Naturopathy

When people hear the word naturopathy, they usually think “homeopathy” or “natural foods,” or something that has a vague connection to Nature. To be honest, they’re absolutely right. Naturopathy is a term that encompasses so many different techniques and practices that it defies any one explanation. Breaking a word down into its core components often helps with comprehension: naturo, “nature” and pathos, “disease” or “affliction” Naturopathy is thus treating disease or affliction by Nature. In fact, the original meaning of pathos is “what can be felt or sensed,” giving naturopathy a different significance, “feeling and sensing Nature.” Interestingly, Naturopathy responds well to both of these definitions.

Naturopathy is both a therapeutic practice and a way of life. Based on precepts first established by Hippocrates, it is a philosophy, an art, and a science developed to maintain the human being in perfect health using only natural healing methods. Whatever our purpose in life, isn’t the best way to achieve that purpose to stay in optimal health? That’s how we were designed – to always stay healthy.

The human organism is an amazing piece of work: hundreds of thousands of subtle processes operate at split second speeds to maintain “homeostasis,” or balance, which translates into good health. As soon as one element changes, another kicks in to counterbalance whatever change the first element produced. It is constantly moving, a non-static equilibrium which obeys only the laws within which humans have evolved over several million years. These unchanging laws are the same ones that have governed nature and the universe for as long as we can tell, and are the Laws of Life as we know it.

What can Naturopathy do for me?

We all have at least one thing in common: we were born, live and will die human beings. Since humans are no more exempt from the laws of the universe than any other creature, plant or animal, we experience extraordinary health and well being when we adhere to the guidelines that Nature has provided for us, within the context of what we were given at birth. What are these guidelines?

  • Living with the Elements, spending time outdoors, getting sufficient sunlight, fresh air, pure water, and contact with the Earth.
  • Eating pure, untainted foods, gathered wild or cultivated using earth-friendly methods (organic and biodynamic agriculture, permaculture), preferably whole and unrefined.
  • Giving our bodies enough exercise on a daily basis (or as much as needed) in order to keep our systems functioning.
  • Recognizing that we are total beings, and that all levels of our existence, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, must each be seen as parts of a whole, all connected by a universal life force (which some call chi or prana) that makes us who we are.
  • Observing how the universal life force permeates every atom of the universe, and is the same healing force that makes our wounds heal spontaneously.
  • Exchange and contact with other human beings, with Nature and with ourselves: relationship.
  • Knowing that the universal life force connects us all to the greater whole of the Universe, and as such we are all interconnected, our individual lives like strands of light intertwined into the great Tapestry of Life.

I can already hear some of you protesting, “That’s impossible! With my work and family schedule, how could I ever live such an idealistic life?” My goal here is not to ask you to drastically change your life, implementing harsh rules that would probably defeat their purpose anyway. If anything, I would ask you to be gentle with yourself, doing only what you feel would be good for you at this time. That being said, living a naturopathic lifestyle has many advantages, not the least of which are increased energy, better health and a more fulfilling life. Remember, we are dealing with the whole person, which means taking into account all aspects of the individual, including our relationships with others and with ourselves.

Knowing our needs

If nothing else, naturopathy helps us to ascertain whether or not we are living according to our true needs, or if there is an imbalance, on whatever level it may be. For instance, when we start to pay attention to what we put into our mouths over and over again, we can begin to realize that yes, we are what we eat. Eating fast food day in and day out will create a state of health that mirrors the quality of the food ingested: poor. Becoming consciously aware of the kinds of things that go into your body, whether food, medicine or recreational drugs (including tobacco and alcohol) allows you to gain access to the underlying drives behind your behavior. You will start to notice when you eat food only because you are hungry and your body needs it, when you eat to be social, or when you are numbing some inner pain or anguish. This is also true for any behavior involving consumption of any kind (including shopping, gambling, etc.). Becoming conscious of our behavior allows us to begin to understand the underlying causes and to transform unhealthy behavior into healthier, more conscious choices.

How do I do this?

