Dispelling Myths about Naturopathic Medicine

Call it naturopathic, alternative, holistic, homeopathic or integrative, but it's all natural medicine. Some call these remedies old wives' tales or practices from ancient Eastern beliefs, but whatever its name, people are putting more faith into this approach to healing and walking away with positive results.
According to Dr. Jeniece Schaller, a doctor of integrative medicine at MARQ Health Center in Annandale, some people shy away from natural medicine thinking it delves into New Age philosophies. In reality, it's old medicine based on new techniques of assessment and multi-disciplined treatment. Naturopathic doctors seek to heal the whole person by integrating different techniques.
"We try to bring the whole body into good working order, so it has the capacity to heal itself," said Schaller, a member of St. Leo Parish in Fairfax. "We meet the complex health needs of today with a large tool box."
Naturopathic medicine is based on the idea that the body as a whole is built to work. If someone is chronically ill and suffers from allergies, asthma, pain, fatigue, high blood pressure, constipation, irritable bowel or even recurring cancer, Schaller believes it is possible to detoxify the body and heal these problems.
"Our biggest challenge is to educate people that they can get well," she said. "They don't have to live with this."
Detoxification targets the passages of body waste - the bowel, colon, liver, lungs, skin and kidneys, as well as the lymph and blood system. The goal is to keep everything moving properly so toxins are released from the body. By cleaning these systems, the body as a whole will function better and respond faster to treatment.
Schaller looks at all aspects relating to how the body works, even from a mental and emotional point. If someone suffers from depression or anxiety, this affects their physical health.
Some assume that naturopathic doctors are against using drugs. In truth, they want to use whatever it takes to cure the patient and first reach for natural supplements, such as herbs and vitamins. Many health issues can be resolved without turning to pharmaceuticals or surgery, Schaller said.
Most insurance companies don't cover these expenses, and according to Schaller, the $75 to $300 office visit, deters some people from going this route. Treatment costs vary, sometimes as simple as an herbal supplement or oil, but others are complicated and include multiple detoxification and restorative techniques such as the Far Infared sauna or the Light Beam Generator.
Although the medical industry does not yet embrace naturopathic medicine, Schaller thinks they will eventually. It is difficult for people to understand this approach, and at times an element of faith is needed.
"You have to be accepting that there are some things that you can't always understand or that science hasn't caught up to yet," she said. The proof is found in the patients.
According to Schaller, one young high school student developed an infection on his scalp from water dripping on his head in a locker room. As the infection grew, he started losing his hair. He went to doctors all over the country and finally decided to give natural medicine a try. Schaller said she gave him oil to apply on his head, and he quickly recovered.
An athletic woman in her 50s was suffering from multiple symptoms, including her fingernails stopped growing and she was fatigued, that led her to believe that she was dying. Schaller gave her several supplements and after two weeks, her fingernails began to grow and more importantly, she felt well for the first time in years.
Schaller believes that for people who need this therapy to save their life, they will save money in the long run by treating the whole person at once instead of repeated treatments with allopathic, or Western, medicine.
If doctors do everything within their power for the patient and still see no results, Schaller said it would be wise for doctors to suggest natural medicine as an alternative.
Because this treatment isn't often covered by insurance, the St. Luke Foundation was started by former patients who wanted others to benefit from natural medicine.
For more information contact the MARQ Health Center at 703/916-8116 or marqcenter@aol.com. Angela E. Pometto can be reached at apometto@catholicherald.com.

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