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Naturopathy: Conscious Way to Whole Health

by Accem Scott, ND with co-writer Mimi Sandeen(more info)

listed in naturopathy, originally published in issue 88 - May 2003

Introduction

Becoming a Doctor of Naturopathy was for me a very personal journey of self-discovery – one that grew into a practice of holistic healing using a variety of mutually supportive and creative techniques. In my personal and professional life I have been exploring options that, like Naturopathy, are rooted in an on-going tradition of healing through natural treatments and well-balanced living. These practices can be found in different times and places, including traditional Chinese, Tibetan and herbal folk medicine, midwifery and the barefoot doctors of 20th century China.

Naturopathy itself appeared in 19th century Europe as 'The Nature Cure'. Of the important names from that era, such as Priessnitz, Hahn, and Rikli, one that particularly stands out is Father Sebastian Kneipp (1824-1897). Father Kneipp believed in "the balance between work and leisure, stress and relaxation and the harmony between the mental, emotional, physical social, and ecological planes." He "asked for the active patient and rejected the passive one" – words that sum up Naturopathy as well as any I've read.[1]

Kneipp's influence travelled to the United States through Benedict Lust (1872-1945) and Henry Lindlahr (1862-1924). After curing these men of then-fatal diseases – Lust of tuberculosis and Lindlahr of diabetes – he taught each of them the nature cure. They in turn became enthusiastic and influential American practitioners. Although each of these (and other) Naturopaths worked with specific modalities, such as the 'water cure', diet and nutrition, healthy lifestyle etc., all their approaches were tied to the same idea of non-invasive, natural, holistic, patient-involved healing.

Ingredients of Emerald Alchemy

Whole foods, providing the most complete nutrition: sea parsley, spirulina, wild blue-green algae, chlorella;
Herbs, secondary in nutritional value, more complete than supplements: ginseng, ashwangandha, black caraway seed;
Supplements, taken out of the environment and isolated: vitamins in general.
This is a representative sampling of the many ingredients in this formula. Blended into easily digestible rice milk, Emerald Alchemy gives the body everything it needs. I once fasted 45 days, ingesting only this and water. www.accemscott.com/emerald

Becoming an ND

My Personal Path

My own practice in Naturopathy evolved out of a varied background that started in Western medicine – a biology degree, first year medical school, emergency medical training, work as a surgical technician in a city hospital in Michigan. These were grounded traditional experiences, yet they did not speak to a growing concern I had about healing as a practice. What I consistently felt missing though, was an approach to the patient as a whole person, in ways that were less traumatic, were more humanistic and had practical results.

Those answers came for me through dealing with personal health problems. I had been a vegetarian for several years and fasted regularly along with a nutritional programme. I also worked out regularly in martial arts. Yet my body would be wracked with the pain of familial rheumatoid arthritis. Then my massage therapist, an older Japanese woman named Eiko, administered my first 'colonic' – which was a revolutionary experience. This deep internal cleansing changed my whole world view. Not only did my body and mind feel remarkably better, I now had a baseline of how it feels to be truly empty, which is a way to measure any other degree of condition. Eiko then introduced me to acupuncture, which relieved my arthritis. With her encouragement, I became an acupuncturist, at first working on myself, then travelling to China to learn it in depth.

Discovering A New Perspective

In China I was introduced to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), including patent medicines, herbology and meridian work. I was also treated via TCM for chronic digestive difficulties that had resisted my more traditional diet adjustments. In what's called a moxa burn, the herb mugwort was literally burned on the skin over my ankle at Spleen 6, the meridian involved in the imbalance. My digestive problems cleared up (see photo this page).

While there, I also augmented my martial arts practice, learning Tai Chi, which is a graceful, triangular movement, and Pa Kua, which is circular movement, enhancing the mind/body circuit. As I went from karate and boxing, which are linear, to Tai Chi and then Pa Kua, I also went from experiencing only my physical body to feeling other levels of energetic being. The circular movement practices, especially, opened my mind to a major paradigm shift – an entire new way of seeing/feeling/thinking.

