What is naturopathic care?

Naturopathic medicine  is a distinct branch of medicine that emphasizes the role that natural medicine plays in keeping people well. Naturopathic physicians are trained in nutrition, botanical/herbal medicine, physical manipulation, wellness counseling, and homeopathy. They utilize these to encourage the body’s natural tendency toward health.

What’s the difference between collaborative, integrative, and naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine refers to the specific philosophy utilized by naturopathic physicians, which sees the body as a whole (rather than individual systems or organs), uses primarily natural medicines, and looks for the root cause of health disturbances.

Integrative medicine is an umbrella term for a myriad of health professionals who incorporate aspects of many different philosophies of medicine in order to create a personalized care plan for patients. Physicians that specialize in integrative medicine can include medical doctors (MDs), osteopathic physicians (DOs), naturopathic physicians (NDs or NMDs), chiropractors (DCs), acupuncturists and Doctors of Oriental Medicine (LAcs and DoMs, respectively), Ayurvedic doctors, dentists (DMDs or DDSs), optometrists (ODs), and many others. While naturopathic doctors fall under the category of integrative medicine, not all integrative practitioners are naturopathic physicians.

Collaborative medicine is a relatively new concept. In our office, our medical professionals work together on an individualized care plan for our patients. Osteopathic physicians, naturopathic physicians, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) may all be members of your care team. They each bring their distinct medical philosophy, expertise in specific treatment options, and personal interests to the table, giving patients a truly comprehensive care plan. When a medical team is truly collaborative, multiple health professionals work together to ensure that all aspects of health are being addressed in an appropriate way. Collaborative care teams are constantly learning from each other, thereby encouraging the evolution of modern medicine.

What is the education of a naturopathic physician?

Licensed naturopathic physicians are required to attend a four- to five-year medical program after they have earned their Bachelor’s degree. During this time, they complete a standardized set of courses in Basic Sciences and Clinical Sciences, then begin Student Clinic. In order to continue progressing through this medical training, they are expected to pass national board examinations in Basic Sciences and Clinical Sciences.

Naturopathic doctors are trained in clinical assessment (lab testing, physical examination, patient interviewing), and a specific set of modalities, including: nutrition, botanical/herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, wellness counseling, pharmacology, and minor surgery.
Once naturopathic physicians have graduated from their medical training programs, some may choose to complete 1- to 3-year residencies to continue their medical training.

What’s the difference between a naturopathic physician and an osteopathic physician?

Both naturopathic and osteopathic physicians believe in whole body health and using natural medicine when appropriate. However, osteopathic physicians receive more extensive training in physical medicine (specifically, osteopathic manipulation) and in pharmacology. In Connecticut, osteopathic physicians can prescribe pharmaceuticals. Currently, naturopathic physicians licensed in Connecticut cannot. We believe that the ability to utilize all forms of medicine through collaboration between DOs and NDs creates comprehensive, safe, and effective care for all of our patients.

Does a naturopathic physician replace a primary care physician in Connecticut?

No. Naturopathic physicians in Connecticut are considered specialists, so it is important for all patients to ensure that they have primary care with medical professionals authorized to provide it. These professionals include MDs, DOs, APRNs, and physician assistants (PAs).

Do you take insurance?

Yes. Many of the services CNHP provides are covered by insurance, and our providers are included in many insurance plans. However, we also provide services that are not always covered by insurance plans, so these cannot be billed to insurance and must be paid out of pocket. It is important for patients to understand their insurance benefits and what is and what is not a covered service. We will be very transparent with any out of pocket expenses.

Additionally, some insurance plans underwrite out naturopathic coverage. Ask your insurance or call the office to speak to our billing team for more guidance.

We are in-network with almost all insurance plans except: Connecticare and Medicare. Some medicare advantage and state retirees have polices that may cover some services.

Why should I see a naturopathic physician?

Naturopathic physicians are a tremendous asset to a healthy community. Although licensed naturopathic physicians complete training in pharmacology and minor surgery, many choose to refer these services to physicians who specialize in them and focus instead on the things that determine health: diet, hydration, sleep, stress, movement, and joy, among others. They utilize natural substances when possible and partner with their patients to uncover the ways in which they can be most supportive on their health journey.

Why am I just learning about this now? How is this not more well-known?

Interestingly, Connecticut has regulated naturopathic medicine for over 100 years! However, naturopathic physicians are not as common as medical doctors or osteopathic physicians, and their scope of practice is much more limited than other types of physicians. However, naturopathic medicine is now regulated by 23 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, so the movement is gaining momentum!

Can naturopathic doctors prescribe medication?

While all licensed naturopathic physicians receive standardized training in pharmacology, their ability to prescribe medications is dictated by the state or territory in which they are licensed. In Connecticut, prescriptive authority is NOT currently included in naturopathic scope.

