Naturopathy, also known as the naturopathic medicine system, is primarily based on the healing power of nature. It encompasses a wide range of therapies, including nutrition, behavior change, herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, and more. In the naturopathy practice, the naturopathic professional tries to understand the root cause of a disease by studying the body, mind, and spirit of a person.
History of Naturopathy
The term naturopathy originated in Greek and Latin, and can be literally translated as “nature disease.” Naturopathy is believed to have started in Germany. The history can be traced back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when some natural healing systems, such as water therapy were practiced in Germany. Around the same time, experts in Austria were using herbs, food, and light to cure illnesses. It was introduced in the US by a German priest who opened a water cure center. Later, Benedict Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York City, in the year 1902. This is the time when the importance of diet came into the picture. By the early 1900s, interest in naturopathy started to decline, which again resurged in the 1960s.
Today, naturopathy is practiced worldwide, including in countries such as the US, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.
Biological Mechanism of Naturopathy
It is based on the principle that nature has healing power. The practice of naturopathy believes that the human body has the ability to heal on its own, and hence uses methods that are natural. Naturopathy follows a holistic approach to treatment, considering the body as a part of nature. The naturopathic practitioner may use conventional ways of diagnosis, including X-rays, physical examination, or laboratory tests. However, the treatment approach is different than conventional medicine. Naturopathy does not use drugs, radiation, or surgery for treatment.
What Does Naturopathy Include?
The naturopathic practitioner decides on treatment based on your medical history, observation of symptoms, and previous experience. Some common treatments used by a naturopath include:
1. Nutritional counseling:
- This includes education regarding healthy eating habits, such as consumption of more whole food, taking vitamin supplements, and other nutritional supplements
- Physical therapies, such as massage
- Water therapy
- Hot and cold treatment
- Therapeutic exercise
- Lifestyle change counseling
Naturopathic treatment is offered by three different types of practitioners. The three general categories include naturopathic physicians, traditional naturopaths, and other healthcare providers who also offer naturopathic services.
These professionals complete a four-year course at one of the North American naturopathic medical schools accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, an organization recognized for accreditation purposes by the U.S. Department of Education. Naturopathic physicians study basic sciences, naturopathic therapies and techniques, diagnostic techniques and tests, specialty courses, clinical sciences, and clinical training during their course.
Also known as “naturopaths,” these practitioners focus on one or just a few naturopathic methods. They usually do not prescribe any kind of drugs or even diagnostic tests. Their disease management approach mainly focuses on a healthy lifestyle, strengthening and cleansing the body, and noninvasive treatments.
Other Health Care Providers
This group includes chiropractors, massage therapists, dentists, nurses, nutritionists, or doctors who have pursued additional training in these areas, and include some naturopathic methods in their practice. The training programs vary by country, and state within each country.
Naturopaths tend to combine different therapies to treat an illness. Since naturopath follows a holistic approach, naturopathy is beneficial in maintaining a balanced state of good health. Naturopathy can be useful in various acute as well as chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, obesity, low back pain, migraine, arthritis, and various mental disorders.
- Naturopathic Medicine. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/ mind body and spirit/naturopathic-medicine. Accessed on November 27, 2013.
- Naturopathy: An Introduction. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/naturopathy/naturopathyintro.htm. Accessed on November 27, 2013.