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  • Writer's pictureMARY LIGHT ND MH LMT

Using 8 Pillars to Assess Clients #1

How do naturopaths and clinical herbalists assess clients and make health care decisions? We do not draw blood, or necessarily need to take urine samples . We are evaluating Health States, and Body System strengths and weaknesses , and while pathology may be present, we are not attempting to treat pathology - rather we are helping our clients rejuvenate and restore health. This is the essence of holistic treatment and holistic primary health care.

This is ~#1 of an intended blog series to bring an understanding to the reader as to how Inner Ecology and the PEMS model ( Physical, Emotional Mental, Spritual) are brought into the intellectual process of determining a protocol to help a client, when using the PIllars.

A written intake begins the process, with questions designed to give information about health states, health history, and the overall condition of the Inner Ecology. This intake can be designed to include questions about how the Pillars are already manifest within a client's life, or if there are areas within this model needing attention. Other assessment methods may include 1) an iris reading to gather information on tissue states 2) Physical assessment, including palpation of reflexes and acupoints 3) Taking basic vital signs such as blood pressure readings and pulse. Some practitioners add or utilize other assessment methods which may work well for them (which our school does not teach- we have our hands full with all we do!) - such as face reading and tongue reading.

The Actions of Herbs will do much more than "treat symptoms". While it is necessary to provide a comfortable path during restoration of health, it is also necessary to address, with herbs and other Pillars, how tissues can be strengthened and nourished, and how the synergy of herbs within a formula will address an actual PROCESS over time. I like to treat whatever symptoms I can which might interfere with a client's ability to follow a protocol, and to bring about a higher probability of compliance. Nervous debility and sleep issues, and pain, may be examples of this. But I am ALWAYS working holistically-as that is what traditional naturopathy always offers- a holistic approach.

I want to focus upon herbal rejuvenation here, for now. Take, for example, a bowel formula we have used for 20 years. A bowel formula might be recommended for a variety of protocols- not merely "constipation". Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Hormone Imbalances, Infertility, Malabsorption of nutrients, Recovery from medical treatment, autoimmune issues- are a few reasons a holistic herbalist/naturopath may guide in the use of the Bowel Rejuvenator formula featured here.

This formula contains cascara sagrada, slippery elm or alternatively, marshmallow root, either thyme or goldenseal, rhubard root, and ginger. It is a powdered formula, usually capsulated due to the bitterness. (powdered formulas work wonderfully if well prepared, in spite of what some herb books try to tell you). How is it "holistic"? It is a BALANCED formula and I will show you how and why:

~ Two herbs increase bile flow and peristalsis, which is the movement of the colon. That is a basic goal, which cannot be accomplished holistically without the other herbs. Additionally, increasing colon movement strengthens the actual colon structure, much like lifting weights (exercising your bicep, for example) may strengthen muscles. When our body system structures are working well they do their functions well.

~ One or more of the herbs reduce spasms, and bring herbs deeper into tissues- in this case ginger, and it doesn't matter at all whether someone is classified by someone else as "cold or damp". We have "cold and damp" or "hot " or "dry" areas within different pockets of our entire body, not just as a whole person. The ginger stays.

~ One or more herbs sooths tissue, which is particularly important when the structure of the colon begins to move more and release accumulated waste. I may add comfrey to the formula of certain clients , partially for this purpose.

~ One or more herbs is antimicrobial, astringent ( a substandard colon benefits from toning), and antibacterial. This is important when, again, the colon begins to move and release waste, some of which may contribute to very regional infection areas as things are stirred up.


Let us now look at how an herbalist/naturopath, who has studied Anatomy and Physiology, and other natural medicine practices, may further add synergy to the healing process, while guiding a client into herbal therapeutic protocols.

BODYWORK- Simple palpation of the intestines (colon and small) can be both a useful treatment AND assessment method . MASSAGE of the area would have the intended goal of bringing circulation of blood and lymph to stagnated areas, while also mechanically moving things along. It is not necessary to be an actual licensed massage therapist to work in these assessment methods. For some clients, home massage can be taught for self care.

HYDROTHERAPY - The Castor Oil Pack is a hybrid- it is a botanical treatment, (castor oil is from a plant), energized and supported as to the absorption of castor oil by the addition of specific heat for specific times. It is possible to add other botanical substances to the castor oil itself to add additional qualities to the healing process. An example of this is adding specific essential oils in specific amounts, which themselves are chosen to move and stimulate lymph flow.

DIET- Any effective naturopath/herbalist would need to be aware of how a client's diet habits are affecting their inner ecology, their digestion, their nourishment. Red flags in the diet that are detrimental to , say, bowel & digestive health and protocols therein,

This iris give information about tissue states, which in turn can be used to guide in herb selection. Its appearance may change as rejuvenation is undertaken.

may include lack of fiber, excess sugar, food sensitivities, and a general lack of habitually consuming a balanced whole foods diet.

MOVEMENT - Different types of easily accessible therapeutic movement can and do aid the digestive and eliminative function, which will greatly enhance any goals intended from herbal therapeutics. Simple walking and stretching as a consistent therapeutic practice is a great start.

Hopefully this brief post will help readers begin to visualize and understand how herbal work derived, as we teach, from Traditional Naturopathy - and natural medicine in general can be turbo-charged by way of the synergy of adding the Pillars- both within the grid of your own initial intake for clients, assisting with your own assessment, as well as contributing to the creation of a holistic healing plan for clients.

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