Questions you may be asked by your naturopathic doctor

Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 19 October 2021

One of the tenets of naturopathic medicine is Tolle Totum -Treat the Whole Person. And in order to treat the whole person and formulate a good treatment plan I end up asking a lot of questions. Questions that you usually do not get asked in a regular medical setting. But that is what I believe is one of the strengths of naturopathic medicine. Understanding the whole picture. 

So here's a list of questions that you may be asked by your naturopathic doctor because the answers matter to determine your overall health picture. 

Taking the time to read through and answer these questions yourself can also bring some clarity as to how healthy you really are.

Let's get started! 

I'll break the questions up into sections to make it easier to come back to later. Sometimes answering all of them all at once can be overwhelming. 


-which prescription medications are you currently taking? how long have you been taking them for?

-do your mediations or supplements ever cause you unusual side effects or problems?

-have you had prolonged or regular use of NSAIDS (Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Aspirin, etc)?

-have you had prolonged or regular use of Tylenol?

-have you had prolonged or regular use of acid blocking drugs (Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec, Nexium, Pantaloc, etc)?

-have you had frequent antibiotic use (> 3 X a year)?

-have you had long term antibiotic use?

-have you used steroids (prednisone, inhalers, nasal allergy sprays) in the past?

-have you used oral contraceptives?

Childhood History:

-were you a full term baby? premature?

-were you a vaginal delivery? C-section?

-were you breast fed? bottle fed?

-when pregnant with you did you mother smoke tobacco? use recreational drugs? drink alcohol? use estrogen? use other prescriptions or non-prescription medications?

-was your childhood diet high in sugar (sweets, candy, cookies, etc)? fast food, pre-packaged foods, artificial sweeteners? milk, cheese, or other dairy products? meat, vegetables & potato diet? vegetarian diet? diet high in wheat (breads, cereals, pasta)?

-as a child were there foods that you had to avoid because they gave you symptoms? eg. milk caused diarrhea

-as a child did you have a high absence from school? if yes, why?

-did you experience chronic exposure to second hand smoke in your home?

-did you experience abuse in your home?

-did you have alcoholic parents?

Dental History:

-do you have problems with sore gums? bleeding gums? tooth pain?

-do you have ringing in the ears?

-do you have TMJ?

-do you have a metallic taste in your mouth?

-do you have problems with bad breath?

-did you previously or currently wear braces?

-do you have problems chewing?

-do you floss regularly?

-do you have amalgam fillings? did you receive these fillings as a child?

-do you have gold fillings?

-do you have root canals? implants?

-have you had dental surgery?

Nutritional History:

-how often do you weigh yourself? daily, weekly, monthly, rarely, never

-do you grocery shop? if not, who does?

-do you avoid any particular foods? if yes, why?

-if you could only eat a few foods a week, what would they be?

-do you cook? if not, who does?

-do you read food labels?

-how many meals do you eat out per week?

-have you made any changes in your eating habits because of your health?

-do you currently follow a special diet or nutritional program? gluten-free, diabetic, dairy restricted, vegetarian, vegan

-do you have symptoms immediately after eating such as belching, bloating, sneezing, hives, etc?

-do you feel that you have delayed symptoms after eating certain foods such as fatigue, muscle aches, sinus congestion, etc?

-do you feel worse, better, or neutral after eating a lot of high fat food? high protein food? high carbohydrate food (breads, pasta, potatoes)? refined sugar (junk food)? fried foods? high caffeine intake? 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks?

-does skipping meals greatly affect your symptoms?

-has there ever been a food that you have craved or "binged" on over a period of time?

-how many times do you chew your food?

-how much fluid do you drink with your meals?

-how many servings of fruits & veggies do you eat per week?

-how much time do you have in the morning to prepare breakfast?

-do you skip meals?

-what time do you usually eat snacks?

-how many ounces/mL of water do you consume daily?

-what types of beverages do you consume?

-what oils do you cook with?

-what is your caffeine intake? coffee, tea, caffeinated soda

-what is your diet soda intake?

Digestive History:

-do you travel foreignly? 

-do you do wilderness camping?

-have you ever had severe gastroenteritis? diarrhea?

-do you feel like you digest your food well?

-do you feel bloated after meals?

-how often do you have a bowel movement?

