mmWritten by

Maria Boorman, ND. Taking a Holistic Approach to Health Care.

Girl Warrior Stories| Views: 2123

Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, Naturopathic Physician Dr. Maria Boorman, who has been practicing Naturopathic Medicine in her hometown of Victoria since 1999.  Dr. Boorman has a full family practice with an emphasis on women’s and men’s hormonal health, thyroid and adrenal balance, chronic infections such as Lyme disease, collaborative cancer care and prevention, childhood health and wellbeing, gastrointestinal disorders and cardiovascular disease. She uses nutritional counseling; nutritional supplementation; herbal medicine; IV therapeutics and the cautious prescribing of pharmaceutical medications in her practice. Most of all Dr. Boorman focuses on building strong and caring relationships with her patients as she assists them with their health issues. Dr. Boorman uses her curiosity, research skills and intuition to bring light to health concerns that have yet to be diagnosed along with a methodical and common sense approach to treatment.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

If I compare myself to those women I really think of as Girl Warriors then I feel a bit shy about referring to myself as one. Women like Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightingale, Malala, Mother Teresa – the list goes on and on. Woman who have had to get up every day and fight and suffer for what they believe in. My work feels much smaller in comparison but I do fight every day for those with chronic illnesses who have not been able to receive help. Patients who have been given up on by the medical system and who are greeted with skepticism where ever they go. I did choose Naturopathic Medicine as my career and do feel the need to defend my choice and my philosophy far too often. I am outspoken and a bit argumentative and cannot tolerate injustice easily. I think these qualities make me feel like a Girl Warrior at times.

You’ve been practicing Naturopathic Medicine in Victoria since 1999. What inspired you to get into this field?

I grew up fascinated by medicine with amazing role models all around me – fantastic family friends that encouraged my dream of becoming a physician. Unbeknownst to me these doctors I idolized were not practicing conventional medicine but were alternative MDs. They practiced nutrition and acupuncture and herbal medicine. When it came time for me to apply for medical school I was already becoming disillusioned with the medical field. I was working in a walk-in medical clinic and was very disappointed in the medicine I witnessed. These were physicians I respected but their toolbox was so limited. To offer drugs, surgery or nothing seemed entirely wrong to me. When I learned about Naturopathic Medicine I was immediately intrigued and when I visited the school and met other students I was convinced that this was the career best suited to me.

Can you give us the “Coles/Cliffs Notes” on what Naturopathic Medicine is? What do we need to know “for sure”?

Naturopathic Medicine in British Columbia is incredible. We have a very large scope of practice and are able to prescribe medications as an additional tool in our already large toolbox of nutritional therapies, herbal medicines, intravenous nutrient therapies, homeopathy, physical medicine and counseling. This really allows us to be well-rounded primary care physicians for the patients we see. I find that a lot of NDs act to bring all the pieces of your health together. We spend a lot of time with patients and look at their health with a broader picture in mind. I often feel like a detective using the clues that your body and lifestyle provide and creating a well-rounded treatment plan based on that. Although we cannot order free lab testing we have a perspective on lab results that is a bit different and will often suggest interesting functional medical testing to add on to that learned from conventional testing. We are hearing a lot about Functional Medicine physicians these days – NDs are functional medicine doctors with a more holistic approach.

We’re hearing a lot about Lyme Disease in the news these days, especially with high profile celebrities like Avril Lavigne, Yolanda Hadid (Foster), Alec Baldwin and Shania Twain – just to name a few – who are suffering from this horrible and often misdiagnosed disease. Tell us about your work in this area?

I got involved in the treatment of Lyme disease 8 years ago. It was and is a complex illness but certain very sick patients that I was having difficulty treating drove me to begin researching how this illness impacted people. I certainly opened up a can of worms. I began to realize that Lyme is the great mimicker. Symptomatically it can appear like MS, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis, fibromyalgia, reactive arthritis, lupus, and ALS amongst many other diagnoses. Yet these patients will not have all of the symptoms or lab results to support the diagnoses. It can come on very quickly or very slowly. Patients may recall a tick bite but many don’t. What these patients do know is that they used to be healthy and now they are not – they have pain, fatigue, insomnia, inflammation, numbness, tingling, tremors, seizures, brain fog, memory loss and headaches. Often GPs and specialists don’t know what to diagnose leaving patients without recourse when it comes to taking time off of work to recover. If a patient comes to suspect it is Lyme disease they are usually dismissed or only one very inaccurate test is done. This test will only reveal 40% of Lyme cases.

Once these patients make their way to me or another physician familiar with Lyme we can finally get the ball rolling. Proper testing, proper treatment, and significant lifestyle changes to truly alter the environment in the body. It is time consuming and can be expensive but patients can expect to feel better over several months.

Treating Lyme disease means constant research and learning, which I love. Rarely does a patient simply have Lyme – there is usually an underlying autoimmune or allergy disorder. Researching these connections and how herbs and pharmaceuticals can give a patient back their quality of life is paramount to successfully treating of Lyme disease.

Do you collaborate with other medical professionals in the care of your patience? How does that work, and what does it mean for your patients?

As often as I can I collaborate with GPs and specialists. Creating a team approach to patient care is the best possible scenario. Everybody derives benefit from multiple minds thinking on their health care and different perspectives on the best course to take. Unfortunately, many patients do not have GPs in Victoria making collaboration difficult. In these cases I will try to help my patients find a GP or at least create a healthy relationship with a walk in clinic. Sometimes patients just need help communicating their needs in a short visit. The correct information provided to an MD can mean a referral to the right specialist or for the right testing. I have even been known to go with a patient to a specialist to help listen and provide any information the patient might have difficulty conveying.

What has been your biggest challenge?

I think my biggest challenge has been learning how to treat very ill patients without taking their stories home with me and constantly worrying about them. I always have one or two patients that keep me up at night pondering how best to help. Children are always the most difficult this way.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I don’t know if I have fully overcome any obstacles or broken down walls but I’m working on it. With every chronically ill patient I return to good health I help convince an MD that perhaps Lyme disease exists or maybe Naturopathic Medicine really can help. There are more and more GPs sending complex patients to me to evaluate for infections and lifestyle causes of illness – this certainly represents walls coming down.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

I always wanted to learn where I was truly needed. I think I would say don’t doubt yourself – you are on the right path – those that need you will find you.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Be fearless! Never see boundaries just opportunities.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why?

My grandmother was a true Girl Warrior. She grew up in Cuba and never stopped fighting for justice. Even as a young woman and young mother she worked within political circles to create change. She had a wonderful intelligence and insatiable curiosity. She would debate the rights and wrongs of the world with me from a very young age and I was free to express any opinion without judgement. I think this gave me the confidence to become all that I could be. Beyond her I feel the presence of the all those women who have rebelled and fought before me and with me.

What’s next?

My hope is to get better and better at what I do and to keep learning and growing as a physician and woman. I made a major move to start my own practice last year so learning to be a businesswoman and physician is definitely a major challenge at the moment.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I am hoping to build my own clinic at some point in the future. I envision a beautiful, healing space where those with chronic illness can come and have all of their needs met. I’d like to invite new Naturopathic grads and new medical grads to come learn how to treat complex patients as medical residents in this clinic so that good quality care becomes the norm.

If a new discovery in the field of Naturopathic Medicine were named after you, what would it be called?

Ha-ha! If anything this would be an intravenous formula that restored cellular health and it would be called Maria’s Mitochondrial Mixture. Patients would bound out of their IV chairs with renewed energy and vitality. I’m working on it!

 

To Learn more about Dr. Boorman visit her website at mariapayneboormannd.com