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While I am trained as a primary care provider and I serve some people as such, a lot of the people who come to see me and my colleagues have chronic conditions that are not responding to medications or surgeries or treatments from other physicians. This does not mean that the other doctors whom they have seen are bad doctors, in fact many of them have skills in diagnosis and treatment of acute illness and injuries far superior to mine. But my training, as both a naturopathic physician and as an acupuncturist trained me to look at the whole person. I consider a person’s health from birth onwards, major illnesses, traumas, stressors, emotions, diet, exercise, home environment and sleep and look for causes, for imbalances.

In Chinese medicine, a healthy person has balanced energies – of hot/cold, dryness/moisture, yin and yang – and stress or trauma or genetics can injure these energies and make them go out of balance. In Naturopathic medicine we look often look at diet or sources of chronic irritation or infection, scars, lack of sunlight or sleep as causes of imbalance.

Acute disease has a beginning, a middle and an end. There are changes in energy production and metabolism and the body shifts its sleep patterns to help conserve energy to fight the infection or heal the trauma.  Eventually, it resolves, and things return to normal. But in chronic disease, this process is altered. It does not resolve. The cell is stuck in an altered state. It affects multiple systems, changes genetic expression, the health of the gastrointestinal microbiome and energy production.

A person might ask me, “What do you think I have? Is it fibromyalgia? Is it Lyme disease? Is it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?” And in a way, it does not matter what it is. It is true that if there is an infection or an exposure to some toxin, or a nutritional deficiency that needs to be treated.  But I am looking for other things that can be repaired too. I am trying to shift the cellular metabolism forward to a state of health.

I am not seeing a disease; I am seeing a person.

By Jennifer Means, ND, LAc

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