Times are difficult. Money is tight. Good health is fading. What is one to do? Many people feel trapped by the current healthcare system; insurance premiums are high, and the money tied up in paying them hinders people from spending on alternate forms of care they would like to explore. Most feel it would be foolish to discontinue any health insurance, and I certainly agree that people must at least be covered for sudden, severe illness and catastrophe. These and other types of uncontrollable expenses limit ones capacity to investigate paths that could authentically improve ones health. Still, if one wants a change in how they feel, something must change.
I am aware of the struggle some of our patients, as well as many prospective naturopathic patients, make in order to begin, and in most cases, continue their naturopathic care. At least 95% of our patients pay for their services and natural remedies (supplements and homeopathics) out-of-pocket with no assistance other than a possible tax write-off with a Health Savings Account. Many feel as if they are ‘biting the bullet,’ handing over their credit card, wincing at the sum total that month’s statement may have. Investing in natural health care is a priority. It is recognizing that without good health, not much else matters.
I think of the expense of natural health care as a form of medical insurance in and of itself. There is no other sure-fire way to impact the risk of ill-health than working to prevent it. While there can be no guarantees against catastrophic illness, or deep-seated hereditary tendencies that may contribute to morbid illness, naturopathic medicine works. It truly prevents ill-health in concrete ways that few other healthcare systems or methods can claim to do. How can I say this with such conviction and certainty? Because naturopathy’s fundamental effect is a basic reinstatement of bodily functions. This effect is a result of a clear and determined philosophy to first do no harm, to identify and treat the cause and to prevent further illness.
This vow to prevent illness and assure that no further illness arises, is a core tenet of our practice. We understand that when a symptom arises, it is a sign the body has wisely created to signal something is awry. We must attend to the body’s signals, to what is not working with respect to basic physiology. If we choose to correct the symptoms by allopathic (antagonistic) means, then we are by definition, opposing the body’s innate wisdom of signaling to us that something is dysfunctional. Naturopathy, on the other hand, works to correct aberrations in normal bodily operations and thus lessens the chances that an aggravated state of dysfunction will overcome the individual in the future.
In order to understand the impact of naturopathy, we must start to think holistically and from a chronological perspective. Contrary to popular belief, when we become sick, it is most often not the result of a single event or a single triggering factor, such as a bacteria or virus. A person becomes ill as his past converges on his present circumstance. Stated more clearly, we can say that the appearance of an illness is the result of a person’s age, heredity, lifestyle, environment, emotional history, and finally, a result of their particular ‘health strength,’ if you will. To use an analogy, think of this ‘health strength’ as a bank of health-giving points. The more points you have, the healthier you are. We spend points by having poor eating habits, by smoking, by accumulating foreign chemicals and so forth. Some of us were born with more points than others; we can call this our hereditary health strength, or, as many of you have heard Dr. Liz and I refer to it as, Diathesis (Google ‘Define: diathesis’). We also have the possibility of dropping many points with acute stressors. Say you lost your job or your spouse suddenly passed away. This could conceivably deplete you of almost all of your health strength, leaving you wide open for illness, particularly if your health bank was previously depleted. The tendency to become ill develops over time, with mental and emotional factors affecting our physical bodies at all times. These factors and the accumulation of damaging substances in our bodies play a critical role, even when we cannot see or feel such causes.
Naturopathic medicine is a therapy that can reverse this trend, and thus help to correct future dysfunction. Often this correction takes place over time and cannot be seen, felt or discerned. How do we know it is happening? As a naturopathic physician, I know by experience. Over the past 20 years, I have observed what happens to thousands of people, all the while watching and thinking about their habits, their medical choices, and the long-term effects of such actions. I have seen those who choose to follow naturopathic protocols improve, heal, regain their energy, cease bouts with frequent colds, flus, and other viral outbreaks. I have also seen people able to resist damaging progression to degenerative joint problems or cardiac weakening. I have seen people reverse heart damage from chemotherapy-all the while being told it was not possible, and that they would have to take beta-blockers for the rest of their lives. On and on the eloquence of natural medical healing reveals itself to me. How can you know it is happening? If you have not personally experienced health improvement as a result of naturopathy, this is the difficult part; it is a leap of faith. This is the trust that you must give to your practitioner. This is not always feasible, or even reasonable to expect; therefore, it is important to understand the philosophy of naturopathy. As health professionals who adhere to a strict philosophy, naturopathic medicine considers what is best for the patient, specifically working to improve the patient’s health. Naturopaths first do no harm. This philosophy is not trivial. The philosophy of naturopathic medicine is what makes the efforts of the patient and the patient’s physician work in the long term.
Think about what therapies you use on a regular basis and what habits you have. Keep in mind that with each successive ibuprofen, you wear away at your intestinal lining, also likely reducing your liver’s function; with each alcoholic drink, you stress the liver to the point of damaging at least a few cells; with each sugary treat, you reduce the pancreas’ capacity to recover its insulin-secreting capacity, and so on. We are not asking you behave like a saint, but be reasonable: if you want to deplete your health strength, be sure you are doing something to restore it as well.
The therapies we choose at Options work to reload your health strength account, adding points with each Unda drop you take, with each pellet that dissolves on your tongue. Since herbs, homeopathics, and nutrients are not drugs, they are not overpowering your body’s biochemistry to its detriment, but rather actively working to restore vitality and health. In some individuals, this may take time, 2 months, 6 months, 12 months, or 18 months. This all depends on the person, his or her personal history, his or her family’s history (heredity), and his or her personal willingness to make a change. Some of us get lucky: we might have to do one month’s therapy before we feel better, others might take months or even years to ensure they will not have destroyed their liver function to the point of allowing a cancer to set in. For many, once they understand this concept from firsthand experience, it becomes a way of life. One thing remains the same: the reality of health weakness is true. Whether people want to believe it, admit it or trust in it, or whether they continue on as they have been, if you abuse your body, you will age faster, and your health will be depleted sooner. Even if you cannot construe your illness as a result of abusive tendencies, there is some reason your system is out of balance, and this can only be corrected with a therapy that takes your normal physiological functioning into consideration and supports it, rather than deteriorating it. Naturopathic medicine is by its very nature a form of medical assurance. Insurance or no insurance, naturopathic care is one way to assure a future of health.