High Blood Pressure – How Naturopathic Medicine Can Have the Answer

High blood pressure (known in the medical world as hypertension) is a common diagnosis for many people, and is often seen in conjunction with heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and high cholesterol. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 1 in every 3 American adults has hypertension and roughly half of them have it under control. 1 Often described as the “silent killer” due to its general lack of symptoms, hypertension is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, encephalopathy, and aneurysm.2 Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of blood flow against arterial walls both when the heart is contracting (systolic blood pressure), and when the heart is at rest and refilling (diastolic blood pressure). Below is chart from the American Heart Association explaining how blood pressure is categorized.

Luckily, the body is designed to control its own blood pressure based on the body’s needs. Several factors assist in regulating this process. Changes to the amount of blood pumped out of the heart with each contraction (known as cardiac output) can be impacted by factors such as heart rate and stroke volume. Additionally, variations in resistance in the blood vessels as determined by factors such as how wide or narrow the blood vessels are, how viscous (thick) the blood is, and alterations to the length of blood vessels (as is seen in weight gain) can also impact blood pressure.4 The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) stimulates release of chemicals like norepinephrine and epinephrine that act as vasoconstrictors and make the blood vessels smaller in diameter by attaching to alpha and beta receptors in the heart and blood vessels to increase heart rate and blood pressure in fight or flight situations, shunting blood to vital organs. They also stimulate aldosterone secretion from the adrenal glands, which leads to renal fluid retention and increased blood volume. Specialized baroreceptors (pressure receptors) in the carotid arteries and aorta monitor levels of pressure against them, and can decrease heart rate and cause vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels) by inhibiting the SNS in an attempt to lower blood pressure if it is too high, or increase heart rate if the pressure is too low.

A second branch of the nervous system known as the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) balances the SNS by causing vasodilation and slowed heart rate via the vagus nerve. The kidneys also play a significant role in blood pressure regulation by changing the amount of sodium and water retention via the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. When the kidneys note a drop in blood pressure or are stimulated by the SNS, they secrete renin, which converts angiotensin to angiotensin I, which is further converted by the enzyme ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) into a potent vasoconstrictor known as angiotensin II. This chemical also stimulates aldosterone release from the adrenals, increasing sodium and water retention to improve blood volume. The blood vessels themselves also have tools for regulating their constriction and dilation. Substances such as nitric oxide are released by the endothelium to relax the blood vessels.

All of these regulatory systems can fail or become unbalanced by a number of factors, many of which are modifiable by lifestyle and diet changes. Primary or Essential hypertension is most responsive to diet and lifestyle changes, and makes up 90% of cases.4 Essential hypertension is currently understood as a multifactorial disease arising from the combined action of many genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors.5 Triggers for hypertension include the standard American diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, salt, and processed foods; obesity, sedentary lifestyle, alcoholism, stress/sympathetic dominance, overuse of stimulants, hypothyroidism, smoking, hyperinsulinemia, medications such as hormones, steroids, and NSAIDS; nutrient imbalance (high sodium, low potassium and magnesium), food allergies, and sodium sensitivity.5,6 Other factors may include oxidative stress, which causes inflammation in the blood vessels, resulting in endothelial dysfunction and autoimmune activation.

High blood pressure implications

Hypertension is usually asymptomatic, leading to its denotation as a “silent killer” and can be elevated for years without discovery unless the person regularly assesses it.7 Sometimes very high blood pressure can cause neurological symptoms such as blurred vision, headache, dizziness, ringing of the ears, and nosebleeds. Hypertension puts a huge strain on the heart, damages blood vessels in the brain and kidneys, and increases the risk of plaque rupture and blood clot formation. Sometimes the first diagnosis of hypertension may be made when the damage is already done and a stroke or heart attack has occurred.7 If a patient is being followed by a physician, diagnosis of hypertension will typically occur when several random blood pressure readings are over 140/90.

