In natural medicine, all aspects of the whole being are considered – spiritual, mental, emotional and physical. Virtually anybody of any age, race, sex or disposition may benefit from naturopathic medicine. Generally speaking, the remedies prescribed are made up of ingredients in as natural a state as possible. By minimally processing natural ingredients it minimises the potential side effects on the person receiving treatment. Many people mention this as a significant benefit of natural medicine.
Naturopathic medicine uses the same scientific understanding of disease processes (anatomy and physiology) as conventional medicine, however its main point of difference is that naturopathy fully acknowledges that all living beings contain a vital ‘life force’ that sustains them. This life force may be referred to as ‘chi’, ‘prana’, ‘spirit’, ‘etheric or astral body’ or the ‘vital force’. It acknowledges that we are not simply a collection of complex chemical reactions. There is much more to us than that, and naturopathy takes into account both the tangible or physical self as well as the intangible, spiritual, energy dimension of each of us.
This vital force has an aspect to it that induces our body to heal. Naturopaths do not claim to cure an illness or disease state, but coax the body back to a more vital state so that it can heal itself through the application of well-chosen remedies.
To help the body to do this, various methods may be used, such as:
1. Herbal Medicine
The healing qualities of plants have been known for thousands of years. Herbal medicine is the study of how plant preparations can benefit the health of a living organism. Modern herbalism is an advanced scientific discipline, with clinical trials confirming many of the well-known healing qualities of plants. Advanced scientific investigation has now also determined exactly which natural plant molecules (the active constituents) are producing the desired health and healing effects. This means that the amount of active constituents in any batch of herbal medicine can be measured to standardise delivery and consistently produce the desired healing effect.
2. Nutritional Medicine
Modern biology has gifted us the knowledge of how the body uses the vitamins, minerals, elements and nutrients from our diet as raw materials to keep us alive, vital, functioning and psychologically well-adjusted. Within the body, nature has built a vast and complex array of processes and cycles (metabolic pathways) that determine how and where these raw materials are used. To a large degree, our metabolic pathways rely on a good supply of necessary nutrients being in the right place at the right time in order to function correctly. This is why many wholistic practitioners will suggest that diet and nutrition are essential to continued good health. Nutrition is the foundation of our health and wellbeing – if a person’s nutritional status is poor, illness may result. Using the discipline of nutritional medicine we assess which nutrients may be lacking and to then augment this via diet and or supplementation.
Manually manipulating muscle tissue during massage has a beneficial effect on many different aches and pains. In addition, the beneficial effects on the nervous system are well documented. People under stress, to whatever degree, report an increased sense of wellbeing, contentment and relaxation after therapeutic massage. Massage may also help with injury repair, maintain skin tone, assist lymphatic flow, help reduce blood pressure and maintain correct physical alignment.
Homoeopathy is a very complex modality that uses energised (or potentised) remedies matched to a specific condition for a particular individual. A homoeopathic consultation is usually very in-depth and takes into account the range of external and internal influences on a person’s health. This detailed information helps the practitioner form a ‘symptom picture’, from which a client will receive an appropriately prescribed medicine. It is beneficial in improving all manner of ailments ranging from psychological to neurological, gastrointestinal, hormonal, reproductive, muscular, skeletal, organs and glands. This modality is generally accepted as the deepest acting discipline as it is suggested to affect a person at the deeper spiritual levels which brings about the most profound changes in a person compared to the other modalities. Contrary to statements in some circles there are many clinical trials being published to support the efficacy of homoeopathy (most are in the German and French languages). In my personal experience it is very safe and effective.
The popularity of aromatherapy has risen greatly, particularly over the last thirty years. It is the study of the therapeutic properties of the oils of plants. Various balms, creams, oils and inhalants may be employed by the practitioner to produce a desired beneficial health effect. Aromatherapy is more than an essential oil in an oil burner. It is a complex and specialised discipline. Many different conditions may be improved by aromatherapy such as stomach and intestinal upsets, skin complaints, breathing problems and neurological and psychological conditions.