Our gastrointestinal system plays a huge part in maintaining our overall health. It is even referred to as the second brain of our body. Any kind of problem in the GI can manifest itself in the form of symptoms in other systems of our body. If you have any sort of imbalance in your gastrointestinal system it can affect the immune system, the skin, and the nervous system. As you can imagine all these systems are essential to the proper functioning of the human body. Naturopathic doctors or NDs are trained to approach any problem regarding human health with a holistic approach, meaning that their aim is not only to treat the symptoms but to get to the root of the problem and treat that as well. This is a greatly beneficial approach as it treats the disease instead of the symptoms, therefore it is more likely to remove the problem. While it is clear that Crohn’s disease, IBS, IBD, SIBO, GERD, gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, constipation and other illnesses related to the GI system, it may surprise you to know that problems with pain, your skin, mental health and congestion may also be tied to your gut health. Naturopathic doctors are experts in nutrition and the microbiome due to their extensive training on these topics in accredited naturopathic medical school and NPLEX testing, required for licensure.
If you have had gut complaints and done research online then you have very likely seen recommendations to reduce your stress, take probiotics, eliminate food triggers, eat foods or supplements to increase good bacteria, eat less highly processed foods, or try some simple exercises at home. While this is good advice Naturopathic Physicians are uniquely trained to support their patients in finding the best solution for them based on the current problems and the underlying issues.
While you may see suggestions for meditation, exercise or other stress reduction techniques online, your ND is trained to do the research on stress reduction to determine the evidence based approaches that show the best results. They also will work with you on finding ways to reduce your stress that fit with your lifestyle and interests.
There are many probiotics on the market and some are more effective than others. In addition there are probiotics that are more effective for different GI needs and diagnosis. Most NDs spend time learning about new probiotics, reading the research and talking to their patients about the results, so they have extensive information to help you pick the best probiotic for your unique needs.
Because Naturopathic Physicians spend a significant amount of time studying nutrition, they learn what foods are common triggers for different diseases or symptoms. They can usually give you a list of foods, tailored to you, to eliminate to see if your symptoms improve.
Again there is plenty of advice on the internet and personal experiences available, however NDs have nutritional education and training in many types of supplements. They can help you save time and money by helping you add foods that will work for your unique tastes, medical history, current symptoms and diagnosis. Supplements can be extremely expensive and some are limited in their effectiveness. Naturopathic Doctors have many opportunities to learn about new supplements on the market and are trained to read the research to determine which supplements work best. Many doctors have medicinaries in their office or online to simplify your supplement purchase. In addition NDs can often recommend what products you can buy at the store while still maintaining the quality to help you heal.
To some this seems easy and clear, for others this is a daunting task, that they can’t imagine even if their gut health is causing significant problems. Because NDs support patients through this transition frequently they are extremely capable of meeting you where you are in your effort to eat better. They can also help you identify some quick and easy foods you can enjoy that aren’t highly processed. In addition a naturopathic doctor can help you identify those foods that are highly processed but may not be as obvious.
There is no shortage of suggestions of things to try to make your digestive system better. Most people you talk to and thousands of websites will recommend their favorite cure. An ND will offer tested treatments that have proven effective for others who have the same diagnosis and similar presentation of symptoms. They are also trained to educate their patients, so Naturopathic Physicians are very effective at explaining the steps you need to follow for your at home care. If you are interested in a particular treatment or know a treatment is not for you, that is no problem, NDs truly embrace patient centered care.
Let us give you some idea of what to expect at your first appointment with a naturopathic physician. The doctor will want to focus on your Health History – It is standard procedure for Naturopathic doctors to spend 90-120 minutes with you on your first consultation, to get to know your health history better. The purpose of this thorough process is to get a detailed outline of your emotional, mental and, physical health. It also gives the naturopathic doctor information about key factors such as family history, social habits, diet, digestive health, and your environment. All these factors influence your gastrointestinal health and gathering as much knowledge as the naturopathic doctor can is going to help them to understand and treat your problem better. In addition to this consultation a physical exam may also be performed to get a better understanding of your symptoms and what might be causing them. It is likely that Your naturopathic doctor will advise some tests based on your consultation and physical exam. This is going to provide the ND with additional information about your health so they can refine their theory about what might be causing the problem. Many NDs will spend some of their time educating you on healthier choices that you can make, ways to take care of yourself, and treatments that you can administer at home. They will also spend time explaining their diagnosis and recommended treatment because education is not only part of their training, it is part of their oath.
This is the general experience that a patient can expect at their appointment.
You can expect treatment to be a process that may take some time and include regular appointments until the root cause of your GI problems has been resolved.
Most NDs will include some or all of the following in your treatment plan;
Naturopathic doctors employ a holistic or complete approach when it comes to treating issues that are related to the gastrointestinal system. Their aim is to provide a long term and sustainable fix that will eliminate the root of the problem instead of its symptoms. If you don’t have a Naturopathic doctor or yours does not specialize in GI and digestive complaints, then use NDsearch to find the right doctor to meet your needs at a location near you.