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What Is Natural Medicine?

Photo: What Is Natural Medicine
Natural medicine can also be referred to as naturopathy; it is a form of alternative medicine which involves homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture, diet and lifestyle counselling, and more. It is thought that naturopathy originates back to 400BC and its founding principles were discovered by the Greek philosopher Hippocrates (1).

People who practise natural medicine are known as naturopathic doctors, many of these practitioners will have obtained professional qualifications and have passed an examination to receive a license. In addition to this, these healthcare practitioners must continue updating their knowledge annually to keep up to date with medical advancements.

The philosophy behind natural medicine
The ideology behind natural medicine revolves around vitalism and self-healing, meaning naturopaths will tend to advise their patients to avoid modern medicines, pharmacological drugs, vaccinations and medical operations.

Natural medicine systems aim to incorporate gentle therapeutic techniques involving the body, mind and emotions to aid the healing process. They also focus on each patient as an individual and treating the whole person, instead of concentrating on a particular area or the patient’s ailment. It is believed that muscles, bones and nerves are interconnected, therefore when structures of the body system are aligned; the body is able to function optimally and support self-healing (2).

Natural medicine practitioners will make a conscious effort to avoid using methods which suppress symptoms, as the aim is for the body to restore its inner balance and heal itself. Practitioners also have a role to teach; by educating and empowering their patients, patients can take more responsibility for their well-being and adopt a healthier lifestyle and attitude. Another important principle of naturopathic medicine is prevention of ill health; this can be done through both teaching and patient counselling.

Depending on the patient’s condition and symptoms, treatment methods can vary and may involve one or multiple methods such as (2);

  • Lifestyle advice to promote health and eliminate stress
  • Dietary advice to promote detoxification, restore balance and treat minor conditions
  • Herbal medication to treat and prevent symptoms and ailments
  • Massage therapy to relieve tension and promote well-being
  • Hydrotherapy as it is believed water can play a role in stimulating the body’s immune system
  • Meditation as a form of stress relief and management

Practitioners will take into account each individual patient and tailor a treatment plan for them; this is also reliant on the type of practitioner who is dealing with the patient and their previous training. Therefore patients will be asked numerous questions regarding their lifestyle, sleep patterns, diet and more to understand the patient as well as their condition in initial consultations.

Benefits of natural medicine

Naturopathic treatments are suitable for everyone, all ages and every level of health. Most commonly, patients who are suffering from fatigue, stress and its related disorders, gastrointestinal diseases or similar minor ailments will seek treatment from natural medicine practitioners (2).

Most treatments can certainly cause no harm however there are a number of benefits with natural medicine which may be why many patients are drawn to it (3);

Emphasis on patients as a whole, as previously discussed, the principles and ideologies of naturopathy focus on the entire body for healing; emotional, mental and physical health are all taken into consideration.

Patients are offered personal attention, unlike when visiting a doctors clinic where patients will only discuss their symptoms, naturopathic practitioners will consult their patient on multiple aspects of their health due to tailor a custom treatment plan.

A focus on prevention, natural medicine encourages patients to visit practitioners before a medical condition develops so that they can take control of their health and revitalise themselves.

Almost no side effects, natural medicine tends to discourage the use of pharmacological drugs and allopathic medicines. A majority of therapies will be centred on stress relief, relaxation, and using natural supplements in healthy doses, therefore patients are unlikely to suffer adverse or undesired reactions.

Yet there have been some randomised controlled trials which have suggested that acupuncture, physiotherapy and nutritional therapies have been successful in treating type II diabetes, asthma, hypertension and migraine headaches.

However, despite all these benefits, there is still not sufficient scientific evidence to back and support natural medicine as an effective method of treatment of diseases. Recently funding for research studies in natural and alternative medicines has increased mainly due to an increased demand by consumers, yet many questions are currently unanswered (3).

Supporters of allopathic medicine argue that it is harmful and irresponsible to use non-evidence backed treatments for conditions which are or can become serious or even terminal, when there are evidence backed allopathic medical treatments available.




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