I find it amazing that I only learned about the existence of naturopathy about 10 years ago (even though historically Naturopathy grew out of the Nature Cure movement which has been around since the 1600s). The basic aims of naturopathy is to:
- Identify the things that make people feel bad (and where possible eliminate or reduce the exposure to these factors)(also described as looking for underlying causes for your health problems)
- Help people feel healthier and stronger (by bringing in things which support good health (eg. exercise, great nutrition, drinking enough fluids, getting enough rest etc.)
It’s that simple.
If we want to get more fancy and specific about it, as a naturopath I achieve the above by looking at:
- Environmental factors (both in the home, or products used on the body, or ingested, and also we look at more “global” factors, such as exposure to pesticides, pollution, etc.)
- Fluid intake
- Nutrition / diet (including the types and amounts of foods we are eating and how we are eating them, preparing them and even how much and how often)
- Sunshine exposure
- Fresh air
- Stresses (the whole range of them!)
- Hobbies, social life and the quality of the relationships in our lives (with ourselves, our environment and with others).
- Family history and habits.
I’ve generally found the naturopathic approach to be pretty logical and also reflective of our responsibility for our own health. Perhaps because I had latent naturopathic tendencies way back before I even knew what a naturopath was (like when mum would suggest I see the doctor for antibiotics when I was sick and I would say, “I have an immune system, let my body fight it first.”(? I hadn’t even studied biology at that stage!) Or on discovering my intolerance to dairy and citrus when I was 14: my reaction was -don’t eat it, find alternatives. Simple. If it hurts you: avoid it. If it supports your health, do it.
Clearly, I love naturopathy (or I wouldn’t have quit a PhD to study this). However, it is important to clarify that I don’t see the naturopathic approach as the only option, when necessary we go to the doctor and the hospital. I see my role as a naturopath in helping to take the pressure off of the government resources and the environment by guiding and approaching health consciously.
When I first began studying I remember chatting with a pharmacist and pharmacy assistant I was working with about the “naturopathic approach” (compared to the pharmaceutical approach). I had to laugh when midway through the conversation my friend asked the pharmacist if we could put the air-conditioning on as she was hot. I asked why she didn’t just take her jumper off (everyone else was in short sleeves because it was a pretty hot day), and she said she couldn’t because she didn’t have time to iron her shirt that morning. We all had a laugh as I said, “well taking your jumper off would be the naturopathic approach, and turning the air-conditioner on might be the pharmaceutical approach”;-)