Blog Article Archive

Ever Heard Of A Naturopath? Here’s Why You May Want To See One – Nicole Frehsee

An article in Prevention Magazine has come across several of our social media platforms and I wanted to share it with you.

The original article can be found here:



According to conventional wisdom, when you’re sick, you call the doctor. (And maybe your mom.) But your trusty MD may not be the only one who can cure what ails you—especially if you’ve paid him or her a visit already and still aren’t feeling well.

That’s where naturopaths come in. Naturopathic doctors, who are educated in the same basic sciences as medical doctors and attend four-year, naturopathic medical schools, take a holistic approach to healing and use natural approaches, like nutrition, herbs, and acupuncture, in addition to conventional ones, like drugs. Whereas an MD may prescribe medicine as a first line of defense—”take these pills to lower your cholesterol/cure your back pain/ease your anxiety”—an ND focuses on treating a problem’s underlying causes (say, poor diet and exercise or stress) versus just its symptoms. (And they’re just one of the 6 alternative doctors you should consider seeing.)

“We use drugs when necessary, but our goal isn’t to get a patient on right the drug so that they don’t experience symptoms. It’s to get them well,” says Jaclyn Chasse, ND, a New Hampshire-based naturopath and president-elect of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

While naturopaths take on any number of health problems, from colds to cancer, they may not be on the general public’s radar. (They’re currently licensed to practice in 17 states and Washington, DC.) “There’s a healthy skepticism surrounding what naturopaths do,” says Chasse. “But naturopathic medicine is not medicine-lite. In fact, I often see patients who are so sick because they haven’t gotten well in the conventional system.” Here, some reasons you may want to visit a naturopath.

Your blood pressure is creeping up, or you’re type 2 diabetic.

When it comes to chronic conditions, drugs can help initially, but at some point, they may stop working as well, says Jamey Wallace, ND, chief medical officer of Washington’s Bastyr University (one of 5 accredited naturopathic medical schools in the US). “That’s why making lifestyle changes is a focus,” he says. Sufferers of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes typically benefit from weight loss, regular exercise and, of course, a healthy diet, so a naturopath will help patients map out a plan to meet those goals. “I’ll spend time with a patient to identify obstacles to doing those things, and help them set up a schedule so they can practice them,” says Wallace.


Your hormones are out of whack.

Is your period irregular? Your PMS raging? A naturopath may be able to help. “Conventional medicine doesn’t have a lot of tools in this area—there’s nothing to support the body’s own hormone production but birth control,” says Chasse. “But certain herbs are incredibly good at bringing hormones back into balance by improving the connection between the brain and the ovaries, where the hormones are made.” Nutrition also comes into play with hormones, so naturopaths will dissect your diet if an imbalance is found (like MDs, NDs run blood tests to determine your hormone levels). Chasse’s tip: Antioxidants help the brain-ovary connection, so “your best bet is to eat the rainbow”—i.e. lots of colorful fruits and veggies. (For more nutrition advice, check out The Power Nutrient Solution, the first-ever plan that tackles the root cause of virtually every major ailment and health condition today.)

Your stomach is killing you.

If you’re struggling with anything from bloating to IBS to Crohn’s, overhauling your diet could be a better solution than taking meds. “Most digestive disorders respond well to dietary changes,” says Wallace. “I talk about food a lot. Naturopaths aren’t trained as nutritionists but we incorporate food as medicine in our practice.” Naturopaths also dig deep to find the root cause of your pain. “We might do stool tests to see if carbs or fats or proteins aren’t properly broken down, and we’ll want to know what types of probiotics do or don’t live in your gut,” says Chasse. “We tend to do certain testing that conventional doctors don’t really do.”

You’re feeling depressed or anxious.

While seeing your conventional doc for anxiety or depression symptoms might get you a prescription for meds or a psychiatrist referral, naturopaths work with patients to identify the underlying causes of their issues. (Note: They aren’t equipped to manage serious mental-health problems.) “We get a lot of training in counseling, about a Master’s [degree] level,” says Chasse. “We help patients reorganize their lives to limit stress, and we also work with herbs that help the body biochemically manage stress better.” You’ll likely leave your ND’s office with exercise and diet recommendations, too.


