Why Should I See A Naturopathic Doctor?

– by Dr Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

I get asked this question a lot, and I have rarely given the same answer twice.

This is both a benefit, and a difficulty, with Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) have such a large scope of training in a variety of modalities, that it is hard to give a succinct answer to this question.

The easiest place to start is to describe what it takes to become an ND. Naturopathic Doctors have completed a Bachelor’s degree, with pre-requisites in basic science courses, and then finished 4 years of Naturopathic College, including 1 year of residency and 2 sets of board exams. Passing these board exams allows us to use our modalities in practice: nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, physical medicine, hydrotherapy and homeopathy. We also learn diagnostic skills, how to interpret lab results, and when to refer out for a more emergent, or serious conditions. In British Columbia, an additional set of exams allows us to prescribe pharmaceuticals.

Naturopathic Doctors have a unique philosophy regarding healthcare. We are focused on treating the root cause of disease when possible, and not only masking the symptoms. Although sometimes it is important to treat the symptoms, such as pain, we do so while at the same time trying to understand the reason the pain exists in the first place. For example, people with painful periods often take painkillers to help manage their cramps. As NDs, we explore why the cramps are there in the first place? What are your hormone levels? How could your diet be contributing to the pain? How could stress or lifestyle be a factor in your cramps? As part of this exploration, we address the whole person – both mental and physical aspects of their health.

Whac a mole


1. You aren’t feeling your best, and nobody can tell you why.

Maybe you are feeling run down, and more tired than usual. You’ve been gaining weight and can’t seem to lose it. Or maybe you keep getting sick and it’s taking you a long time to recover. Or you get bloated seemingly randomly throughout the day or month. These are symptoms that people tend to live with and eventually start thinking that they are normal. Symptomatic treatments may have helped initially, but now you just don’t know where to go. This is where a Naturopath will work with you by taking a thorough history, performing physical exams and ordering lab tests, to help tie your symptoms together and find a root cause.

2. You have a chronic condition and have been told there is no treatment available

As NDs, we often see patients after they have been struggling with a health issue for a long time, and been told there is no treatment or cure available. Common examples include irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, acne, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases. Although there may be no cure available for some of these conditions, NDs can help to manage chronic conditions by balancing the immune system, decreasing inflammation, using specific herbal treatments and prescribing therapeutic diets.

3. You are experiencing side effects from medications

Pharmaceutical medications can be very effective for managing certain conditions, but often come with side effects. Your ND can tell you which nutrients or vitamins are depleted by your medication, and give you safe options for managing side effects. In some cases, your ND can help you replace medication with effective natural alternatives, with fewer side effects.

4. You are in pain

A common reason for chronic medication use is chronic pain. However, chronic use of pain medication is associated with liver and digestive problems. Chronic pain, especially joint pain, can be associated with specific foods you are eating in your diet, being overweight, or generalized inflammation in the body. Naturopathic Doctors can help identify the cause of your pain and help to minimize it through the use of acupuncture, diet, herbs and other treatment options.

5. You would like a more integrative health care plan

Naturopathic Doctors like to work as one part of your health care team, and that is why you will often see NDs working in multi-disciplinary clinics. We aim to communicate our evidence-based approach with your other health care providers and doctors to ensure you are receiving a comprehensive and safe treatment plan. Although generally safe, supplements can still interact with medications and an ND is an expert in prescribing the right supplements in the right form and at the right dose for you.

6. You would like a “health coach” and want to learn more about preventative medicine for you and your family

Naturopathic Doctors are trained in health. Symptoms are your body’s way of communicating that certain systems within your body need some attention, and a Naturopathic Doctor can help get you back to optimal health and symptom-free living. By managing symptoms when they first occur, and optimizing your diet, body weight and lifestyle, you can prevent a variety of health conditions and your ND can show you where to start!

Questions about this article? Contact [email protected]

Dodging Grass Pollen Allergies

Vancouver Acupuncture Treatment For Allergies

The arrival of July brings with it a host of new summer allergens, the most common of which are grass pollens.  The smell of freshly cut grass has me chomping at the bit to get outside and exercise.  For some, this same fresh smell heralds the beginning of yet another month of sniffles and dry eyes.


