Modern day living brings stress, pollution and poor diet, all of which conspire to deplete us of essential nutrition and disrupt the natural equilibrium within our bodies. In a culture of achievement and professional success, nutrition and healthcare are often left at the bottom of the priority list. If left unaddressed these imbalances can progressively have a higher impact on our lives.
Naturopathic Medicine or ‘CAM’ (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) is an integrative system of health care which encourages and promotes the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms using an eclectic approach. It focuses on prevention of illness and the use of nontoxic, natural therapies. As an holistic system it aims to promote and restore health by employing various non-invasive treatment approaches that may include: naturopathic nutrition, lifestyle advice, phytotherapy, naturopathic psychosocial support and other appropriate techniques.
“Health: A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” – W.H.O
By practicing evidence-based medicine, our aim is to help people gain optimum wellness and vitality, to live happier, healthier lives.
The terms holistic, naturopathic, natural, alternative, complementary, functional, integrative are often used interchangeably to describe the same approach to health and wellness.
Naturopathic medicine supports a marriage between Eastern and Western medical models (complementary approach) and is based on the following principles:
The 10 Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
1. Vis Medicatrix Naturae – The healing power of Nature
All methods, medicines and techniques used by Naturopaths, to restore homeostasis, are in harmony with natural processes. Our role is to identify the underlying cause of disease and to promote the inherent self-healing power within the individual, by using a combination of the latest scientific research and traditional medicine. Given the correct nutrition, detoxification, immune support and stress relief, the body will heal itself.
2. Primum Non Nocere – First Do No Harm
Treatments are chosen carefully to minimise the risks of harmful side effects and are always based on the latest scientific research. The Hippocratic Oath promises “to abstain from doing harm”, something that is rarely obeyed in medical practice today. No drugs, medications or other toxic pharmaceuticals are used to alleviate the symptoms of the client. Rather, natural methods and ailments are used once the underlying cause has been identified. Only substances familiar to the body are used, which are much less likely to produce symptoms of toxicity and side-effects. Almost all health problems can be resolved by (a) giving the body what it does need and (b) removing or protecting it from toxins, poisons, pathogens and other things it does not need, hence restoring homeostasis.
3. Tolle Causam – The root (underlying) cause of dysfunction is identified and treated, not the branches (symptoms). Ailments should not be suppressed
Every illness has an underlying cause, often in aspects of the lifestyle, diet, genes, stress, negative thoughts or habits of the individual. Symptoms are there for a reason and are manifestations of Nature’s Healing Force. Our aim is to see below the symptoms and address each problem from it’s root, taking into account the unique symptoms of each individual; its the only way to achieve complete health on all levels of life.
The complexity of factors leading to disease means that the same disease may be due to different causes in two individuals, hence should be addressed differently. Palliation of symptoms must not be confused with healing of a disease or disease process. For example, a painkiller will not address the root cause of pain – in the example of a dehydration headache, painkillers will not rehydrate the body. Suppression of symptoms may induce further damage – dehydration might continued to be ignored causing further problems. In naturopathic philosophy, it is well understood that symptoms are often the body’s attempt to rid itself of illness – fever to kill off virus/bacteria, discharges to purge infections, pain and fatigue to induce rest etc. Symptomatic relief measures, without addressing the ‘root cause’ can have the effect of driving a disease process deeper or further into the body as the body’s natural mechanisms are thwarted and the immune system becomes dysfunctional.
Despite the common belief that our genes determine directly our state of health, it is important to understand that it is the diet and lifestyle choices that determine whether a genetic characteristic will be expressed or not! Scientific research has increasingly shown that chronic illnesses which run in families are most often as a result of same lifestyle and dietary habits among the family members, rather than genetic inheritance. Nutrition is phenomenal by means of having the capacity to either activate or deactivate existing genes; an exciting area of research called Epigenetics.
4. The Whole person is treated – Physically, Mentally, Emotionally & Spiritually
Health problems rarely exist in isolation, either from the rest of your body or from your emotional state. Health or disease is determined by a complex interaction between internal and external factors: physical, dietary, genetic, environmental, lifestyle, social, mental, emotional, spiritual and other factors. Symptoms are the unique approach of the individual to these factors. Naturopathic practitioners treat the whole person, taking all of these factors into account (emotional, chemical/biochemical/hormonal, structural/physiological – the functions and actions of one commonly affect the other two). For this reason, an extensive personal and family case history is taken and the initial consultation is much longer than a GP or specialist appointment.
According to the old orthodox medicine paradigm, the human body functions as a machine; fixing a part, fixes the problem. Naturopaths do not see the person as just having a physical ailment or their health being designated to compartments. They aim to “treat” holistically, taking into consideration all aspects of life.
It is important to understand that mental and emotional issues, even small ones, and past psychological events, can have a detrimental effect on health. Working on both aspects, physical and emotional, can greatly speed up the rate of recovery and restoration of good health.
5. Preventive Medicine
Unfortunately only a few people will seek help and advice before it is too late, i.e. symptom have become too bothersome or disease has appeared. Some people will have regular check ups. But only a minority will think of making dietary or lifestyle changes just to ensure longterm health and longevity. If you have health checks done at the nutritional and naturopathic level and act on the results, you could be preventing or reversing minor illnesses that could otherwise develop into something serious, such as chronic degenerative diseases. Patients are taught the principles with which to live a healthy life; by following these principles they can prevent major illnesses.
After all we only have one body to live in, and should be taking care of it!
6. Docere – Doctor as Teacher
In Naturopathic Medicine we educate clients, empowering them to take responsibility for their own health. We aim to help you learn enough so that you can understand the reasons behind all the suggestions that are made and be able to prevent illness. Our consultations are engaging experiences where the client feels comfortable about discussing his/her health concerns and then jointly agreeing on a treatment route. We endeavour to teach and guide rather than treat.
7. Health is much greater than just “absence of infirmity” – it should be abundant vitality
The World Health Organisation defines health as: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease”. Health is an expression of optimum functioning within the body including, but not limited to, abundant energy levels, a measured emotional response, great flexibility and mobility, high quality sleep, good muscle to fat ratio, efficient digestion, superb absorption of nutrients from food, healthy libido and positive thought processes. Good health means each individual has the capacity to live life to full potential, in body, mind and spirit.
In order to maximise physical and mental health and in contrast orthodox medicine, functional/ naturopathic medicine seeks to optimise, rather than normalise, metabolic parameters of diagnostic testing.
8. The Person is treated, NOT the disease. We should not be asking what is the problem but why?
Naturopathy is a healing system which places emphasis on health and how to promote it, rather than on disease and how to suppress it. By shifting the traditional germ-centerered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, naturopathic medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.
9. The individual is unique, each person responds in a different way
All programmes we formulate are highly personalised, to fit your unique constitution and ‘biochemical individuality’. No person is the same and no problem can be addressed in the same way, hence your treatment plan would not apply to someone with the same problem. The approach we use is “person-centered” rather than “disease-centered”. Functional tests are often used to help us determine your specific needs and unique metabolic type or pattern.
10. Ill-Health is a product of the internal environment of the body rather than external influences. It is the soil that is the problem, not the microbes per se
Let’s take the example of immunity. It is commonly believed that bacteria and other pathogens are to blame for colds and flus. However, the truth is bacteria are only opportunistic benefactors of an unhealthy terrain, less able to affect a ‘healthy’ person. This concept has been established since the 19th century by Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard.