Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
Hormone doctoring affords me more generous appointment times with each patient so that I am able to solve the health problem at the root cause...and it doesn’t always have to be a hormone problem!
Today I figured out that a patient's high blood pressure that had been going on for 6 months was simply caused by a medication interaction from her GI doctor's office. They started her on a medication for her IBS, and it interfered with her high blood pressure causing it to no longer work. Mystery solved!
Sometimes, I don't even need to use hormones or herbs. Just the fact I have enough time to review the patient's diet, supplements, medications, and emotional state to figure out what has suddenly changed causing the new symptoms is all that is truly needed.
I wanted to share this story today because a lot of patients are feeling very frustrated by the current state of shambles the health care system is in and it is important that you decide not to become a victim of it.
With lab and pharmacy delays due to the Pandemic, come more inconveniences and stressors on every doctor's plate. Your doctor's time, patience, and attention span have never been shorter or more taxed than right now while patients are trying to get care at clinics and hospitals everywhere.
It is important people know this and not just assume their doctor has it all figured out as they are brushing off symptoms and rushing them out the door with a prescription of something that may actually have a dangerous drug interaction with other medications.
This is called "Iatrogenic Error" and I see it happening more often than normal right now.
Here is how to keep yourself safe and protected from Iatrogenic error.
My #1 tip: Doctors fail patients because they simply don't have enough time to understand what is going on. Before I became a Naturopathic Doctor, I worked in regular Family Medicine for eight years. While the urgent care was great if you had a broken bone, strep throat or needed stitches...often we would fail patients with chronic disease such as High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, and Autoimmunity mainly because each doctor only had about 1-5 minutes to actually spend with each patient.
The hospital I worked for kept doctors on a very harsh schedule that would burn them out after having to see 40-60 patients each day.
God forbid the patient spends their 5 minutes talking about their vacation, literally nothing would be done other than the doctor handing the patient their best guess on what prescription will stop their symptoms and then walk out of the room after 1-5 minutes. A long appointment was 15 minutes. Rarely could the doctors afford the luxury of spending 30 minutes with a patient.
#2 Did what your doctor do actually work? If it did, good. If it did not help then you need to get a second opinion.
#3 Did your doctor ACTUALLY "Check all your hormones?" Everyday I am told this and a great deal of time out of my patient's appointment is wasted while they attempt to pull up previous labs on their phone. When I look at their "Full hormone panel," it is often just 1-2 tests! A TSH and an estrogen level is not a full hormone panel. My lab panels when you get blood work done are no shorter than 5 pages, so if all your labs fit on one page then you are likely a victim of The Sickcare System.
I mean no disrespect to my MD friends, because I know how hard the past few years have been on me, and I don't run even half of the schedule of patients they run every day. I actually have a lot of respect for MD's and I know firsthand how hard they work. Yet our health care system is officially broken, and patients need to learn to take responsibility for their own symptoms when they don't get the right answers they seek. Women with chronic disease symptoms such as menopause, hypothyroidism, weight gain, postpartum depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure can easily get lost in this vicious cycle!
Five minutes is not enough time for me to help you or do my job. The doctor does not have enough time to establish a root cause of symptoms, to educate the patient about symptoms, or to even take a proper history to determine if the symptoms are being caused by a new medication or supplement the patient started.
I can't tell you how many times as a Naturopathic Doctor I have figured out that a patient is just having a side effect from a new medication they recently started. If I did not have time to take a proper history I would have never solved it and instead piled a bunch of useless supplements and herbs on top of the medication error instead of addressing it.
While I personally choose not to be a victim of this "Sick Care System," and have my own Naturopathic Doctors I go to, many women do not know anything other than going to the doctor to get a prescription for what ails them.
When I first moved to Arizona I realized that there are very few MD's doing primary care and most providers covered by my insurance were PA's that did not know what to do for any of my symptoms and instead sent me to multiple specialists.
If you have a busy job like I do, you really just don't have time to keep going to different doctors and specialists and you need someone that can manage all your symptoms in one which is why Naturopathy excels. We treat the whole person and the whole set of symptoms!
Many patients that perceive Naturopathy as unaffordable really should look at it from a cost benefit analysis because constant appointments also means constant missed work. Lack of permanent lasting solutions means more sick days from disease, and more hospitalizations.
I have treated many patients in my career that had symptoms so severe they kept ending up in the hospital and spending thousands of dollars even with insurance. So sometimes the Sick Care System actually costs the patient more money overall, more time, and more misery.
Many of my patients that have been through hospitalizations before they received natural solutions from me see me as someone that saves them money every year AND keeps them out of the hospital!
When was the last time someone sat down with you for an hour and went through each and every symptom that you have to try to connect the dots and find the underlying cause?
My #1 pet peeve in Women’s Health is when women get bounced around from specialist to specialist without any answers yet they continue to feel poorly and nobody knows why. Each specialist prescribes a drug for their symptoms and eventually, they are on 5-6 prescription drugs to maintain all the symptoms. Sometimes the prescriptions don’t even help, and the patient feels even more frustrated and hopeless that nobody can actually help them.
Often this model of medicine will completely fail women because nobody is connecting the dots between their symptoms and their female hormones. Women with hypothyroidism, menopause, perimenopause, and PMS experience a cluster of symptoms that when ignored will result in the patient being on multiple medications when really they just need their hormone imbalance addressed.
We need to listen to the symptoms and understand them before we try to shut the symptoms up with medications. Doctors need to take a proper history of the symptoms and need time to do that. Oftentimes just the mere fact I am not rushed at my 45 minute visits with women is why we are able to sort out the cause.
“Tolle Causam” means “Treat the Cause” in Naturopathic Medicine, the cause is the #1 most important principle in Naturopathy. Treating the cause requires proper investigative work. I always rely on metrics such as labs for hormones, vitamins, minerals, liver, kidney, glucose and blood count.
While I love making teas with my jars of herbs, many of us know that when they are not used to “Treat the Cause” we are prescribing them in the same way we prescribe drugs. This is how patients can end up on 20 bottles of supplements.
In the 90’s I practiced ‘Health Food Store Medicine” when I worked at a GNC nutrition center for 4 years. Every day I said: “For stomach aches people use Marshmallow root, for headaches Feverfew, for anxiety Chamomile, for trouble sleeping Valerian, for hot flashes Black Cohosh, for hip pain Arnica, for weight gain Garcinia. for depression St. John’s Wort, for immunity Echinacea, for bladder infections Cranberry, and for vaginal dryness Aloe.”
But what if a woman has ALL of the symptoms listed above, at once?
If you are wise, you know that I just described the typical symptoms of a menopausal woman. Doctors need time to take a detailed history and evaluate their patient with proper hormone labs and blood chemistry.
If you need my help with your chronic disease symptoms, simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page and treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit! I will be happy to help.
Dr. Nicole Sundene
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum Depression, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!