Minnesota’s Naturopathic Doctors Share Their Experience Helping Patients
We asked naturopathic doctors in Minnesota what it’s like to practice and how they help their patients. Read the responses below quoted by our members about their experiences!
How do you inspire patients to make healthy lifestyle changes?
“I believe that effective healthcare is a collaborative partnership between the patient and the provider. I use active listening to understand my patients' needs and motivations. It’s important to meet patients where they are and take small steps together to help them get to where they want to go. Lifestyle changes are challenging for all of us, and gentle encouragement and celebrating small wins help build motivation to continue.” -Sara Jean Barrett, ND
“I empower my patients to make positive changes in their lives by sharing with them how the change will benefit their health and why. Explaining why I am recommending a change is essential because when people understand why they are doing something, they are more likely to choose to implement a diet or lifestyle change. I sometimes offer recipes for high-fiber grab-and-go snacks. Once they implement the change, they usually notice an improvement in symptoms, which then encourages them to make the change a habit.” -Joan Waters, ND
“I inspire patients to make positive lifestyle changes by taking time to listen to their concerns, educating them on their body's specific needs, and collaborating with them to define goals that they can implement that are both achievable and sustainable. I find that the improvements that come with achieving these goals are quite motivating and can help to keep patients engaged with their healing process.” -Aidanne MacDonald-Milewski, ND
What is a common reason people seek care from you, and how do you help?
“A common reason people seek care from me is for issues related to women’s health. Specifically, some of my favorite patients are women looking for fertility support. Fertility is very complex and there are many different facets that affect women’s hormonal health. We discuss nutrition, stress, environmental toxins, digestive health, immune function, menstrual health, past traumas, the mental and emotional aspects of life and trying to conceive, and more. I like to help by providing lifestyle and nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, homeopathy, supplements, and lots of listening. Mostly, I really enjoy educating patients on small and big changes they can implement to improve their health and the health of their future children. It is such a pleasure to work with these patients and support them whether they are in a proactive preconception phase or while working through fertility issues.” -Brittany Stamer, ND
"High blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. I use a combination of diet and lifestyle counseling, herbs, and dietary supplements to improve blood sugar control and reverse diabetes. Getting my patients healthy enough to need less medication or remove their dependence on medication is a top priority. My approach to diabetes includes weight management, supporting organ function, and reducing insulin resistance." -Haley Panka, ND
“I frequently work with patients who have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Thyroid medication is often not enough to fully manage the symptoms. I take a holistic approach to treating Hashimoto’s that includes nutrition, mind-body medicine, environmental exposure, nutraceutical support, and investigating root causes.” -Sara Jean Barrett, ND
“I have become known as a go-to doctor for complicated cases in central Minnesota. I work with many chronic and metabolic cases, including Lyme disease, chronic pain, and diabetes, to name a few. One of my favorite patients came to us with a 45-year history of stomach pain, diarrhea, body pain, skin irritations, and insomnia. She hadn’t slept over 2 hours at a time in over 25 years. We did a full intake, ran tests, and then made one basic and simple change in her treatment and then every one of her other symptoms cascaded away. Simple but powerful.” -Lee Aberle, ND
“Digestive disturbances are one of the most common things that I hear people suffer from, and really there's not too much talk on what is normal or optimal digestion. At PND, we help by identifying underlying food intolerances to remove the obstacles in the way of the body's healing, we stimulate the body's ability to restore function with naturopathic physiotherapy treatments or visceral manipulation treatments in the office and evaluate underlying deficiencies and work with the patient to restore their health. “ -Brianna Vick, ND
“There are many: Auto-immunity, acid reflux not controlled by acid blockers, digestive problems, Lyme disease or mold illness and inability to find a dose of thyroid medication are the most common ones.” -Joan Waters, ND
How do you empower patients to take control of their health?
“I take pride in education and collaborative conversation. I fully believe that a well-educated patient can have the necessary tools to make informed decisions. Every individual has a unique health journey, and at the end of it all, they should leave feeling they have the ability to take the reigns to their health.” -Dr. Danielle Vogler-Bos, ND
“I provide them with the information so they know how it will benefit them to make healthy changes to their lifestyle or diet. Sometimes, if a change seems overwhelming to them (if a patient needs to go gluten-free and dairy-free, it is often overwhelming), then I share ideas that other patients or I have used. I remind them that they are ‘in the driver’s seat’ and that I will support them. If they are uncomfortable eating mostly organic, then I remind them that they will likely save on medical bills more than the extra they spend on organic food. In the case of organic vs conventional, I share what I learned from the research literature and from lab testing about the health benefits of eating organic. But, always, they are ‘in charge’, not me. I respect their right to choose for themselves.” Joan Waters, ND
"I love seeing people begin to shine as they learn more about themselves and how to treat their symptoms more deeply. My favorite thing about practicing this form of medicine is seeing the empowerment that we get to cultivate together." -Clair Hamilton, ND, LAc
“At our practice, we empower patients from the first moment of contact. Patients are told that they are in charge of their care and are co-captains with us of their health care. Our intake forms are desig
ned to help patients get to know and think about their health in a holistic way that is different from most medical practices. We supply patients with advice that they can use, from diet, exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle changes, to home therapies and testing. Even our testing, from basic to advanced genetic testing, is designed to help patients learn about their bodies. But mostly, it’s about listening. I think that having a doctor that listens to you deeply and completely is critical to your care. I believe that listening is so important it’s part of our clinic motto. ‘Your symptoms tell a story. We listen’.” - Dr. Lee Aberle, ND
How do you implement the naturopathic therapeutic order in your practice?
