The New Crohn’s & Colitis Treatment Approach Isn’t a Pill, a Food, or a Supplement

Whether Crohn’s or colitis is plaguing you, let’s face it, you’re in a constant daily battle. I see you, I feel you, and I understand you more than you might imagine. Between doctors appointments, medications, flare ups, managing kiddos, trying to work, and trying to find time for the self-care we know our mind and body need, it's tough navigating the world of IBD. 

I’m right there with you.

For the most part, we rely on our gastroenterologists to get us through the rough patches with flare ups, but let's face it: those short appointments barely scratch the surface of what we need. It's like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Sure, medications have their place, but they're just one piece of the IBD puzzle.

You've likely experienced those rushed office visits, where the focus is solely on covering up symptoms rather than taking the time to truly understand the root cause of your specific challenges. 

It's frustrating, isn't it? 

You go into the doctor’s office full of hope that this time will be different. This time, you’ve got all your questions in hand. This time, they’ve got to help you, right?

But so often, we leave feeling disheartened and dejected.

Where’s the hope? Where’s any amount of good news?

And if you found this hopeful gut loving part of our internet universe– your Gut Love Community– you know that I’m all about the opposite of the way you feel after those frustrating appointments. 

To me, healing should be about:





Root cause


Now, you might be thinking, "Yes, that makes sense. That’s where I want to end up, but I’m not there yet. If I want more gut healing vibes in my life, where do I go from here?" 

Maybe you've spent hours scouring Dr. Google for answers, only to end up more confused than when you started. But fear not, my friend. This article is your roadmap to navigating the world of complementary, natural, alternative, root cause, integrative, functional medicine and finding the right providers who can help you craft your ultimate healing plan. 

It's time to step away from the endless scroll and into the office of a provider who truly understands what you're going through. Together, we'll explore your options, arm you with the right questions, and empower you to take charge of your health like the badass mom warrior you are. 

Let's dive in!

What are My Natural Healthcare Provider Options?

Now that we’ve brought some of the challenges you’ve most likely encountered in a traditional healthcare setting out into the light, let's explore the types of more natural health professionals you’ll want to consider adding to your team. 

Because knowing your options is your best starting place.

Your gastroenterologist is undoubtedly a key player on your healthcare team. Thank God they are there for medication management, necessary procedures, and surgeries, but relying solely on your gastro for every gut health issue you’re facing can feel like you’re just throwing spaghetti at a wall hoping one of the noodles will stick. Those short appointments barely scratch the surface of what we need, leaving us feeling frustrated, dejected and alone.

The best news I can give you is that there is a whole world of alternative medicine out there waiting to be explored. It may not be 5 minutes from your front door, but with a little bit of knowledge about where and how to search, you can find a root cause provider who’s right for you. Besides your traditional G.I. doc, there are a number of alternative health professionals that you'll want to consider putting on your team.

And keep in mind, you don't need to connect with all of them. 

What's most important is finding the right provider rather than spreading yourself thin with multiple practitioners who may not fully understand your needs. This can take time and a bit of research on your part, but I know you my friend. You are skilled, and tenacious, and given the proper tools, you will find the right provider who can make all the difference in your healing journey.

So who are these alternative medicine providers, and what do they bring to the table? 

The options abound.

From acupuncturists to chiropractors, to reiki masters, to therapists and counselors, the alternative options go on and on. And while these practitioners can all play a valuable role in your holistic care team, your best starting place is with a natural-minded, holistic IBD specialist. These are the folks who sit at the top of the natural health pyramid, armed with the knowledge and expertise to get to the root of your IBD symptoms. 

Integrative medicine doctors, functional medicine providers, and naturopaths are some of the best and most skilled types of providers you’ll want to research. These specialists offer a whole-body approach, they have the training to run comprehensive functional tests your traditional doctor will never think of, and focus on treating the underlying causes of your symptoms rather than just masking them with medications. Working with a provider like the ones mentioned above can be truly life-changing. They have the ability to partner with you in an empowering way; to be your guide (not your dictator or your guru) as you take control of your health and reclaim your life from the trials of IBD.

Now That I Know, Which Direction Should I Go?

Remember, at the top of the natural provider pyramid stems three types of providers: The integrative provider, the functional medicine practitioner, and the naturopathic physician. And you have the daunting task of deciding which type of provider will best suit you.

To help you get as familiar with the similarities and differences between these three options, I’ve created a guide for each, discussing the following categories within each profession:




Conditions Treated


How to Find

You can use this information to help you make the best decision for you regarding your natural health provider. There is no right or wrong answer. All of these types of practitioners have the potential to offer value and exceptional care. Read over this provider breakdown to help you make the best decision for you.

Is an integrative medicine doctor for you? 

●  Beliefs: These professionals believe in combining conventional and alternative therapies to treat the whole person—mind, body, and soul. 

●  Training: They come from a variety of backgrounds, such as osteopathy, traditional MD, or naturopathic medicine, and then receive additional integrative training.

