In modern use for hundreds of years—and in worldwide use for thousands of years before then—naturopathic medicine is becoming increasingly popular and more widely accepted as a vital component of today’s health care system.
With interest growing in naturopathic medicine, you may be one of the many considering visiting a licensed naturopathic doctor (N.D.) to safely incorporate natural treatments into your own overall health care. However, at the same time, you may be a bit hesitant because you’re unsure of what that first visit will look like. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) says your first N.D. visit will typically include:
- Taking your health history and asking you many questions about your main health concerns. Your doctor may explore how you experience each problem, including timing, intensity, and impact on your life.
- Performing a methodical review of your bodily systems. From your respiratory system to your digestive, musculoskeletal, skin and other key systems, your N.D. will consider which may be connected to your chief complaint(s), or which may reveal other important areas that require attention.
- Asking you what you have tried to address your concerns, and what the effects have been. This includes a review of prescription drugs and supplements you may be taking.
- Asking you detailed questions about your diet and physical activity. Sometimes, your N.D. may request that you keep and bring in a diet and activity log.
- Discussing your lifestyle, social setting, and support systems. Your N.D. will want to understand both your main stressors and your coping strategies. Your home and work environments and primary relationships with friends and family will be important considerations for your personalized naturopathic health plan.
- Actively listening as you share your story. Your N.D. works to build rapport and trust, and seeks to establish a connection with you to foster a positive doctor-patient relationship.
- Performing a relevant physical examination, as needed.
- Ordering appropriate diagnostic tests and explain testing that can help determine what is going on inside your body. Based on findings, your naturopathic doctor will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan and holistic health management strategy.
AANP also notes that N.D. appointments tend to take longer than you’re accustomed for other medical visits—between one and two hours for an initial appointment and 30 to 60 minutes in subsequent appointments. The association says that’s because N.D.s are focused on whole-person treatment and take time to explore the many factors that affect your all-around health.
California’s professionally educated and licensed naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) are trained to safely treat patients by using natural methods and substances to support and stimulate the body’s self-healing process, while also utilizing conventional medicine in conjunction with naturopathic medicine when appropriate. This makes N.D.s valuable assets to those interested in natural and conventional medicine and treatments, since N.D.s are trained in both.
For more information to help you get ready for your first N.D. visit, check out “A Consumer’s Guide to Naturopathic Medicine” by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Naturopathic Medicine Committee, which licenses naturopathic doctors in California. To check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Related Reading: #TBT with DCA: Naturopathic Medicine Committee