One of the blessings and responsibilities of being a part of an emerging profession like naturopathic medicine is that we need a strong and unified voice in order to move the profession forward. That is why for the past nine years I have joined with fellow leaders in the naturopathic field along with naturopathic medical students to participate in our annual Lobby Day in Washington DC hosted by the AANP (American Association of Naturopathic Physicians). Each year, I bring the stories and concerns of my patients to the offices of Maryland legislators in an effort to increase access to naturopathic care and promote use of non-pharmaceutical options for managing chronic health conditions – with an ultimate goal of lowering healthcare costs. With issues like the opioid epidemic and the rising healthcare costs for seniors on the forefront of national healthcare attention, the time to acknowledge the role that NDs can play in emphasizing disease prevention and lowering rates of chronic disease is now.
This year we thanked members of Congress who have supported our efforts to have Naturopathic Doctors included as enumerated providers in the Veterans Health Administration (VA). While this is still an evolving process, more steps have been taken over the past year to make this an eventual reality. Connecting Veterans with naturopathic care will expand the range of drug-less options available for managing chronic pain and PTSD.
We also requested support for a Medicare Pilot Project that would study the impact of naturopathic care on lowering the rates of cardiovascular disease in seniors. Over 83 million Americans have cardiovascular disease and half of those individuals are seniors. A study like this could demonstrate the cost effectiveness of naturopathic medicine and our impact on improving quality of life.
As Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski nears her retirement, I would like to acknowledge her tremendous support of naturopathic medicine and contributions to our legislative efforts. In 2013 she introduced a Senate Resolution creating the first ever Naturopathic Medicine Week and in 2015, she submitted a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs on our behalf calling for inclusion of NDs as a provider type within the VA. We look forward to honoring her legacy by advancing naturopathic medicine in Maryland through continued advocacy, excellent patient care, and community health promotion.
The dream is now a reality.
A journey that began back in January 2011 when the Maryland Naturopathic Doctors Association first introduced our licensure bill to the Maryland General Assembly has now resulted in the issuance of licenses to practice naturopathic medicine in Maryland. This great triumph is still being celebrated all across the country as Maryland becomes the 17th state to license naturopathic doctors in the US.
As I await the arrival of my official license in the coming weeks, I wanted to provide current and prospective patients with more information about the implications of licensure and how it will impact my practice. Hopefully many of your questions will be answered below:
Will you be able to act as my Primary Care Provider?
By law, NDs will not serve as primary care providers in Maryland and will act as specialists in natural medicine.
Will insurance companies be required to cover naturopathic care?
No, the naturopathic licensure law does not include provisions for third party reimbursement. Services will remain out-of-pocket.
As a patient, will I need to do anything different once you are licensed?
All current and new patients will be asked to sign a consent form which will clearly outline the scope of practice for NDs in Maryland and remind patients that I will not be serving as their primary care provider.
Once licensed, what will change with your practice?
I will be able to order laboratory tests and perform physical exam to support clinical diagnosis. As a licensed health care professional in Maryland I will also be able to better connect and collaborate with other health care providers to improve patient care.
Will you be able to prescribe medications?
No, NDs will not be permitted to prescribe pharmaceutical medications under the current law. A multi-disciplinary Naturopathic Formulary Council is being established to review what types of pharmaceuticals NDs may be able to prescribe in the future.
How do I set up an appointment?
Please contact my office manager Gwen at: 443-226-7665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Just fix me.” An all too common demand expressed by new patients who seek out naturopathic care after having seen countless doctors and specialists. When I respond, “that’s not my job,” followed by, “my job is to offer you a new possibility,” the patient’s reaction will largely determine how the therapeutic relationship will unfold.
These individuals arrive with long-term suffering coupled with a story about being broken. Phrases such as “I don’t feel like myself,” or “This isn’t me,” reveal the perceived distance between a state of current suffering and a remembered experience of health and wellbeing. I admit that my first impulse is to want to “fix” and draw the shortest line possible between pain and cure. However, my job as a practitioner is to refrain from reacting. My job is to First Do Nothing.
The principle of First Do Nothing was introduced to me early on in my naturopathic education by sage and experienced healers in the field. While the words passed through my consciousness off and on over the years, it is only more recently that I have come to understand how essential this practice truly is and its unfortunate absence in modern medicine.
At first glance the words First Do Nothing may imply negligence or passivity when quite the opposite is true. Living in a reactionary culture where knee-jerk responses and escapist behaviors surface in the face of adversity and discomfort, First Do Nothing is the invitation to “stay” – to hold a loving and grounded presence in the face of all that is difficult to face. In the pause before responding, recommending or reacting, the person is held in a space of deep active listening and positive regard. First Do Nothing is its own medicine.
