Taking the Slow Road to Naturopathic Health
I love naturopathic medicine. I love everything about it, especially working with new patients as they discover that there are lots of different ways to improve one’s health that does not necessarily have to be so invasive. I have even discovered that I like the slow road to naturopathic health that so many people find difficult.
What do I mean by “slow road?” I mean that getting healthy takes a while if you are not exposed to naturopathic ways of doing things from the earliest age. For example, we see a lot of patients who have come looking for something new after having had a bad experience with a medical doctor. A good number of these patients have spent their entire lives utilizing medical services with the expectation of quick fixes through invasive means. So when they are introduced to naturopathy for the first time, our ideas and practices are completely foreign to them.
If we lived in a perfect world: patients would arrive for the first visit and already be fully educated and ready to go. They would already be prepared to:
- change their eating and exercise habits
- look for natural alternatives to dangerous consumer products
- understand the value of scaling back and leading less complicated lives
- understand that medical science is not the be-all and end-all of health.
Truth be known, we do not live in a perfect world. Therefore, part of the job of the naturopathic practitioner is to help patients travel the unfamiliar road of holistic health and healing, at their own pace and according to their own comfort levels. Thus, the path to naturopathic health is slow.
Changing Established Mindsets
Perhaps the most challenging aspect to naturopathy is helping patients change their mindset. Just stop and think on that for a moment. The average American sees the family doctor days after being born. The patient-doctor relationship is established and continues all the way into adulthood, even if parents switch doctors multiple times while children are growing. By the time a child reaches adulthood, he/she has been conditioned to believe that a visit to the doctor along with a prescription is all that is necessary for good health.
The body is far too complicated to be managed this way. Our job as naturopaths is to help people understand how the body works in all of its complex glory. It is to help them understand that being proactively healthy is far and away the best thing they can do for themselves, resorting to the doctor only when absolutely necessary.
We Learn Together
Another thing I love about naturopathic medicine is the learning process. We naturopaths do not have all the answers; no one does. So we make it a point of constantly investigating, researching, and doing what is necessary to learn to be better practitioners. What we learn can be passed on to patients to promote better health and well-being for them and their families.
The thing about learning is that it is also slow. It is impossible to open a textbook and instantly become a genius by absorbing all of the information in a matter of hours. Rather, learning is a lifelong process we all participate in to one degree or another. For the naturopath, learning and passing on accumulated knowledge is part of the practice.
The road to naturopathic health is a long one. But it is one worth traveling. As a practitioner of naturopathic medicine, I’m thrilled to be able to work with patients every day, as they make their way down their own roads to good health.