People use naturopathic medicine for promoting good health, preventing disease, and treating illness. Naturopaths can help a range of diseases ranging from the common cold to digestive disturbances. Naturopathy tries to find the underlying cause of the condition rather than focusing solely on treating symptoms. A qualified naturopath works with other health professionals, referring people to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate, and GPs for various tests.
Many people also see naturopaths when they have a condition that is unresolved by the conventional medicine – alternative health care is seen as a last resort. Others may see a naturopath for philosophical reasons – they believe that a subtle form of health care is more beneficial for them in the long term.
Naturopathic medicine is based on traditional, natural, non-toxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering all ages and aspects of family health.
It is a system of healing that aims to provide holistic healthcare by drawing on treatment methods from several traditional systems of medicine. Naturopathy seeks to use the natural healing powers of the body to cure itself. It focuses on treating the cause of a disease rather than the symptoms themselves.
A naturopath is not simply interested in the condition. They spend quality time to understand you in a broader sense which may help to determine the cause of the condition.
Your first visit will typically take more than an hour. During this time, a very thorough history is taken, including questions about diet, lifestyle, stress, and environmental exposures. The naturopath will perform an appropriate physical examination, possibly including iridology, nail and tongue diagnosis.
Naturopaths are trained in medical science to help understand the disease process and develop an approach for treating a patient. Often people criticize the modalities that naturopaths use, however naturopaths are not meant to replace GPs, but offer complementary treatments alongside conventional medication. They will use substances that subtly and slowly modify the internal environment, as well as recommending lifestyle and dietary modifications.
Herbal Medicine – is based on scientific research and empirical data built up over hundreds of years. Today more and more traditional uses of herbs are being validated by scientific studies.
Nutrition – is based on almost entirely scientific studies and research.
Massage – has been well studied and developed and is now established as a proven form of therapy.
Homeopathy – the subject of several hundred scientific studies, some which support and some which criticize it. The simple fact that thousands of people continually use it as a therapy does hold credibility, even though it cannot be scientifically proven.
The roots of naturopathy go back to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who believed healthy eating, adequate rest and exercise were essential for health – and that cures should stimulate the body’s natural healing ability.
According to the General Council and Register of Naturopaths, the philosophy of naturopathic medicine is based on three basic principles;
• The individual possesses the power to heal itself through its internal vitality and intelligence.
• Disease is a manifestation of the vital force applying itself to the removal of obstructions to the normal functioning of organs and tissues. The naturopath seeks to discover and remove the causes whether they be chemical, mechanical or psychological.
• Naturopathic medicine is a holistic approach to health. Disease affects the whole person – body, mind and spirit, and not simply an isolated organ or system. Each person responds in unique ways to his or her environment, each has individual strengths, weaknesses and needs.
Naturopaths are tasked with educating clients to take more responsibility for their health, and also to use natural therapies to increase vitality of the individual to remove any obstructions.
Does naturopathy work?
There is plenty of legitimate science underpinning the methodology and modalities used by a modern naturopath, but when it comes down to it people simply want results. If naturopathy did not work it would cease to exist and yet quite the opposite is happening. Naturopathy is gaining widespread acceptance by the public and many in mainstream medical practices.
Extensive research has demonstrated the health benefits and healing effects of a good diet, regular exercise, therapeutic massage and other techniques employed by naturopaths e.g The Bastyr University which conducts research on the natural health sciences has demonstrated naturopathy’s efficacy in helping a wide range of conditions including glue ear, sinus problems, digestive disorder, headaches, chronic fatigue and autoimmune conditions.
by Anjanette Meeks, BA (Hons), Adv Dip Nat, Nut Dip