Dr. Sara Jean Barrett is a Naturopathic Physician in Bloomington, Minnesota, who treats patients of all ages with a variety of health concerns. Her passion for her practice is demonstrated in the strong relationships she builds with her patients. It’s those relationships that allow her to more deeply identify underlying causes of health issues and provide patients with personalized, natural health care options.
Dr. Barrett, talked to CureJoy about her medical beliefs and principles, naturopathic methods employed in healing people, and putting them on the path to natural healing.
Q: What are the subtle differences in diagnosis in Naturopathy and Allopathy?
Both allopathic and naturopathic doctors use standard diagnostic tools such as blood work, X-rays, ultrasounds, CT and more. Naturopathic doctors take the entire person in to consideration, which includes their physical, mental and emotional symptoms. If you look at just one piece of the puzzle, it is very hard to see the whole picture.
Q: What is the Naturopathic approach to an ailment?
I treat patients on an individual basis. What workup I do will depend on their condition and what labs, imaging, etc. they have had run previously. I think in this modern age of technology and lab testing, we have lost the art of a really good history and physical exam. Doctors have practiced for a long time relying on what they feel, see and hear from the patient. I do a comprehensive physical exam and a very thorough intake, which is often my best tool to really decipher the root cause of their concerns. Once we understand the root cause, that is where treatment is focused. I use a lot of diet and lifestyle modifications first to see how far that will go to alleviate the problem. I will build from there using herbal medicines, supplements, homeopathy and more, depending on the patient’s case. The key is finding out what is causing the issue in the first place.
Q: How important is patient self-awareness to be able to convey symptoms and problems more accurately to medical practitioners?
Self-awareness is vital for the patient. I often have patients tell me they just aren’t sure when the pain started or what makes it worse/better etc. If a patient walks in with details about their case, it makes it much easier to make a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Often keeping a diary or record of their symptoms can be very helpful.
Q: Would you go as far as to say that patients treated through Naturopathy have a lower chance of ailment reoccurrence?
In Naturopathic medicine, we focus on treating the cause and prevention. It is really important for us to teach our patients how to take care of themselves. Often this leads to improved health long term.
Q: Are there any side effects of Naturopathic treatment?
This simple question requires a long answer because Naturopathic doctors use many different modalities when treating patients, each with their own potential side effects. One of our core principles is to use methods that are safe and effective. The major side effect that can happen when you take any new substance in to your body is an allergic reaction. The other thing to be aware of is to make sure your ND knows all of the medications you are taking as herbs, supplements and medications can interact. NDs are trained to identify any potential interactions.
Q: Do you envisage a future where various medical sciences converge into a single holistic approach to patient care?
I think every form of medicine has its place. If I were in a car accident, I would hope there are highly skilled MDs waiting for me at the ER. I think research is vital. I am craving more research in alternative fields. I think when all the practitioners can respect each other and work together everyone wins, especially the patient. I really hope we are moving toward a future in medicine where we look for the root cause of illness, use diet/lifestyle/herbal medicine etc. first, and only turn to drugs or surgery as a last resort.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wishes to make a conscious transformation towards a healthy life?
Naturopathic medicine can be a life changing experience for many patients. Go to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (naturopathic.org) website and find a doctor. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain.