Aloha Natural Family Medicine FAQs

What is natural medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is similar to conventional medicine; both types of physicians are trained to diagnose and treat disease. The goals of a naturopathic physician, however, are quite different. He or she wants each patient to not only be free from illness, but also to be headed in the direction of greater health and wellness. The methods used to achieve this goal are safe and effective traditional medicines, such as botanicals, nutrition, and homeopathy. Naturopathic physicians also differ from conventional doctors in that they are able to provide the time needed to listen to a patient’s concerns, not only their physical, but also their mental and emotional needs in order to address the true cause of any imbalance. Patients will leave armed with new knowledge and tools so they may begin to live a healthier and happier life.

What kind of training do naturopathic physicians have? Are they licensed?

After completing a four year pre-medical bachelors degree, naturopathic physicians attend an accredited four year naturopathic medical school and graduate with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. With over 4000 hours of total course work, clinical credits and hours, the curriculum in naturopathic medical school parallels that of conventional medical schools.  Naturopathic medical students must master all the basic and clinical sciences required to graduate from a conventional medical school, as well as be thoroughly trained in holistic and non-toxic approaches to therapy.  They are trained with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing total all-over wellness.  In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic physician is required to complete training in clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, physical manipulations, psychology, and counseling. A naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician.

Tell me more about Holistic Medicine.

Holistic health includes body, mind, and spirit. All aspects of a person work together to create the whole.  We each have a unique set of circumstances that affect the entire system. Thoughts, beliefs, and emotions have a lot to do with the health of the body as well. Love and joy make a significant impact, as do negative emotions like sadness, fear, or anger.  In a state of tension, we tend to hold our breath. If someone isn’t breathing deeply, the channels of life aren’t flowing properly.  Breath is life.


Natural medicine is focused on building optimal health, not fixing symptoms of disease.  A Naturopathic doctor listens for what the body is saying. She helps identify what emotional and physical stressors are impeding balanced wellbeing. For example, environmental toxins or food sensitivities may be overwhelming the immune system, compromising the liver, and/or causing inflammation.

Conventional medicine often primarily aims to alleviate or mask symptoms and doesn’t necessarily address the root causes. Holistic medicine aims to remove impediments and strengthen body systems. Conventional medicine can’t strengthen the heart, for example, but can regulate it with drugs. Similarly, skin conditions and arthritis can be closely related to inflammation in the intestinal tract, which would not be considered by conventional medicine.

In natural medicine, the use of pharmaceutical drugs is minimized, and is applied only when necessary, such as antibiotics in some cases, or thyroid medication. Recognizing that plants have their own vitality and wisdom, herbs and diet can play an important role in holistic healing.

Many people have some difficulty digesting and absorbing food, and are malnourished. They may not simply be able to take vitamins, because, for example, if the liver and kidneys are not working properly, this could end up adding to overload in the body. And they are likely unable to absorb the vitamins and minerals. Treatment and supplementation must be fine-tuned specifically for each person.

It is common to have some degree of irritation leading to microscopic tears ( or in some cases larger ulcerations) in the intestinal lining and causing “leaky gut syndrome,” also known as intestinal permeability. Undigested food particles leak into the blood stream, introducing foreign matter which the body must fight and eliminate. The particular food then becomes toxic to the body and becomes an enemy.

Resulting food sensitivities can cause more inflammation and a buildup of toxins in the body, and are building blocks of chronic disease, such as hormonal imbalances, tumors, arthritis, and auto-immune disorders. The liver becomes overburdened as well. A stressed liver may cause or increase acne, PMS, menopausal problems, or chronic pain. The immune system can also be overwhelmed, especially in the presence of added physical, mental, or emotional stress.

The body has an inherent ability to eliminate toxins and heal itself.
Together, you and Dr. Caplan identify the causes of imbalance and discover what is needed in order for your whole being to thrive.

What can I expect from my first visit to Aloha Family Natural Medicine?

Initial visits are one and a half to two hours, at which time your practitioner will take a detailed health history. They may choose to do a physical exam or order lab work. If you have already had tests done you may choose to bring a copy of them with you to the visit. Some natural medications or supplements may be prescribed and a treatment plan will be created at this time.

More About Your Initial Visit...

Unlike conventional allopathic doctors, Dr. Caplan spends ample time giving quality, undivided attention to her patients. The initial visit is between 1 ½ and 2 ½ hours long.

First you talk. Dr. Caplan listens to what’s going on with your health and wellbeing, on the physical, energetic, emotional, and spiritual levels.

