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Scilla di Massa

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[ENG] What is it naturopathy? Stampa E-mail

cop-inglese-1 1What is it naturopathy? It is neither merely a job, nor a mission. Naturopathy is an art: it is the art of helping the body mind system to help itself. It has less to do with “curing” and more to do with “healing”.

Did you know that the word heal comes from the Celtic “hal”, which means “whole” and from that comes the word “healing”.

To heal means to become more whole. To become more whole you must integrate all the parts of your self: body, mind and spirit (although not all naturopaths deal with the spiritual aspect of the client).  This reminds me of one of my first teachers, Dr. Donald Ebstein, an American chiropractor. He used to say: “Is not important where you come from. What it is important is the person you become when you get there”. Donald has taught me many things about the real meaning of “healing” and one of them was that in order to become   whole you have to integrate not only you body mind spirit system but also the alienated part of your self: that part of you that you don’t like, that part of your past that you want to forget, but what you need is not to forget, but to forgive.

Who are naturopaths?

But before giving too much emphasis on the spiritual – or psychological part of what I’m going to say, I want to point out that naturopathy is not necessarily a branch of medicine, or an alternative medicine, and not all practitioners are medical doctors: for instance, I’m not. Naturopathic practitioners are split into 2 groups: traditional naturopaths and naturopathic physicians. Naturopathic physicians employ the principles of naturopathy within the context of conventional medical practice. Traditional naturopaths are seen (and regulated) more as counsellors like traditional health care practitioners such as  nurses, chiropractors or physiotherapists etc.

So what did I do to become a naturopath? I attended a four-year study course, which included Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology , Iridology, Nutrition, the fundamentals of Traditional Naturopathy, Herbal medicine, Hydrotherapy, fundamentals of Chinese Medicine, Flower-therapy (healing with Bach flower remedies) , Reflexology, Stress management strategies and Life coaching. And I am sure I have forgotten something because it happens that I come across one of my many books, notebooks, or tapes, and I say to myself “Oh yes, I studied that also …” Somebody has said that in our mind things you have learned ferment like wine and in the end you get a very good wine, and you forget about the grape-and all the work you have done to pick the grape- and all the time you have been waiting…

Anyway beside my studies, I should mention that I also applied for short term courses in United States, India, and France. I have also written 5 books about naturopathy and I think I should mention that my book about Bach Flowers “Heal yourself with Bach flower remedies” was the first   - on this topic – to be published in Italy in 1991.

I taught and lectured the theory and practice of Bach flowers in   several Italian cities and in Switzerland, in week-end workshops and also in many schools (naturopathic schools and also psychotherapy schools). Many years ago I was in Bali (Indonesia) and I taught and lectured on the theory and practice of Bach flower therapy to a group of Japanese researchers and scholars within the International Holistic Medicine Week.

Finally I want to mention something very dear to my heart: in 1998 I was invited at the First International Convention in Italy on Aids and seropositive where I presented my pioneering experience about how to improve the quality of life of those who are seropositive, thus improving the immune system accordingly.

So Bach flower remedies were the first step, and then I took my other specialisation in “flower-therapy” (Californian, Indian and Alaskan flowers). For 10 years, I worked only with flower essences. Naturopathy came later, when I decided to deal also with the physical body, and so with nutrition, herbs and so on.

As I said before, my profession is closer to counselling than to curing, and has a lot to do with listening  with much love and attention, giving them as much time as they need, helping them understand who they really are from the physical, psychological and spiritual points of view. Only if you know yourself very well can you decide what is best for you: what to eat, when to exercise, how many hours  sleep you need , and what  really are your psychological and spiritual demands and aims.  I  usually say  that I help people that are not ill, but  that are not feeling well, or that they are not well within themselves.


Some of them cannot sleep, some put on weight, most of them have misfunctioning  intestines  and this does not mean only that they suffer constipation: the intestine is indeed closely linked to the immunity system so if it does not work properly you can have any kind of illness: flu, infection, candida, cystitis, headache. And you know what? The intestine produces   serotonin so if it does not work properly you can have depression or anxiety. And also: the intestine is linked, through the nervous system, to the spine.So if you have trouble with the intestine you can also have backache. But helping people to have proper intestinal function does not mean giving them laxatives or probiotics: we all need a holistic approach that includes physical and emotional items.