Naturopathic approaches to hypertension

Naturopathic approaches to treating hypertension focus on identification of the underlying cause and then the use of diet and lifestyle modifications, stress management, herbal supplements, and occasionally pharmaceutical medications to aid in its control. Testing for renal function, hyperparathyroidism, thyroid function, and inflammatory markers in the blood such as CRP as well as other factors like the aldosterone to renin activity ratio and homocysteine can indicate possible causes of high blood pressure. Urine testing may also be helpful. Patients’ cardiovascular risk factors must be assessed in depth, as these risk factors are generally associated with hypertension. Adiposity, sleep apnea, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and systemic inflammation should all be considered in this work-up.6

Some believe that high blood pressure is regularly mismanaged across medical paradigms and that the current trend of treating hypertension as a disease rather than a symptom is at the root of the problem.6 It is of the utmost importance that the true cause of hypertension be determined whenever possible in order for true curative measures to be taken. While the cause is being determined however, using pharmaceutical or natural management techniques can be implemented to preserve cardiovascular health and reduce risk of further end organ damage due to the elevated blood pressure levels. Among the most common naturopathic therapies used include dietary interventions, lifestyle modifications, and stress reduction as well as the use of herbs and supplements.

Dietary interventions

Dietary changes are among the most basic interventions for nearly all types of conditions and high blood pressure is no different. Specific dietary systems such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet are among the most fundamental strategies to manage elevated blood pressure and many of the conditions that cause it such as insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and obesity.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on the consumption of vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, fish and seafood, legumes, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and red wine, whereas red and processed meat are limited, and dairy foods are moderate. The Mediterranean diet is known to have a favorable effect on hypertension. A number of large scale observational studies have revealed significant negative associations with both systolic and diastolic blood pressure reductions.8

The DASH diet is a flexible and balanced nutritional system that helps create a cardio healthy lifestyle. The DASH system focuses on eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils. The program limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.9 When compared to other popular dietary systems such as paleo diet, low carb diet, low fat, and others, the DASH diet proved to have the greatest impact on blood pressure.10

Stress management

Since stress and sympathetic nervous system over stimulation appear to play a role in hypertension, it is important to keep stress under control. Stress can cause hypertension through repeated blood pressure elevations as well as by stimulation of the nervous system to produce large amounts of vasoconstricting hormones that increase blood pressure.11 A variety of non-pharmacologic treatments to manage stress have been found effective in reducing blood pressure and development of hypertension, examples of which are meditation, acupressure, biofeedback and music therapy.11 Exercise is also useful in stress management and plays a role in lowering blood pressure. A single exercise session evokes immediate blood pressure reductions that persist for at least 24  hours.12 Becoming more active overall can lower your systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury.13

Supplements

A number of herbs and supplements can also be used to aid in the management of hypertension. Nutrients from various categories including amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and herbs can be useful tools in keeping blood pressure within an optimal range. An important consideration however is that the effects of various nutrients or herbs can be cumulative and care must be taken not to drive blood pressure too low, particularly if combining herbs and supplements with pharmaceutical medications that lower blood pressure.

L-Arginine is a commonly used supplement for cardiovascular conditions. L-Arginine is an amino acid which is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO) production. Nitric oxide is a substance that stimulates vasodilation or widening of the arteries thereby reducing the necessary pressure to push blood through. Arginine produces a statistically and biologically significant decrease in blood pressure and improved metabolic effect in normotensive and hypertensive humans that is similar in magnitude to that seen in the DASH-I  diet.14 Human studies in hypertensive and normotensive subjects of parenteral and oral administrations of L-arginine demonstrate an antihypertensive effect as well as improvement in coronary artery blood flow and peripheral blood flow in peripheral artery disease.15 Doses of 10g of arginine daily have been shown to lower blood pressure by up to 6.8 mmHg.14 Further, similar results were obtained whether the arginine came from supplemental or food sources.14

Taurine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. It is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is not used in protein synthesis. Taurine is found in high concentrations in the heart muscle itself.16  Taurine lowers BP and heart rate, decreases arrhythmias, CHF symptoms and sympathetic nervous system activity, increases urinary sodium and water excretion, increases atrial natriuretic factor, improves insulin resistance, increases NO and improves endothelial function.17 In a study of prehypertensive patients, it was found that taking 1.6 grams (1600mg) of taurine daily for 12 weeks led to a 7.2 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure and a 4.7 mmHg drop in diastolic blood pressure.18