She takes your detailed medical history. Next, in the treatment room, Dr. Caplan combines conventional western medical and Chinese medical diagnostic methods to conduct a complete, whole-body assessment. She performs a traditional physical exam and might order lab work. If you have already had tests done, it’s helpful to bring a copy of them with you to the visit.

Many imbalances and symptoms can be explained within the Chinese medical assessment that cannot be answered by conventional medical diagnosis. To gain understanding of the body from a Chinese medicine perspective, Dr. Caplan examines your tongue and skin, reads your pulses, and makes a “hara” diagnosis using palpation of the abdomen. The tongue, pulses, and abdomen reveal a map of entire body’s inner workings.  Dr. Caplan evaluates your yin and yang balance. She checks for conditions such as excess or deficient heat or cold, pathological dampness, “lurking” viruses., and blood or liver stagnancy or sluggishness..

Dr. Caplan conducts a comprehensive kinesiology or muscle testing examination to evaluate all body systems, from the brain, eyes, ears, teeth, gums, endocrine system, heart, and lungs, to all the other organ functions.

For example, in evaluating the colon, Dr. Caplan may determine whether there is any inflammation or intestinal permeability.  How is the beneficial bacterial microbiome? Is there a presence of parasites, candida, yeast or fungal overgrowth, or bacterial pathogens? Further specialized lab testing can be ordered, such as a comprehensive stool analysis.

Dr. Caplan evaluates your neurotransmitters and your major adrenal and reproductive hormones.She checks for signs of heavy metals or toxic overload as well. In your kinesiology assessment, Dr. Caplan also investigates your nutritional status. Are there any imbalances or deficiencies? Dr. Caplan charts the levels of your fats, Omega 3s, and all vitamins and major minerals. Are you getting enough protein? How many servings a day do you need? What percentage of the protein you’re eating is your body digesting and absorbing? 

In addition,or in a subsequent visit, Dr. Caplan may perform a comprehensive food sensitivity and allergy assessment to determine which foods are beneficial to your body at this time, and which are causing weakness or toxicity. 

Some natural herbal or homeopathic medications or supplements may be prescribed. A treatment protocol can also include acupuncture, mindful awareness and breathing techniques, quantum energy healing, meditations and visualizations, a custom exercise program or food sensitivity cleanse, bio-identical hormone therapy, or beneficial lifestyle changes.

Together, you and Dr. Caplan identify your #1 health priority at this time, as well as your secondary concerns, and your personalized treatment plan is created and initiated.

Will my naturopath interact with other health care practitioners?

Yes. Dr. Caplan will work in consultation with any health care provider her patients may be seeing. She believes that each health care profession brings something valuable and unique to the experience of the patient and by working together we can provide the best possible quality of care.

What types of conditions can a naturopath treat?

Naturopaths are trained as general practitioners and treat the entire spectrum of medical conditions.

“I find that two major motivations bring people into my office,” says Dr. Caplan.
“Either they choose holistic medicine because it’s consistent with their lifestyle, or they have been through a lot in the conventional medical system, and they’re not feeling any better, or may be getting worse. They are scared, don’t know what to expect, and yet this is their last hope.”

How many treatments is it going to take to make me feel better?

The number of treatments a patient will need depends on the complaint and the complexity of the treatment plan.  Each patient is unique and so is their complaint.  Generally a patient will return two weeks after their initial visit to go over their progress and make any necessary changes to the treatment plan. The goal is to bring you to a greater level of health and arm you with the knowledge to help yourself in the future.  Typically the patient visits will become less frequent and less necessary over time as you achieve a higher level of health and awareness.

“For lasting, real healing to occur, you can’t just take a pill.  You must make a lifestyle change. A doctor can give a suggestion, but only you can make it happen.” (Donna Caplan, ND)

What is Dr. Caplan’s overall approach to health?

Dr. Donna Caplan wants to encourage, educate, and empower her patients to build a strong foundation for health.   She coaches each of her patients to embrace daily dietary and lifestyle habits that promote optimal wellness while using gentle, natural and effective medicines to restore normal physiology.   As a  naturopathic physician, she is completely committed to uncovering the underlying causes of any  internal imbalance that may lead to poor health or discomfort.   As a team, the doctor and the patient embark on a journey to find and correct the root cause of the illness.   Additionally, as a holistic medical practitioner, Dr. Caplan recognizes that physical, emotional, and mental aspects of imbalance must be considered in order to fully restore someone to their optimal health.

Donna Caplan ND

Schedule an Appointment

Kauai Offices in Kilauea and Lihue

Philadelphia Office at Studio 34 in West Philadelphia

To schedule an appointment or for a phone consultation, please call 808-828-6153.

Copyright © 2016 Donna Caplan ND All Rights Reserved