By RACHEL HENRY
Cold and flu season got you down? Is swigging Buckley’s and popping Tylenol not cutting it?
Before you make a trip to the emergency room or pharmacy, man-made prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications may not be the answer to what ails you.
According to the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) website, public interest in naturopathic medicine has increased rapidly in the last 20 years due to patients’ desire for greater control of their health care process.
“… A growing dissatisfaction with high-tech solutions to health problems has resulted in a resurgent interest in the natural methods of preventive health care,” the CAND website said. “This trend has increased demand for naturopathic services as people seek ways to improve their health, cope with day-to-day stresses and avoid illness.”
Despite some stigmas associated with naturopathic practices, there is much scientific evidence in support of natural products.
Dr. Oz, an American surgeon who has gained worldwide popularity with his medical TV show, said on his website, “Natural products are often regarded as “alternative” therapies that aren’t supported by science.
However, it is important to note that many of the drugs that are currently available – in fact, even the most commonly used drugs – are derived from nature. In the last decade alone, more than 20 newly approved drugs were derived from natural sources, including plants and microorganisms. It has been estimated that 50 per cent of contemporary drugs (those used in the last few decades) are either directly extracted or chemically derived from naturally occurring compounds.”
Theresa Tait, office manager at Sage Naturopathic Clinic in Kitchener, said they use a holistic approach to diagnosing patients, taking into account mental and social factors, not just the physical symptoms of an illness.
“Naturopaths treat the whole person, not the symptom,” Tait said. “They have been trained to treat the underlying issue that causes the symptoms. The services that our naturopaths provide are much more personal, intimate and individual.”
Patients can visit a naturopathic clinic for a number of reasons, just as they would a hospital. Symptoms can range in complexity from headaches to emotional stress.
Dr. Rahima Hirji, owner and a naturopathic doctor at Sage, said, “Our naturopathic doctors provide IV therapy for a wide range of issues including headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, chronic stress and burnout, decreased immune function, Crohn’s and colitis, sleep disorders and general health. Dr. Chanel Cressman, another naturopathic doctor here at our clinic, offers full gynecological treatment.”
IV treatments are documented as being beneficial toward recovering energy levels after illness. It has also been linked to improved athletic performance, detoxification and purification, immune balance and support, digestive disorders, migraines, asthma and allergies, and Parkinson’s disease.
Naturopathic doctors prefer this method of treatment because it allows nutrients to be delivered directly into the bloodstream, allowing a high concentration to be absorbed with little to no effort from the body.
Naturopathic medicine includes vitamins, minerals, Chinese medicine, balancing the body, acupuncture and homeopathics.
“Because these treatments are natural there are little to no side effects,” Tait said. “Most health insurance companies now offer coverage for naturopathic appointments. I can’t think of any cons. I guess if your coverage runs out then you would have to pay out of pocket.”
Tait said she chose to see a naturopathic doctor many years ago, and now sees a naturopath instead of a medical doctor.
“Many people don’t know that you can see a naturopath for any health issue,” Hirji said.
So before you spend hours in a waiting room, consider your health-care options. For less severe medical problems, products found in your cupboards may treat illnesses. Drinking tea can provide medicinal properties that can boost your immune system and metabolism, as well as soothe sore throats, nausea, cramps and other ailments; avocado masks can provide natural skin care; a few dabs of lavender oil at the base of your thumb and neck, between the eyebrows, or along pressure points in the wrist can ease the stress of the day and is helpful during migraine attacks.