What Is It?
How Does It Work?
What Happens During Treatment?
What Is It Used For?
What Is It?
Naturopathy is a holistic system of medicine that integrates a range
of natural therapies. It is based on common-sense practices of good
nutrition, getting plenty of fresh air, exercise and rest, and a positive
attitude. It is also based on the belief that the body has an innate
ability to heal itself. Naturopathy aims to harness the healing powers
of nature, rather than drugs or surgery, to treat the whole person.
Naturopathy is one of the oldest forms of medicine, dating back to
the simple nature cures used by the ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese
and Indians. The term “naturopathy” however, (combining
the terms “nature cure” and “homoeopathy”)
wasn’t coined until the late 19th century, when a “back
to nature” movement developed in reaction to some of the disturbing
medical practices at that time, and the dirt and disease caused by
the Industrial Revolution. The founder of naturopathy as a modern therapy
is thought to be German doctor Benedict Lust, who emigrated to the
United States and founded the first school of naturopathic medicine
in New York in 1902.
How Does It
Naturopaths use a wide variety of natural, non-invasive remedies such
as herbal medicines, dietary supplements, homoeopathy, acupuncture,
detoxification, osteopathy and massage, and provide advice on nutrition,
exercise and other lifestyle changes to help prevent illness and aid
the body to heal itself.
Naturopaths follow six basic principles:
1) First do no harm. Remedies chosen are non-toxic and non-invasive
and should not suppress symptoms without treating the underlying
cause of symptoms.
2) Nature has the power the heal. Advocates of naturopathy believe
the body has an innate ability to heal itself, and the role of the
naturopath is to help remove obstacles to the healing process.
3) Treat the cause not the effect. Naturopaths try to find and treat
the underlying causes of illness rather than suppress symptoms.
4) Treat the whole person. Every aspect of a person - emotional, mental,
spiritual and physical - is taken into account when treating and preventing
5) The physician is a teacher. Naturopaths aim to educate their patients
about healthy diet and lifestyle, and encourage these practices to
6) Prevention is the best cure. Maintaining a healthy environment for
the body is the most effective way to prevent illness.
Naturopaths treat each person as a unique individual, taking into
account their environment, genetics, lifestyle, and mental and emotional
aspects, to tailor a treatment that’s best for them.
What Happens During
Naturopathic practitioners fit into two main groups: naturopathic physicians,
who have had extensive biomedical training, and “traditional
naturopaths” who offer advice on diet and lifestyle. Their methods
of diagnosis and treatment vary accordingly. During your first visit,
all naturopaths will take a detailed medical history and ask about
your diet, lifestyle and emotional health. A naturopathic physician
may conduct a physical exam and arrange for laboratory tests or x-rays.
Your naturopath will then design an individualised treatment plan
which may include changes in your lifestyle (e.g., giving up smoking,
exercising regularly), homoeopathic remedies, herbal medicines, dietary
restrictions or fasting, massage or other physical therapies, counselling
or other stress reducing therapies, dietary supplementation or detoxification
therapy (see separate entries for these therapies).
Sessions will last around 30-45 minutes, and the number of sessions
needed will depend on your condition. It is important to keep in mind
that naturopathy is a gentle form of therapy and many of the treatments
recommended work slowly.
What Is It Used
The various methods of treatment used by naturopaths have been shown
to be helpful for treating heart disease, muscle and joint problems,
digestive disorders, urinary and prostate disorders, migraine headaches,
high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, asthma, allergies, chemical
sensitivities, pain and many other ailments . Diet and lifestyle changes
recommended by naturopaths also have lasting benefits in the prevention
Naturopathy mostly uses gentle, non-invasive treatments that are designed
to do no harm, however, caution should be taken with some herbal
remedies, especially if you are pregnant or are taking conventional
Any dietary restrictions, detoxification, or fasting treatments a
naturopath recommends should be discussed with your conventional doctor
or a qualified nutritionist. These treatments should be avoided by
the elderly, weak and very young, and those with conditions like diabetes,
which require special diets. Even healthy people can experience unpleasant
symptoms during the initial stages of detoxification or fasting, as
the liver and kidneys become overloaded with the release of toxins.
See side effects and cautions under separate entries for other therapies
recommended by naturopaths.
Using naturopathic remedies without consulting a conventional doctor
could allow serious medical conditions to go undiagnosed.
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