We spoke with Andrea Scholten, Naturopathic Doctor and Birth Doula. Andrea treats many health concerns, with a special interest in women’s health, including fertility, hormone balance, gynecological concerns, pregnancy and childbirth, as well as pediatrics. We found out why you should see an ND if you’re trying to get pregnant, how keeping yourself in good health is good for your community, and the most important thing you need to remind yourself today.
How does your work support the community?
I believe that an individual’s health and the health of the community go hand in hand. My work supports the community by helping people make healthier choices, not only for themselves but for their communities as well, including eating locally, eating and living sustainably, and understanding how their behaviours and habits affect the people around them. When people feel healthy in mind, body and spirit, they are also more able to support those around them and engage in their community.
How does your community support you?
My community supports me by inspiring me day to day. I see my patients, friends and colleagues working hard on their health and supporting those around them and it inspires me to continue doing what I am doing both for others in my private practice, but also for myself, my family and friends.
When should we visit a naturopathic doctor?
People go to see a Naturopathic Doctor for a variety of reasons, primarily when they are feeling unwell physically or emotionally. A Naturopathic Doctor can help to understand what the cause of your symptoms are and find the best route to treat your symptoms, at the same time, addressing the root cause to prevent the symptoms from returning in the future. Naturopathic doctors are trained to treat any disease, from acute illness to chronic degenerative diseases.
It is also important to know that even if you are feeling well, you can still see a Naturopathic Doctor to help you understand your unique physiology and the most beneficial ways for you to optimize your health.
How early should kids see an ND?
In an ideal world, women should see a Naturopathic Doctor at least 6 months before conception. There is more and more research being published that links the physical and emotional environment in utero to health problems later on in life. So preparing the body preconception will help to ensure that your body is in the best shape possible to support the growth and development of a healthy baby. Treatment will focus on correcting any imbalances, improving overall health habits, cleansing the body of any existing toxins and learning ways to prevent exposures to environmental chemicals as well as improving and optimizing mental health and stress levels. As a Naturopathic Doula, I work with women throughout pregnancy to support them emotionally and physically to optimizing the birth and birth experience. In my view, prevention is the best medicine, so I advise people to continue under Naturopathic care throughout pregnancy, and to take your little one to a Naturopath within the first few weeks of life.
So, naturopathic medicine prevents disease?
One of the six founding principles of Naturopathic Medicine is “prevention is the best medicine”. Naturopathic Medicine prevents disease by focusing on supporting the body’s natural physiological processes and optimizing the body function therefore preventing dis-ease from developing.
You have a practice at a dentist’s office. What does naturopathy have to do with dental health?
Although not commonly seen together, Naturopathy is very complementary to a dental practice. Going back to the six founding principles of Naturopathic Medicine, another one is ‘treat the whole person’, so, from a Naturopathic perspective, we see the health of the mouth as a window to what’s going on in the rest of the body, especially the digestive tract. Dr. Weston Price, a dentist from the early 1900’s was one of the first dentists to research how the health of the rest of the body can impact the health of our teeth and gums. Our diet, nutritional status, health of the intestinal tract, and stress levels will all impact the health of our mouth. So, in my opinion, there is no point in spending thousands of dollars fixing your teeth if all of the foundational aspects are not in place to keep them healthy.
Does homeopathy work? Is it dangerous?
Homeopathy most definitely works and is very safe. It works by stimulating your body’s own healing capacity to resolve illness on its own in a very gentle way. It can therefore be used for almost any ailment, either acute or chronic with great success. It is also safe to use with all populations and in fact, infants and small children often respond the best to homeopathic remedies. In my practice I also use homeopathy to help with mental emotional stress and I have found it extremely helpful in breaking cycles of negative behaviour, thoughts or reactions. When these underlying emotional stressors are healed, the body functions more optimally and many of the physical ailments will heal as well.
Does acupuncture work?
Yes! The Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy is that your body has a series of energy meridians that flow throughout the body and each one is related to a particular organ system. If energy flow is blocked in any of these meridians, pain and/or disorder will result. By using acupuncture, we can stimulate certain key points along those meridians to optimize energy flow along the meridian and to it’s associated organ systems. This clears any blockages and/or imbalances and optimizes the function of the organ systems involved.
Should everyone take probiotics?
Not necessarily, but I would say most of my patients are on some form of probiotic. As I mentioned, one of my special interests is digestive health, so I am much more specific about the type and amount of probiotic given depending on which condition I am treating. More and more research is being done on the human microbiome, the collective genome of all the microorganisms that live on us, and we are finding disturbances to the microbiota linked to all kinds of different chronic disorders from digestive disturbances, mental health issues to cancer. So, it is true that everyone needs more healthy bacteria than we are being exposed to today. There has been a new resurgence of fermented foods which are great because they provide many different strains of bacteria. In addition, more people are shying away from harsh ‘anti-bacterial’ cleaners and antibiotics that eliminate not only the bad but the good bacteria as well. These are all good measures that can help optimize the population of bacteria in your gut and taking some form of probiotic now and then is also going to help. However, you can over do it, so be aware of how much you are taking and try to mix it up frequently. If you are trying to use probiotics to treat a digestive condition or other health concern, it is best to seek professional help.
Do you also follow the advice you give to patients?
Absolutely. To me, it’s not about sticking to the perfect diet and lifestyle, but about striking the perfect balance. Because our mental health plays such an important role in our physical health, it is important to make changes in a way that is doable and I try to have the same compassion for myself as I do for my patients when I can’t fit it all in. I try to emphasize to patients that every change you make will build on the next one, continuing you on the path to optimal health.
What’s one healthy change we should all make today?
Be mindful. It is so easy to get caught up in the rat race of city life, that we forget to be present, we don’t listen to our bodies or hear what they are telling us they need. We miss the moments in between ‘doing’ that are so important and we don’t get time to catch a breath. So set yourself a timer on your phone, put up reminders on your computer etc. to remind you to check in, be mindful, listen to your body and breathe.