Naturopathy is the science of enhancing your body’s own natural ability to heal if given the correct environment and resources. In practice, this may include changing thoughts and thought habits, lifestyle, food, exercise/activity, meditation, herbs (as teas, tablets, capsules or tinctures), nutritional supplements, homeopathic medicines and a variety of topical medicines.
Those qualified to practice Naturopathy seek to find and treat the cause of symptoms, rather than simply treating symptoms that are defined as a “disease”. For instance, I seek to find the cause of each patient’s diagnosed “disease”, such as Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis or similar, and assist them to re-balance or enhance their natural functions so they may become healthier, or even recover their health completely. Where the cause is known (e.g. a chronic infection such as Lyme disease or co-infections), I look for the most effective, least harmful resolution of the cause in discussion with each patient.
The practice of healing with the help of Naturopathy, means asking each patient to take real responsibility for their own health. I expect all my patients to make any changes required – lifestyle, food, thoughts, activity – and maintain good records (a journal of some sort) of their progress.
Naturopathy at Return To Stillness means working in partnership, practitioner and patient, to achieve robust good health.
Many people define Naturopathy as using “natural” medicine. This is really far from the truth. While changing thoughts and thought habits, lifestyle, food, exercise/activity, meditation and similar are certainly “natural” activities, all naturopathic medicines have been processed in some way, so are no longer “natural”. However, naturopathic medicine is, in most cases, far less toxic than pharmaceutical drugs and surgery offered by Western Allopathic Medicine (WAM) practitioners, so is considered much safer by users and insurance companies alike. In fact, there have been no proven deaths or serious injuries caused by Naturopathy in the last 20 years or more.
Of course there are some remedies that require caution - herbal tinctures for instance – and that is why they are generally reserved for practitioner prescribing only.
There are many definitions of Naturopathy given in books and online, many written by those opposed to any form of medicine other than WAM, classing Naturopathy as “pseudoscience” or claiming it is not “evidence based”.
The fact is that both WAM and Complementary/Alternative Medicine (CAM), which includes Naturopathy, are partly evidence-based and partly not evidence-based; the percentages of proven/not proven depends on how we define “evidence”.
If we accept the WAM definition of “evidence” – that is double blind randomised placebo controlled trials (double blind RCT) – often claimed by WAM practitioners and researchers to be the “gold standard” or “the only real evidence”, we are challenged by facts. A Clinical Evidence study published in the British Medical Journal early in 2014 indicated that only about 11% of all common conventional therapeutic actions have an unequivocally positive evidence base from epidemiological studies. (http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/x/set/staic/cms/efficacy-categorisations.html). 11%!! This same study indicated that around 53% of common therapeutic actions lacked any credible evidence at all.
Roughly the same levels of proof apply to CAM. But this does not mean that WAM or CAM are “unproven” or “pseudoscience”, it simply means that we rely on clinical outcomes and safety records to show whether any particular therapy is good medicine or not where double blind RCT’s are not available or practical.
In my view, the best form of Naturopathy is when the practitioner applies the least toxic, most effective resources possible, and works in conjunction with any WAM practitioners willing to work together for the benefit of the patient. In my experience this is rare, but there are a number of courageous doctors who see the benefit to their patient of a cooperative approach, so defy critics and work closely with CAM practitioners, and gain improved health outcomes.
This is the sustainable future for medicine.
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