Naturopaths: Lifelong Health Starts in Childhood
TORONTO—While medicine frequently takes the form of a pill prescription, naturopaths look at lifestyle and how families can adopt healthful strategies.
At the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto last weekend, dozens of families scurried into the building with their children for a pediatrics open house. The event aimed to promote naturopathic medicine and showcase the pediatric services offered at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic.
Teaching children good habits is fundamental, said pediatrics professor Leslie Solomonian.
“We can have such a profound impact on their lifelong health,” she said.
“If we teach kids to eat properly, if we teach them to exercise, if we teach them to use products that are not toxic to their bodies, then they have a much better chance of maintaining good health lifelong.”
The day’s event was held in the form of a practicum for third-year interns who did non-invasive physical exams of the kids and then discussed any findings with the parents or guardians.
For Solomonian, lifelong health comes down to three simple principles that one should live by starting in childhood.
“Nutrition, exercise, stress management,” she said.
We put way too much emphasis on heroic medicine and we neglected basic principles in health.
— Pediatrics professor Leslie Solomonian
While modern medicine has been dominated by drugs since the invention of penicillin, Solomonian said that people are becoming more interested in healthy living.
“The principles of naturopathic medicine have always been around,” she said.
“We put way too much emphasis on heroic medicine and we neglected basic principles in health,” she said.
Nowadays, to tackle a flu, most families seek out antibiotics or drugs to treat the symptoms promptly. But Solomonian says that fevers are just the body’s way of saying that it’s fighting with the bacteria.
“If we can support the fever in a safe way and we can teach families how to do that, then the children will develop their immune systems more optimally,” she said. But educating families on how to safely and naturally deal with the symptoms is key.
“Really it’s about trying to stimulate the child’s body to do what it wants to do, naturally, to be healthy, to be balanced,” she said.
Solomonian also said that incidents from childhood influence kids throughout their lives. Being exposed to toxins or stress while they are in the womb can also affect how the children’s genes are expressed and their chances of developing health problems later.
“Naturopathic medicine really emphasizes individualization … based on your physical need, based on lifestyle, based on your finances, based on what you’re willing and able to do,” she said.
That means it is important to learn about a family’s situation, its habits, and then advise based on practical and sustainable solutions the family can adopt over time.
The role adults play, good or bad, in educating their children is key. That includes the bonds between children and their primary caregivers. Strong relationships can protect children from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, she said.
The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto’s North York neighbourhood is one of the two locations in Canada where students can study naturopathy.
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