Principles of Naturopathic Healing

by Sat Dharam Kaur, N.D.

The body has an innate capacity to heal. My job is to show you the way, encourage and evaluate your progress on the road to optimum health. Your full participation is required in this sometimes difficult process. Naturopathic medicine is a system of healing consisting of nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, bodywork and counseling. Practitioners vary in the focus they place on a particular modality and in methods of treatment. I have developed a methodology to generate healing that follows the principles outlined below. At different times in your course of treatment I will focus on one or more of these.

  1. Identify and remove the obstacles to healing. These may include overuse of alcohol, sugar, caffeine, tobacco and drugs, exposure to toxic chemicals or metals, lack of rest, particular stressors, and self-destructive attitudes, emotions and thought patterns.
  2. Consume enough water. The best sources are from well-maintained reverse osmosis or carbon block filtering systems. If distilled water is used, be sure to include a mineral supplement or eat sea vegetables regularly. Aim to drink two to three liters of water daily. Pure water is the body’s most important cleanser, and is needed to flush out toxins and maintain proper pH levels.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. Food should be unprocessed, additive-free, as close to the way nature made it as possible. Organic is best. Focus on whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, with some raw food daily. Dairy should be used infrequently (twice weekly), as most people are sensitive to it. If you are a meat eater, decrease your intake of red meat to a maximum of twice weekly and find products that are free of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
  4. Exercise regularly. Design an exercise program that you can stick to, that you enjoy, and that can easily become part of your routine. Walk as often as possible rather than driving. Use the stairs rather than the elevator. Include both stretching and aerobic exercises in your program. Aim for at least forty minutes of exercise daily.
  5. Balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Many of us are on sympathetic overdrive due to chronic stress and insufficient rest. You can check this through following your nostril dominance at half hour intervals throughout the day. If the right nostril is dominant most of the time, it is probable that you sympathetic dominant and the body will have difficulty healing. The parasympathetic nervous system will kick in with conscious left nostril breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi, relaxation, sleep, massage and calming music.
  6. Harmonize acid/alkaline balance in the body. The blood must be maintained at a pH of 7.38 - 7.42. Slight variations in this will cause sickness and death. The body has several mechanisms it uses to keep the blood slightly alkaline. Checking the pH of the urine and saliva will determine how much the body is compensating to balance the pH of the blood. Urine pH should be 6.6-7.2 on average. It will fluctuate throughout the day and be more alkaline for up to one hour after a meal. Saliva pH should be 6.6- 7.2. Water intake reduces acidity, as do vegetables, fruits, minerals, an alkalizing powder and breathing techniques. Animal protein, dehydration, stress, vigorous exercise and most grains increase acidity. Imbalanced pH causes: 1) a change in the structure and function of body proteins; 2) changes in the function of enzymes; 3) alterations in the permeability of membranes; 4) altered distribution of electrolytes; 4) a change in the structure of connective tissue (bone, tendon, ligament – stiffness with increased acidity). Increased acidity promotes arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer and degenerative diseases.
  7. Ensure adequate mineral intake. Most of us are mineral deficient, as the soil that produces our food has become depleted in minerals. Testing of minerals can be done through blood, urine or hair, and replenishing mineral deficiencies leads to increased enzyme activity and energy, and often a reduction in stiffness and pain. The alkaline minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium are especially low in many individuals, as are the trace minerals zinc, selenium, manganese, molybdenum and vanadium. Minerals can be obtained from foods and supplements.
  8. Decrease free radical activity and increase antioxidants. Excessive free radicals damage cell membranes, DNA and place a burden on liver enzymes, causing faster aging and cell mutations. Free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants obtained from food or supplements. Your free radical burden can be assessed using the Oxidata test.
  9. Improve lymphatic circulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for pulling toxins from the extracellular fluid so that they do not damage the DNA within our cells. Lymphatic circulation is improved by swimming in non-chlorinated water, yoga, rebounding, daily exercise, deep breathing, alternating hot and cold showers and herbal and homeopathic formulas.
  10. Regulate blood sugar metabolism. Blood sugar is regulated by the liver, pancreas and adrenal glands. These are stressed by consumption of sugar, refined foods and caffeine, causing wide fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This can contribute to emotional swings, spaciness, dizziness, headaches and candidiasis. Blood sugar metabolism can be corrected through diet, supplementation and energetic techniques.
  11. Strengthen digestion. Optimal digestion helps to maintain optimal health. Poor digestion contributes to a toxic colon, which is often where illness begins. Digestive insufficiency can be caused by a deficiency of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and/or enzymes in the pancreas, or improper absorption in the small intestine. Digestion can be strengthened by practicing food combining, relaxing before meals and chewing well, avoiding food sensitivities, and supplementing with digestive enzymes or herbal/homeopathic remedies.
  12. Balance the body’s flora; eliminate parasites and unwanted bacteria; normalize yeast. Parasites are common guests in our bodies these days because of international travel, widespread daycare use, abundance of pets, a generalized decrease in immunity, contaminated water, and heightened immigration. Their presence can cause vague symptoms and they often go undiagnosed. Chronic low grade bacterial infections, in the mouth for example, can lead to systemic diseases such as arthritis and cancer. Candidiasis is a prevalent condition because of overuse of antibiotics and the birth control pill, and excessive consumption of sugar and refined foods. These conditions can be rectified with natural bacterial, yeast and parasite killers, a dietary regimen and supplementation with “healthy” bacteria.
  13. Detoxify the liver, kidneys and colon. The liver’s toxic load has increased dramatically over the last several decades with the mass use of chemicals, pollutants, drugs and hormones that have infiltrated our soil, water, air, food and bodies. Any ways in which we can lighten its load or provide nutrients to assist it will lead to improved health. The kidneys filter 1200 mls of blood every minute. They function to reabsorb nutrients into the blood and to secrete waste materials to form urine. They maintain the balance of sodium in the body and help to keep the body fluids alkaline. The colon is host to a microscopic ecosystem. Over 500 species of bacteria dwell there, and one third of our stools are composed of dead bacteria. Like many ecosystems on the planet, the colon’s balance is easily disturbed. Antibiotics, poor eating habits, refined and processed foods will all disturb the bowel’s ecology. Hydrotherapy, breathing techniques, specific exercises, nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies and acupuncture can be used to support the liver, kidneys and colon.
  14. Balance the body structurally and energetically and improve overall vitality. The body has within it a sophisticated, intelligent network of conduits of energy and communication loops. Often there are blockages within this energetic system that can be removed through acupuncture, kinesiology, homeopathy, bodywork and exercises in Kundalini Yoga. When the body’s energy flows freely, many physical and emotional ailments are improved and vitality is enhanced.
  15. Strengthen any weak organs or glands. These are the body’s servants and act as guardians of our health. It is common for a particular organ or gland to be working at less than optimal function. Once identified, an underfunctioning organ can be revitalized through specific herbs, nutrients, homeopathy, foods and exercises.
  16. Address emotional issues. When an individual is unable to express his or her full potential because of unresolved emotional issues, it is helpful to work with those issues. Dreamwork, journaling, process-oriented bodywork, affirmations, homeopathic and flower essences, energetic therapies and specific meditations can be used to accomplish this.
  17. Plug into the Divine and acknowledge the soul. Body, mind and spirit are intimately linked. A sense of purpose and feeling that one is following one’s destiny are powerful catalysts to personal healing. Prayer, meditation, yoga, martial arts, creative work, time in nature and spiritual practice remind us that the Divine flows through us.