Interestingly, living your life according to the laws of the universe is not fundamentally difficult, mainly because that’s how we have evolved over the past 3 to 4 million years. It has only been in the last century or so that humans have strayed from having to respect Nature’s guidelines, euphoric over technological advances and wanting to prove that we will no longer be subjected to her capricious whims. Our eating habits have changed so much, with the proliferation of refined foods lacking most, if not all, vital nutrients (including white flour and sugar, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and countless chemical additives, artificial colors and sweeteners, each more dangerous than the next) that the American population is generally overfed and at the same time malnourished. Today’s American diet is causing obesity and an impressive array of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, because we have to eat more in order to be satisfied, which we never really are, since our bodies are still craving vital nutrition. Living a naturopathic lifestyle involves taking a careful inventory of several areas of your life, deciding which ones could benefit from change, and then gradually implementing those changes into your lifestyle. As you can guess, diet is going to be a major focus, especially if you are not at all familiar with eating organically, or any of the diets that are often associated with organic foods, such as vegetarianism, Macrobiotics, whole foods diet, etc. It is possible to research and decide on your own; however, as a naturopathic practitioner I can help you to determine which diet is best adapted to your needs and physical constitution. I may also advise the use of supplements or plant remedies in order to modify your terrain,* or give you a protocol of exercises or hydrotherapy to follow.

The Pillars of Naturopathy

As you know by now, diet is one of the main pillars of naturopathy. By eating a diet rich in organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables, a good portion of which should be eaten raw, you are giving yourself the best chance of creating good health and eliminating the conditions that disease needs in order to exist. If your body has already manifested some form of disease or malaise, you will be surprised at how much better you will feel by integrating a large quantity of raw fruits and veggies into your diet. They can be juiced, grated, and processed in many different ways to provide varied, healthful nutrition to your body. This is one factor that should be taken into account, as in certain specialized diets (Macrobiotic, in particular) raw fruits and vegetables are somewhat overlooked. Homo sapiens sapiens, our species, has supposedly evolved over a period of about 130,000 years, even if the genus Homo is much older than that. During that time, most of the food our ancestors ate was 1) raw, and 2) wild. The first traces of deliberate fires in prehistoric camps are about 450,000 years old, however we do not know precisely when humans started cooking their food. In any case, raw food has always held an important role in the diet of our ancestors, and disregarding it can have catastrophic consequences on our health today.

Emphasis should be placed not only on the quality of what we eat, but also on how we eat it. Using fresh, organically grown products is wonderful, but rushing to work, munching on a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, then taking 10 minutes at lunchtime to grab a sandwich, organic or not, pretty much defeats the purpose of trying to eat well. “Conscious” is the keyword here, and by taking the time to eat consciously, becoming aware of the simple process of chewing, swallowing, digesting and assimilating, we can alleviate a good many problems related to the digestive system.

Assimilation is one thing, elimination is another, just as important. In our society, we tend to consider anything eliminated as being undesirable, dirty, even obscene. We all have bowel movements, and yet are quite reluctant and sometimes ashamed to talk about the subject. It’s taboo, and yet eliminating properly is 50% of good nutrition, and therefore good health. Keeping the colon in good health is a number one priority of naturopathy, since it is the seat of assimilation and elimination. When our systems of elimination are sluggish and clogged, or irritated, or hampered by oxidation, the body is forced to find another pathway to get rid of the waste generated by digestion and assimilation. For instance, if our liver has been damaged or clogged by disease or over-consumption of sugar, fats and/or alcohol, the toxins will be sent towards the skin via the blood and lymph, where skin afflictions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, or even grave conditions such as lupus will occur. If we do not flush out the liver and restore the original pathways of elimination, that condition will persist, no matter how much cortisone or antibiotics we take. Allergies are an obvious manifestation of our increased difficulty of eliminating toxins from our organism: as the poisons that we breathe and ingest increase, without a functional path of elimination, so do our allergies.

