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The Naturopathic Principles –Reflections After a Decade of Practice

The 6 Naturopathic Principles

  1. First Do No Harm - Primum Non Nocere

  2. The Healing Power of Nature – Vis Medicatrix Naturae

  3. Treat the Whole Person - Tolle Totum

  4. Treat the Cause - Tolle Causam

  5. Doctor as Teacher - Docere

  6. Prevention – Preventare

I have had the opportunity to live and breathe natural medicine for a very long time now. Having been in practice for over a decade, I have seen a lot! In school the naturopathic principles are drilled into us right from the beginning and they have certainly shaped me as a naturopathic doctor and as a person. Today, rather than reviewing each principle in turn, I wanted instead to focus on what I have learned and observed during my time as an ND in relation to the principles. Here are some of my reflections:

We are all different

(Tolle Totum / Tolle Causum)

Certainly, there are similarities in how the human body expresses disease; this allows for a diagnosis. What I find fascinating is the differences. The differences in symptoms/ presentation, in responses to treatment, and in healing. Putting together each individual case is just so intriguing to me. What does this symptom mean? What is the body compensating for? Why is it different this time? Is there something underlying this, and what is behind that, and behind that..? Every reaction positive or adverse gives another important clue. This individualized approach makes all the difference in finding the right solution(s), for the right person, at the right time. The fun is that the entire path is not always clear right from the beginning. Learning to watch, wait and respond accordingly is a huge part of the magic. This means constant re-evaluation of the norm and constant learning for me and the person I am working with. So, I say celebrate how you are different and never stop asking questions.

We are all the same

(Docere / Tolle Totum)

Just as fascinating is how we are all so similar. I find patients struggle in many of the same ways. Making any change is difficult. Creating new habits takes dedication and, in the beginning, this can be overwhelming, but you are not alone! One of the most rewarding parts of what I do is illuminating a path forward that is manageable and then celebrating with patients when they accomplish things that they never thought they could accomplish. The most beautiful part of this is the confidence it builds. Allow your struggles to be the basis for empowerment, establishing self-love, and compassion, as well as, for finding connection with others.

Small changes make all the difference

(Docere / Tolle Totum / Primum Non Nocere/ Preventare).

It is impossible to do everything all at once. The key to long lasting change is making small incremental steps in a positive direction. Breaking things down to small achievable bite sized pieces will help ensure that you reach your goal. While wanting to make a complete health overhaul is admirable, it is generally not sustainable. Further, you miss the journey, there is so much richness what you can learn about yourself along the way! True change comes with time, patience, curiosity and continued dedication to the change you want to see. It all starts with a choice; you can be the change you want to be. Let’s do this!

** As a side note here:

I have wished for some time that I could do more to help educate patients on the fundamentals. I want to help create the ground work you need to succeed with your health goals and get the most of your naturopathic care. I am currently working on some creative solutions to help. Stay tuned for more on this in the coming months!

“ I don’t know ”

(Primum Non Nocere)

That right, I’m not afraid to say it… I do not have all the answers and when I don’t have an answer for you, I will tell you “ I don’t know”. What is important to understand is that this also means “I am curious” and you should be too. Remember here inlays the opportunity to learn something new! Questions are the fuel of discovery. Not knowing the answer should not be discouraging but encouraging. So, get curious and take the opportunity to learn something new!

Be grateful for your symptoms

(Vis Medicatrix Naturae / Tolle Causam / Preventare)

Any symptom is only a marker of something that is out of balance. They are personalized messages from your body, to you, saying “pay attention”. If you choose to ignore these messages, the body will yell louder creating symptoms that are harder and harder to ignore. Often, we find ourselves frustrated that we have to deal with x, y, or z symptoms, but I like to re-frame this with gratitude; be grateful for the message. Within the message is an opportunity to change what your body is struggling with. Think of a toddler learning to communicate, you would not ignore them or get angry because you didn’t understand, you would slow down and try to sympathize and identify their issue. We need to do the same with our bodies. Once you become better and listening to and recognizing your body’s messages/ symptoms you can really optimize. Let’s seize the opportunity in our own adversity.

It’s all about choice

(Tolle Totum / Vis Medicatrix Naturae / Tolle Causam / Preventare / Primum Non Nocere/ Docere)

Life is all about choices including choices about your health. I think THE most important thing we can all do when it comes to choices we and others make, made, and will make, is to remove judgement. A choice is merely that, a choice. There are so many things that go into making a choice and it is completely our own to make. Choices change from day to day, moment to moment and it is your right to change your mind. Choices have consequences, yes, but again these should be evaluated without judgement. Finding ways around judgement may, very well be, a lifelong endeavour, but certainly worth your while. If you find yourself frustrated wishing you would make a different choice, maybe some self-reflection on why you are making this choice will be helpful. Maybe the choice is at odds with something you value more? Maybe you need to remove some barriers preventing you from making this choice? Maybe you just need a better plan? It is easy to be stuck in judgement, but it prevents movement. So, let’s put aside our judgement, do a deep dive into what we truly want, and move forward.

Inspiration abounds

(Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Finally, and most importantly I need to express just how much of an inspiration my patients have been. There is so much more here than I can put into words. I have seen severe pathology reversed with often simple interventions. I have seen people not just heal, but grow following significant trauma. I have watched people in complete despair get up again and try one more time. I have seen people make incredibly brave decisions to move forward in their life. I have seen people struggle and thrive in the same breath. I have seen perseverance, dedication and humility. I have watched as adversity became opportunity and from my seat it has been a privilege and an honor to watch and grow alongside each of my patients. The depth of capacity we possess as humans is truly boundless and keeps me feeling inspired and renewed every day. So, thank you to each and every one of you who I have seen, know that each of you have touched me in a very special way.


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