What is Naturopathy?

What is Naturopathy?


Naturopathy is emerging as a complementary medical system offering solutions to many of our current healthcare issues such as chronic diseases and antibiotic-resistance. However, have you ever wondered, what exactly is Naturopathy?

1) Naturopathy is a system of health care that practises HOLISTIC medicine (1)

It considers:

  • all physiological systems of the body when investigating the root cause of disease
  • all internal aspects of the person such as one’s constitution, genetics/ancestry, current state of body and mind, habits, values and beliefs
  • all outside factors that impact the individual such as diet, lifestyle, psychical and psychological stressors, living conditions and environmental exposure

2) Naturopathy is guided by TRADITIONAL WISDOM but grounded by CURRENT SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

  • Naturopathy’s roots can be traced as far back as 624 BC to famous greek philosophers and doctors of old such as Socrates, Hippocrates, Plato and Galen (2)
  • Many of them contributed to the PHILOSOPHIES, THEORIES and PRINCIPLES that govern Naturopathy and its practice throughout the world today (1)
  • Naturopathy acknowledges the time-tested ‘evidence’ of traditional wisdom however current practice is always validated by scientific evidence wherever possible. An example is Herbal Medicine where many herbs have traditionally been used efficaciously for various ailments of which there are still limited clinical trials to “prove or validate” how they work scientifically. Another example is how isolated compounds from herbs almost never work quite the same as a whole plant extract which has always been the traditional medicine of our forefathers.

3) Contrary to critic’s claims, Naturopathy is COMPLEMENTARY medicine, not alternative

  • Naturopathic treatment avoids drugs and surgery and emphasizes the use of natural therapies (i.e. clinical nutrition, nutraceuticals, herbal medicine, lifestyle counselling and other modalities) (3)
  • Naturopathy complements allopathic (conventional) medicine in many ways for example: a patient suffering from a chronic illness like autoimmune disease, diabetes or cardiovascular disease may benefit from pharmaceutical medication and life-saving emergency surgery from their doctors. At the same time, they could be working with a naturopath on nutritional and lifestyle changes and taking herbal medicines that do not interact with existing medication but instead promote the healing process.

Summary

  • Naturopathy is a holistic medical system that considers all influences on health from mental to physical, social and spiritual factors. 
  • It is designed to prevent illness and promote health and well-being by finding and treating the root cause of disease, as well as treating the entire person, not just symptoms. 
  • Naturopathy has its roots in traditional medicine practices from Greek to Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. However, modern Naturopathy has a strong scientific and evidence-based background. 
  • Naturopaths are trained in multiple modalities from standard medical knowledge about diseases and pharmacology to clinical nutrition and lifestyle counselling. 
  • Additionally, a Medical Herbalist is trained in the use of herbal medicine which, at therapeutic doses, may be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Thus, Naturopathy compliments conventional medicine by offering complimentary treatments to conventional medication and therapies. This is highlighted in our ability to improve management of chronic diseases caused by modern diet and lifestyle such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, asthma, etc. 
  • Many Naturopaths work alongside doctors in an integrative healthcare setting and care is taken to always check any prescription (herbs/foods/supplement) to avoid interactions with medication/treatments. Client safety is always top priority.

I hope this post has given you some new insights on Naturopathy.

The next post to come will focus on the Philosophies underpinning naturopathy.

Thank you for your time and please leave a comment for any thoughts or questions you may have!

Jahn

References

  1. Naturopaths & Medical Herbalists of New Zealand (Inc). (n.d.). Philosophy. Retrieved from https://naturopath.org.nz/what-is-naturopathy/philosophy/
  2. World Naturopathic Federation. (2017). Naturopathic Historical Reference. Retrieved from http://worldnaturopathicfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/WNF_Historical_document_June-2017.pdf
  3. World Naturopathic Federation. (n.d.). About Naturopathy. Retrieved from http://worldnaturopathicfederation.org/about-naturopathy/

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