The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obama Care, includes numerous mentions of the words “wellness” and “prevention” while also emphasizing the importance of cost-effective health care, yet the words “naturopathic medicine” are not mentioned once. The Federal Government has recognized the need in healthcare for exactly what naturopathic doctors (NDs) offer but there is still a steep learning curve to bring legislators up to speed about who naturopathic doctors are and what we bring to the healthcare table.
For being a relatively small profession of 4,500 NDs in the country, we do have a united and strong voice. This was evidenced in the successful and unanimous passage of Senate Resolution 221 last year which declared the first national Naturopathic Medicine Week in October 2013 as sponsored by Maryland’s Senator Mikulski.
On April 28, 2014 over 120 naturopathic students and doctors representing 43 states pounded the marble floors of the Houses of Congress to promote the benefits of naturopathic care for lowering chronic disease rates and saving healthcare dollars at the annual Naturopathic Lobby Day in Washington D.C. hosted by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).
We had two primary objectives:
1. Asking federal legislators to support the future introduction of a bill to include NDs in Medicare as physician level providers, giving seniors affordable access to naturopathic care.
2. Requesting support for the introduction of both Senate and House Resolutions to declare the week of October 6, 2014 as Naturopathic Medicine Week.
Our messages were well received in the office of Maryland Senators Mikulski and Cardin and Congressman Sarbanes. The day concluded with a well-attended Health Fair reception where Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton from Washington DC was honored for her commitment to supporting the charism and principles of naturopathic medicine.
On April 14, 2014, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill allowing for the licensure of naturopathic doctors in the state of Maryland making Maryland the 18th licensed state for NDs in the U.S. The first licenses will be issued to NDs by March 1, 2016.
What does it take to get a state licensed? In the case of Maryland, passing legislation to license naturopathic doctors began with a string of fortunate events leading to the initial bill introduction four years ago, securing strong sponsors in the legislature, and finding our committed lobbyist, Jim McComb, who skillfully advocated for our cause. The next crucial component of success was developing a Team of NDs in the state who were willing to devote an incalculable amount of time, energy and resources into seeing this goal through from start to finish. Achieving our victory would not have been possible without the dedication of Drs. Stephany Porter, Kevin Passero, Carrie Runde, Kristaps Paddock, Erin Kinney and Angela Diop who joined me in dozens of conference calls, tag-teamed on numerous presentations to health care groups, organized successful fundraisers and Lobby Days, and at times dropped everything to attend pivotal meetings with legislators in Annapolis.
The amount of support that the Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians (MDANP) received from our naturopathic community and patients throughout this journey was remarkably generous. The MDANP extends a heartfelt thanks to all of those who offered guest testimony, answered our last-minute calls and provided expert guidance along the way.
Under the new law, naturopathic doctors will be licensed under the Maryland Board of Physicians with a Naturopathic Advisory Committee formed under the Board to support regulation. The scope of practice for NDs will include the ability to “diagnose and treat” using physical exam, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and EKGs. Naturopathic doctors in Maryland will be able to order and dispense naturopathic therapies and use physical medicine techniques include naturopathic mobilization (up to Grade IV manipulation). The law will also offer title protection and clearly define the level of education needed to become eligible for licensure.
Achieving licensure for naturopathic medicine takes more than a well-organized legislative packet or a convincing testimony, it takes teamwork that highlights the gifts and talents of individuals who are united towards a common goal. I could not be more proud of my colleagues from the MDANP in how we pulled together to overcome the opposition and allowed the spirit and integrity of our medicine to prevail.
10 Days to a Healthier YOU!
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Sometimes the best medicine isn’t found in a jar of pills or vitamins… sometimes the best medicine is right in your own bed! SLEEP is one of the great decadences of life that is essential for survival and yet so often overlooked as a key component to health and wellness.
While we sleep our bodies engage in healing activity by secreting melatonin which is a hormone with powerful anti-oxidant properties. A good night’s rest also plays an important role in shaping metabolism as lack of sleep can increase risk of obesity and interfere with healthy weight loss.
Individuals who have trouble falling asleep may benefit from natural supports such as melatonin, calming herbs such as chamomile, hops, passionflower or valerian or taking a dose of relaxing magnesium before bed.
Individuals who have trouble staying asleep may be sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels that occur overnight. Eating a protein snack before bed such as almond butter with apple slices may help keep blood sugar levels even and prevent the frequent waking.
*If you are using anti-inflammatory medications recommended by a healthcare practitioner, please consult the practitioner before making any changes to your regimen.
WATER: One of the first places you can begin when feeling achy or sore is with a glass or two of water since dehydration can be a trigger for these symptoms. I often encourage patients who struggle with lower back pain to first drink two glasses of water and wait about 15 minutes before reaching for the anti-inflammatory medications, and sometimes water does the trick!
TURMERIC is one of the strongest anti-inflammatory herbs in the naturopathic tool belt. Long used as a culinary herb, this potent spice also has been shown to have anti-cancer properties as well. The challenge with turmeric is getting a high enough dose into the body to have a therapeutic effect. While cooking with turmeric is definitely beneficial, taking specially prepared forms of turmeric in supplement form can deliver a high concentration of the herb to stimulate a medicinal effect for lowering pain and inflammation.
CASTOR OIL: When used orally, castor oil can act as a strong laxative, but when applied topically over areas of inflammation (such as an arthritic knee or sore shoulder), castor oil has an anti-inflammatory effect. Preparing a castor oil ‘pack’ is another age-old naturopathic therapy which involves applying the oil over the inflamed area (not over open wounds) and then covering the area and applying heat for 20-30 minutes. The oil can be left on longer but if you sleep with the oil on your body, be sure to wear old clothes as it can stain.
Magnesium is one of the most vital nutrients used by the body with jobs ranging from aiding calcium with bone composition to signaling the relaxation of tight muscles. It is needed for nearly every chemical reaction that turns glucose into energy and offers a gentle approach for calming anxiety, relieving constipation, migraine prevention, relaxing sore muscles and boosting energy levels.
HOW TO USE MAGNESIUM*: Magnesium is relatively safe for children and adults – the main concern being that everyone has a different tolerance for dosing. If you take too much magnesium for your body, then you will likely experience loose stools.
BY MOUTH: Magnesium comes in powder, liquid and capsule forms. It is often recommended to take magnesium before bed as it can help prevent insomnia and support a better night’s sleep. Dosing can range from 150mg – 500mg once or twice per day.
SOAK IN IT: Epsom salts are composed of Magnesium Sulfate and when added to a warm bath (2 cups is a good therapeutic dose), the nutrients soak into the muscle tissue and release tension and stress while also offering mild detoxification support.
* The information in this post is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Before introducing any new supplements, it is advisable to consult a healthcare practitioner.
If you found yourself over-indulging a bit this holiday season, the FRESH START DETOX program will gently guide you back to your healthiest self. Designed to be simple so you can be successful, this 10-day detox will launch you into the New Year with the energy and motivation to tackle your New Year’s Resolutions with gusto!
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