Naturopathy – or ‘natural medicine’ – is a multi-disciplinary approach to health care which believes in the body’s innate power to heal itself.
What can Naturopathy treat?
Naturopaths claim to be able to help with any problem except acute injuries and fractures, poisoning and other such emergencies.
- digestive problems such as gastritis, ulcers, flatulence, colistics IBS, heartburn, liver and gall bladder problems, constipation, diarrhoea, leaky gut syndrome
- urogenital conditions including hormonal imbalances such as irregular periods and pre-menstrual syndrome
- neurological problems such as headaches, migraine and tinnitus
- cardio-vascular problems such as poor circulation, high or low blood pressure
- respiratory problems such as frequent coughs and colds and asthma
- skin conditions such as acne and eczema
- musculo-skletal problems such as aches and pains and arthritis
- chronic conditions such as ME
- immune system problems such as ME and tiredness
- psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and emotional problems
Like many other natural health care practitioners, naturopaths believe that disease is brought about by imbalance in the body. This is when viruses, bacteria and allergens may take hold. Many factors contribute to that imbalance including: unhealthy diet; lack of sleep, exercise or fresh air; emotional or physical stress; pollution in the environment; even negative attitudes.
Naturopaths believe symptoms are signs of the body’s self-healing powers at work and suggest that suppressing these symptoms is inadvisable as it can cause disorders to go underground and become chronic. Rather than treating symptoms directly, naturopaths will work to improve underlying health so that the patient is less susceptible to problems such as infection. Once natural balance is restored, symptoms disappear. Treatment starts from the principle that pure water, adequate rest, fresh air and exercise, a balanced diet of wholesome organic food and freedom of expression are the foundations of good health. However, with the presence of disease, it is often not enough to simply return to healthy lifestyle and the naturopath may use treatments and therapeutics to assist the patient back to health.
Consultation and treatment
The initial consultation may last up to an hour as the practitioner will want to build up a complete picture of your physical and emotional wellbeing. You will probably be given a routine medical examination, including tests on your blood pressure, lungs and heart. The naturopath may also use other ways to assess health – your irises may be examined and blood, sweat or hair analysed. Be prepared for questions on your sleeping patterns, dietary habits and work.
When the underlying problems causing your symptoms have been diagnosed, the naturopath will suggest various ways to address them. Naturopathic treatments include: diet and lifestyle changes, detoxification methods, nutritional supplementation, herbs, homeopathy, osteopathy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, psychotherapy and massage.
The number of consultations required will depend on the severity of your ailment and your progress.
The first consultation usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes and costs from £35 to £60. Subsequent visits are often shorter and cost between £25 and £30.
Be prepared to take an active part in your own return to health and to learn about your body. It helps to set a personal health goal to clarify your expectations from treatment. Have a regular intake of fresh air and fresh water, healthy diet, adequate sleep and appropriate levels of exercise. Try to maintain a positive mental attitude and get adequate rest and relaxation. These are common sense measures. They should not be underestimated and are often harder to do in reality than you may expect. Your naturopath can give you advice on what is appropriate for you.
How To find a practitioner
As with many therapies and disciplines, anyone can call themselves a naturopath. Make sure your practitioner is registered with the General Council and Register of Naturopaths, the only register which requires its members to have completed full-time training.
Naturopaths undergo four-year full-time training in Naturopathy. They study the same basic medical sciences as doctors as well as nutrition and detoxification, the physical structure of the body and the influence of the emotions on health and disease. A qualification in Naturopathy allows the use of the post nominal letters ND (for Naturopathic Diploma).
Many naturopaths have also undertaken post-graduate courses in other treatment areas such as acupuncture or homeopathy.
All the Register’s members are identified by the initials MRN after their name, are fully qualified and insured and follow a code of ethics.
Fasts or restricted diets should always be undertaken with care. Do not fast or follow a restricted diet without supervision by a qualified naturopath.
The naturopathic approach is suitable for babies and children but again, treatment should be conducted under the supervision of your naturopath.