The answers to many frequently asked questions are below.
Click on your questions below to read our answers. Browse all of the questions at once, or by category.
Can natural/integrative medicine really treat illness, or can it only help prevent it?
Natural medicine may both prevent and treat illness. Natural medicine can be used instead of, or in addition to conventional medicine. When used in conjunction with convential therapies, natural approaches can increase the efficacy of conventional therapies, minimize the side effects, and address concomitant ailments.
The doctors at Natura Integrative Medicine can diagnose and treat diseases, as well as offer counseling to help prevent them. Like MDs and DOs, our NDs can order and interpret blood tests, imaging, and other diagnostic procedures. We can likewise prescribe pharmaceutical medications when they’re truly necessary. Depending on your condition and your personal preference, your doctor can oversee your care or work collaboratively with your other healthcare providers.
What age patients are seen at Natura?
We provide care to patients of all ages from birth through the golden years.
How’s an ND different than an MD Primary Care Physician?
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are fully licensed primary care providers (PCPs) in the state of Oregon. Much of what they do is quite similar to the practices of conventional MDs: they can order and interpret blood tests and diagnostic imaging, prescribe pharmaceutical medications, and diagnose and treat disease.
In additional to all that MDs can do, NDs are extensively trained in holistic medicine, allowing them to safely recommend herbal therapies, dietary supplements, and nutrients in combination with (or instead of) conventional medicines.
In other words: NDs do all the same things as MD primary care providers, plus they have a mastery in natural medicine and a holistic philosophy. Seeing an ND is like seeing two doctors rolled into one.
We are are here to offer you a gentle, comprehensive, and empowering road to health, whether you’re looking for a primary care doctor or another practitioner to round out the care you’re receiving elsewhere.
A nice overview of naturopathic medicine and primary care can be accessed here.
What medical training is required for NDs?
Licensed naturopathic physicians are graduates of a four-year, accredited medical school. ND candidates complete an average of 224.50 credit hours in basic clinical sciences – compared to 64 hours required for family nurse practitioners and 184 hours for MD candidates.
Like MD (medical doctor) and DO (doctorate of osteopathy) students, ND candidates are required to complete supervised clinical rotation hours (an average of 84 weeks). Both an attending physician and a resident oversee these rotations.
ND candidates are required to complete coursework in pharmacology during medical school. A naturopathic doctor completes an average of 72 pharmacology hours upon graduating from an AANME-accredited program – compared to 45 course hours completed by family nurse practitioners, and no specific pharmacology course requirements for MD students.
ND candidates are also required to complete 250 hours of clinical field observation. These hours are comprised of preceptorships not only with practicing and licensed NDs, but also with MDs, DOs, and DCs.
NDs are further required to pass two national board examinations, as well as a state licensure exam. Like MDs, NDs are required to complete continuing education coursework, including hours in pharmacology, ethics, and pain management.
In addition to completing all of the above requirements, Dr. Zelfand and Dr. Oberoi were also selected for competitive teaching residency positions after graduation, where they supervised medical students on their rotations at the teaching clinics of the National College of Natural Medicine.
NOTE: In states where ND licensing is not required by law, any person can technically call themselves a “Naturopath,” whether or not they completed medical school. This is a serious threat to the public’s health and safety. We therefore encourage you to support the efforts to pass ND licensure in your home state if you live in an unlicensed state!
What’s the difference between Naturopathic Medicine & Functional Medicine?
With increasing demand for more patient-centered, holistic medicine, some MDs have broadened their scope of medicine to include herbs, nutrition, and other natural therapies.
Many of these alternative-minded practitioners draw on naturopathic philosophy and nature cure strategies to offer their patients better care. These MDs and DOs often refer to their integrative approach as “functional medicine.”
“Functional medicine” is essentially a re-branded and re-marketed version of naturopathic medicine.
Whereas holistic MDs and DOs undergo independent study in natural medicine in a piecemeal fashion after graduation in order to specialize in functional medicine, NDs are taught this integrative approach from day one of their medical training in addition to all the same sciences as MDs.
In other words, an ND is like an MD plus plus – a doctor who has a working knowledge of conventional diagnostics and pharmaceutical management and is also trained in natural therapies and functional medicine.
What all of these providers have in common is a working knowledge of conventional diagnostics and pharmaceuticals in addition to a deep appreciation for the body to heal itself. Holistic MDs and functional doctors also know a bit about herbs and nutrition than the run-of-the-mill MDs, but their knowledge is inconsistent from provider to provider. NDs are well versed in herbal medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, and orthomolecular medicine, as the naturopathic medical program mandates these subjects be included not only in the medical curriculum, but also tested in the national naturopathic medical board examinations. For naturopathic physicians, integrative medicine – or functional medicine, as it’s more commonly called nowadays – is the “first language.”
How is naturopathy different than homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a branch of medicine based on quantum physics and rooted in the principle of Like-Cures-Like. What this means is that a substance that creates symptoms of illness in a healthy person may be used to treat another person afflicted with those very same symptoms. Homeopathy is a gentle healing modality that is not only affordable, but also environmentally sustainable and relatively safe to use with children, pregnant women, and elders.
