Friday, April 19, 2013

A New Doctor: Naturopathic and Osteopathic Medicine

Dreamstime stock photo - source
I kind of left you guys hanging yesterday... telling you that something possibly life-changing had happened.  That wording may have been a bit overly dramatic.  I toyed with whether or not to use those words, but then   I decided to go with it, because it all feels life-changing to me.

This Monday I traveled 5 hours down to Atlanta to visit a new doctor.  As you know I've been dealing with pain in my ab muscles for a year and a half now.  I've been to beaucoups of traditional, Western, allopathic doctors.  Doctors who treat symptoms with prescriptions but don't necessarily get to the root cause of the problem.  Those doctors have been great within their specialty to try to figure out what's wrong with me. But if they can't find the cause within their set of specific organs or systems, they either pass me off to another specialist or they give me a drug to help mask the symptoms.  Now, I'm not knocking traditional medicine because those prescriptions have helped me function somewhat normally for the past year.  But I have been frustrated that everyone seems to have given up looking for a cause, essentially telling me that there is nothing else to do except live with it.  I don't give up that easily.

So I decided to go a different route.  At the suggestion and encouragement of a friend who lives in Atlanta, I traveled down there this week to visit a naturopathic doctor.  I went to the Progressive Medical Center, a clinic which has both osteopathic doctors and naturopathic doctors.

An osteopathic doctor is one that has a "D.O." after their name instead of an "M.D."  A D.O. is trained very similarly to an M.D.  They have the same rights to practice medicine and the same license to perform the full scope of medicine and surgery as a medical doctor.  And in most cases, they take the same classes in medical school as an M.D. would.  So what's the difference?  An osteopathic physician has a holistic approach to the human body.  They look at the body as a whole to see what's wrong.  And by treating the body as a whole, they hope to alleviate the specific symptoms you are experiencing.

Alright, so that's an osteopathic doctor.  What is a naturopathic doctor?  Naturopathic medicine is based on three principles - the body has the power to heal itself, disease is your body trying to remove things that are obstructing it from its normal function and disease affects the whole person.  The first principle essentially means that a naturopathic doctor tries to use natural substances (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc) to help your body return to normal function without the use of synthetic drugs.  The second principle means that when you experience something wrong in your body, it's your body's way of reacting to things being out of whack.  The third principle refers to the same holistic approach to medicine that a DO uses.  An ND is very concerned with your body's biochemistry, with getting the amounts of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals back to an optimum level in your body.  They believe that fixing that will fix most of the common ailments that people have.

OK, so all that is background for you to know what kind of clinic I visited this week.  Since this is a long post already, I'll tell you all the specifics of my visit next week.  I get to leave you hanging again. :) I have to give you a reason to keep coming back, right?

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