The River of Health
A Naturopathic Approach to Wellness
The “River of Health” analogy can help us understand why our bodies experience health challenges and how naturopathic medicine can help us to reach optimal wellness.
Everyone is somewhere along the River of Health. Picture a river that forms toward the top of a mountain. Its water is clear, clean, fast-moving, pure and full of life. Vegetation thrives along its bank, and we can see fish swimming in its clear water.
As we travel down the river, we gradually notice increasing signs of civilization. The river’s water becomes murkier and more contaminated with waste from human activity such as industry, agriculture, housing developments, and garbage. Finally we reach a place in the river after passing through several cities, where it is no longer the same clear mountain stream, but is stagnant and gradually comes to an end. The water is murky, and we no longer see thriving vegetation or fish swimming. Its banks are littered with garbage, including broken glass, cigarette butts, and dead fish. We even see a sign that reads, “Warning: Water Contaminated. Do Not Fish. No Swimming Allowed.”
Now think of this river as your personal River of Health. Most of us are fortunate enough to begin our lives at the top of the river with great health and the capacity to fully enjoy life. As life wears on though, for many it becomes easier to flow with the water downstream. Sometimes we are not even aware that pollutants are entering our river through our environment, including the air we breathe, the cleaning products we use and those used by those around us, the fertilizers and pesticides applied by you or by the neighbor’s landscapers, the preservatives and other additives in the food we eat, the chlorine and fluorine and pharmaceuticals in our water, and so much more. The choices we make in life can affect where we are, and in which direction we are headed along the river, such as choosing to smoke, to abuse alcohol or drugs, to deprive ourselves of sleep and relaxation, to overwork, and to make poor dietary choices. Before long, many along their personal River of Health realize that they have landed themselves in the “No Swimming” zone and that they are no longer healthy, vibrant and full of life, and that they now lack the capacity to fully enjoy it.
We all want to be at the top of our River of Health, where we are fulfilling our health potential, and where we are optimally healthy. It takes time to travel downstream along the river, and it can take just as much time to travel back upstream to the top. My goal as a naturopath is to empower you and to guide you and to not only give you the tools you need for your travels, but to show you how to make them for yourself as you head out on your adventure. I assure you, wherever you are along the river, it is possible to travel back upstream if you have a guide who can show you the way. This guidance will go far beyond simply treating or removing your symptoms; it will include discovering the root causes of your symptoms, and removing your obstacles to health, and helping you to travel back upstream.