I am a naturopath and health blogger. My mission is to provide quality, researched natural health advice for my current clients, potential clients as well as those who may never be my clients. Hey, if something I write resonates and you make positive changes in your life I think we are all winners! I want to hand control back to people for their basic health needs. Self-sufficiency in health is the new green smoothie!!
Recently someone who I’ve been interacting with on the internet reviewed my blog and made the following comment:
“What is the remarkable thing you did? Did you lose 150pounds? Did you run a triathlon?
It’s hard to get people to listen to you when all you did was to get out there and get a degree in something.
Everyone can get a degree. But not everyone can lose 150pounds…”
My lived in experience vs your qualification
What this commentator is referring to is the notion that a lived in experience has more value than a qualification. A celebrity writing about their journey to overcome an illness has more authority than a health care professional who has spent many years studying, working in clinical practice and completing ongoing professional development.
It’s true; I don’t have a health condition that I have had to overcome. I have a blessed health history, and for this I am grateful. Does this mean, however, that my voice is less authentic, or that you should place less trust in me when it comes to your well-being?
Many people who have a health condition they have overcome share their journey and what worked for them with the world. This is inspirational, and it can be enormously beneficial for other people who suffer from a similar condition to know that someone has climbed and conquered the mountain. However, unless these people go on to study in depth in the area, it is only ever a personal experience –their story of overcoming their health challenge.
Treating the person
We are all different. What works for one person will not produce the same results for everyone who has the condition. Why is this? Even though we all have similar physiology, our hearts all pump blood through our bodies; we are uniquely shaped by our genes, our environment and our lifestyles. I could see three people in the clinic who suffer from severe bloating, and it could be three different causes – low stomach acid due to a stressful job; parasite infection due to a recent trip overseas; or food intolerance. In each case, the treatment would be very different because to help these three people feel better in the long term I would need to treat the underlying cause of the bloating and not just the symptom of bloating.
The value of a qualification
My degree has given me the ability to ask why is this happening. My clinical skills give me the knowledge of how to take a full health and relevant personal history. My study of physiology and pathology allows me to consider the many different things that it could be and also when I can see a red flag sign that means you need a referral to another health professional. Training in Pharmacology allows me to consider the impact of any medication may be having on your symptoms, and an in-depth knowledge of herbs and nutritional supplements means you’ll be getting a therapeutic dose with a tailored prescription just for you. A qualification also teaches you what you don’t know. If I’m not the best person to help you, I’ll refer you to someone who is instead of wasting your time, money or, endangering your health.
Open to all the options
One person’s lived through experience can have value, but it can cause us to have tunnel vision. To be so focused that on one thing that we disregard the other possibilities. That’s why doctors start off with a differential diagnosis – a list of all the things that the symptoms could be and then narrow it down through case history, examinations, further testing and clinical experience.
So what was the remarkable thing I did? I think it was investing over $60,000 in getting a degree. Studying hard for four years, setting up my clinic with all the challenges that come with running a small business. Sure anyone can do that, but not everyone does. You’ve got to be committed and passionate. I enjoy hearing people’s health stories and helping them to feel better. Natural medicine is my passion. That’s remarkable enough for me.
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Norelle Hentschel is an experienced Naturopath with a clinic in Stones Corner, Brisbane who enjoys supporting her clients to reach their health goals.
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