This past weekend, I attended the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors yearly convention. The theme for the lectures was digestive health and my experience there revealed a lot about the state of the knowledge about digestive health, at least in the naturopathic community. In short, there is a lot to learn and assimilate for fellow naturopathic doctors. Truthfully, digestive health in part is an undiscovered continent. Our training is quite comprehensive for digestive function and differential diagnosis of digestive health illnesses. We receive plenty of training in probiotic use and supplements that help with inflammation, digestive support and symptom relief. However, the purpose of prebiotics is still unclear to the average naturopath.
After this weekend however, that changed. So many of my peers came to me saying “I just learned about prebiotics for the first time – I finally know what they are.” Many of my peers also said “This can really help a lot of my patients where we’ve been stuck. Probiotics were helping to an extent but we hit a wall. Prebiotics open up new opportunities.” NDs now see the clinical relevance and importance of these products. Often it does take a coming together and sharing to gain the confidence to pursue and incorporate prebiotics into tried and true protocols we thought were complete.
The most appealing idea to NDs besides the amazing efficacy and effect that prebiotics have was the fact that we are feeding our own unique bacterial ecosystem, not simply relying on an external and foreign strains. Our bodies support a unique and beneficial microbiome, so wouldn’t it be better to promote and feed our own biota as opposed to saturating ourselves with something different? From a naturopathic perspective, it is very in-tune with the minimalization of external influences and promoting the ability of self-healing. Our philosophy and tenets are what set our profession apart from other practitioners and when a product allows us to practice what we preach, everyone benefits.