I often get asked the question as to why I chose a profession in naturopathic medicine. I admit that I am a data junkie and with my background in both politics and science, I like to follow the numbers. Unfortunately, over half of adults in the United States have at least one chronic condition and that number is only expected to grow. In California alone, 60% of our health care expenditures are spent on managing chronic conditions, many of which are preventable.
One study reported that the seven chronic diseases – cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, and mental illness – impacts our economy by $1.3 trillion annually. By 2023, that number is expected to grow to $4.1 trillion.
The good news is that Naturopathic Medicine has been shown to reduce health care costs and help patients prevent chronic conditions. This is because naturopathic doctors (NDs) are experts in prevention. We promote behaviors in our patients that foster health and reduce risk factors for chronic disease. In fact, Patients under an ND’s care are 17% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those in conventional care. In addition, one randomized clinical trial showed that naturopathic medicine resulted in a 3.3% reduction in the 10-year Framingham cardiovascular event risk, which is equivalent to gaining 5.5 years of active life!
It is because of these numbers that I chose to become a naturopathic doctor. Not only do I want to help my patients achieve optimal health, I also want to help our country avoid a health care and economic crisis, even if it’s only one patient at a time.