Naturopathic Medicine Focuses on the Underlying Causes of Illness
Dr. Katherine Chavez
With its focus on integrative medical services and natural modalities, many people are turning to naturopathic medicine as a complement to traditional Western medicine. Since 2011, Dr. Katherine Chavez has been the naturopath on staff at the Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern, in Chicago, which is a leading provider in the area for integrative health services.
“As a naturopath, my focus is to get to the root of why someone is having health issues. I work to treat the cause, which often involves looking at nutrition, exercise, sleep patterns, stress levels and other lifestyle habits. As much as possible, I recommend natural treatments. I’ll usually look at herbs, vitamins, fatty acids, amino acids or natural supplements such as rhodiola first,” she says. Chavez runs a number of tests on her patients, including looking at micronutrient levels, neurotransmitters, cortisol, sex hormones, stool and in-depth cholesterol testing, which helps to identify the cause or causes of the issues and allows patients to follow their own progress.
Many issues Chavez sees with her patients stem from everyday routines. “Stress is a huge factor in overall health and wellness. I try to teach my patients to be aware of how it’s affecting their bodies and where they’re feeling it. Maybe they can take a minute to do a mindful body scan in the elevator, take a five-minute break to do some deep breathing, take a yoga class after work or make a point to schedule time with their family members and loved ones,” says Chavez. Raby recently started offering group sessions for patients that are looking for therapeutic support and motivation. “A group setting allows patients to get an outside perspective, safe and constructive feedback, and accountability for changes they want to make. Patients share their goals and any progress or setbacks their having,” says Chavez.
“I’ve always recognized the therapeutic effects of caring, listening and kindness. I give my patients an in-depth interview and ask about their family history, diet, exercise, sleep patterns, stressors and anything else that they want to discuss. Often, just talking about their habits and lifestyle can be enlightening. I help them identify problems and deficiencies, and we make goals to move forward. It’s easy to fall into patterns that may not be the healthiest for us. Having someone listen to them often inspires patients to make changes. The body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain and restore health. My role is to facilitate and augment this process,” says Chavez.
The Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern is located at 500 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 2100, in Chicago. For more information, visit RabyIntegrativeMedicine.com or call 312-276-1212. See ad on page 21 and in the Community Resource Guide.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect with her at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.