Beyond amino acids, other nutrients that can also benefit blood pressure include such nutrients as omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and CoQ10. Research has shown that doses of 2 grams daily can produce reductions in blood pressure of up to 8 mmHg within a six-week time frame. Fiber, especially soluble fiber may also be helpful. Studies have shown that increased fiber consumption can support blood pressure through a number of benefits including improvement in insulin sensitivity, endothelial function, reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity and increase in renal sodium loss.17 CoQ10 is another nutrient that has shown significant benefit for those with high blood pressure, particularly essential hypertension. Compared to normotensive patients, essential hypertensive patients have a 6 fold higher incidence of coenzyme Q10 deficiency.17

Vitamins and minerals can also support the body in maintaining healthy blood pressure. In fact, clinical trials involving as little as 250mg of vitamin C twice per day over an eight week period have revealed drops in systolic blood pressure of 5-7 mmHg and 3-5 mmHg for diastolic hypertension.17 Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) can also be helpful as low levels of B6 have been shown to be associated with the development of hypertension in humans.19 As far as minerals go, a high dietary intake of magnesium of at least 500-1000 mg daily reduces blood pressure in most of the reported epidemiologic, observational and clinical trials.17 Magnesium also increases the effectiveness of all anti-hypertensive drug classes.20

Botanical medicine

In the botanical realm, there are a number of herbs that can be helpful in promoting healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health. When speaking of herbs and the cardiovascular system, the herb Hawthorn (Cartaegus oxycantha) is among the top contenders. Hawthorn belongs to the Rosaceae family and consists of bright green leaves, white flowers, and bright red berries. Hawthorn extracts exert a wide range of cardiovascular pharmacological properties, including antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory effect, antiplatelet aggregation effect, vasodilating effect, endothelial protective effect, antiarrhythmic effect, lipid-lowering effect and decrease of arterial blood pressure effect.21

Garlic (Allium sativum) is another herb with significant blood pressure benefits. Meta-analysis studies of randomized, controlled trials concluded that garlic supplements can induce a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 3.75 and 3.39 mmHg, respectively.22  Garlic’s ability to regulate nitric oxide, reduce inflammation, and act as an ACE inhibitor have all been recognized.23

Rauwolfia serpentina, a common Auyrvedic herb, also has potent impact on blood pressure. The first study on the anti-hypertensive effects of rauwolfia were published in 1949 when a study showed that 40 out of 50 participants experienced a drop in blood pressure.24 Further, the hypotensive action of the drug was perceptible two weeks after stopping the drug in 91% of patients and in 75% of patients after four weeks of discontinuing the drug. No serious adverse side effects were noted.24

Next steps

The number of natural treatments available to aid in managing blood pressure are plentiful. The exact combination is best to treat the cause of any one specific individual’s blood pressure challenges should be determined by a naturopathic physician. Utilizing a proper diagnostic work up including both physical exam and a thorough medical history combined with diagnostic and laboratory testing to uncover the true cause of the hypertension, a naturopathic physician is uniquely qualified to develop an appropriate plan to address the true underlying cause of the problem. Click here to find an ND in the US and Canada.

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Dr. JoAnn Yanez on KCAA 02/13/19

Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss the relationship between depression and heart disease.
 

 

Full Transcript of Interview Below.

Topics Include:

  • Gender impacts on health
  • Stress and its relationship with heart health
  • Adaption to stress
  • Positivity and gratitude
  • And More…

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: As I was preparing for this morning and thinking about it, something kept popping up in my head and maybe it’s because I’m getting sentimental with my old age and Valentine’s Day, but I was thinking about the role of our minds and our thoughts on the heart and figured, hey everybody talks about heart disease and how you should eat well and you should exercise and some of the things that are better for managing heart disease and preventing heart disease like the Mediterranean diet. I know we’ve talked about that before. How do we do something different today? I thought maybe we would connect the relationship with depression and heart disease.

Erin Brinker: Oh, I think that’s wonderful.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Is that okay?

Erin Brinker: Yes, I think that’s wonderful. Absolutely.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I was looking at the statistics and heart disease still remains the number one killer of folks in the United States, one out of every four deaths. It is very important to understand but one of the lesser talked about issues in heart disease is that folks with heart disease, heart patients, are three times as likely to be depressed at any given time than the general population. I found that really interesting and depression is also twice as common in women than men.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: One of the things that kept coming into my mind and I always look at illness and all patient issues with a naturopathic lens, is how does our role with stress, how does our role with how we handle things, why is depression twice as likely in women than men? Is our existence that much more depressing than the male experience? What is that about?

