What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic Medicine supports the body's own healing abilities through the integration of modern Western medical knowledge and diagnostic techniques with natural, holistic, and ancient Eastern therapeutic modalities. Each of these modalities works to strengthen the body's innate restorative abilities, while encouraging the body to return to a state of balance, which can be lost in the midst of stress and disease.
Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) look at the whole person, rather than a single symptom on it's own. The full symptom picture is then used to discover and address the root cause of their concerns and promote whole body health.
One of the most important jobs of an ND is to empower patients. This is accomplished by educating them about their bodies, helping them to understand their symptoms rather than fear them, and learn how to use natural medicine to support their health, rather than be a victim to their disease.
There are 6 Principles of Naturopathic Medicine that guide our evaluation and treatment of patients:
First, do no harm, by using methods and medicines that minimize the risk of harmful side effects.
To treat the causes of disease, by identifying and removing the underlying causes of illness, rather than suppressing symptoms.
To teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine, by sharing knowledge with patients and encouraging individual responsibility for health.
To heal the whole person through individualized treatment, by understanding the unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors that contribute to illness, and customizing treatment protocols to the patient.
To emphasize prevention, by partnering with the patient to assess risk factors and recommend appropriate naturopathic interventions to maintain health and prevent illness.
To support the healing power of the body, by recognizing and removing obstacles to the body's inherent self-healing process.
With a foundation for treatment built on these principles, I can help you move beyond short term, band-aid solutions that allow your ailments to return again and again. With my support, you can begin a journey of developing long lasting change that will set the groundwork for deeper healing, balance, and optimal health and well being!
How are Naturopathic Doctors Trained?
In Canada, licensed Naturopathic Doctors are trained through accredited 4 year post-graduate programs that include a minimum of 1200 hours of clinical training and 3000 hours of classroom training. Naturopathic Doctors must pass 2 sets of board exams to be eligible for licensure.
What's in the Naturopathic Doctor's Bag?
Clinical Nutrition and Supplementation
You are what you eat! Every organ in your body is made up of thousands of cells, and each of those cells is made up of and fueled by proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Without food, you cannot survive! But who wants to just survive?
In reality, we all want to enjoy life to the fullest, living active, fun, and engaged lives that fulfill us! We all want to thrive! And in order to do so, our bodies and brains need to be fueled by high quality, nutrient dense, whole foods that supply us with the vitality and energy we need.
A solid foundation for a healthy body that will support you and keep you standing tall in the face of stress, free of disease, can only be acquired with a healthy diet and lifestyle in place. And that's part of my role as an ND - to teach you about the diet that suits your individual body!
Nutritional counseling can also be used to address specific concerns such as food sensitivities, digestive disturbances, depression and fatigue, stress management, weight management, exercise recovery, and many more. Supplementation may be used with discretion to meet deficiencies and support recovery.
Our habits and lifestyle choices can have a great impact on our quality of life. I will help you recognize the patterns that may be contributing to your illness or discomfort, then find alternative coping mechanisms and ways to make healthier lifestyle choices, whether it be starting an exercise regime, change your sleep habits, or manage your stress more effectively.
I recognize the mind as a major influence on the body and one's overall sense of well-being. Consequently, I teach my patients how to understand the connection between psychological disturbances and physical ailments, and in so doing, help them to prevent stress and emotional pain from manifesting physically. Lifestyle counseling can thus be used to assist in weight management, help in the recovery from addictions, address depression and anxiety, and promote improved adaptation to stressful periods and life transitions.
For millennia, people all over the world have used plants for their powerful healing and nutritional value. Have you ever drank mint, ginger, or chamomille tea for an upset stomach? Or rubbed in aloe vera on a sun burn? Those are just a couple of examples of how botanicals have been integrated into every-day medicine.
Flowers, roots, leaves, or oils of a plant may be used in various remedies. Therapy may take the form of teas, tinctures (an alcohol extract of a herb), ointments, essential oils, and supplements.
As some botanicals can pose a risk to those on certain medications, Naturopathic Doctors are educated in recognizing potential interactions to create a safe treatment plan.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
TCM is an ancient medicine that has been used for thousands of years to successfully treat physical and mental ailments of all origins. According to this form of medicine, when faced with illness or stress, the body's energy or Qi can become out of balance or cease to flow smoothly causing stagnant energy. This energy builds up and causes pain and discomfort. TCM seeks to re-establish a balance of yin and yang and the harmonious flow of Qi throughout the body to sustain long-term health and well-being.
Therapies used in TCM include acupuncture, which uses fine needles to stimulate points of high concentrations of Qi, acupressure, Chinese herbal combinations, and dietary changes. Acupuncture is a particularly excellent option for muscle and joint injuries, arthritis, infertility, anxiety and depression, addictions, migraines, fatigue, acute infections, and skin disorders. Acupuncture sessions typically last 20 - 30 minutes and can induce a deep sense of relaxation.
I addition to acupuncture, I also practice other TCM techniques for pain relief including electroacupuncture (electrodes are attached to needles, similar to a TENS machine), cupping, moxibustion (great for turning breech babies!), and Gua Sha (similar to cross-friction techniques).
In homeopathy, homeostasis, or a healthy balance, is considered the body's natural state. The symptoms of a disease are regarded as the body's own defensive attempt to correct its imbalance, rather than as enemies to be defeated. Homeopathic remedies stimulate the body's innate curative process rather than suppress symptoms.
Homeopathy is a wonderful treatment option for those on several medications, as it uses minute amounts of substances derived from plants, minerals, and animals that will not interact with other medications. Homeopathic medicines can be used to treat mental health concerns, gynecological concerns, skin conditions, colds and flus, digestive concerns, and many other conditions.
Bio-identical Hormone Prescribing
So you have tried everything else - nutritional supplements and botanicals, lifestyle changes, a healthy diet - and nothing is improving your symptoms of menopause. When you've had enough, prescription bio-identical hormones are often the answer!
Bio-identical hormones are man-made hormones that are similar to our own estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and are used in small doses to help treat symptoms of low hormone production and menopause, including hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings, vaginal dryness, brain fog and fatigue. They are prescribed in the form of creams and vaginal suppositories. Before hormones are prescribed and throughout treatment, blood tests will be ordered to monitor hormone levels and symptoms will be monitored closely.