Naturopathy is a medicinal system that combines traditional and conventional medicinal approach for holistic health. Naturopathy uses a holistic approach to healthcare to treat mind, body, and spirit by integrating traditional healing methods with modern medical science. Naturopathic medicine is integrative, preventive, and personalized medicine that puts the health and care back to healthcare.
In this article we will try to analyze everything related to naturopathy such as what exactly is naturopathy, what treatment methods are used, what certifies someone to become a naturopathic doctor, what health conditions can be treated by naturopathy, what are the steps involved in diagnosis and prognosis.
What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy is basically the study of normal functions of the body i.e. physiology and the study of abnormal functions of the body i.e. pathology. When higher level of physiology functions, there is less chance to pathology to function. Therefore, healthier you are, you are less vulnerable to diseases.
Naturopathy is holistic treatment model where impact of different things on your overall state of health will be studied. Naturopathy tries to find underlying causes of disease and studies things like whether your issue is related to being exposed on certain environmental conditions, emotional factors. Naturopathy also analyzes how emotion affects your body and mind.
One of the general misconceptions about naturopathy is that is it just some obscure treatment practice that no one is sure whether it works or not. However, the truth is naturopathy, just like the conventional medicine, is evidence based treatment.
What Treatment Methods are Used in Naturopathy?
Naturopathy physicians use a variety of treatment methods like lifestyle counseling, modification of diet, nutrition supplement, exercise, stress reduction, herbs, homeopathy, massage, hydrotherapy, etc. Naturopathy doctors give information on how to become healthier and becoming healthier means you are less vulnerable to disease.
If you are required to take medicines, these medicines work better in naturopathy because diseases are not treated as the individual disease but as a part of the whole. However, taking medicine is always last option and you are administered less of the drugs for shorter period of time.
Who are Naturopathy Doctors?
In the Western World like the US, Canada, Australia, after the pre-med course one has to go through 4 years graduate level course to become a naturopathic physician. There are national level naturopathy governing bodies that license naturopathy physicians. Naturopathic doctors must pass national standardized licensing exams after at least 4 years of medical school where they are trained to employ a range of evidence based techniques and modalities to improve the lives of patients. In the US, 2500 hours of clinical residency is required to become a naturopathy doctor. Naturopathy doctors not only study human anatomy, physiology, and pathology, but also nutrition, botanicals, acupuncture, homeopathy etc.
Naturopathic physicians are full-fledged doctors just like doctors of modern medicine. The physicians try to find what you need to do in order to stay healthy, to function better so you spend less time in hospital and less time seeing doctors. Naturopathy makes people take care of their own healthcare. Naturopaths also know when to refer out for a specialty consult, to do physical testing like blood testing, urine testing, body scan, etc. or when to involve a gastroenterologist, neurologist, etc.
What is the Status of Naturopathy in India?
In India, naturopathy comes under alternative medicine and there is a ministry for alternative medicine called Ayush Ministry. The Ayush Ministry governs all alternative medicine like Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Siddha etc. There are medical collages where students study Naturopathy for 4-5 years.
Since naturopathy is something that has evolved in the last 50 or so years, there is not enough information on this system of medicine. Therefore, it is very likely that you reach to the wrong person. When you go to a naturopath make sure he as a professional license and is associated with national body that governs naturopathy.
What Health Conditions can be Treated by Naturopathy?
Naturopathy effectively prevents and treats medical conditions like allergy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, diabetes, digestive issues, infertility, obesity, respiratory illness, skin conditions, sleep disorders, fibromyalgia, heart diseases, hormonal imbalance etc. In fact, naturopathy treats everything that a General Physician treats, as well as the conditions that do not have cure in modern medicine, psoriasis for example. Naturopathy treats anything that modern medicine does not have answer such as unexplained infertility, Post Menstrual Syndrome, sleep problems, stress etc.
What are the Principles of Naturopathy?
Generally speaking, there are six principles of naturopathy, viz:
Do no harm
Identify and treat causes
Utilize healing power of nature
Doctors are teachers
Treat the whole person
Focus on prevention
With these principles as a foundation, naturopathic medicine encourages the body’s self-healing process through the use of natural therapies practices by licensed naturopathic doctors. Naturopathy is based on the principle that your body heals itself and nature has healing power. Naturopathy is also an evidence-based healing method that uses everything that has been established through studies and clinical trials. Naturopathy combines an evidence-based approach, look at the current research with natural principles and traditional wisdom. In fact, the naturopathy principle combines best of the both systems, traditional medicine, and modern medicine.
What is the Difference Between a Naturopathic Doctor and a Conventional Doctor?
Naturopathy doctors are Primary Care Providers (PCP) just like General Physicians (GP). They are quite similar except that naturopaths use more natural ways to heal the body whereas conventional doctors use pharmaceuticals. Naturopathy doctors use basic nutrition where you are advised what you can eat and what you should not eat. They perform acupuncture or refer to homeopathic remedies, they also do lifestyle counseling, recommend exercise, suggest vitamins, supplements, herbal medicine, etc.
Diagnosis in naturopathy takes a lot of time as it involves a lot of talking. A typical general physician might take 5-10 minutes for each session, while a naturopathy doctor tales 60-90 minutes session. That’s because naturopathy treats the causes and not suppress the symptoms. A modern doctor will suggest a topical steroid cream for eczema that suppresses the rashes and other symptoms. However, once you stop rash cream, it could come again, ten times worse. Contrarily, a naturopath tries to find the underlying causes that require a series of questions on gut health, immune system, adrenals, liver and see you as a whole person rather than just a problem with the skin. Naturopathy doctors look into the causes that are contributing to those conditions, for instance, that problem might be related to autoimmune disease, thyroid, menstrual irregularities, psoriasis etc.
Diagnosis and Prognosis in Naturopathy
Diagnosis in naturopathy tries to connect all dots related to your problem by asking a lot of questions about what exactly is going through your body. The prognosis is like solving the jigsaw puzzle to tailor a treatment plan specific for you. They also make sure that there is no herb-drug interaction. Just because you are taking herbal medicine does not mean, there are no side effects and it is 100 percent safe. That’s not always the case. Thus naturopathic prognosis also takes care of that.
A naturopathy doctor…
Tries to know everything about your health such your case history, medical history, family history, how you feel at particular time of the day, your energy level, sleep, stress, moods, blood pressure, weight, temperature, might even ask you how your poop looks like;
Tries to learn everything related to your psychology, physiology, emotions;
Tries to learn how your body is doing, how your body is feeling
Takes physical examination, functional lab testing, pathological tests, bio-chemistry tests, scan, etc;
Looks for symptoms and causes
A naturopathy doctor…
Suggests making dietary changes,
Use botanicals like flower oils, herbal formulas, including vitamin and mineral supplements,
Might even refer to other physicians
Make herbal formulas specifically for you as naturopathy is individual treatment.
What Does a Typical Diabetes Treatment in Naturopathy Looks Like?
Diabetes is a lifestyle disease. The Type 2 disease is mainly an indigestion disease. Naturopathy cure and treatment of diabetes involve making changes in your lifestyle, food habit, and herbal medicine.
Cut carbs by eating less cereal; by doing so you will restrict glucose formation inside the body
Make a tea by boiling turmeric, fenugreek, and cinnamon powder and drink every morning on empty stomach.