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Editors Note: A Naturopath to the general public may seem to be a general term, similar to the term "Natural Therapist". I do understand if someone is unclear what specifically a Naturopath is or does. This confusion is created by the many different natural therapy modalities or categories a practitioner is practicing, which has been created by the "Elective" Therapy Modalities a practitioner has studied.
As Naturopathy is a "holistic" form of practicing, practitioners will also address lifestyle changes with techniques which may not be able to be scientifically validated as they are responding only to individual patients and their specific situation. However, the training, including the science and the philosophy behind a Bachelor Degree of Naturopathy is very specific.
Training can be obtained from Universities and Private Colleges. Courses offered by private colleges generally offer an Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy although some offer recognised Bachelor level degrees.
Qualified accredited naturopathic practitioners do offer private health fund rebates.
It is really very simple, all Naturopaths work with the same natural principles, but they may differ by their personal approach and the natural therapy modalities they have studied.
Naturopaths aim to restore optimal health by natural means, free of side-effects, and obviously free of drugs and their side effects and free of harm of any kind.
Naturopaths aim to provide an environment of health and balance in which the natural laws and functions of the body can be re-established to a state of total health.
Total health is more than the mere absence of symptoms, it is the state where you feel absolutely good, in body, mind and spirit.
A Naturopath is practicing active prevention, this is teaching "scientific and evidence" based lifestyle modification to prevent diseases.
*Note the difference: Medical Practitioners need to wait for a disease to manifest before they can treat it.
A Naturopathic Consultation, will last about 1 hour or longer, subsequent consultation are usually shorter. The first consultation will concentrate on examination - health history - differential and natural type diagnosis and educating the patient about lifestyle matters.
In fact the term Doctor, although not often used for Naturopaths, means to educate.
Naturopath adhere to the Hippocratic Oath - by example;
"I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice".
*Note: The many accusation against natural therapy in the media, or internet, are usually of a complete ignorance or misrepresentation of the truth, and "failing to understand the difference of philosophy between naturopath and medical practitioners.
The main aim of a Naturopath is preventing disease, or preventing a disease getting worse, while supporting the body to overcome a disease.
Naturopaths are as appalled about fraudulent practitioners or products as Doctors are.
*A distinction has to be made between a trained Naturopaths or natural therapists and someone out to harm or seek un-justified profit from exploiting the sick.
Naturopaths have to undergo extensive training and have to be members of a recognised Natural Medicine Association, as well as having to do continuing education requirements to up-keep their accreditation.
Patients should make sure that their practitioner of choice has proper Association Membership Certificates.
Private Health Insurances will only refund for registered practitioners.
*The main confusion about Naturopathy probably arises because of the Naturopathic Philosophy.
Critics or Skeptics of Naturopathy mainly seem to attack the philosophy, stating that naturopathy is not science based.
Obviously, a philosophy is a philosophy, a way of thinking. Naturopathy is not out to replace a General Medical Practitioner, that's why a general term for Naturopathy is "Complementary Medicine", it is complementing medicine by it's philosophy of prevention, it aims to prevent as much disease as possible with lifestyle, diet, exercise modification, stress management. Doctors should be happy about that.
*Note: Naturopath are trained to diagnosed and will refer patients to medical Doctors.
Philosophy - disease is a state of dis-balance, a state where the natural defensive effort of the body can't cope anymore.
This has nothing to do with pseudo sciences, this is based on a simple fact; a body under any type of stress is "more likely to get sick", than a body or someone who is fit and healthy.
It is also a signal for attention, or to reduce or compensate for adverse conditions. It is an attempt by your body to alarm you that something has gone wrong, and you have to take steps to get back into balance to produce health.
The severe chronic manifestations of disease are the result of combating and suppressing acute symptoms of lesser diseases in the past, and obviously to a number of genetics and natural ageing.
Germs, viruses and bacteria are Nature's scavengers.
They are always and everywhere present, in every cell, held in their rightful place by balance and health.
Upset the balance, however, by inharmonious habits, be it; mental, emotional, lifestyle, bad nutrition, drugs, poisons, overindulgence, stress and the resulting low vitality and resistance will provide a "perfect environment" for their proliferation.
How can "balanced" be achieved?
By a logical and biological approach, that of "Supporting Health, supporting a person to become more healthy".
Build up general resistance and immunity, cleanse the system, produce better attitudes, by education in nutrition, exercise and natural therapeutic measures such as detoxification, stress reduction, diet and nutritional advice, nutritional supplements or herbal medicines.
Other modalities may be used or referred to, such as : homeopathy, acupuncture or osteopathic and chiropractic treatment to eliminate both the cause and the symptoms.
(Note: Those are only some of the modalities used)
Therapy on this level is a highly individual and creative process, requiring a lot of co-operation and understanding between the patient and the therapist. Naturopaths do not just treat a disease, they support the whole individual.
There are no miraculous or instant cures, no magic pill. - Anyone claiming to the contrary should be treated with suspicion!
How does a Naturopath diagnose?
The basics are the same for all Naturopaths and similar to GP's:
Medical history taking and a physical examination, recognising symptoms, which may be followed up if need be with; X-rays, blood tests, and other appropriate medical tests.
Specific natural type diagnosis:
Pulse diagnosis in the case of acupuncture, or iris diagnosis, specific ways of looking at the body, tongue, nails, face, feet, connective tissues, muscle testing and reflex testing.
A Naturopath is trained in differential diagnostics, and will always refer patients to a Medical Doctor for further evaluation or tests if need be.
Naturopath do not treat listed infectious diseases, not do they "treat cancer". However, Naturopaths will support a cancer patient's state of health, by providing nutrition advice or using nutritional supplements or herbal medication to overcome side-effects of chemo therapy like nausea.
Naturopaths are very concerned about the ever increasing number of people suffering from food hypersensitiveness, as well as the increasing number of people becoming overweight or suffering with chronic diseases, despite the advances in medical science.
Naturopaths attribute this rise to lifestyle problems, food, water and air contamination, as well as the side effects from maintenance drug therapy, drug overuse and resulting in drug or antibiotic resistance, which has become a worldwide concern.
Antibiotic resistance needs to be recognised as man made problem instigated by misinterpreting science.
Some Skeptics seem to be overly concerned with what they call "pseudo science", by attacking natural therapy modalities.
It has to be recognised that more harm is done by the over prescription of medical drugs than by over prescription of vitamins or a good diet.
Naturopaths certainly are not against science, to the contrary, particular as more and more natural advice and treatment has been now scientifically proven. No one today would dispute that diet is an important factor of health, or that smoking or alcohol abuse is harmful. Many natural substances haven been scientifically accepted. Many drugs have been developed from herbs, but have been "synthesised", not necessary to work better, but to be able to patented.
Science is often "black or white", whereas life is in "Colour".
Editor's Note: I always welcome if skeptics find evidence of fraudulent practice or products, but individual cases must not be used to generalise.
And .. as a last note, surely anyone understands, that in various states of sickness, the human system has much higher needs of specific nutrients.
I am sure the present Health System can be improved with more emphasis on "Prevention".
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