Naturopathic Therapeutic Techniques
This involves the prescription of North American, European, and East Indian herbs. Herbs have been used for thousands of years, giving us a wealth of traditional knowledge and insight into their many profound healing effects. Within the past 50 years, a great deal of scientific research has confirmed many of these traditional uses and has allowed us to learn how the studied herbs work in the body. There are several ways in which herbs can be prepared for use, including tinctures (herbs extracted in alcohol), compresses, teas, and topical salves.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Also commonly referred to as Traditional Asian Medicine, this area of medicine uses Asian herbs, acupuncture, and a range of other techniques to treat illness. With origins dating as far back as 2000 years ago, TCM has an extensive philosophical background that perfectly compliments the naturopathic ideal of recognizing imbalances and bringing them back to equilibrium. The crux of this thought system is the idea that all living things have an inherent energy within them, known as “qi” (pronounced “chi”). Ideally, qi flows in a smooth and steady manner through the body within theoretical pathways called meridians. Disease is said to occur when the flow of qi becomes disrupted or if the body has too much or too little qi in certain areas. These abnormalities are righted through the use of Asian herbs or acupuncture, which involves placing thin needles at points along the meridians. While TCM has a rich history of anecdotal success stories, there are now a large number of medical journals containing research studies which support those earlier findings.
Note on acupuncture: a common concern among patients regarding acupuncture is that the procedure will be painful. Acupuncture needles are very thin, averaging 1/5th of a millimeter in diameter, and thus only occasionally come into contact with pain receptors in the skin. When they do, the sensation is fleeting and is commonly replaced by a feeling of warmth, coolness, mild tingling, pulsation, or relaxation. A typical treatment will last for 30 minutes and is often a very relaxing experience.
Nutritional therapy includes dietary counseling and the use of functional foods and nutritional supplements as therapeutic tools. Dietary counseling analyzes the patient’s current diet for foods that might be aggravating his or her condition, nutritional deficiencies, and for eating patterns that might lead to additional health concerns. Nutritional supplementation can take many forms, from correcting nutrient deficiencies to optimizing the levels of beneficial substances in the body that can treat and ward off future disease.
Homeopathy is a medicinal technique in which preparations of different remedies are used to treat patient illness. Remedies are most commonly made from herbs, other plants, or minerals; they are diluted in a mixture of alcohol and water and are then grafted onto sucrose pellets to be taken orally. Through empirical trials, each remedy has been associated with a list of signs, symptoms, and other characteristics that they are able to address. The remedy that best matches up with the signs, symptoms, and other characteristics of the patient being treated is then selected as the one to bring him or her back towards health. For example, the homeopathic remedy made from the mineral calcium is associated with back pain, anxiety, and feeling cold all the time. If a patient presented with back pain, anxiety, and feeling cold all the time, calcium would likely be a good remedy to prescribe.
This involves working with patients to help them live healthier lives. Along with the dietary counseling mentioned above, patients are also educated on proper ways to exercise, relax, set goals, and cope with the stressors of day to day life.
NDs can help patients suffering from mild to moderate mental-emotional conditions and can also provide a supportive role for patients with more severe afflictions. This is achieved through various means, such as self-introspection exercises, cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation, and talk therapy. Oftentimes counseling is complimented by other naturopathic interventions, especially nutritional supplementation, botanical medicine, and homeopathy.
When and where did neural therapy originate?
Neural therapy was pioneered in 1925 by Drs. Ferdinand and Walter Huneke in Germany. They observed that infiltrations with local anaesthetics (e.g. procaine, discussed below) in affected tissues could exert healing effects in their patients.
What does neural therapy address?
Neural therapy addresses imbalances in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), a component of the nervous system that is outside of conscious control. On a larger scale, the ANS regulates body functions such as heart rate, breathing rate, hunger, thirst, etc. On a smaller scale, the ANS helps to regulate cellular function and communication between cells. The ANS also influences the manifestation of pain, swelling, and muscle spasm in areas of trauma (or areas related to a site of trauma).
How do autonomic nervous system (ANS) imbalances occur?
ANS imbalances occur due to some type of trauma. For example:
- an ANS imbalance leading to pain in the shoulder might be due to an improperly healed scar from a past shoulder surgery incision
- an ANS imbalance leading to neck pain might be secondary to a past car accident that resulted in whiplash
- an ANS imbalance leading to chronic digestive issues might be due to continual ingestion of foods that the digestive tract is sensitive to (i.e. which will lead to chronic inflammation in the gut)
Normally when trauma occurs the body goes through the expected healing process and the damaged tissue is brought back to health. However, when this does not occur – such as when tissue is not reformed in the right way, not healed completely, or when the tissue is continually exposed to the same trauma – an ANS imbalance can manifest, leading to chronic symptoms.
