The human body is a vast and complex system that works via numerous biochemical reactions. Understanding these pathways and working with the body allows a Naturopathic Doctor to assess and treat both acute and chronic conditions in a way that makes sense and addresses the underlying cause of the problem. Because of the intimate way in which Naturopathic Medicine works, it can be applied to almost any health concern whether as primary treatment or to support conventional treatment.
Diet, Nutrition and Lifestyle Counseling
The most fundamental life supporting system that we all participate in every day is diet. Everyone eats, but what you eat can have a dramatic impact on your health. The old adage “you are what you eat” holds true. Imagine a person living on 1600 kcal per day of nothing but sugar versus someone living on 1600 kcal per day of nothing but vegetables – think their health might be markedly different? You bet. Diet and Nutrition provide the ingredients the body needs to function. The quality of those ingredients depends on the quality of your diet. Think of your favourite recipe – what if you leave out an ingredient? What if you use poorer quality ingredients like the cheaper cut of meat – will the end result be the same? Probably not.
As Naturopathic Doctors with 4 years of post-graduate study in nutrition, we are well trained and equipped to assess dietary and nutritional requirements and to treat conditions with nutrition through diet, nutritional supplements or both. Most conditions are associated with specific nutritional deficiencies and may be treated by therapeutic or nutraceutical doses of supplements.
Lifestyle often goes hand in hand with diet and nutrition. It may be that one’s lifestyle dictates diet, compromises nutrition or improves the availability or absorption of nutrients. In any case, lifestyle often influences the way we eat. Naturopathic medicine assesses lifestyle habits and can recommend healthier adaptations to one’s life in all realms, including dietary habits, to improve wellness. Common concerns in this area include weight gain/weight loss, social habits, sleeping patterns, work, stress and family life.
Botanical medicine is the treatment of health concerns with the use of plants. Many medicinal plants are already a part of your diet in the form of herbs, spices, teas and food. Botanical medicine may use these simple additions to diet, but often goes further in using concentrated extracts and powdered forms of plants for a stronger therapeutic influence. Botanicals affect biochemical processes in many ways and can treat both causes and symptoms. Plants have been the basis of historical and traditional healing methods across all cultures and countries. Their healing properties have been well known for centuries and because of their power in fact, form the basis for many pharmaceutical medications. It is important to note that because of this close association with prescribed drugs, there is often a natural alternative to medication AND there is a very real risk of interactions between botanicals and prescription or over the counter drugs. Naturopathic Doctors are well trained in the use of botanicals and pharmaceuticals and will ensure their appropriate and safe use.
Homeopathy is a more recent development of medicine and is based on the principle of “like cures like”. This concept is very similar to the theory behind vaccinations. It uses minimal amounts of substances to stimulate the body’s innate force – the Vital Force, and influence its course to return to balance. It is based on very individual characteristics and therefore is applied on a case-by-case basis. This means that not every remedy is appropriate for every person with the same symptom. Homeopathic medicine treats the individual and whole person, not the symptom. Homeopathic intakes consist of a detailed assessment of one’s life, likes, dislikes, preferences, characteristics, phobias and many other factors that contribute to a person’s personality and what is termed their “constitutional” or overall picture. Naturopathic Doctors are well trained in the use and application of Homeopathic Medicine, but they are distinct from Homeopaths or Homeopathic Doctors. Homeopathy is just one branch of Naturopathic Medicine. Homeopathic Doctors specialize in Homeopathy. They are not trained in medical theory or application or the broad scope of treatment modalities that naturopathic doctors have at their disposal.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese Medicine is an ancient healing system from China that focuses on the flow of Qi. Qi is the TCM term used to describe the body’s innate force. Its flow influences the entire body and how each part receives energy. If Qi flow is disrupted, symptoms appear. TCM focuses on one’s overall symptoms to illuminate the area of disruption. Details about one’s life, likes, dislikes, general preferences and specific characteristics of symptoms are used to find a TCM Diagnosis. Treatment consists of herbs and acupuncture to influence the flow of Qi. Traditional Chinese Medicine is another branch of Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathic Doctors are trained in the theory of TCM and in the use of Acupuncture and Chinese herbs. TCM doctors specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine using Herbs and Acupuncture.
Physical Medicine and Spinal Manipulations
This modality encompasses all that deals with the physical body directly. Orthopedic tests to determine injury types, manipulations to correct spinal misalignments, exercise, orthotics, stretching, hydrotherapy, peat baths and other therapies that are externally applied to the body. Physical Medicine is commonly used to restore structure and function. This is also part of the realm of physiotherapists, chiropractors and massage therapists. It is also helpful to support immunity, healing and detoxification.
One of the oldest forms of healing is part of Physical Medicine and is now termed Hydrotherapy. This is the use of water and other materials for healing, comfort, circulation and the restoration of balance. This modality involves use of hot and cold packs, saunas, epsom salt baths, steam baths, peat baths and poultices. It’s an excellent and economic way to continue therapeutic care at home and at one’s convenience.
Health Psychology is the aspect of Naturopathic Medicine that deals with the mental aspects of health. Communication with others as well as the self is paramount to developing a healthy sense of self in which perspective corresponds with behaviour. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is commonly used to challenge negative thought patterns. Affirmations, journaling and generally just talking through situations are some of the tools used to decrease mental stress and develop a healthy sense of self. Naturopathic Doctors are equipped with counseling skills for many mental issues and can relate these to one’s life as a whole. They often work concurrently with specialists in the field as supportive therapy especially for severe mental illness.Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic
2447 Yonge St, 2nd Floor (Yonge & Eglinton, North Toronto)
Toronto ON M4P 2E7 416.481.0222 http://www.ForcesofNature.ca Naturopathic . Chiropractic . Massage Therapy . Psychotherapy