Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine here in Alberta is regulated and naturopathic doctors are licensed through the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta.  All licensed naturopathic doctors have gone through a rigorous post-graduate 4-year naturopathic training program and have obtained an ND degree.  This makes naturopathic doctors qualified to conduct a medical history and physical exam using standard medical equipment and diagnostics.  We are also trained in interpreting laboratory tests (and can order them at an additional cost to you).

We are trained in the following natural therapies which can make up your treatment plan: Nutritional counselling and supplement recommendations, herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, physical medicine recommendations, and/or lifestyle counselling.

Naturopathic medicine is founded on the following six (6) principles:

First, to do no harm: NDs treat with the least invasive treatments that can help support your own body’s healing potential and be therapeutic for you.  We always check interactions with other medications you are on prior to prescribing herbs or supplements.

To Support the Healing Power of the Body: Every one of us has an innate ability to heal ourselves but sometimes, the terrain gets disrupted a little bit.  NDs can help optimize your terrain and bring your body back into balance.

To Treat the Cause(s) of Disease: The goal of treatment is really to identify and treat the root cause.  This is why we ask SO many questions on all aspects of you – mental/emotional/physical – as the entire body is connected.  If you can treat the root cause, the symptoms will go away.

To Teach the Principles of Healthy Living (Doctor as Teacher): NDs will teach you about your health condition so that you are better informed.  We will also provide tools and handouts necessary to help you live a healthier lifestyle.

To Heal the Whole Person through Individualized Treatment: NDs are trained to address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a person and can create a treatment plan individualized to you as the root cause can be different in two people who have the same disease.

To Emphasize Prevention: NDs can help you optimize your health (even if you are already healthy) to prevent diseases in the long-term, especially if you are at increased risk due to a family history of a particular conditions.

What Can I Expect?

The initial appointment is 90 minutes and consists of a lot of talking and discussing your concerns as well as other aspects of your health history.  Any appropriate physical exam will be conducted at this point as well.  To help Dr. Shah prepare for your initial visit, please complete the intake form that will be emailed to you when you book your appointment.  There may be some treatment recommendations provided at this visit.

The second visit is typically 1 hour and this is where Dr. Shah will lay out the short and long term treatment plan that she feels is ideal for you.  The second visit is typically a week after the initial visit to provide Dr. Shah time to review your case, conduct research and select the best individualized treatment plan for you.

Subsequent visits can be 1 hour or 30 minutes in duration depending on what Dr. Shah feels is best.  These visits can range anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 month after the second visit.

Often with naturopathic medicine, you may begin to see signs of symptom relief within a few days to a week depending on your concern, but because this type of medicine is really rooted in addressing the cause and any imbalances in the body, sometimes it can take 3 months for changes to be seen as your body re-balances itself.  The more chronic your condition, the longer it will take to address and treat the root cause as we may have to work together to “peel the layers of the onion”.

Conditions Treated

  • Thyroid disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Hormonal imbalances (PMS, heavy periods, painful periods, menopause, infertility, low libido, PCOS)
  • Digestive Health (Acid reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Autoimmune disorders (Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, etc.)
  • Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A comprehensive list of conditions that Dr. Shah treats can be found at http://www.suhanishah.ca/naturopathic-medicine/conditions-treated/

Services Offered (additional charge applies except for urinalysis)

Blood tests

NDs are also able to requisition standard medical blood tests and can send you to Calgary Laboratory Services (CLS) to have your blood drawn.  Please note that Alberta Health Services does not cover the cost of lab tests requisitioned by a naturopathic doctor at this time and therefore, you will be asked to pay your ND in advance for the test(s).  Depending on your extended health benefit plan, laboratory tests may be covered.

Food sensitivity Testing

Food sensitivities are immune system-mediated reactions to certain foods that are not considered an allergy.  One can have a sensitivity to a certain food but not develop classic allergy symptoms like hives, swelling, itchy skin, or anaphylaxis as they don’t have a true allergy.  The most common are dairy, eggs, and gluten.  Symptoms of a food sensitivity can range from diarrhea, constipation, bloating and other digestive symptoms to joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes, fatigue, weight gain, and migraines.

The food sensitivity testing is done in-office and involves a finger prick to obtain a small amount of blood for the sample.  This tests your immune system’s IgG reaction to 120+ different foods including the common allergens.  Results are typically available in approximately 7-10 days.

Saliva hormone testing

Hormonal testing can be done for both males and females.  Sex hormones and cortisol are tested through obtaining a sample of your saliva or urine.   Saliva and Urine hormone testing is preferred to blood levels as it is a more accurate measure of the level of hormones in your tissues.

  • Cortisol– a stress hormone secreted during periods of stress. It plays a role in blood sugar regulation, sleep, weight, skin changes, and adrenal dysregulation.
  • Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone– These are your reproductive hormones which are also affected by stress and imbalances can result in low libido, infertility, and other reproductive problems.  In females, imbalances can play a role in menstrual disturbances.

Vitamin D testing

In Alberta, your family doctor cannot test your vitamin D levels anymore.  Being in the northern hemisphere, many people are deficient in Vitamin D and low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression, seasonal affective disorder, many skin conditions, thyroid dysfunction and other conditions.

If you are thinking about supplementation, it is always good to get a baseline vitamin D test done before you start supplementing or if you have been supplementing for a long time, it is always good to see where your levels are to ensure your body is absorbing it.

Urinalysis

In-house urinary testing can be done to assess for urinary tract infections or as part of your physical exam to provide a basic assessment of your kidney function.

B12 injections

Naturopathic doctors are trained to administer intra muscular vitamin B12 injections.  Intra- muscular injections can help boost vitamin B12 levels, improve energy and help with muscle pain.  Low levels of the vitamin can result in fatigue, numbness and tingling and nerve degeneration in the long-term.