The origins of naturopathy can be traced to ancient Greece, where the “Father of Modern Medicine”, Hippocrates, defined the human organism as a conglomeration of the body, mind and spirit intricately linked to the elements of the natural world. The human organism naturally possesses the ability to regenerate and self-heal, when provided with the correct conditions.
In our current unbalanced state of the world, it is even more critical that we turn to methods of healing that can compensate and correct some of the resultant underlying dysfunction that our bodies and minds endure in the modern world.
The role of the naturopath is to facilitate this process through espousing a way of life whereby we turn to nature for various simple and wholesome cures; pure water, fresh air, wholesome diet, ingesting functional foods and herbs to heal and exercise to stimulate and maintain a high level of well-being. Optimal well-being equates to happiness, vitality and longevity.
Benefits of Naturopathy
The focus on a diverse array of lifestyle factors provides an opportunity for the naturopath to look at the whole person, and the inter-relationships of various elements, rather than isolating a single factor, organ or disease. This expansive philosophy is a fundamental component of why a thorough case history is taken when you visit a naturopath, in order for them to prescribe according to a multitude of components that may invariably be contributing to creating imbalance within the system.
On a physical level, naturopathic treatment provides or supports the more effective utilization of the basic nutrients, molecules and phytochemicals found in foods and herbs that are necessary to rebuild and sustain the integrity of our bodies. Considerable attention is also given to the support of the digestive process, because this is the system that is at the interface of allowing our bodies to extract (digest), absorb and assimilate (re-build) nutrients that construct our entire bodies.
Physical symptoms can therefore be treated with a symptomatic approach; however, most naturopaths are highly skilled and comfortable with identifying inter-relationships and causes that often lie outside of the more conventional orthodox cause-and-effect model.
The holistic focus on lifestyle factors, also allows a naturopath to assess causes of symptoms that are outside of the physical realm. Stress, whether emotional, environmental, nutritional or medical is often seen as a significant contributor to the various biochemical imbalances that lead to a state of disease. Natural elements and therapies are used to remedy the imbalances.
With the above factors in mind, naturopathic treatment in particular benefits the following conditions and states:
- Digestive disorders
- Nervous system imbalances resulting in anxiety, insomnia, stress, headaches
- Musculoskeletal conditions e.g. osteao or rheumatoid-arthritis, muscle cramps
- Weight loss
- Allergies, sensitivities and immune disorders
- Reproductive imbalances e.g. menopausal, menstrual, infertility and pre-conception care
- Cardiovascular system – high cholesterol/ triglycerides/ homocysteine
A naturopath will assess you for the particular causes of these, and based on your own history, will make suggestions for improvements. No two consultations are alike, even if you have the same symptoms, your individual case history will determine a specific prescription. This is one reason why self-prescribing can be limiting, whereas a naturopathic consultation can highlight a more specific mode of individual treatment, creating more effective results.
Naturopathy is in particular effective for chronic (long-standing) symptoms. Orthodox medicine, however, has its strength in treating acute, or emergency-state conditions. Both systems have their place in our modern world.
‘Detoxification’ and ‘gut support’ are a pivotal point of focus for naturopaths. With philosophies geared toward the bodily effects of the food we eat and the unbalancing effects of a polluted environment upon our body and mind, it makes sense that naturopathic treatment often leans toward sustaining the digestive and detox systems. Doctors, on the other hand, have very minimal education in nutritional matters and may therefore be unable to reconcile the level of importance naturopaths place upon assessment, diagnosis and treatment of these.