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What a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Veterans Restorative Care Center (VRCC)

My name is Node Smith, and I’m a naturopathic physician from Portland, Oregon. The intention of this first blog is to introduce myself, and give our readers a little context for future content on naturopathic medicine. I am well aware that many of you reading this are veterans, or loved ones of veterans. I pray that it is not out of place for me to thank you here, for your service and dedication to our country, to an ideal and to a mission above yourself. You are respected and honored, and loved. The VRCC is yours.

Please watch my welcome video below by Node Smith, ND, Naturopathic Physician:

I have never served in the armed forces. I have spent my entire young adult life in academic institutions of one kind or another. And though the two worlds – the world of military service and the world of academic intellectualism –  are certainly different, there is something profoundly similar between myself and many of the veterans I am friends with, or have spoken with over the years – the need for freedom. For me, this is not just any freedom, but the freedom to be alive, to be joyous and happy; to be healthy. 

This is what health, and in turn, “naturopathy” means to me – freedom. Freedom to physically move without pain or hardship. Freedom to feel the emotions which are a natural part of life. Freedom to think and explore areas of myself and my own mind, and the freedom to relate those thoughts and emotions with/to others in mutually supportive relationships. Freedom to love God and be loved by God. And the freedom to resist the urge to give up, and strive to reach my ultimate potential.

Whenever a man or a woman puts on a uniform in the United States, they are certainly putting their life on the line to uphold and protect a structure which makes all of these freedoms possible. And there’s a lot more to it. Each of us has to choose freedom. Each of us has to choose to resist the many things that would undermine this freedom on an everyday basis. Each of us has a story that either opens us to infinite possibilities and potential, or limits us within a set number of options, methods and explanations.

Medicine and Health. It may be my career choice, but I see medicine, health and the healthcare system as exemplifying the obstacles we face to gaining our personal freedom in many ways, and naturopathic medicine, coincidently enough as offering major inroads to overcoming these obstacles. When two thirds of the population is suffering from metabolic disease that is one hundred percent preventable, and mental health diagnoses are on the rise in every sector of the population, and soldiers are coming home with PTSD, depression, and chronic pain symptoms that a dominant medical system doesn’t know what to do with, we aren’t free. How can I say this? Because there are solutions to all of these things. We just don’t have the freedom of thought, inspiration, dedication, discipline, compassion, care, information, options, or access to make different choices.

We have a collective story, that in some way tells us it’s impossible to feel good, to be healthy, to live life with joy and love, and thus limits us in our options. The story limits our thoughts, our feelings about our health, about health care options. Limitations are inherently contradictory to freedom. We are what we think, eat, say, believe and do. When we don’t have the freedom within ourselves to change all of those things, we suffer. This is what naturopathy, as a healthcare model seeks to provide the world, and veterans at the VRCC.

Naturopathy offers an entirely different paradigm of considering health. Naturopathy views the body, and helps patients see their own bodies as inherently intelligent, wise, and healing, capable of overcoming any obstacle.

Just stop, and take that in. . .

Depression, not something wrong with you.

Obesity and type two diabetes, NOT something wrong with you.

PTSD? The body’s natural response to something traumatic that hasn’t been fully processed through, NOT SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!

And all of these conditions, from a naturopathic perspective are completely treatable with incredible results. And naturopathic medicine employs some of the best tools for working with chronic pain. In fact, many of the most cutting edge research in pain management is merely rehashing what holistic practitioners have known about pain for decades, if not generations.

In future blogs I will address more specifically the importance of considering naturopathy as a “new paradigm” of medicine, and not merely different tools. But for now, just consider what is possible from a perspective of “anything is possible”, that isn’t possible with a perspective of “that’s impossible.” Which type of medicine sounds like it’s going to have better outcomes? And remember, naturopathy takes from conventional medicine, everything it can use, it doesn’t throw anything out. This is beautifully noted by a doctor at turn of the 20th century, E.W. Cordingley, “Naturopathy is the greatest healing art of all, because it takes from all whatever is good.”

~  Node Smith, ND