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9 Naturopathic Doctors Share Their Core Philosophies and Recommendations

Naturopathic medicine seeks to correct underlying causes of disease and restore the body’s ability to heal itself―rather than suppressing symptoms with prescription drugs, as conventional medicine typically does. We talked to nine naturopathic doctors and got some of their top recommendations to help you get and stay in the best of health.

Connecting the Dots Donald Brown, ND

“Try to be as self-educated as possible.”

After being in private practice and teaching at Bastyr University in Seattle, Brown now focuses on research and consulting. He is a leading authority on the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements, and the author of Herbal Prescriptions for Health & Healing.

“Conventional medicine has phenomenal diagnostic and heroic ability,” he says. “But it has gotten away from connecting the dots.” As an example, conventional doctors don’t usually tell their patients that 70 percent of the immune system is in the digestive tract, and therefore diet has a profound influence on our overall health. In contrast, says Brown, “Naturopathic medicine gives people that complete look.”

Key Advice: When people have an advanced disease and all else has failed, they often turn to a naturopathic doctor. Instead, they should do so at the first sign of trouble, or simply to maintain good health.

Healthy Babies Adrienne Stewart, NMD

“Health is an investment in the future. The earlier you invest, the greater the returns.”

Pre-conception health, including fertility and environmental medicine, is Stewart’s passion. “It’s the ultimate preventive medicine,” she says. Not only does it set the stage for the child’s lifelong health, but also for health of generations that follow. That’s because the testes or ovaries develop in the womb and will influence the child’s future ability to have healthy children.

“A nutritionally depleted state makes it harder to conceive,” says Stewart. Other key elements are hormonal imbalances and toxins―typically ignored in conventional prenatal medicine and fertility treatments.

The time to get your personal health in order is as soon as you plan to get pregnant, emphasizes Stewart, because your physical state influences the child from the moment of conception. By the time you discover you’re pregnant, the fetus is already two to three weeks old.

Pre-Pregnancy Supplements: For Her:―A prenatal multivitamin high in 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate), an absorbable form of folic acid; fish oil; probiotics; calcium and magnesium; and vitamin D. For Him: A multivitamin with a combination of antioxidants, or a separate antioxidant formula; fish oil; and to boost fertility if necessary, the herb Tribulus terrestris.

More information:

Sleeping Soundly Beverly Yates, ND

“The whole country needs to take a nap.”

Although she treats all types of problems and is the author of Heart Health for Black Women and other books, Yates views sleep as the most overlooked cornerstone of health. Common manifestations of sleep deprivation include feeling irritable or getting angry, being unable to lose weight or keep it off, and having trouble remembering things.

If you don’t get enough sleep, she says, “No wonder you can’t find your keys or cell phone.” Simply not allowing enough time for adequate sleep and not sticking with a regular sleep schedule are common causes, she says, and another one is hormonal imbalance.

An MIT-trained engineer before becoming a naturopathic physician, Yates is a firm believer in gathering evidence to determine the best course of action. Her motto: “Test, don’t guess; I’m not psychic.”

Good Natural Sleep Aids: Glycine, an amino acid that extends deep sleep by lowering core body temperature, and 5-HTP.

More information:

Cancer Treatment and Prevention Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO

“Look at healthy changes as a way to increase your capacity to experience or create what you love most about your life.”

A Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO), Alschuler is also a cancer survivor, educator of all types of health professionals (including MDs), and author of several books, most recently The Definitive Guide to Cancer. Most of her patients are dealing with cancer.

“I view the challenge of illness as an opportunity to regain or develop very deep and sustainable wellness,” she says. “Cancer frightens people and they tend to be shaken out of their slumber and are much more open to transforming physical and mind health.”

Alschuler’s wellness recommendations are also for healthy people who want to stay that way. Her core program, The Five to Thrive Plan, includes spiritual, physical, and rejuvenation activities, diet, and supplements.

Key Supplements: Vitamin D (ideally, get tested to determine how much you need); fish oil; flavonoids such as curcumin, green tea, and resveratrol; antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamin C and tocotrienols (the vitamin E family); and probiotics.

More information:

Environmental Medicine Walter Crinnion, ND

“Sugar blocks the liver’s ability to clear toxins from the blood.”

A specialist for over 30 years in identifying and treating chronic diseases caused by toxins, Crinnion is professor and chair of the environmental medicine department at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Ariz., and author of Clean, Green and Lean.

“People with a high toxic burden are 15 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes,” he says. Other toxin-induced conditions can include autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disease; chemical sensitivities; fibromyalgia; chronic fatigue syndrome; bone marrow cancers; allergies; asthma; brain fog; and balance problems.

Key sources of toxins include air pollutants, pesticides, and phthalates in fragrance, but, he says, our body’s ability to deal with these is greatly reduced by eating too much sugar and wheat. Instead, he recommends foods that help us detoxify naturally.

Top Detoxifying Foods: Rice bran fiber (in brown rice), chlorophyll (in greens), green tea, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale. Supplements of sulforaphane (found in cruciferous vegetables) also help.

