Health care has changed radically as medical knowledge and technology have seen tremendous breakthroughs. The study of nutrition has led to highly specialized diets and their popularity has increased alongside the rise in home exercise equipment, gym memberships, and personal trainers. Centuries-old remedies have been subjected to 20th and 21st century scientific experimentation and have been proven to be effective. Grocery stores now carry an assortment of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements. ‘Echinacea,’ ‘gingko biloba,’ and ‘St. John’s wort’ have become part of the modern vocabulary.
So have words like ‘web site’ ‘search engine,’ and ‘blog.’ As the internet has grown and become more useful, it has revolutionized the ways in which people are able to discover and communicate information about health care. Googling ‘echinacea’ returns over 4.5 million results. The traditional media—television news, local newspapers, afternoon talk shows, and the publishing industry—have not lagged behind, giving increased attention to the field and now report daily on new advances or studies.
It is no understatement to say that, given these technological advances and increased media attention, people have begun to seize responsibility for their health and have begun to explore alternatives which would have been utterly unknown only a short time ago. Chiropractors and acupuncturists have assumed a place in the mainstream medical community, and naturopathic physicians are doing so now. Having studied the same basic medical sciences as M.D.s, naturopathic physicians licensed by the state of Washington are able to prescribe a number of prescriptive medications and pharmacological substances such as antibiotics, bio-identical hormones, birth control pills, thyroid medications, and diuretics in addition to using the core therapies of naturopathic medicine.
However, the ability to prescribe drugs and the willingness to do so are entirely different things. Some naturopathic physicians are absolutely opposed to prescription drugs, and some recognize that prescription medications may be necessary or otherwise appropriate under the circumstances. There are a number of such differences among naturopathic physicians, just as there are among M.D.s. Some practice as primary care physicians, some as specialists in particular therapies, and some as both. Some do traditional laboratory tests, and some do not. Some have unwavering nutritional recommendations or prescribe the same regimen of supplements to all their patients.
I opened my practice, in upper Queen Anne, in 2003, upon the principle that I am, at my best, a partner in each patient’s taking the responsibility for their own health. The most important of my duties is to make sure that you are, in every way, as informed as possible about your health, treatment options, and the advantages and disadvantages of each, whether natural or pharmaceutical. I can’t imagine that it would be helpful for each patient to observe the same diet or to take the same supplements or nutraceuticals. As a partner, I respect your decisions and respect that you know and understand your body more than I can. I have found it necessary or appropriate, in some cases, to prescribe prescription pharmaceuticals. I do physical exams and standard lab tests in my office, and am happy to treat you as your primary care physician or to work with you and your primary care physician, naturopathic or not, as a specialist.