Dr. Teri Jaklin, BA,ND, IFMCP
I was raised in Southern Ontario, one of the international hotbeds of MS prevalence, others who share this geographic distinction include the rest of Canada (with the exception of Newfoundland), the US, and most of Europe. These countries have a few things in common: higher latitudes, lower exposure to natural sunlight in the winter months; high intake of dairy products but many other diet, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors make MS an exceptionally complex condition. There is no shortage of research addressing the many theories that create the varied faces of this condition. However, the unregulated immune system receives most of the attention from our medical community, with conventional treatment options that are aggressive and extremely toxic. They address only one of a number of well-understood processes underlying multiple sclerosis, while potentially aggravating others. People are often pressured to begin treatment as soon as possible resulting in confusion and frustration for the individual – not to mention the guilt and fear about “not doing the right thing.” Is this really the way to treat MS? That has been neither my personal nor professional experience – especially now! Science is exploding with new information on old ideas and we are learning – and seeing that MS can be a very manageable condition.
My passion and awe for naturopathic potential and its role in chronic conditions, like MS, has been fuelled by my own diagnosis in 1985 and for the last 13 years working with thousands of people to reach, live and thrive beyond their own diagnoses.
This is truly an extraordinary time in the history of healthcare – EVERTHING is changing! Starting with the healthcare consumer who, more educated than ever, is driving the demystification of medicine. Science is providing profound new information on how the body creates and corrects imbalance and disease. Medical dogma is crumbling around us. Alternatives to our standard health system are being recognized as viable options at best, at the very least powerful adjuncts to primary care. Ancient healing tradition is hitting the evidence-base. Private healthcare of all kinds is providing people with the choice to direct their care as they wish. The very essence of the doctor-patient relationship is changing as individuals drive decisions in their doctor’s offices.
Neuroscience is validating and expanding the understanding of many concepts that are now central to living a great life with MS. Neuroplasticity, neurogenesis, neurorehabilitation, psychoneuroimmunology, the gut-brain interface, autoimmunity/autoinflammation, the body-mind connection, numberous physiological functions specific to MS – and more!
The collective “we” are starting to understand that there are treatment options, things that that promote excellent outcomes. One of the most rewarding things for me is to watch people play a significant role in their own recovery. Individuals move from a place of fear to a place of trust, in themselves, their bodies, in their health care team and in the process of healing itself.
Clinically I use a model I call the Cornerstones of Health to create a foundation for health recovery and maintenance. It forms a strong foundation for individuals and a place to keep coming back to as a system of checks and balances. It applies to an individuals’ long-term health regardless of which practitioner they are working with at the moment. I am a huge advocate of building your healthcare team. Who’s on it, who is actively helping you right now – it’s yours to choose and will change over time.
When we begin to talk naturopathic treatment, recall that Naturopathic Medicine is committed to treating the cause of disease, and is definitely a life-long prospect. Any one with a keyboard can search endlessly for info on “curing MS” but here are some basic concepts to consider over and above the latest google trend.
- There is no magic bullet (naturopathic or otherwise) that will make MS go away overnight – restoring good health – for example halting and/or reversing symptoms, takes patience, time, and work, but it can be done. MS is an unpredictable disease – no two patients manifest in exactly the same way.
- Educate yourself, beyond the latest marketing info from supplement or drug manufacturers. There is a good understanding right now of vital physiological processes of MS – and knowing that is the first step to making the right treatment choices.
- While genetics play a small role in this disease, the impact of diet & nutrition, lifestyle & selfcare, movement & exercise and mind-body& spirit play an even greater role, in fact they create the environment within which any genetic predisposition can manifest itself.
- Healing happens on so many levels it is naïve for you to think (and arrogant for any one health care professional to think) that one practitioner holds all the cards.
- Many, many drugs are prescribed for MS. The primary disease modifying agents, then meds for inflammation, pain, spasm, sleep, depression, bladder control, laxatives etc etc etc. This provides an internal environment that is so toxic that it seriously compromises the body’s ability restore good health.
Like I said, EVERYTHING is changing. It’s just not going be the same as it was before. There is nothing but hope. Hope for change, hope for choice, hope for understanding, hope for collaboration between doctors and patients and doctors and doctors and hope for recovery from many healthcare conditions that here-to-fore have been considered hope-less.
In the coming months we will be discussing the very concepts that are changing the face of MS– and strategies you can use in your own recovery.
Teri is a Naturopathic Doctor and founded the Waterdown Clinic of Naturopathic Medicine in 2002. She is a skilled general practitioner with a passionate commitment to the foundations of naturopathic medicine, treating people of all ages and health status. Areas of special interest include Multiple Sclerosis and Complex Chronic Illness.
With a diagnosis of her own, Teri has been active in the MS community since the mid 80’s. Today she coaches individuals and groups on living well with MS as well as working with people in private practice to reduce the impact of MS and other chronic illness, on their lives.
Prior to becoming an ND, she spent 10+ years in the frantic world of corporate public relations and communications where she learned first-hand what 70 career hours per week can do to you and your health.
She strongly believes that knowledge of the processes of health and disease is not proprietary and empowers individuals and organizations with programs that make a palpable difference in how we engage and perform in our lives.
Teri is an enthusiastic student of the healing power of nature, and a person’s ability to access their own health potential and communicates this regularly in both clinical practice and in her lecturing and public speaking.
She draws on all aspects of her education and experience to create opportunities that impact the lives of those looking to restore and maintain health. Through her work she reaches medical professionals and students, the general public as well as corporate and private groups.
Achieving and maintaining good health is both complex and dynamic and can be profoundly impacted by some very simple choices. Teri believes that wherever you are on the continuum of health, there is a way to chose a path to improve your overall sense of wellbeing!
Teri completed her undergrad studies at University of Waterloo, and her ND studies at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine with interim studies at the Universität Mannheim, Ryerson University, University of Guelph, and the Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard University. She is certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine, an organization committed to changing the way modern medicine is practiced.
Her efforts have been recognized by her peers with the New Practitioner of the Year Award (2002) and an OAND Leadership Award (2012).