What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy is a health care system based on natural therapies, which believes in the body’s innate ability to heal itself given the right support. Naturopathic practitioners are trained to identify, treat and manage acute and chronic conditions, some of which don’t respond to conventional medicine. This includes, but is not limited to: – eczema, asthma, fatigue, sleep disturbances, acid reflux, digestive disorders, fungal or Candida infections, thyroid imbalances including Hashimoto’s and Graves, weight-gain, sarcopenia / muscle loss. Rather than focusing on a collection of individual symptoms, a naturopath looks at a person as a whole, body, mind and spirit.
Naturopaths seek to identify and treat the root cause of any symptoms. We believe in the principle ‘first do no harm’, which means we will select the most gentle and non-invasive treatment possible to restore the body to balance. This could include lifestyle recommendations such as changes to diet, appropriate exercise, exposure to natural daylight, or non-toxic natural treatments such as nutritional supplements, herbs, flower essences and homeopathic preparations. Emotional issues are included as a possible root cause, for which homeopathic preparations can provide effective support. Where stress is found to be a causative factor, relaxation techniques may be recommended.
Naturopaths also aim to educate and empower their clients, so you are able to take responsibility for your own health, prevent future disease and enjoy optimal vitality.
Naturopathic medicine is based on 6 fundamental principles
The Healing Power of Nature:
The body has an inherent ability to maintain and restore health. Naturopaths support this healing process by removing obstacles to cure and identifying treatments to enable healing.
Identify and Treat the Causes
Naturopaths treat the underlying causes of illness rather than just the symptoms of disease. Symptoms are an external manifestation of an internal imbalance due to any combination of physical, mental, or emotional causes.
First Do No Harm
A naturopathic treatment plan uses therapies that are gentle, non-invasive, effective, and do not have adverse side effects. A conscious effort is made to use methods that do not suppress symptoms. We often turn to tried and tested ancient natural alternatives (1).
Doctor as Teacher
The Latin root of doctor is docere, which means “to teach.” The primary role of naturopaths is educating, empowering, and motivating clients to assume more personal responsibility for their health by adopting a healthy attitude, lifestyle, and diet. Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest patients in the maintenance of the human frame, in diet, and in the prevention of disease.” It is more effective to teach than treat patients.
Treat the Whole Person
Naturopaths identify specific dysfunctions in their patients and tailor treatment based upon the patient’s individual needs. It is the patient that requires treatment, not the disease state or symptom. Naturopathic practitioners are interested in finding and treating characteristic symptoms that define the patient rather than common symptoms that define the disease. William Osler, MD, once said, “It is more important to know what sort of patient has a disease rather than what sort of disease a patient has.”
It is far easier and cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat a disease. We recommend lifestyle strategies or nutritional supplementation for disease prevention.
Naturopaths design care plans to suit individual needs and health conditions. This means the treatment plans we offer can vary, but all follow similar principles.
Naturopathy is becoming more popular and of greater importance in today’s society, with the stresses of modern life taking a toll on health. Some of the issues affecting modern society include:
- chemical and environmental pollutants
- high intake of processed or ‘convenience’ foods
- multiple conflicting responsibilities
- lack of good quality sleep
- insufficient fresh air and sunlight
- long commutes to work becoming the norm
- many hours sitting in the same position
- excessive screen use
- minor health problems treated with drugs that cause side effects
The internet has given the public access to information that we did not previously have, and people are now researching their own conditions and alternatives to conventional treatment. Where an illness is not life-threatening many people are choosing to start with natural, non-toxic and non-invasive techniques.
A number of diseases have been linked to lifestyle, including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, eczema, fluctuating weight, reflux, mental health and autoimmune diseases.
In many cases, drug treatments do not provide enough, or lasting efficacy and patients have limited options left. Some people also prefer to avoid taking medicines because of the side effects.
We are now seeing a paradigm shift in healthcare. Today there are a small number of NHS funded hospitals in the UK specialising in integrated medicine, with consultations that consider the emotional causes of disease and treatments on offer including diet and lifestyle modification, homeopathy, acupuncture, meditation and mindfulness.
Conventional medical professionals, who previously shunned the ideas of naturopathy, are now starting to recommend naturopathic techniques including stress reduction, avoidance of pollutants, exercise and dietary modification. More and more people are now enjoying the benefits of natural healing.
What can I expect in the initial naturopathic appointment?
The first appointment with a naturopath tends to be longer than a conventional visit to your doctor, which may only last 7 – 15 mins. It can take from 60 to 120 minutes. You will have been sent both a Health and Dietary Questionnaire to complete before your first consultation. This first consultation will involve understanding the origin of your health complaints. You will leave with recommendations for lab tests t(where appropriate) to identify or clarify the root cause of your health issues, and for natural time-proven treatments to start supporting your return to health.
Naturopaths use laboratory tests from reputable labs as an aid to determine the most effective treatment. A naturopathic practitioner is like a tailor, trying to find the best fit for you, the client. You will leave with an individually tailored treatment plan that actively engages you in restoring your health.
How could functional medicine help you?
Get in touch to set up a time to discuss your situation on Zoom. I offer a free 20 minute chat so you can find out more about naturopathy and whether it might be the right approach for you.
© TARA ALEX ZENKER • CREATED BY KERI WILLIAMS
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