My first visit to a naturopath was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m not exactly certain what I was expecting, but I know that the first visit left me with more questions than when I arrived. My doctor calmed my anxiety and explained that the next few months would be a process, and a learning curve for the both of us. He emphasized that each person’s body is unique, and responds differently to natural supplements and the other homeopathic remedies used at the clinic. I was told to follow my treatments for six weeks, then return for a follow-up consultation to assess my progress. The follow-up visits would be crucial because at this point the doctor could evaluate how my body was responding to the treatments, and then assess what the next steps would be.
I sat in the waiting room for about 30 minutes. I was shocked that the naturopathic clinic was so similar to every other doctor that I’d been to see–meaning the doctors and staff were all very busy. This is a good sign, I thought to myself. A busy clinic must mean that people are happy with their results and keep coming back. If the traffic and waiting time didn’t convince me, the walls plastered in framed testimonials certainly helped. People raved about this clinic. I even saw one letter where the woman called the Doctor her answer to prayer. Wow. Ya don’t say?
I knew I liked Dr. Springer as soon as he opened the door to the waiting room and called my name. That’s right, the Doctor himself came out to get me. I don’t know why, but I liked that. His jovial smile made me break into a huge grin as I shook his hand and introduced myself. I followed him back to a room and sat nervous in my chair. I had filled out an extensive questionnaire about my medical history and overall health, and had a nurse take my vitals when I first came in, so all of this info was compiled neatly in my chart, which he held in his lap. He opened my chart and glanced through the first few pages. “So you are here for allergies. Let’s talk for a minute about those, yes?”
I went on to give him my tale of agony and suffering from allergies and chronic sinusitis over the past year (well to be honest I’ve had allergies since the age of ten, but the past year has been especially brutal). He nodded his head and listened, and proceeded to ask me a few questions in return. The funny thing is, his questions were not at all typical doctor question. He didn’t want details on how many times a week I had an allergy attack, or how many sinus infections I’d had in the past 6 months. He didn’t ask any of that. Instead, he asked me how my stress level was, how I was sleeping, if my bathroom habits were regular, and whether or not I got anxious at work. Although the questions weren’t what I was expecting, I answered him honestly, and while I was responding I couldn’t help but think, what does this have to do with my allergies?
He then went on to explain that his naturopathic treatments for allergies and sinusitis are geared at treating the human body from the inside out. The root of my problem was most likely in my gut… Huh? Say what? My ears perked up and I leaned forward.
Let me pause here by saying this… I’ve been to more allergists than I can count. I’ve tried nearly every over-the-counter and prescription allergy medication that exists. I’ve developed a serious aversion to allergist M.D.s, because in my experience they only shove medications at me and tell me to wrap my pillows in special allergy covers, tear out the carpet in my house and replace it with tile, and get rid of my cats. ::::UGH, the nerve!::::
So when Dr. Springer told me my allergies were connected to my gut, I honestly didn’t even know what to think. This was something I’d never heard before. Something new. Something not so abrasive. Just one simple sentence. “We need to work on healing your gut.”
Okay then Doc. Where do we start?
What followed next is difficult to explain in words. You almost have to experience it for yourself to truly understand. I was told to lay down flat while Dr. Springer used a technique called applied kinesiology, also known as manual muscle testing (MTT), to determine which parts of my body were in distress and needed healing. You can read more applied applied kinesiology here. Dr. Springer tested my muscle strength while applying pressure to various pressure points, to determine my areas of weakness. After covering my body head to toe, a few things stuck out as being weakened and in distress –intestines, liver, sinuses, adrenal glands.
Next, Dr. Springer tested my response to various natural supplements that would be used to heal these areas. Again, my muscle strength was used to determine which supplements would be best for my body. The doctor literally put a supplement on my naval, and tested my muscle strength for each supplement. He then narrowed down which supplements I should take for my ailment. The whole process was very bizarre, and as I stated earlier, I left with more questions than when I came in. But I had discussed these treatments with my husband very thoroughly, and we had decided together that this was my last stop before enduring an invasive sinus surgery, so I was willing to give it my all and stick to the 12 week program recommended by Dr. Springer.
