Dealing with difficult naturopaths

October 15, 2010

I hear people say they were vegan until their naturopath told them they had to eat something, and it’s like it’s a done deal. It’s not. Here’s me telling you that:

And like I said in the video but you may not have heard, I don’t have anything against naturopaths! I just think it’s interesting that they seem to have more authority over vegans than doctors, at least from the feedback I’ve collected.

Oh, and I referenced another video in this one: You’re not unique, and you’re not alone.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin October 15, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Again, I can’t help but relate this to my HypnoBirthing training. Because HypnoBirthing parents have all kinds of caregivers, it is suggested that no matter if you are working with a homebirth midwife or an OB/GYN that you deal with their requests in the same way. You ask questions such as, “What will happen if I don’t try that intervention?” “Why specifically are you recommending that intervention?” “Is there a different intervention that might also work?” and the least combative way is to play dumb and just ask that the caregiver break it down for you because you really want to understand. All this advice works here again. A naturopath/midwife comparison is pretty similar because so many women expect their midwife to be more natural and earthly, and the honest truth is that many of them are medical nurses trained to deal with a situation medically (not that that is a bad thing) and will handle things very similarly to a doctor. If something doesn’t feel right, always stand up for your own body and what goes into it.

Ryan October 16, 2010 at 12:02 am

Just a warning, this may be a bit long.

The first reaction I had to this video was that a Naturopath can also be a doctor. There is such a thing as a Doctorate in Naturopathy.

I work at an independent health/natural foods store in Willow Grove, PA (Nature’s Harvest, linked above). We partner with Dr. Wagner, a Naturopathic Physician. He is a Doctor of Naturopathy, used to have a local AM radio show, and does 30 minute phone consultations through us for $20. Sweet.

I like Dr. Wagner. He’s a bit gruff, but he’s funny and always reading new info. That said, he is not a pro-vegan guy: he leans toward low-carb ‘lean meat’ recommendations for most people, and certainly suggests fish oil before even thinking of flax oil. My wife works with children with autism and other neurological problems, and because of her I found out some of Dr. Wagner’s understanding of Autism is outdated and/or wrong.

What I’ve noticed—listening to Dr. Wagner, my manager, and many customers who have their own ‘alternative’ doctor—is that many ‘alternative’ practitioners tend to latch on to a certain issue. It may be carbs, toxins, heavy metals, EMF, allergens, fats, what have you; many ‘experts’ outside of mainstream western medicine seem to think they know the ‘one thing’ that ails everybody, and their recommendation for how to fix it.

I would go further that Jason here. Not just “you can get a second opinion,” but ‘you SHOULD get a second, third, maybe even fourth opinion.” Ask a naturopath, a Ph.D., a homeopath, and a Registered Dietitian what you should eat or not eat to be healthy and you’ll get at least four different answers. Cross reference those answers with trustworthy sources (dependable websites, books like Prescription for Nutritional Healing, etc..) and you’ll start to get a sense of the overwhelming flood of nutrition and health information that’s out there. The best thing you can do is to start learning as much of it as you can—making sure you know which sources are most reputable—and as Jason says keep asking “why?”

Also, don’t accept the answers at face value. For example: we had a rep from Country Life do some training with us (largely regarding their nutritional supplements). I have really respect the amount of research that goes into their products, but this woman—a former vegan—told me that algae-based DHA was more difficult to absorb/utilize than fish-sourced DHA.

I have yet to see a single study to back this claim. Had I not looked, I might have accepted that information as true and even passed it along to customers. Keep in mind: Country Life does not make a vegan DHA, even though they do use vegan softgels for some of their products.

Jason October 16, 2010 at 9:03 am

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my commenters?

Erin: I’m so stoked that you’re tying everything back to your training, it’s a really positive sign! Just like how everything I do tends to link back to veganism, I think this means you’ve found something you can be really passionate about, so take a moment and realize how amazingly rare that is and congratulate yourself!

Ryan: that’s perfect, thanks so much for the updates! I think this bit at the end is key: “Had I not looked, I might have accepted that information as true and even passed it along to customers.” There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and people who are in a position to spread it further need to take special care. Thanks for doing exactly that!

Wil October 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

I agree completely with Ryan. When it comes down to it, even people who went to school and studied nutrition and read all kinds of studies are still learning about the subject. The way I see it, everyone is a JAG to some extent (because no one knows everything) and you simply can’t have one person or website or book be your only source of information about anything. All it takes is some extra time and work to get second and third opinions. It’s your health and wellbeing that is at stake. If it’s about something that could stop you from being vegan then it’s the health and wellbeing of lots of other beautiful creatures like yourself too.

Wow, that came out preachier than expected.

Jason October 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Nah, not preachy at all, and kudos for using JAG 🙂

Here’s the interesting thing, to me, right now: why will people take the time to see a naturopath but not take the time to research the feedback a little?

Craig Bennett October 19, 2010 at 4:03 am

I have a good natropath now. But before I found her I came across two natropaths who had no interest in my diet but decided that I needed to go through the process of “re-birthing”. When I said I didn’t believe in such things and was more interested in aspects of my diet, they didn’t want to know me. I never went back to them again.

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