Natural medicine has become a force to be reckoned with. Droves of frustrated and sick people are turning back to what was once our only form of medicine, addressing issues that ‘mainstream’ medicine simply lacks the ability to tackle effectively at this point. Masking the symptoms of disease often only prolongs discomfort and potentiates a vicious cycle. In comparison, complementary medicine aims to treat the cause of illness/imbalance, so that treating symptoms becomes irrelevant.
Treat the cause
Disease causation differs from person to person, and there are almost always precipitating environmental factors (stress, diet, physical activity, toxin exposure, lack of social support etc). In natural medicine, client-centric care is important to establish all reasons why the condition has developed and continues to exist – these may include social, emotional, physiological, or psychological factors.
For example, strong evidence links physical conditions with social and emotional factors such as loneliness, or emotional stress/tension (1). Simply masking these issues with medication is certainly not the answer. Addressing the multifactorial elements of disease by understanding the holistic nature of health and wellbeing is fundamental to establishing and implementing effective treatment. The well-established link between gut health, depression, and other mood disorders proves that both body and mind need not be considered as separate entities, but part of the whole (2).
Food as medicine, and addressing our relationship with it.
It’s no secret that we are what we eat. Food does not just provide energy, but vital information that regulates genetic expression. The right nutrition will reduce oxidative stress and allow our bodies to regulate cellular function and protect against disease; the wrong diet will result in cellular dysfunction, inflammation, damage to our mitochondria and DNA.
Food is the backbone of health and wellbeing. Herbs and nutritional supplements are great for acute needs, but nothing can substitute a nourishing diet. Do you know what foods suit you best? We should all be aware that nutritional requirements change throughout the lifespan – from infancy, to childhood, to adolescence, adulthood, menopause/andropause, and in later years. Getting enough lean protein, good fats and moderating carbohydrate intake helps to support metabolism, cellular reproduction/growth and repair (note – not everyone utilises these macronutrients in the same way). Removing processed foods from the diet is essential while increasing our intake of fresh vegetables and fruit nourishes the body with phytonutrients and allows natural detoxification processes to occur efficiently.
Personalised nutrition will change the way we think about food.
Change is on the horizon. The one size fits all approach is on the way out – or at least it should be! Dietary needs change depending on health status, stress, genetics, level of physical activity… even where we live in the world affects our nutritional needs. Personalised nutrition is paving the way for a more individual approach and will surely be the way of the future for all types of medicine. There is some fascinating research coming out at the moment regarding how each person may process fats, carbohydrates and proteins differently depending on their genotype, and what this means for dietary intake (3).
To say that herbs are a powerful healing tool would be an understatement. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, they can treat multiple body systems at once without the nasty side effects. Scientific research on herbal and nutritional remedies grows by the day, and most practitioners now utilise ‘evidence-based medicine’, which means that treatments are scientifically researched and proven to be effective.
A naturopath or herbalist is your best resource regarding herbal remedies, which should never be self-prescribed. There are still important interactions between medications and health conditions that must be assessed by a registered, qualified practitioner. Achieving therapeutic dosage is vital and retail preparations often fail to achieve quality or quantity of herbs required to do so safely, and be free of toxins (pesticides, heavy metals, etc).
Support, empowerment and accountability
Good health is a precious thing. Making changes now means that benefits will be reaped both now and in the future. Your naturopath or natural health practitioner provides a wealth of knowledge and is an expert at listening, understanding and supporting you throughout your wellness journey.
Taking accountability for your health is an important part of the healing process, and practitioners takes their role as educators seriously. It’s our job to empower clients to listen and understand their bodies….the transformation that takes place once this occurs is incredibly powerful. So take the power back, talk to your natural therapist about improving your health today.
Please feel free to contact us if you’d like any more information about this topic.
(1) Leigh-Hunt, N., Bugguley, D. Bash, K., Turner, V., Turnbull, S., Valtorta, N., Caan, W. (2017). An overview of systematic reviews on the public health consequences of social isolation and loneliness. Public Health, 152: 152-171