Have you ever left a standard doctor appointment feeling shamed?
I will never forget my first visit to the pediatrician with my precious firstborn. It was a nightmare. As a new parent, I was eager to ensure the best care for my baby while also holding strong to my personal beliefs about healthcare. However, that visit left me utterly shattered. Instead of finding support and guidance, I felt an
overwhelming sense of judgment and fear. The pediatrician, who I expected to provide me with reassurance, seemed more focused on pushing her own agenda. She didn’t respect my choices and, in the process, left me with a sense of dread that my baby’s life hung in the balance. When the visit concluded, I rushed out of her office as tears began to pour out of my eyes. I felt insecure about my role as a parent. I no longer felt qualified to make the right decisions for my child. It was a heartbreaking and eye-opening encounter that made me realize the importance of finding a healthcare provider who would genuinely listen, respect my beliefs, and offer guidance without fear tactics.
How my Pediatrician Failed me as a Parent.
I went on to have two more children. Each time I paid a visit to a pediatrician, I left with similar disappointed feelings. I respected their approach in times when my kids needed medical intervention, but they fell short in advising me on the prevention side of things. My kids were pretty healthy, and I wanted to keep them that way. I was striving to feed them nutritious food, teach them good behavior, and raise them with a mindful lifestyle. And on the rare occasion that my kids did come down with a virus, I wanted other options besides acetaminophen. These questions could not be answered by my pediatrician. Once I learned that, I began withholding information from her. I didn’t tell her about the vitamins I gave my kids, or the herbs I used when they had a cold. I didn’t mention essential oils that had been helpful. I knew she wouldn’t understand. As that rapport crumbled, I found myself standing alone. It seemed as though I was the only one I could trust to look after the health of my kids. It had become clear that my Pediatrician was only helpful when my kids were very sick – which was becoming less often the more I used natural remedies.
How a Naturopathic Pediatrician is Different
-After years of frustrating doctor visits, I unplugged myself from the conventional system and began putting my trust in alternative providers. They were helpful, but I was concerned there were aspects of my kids’ health that were being overlooked. After much deliberation, it became clear that the solution was up to me. There was a clear gap in our healthcare system, and it needed to be filled by a qualified physician who was trained in natural healing methods.I quit my job and embarked on a six- year journey to become a Naturopathic Doctor (ND). I chose this route because the naturopathic modalities are the principles I felt were most lacking in our medical system. The modalities include clinical nutrition, counseling, botanical medicine and homeopathy. I’ll go into more detail about each of these modalities, and how they are game-changers for the kids and parents I work with.
How Clinical Nutrition Changes Kids’ Lives
There was an 8-month-old baby who was struggling with growth. She had been diagnosed with “Failure to Thrive,” and her Gastroenterologist recommended a feeding tube with a formula diet. The registered dietitian on staff worked with the baby’s parents to prescribe a pre-mixed formula
consisting of highly processed ingredients. The baby successfully gained weight on the formula, so the specialists were thrilled. However, the parents had big concerns. Their baby was developing severe reflux, and spent many nights losing sleep due to vomiting. Mom and Dad were dismissed when they reported these concerns, because their providers were basing success solely on the baby’s weight gain. When the family switched to a home-made formula consisting of whole food ingredients, the baby’s reflux symptoms subsided, and her weight gain continued to progress. What was even more life-changing, was the developmental leaps she made. The baby began talking, laughing, and engaging with her surroundings more. She was sleeping more soundly, which supported her development. She also had an improved appetite, and became more willing to explore eating foods by mouth rather than relying on the feeding tube alone.
A Naturopathic Pediatrician Counsels with Parents
There are two main issues parents run into when raising a newborn baby: breastfeeding, and sleep. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I conduct a well baby visit differently from other pediatricians. The visit does not begin with a growth check, it begins with a discussion. I ask parents open ended questions like “How does it feel to have a newborn baby?” “What concerns do you have?” “Tell me about how your life has changed since having a baby” Open ended questions are a strategy used by counselors to get people to open up about themselves. A naturopathic visit is longer than a typical well baby visit, so there is time for such dialogue to take place.
