More About Naturopathic Medicine
- Teas: Most of us have had a cup of peppermint tea to help digest a large meal, or have given our child some chamomile tea to help calm them when they are upset. Medicinal teas with a little honey added are a great way to give herbal medicines to children.
- Tinctures: These use alcohol or glycerin as mediums to extract active constituents from herbs. This is a great method to get a strong dose of an herb quickly and easily.
- Pills/capsules: Pills are made of encapsulated herbal powders, and these are often an easy and cost effective way to take herbs.
- Topical use: Topical applications can utilize herbal extracts in oils, creams, and salves, and are great for a variety of conditions from diaper rash to mosquito bites to eczema.
The most common herbal extracts are:
Herbal medicine is an ancient form of medicine used all around the world in a variety of ways. Modern Naturopaths have the advantage of looking back on the use of plants in many different cultures, and integrating them into our treatments. These days we have access to herbs from China, India, and just about every country in the world. However I tend opt for herbs that are local and/or sustainable when possible. I believe that an important part of keeping our bodies healthy is keeping our earth healthy.
Homeopathic remedies are made by diluting substances hundreds or thousands of times, to create very safe medicines that work at a very deep, energetic level. You may have heard homeopathy described as “like treating like”, and this is the case with many of the remedies, for example using diluted extract from a bee to treat bee stings. Homeopathy can be an effective treatment for both acute and chronic conditions. It is a great treatment for children because it is so safe with minimal side effects. However it is still medicine, so should be used only with the advice of a physician.
This therapy involves the supplementation of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. In the case of a deficiency such as anemia, or iron deficiency, supplements are used to replete the body’s stores of that nutrient. Many nutrients have been shown to be effective treatments for a variety of conditions in patients who are not deficient. For example, large doses of vitamin C can be used to improve immunity.
Nutritional supplementation is a great mode of therapy with a lot of research to back up many treatments. However these nutrients are real medicine, and can be dangerous when used improperly. Additionally, it is very important to make sure any nutrients you take are of good quality, as poor quality nutrients can have little or no effect, or can endanger your health. That is why I prescribe only supplements proven to be safe and effective, and backed by rigorous quality control measures.
Physical medicine uses techniques such as massage, stretching, joint manipulation, therapeutic exercise and craniosacral therapy to address pain and illness. One benefit of physical medicine is the ability to get immediate relief. However many conditions will require several treatments. I work in conjunction with other health care providers such as massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists and personal trainers to provide the best physical medicine for my patients.
Hydrotherapy is an ancient form of physical medicine that utilizes water as its primary tool. Some common forms of this in our culture are using ice packs on new injuries, or inhaling steam to help decrease congestion. However the uses of water go far beyond this. Using contrasting applications of hot and cold water in different ways can help with countless conditions including decreased immunity, infertility, chronic pain conditions, fatigue, and many others. It is a type of medicine that costs the patient little to no money, and is safe in the majority of patients when used correctly.
Most people hear the word “diet” and think “weight loss”. However in the context of naturopathic medicine diet means a way of eating that helps to optimize the function of your particular body. That may include weight loss, weight gain, increasing energy, decreasing depression, and an endless number of other goals. Naturopathic care is more than just giving someone medicine when they are sick, it’s about creating an ideal environment within the body to encourage health and discourage illness.
Most new patients should expect me to ask questions about what they eat. This is not a judgment, I will not look down on you because you enjoy ice cream or cookies – I enjoy these things myself. However I will work with you to determine if any of the things you are eating are affecting your health aversely, and I will work with you on ways to decrease or eliminate these foods in a way that does not make you feel deprived of the foods you love.