I haven't blogged much about naturopathic philosophy, yet we review it over and over again in both Phase I and Phase II of the program. The process of healing came up the other day when I was treating a patient, and that inspired me to write this blog post!
The Process of Healing flowchart was made by Dr. Jared Zeff, ND, and it describes how the body is constantly adapting and trying to maintain a healthy state.
Health is constantly being thrown off kilter by imbalances in the determinants of health which cause disturbance of functions. The determinants of health are things like nutrition, hydration, sunlight, fresh air, supportive relationships, exercise, etc. Signs and symptoms are compensatory responses that are indicative of disturbances in the determinants of health. They should not be suppressed or covered up -- they are signals trying to alert you that something needs to change!
The compensatory responses can resolve through a discharge that restores health, or if the imbalance in the determinants isn't corrected, a chronic reaction results. From the chronic reaction state, you can either move back into a compensatory response (and then hopefully discharge and health), or a degeneration of function or tissue.
The process of healing is fundamental to the success of naturopathic medicine. Many patients who seek out naturopathic medicine have chronic conditions that seem to be "managed" by conventional medicine, but patients want to restore health and not have to deal with the condition forever! Understanding that the imbalances in the determinants of health are what is driving the compensatory responses, and thus the chronic reaction allows us to find and remove the root causes of the condition.