Source: U.N.M. Student, Suzanne Borho
How will you incorporate your own personal belief system and philosophy into your practice as a Naturopath?
First, I must acknowledge that my own personal belief system and my philosophies are forever changing and are never static. The more I learn, the more I grow, I find that I often must change or alter my former belief structure. That is why I am here on this planet after all, to learn and to grow, am I not? So, here are the principles and beliefs I currently hold dear and would integrate into my practice as a Naturopath and teacher, were I to begin practicing today…
At the very core of my belief system is that we are more than just human flesh, but we are body, mind, and soul (or spirit). The three entities are inseparable and are intricately connected, so when one is in a state of unrest or dis-ease, the others are also affected, whether we are conscious of it or not. Our thoughts and our emotions, positive and negative, have great bearing on our physical health; and our spiritual connection can have great influence on the other two as well. Therefore, in order to help my patients’ physical bodies to heal, it may at times be necessary to address underlying emotions, feelings, memories, internal conflicts, or spirituality as well.
Second, I believe that God, through Nature, has put on this planet everything that we need not only to survive, but to thrive; and that all the ‘medicines’ that we need to heal are provided for us in Nature—in the air, the water, the sun, and the plants. God, or the Divine Creative Power that resides within each of us, also created our bodies from a single cell (or two, rather) that grew into a complex organism of differentiated parts comprising upwards of 100 trillion cells, and it did this without any outside help or guidance! Our bodies were endowed with an innate ability to regrow and to heal itself. All that is required is that we give it the proper materials to work with, remove what may be impeding it, and it will do it on its own! I hope to instill this in all my patients so that they may be empowered and realize that health and healing come from within, NOT from without, NOT from a doctor or his poisonous drugs or inoculations.
Third: Health is a CHOICE, just as sickness is a choice. Many people may be offended by that last statement, as no one would consciously choose sickness and disease over health. However, that does not make it any less so. To be healthy, what does our body require? We require proper food (nutrients), air (oxygen), water, sunshine, exercise, rest (sleep), and love. Failure to provide adequate amounts of any one of these things will result in disease, with that disease taking many forms dependent upon a number of factors such as constitutional weaknesses, genetic weaknesses, toxic exposures, stresses (physical, mental, and emotional), etc. As Dr. Lorraine Day says (not a direct quote), disease is a product of how we drink, eat, think, live, and handle stress. We choose what goes into our mouths each day. We choose to exercise or to meditate or not. We choose to follow Nature’s laws passed down through the millennia, or… we choose disease. This is not to denigrate my patients but to empower them. They have the power to choose health, if they want it. I can guide them, teach them, hold their hand, and be with them physically and emotionally all along the way, but only they can do what is required, that which their body requires, so that their body may do what it was intended to do, which is to heal itself.
Next, I am a firm believer in the necessity of nutritional supplementation. I wish it were not necessary, but unfortunately, in this day and age, it is. Unfortunately, the food that the early pioneers of Naturopathy (Priessnitz, Kneipp, Just, and others) had access to and were utilizing is not available to very many today, thanks to factory farming, the spread of GMOs, and the thriving chemical and processed food industries. Even if a person were able to eat 100% organic 100% of the time, with the depletion of the nutrients in our soil in this country, and all around the world; and now with the ongoing decimation of our natural food supply with the introduction of GMOs and with the spraying of all conventional crops with tons of pesticides and herbicides which further deplete the nutritive value of our food; it really is necessary to supplement. Therefore, I would recommend that all my patients get themselves and their family on a good quality nutritional supplement program to include, at bear minimum, a multi-vitamin, a multi-mineral supplement, essential fatty acids, and a good protein powder such as whey, pea, or hemp protein. Nutrients are the fuel for our engines. The electrolytes are the catalysts for all of the electrical signaling of our nerves, for the contractions of our heart and all our muscles; and a whole host of vitamins and minerals are involved in cell signaling, growth, repair, energy production, you name it! Protein is needed not only for building muscle but for building a strong immune system; and healthy fats are needed for healthy nerves, a healthy brain, and for the outer membrane of each and every one of our 100 trillion cells! So, assuring and assessing proper micro- and macro-nutrient balance in my patients will be a central focus for me.
That being said, as Dr. Vic Shayne acknowledges in his book title: “Man cannot live on vitamins alone” (Shayne, 2002). Vitamin supplements should be considered just that– supplements. Food should be our primary source of nutrition. I believe a lot of disease would be avoided if people were properly educated as to the important role that diet plays in the maintenance of health. Like many of the great “Nature Doctors” who came before me, as presented by Kirchfeld and Boyle in the book of same name (2008), I am a proponent of eating as close to nature as possible; a diet composed mostly of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, raw dairy (if tolerated), organic meats (on occasion), raw organic oils such as coconut, macadamia, olive, and flaxseed oil; eating local and eating in season, to the extent possible. Eating fresh, unadulterated food is the key. I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all diet regime, as everyone’s constitution and requirements are different. I hope to learn more about metabolic typing and perhaps integrate that into my future practice, as I believe it has some merit. Equally important to what we eat, in many cases, is what we DON’T eat. I am a big proponent in testing patients for food sensitivities, especially any patient presenting with an auto-immune disease or neurological condition such as Alzheimer’s, ataxia, autism, or ADHD; as undiagnosed food allergies or sensitivities are often key players in their symptoms. I also would recommend food journaling and going on an elimination diet for some patients where testing is too costly. Gluten (and all grains), corn, soy, and dairy are the most common offenders.
