Naturopathy is a healing modality that has been used in Germany for centuries. I will be discussing many of the principles and philosophies that make naturopathy unique in its approach to health. Naturopathy is practiced today as a form of healing modality not only in Europe, but also in the United States, Australia and various parts of Southeast Asian countries, such as India.
A naturopath takes on a holistic approach to health which encompasses a person’s physical health condition, including a person’s mind and spirit. An initial naturopathy consult can be up to one and a half hours long. You will be questioned about your current to past health history, current and past medications, family history, lifestyle, diet, physical activity, quality of sleep, and stress levels. Naturopaths then question you on various body systems such as your digestive system.
The digestive system is one of the key body systems that you will always be asked about, as most of our health conditions stem from having healthy digestion. Some questions you will be asked are “How many bowel movements do you have per day?” and “What is your stool form, consistency, and color?” The naturopath will show you a Bristol stool chart so you can understand what a healthy stool looks like. Other body systems they will address include the nervous system and endocrine system, depending on your individual symptoms and conditions. The naturopath might ask you to get testings from the doctor. These may include anything from a stool test to a full hormonal profile. You will be given a dietary plan with lifestyle changes, including any supplements and herbs recommended to you based on your individual needs.
Healing Is Not Linear; It Is A Journey
One of the main struggles for naturopaths is that most patients are familiar with quick fixes. With such natural healing modalities like naturopathy, the recovery process can be slow. You should consider it a journey. It is important to understand that when we’re trying to get to the root causes of the symptoms. We are not healing only one body system. When the body heals, it heals all together at once. For instance, a person’s immune system will improve when their digestive system does. This has a positive impact on their overall vital force. It can be a slow process. But, this type of healing modality is to prevent symptoms from returning.
Healing times also depend on the depth of your condition. Is it chronic or acute? A chronic condition is a condition that has been going on for years. It will take a longer recovery process. An acute condition is one that has just started. Therefore, the recovery process will be quicker. We also need to take into consideration the obstacles to health. For example, has the patient been on conventional medications for a long period of time? If so, the recovery process can be slower. Likewise, pain limits how much physical activity a patient can do. Let’s get to know the six basic principles that a naturopath follows. This will help us understand what encompasses naturopathy as a healing modality.
The 6 Basic Principles Of Naturopathy
1. First, do no harm
Naturopaths approach health by treating patients using the most gentle, low-impact, and effective methods as possible. They do not overuse medications or neglecting any prominent symptoms of the client. For example, during the first consultation, a naturopath may suggest diet and lifestyle changes. They will only recommend additional supplements and herbal medications when required. In severe cases, a naturopath may also recommend a patient to work alongside with a doctor.
2. Treat the cause, not just the symptoms
The main benefits of seeing a naturopath is that we get to the root cause of your conditions. We do not offer suggestions as a bandage to cover your symptoms. As mentioned above, a naturopath will ask you a series of questions during the initial consultation. This meeting generally takes about an hour and a half. This gives a naturopath time to gain a holistic outlook of your health.
Naturopaths will study the timeline of your health history to understand how you got to where you are now. It gives them an understanding of what caused the condition(s). This is indeed when the healing has already begun. There are not many healing modalities out there that enable patients to sit with a practitioner with full transparency of their health for over an hour. This can be an overwhelmingly emotional process for patients, but the realization here is that we all want someone to listen with compassion and understanding. This goes to show that health is not just a physical condition.
3. Treat the whole person
Our health does not only encompass our physical condition, but also our body, mind and spirit. A naturopath takes into consideration a person’s mental and spiritual aspects. This includes the person’s social and environmental conditions, which can have physical impact on a person’s health condition. For example, one of the main causes of hormone imbalances can be through endocrine disruptors. These disruptors are present in the food we eat, and the products we use in our household. A good support network is crucial in the recovery process. The same goes for a healthy home environment and a fulfilling job. They all play a significant factor in a patient’s recovery process.
