Potential patients frequently inquire as to whether I can treat condition x, y or z. This question originates in the biomedical model that has been created by western medicine. Have psoriasis? See a dermatologist. Have abdominal pain? See a gastroenterologist. The difficulty with this approach is that it’s unusual for a dermatologist to know much about how your gut works, or for the gastroenterologist to know much about your skin. And less likely again for either of them to even consider how the two might be connected, and how they both may be symptoms of a broader imbalance in health.
This is why a foundational principle of naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person – to consider how all symptoms may be connected, and to perceive the way in which these symptoms reflect what needs to be treated on a deeper level. The solution is rarely to apply a medicine or remedy to a symptom - whether natural or pharmaceutical. While this approach may be valuable in the short term to increase comfort, or slow the progress of the condition, it is unlikely to offer a permanent, curative solution to the source of the problem. What will make the most lasting difference is to take the time to explore and address the “determinants of health” – those factors in a person’s life that contribute to or take away from their ability to maintain a healthy balance. Diet. Stress. Sleep. Relationships. Physical activity. Time in nature. Cognitive outlook. Genetic vulnerability. Exposure to environmental toxins. And how previous health concerns have been addressed, or in many cases, suppressed.
Admittedly, this exploration, and the work to optimize these factors, is not quick or easy. It requires a commitment on the part of the naturopath and the individual to work together to shift how the person is caring for themselves, and towards a deeper and more permanent solution to their health concerns. Are you ready?