To make matters worse, those whose allergies are triggered by grass pollens also find it hard to get a good night’s sleep.  Dust mite excretions are the same size and configuration as grass pollens, triggering the same allergic reaction in those affected.  Commonly the day begins with a tough night’s sleep as the airways and sinuses are impeded.  To boot, the neighbor’s lawn mower is the alarm clock, heralding a day of outdoor allergies.
An early morning tee-time requires a good dose of anti-histamines and possibly even an asthma inhaler or two.
I had a patient who loved to play soccer, but became allergic to grass pollens.  Asthma triggered by a combination of exercise (EIA) and grass pollen eventually took her from the game she loved.  With treatment, she has now returned to her favorite sport, symptom and pharmaceutical free! Read her story here.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, allergies are a function of an underlying weakness in the Lung energy system.  Typically, this deficiency results from a pre-existing weakness of the Spleen energy system, the digestion.

Treatment includes a combination of clearing the Phlegm (and often Heat) that has been stored in the Lung, while strengthening the Spleen and Lung energy systems.  This is what is known as supporting the Root (cause) while treating the Branch (symptoms).
The result of this treatment simply occurs as a regulation of the immune system so that it stops over-reacting to otherwise innocuous allergy triggers.  A recent scientific trial out of New York shows how the T-cells of the immune system are returned to a balanced state with Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine.

Antihistamines are nothing but a band-aid, and steroids simply shut down the immune system. Chinese medicine works by regulating a confused immune system so that it no longer is over or under responsive to substances in the environment.

Do you suffer from allergies in the summer?

Come in for treatment and I’ll have you back enjoying your favorite outdoor activities, allergy-free!

– Article Prepared By Dr. Peter Wood Dr.TCM, R.Ac, BPE

Spring – the Rise of Yang Qi

We can feel the difference.  There is no need for internal self-motivation to get out for a run on a nice, sunny, warming Monday morning!  Active energy, Yang Qi, is stirring.

Like the dawn of a new day, winter equinox is “Yin within Yin” or “ultimate Yin” heralding in itself the beginning of Yin’s transformation into Yang.  Spring equinox (Yang within Yin) is the time where Yang becomes equal to Yin as it continues to grow relatively to Yin to its peak at the summer equinox duly dubbed “Yang within Yang”.

According to the Five Elements Theory of Traditional Chinese medicine, the season of Spring is dominated by the climate of Wind, the culprit responsible for the contraction of various viruses, bacteria, colds and flues.  In the springtime, we also see an increase of other conditions triggered by Wind invasion such as hay fever and asthma.

Nowadays we are able to understand more precisely what exactly these ‘Wind pathogens’ look like.  We can test for allergies to specific substances to find out if we are allergic to grass pollens, cherry blossoms, cat dander, red alder or any host of others.

External pathogenic Wind is said to invade the body through the pores and specifically through the area of the nape of the neck.  When our Wei Qi (Defensive Energy – aka. Immune system) is robust, the pores close in a brisk wind, disallowing the passage of harmful Wind.  When it becomes weakened, or if it is a particularly strong Wind pathogen, the pores are left open and susceptible to the invasion of Wind.  This is why we contract a cold, begin to wheeze, or get sinus congestion.

Traditional Chinese medicine treatment of a cold includes acupuncture and herbal remedies said to activate the Yang Qi to open the pores, pushing out this Wind pathogen.  For this reason, it is always recommended that one consume these particular herbal formulae at as hot a temperature as possible, careful of course not to scald the mouth!  The goal is to create a slight sweat, indicating that the pores have opened and the pathogen has been released.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with the following concept.  All of the ideas fostered over the winter are beginning to germinate.  Spring is the time to turn inspiration into action, a time to harness the expanding, active Yang energy and, with it, nourish the soil of your goals and dreams.

-Authored by Dr. Peter Wood

Spring Allergies? Stop them before they start!

Cherry blossom season is just around the corner. For some of us this beauty on the eyes is also a toxin to the system. The immune system of those who suffer from seasonal allergies has learned to over-react to the pollens of several of the blooming spring trees and plants.