Naturopathic physicians are trained in the use of homeopathy, but homeopathy is by no means the only treatment modality that naturopaths employ. Depending on your condition and the gamut of your symptoms, your treatment may or may not include homeopathic prescriptions.
Is Natura going to be my primary care clinic?
Dr. Zelfand provides primary care to both children and adults.
Dr. Oberoi provides primary care services to adults only.
Do the doctors at Natura use pharmaceuticals?
Pharmaceutical medications are sometimes necessary for certain conditions. We therefore prescribe medications as indicated.
By addressing dietary and lifestyle habits and by prescribing herbal supplements, our patients often can manage drug side effects more easily, significantly reduce their dosages, and even wean off some or all of their drugs.
We do not routinely prescribe DEA scheduled pain medications.
What treatment therapies are used at Natura?
We pride ourselves on our versatile knowledge of both conventional and holistic therapies, and will use the modalities best indicated for you. These may include nutritional counseling, botanical medicine, physical manipulative therapy / chiropractic, reiki, acupuncture, massage, hydrotherapy, lifestyle counseling, homeopathy, over-the-counter medications, pharmaceutical medications (including bioidentical hormones), IV therapy, and/or referral for surgery or specialized treatment.
The goal of treatment is to address the root cause of disease. Although attention will be paid to relieving unpleasant symptoms, we will seek to uproot your ailments at an even deeper level. Many patients appreciate how gentle yet penetrating our treatments can be, and how the medicine empowers the patient to take an active role in the healing process.
Will my doctor at Natura work collaboratively with my MD and other doctors/specialists?
Yes, we “play well” with other providers! We co-manage many patients with other providers specialists. If you are hoping to see us for supportive care, you may find it more convenient to work with a primary care doctor who respects your decision to pursue concurrent holistic care. It is ideal that we are able to communicate with your other doctor(s) to ensure the best continuity of care for you.
What if I have a medical emergency?
Although we treat acute ailments, we are not an urgent care clinic and are unaffiliated with any hospital. Patients with true medical emergencies are encouraged to call 9-1-1 or go to their nearest emergency department. You may also call your doctor at Natura on the way to the emergency department for additional support.
Patients with urgent health situations may schedule a same-day appointment, provided there is availability. Otherwise, urgent care facilities are a great option if you need to be soon and can’t get an appointment with us.
We do not offer 24-hour on-call services.
Will my health insurance cover this?
Acupuncture, BioCranial, and Chiropractic:
We are in-network with most major insurances for acupuncture and chiropractic services only. For specific details, please call the provider you’re interested in seeing.
Medical Visits and Massage:
Most of our providers are out-of-network with all major insurance, and therefore do not bill health insurance directly for medical services. If you have out-of-network benefits, however, let us know and we will provide you with all of the forms you’ll need for reimbursement. Call your insurance carrier to see how much they’ll reimburse you for a visit with us. (For more details, check out our handy resource page before calling your insurance.)
Depending on your health insurance policy, blood tests and other studies may be covered by your plan in part or in full. When you call your insurance to ask about coverage, see if they have a preferred lab. We will happily accommodate your needs.
Depending on your coverage, the pharmaceutical medications we prescribe may also be covered by your insurance. Please note that botanical and nutritional supplements are usually not reimbursed by health insurance policies, although some HSA or FSA accounts will cover them.
Health insurance is a private agreement between you and your insurance carrier – for further questions about coverage, please call your health insurance company directly.
What will my doctor expect from me?
Integrative medicine is not car mechanics: your doctor will not “fix you” from the outside. Rather, your doctor will educate you, guide you, and encourage you so that your health can truly come from within.
In addition to prescribing medications/supplements as warranted, we may make dietary recommendations, lifestyle suggestions, and other counseling to help you achieve optimal wellness.
If you’re ready to make changes, learn about your body, and created lasting improvement, this is for you!
How do I contact my doctor at Natura once I’m an established patient?
Natura uses a state-of-the-art, HIPAA-compliant, secure online portal. All of our patients have automatic access to this electronic system.
Established patients: you can message your provider directly through our secure patient portal to ensure the safety and privacy of your health information. You can also request or reschedule appointments and view lab results and previous treatment plans on this system.
Please do not send messages through regular e-mail.
Can I become a patient if I don’t live in Oregon?
After an initial appointment in person to establish care, we can indeed do follow up visits by phone.
Note that if we are managing hormone prescriptions or are acting as primary care, then we will also need to see you in person at least once annually for a physical exam.
Unfortunately we cannot treat patients living in other states or countries unless they first come to Oregon for a visit in person. This rule is mandated by our governing board, so we cannot make any exceptions.
Do you have any promotions?
We occasionally offer discounted services and packages to those subscribed to our blog. Sign up today and be the first to hear about special events, classes, and discounts, as we often advertise specials only to our blog subscribers and seldom list them on the web.
Do you offer discounts?
Many of our providers extend service discounts to full time students, veterans, elders, and those with low income. Please schedule a free consultation to discuss your financial situation and explore the services and discounts that may be right for you.
Where can I buy supplements?
We also are pleased to offer our patients 15% off of their online supplement orders, and free shipping on orders of $49 or more. Click here to shop online.