Question and Answers On The Philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine

By: Dr. Brian Bernier, ND

I was recently browsing through some old documents and came across this writing I produced on Naturopathic Medicine in answering fundamental questions. I wanted to share this Q&A as it helps highlight how Naturopathic Doctors work and why you may want to consider visiting a Naturopathic Doctor.


1. Why is health our innate and natural state?

Health is our natural and innate state because we are self-healing creatures that have adapted and selected traits to thrive in our environments.  A fish is biologically designed to not only live in the ocean, but it is designed to thrive in the ocean.  Camels are designed to thrive in desert conditions.  Human beings, we too are designed to thrive, so long as we live harmoniously in the environments in which we have adapted within.


2. What are the Determinants of health and their role in health and disease?

There are many factors that we concern ourselves with when assessing a person’s state of health, and we call these factors determinants of health.  The determinants of health are numerous, but to understand their importance in health, here are some:

  • Inborn- these factors include genetics, prenatal factors, the birth process etc…

  • History of Disturbances – Any illnesses that might have/be affecting you, physiological evaluation of what is going on with you.

  • Lifestyle – This can be broken many subgroups. There are essentials that we must maintain such as Breathing, Hydration, Sleep, Nutrition, Creativity/self-exploration and enjoyment. There are social factors such as education, economics, healthcare, governmental, and cultural.  There are factors which coincide with living harmoniously with our planet such as Light exposure, Environmental, Ecological and more.

In short, there are many factors to consider when assessing health, and the more out of balance these factors are, the more one will be dis-eased.  These are the natural factors that strengthens a body’s natural ability to heal.  By addressing these factors, we improve a person’s health.


3. What is the primary responsibility of a Naturopathic Doctor?

Our job is to create the conditions of health by addressing the imbalances of the determinants of health.


4. What is meant by “compensatory response?”

A compensatory response is the body’s natural way of correcting a disturbed function that is caused by an imbalance in the determinants of health.  For example, a person with an injured muscle may begin to walk with a limp.  The limp allows to person to continue walking.  So, in this scenario, the disturbed function would be walking.  The limp would be the compensatory response, the body’s attempt to continue walking through injury.


5. What are discharges and why is there a discharge?

Discharges are the body’s natural way of removing toxins and byproducts of metabolic functioning.  This can include exhaling when you breathe, urine, feces, sweat and more.  They are excellent indicators of disturbed functions.  For example, concentrated (darker yellow urine) is a great indication that someone is dehydrated.


6. What do signs and symptoms mean?

Signs and symptoms are indicative of disturbed determinants. These disturbed determinants produce compensatory responses as the body’s intelligent attempt to restore health.


7. What would cause a chronic reaction and degeneration how would you reverse them?

A chronic reaction and degeneration result as the product of a prolonged disturbed determinant.  If a disturbed function continues for too long, the body will begin to adjust to the imbalance with a prolonged compensatory response, causing a greater level of disease.  If you want to reverse disease chronic conditions, you have to address both the disturbed determinants and support the compensatory response in restoring the body to health.

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