What is Naturopathy

Naturopathy is a form of complementary medicine that takes on a holistic approach to supporting health and wellness. A naturopath takes time to review all aspects of your health and explore different factors that may be at play to promote your overall wellbeing. This is why the initial consultations are generally 60-90 min long. A naturopath will take time to understand your presenting complaint in detail and your overall health picture, your past health history, your diet and lifestyle habits as well as any environmental factors in order to understand you, your health journey, your health goals and to explore potential underlying causes for your complaint.

Treatment plans are also holistic, addressing all aspects of your wellbeing. You may leave the consultation with a task to change a certain aspect of your diet, take an herbal tincture daily, start a gratitude journal or even schedule in time for rest and relaxation each week.

Naturopathic approach

Naturopathy recognises that our body has an innate ability to rebalance itself given the right conditions. The naturopathic approach involves primarily establishing and removing the disturbing factors that contribute to imbalance and poor health.

As a simple analogy, if you have a stone in your shoe that’s causing you pain and blistering, the first and best thing to do is to remove the stone (remove an obstacle to healing). It is only then that cleaning the wound, applying a healing balm, and protecting the blister with a band-aid will truly help.

Similarly, within naturopathic consultation, the practitioner would first address any unfavourable dietary & lifestyle patterns and environmental risk factors that may be contributing to the problem. Next, the focus would be on supporting vital energy by providing necessary nutrients to gently encourage the body to initiate its self-healing mechanism. Finally, a naturopath would add specific nutritional and herbal preparations as necessary, to tonify any weakened areas of the body and address any specific problematic areas.

This type of approach is governed by one of the core principles of Naturopathic medicine, the Therapeutic Order of healing (see image above). A naturopath will approach your health from the bottom of the pyramid upwards, applying any further therapeutic steps as needed. Steps 4, 6 & 7 are outside of the scope of the naturopathic practice, and this is when collaboration with other health practitioners like doctors, psychologists, osteopaths, chiropractors is essential.

Naturopathic principles

Naturopathy is also guided by 6 traditional naturopathic principles that intertwine with the above therapeutic order. They include:

First, do no harm (Primum No Nocere)

Naturopaths will generally use the most natural, least invasive, and least toxic therapies in their treatments. When the patient’s presentation is outside their scope or level of skill, naturopaths will collaborate with other practitioners and refer accordingly.

Recognise the healing power of nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Naturopaths recognise the power of the inherent self-healing process that we all have within ourselves. Naturopaths also utilise substances that originate in nature i.e. herbs and focus on establishing a healthy natural environment as foundational to human health.

Identify and treat the root causes of illness (Tolle Causam)

Naturopaths recognise that the greatest benefit to one’s health would be achieved when the underlying cause of illness is identified and obstacles to cure are removed.

Treat the whole person (Tolle Totum)

Naturopath understands that our body, our environment, and our diet and lifestyle are interconnected and collectively impact our total health. Hence, the whole-person-based approach is generally used to restore balance and health.

Educate patients (Docere)

Naturopaths also focus on health education. This helps to empower patients to take control of their health and to better understand what it takes to be and stay healthy.

Emphasise prevention (Preventare)

Naturopathy recognises that prevention of illness or disease is always a better approach. A naturopath will look to identify any potential areas of imbalance early on and teach patients how to prevent illness and maintain wellness.

Naturopathic tools of the trade

There are various tools naturopaths use for assessment and for the treatment.

Assessment techniques used by naturopaths to assess patient’s health status can include:

  • Traditional methods like iridology (assessment of the iris), nail and tongue diagnosis, assessing various body signs to evaluate potential nutritional deficiencies.
  • Standard pathology tests (i.e. Full blood examinations, nutritional evaluations for example, iron studies, vitamin D levels, hormonal evaluations etc.)
  • Functional testing (i.e. Body composition analysis, stool analysis, allergy/intolerance testing, hair mineral analysis, etc.)

Naturopathic treatments can be based on several different types of techniques which often include:

  • Dietary & lifestyle recommendations including specific therapeutic diets, meal plans, exercise recommendations and relaxation techniques.
  • Nutritional supplements including various specific or combinations of vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, celloids, amino acids etc.
  • Herbal preparations including, tinctures, teas, syrups, creams, oils, flower essences, etc.

Herbal medicine is the oldest form of medicine and is a big part of Naturopathy. Herbs have been used for healing for centuries, with many of the current modern medicines originating from specific plants. What is unique about using plants as medicine is their complex interplay of various plant components that tend to work synergistically to provide an effect that is greater than the sum of all individual components on their own. This reflects the power of nature that has produced the specific chemical combination of each plant.

If these principles align with your values and you are looking for a holistic and natural approach to your health issues that will enable you to take control of your health and wellbeing, contact us or book in your initial naturopathic consultation. 

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February 17, 2022

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