Natural Medicine: The New Modern Medicine?

"The biggest difference between naturopathy and allopathy is that the allopathy physician tends to view good health as a physical state in which there is no obvious disease present. In contrast, naturopathic physicians recognize true health as an optimal state of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The key differences between a naturopathic and an allopathic physician are apparent if we look at how each doctor views both health and disease."

Dr Brett Smith (N.D., Naturopathic Doctor) has a BHSc (Bachelor of Health Sciences ) degree, a Masters Degree in Herbal Medicine, and a Naturopathic Diploma. For 10 years, he ran a successful clinic in Bondi, Sydney Australia for which he sold. He is currently writing articles on health and nutrition and has nearly completed a book.

Preface to Interview

Contrasting Naturopathy with Allopathy

Naturopathy, or “nature cure”, is a method of healing that employs various natural means to empower an individual to achieve the highest possible level of health. Although the term “naturopathic medicine” was not used until the late nineteenth century, its philosophical roots go back thousands of years. Naturopathy draws on the healing wisdom of many countries, including India (Ayurveda), China(Taoism), and Greece (Hippocrates)…[allopathic medicine is also known as conventional/mainstream/traditional/orthodox/modern medicine. It involves mostly drugs, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy as treatment modalities.]

In addition to providing recommendations on lifestyle, diet, and exercise, naturopathic physicians may utilize a variety of therapeutic modalities to promote health…

  • Clinical Nutrition
  • Botanical Medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Physical Medicine

On Health and Disease

You may be wondering how a naturopathic physician views health differently than a conventional medical doctor. Conventional medicine is also referred to as allopathic [ orthodox, modern, traditional, mainstream] medicine. The definition of allopathy is “a term that describes conventional medicine as practiced by a graduate of a medical school or college with the M.D. degree.” Allopathy [drugs, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy] is a system of medicine that focuses primarily on treating disease rather than on promoting health.

The biggest difference between naturopathy and allopathy is that the allopathy physician tends to view good health as a physical state in which there is no obvious disease present. In contrast, naturopathic physicians recognize true health as an optimal state of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The key differences between a naturopathic and an allopathic physician are apparent if we look at how each doctor views both health and disease.

To illustrate the differences, let’s take a look how each views and addresses the infection equation. The infection equation is like a mathematical equation, such as 1+2=3. In the infection equation, the outcome is determined by the interaction of a person’s immune system with the infecting organism. In other words, immunity plus infection equals state of health. A naturopathic doctor tends to use treatments designed to enhance the immune system, while most allopathic doctors tend to use treatments designed to kill the infecting organism. [naturopathic medicine addresses the cause, whereby allopathic medicine treats the symptoms]

Allopathic physicians have long been obsessed with the agent that causes infection rather than with the immune system of the patient. This obsession began with Louis Pasteur, the 19th century researcher. Pasteur played a major role in the development of the germ theory. This theory holds that different diseases are caused by different infectious organisms. Much of Pasteur’s life was dedicated to finding substances that would kill the infecting organisms. Pasteur—and others who pioneered effective treatments for infectious diseases—gave us a great deal for which we can be thankful. However, there is more to the infection equation than the virility of the infecting organism.

Another 19th century French scientist, Claude Bernard, also made major contributions to medical understanding. But Bernard had a different view of health and disease. Bernard believed that the state of a person’s internal environment was more important in determining disease than the infecting organism or the pathogen itself. In other words, Bernard believed that the internal “terrain,” or the susceptibility of an individual to infection, was more important than the germ. Physicians, he believed, should focus more of their attention on making this internal terrain an inhospitable place for disease to flourish.

Bernard’s theory led to some interesting studies. In fact, a firm advocate of the germ theory would find some of these studies to be absolutely crazy. One of the most interesting studies was conducted by a Russian scientist named Elie Metchnikoff, who discovered white blood cells. He and his research associates consumed cultures that contained millions of cholera bacteria, yet none of them developed cholera. The reason: their immune systems were not compromised. Metchnikoff believed, like Bernard, that the correct way to deal with infectious disease was to focus on enhancing the body’s own defenses. [mainly the immune system]

During the last part of their lives, Pasteur and Bernard engaged in scientific discussions on the virtues of the germ theory and Bernard’s perspective on the internal terrain. On his death bed, Pasteur said: “Bernard was right. The pathogen is nothing. The terrain is everything.” Unfortunately, Pasteur’s legacy is the obsession with the pathogen; modern medicine has largely forgotten the importance of the “terrain.”

Excerpt from Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Your comprehensive, user-friendly A-to-Z guide to treating more than 70 medical conditions--from arthritis to varicose veins, from cancer to heart disease.

Questions and Answers

by Trung Nguyen

What are the main differences between naturopathic medicine and conventional/orthodox/allopathic/modern medicine?

Conventional/orthodox/allopathic/modern medicine views the body more on a mechanical level and will treat parts, whereas Naturopathic medicine will treat the body as a whole. The drugs used in C/O/A/M medicine are synthesized in a lab and not safely metabolised by the body, therefore a toxin to the liver, kidneys, brain, nervous system etc. Naturopathic medicines are natural and therefore, mostly, safely metabolised by the body, and in my opinion, actually work (the patient overcomes their health issue without further complications or death).

If a person came to see you about depression, how would you proceed with treatment?