How does an ANS imbalance affect the body?
ANS imbalances affect the body in two possible ways:
- They can cause pain, inflammation, swelling, spasm, and/or weakness in an area of the body (e.g. in the low back, neck, shoulder, knee, etc)
- They can lead to underfunctioning of some tissue(s) in the body (e.g. lowered function of the adrenal glands, thyroid, liver, heart, lungs, immune system, etc)
#1 Explained: excess pain, inflammation, etc, typically follows OVERstimulation of the nerve fibres responsible for those symptoms…in this case, the ANS is not able to inhibit such signalling.
#2 Explained: underfunctioning tissue typically results from UNDERstimulation of the nerve fibres that regulate them…in this case, the ANS is not able to stimulate tissues adequately.
How does neural therapy correct ANS imbalances?
Neural therapy corrects ANS imbalances by “resetting” the ability of ANS nerve fibres to transmit signals properly. Dysfunctional ANS fibres are typically “hyperpolarized”, meaning that they cannot operate properly because they are overwhelmed due to previous or ongoing trauma. This “resetting” is achieved through the administration of procaine, a locally-acting anaesthetic agent. Procaine is a sodium-channel blocker, allowing it to further hyperpolarize the ANS nerve fibres. When the procaine wears off, the polarization heads back to normal levels, ideally passing the previous hyperpolarized state and returning to the proper level. Thus, in essence, procaine is the finger that hits the reset switch for the ANS fibres. Please note: in practice it typically takes more than one procaine injection to fully “reset” the ANS fibres; indeed, each treatment should reduce the hyperpolarization more and more until proper polarity is achieved.
Is procaine safe?
Yes – the only contraindication to using procaine is an allergic sensitivity to it (in which case lidocaine is used instead).
What happens when the ANS imbalance is corrected?
In the case of pain, inflammation, spasm, etc, those symptoms should reduce (if another issue co-exists with the ANS imbalance) or resolve completely (if the ANS imbalance is the sole underlying issue). In the case of underfunctioning tissues, their function should improve.
What is a typical treatment like? (please note that the following applies to biopuncture, below, too)
After performing a physical exam to determine the underlying issue(s), the patient sits or lies down and the area to be treated in sterilized. Injections are typically done intracutaneously (i.e. into the skin), which is the most superficial type of injection possible (anyone who has had a TB test has had an intracutaneous injection). For other conditions, especially those involving large muscle groups, injections are done into the muscle itself. I prefer to use the smallest gauge of needle possible (30G) for maximal patient comfort – indeed, the 30G needles are approximately the same size as an acupuncture needle.
What is biopuncture?
Biopuncture is the use of injectable anti-homotoxic remedies to exert healing effects in the body. Anti-homotoxic remedies are analogous to homeopathic remedies (i.e. highly dilute preparations of natural substances); however, they are of a much lower dilution (usually one in 10,000 parts rather than 1 in 10030 parts).
Are biopuncture injectables safe?
Yes – one virtue of their high dilution is that they do not have the potential to cause a toxic reaction.
Why do you use biopuncture?
I use biopuncture either alone or to complement the use of neural therapy. Neural therapy is excellent at correcting ANS imbalances; however, biopuncture allows for the more specific direction of treatment. For example:
- A patient has persistent reflux secondary to a past chest injury – neural therapy corrects the ANS imbalance…adding injectable nux is a specific remedy to help resolve reflux issues
- A patient has persistent low adrenal gland function – neural therapy corrects the ANS imbalance…adding injectable adrenal gland extract amplifies the effect and helps to regenerate depleted adrenal hormones
- A patient has trouble sleeping for years after an emotional trauma and testing shows ANS imbalance in the heart – neural therapy addresses the heart ANS imbalance and Neuro-Heel helps to promote sleep faster
What conditions can neural therapy/biopuncture treat?
Technically one or both could be indicated for any health condition; however, I tend to reserve it for conditions such as:
- Any acute musculoskeletal injury (can speed recovery time immensely)
- Any chronic musculoskeletal injury, especially those not responsive to other treatment modalities. MSK injuries that I’ve treated include:
o Shoulder pain
o Knee pain
o Neck pain
o Back pain (upper and lower back pain)
o Piriformis syndrome
o Hamstring pulls
o Whiplash injuries
o Chronic pain following an accident
o TMJ syndrome
- Insomnia not responsive to other treatments
- Fatigue (chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, low thyroid function, fibromyalgia) not responsive to other treatments
- Heartburn/reflux not responsive to other treatments
- Low immune function (frequent infections, chronic infections, long-standing respiratory symptoms)
- Sinus congestion
IV Therapy (Parenteral Therapy)
Why is IV therapy used in a naturopathic clinical setting?
