A tea and chat with Katrina Schilling | Naturopath, Nutritionist + Holistic Health Practitioner
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Hello lovely Katrina, you are my naturopath and someone whom I admire for
your abundance of knowledge and willingness to share. You seem to embody
the philosophy of holistic health. Where is a good place for people to start
when it comes to holistic health/living?
Firstly, think about the basic needs for human life (fresh air, water, sunlight, fresh
food, love, and laughter). Many people simply don’t get enough sunlight, water, or
plant matter in their days. You don’t need to be vegetarian to eat vegetables, in fact
most of our plate should consist of vegetables and other plant matter such as grain,
beans, and nuts as well as good quality protein. Secondly, start with what you know:
what already works for you and how can you do this on a regular, sustainable basis?
What makes you happy and gives you balanced energy? If you’re not sure what
works, find out what it is you want or need most. Is it time alone, time to be creative,
time to cook healthy food, recipes, the space and energy to pursue these things? For
many people finding the time and energy are usually some of the trickiest parts to
start a healthier path. I recommend making a plan - physically sitting down,
listing your values and priorities, and being realistic about your expectations to fit
What sparked your interest in naturopathy, it seems very intuitive to you?
I LOVE the naturopathic philosophy and way of living. However, I didn’t know what a
naturopath was until I was in my mid 20s, studying at Endeavour College – this was
the first time I saw a naturopath for myself and it changed my whole life. I
experienced naturopathic medicine when trying to manage my own health and
wellbeing concerns and I saw my body really start to heal for the first time in years.
I’ve always had a strong interest in and am naturally pulled toward plants, gardening,
and food. I studied botany from a conservation perspective first and then when I
found out that I could go deeper into the science of plants and nutrition to help
people I was hooked! Working in holistic medicine means that I get to build incredible
relationships with people. Every time I see a new client I am humbled by their
openness, willingness to share, and place their trust in me as a practitioner and I
learn a lot from seeing so many different people. My personality is reflected in my
practice. I’m not a strict naturopath – I think most people are very relieved to hear
this. I’m not strict on myself so why would expect that from my client’s in their own
journey? I believe in realistic shifts toward better health and working with each
person’s unique needs, so I’m always on my toes and tailoring treatment plans to the
client in detail. It’s not an easy job but I’m really lucky to be doing something I love so
much and that truly helps me grow as a person too.
What is the origin story of the naturopath?
Naturopathic care that dates back to the 18 th and 19 th centuries encompassed
preventative care for the individual and considered arms like hydrotherapy, and Nature Care which included herbalism, air, light, food and water to treat patients.
Today a naturopath works very similarly. There are variations on how a naturopath
practices however, the way it is taught in higher education institutions in Australia is
to include both traditional healing practices as well as drawing upon scientific
evidence to support a patient’s treatment plan.
A naturopath follows the six underpinning principals of naturopathy that still very
much apply today: primum non nocere, (first, do no harm), Vis Medicatrix Naturae
(using the healing power of nature), tolle causum (identify and treat the cause),
Docere, doctor as teacher, tolle totum, treat the whole person, and utilise
Do you think there are correlations between naturopathy and the natural
Without knowledge of and respect for the natural environment, there would be no
such practice as naturopathy. Part of my role as a naturopath is to educate people
on how the natural environment can assist their basic human needs for health and
wellbeing: spending time in nature is a scientifically-backed way to reduce stress
hormones including cortisol (check out forest bathing and “Shinrin-yoku”), consuming
whole foods close to their natural state, and minimising physical and mental trauma
from things like synthetic chemicals, malnutrition, infection etc. are all nature-based
practices. Every time I’m in my garden or walking in the bush I move closer to my
true self – nature truly does inspire the healing power within us.
There are a few common threads between us, the main one would possibly be
the act of slowing down. As a society, there are too many reasons not to
meditate, how did meditation make its way into your daily ritual?
Meditation was introduced to me by a medical practitioner when I needed it most. I
was really down, couldn’t concentrate, spent a lot of time thinking about past events,
and had trouble finding motivation. As you can imagine, this flowed into all other
aspects of life including work and relationships. I started to learn the basic
techniques of mindfulness and my whole world changed. It helped me in so many
ways that I never wanted to stop. Of course, I’m only human, I do forget to meditate,
and sometimes I just can’t be bothered but I can always draw upon it and apply
some discipline to make it a habit when I notice things slipping. (No one is immune to
negative thoughts but we do have the ability to manage them and to decide how or
whether to react to them or not. My advice is to start small. Aim for 3 minutes per day, set a regular alarm on your phone so you don’t forget, and use a guide like Insight Timer, Headspace or my favorite, Jon Kabat Zinn’s 3-minute Breathscape which is free on YouTube.
During current global developments, I have found myself feeling slightly
allergic to technology and the daily scroll. In that same token, it's hard to get
away from. Has technology addiction found its way into your client's ailments
(I was thinking headaches, body pain or mood) and how do you manage your
own relationship with screen time?
Something I see a lot in my clients is loss of focus and concentration, anxiety and
low mood, and body pains from sitting for long periods with poor alignment and
minimal movement of the body. There’s always more than one driver of these
symptoms but yes, addiction to the screen and social media plays a big role. It
impacts the brain and our attention span, our creative mind, our self-awareness and
confidence, and can mean we get stuck in postures that impede our digestion, blood
flow, and potentially cause pain and inflammation.
In my opinion two important steps are 1) severing ties with the social construct that
you need to be available 24/7 and 2) set boundaries that prioritise your personal
As you would know yourself, running a small business alone means relying on
technology and devices a lot. On most days I am looking at a screen for many hours.
It can be really tricky not to be affected by it so I do my best to set boundaries: I work
in the day and during the week only. This means no research, treatment planning,
business, or social media marketing after dinner or on weekends. The clinic is
currently open on Saturday mornings for those who need it but after 12pm there’s no
work-related activity. I spend this time outdoors and in my garden. I use a screen
colour filter app if looking at a screen to watch movies/tv at night. This blocks blue
and white light to minimise its effect on melatonin production and interruption of the
circadian rhythm. And finally, I try really hard not to eat and scroll. Eating mindfully
really is a life-changing habit.
On a more fragrant note, I know you're an avid tea drinker so I have to ask,
what's your go-to blend for wintery days? I've been soaking in the rooibos.
Yum, I love rooibos! My current, favorite warming tea would be a blend of good old
ginger root, cinnamon, and licorice root. I prescribe these a lot in the clinic but they’re
also such easy-to-use kitchen herbs that warm the body and satisfy to the sweet-
tooth, naturally. For night time it’s calming herbs like lavender, passionflower,
chamomile and some ladies mantle, a less common herb traditionally used to
support a healthy cycle.
Finally, do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Listen to your intuition, and be honest with yourself.
Feed your body and mind with food and fuel that provides you vitality and joy.
Try to let go of striving. This is a basic principle of mindfulness that has changed my
perspective on everything. The urge or desire to want more, change your current
experience, and be ‘better’ stops us from experiencing our lives as they are including
the many small pleasures. It’s not easy but it’s been invaluable advice for me.
Thank you so much for your time, you can find Katrina on the following