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First Friday Interview: Tara Nayak, ND

first friday

Since January is all about being our best selves in the new year, we’re featuring Tara Nayak, ND for our January First Friday. Dr. Nayak is a naturopathic doctor, which means she is trained to handle any health concern as a general practitioner, but specializes in the treatment of complex chronic diseases, digestive issues, and hormonal imbalances. She’s passionate about truly listening and understanding her patients.

Learn more about Dr. Nayak, including her picks for 2018 wellness trends. We also discuss the things she wishes everyone knew about naturopathic medicine and how to stay healthy on a budget.

PPRG: What kick-started your journey into naturopathic healthcare?

TN: As with most other natural practitioners, my journey started with my own experiences. I always wanted a doctor that listened to me and find underlying cause of my problems, rather than just stop the symptoms. 15 minutes isn’t enough time to answer every question and get the full picture to consider the body as a whole! I wanted to provide that personal touch and really bond with my patients.

Also, I wanted to pursue natural methods of healing as it’s inherent to my family’s heritage and my culture. Learning natural medicine has been a journey into my own roots, as well as the roots of what has kept humans alive for the thousands of years before modern medicine!


PPRG: What a great two-fold journey! What are some common misconceptions about naturopathic medicine?

TN: One of the most frustrating misconceptions about naturopathic medicine is that there is no scientific evidence to support it. In fact, there are thousands upon thousands of scientific studies. Many of them are freely available to the public showing the benefits of natural healing modalities. These include (but are not limited to) herbal remedies, nutrient supplements, and diet.

Another misconception is that naturopathic medicine doesn’t work! There are many reasons people assume that herbal and nutrient therapies aren’t effective. Most commonly it’s because they aren’t being used right. It could be a lack of quality medicinal grade supplement, inappropriate dosage, or lack of consistency. There are many instances in which people give natural methods a shot, but they give up before the chance to see true healing.

PPRG: What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about naturopathic doctors?

TN: I wish everyone knew is that registered naturopathic doctors in the state of Pennsylvania have had to attend a four-year in-person medical school. It’s complete with laboratory and clinical training. We also are required to take multiple rounds of board examinations to gain licensure. So yes, we are doctors! We just have training that differs from conventional medical doctors. For example, while we are trained in minor surgery we do not perform invasive surgery and do not provide emergency care. There is a lot of misinformation and false claims made surrounding the practice of naturopathic medicine. I’m hoping to provide clarity and information so that more people understand what naturopathic medicine is and seek doctors who can help you on your road to better health!

PPRG: Do you think Philadelphia is on its way to being a wellness destination?

TN: Philadelphia is already riding the wave of the future in terms of healthcare! We recently passed legislation to open up registration for naturopathic doctors in the state. Plus, we are working on carving out what our scope of practice will be defined as in the new year. It feels like we have arrived! Now that the door has been opened, there is a seat at the table for naturopathic doctors in healthcare whether it’s the first option or part of an integrated care plan.

PPRG: Way to go, Philly! What has been your favorite aspect of being a naturopathic doctor in this city?

TN: There are so many people from various walks of life that are interested in natural medicine. Some have been following health trends, exercising, and eating clean on their own, and now they need further guidance. On the other hand, others are totally new to taking supplements and using what the earth provides to heal. I love the challenge of working on both ends of the spectrum. I also love the diversity of issues the city has brought to my doorstep. From babies to the elderly, whether its sniffles or chronic disease, I love using the naturopathic medicine I love to crack open a case and problem solve!


PPRG: After the holidays, we’re all a little budget conscious. What are some simple and inexpensive ways to stay healthy this winter?

TN: For starters, eating well and exercise are the obvious ones. Food is medicine and you CAN find a vegetable in the cafeteria. Besides that, here’s the trinity: water, sleep, supplements.

Staying hydrated is important! Water is essential for all bodily functions – from digestion to immune health. A good target intake is to drink the number of ounces equal to 1/2 of your body weight in lbs. For example, if you weigh 120 lbs, drink 60 ounces of water daily. Adding lemon, fruits or herbs is a great way to gently encourage digestion and detoxification.

Though you may have to stay up late for work or on the weekends, you CAN catch up on sleep to avoid the negative health effects. I would advise to keep track of sleep and catch up on the weekends or with naps during the day, if possible. Lastly, a small supportive supplement protocol of herbs and some essential nutrients can keep the mind sharp. It can help you avoid fatigue and prevent illnesses that may get in the way of life.

PPRG: Those do seem fairly easy… What health and wellness trends are you excited to see in 2018?

TN: I love that so many people are seeking natural alternatives BEFORE taking a pharmaceutical drug. Though I believe that there is a much needed role for pharmaceuticals in certain situations, I’m thrilled that so many have recognized the overuse of prescriptions and are turning first to natural and home remedies for relief.

I’m loving the organic/healthy fast food trend that is slowly growing in our country. Every Philadelphian knows a quick meal is necessary at some point. That just comes along with life in a city! I’m excited to see health-conscious restaurants that offer grab-n-go nutritious foods. One of my favorite parts of Philadelphia has always been it’s abundance of culturally diverse foods. I can’t wait to see what pops up next. I would love to see an organic drive-thru!

PPRG: That would be a dream! When you’re not working with clients, where can we find you?

TN: I’m always “down the rabbit hole” of research in personalized naturopathic medicine because it just excites me! I spend a lot of time reading studies and putting in that behind the scenes work. Other days I’m teaching Epigenetics and Nutrigenomics, as well as Functional Nutrition in Immune Health, at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. I also teach Generative Medicine for the University of Bridgeport. When it’s time to relax, I’m home tending to my small garden, reading, or trying new recipes with my sous chef (and son) Jai and his brother (our dog!). When it’s time to splurge, I’m a spa and travel junkie!


What questions do you have for Dr. Tara Nayak? Let us know in the comments!


* Dr. Tara Nayak is a client of Philly PR Girl. 

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