The Healing Power of Nature and the Benefits of Working With a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor
Perhaps the most iconic and famous scientist to ever live, Albert Einstein, once said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Many people may be surprised to hear that nature actually has the power to heal. It has been shown in studies regarding therapies like nature immersion, surf, and horticulture therapy. However, to harness nature and heal on a cellular level, it is important to have someone who can confidently guide you toward recovery. One of those guides may be a licensed naturopathic doctor.
The Importance of Working With a Comprehensive Team in Recovery
It is critical for recovery to be both individualized and comprehensive in order to have the best chances for long-term success. This means that there also must be a comprehensive recovery team that works toward that goal.
A healthy and successful recovery team will pull from all different avenues of the treatment industry. This includes those that use Western medicine and techniques, as well as those that use Eastern philosophies and more holistic approaches.
These teams may include medical doctors and clinicians, nutrition specialists and dieticians, therapists, psychotherapists, counselors, fitness and yoga instructors, and, yes, naturopathic doctors as well. However, many people may not even be aware of what a naturopathic doctor is, which is why getting a better understanding of what they do is critical for those who wish to heal from issues of addiction and mental illness more holistically.
Better Understanding Naturopathy: An Overview
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) offers an excellent distilled description of what naturopathy entails. They explain that “Naturopathy – also called naturopathic medicine – is a medical system that has evolved from a combination of traditional practices and health care approaches popular in Europe during the 19th century. People visit naturopathic practitioners for various health-related purposes, including primary care, overall well-being, and treatment of illnesses.” Also, “In the United States, naturopathy is practiced by naturopathic physicians, traditional naturopaths, and other health care providers who also offer naturopathic services.”
However, there are not that many licensed naturopathic doctors practicing in North America, which makes working with one a unique and highly sought-after opportunity. Roughly 6,000 naturopathic doctors are practicing throughout North America, and 18 states and 4 Canadian provinces license them.
Yet, many people are now looking for alternatives to Western primary care physicians as more and more promising evidence related to naturopathy comes out. According to the peer-reviewed journal Integrative Medicine Insights, “It is estimated that Americans receive only half of recommended preventive care. Naturopathic doctors spend more time with patients, offer patient-centered care, and are experts in health promotion. Patients cite these phenomena as reasons why they seek care from naturopathic physicians.” Also, these are not the only benefits that come from working with a naturopathic doctor.
The Benefits of Naturopathy for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery
Now, the benefits of working with a naturopathic doctor can be hard to quantify. Ultimately, the greatest benefits for those who struggle with issues of addiction and mental health are sobriety and remission. However, some more specific universal benefits can be associated with working with a naturopathic doctor.
The following are just a few of the natural benefits (but certainly not all) that one can gain from a program of naturopathic healing:
- Helps to reduce stress and introduce a greater sense of calm into one’s life
- Can reduce certain physical ailments such as muscle and joint pain, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems
- Helps to replenish the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that one needs to function at optimal levels
- It can reduce the need for continued pharmaceutical medications, which can have lasting physical side effects, such as kidney, liver, and stomach complications
- Connects one closer to nature, which has been shown to have a healing effect
- A naturopathic diet can help regulate weight and offer increased energy and stamina
- Naturopathic medicine and techniques have even been shown to help with complexion and aid in hair growth
- Helps to reduce anxiety and depression
One can see how all of these benefits can aid in one’s long-term recovery. The good news is that naturopathic medicine is one of the pillars of the recovery program at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab.
What Does Working With a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor Look Like?
According to the scientific article, Naturopathy and the Primary Care Practice, there are six broad steps to a naturopath process of recovery. It states, “In attempting to restore health, the ND [naturopath doctor] follows a specific, yet adaptable, therapeutic order that begins with minimal interventions and proceeds to higher level interventions as necessary. The order begins with reestablishing the conditions of health, such as developing a more healthful dietary and lifestyle regime.” This is important because it is associated with lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes like incorporating nutrition-focused eating and mindfulness practices can be essential during this first phase of naturopathic healing. However, for individuals struggling with addiction and/or mental health, it is important to follow up with the next steps of the process.
