I was recently asked about hormonal balancing from a menopausal woman. She specifically asked: “what things are there to help balance my hormones?” This is a common question that naturopaths and holistic practitioners get, and the underlying assumption is very non-holistic. Let me reframe this question here:

“I know that my body is a holistic organism that has a mind component and spiritual component, as well as an emotional component. I know that imbalances in these areas of my life are real factors that contribute to illness and disease. I also know that foundational elements of health such as my diet, exercise, sleep, and the way I relate to stress, and relationships in my life are real elements to maintaining my physical health. BUT, I really want this to be easy! I really don’t have time for this. I just want to take something – natural – to take these symptoms away. What can I take so I don’t need to address the real cause of what’s going on with me?”

We ALL do this

We all have busy lives, stress, and struggles that make us suffer. The point of holistic health is not to “cut” out suffering, but to befriend it, learn from it, and transform it – which is really our perception of it – to something which no longer is a stress for us. It may sound paradoxical that by befriending something that causes us pain or discomfort will ultimately release us from the suffering it causes, but this is where the Truth of healing rests; in this paradox. When we become aware of the suffering we are experiencing, which is separate from the pain we are also experiencing – that pain and suffering are not the same thing – we open ourselves to a profound wisdom contained within whatever dis-ease we are experiencing.

Another Way of Explaining Vis Medicatrix Naturae

This is another way of explaining the naturopathic principle of Vis Medicatrix Naturae, or the body’s natural healing ability. Illness, seen as the body’s inherent wisdom communicating with our conscious mind, sets the stage for us to address exactly what needs to be healed. The body, through its pain and discomfort, is moving our attention to the exact area that needs the most love and attention RIGHT NOW. It’s our unwillingness to “go there” which causes our suffering. In many cases, this is also why specific external treatments don’t work, and we end up “chasing” treatments and diagnoses for years. It’s also one of the reasons why different people with similar conditions have drastically different experiences of their illness.

Ask Yourself, You May Just Know Best

So, the next time you find yourself reaching for an external “fix,” ask yourself what you’re really experiencing. Take a look in the mirror and ask “what am I trying to tell myself?” You may find the answer extremely profound and life changing. You may find exactly what you’re looking for. Life’s biggest dilemmas are often not about finding answers, but accepting answers we’ve always known.


Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision. 

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