Carla has been practicing Naturopathic medicine since 2005, when she graduated from NUNM, the oldest naturopathic medical school in the USA, located in Portland, Oregon. She holds her naturopathic medical license in Washington, D.C.

 

Before coming to Naturopathic medicine, Carla earned degrees in Philosophy and the History of Math & Science from the Great Books school, St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Fe, New Mexico. She continued her premedical postbaccalaureate studies at Columbia University in New York.  In addition to her doctorate degree (ND), Carla has a Master's in Oriental Medicine, also from NUNM.  She continued her training at a fellowship at NYU-Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn and then went on to private practice and teaching in Washington DC, New York City and Italy. 

 

WHAT IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE?

Naturopathic medicine is a form of western medicine that is rooted in appreciation and respect for nature and natural systems. It's a form of medicine that looks at vitality, ease,  as a measure of health. 

 

The aim of Naturopathic healthcare is to shepherd a patient to greater ease on both a physical and emotional level, using the most gentle interventions available to effectively get the job done. Naturopaths seek to restore both function and vitality, ideally using natural means. 

STANDARD WESTERN SCIENCE. DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH. 

Naturopathic physicians are trained in the standard western medical sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, lab diagnosis, microbiology, and the various standard physical exam techniques as well as imaging, phlebotomy and minor surgical procedures. However, for a naturopathic physician, the study of normal physiological functioning is really of primary importance. We tend to use our medical training as a tool which we apply towards bolstering or support normal physiology, so that the body can more easily heal itself, rather than focus on fighting diseases head-on.

 

We tend to place a strong emphasis on the fact that the body is always healing itself.   If you cut yourself, the skin will heal before your very eyes. If you break a bone, you'll need to put it in the right position, but it will mend itself. If you catch a nasty stomach bug, chances are, that in a few days, your body knows how to repair that and you'll feel better.  Your body is always regenerating and renewing itself. In most cases, without any intervention, the body will take care of these situations just fine.  

 

However, sometimes we get stuck.  We don't sleep, we stress out, we don't live a fulfilling life, we experience loss or other traumas. Perhaps we're exposed to toxic substances or we eat a diet that is not nourishing.  After chronic insults, eventually, the body can't seem to complete the task of healing and regenerating the way it once did. The body's ability to heal is reduced.  Tissues loose their integrity and function improperly.  If this continues for a while, then disease sets in. 

 

 

 Thus, we see our medical role as one of using western science to assist, protect, encourage or maximise that inborn ability to heal using a variety of techniques and natural substances whenever possible.

PRECISION MEDICINE - ROOT CAUSE

"a precision medicine management approach involves selecting the right medication for the right patient based on the patient’s disease profile, phenotype, and endotype. This can happen by using clinical, physiologic, radiologic, or biologic biomarkers. In today’s discussion we will focus on biologic biomarkers."

 

                LIFESTYLE MEDICINE


For example, let's imagine that someone is infected with a pathogen, such as some bacteria, a standard or conventional medical approach might be to give a drug that will attempt to kill that pathogen, such as an antibiotic.  On the other hand, a Naturopathic doctor might advise you not to eat sugar, temporarily, as it has been shown to decrease immune function. We might ask you to make sure you sleep well, or to have a sauna to to raise your body temperature and maybe give you some vitamin C in order to give your body the best chance to fight that infection off by itself.  We might prescribe some elderberry syrup,  

VITAL MEDICINE

what does it mean to be vital?

PHYSIOLOGICAL / FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE

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CUTTING EDGE MEDICINE COMES FULL CIRCLE WITH TRADITIONAL WISDOM

   We've been talking about terrain since the beginning.  However, as science advances, it finally catches up with the means to measure what we have empirically known.  When this happens, we're happy to incorporate the latest research to fine-tune our treatment strategies.  incorporating the latest research into our approach.  Naturopaths have pointmd out the benefits of fermented foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables which all ancient civilisations have used since the dawn of time. Now, we are able to isolate specific strains of probiotics that can push a metabolic pathway in one direction or another. Naturopathic doctors are trained to undesrstanf these pathways, as well as in possession of the clinical experience to look at the big picture of how these strains might be dominant in one food or another  in certain 

microbiome, 

epigenetics

cytokines

HOW AND WHEN TO USE A NATUROPATHIC PHYSICIAN

A naturopathic physician, is tasked with helping the body maximise it's innate repair mechanisms.  Wherever your body might be struggling to heal completely, our job is to help that process along.  Chronic diseases can be thought of as the body getting stuck in loop.  The innate healing mechanism is failing to complete it's job, and so, a Naturopathic physician might be able to identify the obstacle to cure, remove it, help break the loop, and get the inborn healing ability back on track.  However, when we can't make that happen, 

If none of these approaches is enough to get your body to fight off the infection, then an ND might also prescribe an antibiotic, however, it may be an antibiotic herb rather than a drug. 

