What is a Naturopath and what should I expect in a Naturopathic Consultation?
Updated: May 25, 2020
I thought this week I would take a step back to discuss what is a naturopath and what is expected in a naturopathy consultation.
I am constantly perplexed when I meet someone who doesn't know what a naturopath is, but I am also excited as this is my opportunity to be able to point people in the direction of natural heath and show how amazing naturopaths are!
As a definition, a naturopath is a holistic practitioner who focuses on prevention medicine. This means that a naturopath looks at you as an individual, and what is happening overall in your body; not just your current symptoms to uncover disease long before it is a diagnosable pathology.
However, naturopaths do not only work on preventative medicine, they can assist to support your health condition at any stage, whether it be acute or chronic.
In naturopathy today, I use a mix of scientific evidence as well as traditional evidence in practice to support your health. To be able to improve your health I use a range of modalities in practice: herbal medicine, nutritional supplementation, homeopathy, flower essences, dietary ad lifestyle advice.
Naturopaths treat a range of ages from newborns to the elderly and we work on a wide range of conditions, including:
- skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne
- hormonal conditions such as irregular periods, PMS, fibroids, pre-conception, thyroid etc.
- digestive complaints such as food intolerances, digestive upsets, liver dysfunction, constipation and diarrhoea
- immune dysfunction such as autoimmune disease, colds and flus and viral infections
- musculoskeletal complaints such as joint pain, inflammatory conditions
- nervous system support for anxiety, depression, mood disorders, stress management, difficulty concentrating and insomnia
- cardiovascular complaints such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol
- respiratory conditions such as asthma, chest infections, tonsillitis, sinus problems
- and a wide variety of other symptoms such as fatigue, a lack of energy, feeling not-quite-right
Naturopathy is based on 6 foundational principles:
1. The healing power of nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)- we are created by nature so we believe that using nature and natural therapies is a less invasive way to support ones heath.
2. First Do No Harm - this one is pretty self explanatory, as health practitioners we aim to support your health not hinder it. We work on the principle that we should not undertake a treatment that cause any harm to an individual.
3.Treat the Cause, not the symptoms (Tolle Causum) - we endeavour as naturopaths to find the underlying cause to your health concern, or what started the problem in the first place. This is so we are eliminating the causative agent and also in turn reducing your symptoms and preventing further symptoms from coming to light.
4. Treat the whole Person - as naturopaths, we aim to treat you as a whole individual which is why sometimes when you see a naturopath we focus on other parts of your body, not just the body system you have complaints with. We do this to understand how your body functions, your overall health status, but also to find the underlying cause. We ask a lot of questions in regards to your lifestyle and diet so we can make amendments that are not only manageable but physically possible to implement.
5. Education - naturopaths love to chat and we do this so we can educate you on your health and to include you in the process of your own health journey. We believe education is power and by transferring the health information on to you as the client, we are empowering you to be responsible for your own health.
6. Prevention - as a naturopath it is heartbreaking when people are ill, it is not what we want and so we look at prevention of illness constantly in clinic. Preventing illness and subsequently looking at promoting optimal health is our aim for all of our clients.
So we have run through what a naturopath is now let’s discuss what’s going to happen when you are in a consultation.
I am a mobile naturopathic service around Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula so I come to your home to discuss your health concerns. The benefits of having consultations in your home is that you are more comfortable in your own environment, if you need to check medication or food labels etc you have them on hand and the best bit is that you don’t have to sit in traffic or in a waiting room!
An initial consultation will run for approximately 60 minutes depending on the severity of your health complaint. In this time you will be asked about your main health concern, how it effects you, the duration, the symptoms experienced, what improves or exacerbates your symptoms, and the timeline of progress.
Then we will discuss your overall health by answering questions in regards to your body systems - digestive health, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, nervous system, musculoskeletal, endocrine (hormones), skin. This assists us to understand not only your overall health but determine the causative agent to your primary health complaint.
You will be asked about your family medical history and own medical history.
Lifestyle and diet will also be discussed so we can tailor our treatment plans to support you as an individual.
Some physical examinations may be completed including: a blood pressure reading, pulse reading, breath rate, iridology which is examining the iris (coloured section) of your eye, tongue analysis, nail analysis, digestive examination and/or respiratory exam. All of these examinations are only taken if relevant to your health concern and will be discussed with you before undertaking any physical examination.
At the end of the consultation, you will be provided with recommendations for diet and lifestyle amendments and if necessary recommend particular herbal medicine or nutritional medicine.
We then email you within 24 hours with all of the agreed recommendations as a record and subsequent handouts, recipes etc.
Follow up consultations are shorter (about 30 minutes) and are used to discuss progress: what else needs to be addressed, what worked, what didn't and how you are feeling. It may be the opportunity to address other health concerns also.
Many clients feel that they shouldn't keep their appointment time if they have not made every change initially requested however, as naturopaths we need to know what you haven't been able to implement as these points assist us in formulating your next treatment plan.
Seeing a naturopath may seem overwhelming initially but we try our best to make you feel as comfortable as possible, if you do not want to answer any question, you are not obliged and we like to discuss your treatment plan with you to ensure you feel comfortable with the changes to be made to improve your health.