"Whatever stays in your body rules your life." That is the statement iridologist and naturopath Peter Riddering uses to simplify the use of iridology, the study of the iris of the eye for indications of bodily health and disease.
His tools of trade are an eyeglass, a torch, an iriscope with digital camera, his books and computer.
"Everything is in the eye. Some people come because they notice things in their eyes or their children's eyes," he says.
Some of his clients have been diagnosed medically with a condition or disease and, while conventional drugs or medical procedures can treat whatever the ailment might be, they want to look at their diet and lifestyle to work out the cause.
"Naturopaths are more nutrition and supplement-based," says Peter. "If your body is deficient in something like a mineral, you can't always get enough from food and you have to take minerals to stay on top.
"A naturopath looks at the causes and repair of problems. They will build a management plan that includes suggested vitamins and minerals and advice on diet and exercise and lifestyle. We also monitor clients."
He explains how the iris, made up of muscles and nerves, is connected to the brain and anything that happens in the body is reflected in the eye.
"Everybody has the same 'map' but what is happening to the landscape is personal," explains Peter. Four stages of tissue activity can show in the iris: acute, sub-acute, chronic and degenerative changes. "A lesion may show up relating to something that happened years ago. The darker a lesion, the older it is."
Irises are either blue or brown and any other colours between are a corruption of what happens in our life. For instance if our digestive system is not eliminating all toxins, these will accumulate in the body and show in the iris. But some normal conditions such as pregnancy don't show; and ditto for some slow diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer's.
Modern iridology dates back to a Hungarian doctor Ignatz Peczely in the late 1800s but Peter says the Mayans, Egyptians, Chinese and Incas were also aware of iris markings and their link to health.
Peter's background is in medical technology but he switched to learning about kinesiology, iridology, naturopathy and massage after kinesiology helped him overcome difficulties in his own life.
During a naturopathy consultation, Peter notes the condition of his client's skin, ears, nails and the face and records details such as patient and family medical history, blood pressure and pulse. He will look his client's tongue, ask their age, and about lifestyle, diet, and drugs or supplements taken.
Then he looks at the eye where each section of the iris relates to a body part. There may be stress rings, iron, or markings or colours which indicate changes in cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the state of your immune system, memory and circulation issues.
He also looks at the texture of the iris which shows the body's constitution we are born with. "A strong constitution will look like silk, a weaker constitution will have a rougher texture like hessian."
Naturopaths are usually taught iridology as part of their studies. But Peter adds that while they use diagnostic tools, naturopaths are not allowed to make medical diagnoses. If he does come across anything, he suggests client go to their doctor and will write a letter to the patient's GP describing the symptoms he sees.
The chairman of the NZ Medical Association, Dr Paul Ockelford, when asked about the validity of iridology in identifying ill health, said that if a person has symptoms of significant underlying illness "there is no substitute for getting an accurate diagnosis in a standard medical way."
Peter Riddering works from his Waiheke Island home during the week and at the Ostend market on Saturday mornings. An initial consultation costs $90. Contact him on 09 372 8573, 021 372 857 or through www.healthrightnaturopath.webs.com.
To find an iridologist/naturopath in your area visit the NZ Society of Naturopaths' website www.naturopath.org.nz, the Yellow Pages or Google naturopaths.