A Naturopath is a complementary medicine practitioner that is all about bringing an individual back to internal balance. Naturopaths trust in your body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself and acknowledge that all bodies are truly unique. We look beyond symptoms to identify and treat underlying causes of illness by considering you as a whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Although we each practice differently (stressing the importance of finding a Naturopath you resonate with), I will search for the most natural and least invasive therapies to address your health concerns.
In Australia, Naturopaths are not regulated thus it is important when looking for a Naturopath you investigate their qualifications and ensure they are registered with a Naturopathic, natural medicine or complementary medicine association. Most of these associations require new members to have a Bachelor of Health Science degree in Naturopathy to be accepted – this should be the minimum standard in Australia. Although, unfortunately with how it is at the moment, anyone can call themselves the term Naturopath and say they know what they are doing – so it really is all up to the consumer to ensure who they are seeing are qualified.
So what does a Naturopath actually do?
· Take very thorough wellness history, going into diet, lifestyle, stress, and environmental exposures as well as individual body systems and past history
· Conduct physical examinations such as blood pressure, pulse, iridology and possibly request further laboratory tests if necessary.
· create individualized treatment plans that may or not may include prescriptions such as nutritional or herbal supplements, flower essences, and dietary or lifestyle changes.
· Work with you over the long term to ensure sustained changes and increase health over the long run
· Empower you to make the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve and proactively maintain the best possible health.
· Do a variety of acute (short term) and/or long term treatments depending on the presenting complaint. You might visit me for a range of acute or chronic conditions such as stress, anxiety, insomnia, arthritis, liver ailments, diabetes, skin issues, ear infections, gout, gut problems, asthma, heart conditions, and more.
But how can a Naturopath actually help you?
· Support you long term, not just short term
· Help you change your diet and lifestyle to suit your needs
· Provide you the time needed to dive deep into your health – not just 10-minute appointments
· Offer treatments you may not have tried yet
· Getting to the root of the symptoms, not just treating the symptoms
· We focus largely on disease prevention
· Support your body’s own innate healing ability and increasing vitality
· Complementary treatment alongside medical treatment
So now that you know what we do and how we can help you. Let’s get into common misconceptions about Naturopaths – let’s get myth-busting!
1. Naturopathic medicine is not evidence-based.
Degree-qualified naturopaths not only learn all the human biology and biochemistry units in their first few years of degree however are also taught only evidence-based approaches using nutraceuticals and dietary/lifestyle changes. We are also taught how to critically appraise research and ensure it is valid and accurate.
2. Naturopaths are anti-doctors or anti-pharmaceuticals.
This is not true at all. We actually need to know how many pharmaceuticals work in the body to understand the efficacy of conventional medications with supplements and herbs and drug/herb, drug/nutrient interactions. It is our job to treat the individual, meet them where they are, and work as part of their health care team for their best interest. Many naturopaths will work alongside conventional medicine, particularly with individuals with chronic diseases.
3. You have to choose between complementary medicine and conventional medicine.
You do not have to choose between these different types of treatment. Many of us recommend you do have a good conventional healthcare team as we believe the best healthcare consists of a variety of modalities and practitioners.
4. If it's natural, it must be safe.
Just because something is ‘natural’, doesn’t mean it's safe. Although the risk of side effects is lower than pharmaceuticals, they can still happen. Particularly when self-prescribing and mixing with pharmaceuticals.
5. That all you’ll walk out with is a heap of supplements.
Although you might walk out with some herbal or nutritional supplements, everything is always discussed with you and your budget – and explained why these are important for you. You also walk out with an entire treatment plan usually including dietary and lifestyle advice and a longer-term plan. And don’t forget, we aren’t just your practitioners, we are also another form of support for you. There to support you and your health.
6. All Naturopaths are the same.
Just like other health practitioners, not all Naturopaths are the same. Apart from the obvious potential qualification differences, although we have the same morals and values, many Naturopaths practice and consult differently. Some focus on herbal medicine and traditional forms of prescribing, others focus on nutritional medicine and extensive laboratory testing, and others use a combination of all. Hence the importance of finding a practitioner suited to you and your needs.
I hope if you weren't too sure on Naturopaths that this blog post has cleared up some unanswered questions for you. Please feel free to reach out if you have any more questions and book in for a consultation with me, if you're ready for health support.