The article continues, “Next, the body’s natural healing mechanisms may be stimulated through techniques such as hydrotherapy, which can increase the circulation of blood and lymph. The third step is to support weakened or damaged systems with homeopathy, botanical medicines, or specific exercises, such as yoga.” Yoga can be crucial for recovery because it offers whole mind-body healing at the cellular level.
Then, the article explains how the process concludes; “The fourth step is to correct structural integrity, which is typically done with physical medicine techniques including massage and naturopathic manipulation; the fifth step is to address pathology using specific natural substances, such as dietary supplements; the sixth step is to address pathology using pharmaceutical or synthetic substances.” This is where infusion therapy and pharmaceutical-grade supplements can be essential because they aid in vitamin and mineral replenishment.
Working With a Naturopathic Doctor From the Very Beginning
The truth is that working with a naturopathic doctor at any time during the recovery process can be beneficial. However, getting to work with one from the very start of the process can be a game-changer for the trajectory and timeline of a recovery program.
If a naturopathic doctor is involved from the very beginning, there is a better opportunity to transition to a natural path sooner than if one is engaged later in the process. Take the detox process for alcohol addiction recovery, for example.
Many people do not realize how depleted of nutrients one becomes while struggling with addiction. According to the article, Mechanisms of Vitamin Deficiencies in Alcoholism, “Chronic alcoholic patients are frequently deficient in one or more vitamins. The deficiencies commonly involve folate, vitamin B6, thiamine, and vitamin A. Although inadequate dietary intake is a major cause of vitamin deficiency, other possible mechanisms may also be involved.” Also, “Alcoholism can affect the absorption, storage, metabolism, and activation of many of these vitamins.”
A naturopathic doctor is going to be able to examine the client and analyze blood samples to see where these deficiencies lie. Then, they can target these areas with concentrated supplements and infusions that can replenish essential nutrients much quicker than other methods. This is important because healing is much more difficult when an individual is too nutrient deficient to fully participate in their own recovery, and without a naturopathic, many people do not even recognize their own deficiencies. A naturopathic doctor is also going to connect individuals to a new, more nutrient-rich dietary lifestyle (with the help of other professionals, of course).
Naturopathic Doctors, Dieticians, and Nutrition Specialists
When it comes to nutrition at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have a saying, “Food is medicine.” This is a similar ethos to that of naturopathic treatment. Naturopathic doctors work closely with nutrition specialists and licensed dieticians to help individuals heal via the foods that they consume.
According to the peer-reviewed article, New Approaches to Nutritional Therapy, “Nutritional therapy is fundamental for patients seeking relief from obesity and chronic illness and for patients pursuing health promotion and wellness.” It then goes on to give four basic recommendations.
The article states that one should avoid “anti-nutrients, including processed foods… Eat ONLY whole foods: unprocessed, raw vegetables and fruits, beans, legumes, raw nuts, raw seeds, whole grains, free-range, grass-fed organic animal products, and small wild fish. Eat a variety of whole foods, without as much attention to calories, carbohydrates, and fats.” Also, one should judge the “therapeutic value of the whole food diet by eating a majority of calories from foods that are the most nutritionally dense (micronutrients per calorie), and adjust the macronutrients according to individual caloric needs.” Of course, these are only broad recommendations.
This is also why working with licensed naturopathic doctors and nutritionists on an individual basis is vital. Another way that naturopathic doctors work to get essential vitamins and nutrients back into their clients is via infusion therapy.
Understanding Infusion Therapy
Infusion therapy can be an ideal way to replenish nutrients quickly. This is because infusions directly into the bloodstream aid in much quicker absorption of the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
While there are many varieties of infusions within the realm of infusion therapy, there are a few that are starting to stand out as more and more studies provide evidence as to their efficacy. These infusions include nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) infusions, Myers cocktails, and glutathione infusions.
