I have such a deep passion for naturopathic medicine! How cool is it that we can are trained in evidence based medicine AND centuries old wisdom to treat the root cause rather than simply the symptoms.
How do we do this? We have the best of both worlds!!! we could utilize hydrotherapy (which has been used since 5th century B.C), start with a botanical medicine formula, and if need be, pharmaceuticals. I love Vogue's article called 'Destination Detox: Austria's Viva Mayr Clinic' documenting the re-emergence of hydrotherapy and even citing Sebastian Kneipp.
How do we asses the body that sets us apart from MD's? for starters, we utilize tools like the therapeutic order as a guide along with evaluating where we think that patient currently is along the healing process.
The Therapeutic order is a great tool to help us create a foundation for healing. Of course, where we start depends on the individual, the severity of the condition, and the symptoms. Download a more detailed description of the Therapeutic Order or click on HERE to read more!
The process of healing is also a great tool to assess imbalances and find the root cause that is generating the symptoms.
This is an excellent description that captures the essence of the healing process written by Erin from Your Future Naturopathic Physician. “HEALTH” at the top is the optimal health that a person can achieve. The upper part of this diagram represents the fact that every single day our bodies go through physiological and biochemical changes, causing an imbalance, a compensatory reaction, and some sort of discharge. This cycle can be brought on by changes in diet, water intake, sleep, psychological states, and so on. Our bodies are constantly seeking to be in balance, which is referred to as homeostasis. The discharges that are produced by this cycle include both the regular elimination of wastes and byproducts of the foods and beverages (and other substances) we consume as well as discharges due to disturbed function (caused by an imbalance in the Determinants of Health). Normal discharges can include exhalation, feces, urine, sweat, menstrual blood, vocal expression, lymph and tears. Discharges associated with disturbed function include mucus, vomit, and skin discharges (showing up as rashes, dryness, acne, and so on).
Imbalances to the Determinants of Health show up as signs and symptoms, which is the signal to us that something is wrong. It is important to recognize that symptoms are our body’s way of telling us something is out of balance. As was stated above, naturopathic physicians will decide what treatment option will be the least harmful but the most effective in treating the underlying cause of the condition- i.e., determining what is the disturbance in the Determinants of Health. However, naturopathic medicine will very rarely suppress the symptoms, which is often the mechanism of action of most pharmaceuticals. Blocking or eradicating signs and symptoms without correcting the underlying imbalance will suppressyour body’s attempt to compensate for the disturbance to the Determinant(s) of Health.
If we listen to our symptoms, we can figure out where we are out of balance, and then support our body and aid the healing process to regain optimal health once again. On the flip side, blocking, ignoring, or eradicating signs and symptoms will often additionally compromise the patient’s health and recuperative ability. Furthermore, regular or prolonged disturbances can generate stronger and/or worse signs and symptoms. If the underlying imbalances are not corrected, the compensatory reactions will become chronic and lead to degeneration as seen in the diagram above. An example of this could be observed in a person who is allergic to milk but continues to consume milk products; chronic inflammation would be the compensatory reaction and would eventually lead to degeneration of the intestines.
However, in the diagram above, you will notice that the arrows move both ways. This means that even if degeneration has occurred/is occurring, optimal health can still be regained. This is accomplished by correcting the underlying imbalances (there seems to be a repeating theme here!). Moving from degeneration to optimal health will often cause acute reactions and discharges from the body which should be viewed as a positive sign. Naturopathic medicine teaches that discharge is a necessary step in the healing process.