What is Naturopathy? Treatments and Approaches
Naturopathy is a form of healthcare that merges modern treatment with traditional techniques. It includes alternative, natural therapies to modern medicine.
Naturopathy focuses on:
- The body's ability to heal itself
- Avoiding illness
- A personal responsibility to optimize health
Naturopathic treatment plans focus on education and prevention. They often emphasize diet, exercise, and stress management. Naturopathy uses a collection of principles and beliefs to create personal treatment plans.
These principles and beliefs are:
- Self-healing: Identifying and removing barriers to recovery, enables natural healing.
- Underlying symptoms: Rather than stopping symptoms, a naturopathic physician can address underlying physical or psychological problems by treating the body, mind, and spirit.
- Harmless treatment: Treatment plans should not have harmful side effects or control symptoms negatively.
- Holistic treatment: A naturopathic physician has to acknowledge individuality to treat all aspects of an individual's health successfully.
- Education in treatment: Naturopathic doctors teach self-care to help empower individuals against ill health.
- 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 look at the details of a naturopathic physician before an appointment.
The three main types of naturopath are:
- Naturopathic doctor: A licensed naturopathic doctor has to 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 commonly accepted.
- Other healthcare advisors: Other, contemporary healthcare professionals, such as dentists, may use naturopathic techniques in their treatment plans.
Methods vary between naturopathic specialists, but consultations usually abide by a similar overall practice.
The specialist will typically begin with a diagnosis. In this part of the procedure, they will address personal information, including lifestyle habits, stress levels, and diet.
A naturopathic doctor can use physical assessments, lab tests, medical imaging, and medical history exams to diagnose a health problem.
After diagnosis, they will develop methods to prevent and treat the illness by working with the natural healing systems within the body.
Naturopathic doctors design medical care plans to suit individual needs and health conditions. This means the treatment plans they provide can vary, but they all abide by 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 might also offer advice on maximizing nutritional value by consuming seasonal, local food. Some think food is better for the body when consumed raw, rather than cooked.
Treatments a naturopathic doctor may provide include:
- Diet and nutrition recommendations
- Behavioral adjustment, such as exercise and lifestyle
- Homeopathy, a kind of natural medicine
- Hydrotherapy, which is water-based therapy
- Manipulative therapy, for example, putting pressure on specific parts of the body to create balance
- Herbal dietary supplements
A small 2020 research study suggests that naturopathic treatment plans are useful in managing type 2 diabetes.
In some cases, with the appropriate license, naturopathic physicians can recommend prescription drugs, undertake minor surgeries, and give vaccinations.
Naturopathic treatments are generally not a person's primary source of healthcare. People typically pursue naturopathic treatments when traditional or other complementary treatments are not effective.
A 2019 review of studies found that techniques that use naturopathy might be effective in:
- Cardiovascular 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 relieve pain better than placebo. However, the authors recognize that the reporting quality of the studies in the review was poor.
There is anecdotal evidence to suggest naturopathic treatments such as acupuncture can heal chronic disorders, but again, this is not well supported scientifically.
A 2018 review discovered that naturopathic treatments helped control problems that follow operations. For instance, acupuncture and acupressure can minimize symptoms of vomiting and nausea. Aromatherapy and music can also minimize pain, stress, and anxiety.
- Naturopaths work on a more personal level, spending more time covering individual needs. They develop treatment strategies that consider all aspects of a person.
- Naturopathy can be useful along with modern medicine, and many claim these techniques allow the body to activate self-healing mechanisms.
- Naturopathic healthcare can also be a more affordable option to conventional healthcare.