I’ve Seen a GP…do I Really Need a Second Opinion From a Naturopath?
GP vs Naturopath
It’s ideal to have a relationship with both a Dr & a natural healthcare practitioner, & ideally for them to be in contact or at least be well aware of the others prescribed treatments.
A dr is great to see for diagnostic purposes when you have some clear symptoms, for learning about a specific disease & for testing things. A naturopath is better for treating more vague symptoms where no clear diagnosis is apparent, (where often a dr is often unable to help), for learning about health, & getting the tools needed to support yourself on a journey towards your own optimum health (therefore lessening disease symptoms in the process). There are also many different exploratory tests that a naturopath may request. A Dr is qualified to diagnose specific illnesses, & to prescribe pharmaceutical treatments, a naturopath is not. A Dr generally knows very little about nutrition & other non-pharmaceutical treatments (unless they are an integrative GP / have also trained extensively in another area), & a naturopath will have limited knowledge on the specifics of pharmaceutical medications & their applications, & is not legally allowed to make a diagnosis. So you’ll do best with a ‘team’ of health professionals rather than just one - a Dr has one ‘set of tools’ to work with, a naturopath has another, & then there are the odd few practitioners who are well trained / experienced in both fields, which has to be the way we are headed with health, the demand is there & many practitioners are ‘doubling up’ their training & filling in the gaps in their tool belts.
Many people see naturopathic treatments as less ‘potent’ or legitimate than those prescribed by a Dr - & it is often the case that dietary changes, supplements, herbs & minerals work more slowly or less obviously than drugs.
We modern humans tend to want the quickest fix, with the least effort required on our part - & drugs are great for that! Quick is not necessarily the best though. The ‘best’ medicine, is whatever works most effectively in the long-term, & does the least harm / causes the least negative side-effects in the process. The unfortunate reality is that most pharmaceuticals have negative side effects (some horrendous), which can lead to a whole new set of symptoms you’ll seek treatment for - etc etc - so one drug leads to another in this way. Have you seen the blister packs being made up in pharmacies? Some folks (esp the elderly) are taking such a cocktail of meds daily that they cannot keep track!
Nutritional supplements, herbs, dietary & lifestyle approaches tend to have far more positive side effects than negative - though you may see symptom relief more slowly to begin with.
I’ve had the privilege of working both in a pharmacy & a health store simultaneously - & was able to observe the contrast in regular customers. The elderly & children were where I noticed the biggest difference in those who rely on pharmaceutical healthcare, & those who tend to seek more alternative therapies. Trust me - you do not wanna go down the drug dependant path if you can avoid it! If you are getting sick of your medicine cabinet, & would like to try a new approach - make an appointment to see a local naturopath & see what changes you can make…there may be a few packs in the cabinet you simply don’t need! Work with your GP, let them know what is happening & if they are not comfortable with a new ‘team member’ on the case, you should seek out a Dr who is happy to work with others.
Here’s a couple of basic examples of the way a visit to a GP can differ in outcome from a naturopathic consult:
Lady in her late 50’s - goes to the Dr & says I’m constipated, sleeping badly, & feeling a bit depressed. Dr takes a blood test to check up on things & also discovers she has high cholesterol & BP is ‘a bit of a worry’. She walks out with a prescription for laxatives, antidepressants, sleeping pills, cholesterol & BP meds…instant cocktail.
Same lady goes to see a naturopath for a second opinion…
Naturopath recommends exercise (she’s not doing any) counselling & a few dietary modifications. Depression, constipation, insomnia, & cardiovascular disease risk factors can ALL be treated very effectively using counselling, exercise & diet. No meds required, no side effects (except healthy ones!) This one appointment could have been the start of a long, slow decline with medications, side effects, & not addressing the actual issue!
3 yr old child with an ear infection:
Mum brings her toddler in to the GP, with ear pain, worse at night. GP examines child, diagnoses otitis media (middle ear infection), & prescribes a course of antibiotics & pain relief / anti-inflammatory medication.
Same child is then taken to a naturopath - with the known diagnosis of otitis media. Recommendations are watching & waiting - the pain will likely (statistically) clear after 1-2 nights, & it is known that antibiotics given to children for ear infections generally do more harm than good, & the infections (which are mostly viral) will usually clear unaided. The naturopath instead recommends keeping the child semi-upright for sleeping - using books stacked underneath the bed legs etc to assist drainage & avoid pain & discomfort caused by pressure building in the flat sleeping position.
Also a heat pack used to ease pain & open up blood flow through the painful area, & some probiotics & immune boosting herbs to stimulate & strengthen the child’s immune system. No antibiotics = preserve gut immunity & long term resistance. This could have been the start of an ‘antibiotic merry-go-round’. You take one course, compromise gut immunity, get sick again due to compromised gut health, take more antibiotics - etc etc. This is WAY TOO COMMON in small children, we are setting them up for long term illness by handling mild acute illnesses poorly.
It is ridiculous how reliant we have become on drugs to ‘fix’ us when we get broken.
Sure, sometimes they are the best (or only) option, but that is only sometimes. Medication should be a final option, to be used as a last resort once more natural treatments have been trialled. The quick fix might seem attractive in the short term, but the long term side effects are generally not worth it. Always remember that drug companies are like any business - they want to keep growing their profits. They do this by growing sales. Their best ‘sales reps’ are drs & pharmacies. You will be prescribed (sold) drugs to suit your condition - but also to provide profit for the pharmaceutical industry. They love that ‘one drug leads to another’ - it’s great for business. Even better still is that the government will pay the bill for many of them! Keep your eyes open, always get a second (or third or fourth) opinion when someone wants to sell you some drugs. Develop a relationship with a practitioner who uses other methods - not just meds in their tool belt!