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Health, south wind, books, old trees, a boat, a friend.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Health care – not disease care – is the essence of our approach at Alpine Valley Wellness Center. We believe that health is dynamic, that quality of life is a result of actualizing possibilities, and that wellness begins not with a scalpel or a pill but with choices – your choices.
As you can read in more detail in our Mission Statement, the basis of our approach is what we call the “3 E’s”: effectiveness, education, and ecology. These principles define a therapeutic relationship focused on successfully addressing medical and wellness issues, informing you about your options, and optimizing ecological/sustainable activities that lead to maximal health. Because both you and your physician contributes to making this therapeutic relationship successful, one way to describe our approach is to speak in terms of contributions.
Our contribution has several parts that work together synergistically to create beneficial health care experiences.
- Being effective: for us, being effective means getting to the root of the problem, not simply suppressing symptoms. To do this, our physicians utilize an integrative approach that combines carefully selected practices from various health care systems that address physiological, psycho-emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of health and illness.
- Individualized care plans: since each person is biochemically unique, “cookbook” approaches are often recipes for failure. We create tailored, patient-centered solutions that are exclusive to each patient and designed to address the specific needs of that person.
- Ecological considerations: When faced with medical decisions, however, it is often difficult to know which choices best support your unique ecological structure that includes your microbiome. Should you change your diet or take cholesterol-lowering medications? Is an exercise program, anti-depressant, or referral to a mental health professional the best choice when struggling with a mood disorder? Our expertise in natural medicine provides more options for cost-effective solutions that respect the ecology of the human person.
- The “other” medical feat – Prevention: there was once an ads for pork, calling it the “other” white meat? There is something similar in medicine called preventative medicine. It is this “other” medical feat that has dramatically increased the average human lifespan and decreased human suffering. Prevention-related activities and discussions are an integral part of our care plans, not just an afterthought.
- Focus on education: it is impossible to make informed choices unless you understand the implications of what you are choosing. For us, education is about taking the time to explain how, what, and why things are happening so that you can make intelligent health decisions.
- Team approach: good medicine does not happen in isolation. The field of medicine is much too broad for any one individual to be able to be an expert in everything. For that reason, we work with a broad range of medical professionals, including the one’s you are comfortable with, in order to optimize your care.
The contribution you bring to the therapeutic relationship is also important.
- Bring your story: we want to understand your viewpoint, needs, and priorities. Please feel free to be as clear as possible in explaining your history and what you require from your health care providers.
- Bring your enthusiasm: we are enthusiastic about your decision to invest in your health and wellness! Feel free to bring your enthusiasm with you and to share it with others.
- Bring your understanding: probably the biggest misunderstanding people have about natural medicine is that it provides a “magic bullet” that conventional medicine is unable to provide. The truth is, magic bullets are rare in medicine. There is an adage, “Quick, cheap, or good – pick any two.” In medicine, interventions that are quick are often more invasive or have more side effects; natural interventions that are less toxic and more sustainable require more effort and take more time. Understanding this reality can be helpful in setting realistic expectations of what natural medicine can provide.
- Bring your commitment to transformation: in many cases, the current lifestyle choices people make contribute to the health care challenges they face. If you desire something more than superficial change, please allow us to assist you in making that a reality. As Woody Allen noted, eighty percent of success is showing up. It is important that you follow through on your appointments and be an active participant in them. We want you to get the full value of your investment in health and wellness.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
The principles of naturopathic medicine are an important part of our approach. These do not fully cover all aspects of the naturopathic healthcare model, but they provide a very good basic introduction. Please see below for more information.
Naturopathic physicians, when given a choice of nearly equally effective agents, will generally choose the one that is safest. A more exact translation of this Hippocratic concept would be that sometimes harmful therapies are needed but they should be reserved for the last resort and, if at all possible, avoided. This principle does not mean harmful therapies should never be used.
Naturopathic physicians typically strive to determine the underlying causes of illness and to address these to the extent that it is feasible. While this is not always possible, this guiding principle is one that is often overlooked in conventional medicine, and helps to define naturopathic medicine both in the field of research and in general patient care. Naturopathic physicians also work to relieve suffering and palliate disease. Sometimes this may be all that as possible if the causes of illness cannot be identified in an individual patient, though the cause can often be treated while suffering is simultaneously alleviated. The naturopathic healthcare model holds, however, that it is imperative to avoid suppressing symptoms in most cases without addressing the cause of the dysfunction. It is believed that if this clinical guideline is not observed, the potential for even greater pathology may ultimately be created.
In terms of the ancient debate concerning the proper focus of medical therapeutics, naturopathic physicians generally ascribe to the view that the human organism has a unique capacity to heal itself and that such healing is only aided, not accomplished, by a physician. The incredible biomolecular complexity of the numerous cyclic, cybernetic processes of the organism is believed to account for this capacity, as exemplified by the recent advances in psychoneuroimmunology. Since the nonlinear, autopoietic dynamic that defines this self-healing ability of the human body has yet to be fully articulated, it is simply referred to in naturopathic medicine as the vis medicatrix naturae – the healing power of nature.
One of a naturopathic physician’s primary roles is to educate the patient. This means that, to the extent possible and appropriate, information sharing with the patient should take place so that they are able to make informed decisions about their health care. Since the creation of a healthy lifestyle often rests on the choices and decisions the patient makes, this principle also implies that the patient has a responsibility to assist in the restoration of their own health. Another way to think about this is that the “healing power of nature” can be constrained by various obstacles to healing that may exist in the person’s life, obstacles that can only be removed if the individual chooses to do so. These can include anything from toxic exposure in the workplace to self-destructive behaviors that individual may engage in. One of the naturopathic physician’s key tasks as a teacher is to empower the patient to appreciate and accept this responsibility.
Whenever possible, naturopathic physicians work to prevent illness rather than waiting until invasive treatment is required. Naturopathic physicians also strive to maintain wellness in all aspects rather than simply helping to prevent and treat illness. This principle implies that naturopathic medicine acknowledges the social and cultural antecedents of disease, since economic, environmental, and political factors can play as much of a role in determining one’s health as the better established mental, emotional, and physical causes of illness.
Naturopathic physicians focus on taking into account the totality of the human individual they are working with in the course of patient care. Even a relatively minor physical ailment affecting one organ system may actually be a clue to larger pathology. The mind, body, and environment form an ecological whole that requires them to be considered together in the process of assessing health and disease.
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