I discovered naturopathic medicine when I was living in France. There, doctors use western medicine and also forms of what in the United States we would call “alternative” medicine to treat their patients. They use different forms of naturopathy, such as homeopathy and acupuncture, in complement to western medicine techniques; so a doctor might give you homeopathic medicine and send you to an acupuncturist in order to treat anxiety or depression and not put you on antidepressants right away.So what exactly is naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine?
“Naturopathy or naturopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine employing a wide array of "natural" treatments, including homeopathy, herbalism, and acupuncture, as well as diet (nutrition) and lifestyle counseling.”
I was first introduced to homeopathy by my primary care doctor in France about 10 years ago. She prescribed a homeopathic treatment to treat my overweight status. This was coupled by a discussion of what would constitute healthy eating and an exercise plan. Later on I also relied on acupuncture before my wedding for weight and stress management. Years later when I came back home to the United States, I continued acupuncture to deal with minor ailments. So naturopathy has been on my radar for a while. Recently, I have decided to take a holistic approach to weight-loss and decided to use the help of naturopathy.
In the United States we tend to dismiss anything that isn’t conventional medicine, but what I have seen tells me there is truth to the idea that naturopathy can heal. Ages ago our ancestors cured themselves with herbs and food…and in Hispanic cultures our abuelitas use herbs and food to treat ailments. We know that chamomile tea has calming properties, for example. My mother swears that chicken soup three days a week will cure a cold, and swears by other herbs such as toronjil and anis. This is not only true in Latino culture, in other cultures people see food as a way to treat ailments, and to prevent disease. I do believe there has to be truth to this: plants, food and nourishment can heal. After all, the Father of medicine himself, Hippocrates, said this:
We don’t ALWAYS need prescription drugs to heal – sometimes using things found in nature to heal our ailments works. What also works is changing the way we eat. Eliminating certain unhealthy foods from our diets can improve our physical conditions greatly, which is what I saw happen to the people in the documentary “Forks over Knives” (which you can see on Netflix). People with many ailments changed the way they ate (moved to a plant based diet) and significantly improved their health conditions.
As you might have read in a previous post, the last year of graduate school I gained 10 pounds. (I know it may not seem like a lot, but when you’re 5’1’’ like me, it is a lot). It also put me in the “overweight” category. My clothes didn’t fit anymore and while in the past I was able to manage my weight on my own at this point in my life I felt like I needed a little help.
I decided to do a detox program with a leading naturopathic doctor in Queens, NY. This week is the third week of the program and I feel pretty good. I’ve lost 8 pounds and I can definitely see a difference. My clothes are not as tight, and my skin is smoother and it is not as oily. When my period came around (sorry if TMI) I did not experience the bloating and cramping I have experienced in past months. Of course, losing this weight puts me in a great mood. I’m happier and I’m proud of myself for sticking to it. The program has also taught me a few things about the way I eat:
- No I don’t NEED to eat meat.
- I don’t need to drink coffee every day.
- Sometimes I just eat because of habit, not because I’m hungry.
- I have much more will power than I thought I did.
- Crappy food will make me feel crappy.
- Eating healthy does not have to be boring!