More information:

Thyroid and Other Hormones Alan Christianson, NMD

“The power of consistency makes the difference.”

The founder of Integrative Health, a naturopathic medical practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., Christianson is a primary care provider with a specialty in thyroid and other glandular conditions, including diabetes and adrenal problems, and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease.

Conventional medicine, he points out, treats markers such as cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure, which doesn’t heal a patient if the underlying causes are not addressed. “No one cares if they die with low cholesterol,” he says.

One of his patients, a type 2 diabetic, was taking two diabetes medications, but still had high blood sugar and was beginning to develop kidney disease. With a naturopathic approach, changing diet, using medical meal replacements, and taking supplements, Christianson’s patient lost weight and his blood sugar dropped to non-diabetic levels within three months without any drugs.

Key Supplements: Vitamin D3, fish oil (even if you eat fish), and a multivitamin and mineral supplement in capsules, without magnesium stearate. This protocol should be combined with a high-produce diet, especially lots of greens.

More information:

Naturopathy Goes Mainstream Gaetano Morello, ND

“DNA is not destiny.”

In private practice in Vancouver, BC, Morello is one of eight specialists at the Complex Chronic Disease Clinic at BC Women’s Hospital, a major medical center where services are covered under Canada’s national health plan. He is also the author of Whole Body Cleansing and other books.

“The body has an innate ability to heal itself,” he says, and where a health condition exists, “something is missing or interfering.” Missing elements may be a lack of certain nutrients, and chemical toxins can interfere with normal body functions. The combination can trigger genes to cause disease instead of wellness. In weight problems, for example, some toxins are “obesogens,” meaning they affect our genes in a way that provokes obesity, and they can trigger chronic inflammation.

Most Important Supplement: Curcumin to calm inflammation, in an absorbable form such as Theracurmin, a proprietary form found in different brands of supplements.

More information:

Wellness Education Carolyn Dean, MD, ND

“Don’t just take a pill.”

Trained in both conventional and naturopathic medicine, Dean’s passion is practicing the medicine of the future, as described by Thomas Edison: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

Dean began striving for wellness for her patients over 40 years ago, practicing integrative medicine long before anyone coined the term. She is the author of over
30 books, including The Magnesium Miracle and Death by Modern Medicine, and consults with patients by phone.

“Take responsibility for your diet, detoxification, exercise, and attitude,” she says. “Supplements are part, but not all, of a wellness program.”

Key Supplements: A food-based, organic multivitamin; B vitamins; vitamin C; magnesium; digestive enzymes such as Enzymedica Digest Gold; and probiotics. Taking a relaxing bath in Epsom salts is a good way to absorb magnesium through the skin.

More information:

Empowerment Holly Lucille, ND, RN

“Wake up from seductive messaging and use your own mind.”

A frequent guest on high-profile TV shows such as The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors, host of her own show, Myth-Defying with Dr. Holly on the Veria Living network, and author of Creating and Maintaining Balance, Lucille also sees patients in her private practice in Los Angeles. “I’m in the business of empowerment,” she says.

The messages we constantly get from advertising and many doctors, to simply take a drug for whatever ails you, are terribly misleading, says Lucille. “If there are symptoms, that’s the body calling for attention.”

As an example, conventional treatment for menopausal symptoms is typically misguided. “Menopause is not a disease,” she points out, and although some women may need natural hormone replacement to alleviate acute symptoms, the real solution is to restore healthy function that will keep hormones in balance.

Key Hormone-Balancing Supplement: DIM (diindolylmethane), from cruciferous vegetables, for both women and men.

More information:

Amazing Wellness contributing editor Vera Tweed has been writing about nutrition, fitness, and healthy living since 1997.

What Is a Naturopathic Doctor?

A naturopathic doctor is a medical professional who has been trained in seeing the patient as a whole person, rather than as a collection of symptoms. While in some states (Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, and Hawaii) they can legally prescribe drugs, their first inclination is to treat patients with a combination of natural therapies, including nutrition, herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture. The abbreviation for a naturopathic credential can be either ND (Naturopathic Doctor or NMD (Naturopathic Medical Doctor).

The best NDs have been trained as thoroughly as a medical doctor, chiropractor, or osteopath. Many people use naturopathic physicians as their gatekeepers. “The naturopathic physician can not only determine when conventional care is necessary as an adjunct, but can also help you find the right provider,” says Andrew Rubman, ND, a noted naturopath and founder of the Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicine in Connecticut.

If you decide to consult a naturopath, it’s important to check out his/her qualifications thoroughly first. “A good, legitimate naturopath will be a member of the AANP, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, ensuring that they graduated from a regionally accredited school and are eligible for licensure by their state,” says Rubman. Some of the more prestigious schools include:

  • Bastyr University; Kenmore, Wash.
  • The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine; Toronto, Ontario
  • The College of Naturopathic Medicine at the University of Bridgeport; Conn.
  • The National College of Natural Medicine; Portland, Ore.
  • The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine; Tempe, Ariz.

—Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS