What is the Difference Between Naturopathic and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

In a stressful frantic modern world where there is a new flavor of disaster everyday. We just had a 4.8 earth quake in NYC yesterday on 4/5//24 - I was sitting on the floor when this happened and really FELT it. 

Many people are turning to holistic alternative approaches to destress, improve their overall wellbeing and address their health concerns. Among these, naturopathic medicine stands out as a wholistic and comprehensive system of healthcare that focuses on treating the root cause of illness, rather than just the symptoms. To delve deeper into the principles and practices I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Katherine Chang. As we both grew up surrounded by Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophies and way of life Dr. Chang and I felt so aligned, passionate and energized to come together to demystify, share simple and actionable small daily changes so everyone can access this information and benefit from it to live happier, healthier and longer naturally.

Dr. Katherine Chang is a licensed naturopathic doctor who works to provide the most effective and natural methods of healing for her patients. 

    She achieved her four-year Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University California, which is one of the six accredited, in-residence, naturopathic medical schools in North America. Dr. Chang then moved on to be the Director of Naturopathic Medicine at a celebrity-hub wellness facility in the heart of Hollywood where she helped numerous models, celebrities, and professional athletes optimize their health and performance from a cellular level. From there on, she founded and began her private practice, The Light At Seven, in 2024.

    During our conversation, Dr. Chang emphasized the importance of treating each patient as a unique individual with their own set of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors influencing their health. Unlike conventional medicine, which often adopts a one-size-fits-all approach, naturopathic medicine takes into account the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit in promoting wellness.

    One of the key principles of naturopathic medicine is the concept of "vis medicatrix naturae" – the healing power of nature. This principle guides the practice, as she seeks to identify and remove obstacles to healing while supporting the body's inherent ability to regain balance and vitality.

    Nutrition emerged as a cornerstone of naturopathic treatment, with Dr. Chang highlighting the importance of personalized dietary plans tailored to individual needs. She stressed the significance of whole, nutrient-dense foods in nourishing the body and supporting optimal health. Additionally, she emphasized the role of botanical medicine in addressing specific health concerns and deficiencies.

    Another aspect of naturopathic medicine that Dr. Chang shed light on was the emphasis on preventive care. Rather than waiting for illness to manifest, naturopathic doctors work proactively with patients to identify potential risk factors and implement strategies to promote long-term health and wellness.

    When it comes to chronic conditions, with Dr. Chang underscored the importance of addressing the underlying imbalances contributing to the disease process. Through a combination of lifestyle modifications, nutritional support, stress management techniques, and other natural therapies, she aims to not only alleviate symptoms but also restore harmony to the body's systems.

    I hope you find some of these answers helpful. Enjoy ~

    The Qi: What is a Naturopathic Doctor? And what does he/she/they do?

    Dr. Chang: Naturopathic doctors incorporate modern, evidence-based, and traditional treatment methods to stimulate an individuals’ inherent self-healing process. Heavy emphasis is placed on prevention and addressing the root cause of disease. A few therapeutic modalities NDs utilize include specialty diagnostic lab testing, intravenous (IV) and intramuscular (IM) injection therapies, nutritional medicine, botanical medicine, regenerative injection therapies, minor surgery, prescription medication and others depending on the scope of practice.

    The Qi: What is TCM and what does it mean to you? And what’s the difference between TCM and Naturopathic?

    Dr. Chang: 
    Growing up, Traditional Chinese Medicine principles were a way of life and well-being for our entire family. For example, iced water, ice cream, and any kind of cold beverages were banned around menstrual cycles and we always blow dry our hair - no air drying! My great grandfather was a TCM practitioner and herbalist. His stories and wisdom were then passed down to my dad, who would often share his clinical success stories with us. Naturopathic medicine and TCM intersect in the belief that the human body has the innate ability to heal; however, the therapies that are utilized to stimulate the body differ in both practices. 

    The Qi: What’s the best/safe herbs while being pregnant to support the mind and body?

    Dr. Chang: There are a host of herbs such as peppermint, ginger, and oat straw that are helpful during different stages of pregnancy; however, it is important to note that safe levels are typically consumed as foods, not in their concentrated forms. It is important to work with a licensed health professional who has had thorough training in plant medicines before implementing any herbs into your routine especially if you are on medication or very early on in your pregnancy.

    The Qi: How to prevent constipation?

    Dr. Chang Understanding the underlying cause of irregular bowel movements is key. Many factors can contribute to hard stools such as inadequate hydration, a low fiber diet, little movement throughout the day, and gastrointestinal dysbiosis (imbalance of the gut microbiome). A comprehensive stool analysis is generally a helpful next step if constipation is a recurring theme for you despite changing your lifestyle habits. It is equally important to work with a provider that can address the underlying cause and provide you with an individualized plan.

    The Qi: What are some natural supports for ADD/ADHD?

    Dr. Chang: Investigating nutrition & diet is important when facing a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. The gut is essentially our “second brain” and the health of your intestinal flora and terrain greatly affects brain health as well. What you are eating (or not eating) is a key step to moving the needle. The brain and nervous system are not isolated systems.

    The Qi: What are some great ways to relieve anxiety?

    Dr. Chang: Besides implementing the obvious mind-body activities such as breath work, journaling, and meditation, movement is actually an incredible tool many people overlook but find helpful in their journey. Oftentimes anxiety also stems from living in the past or thinking too far into the future. Practicing being present and surrendering what you can’t control is something that can be implemented daily. 

    The Qi: What herbs and teas do you recommend for heart and kidneys please?

    Dr. Chang: If you’ve ever experienced dining at a Dim Sum restaurant, you are probably already familiar with Chrysanthemum tea. This flower is loved by many because it harbors an array of vitamins and minerals such as potassium and other antioxidants that help the heart and kidney operate efficiently. Again, it is important to speak with your doctor to see if this is safe for you to implement especially if you are on medication and/or are pregnant.

    The Qi: What are some natural supports for painful periods (especially when you are undiagnosed)?

    Dr. Chang: Understanding the root-cause of your menstrual pain is important. For example if you have something called endometriosis, intervention and holistic support would look very different than if you are simply deficient in certain micronutrients or dealing with a surge of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that cause your uterus to contract. If the cause of pain is never identified, many find it frustrating that pain continues to occur despite having tried different products, tools, and healing therapies.

    The Qi: What are your longevity tips you swear by?

    Dr. Chang: My top 3 “tips” all relate to when and how we eat. Simple but powerful when practiced.
        • Walk after meals (use your muscles in a gentle capacity).
        • Avoid drinking large amounts of water during meals.
        • Eat on time.


    Dr. Katherine Chang is a licensed naturopathic doctor who works to provide the most effective and natural methods of healing for her patients. She is fluent in English and Mandarin. 

    She is passionate about helping individuals achieve their health goals through botanical medicine, therapeutic nutrition, medical-grade nutraceuticals, specialty lab testing & more. Her areas of focus are wellness optimization, cardiometabolic health, immune dysregulation, adrenal dysfunction, women’s health, skin health, hormone imbalance, and more. 

    Dr. Chang's journey into naturopathic medicine was driven by a passion for empowering individuals to take control of their health through natural means. She was drawn to the holistic approach of naturopathy, which emphasizes the body's innate ability to heal itself when given the right support.

    Get In Touch
    Email: drchangteam@gmail.com / Naturopathic Care Team
    Call/Message: 323-366-8983
    Connect on IG: @dr.katherine.chang



    MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: All information provided in the following is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare professional or physician. Please consult with your physician or healthcare professional before implementing any dietary or lifestyle changes and/or taking medications, vitamins, homeopathic or herbal products and supplements.

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