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Vitalism: A Naturopathic Perspective

By Shari Jainuddin, NMD, BCB
Vitality is not reserved only for youth, it is found within each of us.

In current culture, vitality is frequently associated only with youthful enthusiasm. In the field of naturopathic medicine, vitalism is the lifeforce, the spark within each of us. It was taught and passed down by our founders and is woven throughout our medical education. Unfortunately, the constraints of testing and diagnosing do not elaborate much on the subject. While it would be wonderful to have a lab value of vitalism ranging from 0-100, it is not something that can be measured with labs or seen on imaging. But you all know it when you see it, and more strikingly, when you don’t. 

You may have been with someone close to their end of life. Or maybe you’ve interacted with someone you didn’t know anything about, but you could tell they were near their end of life. At that point, you can see the vitality waning from their body. Children, on the other hand, tend to be overflowing with vitality. You can see it in their enthusiastic smiles, boisterous laughter, and beaming eyes. As fellow humans, we can sense the lack or abundance of vitality in others. I use this analogy when attempting to describe the naturopathic meaning of vitalism to patients. It’s one of those more elusive terms, but it’s absence and presence is undoubtedly appreciable. 

Now that I’ve briefly defined what vitalism is in naturopathic medicine, I want to explore more of what goes into one’s vitality. There is no doubt a person’s health status is linked to the strength of their vitality. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to improve your vitality that are not found in a prescription bottle or supplement. Yet, we can all drink from this fountain of youth (figuratively) one sip at a time. 

In the last edition of Desert Health, I mentioned the foundations of health. Supporting them increases one’s vitalism. They are nutritious food, clean water, exposure to fresh air (take a mindful breath!) and natural light, physical movement, restful sleep, community bonds and belief systems (self-defined). I bet most of us are unable to check each of these off as we are reading them; many may not be able to check off more than one. Now imagine how you would feel if you could achieve one more, two more, or all of them! Acknowledging there are health issues that need medical intervention or additional support, addressing these foundations will benefit you tremendously, and enhance your vitality.

As you start your journey into this new year, consciously integrate these foundations of health. Write them down to remind yourself daily. Instead of making routine decisions, stop, contemplate and give yourself the opportunity to choose the more healthful option. One step at a time, each small decision you make today impacts your vitalism tomorrow. And as always, have grace with yourself!

Dr. Jainuddin, is a naturopathic medicine doctor with One Life Naturopathic. She is also board certified in biofeedback and can be reached at (442) 256.5963 or www.OneLifeNaturopathic.com.

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