Naturopathic medicine as alternative to conventional medicine

The Hilda May Williams Student Health Services building serves as the Infirmary for UConn students on the Storrs campus. (Amar Batra/ The Daily Campus)

Naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention, treatment and optimal health through the use of all-natural medicine to help the body heal itself and gives patients a new path to treat conditions that do not respond well to conventional medicine, according to The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.  

Dr. Tonya Pasternak, a physician with Collaborative Natural Health Services in Manchester, CT, said that with naturopathic medicine, people are given a wider variety of healthcare options.   

“I feel that naturopathic medicine has something to offer for every condition because the goal is to not only treat the condition, but to strengthen a person as a whole, “ Pasternak said. “Through the use of naturopathic medicine, people are able to understand their bodies and their health, which helps to empower them to make informed decisions.”  

The physical conditions that naturopathic medicine can treat are typically chronic conditions that do not respond to conventional medicine, such as sleep disturbance and digestive disorders, Pasternak said.

“Naturopathic doctors see and treat all the same conditions that primary care doctors treat,” Pasternak said, “Anything from digestive efforts to hormone imbalances.”

According to Pasternak, some patients may have to refer back to conventional medicine instead of alternative naturopathic techniques for treatment.  

“We are limited when it comes to severe acute conditions such as certain infections or physical trauma,” Pasternak said. “ While we can treat conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, there are times when natural medicine is not enough and a person may need a medication.”  

Pasternak said the unique aspect of naturopathic medicine is that doctors examine a patient’s body, mind and spirit before determining the proper natural substances or therapies for treatment. This allows the patient to have a range of treatments that will better suit his/her needs than a generic conventional equivalent, Pasternak said.

After the initial diagnosis, the types of treatments that naturopathic physicians use can range from physical medicines, medicinal herbs, nutrition and counseling, Pasternak said.

“The nice thing about having so many treatment options is we can form a blend unique to each patient depending on how their body responds,” Pasternak said.  

Pasternak said there are multiple benefits to naturopathic medicine, but she feels that few people are educated about how it can heal their ailments.

“While naturopathic medicine has been around for many years, it is still not…well known,” Pasternak said. “It’s important for people to know the various treatment options available to them so they can find the right fit for their health concerns.”  

Eastern Connecticut State University recently featured Pasternak as part of its  “University Hour” lectures.

“I was invited to speak at Eastern as a way to raise awareness of naturopathic medicine. It was a great experience and it seemed like a very nice community, “ Pasternak said. “I hope that I sparked the interest in naturopathic to those who may have been unfamiliar with it.”


Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.