To truly reach a top level of athletic performance, it's key to surround yourself with the healthiest practices and habits, even off the playing field.
That's why, in additional to conventional medicine, many elite athletes consult with a naturopathic doctor as well.
It's a form of treatment that focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment, and can employ homeopathy, herbalism, and acupuncture, as well as diet and lifestyle counseling. Naturopathic physicians tailor their treatments to strengthen the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain it's optimal health.
Z Living spoke with Dr. Suneil Jain,
a medically-trained licensed doctor who specializes in naturopathy. His top athlete clients have included tennis pro Serena Williams,
NBA player Josh Childress
and pro-golfer Nicole Castrale.
Here's why naturopathy might be right for you, no matter what level of fitness you're at:
Why should people see a naturopathic doctor? How does it improve and enhance your health beyond or in conjunction with modern medicine?
Having a naturopathic doctor as part of your health team is crucial and creates a unique balance in one’s care because we’re educated in both Eastern and Western medicine. While there’s a time and place for modern medicine, its focus is too often reactionary. Modern medicine believes once something breaks, you fix it. Naturopathic medicine tries to prevent it from breaking, and if it does break, gives you the least toxic tools to help the body recover. At times, that might include a pharmaceutical drug. But naturopathic doctors recognize that symptoms are the body’s way of telling us something is wrong. If we don’t pay attention to those symptoms or just make them temporarily disappear and don’t address the root cause, it could lead to chronic inflammation and disease. Naturopathic doctors evaluate the whole patient and make lifestyle recommendations along with appropriate nutrient intervention that help prevent chronic disease and slow down the aging process for your lifetime.
Which naturopathic treatments do you use for your celebrity clients?
We offer a wide variety of naturopathic therapies for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease, premature aging and sports injuries. Our practice focuses on the whole body, so each and every treatment takes that into consideration. It’s not unusual for a patient to be hooked up to a detoxification IV while enjoying an organic homemade facial—with acupuncture needles placed in specific points to enhance both therapies!
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What are some areas that modern medicine method screenings miss that naturopathic medicine is able to immediately identify?
Most yearly blood tests fail to identify the risk factors associated with chronic disease, so despite passing their “executive physicals,” many of our celebrity clients start with different types of functional lab testing. We look at possible intracellular nutrient deficiencies (magnesium tends to be the #1 most common nutrient deficiency), heavy metal and environmental toxicities, enzyme, and microbiome function, along with available genetic testing to get a sense of where the person is in their current state of health and what they might be vulnerable toward in the future. (Photo courtesy Dr. Suneil Jain)
So how do you infuse a patient’s food and nutrition as their medicine?
We create a personalized anti-inflammatory diet based on food sensitivity and allergy elimination, blood and metabolic typing, and nutritional deficits. We might use a combination of different modalities including botanical medicine, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, various IV nutrient therapies including ozone and UV light therapy, or microneedling—using a dermaroller or microneedler over areas of the skin.
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What remedies would you recommend to the everyday athlete, like runners or yoga practitioners?
A great way for any athlete to maximize their internal performance should always start with a personalized anti-inflammatory diet. The specifics would be based on testing that incorporates a wide variety of fresh vegetables, healthy fats, and clean protein. Externally, a functional movement screening could assess and identify any potential area of musculoskeletal weakness that could result in injury or decreased performance.
Dr. Suneil Jain is the medical director of the Rejuvena Health & Aesthetics Clinic based in Scottsdale, Arizona. It has become one of the leading wellness and healthy aging practices in the United States.
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Tell us in the comments: Have you ever consulted a naturopathic doctor? What kind of experience did you have?