The Holistic Snowshoer: Naturopathic Medicine

“The ultimate cause of human disease is the consequence of our transgression
of the universal laws of life.” –Paracelsus

Snowshoe manufacturers have created a plethora of choices when it comes to our sport. Diligent research by the savvy snowshoer will help mitigate potential headaches in the process of ultimately purchasing the model for his/her needs.

You have choices respective to enhancing your snowshoe experience beyond your equipment. You can either accept mainstream medical care by treating symptoms or explore more deeply the profound healing powers within your body. Naturopathic medicine may be an option for you to improve your wellness and your snowshoeing exploits.

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care blending centuries-old natural, non-toxic therapies with cutting-edge medical advances in the study of health and human systems from prenatal to geriatric care. It is an art, a science, a philosophy, and a practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness.


Naturopathic medicine evolved from eclectic healing practices in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its philosophy was first used about 400 BC in the Hippocratic School of Medicine. The laws of nature were applied to determine the ’cause’ of disease.

Dr. John Scheel of New York City created the term ‘Nature Cure’ in 1895. Dr. Benedict Lust, a German physician who emigrated to upstate New York, crystallized the term naturopathy in 1902.

Naturopathy flourished until the advances in medicine, antibiotics, and drugs after World War II. The 1970s revitalized naturopathy as public disenchantment with conventional medicine escalated – thanks to clinical limitations and out-of-control costs. Prescription drug companies focused more on the many side effects of its drugs than its benefits. Alternative medicine has since become an integral part of the practice of medicine.


Naturopathic medicine utilizes the fundamental components of health [biochemistry, biomechanics, and mental pre-disposition] to assist you in restoring the balance requisite to meet the definition of health.

It is a distinctive approach to health and healing that empowers you to become responsible for your health. Its philosophy recognizes the integrity of the whole person. Its treatment emphasizes prevention and the inherent healing capacity of the patient’s body through self-care.

The goal of naturopathic medicine is optimal wellness. The naturopathic physician bridges the natural and conventional medicine perspectives to promote the patient’s vital force. Disease is viewed as a manifestation of the natural cause by which the body heals itself.

Living organisms have an innate ability to heal. Your vital force promotes self-repair through immune, hormonal, nervous, detoxification, and elimination systems to achieve the balance required for health. We should now care a lot more about homeostasis than perhaps we did in science class. It represents biological balance and is a major component of the health of your body.


Your health will determine the level of your snowshoe outings.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a ‘state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of infirmity.’ WHO also recommended the integration of natural medicine into conventional health care systems in its report on traditional medicine.

The practice of naturopathic medicine emerges from six underlying principles of healing. They are based on the observation of health and disease and represent the foundation distinct from other medical disciplines:

*First Do No Harm–Safe and effective remedies and therapies are chosen to increase overall health and decrease side effects.

*Identify and Treat the Cause-The primary goal is to determine and treat the underlying causes of illness rather than manage the symptoms.

*Treat the Whole Person-Health and disease are conditions of the organism. Disease affects the entire person versus a specific organ or system. Symptoms are an expression of the vital force attempting to heal itself. Methods designed to suppress the symptoms without removing the underlying cause are deemed harmful and should be avoided. Family history, diet, lifestyle, stresses, general physical state and more are addressed in addition to the consideration of one’s physical symptoms.

*Harness the Healing Power of Nature-Restoration of one’s powerful and inherent healing abilities of mind, body, and spirit. The physician’s role is to facilitate and augment the vital force to stimulate the healing process and prevent further disease from occurring.

*Educate-The naturopathic physician teaches others to understand health and illness and provide them the tools to live in balance and become responsible for their own health.

*Maintain Health and Wellness-Prevention is the best cure. Health is more than the absence of disease. A proactive model of prevention by emphasizing health versus fighting disease is the basis of the six principles. The capacity of wellness is inherent in everyone and entails daily functioning on the highest possible levels to thwart chronic or degenerative diseases.


Naturopathic philosophy is the bedrock for naturopathic practice. Naturopathic physicians are primary care practitioners and focus on causal factors versus symptomatic treatments. The scope of practice includes but is not limited to the following modalities:

*Clinical Nutrition-Nutrition is the cornerstone of naturopathic practice. Dietary changes, fasts, enzymes, minerals, supplements, and vitamins will be utilized to stimulate the healing response.

*Botanical Medicine-Medicinal plants and extracts are used according to traditional and modern scientific principles. Allopathic treatment of symptoms may only address a single issue whereas plant medicines address multiple problems simultaneously.

*Homeopathic Medicine-Special substances are prepared to strengthen the healing response of the body. This system of medicine is based on the principle ‘like cures like.’

