Frequently Asked Questions

Empowering your healing journey

Following are some answers to common questions of Heart Spring Health patients. Some may apply to you. If you have questions that are not answered here, please feel free to contact us at any time.

Will my appointments at Heart Spring Health be covered by my insurance plan?
Most Heart Spring Health services are covered by insurance plans. If you are planning on using insurance to pay for your visit, please inquire about your benefits before you make your initial appointment. More information about insurance can be found here.
Can I email questions to my provider?
Yes, we are commited to quality care and therefore we make it a priority to answer questions regarding your existing treatment plan or last visit free of charge.  Should the response require more than a short paragraph or entail multiple emails we reserve the right to be compensated for our time.  As part of our commitment to your healthcare we are happy to answer any questions that arise if they can be appropriately addressed via email according to the hourly fee schedule.
What is a naturopathic doctor?
Naturopathic physicians are trained as medical doctors and are required to take all of the prerequisites required for any type of medical school.  In medical school they study all of the same basic and clinical sciences that any medical doctor studies including pharmaceuticals.  In addition, a naturopathic doctor studies healing through natural substances such as plants, minerals, water, foods and more.  Naturopaths are trained to treat the whole person and address the underlying causes that are contributing to one’s health concerns.  The nature-path teaches patients the path to natural health and healing.
What is a Chinese Medicine practitioner?
A practitioner of Chinese medicine is an individual licensed to provide health care by using techniques of Oriental medicine.  In the state of Oregon, they are licensed by the Oregon Medical Board and are referred to as Licensed Acupuncturists (L.Ac.s).  They may perform acupuncture and many related modalities such as moxa, cupping, and electric stimulation, massage, prescribe supplements, Chinese and Western herbs, teach qi gong, and provide dietary and lifestyle advice.

Prerequisites for Chinese medical school include a Bachelor’s degree and courses similar to medical school prerequisites.  There are about 50 Chinese medical schools in the U.S.  The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) requires that accredited professional programs in Oriental medicine be 4 academic years in length and at least 2175 hours.  The most common degree held by a Chinese medicine practitioner is a Master’s degree, although some practitioners hold a Doctorate.  Programs must train students sufficiently in the history of Oriental medicine, basic Oriental medical theory, biomedical clinical sciences (biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, etc.), diagnostic skills, acupuncture techniques, herbal medicine, treatment planning, ethics and safety, nutrition, qi gong, basic counseling and communication skills, and clinical training. Clinical internship is also required.

Most states license Chinese medicine practitioners after they pass national certification examinations in acupuncture, Oriental medicine, and biomedicine.  The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) administers the exams).  Graduates of training programs may also elect to take the NCCAOM’s Herbal Medicine examination. 

What can I expect from a visit with a naturopathic doctor?
While each visit to Heart Spring Health is as unique as the patient, it is common to have the first visit last between 60-120 minutes. This gives us a chance explore the underlying factors affecting your health.

Prior to your visit, we will send you paperwork to complete that includes a thorough health history. When we meet, we will review this together to better understand your concerns. Through physical exam and possibly lab work, we will do a comprehensive analysis of your health that will help inform your personalized treatment plan.

Ultimately, the goal of this first visit is to understand your current health challenges, history and goals. You will leave with a clear picture of how we will work together to support you in your return to radiant health.

What can I expect from a visit with a Chinese medicine practitioner?

While each visit to Heart Spring Health is as unique as the patient, it is common to have the first visit last between 60-120 minutes. This gives us a chance explore the underlying factors affecting your health.

Prior to your visit, we will send you paperwork to complete that includes a thorough health history. When we meet, we will review this together to better understand your concerns. The interview process may be quite thorough, and may inquire into body, mind, and emotions.  There is a physical exam, which often includes palpation of the pulses, the abdomen, and the meridians, and a look at the tongue.

The first visit will usually involves a treatment (often acupuncture), a Chinese medicine diagnosis, an opportunity for questions, counseling regarding diet and lifestyle, qigong instruction, prescription of herbs and/or supplements, and specific recommendations for continued treatment.  

How often will I be treated?
You can expect to see your practitioner between two to four times in the first month. During this time we will do a thorough analysis of the state of your conditon as well as, begin to understand you as a whole person. While it is likely you will begin to feel better quickly, it is important that you receive care throughout the healing process to help ensure a complete recovery and long-lasting results.

The frequency and duration of follow-up care is different for everyone. After about 4 visits, generally, enough information has been collected to create a treatment plan that takes into account your unique healthcare needs.  Your treatment plan will depend upon the nature of your condition, its state of progression, your constitutional makeup and your desired level of health.

Some factors that will influence any healing process are: your lifestyle and habits, your commitment to care, the extent to which you take an active role in your health, your constitutional makeup, and the severity of your condition. If you have been unwell for some time it is important to know that the restoration of health will also take time.

What about lab work?
N.D.’s draw blood and order necessary lab work as well as interpret the results and provide treatment. We use local laboratories that are covered by insurance so the blood draw and testing will be completed at one site. In some cases, we will draw your blood and send it to the lab for evaluation.
What if I’m not feeling well but laboratory results do not indicate a problem?
Compared to other countries, the general American population does not operate at a high level of health. And “normals” for laboratory results are averaged from our general population.

