Why see a Naturopath?
I pondered this question while holidaying in Bali earlier this month (one of the many benefits of having holidays!). I realised the best way to answer it would be to give you an experience of my own health journey, with the hopes that it will shed some light on Naturopathy and the Preventative Health Industry.
As a child I was relatively healthy. I experienced cold sores from time to time but it wasn’t until I hit puberty that my health began to get ‘rocked’. My first menstrual cycle occurred when I was 14 years old. It was HEAVY (I got through a maxi-pad every few hours) and it was extremely painful. Before long I was taking pain medication every 3 hours and spending the first 2 days of my cycle in bed. It felt like all the blood was draining out of my head & body and I was about to faint. I experienced intense nausea at the same time. Sometimes, when the pain was too severe, I’d vomit.
‘Wow!’ I thought. Is this what I’ve got to look forward to every month for the next 35 years?! I was Not happy. In fact I was scared.
To my horror matters got worse. My periods were irregular so I was often ‘caught out’ when they started. It lasted 7 days, sometimes longer. My skin broke out in cystic pimples all over my back and even on my face (this is a major dilemma when you are a teenager!). Then the migraines began.
Migraines struck nearly every month with my cycle. They were so severe I’d get a numb arm, my tongue would thicken so I couldn’t speak and my vision blurred so I couldn’t see. My brain felt like it was sloshing around in my head. The only choice was to lie in bed for a few days until they passed. There were even a few occasions when Mum took me to the ‘Emergency’ department at the hospital where I was administered strong opiates (pain medication) intravenously.
It was a living nightmare. I was very fit and active but I felt my body was betraying me, so I gradually grew angry: Angry at being a woman, at my physical self for these limitations and at being held back by so-called ‘natural’ events. There seemed no solution to my health issues. I was offered an oral contraceptive pill (OCP) by my GP to manage period regulation and pain. Although it only made things worse, in fact I’m not alone, only 10% of females can take an OCP without side effects. I was also given strong pain medication for the period pain & migraines. The only advice I was given was to ‘Get on with it!’ So I did, I accepted what was offered and powered on the best I could……
I powered on until, when I was 19 years old, I developed an extremely sore tummy. I couldn’t eat (unusual for me), couldn’t move and soon needed the doctor. He dismissed my signs & symptoms as indigestion and suggested antacids. I couldn’t take them and the nausea & pain worsened.
After 4 more days and 3 more doctors I was finally rushed to the emergency department at the local hospital. Here I had an appendectomy (removal of appendix). They were gangrene by now and burst whilst being removed. I was given a strong course of antibiotics and sent home to recover. If my appendix had burst inside me, septicemia and death would have followed….it was a close shave!
No explanation was offered. No take-home support or advice was provided either. This was my turning point, the ‘light bulb’ moment. Out of my frustration, body-shock and disbelief I began to quietly focus 100% on how I felt & functioned. When my body became sore and distressed I paid great attention to it. I assessed what I was eating and how it made me feel. I worked at being my own healer, slowly informing myself. I learned to tune in and search for answers.
Why were my periods so painful? How should I support my body? How could I persuade it to cooperate with me in all the things I wanted to achieve? How could turn unforeseen circumstances that create fear, into manageable baby steps towards peace, freedom and liberation? I needed help to answer these questions!
This was the beginning of my journey into natural medicine. I needed to understand and be able to support my body and whole self better. Part of the health process meant connecting with other people in pain, also struggling with their bodies. I studied an Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy for 3 years and then completed my Bachelor of Health Science and Complementary Medicine Degree at University. My humble health journey has taught me discipline and demanded mental growth, kindness, compassion, self-love, motivation, determination…. and a keen awareness.
Along the way I’ve learned to deal with ovarian cysts, endometriosis and a large fibroid (more on these in the next blog), which were all surgically removed. The journey got easier with each experience. Now I understand the signs & symptoms and how they came to be. I am able to offer support, compassion, demystification and guidance to others who are experiencing similar health issues or are on their own unique health journey.
There has never been one quick fix for my health issues, but I’m happy to say that I now live relatively pain free. I have regular menstrual cycles and no longer experience migraines. My health has never been better the older I get and my world has shifted tremendously due to making focused choices and aligning my values and behaviors. I’m grateful for my body and my ability (with patience) to listen to its needs, which is one of the many benefits this health journey has gifted me.
My understanding of health has been constantly growing and expanding. I see the benefits of a holistic approach to health: social-mental-emotional-physical and spiritual integration (replacing the demons with angels). I work to support the biochemical needs of every cells in the body on a micro + macro level within the Functional Medicine model of the 4 P’s = Predictive, Preventative, Personalized, Participatory by Dr Daniel Kraft. Good health is all about balance.
I hope that my story offers you insights into the significance & importance of tuning into the true nature of yourself and the support of Preventative Health Medicine. If you have questions or would like more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Love & Best Health,
Ps. Please join me on Instagram @the_gracious_naturopath for some fun visuals!