IV therapy can be used for a wide range of health conditions, including:
- enhancing effects of chemotherapy and reducing side effects
- direct anti-cancer effects
- cancer prevention and reduction of risk of recurrence
Low Energy Syndromes:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Low energy
- Low adrenal function
Immune System Support:
- Acute and chronic infections (colds, flus, pneumonia, etc)
- Lyme disease
- Low antioxidant levels
- Elevated heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, etc)
- Liver detoxification support
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Pain management
- Nutritional supplementation in patients with malabsorption (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac’s, etc)
- High blood pressure/arterial disease
- Neurological disorders, including
o Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
o Parkinson’s Disease (Perlmutter glutathione protocol)
o Alzheimer’s Disease
Why use IV therapy instead of oral supplementation?
The primary advantage of IV therapy is that it allows us to administer nutrients directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract in the process. When nutrients are taken orally, their structure can be altered as they pass the lining of the small intestine or when they are transported through the liver (known as the “first pass effect”). A classic example is that of oral glutathione (i.e. the most potent antioxidant in the human body): oral glutathione has great benefits to the intestinal cells; however once it is absorbed into the bloodstream it is denatured and has no antioxidant benefit at all.
Another factor that influences the ability of oral nutrients to make it into the blood is digestive capacity. If a patient has inflammation in the gut (whether they are aware of it or not) then nutrients won’t be efficiently absorbed through the intestinal wall, passing into the stool instead. If patients are not responding to oral supplements as expected, a diagnostic trial to rule out malabsorption would be an IV treatment of the same nutrients to see if benefit is noticed.
Does IV therapy hurt and is it safe?
IV therapy should not be a painful process. Practitioners trained in parenteral therapy learn the safe dosages of nutrients that can be administered and how to dilute them properly to prevent vein irritation. The only part of the process that may be expected to be uncomfortable is the initial insertion of the needle – fortunately, the needle gauge that is used is significantly smaller than that used for laboratory blood draws, and I find that patients oftentimes don’t perceive pain.
IV therapy is safe if it is administered in a careful, cautious manner. Adverse reactions to injected substances are rare, with most unwanted side effects coming from administering high doses too soon or too quickly. Allergic reactions to IV therapeutics are very rare but possible, thus a detailed history of patient allergies is crucial.
What types of nutrients can be administered?
- B complex - B6 - B12
- B5 - vitamin C - magnesium
- Glutathione - homeopathics - selenium
- Heavy metal chelating agents
Neural Prolotherapy (Pain Management Dextrose Injections)
What is neural prolotherapy?
Neural prolotherapy involves superficial injections with dextrose (aka glucose) to treat a wide range of pain conditions. It was developed by Dr. John Lyftogt, MD who specializes in sports medicine and uses dextrose injections as his sole tool for pain management in his practice.
How does it work?
Pain is a complex area of human health and researchers and clinicians only understand vague fragments of it. In the context of neural prolotherapy it is known that pain fibres express a protein channel called TRPV1. If TRPV1 levels are kept to a minimum pain is not an issue. In fact, if TRPV1 levels are kept in check it promotes healing and repair of the nervous system. However if pain fibres become sensitized (e.g. due to trauma, inflammation, etc) their TRPV1 expression skyrockets and pain follows suit. Pain fibres overexpressing TRPV1 release excessive amounts of calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) and substance P (sub P) which lead to pain, increased blood flow, and possible swelling in the affected area.
Dextrose is a TRPV1 inhibitor, meaning that if TRPV1 is overexpressed on pain fibres the dextrose stops their function. When the TRPV1 function is arrested, pain is decreased (important for immediate relief) and tissue repair is allowed to occur (important for sustained relief and healing).
What conditions does it treat?
Neuroprolotherapy treats pain, so if pain is present the treatment has the potential to resolve it. According to Dr. Lyftogt’s clinical studies the percentage of patients who achieve satisfactory clinical results are:
- Achilles tendon pain (93%)
- Hamstring pain (90%)
- Shoulder pain (88%)
- Tennis elbow (100%)
- Compartment Syndrome (78%)
- Groin pain (90%)
- Knee pain (89%)
- Neck pain (90%)
- Back pain (90%)
What should I expect during a neural prolotherapy treatment?
