One of the best things about starting the Phenomenal Healthstyle blog, almost three years ago, is the people that I have met on this journey. On a trip to New York this year, I was introduced to our new blogger Naturopathic Doctor Chris Saltpaw and his family through a Phenomenal Healthstyle Interviewee.
Over the past three years, our bloggers have shared their stories and perspectives on how they find the balance (in life) – whether that be, through fitness, comedy, arts and creativity, travel, parenting, financial management, work passions, spirituality or all the aforementioned. Editing and reading the blogs has provided me with food for thought and an insight to the reality that, although our stories may have different twists and turns, ultimately we are all trying to create a life that enables us to feel balanced physically and mentally. Our new blogger Dr. Christopher SaltPaw on finding his passion for wellbeing. committed his life through his naturopathic work to helping people to create and maintain a balanced healthstyle.
Recently setting up his practice in Norwalk, Connecticut, he has worked with patients suffering from many different health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. He received his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington, the leading accredited university for science-based natural medicine in the US, and his Masters in Acupuncture from the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Mineola, New York. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from Rutgers University with a major in Material Science Engineering (Ceramic Engineering).
He will be writing blogs for Phenomenal Healthstyle on common conditions that affect us all; providing a different viewpoint from that of traditional MDs (Doctors of Medicine) and the mass media. Check out our interview with Dr. Chris to find out more about what you can expect from his Phenomenal Healthstyle blogs…
What was your journey to practice as a Naturopathic Doctor? How did you arrive at your current destination?
Stories told to me by my mother about roots healers in my family always intrigued me; perhaps it is this historical memory that connected me to my path. Specifically though, my Mom fell ill when I was young, her recovery required that she make significant lifestyle changes like eating healthier, exercising, and giving up bad habits – this impacted our entire family. [I realise now that] I didn’t get it entirely, [until] years later when I fell ill and wound up in the hospital for 10 days. I ended up getting surgery for conditions that could have been prevented. That is when I really started to change my life and rediscover my passion and my calling. When I went through this experience I realized just how little Western medicine had to offer. When I was in the hospital they cut me open and gave me intense medications. Intuitively I knew they wouldn’t help but I took them anyway because that was all I thought was available.
How would you describe what you do and how you do it?
I first try to uncover the core reason why the person is having the issue. I take an extensive medical history in which great detail is taken to find out what is affecting them emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. I use nutrition, herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, physical medicine and bodywork, all non-invasive, non-toxic modalities to correct imbalances. People may experience immediate relief of symptoms, but healing and health is not something you can get to by taking a pill and accomplish overnight. Chronic illness does not develop overnight; it normally takes years to get to that point. In the same way, it can take years for the body to get back, or to recover. I like to say that I help facilitate people through that journey. Lots of times people don’t stay on the course…I try to help them do so.
What do you enjoy about your role? What do find to be the most challenging and/or frustrating?
My work is rewarding because I am constantly learning. Every patient teaches me something. I learn and grow from each connection. What is important in my life is for me to be open and learn and grow. Medicine helps me do that. In addition I don’t think you can truly help someone if you are not caring for them or if you don’t show them love on some level. With each connection I get to do that. What is frustrating is that you don’t always get to do the work that you want to do. Practice management and business stuff get in the way. They are necessary however. There are many barriers against Naturopaths in most states in the US. You have to be fine with that and assume this trailblazer/medical outsider stance when all most of us want to do is see people truly get better.
There’s a fine line that we all want to walk where we are really giving from our hearts, but we have to make money too. This culture is very money driven, and that holds true in medicine too. I don’t like the marketing, number crunching, account receivables components. These things are important to having a successful business, but they are difficult for me.
What is the most common complaint that you hear?
That’s tough. I have patients with all types of diagnoses, but you can usually abstract a common denominator or thread between them. They usually are nutritional imbalances caused by a chronically poor diet or some inability to absorb these nutrients because of a damaged imbalanced gut, or gene defect, that you can test for easily now. Others may be some underlying emotional or physical trauma that has not been processed entirely.
What will you be sharing with our readers in your blog?
Information that I run across that I find interesting. There are common issues that connect us all. There are also things that are happening in pop culture that I will touch upon. Like breast cancer and Angelina Jolie. I will weigh in with my spin that will be different from that of MDs (traditional Doctor of Medicine) and the mass media.
What do you do to remain fit and healthy?
I run, weight train, stretch, and do martial arts and yoga. I attempt to do these things everyday. It doesn’t necessarily happen everyday though, especially after having a child, but I think that is a good goal to have. If I want to really stay in shape I realize that exercise is a part of me and my routine, it’s like eating, you manage to get it in somehow. A little something everyday is important even if it is for just a few minutes. I have been doing that for almost 30 years, so I have managed to stay in pretty good shape.
If you could suggest one thing that people could do that would have a great impact on their health, what would it be?
I would say exercise or being physical everyday, but not everyone is able to, so this is a complex question. The same holds true if I would have answered, well you just eat such and such, not everyone has access to healthy food choices or clean water.
What’s next for Dr. SaltPaw? Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
I want to be really busy in my practice. I am opening up an office in Connecticut where I am licensed to treat as a physician (but without prescriptive rights). I will be able to expand what I am currently able to do. I also plan to develop my own line of nutritional supplements. I would like to do more work close to home, or at home. I would like to see my child/ future children more, so I would like to have time to call and Skype in with patients. I would like to do more public speaking. I would also like to get more involved in the local food movement and social justice movement.
Check out Dr.SaltPaw’s Blog on Wednesday – The connection between the brain and the digestive tract: Can the food we eat improve our emotional and mental wellbeing?
For more information about Dr.Chris Saltpaw or to send him any questions, please click here