Recently a woman came to see me with a chronic and nagging left-sided neck pain. She had seen several health care providers in search of relief only to have the pain return after treatment. To better understand the underlying cause of her neck pain, I guided her into a brief meditation. As she closed her eyes and tuned in to the sensation in her neck, she transitioned from describing her neck pain to sharing a story of past events resulting in regret and a loss of trust. Her verbal expression of this story gave way to self-forgiveness and a re-connection to deep love. By the end of the meditation, the woman surprisingly noticed that her neck pain had disappeared for the first time in many months.
Without a homeopathic remedy, a cranio-sacral adjustment or any host of anti-inflammatory protocols that I might have leapt to for addressing chronic neck pain, this woman reminded me of the medicine that is delivered in the midst of a healing presence. With this learning, I look forward to walking in partnership with more individuals who are ready to remember their own capacity for healing and transformation.
The beginning of 2016 marks the start of an exciting new chapter in my practice as we join the group of talented healers at BlueGreen. I look forward to welcoming you to my new office location at 222 W. Cold Spring Lane in the Evergreen neighborhood of Baltimore. Aside from the inviting and tranquil ambiance that BlueGreen offers, patients will also enjoy the amenities of free and convenient parking as well as the ease of handicapped accessibility. I will continue to offer naturopathic care and cranio-sacral therapy for adults and children and natural dispensary services for current patients. To schedule an appointment, please call (443) 226-7665. Wishing you a healthy, joyful and prosperous New Year!
At a time when Mother Nature is retreating into hibernation, the holiday season pulls us in directions that can distract from the true spirit of Winter. Balancing the call to stillness with the sensory overload of twinkling lights, festive cocktails and sweet treats can be a lot to digest! How you choose to move through this season can set the tone for your overall health through the winter months. Taking a Mind, Body, Spirit approach towards the holidays may help relieve common post-festivity woes by easing digestive distress, relaxing emotional overwhelm and preventing spiritual melt down.
Preventing digestive distress can be as easy as supplementing your system with an extra boost of digestive enzymes. Taken before or during a meal, digestive enzymes may reduce bloating or indigestion by easing the breakdown of fats, carbs and proteins. If there are foods that are particularly troublesome for you (dairy or wheat for example), bring a dish or treat to share to your next holiday party that you know in advance will not upset your system.
When you have reached your tipping point of patience with holiday travel or overextended your share of cheer with challenging family members, a few drops of Rescue Remedy under the tongue can help simmer tension and reset your threshold for those busiest of days.
Taking a few minutes out of each day to calm the mind can do wonders. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the to-dos this time of year, but getting some perspective through a regular meditative practice can really ease the mental load and lift the spirit. Try visiting www.Calm.com for free meditation exercises ranging from two to twenty minutes. (Free App available as well.)
Wishing you a restorative start to your New Year!
FIBER: It is something preached about from nearly all fields of medicine. The researched benefits of fiber extend from helping to lower cholesterol and preventing cancer to improving gut health and supporting healthy weight loss. If a pharmaceutical drug could accomplish all of these health claims, then healthcare providers might be out of a job! With all of the supported knowledge about the wonders and workings of fiber in the body, most Americans still fall short of taking in the recommended minimum of 25 grams per day.
WELLNESS CHALLENGE #5: FIVE TO THRIVE
While fiber can be found in a wide array of food groups including whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, today I challenge you to focus on eating the RAINBOW in the form of fruits and vegetables. Aim for a combination of 5 fruits and veggies in a variety of colors. Whenever increasing your intake of fiber, it is always helpful to increase water as well to prevent constipation while your body adjusts to the change. Let food be your medicine today!
If you are reading this post, then you are likely using a device that requires recharging. Turns out that YOU are a ‘device’ that also requires recharging and today your challenge is to do just that. Sleep is one of our most important means of resetting energy levels as it brings balance to the immune, nervous and endocrine systems. Meditation can also serve as a restorative practice to reconnect our busy minds to the rest of our neglected bodies.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: DISCONNECT TO RECONNECT
How many hours have you spent in front of a screen today? This week? And how many hours have you spent doing something you really truly love? If you are noticing a stark imbalance, it may be time to cut the cord, power down your electronics and look straight ahead while walking down the street for a change. Give yourself a 2-hour break today from a constant feeling of being ‘on call’ and notice what changes when the impulse to check your phone or e-mail relaxes. With the new space created in your day, I encourage you to try a 10-minute breathing meditation and aim for an extra hour of sleep. Let yourself be recharged!