A Conversation with a Naturopathic Doctor

We live in a time where more and more questions are being asked, especially when it comes to our health. Researchers estimate that 50 million adults in the United States are living with chronic pain, and undiagnosed diseases affect up to 30 million Americans. It is concerns like these that lead so many people to learn more about what’s going on inside of their body. Many desperate people have begun their for answers in order to determine the root cause of their suffering.

While Western Medicine is an incredible blessing in our lives that allows us to treat symptoms of what we’re dealing with, more often than not, it doesn’t completely eradicate chronic illness. Naturopathic Doctors are beginning to become more popular than ever for this reason. Naturopaths go deeper than symptomatic treatment; they take the time to understand the environmental, physical, and emotional aspects of their patient’s health. This approach has helped so many individuals find and target the root cause of their suffering. 

Sometimes the best way to learn more about something is to go and seek an expert’s opinion. That’s exactly what I decided to do for the purpose of this article. I came across Owen Wiseman, a Naturopathic Doctor from Ottawa, Canada in my search online. Owen is a licensed professional who attended the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. He was more than happy to hop on a call with me and tell NutraChamps more about his field of work, what a Naturopath does, and the benefits they provide. If you want to read more about everything he had to tell us, continue reading below!

What got you into this field of work?”

Owen grew up being surrounded by many people in his life who worked in healthcare, and knew from an early age that this was something he wanted to be involved in, as well.

He began by working at a children’s hospital and studying for his medical doctor entrance exam, but a few situations disenfranchised him when it came to going down the medical route. He would sit in on many appointments of doctors with patients and their children and was able to see first-hand just how expensive some medications were without health insurance.

“You could see parents almost calculating in their head whether or not they should re-mortgage our home, sell their car, or pick up another job, all because they didn’t have private insurance that would cover their expenses. That was really hard for me. That’s when I started thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do this’. It’s amazing we have these options but at that price-point, it’s not an accessible option for everyone.”

It wasn’t until Owen went to see a naturopath for the first time that he said everything clicked and realized this was the path he was meant to be on. All that Owen felt he needed was more time, more time to understand a patient and their needs before going to medication right away. Owen shortly decided to pack up his life and move to Toronto to study, and hasn’t looked back since. 

Throughout the duration of this interview Owen’s communication and demeanour was calm and clear. I could visibly see the passion that Owen had toward his field just by the look on his face when he was speaking. I went on to ask him “What do you love most about this field of work?” 

Owen’s favorite part of being a Naturopathic Doctor is doing functional lab work. Naturopaths have the option to run a lot more tests than a medical doctor usually would.

“Think about it this way. When you lease a car, you need to take it in to the dealer for preventative care every so often. They know when they get the vehicle back that if you have had the preventative work then there should be less problems and more value. I turn this question back to my patients, “should we lease our bodies?” We treat our cars better than our own bodies. If you take this preventative lab work, then you are able to get a better understanding and catch things earlier.”

Owen continued to explain that after looking through many of his patients functional lab work, he was able to catch illnesses very early on. This allowed the patient to work with their medical doctor to do further testing. 

“What are the main differences between a Naturopath, Dietician, and Holistic Nutritionist.”

Owen clarrified that running lab work is the biggest difference. As a naturopathic doctor at his clinic, Owen works very closely with his Dietician and Holistic Nutritionist at his clinic whenever they take on a new client. They play to their own strengths! While Owen spends the most time analyzing their bloodwork or prescribing, the Dietician will create a meal plan, and the Holistic Nutritionist will spend time educating the patient. “With these things, it’s never this or that… it’s and.” Owen strongly believes in collaboration across the board when it comes to working in the health-care field. 

“What’s the training like to become a Naturopathic doctor?”

A four-year undergrad is mandatory. He claims most people who get into this field have come from a scientific background. After undergrad you need to complete a four-year Naturopathic Doctor program. The first two years of the program are theory-focused whereas the last two years of the program are clinic-focused. This is where you’re able to supervise with a fourth year student in order to shadow patients under the supervision of a licensed ND. After the program you have the chance to pursue a residency or you can get started in the field.

To become licensed you need to write a number of exams. Owen also has a prescribing license. In most Canadian provinces you need to be licensed to practice as an ND. There are some provinces that do not regulate Naturopathic doctors and people can still use the title even if they only take a weekend course!

“What is one of the best transformations you’ve seen in one of your patients?”

One of Owen’s best transformations happened recently. He was working with a client who was severely depressed. The entire time he was working alongside his patient’s general practitioner. The doctor was very amicable about working together and realized that Owen had the time to really dive deeper into some of the root causes and other treatments that could help with this patient’s severe depression. Throughout this process of working together over the course of three and a half months he is now off his depression medication and has never felt better. This is something that couldn’t have happened without Owen being able to work alongside this patient’s GP to monitor interactions between his medication and other treatments they were doing.

“To actually have my patient fill out this questionnaire and score him to see how much things have changed for the better is amazing. For a condition where a lot of people feel hopeless, you can see it wasn’t just me and wasn’t just his medical doctor, but the fact that we worked together.”

“What’s the most challenging part about working as an ND?”

The most challenging part is when medical doctors advise his patients to stop any kind of supplements they’re taking without recognizing the repercussions. Owen finds it frustrating because he would never put himself in a position to alter a patient’s medication that their doctor has put them on. He knows it’s not in his scope or expertise to make that call, so when it happens the other way around it can be a huge challenge. Medical doctors don’t study the same things a naturopathic doctors, therefore they wouldn’t always know the impact of telling a patient to stop vitamins or supplements just because they’re “natural”. 

My conversation with Owen really opened my eyes to a whole different perspective of the naturopathic field. I really loved how open-minded Owen was to working alongside general practitioners and medical doctors for the patient’s best interest. I believe there is a misconception out there that has many people believe that if you work with a Naturopathic doctor it means you’re “against” or don’t believe in Western medicine, which is not at all true. The ability naturopathic doctors have to dive deeper with a patient into the root cause of their suffering is an option many medical doctors don’t have. This isn’t the fault of medical doctors, it’s the fault of a system that is overwhelmed and doesn’t allow for much time to be taken.

Owen is up to amazing things, including a project he founded called “Science & Nature,” which combines the benefits science provides for being outdoors and his true love of nature. Owen is also a regular contributor to ecocentric magazines and blogs including OTWO Magazine out of Gibraltar, Spain and Nature’s Gold out of the U.K.

If you would like to learn more about the services Owen offers and get in touch with him, you can check out his website: owenwiseman.com. You can also follow him on social media @scienceandnatureofficial

Alexia Palmeri

Alexia Palmeri is a 28-year-old personal development enthusiast! She looks at life experiences as an opportunity to always learn and grow. Alexia is also a broadcast journalism graduate with a passion and knack for communications and media. She is always on the lookout for new trends on social media and keeps up to date with what's happening in the world. In her free time, Alexia enjoys socializing with family and loved ones, being in nature, cooking nourishing meals, and discovering new places to dine and adventure!

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