I’ve done a lot of research on applied kinesiology, both before and after my visit. To sum it up, scientific journals and peer reviewed studies view the technique as highly subjective, with test accuracy and reliability having no higher credentials than mere chance or guessing of a patient’s ailments. Basically, the bulk of western medicine views this approach as “quack medicine.” Hmm… well there’s some food for thought. So why on earth am I trying it?
My overall philosophy is this: I’ve tried everything that western medicine has suggested. I’m still miserable. Why not try something a little non traditional? Why not try a different approach? Dr. Springer’s approach is to treat my body from the inside out, and really focus on the root of my problems instead of just trying to mask the symptoms. Sounds like a good approach to me! Is it possible that my allergies are also connected to my gut, my diet, my stress levels and other internal issues? My sissy-in-law who’s an M.D. would chuckle and probably say “highly unlikely, here, take a Claritin.” But the truth is I’m willing to give this a shot, and that’s good enough for me!
- Herbal and natural supplements, 4 times per day (various combinations of natural supplements which I’m not going to mention because I’d prefer not to sound like I’m giving medical advice) these supplements are designed to calm my overactive adrenal glands, help me sleep, heal leaky gut, rid my body of mold and yeast, aid in digestion, and a few other things
- Rinse with a neti pot every evening for 2 weeks, then 3 times per week thereafter (with a few drops of colloidal silver and probiotics)
- Follow a primarily paleo or ketogenic diet (abstain from grains, legumes, refined sugar, dairy, processed food, & alcohol)
Say what!? You just asked someone who follows a primarily plant-based diet to abstain from grains and legumes? Is this some kind of joke?
It was no joke I tell you. My doctor went on to explain to me how grains, beans and sugar all cause inflammation in the body. It was quite apparent (between my allergies and PVNS, which has also been on overdrive lately with constant swelling and pain) inflammation was a problem for me. The best way to diminish inflammation is through dietary changes.
So how did I adapt to this? This week marks 5 weeks of treatment, and for the past few weeks my diet has been very different–mostly high paleo, low grains, zero dairy except grass fed ghee, zero sugar.
Here’s a glimpse on what I’ve been eating:
- Loads of veggies, raw and cooked (no white potatoes or corn, but occasional sweet potatoes, squash and other root veggies)
- Fresh fruit (no dried fruit due to high sugar, and limit to 2 servings per day, no bananas)
- Nuts (loads and loads of nuts–raw, lightly toasted, and in homemade nut milk)
- Seeds (mostly chia seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds and tahini, etc.)
- Canned wild caught tuna fish, frozen sockeye salmon (I did get some fresh sockeye in July during prime season), frozen white fish such as sea bass, cod, etc.
- Coconut–everything! Canned organic coconut milk in chia seed pudding, shredded coconut in smoothies, coconut oil for cooking, etc.)
- Grass fed organic ghee (ghee does not have the same levels of casein and lactose as other dairy products, the amounts are minuscule in properly made ghee therefore it’s not an issue for those sensitive to dairy like me and is a good source of fat in cooking. I make sure mine comes from happy grass fed cows!)
- Healthy fats, wherever I can find them! Coconut oil, ghee, avocados, walnut oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, cold press extra virgin olive oil, etc.
- Organic pasture raised eggs
- Occasional organic red wine, homemade coconut ice cream
You’ll probably notice I’m still sticking to a pescatarian diet, as I’ve been following these past few years. After experimenting with vegetarianism and veganism in the past, I decided about 2 years ago to incorporate eggs and seafood into my diet, since I felt better overall. Most people that follow the paleo or kineogenic diet do eat chicken, beef, pork and other meat, but this is not something that I can change overnight, if ever. I don’t eat meat for a variety of reasons, only one of which is health related. So for a doctor to tell me that organic grass fed beef is okay to eat and will make me healthy– well sure, that takes care of one reason, but what about the other 4? What about my ethical reasons? Let’s just say the nutritionist at the naturopathic clinic has her hands full with me.
Next post I’ll cover how I’m feeling after 5 weeks of naturopathic treatments and following a high paleo diet.