What is Naturopathy? A Rhode Island Practitioner Explains
We talked with Dr. Chrysanthi Kazantzis, ND, MS about the practice and methods of naturopathy.
Nature and modern science come together in the practice of naturopathy, when self-healing and natural methods help patients make decisions about their health. Not only are physical effects addressed, the mind and spirit are as well.
President of the Rhode Island Naturopathic Physician Association Dr. Chrysanthi Kazantzis (or Dr. Kaz, as patients call her) is a licensed naturopathic physician, as well as a reiki master and a clinical nutritionist. This is her fifth year of practice and she founded a new naturopathic medicine clinic, Anasa Personalized Medicine in Providence, where she says she is committed to helping her patients discover the best lifestyle for them.
Naturopathic doctors are trained in conventional medicine as well as learn about nutrition and the different types of herbs that aid in healing.
“We have a four-year undergraduate education and continue with another four years of postgraduate naturopathic medical school,” says Kaz. “Within that time, we have two years of in-clinic training where we have hands-on training with patients. We’re also trained in pharmaceutical medication and the interactions with different nutrients and supplements, which is really important.”
Her areas of emphasis include mood disorders, prenatal, pregnancy and postnatal health, Lyme disease, diabetes and nutrition, thyroid conditions and more.
A typical first patient visit is a little more than an hour, and in that time the naturopathic doctor and patient “discuss health concerns, health history, diet, exercise, sleep, stress, energy. A physical exam is conducted as well as a nutritional physical exam,” says Kaz. A treatment plan is arranged, along with all the natural therapies like dietary changes, homeopathy, herbs and supplements. Kaz’s own healing journey inspired her to commit to this field of practice.
“In college, I indulged in unhealthy eating and lifestyle practices, which led to various health conditions. I studied nutrition in college, and I realized that food is medicine. Once I started changing my diet to more nutritious foods, many of my health conditions improved,” says Kaz. As a Greek and Persian woman, her heritage also influenced this interest in naturopathic medicine, since her grandmothers relied on tea and herbs to help her with health issues.
Kaz studied under Dr. Peter D’Adamo, who is a naturopathic physician, researcher-educator and author. “I trained with him for two years where I learned how your blood type can influence your susceptibility to certain diseases and how eating for your blood type can improve your overall health,” says Kaz. She also learned more about nutrigenomics, which studies how genes affect health risk and how you can reduce those risks with certain foods and supplements.
“There are always going to be people who don’t support you,” says Kaz about those who question naturopathy’s efficacy. Despite lobbying efforts by the local naturopathy community, Rhode Island insurers do not cover visits with a naturopathic doctor. “Naturopathic medicine is an ancient type of medicine that has been used for thousands of years in ancient China, India and Greece. Now we are using that traditional medicine with modern-day research and science…. There’s a lot of new research on how these different herbs and nutrients can really help to get our body back into balance.”
Ultimately, it’s up to the patient to commit to a personalized plan and make the necessary changes, whether it be new exercising, eating or sleeping habits. According to Kaz, “the more compliant you are with your treatment plan, the more successful the outcome will be.”
During the winter, Kaz says it’s especially ideal to support the immune system. “It’s important to eat foods high in vitamins, minerals and nutrients that support immune function such as brightly colored vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, fruit, lean protein and healthy fats, fermented foods with healthy bacteria and limiting or avoiding sugar and processed foods,” says Kaz. Staying hydrated is also important, she says. Immune-supporting supplements such as zinc, probiotics, vitamin D and vitamin C could also be helpful, Kaz adds; check with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Anasa Personalized Medicine, 245 Waterman St., Suite 308, Providence, 270-1742 anasamedicine.com