Here it is, the beginning of my six part series of blogs written about the principles of Naturopathy. For me one of my key roles as a Naturopath, other than treating patients is spreading the word about this truly unique way of looking at health and disease. Like most people I thought that doctors were the answer if I was sick. But I got frustrated by the five minute consultations, little explanation and the fact that solutions were expected to be found in a box of medication. I knew there had to be another way, so I went out and found it, and now I need to share it.
The purpose of this series is to define what a Naturopath is and how they look at health and disease. I hope it answers any questions, clears up misconceptions and helps you to see Naturopathy in a new or different light.
One of the fundamental principles of naturopathy ‘TOLLE TOTUM’ or treat the whole person, is important in a number of ways.
Firstly naturopaths believe that disease will occur when physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental or social factors become unbalanced. Whether we are consciously connected with each of these factors or not, total health can only be achieved when they are aligned harmoniously. For someone who is not connected to some or all of these factors it can be very hard to identify what is truly causing or at least contributing to their poor health.
A Naturopath not only looks at the physical complaints of their patient, but will consider how these other factors may be contributing to their complaint. Did you know that stress and anxiety can be one of the major causes of IBS? Or that environmental toxins like black mold in the bathroom can contribute to many chronic health complaints? A disconnect with ones spirituality can create doubt in purpose, lack of connection with others and feelings of being at war with ones self. Many of the aspects can affect us on a subconscious level but will always create a distinct outlet, often manifesting as disease.
The other way in which a Naturopath will treat a person as a whole is by recognising that the body is a complex web of systems which all work together to keep you healthy. A symptom is a sign of disease and may present itself in a part of the body which may seem unrelated to where the disease originated. For example chronic skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis all present on the skin, each in different locations on the body. All of these conditions are linked to underlying causes such as a sluggish lymphatic system, immune dysfunction, poor liver detoxification or problems with the digestion of certain proteins like gluten.
A common form of coventional treatment for skin complaints is topical application of a substance. The problem with this is, while the skin condition may improve, it will most likely come back when the treatment is stopped. This is because the actual part of the body which needs attention has not been treated and the bodys ability to heal from the inside out has not been encouraged.
Dividing the body into separate locations or parts is usually what happens when a diagnosis is made. People may be sent to a doctor who specialises in this area and it is the only area that is focused on. A cardiologist may want to reduced their patients cholesterol for the sake of the health of their heart. But they will not consider what will happen to the regulation of certain hormones which require cholesterol for their synthesis. The body is a whole, it works as one and needs to be treated as one, rather than a bunch of systems working independently of each other.
Naturopaths recognise that disease arises because of an imbalance in a few key systems of the body. They will asses the whole body and make the connections on a physical, emotional and spiritual level to establish the cause of disease.