Erin Brinker: I wonder if women are more likely to recognize their depression and ask for assistance than men are.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: That definitely is part of it. There’s a lot of stigma around men feeling weak or showing “weakness” and anything mental can be considered weakness. You know, “tough it up, be a man,”  that whole culture of having to try and stiff upper lip everything and hold it in actually impacts so many different components of our health. I’ve talked before about the role of cortisol and stress in our talks here in the morning, but stress impacts our release of cortisol which is a hormone and that has so many different ripples in the body, some of which can worsen heart disease if it’s already present or exacerbate incidents of heart disease. Cortisol, that’s your stress hormone, that’s ‘run from the bear in the woods’ kind of thing and what does it do? It increases your heart rate, it increases blood sugar levels, which subsequently can have increased damage on your vascular system. There’s a lot of ripples and a connection between stress and heart disease that isn’t often talked about or addressed.

Erin Brinker: I know that people who deal with chronic pain can become depressed because the presence of pain that’s with you all the time is depressing. I mean, I’ve known enough people who have had like back pain and they really fight depression. Is this a chicken and the egg thing? Does the depression come first and then the heart disease or the heart disease and then the depression, or does that really matter?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I think it depends on the patient, Erin. There are so many different factors and I don’t think that we can say there’s just a one size fits all reason why folks have cardiovascular disease and it’s the number one killer. I would say that diet is definitely, at least in the United States, a major component, but what happens when folks are depressed? Depression in and of itself lends you to not want to exercise, not want to get out and talk to friends, and self-isolate, maybe grab more carb heavy foods, and things that will increase your weight and increase your blood pressure. It becomes this vicious cycle that just continues to feed itself. I don’t know that we can pinpoint any one thing but being depressed will … How motivated are you if you’re feeling down to go out and exercise? Funny thing is that’s exactly what you should do when you’re feeling down, like get out, get out of the house, don’t sit and mope and wallow in it. Go take a walk, go call a friend. I think there are many better adaptive coping mechanisms that we can do to our stressors but some of that just is around how do we adapt to stress. If you’re stressed do you instantly go to like anger or anxiety? Research has shown that the folks that when they’re stressed, they go to anger and anxiety, they have higher levels of heart disease.

Erin Brinker: Interesting.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: How we manage our stress is also important. Recognizing the things that get you stressed out … I can tell you mornings stress me out. Getting a six-year-old up and out the door …

Erin Brinker: Ah, yes.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Getting ready for school stresses me out and so what I’ve tried to do, what we’ve tried to do in the house, is do as many things ahead of time so get the clothes out, make breakfast the night before or have things that are quick and easy to grab for breakfast and get a routine set so that we can head off at the path at least some of the things that will lead to more stress. Some things are going to be in our control and then there are going to be things that are not in our control and we still have to manage how do we respond to that; do we find the silver lining or do we mope and wallow in it. Yesterday, I was having a morning yesterday like it sounds like you guys are having today and I ended up … I had just gotten back into town after a week away, breakfast wasn’t made, and so I found myself running out the door to try and go grab breakfast at a store for my son, leave the house without my purse.

Erin Brinker: I have had … That has happened to me and you just want to cry. Oh, my goodness, I am so sorry that happened to you.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, but like in that moment of like okay, I’ve got a hungry kid, he has to eat, I’ve got no purse, like what do we do? Okay, what do we have in the car? Then I realized that I had some emergency cash stowed away in a pocket, like ah, okay. But like you could, you could just sit and just give up and cry or you can just go into alright, how do we make the best out of it?

Erin Brinker: Right.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Go ahead.