Addressing a patient’s diet or food intake without addressing the health of their digestive tract would be counter-productive. All the nutrition in the world will not make a bit of difference if the integrity of the patient’s intestinal lining is compromised and is therefore unable to absorb it. It would be like attempting to fill a water bucket with a hole in it. Without proper absorption, diseases of nutritional deficiency such as anemia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, or a host of many others can develop. But in addition, the digestive tract also serves as the gatekeeper, guarding against entrance from the outside world of harmful pathogens, toxins, or foreign entities such as food particles. When this barricade becomes breached, any number of health conditions can develop—any sort of autoimmune condition such as MS, Alzheimer’s, thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis; food allergies, eczema, asthma, mental health issues… So, ensuring the integrity of the gut lining is also paramount to proper health and one’s ability to heal. However, another very important component to gut health, and really systemic health, is the microbiome—the hundreds of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that reside within its bounds. There actually are ten times the number of bacteria in our digestive tract as there are cells in the entire human body! In a healthy micro-ecology, the good bacteria outnumber the bad and keep them and the yeast in check. However, following a round or two or more of antibiotics, or as a result of a poor diet and improper living, this healthy balance is thrown off, and as a result, our immunity is compromised, as is our digestion, our eliminative process, our hormones, our energy levels, and on and on. So, addressing the health of the patient’s micro-ecology is also paramount in the restoration of bodily health.
Next, we live, unquestionably, in a toxic world. There is not a single person on planet Earth, barring the few who may live in the remotest areas of the Amazon rainforest, who is not exposed to hundreds of toxic substances on a daily basis. The radioactive particles in the air and seawater from Fukushima, EMF pollution, heavy metals, BPA, plastic, the hundreds of different chemicals people slather on their bodies in the form of lotions, shampoos, and beauty-care products, the chemicals in the clothes we wear and the laundry detergents we use, the pollution raining down on us from the skies, the pesticides and herbicides our fruit and vegetables are bathed in, the hormones and antibiotics used in factory farms… Is it any wonder 1 in 2 American men and 1 in 3 women are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime? How is the body to function at all when it is literally overrun and overburdened with these toxins? So, detoxification will play a big part in my future practice as a Naturopath. There are a multitude of forms that this could take, from the very simple and low-tech such as hydrotherapy, clay baths, skin brushing and rebounding to enhance lymph drainage, exercise to promote sweating, herbs, coffee enemas, and colonics; to the more modern-type devices such as far-infrared sauna therapy, chelation therapy, DMSA, EDTA, etc. Treatment will be individualized to fit the needs and requirements of the patient.
I also am a big proponent of energy medicine in the form of Homeopathy and essential oils, and I find the principle of “like cures like” to be utterly fascinating. I currently, however, have only a superficial grasp and understanding of it so, I would need to undertake a much more in-depth study of it before feeling confident enough to utilize it properly.
One final contention I hold to and am quite passionate about is my unyielding opposition to the utilization of vaccines. Of course, their utilization is not even allowed in the practice of naturopathy, but I would make it my mission to educate every parent who steps foot in my office as to the inherent dangers that vaccines pose. Humanity has survived for thousands and thousands of years without such practices. God, Divine Nature, has endowed us with an incredible immune system that has served us well for all these years, and the idea that we need to inject our children with a concoction of harmful microbes, fetal cells, MSG, formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum, Polysorbate 80, squalene, etc. in order to ‘protect’ them is absolutely outrageous! If you swab the throat of the person with strep throat and the healthy person next to him, you will find strep bacteria in both samples. So what’s the difference? The difference lies in the health of the immune system—the terrain. Clean up your terrain; give the body the nutrients that it needs to carry out all its functions, and the body will take care of itself.
As far as the traditionalism vs. modernism debate goes, in case it is not apparent from everything stated above, I would put myself more in the latter camp, along with Bastyr, Turska, Lust, and Lindlahr; who believed in taking the best practices from all camps, from the past and from the modern-day era; and using a fully integrated approach, utilizing a wide variety of natural treatments and all natural therapies at my disposal. While I admire the workings of Priessnitz, Kneipp, Just, Rikli, Schroth, and others and all their health accomplishments utilizing only good food, water, air, sun, and movement; we live in different times, and our bodies face different challenges from in that era. Children were not assaulted with 58 different vaccines by the age of 11, or whatever it is, in their time. They weren’t exposed to nuclear radiation and the constant bombardment of EMFs and a high-powered electrical grid 24/7. They still grew and had access to real food, not the GMO, manufactured, processed, nutritionally-deprived foodstuffs they sell today. The water was still quite pure and fit to drink and to bathe in, and the air fit to breathe. Our world just 100 years on is much much different, which calls for different therapeutics. As long as it is natural and does nothing to block or impede the natural instincts of the body and serves to aid the body in its endeavors towards health, then I see no harm in it. My job as a Naturopath is to assist the body and to aid its natural functioning so as to enable it to heal itself, and above all, to do no harm.
These are the philosophies and beliefs I hold to and which I will use to guide me in my future practice and undertakings as a practitioner of Naturopathy.
University of Natural Medicine Student, Suzanne Borho