WHAT IS A NATUROPATH?

By Emma Wisbey

Given that today is International Ask a Question Day, I wanted to answer a very simple question that many in our community find difficult to answer: 

Naturopathy is defined by the Collins dictionary as “a method of treating disorders, involving the use of herbs and other naturally grown foods, sunlight, fresh air, etc. Also called Nature Cure”.

At Claridge Naturopathics, we believe it to be a holistic approach to wellness endeavouring to prevent disease and dysfunction.

However, if you google the word Naturopath all sorts of weird and wonderful definitions will be found. Of most concern is the Wikipedia reference which looks more like an opinion of someone opposed to using Naturopathy, rather than an unbiased and unemotional definition. No wonder schools teach our kids not to use Wikipedia as a reference for anything!

To become a Naturopath these days a 4 year full-time degree course is required. There are also associations that we must join and criteria, such as continuing professional education, that must be undertook yearly to ensure we can continue to practice. Much of our pre- and post- grad training involves many health science subjects including but not limited to: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology. And our continuing professional education is based on scientific research and recent developments.

Our model of care is to be integrative or complimentary to orthodox medicine. Naturopaths do not see themselves as an ‘alternative’, and if truth be told, the best health outcomes are seen when we combine the heroics of modern medicine’s diagnostic capabilities with the preventative and nutritive nature of Naturopathy.

The beauty of Naturopathy is that we acknowledge that each patient is an individual with different genetics, different health needs and living in different environments. The main premise of holistic care is that “no one size fits all”. This concept is why a diet or a pill that a friend finds amazing may not have the same affect for you. It also acknowledges that as your body changes over the years, so too do your individual needs. And for this reason a Naturopath is best equipped to analyse all of these elements of your health to determine an individualised treatment plan and lifestyle strategy in order to achieve your health goals effectively.

We have many tools to our trade. These include assisting patients with lifestyle education such as: diet, exercise, stress management and lifestyle modifications. We may prescribe evidence based natural therapies, such as nutritional, herbal or homeopathic medicines. We can also order functional pathology tests if we need to in completing a thorough case history.

We often get judged and told that there is no proof in what we do. However a quick search of PubMed will prove otherwise, with literally thousands of positive published research studies proving that natural therapies do indeed assist with various health conditions. 

Did you know that some modern pharmaceutical drugs have been developed based on the use of herbs traditionally?

For example, aspirin was developed using an active ingredient from Willowbark, a herb which for centuries has been used to thin the blood and assist with the treatment of headaches. Hospitals use nutrients and have done for many years, and to state that nutritional supplementation is unproven or a waste of money is an insult to your intelligence. Open any text book of human biochemistry and you will see that a human cell, an organ, in fact the entire human body, simply cannot function without macro and micronutrients.

There are so many choices of healthcare options in Australia, which means that we absolutely have all the tools we need to live healthy and happy lives. The medical system is excellent at diagnosing our diseases, and assisting us in critical care. But when it comes to prevention and lifestyle support, a Naturopath is most suitably trained to assist. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Today’s National Ask A Question Day is a great time to remind you of that. Please don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Be inquisitive and do more research. 

We are only too happy for you to ask us many questions, if we don’t know the answer we spend much time delving into the research and determining what might be happening in your individual circumstance. And if a friend or family member asks you what a Naturopath is, perhaps you could simply direct them here.

Your health is your choice, and seeing a Naturopath might be the very next step for you or someone you love.

In Health & Happiness!

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Emma Wisbey

Specialist Naturopath, Holistic Nutritionist, Herbalist, Homoeopath

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