Naturopathy: Naturopathic Medicine
What can Naturopathic medicine do for me?
Most people who have never tried alternative forms of medicine do not know what they can expect or what the practitioner or naturopath may 'do' to them. Put simply, when a person comes to see me I go through their health history with them to establish a base-line for their current health and why they have become ill. This consultation process takes about an hour, sometimes longer. During the consultation I do routine clinical examinations, such as checking blood pressure, urinanalysis or other tests (candida, helicobacter, allergy testing, pH) some of which are similar to those your local GP may perform. I also use Iridology, tongue diagnosis and other clinical observations to determine the most appropriate herbal or nutritional health support strategy for you.
In short, I ascertain what processes in your body are not functioning optimally and then I use a combination of approaches to treat your illness. These include herbal compounds that I mix from a wide range of herbal extracts and that are specifically formulated for your particular condition. In addition, I will suggest modifications to your diet and lifestyle, if necessary, to maximise your nutrition and the balance of nutrients in your food.
The type of conditions I see are very similar to those you would consult your GP about. I just use a different, natural approach to treating your condition. So on any given day I may see patients with viral or bacterial infections, the 'flu, a common cold, back pain, arthritis, menstrual or reproductive problems, or any number of other diseases or health issues.
How long do I need to undergo treatment?
People generally come to me hoping for improvement in their symptoms as quickly as possible. This is fair enough: no-one likes to feel unwell or to be in pain. However, being able to accurately predict how long treatment regimes will last is a bit like asking 'how long is a piece of string '.
According to Naturopathic treatment principles, we always aim to treat the underlying cause of illness. If the cause is an infection, we aim to support the body's immune response and eliminative functions so that the body can fight the infection itself and the toxins related to the infection are expelled from the body. In the process of doing this I also try to minimise the symptoms to a level that does not interfer with the body's natural responses but helps the person to feel better. Where health problems have become longterm/chronic and are complicated by chemical drug therapy, the treatment approach becomes more complex and can the illness can take longer to resolve completely. Having said that, I still aim to reduce unpleasant symptoms, such as pain.
For chronic illness, the naturopathic rule of thumb is one month of treatment for every year you've suffered from a particular health problem or disease. So, for example, if you've had a health problem for 5 years, it is likely that you'll need to stay on an uninterrupted health regime for 4-6 months. That is not to say that you will not see any improvement for 4-6 months: in fact people often feel better quite quickly, but according to Naturopathic treatment principles, it would take in the order of 6 months to completely resolve using this example.
This is a rough estimate as no two people are alike. Some people experience more rapid improvement while others can take much longer. This is dependant on your basic health, constitution, age, how well you can adher to your treatment program and the level of stress in your life.
Naturopathic medicine aims to address all of the health problems in a systematic and holistic way. This is considered the best way to obtain maximum long-term benefit. When symptoms alone are suppressed and the underlying reason for the health problem is not addressed, it is likely that the problem will recur becoming more intrenched with each recurrence.
How often do I need to come for a consultation?
This varies from person to person and depends on the health issue, how acute or chronic the condition is and the severity of the problem. In general, however, I usually request that you make a second appointment one - two weeks after your first visit to check up on how everything is going, how well you are coping with taking herbs or with implementing diet modifications, exercises, etc. Once I'm satisfied that things are on track the frequency of visits are most often monthly.
Can I use a Naturopathic medicine approach if I am currently on Chemical Drug Therapy?
In general the answer is 'Yes', but this will depend upon the nature of the drug/s you have been prescribed. Some drugs interact with nutritional supplements and with herbs and this must be considered. A qualified naturopath or herbalist should be able to determine if this may be the case for you. In an ideal world, the Naturopath or Herbalist would prefer to work hand-in-hand with your orthodox practitioner to enable you to use (or to change to) natural medicine where-ever possible. You should never discontinue your prescribed medication without first consulting your GP or specialist.
Can Naturopathic medicine treat babies and young children?
Absolutely. In fact, the earlier on in life health problems are addressed using a naturopathic approach, the better it will be for the child's future health. There are many herbal and nutritional preparations available that are specifically formulated for babies and young children, as any visit to a health food store or pharmacy will prove. However, when it comes to children, I always advise that you seek professional advice from a qualified medical herbalist or naturopath about the most appropriate herbal medicine or nutritional supplementation for your child.
Does a Naturopath use the same western scientific model as orthodox medicine in their practice?
Having been involved in teaching biological and medical sciences at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) for many years, as well as undergoing training myself, I can confidently say that there is little difference in the medical science training of Naturopaths, Herbalists and students studying medicine, forensic medicine or nursing. The difference is in the specialisations and clinical applications of each: where naturopathic students will study herbal medicine, remedial massage, dietary regimes, etc., medical students will learn about pharmacology, surgery and other related specialties.
I hope these lines have provided a few answers about Naturopathic medicine, what it can treat and what you can expect from your Naturopathic treatment.
Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or if you would like to make an appointment.