Nature Cure: NDs may now prescribe
As published in MapleLine Magazine: Aug.5, 2009
by Maria P. Boorman, ND
Those blissful summer days are still with us slowly making way for a beautiful west coast fall. Hopefully you have recharged your batteries, let the sun’s rays stock up your year-round supply of vitamin D and nurtured family ties with summer barbecues and vacations. These entirely pleasurable activities are infinitely important to the quality of your health year round. This is in fact the time to prepare your body for the upcoming cold and flu season and give your stress hormones a rest before you become burdened with increased work loads and school activities.
August and September are a time of true abundance – farms are in full gear harvesting local, organic or pesticide free produce. Take the time to drive or bike to local farms and stock up on this cornucopia. Get creative with recipes; make soups and freeze them, preserve vegetables, make homemade salsa. Indulge without overindulging, taking advantage of truly fresh fruits and vegetables.
A visit to a naturopathic physician at this time can make certain you are on the right track for a healthy winter. Many naturopaths provide homeopathic flu injections which provide similar protection against this year’s flu viruses as the conventional flu vaccine, while enhancing your overall immune system simultaneously. An analysis of your diet and lifestyle can indicate which nutrients you may be lacking and/or point to a need for food sensitivity testing. For many individuals there are foods which aggravate the system enough to cause ongoing inflammation contributing to general dysfunction in the body. The information obtained from your naturopath can be the key to resolving an ongoing health issue and restoring and maintaining vitality.
It is an exciting time for naturopaths in BC. After providing British Columbians with time-honoured traditional therapies and innovative, new strategies for good health since 1921, provincial regulations have recently been approved that further enhance the patient care naturopathic physicians provide.
These regulations, approved in April of 2009, take into consideration the eight years of education necessary to practice naturopathic medicine and the extensive hours of training in diagnostic methods, herbal medicine, nutritional supplementation, IV therapeutics, minor surgery and pharmacology that naturopathic physicians undergo. These regulations give much needed clarification to the list of substances that can be prescribed by a naturopathic doctor (ND) both safely and effectively, including: high-dose vitamin, mineral and herbal preparations; bio-identical hormones; thyroid and adrenal hormones; and antimicrobials. These changes to our scope of practice bring NDs in BC in line with those in Washington and Oregon State where NDs, with virtually identical educations, have been safely prescribing pharmaceuticals since the 1990s.
Many have asked why an ND would want to prescribe pharmaceuticals. The answer lies in the definition of a prescription medication. Many substances, such as high dose vitamins, some amino acids, hormones, and botanicals, which NDs had used for decades, have become “scheduled” here in BC and now require a prescription for use. Currently these controlled substances are rarely, if ever, used as no other practitioners are adequately trained to prescribe them. This has left patients unable to obtain many highly effective, well researched products that could be life-altering in the treatment of an illness.
There are very few medications that would commonly be prescribed by a naturopathic physician but having them available is often a matter of safety for the patient. It has become difficult for many to find a primary care physician, leaving some NDs filling this role for their patients. In this scenario it is very important that an ND can follow through on a diagnosis of a bacterial infection by prescribing an appropriate antibiotic without sending the patient to a walk-in clinic or an emergency room. The key issue is quality of care and shuffling a patient from one practitioner to another leaves room for many errors and poor quality medicine.
At this point in time the BC Naturopathic Association and the College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC are determining the additional education necessary for all NDs in BC to become adequately trained to prescribe pharmaceuticals. Recent graduates will have all the training necessary but those out of school more than a certain number of years (yet to be determined) will have to undergo this additional training. By the end of October the education process will have begun and NDs will have the freedom to practice their craft as they were taught to do, and so patients will have access to important treatments currently unavailable.
Seeking out the care of a naturopathic
physician has never been an easier healthcare choice whether
you are choosing a naturopath to collaborate on your care or are in need
of a primary care physician. A close inspection of your lifestyle and
medical history will lead to educated advice and education that
will assist you on the path to optimal health. MM
Dr. Maria Payne Boorman is a naturopathic physician with Hawthorne Naturopathic Centre in Victoria, BC.
This article is Copyright 2009 Brookeline Publishing House Inc. All rights reserved.
See this article on pages 12-13 in the print edition of MapleLine Magazine (Fall 2009 issue / Aug.-Oct.2009). Subscribe to MapleLine.
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