“Some say it’s healthcare’s best kept secret” says Dr. Anne Berkeley about naturopathic medicine. “It takes the best of conventional and alternative medicine and blends them together to provide holistic care with an emphasis on wellness and prevention.” A naturopathic doctor (ND) practicing in NW DC, Dr. Berkeley shares her approach to wellness in this interview.
Jessica of Mindful Healthy Life: How can Naturopathic Medicine benefit families here in the DC area?
Dr. Anne Berkeley: There’s a shift taking place in the way people are approaching health care. The trend is towards personalized care and natural therapies supporting wellness and prevention. It’s exciting to me that people are moving in this direction because this is the type of health care that I believe in and practice. There are few practitioners in the area who are licensed and board-certified with education in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, supplements and lifestyle medicine. My training focused on those areas and I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide this to DC families.
When a patient comes to me, I always take a holistic approach. This means that I look at all relevant aspects, including their digestion, stress, hormones, diet, genetics, social situation, emotional health, and lifestyle. I look at these areas so that I can determine where to direct treatment, as well as which factors may be contributing to a patient’s symptoms. The body is complex, but it is also wise. My goal is to find the root cause of illness and help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to heal.
We are all genetically and microbially different, so it makes sense that each of our bodies needs different things. I use individualized therapies to help restore and maintain an optimal level of health. There is a need in the community for doctors trained in science-based natural medicine and who have a holistic philosophy.
Jessica: What kind of training do Naturopathic Doctors receive?
Dr. Anne Berkeley: A licensed ND attends a four-year accredited naturopathic medical school and is educated in all the same basic sciences as an MD. They are also trained in holistic and non-toxic approaches to therapy, with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness. This includes studying clinical nutrition, botanical medicine and counseling. My training also included homeopathy and Chinese Medicine. An ND’s training focuses on a holistic approach, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. In order to be licensed by a state or jurisdiction, there are rigorous, professional board exams that an ND must pass. There are also continuing medical education credits that must be up to date in order to maintain a current license to practice.
It’s important to note that a “naturopath” is not the same as a “licensed, board-certified Naturopathic Doctor”. Although the philosophy may be similar, the education is very different.
Jessica: Why is it that lots of people who are not already into the holistic world haven’t even heard of Naturopathic Medicine?
Dr. Anne Berkeley: That is a great question. Naturopathic Medicine is more popular on the West Coast and it is increasingly becoming more popular on the East Coast. The roots of naturopathic medicine go back thousands of years, drawing on many cultures. There was a resurgence of interest in naturopathic medicine in the 1970s, which resulted in the profession’s rapid growth. Currently, there are seven naturopathic medical schools offering doctorate programs in the US and Canada.
Jessica: What influenced you to become a Naturopathic Doctor?
Dr. Anne Berkeley: When I first learned about Naturopathic Medicine, I knew it was the type of medicine that I wished I had received when I was younger. After graduating from college, I lived and worked overseas for nearly a decade and experienced firsthand various methods of natural healing. In China and South Korea, I experienced the healing power of acupuncture and herbs. In Thailand with Burmese refugees, I witnessed the use of botanical medicine and in India I saw how nutrition and lifestyle can be used to heal the body. Returning home, I experienced health challenges and I did not see improvement with conventional treatment. While researching options for my own health, I discovered naturopathic medicine and, with treatment, I began to see improvements. I then decided to become a naturopathic doctor to assist others in their healing journeys.
Jessica: What kinds of conditions do you see?
Dr. Anne Berkeley: There are many different types of patients that seek naturopathic care. Some want to make sure they are staying healthy and are taking high quality supplements for prevention. Others have more chronic conditions and are searching for solutions. Many patients come to me with chronic fatigue, weight gain, hormonal imbalance, digestive issues, or autoimmune conditions. Others come to optimize athletic performance, for a pre-pregnancy evaluation, anti-aging medicine, detoxification or nutritional counseling. Some patients come to see me because their labs appear normal, but they still feel like something isn’t quite right.
Jessica: Do you treat children?
Dr. Anne Berkeley: Yes! I have pediatric patients who come for eczema, allergies, immune support, attention disorders, and other conditions as well.
Jessica: Do you work with other health care professionals?
Dr. Anne Berkeley: Yes. It is important that all members of your health care team work together with the goal of improving a patient’s health. An ND can supplement the care a patient receives from other health professionals. I have a network of local practitioners that I refer to. It’s important to know that NDs help with chronic disease and prevention. If a patient has an immediate health crisis, it is best to receive care at a hospital or with your MD. Naturopathic medicine is helpful afterwards in the recovery phase and for prevention of recurrence.
Jessica: What should patients expect at their first appointment with you?
Dr. Anne Berkeley: At the initial visit, I review a patient’s health history and talk about all factors that may be contributing to their current symptoms. Patients can bring in recent lab work for me to review as well. After an exam, we talk about additional labs that I recommend and together we come up with an individualized treatment plan. After the lab work has been completed, the patient comes back for a second appointment. We then review the labs and add to the treatment plan accordingly. I work with each patient to focus on their unique health goals.
I use functional lab testing in my practice, which means that I look at optimal ranges (which are more specific than normal ranges) when interpreting blood work. The reason why I do this is because my focus is based on prevention. Functional lab testing also includes ordering a few more labs to get a full understanding of what’s happening in the body. For example, when looking at thyroid health there are other lab values besides a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) that can be ordered, such as free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies.
Specialty lab testing is also available, which includes micronutrient testing, hormone analysis, cortisol testing, food sensitivity panel, as well as stool testing for candida and dysbiosis in the gut. It is my belief that when the body receives all the nutrients it needs along with the right environment and individualized treatment, a patient has the best chance of nourishing and maintaining a strong and healthy body.
Dr. Berkeley’s private practice is located at 1915 I Street NW, Suite 700, Washington DC 20006. She is on the executive board of the District of Colombia Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
To learn more about Dr. Berkeley, go to www.medicinetothrive.com. Appointments can be scheduled online or by calling 202-798-0221. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dr. Berkeley on Facebook and Instagram.
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Enter the giveaway below for a free Nutrition and Supplement Evaluation with Dr. Berkeley. Review your diet, vitamins and other supplements to see how you can best support optimal health and wellness. This appointment is 45 minutes in length and is a $150 value. Supplements not included.
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life and was the founder and a longtime leader of the Arlington/Alexandria Chapter of Holistic Moms Network. Jessica is a writer and editor who is working on her first novel. Find information about her writing and about the editing and business consulting services she offers at JessicaClaireHaney.com. She also volunteers on issues related to wellness in public schools. Jessica’s personal blog is Crunchy-Chewy Mama, on Facebook at facebook.com/