Why Naturopaths Ask so Many Darned Questions
As a practitioner of naturopathic medicine, I am known to ask a lot of questions. So many questions, in fact, that I’ve had patients ask me why I needed so much information. Some are confused due to past experiences with other doctors who barely asked any questions before deciding on a diagnosis and writing a prescription. The long and short of it is that naturopaths do things differently.
The nature of naturopathic medicine is such that we practitioners tend to prefer a holistic approach that enables the body to heal itself whenever possible. Rather than simply declaring that symptoms indicate the patient is suffering from a condition X, we want to know why that condition exists. If we can figure out the ‘why’, we might be able to find better ways to heal and prevent the condition from reoccurring.
Crime Scene Investigators of Medicine
I sometimes like to describe naturopaths as the crime scene investigators of medicine. For example, we may have a patient who comes to us suffering from severe migraine headaches. Anyone who’s had migraines knows that these headaches are severe enough that they can wreak havoc in a person’s life. As doctors, our biggest temptation is to simply write a prescription that will alleviate the symptoms of a migraine before sending the patient home. But relieving symptoms does not solve the problem.
The naturopath seeks to find out what is causing the migraines so that the underlying cause can be addressed and, where possible, fixed. But migraines are complex phenomena. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a long list of things that can trigger migraines, including:
- certain kinds of food and drink
- food additives
- excessive sensory stimulation
- excessive stress
- changes in sleep patterns
- environmental changes
- certain medications
- certain types of physical exertion.
Migraines are something the medical community still does not fully understand, despite years of research. One way for us to get a better understanding is to start asking lots of questions, connecting the dots based on what patients tell us, and then looking for ways to fix migraine triggers.
As a naturopath, I would rather identify nutritional problems triggering migraines than simply send the patient home with a prescription. I would rather figure out ways to identify stress and environmental changes so that I can work with a patient on ways to adapt.
Naturopathy Takes Time and Effort
We naturopaths ask a lot of questions because we need to know how our patients live, what kinds of decisions they make, what their attitudes are, and so on. The result is that successful naturopathy takes time and effort. But we believe it is time and effort that is well worth expending.
Adopting a holistic approach to good health is an approach that actually solves problems rather than just alleviating symptoms. In the end, that’s what we all really want. We want solutions to health problems that enable the body to do what it is naturally designed to do, as often as possible. When medical intervention is required, naturopaths are not opposed to it in principle. We just don’t believe that medical intervention should be the first course of action.
Should you have the occasion to visit with a naturopath in the future, you now know why we ask so many questions. Be encouraged in the knowledge that we are genuinely trying to figure out what’s causing your problems so that real solutions can be found.