The best advice Dr. Faye Johnson, ND, LAc, LMT, says she can offer individuals regarding their health is to “get in tune with your body, because it will tell you what is wrong if you listen.”
Johnson is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and licensed massage therapist at Dakota Natural Health Center, where she treats individuals by not just focusing on a medical problem, but finding and treating its source.
“Natural medicine is truly focused on finding the cause of your concern,” she says. “We are geared towards giving the body the correct building blocks so it will restore itself. Typically, this type of medicine lends itself to a longer cure.”
According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website, www.naturopathic.org, “naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances which encourage the person’s inherent self-healing process.”
“Natural medicine shines in being able to delve deeper and strives to restore basic physiology within the body,” notes Johnson. “The experience of visiting a naturopath is vastly different than a visit to a conventional medical office; however, the two complement each other wonderfully.”
When visiting a naturopathic doctor for the first time, individuals can expect to spend more than an hour with the doctor. “We take the time to really listen to your whole story as you know your body best,” she notes. “We get a view of the entire person and then suggest changes to your lifestyle through supplements, herbs, specific diets, exercise and more.”
Currently in North Dakota, naturopathic doctors are not permitted to perform all of the tasks required to be an independent primary care doctor, so Johnson encourages her clients to include a traditional medical doctor in their treatment team. “We work very well with traditional medical doctors, as they understand we can be allies in this field. I have received several referrals from medical doctors in the community, as well as see many of their own family members. When the best of both medicines combine, the results are phenomenal.”
The challenge of finding the source of a medical problem is what drives Johnson in her field. “The best part of my job is when a person comes in and doesn’t have a major diagnosis, but knows something is changing and they are unsure of what this means. We are able to make the most of these obscure occurrences and link them together. My personal favorites are people who have been everywhere else with no results or those with ‘odd’ symptoms.”
Johnson says women ages 25 to 50 make up her main patient demographic. “Typically, they are very in tune with their bodies and those of their family members. It is easier to figure them out because of their amazing attention to detail,” she notes. “Once we see them, their whole family soon follows.”
“The number one complaint that most women come to see me for is fatigue. They are too young to be this tired,” she continues. “There are many factors that go into fatigue, so treatments are definitely individualized, but most feel an increase in energy within the first two weeks of being evaluated. That alone can make all of the other concerns more bearable.”
But Johnson notes she sees patients for a variety of concerns. “Dr. Elizabeth Allmendinger, ND, LAc, and I have a family practice, meaning we see all ages from newborn to elderly. We see any type of ailment due to the very nature of our practice,” she says. “There are always fundamental issues to address with every concern.”
However, the practice of naturopathic medicine isn’t met without some skepticism, notes Johnson. “I was a skeptic, too, until I started to understand how the body works through biochemistry and physiology.”
The study of naturopathic medicine is a four-year post-graduate program. The first two years of training are very similar to conventional medical training, with the completion of basic science boards after the first two years of study. “The next two years are very different from conventional medicine as our focus turns to nutrition, counseling, homeopathy, physical medicine and herbs,” says Johnson. “We are trained to be primary care physicians so we do have training in pharmacology and physical exams, but our treatment focus is much different.”
After completing the final two years of schooling, the naturopathic medical students then take another set of boards. Naturopathic doctors were granted licensure in North Dakota through a law passed by the legislature two years ago, and Johnson notes, those in the field will be pursuing additional legislation to ask for their scope of practice to be expanded to include all the treatments they were trained to perform. “Clients come in with their list of complaints and we take all complaints to be clues or red flags for some greater upset in the person’s physiology,” she says. “A lot of the time, causes are things that can’t be seen or they require specialized testing to discover.”
“Your body is intelligent, it does not cause you discomfort unless something is wrong,” says adds. “It is my job to pay close attention to the clues surrounding any complaint and get to the bottom of why it was caused in the first place.”
Dakota Natural Health Center, a division of Dakota Pharmacy, offers a variety of services ranging from diabetes education, Reiki, and Healing Touch to ear candling, foot baths and biofeedback. In addition, the facility offers various screenings including blood pressure, blood sugar, body composition, cholesterol, and osteoporosis heel testing as well as injection services for flu shots, horomone shots, vaccines and vitamin shots. The facility also includes Rummel Chiropractic, Dakota Pain Management and DermaCare. For additional information call 701-258-9418 or visit www.dakotarx.com.