For example, if you get a sinus infection, most people's bodies will be able to clear that. However, for various reasons, some people will have a harder time to clear the infection and it might become a chronic sinus infection. Perhaps you've tried all the antibiotics and still your body cannot clear that infection.  That's when it might be helpful to consult a naturopathic doctor - to help the body heal more efficiently and finally clear that sinus infection.  

 

ROOT CAUSE.

An essential part of the naturopathic approach is the look for the root cause of any problem. Naturopathic physicians will always want to look for the root cause of any problem.  If your thyroid is not working properly, a naturopath will want to 

Whereas a conventional physician is concerned with the end result, the naturopath is more concerned with the cause. For example. if you have low thyroid hormone levels in your body, the MD will give you thyroid hormone to restore those levels to normal. The Naturopathic physician will go upstream to the problem and ask why?  Perhaps the thyroid is being attacked by your body, as in the case of autoimmune thyroid disease, or Hashimoto's. In which case, we will try to help your body to stop attacking the thyroid gland. Perhaps the liver is not converting thyroid hormone, in which case, we might try to help the liver function more efficiently, to ultimately raise that thyroid hormone level.  Our therapies will depend on the cause or causes. 

BIOMARKERS

 may use specialised lab tests to get to the bottom of why the body is not working efficiently.  A naturopath knows that the answer to that question might be different for each person.  It could be a moldy damp house for one person, an overindulgence in sugar for another. someone else might be fatigued from working a night shift, or chronic allergies.  We use our medical training to find out why and then prescribe a individualised treatment based on the cause.

SPECIALIZED LABS. CUTTING EDGE MEDICINE.

 

We are fortunate to have the leeway in our profession to be able to use specialised labs. As a profession, we are small and nimble.  give you an herb or supplement that would enable YOUR BODY to recognise and kill the pathogen more efficiently.  We would work to increase the efficacy of your own, innate pathogen-killing powers, your immune system.  Our therapeutic strategy tends to be to identify and bolster natural physiological systems whenever possible.

ALWAYS ON THE CUTTING EDGE.

INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE AND MEDICAL TEAMWORK

If you want your headache to stop, take an Advil and don't feel guilty about that. All medicine is here to help you lead a more comfortable life. If you want to find out why you're getting those headaches, first ask your doctor. make sure it's nothing serious that would require intervention at their level.   and then come see a naturopath. 

CREDIT: MOMENT/ GETTY IMAGES. SWISS ALPS

EUROPE &
NATURE

The Naturopathic medicine approach to the body comes from its history. It is a medical tradition with European roots.

There has always been a strong European tradition of spending time in Nature. Even today, it is common for Europeans to access little remote villages as ready departure points for hiking, biking, skiing, or mountaineering.  

Naturopathy's origins emerged from a group of Europeans who had a strong relationship with their natural environments and used these natural resources to heal illnesses.

(Of course, while the historical roots of naturopathy happen to be European, as a nature-based system, the tenets of Naturopathic medicine are shared with many indigenous cultures which are also nature-based.)

A great example of what it means to look to nature for a cure, can be gleaned from the story of one of the founders of Naturopathic medicine, the Catholic priest, Sebastian Kneipp from Bavaria (Southern Germany).

 

As a student in his 20's Kneipp caught tuberculosis. Unable to cure it by conventional means, he came across a book by and experimented with bathing in the Danube river and then taking a short run afterwards.  Refining this cold water bathing method, he was able to cure himself of tuberculosis. Later on, he refined his use of cold water applications to treat illnesses like cholera. 

Today, celebrity naturalists such as, the Danish "Iceman", Wim Hof, have rediscovered the healing power of breathing and cold water.  According to studies performed on Wim and other study participants, his methods enabled his immune system to be capable of destroying e-coli that was injected directly into his bloodstream.  In line with this approach to killing e-coli, at one point, during the history of Naturopathic medicine, it was called "drugless medicine", because of this focus on using natural, whole-body techniques rather than pharmacological interventions to promote healing.  (Just to clarify, this is not to imply that pharmacological medicine isn't good or valuable, or about perpetuating the false opposition between Naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine. It's just about recognising the right conditions and appropriate moment for using each way of healing. When pharmacological medicine is necessary, it's a godsend. On the other hand, imagine a world in which more of us knew how to breathe away e-coli and exercised away Type 2 diabetes! )

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The inclination of naturopathic medicine is, therefore, to look first and foremost to nature and natural systems for cures to ailments, whenever possible. 

