Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Treating YOU, not your condition

By Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

As a naturopathic doctor, I am constantly approached with people asking questions about their health.  There is increased interest in healthy living and people are trying to take their health into their own hands now. However, sometimes you need proper guidance for what is best for YOU.

Questions such as: 
I have arthritis - what can I take?  
Dr. OZ was talking about Garcinia, can I take it for my weight?
I have a cold - How much Vitamin C should I take?
I heard turmeric is good for you - can I put it in my smoothies?
Which B vitamins should I take for my stress?

It is wonderful to see that people are shifting their perspective and wanting to try natural options, rather than jumping to pharmaceuticals.  However, as a naturopathic doctor, even though we use natural therapies, we always want to address the person - not just treat their condition. We want to understand the root of the cause, how & why the condition is manifesting as it is.

For example, there are numerous herbs & supplements which have been beneficial for arthritis such as: turmeric, fish oil, glucosamine, collagen etc. In someone who has arthritis, there are many ways that the arthritis has developed and numerous contributing factors.  In one individual, there could be wear & tear of the joints from overuse. In another person, it could be due to a Vata dosha imbalance (according to Ayurveda) which leads to dryness in the joints. Arthritis could also have an autoimmune component where the body's own cells are attacking the joint area, or the arthritis could be due to a "leaky gut" where undigested food particles travel and deposit in the joint.

All these manifestations may be labelled as "arthritis", however the root cause could be entirely different. In one person, addressing weakened digestion due to eating on-the-go may be the root cause, and in another individual, constant jogging without proper self-care may be the root cause. Based on the causal factor, treatment will need to be customized for each person. Treatment for that person, and not just the condition. 

Conditions come up for many different reasons - some of which are purely physical, and many of which have a mental/emotional component.  When we look at the eastern systems of medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda, the concept of balance is prevalent. We look at elements and qualities that are dominant in your constitution and give suggestions to balance them.  

An example that might be easier to relate to is the concept of "heating" and "cooling" found in TCM, Ayurveda and other eastern systems of healing. Some individuals have a constitution where they always feel cold and some always feel warm, or they may also have a specific health condition which is more "heating" such as fevers, or hot flashes for example.  To help address this, certain foods, lifestyle & herb recommendations that have the opposite quality will be made to help restore balance.  

With the advent of Google, it is very easy to search for "natural remedies for.......such and such condition" and find an abundance of suggestions instantly.  However, this is not necessarily the safest or most effective way, and some individuals may be causing harm by self-prescribing products over long term. For each individual, food, herbs or natural therapies can be customized by time of administration, duration (do you take it for 1 week? 3 months?), or frequency.  Considerations are made about other medications or natural medicines you are on.  Just because something is "natural", doesn't mean that it is always safe for you, or that you can take it long term.  

So when I hear someone ask causally "what should I take for my arthritis?", I usually answer "well, it depends what is causing it." "Yes I know, but what is good to take - fish oil, turmeric? My friend took fish oil capsules that his naturopath gave and it helped him. You're a doctor, you should know what's good for arthritis". "Yes, there are many things, but it depends on the cause."

We are used to quick fix solutions and want fast results. Or we see that something works for a friend and they suggest it to us to try. Conventional medicine can often provide faster relief, however, if you want to try a natural approach with results that last, it is important to treat the root cause, and not just the condition. This is one of the 6 foundational principles of Naturopathic Medicine.

Below are the 6 principles of Naturopathic Medicine which guide naturopathic doctors:

If you have health concerns or if you are interested in prevention, find a naturopathic doctor or practitioner that is willing to work with you to help diagnose your condition, treat the root cause, help you regain balance and restore balance.

If you are interested in a naturopathic and ayurvedic assessment with Dr. Leena Athparia, ND contact Naturopathic Foundations at 905-940-2727 (Markham) or Yuri's Village at 416-466-5773 (Danforth).  A complimentary 15 min meet n greet is available to learn more how Naturopathy and Ayurveda can help you.

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