I brought this new philosophy back to the US, and continued my own healing practice of acupuncture, adding in herbs, homeopathy, bodywork and other modalities over time. However, despite all the techniques I learned through apprenticeship or schooling, one ingredient was missing – a means to integrate all these different treatments that was, at the same time, an inclusive way of approaching people. That need led me to Naturopathy. Drawing diverse treatment strategies together in a holistic approach, it also recognizes healing as coming from within, and includes the patient as an active participant in his/her own well-being. This, then, was the therapeutic model that best reflected my own philosophy and practice.

Case History: Whole Person Healing

As for the effectiveness of the Naturopathic approach, one of my clients in particular comes to mind – a 63-year old, grossly overweight man who came to me while recovering from knee surgery. At the same time, he was also facing newly discovered prostrate problems. Highly motivated and ready to work on multiple levels to improve his health, he had been self-treating with every therapeutic supplement he'd read about. Using diagnostic kinesiology, I began by weeding out the majority of the supplements he was taking, down to a meagre few. Next, I recommended high pH water – a very potent anti-oxidant and de-toxifier. Ionized water improves assimilation of oxygen, increasing energy and promoting healing. Then, we shifted his diet to easily digestible, satisfying foods, the emphasis being on green leafy vegetables. The object here was not to starve the body into weight loss. A body gains weight because it's not being satisfied, the person compensating by eating more and more. Food should satisfy body/mind/spirit. In this case, the choice of green foods related to the fifth chakra. Highly oxygenating and containing potent mineral concentrations, green foods primarily address heart-related health issues.

Additionally, his programme included voice dialogue, therapeutic massage, and as many standing meditations as he could manage with his knee problems. Of these, the Saturn meditation, which produces a grounded state and strengthens the bones, has been the most affective. His physical therapists are impressed, reporting his recovery as being as rapid as they have seen. At present, he has lost over 100 pounds. Moreover, his PSA count for prostate cancer, now monitored on a 6-12 month basis, is demonstrably low and continues to drop. He continues his programme, his spirit about life becoming increasingly open, along with his desire to do even more.

Mars standing meditation

Mars standing meditation

Unlimited Possibilities

For both my clients and myself, the importance of Naturopathy is that it isn't just about techniques. It's about an underlying philosophy, inviting its practitioners to be open to the experience of healing as a natural process, inclusive of the entire person. The variety of modalities used gives ND's the flexibility to work with their clients as individuals, addressing their needs on different levels. The natural extension of this philosophy is that it does not limit healing to one set of ideas or tools. There is room to grow with new knowledge and also through experience.

Emerald Alchemy

One outgrowth of this philosophy would be my nutritional formulation, Emerald Alchemy. While in China, I faced an extremely challenging problem. As a vegetarian with special dietary needs, the cuisine left me little to work with. Taking local ingredients – especially sea vegetation, herbs and vitamins – and working with Chinese meridian principles, I developed a powdered supplement tailored to my specific needs, particularly my Spleen 6 channel imbalance. I have since, over ten years, added other herbs, vitamins, and homeopathics, re-balancing the ingredients and refining the formula. Now, Emerald Alchemy has evolved into a nutritional complement that supplies every major energy meridian, and can be used as a primary source of nourishment should necessity dictate (see box this page). Combining TCM meridian awareness with nutrition is not the most traditional Naturopathic approach but my results, however, are in line with Naturopathy as a concept in practice.

Case History: Going Beyond the Book

In this same way, being open to the possibilities benefited a client who was referred to me to help her relax. She had been trying to move a 'dark cloud', born of ritualistic childhood torture, that had remained with her, even through psychotherapy and after traditional homeopathy. Although both were effective, she had not yet found relief from a shadow that was 'ever-present'. Besides deep-tissue bodywork and acupuncture, I recommended Naturum mur LM potency. This is radical, for in homeopathy, there are two schools of thought – low dose versus high dose. But unknown to many, long after the traditions of homeopathy based on Samuel Hahnemann's known work were established, his last results were published post-mortem years later, and they reveal a whole new level of dosage. Using kinesiology, testing for a treatment based on my client's own needs, I was open to working with a non-traditional application that met those needs. A week after she began Naturum mur, my client called me, her voice no longer an unexpressive monotone, to tell me that 'the cloud had moved away'. She no longer feels it. This result was notably different from that of her experiences with by-the-book homeopathy.

