Introduction to naturopathy
Naturopathy is an overarching term for natural, complementary therapies that can be used in the treatment of a wide variety of conditions. Depending on what’s needed by the patient, treatments may include techniques drawn from any combination of:
- Herbal medicine
- Colon hydrotherapy
- Cranial osteopathy
Alongside these, a naturopath may also suggest a whole-lifestyle approach to healing, including nutritional adjustments (eliminating meat, alcohol or sugar), changing or increasing your exercise regime, trying massage, and even spending more time in nature.
Individuals may seek out the help of a naturopathic doctor if traditional medical channels have failed to alleviate their symptoms, or in addition to ongoing treatment, particularly as a way to manage side effects. There is a varying amount of evidence to support each type of technique used in naturopathy, but regardless of it’s scientific underpinning you may still feel that it has a positive and uplifting effect on your quality of life.
What are the principles of naturopathy?
Natural medicine has existed for thousands of years, but the Greek philosopher Hippocrates wrote the theory that underpins naturopathy. He believed when treating illness or disease the person needed to be viewed as a whole, and treated holistically. Naturopaths still believe in these 6 principles to this day:
- The healing power of nature: use the body’s natural intent to restore and maintain health by removing obstacles to this.
- Identify and treat the cause: rather than simply managing symptoms, which are only an external manifestation of a problem, dig deep and uncover the root cause.
- Do no harm: treatments are non-invasive, gentle, and should never cause more symptoms in a different area.
- Treat the whole person: treat the individual, not the disease or symptom. Naturopaths will be interested in understanding every area of a patient’s life before administering therapy.
- Doctor as teacher: never holding back special knowledge from patients, empowering them with the tools they need to improve their own health going forward.
- Prevention over cure: help individuals to understand, develop and maintain healthy habits, in order to prevent future illnesses or flare ups.
What training does a naturopath have?
All naturopaths will have undergone specific training in their discipline, and should be registered with a relevant professional body. Always ask you see your therapist’s credentials.
A naturopathic doctor will hold a medical degree, with additional training in natural techniques, ranging from herbal medicine to counselling. They will usually offer an integrative course of treatment, combining mainstream Western medical advice alongside complementary or alternative approaches.
Homeopathy vs naturopathy
While naturopathic treatments may include herbal medicine, homeopathy treats the preparation of these substances in a slightly different way, by diluting them up to 400 times.
While a homeopath may take external factors such your diet and lifestyle into account, they are primarily focused on treating your individual symptoms. The specific philosophy of homeopathy is “what a substance can cause, it can cure”, meaning that if you’re treating a bee sting, you’ll also use a tincture derived from bees.
Naturopathy is more focused on creating an environment that supports the body’s own recovery from illness.