What Is Naturopathy?
Treatments and Approaches
Naturopathy is a type of healthcare that merges modern treatment with traditional techniques. It includes alternative, natural therapies to modern medicine.
Naturopathy focuses on:
- the body's capacity to heal itself
- avoiding illness
- a personal responsibility to optimize health and wellness
Naturopathic treatment strategies focus on education and prevention. They typically emphasize diet, exercise, and stress management. Naturopathy uses a series of principles and beliefs to create personal treatment plans.
These principles and beliefs are:
- Self-healing: Identifying and eliminating obstacles to recovery, enables natural healing.
- Underlying symptoms: Instead of stopping symptoms, a naturopathic physician can resolve underlying physical or mental problems by treating the body, mind, and spirit.
- Harmless treatment: Treatment strategies should not have damaging side effects or control symptoms negatively.
- Holistic treatment: A naturopathic physician has to recognize individuality to treat all facets of an individual's health effectively.
- Education in treatment: Naturopathic physicians teach self-care to help empower people against illness.
- Prevention: It is good to eliminate toxic substances from a lifestyle to prevent problems from arising.
Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor
Naturopathic doctors might hold different licenses. Not all states have the same licensing requirements, so it is recommended to check the details of a naturopathic physician prior to an appointment.
The three main types of naturopath are:
- Naturopathic physician: A licensed naturopathic physician must attend 4 years of naturopathic medical school to hold a recognized certification.
- Traditional naturopath: Traditional naturopaths may not hold a license, so they are not so broadly accepted.
- Other healthcare advisors: Other, contemporary healthcare professionals, such as dentists, may use naturopathic methods in their treatment plans.
Approaches vary between naturopathic specialists, but consultations generally follow a similar overall practice.
The specialist will generally begin with a diagnosis. In this part of the process, they will address personal information, including lifestyle habits, stress levels, and diet.
A naturopathic physician can use physical evaluations, laboratory tests, medical imaging, as well as medical history exams to identify a health problem.
After diagnosis, they will develop ways to prevent and treat the illness by working with the natural healing systems within the body.
Naturopathic physicians create medical care strategies to fit individual needs and health problems. This means the treatment plans they provide can vary, but they all adhere to similar principles.
The majority of treatments involve food and nutrition. A naturopathic physician will customize suggestions for the individual.
A diet plan will typically use whole foods, for example, fruit, vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains.
The doctor may also give advice on maximizing nutritional value by consuming seasonal, local food. Some think food is better for the body when consumed raw, instead of cooked.
Treatments a naturopathic physician might provide consist of:
- diet and nutrition suggestions
- behavioral change, such as exercise and lifestyle
- homeopathy, a kind of natural medicine
- hydrotherapy, which is water-based treatment
- manipulative therapy, for instance, putting pressure on specific parts of the body to create balance
- herbal dietary supplements
A small 2020 study indicates that naturopathic treatment strategies are useful in managing type 2 diabetes.
In some cases, with the appropriate license, naturopathic physicians can suggest prescription drugs, undertake minor surgeries, and give vaccinations.
Naturopathic treatments are normally not a person's primary source of healthcare. People typically seek naturopathic treatments when traditional or other complementary treatments are ineffective.
A 2019 review of studies found that methods that use naturopathy may be effective in:
- heart disease
- musculoskeletal pain
- type 2 diabetes
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- some other chronic conditions
An older 2007 review discovered evidence that the herbal medicines of devil's claw, white willow bark, and cayenne can alleviate pain better than placebo. However, the authors recognize that the reporting quality of the research studies in the review was poor.
There is anecdotal evidence to suggest naturopathic treatments such as acupuncture can treat chronic disorders, but again, this is not well supported scientifically.
A 2018 review found that naturopathic therapies helped control problems that follow operations. For instance, acupuncture and acupressure can reduce symptoms of vomiting and nausea. Aromatherapy and music can also reduce pain, stress, and anxiety.
Naturopaths work on a more personal level, spending more time covering individual needs. They develop treatment plans that consider all aspects of a person.
Naturopathy can be helpful alongside modern medicine, and many claim these techniques allow the body to activate self-healing mechanisms.
Naturopathic healthcare can also be a less expensive alternative to conventional healthcare.