Naturopathy is a system of integrated medicine that considers good health to result from a balance between the structural, nutritional, and psychological aspects of a person. The physical structure of the body, its nutritional/biochemical requirements and a person's psychological well-being are all interdependent, and ill health can result from an imbalance between these three elements. The skill of the Naturopath is to identify any imbalances and to encourage the best environment to restore or improve a patient's health.
The Origins of Naturopathy
The principles of Naturopathy were first used by the Hippocratic School of Medicine in about 400 BC. The Greek philosopher Hippocrates believed in considering the whole person in regards to finding a cause of disease, and using the laws of nature to induce cure.
It was from this original school of thought that Naturopathy derived the following principles:
- First do no harm - a naturopath will never use treatments that may create problems
- The healing power of nature - nature has the innate ability to heal.
- Employ methods which work with the body’s healing power and self-correcting mechanisms, and avoid treatments which may work against these mechanisms and which suppress acute diseases. Sometimes it may be necessary to use short term measures which assist in the removal of symptoms for the comfort or safety of the individual, however it is important to also employ long-term health restoration measures.
- Identify and treat the cause - there is always an underlying cause, be it physical, mental or emotional
- Treat the whole person - when preparing a treatment plan, all aspects of a person’s being are taken into consideration.
- The physician as teacher - a naturopath empowers the client in gaining and maintaining control of their own health.
- Prevention is better than cure - a naturopath may recommend removing specific toxic substances and situations from a person’s lifestyle to prevent the onset of further disease
Some Old Words of Wisdom
“..... you have heard eminent physicians say to a patient who comes to them with bad eyes, that they cannot cure his eyes by themselves, but if his eyes are to be cured, his head must be treated: and then again they say that to think of curing the head alone, and not the rest of the body also, is the height of folly. And arguing in this way they apply their methods to the whole body, and try to treat and heal the whole and the part together. And this is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.”
Extract from a letter written by Socrates to Plato (c. 400 BC)
Because Naturopathy is above all an approach to health care, there are many treatment modalities that can be employed. However, they are always applied in a way which works with the body's own healing efforts, and are used in accordance with the principles of treatment previously specified. Treatments may primarily be concerned with the biochemical, structural or mental/emotional aspects, depending upon the nature of the problem.
The core naturopathic modalities are:
- Clinical dietetics and applied nutrition
- Detoxification techniques including therapeutic fasting
- Physical Therapy - including an osteopathic physical approach, manual lymphatic drainage, deep tissue massage and other soft tissue techniques e.g. neuromuscular technique.
- Guidance on rehabilitative exercises and relaxation exercises
- Lifestyle advice
An initial consultation with a naturopath normally takes up to an hour. During this time the naturopath will ask questions about the person’s condition, medical history, diet and lifestyle, and any conventional treatments that they may be taking. Once all of the information is gathered, a treatment plan is formulated that addresses all areas of the person’s life, providing the body with the optimum chance to heal itself.
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