This article is a little Winter Solstice extra somethin’ somethin’ for you.


Whether you are new to natural health and naturopathy or have been including things for years, many people still wonder whether naturopathy should be primary care or relegated to being a complementary service.  There is no right way to answer this, and it must be a personal choice for you that you are comfortable with.  However, I thought it might be beneficial to share some information to help you make your best decision.


Can Naturopathy complement modern medicine (aka allopathy)?

Yes.  Naturopathy complements standard medicine beautifully!  Naturopathy helps to build the body and can help you be stronger in general.  This means it can work with allopathic treatments.  Naturopathy can also help in managing the side effects of treatments like chemo (though, personally, I would not use chemo or radiation for cancer since there are many other effective methods for working with cancer).

Why to use naturopathy in tandem with allopathy

  • If you like having a name for things going on (remember, naturopaths do not diagnose)
  • If you want to or need to use your insurance for most things (most naturopaths do not accept insurance)
  • If you want more tests run (xrays, MRIs, many bloodwork panels, etc)
  • In true medical emergencies (heart attacks, limb loss, car accidents, etc)

What this would look like

A client choosing to use naturopathy as a complement to allopathy would see their MD for most things, including infections and ear aches.  The naturopath is usually reserved for more chronic things the MD hasn’t been able to address.  For others, the naturopath is used for some instances of health while the MD is used for others.  This is a fluid category where the allopathic MD is the primary voice of medical information with the naturopathic ND offering support.


Can Naturopathy be my primary care?

Yes.  Naturopathy works beautifully as your primary health care too!  Remember, naturopathy builds the body and naturopaths work to help educate you out of needing us.  This means you are learning self-care and how to strengthen your own body.  Naturopathy as your primary care means you are taking an active role in your own wellness and have reinstated your ownership over your body and health.

Why to use naturopathy as primary care

  • If you want to build a body that is disease resistant
  • For acute conditions like flus, colds, infections, and the like, naturopathy has many modalities that work as well or better than those options offered by allopaths
  • If you have a chronic condition or something your doctor has told you will always be an issue, naturopathy may have a solution to allow you to find a way to heal yourself
  • For athletes and others looking to enhance their current health, naturopathy offers modalities to build the body and is tailored to each person’s specific needs
  • Some naturopaths can order certain hair, blood, urine, and stool diagnostics
  • Your information is kept more private since there is no insurance involved to get copies of your records and take over management of your case
  • Naturopathy is highly personalized to each client
  • You are not your diagnosis.  For some, it is better to just know your thyroid is low than to be told you have xyz disease
  • You are unable to find an MD who supports your decision to not vaccinate your children

What this would look like

When the naturopathic ND is your primary go-to for health care, most clients will first check in with the ND for any illness including ear aches, colds, infections, lumps, hair loss, rashes, etc.  The allopathic MD is looked to for emergencies.


What does Dr. Hartford do?

I will admit, I have not seen an allopath (except a dear friend who is an MD who made a house call this year to help with my back issues) since 2013.  Why?  Because, between my own abilities and my naturopathic doctor, we are able to handle almost anything

When would I use allopathic medicine?  I would use it as a course of last resort in a medical emergency.  If you read our previous article, Naturopathy vs Allopathy, you will recall I believe allopathic medicine shines in emergencies.  So if I ever cut off a limb or am in a horrific car accident, you better believe I will see an allopath.

I also recently had to use an allopath (my friend) to prescribe pain medicine to help me through this herniated disc and sciatic pain I have been battling this year.  I tried for two months to take every high-powered herbal, oil, homeopathic remedy, and therapy I could think of.  It was not enough.  I could hardly breath without sobbing–and that sobbing made the pain spike even more.  My pain, volume, and attitude were all maxed out.  However, as soon as I got the pain back under control, I stopped taking that medication and stepped down to simple ibuprofen, which I stopped as soon as I could manage the pain without it.

However, I would pretty much never use allopathy for a cold, infection, cancer, MS, MRSA, or most any other diagnoses.  Naturopathy is safer, as much or more effective, and builds the body.  For me, it is a simple choice.  However, I would never tell a client my decision must be theirs.  You have to do what works best for you.  All I am suggesting is to realize there are options and maybe something else would work for you.

If you want to try using naturopathy as your primary care, remember that we do offer our Ask the Naturopath service for acute, over-the-phone help.


What do you do?  Have you ever considered a naturopath for your primary medical needs?


Please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment if you need further assistance.

Note: Everything here is for information only. This is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Seek a qualified medical professional.

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