I was at the Green Festival this past weekend in San Francisco with my friend. As we passed the booth of a new “green” magazine, I stopped to offer my services as a writer. The editor was there, and I listened while she described in great detail the list of what she must have rehearsed 50 times on what she was looking for in her cadre of writers. She didn’t ask much about me. I told her I was a Naturopathic Doctor, believing that this said it all. What else could she need to know? And as I left I wondered why she wasn’t jumping over herself at having found someone like me…interesting, articulate, a writer AND a naturopathic doctor. What could be a more perfect fit?
Then I realized, that this editor, like so many people, doesn’t really understand naturopathic medicine, or why it is THE green medicine. Sustainable, less toxic, environmentally aware, and . But perhaps it is better seen in an example. Perhaps she needs to see an instance in which it worked better than conventional medicine, while still being safer and more cost effective.
Take Cindy (name has been changed), my 13 year-old patient who has gradually been gaining weight inpite of regular activity and good eating habits, as well as getting very sick and missing one week of school every month. Our treatment plan consisted of adding some safe supplments and doing some testing that will find and treat the cause. When her labs came back, she had myriad food allergens and possibly gluten intolerance. When she eliminated the offending foods, she lost weight easily without dieting and her good health returned. In the conventional medical system, she would have been passed around and disbelieved, and prescribed tons of antibiotics until her gut was just trashed.
Another good example is Elizabeth (name has been changed), who just turned 68 this fall. She wanted to feel increased energy, improve her sleep that was disrupted by her restless leg syndrome, and get off her cholesterol medication. As it turned out she had headaches and digestive problems too – facts that pointed me to the possibility of food allergies; other testing showed adrenal fatigue as well. She has been doing very well for months, reducing her need for medication and feeling great. She sleeps on her own without sedatives or medicine for her restless legs. She reports that she has not had that for several months now. Headaches are gone too – unless she slacks on taking care of herself.
The point is this… both of these cases illustrate how naturopathic medicine can help reduce, reuse and recycle. It gets people on the right path. Natural treatments are not just sweet and gentle. They are powerful and empower people in their health. And when I am consulting with people about what they are eating, I am also passing along environmental information like alerting them to the dangers of microwave popcorn (the plastic liner gets very hot and releases dangerous chemicals into the popcorn).
I don’t mean to sound like I don’t think there is a place for conventional medicine. I feel grateful about the many advances that have helped so many people live longer and more comfortably.
I feel that it is impossible to do this type of medicine, which requires caring deeply about what people are putting into their bodies, without caring about the environment. There are toxins in our makeup, our food supply, and our cleaning solutions. Our digestive tracts are not functioning like they should – leaving us nutrient deprived and held captive by all of our diseases of inflammation.
There is no better time than now for people to be aware of naturopathic medicine. Our culture is suddenly on a wave of caring about how what we do to our planet will ultimately affect us. Naturopathic Medicine is a perfect marriage of effective primary care medicine that focuses on prevention and finding the cause, rather than expensive “band-aids.”