Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of healing – a philosophy, science, art and practice which seeks to promote health by stimulating and supporting the body’s inherent power to regain harmony and balance. Although the term naturopathy was first used at the turn of the century, the philosophical basis and many of the methods of naturopathic medicine are ancient, some dating back at least to 400 B.C., when Hippocrates became famous for his treatment of disease in accordance with natural laws.
The philosophy of naturopathic medicine is based upon three basic principles.
The first principle is that the individual possesses the power to heal itself through its internal vitality and intelligence. This vital force is the foundation of naturopathic philosophy and all the naturopathic practitioner does is to create the favourable conditions to stimulate and enhance this healing power of nature.
The second principle is that disease is a manifestation of the vital force applying itself to the removal of obstructions to the normal functioning of organs and tissues. The naturopathic practitioner always seeks to discover and remove the basic causes of disease whether they be:
- Chemical; i.e. an imbalance in the chemistry of the body fluids due to dietary deficiency or dietary excess, retention of waste products due to inefficient functioning of the lungs, kidneys and bowels, or poor circulation of body fluids.
- Mechanical; i.e. muscular tensions, strained ligaments, stiff joints, poor posture due to occupational factors, as well as spinal misalignments , leading to an interference in the functioning of the nervous system and the musculo-skeletal system generally.
- Psychological; i.e. impaired function induced by stress, which may be due to worries and upsets in personal and domestic life and/or anxieties and pressures at work.
The third principle is that naturopathic medicine is a holistic approach to health. In other words, disease affects the whole person – body, mind and spirit, and not simply an isolated organ or system. Each person responds in unique ways to his her environment, each has individual strengths, weaknesses and needs. Their body’s reactions to the same stress may be very different depending on their level of health, inherited tendencies, previous medical history, etc. In treating the whole person the naturopathic practitioner searches for causes at many levels, and attempts to eliminate the fundamental cause of illness, not simply to remove symptoms.
The task of naturopathic practitioners is twofold. First, to educate their patients to take more responsibility for their health and to assist them to understand the fundamental laws of health relating to rest, exercise, nutrition and life-style. Second, using natural therapies, to increase the vitality of the individual and to remove any obstructions, chemical, physical or psychological which may be interfering with the normal functioning and internal harmony of the organs and tissues.
The following therapies are considered to be of primary importance in the naturopathic treatment of disease:
[boxibt style=”gray”]1. Nutrition and Dietetics
This includes the prescription of a balanced wholesome, natural diet, based on the principles advocated by naturopathic practitioners for nearly 100 years and only now accepted as correct by the medical profession. Also specific, controlled diets may be given at the discretion of the practitioner to patients requiring a more rigid regime.
[boxibt style=”gray”]2. Fasting
The controlled abstinence from food has been use therapeutically for over 2,000 years. It was advocated by Hippocrates as a treatment for many diseases, because it allowed the body to concentrate its resources on dealing with the disease rather than the processes of digestion. Although largely ridiculed by orthodoxy for many years, fasting has recently begun to gain a reputation as an excellent and safe treatment for conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, arthritis and rheumatism, various allergies and some psychiatric disorders.
[boxibt style=”gray”]3. Structural Adjustment
By such methods as osteopathy, chiropractic, neuromuscular technique, postural re-education and remedial exercises, the naturopathic practitioner seeks to balance and integrate the spine, muscles, ligaments and joints of the whole body.
[boxibt style=”gray”]4. Hydrotherapy
This is the use of water, both internally and externally in the form of baths, packs, compresses, sprays and douches. Hydrotherapy is of value in most conditions and rightly applied can give remarkable results in the treatment of both acute and long-standing conditions.
[boxibt style=”gray”]5. Healthy Lifestyle
This includes the general care of one’s body, the use of moderate physical exercise, the cultivation of a positive approach to life and health, relaxation techniques, etc.
[boxibt style=”gray”]6. Education
In naturopathic philosophy it is just as important, if not more so, to explain to the patient why disease occurs and what the patient can do for him or herself to maintain the new, improved level of health given to them by naturopathic treatment. In this way the patient is given responsibility for his or her health.
It is also accepted that specialised therapies which are naturopathic in principle and practised by those qualified to do so may be considered complementary to the above methods. The therapies generally considered acceptable are osteopathy, chiropractic, relaxation techniques, herbalism, nutritional biochemistry and homeopathy.
Any naturopathic therapy should at all times assist the inherent tendency present in all living organisms, which is striving to restore biological integrity and balance. Observation of the effects of naturopathic treatment in establishments all over the world for a period of 100 years or more have established that a therapy that is truly naturopathic in its application gives rise to the following phenomena:
There is a progressive raising of the general level of health attended during the process by healing crises (which are signs that the body is dealing with the disease); There is a return of old symptoms usually in reverse order of their appearance. This is especially true of those symptoms which have been previously suppressed;
There is a movement of the disease process from the deeper tissues to the more superficial, and from the more vital organs to the less vital.
Professional help should be aimed at restoring a patient to a point where he or she becomes independent of treatment and is able to maintain normal health by such means as whole food, fresh air, exercise, positive thinking, etc. It is necessary to bear in mind that the terminally ill, the elderly, those overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life and those of congenitally physique may well require continuing naturopathic treatment.
[boxibt style=”success”]Information Courtesy of:
General Council & Register of Naturopaths (GCRN) Goswell House 2 Goswell Road Street Somerset B1A6 OJG Tel: 01458 840 072 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Further information visit the website www.naturopathy.org.uk
To obtain the latest copy of the Register of Naturopaths, send a cheque or postal order for £ 2.50, payable to GCRN, to the above address.