What these allergies commonly feel like:

  • Watering Eyes
  • Itchy, runny nose
  • Headaches
  • Sinus Congestion/ Pressure
  • Low Energy
  • Urticaria – Hives

Symptoms and suffering can be eased with:

  • Acupuncture Treatment
  • Chinese Herbal Remedies
  • Natural Supplements
  • Resolving these symptoms at home:

Daily saline rinses using a Neti Pot will help flush the sinuses of irritants and mucus. Over the counter antihistamines work temporarily to slow the hyper-response of the immune system. These do nothing, however, to address the question: Why is my immune system responding this way to otherwise harmless pollens?

Resolving these symptoms with a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Acupuncture and TCM herbal therapies help to rebalance the immune system so that you’re able to go outside and smell the flowers without the fear of an allergic reaction. Typically within one week, Our practitioners will have you symptom free after which we begin to strengthen your system to bring that state of balance back to the immune system.

– Article Prepared by Dr. Peter Wood

*The information contained is intended for educational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent illness or disease.

Exciting new research: Scientific proof of Chinese medicine’s principle of Balance

                 Science is beginning to prove what traditional Chinese medicine has claimed for millennia:  rather than masking symptoms, Chinese medicine provides curative effect, only now measured at the cellular level! 


                  A recent double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial out of New York, NY by Drs. Li and Brown turned out some ground-breaking results.  It showed firstly that a combination of Chinese medicinal herbs had only slightly lesser anti-inflammatory effect than that of the corticosteroid Prednisone, the allopathic drug most commonly used for the treatment of asthma.  None of the common side effects of steroid use were observed in those treated with Chinese herbs.

                   Atopy denotes a condition in which inflammation of a specific tissue of the body occurs as an autoimmune hyper-response to some external stimulus.  In the case of asthma, the walls of the lung’s airways become swollen causing a reduction in the space through which air travels in and out of the lung, resulting in the typical symptoms of difficult breathing and wheezing.  Studies have shown that people with atopic conditions have an imbalance of the T Helper cells of the immune system.  T Helper cell 1 (TH-1) is shown to by abnormally elevated, whereas T Helper cell 2 (TH-2) are shown to be abnormally decreased, causing the auto-immune hyper-reactivity seen in atopic conditions. 

                  Prednisone causes a complete drop in both TH-1 and TH-2 cells, effectively reducing the hyper-immune response of inflammation, but leaving the body susceptible to other harmful external agents.  The study showed that patients treated with the Chinese medicinal herbal formula not only showed an appropriate decrease in TH-1, but an equally appropriate increase in TH-2!  This was shown to result in a balanced immune system, no longer over-reacting to benign stimuli, while keeping an appropriate strength to fight off potentially damaging agents.  These patients were further observed to retain this T Helper cell balance and it’s concomitant health benefits for an extended length of time after cessation of herbal treatment.


                  This ground-breaking trial opens the door for further research of this kind as science begins to measure, by its own terms, what traditional Chinese medicine has touted for three thousand years.  The gap between eastern and western medicines is being breached.  Stay tuned!



Written by Dr. Peter Wood

H1N1 Vaccine; my humble opinion

There seems to be a lot of confusion and controversy surrounding the topic of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.  Here is my opinion:  don’t get vaccinated.  I’m not.  This is a flu virus.  The human immune system is set up to adapt to new strains of viruses all of the time.  This is how it learns.  Statistics show no increase in yearly deaths related to the influenza virus worldwide; we are at the normal average calculated over the last 20 years.  Other studies show that flu vaccines don’t even work.  Media has blown the death toll numbers out of proportion.  Of the 3,600 deaths being reported, only 257 are listed on the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s website as having tested positive for the virus whereas the rest were deaths related to pneumonia, a bacterial complication.


To me, the risks involved in getting the flu shot far outweigh any potential (not even proven) benefit.


New studies out of China have found that the Indigo plant, from which 3 Chinese herbs (Qing Dai, Da Qing Ye and Ban Lan Gen) are derived, has been effective in treating the swine flu.  These herbs have been known for some time in Chinese Medicine to be antiviral agents.


Here is a website with a good summary of reasons not to get vaccinated: http://www.chronogram.com/issue/2009/11/Whole+Living/What-the-F?page=1


I was sent the links to the following series of youtube videos.  I imagine being Dr. Null, knowing all that information, would be somewhat frustrating.

Part 1.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3XlJB7J5-o&NR=1Part 2.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch5OuzB9L48Part 3.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAgWO2yq1k8&NR=1