In my practice as a Naturopathic Doctor, I often care for surgical patients with two areas of concerns. There are those patients who are extremely worried about taking any of their supplements during this time and will stop taking everything weeks before and following their procedure. Then there are many patients who seek naturopathic care to speed up their recovery following their procedure. I will briefly guide you through the safe use of supplements in pre and post-operative care.
Why are you advised to stop taking supplements before/during/after your procedure?
- Your supplements may interfere with the success of the procedure.
- Your supplements may interfere with the safety of the procedure (The anesthesia administered during the procedure needs to be exact to ensure your safety. Different supplements can impact the way your body metablizes the medications and the effectiveness of the anesthesia used).
- Your supplements may increase the current risks of your procedure and may lead to unexpected complications.
- Your physician may not be the prescribing physician for your supplements and is unaware of their use or their necessity during the pre and post-operative period.
Playing it safe
- If you are currently seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or other alternative therapy practitioner and you are on a protocol of supplements or other treatments, consult with the prescribing physician the safety of your protocol for your upcoming procedure. They will be able to guide you while still respecting the wishes of your doctor/surgeon/anesthesiologist.
- If your current supplement protocol is self-prescribed you can either seek naturopathic care at this point or follow the instructions provided to you in your preoperative prep/meeting.
One last note about discontinuing supplements suddenly!
Just like pharmaceutical medications, supplements have a large impact on your health and sometimes it is tough and unsafe to abruptly stop taking certain supplements. In addition, if you are using supplements to manage conditions like diabetes or blood pressure, you need to mention this to your surgeon or physician in charge of your procedure.
A Speedy Recovery with Naturopathic Care
I feel blessed to have an eclectic toolbox that allows me to prep my patients for successful procedures and to facilitate a faster recovery process. Every procedure needs specific care and has a separate naturopathic protocol (gall bladder removal vs. MCL repair surgery). Based on pre and post-operative appointments with patients, I design a plan that allows me to use all of my modalities:
- I ensure that the patient is as healthy as possible before their procedure (diet, sleep, hydration, stress, and management of any other health concerns). This is difficult to accomplish in emergency procedures.
- Follow-up post-op is ideally within 48 hrs and this provides me with the opportunity to help manage any complications from the procedure.
- Post-op protocol for 3-4 weeks may include recommendations for diet, sleep, supplements, acupuncture, exercises, counselling, etc.
This support typically complements the care that you receive from your medical/surgical team. Hopefully, you now feel encouraged to include your ND in your pre-operative assessment (when appropriate) and in your rehabilitation process!
Dr. Arla Kasaj ND, RAc