The benefit to having this type of dialogue is, we can work together to find a solution that aligns with the parents beliefs. For example, one mom described at a 6-month well baby visit that she and her baby were both struggling to sleep at night. She said her baby was restless, sweaty, and often used the breast to pacify.
At first glance, this could look like a baby who needs a night time feeding session in order to sleep better. After counseling with the mom further, more details came to light. The baby was sleeping fine during nap time, when sleeping in her own crib, and she was getting plenty of milk. The problem only existed at night, and mom was facing guilt over putting the baby in her own crib because she had read that co-sleeping improves the bond between mother and baby.
We talked about where this information came from, and whether mom really felt like they needed to sleep in the same bed in order to bond. Through this open dialogue, Mom was able to get the validation she needed to put her baby in her crib at night. She and the baby instantly began to sleep more soundly, which led to Mom feeling more energetic during the day and was able to bond more with her baby during waking hours rather than dragging through the day in a coffee coma.
Through counseling, a Naturopathic Doctor is able to meet families where they are on their health journey and give advice that is tailored to the specific needs of the child.
Naturopathic pediatricians use herbs as medicine because they work synergistically with the body to train organ systems to respond appropriately to various stimuli. This holistic perspective differs from the conventional model, which emphasizes suppression of symptoms. Let me give
you an example to illustrate the difference. In the case of a fever, conventional physicians advise the use of fever reducers like
acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These can be necessary in circumstances when a fever reaches dangerously high levels, however, fevers under 102 are far more common. These can occur with teething, colds, flu, and ear infections. In this case, we can prescribe an herb such as Yarrow (achillea millefolium) can reduce fevers
by supporting the peripheral circulation which reduces blood pressure, while at the same time providing antiseptic and anti-inflammatory constituents to support the immune system in the fight against a pathogen. The advantage to this approach is that the immune system will become stronger and more responsive to this pathogen the next time it comes into contact with it. Herbs can also be used from chronic conditions such as allergies. Stinging nettle is an herb thattonifies the immune system so it becomes less reactive to environmental stimuli. By working with the body’s natural processes, botanical treatments often yield long-lasting results without the risk of dependency or adverse reactions that can accompany pharmaceuticals.
Early in my studies, I was most skeptical of homeopathy. Like many people, I struggled to understand the mechanisms behind homeopathy, and exactly how it worked. It is difficult to describe, and leaves people to chalk it up to a “magic pill,” or a “placebo effect.” After years of observing its effectiveness, I have developed a strong love for this modality, and I understand better how it works. You see, the cells in the body operate in a particular rhythm and
routine. This normal pattern is called homeostasis. Homeostasis can be interrupted, and cause the cells to adapt. For example, one patient of mine had a large spider crawl into her pants and bite her labia when she was 3 years old. It healed quickly and did not seem problematic. However, 5 years later, the little girl was developing symptoms of the autoimmune condition vitiligo. She had spots developing around her hairline and neck, but the location of most loss of pigment was concentrated around her vulva. This unusual presentation of symptoms confused her doctors. As I discussed her health history with Mom, it became clear there was a tie between her spider bite and loss of pigmentation. It wasn’t clear exactly why the body had developed this defense mechanism, but it didn’t matter. This was a perfect case for homeopathy. By prescribing the appropriate remedies, we could reverse this coping mechanism the cells had developed, and reverse symptoms. We were able to successfully do this, and within 2 months the pigmented spots began reversing back to their original color.
Primary Care With a Naturopathic Pediatrician
Naturopathic Doctors are trained physicians. We perform a thorough evaluation and make a proper diagnosis. The difference is, we prioritize treatment methods that are least invasive as a first line, before diving into pharmaceuticals. As a naturopathic pediatrician, I believe in body autonomy, so no exams are forced on your
child. It’s important that we do not normalize stripping down in front of strangers. These small traumas can accumulate and cause harm long-term. A doctor visit should not be traumatic or scary. We smile, laugh, and play throughout the visit to help kids have a positive experience. When they learn to associate health with
positivity, they have better outcomes.
