History of Naturopathy
The origins of naturopathy can be traced back thousands of years to ancient Shamanic, Indian and Chinese civilisations where the use of herbs and cleansing methods helped to treat disease and improve health. Around 400BC, the teachings of Greek physician Hippocrates were rooted in the idea that nature is the healer of all disease.
Naturopathy’s modern development began in the late 19th century through natural therapies such as water therapy (which later evolved into hydrotherapy). Naturopathy then embraced diet therapy, nutrition and herbal supplements and also began to employ physical therapy and physical manipulations. The term ‘Naturopathy’ was first used by German physician Benedict Lust to describe a variety of natural healing approaches to medicine. Lust set up the first Naturopathy College in New York in the early 20th century.
As the 20th century progressed, pharmaceutical drugs became the popular way to treat ailments and naturopathy declined. However, by the 1970s, public interest in holistic natural remedies and therapies grew and naturopathy’s popularity returned.
How Does Naturopathy Work?
Naturopathy uses a set of principles and practices to help promote healthcare and support the natural healing process. Naturopathy seeks to restore and maintain physical and emotional well–being and avoids treatments that work against the body’s own natural processes.
Naturopathy targets the root cause of a problem. For instance, a headache may be due to emotional problems rather than physical and by identifying this, a naturopath can tailor treatment to remove the underlying cause and help the patient recover.
The naturopath aims to use simple treatments over complex and employs only those methods that will work with the body. Naturopathy utilises dietary, nutrition and detoxification techniques. Physiotherapy and physical manipulations (this can include chiropractic by a qualified practitioner) are also core to the naturopathic approach as is herbal medicine and acupuncture.
A Typical Appointment
Be prepared. It is advisable to choose a naturopath who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your naturopathy session is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main naturopathic organisations are listed at the foot of this article.
It is important to remember that a naturopath may utilise other therapies during your treatment, this may be done by referral or carried out by the naturopath themselves. This can include acupuncture, counselling, homeopathy or physical therapy. Check that your practitioner has suitable training.
Before your appointment, spend time thinking about your condition and what you expect to achieve with naturopathy. Make some notes before you attend about your expectations and concerns. If you have a few conditions, put them in order so the naturopath can address the most severe first. You may be provided with a questionnaire to complete before you attend and if you take any prescription or herbal medicines bring them with you to your appointment.
What To Expect
The first appointment with your naturopath will involve answering questions about your general health, any conditions you’re suffering with and past medical history. The naturopath may ask about your emotional state, lifestyle and family medical history. They may also ask about any sensations, feelings or sleep patterns and diet. Naturopathy takes a holistic approach (meaning the whole body) so keeps an open–mind and answer honestly.
The naturopath may then perform a physical examination taking your temperature and blood pressure and testing your reflexes. These factors all help the naturopath make a diagnosis and a decision about what treatment will be required for your condition. Some naturopaths employ testing such as iridology (eye color and pattern testing) or kinesiology (physical mechanics) but they will discuss this with you first.
After your treatment, your naturopath will make recommendations on lifestyle changes, exercises and herbs or supplements to take to aid your recovery. They will then book a follow–up appointment to monitor your progress and to make any necessary changes to your treatment. If you have undergone a detoxifying process, you may have side effects such as headaches, palpitations or greasy skin. This is normal and will only last for a short period. If you have any concerns, discuss them with your naturopath.
Your first appointment may last from 45–90 minutes as the naturopath gains an understanding of your problem. Subsequent appointments will usually last around 30–45 minutes but will be dependent on the treatment required. If your naturopath has recommended a course of acupuncture for example, expect a session to last longer. Your naturopath will discuss this with you.
An initial naturopathy consultation can cost up to Â£60.00 with follow–up sessions costing around Â£45.00. If your naturopath recommends any supplements or natural remedies there may be additional costs to cover this. Check with your local practitioner before making an appointment.
On average, most people attend five to six sessions with their naturopath but this can vary depending on your condition and progress. The sessions will usually take place on a weekly basis but may change to monthly as you make progress.
Is It Right For You?
Naturopathy is a non–invasive, natural therapy that is safe and used for a variety of conditions. Because of its adaptable nature and principle that the person, rather than the condition is being treated, it is suitable for everyone. Consult with your local practitioner to see how naturopathy can help you.