Many patients, especially those unfamiliar with natural and holistic medicine, have questions. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions. If you don't find the answer to your question here, please contact us. We'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
What Do Naturopathic Doctors Do?
Naturopathic Doctors (NDs):
- Are primary care practitioners trained to be experts in natural medicine.
- Concentrate on whole person health; treatment is tailored to each individual patient and emphasizes prevention and self-care.
- Attempt to address the underlying causes of the patient's condition rather than focusing narrowly on symptomatic treatment.
- Believe in integrative medicine and form relationships with all other branches of medicine, and refer patients to other practitioners for continuing care when appropriate.
Are Naturopathic Doctors Licensed?
Naturopathic Doctors are licensed in 15 states in the U.S., in Puerto Rico and in all provinces of Canada. The licensed states in the U.S. include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Kansas, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. In unlicensed states, NDs most commonly obtain other licenses and work within their scope of practices while offering naturopathic care. There are active licensing efforts going on in many states. Please visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) website for more information.
What is the Education and Training of Naturopathic Doctors?
Education of NDs is rigorous. It includes premedical undergraduate coursework, completion of a four year graduate level program at an accredited naturopathic medical school, two years of supervised clinical training (and in some cases a one- or two-year postgraduate residency program). NDs study the same basic and clinical sciences as traditional medical students as well as a full spectrum of natural medicines and therapies. To be licensed, NDs must then pass state board examinations and meet other requirements for licensure.
NDs are extensively trained in physical examination, laboratory testing, nutritional and metabolic analysis, allergy testing, X-ray analysis and other diagnostic tests. NDs are the only primary care physicians trained to use a wide variety of natural therapies including nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling, and physical medicine. NDs can also prescribe pharmaceuticals and order laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging.
What is the difference between a naturopathic doctor and a medical doctor?
While there are many similarities in how NDs and MDs are trained and practice, there are also important differences. Both NDs and MDs are taught methods of diagnosis based on measurable criteria (such as laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging, patient history and physical examination). MDs then continue on to treat the diagnosis with therapies (pharmaceuticals) aimed at blocking or suppressing a symptom. Examples are using pain killers and anti-inflammatory agents for arthritis, or using antibiotics to treat an infection. This approach is very effective for treating emergencies and life-threatening health problems, but does not work to correct the causes of health conditions, and has a poor track record in treating chronic disease. MDs by and large tend to take a reductionist approach to health care; that is they focus on treating the diagnosis and disease and not the patient.
NDs take a more holistic approach in examining what is contributing to disease and preventing one from optimal health. For example, an ND may prescribe nutritional substances for arthritis that help to give the body the nutrients it needs to repair itself, while at the same time, using therapies to restore damaged tissues and healthy joint alignment and function. Using a more holistic model, an ND will also look into the role that food sensitivities or gastrointestinal health may play in the patient with arthritis. All of this helps to correct the underlying causes of the condition and prevents dependence upon a drug to mask the symptoms. With any condition, the innate healing power of the body is given an opportunity to restore function and health to all aspects of the body with this kind of holistic approach.
What kinds of conditions do you treat?
Dr. Thomas treats a wide range of conditions. Some examples include, allergies, asthma, pains and injury, headaches, digestive problems, chronic fatigue, immune problems, ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, and sleep disorders. Dr. Thomas also works with patients to optimize and maintain health with her specialty therapies of applied kinesiology, Neurofeedback, and/or nutritional counseling. These therapies address many varied physical and emotional health conditions, and are excellent resources for peak performance training.
What happens at my first appointment?
During the initial visit, a health history is taken, any necessary physical exams are done, and primary health concerns are addressed therapeutically. Referral for blood, urinary, salivary, and/or other diagnostic lab tests may be requested depending upon the condition(s). The first visit is 90 minutes. There is ample metered parking on the streets adjacent to 1306 NW Hoyt St. in the Pearl District (the Gadsby building). Make sure to park in and pay for a zone allowing for 2 hours (on 13th Ave, 14th Ave, or 15th Ave).
What should I do before my first visit?
Intake forms will be emailed to you. Please fill them out before your initial visit. It is also recommended to look over the Healthy Eating guidelines. Dr. Thomas will discuss how nutrition plays a major role in health and disease. Patients that make the most progress are those amenable to making any necessary dietary adjustments and taking nutritional supplements, herbal medications, or homeopathy when needed. If you are not ready to make changes at this time, it may be more advantageous to wait to make an appointment until you are. The clinic is a fragrance-free environment for the health of staff and patients. Please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, scented body/hair products and/or clothing scented of cigarette smoke at the time of visit.
How often do patients see Dr. Thomas?
The frequency of visits depends upon which therapeutic methods are used to help resolve your conditions. With applied kinesiology treatments, patients initially visit 2 times per month. As health improves and stabilizes, patients often see Dr. Thomas every one to three months for ongoing maintenance and preventative care. By providing you with tools to be your own best health coach, the goal is to help you gain and maintain optimal wellness.
Neurofeedback is a very effective therapy with lasting changes when 20-40 sessions are done. This range is the typical number of sessions required to create permanent positive changes in the functioning of the nervous system and brain. The brain learns how to make changes more quickly and successfully with 2 sessions per week for the first 6-8 weeks. Sessions are tapered down to once per week, and then once every other week before ending therapy. Neurofeedback requires a commitment to the therapy as the brain learns and develops new-gained skills. Improvement in function occurs throughout the course of treatment, often noticeable within the first few sessions.