I’ve been interested in natural healing since I was very young, when my herbalist grandfather would point out all the concoctions he was making in his kitchen, which doubled up as his laboratory. He’d often have a pan bubbling away on the stove, containing nettles and other wildflowers, as well herbs at varying stages of drying hanging from the kitchen ceiling, and goldenrod in a pan over the fire. He was always making up some cream, unguent, or tincture on the kitchen table. He loved his Fisherman’s Friend lozenges that he would keep in his bedside drawer. I would always nip in and take one as I liked them too. They just don’t taste the same nowadays, or perhaps my taste buds are not as they were.
At school, I was never interested in chemistry or physics, and only mildly interested in biology due to the fact that dissecting dead frogs was not my idea of biology! These subjects were far too linear for me. I wanted to know what made people tick, why they got ill in the first place, and what could be done to resolve their illness. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to practise just one complementary therapy discipline, again a little too linear for me. I wanted to provide a fully holistic natural health evaluation, taking into consideration mind, body, spirit, and emotions – and that’s why over the years, I have studied many different complementary therapy disciplines.
You may wonder why I didn’t go into medicine. Well, a girl raised on a council estate in a coal mining town in the 1960s and 70s had little chance of going to university. I finished my schooling on a Friday and was expected to start work the following Monday and start contributing to the household finances with immediate effect. My complementary therapy studies didn’t start until I was in my late 20s.
What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathic medicine is a system that uses natural remedies to help the body heal itself. It embraces many therapies, including supplements, herbs, massage, colon hydrotherapy, acupuncture, exercise, and nutritional counselling.
When I took people on as clients, in the early days, as a massage therapist, they didn’t just get massage. I wanted to be the absolute best (I set myself very high standards) remedial massage practitioner in the area, so I studied isometric exercises, myofascial trigger point therapy, ultrasound, interferential therapy, and acupuncture, and when my clients came for a treatment, they got all of these modalities in one treatment. I got excellent results, and my practice began to grow and grow.
When I completed my training in colon hydrotherapy and naturopathic nutrition, I did further training in Austria with the esteemed doctors at the Viva-Mayr Clinic to further understand the gut and what made the gut so important in determining the health of a person. I’ve always been a voracious learner and reader, mainly books on natural healing. There just are not enough hours in a day to learn all I want to learn, even now!
I am one of only a handful of trained Viva-Mayr practitioners in the UK. The Viva Mayr Clinic places a very strong focus on naturopathic medicine and gut health, and it was this that attracted me to training at the clinics in the first place. Dr. F.X. Mayr (1875-1965) developed his own ‘diagnostics of good health’ which made it possible to see, feel, measure, and test the close relationships between digestion and overall health. I learned these diagnostic methods at the Viva Mayr Clinic, and I incorporated them into my colon hydrotherapy treatments.
We naturopaths recognise that health is more than the absence of disease: it is dependent upon a multitude of factors and reflects a harmonious interaction with our environment. The World Health Organisation states that health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Good health means everyone has the capacity to live life to its full potential – in body, mind, emotions and spirit. Naturopathy aims to increase the vitality of a person so that they can dispel disease by means of their own self-healing mechanisms.
Aside from genetic factors, disease does not happen by chance. Disease is seen as the body’s response to challenges in the internal or external environment. The fundamental principle of naturopathy is the healing power of nature. Naturopathy is a healing system which places emphasis on health and how to promote it, rather than on disease and how to suppress it. Prevention is always preferable to cure. Symptoms are an indicator that all is not well within the organism, and to suppress them with drugs may do more harm, driving the disease further into the body.
The General Naturopathic Council defines naturopathy as a therapeutic system which, amongst other distinguishing features, has four principal hallmarks:
- It seeks to facilitate and promote the body’s inherent physiological ability to self-heal
- It recognises the uniqueness of each person
- It always attempts to establish and support the cause of a condition, not merely the end effect, the symptoms
- It requires a holistic approach, taking into consideration the inter-relationship of all organs and systems of the body, not just consideration of the local area or organ that may seem to be affected.
The principles of naturopathy are:
- Do no harm
- Utilise the healing power of nature
- Identify and treat the cause
- Naturopathic practitioner as teacher
- Treat the whole person
- Disease prevention
This really connects with me, being a human, connected very much to the earth, air, fire and water.
How do naturopathic practitioners work?
A naturopath may make use of supportive physical forces and agents, such as: light, water, air, thermal effects, magnetism, earth, electricity, or vibration, and seeks to harness their client’s own life force more directly through rest, by exercise, by stimulating reflexes, by making dietary prescriptions, by psychotherapeutic interventions (talking therapies) or by employing the client’s own healing capabilities, i.e. do they want to get well or is there something that may be preventing them from wanting to embrace wellness and good health?
The naturopathic practitioner may achieve alterative effects by several therapeutic approaches, for example: supplements, acupressure, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, including colon hydrotherapy, homeopathy, iridology, applied kinesiology, massage therapy, nutritional therapy, manipulative therapy or phytotherapy (herbal medicine) to name a few.
When I was in clinical practice, seeing people face to face, as a naturopath, I was able to observe how they moved, I was able to pick up on subtle energies that they gave off and I was able to touch them, certainly when I was examining them on my couch and then performing the colonic treatment. The laying-on of hands has been done for millennia to calm, soothe, and bring comfort. When you engage in a pleasant touch, like a hug, your brain will release a hormone called oxytocin and this hormone makes you feel good and can cement emotional and social bonds. Hugging can reduce tension, anxiety, and fear. I’m always hugging my granddaughter. She loves it and it’s wonderful when she hugs me back. I tell her that I love her and she says, ‘I love you too, Grammar’, and I say ‘I love you more’ and we laugh. It’s worth more than money can buy.
I can’t hug all my Just For Tummies customers, but through my naturopathic training and some intuitive questioning, I can often get to the root cause of their digestive or gut issue, and form a workable, relatively inexpensive protocol that they can use to help reduce their symptoms.
I will tell you this though. When I was formulating the Just For Tummies range, I pretty much knew exactly what needed to be in the range, but I also put it out to the Universe to help guide me and I still do this. As they say, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.