Naturopathy: Unleashing the Power of Evidence-Based Natural Medicine
Since its earliest days, when it was known as ‘the nature cure’, naturopaths have always focused on healing from a purely natural perspective. Today, naturopathy has developed into a highly effective evidence-based form of natural medicine.
Hippocrates (460-370 BC), known as ‘the father of medicine’, first highlighted the impact of our environment, diet and lifestyle as factors contributing to disease. Naturopathy grew in popularity throughout the 18th century in Europe and the USA, and in Australia during the 1970s.
Naturopaths could be considered the general practitioners of natural medicine with their education and experience, focusing on a broad range of subjects - anatomy, physiology, biological chemistry, clinical nutrition and medicine, pharmacology, and herbal medicine.
Consulting a naturopath
Around five million naturopathic consultations occur each year in Australia. Appointments typically combine a thorough case history with functional and conventional blood testing to identify which body processes are malfunctioning. This informs evidence-based prescription of safe and effective nutritional and herbal medicines. Counselling, lifestyle, sleep, movement, and exercise may also be included as part of the prescription. Naturopathic consultations are typically at least one hour, enabling trust, empathy and understanding of both psychological and physiological challenges.
Naturopathy can be of benefit for many disorders, including but not limited to:
- Cardiovascular disease, by reducing inflammation, cortisol and stress, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
- Diabetes, individualised nutritional planning, and exercise to stabilise blood glucose and possibly minimise insulin requirements.
- Weight loss or gain, through diet and exercise planning, plus emotional challenges addressed via counselling and coaching.
- Immune disorders (including autoimmune), infections, and inflammation, are greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle.
- Cancer Scope exists for evidence-based adjunctive therapy in most cancers, especially for those undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiography. A naturopath can also provide nutrition plans specific for recovery, energy, immunity, nerve and gastrointestinal health while undergoing cancer therapy. People undergoing chemotherapy are usually unable to maintain a normal diet, so individualised diet plans can prevent nutritional deficiencies.
- Hormonal imbalances, including menopause, infertility and premenstrual disorders, can be modified with condition-specific herbal medicines.
- Musculoskeletal conditions, such as sarcopenia or arthritis, respond well to anti-inflammatory diet plans and herbal intervention.
- Gastrointestinal disorders, including gastric reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and food sensitivities. Improving gut health also plays a key role in recovery from fatigue, autoimmune conditions and mental disorders.
- Mental health, for those not requiring critical care, naturopaths may provide basic counselling and evidence-based nutritional and herbal medicines for the treatment of mild to moderate mood disorders including anxiety and depression.
- Performance optimisation Strong evidence shows dietary modification, supplements and herbal medicines boost cognitive function and physical performance. Athletes, gamers and businesspeople leading stressful and busy lives can benefit from seeing a qualified naturopath for cognition and physical performance.
A qualified naturopath will promote an evidence-based approach to practice and know how to work safely alongside other medical practitioners to provide a best-practice approach for health. Naturopaths can provide both a primary and synergistic approach to medicine, thus enabling a greater therapeutic outcome for their clients.
Information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace advice or treatment from qualified healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to treat or diagnose. Always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any allergies or diagnosed conditions, or are taking prescription medications, always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements.