Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)
It is not unusual for patients to develop a treatment plan with their medical doctor or naturopathic physician and then remain on the same plan for many years. Of course there are times where the developed plan is optimal and in these cases there is no need to modify the plan. However, as the unique health circumstances of a patient evolve over time, so must the treatment plan. A plan that was optimal 5 years ago, may no longer be relevant or indicated now. This is why it is important to regularly follow up with your naturopathic physician to make sure that the developed plan is still the best treatment plan for you.
A great example of this is in the context of integrative cancer care. If a different chemotherapy is used, then clearly a follow up is indicated to make sure that there are no contraindications and that the plan is still safe and effective. If there is an upcoming surgery, whether it is related to cancer or not, there are simple changes that can be done to help you heal faster from that procedure. There are also times where a plan must be modified based on the particular symptoms that a patient is having. For example, prior to radiation there are naturopathic therapies which can be used to reduce side effects and enhance the effectiveness of the radiation. I would highly recommend these supports prior to initiating therapy but if specific side effects of radiation start to surface then we can add additional supports to address these concerns.
It seems obvious to point out that treatment plans must be modified to address your current health circumstances. But this is something that patients tend to forget in the chaos of life and appointments to various health care practitioners. Naturopathic doctors will take the time to go through your entire health history and modify the treatment plan accordingly.
Although your treatment plan should be dynamic, you also must use each therapy long enough to have any reasonable chance of having a therapeutic benefit. A common problem with many patients who self-prescribe supplements is that they constantly change the plan based on advice from friends or by looking at popular trends on the internet. This presents several obvious concerns which ultimately results in a more expensive and less effective plan. If you are taking many different supplements then there is no way of knowing what is actually working. By consuming large numbers of supplements this starts to interfere with the absorption of clinically useful quantities and the interactions between these supplements can hinder effectiveness of the plan.
The bottom line is that if you are taking a very long list of supplements then chances are that you do not have an optimal treatment plan. If this is the case then I would suggest that you seek a naturopathic doctor who can help you to eliminate supplements, not add to the list. At my practice I spend a significant portion of my time helping patients to simplify their treatment regimen and make it more targeted for their specific health concerns.
Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com