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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Empowering your PCOS Diagnosis: How Your Naturopath Can Help

Sunday, March 20, 2016
(This is part 2 of a 3-part article series on empowering your PCOS diagnosis. Access the first article here)

Why Naturopathy for PCOS?

A naturopath is a natural health practitioner who uses therapies like nutrition, herbs, homoeopathic remedies and counselling too, to help engage your body’s inherent self-healing abilities. Naturopaths are trained to assess and treat your physical and emotional well-being from a functional perspective: that is, where you are at now, what your particular goals are, what your body is doing and how your emotional health is.

Don’t already have a naturopath? Ask around your local area for recommendations. Phone prospective practitioners for a brief chat about how they work, so you can gauge whether you want to work with them. Look at their websites, and look for testimonials from other clients. Check their accreditation with the website of their professional association. If they’re properly qualified and comply with professional standards, they’ll be listed there.

Buyer Beware

In Australia there are no restrictions on who can call themselves a ‘naturopath’. Unfortunately, there are some people who say they are, but aren’t adequately qualified, which creates a situation of ‘buyer beware’ in natural therapies. You need a professional clinical naturopath who is accredited with one of the major professional associations – like the ATMS (www.atms.com.au) or ANTA (www.australiannaturaltherapistsassociation.com.au) 

Finally, in choosing a naturopath make sure you consult within a clinic. Some naturopaths (qualified or otherwise) work within pharmacies and health food stores. This situation doesn’t allow for a private consultation. In a retail situation the naturopath is employed to sell supplements. That’s their job. They have sales quotas to meet. It’s not their job to have a long discussion with you about the complex physical and emotional contributors to your health, they are employed to sell supplements, and sell you something they will. There’s no ongoing supportive relationship, no follow up. Instead, you need a clinical naturopath; one who can undertake a more extensive investigation, become part of your support team, and help you focus on the fundamentals of your diet and lifestyle as well as choose the right remedies to rebalance your hormones.

In the Consultation

Your first consultation with your naturopath will provide her with extensive information about your medical history, your current symptoms, what is happening in each of your body systems (including your digestion and your immunity as well as your hormones) and your usual diet. She will also enquire about your stress levels and overall emotional health to assess how your mood could be contributing. Expect to spend at least an hour in this consultation. 

Feel free to bring a support person with you, because like any consultation, it’s easy to feel tiny and insignificant in a practitioner’s office. A support person can take notes, keep an eye on how you’re going, and help you back out gracefully if she senses you’re feeling pressured. 

More diagnostic tests may be required by your naturopath, including a functional pathology test like salivary hormone. This reveals what hormones are actually within your tissue fluid. It can reveal the levels of all three types of estrogen, their balance with progesterone, your testosterone levels, DHEA and cortisol.

Having talked things over initally, your naturopath will propose a tentative treatment plan, and begin the process of negotiation with you. Your naturopath is looking for the fundamental underlying causes of your unwellness that provide clues on where to start treatment. And, what your particular goals are. And, how hard you’re prepared to work to reach your goals. Expect to be given homework and directives. For example, you might be asked to change what you eat for breakfast, because this will alter your blood glucose regulation. Or to do a certain amount of exercise X times per week. A follow up appointment is likely to be arranged before you leave the clinic.

Don’t Give Up Your Power

It’s really important that you feel comfortable talking with your naturopath, because if you don’t, it’s unlikely that you’ll comply with his directives; and that means no results for you. If you’re not comfortable with your practitioner, feel free to move on until you find the one that’s right for you. Each natural health practitioner has their own assessment process, their own favoured ways of treatment and their own ways of talking with clients. If you don’t agree with that practitioner’s assessment then say so, or move on.

The third article in this series is ‘Empowering Your Medical Treatment’


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