“The therapeutic order is a systematic approach to treatment in naturopathic philosophy. It starts with the gentlest approaches and moves to more high-force interventions. The therapeutic order assists naturopathic doctors by delivering an effective approach to health that upholds their oath to ‘First do no harm.’” - Dr. Haley Panka, ND
“I ask about how much water they drink, environmental toxins, sleep, movement, etc. on my intake questionnaire. I address, at the first visit, how they might improve on any of these if it appears that there is room for improvement. I, then, email them handouts regarding living a healthy lifestyle including information about healthy oils, earthing, hydration, etc. to give them more information on these subjects.” - Joan Waters, ND
“I always start with the foundations of health or lifestyle interventions with patients. In the therapeutic order, this is called ‘establish the conditions for health’ and includes addressing nutrition, sleep, exercise, environmental exposures, maladaptive stress patterns, and more. We have to start with a healthy foundation and move into stronger interventions once this foundation is solid.” - Lee Aberle, ND
“I start by identifying underlying causes to dysfunction
that lead to symptoms, then focus on providing natural means of symptomatic relief when possible while we work on the long journey of correcting those underlying causes. I meet the patient where they are at and work with them; as a team, we can more easily reach their health goals. I want to empower my patients to take a front seat in their healing process and to understand that healing is often not a straight path. That the naturopathic approach to medicine is about mind, body and spirit and a process that involves them evolving to a better version of themself.” -Brianna Vick, ND
What is your favorite naturopathic modality, and why?
“My favorite modality is botanical medicine. Growing up o
n the farm really allowed me to establish a deep connection with mother nature, and the use of herbs to heal fascinated me and really made sense and ultimately was the driving force for me to pursue naturopathic medicine as a career.” -Brianna Vick, ND
“Nutrition! I love using food as medicine and seeing the improvements that people experienc
e when they choose the right food for their situation. It's fun to educate people on how food can help them heal and brainstorm fun ways to make meals work for their routine. Personally, I love cooking and trying new recipes with my husband!” -Aidanne MacDonald Milewski, ND
“My favorite treatment modality is herbal medicine. Herbs are healing for a wide range of problems and can be formulated for the individual patient. Herbs can be used in many formats ranging from teas, tinctures, capsules, salves, essential oils, and more. I love that the medicine comes directly from mother earth and can be accessible to anyone.” -Ariel Barkeim, ND
“My favorite naturopathic modalities are herball medicine and nutrition, including dietary supplements. I understand the medical applications of nutrients, foods, and plants and provide this knowledge to my patients to create health and alleviate disease. Plants and foods are often overlooked for their medicinal properties. When used correctly, nutrients and plants contain powerful healing properties.” -Haley Panka, ND
“The neti-pot. If I could give one thing to every person in the world, I would give them each a neti-pot with neti-salt and distilled water. A neti-pot is a low-cost modality that helps us flush out pollen, bacteria, viruses, toxicants, etc. out of our nose and sinuses, cutting down on the overall inflammation in the body.” -Joan Waters, ND
“IV nutrition is our favorite modality; it works well and quickly with most patients. It breaks through obstacles of healing and provides patients a second chance to reclaim their health.” -Bradley Bush, ND
“My favorite naturopathic modality is Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM). I have been practicing and studying FSM for over 20 years and it is over 25% of my practice. While FSM can do many things my favorite is pain relief. By applying the proper frequencies to any area of pain, we can work to release or remove what is causing the pain and provide relief almost immediately. Most of my pain patients are done in a few visits. I can’t recommend it enough.” -Lee Aberle, ND
“Naturopathic mobilization is my favorite modality. It is an opportunity to treat the patient directly by applying naturopathic approaches to physically reduce pain and increase the mobility of the muscles and joints.” - Jacob Panka, ND
What is your favorite naturopathic principle, and why?
“First do no harm is my favorite naturopathic principle. Sometimes the simplest changes can have profound effects on healing.” -Rebecca Bush, ND
“My favorite principle is Docere because in a world full of accessible generic information, as a doctor, I get to distill all of the information out there and specifically apply it to my patient's case. Individualizing care and teaching our patients about their health helps empower them to be their own advocate and make the best decisions for them and their families.” -Cassie Wilder, ND
“I think ‘treat the cause’ is one of my favorites because I can resolve many other, less bothersome, symptoms by just treating the
cause of the patient’s most troublesome symptom or cluster of symptoms. Once I treat the cause, or as we call it, remove the obstacle to cure, the body heals itself.” - Joan Waters, ND
"Treat the whole person" is my favorite principle because as Naturopaths, we look to understand each individual's mental, emotional, and physical challenges. Stress, mood, motivation and lifestyle play a vital role in the healing process. We all have our own journey and I love getting to know what makes each person tick and how I can truly help.” -Katie Corazzo, ND