What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathic medicine is a science and philosophy of healing, centred upon the body’s natural ability to heal itself, if it is given the right conditions. The six main principals of Naturopathic Medicine –
1. The healing power of nature. The body has its own intuitive mechanisms for healing. The role of the Naturopath is to support these mechanisms through the use of a healthy diet, recuperative sleep, exercise, relaxation and the use of natural medicines such as nutritional and herbal supplementation.
2. Identify and treat the cause. In order for health to be restored and optimised it is important that all underlying causative factors are identified and removed. A Naturopath will first seek to alleviate symptoms but will then work to correct imbalances within the body that may have contributed to dysfunction.
3. Treat the person as a whole. A Naturopath considers the patient as a whole, not just a set of isolated symptoms and will work to identify and address the underlying cause of dysfunction or disease in a patient.
4. First do no harm. A Naturopath aims to use the most natural, non toxic and non invasive therapy available to heal the patient. Natural medicines are generally well tolerated. However, as active biological compounds they do exert therapeutic actions in the body and in some cases these actions may aggravate an existing condition or interact with a prescribed pharmaceutical drug. A modern naturopath is trained to understand how their medicines work in the body and how they interact with pharmaceutical drugs and all naturopathic treatment plans should take this into consideration to ensure the best possible care for their patient.
5. Doctor as teacher. Education is a cornerstone of naturopathic care. The role of the Naturopath is to inform, motivate and inspire patients to become active participants in their health care plan. Whether that be detailed discussion about diet and lifestyle or information about what and how certain natural medicines work in the body, Naturopathy is all about involving and educating the patient so they feel empowered and are better able to achieve their health goals.
6. Prevention. The majority of modern health care is sickness focused rather than prevention based. Naturopathic philosophy promotes prevention based health care and considers aspects such as constitutional susceptibility and genetic tendencies alongside diet and lifestyle to support patients in reducing the risk of disease progression or development of new ones.
A key strength of Naturopathic care is the time taken by the practitioner to understand the patient in as much detail as possible. Initial consultations are usually 60 minutes and are structured to review the patient’s entire health status, genetic predisposition, dietary patterns, lifestyle and family history. Naturopathy is about involving the patient in the health process. Naturopaths spend the time to listen to their patients and explain the concepts involved so that patients feel understood, empowered and confident. A Naturopath may also utilise various techniques and functional pathology tests to gain a greater understanding of their patient’s health. Typical techniques or tests that a Naturopath may use are –
- Live blood screening
- Urine analysis
- IgG food sensitivity testing
- Complete digestive stool analysis
- Amino acid and other metabolic profiles,
- Oestrogen metabolites
- Hair mineral analysis
- Functional liver detoxification profile
Once this information is gathered a Naturopath will use diet, nutritional and herbal medicine along with lifestyle strategies to restore health and support ongoing wellness.
How long will the treatment take?
Treatment will depend on the individual. For some patients there will be a quick response and for others it may take several months or longer. It is important to remember the Naturopath is not looking to put a bandaid over the symptoms, but rather identify and eliminate the underlying cause of disease so the end result is a greater level of health.
Follow up appointments usually last between 30 and 45 minutes. Shorter appointments are available for children or adults with acute conditions such as colds and flu’s.
Rebates are available in Australia for Naturopathic consultations to members of private health funds.