Most people have heard of natural healing and have at least a vague idea of what it’s about. Natural healers use herbs and vitamins, don’t they?
Not many are aware of the deep roots of naturopathic medicine, and its formal, ancient, time-proven basic principles.
Naturopathic Medicine is based on five ideas about the most healthy, lastingly effective way to treat the ailing human body.
- Naturopathic Medicine revolves around the idea that nature has its own healing power (known in Latin as Vis Medicatrix Naturae).
- Naturopathic medicine seeks to identify and treat the true underlying cause of an illness (Tolle Causam – “Treat the Cause [not only the symptoms]”).
- Naturopathic physicians are committed to do no harm (Primum Non Nocere – “Above All, Do Not Cause Harm”).
- The naturopathic physician is a teacher (Docere) who helps the patient understand the underlying causes and treatment of their ailment, so that they can take steps to prevent a recurrence.
- And finally, naturopathy treats the whole person.
These principles are fundamental to understanding naturopathic medicine as a system for healing and transforming our lives.
In an earlier article, I talked about the transformational power of Spirit, and the tremendous healing power of nature. It almost goes without saying that for transformation to occur, we must treat the whole person. For a very long time, Western medicine has leaned toward treating symptoms – if the patient has a headache, hand him a bottle of aspirin. Fortunately, that’s beginning to change, as medicine increasingly understands that headaches can have many causes, including generalized life stress, etc.
The principle I’d like to discuss today is Tolle Causam – treating the underlying causes of physical discomfort, malaise, and serious illness.
A fundamental flaw of conventional medicine as practiced today is the tendency to treat the headache without regard to the underlying cause (stress, diet, brain trauma, etc.) Within naturopathy, we are committed to looking for and treating the underlying cause of the disease, as the first step to achieving a lasting solution.
If a symptom is successfully addressed, but the underlying cause is left unattended, real transformation cannot occur.
Let’s consider some examples.
- If the underlying cause of a uterine fibroid is an issue with estrogen metabolism, the disease state cannot be transformed by surgically removing the fibroids. The estrogen excess or error in estrogen metabolism will simply cause new fibroids to grow, or will wreak havoc on other estrogen-sensitive tissues. The cause of the estrogen excess may be an inadvertent intake of exogenous hormones, or an inborn error of metabolism, or an interaction between other hormones and the ovarian hormones. This is what we need to discover and address if we would hope to achieve a lasting resolution.
- Treating a bacterial illness with an indicated antibiotic will possibly eradicate the bacteria, but it will not address the body’s susceptibility to the offending microorganism. The body’s receptivity to the microorganism may involve environmental factors, underlying food sensitivities or environmental allergies, iron or B12 anemia, subclinical thyroid function, low vitamin D, or a host of other issues, all of which must be addressed before we can transform the body into a less hospitable host for the undesirable microorganism.
- The conventional medical response to knee pain is often a prescription for a painkiller. However, the knee pain may be the result of a simple misalignment, possibly caused by postural issues, or overuse, or a reactivity to vegetables of the nightshade family, or an overly acidic body condition, or a lack of essential fatty acids in the diet. Addressing these causative factors can truly change the situation, resulting in lasting transformation.
- Prescribing iron supplementation without determining the cause of the iron-deficient anemia is a band-aid approach. Iron deficiency may be a result of insufficient intake, or lack of absorption, or loss of iron through an as-yet unidentified blood loss or disease process.
- Giving a statin prescription for high cholesterol ignores dietary and other lifestyle contributions to a disordered lipid profile. It also fails to address thyroid function and liver function, two major contributors to high lipids. (Never mind the side effects that are created when other bodily functions are disrupted by the medication given to change a lab value.)
It’s easy to find innumerable examples of medicines that are widely prescribed to suppress symptoms without addressing the true cause. Any of these medicines may provide welcome symptomatic relief. Which is not to say that symptomatic relief isn’t appropriate or indicated, but it is never transformational. And as naturopathic physicians, transformational medicine is what we’re about.
Find out more about Dr. Connie Hernandez’s work HERE.
To make an appointment at Pacific Naturopathic in Mountain View, CA, give us a call:
The Hernandez Center
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