Another important aspect of naturopathy is our natural rhythms. How often have you felt mediocre, or down right terrible, after a restless or sleepless night? Do you ever wonder why you always wake up at the same time each night, and cannot get back to sleep for another hour, if not more? These questions have to do with our natural rhythms, and knowing how to deal with these problems can greatly improve the quality of your life. There are also monthly and yearly rhythms that affect our health, as well as certain anniversary dates that can trigger uncomfortable feelings, sometimes seemingly for no good reason. The human organism follows even greater cycles – in seven years the body will have replaced every single cell, meaning that seven years ago we had an entirely different body than we do today.

On a different note, our development follows a sequence of seven year intervals, and as we attain each multiple of seven a new phase begins as the old one falls away. Everyone has heard of seven years old as being the age of reason – this is the age at which a child is able to evaluate and become conscious of her environment, and to pursue relationships on a more expanded level than that of simply “taking.” The child is now able to understand how she will also benefit from giving, and thus becomes more “reasonable.” At age 14 the child moves into a phase of testing her identity and values against those of her parents, and so on. Each seven year interval has its particular developmental phase, which evolve more into transitional phases as we move through adulthood.

What techniques does a naturopath use?

There are several different techniques used by a naturopathic practitioner, either for gaining information about a client’s condition or for treatment, or both.

Iridology (from iris, “iris” and logos, “study of”) is a screening tool used to gain insight about the state of the systems and organs of the human body, by taking a close look at the iris, where information about the entire body can be found. The naturopath employs a special iridology loupe, or a more sophisticated iridology camera to take a snapshot of the iris. She is then able to ascertain which of the systems are functioning poorly, or if there has been trauma or disease related to any organs, all of which are visible in the iris.

Reflexology (from reflex, “something reflected”) is both a screening tool and a form of treatment. It is often practiced on the feet, but can also be used on other parts of the body, in particular the skin covering the abdominal cavity. By palpating zones of the feet and abdomen, the practitioner receives information concerning the quality of exchange between systems and organs, according to the symptoms encountered. Is the skin, hard, rough, soft, or clammy? Does a certain area feel tense or taut rather than supple? Is one place thicker than another? As in iridology, the organs are represented by a mirror effect that is discernable to the trained practitioner. Reflexology is also a treatment technique – the representations of the organs on the feet and abdomen are actually in resonance with those organs, and massaging these areas will affect the corresponding organs. This may be why people love foot massages, since they are actually getting a full body massage at the same time!

Hydrotherapy (from hydro, “water”) is a treatment technique advised by naturopathic practitioners to help move stagnant areas and create more exchange between the cells and the liquid surrounding them. It uses water in the form of baths, showers or jets, at different temperatures and in different successions, to stimulate underactive zones or calm overactive ones. These treatments can be done at home, or in a specialized treatment spa, according to what is available to the client. We actually use hydrotherapy without necessarily knowing it – a cold shower to perk you up, or a warm bath to calm your nerves can do wonders! But by following a specific hydrotherapy protocol, it is possible to alleviate many annoying symptoms (hemorrhoids being a prime example) just by locally improving the circulation and cellular exchange. Colonic hydrotherapy is also becoming more and more popular, and if used correctly can have an extremely beneficial effect on the colon, and therefore on health in general.

Homeopathy is a very popular form of medicine in Europe and India, but like naturopathy in this country, it lost its stronghold in the U.S. around the turn of the last century, with the coming of modern medicine and powerful drug companies. Homeopathy comes from homeo, “like” and pathos, “disease” – it treats pathological conditions using dilutions of extracts of plants, animals or minerals which, in their non-diluted state, would produce a similar condition as the one being treated. Developed by Samuel Hahnemann in the 18th century, this technique is used with success all over the world. The original extraction, or “mother tincture,” can be diluted from 1x to up to 300,000x or more, each dilution having a specific effect. The reasoning behind this is: the greater the dilution, the more subtle and yet more powerful it will be on the psyche of the individual. Most practitioners use the lower dilutions, from 4x to 30x.These dilutions are indicated on the container as “C” which comes from the French centième d’Hahnemann, meaning that 1 drop of the extract is diluted into 100 drops of pure water. The number in front of C indicates the number of dilutions made. Some practitioners specialize in using the higher dilutions, claiming that they have a greater effect on the aura, and thus on the origin of the imbalance. Many practitioners claim that if you apply just the right remedy, the effects will be immediate, and if you are off, there will be neither a positive nor a negative effect, since the body will merely eliminate the remedy with no negative consequences.

