WHAT IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE?
Naturopathic Medicine is the system of primary health care which works with the individual’s efforts towards the optimal expression of physiological, physical, and mental/emotional health.
What is a Naturopath?
A Naturopath is a person who applies treatment modalities based on the principles of Naturopathic Medicine.
Naturopathy is an approach to health care which aims to promote, restore and maintain health. The following principles underpin the practise of Naturopathy:
- The Healing Power of Nature or Vis Medicatrix Naturae: There is a ‘vital force’ or ‘life force’ which drives the self-healing or self-correcting mechanisms of the body.
- The Triad of Health, which describes the connection and interaction between the structural, biochemical and mental/emotional components of all living beings. Dysfunction in one area invariably leads to disruption elsewhere.
- The Uniqueness of the Individual: People are genetically, biochemically, structurally and emotionally different from one another. Each person responds in a unique way to influences whether they are mental/emotional, structural, nutritional, social or cultural.
Naturopaths also recognise that:
- Health is more than the absence of disease. It is dependent upon a multitude of factors and is a reflection of a harmonious interaction with our environment.
- Acute disease processes are different from chronic processes. The acute response is the body’s attempt to restore health often through enhanced processes of elimination. Suppression of such healing processes contributes to the potential for chronic breakdown.
- Disease processes involve activation of the body’s homeostatic mechanisms. Health is homeostasis – a dynamic equilibrium.
- The individual requires suitable foods for nourishment, clean water, fresh air and sunlight, as well as appropriate exercise, rest and relaxation.
- Prevention is preferable to cure.
The defining elements of Naturopathic practise are that Naturopaths:
- Work with the body’s own self-correcting mechanisms or efforts to maintain homeostasis.
- Endeavour to address all aspects of the Triad of Health.
- Regard education and co-operation of the patient as highly as treatment of the patient.
- Address lifestyle factors which are contributing to the problem and re-educate the patient into a lifestyle more conducive to health.
- Aim to establish health on a cellular level by improving circulation and innervation, nutrition, detoxification and elimination.
The Naturopath always seeks to:
- Do no harm.
- 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.
- Deal with underlying causes of dysfunction where possible.
- Reduce the burden of load. It may not always be possible to identify the underlying causes of the problem, but often a number of contributory factors can be identified. It is preferable to reduce the overall burden on the body using established naturopathic means.
- 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.
- Attempt to address all aspects of the Naturopathic Triad of Health.
- Employ simple treatments before more complex, where possible.
- Support patients’ efforts in gaining and maintaining control of their own health.
Because Naturopathy is above all an approach to health care, there are many treatment modalities which 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 depending upon the nature of the problem.
The core naturopathic modalities are:
- Clinical Dietetics and Applied Nutrition.
- Detoxification techniques.
- Hydrotherapy / Colonics
- Physical Therapy. Examples include osteopathy/chiropractic (by an appropriately registered practitioner), naturopathic physical manipulation, manual lymphatic drainage, massage and other soft tissue techniques e.g. neuromuscular technique/fascial release.
- Psychotherapeutic techniques.
- Medical Herbalism
- Offering advice regarding a healthy lifestyle.
- Many other therapies may be employed as part of naturopathic practice (where the practitioner has gained a suitable additional qualification)
The Naturopath aims to identify the causative factors which are creating functional disturbance. This would include evidence of both sub-clinical disease and any gross pathology. In order to make an assessment it is necessary to recognise that
- Underlying causes of dysfunction should be identified where possible.
- Structural, biochemical and mental/emotional factors may all contribute to the patient’s condition.
- The individual genetic make-up of the patient, the inherited miasmata and the environment are predisposing factors in the expression of disease and will contribute to the individual’s experience of that disease.
- There is often multifarious causation. A diverse range of factors may play a role in disease processes. There is usually a cumulative effect of predisposing factors and a final excitatory or trigger factor.
Naturopathic assessment may include the following elements;
- Case history taking
- Analysis of lifestyle and environment
- Clinical examination
- Clinical tests
- Laboratory testing
- Iridology Assessment
- Subtle energy diagnostic methods
An integral part of naturopathic treatment includes being able to educate the patient in all elements of healthy living.
The Naturopath should:
- Recognise the level of knowledge and acceptance of an individual and assist them in gaining insight into their health.
- Lead by example. Naturopaths must make efforts to follow a lifestyle which is complementary to these guidelines.
- Recognise that the individual plays an essential part in their own health restoration.
- Guide their patients into accepting more responsibility for their own health.
- Stimulate a healthy independence from, rather than dependence on, the practitioner.
The Naturopath should be able to offer well informed advice in the following areas;
- The Naturopathic principles of health and disease, how the patient became unwell, what is keeping them unwell, how they can get well and how they can stay well.
- Diet and nutrition, including nutritional supplementation.
- Detoxification including fasting and elimination.
- Physical exercise.
- Management of acute diseases/healing crises.
- Hydrotherapy and phytotherapy for home use.
- Breathing and breathing exercises.
- Relaxation and stress management.
- Natural fertility awareness.
- Preconceptual care, pregnancy and natural childbirth. (It is acknowledged that delivery of the infant is restricted to those who are registered to practise as midwives or medical doctors. Referral should therefore be made to a suitable midwife).
The use of herbs is the oldest form of medicine on our planet and is still the front line of treatment for over 75% of the worlds population.
‘In short they work.’
The above gives a an overview of semester one and the training in Diploma of Naturopathy & possible Diploma of Herbal Medicine… graduates now have a Bachelor of Health Science (Complementary Medicine) degree with this training. 3-4 year full-time course.