Naturopathy is an occidental traditional medicine that has its roots in Antique Greece (we all remember Hippocratus saying: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”), which prioritises prevention – the cause of the symptom first rather than only the symptom itself.
For that, it uses two big tools: temperament (or constitutions) and terrain (article to come on this topic). Each individual is unique, and we do not all react the same to illness. It can feel unfair to see someone with a very healthy lifestyle fighting against a serious disease, but unfortunately, that’s the way it is… we do not all function the same way, which is why it is very important to learn how our own body works and to recognise what is good or bad for ourselves. A certain food, remedy or amount of sleep will be good for you, although it may not affect your friend or sibling in the same positive way and vice-versa.
The answers to our physical issues (and very often to our psychological issues as well) can be found by understanding our constitution and in our capacity to sustain our personal terrain. A strong terrain, with a fortified immune system, is essential to defend against various diseases.
Naturopathy was born in the 19th century from a movement founded by American doctors such as Henry Lindlahr, Benedict Lust (who apparently invented the name ‘Naturopathy’ meaning nature’s path) and Bernard Jensen. Naturopathy also finds its roots in the 19th Century Nature Cure movement of Europe. In Scotland, Thomas Allinson started advocating his “Hygienic Medicine” in the 1880s, promoting a natural diet and exercise with avoidance of tobacco and overwork.
Naturopathy is a holistic medicine that combines 10 natural health techniques:
- Nutrition (dietary changes and cures)
- Physical exercise (depending on abilities and preferences)
- Relaxation (stress and emotional management)
- Hydrotherapy (use of water in different ways to drain, stimulate, sooth, relax…)
- Manual manipulations (non-therapeutic massages with the aim to relax and calm)
- Reflex techniques (feet or hands reflexology etc.)
- Phytotherapy and Aromatherapy (plants and essential oils to accompany the natural physiological processes of the body)
- Respiratory techniques (stress and emotional management with breathing exercises taken from yoga or martial arts for example)
- Energetic techniques (magnetism, etc.)
- Vibration techniques (use of colours, solar or lunar radiation, sound waves, etc.).
Moreover, Naturopathy considers that the human organism has to be cleansed from the toxins that surcharge the bodily fluids (blood and lymph) and are responsible for weakening the terrain and therefore the diseases, thanks to three methods called ‘cures’:
- Detoxification cure;
- Revitalisation cure;
- Stabilisation cure.
It is about adopting new eating habits in order to help the organism to detoxify and replenish on a long-term basis. Nutrition is really at the heart of naturopathy, and it seems to me that it is essential for a good health.
To feel great! To learn how to make healthier food choices, to understand how our body works, and most of all: to be responsible for our own health. If your doctor prescribes you a treatment for your type 2 diabetes for example, it could be a good idea to know what to eat and when, and what to avoid eating, rather than relying only on the treatment.
Naturopathy is here to help you question your lifestyle and put new habits into place; it is a wonderful supplement to conventional medicine but will never seek to replace it, or deliver a diagnosis – remember that you should always consult your general practitioner first.
Naturopathy is available at any time in your life and works wonders with chronic diseases (bronchitis, respiratory problems, asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.), stress management (anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia), skin conditions (acne, psoriasis, eczema), as well as allergies, digestive problems, inflammations (rheumatisms, arthritis), or weight management.
Although Naturopathy does not replace the diagnosis or advice from your GP, it serves as a valuable accompaniment and is often used as a supplement to heavy treatments for certain illnesses such as cancers.
Absolutely everyone! From young children to the elderly, men, women, at any time of life.
The first Naturopathic consultation takes some time… about 1.5 hours, with the aim of making your total health check and elaborating your personalised Naturopathic plan. Your naturopath will ask you questions about your lifestyle (sleep, stress, environment, physical exercise), eating habits, preferences (sweet or savoury, hot or cold, acid or bitter, etc.), family health background, and reasons for the consultation. They will then determine your vital energy using reflex methods (iris examination, pulse, energy check-up, etc.).
During the conversation, the Naturopath will identify links between your lifestyle and your symptoms and will focus on the causes of these symptoms.
At the end of the consultation, they will provide you with a personalised program which will contain a dietary plan and some personalised Naturopathic advice for a holistic approach. This program may offer some food supplements (or biotherapies).
Some Naturopaths prefer to work on your plan in a calm atmosphere and will suggest sending it to you a few days after your consultation.
Follow-up consultations are shorter, about 45 min and tend to check how you’ve been doing and make updates to your plan as necessary. They are not compulsory: the decision is always your own! That said, follow-up sessions as the seasons change can be particularly beneficial as the body’s needs are very much linked to the seasonal cycle.
One last important question: how to choose a good Naturopath? Once again, you decide! The most important is to go with your feelings. You should feel at ease physically and emotionally with the person you choose. Perhaps someone will recommend a good naturopath, perhaps you will do your own research. Go with your intuition!