We are pleased to feature Dr. Eric Wood, a naturopath whose eclectic background in music, biology, and anthropology has shaped his approach to health and wellness. In this exclusive interview, Dr. Wood shares his journey from studying diverse academic fields to recognizing the need for a holistic approach to health, deeply influenced by ancestral ways and habits.
Dr. Wood’s path to naturopathy was fueled by a desire to bring beauty and healing into the world. Witnessing family members struggle with ailments that were not adequately addressed by modern medicine, he was inspired to challenge and transform the prevailing healthcare paradigm. His commitment to naturopathy is rooted in a belief that understanding and reconnecting with our ancestral practices can lead to restoring health and alleviating disease.
Join us as we explore Dr. Eric Wood’s insightful perspectives on health care, his journey into the world of naturopathy, and his dedication to changing the way we view and practice healthcare.
1. Could you share a bit about your journey into naturopathy/nutrition? What inspired you to pursue this field?
In my university studies, I had studied music as well as biology and anthropology. To make a long story short, the intersectionality of these interests converged on wanting to bring beauty and healing into the world by way of helping people restore their health by understanding a lot of our ancestral ways and habits that so many of us have significantly strayed from that is resulting in disease and dysfunction. I witnessed this happening to family members who were being failed by the best of ‘modern medicine’ and vowed to do my part in trying to change the paradigm and practice of what constitutes as ‘healthcare.’
2. How do you approach treatment plans for your patients? What role do you believe natural supplements play in these plans?
In helping people, every case is a bit unique and thus constructing a therapeutic plan for someone has some common denominators with others but is also specific to them also. Nowadays, with so many challenges in individuals’ lives to navigate, it is difficult to be and stay well. Thus, I always start with looking at the basics such as sleep, nutritional intake, stress and what someone is or isn’t doing to address it, mental and emotional well-being. This is coupled, whenever possible, with unique integrative and allopathic medical labs to get specifics for what that individual needs to especially work on. This, coupled with some bio-energetic testing in office, helps to reveal the specifics of where supplements may especially play a therapeutic role for the individual. Thus, high quality supplements augment the work we’ve already begun and ‘fill in the gaps’ nutritionally where diet alone may be difficult or not feasible to replete.
3. In your view, how important is a holistic approach to health and wellness, and how do you integrate this into your practice?
It is vital. Most illness today are the ‘slow burn’ types of conditions that are gradually building over time and are the result of lifestyle imbalances such as diabetes, weight gain, chronic inflammation and pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances and more. Thus, to really help someone, you have to look at the various, sometimes disparate parts of a case presentation and be able to link them together in a unified way and create a path forward. This invariably requires a holistic, multi-faceted approach addressing all the things I mentioned before and often times others such as detoxification work, nervous system balancing, hormonal support to support the aging process, and more. My entire practice of naturopathic medicine is oriented this way with clients.
4. What are some common health issues you encounter in your practice? How do you address these with natural therapies?
Even if individuals are not coming to me for such, underlying the majority of all cases are nervous system imbalances brought on by too much and prolonged stress, digestive complaints, and hormonal dysfunction. More specifically, I do a lot of work with neurotransmitter and hormonal balancing, environmental toxicity and detoxification, healthy aging/health optimization and integrative oncology. With all of these areas, it is a combination of mind body medicine techniques coupled with the latest advances in med tech, detoxification and digestive work via diet, physical modalities, supplements and occasionally prescriptions, and with integrative oncology, often taking the best of allopathic and holistic approaches and synthesizing a cohesive and individualized plan for the individual meeting them where they are at in their health journey.
5. How do you perceive the connection between gut health and overall wellness? Could you share your insights on this?
It is paramount, comparable to the metaphor of the foundation of a house being the base upon which everything else sits. If gut health is in shambles, the rest of the body begins to suffer with it in a myriad of ways, from nutritional depletion to cognitive disruption, heightened inflammation, fatigue and more. It is vital to remember to remember that we have a nervous system in our gut that directly communicates with our brain in a feedback loop of sorts. Thus, if something affects one part of it (such as in the gut), it is going to have direct impacts on the other parts of it. I find many people are unaware of this deep connection.
6. What general dietary and nutrition advice do you often find yourself giving to your patients?
As mentioned in the prior question, you have to begin with the basics. Many people are dehydrated, under-nourished and eating too many nutrient poor calories. So, often times the first phase is to ‘tighten up’ the diet with focusing on making every bite of food nourishing and ‘counting.’ Simply getting in more vegetables and fermented foods and eliminating processed carbs for many people can be a game changer. Learning many names that manufacturers use to ‘hide’ sugar in things is vital as is learning how to properly read a food label. From there, we build and get more nuanced, talking about frequently upping the omega 3 content, watching out for inflammatory oils, and more. Every case is a little bit different and unique as no one has the unique combination of genetics, history, and habits.
