Perhaps you can remember a time when you possessed optimum health. You had plenty of energy, were generally free from pain, your thoughts were clear and crisp, you slept well at night and felt refreshed in the morning. This may be a very distant memory, or it may be more recent. In either case the health you possessed existed for no other reason than that your body was functioning, unencumbered, according to its inbuilt design.
Our goal as naturopathic doctors is not only to help our patients feel better in the short run but to help them, whenever we can, to recover a state of optimum health so they can live the most satisfying life possible. Over the years of working with patients we have developed an approach to medicine that allows us to address the successive needs of healing that leads to genuine health recovery.
We have found that there are three general phases of healing that patients will pass through on the path to optimum health:
Phase 1 – Stabilization: The first goal of treatment is to get our patients feeling better: to reduce pain, improve energy, improve well-being, etc. This phase of treatment often brings significant improvement in how patients feel in a relatively short period of time (weeks to months) and sets the stage for the next phase of treatment.
Phase 2 – Health restoration: Once patients are stabilized we can begin the truly exciting work of naturopathic medicine, the actual restoration of health. While stabilization focuses on reducing symptoms, health restoration focuses on resolving the underlying causes of ill health, where possible, and thus restoring function and vitality. This not only leads to further reduction of symptoms and improvement in well-being but also the ability to maintain these improvements even when therapies are discontinued.
Phase 3 – Optimization/Prevention: Each of us has a unique constitution, a combination of strengths and weaknesses in our physiology, biochemistry, physical structure and even our mood and mental outlook. Disease generally develops when our constitutional vulnerabilities encounter challenges from the environment that they are unable to successfully overcome. Even after health has been restored these vulnerabilities may remain and provide an opportunity for future health problems to take hold. While we might think that these inborn strengths and weaknesses are unchangeable, developments in genetics research have demonstrated that while our genetic code itself does not change, there is much we can do to alter the way our genes are expressed. Optimization/Prevention seeks to strengthen and balance the body at the level of our constitution so as to optimize health as we move forward in life.