B is for Biomedicine.

I’ve been asked more then a few times “Why didn’t you just go to medical school”

My answer is always, unquestionably: “I am in Medical school”

Naturopathic Medical students spend OVER 3500 hours in the classroom and well over 2000 hours in a clinical setting with patients.  Our first two years of schooling are very VERY scientifically focused.  Fortunately, at Boucher we learn the human body by systems (this is not the case at all naturopathic medical schools) We learn the entire physiology, biochemistry, immunology, clinical pathology, infectious disease concerns, pharmacology and pharmacognosy of the heart, then the lung, then the urinary system, the digestive system etc.etc etc and we also learn about the micobiological and cellular systems within each of the larger systems.

In order to be able to effectively diagnose a disease and in order to select an appropriate and adequate treatment it is so very important to first understand how the body is meant to work.  To be a doctor I feel it is of utmost importance to be able to visualize and see how the body would look and act under optimal conditions.

When I see patients I don’t look for pathologies, and I infrequently attempt to treat and rid the body of disease. Instead, it is my goal and desire to enhance, build and support the natural physiology of the body.  I attempt to set things right, to support and enhance the way the body was meant to be.

Thats profoundly different from the standard of medical care.

Most (not all) medical doctors and even some naturopathic doctors will give you a pill to take your pain away, will give you a prescription to stop your heartburn, will suggest a steroid to supress your overactive immune system…

Here’s what I think: A symptom you are experiencing, your chief complaint at the doctors office, the thing you want to “go away” is your body’s attempt to FIX SOMETHING THAT HAS GONE WRONG.

The goal then is to determine what has gone wrong and support the body’s attempt to rectify the problem. This requires understanding the physiology involved, determining the appropriate therapeutic targets and deciphering what caused things to go awry in the first place.

A symptom is your body's cry for HELP!

For example: A patient comes in with eczema, a rash on the flexor surfaces of both their arms. It’s itchy, red and embarrassing. They want it to go away.

Why is there a rash on their skin? We begin to reason through the physiology of the skin.

The skin is one of the primary organs in the body that eliminates toxins and waste. We therefore need to consider that the patient is not properly eliminating toxins. Maybe they need liver support, perhaps they are not having daily bowel movements, perhaps they have a hypersensitive immune system.

Secondly we consider that  those with eczema have:

  • Lowered threshold to itch stimuli: excess substance P
  • Hypersensitivity to alpha-adrenergic agonists and cholinergic agents which may be d/t a partieal beta-adrenergic blockade: receptor site insensitivity
  • Dry, hyperkeratotic skin which has decreased water-holding capacity
  • Marked tendency to lichenify in response to scratching and rubbing: membrane fragility
  • Tendency of skin to be heavily colonized by bacteria, especially Strep aureus: Immune Dysfunction
  • IgE hypersensitivity to foods and/or environmental allergens
Look at all the therapeutic targets! There are foods that can be recommended and supplements prescribed to support the bodies natural ability to fix these issues. We can support membrane strength, water retention, immune fxning, we can lower substance P, regulate cAMP.
Effective management of eczema would require temporary relief of the itch-no question. We’ve got to reduce the patients discomfor. This requires one to know that the excess substance P and histamine are responsible for itch at that we can correct these abnormalities by  stimulating cAMP or inhibiting cAMP phosphodiesterase  (Yay for learning Biomedicine)
We need to correct food and environmental allergens-We can run simple blood test and determine any and all foods you are allergic to.
We’ve got to normalize the immune system and prostaglandin metabolism- Easy Peasy! Fish oil!

What if I gave you three options:

  1. I could prescribe a corticosteroid cream to relieve your itchy rash (or a natural comparable). This may help temporarily but will eventually worsen your prognosis . Ezcema was already characterized by a faulty immune system.  If the itch comes back when you aren’t applying the cream-it should tell you that the cream is not fixing the problem, its just suppressing the symptom.
  2. We could treat and determine the cause of your skin rash so it that it doesn’t come back?
  3. We could palliate (relieve) your itch naturopathically, while determining and treat the cause!
I’m hoping you like the sounds of option 3. In fact, I’m banking  on it. Literally. I’ve got massive loans ridding on it.
The pain stacking hours a naturopathic doctor spends learning about how the human body functions allows them to understand why you have a rash, or constipation, or headaches or depression or high blood pressure.  It permits a better understanding of the physiological targets that must be addressed to improve your health and get things back to working properly.

Next week C is for Clinic! The hours, requirements and training NDs receive.

For now keep on reading on 🙂

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One thought on “B is for Biomedicine.

  1. Excellent article!

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