Your heartburn is out of control.

Does a slice of pizza for dinner mean reflux for dessert? Conventional antacids aren’t the only remedy. “Antacids are prescribed in inordinate volumes in this country,” says Wallace. Instead, modifying your diet and taking certain herbs may be the first logical steps to feeling relief. “There are a number of herbs that soothe the tissue in the stomach lining and esophagus,” he says. “With the herbs, in addition to some very basic diet changes, many patients come in and say their symptoms are gone.”

You’re suffering from an autoimmune condition.

Autoimmune conditions (everything from Celiac disease to rheumatoid arthritis to lupus), which result when the immune system attacks the body’s healthy cells, signal that your body’s immune system is going haywire. As such, conventional doctors commonly prescribe drugs, like steroids, to get some of these conditions in check. Naturopaths, on the other hand, look to lifestyle tweaks. Chasse points to diet as a prime example. “Inflammation is the immune system overreacting, and certain foods cause inflammation,” she says. “We’ll put patients on an anti-inflammatory-diet—plant-heavy, with lots of fish and healthy fats and less red meat and sweets—and prescribe herbs to bring the body back into balance.”

You have cancer.

A disclaimer here: When it comes to battling any disease, we’re certainly not suggesting you ditch your MD in favor of a naturopath (in fact, some states have laws requiring that patients with certain illnesses see an MD before an ND can offer treatment). But in some cases, naturopaths can help optimize conventional treatments. Take cancer, for instance: Naturopaths can help minimize the side effects of chemo (which damages the immune system) so that patients are less likely to run into complications during treatment. “Studies have shown that natural therapies”—think acupuncture or taking certain herbs—”actually help patients do better on chemo,” says Chasse. “When cancer patients are also being treated by a naturopath, they’re more likely to take to the prescribed regimen without a problem.”

Magnesium Deficiency in Cancer Patients Receiving Platinum-based Chemotherapy

A colleague of mine, Dr. Valero ND, recently published an article on magnesium deficiency in cancer patients who have undergone platinum based chemotherapy: cisplatin, carboplatin, oxaliplatin, etc and I would like to review it here for you as I believe the information contained in the article to be incredibly useful for cancer.  



Magnesium deficiency is a relatively common nutritional deficiency, with up to 75% of the population consuming insufficient amounts daily. Cancer patients are at increased risk of deficiency either from gastrointestinal loss of magnesium from diarrhea, reduced absorption from low stomach acid, kidney damage, or  chemo-induced depletions. A review of the literature found that hypomagnesemia was found in 29%-100% of patients who have undergone platinum based chemotherapy. One study by Buckley et al reported the incidence of hypomagnesemia to be 41% after 1 course of treatment and 100% after 6 courses of treatment with cisplatin. These depleted levels of magnesium typically last for 4 to 5 months after the last round of chemotherapy, but in children can even persist for years after cancer treatment.

Serum magnesium does not appear to be a reliable indicator of magnesium deficiency, as bioavailable magnesium is found intracellularly (within the tissues), and not in serum (blood stream). There are a wide variety of clinical signs and symptoms that can be used for screening for hypomagnesmia:


muscle cramps




restless leg



loss of appetite








high blood pressure


cardiac abnormalities







metabolic alkylosis

psychiatric distrubance

cortical blindness


High energy requirements due to rapid proliferation, dedifferentiation, and cell immortality is one characteristic of cancer cells. Magnesium is necessary in these cellular processes therefore, tumor tissue often stores magnesium and can lead to low levels of magnesium in healthy tissue.

Magnesium deficiency can contribute to the development of the ideal cancer terain by inducing inflammation, oxidative stress, and by inhibiting DNA repair enzymes. Adequate levels of magnesium are important in DNA replication and repair. There are cellular checkpoints in DNA replication that help to prevent mutations from occurring. It has been hypothesized that a decrease in magnesium activates the gene TRPM7, which increases intracellular calcium and activating calcium-dependent cell proliferation, leading to tumour growth.  Animal studies by Wolf et al noted that lung metastasis nearly doubled in magnesium-deficient mice. Solanki et al found that magnesium supplementation protects against cisplatin-induced kidney injury in human ovarian tumor mouse models without compromising the cytotoxic effects by cisplatin. A small study consisting of only 36 patients with NSCLC (lung cancer) who were receiving cisplatin found that tumor response rates were 59.3% in the magnesium + chemo group compared to 38.5% in the control group. Evidence regarding magnesium supplementation with platinum based chemotherapeutics is sparse but these studies are encouraging.

