What is naturopathy?
When I tell people I'm a naturopath, I usually get a variety of responses which range from glittering eyes of interest to confused looks of "huh?"
Many people link my work in natural health to food. "I drink raw milk!" or "Do you eat meat?" or "My mom raised us with very healthy food." are typical comments.
Others link naturopathy to vitamin and mineral supplements, rattling off the ones they give their kids and those that have been helpful to their own health.
Sometimes they tell me about the homeopath they had growing up.
I love that there is such an awareness and enthusiasm toward natural health.
What I've learned, however, is that none of these really fit my version of naturopathy.
"I'm a naturopathic practitioner, so I help people get to the root of their physical and mental health problems using holistic and natural medicine. While I use many natural remedies, like herbalism, I focus on the unconscious limiting belief systems that contribute to the manifestation of symptoms and chronic disease."
If their eyes glitter, I go on.
"I use a mind-body dialogue method called Holistic Counseling alongside lots of energy work practices and modalities. Most of my clients say our sessions are like therapy." And then I wait for questions to direct the rest of our conversation.
While that's my quick elevator-speech spiel, here's a bit more in-depth about naturopathic philosophy and my approach:
Heal the Root Cause
The body has the power to heal itself given the right environments. Those environments range from what you're putting into it, onto it, the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the emotional environment you live in. The body is interconnected. Nothing operates in a silo. When one part is out of balance, it affects another part. When we can determine what's at the root rather than simply treat the symptoms, the body has the ability to heal.
For example, caring for a skin rash might not mean working with the skin at all. Rather, it might be working with the gut, liver or adrenals. It might be working with underlying belief systems that cause stress and trigger the rash.
Did you know that "doctor*" stems from the Latin word docēre [dɔˈkeːrɛ] which means "to teach"? I do the best I can to help my clients understand the work that we do together. My highest priority is to empower each person I work with know their self in greater depth – from felt sense to food feels to emotional triggers to conditioned beliefs versus true self and everything in between.
Prevention is the best medicine. When you know yourself, you have the ability to prevent pain and discomfort or bring yourself back to a place of balance.
By focusing on non-invasive assessment, the body does not endure procedures that could otherwise be detrimental in any way, such as surgeries, needles or procedures that spike stress levels. Traditional naturopathy seeks to offer the least invasive form of health care. Through myriad assessment tools, like iridology, sclerology, facial, tongue and nail evaluation, holistic counseling and muscle testing, these maps and tools help paint a comprehensive picture of what's happening internally and where to focus.
Support versus suppress
Because the body is interconnected, we want to support the root. A naturopathic fundamental is to gently aid the body in its ability to heal. From herbal blends that consider the whole person rather than just a symptom to homeopathic remedies that stimulate the vital force to weaving the mental, emotional and spiritual life into every session, each person (and symptom) is supported holistically and naturally.
Suppressive medicine is that which treats a symptom without understanding the underlying cause. Acetaminophen, for instance, simply suppresses pain. It doesn't heal the cause of the pain, which might be a magnesium deficiency in the case of headaches or hormonal imbalances in the case of PMS cramping.
A friend once shared that their concern for seeing a naturopath was an $800 bill at check out. I gasped in response. My goal is to start with the minimal amount possible and see where that takes you. I rely heavily on methods that require a commitment to a practice rather than money out of your pocket. Mineral and vitamin supplements are necessary sometimes, as are probiotics, cell salts or herbs. But I don't believe you need to be on something forever. I suggest flower essences often, which are usually only necessary for one to three months. These will set you back only $13. I try to be conscious of cost, unless you tell me to pile it on (and even then, I'll challenge you to commit to a personal practice that will likely be more helpful in the long run).
Many naturopaths are known for diet and supplements. That works, until it doesn't. Core to my practice are three things: holistic counseling, somatic awareness and energy work.
The Holistic Counseling method (learned from Dr. Moshe Block) is one that connects you from symptom to unconscious belief. Most people are surprised when they uncover a story that evokes emotion 30 years later. It's this energetic charge held in the body that contributes to many physical or mental/emotional problems. Once the limiting belief is identified, the hold can begin to dissolve. Sometimes something new must replace the old programming.
Through somatic awareness, also known as the felt sense, also known as the physical sensations you experience while recalling a memory or experiencing emotion, are the clues we follow to the root. And sometimes working with that felt sense helps to unburden and liberate the body from the deeply rooted charge.
Energy work takes many forms. On the table, you settle more easily into your parasympathic nervous system state (rest, digest and repair) and your felt sense and memories are more easily accessible. We do this through a form called Light Healing Touch, which I describe to people as similar to Reiki.
Gaining awareness of your personal energy patterns and learning energy management basics is imperative, as well. This is a practice that is taught and largely done on your own and integrated into your life.
Many other forms of energy work may come into play during a session, as well, such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping, specific meditation, craniosacral therapy and more.
Ultimately, my goal is to equip you with the tools to live in freedom – free from debilitating mental, emotional, physical and spiritual burden, pain and dis-ease. Will you be pain-free forever. Nope. But you'll have a toolset that allows you to navigate life's many storms and remain present to yourself as you move through it.
*It's important to note that I am not a naturopathic doctor. My initial naturopathic training spanned across four years and opened me to a world of possibility; this curiosity led me to pursue certain modalities more in-depth to satisfy the approach I take toward healing. While my training is wide and deep, board certification isn't a priority for me at this time. For evidence of my competence, please check out my testimonials.