We Accept Alternative Vaccine Preferences
Naturopathic Doctors support the parent’s choice to vaccinate or not. Many pediatric practices are turning away families with alternative immunization schedules. That choice is driving many families to be stuck without any care at all. We believe in making visits pressure-free and fully focused on wellness. This means we can
engage in an open dialogue with parents to help them make decisions that are truly advantageous to their children’s health. We want you to make decisions out of confidence, rather than fear.
Not just Preventative Medicine
Naturopathic care is founded on basic principles of healthy living. Nutrition, sleep, exercise, and mindfulness are the cornerstones of preventative medicine.
When it comes to preventing disease, it’s not enough to just check growth charts and administer vaccines. You need a doctor who can give you real guidance, unbiased advice, and a listening ear.
When Kids get Sick
Even the healthiest kids get sick from time-to-time. Our goal is to help them get better faster, and make a complete recovery.
We start with the least invasive approach, recommending non-toxic remedies to help your child’s body heal itself. Most of the time, these methods work phenomenally, and their immune system is stronger as a result. We have safety parameters in place for the occasional illness that doesn’t respond well to
natural remedies, and we guide you through the process of involving conventional care.
Naturopathic Pediatrician Strategy
The process of starting with the least invasive, and working our way to more conventional techniques is called the therapeutic order. It’s an art form that naturopaths have been practicing for centuries. Where allopathic doctors rely heavily on drugs and surgery, naturopathic doctors have several other options to explore before I get to that level.
From Dysfunction to Optimal Function
For parents like you and me, it’s not enough to just prevent disease. We want the absolute best for our kids.
If your kiddos are already healthy and well, let’s take it to the next level! We use cutting-edge testing, tools, and remedies to help keep your kids on the top-tier. For
example, a stool test can provide data about the microbiome that suggests ideal nutrition strategies we can implement to help build the ultimate microbial diversity.
Catching Early Warning Signs
There’s a reason we have longer visits, and a reason Naturopathic Doctors want to build a relationship with you and your kids. By getting to know them personally, we can better recognize early signs of cognitive delay, or signs of chronic illness that most doctors miss. Functional lab testing is a fabulous tool. We can detect food intolerance, nutritional deficiencies, and poor microbiome health.
Functional Testing with a Naturopathic Pediatrician
No parent wants to have their kids’ blood drawn. It’s a dreadful process. We avoid it whenever possible and keep testing to a minimum. If testing is required, we prioritize the easier ones, using urine or a simple finger prick. Stool testing and saliva are used occasionally, as well. We use labs that are familiar with pediatric markers. Some tests are offered for infants, but many are for ages 2+.
Naturopathic Pediatrician | Tolle Totum: Treat the Whole Person
It’s an honor to be a part of a profession that helps people transform into happier, healthier, more fulfilled versions of themselves. Treating children is rewarding as you get to see their potential unfold when obstacles are removed from their path. It’s a fulfilling career, in which many of the elders in the profession say they still go to sleep happy every night because they love doing what they do. I’m blessed to feel the same.
By: Dr. Lindsay Hollister | The Organic Cure
Dr. Lindsay Hollister, N.D, is a mama of three; natural remedy extraordinaire, and the naturopathic pediatrician behind The Organic Cure.
She gives parents actionable tools and strategies they can implement at home to help their kids become truly healthy. Dr. Lindsay reassures parents that children are resilient, and their bodies have incredible potential to heal using gentle tools like herbs, homeopathy, and nutrition.
When she’s not hanging out with your kiddos, Dr. Lindsay is usually spending time with her own! She and her husband enjoy taking the family on different adventures around the Colorado Springs natural playground.