I'm a practicing Naturopathic Doctor in an unlicensed state and the idea of freedom in Healthcare is certainly making me think. Yes, I'm practicing in a state that doesn't recognize my license despite the endless efforts of my colleagues involved with the North Carolina Association of Naturopathic Physicians. They have fought tooth and nail for our recognition going on 18 years now without success and they're still going strong. Due to this lack or recognition, ND's in unlicensed states are unable to take people's health care insurance. This limits our services to a select few who can afford to pay cash. Naturopathic medicine is a luxury and a privilege to those who can afford it...in unlicensed states. Freedom of choice isn't necessarily defined as to whether you can "afford" such choices but rather that you can make that choice without punishment. I wont say without judgement because there will always be that. Flipping that coin over, as a provider who has been trained in modalities that I can't offer in an unlicensed state, my field doesn't have "Freedom" per se but interestingly, I do feel more free to practice the way I want. Ok, not completely the way I want, but in some ways, it has made me a better naturopathic doctor because I have to trust in nutrition and herbs as medicine versus the higher interventions like IV therapy, prolotherapy, vitamin injections, etc; modalities that absolutely work but I can't offer. So basically, I'm not free to practice the way that I want but the consumer is free to make the choice to choose alternatives...if they can afford it.
Let's talk about treatment options
Let's first embrace the freedom to challenge the dominant medical paradigm. Throughout history, you will see that treatments once used for various ailments were later to be found unsafe. For example, treating patients with mercury, bloodletting, and heroin/cocaine. In our modern world we've seen various pharmaceuticals pulled off the market or "black-boxed" due to the health risks to the patient or fetus. Today, we are seeing the tug of war between those choosing alternatives and whats currently being recommended as "standard of care." Our freedom lies in the fact that we are able to challenge the current status quo in medicine and choose how we want to tackle our health. If you want to take the non-pharmaceutical approach, an integration among the paradigms, or simply say, "Yes", to your doctors and take what they prescribe you; you have a right to all options. I will make one note here that I think is very important. I have been in practice now for 7 years and can count on both hands a number of treatments that worked that I can no longer use because the FDA has inhibited access, created unrealistic requirements to process the ingredients (mainly therapies I accessed from other countries), or has found some reason to deem certain substances as "unsafe", most of which are related to homeopathic remedies. Whether or not you agree with homeopathy, if the FDA will say that homeopathy is bogus and simply sugar water but then turn around and deem it "unsafe" throws up a lot of red flags and is a major contradiction. Recently, I've had to write a few emails to patients stating that I can no longer offer a treatment protocol because it is no longer available in our country. These particular protocols worked and prevented unnecessary medical procedures and the avenue of endless prescription drugs. While we may have freedom in how we choose to treat ourselves, do we really?
Leaving on a positive note:
The good news is that those who choose this field of medicine come from an extremely passionate place. We believe in our medicine to the core and many of us are driven politically to fight for our patients. We continue to practice, to educate, and lead by example despite the constant battles we must fight. I'm in an unlicensed state because I saw a need in a population where ND's weren't readily available. Yes, the cost is that I'm limited in what I can offer my patients, but I do have the "freedom" to practice here and that is truly a blessing.
If you would like to read a compelling story of a man who
treated his patients naturopathically, who was then sent to prison, and fought for his freedom and right to treat patients they way he believed was best, please check out "Doctor On Trial" by Merilyn Solem Muesing, RN. This is a story about her father and their family's perseverance of standing for what they believe in with Naturopathic Medicine, Chiropractic care, and in life.
Dr. Lexi Lain