So often I find myself confronted with this question. People fear what they don’t understand, so when I tell people what I do for a job, I often find raised eyebrows and a sceptical look is the normal response.
Simply put, Naturopathy is “A system of healthcare that supports mind, body, & spirit”. Holistic, in other words. As a society, we have lost touch with healthcare, other than in the physical sense. Only in the last few decades or so are people on this side of the world once again discovering the usefulness of techniques such as meditation and yoga to manage stress and create a relaxing environment for their mind & spirit.
There are 7 basic principles of Naturopathy, all of them equally important.
- The Healing Power of Nature (vis medicatrix naturae) – Relating to the innate ability of the body to heal itself, given the right conditions.
- First Do No Harm – Naturopaths generally prefer their methods to be non-invasive, without force and always working in harmony with the body.
- Find The Cause – This is a big one. We treat the cause of the illness, not just the symptoms. If a patient has a headache, we ask “Why?”. Could it be a liver issue, stress, poor alignment of the spine? Once the cause is resolved, treating the symptoms is not necessary.
- Treat the Whole Person – Naturopaths see each client as a complete organism, a living, breathing human being, made up of many organs and energies: We do not characterise them by their condition or disease. Each body system links in with the others and cannot be separated.
- Preventative Medicine – Preferably, we like to see patients before they become ill. That’s usually not possible. However, by optimising nutrition and providing the right advice and supplementation where needed, we can and do prevent chronic disease & ill health in the future. This is much easier than trying to fix something that’s already broken, wouldn’t you say?
- Wellness & Health Promotion -This concept goes beyond prevention. We believe that being healthy includes positive intention, emotion and action. Promoting the basics of fresh food, air, water, sunshine and exercise helps our patients to realise that Wellness is something you strive for each day, not just when something goes wrong.
- Doctor as Teacher – I personally take this one very seriously. It is my job to impart the knowledge I have to my patients, so that they understand how to take responsibility for their own health. Of course, I’m always here if they need me, but It’s up to every individual to make sure they understand the requirements of their bodies, and treat them with the utmost respect.
A paradigm shift is needed.
It often strikes me as odd that Naturopathy, and other traditional methods of practising medicine are known as “Alternative Therapies”. For much of humanity’s existence, these were the only forms of medicine available, and seem to have served us well as we’re still here to reminisce. I’m sure that with increasing scientific evidence, and the plethora of recent clinical trials showing just how effective herbal and nutritional medicine can be, things will change and my industry will be less controversial.
In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to have some sort of natural therapist that they visit regularly – whether it’s a Chinese Herbalist, Nutritionist, Kinesiologist, Acupuncture Therapist or a Naturopath, we all contribute to the greater good of Wellness promotion and the integrity of the mind, body, spirit concept.
Reference: Micozzi, M.S. (2006). Fundamentals of Complementary & Integrative Medicine. 3rd Ed. Elsevier. Missouri