What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy is a natural branch of medicine which believes that our body is able to fight disease, and in many cases heal itself, given the right support and environment. It differs from conventional medicine in its belief that using conventional medical treatments, such as western medication, only deals with or suppresses symptoms of an illness in one’s body – but it does not deal with the underlying cause nor considers the overall health of a person.
The earliest records of naturopathic philosophies date back to the old Egyptian Ebers papyrus (16thc BC), which contained information about holistic approaches to treating illnesses – the use of herbs and food, as well as massage and rituals. The principles of naturopathy were practiced by many ancient “forefathers” of modern medicine – Hippocrates (460-377BC), the Galen of Pergamum (130-200BC) and Dioscorides (who wrote the De Materia Medica in 55D). Throughout the centuries, based on the research and empirical evidence of naturopathy, these principles were adopted by holistic health practitioners around the world. German healer, Benedict Lust (1872-1945), is credited with the establishment of the modern naturopathic medicine.
The six maxims that form the basis of naturopathic philosophy are:
- First, do no harm
- Use the healing power of nature
- Address the underlying cause of disease
- Heal the whole person through individualized treatment
- Teach the principles of healthy living
- Practice preventative medicine
Qualified Naturopaths have training in the biomedical sciences including anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, chemistry and functional medicine. Naturopaths may use any of the following treatments to assist you:
- Dietary intervention and using food as medicine
- Lifestyle recommendations, such as addressing work-life balance and stress reduction
- Herbal medicine
- Soft tissue manipulation and dry needling
- Nutritional supplementation
- Counselling support
What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine (also called phytomedicine) is the use of plant remedies in the prevention and treatment of disease. It is one of the oldest forms of medicine and still accounts for three quarters of the remedies used throughout the world today. The history of Western herbal medicine can be traced back to the Greeks and Romans as well as the indigenous inhabitants of the British Isles and the Native Americans.
The combination of active constituents gives medicinal plants many of its therapeutic actions such as: diuretic (to rid the body of fluid build-up), anxiolytic (to assist with anxiety), sedative (calming effect on the nervous system), anti-inflammatory (to deal with inflammation) or hypotensive (to lower high blood pressure), just to name a few. One medicinal plant always has several actions. This allows treating several health problems at the same time using only a few herbs in a formula. The herbalist will assess the patient holistically, considering their lifestyle and personal and family health history. Because of this individual approach, it is common for prescriptions to vary between patients with similar illnesses.
Although the use of herbal medicine to treat medical conditions has not been widely accepted by the orthodox medicine, it is becoming more main-stream as improvements in analysis and quality control, along with advances in clinical research, show the value of herbal medicine in the treating and preventing disease.
What is Nutritional Medicine?
In 400BC, Hippocrates, said to his students, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”. The role of certain nutrients and food in human health has been studied since then. Over the past century, scientific research has been based on these main areas of nutritional medicine: food as energy, micronutrient deficiency diseases, nutrition in public policy, nutrition and chronic disease, and nutrition for optimal health. Evidence obtained from scientific research is widely used by the orthodox medical community to advise on nutritional recommendations, targeting particular health concerns and improving public health in general.
The principle of nutritional medicine is that your body’s nutritional needs are as unique to you as your appearance. In order to improve the state of your health, ward off the disease and to treat illness, you need to receive the correct amounts of proper nutrients. Nutritional medicine also looks at the impact of external environmental factors (such as metal toxicity), food additives, parasites, infections and lifestyle factors. To determine a person’s nutritional status a number of tests and observations may be employed, include blood tests, urine tests, hair samples, muscle testing and a dietary assessment. Treatment usually is focused on removing obstacles to correct absorption of nutrients and correcting nutritional imbalances.
What is Functional Medicine?
Sir William Osler, one of the first professors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and later its Physician-in-Chief once said: “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease. If you listen carefully to the patient, they will tell you the diagnosis.”
Just like naturopathy, functional medicine is patient-centred medical healing. According to its principles, almost always, the cause of the disease and its symptoms is an underlying dysfunction and/or an imbalance of bodily systems. Identifying and treating the underlying root cause or causes, has a much better chance to successfully resolve a patient’s health challenge. Using scientific principles, advanced diagnostic testing and treatments, functional medicine restores balance in the body’s primary physiological processes.
Functional medicine approach to treating a person is very similar to the naturopathic approach discussed above. To battle chronic health conditions, functional medicine uses two scientifically grounded principles:
- Treat any deficiencies in the body to put its physiology back to a state of optimal functioning; and
- Remove anything that impedes the body from moving toward this optimal state of physiology.
Functional medicine practitioners use a combination of natural agents (supplements, herbs and nutraceuticals), nutritional and lifestyle changes, spiritual/emotional counselling, often in combination with pharmaceuticals, to address the underlying causes of disease. In addition, educating the patient about their condition empowers them to take charge of their own health, ultimately leading to greater success in treatment.
What is Iridology?
Iridology is the art and science of analysing the colour and structure of the iris to determine tissue integrity throughout the body, thereby gaining valuable health information regarding strengths and weaknesses. Iridologists study the iris, particularly the colour, markings, changes and other aspects, as they are associated with tissue degeneration. Iridology is one form of analysis that is non-invasive to the body as it requires no cutting, x-raying or use of any other invasive technique to complete the analysis.
The oldest discovered records to date have shown that a form of iris interpretation was used in ancient China as far back as 3,000 years ago. Two men rediscovered the idea of iris analysis in the nineteenth century and are both held to be the modern day “fathers of iridology.” These were Dr.Ignatz von Peczely of Germany, and Nils Liljequist, a Swedish clergyman. Throughout the years others have contributed greatly to the development of iridology.
What can the iris tell us? It can highlight the following:
- A person’s genetic strengths and weaknesses, including what organs and systems are likely to have problems
- A person’s inherent constitutional strength
- Basic inherent personality tendencies
However, iridology is not a diagnostic tool for disease or illness, nor does it tell us the current state of tissue structure or function.