Also, these infusions are highly beneficial for individuals recovering from issues of addiction and/or mental health. For example, take glutathione Infusions. One of the doctors at the forefront of researching the benefits of glutathione (Dr. Joseph Pizzorno) had this to say: “It is hard to overstate the importance of glutathione… It plays a crucial role in shielding cellular macromolecules from endogenous and exogenous reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. While it directly quenches some free radicals, of perhaps greater importance is that it deals directly with the causes of oxidative stress, such as mercury and POPs [persistent organic pollutants].”
These are not the same type of benefits that can be gained from traditional Western pharmaceuticals (though this is not meant to undermine the benefits of Western medicine, which there are many). Another benefit of working with a naturopathic doctor is it offers a greater opportunity to reconnect with the healing power of nature.
Understanding Nature Immersion Therapy
The iconic British poet Lord Byron once wrote, “There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” Yes, nature is something that one should always keep close to their heart. Yet, in today’s tech-heavy urban world, it is easy to lose connection with nature. A naturopathic doctor and a nature immersion therapist can help make this reconnection to nature happen.
Nature immersion therapy can have countless benefits. One of those benefits has to do with what is known as “connectedness to nature.”
According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “While cognitive restoration and physiological well-being are the prominent and renowned benefits of nature exposure, there is one important construct that is often overlooked in environmental psychology research studies – that is, the human-nature relationship; also known as connectedness to nature (CN)… For some, CN refers to the emotional bond between human and nature; the extent to which individuals perceive themselves to be part of the natural environment and their relationship with it… Others focused on the cognitive, behavioral, and experiential aspects of an individual’s connection with nature.” Regardless of the view, nature can be beneficial in any of these lights.
Also, there may be no better place in the world to work with a naturopathic doctor and experience nature than on the Hamkua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. With its calming waterfalls, live volcanoes, open beaches, and overlooks that allow one to take in the full scope of the amazing Pacific Ocean and the world’s incredible horizon line, the Hamakua Coast is an ideal place to recover. It is also a magical place to find mindfulness and meditation through the practice of yoga.
The Benefits of Yoga for Healing at the Cellular Level
Part of the naturopathic process has to do with low-impact exercise to take care of the physical component of the self. Another part of the process has to do with finding a path toward tranquility and mindfulness. Both of these goals can be attained through the practice of yoga.
While there is no exact date, yoga began roughly 3,000 years ago in the Eastern part of the world. It began as strictly a religious practice. However, as its physical benefits became more apparent, it moved into the realm of physical improvement.
It has also been found to be highly beneficial for those individuals trying to recover from issues of addiction and mental health. According to the International Journal of Yoga, “One of the main goals of yoga is to achieve tranquility of the mind and create a sense of well-being, feelings of relaxation, improved self-confidence, improved efficiency, increased attentiveness, lowered irritability, and an optimistic outlook on life. The practice of yoga generates balanced energy which is vital to the function of the immune system… Yogic practices inhibit the areas responsible for fear, aggressiveness and rage, and stimulate the rewarding pleasure centers in the median forebrain and other areas leading to a state of bliss and pleasure.”
Exclusive Hawaii Rehab: The Importance of Individualized Mental Health and Addiction Care
Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we believe in a multifaceted approach that incorporates both Western and Eastern medicines. This is why we have both renowned clinicians and a highly respected naturopathic doctor available whenever a client has a question or wants to focus on a certain aspect of their recovery.
The famed Italian poet Dante once wrote, “Nature is the art of God.” He speaks the truth, and when healing at the cellular level on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, one can feel that spirit all around them as they recover.
Exclusive Hawaii Rehab has a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) regularly onsite during the week, as well as being on call 24/7. Our ND works to help our clients heal at the cellular level in a more natural, holistic way. This starts as soon as the client gets to our recovery facility. Our ND will take bloodwork, analyze it, and from there, create the best, most natural path toward long-term recovery. Of course, he also works closely with an on-call medical doctor for any traditional Western medical needs. If you feel like you or a loved one are struggling with issues of mental health and/or addiction, we can help. For more information, please call Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.