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 Integrative Medicine: Naturopathy 
 
Natural medicine, nature cure, naturopathy...are these all the same thing, and whether or not they are what do they have to offer for you in this era of 'scientific' medicine?

These are treatment systems which also offer a basic philosophy for living, which if followed is claimed to prevent much of the illhealth which afflicts modern humans.

Quite simply naturopathy is a system which is concerned with the whole person, rather than just the problems afflicting his/her various organs and systems. Naturopathy recognizes and uses the fact that the body is a self-healing organism, working with the knowledge that if the right environment and opportunity for self-healing can be created repair, recovery and good health will result, spontaneously and illhealth will be prevented.

Homoeostasis
Most forms of illness are self-limiting.

Cuts heal, breaks mend, infections are controlled, digestive upsets settle and emotional upsets resolve themselves ... as a general rule.

The mechanisms which achieve these resolutions are together known as homoeostasis.

This is the self-balancing, self repairing process achieved by efficient working of the immune system and other defence mechanisms in action.

Naturally enough when these self-repair systems become overwhelmed or deficient they may require assistance, and this is where treatment comes into the picture.

What is essential from a naturopathic (and logical) point of view is that whatever treatment is used it should not make matters worse. Ideally treatment should encourage the self-healing mechanisms rather than dictating to them or forcing them into particular actions.

Top Symptom Treatments and Alternatives
A recent survey of UK medical prescribing trends showed that far and away the most costly and common conditions treated by drugs are those related to ulcers and high blood pressure (each of these problems cost the NHS many hundreds of millions of pounds annually!).

The causes of peptic ulcers and high blood pressure have much in common, and these can be summarised as a combination of nutritional imbalances, poor stress coping abilities and (often) undesirable habits such as smoking (all interacting with certain predisposing, inborn, characteristics in many cases).

To take medication to control these conditions, except when the condition threatens life itself, does not address the real needs of the sick person, it just controls and masks the problem.

Naturopathic methods to both conditions would include:

  • reform of the person's diet as well, where indicated, as the use of specific supplementation

  • the possible use of periods of detoxification (including short fasts if necessary, during which time remarkable degrees of self-repair occur)

  • the use of structural normalisation (using osteopathy and various soft tissue techniques for example) to help the general function of the body as a whole and to reduce mechanical stress factors

  • the introduction of appropriate forms of stress reducing methods including breathing and relaxation techniques

  • help (perhaps using supplements and/or acupuncture) in breaking old habits such as smoking

  • the use of homoeopathic and/or herbal substances to assist in the healing process but not to suppress the symptoms.

Here then naturopathy would offer a fully comprehensive approach to the patient with the problem (whether it be peptic ulcer,hypertension or anything else) and not an attack on the symptoms alone.

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 About The Author
Leon Chaitow ND, DO, MROA practicing naturopath, osteopath, and acupuncturist in the United Kingdom, with over forty years clinical experience, Chaitow is Editor-in-Chief, of the ...more
 
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