Health Articles

Healing is a Journey – PART II

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With change, comes expectations. Often people are ready for change, but don’t know what to expect. How long does this change take to work? People want to see an immediate result for their efforts, and with good reason.  I frequently hear of people trying the latest natural supplement or diet that they read about, for just a few days or weeks, and then give up with the conclusion that it didn’t work.

As a society, we are used to medical interventions having very specific and expected outcomes, and a “one size fits all” approach. For example, you go to your doctor with an infection, and are given antibiotics, with a prescription of a set number of days. And it works (most of the time).

But what if you are experiencing repeated infections? Whether it’s recurrent tonsillitis, urinary tract infections, sinus infections, or anything else for that matter, that just keep coming back?  You can keep taking the antibiotics, and it will likely work if it’s a bacterial infection, however it does not address the reason why this keeps happening; it does not get you “healthy”.  Health is not simply the absence of disease or resolving a symptom.

This is often when people come to seek naturopathic medical care. More often it’s after a person has been suffering from a chronic issue for years.  The first step is identifying the underlying cause, and getting a deeper understanding of what is out of balance in this person’s body. After a very thorough medical review and a personalized treatment plan, I spend time with a patient to teach them about what is happening, and try to motivate them to make some changes.

Now comes the work of the patient. The first question that I often get asked, is “how long is this going to take?” (with the underlying expectation and excitement that these supplements and herbs might magically heal them in a few weeks). They would like a finite answer to something that is much more complex.

My answer to this is always, “healing is a journey”. If you’ve been experiencing a condition for a long time, then chances are it’s going to take some time to notice major changes. Sometimes things might get better sooner. But sometimes it takes a lot more.  Disease is complex, as is the human body. There often isn’t just one thing that can fix something; it’s often multifactorial – meaning that the cause of your condition, is often due to many different factors. It could be diet, it could be environmental toxins, it could be stress, it could be nutrient deficiencies, it could be genetics, or just poor quality sleep. More often than not, it’s all of these factors combined, and more.

This is why we have to work towards health from different angles; just taking the supplements and products that I may have prescribed to you, is not the only “work” required.  You can’t ignore diet changes, stress reduction, exercise, detoxification, and other recommendations such as “drink more water” or “do some deep breathing”. These key little habits are integral parts of maintaining a healthy body and getting to that “balance” that we’re trying to achieve.

It’s important to realize that getting healthy is a process. There is not one thing that is going to make us better. We take small steps from many different angles, and at some point down the road they all translate into a more balanced body and therefore better health.  The timeframe may be different for everyone, but the end result is something that is so rewarding. More energy, feeling great, feeling your best.

Just like a car, health requires regular maintenance and attention. Once you feel better and things seem to have resolved, it doesn’t mean that you can stop.
The great thing is, that along this journey towards health, you gain a lot of awareness about your body and your habits. Awareness is the first step towards change. When anything goes out of place in the future, you will be much more acutely aware of it, and it’ll be a lot easier and quicker for you to get back into balance.

When you’ve experienced what it’s like to actually be healthy, then you will be motivated to maintain that. It may seem like a lot of work at the beginning, however habits become ingrained in us over time, and just like bad habits, good ones can take over. Living a healthy life is not constant hard work – in fact, life gets a lot easier when you are in good health.

It may be a cliché, but a true one: “The journey of a thousand miles, starts with one step”.  Don’t get easily discouraged by your lack of progress. Even if it’s a less than perfect start, repeated consistent efforts will eventually get you there.

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About the Author:

Dr. Priya Prakash, MSc, ND, is a Naturopathic Doctor based in Ottawa, Canada. She blends her passion for healthy living and her skilled scientific background with effective natural healing methods. Her unique approach to primary health care involves addressing the body, mind and spirit, while incorporating current scientific research to guide her treatments.