Naturopathic doctors offer expert health care in the field of natural and preventative medicine. Unlike conventional medicine, a Naturopath views the body as one integrated system and as such, offers a more comprehensive approach to health care.
With the main focus being on identifying the cause of illness or imbalances in health, Naturopathy is unique because it offers effective solutions through dietary advice and lifestyle improvements, herbal and nutritional support. Treatments are customised and patient-centred, as each client is treated as an individual and is encouraged to make positive changes to their health.
Naturopathy is suitable for all ages. Both acute and chronic health conditions can be treated, from food allergies and intolerances through to complete solutions for overweight individuals.
Naturopathy is based on six main principles:
• Given the right nutrients, the body will heal itself. This reflects the healing power of nature.
• Treating the whole person, not just symptoms.
• Focusing on resolving the root cause of the health problem and not just suppressing symptoms.
• Using methods of treatment and nutritional support which minimise the risk of harmful side effects
• Respecting the individual’s healing process and offering preventative health care in a safe and supportive environment.
• Treating the individual as a unique person and involving them in every step of their health recovery, through education and prevention.
What is Naturopathy?
Health complaints are rarely isolated problems. A sign or symptom in one part of the body may be connected to an issue somewhere else in the body. For example, the skin conditions of psoriasis or eczema are often indicative of inflammatory gut issues.
This is where Naturopathy differs from traditional medicine. Your local GP is trained to treat or mask a symptom with medications, but they rarely address the root causes of the problem. Some of these causes may stem from what we eat and drink, how much we move, rest, sleep and how toxic we are.
When the root cause is identified, often many related symptoms will clear up without any particular focus on them. Naturopathy helps to connect the dots and creates a path to good health and wellness.
How can a Naturopath Help?
Good health really begins in the gastrointestinal tract or gut. So how does someone know that his or her gut is dysfunctional? Much like the oil light that comes on in your car when the oil is low, we also have indicators or signs to tell us something is wrong. For example, suffering from bloat, excess wind, constipation, diarrhoea and pain in the gut would alert us and send us for help.
This is where a Naturopath is an expert. They are trained to make the associations with poor gut function and they understand what needs to be done to aid in the healing process. Many people experience reactions to a range of foods and feel they can no longer tolerate them. However, after a trip to the Naturopath, with some dietary advice and nutritional support, many of these issues are fully resolved.
Often a well-designed Detox Program can bring great results to the gut and immune system over a few weeks, such as improved sleep & energy, skin condition, more settled gut behaviour and positive attitude because the individual now feels recharged and re-energised.
Hormonal imbalances are often overlooked, especially when it comes to weight gain, inflammation and chronic disease. On many occasions, blood tests fail to reflect changes in hormones.
For instance thyroid, insulin, estrogen and progesterone may appear to sit in the normal range on a blood test scale, but may, in fact, be at the low end of normal, suggesting that they are suboptimal to some extent. For example, the thyroid hormone plays a vital role in maintaining healthy body weight acting like our very own metabolic thermostat. When it is functioning properly we feel energetic, think clearly & have a good memory, manage body weight easily, cholesterol is usually normal, skin is moist, hair grows well and sex drive is strong.
Quite a high proportion of thyroid sufferers, though exhibiting the opposite of many of these symptoms, fail to be diagnosed correctly. The appropriate thyroid tests are not always done to identify the condition.
By listening to clients and hearing about their fatigue, lethargy, headaches, poor sleep, weight gain and poor memory, and so on, an experienced Naturopath will identify hormonal imbalances and run further tests to assess levels and their impact on the individual’s health. Once again, treatment will be customised to help the person get back on the road to recovery.
Cortisol is another hormone that impacts our health significantly when out of balance. The adrenal glands produce this hormone in response to stress. It controls our hunger, digestion, blood pressure, sleep cycles, physical activity and ability to cope with stress. Initially high levels of cortisol are produced when the stress-response is activated often.
With chronic or long-term stress, cortisol production can swing between very high and very low levels. During the stress-response a release of cortisol helps us run faster, see further, hear more acutely and it releases fuel into our blood for quick energy, so we can fight or fly away from the stressor. Unfortunately, excessive stress can cause weight gain, insulin resistance, sleep deprivation, elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, muscle loss and can also cause our digestion to shut down and metabolism to become slow.
An experienced Naturopath can guide the individual with relaxation techniques, an appropriate diet to reduce inflammation, an improved sleep regime, energy-boosting practices and appropriate exercise strategies. Naturopaths take the time to listen and formulate achievable goals with their clients.
Weight loss does not just boil down to what we eat, how much we exercise and our willpower. It is far more complex as other lifestyle factors play a significant role.
Sleep deprivation has become one of the major players this decade that impacts on our ability to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight for the long-term. A Naturopath can offer a range of easy health-promoting strategies to help improve the quality of sleep and promote a better recovery.
Detoxification is a natural process that occurs in the body all the time. However, the individual’s ability to detoxify comes down to how healthy their lifestyle is, including food choices they make.
We are all exposed to a huge amount of environmental toxins and toxins in our food. So for most of us, our detox ability will be compromised to some degree.
Since the industrial revolution over 80 000 chemicals has been introduced into our world, many of which have been proven to significantly impact our metabolism, hormones and brain function. These toxins including herbicides, pesticides, bisphenol A, phthalates, plastics, flame retardants, mercury, lead and arsenic and are best avoided by choosing to eat organic foods. Select grass-fed or pasture-raised animals that have not been fed hormones or antibiotics. Avoid large fish containing mercury, such as swordfish and shark.
Another major reason why people find it hard to lose weight is due to sugar addiction. Any refined processed carbohydrate that is typically found in a packet on the supermarket shelf, is loaded with sugar and often trans-fats. Both of these components are toxic in excess and they affect our metabolism.
A Naturopath with experience can prescribe a food regime to cure cravings, lose weight and optimise energy levels once again.
Benefits of Seeing a Naturopath
The main focus is to encourage clients to stop fighting the symptoms of the disease and instead address the underlying issue. By identifying reasons for imbalances in the body, the practitioner and client can work together to help restore health for the long-term. Consultations take place in the clinic in a supportive and positive environment.
Clinical testing allows them to understand body composition and track improvements in fluid retention, muscle mass, fat loss, biological age and nutritional deficiencies. Treatments may include dietary advice, nutritional supplementation, sleep improvement, stress management techniques, weight loss and other lifestyle factors.
At a first appointment, the client’s health will be assessed and recommendations made for improvement. This may include setting short-term goals and condition-specific testing.
Resolving health conditions will depend on the individual and how long they have had a certain condition, but often people respond quickly and can feel far more energised within days. For example, many clients on a detox program report a huge improvement in their sleep cycle and energy levels after 4-5 days. Others who have experienced a range of gut issues for many years can often experience great improvements within days.