Earlier this month Dr Q sat down with Less Stress London and explained how a naturopathic approach can help people and how it differs from traditional medicine.
London Stress Less: What are the principles behind naturopathic health.
DrQ: A naturopathic approach to health involves treating the underlying cause and using the healing power of nature. It takes a holistic approach to the whole body and emphasises prevention. It recognises that processes in the body all work together.
L-SL: How can a naturopathic approach compliment your work as a GP? They sound quite different.
DrQ: Naturopathy offers a different approach from traditional medicine. Traditional medical practice starts by categorising a patient into a speciality such as dermatology or gastroenterology for example. Patients will often end up seeing a specialist doctor who only deals with one part of their body, but all our systems; hormones, skin, gut, brain, and the rest, are linked.
Naturopathy offers alternative starting points that can pick up issues and offer solutions that might be missed when only the most urgent symptoms are examined in isolation.
L-SL: So how do you use Naturopathy in your clinic alongside traditional medicine?
DrQ: The traditional medical model of recognising a pattern of symptoms and making a diagnosis is great for many things and particularly useful in emergencies. Medical training enables a doctor to refer a patient to a specialist or initiate treatment usually involving medication or surgery.
However, in about a third of the cases I see in my surgery medication or an operation is not really needed or will potentially cause more harm than good, this is where a holistic approach can offer a real alternative.
L-SL: Can you offer examples of where Naturopathy has helped when traditional approaches have been less successful?
DrQ: Well the skin condition psoriasis can be really debilitating for a patient. I had one 40-year-old year woman visit my surgery who had, lived with the condition for 20 years and it was making her miserable and embarrassed to show her body.
She came to me wanting to know what she could change in her lifestyle to help herself. She had a low vitamin D level and a stressful job resulting in insomnia and fatigue. Her diet was lacking in omega 3 oils, found in oily fish
As a GP, we are taught to prescribe creams, suppress the symptoms and refer to a dermatologist, (skin specialist), where needed. This woman was struggling and the creams she had been using were starting to cause thin skin and infections.
As a Naturopathic nutritionist we are trained to teach the principals of healthy living and educate clients, or patients, to enable them to take control of their own health.
This allowed me to consider her skin from a functional perspective. Acting as a health detective I found that her fatigue was causing her to binge out on bread and biscuits. I put her on a plan to cut out gluten, which has been associated with psoriasis. We increased her omega 3 and tweaked her vitamin D and some other vital nutrients. She started some yoga meditation practice and we worked on a sleep ritual. One month later the psoriasis was improving. She was delighted and felt more in control of her own skin and less reliant on prescription medication.
L-SL: Can a Naturopathic approach to nutrition help people with mood and emotions as well?
DrQ: Yes, definitely; one patient, a 24-year-old student who came to see me for a repeat of her anti-depressant medication had hardly left her house in 2 months and her mood was rock bottom low.
Again, a functional approach revealed glaring diet and lifestyle factors contributing to her low mood. An analysis of her hormone profile revealed that she was actually suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome, which was having a drastic effect on her blood sugar balance. By altering her diet and the glycaemic load values of her meals I managed to improve her mood.
Gut, brain and hormones are all linked up and an understanding of this lead to some amazingly positive benefits. Over three months she altered her diet and came off her medication. She was very motivated and told me that she enjoyed taking back control of her life.
L-SL: So can a Naturopathic outlook always be helpful in every situation?
DrQ: Nutrition is not the answer to every medical problem for sure, but I believe a bit more balance in medicine can help in many cases. I think we’ll see a lot more of naturopathic and functional medicine in the future and that makes me feel very excited as a GP.
This interview first appeared on Less Stress London, you can visit their website here