Definition of a Naturopath
Naturopathic medicine is a traditional form of primary healthcare that combines the science, philosophy, and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness. A naturopath’s role is to seek, restore and maintain optimum health by supporting the body’s innate healing abilities. This is accomplished through lifestyle education and the use of evidence-based natural medicines.
A naturopath endeavours to empower, motivate, and educate the individual in order to restore, maintain, and optimize wellbeing – Leah Hechtman, Clinician & Researcher
To a naturopath, the presence of disease is considered a reflection of the unique person’s balance between physical, mental, social, environmental, and spiritual health. Naturopathy is a blend of a number of modalities, including nutrition, herbal medicine, wellness, and lifestyle medicine. However may also include homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Indian/Ayurvedic medicine, counselling or behavioural training, energetic work, and even tactile therapies like chiropractic, Bowen therapy, massage, or kinesiology depending on the practitioner. Basically, any modality that also encompasses a holistic approach to health.
Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
In a consultation, your naturopath is trained to practice six important guidelines that help shape the way they treat their clients, as outlined below.
- Vis Medicatrix Naturae: The Healing Power of Nature
- Primum Non-Nocere: First Do No Harm
- Tolle Totum: Treat The Whole Person
- Tolle Causam: Treat The Cause
- Docere: Naturopath as Teacher
- Preventare: Prevention Better Than Cure
But What Does ‘Health’ Actually Mean?
The original definition by the World Health Organisation states that ‘health’ is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, rather than the absence of disease, weakness, or presence of signs & symptoms. This holistic view of ‘health’ aligns with how a naturopath is trained to diagnose and treat disease.
Naturopath vs Doctor – What Is The Difference?
The goal of treatment from a naturopath is to restore health by removing the cause of disease or illness. Alternatively, modern medicine has seemingly become a model of viewing the body as individual separate systems, diagnosing and treating disease through the use of pharmaceutical drugs and surgery.
Don’t get me wrong though, modern medicine has done amazing things over the years and will continue to in the years to come I’m sure! It most definitely has its place in the health industry and we encourage the use of both wherever it’s most appropriate. We would encourage the basis of health management to be preventative, natural, and lifestyle based as much as possible but also support integration with other health modalities including modern medicine to support overall wellbeing.
How To Choose Your Naturopath
Although all naturopaths are trained to view, diagnose and treat the body as a whole, modern naturopaths are encouraged to have specialties whereby they focus on continued education and/or have a personal interest in a specific area of health. For example, some naturopaths will have additional confidence in treating hormonal or immune imbalances, gut health or mood disorders, skin conditions, or kids’ health, etc.
Naturopaths have been around for a long time, so qualifications can range from an advanced diploma to a bachelor of health science in Australia, with the latter being the gold standard as it involves at least 4 years of full-time study to complete. You should always choose a naturopath who has joined a professional association and holds the required insurances as this proves they are eligible to practice in Australia under current professional regulations.
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