Naturopathy

Naturopathy

Support the body naturally through herbs, essences, lifestyle and dietary advice

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How can naturopathy nourish you?

Naturopathy is a holistic approach to healthcare which involves using natural practices such as herbal medicine and a healthy lifestyle to support the body’s natural self-healing qualities[1]. One major focus of naturopathy is preventative medicine: naturopaths seek to identify and treat the root causes of health problems[2] before they result in serious illness. By supporting optimal wellness and internal balance, naturopaths intend to strengthen the ability of the immune system[3] to resist infection and disease. 

Naturopathy is not a regulated profession in Australia[4], so it is legal for someone to call themselves a naturopath without proving they have obtained comprehensive education in the field. This can potentially lead to poor health outcomes[5] for people who receive naturopathic advice from practitioners with inadequate training. 

To ensure you are receiving the best possible naturopathic care, check that your practitioner is registered with an association such as the Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists (ARONAH)[6]. The standards for registration with ARONAH have been designed to mirror the government requirements for regulated professions set out by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)[7].

In Australia today, many naturopaths incorporate evidence-based health science[8] as part of their practice, and reputable naturopaths clearly communicate that they are not qualified to diagnose disease[9]. The Naturopathic Practitioners Association of Australia explicitly states that naturopaths “work alongside” medical doctors[10] with the aim of ensuring the best possible “patient-centred” health outcomes.

Benefits of naturopathy

The results of a scoping study completed by Southern Cross University[11] suggest that naturopathic medicine may provide significant benefits for a range of chronic health problems. The study identified conditions ranging from asthma and cardiovascular problems to menopausal symptoms and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that could possibly be effectively treated with the “whole-system, multi-modality” approach[12] of naturopathy.

The greatest general benefit of naturopathy is that it promotes a whole-person perspective of health and emphasises a proactive approach to minimising the risk of preventable conditions[13]. Many people turn to holistic forms of traditional and complementary medicine such as naturopathy for relief from health problems that conventional medicine has been unsuccessful in treating[14].

Naturopaths may recommend natural remedies ranging from nutritional supplements to flower essences[15], which may not have the potential risks and side-effects associated with pharmaceutical medication. Naturopaths can also provide education about whole-body wellness, intended to offer benefits including digestive health, improved fertility and a reduction in stress[16] and anxiety.

Naturopathy may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Allergies
Anxiety
Arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis
Asthma
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
Cholesterol imbalance
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)
Cold sores and herpes
Colds and flu
Constipation
Depression
Diabetes
Digestive and gastrointestinal issues
Endometriosis
Energy and vitality
Fatigue, burnout and exhaustion
Food allergies and intolerances
Hay fever/rhinitis
Headaches and migraines
Heart conditions and heart attack
Hormonal issues
Hypertension
IBS and bowel disorders
Insomnia and sleep disorders
Jaw, teeth and gum issues
Menopause and hot flushes
Motion and travel sickness
Pain relief
Panic attacks
PMT/PMS and menstrual issues
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Pregnancy, birth and antenatal support
Stomach/gastric ulcers
Stress and tension
Tennis elbow and repetitive strain injury (RSI)
UTI and urinary conditions
Weight control and obesity
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What to expect from a naturopathy session

During your first visit, your naturopath will ask you about your medical history, lifestyle, diet, and any health concerns such as food intolerances or chronic conditions. Your practitioner will perform a thorough health assessment[17], which may include tests of blood glucose and cholesterol levels, heart rate and blood pressure. You may also receive a body composition analysis, saliva and urine testing[18], and a sample of your hair might be analysed for toxins and possible clues to nutritional imbalances. Some naturopaths also examine the iris of your eye[19] as a diagnostic procedure.

On the basis of your test results and interview, your naturopath will discuss a treatment plan with you that may involve a number of different modalities. These might include adjustments to your diet and/or lifestyle, and the prescription of herbal medicines or nutritional supplements[20]. Some naturopaths may also recommend treatments such as hydrotherapy, kinesiology or massage[21].

If your condition is out of scope for naturopathic treatment, or your practitioner suspects you may require conventional medical treatment, all reputable naturopaths will refer you to a GP[22] or other health specialist as required. Naturopathy is not intended as a substitute for conventional medicine, and you should be wary of any practitioner who suggests that you abandon a prescribed course[23] of medical treatment in favour of naturopathy. 

Some naturopathic practices, such as fasting, are not suitable for everyone, so please consult your medical professional before commencing naturopathy. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, also speak to your naturopath, who will be happy to address these and advise you whether naturopathy is a suitable modality for you. 

References

  1. The Healing Power of Nature | Institute for Natural Medicine
  2. What is Naturopathy? | Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association
  3. Naturopathy | Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  4. Naturopathy | mydr.com.au
  5. Dodgy naturopathy courses putting public at risk | Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists
  6. About ARONAH | Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists
  7. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency | Ahpra & National Boards
  8. Naturopathy in Australia | Where are we now? Where are we heading? | Charles Sturt University Research Output
  9. What Exactly is a Naturopath? | Australian NaturalCare
  10. Naturopathy | Artemisia Natural Therapies
  11. World-first scoping study shows benefits in naturopathic medicine treatments | Southern Cross University
  12. The State of the Evidence for Whole-System, Multi-Modality Naturopathic Medicine | Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
  13. Preventive focus for Naturopathy Medicine Week | AJP
  14. The benefits of visiting a naturopath | WellBeing
  15. Naturopathy | Artemisia Natural Therapies
  16. Naturopath Services Clinic Adelaide | SA Wellness Centre
  17. Testing | ReMed Natural Medicine Clinic
  18. Naturopathy and the Primary Care Practice | PMC
  19. Iris-based medical analysis by geometric deformation features | PubMed
  20. Find A Naturopath | Your Local Naturopath Clinic | The Tonic Tree
  21. Naturopathy | Better Health Channel
  22. Perth Natural Medical Clinic | Naturopaths | Natural Healthcare, Perth
  23. Naturopathy | Better Health Channel