Naturopathic medicine is a complete system of medicine that approches each case holistically, meaning all aspects of a person are considered rather than focusing on a 'named condition or disease' - this is because each persons exprience (even of a similar condition) will be unique.
Naturopaths draw equal insight from both traditional medicine and contemporary research, with Bachelor degree qualified Naturopaths being comprehensively trained in clinical sciences, as well as counseling and stress management. They are experts in the naturopathic modalities, which include herbal (botanical) medicine, nutritional medicine, dietary and lifestyle therapy; and many have additional complementary skills that can be incoporated into a treatment plan.
Naturopaths work to identify and eliminate the root causes of disease, and are guided by the following six basic principles:
- Do no harm - this includes encouraging patients to stop behaviours that are harmful to their health;
- Utilise the healing power of nature - e.g. by using nutrition, lifestyle modifications and herbal medicines;
- Identify and treat the causes - not simply focus on symptom suppression;
- Treat the whole person - taking a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach to whole-person wellbeing;
- Focus on preventive medicine - by optimising all aspects of health and wellbeing; and
- Practice in partnership with the patient - collaborating together at all times.
Naturopaths recognise that both health and disease are the result of an intricate and intimate interplay of physical, emotional, spiritual, familial, occupational and environmental factors. Failure to address all aspects relevant to a patient’s pattern of health and disease fundamentally ignores the complexity of the human experience.
Whilst naturopaths are trained in many of the same biomedical skills as orthodox physicians, a naturopath takes a more holistic approach to patient care, aiming to support the body's self-regenerative powers where possible. For example, by also eliminating harmful and inhibitory behaviours, optimising nutritional status, and encouraging positive lifestyle changes. Due to this focus on whole-patient wellness, each treatment is individually tailored to the patient and emphasizes both prevention and self-care. Patient wellness is achieved through patient-practitioner collaboration. The practitioner works at all times to create an ambience of trust, honesty and positivism in the therapeutic relationship.
The body has its own intuitive and sophisticated mechanism of healing given the right environment within which to do so. The naturopath’s role is therefore to support and facilitate the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Naturopaths take into account the emotional, psychological, spiritual, genetic, and environmental factors that are influencing each persons health in general, but also as they may pertain to any imbalance experienced.
Unlike orthodox medicine, which focuses on symptomatic treatment, naturopathic medicine addresses the root cause of imbalance with a range of natural therapies to optimise function and support a return to wellbeing. This is akin to the principles now adopted by those interested in functional medicine - meaning a clinical naturopath understands that even in the absence of disease, a person can be unwell due to a functional disturbance that can be corrected, therefore leading to a return to optimal wellbeing once more. As such, many clinical naturopaths also utilise functional laboratory testing as required to investigate some of the causes of a persons 'unwellness', though this is not required in all cases.
Naturopathy for optimal wellbeing
For those in generally good health, but who feel they could be more energetic, manage the pressures of a busy life better, or who would simply like a regular 'check up'; a complete naturopathic health assessment can help identify areas that could be improved upon; energy levels can be further optimised and/or healthy strategies can be discussed with your naturopath so you can enjoy vitality and healthy ageing at any life stage.