●  Philosophy: Their philosophy revolves around the idea that illness manifests from an imbalance of the body's natural equilibrium, with lifestyle, genetics, environment, and mental health playing crucial roles.

●  Conditions Treated: Integrative medicine doctors treat a wide range of chronic illnesses, including chronic pain, metabolic disorders, digestive issues, mental health conditions, and autoimmune diseases.

●  Treatments: Their treatments often combine conventional approaches like medication and surgery with unconventional options like massage, chiropractic care, nutrition, and counseling.

●   How to Find: To find an integrative medicine doctor, you can check out the American Board of Integrative Medicine or get a referral from a healthcare provider.

Is a functional medicine provider the right fit for you? 

● Beliefs: These practitioners focus on root cause medicine, aiming to identify the underlying causes of disease.

● Training: They view the whole body as interconnected and practice personalized medicine. Functional medicine providers come from diverse backgrounds, such as nutrition, traditional medicine, or naturopathy, and then receive additional functional and diagnostic training.  

Philosophy: Their philosophy centers around the idea that illness stems from dysfunctioning body systems linked to lifestyle, diet, genetics, and environment. They believe that health occurs when these systems are optimized. 

● Conditions Treated: Functional medicine providers treat a wide range of chronic conditions, including autoimmune, metabolic, digestive, hormonal, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases. 

Treatments: Their treatments often include personalized nutrition plans, targeted supplements, lifestyle modifications, stress management, detoxification, and mind-body techniques. 

● How to Find: You can find a functional medicine provider through resources like the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) or through a referral from a healthcare provider.

Is a naturopathic provider the right choice for you?

Beliefs: These professionals believe in the body's innate ability to heal itself and use a natural, holistic approach that focuses on root cause healing. 

Training: Naturopaths attend accredited naturopathic schools of medicine and undergo rigorous training in alternative and traditional medicine. 

● Philosophy: Their philosophy centers around the idea that illness manifests from an imbalance in the body, with poor diet, stress, environmental triggers, toxins, and genetics playing significant roles. 

● Conditional Treated: Naturopaths treat a wide range of chronic illnesses, including autoimmune, digestive, hormonal, allergies, cardiovascular, and mental health conditions. 

● Treatments: Their treatments often include nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, counseling, acupuncture, and physical medicine. 

● How to Find: To find a naturopathic provider, you can check out resources like the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) or the Institute for Natural Medicine.

Each of these stellar “top of the natural health pyramid” providers bring something unique to the table, but ultimately, the right fit depends on your individual needs, preferences, and values. Take the time to explore your options, do your research, and trust your instincts. Remember, you don't need to connect with all of them—what's most important is finding the right provider who resonates with you and can support you on your healing journey.

If you’re thinking there’s a lot of similarities between these types of natural-minded, holistic providers, you’d be right, BUT…

At the end of the day, the approaches by these providers may seem very similar in many ways so how do you decide which type of natural-minded, holistic provider is best for you? 

Picking the best one comes down to asking yourself these 5 questions:

#1: Is it important that my provider be up on both eastern (more natural) and western (more prescriptive) medicine? If the answer is yes, an integrative approach is your best option to pursue. Done. Case closed.

#2: Who’s in my area? If it’s important for you to see your doctor in person (and let’s face it, it’s nice to be able to do that from time to time even with the advances in telemedicine), pick the one you can find in your area. The truth is, traditional MD’s are found in pretty much every town in America (and around the world), but holistic, natural-minded doctors aren’t always available in high numbers. 

Depending on where you live in the world, it might be hard to find someone, but the good news is that all of these types of providers will help you dig beneath the surface of what’s at the root of your Crohn’s or colitis. Pick the one nearest you and get started. You can always make a change later if they aren’t a good fit. 

And of course, virtual consultations are an option as well. Gone are the days where we could only see doctors who live in our part of the world. My main naturalistic G.I. provider lives 2,700 miles away from me and I wouldn’t trade her expertise, the time she takes with me, or her outside the box, root cause thinking for anything in the world.

#3: Will I need testing and prescriptions? While most integrative and functional providers have these types of privileges, in the U.S. there are many states that do not recognize naturopaths as doctors and thus do not allow them to write prescriptions or order tests. Maryland (where I live) is one of those states. 

Even though I have a naturopath, she is unable to write prescriptions or order procedures for me. Instead, she makes recommendations and I bring them to my M.D. and ask if they are comfortable ordering what my naturopath thinks I need. Luckily, I have a great M.D. who is willing to work with me, but not everyone has this option.

#4: What’s the cost and can I use my insurance? In the U.S. this can be a big issue. I wish I could say that all natural and holistic providers accept insurance, but the truth is most do not– and their fees can be quite pricey. Trust me, it’s worth it in the long run and will probably save you medical expenses, but still it’s pricey up front.

Always check with your insurance company or your HSA account first to see what they may cover. Look for out-of-network benefits and see what you may get back before going to your appointment. And don’t forget, you’ll be filing on your own so don’t forget to ask your fee-for-service doctor (that means they take cash, not insurance directly) for a Superbill so you have what you need to submit your insurance claim on your own.