-what is the consistency of your bowel movements? soft & well formed, often floats, difficult to pass, diarrhea, thin/long/narrow, small and hard, loose but not watery, alternating between hard and loose/watery

-what is the colour of your stool? medium brown, very dark or black, greenish colour, blood is visible, varies a lot, dark brown consistently, yellow/light brown, greasy/shiny appearance

-how often do you have intestinal gas? daily, occasionally, excessive, present with pain, foul smelling, little odour

Environmental & Detoxification History:

-do you have known adverse food allergies, reactions or sensitivities?

-when you drink caffeine do you feel irritable or wired? aches & pains?

-do you react adversely to any of the following?: MSG, garlic, chocolate, preservatives, aspartame, onion, alcohol, caffeine, cheese, red wine, bananas, citrus foods, sulfite containing foods (wine, dried fruit, salad bars)

-do any of these significantly affect you? cigarette smoke, perfumes/colognes, auto exhaust fumes

-in your home or work environment are you exposed to chemicals? electromagnetic radiation? mold?

-have you ever turned yellow (jaundiced)?

-have you every been told you have Gilbert's syndrome or a liver disorder?

-do you have a known history of significant exposure to any harmful chemicals such as: herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, organic solvents, lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, cadmium?

-do you dry clean your clothes frequently?

-do you or have you lived or work in a damp or moldy environment or had other mold exposures?

-do you have any pets or animals?

-what type/brands of personal care products do you use? (lotion, soaps, etc)

Lifestyle History:

-are you currently a smoker? for how many years? how many packs a day?

-how many attempts to quit smoking?

-are you a previous smoker? how many years? how many packs a day?

-were you exposed chronically to second hand smoke?

-how many alcoholic drinks do you consume a week?

-what is your previous alcohol intake? mild, moderate, high, none

-have you every been told you should cut down on your alcohol intake?

-do you get annoyed when people ask you about your drinking?

-do you notice a tolerance to alcohol (can you hold more than others)?

-are you currently using any recreational drugs?

-have you ever used IV or inhaled recreational drugs?

-do you exercise regularly? 

-what is your current exercise program? activity, sessions a week, duration

-rate your level of motivation for including exercise in your life - low, medium, high

-do you have any problems that limit activity?

-do you feel unusually fatigued after exercise?

-do you usually sweat when exercising?

-what is the average number of hours you sleep per night?

-do you have trouble falling asleep?

-do you feel rested upon awakening?

-do you have problems with insomnia?

-do you snore?

-do you use sleeping aids?

-what time do you go to bed?

-what time do you wake up?

Psychosocial History:

-do you feel significantly less vital than you did a year ago?

-do you feel your life has meaning and purpose?

-do you believe stress is presently reducing the quality of your life?

-do you like the work you do?

-have you ever experienced major losses in your life?

-do you spend the majority of your time and money to fulfill responsibilities and obligations?

-would you describe your experience as a child in your family as happy and secure?

-have you ever sought counselling?

-are you currently in therapy?

-do you feel you have an excessive amount of stress in your life?

-do you feel you can easily handle the stress in your life?

-rate the following daily stressors on a scale of 1-10 (1=minimal stress, 10=very high stress): work, family, social, finances, health, other

-do you practice meditation or relaxation techniques? yoga, meditation, imagery, breathing, tai chi, prayer

-have you every been abused, a victim of a crime, or experienced a significant trauma?

-what are your hobby & leisure activities?

-who is living in your household?

-what are your resources for emotional support? spouse, family, friends, religious/spiritual, pets, professional, other

-are you satisfied with your sex life?

-how well have things been going for you in the following areas (very well, fine, poorly, does not apply): overall, at school, in your job, in your social life, with close friends, with sex, with your attitude, with your spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend, with your children, with your parents

Now I would love to hear from you! What question were you surprised to see on the list? Leave a comment below and I'll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesday!

3 Replies to “Questions you may be asked by your naturopathic doctor”

Maria Pavel

I read every question and didn’t have to think about any of my answers. Working with you over the years had taught me my answers! Good work! Maria

Dr Michelle Durkin ND

Thanks Maria! I’m glad I have been able to help.

Marcia Mcquaid

Do you spend the majority of your time or money dealing with obligations.

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