never followed through with. I felt there had to be a better way to fix this than by waiting another 3 months and seeing what happens.

So what is a Naturopathic Doctor? According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians :

Naturopathic physicians combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.

That sounds good so far.

NDs treat all medical conditions and can provide both individual and family health care. Among the most common ailments they treat are allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. NDs can perform minor surgeries, such as removing cysts or stitching up superficial wounds. However, they do not practice major surgery. NDs are trained to utilize prescription drugs, although the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents.

I don’t think I would see an ND to treat my cancer or if I had heart disease. But maybe….

This is a list of the principles of naturopathic medicine:

  • Let nature heal.
  • Identify and treat causes.
  • First, do no harm.
  • Educate patients.
  • Treat the whole person.
  • Prevent illness.

When I called the doctor a couple of weeks ago we talked for about 15 minutes on the phone and discussed the basics of my complaints and what she does. She sounded very knowledgable and warm, and I set up an appointment for today. Our visit today lasted an hour and a half, and I saw that she had 3 pages of notes from our phone conversation. We went into more detail about my conditions, not just the b12 problem, and my medications. Some of what she had to say I totally agree with. For example I have GERD – acid reflux. I went to the GI doctor about six years ago and he told me to take Prilosec, which I have been taking ever since. He didn’t do any tests or further investigation into what could be causing the GERD, and since the Prilosec took care of it I just kept taking it. However, Prilosec can cause other problems, like the inhibiting stomach’s ability to absorb nutrients. Basically Prilosec is a bandaid. This gets into the whole issue of who controls our medical care, big pharma, insurance companies, etc, but we won’t go there now.

Some of what she had to say I was very skeptical about. She feels that she can get me off all of my medications and replace them with proper diet, lifestyle changes, and supplements. For example, my anxiety, which I have had since I was about 5 years old. She feels that this is due to a neurotransmitter problem, and she can do tests to determine this. I have never had any tests to see what causes my anxiety, but I have done some reading and I am not convinced that there accurate tests for neurotransmitter issues, and I am very happy to be taking an anti-anxiety medication that makes my anxiety go away.

The doctor talked to me about a plan of action that she recommends. First she would start with neurotransmitter testing which would cost $277.00. Then I would have to go off of my hormones for about a month so that I could have my hormone levels tested. She gave me a list of 28 different hormones that she would test for, at a cost of $395.00. And there is a lab test kit fee of $52.88. If these tests don’t show anything, or are inconclusive, I am sure there are plenty more expensive tests that she can do.

Then there are the supplements. She recommends I stay on my Vitamin D, and didn’t mention anything about changing what brand I use. She recommends a multivitamin, that, guess what?, she sells! A six month supply would cost $84.00 (which I am not saying is unreasonable, but I’m hesitant to buy a six month supply of anything that I haven’t tried out). Next is fish oil, and I told her I would not take fish oil. She asked me why not, and I said, “Because it is made from fish.” Then she went on and on telling me that although she has been a vegan for 25 years, she makes an exception for fish oil. I feel fairly confident that I get lots of omego-3′s from other sources, and I don’t want anything that is made from fish. She didn’t listen to me on this issue, just rambled on about how great fish oil is.

Next are the antioxidants. Vitamin C – which she sells, in a 5 month supply. Quercetin – ever hear of it? I hadn’t. It has all kinds of magic powers that you can read about on Wikipedia . She sells this also. And lastly, vitamin b12, which I did buy from her as it was only $29.75 for 100 sublingual tablets.

She recommended that I discontinue the b12 injections and just use the supplement every day, but I’m not too keen on that idea. I’m going to do both and see what happens.

Other tests she recommended are a test for h-pylori, and a test to see if I have a hernia. Wouldn’t I know it if I had one?

This first visit cost $300.00. The second visit is $165 and further visits are $100 to $185 depending on how long they take. Naturally insurance does not cover these, nor the tests, nor the supplements. When I was in the waiting room another patient was checking out and her total for the day was $1000. She had lab work and four bottles of supplements.

The doctor talked about quality of life and how it could be so much better, and how I can be healthy into old age, and all I could think was “What would my quality of life be if I give you all of my money and I have none left?” So I told her I would think about all of this, check with my insurance company to see if anything would be covered, and call her back.

Then – the piece de resistance. In the waiting area I told her I had one more question – am I at an ok weight? She asked me how tall I am. She did not ask me how much I weigh. She looked me up and down slowly, tilted her head to the side, thought a bit and said, “You look fine in clothes.” (She has no idea how I look without clothes, since I never removed any.) She asked me how I feel at this weight and I said I feel good, and I can maintain this weight fairly easily. If I lost 5 pounds it would be difficult to maintain. She said, “Well you might want to do that.”

This doctor is skinny as a toothpick, however, she has muscle. She is very toned, she obviously works out, and she says she also runs. We talked about how training can cause weight gain because of the need to eat more. You know what? I don’t think I need to lose 5 pounds. Can I become more toned, heck yeah, about 99% more toned. But none of my other doctors have said a word about my weight, as a matter of fact my cardiologist told me this is the weight I should be. I am not a big fan of BMI, but mine happens to be 20.5.

So to sum up, I am intrigued and yet skeptical. I don’t like when doctors sell products. I would like to get off of some of my meds, because I know they aren’t good for my kidneys. I’m going to call the insurance company and see what they say, if they will even talk to me, which they usually never do. Then I will think about it some more.

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