What is the definition of a good AIP doctor
and how to find one to work with in your area?
How to find a good AIP doctor is one of the questions I get most often. People are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) thanks to the internet, but they often still need the help of a doctor to assist them in their healing journey.
One can achieve remarkable progress by ditching junk food and adopting a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet such as the AIP. Cleaning up your diet is definitely the first step toward a healthier you. For some people, a dietary intervention alone will suffice. Others might have lingering symptoms even after going on the AIP for a while. This doesn’t mean that the AIP was a waste of time. On the contrary! The AIP will reduce the noise created by inflammation in your body, allowing your doctor to more easily uncover the causes of the lingering symptoms.
What is an AIP doctor?
Of course, there is no such thing (yet) as an AIP-MD. What you need to look for is a doctor who will support and assist you with the medical and non-medical aspects of your healing journey, within the framework of the Autoimmune Protocol.
Arm yourself with patience when starting your quest to find the right doctor for you. Chances are you won’t find him at your first appointment. It is also possible that you will end up working with several providers at the same time (a primary care provider and an endocrinologist specialist, for example).
Profile of a good AIP doctor:
- Specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune disorders.
- Recognizes the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle (such as stress reduction, sleep, positive human interactions, and exercise) when dealing with an autoimmune disease.
- Conducts a thorough medical evaluation, listening to what you have to say, trying to get a sense of who you are and how you live.
- Performs appropriate lab tests and goes over the results with you.
- Doesn’t dismiss your input but rather listens and collaborates with you, acting as a partner in your healing.
- Doesn’t cover up symptoms with pills (even though there is definitely a time and a place for medication!).
- Gives priority to alternative treatments (such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, IV nutritional therapy, etc.) over medication.
- Always looks for the underlying cause of your symptoms (such as gut dysbioses, infections, food intolerances, etc.).
- Looks at the body as a system, with the organs interacting and influencing each other.
Such doctors are often described as functional medicine practitioners, integrative medicine doctors, naturopathic doctors, or holistic practitioners.
Contrary to Western medicine doctors who are trained to treat only symptoms, these functional doctors are addressing the root cause of disease. In my experience, this approach takes a little bit more time to yield results and a little bit more effort on your part (because you will have to clean up your diet and implement lifestyle changes supporting your healing journey), but it leads to long-lasting health and wellness. Which is so worth it!
Potential provider checklist
More often than not, functional medicine practitioners aren’t covered by your average insurance plans. So my advice for you is to establish right off the bat if you need to stay in-network and what is your monthly budget for health care expenses. The answer to these two initial questions will greatly influence your research.
Questions for a potential provider:
- Is the doctor in or out of your insurance network?
- Is the doctor accepting new patients? You may need to get on a waiting list.
- What is the fee schedule of the doctor? Prices may vary greatly between an initial consultation and a maintenance visit. The office should be able to give a detailed document with prices. Knowing in advance how much you will have to pay will help you budget the expenses and avoid unpleasant surprises.
- How long are the sessions?
- What is the area of expertise of the doctor?
- What is his medical training?
- Is there an intake form to fill out?
- Does the doctor need copies of your most recent lab test results?
- Make sure you bring with you all the required documents, such as intake form, health history, and past lab test results.
- Bring a list of all of the medications and supplements you are currently taking (and doses).
- Bring something to help you take notes during your visit.
How to find an AIP doctor in your area?
- Ask for a recommendation from family members, friends, members of an AIP Meetup group in your area, or members of an AIP Facebook group (start with this one)
- Institute for Functional Medicine
- Paleo Physicians Network
- Re-Find Health
- Kresser Institute for Functional and Evolutionary Medicine
Not finding any practitioners in your area? Here are a few online options to work with certified nutritional therapy practitioners supporting the Autoimmune Protocol:
- Conscious Autoimmunity: one-on-one coaching for AIP diet and lifestyle
- Healing Family Eats: AIP coaching
- Functional Nutrition Alliance
- AIP Certified Coach Directory
One more thing to remember …
It is your responsibility to be an active participant in your healing journey. Be proactive, educate yourself as much as you can about the Autoimmune Protocol, be an advocate for your own health. Nobody knows you better than you do and your doctor will need you to take an active part in the recovery process.
The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook – Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt