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What Is Naturopathy ?

The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system.

Robert C. Peale

People often ask me what the difference is between complementary and allopathic/conventional medicine.  Perhaps the following, quote by a integrative medicine doctor will help to explain the very important differences.  

Orthodox  Medicine – is Medicare funded, offers surgery, chemo therapy, radiation and drugs.  This approach provides short term answers, treats symptoms, ignores the body’s potential to heal, often not holistic.

Complementary Medicine – creates health, is self funded, treats the person, applies nutritional medicine, energy medicine, naturopathic medicine, functional medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage. It uses “Systems Biology” which is the emerging new biological science of treating the human body as a system of networks where the components of the networks (genetics, molecules and organs) are treated with equal importance.  This approach provides long term answers, treats root causes, allows the body to restore to its highest health potentials, is holistic in its approach to body, mind and soul.

“It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.”  Hippocrates


Naturopathy is regarded as a primary system of health care that is based on traditional philosophical principles and practices with roots established from the Nature Cure practice and Eclectic medicine.  Naturopathy originated from Germany and Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries and, as such, is considered a traditional medicine practice of many European countries.  Over the last 300 years, naturopathy has become established in many parts of the Western world and is currently acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as one of the major global traditional systems of medicines.  Naturopathy has been an established profession in Australia since the late 1800’s at which point there is evidence it was viewed by some as a positive contributor to the social advancement of communities.

Wardle J, Steel A, McIntyre E. Independent registration for naturopaths and herbalists in Australia: the coming of age of an ancient profession in contemporary healthcare. Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine. 2013.

True Medicine

Naturopathy is an individualised health care approach encompassing numerous disciplines, using a combination of traditional knowledge and scientific evidence, for the prevention of various health conditions and promotion of optimal health.  Naturopathy and its various disciplines form a process to identify the underlying causes of any dis-ease. The most common disciplines incorporated include nutrition, herbal medicine and lifestyle advice, but may also include iridology, Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurvedic principles, homeopathy, and functional medicine.  Naturopathy is personalised and patient-centred, guiding your participation in preventing illness and regaining health.  As such you play an active role in achieving health and vitality – but also maintaining health into the future.

Treatment styles may vary between practitioners but generally involve taking time to assess your needs and tailor a health plan accordingly.  Consultations may also focus on prevention – education on how to stay healthy, what foods are best suited for you, how to recognise warning signs and act quickly. While most medical approaches are based on symptom relief and acute care, naturopathy comes into its own by supporting chronic and degenerative conditions.  Most chronic conditions are a combination of many areas of the body no longer functioning optimally – hence many areas may require attention.

Natural medicine may also assist in relieving acute conditions such as the common cold, bacterial and viral infections.  

By giving your body the tools to heal, as well as the knowledge and understanding of the processes involved, you are in control of your health.  By reversing what has ‘gone wrong’ your symptoms clear leaving you full of energy and pain-free.  Rather than treating a ‘label’ or name given to a set of symptoms, naturopaths identify the fundamentals behind the condition to pave the way to good health.

A report to the US Congress summed up this approach as being: personalized, preventive, participatory, predictive, prospective, and patient centered.  It is proactive rather than reactive.  It is based on addressing the causes of disease and optimizing biologic function in the body’s core physiologic systems, not only treating the symptoms.

Remember, that we generally don’t miss what we have until it’s gone – this also applies to our health.  How often do you read stories of people who had to experience a ‘health scare’ before making much needed changes to their lifestyle.  Don’t wait until something serious happens, prevention is the key.