The medical system can feel like a maze that you blindly wander through hoping that you are making the correct decisions regarding your health or the health of a loved one. Treatment can sometimes feel robotic, and dealing with a doctor can sometimes feel like you are just a number and not a human being. We wanted to introduce you to something different, Naturopathic Doctor Sandy Colvard, who has just moved into town and is eager to work with new patients and serve her LGBTQ+ community. We had a chance to chat with her and get to know more about what she offers in care. We hope you get to know her better as well.
Would you please tell our readers a little bit of where you are from?
Hello! I have recently moved my practice to San Diego from the East Coast, having seen patients from Vermont to Georgia! I spent a majority of my early life in the Washington, D.C. area, and that was where I first really felt a part of the Gay community. This was back during the ’70s and ’80s, when having community was so very important. I actually had a band that played all the major Pride events in D.C. and I was very involved in the Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington. Though my naturopathic medical career has taken me down many other roads, I feel like my roots always bring to seek out the LGBTQ+ communities first — everywhere I go. And though my partner and I have lived and worked in many different areas of the country since that time, I was actually back in the D.C. area when I received the call with the opportunity to come to San Diego. I love it here and hope to stay for a long time!
What field of medicine do you specialize in?
I’m a naturopathic doctor. The easiest way I can explain what that means is that “I’m a doctor that looks for a natural way to promote the self-healing process, whenever possible.” I trained at an accredited naturopathic medical school, studying both Western and Eastern medicine — so while I look to natural and alternative therapies first, I am also trained in pharmacology and traditional approaches as well. I consider myself a general practitioner, trained in primary care with an additional board certification in oncology, but I do have specialties I’m particularly passionate about besides cancer; like anxiety, depression, hormone imbalances, and LGBTQ+ medicine.
What exactly is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process through the use of natural therapies. While the roots of modern naturopathic medicine date back to the 1800s, we have seen a rapid increase in public interest in recent years due to the growing movement to solve the health care puzzle — using prevention, wellness, and respect for nature’s inherent healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained as primary care providers who diagnose, treat, and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions, while addressing disease and dysfunction at the level of body, mind, and spirit. NDs believe in the wisdom of our bodies to heal — given the proper ingredients and environment.
Basically, what that means is that when I see a patient, I’m not only going to ask about any physical symptoms that they are experiencing and go through an extensive history; but I’m also going to check in about their emotional and/or spiritual health as well. And, just for clarity, when I say “spiritual” I’m not talking necessarily about religion — but how someone feels connected — or disconnected — with the world around them. Still today, there are a lot of challenges in our community that can be a source of mental, emotional and spiritual stress- from political tensions to access to affirming health care (particularly for the Trans and gender Queer communities), so it’s important to look at each patient as a whole person, and not just a list of symptoms.
Please tell us about your oncology practice and what services you offer to patients.
I see oncology patients at every stage of their cancer journey — as well as offering support to their caregivers.
I see patients who have been recently diagnosed and are in the process of deciding on their treatment plan. For these patients, I can help with explanations of treatment options, discuss naturopathic treatments that are safe and helpful along with their conventional treatment, and offer support for the anxiety and worries that come along with a cancer diagnosis.
I see patients who are already undergoing conventional treatments — chemotherapy, radiation, surgery — and can offer naturopathic options to help mitigate side effects that will not interfere with their current treatments, help reduce anxiety/worries, and offer supplements or other treatments to assist them in their cancer fight.
I see patients who have completed all their treatments and offer options on natural treatments to assist the body’s innate ability and immune system in staying cancer free.
I also see the caregivers and family members of cancer patients — they have their own worries and concerns and fatigue that should be addressed as well.
What kinds of treatments do you offer?
I will treat everything that is under my scope of practice in the state of California! To be clear, California does not allow me to be a primary care physician (PCP) under our current scope of practice. However, with my experience of being a PCP in other states, I can see patients with all kinds of concerns — high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis/muscle pain, insomnia, autoimmune issues, GI issues, etc.
One of my other specialties is anxiety, depression, and grief. We are certainly seeing an increase in anxiety and depression both within our communities and in the nation as a whole, so this is an area in which I really love to help people.
What would you like readers to know about naturopathic care?
I think everyone should visit a naturopathic doctor at least once, even if you have had negative experience with medicine in the past. It doesn’t even have to be me — NDs are trained to actually listen to you, respect you, and spend longer than 10-20 minutes with you. I know that feeling safe with doctors can be challenging for people in our community — that’s why I am busy teaching LGBTQ Cultural Competency courses and workshops across the country — teaching practitioners how to better care for us. Naturopathic doctors are leading the charge in this work.
Are you accepting new patients, do you accept insurance/Medicare/Medicaid, and how can readers find out more about your practice?
Yes! I am accepting new patients and you can find out more by heading to the website for Nourish Medical Center: www.nourishmedicalcenter.com or by calling our fabulous and helpful reception team at 619-345-3111. Naturopathic doctors in California are not credentialed with insurance, but we can provide a super bill for you to submit on your own. If you want to reach me, you can also send an email to email@example.com and follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.