Naturopathy is based on the principle of homeostasis - that the body can heal itself and will always strive towards good health; its guiding principles can be traced back to Hippocrates, over 2,000 years ago. It developed into the "nature cures" popular in the spa towns of 19th century Germany and Austria and its name was coined by Dr John Scheel of New York in 1895. It has been described as the Western equivalent to Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine - a total philosophy of health and life, rather than a cure for specific symptoms.
Good health is believed to be dependent on a number of factors working together: a healthy diet (wholefood, preferably organic); plenty of exercise and fresh air; and adequate sleep. Lack of these things plus pollution, negative attitudes and emotional or physical stress, can lead to a build up of "toxins" which can overload the immune system and upset the balance necessary to maintain good health.
The naturopath believes in the healing power of natural resources. Treatment is aimed at improving the patients' "vital force" which helps the body fight off disease. Naturopaths take a preventative and holistic approach and look for underlying causes of the presenting symptoms, believing that fevers and inflammation signify a weakening of the vital force, and the body's fight against intrusion. As such, they are not to be suppressed, unless dangerous, as this could lead to further degeneration.
Practitioners look at the patient's "Triad of Health", (their emotional well-being, their musculo-skeletal structure and their internal biochemistry), and then prescribe a range of therapies designed to improve circulation and digestion, increase the elimination of waste products and boost the immune system. These will vary according to the practitioner and may include fasting, exercise, diet and supplementation, herbal medicine, homeopathy hydrotherapy, physical therapies, life-style modification, counselling and touch therapies. Many of the principles of naturopathy underpin conventional medical thought today and there is a lot of agreement about the importance of a wholefood diet low in fat and salt and high in fibre and antioxidants.
Conditions that may respond particularly well to Naturopathy include:
Allergies / Hayfever
Gastro intestinal disorders
Irritable bowel syndrome
Naturopathy alone is not suitable for treating cancer, TB, venereal diseases or diabetes, but naturopathic therapy may be helpful in combination with conventional medical treatment.
At the first consultation, the practitioner will examine the patient thoroughly, both through asking questions about their health and lifestyle and by carrying out conventional and less conventional physical tests, such as: blood pressure, reflexes, blood/urine sample, iris examination, sweat/hair analysis, muscles tests, posture.
Advice and recommended treatment is then tailored to individual circumstances.
The consultations can cost anything from £25 - £65; the number of weekly sessions required is determined by an individuals specific state of health.
The principal cause for concern about naturopathy is the fasting element; naturopaths claim that fasting helps flush toxins out of the liver, however there is the view that the liver is in fact flooded by toxins produced as a result of starving the body. No fast or restricted diet should be followed without the advice of a qualified naturopath.
General Council and Register of Naturopaths
2 Goswell Road
Somerset BA16 0JG
Tel: 08707 456 984
The British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy
3 Sumpter Close
120-122 Finchley Road
London NW3 5HR
Tel: 020 7435 6464
National College of Naturopathic Medicine
049 S.W. Porter
Portland, OR 97201
Phone: (503) 499-4343
The College of Naturopathic Medicine
The College of Naturopathic Medicine offers recognized diploma courses and qualifications in naturopathy, naturopathic nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy at colleges throughout the UK and Ireland.
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