My Journey to Naturopathic Medicine
I was an unhappy and unhealthy teen.
While my school friends were out socializing and having fun, I spent most of my time at home, feeling anxious and depressed.
I was overweight, and reached for food whenever I felt bad about myself; which was pretty often.
I had severe cystic acne on my face chest and back, and underwent multiple rounds of Accutane treatment that left me feeling frustrated and angry at everyone in my life.
I couldn’t explain exactly why I was so angry, but I knew that part of it was because I was not being listened to. I had asked my dermatologist if my diet could be changed to help with my skin.
Her answer was short, and designed to stop me from asking more questions,
“There is no evidence for that, so let’s get you started on more Accutane.”
In my last year of high school, one of my teachers pulled me aside at prom and asked what was up. He had noticed that my usually high grades had begun to fall, and I was withdrawing from participating in class.
“You know, when I was in high school I was depressed, and that’s why my grades dropped…do you think it’s possible that your grades are slipping because you’re unhappy?”
My teacher had reached out to help, but I wasn’t ready to be helped. I denied it, and withdrew further into my shell.
My social anxiety worsened in University, and I relied on drinking too much alcohol in order to cope with social situations. Shortly after starting my second year of undergraduate studies, my best friend was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; a cancer of the lymphatic system. I was paralyzed and saddened by the news.
“He’s such a healthy and active guy,” I thought to myself, “Why does he get dealt this hand?”
Though we were far apart in distance, I took every opportunity I could to visit my friend and support him through his treatment. I made a vow to myself, and to him, that if he could go through something as serious as this, then I can improve my health too.
Over the course of his treatment, my friend introduced me to the alternative medical practices he used in combination with his chemotherapy. He took me to a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor who asked me questions about my lifestyle and my diet; factors that I instinctively knew could have an impact on my health. He took me to a health food store and explained which nutrients he was using to improve his digestion, sleep, and stress.
I resonated with this holistic approach to life; it confirmed my inner thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about myself and my health.
It was a long journey of trial and error when it came to readjusting my diet and lifestyle, but I can confidently say that each setback along the way taught me more about myself and my journey.
Eventually I lost weight, my skin improved, my outlook changed from sadness and self-pity to hope and love. My friend’s health also improved, though he also had his own challenges along the way which I always tried to counter with empathy and humor.
Then I thought “how can I help others?” Surely there must be people out there going through the same system I did. A system that is broken. A system that is not addressing the whole person. A system that is not individualized or empathetic.
In my last year of undergraduate studies, I was introduced to The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine at a career fair. The knowledge and professionalism of their representatives impressed me, and I liked that Naturopathic doctors had such a large toolkit to deal with chronic disease.
The rest is history that continues to be written with every patient, blog post, and health talk.
I’m dedicated to being sensitive to individual needs and providing a safe treatment space. By establishing the foundations of good health, I strive to empower and educate you toward measurable and achievable goals. In your initial visit, I will take a thorough medical history, inquire about your health concerns in detail, and perform any necessary physical exams. If you require further laboratory work-up, I will inform you of the most indicated tests, and why they may be needed.
I have a particular interest in patients that feel stuck, not taken care of, not heard, and seeking meaningful change.
Dr. Eric has an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences from The University of Western Ontario (BHSc. Hons.) and has also completed doctorate equivalency from The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). The curriculum at CCNM is a rigorous 4 year program and students are taught basic medical sciences (eg. Anatomy, Microbiology, Immunology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Physical Medicine, Primary Care, etc.). In the first 3 years of school, naturopathic students also learn Asian Medicine (including acupuncture and botanical medicine), botanical medicine, nutrition, hydrotherapy, men’s & women’s health, and lifestyle management.
Dr. Viegas spent his years of study focused on acupuncture, botanical medicine, nutrition, psychology, physical medicine, and hydrotherapy. He keeps up to date on the latest evidence-based treatment options for chronic diseases when devising treatment plans for his patients.
In addition to his education at the college, Dr. Eric developed an extensive background knowledge in nutritional products at Body Mind Science (BMS) Resources, the dispensary of CCNM and The Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic (RSNC).
Dr. Eric Viegas spent most of his early life in Markham, Ontario. After finishing his undergraduate degree, he pursued his interests in music, muay thai, and weightlifting. Since moving to Ottawa he’s developed interests in camping, canoeing, hiking, foraging and gardening.
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