The initial session will involve an assessment of the painful area(s) (inspection, palpation, possible orthopaedic testing) to determine which points need to be injected. The number of injections can range from 5-15 per painful area. The injections are very superficial, only going into the fat layer just under the skin (subcutaneous layer). One phenomenal feature of neural prolotherapy is that, if effective, it will reduce pain immediately. This immediate effect will last on average from 4 hours to 4 days. It is important to remember that while this acute pain relief is of great comfort to the patient, the true value is in the long-term tissue healing that occurs after that immediate relief abates.
How many treatments are required?
The average number of treatments is 6-8, with 1 week apart between treatments (please note, for patients who are traveling from a distance for treatment, the treatment schedule can be condensed if needed. Indeed, it appears that the number of treatments ultimately affects the end result, rather than the timing). Patients typically report a 10-20% cumulative pain improvement with each session.
Is the treatment safe?
Superficial dextrose injections are safe. Indeed, neural prolotherapists have not seen a negative reaction to date. This makes sense as dextrose is a benign substance and is not accompanied by preservatives. One theoretical contraindication would be a severe allergy to corn (dextrose is commonly derived from corn). In such cases, a sugar beet extract could be obtained instead.
Ozone Therapy and Prolozone Therapy
What is ozone?
Ozone is a molecule that exists as a gas at room temperature. It consists of three oxygen molecules bound together – usually written as O3 (just as oxygen gas, with two oxygen molecules, is written as O2). Most of us are familiar with the ozone layer, which exists in our atmosphere and protects against harmful UV rays. Also, we have all smelled ozone before as it is created in the presence of lightning during a rainstorm.
Why is ozone used therapeutically?
Ozone has three main therapeutic actions: 1. it is the most potent “oxidizer” that has been discovered, 2. it is an incredibly powerful antimicrobial (any bacteria, fungus or virus is killed in its presence), and 3. it heals tissues (through its oxidative capacity)
“Oxidizer”: put simply, ozone brings oxygen into our tissues. It does so through the formation of ozonides, which enter our cells to bring extra oxygen to our mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy factories of the cell – without them life would only exist as single cell organisms. In order to create energy, mitochondria need oxygen; however if not enough oxygen is present in our tissues they can’t make as much energy as we need to feel optimally healthy. Low mitochondrial oxygen can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including poor diet, hormone imbalance, heavy metal/toxin exposure, poor circulation, and inactivity (and locally in musculoskeletal injuries).
Antimicrobial: ozone kills any microbe it comes into contact with, which makes it incredibly effective for infected sinuses, joints, abscesses, wounds, osteomyelitis, gangrene, etc.
Tissue healing: studies have shown that painful or damaged areas of the musculoskeletal system have lower oxygen concentrations than the unaffected tissues beside them. As discussed above, ozone is the best known oxidizer and as such is very effective in raising oxygen levels in affected tissues. Locally administered ozone reduces and eliminates pain and swelling and stimulates tissue healing to lead to both an acute relief of pain as well as healing of the damaged tissue (i.e. so pain will not return).
What conditions does ozone treat?
Ozone treats conditions associated with low oxygenation, which as mentioned above can be due to poor diet, hormone imbalance, heavy metal/toxin exposure, inactivity, poor circulation, musculoskeletal damage etc. As such, except in rare cases ozone is not a standalone treatment – the underlying factors that lead to poor oxygenation in the first place must be addressed (using other naturopathic tools) in order to effect a long-standing cure.
Conditions that are the most directly treated with ozone include:
Pain (at any site and of any origin)
Cardiovascular dysfunction (angina, cardiovascular disease, poor circulation, high blood pressure, stasis dermatitis, intermittent claudication, etc.)
Viral infections (hepatits, herpes simplex virus, HIV/AIDS, mono, etc.)
Macular degeneration (halts progression and helps regain lost function in 50-75% of patients)
Dental infections (including post-root canal)
Conditions that are greatly helped with ozone as part of the full treatment protocol:
Low energy (general fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome
Difficult weight loss
Low thyroid function
Premature aging (ozone therapy is a crucial component of an “anti-aging” protocol)
Any patient who cannot implement a proper exercise regime (ozone therapy is like “exercise in a bottle”)
How is ozone administered?
Ozone can be administered in several ways:
- Intravenously (known as Major Autohemotherapy)
- As an injection – subcutaneously (just under skin) or into an affected joint or sinus
- Topically – as gas or as ozonated olive oil salve
- Rectally (has a similar impact as intravenous administration)
What is Prolozone?
