The Value of Naturopathic Medicine
Dr. Amy Rothenberg has been in private practice since 1986 with her husband Paul Herscu, both doctors of naturopathic medicine. She is also president of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors and a board member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Rothenberg and Herscu run a general naturopathic practice in Enfield, Connecticut, treating patients of all ages for a wide range of acute and chronic ailments. Rothenberg says that evidence to support the effectiveness of naturopathic medicine modalities is growing.
“That’s especially true as it relates to treatments affecting diet, exercise, individual nutrients and botanicals, along with stress reduction,” she says. “Additionally, naturopathic medicine is cost-effective too, with its emphasis on preventive medicine.”
Currently in Massachusetts, there is a bill in the legislature to license naturopathic doctors, with a public hearing scheduled for November 17. Those wishing to support this effort can write to their state senator and state representative and ask for support of HB 1992 and SB 1205, An Act Establishing a Board of Registration in Naturopathy. To locate lawmakers, visit MALegislature.gov/people/findmylegislator.
Rothenberg and her colleagues are also seeking insurance coverage for naturopathic prescriptions and treatments. “Under the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, Section 2706 represents a nondiscrimination section wherein anyone licensed to practice must be covered by insurance,” she explains. “I strongly agree with this sentiment. It is difficult to enforce, but our national association of naturopathic practitioners is working hard to make sure it is.”
Rothenberg was inspired to study holistic medicine after losing her father to a heart attack and her mother to breast cancer. “In the 1970s, there was not much that conventional medicine could offer,” she recalls. “I had always wanted to be a doctor, but I was let down by the medicine of that day. While at Antioch College I had an internship in Portland, Oregon, where I met students at the naturopathic medical school and knew immediately that I had found the perfect profession.”
Last year, Rothenberg faced her own health challenges with breast and ovarian cancer. She reports taking advantage of everything offered by oncology doctors, from surgery, to chemotherapy to radiation, while also consulting naturopathic colleagues who specialized in supporting patients through cancer care. “The approaches I used aimed to increase the efficacy of the oncology treatments and decrease or address their side effects,” says Rothenberg. “As a testament to how excellent I felt a few months after finishing treatment, I completed a triathlon!”
Rothenberg and Herscu have successfully treated patients with naturopathic medicine for everything from digestive issues to skin conditions. “I had one patient who’d suffered with disfiguring cystic acne for more than 20 years and had been on antibiotics and Accutane. By the time I saw her, she was at her wit’s end,” Rothenberg recalls. “With very basic naturopathic medicine tools around diet and a small number of supplements, her skin cleared beautifully within six months.”
Another patient with gout showed up at Rothenberg’s office a few weeks before his daughter’s wedding, determined to walk down the aisle but struggling with excruciating pain. After a treatment that involved dietary changes, recommended nutrients and botanical medicines, the man was able to dance at his daughter’s wedding. Rothenberg notes that patients need to follow her suggestions around diet, lifestyle, stress reduction techniques and exercise patterns if they really want to heal.