Natural medicine, or naturopathic medicine, is collection of health practices based on a distinctive philosophy which holds that the body can heal itself of disease when given the right conditions. When those health practices are performed under the guidance of a naturopathic doctor, they are safe and non-toxic.
Your naturopathic doctor will determine how, where and why your body began to malfunction and then suggest ways to restore normal functioning using a variety of safe, natural treatments.
Your naturopathic doctor views you as a whole person. She sees connections between your symptoms that may not be obvious to conventional practitioners. Because she understands that your symptoms are inter-related, she will strive to develop treatments for you that will address all of your symptoms and support whatever kinds of treatment you may be pursuing through the conventional health care system. By using integrated treatment approaches that address the root cause of your condition, you can make terrific progress in achieving your health goals.
A key principle of naturopathic care is to educate clients about the nutrition and lifestyle practices that will ensure good health is a natural outcome of how they live their lives. This approach addresses the fundamental cause of poor health, reverses the cause and prevents ongoing or future illness. If the idea of dealing with illness at the root cause level sounds simplistic to you, take a moment to consider this illustration of what happens when you suppress illness or manage symptoms using conventional medicine. Imagine you are working on a document. Your computer has a hiccup and an error message appears on your screen. You call for IT support and the technician tells you he can fix the problem for you. He arrives at your office, proceeds to hide the error message by affixing a piece of tape to your screen and then… leaves.
Hey, you say to yourself – what just happened here? If you think that scenario sounds ridiculous, think about how you’ve treated your health in the past. Have you started to take Lipitor for high cholesterol instead of reigning in your Big Mac attacks? Are you taking Advil for headaches instead of learning how to reduce the stress that causes them?
Symptoms are your body’s cry for help, just like the error messages your computer generates when things aren’t working as they should. Human beings do not develop symptoms as a result of a drug deficiency. You are not having headaches because the Advil level in your blood is too low. Your cholesterol has not spiraled out of control because you are deficient in statin medications like Lipitor. Chronic disease of any type is not caused by the lack of a drug, so why would relying on a drug to suppress your symptoms be a good, long-term solution? Please understand me: medications are important and have their place in treatment regimes. But they are not a substitute for understanding why the symptoms exist nor do they replace the need to deal with the issue that gave rise to the symptoms in the first place.
So, if the conventional approach is looking less appealing now, what are your options? Well, consider the natural alternative. What if you determined what your symptoms were caused by, and worked to remove the cause? What if the way to remove the cause was to customize your diet and lifestyle, with targeted therapeutic support from other natural treatments? What if the result was that you looked and felt terrific? It’s not too good to be true. All of this is possible when you incorporate natural health care practices in your diet and lifestyle.
The bottom line is that natural medicine works. And when it comes to long term health conditions like asthma, allergies, arthritis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, to name just a few, it is less costly than conventional treatment. When clients who are committed to making permanent changes in their health status work with naturopathic doctors, the results can be astounding.
What’s in a care plan? It starts with a recap of your main concerns and my explanation of how they inter-relate. What follows is a series of recommendations, grouped according to the form of treatment. Treatment modalities include clinical nutrition, lifestyle modification, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine and others. The recommendations are developed according to a specific order of intervention, starting with the things that are most natural and least invasive and working up to interventions that are more aggressive. In every instance, the intention is to provoke and support your body’s ability to heal itself.
Tom is a middle-aged father of 2 who was diagnosed with high blood pressure by his family doctor and placed on medication. The medication did not control his blood pressure well, and he felt crappy taking it. He wanted to know what could be done to naturally lower his blood pressure. High blood pressure is a very common condition. Normal blood pressure is considered to be around 120/80. Borderline high blood pressure starts at about 130/85. 180/100 is a significant elevation. As Tom and I talked about his health, it became evident to both of us that stress was the factor driving the increase in his blood pressure. I asked him to record his BP a few times a day for a couple of weeks; he shared an observation with me – his blood pressure dropped considerably when he was completely relaxed after having sex with his wife. This, more than anything else, drove home the message to him that he needed to make some lifestyle changes. He took to running everyday and doing some meditation. He also did the deep breathing exercises, made some minor changes to his diet like including more olive oil, almonds and pomegranate juice, and took a botanical mixture that I developed for him. He was eventually able to keep his BP in the normal range with the diet and lifestyle changes alone.
Although care plans are largely focused on bringing about a cure, most of the long-term recommendations will be preventative too. After all, prevention is the best form of treatment. When it comes to prevention, the key tools are a properly structured diet and personal habits that are health-promoting. As is the case with any form of preventative care, whether it’s medical or dental, regular check-ups are recommended to catch imbalances in their early stages and keep you on track.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to natural medicine. If you’d like to learn more please explore our website or contact me with your questions. And remember: your introductory consultation is free. I’d love to meet with you to discuss how natural medicine can help make your quality of life the best it can be.