*Physical Medicine-Various forms of manipulation are applied to bones, joints, muscles, and tissue to stimulate the healing response. Said forms include hydrotherapy, massage, heat, cold, and gentle electronic pulses to list a few.

*Oriental Medicine-Energy pathways play a key role in stimulating the vital force. The meridians throughout the body facilitate understanding of mind, body, and spirit unity to complement Western physiology.

*Psychological Medicine-Each phase of a person’s life is addressed. Lifestyle counseling focuses on nutrition, exercise, stress management, emotional states and attitudes. Biofeedback and other therapies may be implemented to assist the psychological healing.

*Obstetrics-Natural childbirth is performed outside the hospital setting. Prenatal/Postnatal care is performed with advanced diagnostic techniques.

*Minor Surgery-Repair of superficial wounds, removal of cysts, and so forth are performed in-house.

The gamut of mental, physical, wellness, and performance benefits of naturopathic medicine are obvious for snowshoers. Your heightened awareness will differentiate effort and struggle.

Two groups of snowshoers readily fit the ‘whole person’ philosophy and practice of naturopathy-women and persons 50+ years old.

More women are participating in the sport of snowshoeing annually. Women are seeking balance in their lives. They desire harmony with the natural rhythm of their bodily cycles and want to minimize their ingestion of pharmaceutical drugs, hormones, and avoid surgery when possible.

Women are more aware of their bodies and yearn for natural treatment throughout each phase of their lives. Naturopathic medicine provides ideal preventative care and often specializes in women’s health issues. Find some of these issues below:

*Cervical dysplasia;
*Menstrual issues;
*Natural family planning;
*Ovarian cysts;
*Postpartum depression;
*Sexual disorders;
*Urinary incontinence;
*Uterine fibroids;

Humans are living longer and expecting more from our bodies. Baby-boomers demand mental and physical soundness as their participation in snowshoeing increases. They have questions about diet, herbal and vitamin supplementation, specific health issues or disease concerns, familial health patterns, chronic pain and degenerative diseases, and possess the desire to optimize their wellness.

A naturopathic physician can provide optimum natural preventative care and treatment for the numerous health conditions faced by those in this age group. Naturopathy can delay or even alleviate the onset of many of these conditions by utilizing its benefits prior to age 50. See the partial list below:

*Digestive disorders,
*Heart disease;
*Mental and cognitive disorders;
*Parkinson’s disease;
*Prostate enlargement;


A licensed naturopathic physician attends a four-year graduate level naturopathic school. S/he is educated in the same sciences as a M.D. plus holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on prevention and optimizing wellness. The naturopathic physician is required to complete four years of training in the aforementioned practices in addition to a standard medical curriculum. Rigorous professional board exams follow in addition to state or jurisdictional licensure as a primary care physician.

The Future

Naturopathic medicine is not about lotions and potions or quick fixes to your ailments. It is a safe, cost-effective, long-term approach to health care. Public policymakers across the globe are recognizing the resurgence of comprehensive care offered by naturopathy.

The naturopathic profession has firmly positioned itself for a new era of preventative health care. Increased therapies in numerous disciplines along with public demand for alternative choices and increased access to natural medicine position naturopathic medicine to truly become mainstream medicine.

Your snowshoeing experiences are determined by how much value you place on your health. Consider naturopathy as one option to complement your current plan. It will invoke a proactive approach to optimize your health, and consequently, your snowshoeing endeavors.


*American Association of Naturopathic Physicians;
*Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians;
*Naturopathic Medicine Network;
*’Spontaneous Healing’ by Andrew M. Weil, M.D.;
*’Asian Health Secrets’ by Letha Haday, D.A.;
*National College of Naturopathic Medicine-Portland, OR;
*Council on Naturopathic Education;
*Alternative Medicine Review;
*Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine;
*Alternative Medicine Magazine;

About the author

Jeff Kildahl, Wellness Editor

Jeff Kildahl is a writer, author, wellness consultant and philanthropist advancing preventive health care by synthesizing primary source nutrition and fitness as the principal components of the practice of medicine.

Kildahl is a sponsored vegan ultra-endurance athlete credentialed in bioenergetics, biomechanics, metabolic efficiency™ testing, sport nutrition, and natural medicine. He is a dynamic member of CUBE™ ~ a professional speakers group ~ empowering others to harmonize the "Keys to Living in the Song of Life."

He is the wellness editor at Snowshoe Magazine, United States Snowshoe Association columnist, and contributor to health, fitness and wellness sites, blogs and publications. He is a US-based ultra-endurance athlete and philanthropist for the 100 FOR 100 Movement ~

Kildahl is the creator and president of The Wholistic Edge® ~ a visionary firm providing synergistic solutions to transcend health, performance, and potential in life and sport from the inside out via the principles of Performance Medicine™ ~