Research shows naturopathy is one of the most popular forms of complementary medicine in Australia. Naturopaths receive over 4.9 million consultations per year, but many people still feel unsure about what naturopathy actually is, and what it can offer them. Naturopathy is a holistic approach to healthcare. It is an art, science, and practice – but it is also much more.
A naturopath can assist with any health condition or diagnosis, any health concern(s) that aren’t diagnosed or defined, preventative health, and even when there is simply a sense of things feeling ‘not quite right’.
A naturopath follows a set of traditional principles that provide a framework for working with people to help identify and treat the cause of disease of any health condition or disturbance.
The naturopathic principles are:
- The healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae)
- Treat the whole person
- Treat the cause
- First, do no harm
- Doctor as teacher
- Health promotion and disease prevention
Traditional naturopathy dates back thousands of years. It began to move from Europe into North America, Asia and the Western Pacific in the late 1800s, and is today practiced in over 90 countries across the world.
In a more modern context, naturopathy blends its traditional roots in age-old healing philosophies and practices, with current evidence-based scientific research. A degree-qualified naturopath has a sound understanding of modern and pharmaceutical medicine, as well as anatomy and physiology, and how these all come together. So although the scope of naturopathy leans towards a more natural approach, it also lends itself to an understanding of modern medicine. This enables a naturopath to work integratively with a range of health professionals to support a client on their unique healing journey.
Current research describes naturopathy as particularly effective for treating complex chronic conditions, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Type 2 diabetes
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Its benefits however, are certainly not limited to these conditions and new research is emerging all the time.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. A naturopathic approach is holistic, which means it acknowledges the range of dimensions (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) that make us unique and complex individuals. It considers the ways these aspects are connected, and the ways a person interacts with, and within, their environment, family and community. To achieve health, as defined by the WHO, all aspects of a person must be treated, within the context of their own life.
“We must never forget that Nature is the true physician”
– Russel Thacker Trall (1812-1877)
Just as when you see any health professional, it is important to do a little research. Ask about qualifications, and what you might expect from a consultation. A naturopath is there to support you on your health journey – with tools, knowledge and a sense of empowerment so you feel more equipped to take responsibility for your own health and wellbeing.
Written by Amy Taylor