Naturopathy: Combining New Medicine and Old
MADISON - Physician, heal thyself.
Two years ago Dr. DiPasquale was living near Puget Sound in Washington and hoping there were enough hours in the day to fulfill her department chair, clinical faculty and teaching responsibilities in the Naturopathic Medicine and Herbal Medicine programs at Bastyr University, where as a student she also received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine.
"I was pretty busy," she says. "It was time to make a life change."
That change was catalyzed by her husband, who asked her one question - would she be willing to have a balanced life?
They sought that balance in Madison, where Dr. DiPasquale opened a private practice and, with the aid of the recommendation of a friend who works as an acupuncturist at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, recently joined the Integrative Medicine program.
Integrative Medicine director David Rakel, MD sees Dr. DiPasquale as a natural fit.
"It was a nice gift that Robin wound up in Madison," he says. "A lot of what we do in Integrative Medicine resonates with the philosophy of naturopathy. It's using the wisdom of nature as our guide."
In her work Dr. DiPasquale combines what she calls the "natural therapies" - techniques that attend to the natural flow of nature and the body - with familiar, contemporary approaches.
"We don't want to be stuck in one paradigm," she says. "We're not just ancient knowledge. We're not just contemporary knowledge. We combine the two."
That union is faithful to the Integrative Medicine program's belief that success with a patient means more than merely treating symptoms. Truly integrative medicine requires attention to the whole person.
"We try to treat the root cause of what's going on and take into account all of who they are - their spiritual side, their emotional side, their physical side, everything," Dr. DiPasquale says. "We're not heroic in our medicine but we help people get back in balance."
The holistic nature of her work makes for a versatile practice. Dr. DiPasquale see patients struggling with a wide variety of problems - digestive and respiratory disorders, cardiovascular issues, musculoskeletal pain, colds and infections, and much more - and delves deeper than "What seems to be the problem?" in her consultations.
To explain, she uses the example of a woman who recently came to her with high blood pressure. Instead of snapping off a hasty prescription, Dr. DiPasquale asked the woman to "tell her story," so she could use the narrative to explore the issue in depth.
They talked about stress triggers that could possibly contribute to high blood pressure, including her family relationships, and identified long-standing issues from the woman's childhood.
From there they moved onto digestion and nutrition as well as exercise, and Dr. DiPasquale provided some tips about how to adjust her diet and workout regimen for greater effectiveness. Finally, Dr. DiPasquale introduced an inexpensive biofeedback machine that would lower the woman's blood pressure by teaching her how to breathe and suggested herbal remedies intent on decreasing the response of the woman's nervous system, "so she's not in stress mode all the time."
For Dr. DiPasquale, the appropriate remedy requires a thorough investigation, and the root of the problem may not be wholly available in the results of a test.
"Generally health is about being able to feel good every day," Dr. DiPasquale says. "I want people to be able to feel good on all levels - physically, emotionally, mentally."
More information about Dr. DiPasquale's services is available in the Integrative Medicine section of uwhealth.org. Initial evaluations are $160, with follow-up appointments $100. Some insurance plans offer coverage for the service.
Date Published: 12/22/2009