Erin Brinker: One of the things about depression is that you do isolate yourself and the people around you may not know how to say … How to pull you out, to help you work through that stress. I had a pretty stressful day yesterday and Tobin makes me laugh when I’m stressed, even if it irritates me a little bit when he starts, by the time he’s done I’m really happy that he did it and so I think we need to be cognizant of what those around us are feeling and going through and we can help.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Absolutely. You know, there’s so much, and we’ve talked about this before, check in on your friends. Recently, I’ve had several friends lose parents and loved ones and you make check on them initially, but check on them in a week or two or a month later. Keep checking on your friends, keep making sure that they’re okay. Stop in, make them laugh, take them to a funny movie. Do those types of things that will help elevate and just be a good human being, I think at the end of the day.

Erin Brinker: Just start there.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Start there, be a good human. You wish you didn’t have to tell that to people but you know.

Erin Brinker: You know, we get … I know when I get busy, I get tunnel vision and it’s a good reminder to say hey, have you checked in on your friends lately? Have you sent a note and said I’m thinking about you? It’s so easy to do with a text or social media post or whatever, it’s so easy to reach out to people now.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is. I think, again, it’s just we all get tunnel vision, we all get caught up in our day to day and making a choice to stop and check in on your friends and also stop and check in on yourself. That’s one of the things that I think when people get really busy and caught up, it’s easy to ignore feelings and how you’re doing and your attitude, really impact your emotional state. We can sit and focus and dwell on the things that are missing in our life until the cows come home. We can think about all the things we don’t have, all of the stuff that we wish we had, all the things we would want to have, or we can focus on the blessings we do have right here and right now. That practice of positivity and of gratitude … Yesterday I was having kind of one of those days and I forced myself before I went to bed, I’m like okay, focus on the things that you’re thankful for. What are the good things in your life and leave those as the last thoughts you have before you go to sleep.

Erin Brinker: Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. An attitude of gratitude is a game changer, it really is.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is and it has been for me. I always joke, I come from a long line of worriers and anxious people, so it’s long bred in my family to be anxious and so I consciously have to say okay, you’re going a little too far on one side on this Jo, come on back, remember the things that you do have, remember the blessings, and be thankful for those because you’ve got it pretty good compared to a whole lot. Not to brag, but we have a house, we have a roof over our head, we’ve got food in the fridge, you know I’ve got family that loves me. That’s a really good place to start.

Erin Brinker: Indeed, and that will be our last word for today. Let people know how they can find you and follow you and learn more about the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You bet. We’re all over the interweb, AANMC.org, on social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. Please reach out to us. We host monthly webinars on varying topics and we’ve got one coming up on PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, so hope you guys can tune in.

Erin Brinker: Oh, that’s great. Well, Dr. JoAnn Yanez, it’s always, always a treat to have you on the air. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Thank you. Hope you guys have a better day.

Erin Brinker: Thank you. It’s already getting better, it’s already better.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Awesome.

Erin Brinker: Thank you so much.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Bye.

Erin Brinker: Bye. It’s time for a break. I’m Erin Brinker.

Tobin Brinker: I’m Tobin Brinker.

Erin Brinker: We’ll be right back.

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Stressed? Learn How It Impacts Your Health and How to Cope

Join the AANMC and Brad Lichtenstein, ND, BCB-HRV for a webinar focused on how stress impacts the body and natural ways to cope.

Stressed? Learn How It Impacts Your Health and How to Cope

The impacts of stress can ripple through our health by influencing all aspects of our mind and body. NDs help patients identify stressors, teaching them simple techniques to manage stress, and how to avoid situations that may lead to negative impacts on health and well-being.

Join the AANMC and Dr. Brad Lichtenstein to:

-Learn about the body’s natural response to stress
-Identify ways to minimize your stress
-Hear about a patient case managed with naturopathic medicine

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!

Stressed? Learn How It Impacts Your Health and How to Cope

Naturopathic physicians aim to treat the cause of disease. Stress is an easy target as an underlying cause, yet every stress and stress response is different.  The impacts can ripple through our health by influencing all aspects of our mind and body. NDs help patients by teaching simple techniques to manage stress and how to identify it and avoid situations that will have negative impacts on our health and well-being. ND students find many of these useful for helping during school as well.
During this webinar you will:
-Learn about the body’s natural response to stress
-Identify ways to minimize school stress
-Hear about a patient case that was successfully managed with naturopathic medicine

*Webinar does not qualify for CE

Register Now!

*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .

To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.