#5 What’s the reputation of the provider? Who they are and how they serve is often much more important than what type of natural medicine they practice. Check out their reviews, ask around about the provider, and above all, interview the practitioner before you make a final decision. 

This is where empowerment and advocacy come into play. Remember, you are in charge of your healthcare. These individuals are YOUR consultants. They work for you. Their ability to help you is much more important than what medical program they attended.

Finding the Best Natural Provider: Do it Like the Badass IBD Mom Warrior You Are

You’ve got your practitioner breakdown so you know the differences between these types of natural medicine providers.

You’ve asked yourself the 5 best questions above.

Now what?

No matter how you slice it, finding any type of doctor you trust and respect is hard– even in the traditional medicine space.

But you’re a badass IBD mama and you’ve got grit, tenacity, and you're cheeky as hell.  

So let’s do “natural-medicine providers” like only a mom can. Here are 5 practical tips to help you find the right provider like we do everything as a mom—efficiently and effectively:

1. Leverage Your Networks Like a Playdate Pro

● Use Mom Networks for Referrals: Just as you might ask for recommendations for a pediatrician or a good babysitter, turn to your local mom groups, online forums, or community centers for personal referrals to naturopathic doctors, functional medicine practitioners, or integrative health experts. 

● Social Media Savvy: Utilize social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Many professionals maintain active social media profiles where they share their expertise, interact with the public, and post client testimonials.

2. Consult Like You’re Interviewing a Babysitter

Initial Consultation: Many natural health practitioners offer a free initial consultation. Use this as an opportunity to see if their philosophy and approach align with your expectations.

●  Prepare Questions: Go to your consultation prepared with specific questions. Ask about their experience with IBD, their approach to treatment, their successes with past patients, and how they handle communication and follow-ups.

3. Do Your Homework Without the Mom Guilt

●  Research Their Credentials: Check the credentials and licensing of any prospective practitioner. This includes looking into their educational background, additional certifications, and any professional affiliations with recognized medical associations.

Review Testimonials and Reviews: While patient testimonials on their websites are helpful, also look for independent reviews on Google, Healthgrades, or other medical review sites to get a balanced view of their practice.

4. Think Location and Logistics

 Consider Proximity: Like scheduling playdates in convenient, kid-friendly locations, consider the logistics of getting to and from the provider’s office. If it’s too far, it might add stress, which is counterproductive to treatment.

● Virtual Consultations: Many providers now offer virtual consultations, which can be a great option for busy moms. This not only saves travel time but can also make scheduling more flexible.

5. Trust Your Mom Instincts

● Listen to Your Gut: Just as you'd instinctively know if something is wrong with your child, trust your instincts when choosing a health provider. If you feel rushed, dismissed, or uncomfortable after your initial consultation, it might be worth considering other options.

● Inclusive Decision Making: Ensure they are willing to work collaboratively with your existing medical team. A provider who respects your choices and coordinates care with your gastroenterologist and other providers will help ensure comprehensive support.

Bonus Tip: Stay Informed and Flexible

● Educate Yourself: The more you know about IBD and potential treatments, the better you can advocate for yourself and communicate effectively with your provider. Staying informed will also help you evaluate new information and treatment options your provider might suggest.

● Adjust Expectations: Natural medicine often takes a holistic and sometimes gradual approach. Set realistic goals and timelines with your provider, and be open to adjusting them as your treatment progresses.

Ready to Put This Into Action in Your Life?

So, as you embark on your journey into holistic healing and naturally minded providers with all the knowledge and insights you’ve gained today, remember that finding a "Root Cause Healer" is your ultimate goal. Whether it's a functional medicine doctor, an integrative health practitioner, or a naturopathic doctor, the decision is yours to make. 

Take the time to explore your options, trust your instincts, and choose the provider who resonates with you and your needs.

And keep in mind, you’re doing all this to begin to build a comprehensive support system to help you manage and eventually thrive with IBD. Your best care starts with these types of providers at the top of the pyramid, and from there, you can add in other practitioners who support your ultimate health goals.

From health coaches like me, to acupuncturists, massage therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, craniosacral therapists, yoga instructors, reiki masters, etc… each member of your team will play a vital role in your healing journey.

Let’s wrap this conversation up with a neat, shiny, purple, IBD-sized bow. It’s time for a free resourceful resource to ensure you find the best natural provider for you.

We’ve talked about alot today and I know this whole process of finding a natural minded provider can be quite daunting. That’s why I've compiled all the essential information about each type of provider mentioned in this article in a new free resource: 

"Which Natural Provider is Right for Me?"

It puts everything we’ve talked about today in one easy peasy pdf. It’s all broken down for you there. “Which Natural Provider is Right for Me?” will be your go-to quick cheat sheet guide to help you navigate this important decision and ensure you receive the best care possible. 

Long term IBD remission is waiting for you, so take this important step today and grab your free resource right below this article. Let's embark on this journey to holistic healing together!

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