1. How do you define an emunctory and the emunctories system?
An emunctory, most simply, is a “route of elimination.” But, a more complex understanding would be any process or location by which the body rids itself of toxic substances or waste products it does not need. Primary emuntories (GI, lung, skin, kidney) are the most efficient routes of elimination, when those are not working properly, the body will attempt to use secondary emunctories. These secondary emunctories are not only not as efficient, they are not “meant for” this job of elimination. Therefore, secondary emunctories often develop an “itis” when the primary emunctories are not working. Any chronic “itis” is an indication of poor elimination through primary emunctories.
2. What are the physiological and philosophical differences between emunction and detoxification?
Philosophically: Emunction is proper physiology working well to process, filter, and eliminate toxins and waste products. Detox is an external force imposed on the body to drive out impurities. Emunction is a passive process of optimizing function, detox is an active process of pushing out perceived contamination.
Physiologically: Emunction involves optimizing functionality of all major routes of elimination as well as considering what is required to properly process any ingested substances and to move the waste products through the fluid systems of the body to the proper routes. Detox, physiologically, involves stimulating the liver, removing external toxic exposures, and some kind of external process to eliminate (colonic, enema, sauna etc.)
3. Which of the emunctories is the most critical for care?
All are the most critical. All must be working efficiently to support optimal health.
4. What are the clinical applications of the emunctories systems? What are these clinical applications based upon?
Not sure what you mean by “based on,” but we apply the idea of opening emunctories as a first step in the treatment of every patient that comes to the clinic. We believe that most patients’ symptoms are at least partially the result of poor emunctory function, but also that open emunctories provide a stable foundation upon which to build optimal health. Open emunctories virtually guarantee fewer side effects or adverse effects of medications (both ND and MD remedies). In addition, once the emunctories are open and properly functioning, we can dive deeper into the physiology that will reveal the underlying reason why the patient became ill. Without this foundation of open emunctories, we would be dealing with many more complications as treatment progresses.
5. “The exultation of the vital force is accomplished by the stimulation of the emunctories.” Faber’s medical dictionary of 1865. Please elaborate.
When you provide gentle stimulus to the emunctories and watch them open and begin to function properly, you do, then, get to see the vital force in action. The body restores itself to proper function on many deeper levels just by returning these systems to balance.
What is the impetus for creating this elective?
If you know how to properly restore emunctory function, you know how to begin EVERY naturopathic case. Every patient will benefit from this foundational approach and it provides a very stable place for each naturopath to then use his/her own individual style to treat the case. Proper function on this level is the foundation for good ND care regardless of what else you choose to do. And our collective results will improve by many times if we all employ this approach in our practices before we do any type of external intervention.
6. Which classical methods do you employ to assess that a patient may need emunction/detoxification?
Asking basic questions about digestion, sleep, energy, appetite, mood, menses.
Assessing the case history by keeping emunctory function in mind. Like I said, all chronic inflammations are related to emunctory function. Must draw relationships between the chronic constipation of a patient and their skin rash that will not go away. But, it is easy to assess which patients need this when we believe that every patient needs this. Its not always that every patients emunctories are not functioning properly (although it is often the case), but every treatment plan requires proper emunctory support to be even more effective and to achieve long-lasting cure.
7. Would pulse taking, tongue reading and iridology be adequate complementary assessment tools for assessing emunctory function?
Yes, I believe these tools can add information to a case that is already developing. If you have good support in the case history, the family history and lab reports, these assessment modalities can add further pieces of the puzzle. When assessing emunctories in the context of a case, we are trying to put a puzzle together to determine the underlying cause of the patient’s imbalance. These tools can be invaluable at providing missing pieces.
8. Which common classical patterns require emunction?
Constipation, skin problems, joint problems, chronic inflammations “itises,” chronic discharges (cough, acne, etc…), congestion of any part of the body (edema, liver congestion like dysmenorrhea), weight issues esp. overweight patients, absence of proper immune function (never gets sick, autoimmune), any disease of growth/storage (cancer, cysts, growths, fibroids, high cholesterol), the list goes on & on…
9. What treatment modalities do you use to stimulate emunctories?
100 conscious breaths/day, water, get outside daily, castor oil packs, daily movement/exercise, dry skin brushing, acidophilus, 2 tbsp ground seeds daily, UNDAs, flower essences, acupuncture, gemmotherapies, homeopathy
10. Where does emunction fit in your therapeutic order?
We do nothing before we are sure that the emunctories are functioning properly. If we treat before the emunctories are optimal, we risk the patient suffering unnecessary effects of treatment.
11. How do mental/emotional aspects of clearing emunctories manifest?
The emotional sphere can be included as a higher order emunctory. Our emotions are definitely one way in which we eliminate some of what we encounter on a daily basis. So, then, emotional symptoms can also be a product of opening the emunctories. As you decongest the GI in working with a constipated patient, anxiety might manifest indicating that the kidney is really the emunctory that needs your support in this process. So, emotions can also help to point the physician to the proper emunctory to support (lung-grief, kidney-anxiety/fear, liver-anger)
12. How is sound spiritual health associated with healthy emunctories?
We do not believe that sound spiritual health is possible without healthy emunctories. This is the place we are all trying to achieve… balanced physical and spiritual health… cannot have it without optimizing the basic fundamental processes of the body like elimination of wastes.
13. How do we communicate with other allied health practitioners what we are doing when we “open the emunctories?”
I think we just tell them we are optimizing the body’s ability to eliminate waste products.
14. If properly managed the function of the emunctories should not decline with age. Please elaborate on this statement.
I do not agree with this statement. I think that the natural decline of the emunctories IS the normal aging process and that “dying of old age” means partly that your emunctory function cannot keep up with the demand. More cells die than can be regenerated…
15. How could chronic back pain or a diagnosis of schizophrenia be managed through opening the emunctories?
Back pain is very common. If emunctories are not efficient, then waste products build up. Where are they going to go?? An intelligent system will not deposit these waste products in the heart or brain (crucial organs) so often, they are deposited in the joint spaces. Chronic back pain goes away regularly by maximizing emunctory function.
Schizophrenia is a much more severe diagnosis. If the toxic products/wastes have crossed the BBB, then all systems are likely involved in this long term degeneration of health. Meaning that emunctories need to be opened first, then all the systems of the body will need to be supported and rebalanced to achieve any real progress on this diagnosis.
16. What are the emunctories of our living environment/earth and how do they correlate to our physiological emunctories?
Seems our living earth has obscured its emunctories, but we do have living systems for dealing with wastes/toxic byproducts. Respiration is one of these systems. Not only humans breathe… plants breathe also, but in reverse. So, our waste product CO2 is their fuel and their waste product O2 is our fuel. The oceanic soup has many mechanisms for processing byproducts of organic life and recycling them back into the environment as usable materials. And weather patterns are also an environmental balancing act. Our thunderstorm is the counterpart to an environmental event on the other side of the globe.
17. What is the role of public health and policy in keeping our environment clean and our emunctories properly open?
Hmm… It is our responsibility to maintain our own personal health as a reflection of the overall health of the planet and I think it is our responsibility to maintain the health of the planet as a reflection of our personal health. Health has inherent value. We do not need to “prove” its benefit. By optimizing the wellness of our individual bodies and of the world, we provide an atmosphere in which spiritual growth and evolution can occur.