7. When introducing supplements into a patient’s regimen, what key factors do you consider?
Well with any supplement regimen, choosing well formulated and properly dosed items is key. Beyond that, it is important to consider compliance and the reality of where someone is at with their habits and how willing they are to take certain things and if they have preferred ways to take things. If someone hates swallowing pills, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you give them 8 capsule based formulas to take. But, if we can do these in tinctures or powders that they’re ok with, then things may be fine. Meeting people where they’re at while also being realistic in detailing the work it’s going to take to get better are both vital in helping people getting well. If either isn’t addressed, things won’t work well and you’ll both end up frustrated, which helps no one in the end.
8. Without disclosing personal details, could you share a memorable success story from your practice involving natural treatments?
Sure. One case involved a middle-aged woman in her 40s who had come to me with a myriad of problems including digestive issues, weight gain, exhaustion, and mental fogginess, primarily stemming from toxic mold exposure. She needed to work on a myriad of things to feel and get better, including getting out of the mold environment, starting to heal her gut which had been damaged from exposure and had created gut dysbiosis, and to support her endocrine system which had been too stressed by all of this. Over the course of a few months, she started to see major improvements and most of the 25 lbs she had gained melted off during this time without her having to specifically try and ‘lose weight.’ As her inflammation levels came down and her hormones were in better balance and she ate well without continually getting exposed to environmental toxicants, her body began to regain balance. The mental fogginess lifted, fatigue improved and she started to get her energy and ultimately her life back.
9. What are some challenges you face in the field of naturopathy/nutrition, and how do you overcome them?
Many times, by the time people have come to me, they’re often frustrated and confused b/c they’ve already seen many, usually conventional doctors, and haven’t gotten the help and/or answers they need. I think over the years more people have learned more about the relevance and necessity of a holistic health approach to helping a lot of chronic issues and that’s exactly what a naturopathic and nutritional approach is about. We look at the underlying ‘whole’ of things and come up with a synergistic, multi-faceted approach that builds up the body’s foundations including nutritional status so that we can let it do what it knows best—how to heal. People aren’t taught to understand their ‘operating systems’, to borrow a phrase from technology. We don’t typically learn in detail how our bodies work and how to support and nourish them in routine schooling, from our families, culture and often our traditional healthcare providers. This ultimately leaves many people confused, frustrating and grasping for help and answers. Recognizing where people are in their journey, helping them understand how nutritional and holistic medicine can help and support them, and helping to shine a light on the path forward on what this looks like starts to give people hope and clarity on how they can get there, which is key. De-mystifying the process and being pragmatic in how we can do this helps people feel comfortable and start to trust that they can get well again.
10. Where do you see the future of naturopathy and functional medicine heading?
I see a convergence happening of the best of tech, personalized medicine, advances in integrative health testing, and gradually greater health insurance coverage for ‘lifestyle’ medicine in the next several decades. This is for multiple reasons including but not limited to: 1) Individuals wanting and recognizing the value of this kind of approach; 2) More and more frustration with the limits of the current healthcare model; and 3) It’s good business for insurance companies to lower healthcare costs and such types of approaches can save thousands and thousands of dollars per individual over the years with this kind of approach.
11. What personal wellness practices or routines do you follow to maintain your own health?
They are considerable and as I get older, they need to be, to support the healthy aging process and to facilitate me being able to keep up with and show up for all that I need to in my life. These range from routine exercise involving strength training, cardio, and lengthening/stretching work to infrared saunas and red light therapy, hormone and endocrine system support, structural work as needed through chiro, massage and fascial release, a range of targeted supplementation, a mostly organic and whole foods based omnivorous diet, coupled with regular meditation, time with family and in nature and periodic ‘mini-breaks’ to try and recharge both the spirit and body.
12. Finally, what advice would you give to individuals aspiring to enter the field of naturopathy or nutrition?
It is a long and less certain route than many of the well-trodden paths in the allopathic medicine/nutritional world, admittedly, I would make sure to tell people because there are no guarantees and in doing this work, you need to have a lot of passion and an entrepreneurial spirit. That said, you have the ability to impact people’s lives in profound ways while nudging the paradigm of medicine in a direction that it arguably needs to move in. You also can largely be your own boss, which comes with it both advantages and challenges no doubt. This all said, it is my experience that the more commitment you have and the more persistent you are in pursuing this passion, the ‘luckier’ you will be as your efforts will gradually reward you in opening up more and more opportunities, although I don’t think this is unique to naturopathic medicine but rather in life in general. So, ask yourself what is important to you, what kind of lifestyle and set up you want to have, what are your beliefs are about medicine and ultimately how do you want to contribute to the world. If these answers point towards a career in holistic medicine/nutrition, then commit to it with all you’ve got and go for it and strategically plan your path forward!
Connect with Dr. Eric Wood ND
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CanXida. The content provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Readers are encouraged to consult their healthcare provider for any health-related questions or concerns.