“I always thought I knew what the term ‘doctor’ meant, but it wasn’t until I started seeing patients on my own, that I really understood the true meaning of docere – to instruct or teach. Behind the doors of the patient-doctor relationship is where the healing begins.”
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
Becoming a naturopathic doctor was not always a part of Dr. Miranda LaBant’s career goals. “During my undergraduate and graduate school training I met several influential people who directed me towards becoming a doctor. As a graduate student, I had an incredible opportunity to study in Belize. During my time there I developed my Master’s thesis on the traditional medicine practices of the indigenous Mayan tribe, the Q’eqchi. My mind was opened to the possibility of what I consider traditional medicine. I remember sitting in the jungle around a fire with another graduate student and my mentor interviewing the shaman and their patients. The healing journey they experienced through the use of traditional and sacred herbs, teas, along with spiritual practices reversed conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, and mood disorders.
There was a point during my schooling where I wished to pursue a career in conventional medicine. After my experience in Belize, I began researching other avenues of alternative medicine, this is when I discovered naturopathic medicine. The principles of naturopathic medicine are what resonated with me. To be a naturopath you have to believe that the human body has an innate healing process, the vis as we call it. You have to believe that there is another option outside of the conventional medical paradigm that can heal people regardless of their disease process, and this is what I found to be true.
The human body operates as a whole, and naturopathic medicine treats each person as a whole – tolle totum. Other schools of medicine follow mechanistic thinking in regards to treating the human body, by breaking it into different parts as if the human body doesn’t function as a whole. I don’t mean this with any disrespect to those schools of thought, but I do believe it is a disservice to patients. The training of a naturopathic doctor provides the skill set and tools to not only assess symptoms, but to dig deeper – looking at all factors influencing their health (environment, emotional, mental, physical).”
NUHS as a springboard
“I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. The proximity of National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) along with the possibility to pursue a chiropractic degree was appealing to me. One of the advantages at NUHS is the ability to study alongside chiropractic students as well as develop a strong foundation for physical medicine and diagnosis. Even though I value the incorporation of physical medicine, I decided that naturopathic medicine was the correct path for me during my first year of study. I quickly fell in love with herbal medicine, homeopathy, and the biochemical impact of nutrition, this is where I was meant to be.
After graduation, I completed a CNME accredited residency program in Kailua Kona, Hawaii under the direction of Michael Traub, ND. The focus of my residency was in integrative cancer care; it was during this program that I truly learned the value of our medicine. I developed the skills to safely and confidently integrate evidence-based naturopathic therapies with conventional therapies for patients with a cancer diagnosis. My program also included training in regenerative injection therapy, intravenous therapy, integration of pharmaceuticals, minor surgery, and integrative dermatology – it was a truly rounded experience, and I am forever thankful for the wisdom, patience experiences, and growth as a doctor and person I gained during my time with Dr. Traub.
After my residency I joined a premier clinic in Portsmouth, NH where I worked among several Lyme literate naturopaths, I soon learned the complexity of patients with tick-borne infection as well as the complexity of treatment. Providing integrative support to these patients has been rewarding.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND
“I always thought I knew what the term ‘doctor’ meant, but it wasn’t until I started seeing patients on my own, that I really understood the true meaning of docere – to instruct or teach. Behind the doors of the patient-doctor relationship is where the healing begins. NDs are trained to spend quality time with patients, providing ample opportunity to explain their symptoms and health journey. This time also allows for a great deal of teaching and empowerment – something that is often lacking in our current model of healthcare.
Naturopathic thinking is beautiful; we are detectives of sorts. It’s a humbling and fascinating process to be a part of someone’s health journey. From the initial visit with patients, gathering all of the information about a person’s well-being, mental, emotional, physical, social aspects, as well as deciphering how all of their symptoms relate. It has been my experience that very complex patients seek out the guidance and support of a naturopathic physician at some point on their journey back to health. This doesn’t surprise me. It’s often that a patient will tell me, ‘You know…this is the first time I feel like I have been heard by a healthcare provider.’ To be able to provide that space for patients is gratifying. The time that NDs spend with patients allows for truly individualized and comprehensive care – what people deserve. I believe this is where our medicine truly shines.”
Naturopathic medicine offers patients the best of both Eastern and Western medicine. My practice is truly integrative and my areas of focus are integrative oncology, hormonal balance and digestive health. I currently practice in the state of New Hampshire, where the scope for naturopathic doctors is quite broad. This offers lots of flexibility when creating a treatment plan and providing the best care possible for my patients. I utilize intravenous nutrient therapy, and pharmaceuticals in addition herbal medicine.
I practice in two integrative clinics in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire. At Family Acupuncture and Wellness I am part of a functional medicine team of several practitioners that provide naturopathic medicine, and an intimately guided diet and lifestyle program that transform people’s health. At the Sante Center I have a general practice as well as an integrative oncology practice. Working with cancer patients is a great challenge but a true joy when you can see how naturopathic medicine can improve their quality of life, mitigate symptoms from chemotherapy and radiation, and provide a more favorable outcome in many cases for patients dealing with this difficult diagnosis.
One area of passion is hormonal balance. I particularly love working with women transitioning or going through menopause. I utilize bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in many of these patients, but this is one area where I have seen the power of herbal medicine. Let me give a shout out to one herb—Vitex (all my women’s health naturopathic doctors know what I am talking about). I have seen this herb alone move mountains for patients.”
Dr. LaBant is a contributor for the Natural Medicine Journal on a variety of topics that range from fish oil used in conjunction with chemotherapy to supplements for reducing peripheral neuropathy, and exercise for cognitive function. She has also co-authored an article for the Townsend Letter with her mentor Michael Traub, ND on the use of medicinal mushrooms in cancer.
Advice for aspiring NDs
“Passion drives the field of naturopathic medicine, and it absolutely drives the excellence that I see in my colleagues every day. I have never been a part of a cohort of individuals more passionate about making an impact in people’s lives, and at the same time creating positive change in our broken health care system. In order to provide patients with the best care possible, you need to truly be enamored by the innate healing processes of the body, and to believe that a return to health is possible.
My residency was the most valuable of all of my training. I would recommend anyone pursuing naturopathic medicine to consider completing a residency after graduation.”
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