Healthy Beginnings

“What is a Naturopath?” Dr. Jessica Edge, B.S., N.D.

With so many different alternative health modalities available to us, it can be overwhelming choosing an option when we are seeking to regain or preserve our health naturally. A very valuable option in our Reno area is Dr. Jessica Edge, one of only a handful of medically-trained, certified Naturopaths in Northern Nevada. Dr. Edge, a fourth generation Nevadan, graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Dr. Edge’s interest in Naturopathy developed as an outgrowth of her research– she recognized the inherent link between nature and human wellness.

“Something shifted while I was in college,” Jessica said “I came to believe that the body has an incredible ability to heal itself. Naturopathic medicine resonated with me.”

She left her hometown to attend the 4-year accredited National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Here she accomplished two years of science-based courses in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology and pathology. The last two years she was trained in clinical Naturopathy. In Portland she completed multiple internships, including time working in homeless clinics, primary care offices, geriatrics and more. She moved back to Reno to be with her family and today is a nationally board-certified Naturopath, as well as a member of The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Dr. Edge practices at the Reno Alternative Medicine clinic.

You have probably heard of Naturopathy, but what exactly is it, and how can a Naturopath help you? Dr. Edge presented the seven key principles of a Naturopath to Healthy Beginnings Magazine:

1. First, do no harm– For instance, Dr. Edge is trained to understand drug and nutrient reactions and can help offset the side effects of medications.

2. The Healing Power of Nature–This is the principle that most attracted Dr. Edge to Naturopathic medicine. Naturopaths use minerals and western herbs to aid in healing. Hydrotherapy, the use of alternating cold and hot water, is also used by Naturopaths to alleviate allergies and digestive disturbances and to increase circulation.

3. Identify and treat the cause– One of the most defining principles of natural medicine is to reject the band-aid approach to healing using prescription medications that only covers up symptoms. Instead, a Naturopath works diligently to uncover the root cause(s) of illness and then, to treat– this is a primary principle –a cornerstone– of Dr. Edge’s practice.

4. Treat the whole person– As part of her patient consultations, Dr. Edge assembles a comprehensive health history for each person, and performs a parallel review of symptoms by assessing lifestyle habits, energy levels, stress levels and sleep cycles. According to Dr. Edge, a common theme in illness is “chronic stress leading to chronic disease, as well as mood disorders. Stress uses up all our coping mechanisms.”

5. The Doctor is a Teacher– “I spend a lot of time educating patients on what is going on in their body,” Dr. Edge says. This gives the patients an ability to see the big picture and how they can be in control of their health.

6. Prevention is the best cure – Keeping yourself healthy is far easier than trying to repair a health condition. Dr. Edge recommends being aware of genetic predispositions by taking into account your immediate family’s history, and knowing what to focus on to preserve your health. A healthy diet, one that is customized to an individual’s needs, is one of the most important components of maintaining a healthy body. Dr. Edge believes in system detoxification to allay the negative consequences of our toxin-laden environment.

7. Establish health and wellness– Dr. Edge compares health to a staircase, the bottom of it representing poor health. Her primary goal is to help her patients reach the top.

When looking for an alternative health option Dr. Edge can aid with diet counseling, digestive disturbances and women’s health. As an under-graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, Dr. Edge was primarily interested in women’s medicine. She felt then, as she does today, that there are not enough health options for women. In her practice Dr. Edge works with hormone imbalances, fibroids, fibrocystic disease, PMS and menopause. She is also interested in the widespread side effects of birth control. Women today often complain of mood disorders, dwindling energy and bloating, all of which are commonly related to depletion of nutrients (e.g., B-vitamins which support a healthy nervous system) due to the use of birth control. Naturopaths are helpful in recognizing and alleviating possible medication side effects.

“As a Naturopath, I can stimulate the patient’s vital force and promote healing,” Dr. Edge says “Naturopathy stimulates healing by using the least invasive — but most effective — methods.”