By Lis Whitton-Frey, ND
Naturopathy is a health system based on the idea that the body can heal itself when you supply it with the necessary materials and environment. It uses natural and non-invasive techniques to strengthen the terrain of the body, mind, and spirit. Its primary goal is to seek out root-cause imbalances and find natural ways to restore that balance, promoting long-term health instead of the all-too-common approach of masking symptoms.
Why did I choose Naturopathy?
I have always been fascinated by the natural world. In fact, I started foraging and making my own medicines around age 7 after my parents let me pick out an item at a gift shop and I chose a Native American Natural Remedies book. But my journey into Naturopathy really began at age 19, after my own health struggles as a teenager. I had migraines, arthritis, asthma, IBS symptoms, leaky gut, food allergies, seasonal allergies, hypothyroid, fibromyalgia, etc. I can vividly remember the moment I opened my drawer full of prescription medications and thought “there has to be a better way.”
I found my way, with the help of some wonderful, local naturopaths and herbalists. My health dramatically improved and I became passionate about researching everything I could get my hands on. But Naturopathy really solidified as a career path a decade later, at age 30, when I began working with the brilliant Seneca Anderson, one of the Naturopaths who helped restore my health in my teens and early 20’s. I couldn’t ask for a better education than the 10 years I spent under his instruction and guidance. In addition to my hands-on training, I earned my doctorate in Traditional Naturopathy through a five-year online program from New Eden School of Natural Health. I believe my own past has equipped me to become a uniquely compassionate and trauma-aware naturopath, and that my own progress in healing allows me to remain hopeful and tenaciously resourceful for every client.
How can Naturopathy help you?
Because Naturopathy focuses on the strengthening of the body’s innate functions, like detoxification, digestion, immunity, and tissue repair, it is a one-size-fits-all approach. If you have a body, you will benefit. It truly is as simple as that. However, each body is beautifully different, and you will receive a customized plan as unique as you are! I particularly love helping those with chronic and autoimmune health concerns, reproductive wellness, sports performance, PTSD, and anyone highly motivated to enjoy a better quality of life. The way I see it, health is not the most important thing; love is. But health allows us the freedom to show up for those we love the way we’d like, to show up to life the way we want to, so we can create a life we love.
How do I customize your health plan?
I utilize three different types of testing, all run in-house the same day as your consult. I use full-body AlfaSight 9000 thermography, Qest4 bioenergetic testing, and urinalysis. Each test gives us a unique perspective, and together we get a three-dimensional view of your body, allowing me to confidently guide you on your health journey. After we immediately receive the test results, I review them with you and formulate a lifestyle and supplement plan suited to your needs. I may also recommend some additional therapies, if needed, such as infrared sauna or simple things you can do at home such as Epsom salt baths.
What can Naturopathy do for me today?
As we are on the brink of cold and flu season, I’d like to give you a few ideas through a naturopathic lens of things you can do to help you and your family stay healthy this year.
The first healthy thing you can do is expect to get sick. That’s right. Probably not what you wanted to hear. But a healthy adult would ideally have one to two fevers per year, and children, especially young ones, quite a lot more. Why is this important? A fever is a sign that your immune system is working properly under the threat of an invader. Additionally, a fever promotes natural detoxification and can clean house through cellular apoptosis and provide an immune reset.
The human body and its relationship with its environment is all a bit more nuanced than we’ve been led to believe. We tend to think “germs bad/sterile good.” But we’re coming to understand more and more that, just like there are good fats/bad fats, good sugars/bad sugar, there are good germs and bad germs. And maybe everything has its place within balance of the whole. Viruses are no different. They inform and strengthen our immune systems, give us a yearly or bi-yearly purge. And there is evidence that people whose immune systems do not properly produce fevers in the exposure of germs are more likely to develop cancer. There are even cutting-edge cancer treatments that inject viral cells into cancer tumors, effectively killing cancer cells. Could this possibly suggest that viruses, within reason, could be beneficial to human health?
My goal isn’t to never get sick, but rather to have a balanced immune system and to be as healthy as possible so that I don’t get sick often. And when I do fall ill, my body is prepared and resilient.
Let’s look at some factors for why people catch more viruses during the fall and winter, so that we can then reverse-engineer our way to a healthier holiday season:
- Research shows that sugar spikes can decrease immune system activity by 50 percent within 1-2 hours after eating sugar, lasting up to 5 hours
- Additionally, we know that Vitamin D is hugely important for our immune systems and sun exposure goes way down in the winter.
- A recent study showed that cold temperatures lead to a decline in the immune response elicited by cells in the nasal cavity to viruses.
So, is it really that there are more germs during the colder months or is it that our bodies are weakened through lack of sun exposure, less blood flow to the sinuses due to colder temps, and an increase in sugar consumption, making us more susceptible to germs?
Here are some simple tips to stay healthy through the holidays:
1. Take some immune support two to three days leading up to holiday gatherings. Your immune system will take multiple hits at holiday parties: through exposure to germs during cold/flu season and because of the increase in sugar consumption. My favorite is a product called Viracid by Orthomolecular, which can also be used at high doses at the first onset of symptoms.
2. Minimize your sugar spike by choosing desserts over candy and sweet drinks. Even though desserts still have sugar, they also typically contain some fat, protein and fiber, making the sugar spike a little less extreme.
3. Be sure to eat your meals first and the order in which you eat your food matters. For instance, if you eat your protein first at a meal, you can eat the exact same number or carbs with a 75-percent decrease in sugar spike when compared to eating carbs/sugars first.
4. Take a digestive enzyme. This will help you break down your rich holiday food more efficiently, having less negative impact on the GI tract, leading to less food stagnation which causes mucus and dysbiosis.
5. Take a probiotic. Maintaining good gut bacteria will help to combat candida that can lead to digestive dysfunction that lasts weeks after the holidays.
6. Before consuming alcohol, take glutathione or NAC (which raises glutathione levels). There are more than 500 vital functions associated with the liver. And it’s estimated that these functions go on pause for eight hours for every alcoholic drink you consume. This means a major back up of hormones, fats, toxins and so much more, every time you drink alcohol! But if we can raise glutathione levels before alcohol consumption, your liver will be able to process more efficiently so that the rest of the liver’s functions aren’t on pause for so long.
7. Before a serious splurge, take activated charcoal. Charcoal acts as a sponge and soaks up what it encounters, so it can slow and inhibit absorption of the sugar and other impurities in our food and drinks.
8. Stay hydrated and keep moving! This will make sure your lymphatic system is moving properly, which increases your chances of throwing off any virus or bacteria with which you come into contact. Think about the difference between a flowing river and a stagnant pond — they may both come into contact with the same number of germs, but the one that is stagnant becomes a breeding ground and the one that is moving stays much cleaner.
Eat seasonally and stay warm. Although cold foods like watermelon and ice cream may be incredibly refreshing on a hot summer’s day, cold foods can seriously dampen digestive fire, increasing mucus production and weakening our systems. Hot teas, ginger, your grandma’s chicken soup, and a pair of warm socks will go a long way in making sure you’re still healthy this cold and flu season. Ayurvedic medicine even teaches that you should regularly soak your nose in hot water during cold weather!
Lis is a 7th generation Cobb Countian who recently realized her longtime dream of starting a natural health center, Down To Earth Health, downtoearthhealth.co. In 2021, she married the love of her life. They each have a son and daughter: Izzy, Owen, Henry and Sylvie. Their blended family lives in a bustling home in Marietta, filled with four dogs, a cat, and lots of love. They enjoy hiking, gardening, yoga, art and live music, cooking healthy foods, and traveling whenever they can!