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By Leisa Wheeler N.D.
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So What Does A Naturopath Do?

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Leisa Wheeler, naturopath, health and healing mentor, and fatigue specialist, is the founder and director of Embracing Health, a business dedicated to bringing you health information that can change your life. Leisa’s passions include many areas of health – from food as medicine and nutrition, to physical fitness and detoxification; from emotional release work to spiritual healing; these varied interests shaping her belief in the value of integrated healing on all levels; physical, emotional and spiritual.

I’m going to write a lot more on the topic of naturopathy over the coming weeks, as it is one that I feel very strongly about and believe needs a lot more attention than it is getting. As a naturopath I find that we don’t have a well-respected place in society, we are like the forgotten healers. Over the last few years there has a been a huge rise in what I call “health marketeers” – people who have done either a short course in some type of nutrition based teachings, or have read some books, and gone on to start up blogs, websites, facebook and instagram accounts to share their views on health. Whilst I support getting good quality information out to the public, there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about the difference between a genuine naturopath who has completed an intensive four year degree and completed hundreds of clinical hours working with patients – as compared to someone who makes green smoothies and has a great bikini body for Instragram pics. The media also seems to ignore naturopaths, with stories needing expert opinion depending on medical practitioners for their views, and then garnering the opinion of an unqualified “health expert” to provide contrast. Very rarely do we see a professional and highly qualified natural medicine practitioner interviewed for their opinion on current health issues.

There is a world of difference between the two and I look forward to sharing my views on this further as I think important distinctions need to be made. Naturopaths are professionals with a wealth of information not just on nutrition, but on the biochemical and biological processes that happen in the body that are affected by food, herbs and supplements. We learn anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, herbal pharmacology, drug interactions, and of course intensive study into food, nutrition, herbal medicine, homoeopathy. As anyone who has completed a degree knows it is a lot of study and a huge undertaking to commit to this level of education. Naturopaths learn about optimal health and how to heal beyond just eating good quality food and drinking green smoothies. We learn how to investigate the root cause of disease and how to eliminate it and restore the body to health.

Since I’ve been doing a lot more consulting, I’ve come to realise what a crucial role naturopaths play in assisting people to heal. Since starting work at Your Health Matters I’ve seen a huge variety of cases, some straight forward, and many that are quite complex and needing quite a lot of research and investigation to get to the core of the patient’s health issues. As I consult with a diverse range of patients, it reminds me of how valuable the skills of a naturopath are, and how what we do is far and beyond the scope and understanding of the unqualified wellness blogger.

A great example was a case that I had recently that was a resounding success. A patient had come in to clinic with a mysterious allergic type reaction to what she thought might have been wine. The reaction was fast and quite alarming, with a red flush spreading across her neck and face that then became itchy and dry before subsiding after several hours. After three such episodes, she sought help for the problem.

Now someone without experience may advise that this lady not drink wine and therefore avoid the problem, which is one avenue and often the first one people try – but it is not fixing the underlying issue. Health advocates who hold to an ideology rather than what is realistic for a patient would also say that for optimal health alcohol shouldn’t be consumed. But when I work with a patient, my job is not to convince them to live exactly the way that I choose to live, but to assist them to gain greater health and healing, taking into account the lifestyle choices that they are not willing to change (within reason!). This lady had a great foundation of health, but liked the occasional glass of wine, which for me is completely acceptable.

As this was a new health issue and hadn’t happened in the past, something had changed and I was charged with finding out what that “something” was. Allergies and skin conditions are often related to digestive function and when there are sudden allergies and intolerances, I also look to adrenal function as the adrenal glands regulate the immune system. If there are adrenal imbalances the immune system can overreact, or not have enough reserves to dampen inflammation in the way it normally would. Cortisol is the precursor to our own naturally produced cortisone, so when I see inflammatory conditions in the body combined with immune imbalances, I always question a person’s adrenal status.

This particular patient had suffered from appendicitis around the time of this allergic type reaction, so I knew immediately that there was a link to digestion. Upon questioning it also appeared that she was suffering from some level of adrenal fatigue. My initial prescription included three components – a herbal remedy to address the specific allergic response, a pathogen cleanse and repair protocol for the bowel, and support for the adrenal glands. I also instigated several tests to investigate further and provide evidence and support for the direction of my protocol.

A month later this patient returned and was glowing. Not only had every symptom resolved completely, annoying little health issues such as the small patches of eczema she had had for months, cleared up as well. Digestion had improved, bloating had gone, any feelings of discomfort or heaviness upon eating had resolved. Energy was better and she was feeling great overall. She even had gone on a week’s holiday to the Margaret River and consumed wine every single day with NO reaction! She was one happy patient.

When the test results came back, my suspicions were confirmed. There was adrenal fatigue, immune imbalances, inflammation and heightened allergic activity. The initial protocol I had put the patient on was correct and as we can see, led to a full resolution of her symptoms. The helpful thing about this case is that the patient was already very health conscious and had a great foundation of healthy eating under her, so I didn’t have to start from scratch in rebuilding her nutritional status, and was one of the reasons why she responded so quickly.

Knowing the biological and biochemical processes in the body and how imbalances in them lead to disease and disorder, gives us an enormous insight into treating almost any condition with natural medicine. It is this level of expertise and knowledge that can truly assist a person to heal.

I am currently consulting on Wednesdays & Fridays at:

Your Health Matters
63 Warrener Street
Cnr Nerang-Broadbeach Road
(near the train station)
Nerang QLD 4211
07 5527-3001

I look  forward to seeing you there!




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