What is naturopathy?

Updated: Jun 8

What is good health and why is it important?

Before I delve into what naturopathy is, have you ever asked yourself what is health? The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

Many people pay little attention to their health and well-being until something goes wrong. For example, they get sick, have aches and pains or generally feel unwell. The human body is like a high performance car. It needs regular maintenance and care in order to maintain peak performance and to last the distance. Our cars play an important part in providing us with the freedom to get around easily and improve our quality of life and so we generally take good care of them. We take them in for regular servicing, add the right fuel, check the water and oil levels, check the tire pressure, etc. Most people know that to get the best performance and life out of their cars that they need to spend some time, effort and money. No one would dare use the wrong fuel or oil in their cars. Unfortunately, many of us don't do the same for ourselves. Doesn't the vehicle that transports us through life deserve the same? Just like our cars, if we want to maintain peak performance and to last the distance we need to make an investment in ourselves.

Ask yourself these questions:

What impact would poor health have on my quality of life?

Would poor health affect my ability to work and earn a living?

Will poor health impact on my ability to do the things I want to do with my life?

Would I feel happy if I constantly felt unwell or restricted by my health state?

How much is my health really worth to me?

Health is not something you "purchase" like a commodity. Good health and well-being is something you as an individual nurtures for yourself by the choices you make on a daily basis. Each time you do something or eat a particular food ask this question: Is what I'm about to do / eat contributing to good health or disease?

Maintaining wellness and good health is a lifelong, daily commitment. There are many things in our lives we do not have control over, but there are some key areas we have complete control over when it comes to maintaining good health. You have complete control over what you eat and don't eat, whether you go for that walk along the beach or just sit in front of the television all day, for example. Only you have complete power over how your body is treated through the little decisions and actions we take on a daily basis.

"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live" Jim Rohn

What is naturopathy?

Naturopathy is a distinct holistic healthcare modality which aims to address the underlying cause of ill health and focuses on the prevention of illness. It is distinguished by the principles upon which its practice is based and are continually re-examined in light of scientific advances. The techniques used by a well trained naturopath include modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods.

A naturopathic consultation and treatment is holistic in its approach taking into account the whole person including emotional, mental, spiritual, physical and environmental factors. It aims to promote good health and well-being through the whole person, rather than providing only symptomatic relief. Symptoms are your body telling you that there is something not quite right and it is not in balance. For example, you may be feeling tired and lethargic on a daily basis and use caffeinated beverages to give you a lift in the morning (treating the symptom). This is not addressing the underlying root cause, which could be due to poor sleep quality, poor dietary and lifestyle choices, nutritional imbalances, lack of exercise, poor thyroid function or even as something as simple as not enough water intake (dehydration), for example.

Naturopathic treatments may incorporate diet and lifestyle modifications, herbal medicines, high quality nutritional supplements, flower essence therapy and homeopathic remedies. Naturopaths understand the underlying biochemical processes and how nutrients, environment and toxic elements can impact these essential processes.

A referral and collaboration with other health professionals may also be required. In many cases, a person may already be receiving conventional treatment for their condition. Many of these treatments are invaluable in helping to manage a person's health condition. Naturopathy can assist by helping the body’s capacity to heal and to reduce unwanted side-effects from drug therapy or from drug withdrawal.

What are the underlying principles of Naturopathy?

A well trained naturopath is guided by the following principles:

First, do no harm: a naturopathic treatment plan utilises therapies that are gentle, non-invasive, effective and minimise the risk of harmful side effects and interactions.

Identify and treat the cause: the emphasis is to identify and remove the underlying causes of ill health, rather than suppressing symptoms. Symptoms are an external manifestation of an internal imbalance due to many factors. Symptom management is an important part of treatment, but it is of very important to address the underlying cause(s) for long term resolution.

Heal the whole person through individualised treatments: a naturopathic treatment protocol is customised by understanding the unique factors contributing to the individual’s health state. It is the individual that is in need of treatment, not the symptom or disease state.

Support the healing power of the body: by recognising and removing obstacles that may be hindering the body’s self-healing processes. For example, there may be certain foods, toxic elements or lifestyle factors that are hindering the body's ability to heal itself.

Teach the principles of healthy living: by sharing knowledge, empowering and motivating the individual to be responsible for his or her own health and well-being. Health is not something you "purchase" like a commodity. Good health and well-being is something the individual nurtures for themselves by the choices they make on a daily basis. Each time you do something or eat a particular food ask this question: Is what I'm about to do / eat contributing to good health or disease?

Prevention is the best medicine: by partnering with the individual and other healthcare practitioners to assess risk factors and recommend appropriate interventions to maintain good health and reduce the risks of future ill health. It is far easier and cheaper to prevent disease than to treat a disease. A naturopathic practitioner evaluates both subjective and objective information to uncover potential susceptibilities.

What should I expect from the initial appointment?

The initial appointment can take from 60 to 90 minutes. You may be required to complete some paperwork before the visit to guide me during the interview. Much of the initial appointment involves listening to your story. In order to understand the context of your current state of health, this process is important as it provides you the time and space necessary to share your story. The initial consult is aimed at building the "bigger picture" and to determine what is contributing to the current health state.

Laboratory tests and clinical examinations may be required in order to complete the big picture and to help uncover the underlying root cause(s). Your story, plus the information obtained from these tests and examinations, is what I use to determine the most effective treatment plan for you. I design the treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and actively engage you to take the steps required to improve your health and well-being. Depending on your individual needs, a treatment plan may include any of the following:

* Dietary advice

* Advice and guidance in modifying any lifestyle factors contributing to your health state

* Herbal medicine prescription

* Nutritional medicine prescription

* Australian Bush Flower essence prescription

* Recommendations for a referral to another healthcare practitioner, if required

* Other recommendations

Follow-up visits may be required to assess progress and to make any necessary adjustments. A follow-up visit would normally take about 30 minutes, but may take longer depending on your circumstances.

What conditions can naturopathy be considered for?

As one of the underlying principles of naturopathy is to find and address the root cause(s) of ill health, naturopathy can be considered for a wide variety of health conditions. Naturopathic treatment can be helpful in, but not limited to, addressing the following:

* Lack of energy and feeling rundown

* Poor mental clarity

* Poor sleep quality

* Gut related issues

* Hormonal imbalances

* Fertility issues

* Chronic pain

* Skin conditions

If you would like to find out more about the services provided by Optimal Health Directions, and whether they are suitable for your needs, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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