Every practitioner out there has their own story or reason for becoming a health practitioner.  Among many alternative health practitioners, there is a common theme of having an illness whom they themselves sought out alternative care and were freed from the symptoms of the illness and improved their quality of life.

My reason for becoming a Naturopathic Doctor was not fueled by overcoming illness.  While I’ve had small issues here and there over the course of time, this is not what drew me to learn about natural health.  

While doing my undergraduate degree in the biological sciences, I became fascinated with the human body and physiology.  I was also learning about plant physiology as well.  I became interested in the impact that foods and plants can have on our bodies and our ability to heal and feel well.  It was also around this time that I developed a love of cooking, took my first meditation class, started doing yoga, and continued playing sports. 

 I must admit, I’m an information junky, especially when it comes to health.  For those who know me, I tend to geek out on subjects I’m interested in.   Out of more personal interest than any initial intent of helping people improve their health, I decided to go to Naturopathic Medical school at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM); a 4-year, post-graduate, fully accredited CNME Naturopathic Medical program.  This allowed me to learn in-depth about the body and its functioning, as well as different systems of medicine that used more natural methods to help the body in its natural ability to heal and regulate itself.  I had already realized I didn’t agree with the conventional medical approach of using pharmaceutical drugs for suppressing symptoms of chronic disease and not truly inspiring people to make healthier choices to improve their health and wellness.

 While the amount of information I learned in my 4 years of training was immense, some may even say daunting, it wasn’t enough.  And due to the enormous amount of material learned, it is nearly impossible to remember that vast amount of knowledge in full detail.  For this reason, I am constantly relearning, rereading and researching health issues so that I can help my patients to the best of my ability.  On top of that, having a drive to continually learn more and educate myself, I am constantly reading research blogs and staying atop current research and recommendations so that I have a greater understanding.  As I lean more, I have changed the way I practice and not held on to dogmatic beliefs or approaches that I may have learned in my schooling. 

 Because I am inspired to always keep learning, I always encourage my patients to read and educate themselves about health so they can make more informed choices and stay motivated to make continued improvements to their health.  I want to share information with my patients to empower them to transform their lives so that they can lead long, happy, healthy lives and prevent illness. 

 What patients don’t see inside the office visit, is the dedication I have to informing myself so that I can best educate them and give the best guidance and support to achieve wellness, and help their bodies heal from whatever damage has been done, or illness is being expressed.

I truly believe we all have the potential to feel better, to reduce the burden on our bodies and achieve better lives.  It takes a lot of work and sometimes a complete overhaul to our lives but, if you truly want to get better and prevent disease, this is often what it takes.  I want to work with people who want to learn, who want to do what it takes and are ready to make significant changes so that they can reach those goals.  There is no magic pill, quick fix or short term solution to make everything better.  You have to be willing to work at it, like riding a bike, in order to achieve the desired results and it needs to be an approach for life. 

The path to health is like a train, always moving in the direction of improved health.  If you get on that train, eventually you will get there.  And there may be twists and turns that you don’t expect that may throw you off the train, or maybe you decide to fall off the train yourself, but if you keep getting back on the train and making better choices, eventually you will get there, no matter how long it takes…it isn’t a race.  The key is to always get back on the train and keep moving forward.

Author: Shawn Manske, BScH, N.D. Naturopathic Doctor