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Steps Towards Health

Education about the progression of illness is a key component to ensuring optimal health and the prevention of illness. Just like a journey of 1000 miles cannot be done in a single step, health is not a single step but rather a wide series of steps and lifestyle choices. Each choice builds toward a “process,” which leads to health. For example, if your car comes in damaged and neglected from years of abuse it takes many steps to bring it back to pristine function; however, once the car is restored, if the proper steps are taken, it can last for a very long time. If the proper maintenance it not taken, dysfunction will occur once again.

Symptoms are an example of the body’s own healing process.  It is important to support this healing process as a way of strengthening the body’s overall vitality.

The following is a general list of steps towards optimum health. Every patient is different and the steps, although written in chronological order, do not necessarily have to follow this order. Steps can occur together or separately and are determined through an extensive case study taken by your naturopathic doctor to ensure the best possible route towards cure.

Steps Towards Symptom Management

0. Natural palliative therapy

  • Therapies that will not cure but will help to cover the symptoms with natural therapies and treatments. This process is called “palliation”.
  • Pharmaceutical and natural medications can both be used to palliate symptomsand can often have a wide variety of adverse side effects.
  • Natural palliative therapies if prescribed properly do not suppress an illness nor do they lead to a cure, which is why this is “step 0” since it does not really stimulate the innate healing process of the body.
  • Naturopathic medicine’s unique approach is not just about symptom management, it is about dealing with the underlying reason why the symptoms present themselves in the first place – this process is defined through steps 1 – 10.
  • Step 0 is only used to help patients deal with their symptoms while the underlying issues that caused the symptoms in the first place are addressed.

Steps Towards Health

1. Support detoxification organs to remove toxicity from the body

  • The first stage of any program is usually to support the detoxification channels within the body for toxin elimination.
  • Toxicity consists of metabolic by-products produced by the cells of the body, (endogenous toxicity) or can come from foreign unusable or harmful material outside the body from the environment (exogenous toxicity).
  • These toxins accumulate in the body affecting physiological function which over time can lead to organ dysfunction.
  • Toxins must be eliminated to preserve the health of the patient.
  • Primary detoxification routes are organs such as the intestine, bladder, kidney and liver.
  • Secondary detoxification routes (which are used when the primary routes are overwhelmed or do not function properly) consist of the lymphatics, lungs and skin.

2. Eliminate the toxins through detoxification

  • Facilitates the removal of toxins from the body through the proper channels.
  • If the body is in a weakened state it cannot detoxify which is why step 1 must often be done before engaging in step 2.

3. Remove Sensitivities

  • The body can become sensitive to many substances, some of which are healthy for the body and some of which are not.
  • Sensitivities can include substances found in the environment, the foods we eat or substances produced within the body such as hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes.
  • Sensitivities can cause a wide range of problems for the body. Major (overt) sensitivities can cause extreme reactions while minor (covert) sensitivities will adversely affect body function on a deep chronic level.
  • Removal of sensitivities is a key step in helping the body move back into balance and function the way it was designed to in the first place.

4. Optimize Digestion

  • Optimum digestion is necessary for the body to assimilate nutrients.
  • If the body cannot digest it cannot adequately absorb, which will lead to nutritional deficiencies, which will lead to illness and dysfunction.
  • Inadequately absorbed material or undigested material irritates the digestive system and can contribute to long term toxic deposition in tissues.
  • Patients who have digestion issues do not necessarily have to have digestive symptoms since many of these symptoms can appear systemically such as headaches, joint pains, eczema, menstrual issues etc.

5. Alkalize the Body Milieu

  • The milieu is the environment inside the body – think of it like a “soup like mixture” of tissues and fluid that holds all the organs of the body together. It is this internal environment that plays a large role in how the organs function.
  • An acidic environment promotes inflammation in the body and does not allow body tissues to heal properly.
  • Treatment focuses on neutralizing systemic acids within the body caused by poor diet, inadequate water intake, chemical toxicity, poor organ function, hormone imbalance and stress.
  • An acidic environment inside the body promotes disease and chronic illness while an alkaline environment contributes to long term health.

6. Dysbiosis Therapy

  • The term “dys” means wrong and “biotic” means living.
  • The wrong bacteria within the bowel is a major cause for digestive and chronic disease.
  • Stress, poor diet, inflammation, antibiotic use, environmental (exogenous) and internal (endogenous) toxins can all destroy the proper bacteria lining that protects our bowel.
  • The bowel bacteria support a healthy immune function and facilitate digestion of food as well as removal of waste.

Dysbiosis therapy involves the following steps (The 4 “R” Approach)

  1. Remove toxins that irritate the intestinal tract and lead to inflammation.
  2. Replace digestive factors to help with assimilation and breakdown of food.
  3. Reinoculate with beneficial bacteria and balance proper microbial organisms.
  4. Repair the digestive lining to prevent reoccurrence of dysbiosis.

7. Nutritional Support

  • It is important to provide proper nutrients for optimum body function.
  • Nutrients provide the body with fuel to function and also help to build body structure and drive physiological pathways such as detoxification, energy production and mental emotional thought processes.
  • Nutrition can be maximized through proper diet as well as nutritional supplementation

8. Support the Endocrine System

  • The endocrine system is a series of glands in the body that help to support body function – it consists of the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thyroid, adrenal and pancreas.
  • Supporting these endocrine system will help rebalance the stress response and nervous system as well as organ functioning of the whole body.
  • Stress and the imbalance of the stress response in the body will have a major effect on the endocrine system and how the body functions.
  • Chronic stress over a long period of time can lead to a wide variety of dysfunction eventually ending up with physical problems.
  • The endocrine system is also the hormone regulating site of the body and is responsible for many of the hormones that allow for proper development and proper organ function.

9. Organ / Enzyme Regeneration

  • Organ / enzyme regeneration therapies support the body’s ability to repair tissue and restore proper physiological functioning.
  • Enzymes work within the body to allow chemical reactions to occur. If the enzymes do not function properly the body’s functioning will decrease. Enzymes work within all systems in the body from digestion to energy production, tissue repair and hormone balance.
  • If one’s health has been neglected for a long period of time, organs will be in a state of dysfunction which can promote disease

Psychological Healing

  • Negative behavior patterns done over a long period of time adversely affect the body on a physical level.
  • Lifestyle counseling and motivational counseling are used to correct negative thought processes that interfere with body function, create stress on the body and contribute to long term health problems.
  • Psychological healing is perhaps the deepest level of treatment for a patient.

Adapted and modified from the works of Dr. Konrad Werthmann MD, Dr. Gerard Gueniot ND, MD and the Institute of Functional Medicine.