What types of patients do you see in your office?

One of the beautiful things about naturopathic medicine is it can help everyone. From pediatrics, helping with nutrition, development and immune health to aging gracefully, naturopathic medicine has something for everyone. We have physicians who specialize in specific conditions such as fertility, Gastrointestinal issues, hormones, neurology, and immune health. Even oncology. We are here to partner with patients with any health goal to help them optimize their health with natural modalities.

What would a patient expect to happen on their first visit?

One thing that is immediately noticeable to new patients is the amount of time our physicians spend in getting to know their patients, particularly during the first visit. Naturopathic physicians in particular are trained to take an in-depth health history, encouraging the patients to discuss nearly every aspect of their lives which can affect their health. After an in-depth intake (typically 30 minutes or so), patients receive a comprehensive physical examination and options for additional testing may be recommended.

Once the initial visit is complete, what does ongoing care look like?

The frequency of return office visits is determined through conversations between the patient and their care providers. At first, patients may need more frequent check-ins with their providers in order to receive encouragement, ask clarifying questions, or troubleshoot when treatment is not going as expected. These visits may be in person or via telemedicine, or a combination of both! Once patients are feeling more confident and healthy, check-ins may be reduced to annual visits for maintenance.

CNHP is proud to offer nontraditional options for ongoing care as well, including foundational medicine courses (which are often covered by insurance), brief group health coaching programs (oftentimes 5 days or less), and long-term group health coaching programs (in particular, our 28-Day Whole Body Reset). These programs, led by one or more members of our collaborative team, encourage patients to decide how much support they need at any given time and help to cultivate a community culture of health.

What kind of doctor is right for me?

Naturopathic physicians- Physicians trained as specialists in integrative medicine. Naturopathic physicians are experts in advanced diagnostic testing, nutrition, botanicals and supplements. Some of our doctors are also trained in craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, bowen and other specific modalities.

Osteopathic physicians- Board certified in family medicine with additional training in osteopathic manipulation. These doctors are primary care doctors who are open to integrative medicine and can act as your primary care doctor but also can be an adjunctive care offering compounded prescriptive medications such as bioidentical hormones, LDN, glandular thyroid prescriptions

Can I keep my primary care? Can I keep my naturopathic physician?

Collaboration means working not only with each other but with other physicians and practitioners. We recognize the importance of a therapeutic relationship with your doctors and honor that your connection with your team is a priority. While the naturopathic physicians and the family medicine physicians advocate for having the other type of physician on board, we welcome collaborating with physicians outside of the office.

For primary care, why do I start with a naturopathic physician?

Lifestyle medicine is at the core of our values. We ask that you establish first with a naturopathic physician (even if you work with another outside of this office) so that we can start you on your wellness journey with meaningful goals, bloodwork, and functional medicine. Once established with an ND, we will set you up with the best match in our primary care team.

Do you offer same day sick visits?

We try very hard to accommodate any urgent concerns within 24 hours. We can address urgent matters such as rashes and infections. If you have an acute concern, please call to see the doctors to help you.

Should I bring my records for my visit?

On your first visit, we have a lot to discuss. We are jumping in as your newest team member, but we honor that your journey did not just start. Prior labs and imaging can be helpful. We are happy to request records for anything additional we may need.

What is an Annual Wellness visit and why do I need one?

We are honored as your physicians to hold space for you all year round. We are here for any sneeze or sniffles, and truly value this wellness visit as an opportunity to take time and assess your overall health. This visit is extremely important to us and we ask we have this time at least once every two years, ideally every year.

This is the one visit that health insurance companies allow us to completely focus on all of your well care and ensure that we maintain a proactive approach. Services included in a preventative wellness visit: review of medical history, a thorough physical exam, information about how to reduce risk factors that could affect your health, ordering screening tests and immunizations as needed and counseling on overall improvements that could help your health. We may ask for a urinalysis and/or EKG if necessary.

Well woman exams are recognized by insurance companies as a separate preventive visit- honoring the importance of women taking the time to connect with their physician about their unique concerns. This visit as a separate from your wellness physical intentionally. A well woman exam is more than a pap smear and breast exam. This is our time to talk about your overall hormonal and sexual health. We are honored to offer this time for our women.

Do you offer vaccines? If so, which ones?

We do offer vaccines, including T-Dap, Tetanus and Flu for adults. We offer the entire pediatric schedule of vaccines for our pediatric membership patients. We do not require vaccination to be a patient of the practice.

When possible all our vaccines are preservative free. While these vaccines are more expensive than other forms, there will be no additional charges.

Travel and other vaccines can be ordered through a local pharmacy and administered in our clinic. We advocate to visit the Travel clinic at UCONN if you are considering an abroad trip.