Q&A With Naturopathic Practitioner Dr. Maggie Ney

Mar 31, 2024

We are thrilled to introduce you to Dr. Maggie Ney, a practitioner at the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine and co-founder of HelloPeri, an online resource for women going through perimenopause. Learn about her work in naturopathic medicine and her expertise on hormonal health in our Q&A Below!

What is naturopathic medicine?

A naturopathic medicine is a distinct health care profession that is guided by the philosophy of
identifying and treating the root cause of disease. Naturopathic doctors are licensed as primary
care physicians in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and more states coming soon! When
working with patients, we are trained to look at the whole person, not just the physical
symptoms that may be bringing someone into the office, but their entire physical, emotional, and
spiritual body. It is only by understanding the whole person that we can identify and treat the
root cause. Naturopathic doctors are trained in using therapies such nutrition, lifestyle
modifications, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hormone therapy, and prescription medications.
We have a large toolbox of therapies designed to optimize our patient’s health and wellbeing.

What made you want to study naturopathic medicine?

I always planned to go medical school and get my MD degree, but shifted gears after having an
eye-opening experience with my OB during high school. When I saw my OB about my irregular
menstrual cycles in high school, the only therapy offered to me was the birth control pill. There
was no discussion on understanding why my periods were irregular, or a discussion on any other
treatment option. This got me going down a rabbit hole of learning about hormones, period
problems, and different treatments to support hormones. I wanted to understand root cause and
then treat that cause, practicing any other way did not make sense for me. I wanted training on
preventative medicine and promoting health, not just on treating disease and symptom
management. When I learned that there was a formal, 4-year naturopathic medical school
program, which was guided with the philosophy of understanding root cause with training on
different therapeutic options, I never looked back. It was the best decision I could have made at
the time.

How have society’s views on naturopathic medicine changed over the years?

Society has caught up, and many of the principles and practices of naturopathic medicine are now
being incorporated into formal medical school trainings. The notion that we should address the
root cause of disease with the lowest force intervention, when possible, is not such a fringe
belief anymore. We now have Integrative Medicine Programs offered by medical schools and
the Institute of Functional Medicine, where hundreds of medical doctors get trained in the same
naturopathic therapies and root cause approach.

How do you view naturopathy?

I think the term naturopathy can be confusing to people. Anyone can say they practice
“naturopathy”, even if they did not go to an accredited 4-year Naturopathic Medical School.
People need to be educated on the difference between those individuals who call themselves “naturopaths” after taking some online courses versus those that are licensed Naturopathic Doctors.

What are some common misconceptions about naturopathic medicine?

I think the biggest misconception about naturopathic medicine is that we are against western
medicine or against prescription medications. This is not the case. Surgery and
pharmaceuticals are within the Naturopathic Medicine’s Therapeutic Order – which all
naturopathic doctors are trained in as they go through their education. The therapeutic order
essentially starts with lower force interventions, like removing obstacles to health, stimulating
the self-healing abilities within all of us, herbal medicine, vitamins and minerals, and then
pharmacology and surgery. All treatment options are discussed with patients, and they end up
feeling heard and empowered by knowing their choices.

What are some ways you relax and unwind?

I love a hot shower at the end of the day, then getting into by bed and reading! I try to bookmark
my days with some self-care, and I recommend that my patients do the same. This means
starting and ending your day with something that nourishes your soul and helps to regulate your
nervous system. A morning meditation and evening shower helps me feel grounded and present
during the day.

What do you hope for the future of naturopathic medicine?

I would love for naturopathic medicine to be licensed in every state and for more insurance
companies to cover naturopathic medical care. I believe we could save millions of dollars in
health care expenses if people had a naturopathic doctor to help them learn the tools to prevent
the common chronic diseases of aging.

Any tips on healthy aging?

My tips for healthy aging are staying well hydrated, prioritizing getting a good night’s sleep,
reducing alcohol intake, eating real, whole foods, prioritizing your good quality relationships,
and incorporating more joy in your life!

How can we tell if our hormones are off-balance?

Symptoms are the clues our body tells us if our hormones are not balanced. We may
experience period changes (skipping periods, periods coming closer together, heavier flow,
more clots, heavier cramps), mood changes (like more anxiety, weepiness, or irritability either
during ovulation or before our periods, or anytime if we are perimenopausal), and other more
obvious symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, or breast tenderness.

Any tips on reducing period cramps?

My tips for reducing period cramps are to:

  1. Eat a whole foods diet with minimally processed foods. Emphasize dark leafy greens,
    vegetables, healthy protein, healthy fats like olive oil, olives, avocado, salmon, sardines,
    nuts and seeds, and fiber, like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
  2. Minimize alcohol and coffee, both of which can make cramps worse.
  3. Make time for daily movement, walking is great!
  4. Prioritize gut health and having daily bowel movements.
  5. Consider taking a Magnesium at bedtime which can help with hormones and cramps.

What is your best advice for someone navigating the constant changes you face while experiencing Menopause & Perimenopause?

I recommend tracking your symptoms and menstrual cycle. Understand your treatment options
from lifestyle, supplements, and HRT and partner with a healthcare practitioner who is
respectful and knowledgeable in this area.

Unfortunately, most healthcare practioners lack the training to support women as they go
through Perimenopause and into Menopause. This is why I am so passionate about educating
women as they go through Perimenopause on what is happening to their body and the available
treatment options for them. Women need to have this information so they can feel empowered
as they go through this transition. I believe this our time to get after all the things in life that light
us up, and our hormones should NOT be an obstacle for us to live the life of our dreams.

Stress sure is a silent killer! Any tips on avoiding stress or recovering from chronic
stress?

First, it is important that we become aware when we are stressed. So many people do not
appreciate how stressed they are until they have major symptoms like sickness or pain. I
encourage everyone to develop a mindfulness practice where we check in with our body and
ask ourselves, without any judgement, how we feel and what do we need right now to feel
whole and complete. Most of us need to slow down and check in with our bodies during the day
to evaluate if we are feeling stress or overwhelm. It is important to have tools to help
lower stress. My favorite stress reducing tools are breathwork, meditation, tapping, and
boundaries (it’s ok to say ‘no’).

What’s next for you?

We just released our Hello HRT mastery course which is a super fun, informative class all about
Perimenopause and the available treatment options, so women can start feeling like themselves
again! Women end up knowing more than their doctors, and have all the tools they need to get
exactly what their bodies need from their doctors. It’s essentially a roadmap throughout the
entire perimenopause journey.
In the Spring we are offering our HelloPeri RESET program, everyone is welcome! I guide
women through a 10-day nutritional program designed for the Perimenopausal woman, while
also diving deep into all things Perimenopause from nutrition, lifestyle, supplements, and HRT.

Where can people find you?

I see patients at the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine in Santa Monica, California where I
direct its Women’s Clinic. I also co-founded HelloPeri, an online resources for women going
through Perimenopause.
@thehelloperi
www.thehelloperi.com
www.akashacenter.com

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