4. Doctor as teacher
The word doctor originates from the Latin verb “docere,” which means “to teach.” Naturopathy’s aim is to educate patients on making the best choices for their health. This may include things such as their food choices (specific to their health needs) and lifestyle choices. They may also explain the patient’s health condition. The goal is to give them an understanding of the root causes of their condition. This is one of the most crucial naturopathic principles. The purpose is to empower the patients to take back control of their health through education. Patients will receive an email to refer to at home with additional handouts on specific diets and lifestyle practices.
5. Healing power of nature
The body has its own innate wisdom and intelligence to self-heal itself. This is especially true when given the right environment. Fresh air, sunlight, clean water, and adequate physical activity all promote self-healing. Connecting back to our natural body’s rhythm, for example, regulates our circadian rhythm by our sleeping and waking at specific times. For women, this also includes eating according to her menstrual cycle phases. Maximum benefits may be reached through utilization of lifestyle changes, herbs, and diets. They should be in their most natural form as possible.
6. Prevention is the best cure
Many times, what is considered normal test results from a doctor are not “normal” to a naturopath. We call these suboptimal levels. This means that a naturopath can detect whether you are on the verge of being diagnosed with a specific health condition. This may prevent you from actually getting the condition. It also allows you to immediately tackle the imbalances through diet, herbs, and implementing lifestyle changes. The naturopath will recommend bringing in your test results regardless of whether the doctors have said they are normal. This is precisely an example of what we mean by “Prevention is the best cure!”
Another instance is when doctors prescribe oral contraceptives to regulate your cycle or reduce period pain or acne. This does not treat the root causes. A naturopath identifies the causes of these symptoms. They will not give you a band-aid solution. That being said, naturopaths are not discriminating against conventional doctors. Really, they believe that both naturopathy and conventional treatment can go hand in hand. This is especially true when it comes to treating certain severe cases. Some naturopaths are also now working alongside a conventional doctor. These two practices can contradict one another, but they can also complement each other.
Why You Should Try Naturopathy
Naturopathy is effective in treating conditions from acute or chronic conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, which are an underlying cause of many diseases. The biggest advantage of seeing a naturopath is we get to the root cause of the condition by addressing the underlying imbalances. These can occur through implementing a diet that is not suitable for a patient’s constitution, or a lifestyle that has a negative impact on a patient’s health.
I was recently able to help a patient heal her chronic eczema flares up and alleviate her panic attacks. We accomplished this simply by switching a few things in her diet. Gut functions have a direct impact not only on the skin, but also our nervous system. Her diet seemed very healthy to her. However, during the consultation I investigated more. She was consuming processed ham sandwiches a few times per week. She was also including other inflammatory foods such as wheat and dairy.
Foods containing preservatives and chemicals are prone to causing reactions. These most commonly occur in the skin, gut, and nervous system. She implemented an anti-inflammatory diet as I suggested, consisting of mostly whole grain, quality protein sources and good fats especially omega-3 fatty acids. I also recommended a variety of fruits and vegetables with additional supplements such as magnesium and passion flower tincture. Her improvements were seen within three to four weeks. She no longer gets eczema flare ups, and her panic attacks have also been alleviated.
Patience Is Key
Chronic conditions can take a minimum of three weeks up to six months depending on the individual condition, person and obstacles to healing. This could include how long they have been on conventional medicine, or how consistent they are with the recommendations suggested. Most of the time, just by switching very minute things in diet and lifestyle can significantly improve the patients conditions within just a few days or weeks!
Healing is a journey and never a linear one. When we heal one body system, we are also simultaneously healing all other body systems. When it comes to naturopathy as a healing modality, patience is key, but also consistency, by following the recommended dietary plan, making lifestyle changes, and taking the recommended herbal medicine and supplements. This journey is all about empowerment, by empowering you to take control of your own health. Many people turn to naturopathy as their last resort after having seen numerous doctors to identify their health imbalances. I would advise that especially when your condition is acute, it is better to see a naturopath right away. Chronic conditions can take a long time to recover from, especially when patients have been on conventional medications. Prevention truly is the best cure!