When I tell someone I’m studying to be a naturopath I’m often met with a puzzled look and the question: what’s that? Usually I just reply ‘like a herbalist..’ because, honestly summing up what we do in a few short words is hard, but naturopaths are so much more than just herbalists.
So today I’m writing out exactly what it is a naturopath does, touching on some of our philosophies - which if you follow me on Instagram you would of seen me mention before ( @ lavenderandcobotanicals ).
I’d also just like to say, that like any profession there are a lot of different areas one can go into and have an expertise in within naturopathy. This post will largely be about what a clinical naturopath does, as this is what I will be practicing as for the next year and a half at least ( in the student clinic ).
To begin with, Naturopathy, much like conventional medicine, Ayurveda or Chinese medicine has its own philosophies and beliefs. I’ll do some individual posts on these in the future, because there a quite a few we take into account when with a client. Some of the basics are; that the body is not merely the sum of it's parts, but a holistic structure, and what you do to one part will affect the whole. Naturopaths work with a therapeutic order as well as 6 naturopathic principles. Naturopaths believe in the vital force, that is that the body has an innate healing power, and is intelligent, ordered and what animates us. Many of these philosophies come from the founder of 'natural health' - Hippocrates. It's important to note here, that you as the patient need not believe in or follow this belief system, it's not religious like some systems, so doesn't contradict any of your own beliefs or practices.
Taking all of this into consideration with a client, naturopaths then use a range of natural medicines to help them with whatever issue they have come in for. As I mentioned in the intro, a naturopath is not just a herbalist. We are also trained nutritionally, so can offer diet advice as well as nutritional supplements that may be needed. Lifestyle advice will often be given, with a focus on reducing the impact of stress as this contributes to many health issues. If the patient is on board with working on an energetic level, we can also offer some homeopathic remedies as well as flower essences. The therapies and recommendations given are tailored to your particular case, but also to you as a person - we consider all aspects of your case and help you figure out the best ways to work through whatever you've come in for.
Before starting some of the therapies, we might recommend you get some tests done - for example if we suspect you might be iron deficient, have thyroid issues, hormonal issues, certain GIT complaints etc. This is to ensure you are being treated in the correct way, and aren't taking herbs or supplements incorrectly. For this we usually just ask you to see your gp. I've seen a lot of naturopaths and other websites that talk about naturopaths mention 'Fuctional Testing' - if you've heard of hair anaylsis, urine analysis, or heavy metal analysis tests, this is what that means. From what I have been taught these tests are not valid, and not worth a patients time nor money, so I will not be using these particular tests in my practice.
In essence, a naturopath is a holistic healthcare practitioner, trained in the areas of herbalism, nutrition, and energetic medicines. We are here to support a patients wellness journey, and work alongside other healthcare practitioners.
I hope you found this post useful, and if you are thinking about visiting a naturopath - send me an email or direct message to book into our student clinic for a very discounted rate ($20 appointments).