Magnesium repletion, either through oral or IV means, seems to be important for preventing more severe symptoms of deficiency. Read more about the various types of magnesium supplements here (link to come). Not all magnesium supplements are created equally.

Colic and your Baby

Common signs of colic in your baby include:

  • episodes of irritability that start in the first few weeks following birth and last 3-4 months
  • visibly distressed infant
  • arms and legs may be pulled close to the body, or infant may be stiff, belly may be tight
  • crying lasts for hours at a time, or occurs several hours a day and several days of the week
  • baby passes gas when crying
  • baby is inconsolable

Colic is one of natures great mysteries. Nobody knows what colic really is, and yet everyone has something to say about it. Scientists have suggested possible causes being: a mother who smoked during pregnancy or who smokes around her baby, the baby’s underdeveloped nervous system, the baby’s maturing digestive tract. For a baby to be diagnosed as colicky, it must be gaining weight appropriately and be other wise healthy. Infants do grow out of colic and there are no lasting medical consequences. In the mean time, here are some tips and home remedies to ease the pain. Keeping a colic-journal is a good idea. It can help you and your care provider better understand the colic and its cause.

Reduce Stimulation: Listening to your baby cry for hours can lead you to tears and cause you great anxiety however babies are incredibly keen at picking up on the emotions of their care givers so it is incredibly important to stay calm. Hug your baby close to you, direct skin-to-skin contact is even better. Rock your baby, and avoid overstimulating lights and noises, though white noise can be soothing.

Breastfeeding: As a baby feeds, breast milk increases in fat. If you switch your baby to the other breast during feeding before he/she has finished feeding on the first side, they are consuming less fat and less calories. This means baby will be hungry more frequently.  Breast milk that is lower in fat is actually higher in milk sugar (lactose). The sugar digesting enzyme (lactase) in baby’s developing digestive tract may not be able to handle such a large quantity of milk sugar causing them to have symptoms of lactose intolerance (crying, gas, diarrhea) which can mimic colic. Switching your infant to a lactose free formula is not the solution. Talk to a lactation consultant, doula, or perinatal naturopathic doctor to ensure your breastfeeding technique is optimal for baby’s health.

Food Sensitivities: If you are breastfeeding your little one make sure to note in your colic-journal what you have eaten in the last 24 hours. Common colic causing foods in breast milk include dairy, soy, peanuts, wheat, eggs, corn, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, caffeine and chocolate. Removing these triggers from mom’s diet can significantly impact baby’s colic. Breastfeeding must not be prematurely discontinued, mom and baby must receive appropriate nutritional support on this restricted diet. If no benefit is seen after two weeks of removing these foods the dietary restrictions may be lifted. If food sensitivities are thought to be the cause, mom can get a food sensitivity test done. This test examines your immune systems response to 96 different foods that are common triggers.

Herbal Treatments: Studies have shown traditional herbal medicines have a positive effect on colic, specifically reducing crying time. Tea is the most basic and gentle way to introduce herbs to your infants digestive system. Herbs that soothe the digestive system and alleviate gas include: fennel seeds, anise seeds, lemon balm, catnip, and chamomile. To prepare: steep 1 tsp of dried herb in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Let tea cool to room temperature. Give 1tbsp as frequently as every 10 minutes. A dropper is the easiest way to feed the tea to your infant. This fluid should not replace breastfeeding.

Probiotics: A study released earlier this year in the Pediatrics journal found that infants with colic suffered from decreased gut flora diversity. Our digestive tract is covered in lots of healthy bacteria that helps us digest our food and fight off infection. During labour and delivery a baby’s intestinal tract is colonized by the bacteria he/she is exposed to, usually in the vaginal canal. Moms who are placed on antibiotics prior to or during labour have reduced flora. As do infants who are put on antibiotics after delivery. The results of the study released in January 2013 suggest that probiotics may be useful in reducing infant colic by populating their intestinal tract with healthy flora.

