Natural Doc Goes Beyond the Band-Aid February 24, 2011Posted by Dreamhealer in naturopathic.
Complementary medicine has become an increasingly popular idea in the last few years, with some aspects slowly being integrated into mainstream medicine. But those patients who would like to have the best of both worlds can find the solution in naturopathic doctors — and in Belfair, that’s Terra Sowinski.
A naturopath (ND) and a midwife who practices at Abel Wellness Center, Sowinksi can treat almost everything, just like a traditional doctor, but she takes it one step further. “I try to figure out what’s causing the problem,” she said. “I could put a Band-Aid on it but it would fall off, so a lot of times we’re looking for a deeper cause.”
Naturopaths receive the same medical training as MDs but in addition to that, they further study disciplines such as herbal, homeopathic and energy medicine. They can prescribe the usual pharmaceuticals and serve as primary physicians, but in Washington state are not licensed to treat cancer patients (except as wellness practitioners in conjunction with the primary physician).
One thing that’s different about NDs is the length of the visit — patients usually spend more time with their doctor, and sometimes getting to the root of the problem means multiple visits.
“A lot of people are seeking a primary doctor they like and having a naturopath gives them more options,” Sowinski said.
Much of her focus is on wellness, and she starts with the basics: diet, exercise and stress management. “If you don’t have those under control, it will be hard to get you well. Once you have your base, then we can focus on symptomatic release,” she said.
Sowinski’s practice in Belfair is turning two years old in February. An Allyn resident now, she wasn’t new to the area: Her family had property in North Mason and she spent many summers in Grapeview.
She says the field of naturopathy found her, in a way. “I was planning the traditional medical route, but when I did an internship in college, my boss suggested naturopathy,” she said.
Once she learned about the focus on health and preventative medicine, Sowinski was hooked with the idea of having the extra tool. It wasn’t necessarily an easy transition. Although she was an athlete and a collegiate gymnast already trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, naturopathy went far beyond.
“It was a huge learning curve but it was a fun curve,” she said. After becoming an ND, she overhauled her diet, and looks at her own healthy lifestyle as a work in progress. “Not everything about my life is healthy but identifying (those areas) and working on them is important,” she said.
That’s the same philosophy Sowinski has with her patients, since she knows lifestyle changes are the hardest to make. “Taking little steps and getting everyone on board, and continuing on the goals every day is what’s important,” she said.