In practice, a willingness to be open and creative has practical results, even as it may also challenge the comfort of established ideas and beliefs. This openness is the philosophical intention of Naturopathy put into action. So, in the case of homeopathy, if we're left wondering how far, given opportunity, Hahnemann might have gone, we must also wonder to what levels we, as Naturopaths, might take healing practices in our own applications. Why limit ourselves to the past, when we might, instead, achieve a deeper understanding and greater choices for healing?

Self-Care as Freedom

Naturopathy goes beyond techniques and modalities. It exists as a practical expression of our understanding that healing comes from within, via natural processes. Encouraging the client's participation in that process is a part of our mandate. I do a lecture/workshop called 'Global Medicine' that introduces the audience to cross-cultural multiple modalities and also to the concept of self-care. The inspiration is the barefoot doctors of Mao Tse Tung's China – ordinary folks trained in TCM and basic Western medicine to deal with an extreme shortage of doctors. The global medicine concept is that medicine should be for everyone. Anyone who wants to should be able to take care of themselves using simple, effective treatments. I present a wide range of available possibilities – homeopathy, flower essences, herbs, Chinese patent medicines, cell salts, light therapy, movement/meditation – all means within anyone's grasp to minimize or alleviate health problems. The patent medicine yunnan paiyao is a good example. Packaged as a powder with a concentrated tiny red pill, it has amazing properties for treating blood flow. It can stop profuse bleeding, yet also stimulate flow in women with stagnant menses. North Vietnamese soldiers used it in foxholes to survive until their medics arrived. I always recommend it as a part of preparing for surgery (see box).

Case History: Moving into Freedom

I educate my clients in self-care as a means to freedom – a way for them to know and grow themselves. As practitioners, our own lesson is that if we understand the healing process, we also understand that our clients are ultimately in charge of their own well-being. I especially see this when I introduce movement/energy exercises to my clients (see above). My recent work with Donna is a strong example. She had retired from being a marriage and family therapist and was looking forward to pursuing her personal love – playing her guitar, performing original songs. Sixty years old and overweight, she suffered stinging disappointment when performing left her with tennis elbow and terrible soreness throughout. She had been seeing a chiropractor two to three times a week for five years, dealing with post-menopausal dis-equilibrium. The chiropractor was helpful, but she did not follow through on the advice to exercise on her own.

When I saw her, she was suffering from excruciating back pain, unable to even bend over, and could not play her beloved guitar. I taught her Pa Kua, Tai Chi, and Banging on the Bones. In her own words, her body responded, coming alive, saying: "You care about me". This feeling so motivated her that she asked for an intense concentration in developing a personal practice. We worked one-on-one in an individual retreat and now she is training to teach these exercises. Her goal is to develop a conscious exercise programme tailored to the special needs of seniors. Her own experience is that her new found strength, flexibility, and sureness, as well as increased liveliness, arose out of discovering her physical self, connecting to it with conscious awareness.

Case History: The Self-Aware Experience in Healing

The basic tenets of Naturopathy, then, are holistic in approach and include actively involving and educating the client. My own belief is that the best healing comes from the client, with me acting as a facilitator in that process. And that healing is not just physical – healing involves and affects all levels of being. I had a client who, previous to my working with her, had been in psychotherapy, dealing with the effects of living with an alcoholic partner. She had been deeply depressed for several years and was trying to move on with her life. Although she wanted to deal with this through self-understanding, her therapist persisted that psychotropic medication would be very helpful. She acquiesced, seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed Zoloft. She took it for six months, even though not convinced it was right for her. Then, when she became attracted to a new individual, she discovered that she couldn't have orgasms and was generally distant from sex physically, even though she wanted the experience. She took herself off the Zoloft gradually and her sexual feelings bloomed again.

Eight months earlier, when I first saw her as a client, she was struggling with both inner and outer-directed anger –an outgrowth of emotional cause-and-effect from the earlier depression, current life situations and long-standing self-perceptions. She was regularly imploding or exploding with intense volatility and was, generally, out of balance emotionally. I introduced her to homeopathy, flower essences, movement, and standing meditations.

She's taken these practices on and has told me that now, when she feels herself slipping into depression, she knows that she needs to keep moving, and does the Tai Chi exercise 'Chasing the Clouds Away'. If she's feeling irritability or destructive anger, she does the Mars standing meditation. Or she steadies herself emotionally with Saturn (a standing meditation that I've used to help people in psychotic states focus themselves). Along with flower essence therapy, she uses these practices in a self-aware, self-managed way to regain equilibrium and self-integration.

