Are you confused about what a Naturopath does? What qualifications they have? Or whether they can help you with your health concerns?
What is Naturopathy? Naturopathy today is science and evidence based and highly professional when you consult with an accredited naturopath. Basically, naturopathy sets out to restore health by addressing the underlying cause or causes of ill health. Treatment plans incorporate dietary advice, quality natural medicines, healthy habits and routines. Rather than focusing on one area of concern, naturopathy looks at the body as a whole and how everything works together. This includes the physical body, mental health and emotions. The main tools in my naturopathy toolkit is nutritional science and herbal medicine, along with sensible lifestyle guidance. Some people confuse naturopathy with homeopathy or aromatherapy. These are very different forms of treatment (although some naturopaths do incorporate them into their practice.)
What qualifications? A professional accredited naturopath will have completed study to reach the qualification of Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy or Health Science (a 4 year course), and may also have a Bachelor level of qualification (also a four year course). They will be registered with a professional body and have insurance. Areas of study will include Health science, Nutritional medicine, and Herbal medicine and may include Remedial massage and homeopathy. Professional Associations such as ATMS, AMA, ANPA, ANTA and NHAA are there to support the Professional Natural Therapist but they are also there for you.
You can search for a qualified naturopath through professional associations and be reassured they are fully qualified to help you.
Josie has a Bachelor of Health Science (Complementary Medicine) - which is a 3 year degree and also the Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy which is a 4 year qualification. Additionally, she has completed the Migraine Management for Practitioners course (1 year) - this is 8 total years of full time study. I am member and fellow of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS) as well as an accredited member with the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA).
How a naturopath can help When there is disease or disorder the whole body will suffer. The backbone to better health is a wholesome diet, balance in work and relaxation; good sleep hygiene and emotional happiness. The naturopath addresses all these areas to help guide you to achieve the best health.
Talking to the Naturopath Talking to a naturopath gives you the opportunity to discuss any health concerns. This might include:
Weight issues - weight gain and weight loss. The naturopath will ask why this has happened. Is it new or has it been a long term issue. Could it be thyroid disorder, Nutrition deficiency, Stress related, or Menopause? Etc
Stress and anxiety - what is causing it, how long have you felt like this. Then the naturopath will discuss ways to help you bring balance. This might mean taking some herbs, such as passionflower and some nutrients, such as Magnesium and Vitamin B. They will discuss achievable lifestyle and emotional changes that you can make to help support your nervous system and allow your body to naturally balance.
Sleep issues - naturopathy will explore what might be causing it and suggest herbal nutritional and lifestyle changes to get you the sleep you deserve.
Digestive complaints - constipation, Irritable bowel, reflux, bloating, flatulence, pain you have probably heard that with naturopaths - It’s all about the gut! Naturopaths want to know about your bowel habits. The digestive system is considered another brain that works with your head brain so its health is most important. If the bowel isn’t happy, the whole body isn’t happy.
and the list goes on…..
Diagnostic tools can be used by naturopaths to better understand why you are suffering. These may include:
Taking a thorough medical history
Stool and urine analysis
Functional diagnostic tests
Hair analysis - In hair analysis the levels of minerals and metals in the hair sample are analysed to determine mineral deficiencies and heavy metal toxicity.
Naturopathy also takes into consideration many factors that may be influencing your body and its ability to achieve wellness. This includes nutritional deficiencies, stress, poor sleep, digestive concerns, diet and lifestyle.
Why do naturopaths prescribe Practitioner Only Products This question is often asked, as naturopaths prefer to recommend clinical-grade natural medicines which need to be prescribed by a health practitioner. The answer is that they achieve results! The naturopath may prescribe these specific ‘Practitioner Only’ nutritional and therapeutic products to be confident in achieving the best possible health results for you.
So, why are they considered more effective?
They can target conditions. Practitioner Only products are prescribed to target specific conditions. Products are available only through your naturopath, allowing your naturopath to monitor your progress and adjust your prescription as needed. Although similar products may be available through retail outlets, your naturopath has chosen products for specific ingredients targeting your health concerns.
Quantity. Some retail products have herb or nutrient levels too low to have a therapeutic effect. Herbs can be easily adulterated. This might be by using a substitute herb that may have similar chemistry, but is cheaper. Herbs can also lose their potency.
Quality. Products can easily degrade such as those containing oil - fish oils, vitamin d, co q 10 are examples of these. Practitioner companies will regularly test their products to strict quality control standards to ensure quality and quantity of ingredients is at therapeutic levels.
Bioavailability. Many ingredients have poor bioavailability, meaning they don’t absorb well, this is true of some forms of iron, calcium and magnesium. Practitioner only supplements often use the more well absorbed forms of nutrients, along with co-factors required to optimise absorption.
Activated Ingredients. Some products are prescribed because of their activated ingredients - activated means that the nutritional ingredient is partly broken down and easy for the body to absorb and use. This means when the nutrient enters the body it does not have to be converted to an active form by you body's chemistry as it by-passes the processes that are often harder for some people with certain health concerns to deal with. The ingredients in supermarket brands are often not activated.
No added nasties. Practitioner Only products are free of unnecessary excipients and allergens. Excipients are ingredients added to a product to stabilise and bind ingredients together, and sometimes can be allergens. Allergens in products may include lactose, wheat or soy which can mean the product may cause irritation and have an opposite effect than intended.
Examples of practitioner-only products include BioCeuticals, BioMedica, Orthoplex, Eagle, Medi Herb, Metagenics or Nutrition Care.
Is Natural Medicine safe? If correctly prescribed, approved nutritional supplements and herbal remedies are safe whilst being effective. They usually have less side effects than pharmaceutical medicines. However, herbs and nutrients do have potent actions, and so it is always best to see a qualified and accredited naturopath, nutritionist or medical herbalist to ensure that the supplements you take are the most suitable for you and won't interact with any other medicines you may be taking.