How to Find a Natural Health-Care Provider

Identify the right type of natural health-care provider for your wellness goals with our expert help.

| January/February 2014

  • Studies support the effectiveness of chiropractic care for the treatment of acute low-back pain, neck pain and headaches.
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  • Nearly 40 percent of Americans report using some form of complementary medicine. Because of this growing popularity of complementary medicine, it's become even more important to choose a trustworthy, experienced natural health-care provider as more and more practitioners appear on the market.
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  • Ask potential providers about their experience treating the medical issues you face.
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If you aspire to live a natural lifestyle, it makes sense to find a health-care practitioner who understands, supports and prescribes in line with your values and practices. While providers of alternative medicine used to be considered on the fringes of the health-care system, times have changed. Today, nearly 40 percent of Americans report using some form of complementary medicine, and integrative, natural health-care providers can be found in almost every locale, offering effective care to help you stay healthy and address many conditions.

As a naturopathic physician, I have the pleasure of working directly with practitioners from many backgrounds. Each offers a unique perspective. But the growing popularity of complementary medicine means more and more practitioners have appeared on the market. Your biggest challenge when choosing natural medicine is identifying a trustworthy, experienced provider you want to work with. The best choice depends upon your health needs and what you’re looking for from your provider. 

Questions to Ask Any Natural Health-Care Provider

When interviewing any potential natural medicine practitioner, start by analyzing these three important factors.

1. Ask about their training and credentials. Most fields of natural medicine have associated degrees, licenses or accrediting organizations. Ask where and how a practitioner was trained and for how long, as well as about her professional experience, particularly with the medical issues you face. I recommend choosing practitioners with a minimum of three years’ experience. If you ever sense a practitioner isn’t being straight with you or is inflating her experience, move on.

2. Determine which level of medical expertise you need. If you’re looking for someone to manage your medical care, diagnose disease or treat an advanced condition, you will want a naturopathic physician or medical doctor who specializes in integrative medicine (see “Resources” on page 32). Such professionals can manage drugs if needed and make referrals to specialists more seamlessly. If you’re looking for suggestions for how to improve your health (for example, to lose weight); manage less-serious conditions; or want to seek a second opinion while retaining your relationship with your primary-care doctor, you may consider a provider with less medical training but more training in specific modalities. (I think of this difference as medical care versus consultative advice.)

3. Find someone you can partner with. Many patients come to me because they say they aren’t feeling heard or understood by their original doctor. They may feel their symptoms haven’t been taken seriously, that they don’t get the time they need with their doctor, or that their doctor talks down to them. No matter what type of natural health-care provider you choose, find someone who inspires you to live healthier and who can help you find the path to get there.

8/14/2019 5:14:07 PM

Diane, how does one go about finding someone like you?

Diane G
8/13/2019 9:17:59 PM

I would like to comment about Registered Dietitians. I am one who attained my Master's Degree and did not a 6 or 12 month course. RD's do focus on whole foods. I am also an herbalist, Certified Reiki Master/Teacher, trained in EFT, Ancestral Clearing, and a Certified GAPS Practitioner. It is a shame we are critiqued the way we are. There is also a sub-group of RD's who belong to the DIFM group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietitians--Dietitians in Functional Medicine. I am proud of my credentials and experience. I have personally found people who have gone to health coaches and have been misdiagnosed. I think that RD's have a better perspective from both the alternative and traditional medical approaches which makes it safer for the patient. We can interpret lab tests and in many states, we can order them.

1/13/2014 1:21:51 PM

If the herbalist lives in Canada they may be registered with the Ontario Herbalists Association or the Canadian Herbalists Association of BC



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