Naturopathy 101: A Basic Guide to Holistic Healing and Health.

As someone living in Boulder, Colorado, consulting a Naturopathic Doctor for health issues (be they acute or chronic) is as common as going for a hike, seeing an acupuncturist, attending a yoga class, or attending a meditation retreat. We as a city tend to lean towards natural and holistic healing as a rule.

We realize, of course, that our lifestyle does not necessarily reflect that of the outside world. In fact, many people may not even know what a Naturopath is. This article is designed to give a basic overview of how a Naturopath can help you and also to encourage those who may be struggling with persistent chronic health issues to consider going the Naturopathic route for their health concerns.

Some people hear the words “holistic” or “natural” doctor and assume this is not a legitimate form of medicine or think they are “not a real doctor.” However, it is important for the public at large to understand that a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) attends a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as a Western MD—while also studying holistic and nontoxic approaches to health with a strong emphasis on prevention and optimizing wellness. While in school, Naturopaths study clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling, in addition to the base core of sciences that Western MDs study.

While Western Medicine can be extremely useful in many cases, it often seeks to treat only symptoms and not necessarily the cause of an illness. And though at times Western medicine is absolutely necessary, it may also neglect to examine the “whole” person. A Naturopath will work with you on multiple levels around your health in relationship to diet, nutrition, exercise, healing modalities, and overall lifestyle.

Naturopathic Medicine is designed to look at all elements of a person and how they are leading their lives each day. When you visit a naturopathic doctor, not only will they examine your eating habits in fine detail and help you to find a diet that works well for you, but they will ask you many questions about your lifestyle, happiness, and how you are filling your days. As it turns out, your answers to these questions can be incredibly helpful in finding a connection to any health complaints that you may be presented with.

My personal experience:

Over the course of the past eight years, I have consulted and benefited from the expertise of two Naturopathic doctors. These consultations were a response to some major chronic health issues and symptoms that I had been experiencing over a period of years—stomachaches, energy crashes, fatigue, mood swings, and more.

After my initial consult with the first Naturopath (Charley Cropley), we discovered that I was severely hypoglycemic. I was told that if I did not make some major dietary and lifestyle changes, I would be on the path to type-II diabetes—something I was certain that I did not want. The negative symptoms I had been experiencing so far were enough to make me try anything to make the necessary lifestyle changes—and so I dove in head first.

The first Naturopath that I saw focused mainly on food and nutrition—he put me on a strict Paleo diet right away. He then led me through a series of fasts and cleanses, which led to major positive change during the first month of consult alone. That first year of working with this Naturopath changed my health dramatically, and I was a different person in terms of my energy, mood, and overall happiness.

Now that I was eating the right foods for my body, its overall efficiency shifted dramatically. For example, I did not intend to lose weight and yet I lost 20 pounds in the first month simply by changing how I ate—and I ate large volumes of food about six times a day! My metabolism became a speed and efficiency machine.

By focusing on diet, sleep, and exercise and having the careful guidance and knowledge of this Naturopath, I knew my life had already been changed for the better for the rest of my life simply by keeping to the protocols that had been outlined.

I consulted a second Naturopath (Wolf Becker) after the first because though I was feeling great, there were still some small ways that I could tell my health needed refining—things I never would have been able to notice had I not gotten myself to this level of health in the first place. The Naturopath whom I consulted next focused more on food allergies and natural supplements and had a special biofeedback machine that could help determine these fine details and allergies. I discovered with this Naturopath that I had multiple food allergies, digestive issues, and various vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

With his help, I was able to further refine my diet and add supplements that helped to rebalance my system as well as help with sleep and menstrual challenges. I continue to see this Naturopath from time to time to help me with particularly stressful times and to check in on my food allergies—I have actually eliminated the majority of my food sensitivities through the guidance of this wonderful Naturopath.

This was a massively transformative time in my life, and definitely for the better. I had never felt so good in all of my life. I hadn’t realized until I made this dramatic shift just how much the cycles of blood sugar highs and lows had been impacting my life. Now all I had to do was make sure I was fed when hungry with the right foods, and suddenly I was in a generally joyful and happy mood with lots of energy and a newly efficient metabolism.

As it turned out, working with these two Naturopaths was exactly what was needed to change my health and life for the better—and sustainably for the rest of my life. In seeking help with some challenging health issues, I instead found much, much more—the recipe for unconditional joy.