About the Presenter

As a licensed naturopathic physician in private practice and a professor at Bastyr University for over two decades, Dr. Brad Lichtenstein has helped people embody the lives they want to live. His approach integrates naturopathic medicine, mind-body medicine and biofeedback, depth and somatic psychology, Eastern contemplative practices, yoga and movement, and end-of-life care. He serves as an Attending Physician for the Mind-Body Medicine and Chronic Pain Clinics at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health and has a strong clinical and teaching focus on developing psycho-emotional-spiritual health while dealing with chronic, life-challenging illnesses. His approach to care was profoundly shaped by his participation in a joint research study between the University of Washington and Bastyr University where he provided over 500 guided meditations to hospice patients.

Dr. Lichtenstein has written many publications, including articles in Unified Energetics, STEP Perspective, Caregiver Quarterly, Naturopathic Doctors News and Review (NDNR), and the Huffington Post, and has contributed a chapter on Mind-Body Medicine and Men’s Health in Integrative Men’s Health. He continues to present nationally on a wide array of topics including mindfulness and meditation as a healing modality, determining the appropriate mind-body technique for healing, and the use of breathwork, HRV and biofeedback to increase resiliency. He hosts monthly Death Cafes around the greater Seattle area, and has led countless Advanced Directives parties, encouraging people to become more comfortable with the inevitable reality that faces us all, and to discuss preparation for the future, should one no longer be able to make decisions for oneself.

Register Now!

*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .

Do You Have the Mind of an ND?

Naturopathic medicine is gaining attention in the media as people seek out alternative routes to solving their health problems. But it is also getting more attention because of the opportunities that it provides people for career paths. Regulated naturopathic healthcare is attracting more and more potential students to the field because of the flexible schedules and opportunities to make a difference in the community that come with this area of medicine. Could naturopathic medicine be the right path for you? If you are considering this exciting area, here are a few things you need to know about what makes for a great naturopathic doctor.

Do you have the heart and mind of an ND?

Do you want to shape the future of healthcare?
Do you want to spend time getting to know your patients in order to treat their whole self?
Do you believe nutrition and exercise are important for a healthy lifestyle?
Do you recognize the importance of treating both the mind and body?
Do you recognize the role stress plays into a patient's healthcare?

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A Holistic Approach

One of the main tenets of an ND’s practice is taking a holistic approach to treating patients. NDs treat the whole person, looking at how different systems and ailments are interconnected. In addition, NDs are more likely to take a team approach to treatment, looking at a variety of causes for health problems with help from many specialties.

Nutrition and Exercise

An important feature of an ND’s work is the reliance on nutrition and exercise to promote a healthy lifestyle. Naturopathic doctors are often called upon to act as educators, teaching their patients how to take care of themselves by showing them what they should and should not eat and how they can best exercise.

Mind-Body Connection

NDs look to treat both the mind and the body. Many naturopathic medical clinics feature ways of treating not only physical ailments, but mental and spiritual problems as well. These can include treatments for PTSD at veteran’s clinics or domestic abuse centers as well as providing safe spaces for migrants and the LGBTQ community.

Stress Management

Naturopathic medicine takes a proactive approach to health care, noting the importance to prevent ailments before they occur. Recognition of the role of stress in illness and teaching patients lifelong skills in stress management is core to naturopathic treatment plans. Mind-body medicine approaches are tailored to the individual patient in order to mitigate tension before it impacts our health.

Natural Approaches and Herbal Medicine

If you are thinking about becoming a naturopathic physician, you will need to become knowledgeable in natural approaches to treatment. NDs make it a point to seek out the gentlest treatments for their patients, reserving more invasive methods as a means of last resort. Herbal medicine is a key tool in the naturopathic tool belt. NDs honor cultural botanical medicine practices with modern advances in botanical research.

We’ve talked about the various areas licensed naturopathic physicians need to know in order to be a great ND and there are a few common characteristics of successful naturopathic medical students :

• Strong academic background
• Excellent communicators
• Socially conscious
• Passionate for disease prevention
• Inquisitive and excited to find the root cause of illness
• Recognizes the power of a holistic approach to patient care

All of these characteristics will help lead you into a rewarding career in the exciting field of naturopathic medicine. Find out exactly what the path to a career in naturopathic medicine looks like for you by visiting https://aanmc.org/request.