Prolozone is a termed coined by Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD, one of the world’s leading experts in ozone therapy. It simply refers to the injection of ozone for the treatment of pain, after a pre-treatment with an anti-inflammatory or healing solution (including procaine, dextrose, homeopathics, etc.)
Is ozone toxic or dangerous?
No, when used in a medical setting it is ozone is 100% safe and without side effects. Ozone does have to be used with caution in some disorders (e.g. thrombocytopenia), and as a general precaution is not used in pregnancy. If one were to fill a room with ozone it would be toxic in time; however the same would be true of any gas, including oxygen or carbon dioxide.
It must be noted that ozone therapy can be dangerous if it is being generated with an inappropriate ozone generator (must be from a certified manufacturer) or if being used by a physician without proper training. Which naturally begs the next question…
What type of ozone generator do you use? Where did you receive your ozone training?
I use the EXT-120 model from Longevity Resources from Sydney, BC, one of the few reputable manufacturers in North America. Ozone generators must be properly calibrated and built with ozone-resistant internal parts. Otherwise the dose of ozone won’t be controlled and toxic breakdown products will contaminate the final product.
I first learned how to administer therapeutic ozone from Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, MD. I have furthered my knowledge in the field by training with Dr. Shallenberger and corresponding with other physicians who use ozone therapy. I am a member of the American Association of Ozone Therapy as well.
Is ozone therapy scientifically validated?
Ozone therapy has more research supporting its use than many therapies out there. A multitude of studies have shown us how ozone therapy works (i.e. through its various oxidative effects) and its effects on human biochemistry (numerous studies done by Italian researcher Bocci). There have also been several studies showing that ozone is effective versus placebo for treating pain and that it is superior to steroid injections and some surgeries.
Isn’t oxidation a bad thing? Isn’t that the opposite of what antioxidants do?
Free radical formation and oxidation are frequently confused, which unfortunately has led to some misunderstanding about ozone. Free radicals in excess are a bad thing and they are essentially the “opposites” of antioxidants. Oxidation, in contrast, is essential for proper mitochondrial function and thus our health. In fact, healthy levels of oxidation have been shown to improve antioxidant levels in the body, thus further bolstering health.
Where can I find more information about ozone therapy?
www.antiagingmedicine.com (Dr. Shallenberger’s website)
What types of metals can be removed?
- other less commonly encountered heavy metals
What are common symptoms of heavy metal accumulation?
- chronic pain
- neurological symptoms (numbness, tingling, weakness)
- chronic skin issues
- chronic yeast overgrowth
What types of chelation therapies are available?
- DMSA (oral - for lead, mercury, and heavy metals in general)
- EDTA (intravenous - for lead and cadmium primarily)
- DMPS (intravenous - for mercury and arsenic primarily)
Family Constellation Therapy
What is family constellation therapy?
Family constellation therapy was developed by Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist. After providing years of psychological therapy, Hellinger continually noted the impact of underlying family connections on the health and well-being of his patients. In many cases these family bonds would be the root of overlying emotional and psychological disturbances (and oftentimes impacting physical health, too). He found that by helping his patients identify and address such relationships, profound healing could be achieved in cases that were otherwise resistant to treatment.
Why is the family constellation (family network) important?
Our blood relatives are the human beings with whom we have the strongest core connection. This is because we share DNA, which not only links us via physical characteristics but also via shared traits in the realms of the emotions, the mind, and beyond (the best example of “beyond” that I can describe from experience is the intense bond of love and devotion a parent has for his child). As such a central theme in family constellation work is that families have incredibly strong feelings of love, loyalty, and devotion, which cannot be altered on a deep level (subconscious level). Regardless of what happens in life, this underlying connection cannot be shaken – to the extent that it can influence behaviours and tendencies. Before reading the following example of this, please note that this is strictly based on the years of observation of Hellinger and the ongoing observations of his many generations of students; Hellinger himself frequently said that his work didn’t always make sense to his critical mind, but the results from basing his therapy on these principles led to consistent positive results.
A father is emotionally absent for his daughter, but fortunately the mother is very loving and nurturing. The daughter grows into a loving woman (likely thanks to her mother) and has a family of her own, but she continually puts work and other responsibilities above spending time with her own children and can’t break the habit. In this case, on a subconscious level she is honouring her emotionally absent father by “being like him” (one of the possible common core themes in family constellation work) and being absent for her own family. Unbeknownst to her this is due to her deep bond with her father, which is why she can’t seem to break the pattern. Please read on to see how this would be resolved.