When to See Your Doctor: It is important to note that not all inconsolable crying is colic. Make sure that your baby is not in pain for other reasons: injury, illness, or infection. Mom knows her baby best, if she feels something more serious is going on consult a perinatal naturopathic doctor or family physician.

When taking herbs and supplements it is important to consult a naturopathic doctor. Dosing of supplements and natural remedies is important in infants. What is known as the ‘therapeutic window’ is smaller in babies than it would be in a child or adult. A naturopathic doctor will ensure a therapeutic level is achieved while also ensuring the dose isn’t too high. Herbs and supplements are natural, however there is the possibility of an allergic reaction or an interaction with something your infant is currently on.

Why Should I Pay for Naturopathic Medicine?

A good friend of mine Dr. Justin Gallant ND wrote this amazing article recently. I frequently get asked: “Why should I pay for my healthcare when I can see my family doctor for free?” Justin has a great answer to this question, read on or click here:

Why Should I Pay for Naturopathic Medicine?

Dr. Justin Gallant, ND

A couple of people have told me that they have a hard time justifying paying to see a Naturopathic Doctor.

Hopefully this analogy will help shift the mindset:

Scenario 1: You pick up a car for $500 to last you through the winter. You go to start it up and all of the sudden you hear a terrible noise coming out of the muffler. It’s just a beater so it’s reasonable to just patch up the hole. You’re going to get rid of it after the winter anyway right?

Scenario 2: You’ve saved up to buy that new car you’ve always wanted and a couple months later you hear that dreaded noise. You want this car to last at least the next 10 years. That hole is a just a small sign of things to come so it’s better to get a professional service to fix your car (i.e. mechanic or dealership) and get the whole part replaced. After spending hundreds of dollars on your car, your bank account isn’t happy but you won’t have to worry about the problem coming back for a long time.

Scenario 3: You’re born with a priceless body that scientists would not be able recreate with billions of dollars. Your body is not disposable; you want it to last a century. If you don’t want to patch up a decent car that you hope will last a decade I would hope that you would not want to just throw a patch on your body that has the potential to last 100 years. By the time you’re retired would you rather be driving around that car that you decided to patch up every time something went wrong or would you prefer to have that ol’ classic car that looks brand spankin’ new and everything runs perfectly. You’ll be the envy of all your peers. We don’t have the option to sell or trade our bodies so it’s important to seek professional services in order to keep them in optimal shape.

Regarding your health,

While those temporary patches are important while you work on finding a solution, they shouldn’t be depended on for life. It might be necessary to apply a patch until you can find the right person to fix your problem or until you can get the money to pay them but the mindset of, “That’s good enough” shouldn’t suffice. Most of us get one chance with our body and our health is what will maintain it so we can enjoy it for as long as possible.

If you’re willing to spend over $20 000 on a vehicle and dish out hundreds of dollars at a time to keep it tuned up or to repair it, you should not be afraid to treat your health the same way. You’re more important than your car.

Our bodies are miraculous machines, they can enable us to do so many things or they can literally be the death of us. We have to cherish and invest in our irreplaceable bodies rather than the replaceable material things in life. We have to look at our bodies as if they are the vehicle that will get us through the next 100 years and treat it as such.

A couple of other things to keep in mind:

•The less a Doctor is paid per patient, the more patients that Doctor will try to see

•Aside from the advanced education, research and experience your ND utilizes to help improve your health, most ND’s spend a lot of out-of-office time working on each patient’s individual case. It’s better to treat the price you pay as if it’s “per health” rather than “per hour” because you might sit down with your ND for an hour but they could spend a whole day working up your case.

•If money is an issue, just like most other professions, most ND’s will be able to work something reasonable out for you.

•If you have benefits, depending on the company you could get the first 4 visits for free or 80% off of all of your visits.

•Most people you talk to who have been to an ND have no problem paying for the service, these people realize how valuable their health is because the majority of them have realized how severely poor health can affect their life.