This differs from allopathic, or conventional medicine, which employs synthetic drugs to treat symptoms in order to rid the body of them. The secondary effects of most modern drugs are well-documented, and there is often a full page in fine print included with your prescription, explaining what could possibly happen if you use such and such a drug. It is said that natural remedies such as used by homeopathy, and of course naturopathy, are “recognized” by our bodies, since we have evolved with the plants and animals, using them and minerals for millions of years. As such, they are relatively easy to eliminate, since the body knows what to do with them. Synthetic drugs, food additives and certain foods like high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, on the other hand, are foreign to the subtle ecosystem of the human organism, having only been introduced in the last 50 to 100 years. They create a state of cellular pollution comprised of molecules foreign to our organism that most of us have a very hard time eliminating.

Biotherapies

Herbalismis the use of plants or herbs in the form of teas, tinctures, salves, poultices, etc. It resembles conventional medicine in the way the plants are chosen to alleviate certain symptoms, however the naturopath or medical herbalist is careful to obtain enough information about the client to be able to act as more than just a symptomologist, healing the whole person rather than the symptom. Many herbs are also given as dietary supplements in capsules or pill form.

Gemmotherapy is a more specific type of herbal medicine that uses glycerin extracts of the leaf buds of certain ligneous plants like Black Currant, Linden or Hawthorne, usually taken in a dilution of 1 drop of extract to 10 drops of water. This preparation is qualified as 1D, or 1 décimale d’Hahnemann. These remedies have a remarkable propensity for modifying the “terrain,”* or particular state of an organism at a particular time.

Bach Flower Remedies were developed by Richard Bach, a 19th century English physician who intuitively was able to determine which emotional states certain flowers would alleviate. Over the course of his life he developed 38 remedies, which are now used worldwide to treat certain emotional states that can be problematic, such as despondence, rigid thinking, shock, etc. His Rescue remedy, a mixture of five flower remedies, is carried in many a purse or travel bag. Other flower remedies have been developed since Bach, but my personal preference is for the original Bach Flower Remedies.

In Conclusion

You don’t have to be a total health nut or “new-ager” in order to benefit from Naturopathy. This system is based on principles that are ageless, defying fads or fashion, founded on pure common sense. And although some of the techniques mentioned may be completely new to you, most if not all of them have been tried and tested over hundreds and even thousands of years. The list of techniques used is far from exhaustive, and others such as Morpho-psychology and Vitamin therapy have been developed more recently. However, the basis of this lifestyle remains the same: living your life as Nature intended. Some well meaning individuals would doubt the effectiveness of naturopathy, since some of the techniques have not been found to have conclusive scientific evidence of their results, or if there are positive outcomes that they were due to a placebo effect. I would say to these individuals, look and see how many people in the world live by these principles (there are more than you might think) and swear by the results. Placebo or not, the effect is there, and healing happens.

Adopting a naturopathic lifestyle affords a sense of freedom, independence and responsibility for one’s life that I, personally, would have a hard time living without. My lifestyle is my health insurance policy. And although I do have health insurance for my two daughters, I know deep within myself that nothing is giving me more a sense of security and well being than the fact that my health is in my own hands.

At this time, my naturopathic consultations are done within the framework of my Crystal Therapy Healing sessions, using my skills as a Medical Intuitive to ascertain health issues. When these are evident, I offer advice according to my Naturopathic training and tradition. Please see the Crystal Energy Healing page for my rates. I offer alternative healing services to the Southern Mississippi and Louisiana area as well!