Introduction to Natural Medicine
Treating You As A Whole Person:The Natural AlternativeDr. Janet McKenzie, NDSummit Natural Health Centre
A Little HistoryFor as long as there have been people,there has been illnessFor as long as there has been illness,people have used whatever was aroundthem for treatments and cures“Modern medicine” really is somethingnew
Do You Remember……a time before socialized medicine?…home remedies?…culturally-based health practices?
Who do you know…Who is frustrated because their conditionis hard to diagnose, or difficult to treat orwhose treatments result in unwanted sideeffects?Who wants to have more energy and animproved sense of well-being?Natural medicine can improve everyone’squality of life.
What Is Natural Medicine?SafeNon-toxicYour body is supported to heal itself
Naturopathic Medicine DefinedNaturopathic medicine is a distinct systemof primary health care. It addresses theroot cause(s) of illness and promoteshealth using natural forms of treatment.Naturopathic doctors are highly trainedprimary care providers who integratestandard medical diagnostics with abroad range of natural therapies.
What Do Naturopathic Doctors Do?Determine how, where and why your bodybegan to malfunctionProvide education, treatment and otherkinds of support to get you back on track
What is the approach to health care?The approach to improving health andtreating illness is comprehensive andintegrative; naturopathic doctors workcollaboratively with other health carepractitioners to ensure the client’s needs aremet.Its primary goal is to address the cause.The goal is accomplished by treating thewhole person: mind, body and spirit.
What could I expect?Free initial consults are offered and strongly encouraged.The assessment visit lasts 90 - 120 minutes. It includes: a very detailed health history a physical examination lab work customized recommendations for careFollow-up visits will be scheduled according to the natureof the condition(s) and treatment requirements.Most follow-up or treatment visits will be about 30minutes in length.
Major Forms Of Natural TreatmentAsian Medicine and AcupunctureBotanical MedicineClinical NutritionCounselingHomeopathyHydrotherapyPhysical Medicine
How Are NDs Trained?University undergraduate degree4 years of training at an accredited college ofnaturopathic medicine Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, ON) Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (New Westminster, BC) More that 3,000 hours of classroom training and 1,200 hours of clinical experienceInternational Board Exams (NPLEX)Regional/Provincial Board Exams
Is Naturopathic Medicine Safe?YES, if you consult a properlycredentialed practitioner, and use yourown common senseSafeguards include performancestandards and scope of practicedefinitions regulated under provinciallegislation (RHPA, 2007), administered bythe profession’s licensing board (TCONO)
Is Naturopathic Medicine Effective?The April 2008 issue of the Harvard Health Letterstates that these conditions can be effectivelycared for without medication: Arthritis Cholesterol Cognitive decline Depression Diabetes High blood pressure Osteoporosis
Consider The Conventional AlternativeYou are working on a document.Your computer malfunctions and an errormessage appears.You call your IT Tech who says he can fixthe problem.He puts a piece of tape over the errormessage and… leaves.
Consider The Conventional AlternativeSounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?Now, think for a moment: how different isthis from how you’ve treated your health inthe past?
Consider The Conventional AlternativeYour body’s symptoms are like error messages.How likely is it that your pain is the result of a low pain-killer intake?Or that your high cholesterol is really caused by a statin deficiency?Chronic disease of any type is not caused by the lack of a drug, so why would relying on a drug be a good solution?
Consider The Natural AlternativeWhat if you determined what your symptoms were caused by, and worked to remove the cause?What if the way to remove the cause was to customize your diet and lifestyle, with targeted therapeutic support from other natural treatments?What if the result was an improvement in your vitality?
Consider The Natural AlternativeBy seeking the causes of symptoms andtreating the whole person instead of thedisease, naturopathic doctors help theirclients to achieve a high rate of successwith their health goals.
What does a care plan consist of?Care plans stipulate the types of interventionsrecommended for your chief concerns.They are developed according to an order oftherapeutics: Focus first on diet and lifestyle factors Identify and manage obstacles to healing Stimulate the healing power of the person’s body with energetic treatments like acupuncture, homeopathy and exercise Correct structure problems with massage and manipulation Address damaged organ systems and pathologies Suppress pathology if no other course of treatment is available
Naturopathic Care In ActionA case history: “Tom” is a 59 year old father of two who wasdiagnosed by his MD with high blood pressure. He takes acombination medication that consists of a hypotensive agent and adiuretic. His blood pressure is still high – it ranges from 140/80 to180/100. Tom wanted to know what could be done naturally to helpnormalize his blood pressure.Key elements of his care: diet changes, stress management,botanical tinctureResult: BP consistently lower than 140/80, able to stop themedication
Don’t Forget To PreventPrevention is the best form of treatment.Diet and a health-supporting lifestyle constitute majorforms of preventative treatment.Stay on track with periodic check-ups.