Dr. Angela Agrios, ND
My very talented Naturopathic Doctor
She treats a wide variety of conditions
Office & phone appointments available
Los Angeles, CA (Pacific Palisades)
What is a CA Licensed Naturopathic Doctor? By Dr. Angela Agrios, ND
Naturopathic doctors are primary care doctors, so we attend four-year medical programs. They are specific naturopathic medical programs. Each state has a different licensure scope. In California, we are allowed to order tests like an MD or DO can. And typically, all naturopathic doctors practice slightly differently, but typically, we use a lot of conventional diagnostic tests, just like all standard blood work and imaging. And then also use a lot of what are called alternative-type tests, like sometimes things like functional stool tests or nutrient panels on blood to just help get a larger picture of a person’s baseline health. Naturopathic doctors are very wellness-oriented in how they practice, so it’s a little bit about how we practice.
The designation ND is naturopathic doctor, so when you see MD or DO medical doctor, osteopathic doctor ND is what naturopathic doctors’ official designation is. So NDs will typically integrate conventional medicine diagnostics with natural medicine treatments. We do refer out to specialists; we do sometimes prescribe pharmaceuticals if absolutely necessary, but our first intention is to always treat with the most non-invasive medicines possible.
So a really important point about naturopathic doctor training philosophically is we’re always taught that the body really has the innate ability to heal so that our natural function is health and wellness. And so if something doesn’t look like that that we really need to be asking why. The body should always be able to return to a state of health, and so these things that we’re going to talk about tonight, we’re going to talk about food and lifestyle practices first that help maintain that, and then these supplements are things that can really enhance that. But if the body is having difficulty healing or thriving, then we really want to ask why and what’s going on because the body should be able to maintain health at all times.
One of the reasons why not as many people know about naturopathic doctors is because we’re really small. There are about 4,000 of us right now in the U.S., and there’s about 400 in California. So we’re definitely growing, but we’re a much smaller medical profession.
So naturopathic medical programs are four-year post-graduate, similar to an MD or a DO program. And in the first two years, we learn basic sciences and we take basic science board exams after that period. And then our third and fourth years, our clinical focus is on both conventional medicine and natural medicine practices. And then we take a set of clinical board exams and then we apply for licensure in whichever state we’re interested in practicing in.
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Naturopathic medicine just really means “study of natural medicine,” and so there are lay naturopaths and there are naturopathic doctors, and we’re all good and we have slightly different training. Because naturopathic means natural, a lot of people would really lump everything into natural. So acupuncture, which is a great typical Chinese medicine; Ayurvedic medicine; sometimes chiropractic because a lot of chiropractic doctors beyond just doing physical adjustments will also use a lot of nutraceutical types of things in their practice.
So a lot of natural medicine practicing doctors, even MDs, will get called naturopaths because they're practicing natural medicine. But there’s a distinction with an ND, which is a specific designation in that they’ve gone to one of these accredited four schools and have passed certain licensing exams. And if you want to know if your specific naturopathic doctor is a licensed naturopathic doctor, the state of California has that information available, and that website is www.naturopathic.ca.gov.
Natural medicine can be very effective not only for prevention, but also for chronic debilitating illnesses. Most of my practice is actually chronic illness. I think that we have kind of this generalization that happens or an assumption that happens that these types of things are really great for prevention, but when you get really sick, you need drugs and surgery and that’s the only thing that’s really going to take care of it.
And sometimes there are cases where drugs and surgery are very appropriate, but a lot of the times, a lot of the diseases that we’re struggling with in our society are really due to chronic lifestyle choices that are not promoting our health. And so I really just wanted to do the education piece about that because there’s a lot of really great supplements to talk about, and I want to give you guys those tidbits in terms of which supplements really help to maintain wellness, but that’s really the icing on the cake. The real cake, so to speak, is what you do every day in terms of your lifestyle practices.
So what do I treat in my practice? Really, I do general medicine. I do lots of chronic illness because that’s just kind of what naturopathic doctors do. We get trained in so many of the basic wellness principles that when people just aren’t responding in other care settings, they just kind of naturally end up walking in our doors.
So my first year off the bat, I ended up treating a lot of very serious autoimmune diseases. That’s just what walked into my door, and so I said, “Okay.” I had a lot of rheumatoid arthritis cases, had some lupus cases, some Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is very common, lots of allergies, lots of fatigue. Fatigue’s a really common one, and it’s because so many of us are stressed, and stress really leads to fatigue in so many ways. And so fatigue’s actually pretty easy to fix, but you’ve just got to figure out where it’s coming from. Is it anemia? Is it stress-related? What’s going on that’s causing that fatigue? Is it adrenal burnout, which is really common.
Lots of headaches, and headaches very typically are caused by hormone imbalance, tension and stress, and food intolerance. And so it’s actually pretty easy to get to the bottom of headaches, but in order to solve headaches, again, you have to get to the root cause of why each person is having a headache. Hormone imbalance has been a really typical type of thing I’ve treated, so everything from PMS to perimenopause, and then a lot of thyroid and adrenal fatigue issues in my practice.
Insomnia, weight issues, and then just a lot of wellness-oriented work. I really like doing that kind of work. I do have probably about 25 percent of my practice are people who are just really in the know, really have done a lot of things to educate themselves on wellness practices, and then just kind of want my guidance to steer them a little bit more and just test their basic levels of blood work and things like that and see where they are. And then I’ve done some corporate wellness programs as well.