Naturopathic physicians looks at laboratory results a little differently than M.D.s – and as a result, we offer patients more nuanced information. This may help you understand the subtleties of why you’re not feeling well and how your lifestyle may be impacting your health, so you can get back on the road to feeling great again.

The nature of Chinese medicine allows it to recognize imbalance in the body before symptoms or irregular lab tests occur.  It is often said, ‘waiting to do something until symptoms appear is like waiting to dig a well until you’re already thirsty.’  Often, a pattern of imbalance becomes apparent to a Chinese medicine practitioner when the combination of pulse, tongue, subtle skin colors, vocal intonations, and minor signs and symptoms (such as tendency to get cold hands and feet, tendency to slow bowels, craving for sweet, always waking at 3 am, difficulty planning, frequent frustration, etc.) are known.  This pattern of imbalance could also be causing you to feel less than your best, yet not show up with any significant lab results.

How does natural medicine define “optimal health”?
From a naturopathic perspective, optimal health means more than simply being free of physical symptoms. We also believe that an individual’s mental, emotional and spiritual life play a big part in their overall well being.

When people are healthy, they generally report having energy, feeling light and alive, and experiencing a deep sense of peace, freedom, confidence, joy, and gratitude for life. At Heart Spring Health, we support you in establishing (and sustaining) your unique picture of optimal health.

Can I seek natural care and standard care at the same time?
Yes! Naturopathic medicine works well in conjunction with standard medical care; in fact, it often helps improve the results and reduce the side-effects of treatments you are receiving.

You may find that with treatment at Heart Spring Health, you will need to reduce your doses of prescription medication and eventually may not even need them at all. Please tell both your MD and your Heart Spring Health practitioner about any other doctors you are working with so they can coordinate care and make any medication adjustments as necessary.

Naturopathic medicine can also help support the body during transitional phases (such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause etc.) and intensive standard treatment (such as chemotherapy, radiation, etc). Many patients pursue both standard and naturopathic care in such circumstances, and they get the greatest benefit when all of their care providers are working together.

We offer supportive treatment for pre and post surgery, imaging, and for a wide range of conditions requiring the use of long-term pharmaceuticals. We can help by simply treating the side effects of standard treatment and/or by supporting your body so that it can respond optimally to restore itself through healing on all levels

If I'm taking prescription medications will natural medicines interfere?
There are certain drug-nutrient and drug-herbal interactions that should be taken into consideration. We are aware of the possibilities and will avoid interactions. For this reason it is important that you provide your doctor(s) with a list of all current medications.
Can Naturopathic Doctors prescribe prescription drugs?
Licensed ND’s can prescribe prescription drugs but choose to do so when it is a necessary form of action.  Naturopathic physicians generally use lifestyle managment and natural remedies that facilitate healing on a deep level without the use of prescription medications.  In the event a prescription drug is indicated licensed ND’s are well trained in pharmacology and will provide you with choices, as well as take into account any allergies or interactions.
What if I need additional workup or treatment?
Naturopathic physicians are trained to know when to refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.  If imaging is necessary, we will send you for the necessary imaging whether that be an x-ray, a bone scan, MRI, CT, or ultrasound.  We also work closely with the medical community to provide you with optimal care by meeting your needs and sharing options, so that you can make an informed choice and play a vital role in your healthcare decision-making.
What can I expect to pay?
HSH accepts most insurance plans, and we offer several payment options for uninsured patients.  Please call our office for more details if you will need to pay cash for your visit.
Do Heart Spring Health practitioners do phone or long distance consults?
Yes, phone or skype consults can be arranged for patients seeking homeopathic, Chinese herbal, and some naturopathic services.  Not all services or conditions are appropriate for distance treatment and in these cases you will be referred so you can be taken care of adequately. These visits are arranged much like a regular visit and follow the guidelines listed above.  In most cases your first office visit should be done in office, please inquire if you need to make special arrangements.  Your initial Skype visit will include helping you with program set up should you need it, please allow and schedule an extra 20-30 minutes.

Existing patients may call for free phone consults up to 10 minutes regarding an existing treatment plan or questions regarding your last visit.  You will need to call reception to schedule any phone call.  Providers are happy to answer questions regarding a new problem, future treatment, or questions needing extensive time for an additional charge.  The charge ranges from $25-140 based on the complexity of your situation and the time spent with you on the phone.

Some situations require an office visit to be addressed appropriately, to serve your needs with the highest quality care you will be asked to make an appointment in these cases. Most insurance companies do not cover phone consults or visits.  At your request we will courtesy bill your insurance to see if this service is covered by your insurance.

Does anyone make house calls?
Yes, some providers make house calls to treat existing  patients who require home care or no longer have the resources to see them in the clinic. However, they can’t legally provide patients with transportation. If a doctor comes to your home for a house call and then refers you for treatment to the emergency room or any other health care facility, you must make arrangements for transportation and/or be held financially responsible for your transportation. Most insurance companies do not reimburse for home visits; if you are hoping insurance will cover your visit please be sure to inquire prior to service. A fee is added to all house calls to compensate for resources used in coming to your home.  Payment is due at time of service.

Additional resources on frequently asked questions about naturopathic medicine are found here.