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As our scientific understanding of the body increases, all branches of medicine evolve. So too does Naturopathic medicine. We have increasingly better explanations for why, something like cold water can help a person heal. 

 

Today, modern Naturopathic medical practices might still use water, or other natural approaches as healing tools. However, today a Naturopathic doctor might administer hot or cold wet towels to different parts of the body for a specific length of time and at specific temperatures depending on the malady and the constitution of the patient. Other docs might prescribe "wet socks" or a throat wrap for home treatment.

 

Our Hydrotherapy training has evolved to permit a more individualised, specific, and measured application of hot or cold water.  

A testament to using simple, natural resources, such as water, to affect physiology, any high level athelete will have probably spent some time in an ice bath. 

(Whether this is a helpful use of water is up for discussion.)

Naturopathic doctors are trained to understand the subtleties of using natural cures, such the water example above, or herbs, vitamins and nutritional supplements, exercise, diet, heat, sound, sweating, fasting, and numerous other modalities, and turning them into more precise tools, to the degree that research or centuries of experience can inform us of it's proper use.* 

 

Our standard medical training alongside our training in natural therapeutics, our understanding of physiology and pathology primarily helps us protect the more vulnerable patients from any possible negative effects of these remedies. As powerful as water, or any natural substance can be to heal, they can also do harm if applied inappropriately. Even something as simple as drinking too much water can seriously harm a person. A Naturopathic Doctor is trained to know how to use simple substances to effect powerful cures and also how to responsibly avoid any negative effects from those same substances. 

Although it is historically and philosophically rooted in nature, Naturopathic medicine is also a cutting edge medicine. It is regularly pushing the boundaries of natural medical care. Naturopathic products are used by high performance athletes, looking to gain that small edge over their competitors with optimisation of their health. They are not sick. Instead, they want to be stronger, faster, more resilient.  This optimisation of physiological performance is the domain of naturopathic medicine. Sports medicine, Anti-aging medicine, Preventive Care and Functional medicine are very much in line with the Naturopathic approach. We just take these principles of optimising physiological function, and apply them to folks with any diagnosis. 

 

These are The propensity for physiological cures, 

Unfortunately, many of these therapeutics are before their time. Mindfulness, vitamin C, SIBO, functional medicine.    The propensity for Nature and natural systems just gives it a bias for   and the science of lifestyle choices,   of many medical specialties.  

Similar to the use of water, part of a naturopathic doctor's visit will certainly include recommendations about the best use of other simple drugless practices such as maintaining a healthy diet, getting moderate amounts of regular exercise, sunlight or spending time in nature, and practicing stress reduction. These simple but powerful lifestyle changes can go a long way to turn around many chronic ailments, like diabetes, hypertension.

While this might seem like common sense lifestyle advice nowadays, this sort of health advice was considered controversial or even renegade and heretical throughout the evolution of medicine. Now, stress reducing practices such a mindfulness have reached the mainstream, but, were considered "quackery", until very recently.

 

This labelling comes from two places, one, there are indeed some people who don't have enough training to understand how natural substances can harm a person. They might have the romantic view that because it comes from nature, it is innocuous.  

 

While substances provided by the Earth may be the birthright of all, the knowledge of how to use these substances properly is not a given. Medicine people, elders, traditional and indigenous people have long histories of cultural adaptation and symbiotic relationships with their land which informs their use of natural substances. In the absence of elders to pass on this ancestral empirical knowing, Naturopathic physicians rely on the latest western medical training and science to discern the best use of traditional remedies, while deferring to traditional knowledge and use, when available.  

 

We can look at the herb ephedra, for a great example of how a Naturopathic physician might use a natural substance differently than the conventional pharmaceutical approach of standard medicine.  

 

Chinese medical practitioners regularly use this herb for certain conditions involving the lungs. However, the main book from 400 AD which informs us about how to use this herb is filled with warnings and contraindications.  To us, it is part of our Herbs 101 training. We have specific instructions about when and how to use this herb safely. The book details not only the conditions that it will cure, but also the constitution of the person who will benefit from it's use. The Chinese have been practicing individualised medicine since the dawn of time. 

The other thing that gets the quackery label is a difference of focus, or area of interest. Whereas mainstream medicine is generally interested in new drug development. In order to develop drugs, a reductionist view of the body is a necessary worldview.  

