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Written by Chené Murphy | Updated On January 30, 2023

Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing with Achillea Natural Medicine

Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing with Achillea Natural Medicine

Naturopathic medicine is a system that uses natural remedies to help the body heal itself, embracing many therapies, including herbs, massage, acupuncture, exercise, and nutritional counseling.  The goal of naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person — that means mind, body, and spirit. It also aims to heal the root causes of an illness — not just stop the symptoms.  Dr. Julia Portwood Hipp is a Naturopathic Physician and founder of Achillea Natural Medicine, in this feature she shares insights into the practice and key advice for maintaining optimal health.

How did you become interested in Naturopathic Medicine?

I was drawn to naturopathic medicine through the course of my own healing journey, which started when I lived blocks away from the World Trade Centers on September 11. I developed anxiety, PTSD, severe digestive & respiratory issues and spent years being given medication that didn’t work, left feeling unheard and dismissed by medical doctors. Wanting to understand what was happening to me after years of feeling miserable, I finally got the courage to ask a doctor if my symptoms could be related to 9/11. His response was to scream at me and hurry out of the room, after which I knew I had to find another avenue for support. A friend mentioned naturopathic medicine, and when I looked into it, a lightbulb went off! I found a naturopathic doctor who fully listened, guided me with my physical & emotional health, and helped me understand how my highly sensitive nature played a role in my life. Through this, I also realized my path was to help other sensitive folks find the root cause of their health concerns. Now as a licensed naturopathic doctor, I help sensitive people who aren’t feeling heard with their health issues, who feel like they’re not getting answers, doctors aren’t offering them options that work, or being told “it’s all in their head.” I find my patients often struggle with feelings of anxiety or overwhelm in addition to their physical symptoms. I support them in finding the cause of their health concerns in mind, body & spirit, so they can rediscover their resilience, find optimal health and feel confident they can rebalance no matter what health challenge comes their way.

How is Naturopathic Medicine different from Western Medicine?

The core difference with Naturopathic Medicine vs. Western Medicine is in looking at the patient as a whole person and aiming to get to the root causes for symptoms or conditions. For example, on the physical plane, digestive health can be connected to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune conditions and even anxiety and depression. There are a lot of great naturopathic tools for relieving the inflammation and associated symptoms of an autoimmune disease, but if there is also a digestive imbalance contributing, healing the gut can help heal the autoimmunity, or at the very least bring it to a more manageable, less restricting level. On a deeper level, our physical body connects to our mental/emotional and spiritual planes, and I’ve seen the deepest, most profound healing arise when people work on all levels together. The question Naturopathic Medicine asks is, why do you as an individual have these symptoms, conditions, imbalances? And we create an individualized treatment plan based on where that question leads us, so no plan is ever the same. While Naturopathic doctors can prescribe pharmaceuticals, I always aim to use the most gentle and holistic tools possible.

What treatment tools do you incorporate into your naturopathic practice?

One of the aspects of this medicine I love is having so many tools to choose from and to work together with my patients to find the right tools for them. This can mean finding the tools to which their body will respond best, or what works optimally for them in terms of time, energy and money. I pull from a mixture of food as medicine, herbs, supplements, homeopathy, home hydrotherapy, movement recommendations, nervous system balancing tools, EFT/Tapping, craniosacral therapy, tuning forks, and energy medicine. If there’s a tool I think would be beneficial that I don’t offer, I’m happy to refer. I’m more interested in seeing people get the results they want!

What are some of the more common health issues people approach you?

I specialize in digestive issues, with everything from undiagnosed discomfort, pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to ulcerative colitis. I chose this specialty from healing my own digestive issues, but I also love it because the gut can be connected to so many other health concerns. So, I also see a lot of patients with anxiety & depression, hormone imbalance, thyroid issues and autoimmune conditions. Not everyone with these conditions has digestive issues, and there are many more potential contributing factors, but I commonly see them connected.

Are there any non-negotiable practices you use personally to maintain your wellbeing?

My top 3 selfcare practices are yoga, gardening and Epsom salt baths. I do my best to drink enough water for my body, eat a variety of fruits & veggies with protein and healthy fat, take quiet recharge time, and get at least 8 hours of sleep. But most importantly, I aim to be patient and gentle with myself – healing and wellbeing isn’t a straight line, and we all deserve compassion for the times when we get “off track” from the plan.

Lastly, are there any key supplements that you would recommend people take for everyday optimal health.

The disclaimer to this question is that this information is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Because I feel the best medicine is individualized, and no two people are exactly alike, I don’t believe there is any supplement that all or most people should take for everyday optimal health. I do find many people to be deficient in Vitamin D & B-vitamins, which can easily be determined with a blood test. When people are deficient, I’ve seen supplementation help with fatigue, brain fog, low mood (especially during the darker months of the year) and sleep. A multivitamin & mineral may be helpful when people aren’t able to get a variety or full servings of fruits and vegetables, or when they don’t absorb nutrients well.

To learn more about Dr. Julia or Achillea Natural Medicine visit www.achilleamedicine.com

About the author
Chené Murphy is a spiritual enthusiast with a passion for natural wellness and fascinated by the mysteries of this world. Residing in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, South Africa, her interests include being active in the outdoors and spending quality time with friends and family.