So, for instance, with depression, a person could use prescribed mood elevators. Or, they could use movement therapy. Either way the result is a similar biochemical effect – the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine. The experience is of a change in how your body and your emotions feel. For my client, movement therapy was much more compatible to her needs than was medication. And, it was also a means to self-growth. As a Naturopath, I believe a client who learns and applies self-aware techniques is creating their own well-being, and in a holistic approach, this is the ultimate goal.

The Energetic Process

Healing from Within

But how is it that we are able to address our clients' needs on so many levels and with so many different therapeutic modalities? How is it that the body (or the mind or spirit) heals from within? The answer is energy. On every level, in every approach, from every perspective, the common element is energy. Comprehending this is the key to understanding the healing process.

There is a constant movement of biochemical and bio-electrical energy going on throughout our bodies. Attraction and repulsion is occurring on the molecular level in our brains, in our blood, in our skin – everywhere throughout us. As these charges attract and repel, they produce an energy flow, creating either balance and well-being, or discord and disease, extending from the sub-micro up to the macro levels. This continual exchange of positive and negative energy is the basis of not only how our body works, but also how subtle energy therapies work. Practitioners of complementary medicine work with this concept of energy polarity and balance all the time. Whether it is movement therapy or kinesiology or nutrition, energetic exchange always underlies the therapeutic process. So this is also the universal thread tying the different aspects of Naturopathy into a complementary whole.

An entire other level of understanding energy in the body would be the Chinese concept of medical qi gong. Wherever you send your mind – your consciousness – is where the chi goes. And wherever the chi goes, that's where all things flow. To that add in chakra awareness – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual well-being flowing in conjunction with these metaphysical energy centres.

Creating Well-being by Conscious Choice

If we understand that our lives are expressions of energy at different levels, and that our treatment modalities are also working at these energetic levels, we have the means to go beyond self-limiting perspectives. This is true in my own work, in which I've been moving from physical to more subtle anatomy. This includes bringing in Dr Kam Yuen's work as an important part of my practice.2 Directing chi on subtle levels of conscious awareness, his approach integrates medical qi gong and kinesiology with quantum physics. The addition of the quantum concept – matter is always being affected by consciousness – gives us yet another way to work with life-energy. In a subtle energetic process, we can guide our consciousness with self-aware intent. In arriving at that place, we have also come to the means by which we are able to create our own well-being.

Working, as did Father Kneipp, on all levels, I continue to seek practices that are holistic and that recognize healing as a process that comes from within. Realizing this healing process as being, in fact, a reflection of our own consciousness, I have evolved my own practice of the Chinese Energetic Method (CEM).3 Holding the same basic philosophy as Naturopathy, CEM joins holistic healing modalities with the consciousness techniques of Kam Yuen, combined with a deeper understanding of quantum theory in the real world; it does so as a practice that encourages self-care through self-awareness. To know that we create our own well-being from within is the supreme lesson of the healing process. As Naturopaths, our deepest understanding of this concept gives us our greatest tool for helping clients achieve their well-being – the knowledge that the ultimate healthcare is self-care.

Further Information

For further information on Dr Scott's work, his forthcoming book Walk Like the Egyptians, Tools of Light programme, workshops, retreats, and seminars, visit www.accemscott.com; Please also refer to Accem Scott's classified advert under Energy Medicine and Pain Relief Pages 77 & 79.

Further information on Naturopathy:

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:www.naturopathic.org
Naturopathic Medicine Network: www.pandamedicine.com
Council on Naturopathic Medical Education www.cnme.org/
General Council and Register of Naturopaths: www.naturopathy.org.uk
The British Naturopathic Association: www.naturopaths.org.uk
Coalition for Natural Health: www.naturalhealth.org

References

1. Coalition for Natural Health. www.naturalhealth.org
2. Dr Kam Yuen. www.chineseenergeticmethod.com
3. Scott A and Sandeen M. The Chinese Energetic Method: Conscious Healing, Conscious Living. Positive Health. 81: 18-20. October, 2002.

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About Accem Scott, ND with co-writer Mimi Sandeen

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