To many who are a part of the holistic healthcare field, or patients, parents, and partners inclined to seek out alternative care, there is a perception of competition between conventional medical doctors and naturopaths (and other holistic practitioners). This could not be further from the truth. The most basic and fundamental goal of every healthcare practitioner is to help our patients. The paradigm through which this is accomplished may vary, however, the intention to serve humanity in the best way we are able, is a defining worldview of all doctors.

Setting the Foundation

With this foundational understanding (and if you feel this isn’t true for any of your practitioners – GET A NEW DOCTOR), and from a truly holistic perspective, these differences are great, and can be capitalized on to build a team that serves your needs in an exceptional way. Because many diseases and illnesses require diagnostic imaging, pharmaceutical management, or surgical intervention – not to mention acute care situations which necessitate an emergency room – conventional doctors are a vital aspect to address the more mechanistically physical aspects of diseases. They do this very well. Their paradigm actually supports looking at your body as a machine better than any other practitioner, and at times this is necessary.

Mechanistic Mediators

Instead of looking at this mechanistic viewpoint as conflicting with a more “holistic,” which is often used synonymously with “energetic,” or more subtle or deeper levels of health, seeing it as a legitimate component of interpreting health. A component. This exchanges the “either/or” way of seeing the situation with an “and” way of combining these 2 types of medicine.

Communication is Key

Opening up a dialogue between your holistic health care practitioner and conventional medical doctors allows for more overall care to be given. By talking to both sides in an honest and forthright manner about your own opinions and health care needs, it creates a ripple that, in turn, accords a standard of care. There is an increasing concern among practitioners on both sides of the fence, as patients are noted as hiding information from either one, thinking that “they won’t like” what the other has to say. This is a legitimate obstacle to your care. The professionalism of all your practitioners should allow them to cooperate with one another in a manner which places your needs and concerns center stage. Keeping this in mind the next time you visit any of your health care team members – they are there to help you.


Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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