What does family constellation therapy entail?
The first step is to generate a genogram (“family tree”) of all blood family members, typically back to the generation of grandparents. In traditional family constellation work the genogram is then worked on in a group setting where members of the group are led by the therapist to act as surrogates for the members of the patient’s family. I follow a different approach in my practice, influenced by the family constellation work of Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, MD.
In my practice, the family constellation therapy is done in-office without a group. Using the genogram as a guide, I use occipital drop reflex testing (similar to muscle testing/applied kinesiology) to determine which relationships require healing. I further use the testing technique to determine in what capacity healing is required. Finally, using the underlying principles of family constellation therapy and confirming with the occipital drop testing, I guide the patient in addressing and resolving the imbalance in the relationship.
Taking the daughter from the above example, in her case the relationship with her father would be identified. Further testing would reveal that the daughter was carrying out the family constellation theme of “I am trying to be like you to honour you”. After talking to the daughter the dynamic of their past relationship would be brought out in the office (as described above) and we would begin the healing work. The healing work involves acknowledging the dynamic in question and then stating what the proper dynamic should be – the healing work itself is very simple in this regard, and is finished in-office. In this case, I would lead the daughter to say something like:
“Father, I love you. Thank you for the gifts you have given me (e.g. gift of life, talents, positive attributes, etc.). When I was little we didn’t have a strong emotional relationship. That makes me sad, but I understand that you are who you are. I am your daughter and you are my father, but we are not the same person. You are you, and I am I. I do not need to be like you in this way. I do not need to be absent for my family. I love you and honour you and respect you.”
Typically after this type of healing work, some type of shift is experienced. Sometimes this feels like a subtle pull inside, sometimes there is a strong sense of “what we just did was very true”, sometimes there is emotional release of tears, sadness or anger…each experience is different.
How many treatments are required?
Generally 2-4 sessions are required to run through all relationships that require healing. Between 2 and 5 relationships are addressed in each sessions (determined by occipital testing). Sometimes initial sessions are spaced one to two weeks apart, sometimes months apart (i.e. as the underlying healing is given time to “set in”).
When is family constellation therapy indicated?
It is indicated if you have a family! In all seriousness, it is indicated for everyone as we all have family healing to do, but the therapy is primarily recommended for:
- depression, anxiety, guilt, social phobias
- habits, unwanted thought patterns, unwanted behavioural patterns
- psychological disorders (eating disorders, bipolar, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc.)
- persisting or recurring physical health concerns
- feeling “stuck” in ones state of personal growth or health
- severe disease processes (cancer, autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders, chronic health concerns)
- new parents, or parents planning to conceive soon (i.e. to reduce forming unwanted family tendencies in their children)
Occipital Drop Reflex Testing
Occipital Drop Reflex Testing (ODRT) is an assessment method that assists in the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions. The technique involves a physician checking for movement in the occipital bone (the bone that forms the base of the skull) with the thumbs after “challenging” the patient’s system in some way. A “challenge” means exposing the system to some type of stress, such as:
Physical Assessment: pressing on a spinal segment or over an organ (e.g. the liver)
Emotional Assessment: asking the patient to think of an unpleasant emotion (e.g. anger or grief)
Treatment Assessment: asking the patient to think of certain treatment techniques (e.g. supplementing with magnesium, making a dietary change, taking a specific herb, etc.)
After the challenge, the occipital bone does one of two things:
- It doesn’t move at all: this means that the challenge was negative. For example, if I pressed over the adrenal glands, then checked the occipital bone with my thumbs and it didn’t move at all then it would suggest the adrenal glands were healthy. Similarly, if I asked the patient to think about B vitamins and the occipital bone didn’t move it would suggest they wouldn’t need those as a supplement.
- It dips on one side: this means that the challenge was positive. For example, if I pressed on the first thoracic vertebra (involved in heart and lung function, amongst others) and then noted a drop in the occipital bone it would suggest that vertebra was out of alignment and needed an adjustment. Similarly, if I asked the patient to think about feeling guilty and felt the occipital drop reflex it would suggest that some emotional work on feelings of guilt would be important.
Why does the occipital bone drop?
Our bodies demonstrate certain automatic functions in the face of momentary non-life threatening stress (like the “challenges” outlined above). These include a temporary (for only a few seconds) drop in the occipital bone, plus mild increased breathing rate, mild increased heart rate, impaired electrical conductance of the skin, weaker muscles and several other subtle changes. This occurs because from a survival perspective we must always be ready to react to a threatening stimulus (think of primitive humans – if an animal attacked them and they weren’t responsive enough to get away they would be eaten and their genes wouldn’t be passed on…quick reaction is a positive evolutionary trait). Since we can’t be constantly jumping, hyperventilating, and overreacting to every little stimulus that comes along, the body quickly determines if the stimulus is a real threat – if it is not (and it usually isn’t), only very subtle shifts like the occipital drop reflex occur (completely unnoticed by us and others).
