A form of alternative medicine, naturopathy is a healing approach that utilizes your own body’s natural ability to restore health, focusing on wellness promotion and disease prevention rather than treatment.
Naturopathy is an alternative approach to healing that primarily involves nutritional and lifestyle modifications to facilitate healing and may include:
• Nutritional support
• Introduction of dietary supplements
• Exercise and stress management
• Massage therapy
Uses and Benefits
Naturopaths have been successful in treating a number of conditions such as headache, back pain, skin problems, fatigue, menstrual cramps, pain, sleep problems, and digestive conditions. Often, people turn to naturopathy to seek relief for chronic conditions that have been unresponsive to conventional treatments.
Botanical medicines are often the most prescribed form of naturopathic treatment, followed by vitamins and homeopathic remedies. But more than providing herbs or nutritional supplements to treat the patient, naturopathic physicians understand the art of healing in relation to illness. Naturopaths communicate with their patients to identify the issues that need to be addressed in order to come up with a suitable action plan.
The Six Principles of Naturopathy
Nature heals. Proponents of naturopathy believe that the body has a natural ability to maintain and restore state of health. Naturopathy taps into this ability by identifying and removing any obstacles to healing.
Do no harm. The goal of naturopathic medicine is to provide non-invasive and gentle treatments, ones that are safe and effective. Naturopathic physicians make sure that the methods they employ do not suppress the symptoms or produce adverse effects.
Identify and treat the cause. With naturopathy, the focus is treating the underlying causes of diseases and not just the accompanying symptoms. Naturopathic practitioners believe that symptoms arise as manifestations of physical, emotional, or mental imbalances.
Teach patients. Primarily, it is expected of the naturopathic physician to educate, motivate, and empower patients so that they’ll be able to take over in maintaining their own health. Doctors include in their plans how to educate the patient regarding a healthy diet, lifestyle, and attitude.
Illness prevention. Naturopathic doctors also evaluate necessary information that makes a person susceptible to certain diseases, and include in their plans specific strategies to prevent diseases rather than treating them.
Holistic treatment. With naturopathy, treatment is focused on the individual, not on the disease itself or the symptom. Naturopathic physicians take into account external factors such as emotional, social, genetic, and environmental factors, and tailor treatment strategies according to the patient’s uniqueness.
Naturopathy and Conventional Medicine
It is important to note that despite the many benefits of naturopathy, it is not meant to take the place of conventional medicine. Not just because treatments are natural means that they are perfectly safe, as they may be able to interact with other drugs or treatments that you are undergoing.
While naturopathy is something worth looking at, make sure that you consult with your physician first before seeing a naturopath. Once you do, be sure to keep your primary care provider updated about any herbal medicines or supplements that you were advised to take in order to avoid potential drug-to-drug interactions.
It is also important to note that some states do not require a license for someone to practice naturopathy, so you should be very careful in choosing your practitioner. If you want to be sure about the physician’s professional background and qualifications, you may inquire through the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and they can help you find a local practitioner in your area.