Naturopathy: what, why, when, who, how?
I realise that it may seem a bit obvious as a first article, but one must start at the beginning: the basics of Naturopathy!!
I am going to guide you through theoretical explanations, while giving you my point of view; because my heart tends to Naturopathy as a way of life, which considers “real-life”, far from dogmas and concepts that may sometimes be a bit too extreme in my opinion, and even anti-social.
Life is not without its ups and downs, but wherever we find ourselves we always have the power to do our best with our food and our lifestyle and that should provide some comfort and quash any guilt over past habits.
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:
1- Nutrition (dietary changes and cures)
2- Physical exercise (depending on abilities and preferences)
3- Relaxation (stress and emotional management)
4- Hydrotherapy (use of water in different ways to drain, stimulate, sooth, relax…)
5- Manual manipulations (non-therapeutic massages with the aim to relax and calm)
6- Reflex techniques (feet or hands reflexology etc.)
7- Phytotherapy and Aromatherapy (plants and essential oils to accompany the natural physiological processes of the body)
8- Respiratory techniques (stress and emotional management with breathing exercises taken from yoga or martial arts for example)
9- Energetic techniques (magnetism, etc.)
10- 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’:
1- Detoxification cure;
2- Revitalisation cure;
3- 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. Munching on pills will not solve any problems if we spend our time licking our mayonnaise fingers in fast-food restaurants or drinking alcohol at the pub (although quite tempting!).
Unfortunately, there is too much information about nutrition, which may lead to total disinformation! One thing that is sure: one cannot rely entirely upon those with a commercial interest in our dependence on their products that claim to improve our health without addressing our lifestyle choices.
One should be cautious with the Internet and the amount of blogs singing praises of green and healthy lifestyles, trends (“detox” is a very fashionable concept) and tarnished terms. Although I recognise that is easy to say and not so easy to do. The best we can do is to remain curious, lucid and logical; to get information from professionals if needed, and of course to remain as close to nature as possible - we wouldn’t create ourselves a little picnic in the forest based on E124, E386 nor Carbon black!
As Ann Wigmore (at the start of raw food movement) said: “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
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 babies to the elderly, men, women, at any time of life.
Depending on your preferences or mobility, you can meet a Naturopath at their practice or home practice; some of them can meet you at your home and some of them even do Skype consultations. It’s a matter of choice! Choose what makes you feel the most comfortable.
As for myself, I offer Skype consultations, but I always prefer one-to-one consultations if possible; I find it more intimate, it allows a more in-depth exchange and makes it possible to perform iridology analysis (which requires some tools/material) and massages.
How (proceedings, tariffs, how to choose a good naturopath)?
The first Naturopathic consultation takes some time… about 1.5 hours (between £50 and £100) 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 (between £40 and £60) and tend to check how you’ve been doing and make updates 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! I don’t have a fit-for-all answer. I think 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 some research. Go with your intuition!
So good luck with your journey towards better health, and if you have any questions, it would be my pleasure to help!