Treating skin conditions with naturopathy

Dec 2 08:51 2008 Josephine Toulemonde Print This Article

Dr. Keyes, Naturopathic Doctor in Calgary, graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, in Toronto. She is also a member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) and the Alberta Association Naturopathic Practitioners (AANP) and is a certified yoga instructor.

In this interview, Dr. Keyes explains how naturopathy can help with skin conditions, like eczema.

Optiderma: Can you explain us what naturopathy is all about?Dr. Keyes: Naturopathy medicine works with the vis medicatrix or the healing power of nature and helps to stimulate the body’s vital force to heal. Everything you need to heal is within nature: we use natural substances,Guest Posting herbs, flower essences, homeopathy and food. It’s about aligning yourself with the natural order of the world, the natural rhythms: the moon, the tides, getting up with the sun, going to bed with the sun, being in sync with nature. When we fall out of tune with Mother Nature, diseases ensues. I would say that naturopathic medicine also works at the level of spirit as well as at the level of biomechanics, biochemistry, and the mental/ emotional body. When we are out of sync and when we hold on to emotions like anger, jealousy, hatred, or impatience, those vibrations and patterns affect our body.Dr. Bruce Hoffman, an MD in Calgary says that, ‘disease is just a reaction to the human experience’. So it is how we deal with the human experience. If we resist things, we get stuck in the trauma, we don’t flow with life and diseases manifests. However, when we embrace and learn from our human experience, when we grow and expand with compassion and awareness, we flow as a river. Optiderma: How could naturopathic medicine help people with skin problems?Dr. Keyes: There are a number of modalities that all naturopathic doctors are trained in: nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture/ Chinese medicine, homeopathy, counselling, hydrotherapy, and, physical medicine. We are also trained in chiropractic manipulation. However, NDs often refer patients to a chiropractic Doctor. The initial visit lasts about one hour. We take the patient’s medical history, where is the disease, when did it begin, what makes it better, what makes it worst, etc. We also go over family history. We look at current/ past medications or supplements. Then we review diet, your lifestyle, what are your stressors. We also assess environmental factors. We also do a review of systems just to see if there are other pathologies that may be related to your skin disease. For instance, skin diseases often coexist with asthma, hay fever, or seasonal allergies. On the second visit, I perform a complaint oriented physical exam. We also do Chinese tongue and pulse diagnosis. Treatment begins on the second visit. In the therapeutic order of naturopathic medicine, we always start with diet and lifestyle. You can give somebody homeopathy, supplements, but if they are eating candy bars every day or if they are smoking a pack of cigarettes, that’s going to be a huge obstacle to their cure. We are what we eat so it is about changing a person’s diet. People with a skin disease are often prescribed fish oils, which are anti-inflammatory among other things. These people also tend to be aggravated by dairy. This is something that is often removed initially at least and tested to see if there is a sensitivity. It’s important to look at family history too, if that person was breastfed, for instance. Often in children who have had skin diseases, they have never been breastfed. So they would be introduced with a formula at a very early age before the GI tract had time to develop, and then inflammatory processes are created. It’s also about healing the digestive system. We use supplements, tinctures/ herbs, teas and homeopathy, and also counselling. Optiderma: Does it mean you work on both physical symptoms and mental causes?Dr. Keyes: Yes, absolutely, I feel that is key. There is always a story underlying the physical pathology. It’s about getting to the root cause or getting to that story or delusion (limiting belief system), as well as supporting the body with high vibrational food that is going to encourage healing and increase vitality. At the end of the day, we are all responsible for our own healing. We all have obstacles to face and to overcome. This is essential to growth. If we look at it this way we can see that disease is not an enemy but instead a friend. Optiderma: Let’s focus on eczema for instance; Is early diagnosis and early treatment important for managing eczema?Dr. Keyes: The younger someone is, the less time they have had the disease, the quicker the treatment usually goes. If somebody has used topical steroids on their skin for many years, it usually takes longer to treat, because the disease has been suppressed, not cured. Basically the general guideline is that for every year you’ve had the skin disease, it may take one month of treatment. However, this is not a hard fast rule. Optiderma: What are the most common skin conditions for which you have received the best results with naturopathic medicine?Dr. Keyes: Diet is huge. We usually remove dairy and gluten, and that is often very effective. There is no protocol for one person. You can’t give the same things to everybody. You have to treat everybody differently. Each individual requires a different homeopathic remedy that is specific to the totality of their symptoms, that matches their essence. That part of the therapy is different. The diet is usually quite similar. But again, it depends on the individual.Probiotics are important for eczema, to re-establish good gut flora and to heal the digestive tract. Probiotics and fish oils are commonly used to treat eczema. There are many other things too: digestive enzymes, bitters, certain vitamins, zinc, red clover tea, and red clover cream. Optiderma: What's your view on medical treatments and how best do you involve natural treatments?Dr. Keyes: Allopathic medicine is very important in saving people’s lives, for instance, emergency medicine. Some surgeries or medications for acute problems such as a serious infection are timely and appropriate for people. However, for chronic, sub-acute conditions, naturopathic medicine gets to the root cause and can be curative.I think Albert Schweitzer said it best… ‘Every patient carries her or his own doctor inside’. Optiderma: Thank you very much Dr. Joséphine Toulemonde Useful links

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Josephine Toulemonde
Josephine Toulemonde

Josephine Toulemonde is a digestive care consultant. She is the founder of, a guide on skin remedies and healthy skin tips to help with skin disorders through nutrition advice, interviews with experts, articles, skin care recipes, and testimonials.

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