Let me give you some other examples.


 Do you know how many people suffer from headaches? And what do they do if the have a headache? They take pills. In one of my books I wrote that symptoms are like traffic-lights: they point out that something is not ok in you body mind system. So if you take pills, it means that you turn off the traffic-light. You do not listen to your body.

Headaches can have many different causes: it can be hormonal, especially for women, due to a difficult digestion, or constipation, it can be related to the liver, or the gall bladder, or because you have a food intolerance (you are hypersensitive to certain foods), or because you are very angry.

So if you come to see me because you have headache , it might be possible that I treat your liver or I look into your eyes with my iridoscope and I say “Ho ho, you eat to much protein (or too many carbs). Or I give you some herbs to rebalance you hormonal system.

My first experience as a Bach flower remedies practitioner was with a woman who had a very persistent headache. She came to see me when I was still a journalist, not having any idea of how much my life was going to change. As a matter of fact I was 29, I had already written my book on Bach flower remedies but as a journalist and a researcher, not a therapist… or so I thought.  One evening I gave a lecture in a library about Bach flowers and she got my private telephone number. The day after she called and said: I want a treatment. My answer was no, I am not a therapist, I have written a book as a journalist… NO WAY! She was as persistent as her headache and  I agreed to see her in the evening, after her work.

When she came, she spoke at length about her headache that she had had for the last 10 years. She told me that it had started when her husband died from a heart attack ten years before in front of her, with her panicking as she did not know what to do.

In Bach flower remedies there is one flower for  shock: it is called Star of Bethlehem. I did not prescribe this flower. With my intuition I felt that although she knew it was not her fault and that there was nothing she could have done, nevertheless she felt very guilty. So I told her to take Pine, the flower for guilt: after 10 years she got rid of her headache.

The main tool: intuition

This helps me to point out that although in Naturopathy we have many techniques, the one and most important I think is intuition. If you are not intuitive, you get lost in details. If you are not intuitive, you do not catch the complexity, the beauty and the mystery of the person in front of you. Your soul does not meet their soul, and the opportunity to have a communication at a deep level is missed.

As I mentioned earlier, Naturopathy is an art: with each person you design a different healing plan. And each person is a masterpiece: to discover this beauty, this uniqueness makes our job a continuing act of wonder.

Be aware that naturopathy is not scientific: it is more a philosophy, a way of living. It has little to do with taking natural medicine instead of chemicals: it requires a totally different approach to life.

And this approach has a lot to do with loving oneself, respecting oneself and listen to oneself. How many of us live in that way?

Now, let me give you some others cues about how naturopathy works.

Craving for chocolate… Does anyone of you have this problem? Please raise your arm…Ok.

So let’s say that one day a client comes to see me, and speaks at length about this issue: “I can’t resist a bar of chocolate, I actually need chocolate, I think it’s because I’m depressed, I’m lonely, I’m was abandoned as a child, I have lived in a dysfunctional family, I’m divorced, I can’t find the right mate…” and so on. You know what is the usual answer?

“Why don’t you take some magnesium?” Many people relate the chocolate craving to some emotional issues but many times when you crave for something you body is trying to tell you something… We all lack magnesium because the vegetables and the fruit does not have enough magnesium any more. Actually they just have a little bit of it. This is due to intensive cultivations (so the soil is very poor), pesticides and pollution. All the food we eat is very scarce in nutrients, especially minerals.

So I have seen many food cravings becoming more balanced (not only with chocolate but with many other items) just by introducing enough magnesium.

And most of the time it is sufficient to eat just 5 almonds or 3 nuts at breakfast to get it, assuming that you have a healthy and balanced diet.

The best diet, in fact, is to eat everything but in little quantities… and to eat differently each day.

But with the lack of magnesium and other minerals, I have seen many people recovering from depression simply by prescribing iron, or getting more healthy with B12 vitamin.

I have plenty of different cases. So people come to see me for emotional issues and they go out with a diet, and people come to see me for a physical ailment, and all they have to take are Bach flower remedies. One of my clients had a very bad cat allergy, and I have tried all sorts of natural treatments to overcome it. No way. He was better but he still suffered from it. One day I asked him “When did you start having this problem?”  It came out that it started when his father committed suicide.

