What Is a Naturopath?
Learn all about this type of holistic medical practitioner.
Alternative medicine has a lot of facets—including the naturopathic vein. This type of medicine uses noninvasive treatments and therapies—like herbs, acupuncture, and nutritional counseling—to treat health conditions ranging from sleep disorders and fertility problems to digestive issues. The professionals who practice this branch are called naturopaths: They offer holistic remedies to help your body heal and help their patients implement long-term prevention plans. You'll find them in at hospitals, clinics, private practices, and community health centers. To learn more about what these healthcare experts do, we tapped Anna Mitsios, a naturopath and nutritionist; here, she shares the benefits of being treated by a naturopath and what to expect from your first appointment.
Naturopaths meld modern science with natural remedies.
Naturopaths combine holistic and science-backed remedies. "While our work is founded on scientific principles, there is an element of 'art' associated with our treatment protocols and prescriptions, which makes our work so special," says Mitsios. Take an ailment like insomnia, for example: A naturopath wouldn't simply prescribe a sleeping pill, she says. Instead, they would look at the patient's lifestyle, diet, and exercise routine, all of which could be contributing to the problem.
They challenge you to think about your health holistically.
If you've only visited pediatricians and general practitioners over the course of your lifetime, it's natural to wonder whether or not a naturopath can really help you. Think of it this way: There's an instant benefit to working with one, and that's being challenged to think holistically about your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Plus, you'll learn a ton about your body and how to prevent future illnesses. "My favorite cases are those where my clients experience such incredible changes to their health, energy, and outlook that they make dramatic changes to their lives," Mitsios says. "Health problems that have lingered for many years may become a distant memory!"
Know what to expect from your first appointment.
At your first appointment, expect to talk about your health history, lifestyle, and current concerns. "Your first appointment tends to involve a lot of talking. I will go back to the time that my patient was born and even beyond that, inquiring about the health of their parents," Mitsios notes. Once they have information about your health, the naturopath might also use iridology (an eye inspection), hormone tests, and physical examinations to determine treatment recommendations. "Treatment protocols do vary by naturopath, however mine tend to include supplements, herbs, and recommendations for changes to diet and lifestyle, along with three clear and measurable health goals to focus on for two to three weeks," she says.