That fear leads some doctors to micro-manage every symptom, treating everything with a different pill. I saw patients taking pills to allay the side effects of their other pills. Then there was the failure I saw taking place in my own family. I watched my husband taking Naproxen every day for the arthritis in his wrists (hes 28 years old); I saw my kids having repeated ear infections, chronic coughing, asthma, constipation... and the very unpleasant side effects of the repeated antibiotics, oral and inhaled steroids for a three-year-old... and still, the problems didnt go away.
Then there was my own poor health. My body has become hypersensitive to all kinds of drugs, even Ibuprofen. I have numerous food allergies, and just feel sick and weak all the time. Id seen a few doctors, but got no answers. It seems that most of the time, if doctors dont know the answer to your problem, they just tell you its stress.
One doctor told me to exercise. That was the extent of his treatment. Never mind that exercise made me feel like I was going to drop dead, but the doctor wouldnt know that, because he never really listened to anything I had to say.
On top of all this was the harassment from the nurses at our pediatricians office, who could not get over the fact that my husband and I, after careful research and consideration, are among the many concerned parents who have decided not to vaccinate our children. I knew I had to find something better for my family.
Then, this fall, I heard of a branch of medicine that was new to me: naturopathic medicine. I was fascinated by what I heard. These are doctors who use only natural methods of healing, and treat the whole person by finding the root of illness, helping patients to find overall good health. I knew this was what Id been praying for.
I did a little searching and found Dr. Nathan Olsen, N.D. A native of Traverse City, he received his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine at Portland, Oregons National College of Naturopathic Medicine. I was excited to find out that, yes, he is a real doctor. We met with him for a 10 minute meet and greet, which turned into a 45-minute discussion.
I initially had a few doubts about starting on this path. I wondered if I could trust this person with the health of my children. I had heard that herbs could be as toxic as drugs. I worried that hed just want to get us taking all kinds of supplements.
As a Christian, Id always been warned that holistic medicine usually incorporated spirituality that would clash with our beliefs. Dr. Olsen quickly put my mind to rest. He treats children on a regular basis. His homeopathic medicines are FDA-tested and approved. He only gives supplements as they are needed for healing. He will incorporate whatever spirituality the patient is comfortable with.
I had also wondered if he was qualified to diagnose diseases, such as diabetes or cancer, and if he could run blood tests. The answer to this was also affirmative. As a licensed physician he has access to labs.
A few weeks later, my youngest got her first ear infection of the year. So began our journey into natural healing. Instead of prescribing antibiotics, the doctor gave us some homeopathic eardrops, and helped us adjust our childrens diet to avoid future infections. The eardrops worked wonders. My older daughter has never developed the horrible chronic cough and asthmatic symptoms that she usually has from November through May. This is almost definitely the result of simply removing dairy from her diet for the winter.
I was a little put off by one thing though. None of us were weighed and measured. I thought, maybe he forgot. I know better now; its really not beneficial to keep such careful track of those things in a healthy person, and many people are much too focused on numbers on a scale or growth chart, rather than just being aware of a persons overall condition. Any drastic changes in weight or failure to thrive will be obvious without the use of a scale.
This kind of attitude gave me a sense of freedom and peace. As we continued our visits, we started to really feel the benefits of Dr. Olsens approach. We are never rushed. He really listens.
My husband and I also began to receive treatment. My husbands so-called arthritis turned out to be nothing more than a few bones out of place. He had also suffered for a long time with stuffy sinuses and very loud snoring, and he seemed to get sick often. The doctor formulated an herbal tincture for him, to boost his immunity and open his sinuses. He saw results immediately, with no side effects. He can breathe freely now, and the volume of his snoring has decreased.
As for myself, I finally found someone who understands my health problems. We have not solved them yet, although Dr. Olsen is confident that we will, but we have made good progress through regular counseling.
This incorporation of emotional and physical health is a dream come true for me, as my health problems are very intertwined with my emotions. Our doctor has started to feel like a true friend to our family, someone we can trust and depend on. Hes not motivated by money, but truly cares for us. I cant imagine what life would be like if we had not found him.
There are a few downfalls though. Since naturopathy is considered alternative medicine in Michigan, it is not covered by most insurance companies. However, I find the price to be affordable even for a young family of four, with every one of us seeing the doctor regularly; and we live on one income.
Then there is the fact that even though the doctor can legally prescribe drugs, he chooses not to. In the event that a patient does need antibiotics or other drugs, they are referred to a traditional doctor.
Dr. Olsen tells me that most people usually seek out natural healing as a last resort. I think this is a sad fact. It makes more sense to me to seek out naturopathy as the first form of treatment, and seek help from traditional medicine only if it proves necessary, since traditional treatments seem to have more shortcomings and side effects. Id encourage anyone looking for a healthier way of life to look into naturopathy. Im so glad I did. Some good websites to check out are www.naturopathic.org, and www.michnd.org.
Nicole Wildman is a resident of Traverse City.