In defence of going for the natural remedy

The word Naturopath often brings every hippie and every pharmacist out of the woodwork and into a controversial argument

By Miranda Victoria

While some claim natural medical remedies can be powerful enough to treat cancer, others say it is nothing more than modern-day voodoo.

In Alberta, a provincial court ruled the latter.

Couple David Stephan, 32, and Collet Stephan, 36, were charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life after their 19-month-old son died of bacterial meningitis. They thought their son had the flu, and attempted to treat him with natural items such as garlic and onions, combined with an immune-boosting remedy from a naturopathic doctor.

That decision could send the couple to prison for five years, if they receive the maximum sentence.

While I agree with the courts that Mother Nature’s bounty should not be used to cure any serious illness, I do think that everyone should have a naturopath on speed-dial for other non-life threatening ailments.

These special types of doctors are trained differently, they think differently and they have a different set of tools and resources to turn to than a traditional doctor. Why wouldn’t you want to get a second opinion from someone like that?

In my own person health, I have blended the use of my family doctor with a naturopath and have seen incredible results.

Even after spending thousands of dollars on doctor visits and supplements — which neither my medical plan, nor my tax return will cover (thanks) — what I’ve learned about my own body and what I need to do to feel at my best is invaluable.

It began when I was about 14 years old. A pimple appeared on my back, followed by another pimple and another, until finally, I had an entire colony of skin invaders.

My family doctor sent me to a dermatologist, who prescribed all kinds of topical creams to apply once at night, and once in the morning — most of which did nothing more than bleach my pyjamas.

And while one particular cream did clear up the acne considerably for a number of years, those annoying pimples never quite went away. And then, when I turned 23, it took a massive turn for the worse.

I was breaking out more than I ever had in my life.That awkward phase is supposed to happen in high school; who gets acne in their 20s?

My dermatologist said the only option left was to use Accutane.

Now, my acne was bad, but it wasn’t Accutane bad. The medication has dozens of listed side effects, including birth defects and depression, and is usually only used in extreme cases.

Frankly, I was terrified to put that into my body. If it causes a baby to be born with no arms, what on earth would that do to my organs?

That’s when my mom suggested I try a naturopath. She had great success with hers, after they discovered she had major thyroid issues — something other medical practitioners told her she was making up.

So I made the appointment, forked up the $100 for half an hour of the doctor’s time, and discovered some pretty amazing things.

First of all, your skin is the largest organ of your body. If it is breaking out with acne, or rashes, or any other kind of ailment, it’s usually a signal that something else if off inside your body.

We started out with a food test, as oftentimes, food allergies are a trigger for skin problems. Through that I found out that all those protein shakes I drank everyday — the ones with 21 grams of whey — were not helping my body at all. Milk proteins casein and whey, it turns out, were the top allergies found in my test.

As our appointments continued and my naturopath probed a little further, I also told her about my period problems — or lack of period problems, as I never seem to get them on time — and the constant feeling of exhaustion I have.

That led me to take a hormone test, and voila, my hormones are completely out of whack, most likely causing me to miss periods and have a lack of energy. But rather than stop there, we decided to explore why my hormones were off-kilter in the first place. An ultrasound revealed I have cysts on my ovaries, and the onset of polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Now, had I just taken Accutane, I would have never known any of these issues in my body. I am so thankful I took the time (and all that money I didn’t have) to explore why my body was acting in peculiar ways, rather than taking different pills to treat the symptoms.

While I still have acne even now — and I’m almost 25 years old — it has decreased significantly, and I am working with my family doctor ( in conjunction with the naturopath) to see what other treatments are available.

As for my flakey period, I have been taking a natural herb remedy to help balance my hormones, and I am happy to say I have now had three periods in a row and they all came like clockwork — something I don’t think I’ve ever had in my life.

So while I’m still not convinced that plants pills are Gospel, I do think there is great value in exploring all medical options.