 

Naturopathic physicians, on the other hand, have always been interested in exploring the cutting edge of working with our innate ability to heal, or vitalism. This is called physiological or functional medicine, as it is now more commonly known.

 

Our healing strategy tends to be to take what we know about proper physiological functioning, or how the body heals on it's own, and use exercises or substances to encourage that. We prefer to bolster biochemical pathways that align with the natural way the body fights a disease, rather than "fight the disease itself".  

This is not to say that there isn't a place for drug development or trying to tackle a disease head-on. Often times, acute, heroic conventional medicine is absolutely necessary, appropriate, and a godsend or a life-saving blessing! Drugs can simply be a way to gain fast relief, and that's totally valid. You absolutely want to have the ability to take an Advil and stop a headache when necessary. You want to be able to pop a pill and have your thyroid hormone levels reliably return to normal.  I will assume that you would prefer to have that colonoscopy with anaesthesia.  However, if you also want to figure out why they went out of balance in the first place, and how to restore function over the long term to wean yourself off the drug, this is the strength and domain of Naturopathic medicine. 

 

Naturopathic Doctors can be part of a person's medical team, encouraging the body's healing ability while other treatments are being pursued.  An ND could help prep someone going into a surgery for the best possible outcome, or help speed up recovery.  

 

Naturopathic doctors regularly work with Cancer patients, for example, to alleviate or protect patients from side effects of chemo or radiation, or even potentiate those treatments with different supplement regimens.  

Some of the early founders of naturopathic medicine were actually considered radicals for advocating exercise as a cure. (Kellog) Diet, , Lust,

 

natural sources of healing, such as excercise, diet, sunlight or stress reduction can be applied in precise ways. 

 

An outcropping of diet, supplementation of nutrients, minerals or herbs can be a  directed stronger 

finally, if these gentle methods are not strong enough or quick enough to address the illness, a standard concentrated pharmaceutical or surgical application may be appropriate. Sometimes the necessary approach is really to aggressively stop the hemorrhage and then address the underlying cause.  A Naturopathic doctor can work together with standard medical practitioners to support a patient's overall health. 

In Japan, forest bathing is actually medically prescribed.,  in the last 50 years, mainstream medical schools have embraced the powerful curative properties of natural substances and environments.  have evolved in a slightly different direction, this cold water therapy is part of our Hydrotherapy training, and would be

In fact, .

Diseases of lifestyle, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, as well as many autoimmune diseases can really transform with simple lifestyle changes.

 

And while this almost seems like common sense advice nowadays, this sort of health advice was considered controversial or even renegade throughout the evolution of medicine. 

Some of the early founders of naturopathic medicine were actually considered radicals for advocating what today is considered almost simply common sense. Kellog, Lust, 

 

On the other hand, While it may sound trivial to think that a little cold water could cure cholera, the difference where a naturopathic doctor could be useful is that naturopaths are trained in standard conventional medical care alongside natural cures. 

  include Sebastian Kneipp from Bavaria, Benedict Lust, A German-born.

Most families will try to spend a portion of the year in the mountains or an extended period of time by the seaside. Hiking, biking, skiing, etc are quite commonplace.

 

Outside of the grandiose architecture of the European capitals, there are .  European mountain dwellers are famous for being reserved and cautious with outsiders. Many of the little towns near where I currently live have populations of under 20 people.  

 

Whereas today, most people would agree that the basic components of a health-promoting lifestyle would include

 

Many of the founders suffered from diseases, such as tuberculosis, which they not been able to cure by conventional medical means of the time. Left with few options, they became creative and turned to nature to seek a cure. One founder, remembered observing how animals fasted and went to bathe in water sources when they were sick. This inspired him, and he ended up successfully recovering from tuberculosis. Exploring water as a possible source of medicine, he was able to bring about cures in various other diseases. This form of healing with water became known as hydrotherapy. 

Similar to this finding, Even as recently as in the last 50 years, diet was not considered an important part of a medical education. Thus, proponents of this kind of "natural living", banded together and were considered an alternative form of medical practitioner.  Little by little, mainstream medicine has come to recognise the importance of 

On the other hand, naturopathic medicine

 

  Not having found  At a time when conventional medicine Some of the originators of naturopathic medicine Although it arrived in the USA via Europe, the tenets of Naturopathic medicine are shared by many indigenous nature-based medicines. Like other natural medicine systems, there is a preference for natural remedies and whole rather than extracted active constituents.  Some of the  It relies heavily on understanding how the body works to restore health from a 

To give an example of how this medicine has evolved since the times of Kneipp or Preisniz, in modern