Why bother to use this technique?
I use ODRT because testing my patients in this way greatly enhances my diagnostic and treatment efficacy. In medicine there are no guarantees – most of the time when a patient presents as a “textbook” case they respond fully to treatment. However, on occasion they don’t respond as expected…and sometimes need an entirely different approach than what was originally expected. Using ODRT I can simply “ask” the patient’s body what is going on to definitively determine the best course of action. Please take this example:
A patient, let us call her Laura, presents with terrible fatigue, muscle aches, insomnia, and daily headaches. After a thorough intake and physical exam it’s most likely that she is suffering from adrenal fatigue. However there is also a possibility that she may have sublaboratory hypothyroidism instead…or fibromyalgia….or chronic fatigue syndrome…or chronic Lyme disease…or a yeast overgrowth syndrome…or so other chronic infection (please note that none of these possible diagnoses have a good lab test to confirm their presence or absence). Treatment for adrenal fatigue (with herbs, B vitamins, magnesium, etc.) will likely resolve her concerns, but if they don’t work fully then the next most likely condition will need to be addressed. Using ODRT to confirm my clinical suspicions and fine tune her treatment protocol will remove the “trial and error” element of her case.
Is ODRT a unique test unto itself?
No, it is not. Other practitioners use muscle testing, applied kinesiology, autonomic response testing (which I am also trained in), or machines like VEGA, EAV, and meridian stress testers to gain similar information. In my experience the occipital drop reflex is the simplest and is a very accurate method. This is because it only involves the skill of the practitioner (in muscle testing the patient has to “resist” properly) and it uses physical contact rather than a machine (I always know what my hands are feeling, but I can’t definitively know what’s going on inside the machine).
Is the ODRT your main method of diagnosis?
Absolutely not. My primary method of diagnosis is based on the patient intake, physical exam findings, laboratory results, and diagnostic imaging studies. I use those tools to formulate the best diagnosis and treatment plan possible. Following that I then use the ODRT to “check my work” – slightly adjust dosages, decide between two similar supplements (e.g. does the patient need Szygium tincture or garlic extract to address their yeast overgrowth?), and verify my diagnosis. Let us look at one more example to illustrate this:
Please recall the case of Laura, above. Say I had my working diagnosis of adrenal fatigue and planned to treat with herbs, B vitamins, and magnesium (this successfully treats 90% of such cases). Upon using the ODRT her body “tells” me that there is Lyme bacteria growing in her system. At that point I ask Laura if she ever had a tick bite (please note that only 50% of Lyme patients report a tick bite) – she tells me that she’s not sure but that she is an avid camper and recalls having a strange rash once about 10 years ago (months before her symptoms started). I go on to ask her about whether she has brain fog, whether her symptoms come and go, whether she has sinuses issues, knee pain – she says “yes” to all of these typical Lyme symptoms. I then use the ODRT to test my modified protocol (including some Lyme-killing herbs, etc.), find it to be right on the money, and the patient begins treatment.
In this case the ODRT helped me to fine tune my diagnosis by prompting me to ask my patient the right exploratory questions. Did I change my diagnosis to Lyme disease based on ODRT? Not at all – the new symptoms that were uncovered with ODRT were responsible for that.
Koren Specific Technique (KST)
Koren Specific Technique (KST) was developed as an advanced chiropractic technique by Tedd Koren, DC (please note that naturopathic doctors are trained in spinal adjustment techniques, thus we implement chiropractic tools in practice as well). The technique has both an assessment and treatment component to it:
Assessment: assessment is done through occipital drop reflex testing (ODRT) (please see the corresponding article on ODRT for a full explanation). The ODRT is assessed by the physician by placing the thumbs above a structure at the base of the skull known as the occipital ridge. After “challenging” the system (see below) the physician brings his/her thumbs down over the ridge and looks to see if they come down evenly (“negative response” or “no pathology”) or with one thumb being lower than the other (“positive response” or “pathology is present”). The assessment is non-invasive and allows the physician to determine precise diagnostic and treatment information.
