• Phoebe Hunter

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

everything in.

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

preventative medicine.

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



IG @katrinaschilling_naturopath