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Naturopathic Medicine

What Is Naturopathic Medicine?

The organs and systems that constitute your body are interdependent – if one system isn’t functioning normally, very often dysfunction soon manifests elsewhere as well. Naturopathic medicine sees the whole picture of your body, not just individual organs or systems. A naturopath treats conditions with an emphasis on interrelation, integration and a holistic view of good health.

Everything that you eat, drink, do and think can influence your overall state of well-being. Instead of focusing exclusively on an upset stomach or a headache, a naturopathic medical approach seeks to understand the underlying causes of these symptoms and to restore overall health. When the root cause of symptoms is uncovered, the individual symptoms are often resolved when treated with a sensible combination of dietary adjustment, lifestyle management and natural medicines.

As a form of evidence-based practice, naturopathy often works in conjunction with conventional medical care. Doctors didn’t know that scurvy, a disease that plagued sailors on long voyages, arose from a severe vitamin C deficiency until the vitamin was isolated in the 1930s. However, ancient records of Phoenician and Roman physicians detailed the importance of eating certain foods or drinking decoctions of herbs rich in vitamin C. Naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine have historically overlapped in such a fashion many times.

Education is fundamental to the naturopathic process. Under naturopathic care, you become actively involved in your own wellness. Your naturopath relies on the feedback you supply regarding your health, so becoming conversant in the symptoms you experience and understanding how they relate to other systems in your body is an important aspect of your care. In turn, your naturopath will supply you with an in-depth education on how your diet, lifestyle and health regimen affect your wellness.

Who Needs Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic practice starts with the view that the natural state of the human body is one of vigour and health. Any condition that diminishes that state of glowing good health is a potential reason to visit a naturopath. Because it looks at the whole person and not just a constellation of isolated symptoms, naturopathy may help a number of chronic conditions. If you suffer with allergies, naturopathic care can give you greater control over them. Many ongoing conditions such as gastrointestinal complaints, fibromyalgia, food sensitivities and depression respond well to holistic treatment from a naturopathic practitioner.

Only after an appointment can a naturopath accurately assess your overall health and offer the care that will benefit you most. Because it involves the interplay of so many factors that influence your health, naturopathic medicine does not lend itself to a quick, band-aid type fix.

What About Herbal Medicine?

Plants cannot run away when a predator wants to eat them, so they have evolved a host of deterrents. While some plants have sprouted spikes or thick bark, others have resorted to chemical warfare to protect themselves. These naturally occurring chemical deterrents have other properties that make them uniquely valuable to people. When you enjoy the flavour of a spicy curry or repel insects with a lavender and lemongrass scented candle, you’re taking advantage of the chemical systems that plants developed to arm themselves against becoming food.

Other chemicals in plants have well-documented medicinal properties. Both naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine rely on plants to stock the modern pharmacopoeia. Pharmaceutical drugs isolate a single active compound within the plant; herbal medicines contain the plant itself, supplying other compounds that work synergistically with the primary active ingredient. Many people tolerate natural medicines better and with fewer side effects than pharmaceutical products that lack the phytochemicals that play a supporting role to the active compound.

Not every compound that plants produce to protect themselves from becoming dinner has a beneficial effect. Just because a medicine has a natural source doesn’t make it universally safe. Improper dosage, allergies, and harmful interactions can occur with plant-based medicines just as they do with pharmaceutical drugs. Consulting a naturopath, who has studied natural medicine, is vital to using these medicines safely and effectively. Keep your naturopath and every other health professional who provides your care updated on all of the natural and pharmaceutical medicines you take.

What Happens During Naturopathic Consultations?

Your initial consultation is structured to help your naturopath understand your health in as much detail as possible. Making sure that we have a comprehensive picture of your current health and an accurate diagnosis are the essential first steps in helping you toward better health. To ensure you get the most from your consultation a questionnaire is sent to you prior to your first appointment, allowing you to provide a detailed history of your health, including medications, supplements and herbal preparations that you are currently taking, a summary of your eating habits, your health goals, and the reason for consultation. Being specific about your main concerns will help us track down the causes of your problem quickly. Even symptoms that you feel are unrelated can often provide very useful information to a naturopathic practitioner, who has spent years studying the way each system in the body affects every other system.

During the initial consultation your naturopath will also perform clinical examinations, including blood pressure measurement, live blood screening, urine analysis, pH and zinc tests to help better understand your current overall health. You may also be referred for functional pathology testing, such as food sensitivity testing, complete digestive stool analysis, amino acid profile, salivary hormones or liver detoxification profile to gain a clear picture of how the individual body systems are performing and working together. Your naturopath will then discuss your health history and presenting condition with you in depth.

Following your first appointment your naturopath will review and evaluate your health history and design a comprehensive treatment plan, including specific dietary and lifestyle recommendations and naturopathic medicine prescription. At your follow up appointment you will receive a written, goal-orientated treatment plan and any assessment results, along with your naturopathic prescription and detailed dietary and lifestyle recommendations.

At follow up appointments your naturopath will also discuss your progress, review your naturopathic prescription, identify road blocks to treatment success and perform a live blood screening to monitor change. The focus is always on addressing the underlying cause of your condition and promoting wellness for the longer term.

The appointment schedule is more regular in the initial stages of treatment (every 2 to 3 weeks) in order to affect positive change and stabilise your health. Once your condition has stabilised and your health is improving appointments are conducted on a less frequent basis as required.

What to expect from a Naturopathic Treatment Plan?

A naturopathic practitioner creates a goal-focused treatment plan that utilises natural medicine, such as nutritional supplementation and herbal medicine, alongside individualised dietary support and lifestyle education to address underlying dysfunction and restore the body to wellness. Better Health Clinics have an extensive onsite dispensary, giving our naturopaths access to a wide range of  high quality ‘Practitioner Only’ natural medicines.

The initial stage of treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms and stimulating the body’s natural processes to commence healing. The second stage of treatment focuses on eliminating the underlying cause of the condition and supporting your full recovery and longer term health.

About the Clinic:

Our team provides osteopathy, naturopathic medicine, sports and remedial massage, acupuncture, exercise rehabilitation, and wellness promotion. With an emphasis on health literacy, preventative medicine and wellness, Better Health embraces an integrated approach to health care with a broader view of positive health and greater sense of self-efficacy for patients. We’re located in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, close to Bondi Junction, Bondi, Paddington, Double Bay and Randwick.