Treatment: treatment can be directed at any type of structural/functional imbalance or mental/emotional factors. This is typically achieved using a chiropractic adjusting tool known as an Arthrostim. The Arthrostim produces a rapid but gentle tapping motion which is used to gently push misaligned body structures back into place (or to stimulate underfunctioning organs). Based on my experience and the collective experience of KST practitioners (95% of whom are chiropractors) these adjustments produce the same end results as using traditional spinal manipulations (i.e. high-velocity, low amplitude thrusts). Some readers may be familiar with the Activator chiropractic adjusting tool, which is quite similar to the Arthostim.
How do you know what to treat?
I treat what your body tells me to treat (through ODRT). We all have numerous physical misalignments – fortunately most of them aren’t causing a pathology right now (and many of them never will, directly at least), but when they do symptoms result. Most of those misalignments are secondary, though.
Primary Misalignment (subluxation): one that occurs due to some form of insult (a fall, a nutrient deficiency, overuse, emotional factors, etc). These are the “root causes” of structural issues.
Secondary Misalignment/Secondary Compensation: one that occurs because of a primary misalignment. When a primary misalignment occurs part of the body is thrown off centre. To help balance things out, some other structure must move out of alignment (it’s like when you’re walking one arm must swing back as the other moves forward to keep you balanced). The secondary compensations are not root causes, and are ultimately not what need to be adjusted (when spinal segments need habitual re-adjustments it is likely that it is because the primary misalignment has not yet been discovered).
Thus, part of the art of KST is in finding the primary misalignments and correcting them, so the whole system can return to balance. This is likely why KST is such a successful therapy and is viewed as being “advanced” by the practitioners who use it.
What are the applications of KST?
KST can be used to complement the treatment of literally any pathology – physical, mental, or emotional. The reason for this is that structure dictates function – if the body is out of alignment it cannot function optimally. Misalignments lead to impaired flow of nerve signals (which coordinate everything in the body), blood, and organ function. By putting everything back into place in the right order, proper function can return.
It is clear to see how this can impact optimal physical functioning. In terms of mental and emotional symptoms, similar therapeutic value can be achieved by treating patients while they are thinking of the mental issue or emotional state. Upon doing so, certain physical structures begin to come out of alignment – once those are adjusted the mental/emotional state is improved both acutely and in the long-term. To illustrate by example:
A patient presents with concerns of anxiety. Upon implementing a thorough naturopathic treatment protocol, KST is utilized as well. The patient is assessed with ODRT and several general adjustments are performed – further ODRT shows so no other general adjustments are needed. The patient is then asked to recall an anxiety provoking incident and think about it while the ODRT is done to re-check him. New misalignments begin to turn up and each one is treated until no further subluxations occur while thinking of anxiety.
This is a glowing example of holistic medicine – that body, mind and emotions (and spirit) are continuations of one another. The patient was cleared of misalignments, but upon experiencing a negative emotion/thought process his physical state reflected that. By treating the body we are able to support the mind and emotions as well.
One quick note on the statement “structure dictates function”: indeed, it is a two-way street as function dictates structure, too. This is why a comprehensive approach to health conditions is important – treating the structure alone will only take one so far.
Why is KST being recommended for me?
Generally speaking it is to enhance your overall health, prevent illness, and treat current symptoms. More specifically it may be to:
- Enhance organ function
- Correct a structural problem in the skeleton
- Work with emotional symptoms
- Resolve pain
- Improve supplement absorption
- Improve immune system function
- Enhance lymphatic flow
- Facilitate detoxification
- Facilitate family constellation work
- Treat problematic scar tissue
- Treat neurological symptoms
- Address symptoms of autism or ADHD
- Support cognitive function
- Address learning issues (e.g. dyslexia)
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is a cutting edge therapy to promote tissue healing. More information to come soon or please phone the office for details.
Biological medicine shares many of the principles and treatments of traditional naturopathic medicine. However, it is a distinct system that uses specialized assessment methods and treatment techniques. A comprehensive description of biological medicine – including the assessment methods are treatments used – can be found at the Biological Medicine Network site.
Our clinic incorporates the following biological medicine tools:
Contact Regulation Thermography
Nutritional Counseling and Supplements
Isopathic Remedies (Sanum Therapy)
Heavy Metal Assessment and Removal (Chelation Therapy)
Biological Dentistry Support*
*we do not have a biological dentist in Nova Scotia, although we do refer to Dr. Lawrence Freedman in Toronto ON. Our clinic is able to use assessment tools (e.g. darkfield, thermography) to help identify dental foci and cavitations, and we help to treat these issues to the best of our ability (i.e. via ozone injections, neural therapy, sanum therapy, IV therapy, etc.)