So you can see it works in 2 directions: from the body to the mind and from the mind to the body. Actually body and mind are so interrelated that now the researchers tend to see them as a different aspect of one reality: the human being. We also know that the immune system, the endocrinal system and the nervous system are so closely related that you can’t and indeed shouldn’t  investigate one of them without considering the other 2… This makes the subject of this lecture broader and broader.


Nutrition in naturopathy is not only about food supplementation. Mostly it has to do with teaching people what to eat according to their constitution. And I will go back to constitution in a minute…

What  might be interesting for you, especially if there are people in this room that are putting on some weight, is that it is not only important what we eat, but the time we eat . And this issue is related to hormones and how they work in the body.

You know when we wake up in the morning the adrenals are at the peak of their activity. This means that they speed up the metabolism and they need sugar and carbs very badly. Whatever you eat   an hour after you wake immediately gets burnt. Then after one hour and until more or less 2 pm the thyroid hormones are at the peak of their function: you can still eat carbs and they are used by the body, not stored and transformed into fat. In the afternoon until 7  in the evening you have insulin and from that time you must be cautious of what you eat. If you have a craving around 5 o clock until 7 o clock you are quite likely your glycemic system is not working properly. And what you have in the evening is the GH or HGH, the growth factor, which stores and repairs. This means that whatever you eat in the evening does not go into the flow of metabolism but goes to increase our stores, that is: our tummy, bottom and hips. In GH has the duty to restore all the part of the body that during the day have been worn out: ligaments, joints, bones, etc., and to do so GH needs what we call “the bricks” of our body: proteins.

So carbs are the fuel: first part of the day. Proteins are the bricks: second part of the day. So if you eat carbs in the first part of the day, and only proteins with vegetables (certain vegetables as they are also carbs such as carrots, pumpkin, potatoes) but if you eat only protein (fish, meat, eggs, sometimes cheese) with cooked vegetables, and you eat them in small quantities because you are satisfied with what you have eaten during the day, you will not put on weight.

Does this apply to everybody? No… if you are a slim, nervous person with digestive and sleeping  problems you would eat a little amount of carbs in the evening, better associated with dairy. Together they promote serotonin, and make you sleep better. In naturopathy, as you can see, nothing is the same for everyone: we do not base our work on statistics but on the single person. This leads us to the last topic of this lecture.

Another very important approach in naturopathy is to understand the “constitution” of an individual: why are there some people that can eat whatever they want and do not put on weight? It’s a matter of metabolism, you may answer. But what   creates your specific metabolism? Your constitution. What we call constitution is a complexity of physical, emotional and genetic characteristics that make you…yourself.

So it is necessary that you know your specific constitution and then eat accordingly, and you will not put on weight. And if you do this means that your body requires detoxing and your intestine needs a good cleansing.

I don’t give diet advice. I just teach how to eat. So in naturopathy we have a few basic rules:

  •       Treat the person and not the symptoms
  •       Identify and remove the causes of illness, rather than eliminate or suppress symptoms
  •       Consider the person as a unique, special, marvellous body/mind system that has its own power to self-heal once you remove the obstacles that block the many streams of our inner life force.
  •       Education
  •       Prevention

That’s why my job is so interesting: because every person is different and for each one you have to find a way of rebalancing. Some people just need some advice, others may just need to learn how to relax properly, some others may need to learn how to manage stress. And some others may need integrators like herbal remedies, food supplements or flower essences.

What kind of disorders are commonly treated by naturopaths?

  •       Fatigue
  •       Digestive complaints
  •       Mood disorders
  •       Anxiety
  •       Fears
  •       Binge eating, craving
  •       Food intolerances
  •       Behavioural problems
  •       Muscle-skeletal complaints (arthritis, prevention of osteoporosis)
  •       Hormonal imbalance (premenstrual disorders, menopause)
  •       Abandonment anxiety
  •       Relationship issues
  •       Burn out
  •       Sleeping problems

Scilla di Massa professional Naturopath

My office is in Milan, via Tortona 18, MM Porta Genova (green line) .  Contact : Questo indirizzo e-mail è protetto dallo spam bot. Abilita Javascript per vederlo.

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