Dr. Jane Guiltinan: Naturopathic medicine for women in midlife & menopause: part 2
On July 10, we published Part 1 of our conversation on Naturopathic Medicine with Dr. Jane Guiltinan, recently retired Dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University.
Naturopathic medicine with Dr. Jane Guiltinan
In Part 1, we asked Dr. Guiltinan to give us a sort of Naturopathic Medicine 101 – since many of us are unfamiliar with the practice, we wanted to know what it was about, how it worked, and how we could find a qualified naturopathic doctor (ND).
In Part 2, we dug a little deeper into what being treated by an ND is like and the advantages this practice has for women in midlife and menopause.
Here’s what she told us.
What is my first Naturopathic Medicine appointment going to be like?
1:18: We’re quickly becoming convinced of the benefits of Naturopathic Medicine, so we asked Dr. Guiltinan what we could expect from that first appointment. How long will it take, what kinds of questions will we be asked, what should we walk away with? Some of the process will seem very familiar, she told us, like filling out insurance forms, but expect a much longer appointment and a more in-depth conversation about lifestyle, diet, underlying causes – not just the complaint you came in with. PS: there may be “homework” to prep for your next appointment!
“I’m a very strong believer in shared decision making and that this is a partnership.”
Honesty is the path to recovery – how to share ALL THE INFORMATION with your Naturopathic Doctor
5:33: Working with a naturopathic doctor is most effective when you have open and frank communication, we discovered. There’s no help claiming you eat healthfully if you really don’t. NDs are looking for the root causes of your concerns, so hide nothing! Chances are your ND has been trained to develop a relationship based on trust and to listen without judgment.
The “meaty” stuff about menopause – what do women in midlife want to know?
6:26: According to Dr. Guiltinan, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a cause for concern because many of us aren’t sure of the risks versus the benefits. So many women turn to their ND for information about bio-identical HRT which is considered “safer” and more “natural” in some circles (though research studies don’t necessarily support this belief). Dr. Guiltinan goes into the details on HRT, the length of time considered safe, and who qualifies as a good candidate.
Where do we get the idea that bio-identical hormones are safer?
11:00: Uh….let’s just say that while everyone is entitled to their opinion, and lay people can be extremely well informed, it’s probably best to check with a qualified medical professional before making a decision. An ND can be a great partner in helping you determine the healthiest, more effective path through midlife and menopause.
What can an ND do for me if I can’t utilize hormone replacement therapy?
12:17: Women with a history of breast cancer or other risk factors aren’t good candidates for HRT; what options do they have to manage menopause symptoms? Women in this category have many options, says Dr. Guiltinan. Diet, lifestyle changes, adding herbs and supplements like black cohosh or maca: all of these can be very helpful in making menopause easier, and your ND can work with you to balance all the factors and reach your healthiest you. (Bonus: maca may help rekindle a limp libido….)
That’s a lot of herbs. Which one works best?
15:09: If you’ve ever braved the “supplement” section of your grocery store, you’ve likely seen a bewildering array of choices: pills, powders, teas, creams … so many configurations, dosages …. Help? We asked Dr. Guiltinan how we can make informed decisions. Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA the way prescription medications are, so there is plenty of snake oil on those shelves, she told us. She gave us some great tips on how to determine which providers are legit and what questions to ask producers.
How long are we going to be meeting like this?
18:03: Perimenopause and menopause can affect a woman’s life for years. We wanted to know how long, typically, Dr. Guiltinan worked with clients to help them reach and retain optimal health. Like all things menopause, it varies with the woman and at what stage she came in for help, the Doc told us. The goal is to find what works as quickly as possible, get them on the path to health, and then only see them when things change.
What about those other hormones, progesterone and testosterone?
19:25: We talk a lot about estrogen in menopause, but progesterone and testosterone (yep, women produce small amounts of testosterone) also change during this time, and the difference in levels can be felt. There are dangers to taking some hormones without others – the ideal is to keep the body in the optimum balance – so testing by a professional is critical.
What else should women know as they travel the menopath?
21:44: “Menopause is not a disease,” says Dr. Guiltinan. Even though we talk about “symptoms,” it’s a natural and normal part of life, just as periods are. And here’s a news flash: “You don’t have to do anything about menopause if you don’t feel bad.” Crazy, right? If you’re not having symptoms that interfere drastically with your life, great! Carry on and enjoy your life.
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to Part 1, you don’t want to miss it. Check out helping your body heal itself: naturopathic medicine 101. Don’t forget to subscribe to Gennev on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher, so you never miss an episode.
Dr. Jane Guiltinan recently retired as Dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. A practicing naturopathic physician for thirty years, Dr. Guiltinan graduated from Bastyr in 1986, and has served as a clinical professor, medical director and dean of clinical affairs during her tenure there. She was the co-medical director for the first publicly funded integrated health clinic in the United States, the King County Natural Medicine Clinic. She served on the board of trustees for Harborview Medical Center, a level 1 trauma center and part of the University of Washington Medicine system for twelve years and was the first naturopathic physician on the board of a large public hospital. In 2012, she was appointed by Kathleen Sebelius, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, to the Advisory Council of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a center within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Guiltinan’s practice is focused on women’s health, primary care, disease prevention, and wellness promotion.
Next week we talk with nutritionist Julie Duffy Dillon on “food peace,” so be sure to stay tuned! [Read up on our conversations with Julie on weight gain menopause intermittent fasting, and those extra 15 pounds and What are you really hungry for? eating disorders in midlife]
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