Mental illness is one of the hardest conditions to treat. The level of depression is crucial to treatment protocols. If mild to moderate, St John’s Wort is very effective along with diet (ie, no refined sugar, no trans fats, get rid of processed foods entirely. Supplement with multi B, zinc, magnesium, selenium, Vitamin C, glutamine, and a good fish oil and coconut oil. Eat whole foods, fish (avoid mercury laden fish),broccoli (all green veg), colourful fruit and vegetables (high antioxidant content), nuts, seeds. A good detoxification will do wonders here. Physical activity here is also crucial, any training that gets the blood flowing. Also look at depression itself. The stigma attached to it. The world is a crazy place...is it unhealthy to not be so happy when 80% of the world are starving and 20% are suffocated by their own fat? I heard a joke once....you have 2 choices in this world. To be stupid or depressed. Think about it.

Are there any protocols in naturopathic medicine to treat diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes?

Yes…diabetes and heart disease especially. Very effective treatments. You are not legally allowed to treat cancer but I have seen amazing results with cancer patients. Cancer is a very tricky condition and I do not like to mouth off too much here but I know that if myself, or any of my loved ones had the misfortune to have to deal with cancer I would not advise conventional treatment. I would take the naturopathic path confidently.

I personally prefer the services of an ND (Naturopathic Doctor) over an MD (Medical Doctor). However in Canada, the vast majority of insurance companies do not cover visits to naturopathic doctors. Is this the case in Australia? If yes, why?

Pretty much. A couple of specialist funds allow a small portion of naturopathic treatment as part of their packages. The reasons why are simple. Disease is a big industry. Big Pharma donate lots of money to our Governments. Hell man....! What if everyone got healthy tomorrow? NO MORE DRUGS ! What if everybody started riding bikes? NO MORE OIL! What if we stopped going to phony wars? NO MORE GUNS! Those 3 biggest industries would be finished tomorrow. Sick people grease the cogs. Naturopathic medicine is preventative, if I have a patient for longer than 6 months I have failed.

Would you more or less agree with the statement, "When it comes to health, you're on your own." And why?

Not really. There are so many inspiring healers and teachers around the world today, and to me that is comforting to know. I have a mentor that still to this day amazes me with his knowledge, but is still eager to learn. You never stop learning and the well we draw from this infinite. You are responsible for your own health but you are never alone.

What are some of the most common problems that people come to see you for?

I see a lot of patients with allergy. Digestive disorders, general fatigue, diabetes. Unfortunately the poor naturopath gets the patient after 10-20 years of mismanagement from the Big Pharma. I wish patients would persevere with herbs as long as they stick with pharmaceutical drugs!

Have you ever had a discussion with an MD (Medical Doctor) about health? If yes, what are their views on natural medicine?

Yeah…quite a few. The older MD's totally disregard our whole industry but you only have to take one look at them to realise how unhealthy they themselves are. The younger brigade, especially the women are very open to it all. I've had a discussion with an MD who told me the body did not differentiate between proteins, carbs, and fats. Protein was protein, it didn't matter the source. You could make it in the lab or eat the purest piece of fish the world has ever seen and your body would not recognize the difference. In saying that, I have been told some very kooky things from naturopaths too. I was once asked by a naturopath if I had any products with carbon in them, she needed some bad. I told her carbon was in everything, it was the building block of our universe. She asked me what else it was good for! True story.

On your YouTube videos, you seem to like the mineral Zinc a lot. What is the importance of Zinc and some of its functions in the human body?

Antioxidant, immunity, reproductive health, a component of over 200 enzyme reactions in the body. It really is a super nutrient and not easily obtained through the diet unless you have good access to oysters. If you are vegetarian,you will need to supplement.

You are also involved in an Australian dating site, www.partner4real.com.au. So, let’s change the subject a bit.

1. Do you prescribe to the theory that opposites attract?

To a degree, though in my experience men are attracted to almost anything willing, while women are a little more discriminating.

2. What do most women look for in men?

Hmmm...,the big question. Um....,their father. Money. Security. An Alpha animal.

3. What makes a relationship last?

I just blew a 20 year marriage so I don't know if i can be relied on here? Trust/Sex/Humour/Love

4. In your observation, do men tend to make more concessions in a relationship or women do?

Always a test of will. Everybody trying to mould the other into the perfect partner. I tend to lean the other way. I feel women tend to make more concessions. I warned you my relationship advise would suck. [LOL]

In the U.S., 231,000 (2006 figure) people die each year from prescription drugs (106,000 when used as directed and 125,000 from misuse). There has not been one case of anyone who has died from taking nutrient supplements (vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids). But what can happen to a person if they take too much of one nutrient?

A lot of the time, the overdose symptom mimics the deficiency symptom. Most vitamins are water soluble so are hard to OD on. Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, and E are easier to overdose on but you really have to take way, way over recommended dosages to suffer too much harm. Overdosing on Vitamin A can lead to birth defects in pregnant women for example. You can certainly overdose on minerals, ie, iron will constipate you and lead to zinc deficiency so care must be taken here. Overdosing on carbs leads to obesity, as will fats, which also messes up your cholesterol levels and ratios. Too much protein will lead to kidney stresses and calcium imbalances, so one definitely has to be intelligent in the usage of any product all the while remembering they are supplemental to a good diet. Supplemental.

Any parting words for our readers?

Approach everything openly but with some level of scepticism. Too many salesmen in this game. If it seems too complex remember it shouldn't be. Good health should not be hard or costly. Pure whole foods beat the greatest supplements known to man. You don't have to eat mung beans and meditate in a cave for great health...it's what you do 75% of the time that counts. Listen to your instinct, it is rarely wrong.

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