Naturopathy

A Natural Way To Better Health – Dave Hawkins Health

With increased awareness to the healing benefits of natural medicine, many people are confused about naturopathic medicine.

What is naturopathy and how it works will be the subject of this article. You will understand the history and the basic foundation that underscores the methodologies that a naturopathic physician utilizes in the process of aiding the healing process.

Let’s look at history first. The term naturopathy was first coined by Dr. John Scheel, a German homeopath in 1895. Many of the therapies incorporated at the time were based on the work of Friar Sebastian Kneipp. Kneipp is renowned for his work with hydrotherapy (water cure). Naturopathy in the United States became more prevalent through the work of Benedict Lust, a German missionary trained in the Kneipp cure, due to his own healing of tuberculosis with the “water cure”. Lust later obtained degrees in osteopathy and medicine and founded his own school, the American School of Naturopathy, offering massage, chiropractic, and naturopathy in New York. Popularity of this therapy grew during this time period. There were over 83 naturopathic colleges at its peak in the 1930’s with over 10,000 practitioners.

Naturopathy took a decline around World War II with the rise of allopathic medicine and pharmaceuticals. There has been a resurgence over the last 10 years in the growth of naturopathy. Currently there are two accredited colleges offering degree programs. Approximately 20 states have licensure for naturopathy. This growth is due mainly to our increased awareness to the role of diet and lifestyle in the cause of chronic disease as well as the failure of modern medicine to deal effectively with these conditions.

Let’s look at some of the guiding principals of naturopathy and then we will look at the methods utilized. Even though the term naturopathy is fairly new the founding principals have roots in the healing systems of Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, Native American, and Greek systems.

· The healing power of nature is powerful: all healing comes from within and the body heals itself. The role of the naturopath is to help facilitate this natural process.

· Treat the cause rather than the effect: seek the underlying cause of disease rather than suppress symptoms. Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s imbalances on all levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

· First do no harm: one of Hippocrates principals to do no harm in the treatment of trying to create balance within a body. This utilizes natural substances and therapies.

· Treat the whole person: a holistic viewpoint of total body, which goes beyond single body system treatments. This approach results in a therapeutic approach in which no disease is automatically seen as incurable.

· The physician as teacher: naturopaths are first and foremost teachers that educate, empower, and motivate the person to take responsibility for his or her own health by assessing and adopting lifestyle changes.

· Prevention is the best cure: by understanding underlying lifestyle imbalances and understanding body systems a person can prevent many disease processes. This is taught by the naturopath.

Naturopathic doctors are considered primary care physicians. They can treat everyday problems. Lets look at the methods and applications they might utilize.

· Nutrition: the diet is the foundation of naturopathic medicine. Minimizing over process chemical laden foods is a start with emphasis is on whole foods rather that particular diet programs like vegetarianism etc. Nutritional supplementation is part of this process when trying to get positive body responses.

· Herbal medicine: plants have been used for thousands of years and have known benefits for balancing body systems. Most naturopaths recognize the necessity of conventional drug for emergency and short-term use but work with natural substances to restore harmony and balance.

· Homeopathy: another form of natural medicine employed as means to restoring balance using natural substances with no toxicity.

· Acupuncture-acupressure: stimulating the “chi” by opening pathways of energy to restore balance.

· Hydrotherapy: using hot/cold pack, spas, sitz baths, saunas, whirlpools, poultices, castor oil packs and enemas to maintain health and prevent disease.

· Physical medicine: which involves massage, therapeutic touch, reiki, ultrasound, magnet and light therapy.

· Counseling and lifestyle modification: the education and assessment of each person to activate their own desire to be responsible for there condition. Understanding what you may be doing to cause your symptoms can help you make changes in your lifestyle.

A typical visit to a naturopath will take about an hour to an hour and a half. You will fill out a questionnaire before the interview. During your first visit, the ND will ask about your condition beginning with your health history, present symptoms, lifestyle, and diet. A physical exam will follow with other diagnostic techniques and tests. Hair analysis, urine analysis, and blood testing might be employed based on what the ND needs to find out. New functional medicine testing is becoming more prevalent as a more accurate assessment in testing for organ or system functions than standard testing procedures. After the assessment process the ND will develop a comprehensive program for you to begin. This will utilize many of the methods mentioned above.

This is a joint process between you and the ND. Remember you have choice in this process.

A follow-up will usually be within two weeks to make adjustments and to review any test results that may affect the protocols implemented in the first visit. Another follow up is within thirty days of the first visit. Of course depending on the nature of your condition, how long a person will work with the ND is based on the amount of time it takes to see results that have lasting effects.

I personally know and have worked with a number of naturopaths over the years. I utilize there expertise and services in my own life. What I like most is the fact that I am empowered to be involved in my own healing process and feel that I have an advocate at my side.

Article by herbalist Dave Hawkins, MH, CNC