Naturopathic Medicine and Gender Affirming Healthcare
Naturopathic Medicine and Gender Affirming Healthcare.
By Jill Corey ND
Naturopathic medicine has five principals listed here:
- First do no harm: using treatments that have low side effects.
- Prevention: working with the patient to prevent future health conditions.
- Supporting the body’s own ability to heal: help remove blocks to healing.
- Treat the whole person: understanding the patient and providing an individualized plan that includes physical, emotional, environmental and spiritual aspects.
- Docere (teaching): providing knowledge to the patient in order to help them feel empowered to take responsibility for their health.
One of the principals of naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person. This principle ties in perfectly with gender affirming healthcare. Many of my patients are seeking to express outwardly what they identify as on the inside. We just want to feel more like themselves. Naturopathic Medicine provides many avenues to facilitate this process. For example, many people feel that they need hormone therapy (HRT) to feel more comfortable. HRT is a wonderful tool for gender affirming healthcare. However, hormone therapy can have undesirable side effects. That is why when I provide HRT for my patients I also make sure to keep in mind the whole person. For example, HRT can cause be taxing on the liver. The liver is the organ that process hormones and toxins in our body. That is why certain herbs and supplements can be taken to help the liver function optimally. I will sometimes recommend Milk Thistle, Artichoke or Glutathione for support. Also, if our liver is not functioning optimally the toxins processed by the liver can also cause skin issues such as acne or eczema. Furthermore, HRT can also cause mood fluctuations. Remember going through puberty as a teenager and how moody you were? Well, fortunately there are lots of herbs like St. John’s Wort or Lemon Balm. That can ease the emotional roller coaster that HRT can cause. There are also many lifestyle changes such as exercise and meditation that can have profound effects on mood. As a naturopathic doctor I typically provide recommendations for diet, lifestyle modifications, exercise and herbal medications to ease the transition for all of my patients seeking gender-affirming care.