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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Glick

Naturopathic Health Assessments

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

An overview of traditional Naturopathic assessments




 

Traditional Naturopathic education includes training in a variety of assessments and treatments, with each practitioner finding the assessment tools/methods/treatments that they prefer and that best suits their practice. During the past few years, with the pandemic forcing many health practitioners to move to virtual practices, some of these methods have been much more challenging to practice with clients, but some have been able to be modified for virtual consultations as well.


The following gives merely an overview of some of the assessments/treatment modalities, etc that were a part of my own training. I was trained in the "triangulation" method, which means finding confirmation of what the patient needs support for via at least two, but preferably three assessment modalities. None of the assessments included in this post are intended to be viewed as a form of diagnosing disease. As a Holistic health practitioner who is trained in Naturopathy and Homeopathy, I do not diagnose disease. Also, as a Naturopathic Homeopath, I do rely heavily on the "intake form" as well as on the actual consultation as major aspects of my assessment procedure, especially now that I am mostly in a virtual practice. Each assessment can help when the case seems to be stalled or "stuck" in any way. Future blog posts that deal with specific subject matter may also include more detail regarding some of these topics as well:




 




#1 Iridology:


"Iridology is a science revealing pathological and functional disturbances in the human body by means of abnormal spots, lines and discoloration of the eye". Dr. J Haskell Kritzer.


I have fond memories of studying Iridology with my fellow Naturopathic classmates as we took turns analyzing each other's irises (irides), and were shocked at the accuracy of this seemingly novel health assessment. The benefit of this form of assessment is the extent to which it can help to ascertain weaknesses in various organ systems in the body. This modality became one of my preferred forms of assessment, although it has been challenging to accomplish it fully most recently, due to the pandemic. The picture of the iris that I posted above appears to belong to an individual with an overall healthy constitution in the sense of low organ toxicity, etc, although parts of the iris are not visible clearly due to the glare in the picture. Due to the now mostly virtual health practices, it is possible for holistic health practitioners with a virtual practice to have their clients take a picture of their iris with their cell phones (or other camera) and send to the practitioner. I have seen this work for iridologists, although have not tried it yet in my practice.


Iridology is not a form of optometry or ophthalmology, or a diagnostic method for overall eye health regarding vision, etc. This science has been said to have been practiced in a varied form going back to the Ancient Egyptian times, with the Cairo Museum in Egypt having displays of eyeballs that indicate markings in the areas of the sclera, as well as the irises. In more recent history, Iridology was studied and written about in Sweden in 1893, in Germany in the late 1800s and in America in the early 20th century. American Doctors who wrote about and expanded the knowledge of Iridology include Dr. Henry Lindlahr, MD, ND; Dr. Bernard Jensen, DC, DO, who also studied homeopathy, herbalism, reflexology and naturopathic treatments, and wrote "Iridology: the Science and Practice in the Healing Arts"; Dr. John Christopher, ND and herbalist who was a colleague of Dr. Jensen's in the early 20th century. Iridology is still widely studied and practiced throughout Europe and in the United States by Iridologists, Naturopaths, Chiropractors and some Homeopaths.



 






#2 Applied Kinesiology (also known as Muscle Response Testing):


Muscle Response testing (MRT) is a form of biofeedback that can be used by the practitioner to help to assess any potential nutritional needs of the client, as well as to assess any organ weaknesses, and to determine the most effective supplementation and even confirmation of homeopathic remedies, etc. One of the appealing aspects of MRT is that it does not require any equipment and can also be used in a self-assessment capacity (with education provided to the client). I had more than one class and with a variety of instructors in this modality. Initially, it did not appeal to me as much as iridology, since it felt a bit more subjective when I was being trained in it, however since it is used alongside at least one, preferably two other assessments, I began to feel more comfortable using it. In the picture above, a chiropractor is doing a form of MRT and my training was similar. Some practitioners have the patient lie on a table or use the leg or other parts of the body (fingers, etc) for the assessment. It is a valuable modality to learn and I do use it quite extensively personally. However, with a virtual practice, it is challenging to use this modality. More recently, there are biofeedback technological methods that have become available for practitioners who prefer this method to MRT, such as "Zyto scan" methods that can be used virtually. I am considering getting training for required annual Continuing Education Units in this method.


"It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease, than to know what sort of disease a person has." Hippocrates


 



#3 Traditional Chinese Medicine: Face, Tongue, Fingernail assessments:


Some of my instructors in Naturopathy school were also educated extensively in TCM, and incorporated this modality into our education. The face can show areas of organ weakness on various regions, as can the tongue. Each region has been mapped out in TCM to show areas that need strengthened via supplementation, change in diet, etc. For example, a significant crease between the eyebrows can indicate that the liver needs support. The fingernails also help to show nutritional deficiencies and organ weakness via discolorations, spots, ridges, shape, etc. This is one of my favorite forms of assessment, which also is harder to do with the current conditions. I do rely on pictures and somewhat on Zoom calls to look at faces, etc.




 




#4 Intake form and Consultation:


Although these are technically two assessments, since they are so closely related, I am including them together. Since I specialize in Homeopathy, I have a fairly detailed, fully confidential health intake form that I send to all of my patients via my secure health practice software system before our initial consultation. This form helps me to see not only the patient's health history, but also the health history of the family's paternal and maternal lineages, which can be very important especially in constitutional homeopathy. The actual consultation is also very detailed due to the homeopathic aspect of my practice. Of all of the assessment modalities in this blog post, these two modalities are the ones that I use the most often and are of the greatest help in determining what my client needs. The various other modalities would be more in use for confirmation or if the case becomes "stuck" in any way.



 


# 5 Laboratory tests/Medical Diagnoses:


Although this may seem like an odd assessment tool for a holistic health practice to utilize, lab tests ordered by a conventional doctor can be of use for the traditional Naturopath/Homeopath. The holistic health practitioner would not use lab tests to diagnose disease, but would use these tests or conventional medical diagnoses as confirmatory assessments regarding what needs supported in their client's health.


For example, a patient/client comes to me with frequent indigestion and dull abdominal pain near the liver/gallbladder region; who has "liver signs" in the face, fingernails and tongue; whose iris shows that the liver needs support, whose MRT goes weak over the liver point, and who tells me in the consultation that they get frequent headaches and are angry over an injustice, I may ask them if they have had any recent blood work or medical diagnosis so that I might confirm that there is liver involvement that needs support (I would NOT tell them that I think there is liver involvement or any other medical involvement. It would be for my assessment purposes only). If there is no such diagnosis or lab results, I can still clearly see that the liver needs support, even if it is not severe enough to show up in conventional lab tests.


In addition, saliva tests, hair mineral tests, dried blood cell analysis, and various urine tests and others (TCM pulse tests, etc) are a part of traditional Naturopathic education and can also be used at times for assessment purposes by traditional Naturopaths.


In conclusion...


I had hoped to share some of the Naturopathic manipulation/treatment techniques that I was taught, as well as to share some lifestyle tips, but felt like an overview of various assessments was needed before getting into those topics. Those will be explored in the next post!


Copyright Holistic Harmony Natural Health Counseling, LLC, Teresa Glick, ND, CHom

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