When I stumbled upon the naturopathy degree I ended up completing, I was initially looking at completing a nutrition or dietetics degree. I was straight out of year 12 and very passionate about health and nutrition, but in considering those fields I felt there was something missing that aligned with my values around health.
Health to me was more than eating from each of the food groups or reducing salt intake after being told your blood pressure's rising. What I loved and still love about naturopathy is that is looks at optimising health for each individual, in a holistic manner, not following a set protocol that may work for someone else but not for you.
So what is naturopathy? I'll list the principles of the modality here for you:
The Healing Power of Nature
Support and encourage the bodies capabilities of healing.
Identify and Treat the Causes
Look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause. This is a big one for me, it goes beyond suppressing symptoms to give you long term results.
First Do No Harm
Utilise the most natural, least invasive therapies and know what's beyond a naturopaths scope of practice.
Doctor as Teacher
Educate and guide patients to achieving and maintaining health for themselves.
Treat the Whole Person
View the body as a whole, rather than as isolated symptoms.
Focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.
Now let's discuss what a naturopath actually is...
Naturopaths are holistic health practitioners, which means we'll look at your body as a whole, rather than treating individual symptoms as separate issues. We work with your body, helping to encourage its ability to restore and heal via supporting various body systems and pathways. I believe that by identifying and targeting the cause of your symptoms, rather than just suppressing them, we can prevent symptoms manifesting into more chronic, serious health conditions. Prevention really is the key.
Take for example menstrual issues...
The oral contraceptive pill, may suppress these symptoms by stopping ovulation altogether and shutting down your natural sex hormone production in replacement of synthetic hormones. However these issues generally come back, often worse after stopping the pill, along with other common side effects.
Of course, this medication has its place, and when it was introduced in the 60's it gave women a new freedom over their reproductive rights, however it was never without side effects. It's been about 60 years since the medication was made available in Australia, and there are certainly some other alternatives we can consider now.
So what's the alternative?
For menstrual issues, a naturopath may instead work to regulate the hormones causing the symptoms, looking at why they may be out of balance, and then addressing this through dietary and lifestyle changes, along with herbal medicine and supplementation if required.
For example, hormonal imbalances commonly occur in women for a number of reasons, such as stress (which can impair our bodies ability to ovulate therefore impacting our menstrual cycle), gut issues (which may result in an imbalance of good and bad bacteria impacting our bodies ability to metabolise oestrogens), or food intolerances (which contribute to increased inflammatory molecules associated with heavy/painful periods). It's really about addressing the cause of your particular symptoms.
A little about me..
Naturopaths treat a range of different health conditions, personally my passion lies in treating hormonal imbalances, skin conditions such as acne & gut issues. In a clinical setting, a naturopath may utilise nutrition and lifestyle changes as a primary therapy, as well as herbal and nutritional supplementation to complement these therapies. The aim is to eventually get your body functioning as it should without supplementation, along with preventing any further health issues.
I may add, that seeing a naturopath is not a quick fix, it may take a while to get to the bottom of your health concerns and seeing results, particularly with hormonal conditions, but this is all part of the journey and learning what works for you.
Is naturopathy based on evidence?
In studying naturopathy, I was taught to integrate the most current evidence-based information, looking at clinical trials where possible, alongside utilising traditional knowledge that has been used successfully for years. Hopefully one day there won't be such a divide between this evidence-based and traditional knowledge approach, and we will have the science to support the use of some herbs and nutrients that have already proven beneficial for many. For now however, we'll work with the information we do have, and keep updating our knowledge as the science around these topics evolves.
A final note..
Like every health modality naturopathy may not be for everyone, but if you feel that what I've discussed aligns with your beliefs surrounding health, and you believe you could benefit from seeing a naturopath, please reach out, I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have.