The preventative approach to better health and well-being with naturopathy
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, believed in the natural healing properties of rest, a good diet, exercise and fresh air. His philosophy is the basis of naturopathy, a preventative and medication-free way of tackling the root cause of ill health.
With the growing interest in holistic medicine, people are becoming more aware of the benefits of achieving their health goals naturally. A recent report by the Government’s All Party Group on Integrative Healthcare recommends that the NHS should embrace complementary, traditional and natural medicine to ease the cost of treating long-term conditions.
Christina Martin, a qualified clinical naturopathic nutritionist runs Future Health Management and, over the last 10 years has helped many people to resolve whatever was making them ill rather than just the symptoms. Conditions include IBS, diabetes, skin conditions, stomach pains, hormonal issues and stress.
We talk to Christina about how naturopathy can set you on the right road to good health.
What is naturopathy and how does it work?
Naturopathy is a system of health care which promotes the body’s own self-healing. It is based on a preventative approach and uses natural therapies, following naturopathic principles.
Taking these principals into consideration, I give the client a health assessment, which includes an individually-tailored plan for maintaining long-term good health. It works on getting down to the root cause of that person’s underlying ill health and not just the symptoms.
Naturopathy provides support for the person’s whole physical, mental, genetic, environmental, social and other factors that may also be affecting their health.
What can naturopathy do that conventional medicine can’t?
While doctors do a fantastic job, they focus on dealing with the symptoms and prescribe medicines accordingly. For example, steroid creams for skin complaints such as eczema. But steroid creams also supress the immune system.
Naturopathy looks at the person holistically – not just one area of the body – and will consider their lifestyle, diet and genetic predispositions. So, a naturopathic consultation for eczema would consider foods that could potentially cause an inflammatory reaction. I use functional testing to identify any deficiencies, such as minerals that support the skin, as well as any other factors.
Why is it important to look at the person holistically?
Because everything in the body is connected and, if something fails to function correctly, there will be symptoms telling the body that there are problems. You can’t support one part of the body and not the whole individual. One must consider individual, physical, mental, genetic, environmental and social aspects which might be either causing or contributing to that person’s health issues.
A prime example is stress, which can affect the stomach and the lungs. Symptoms may be shortness of breath, headaches and lack of sleep. A GP would probably recommend speaking to someone qualified to provide mental support or prescribe anti-depressants. They might not even consider stress, but just focus on one of the associated symptoms, like the stomach complaints.
What type of health issues can naturopathy help with?
As naturopathy focuses on the whole person, it can help in many areas of health:
– Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other gut-related issues
– Menopause both pre and post
– Hormonal problems
– Chronic fatigue syndrome
– Skin complains
Someone came to me with joint pains and said their mother suffered from arthritis and they wanted to stop it happening to them. Naturopathy can certainly be used as a preventative approach by looking at potential inflammatory foods, by checking gut health by creating a program based on the individual’s lifestyle, diet and genetic predispositions.
Another example is someone who’d suffered from IBS for five years and had seen no improvement in their condition, despite following doctor’s orders to change their diet. As a naturopath, I use a variety of diagnostics tools, such as a nutritional questionnaire, health assessment and functional tests. These tests are most often non-invasive and typically involve breath, blood, saliva, urine or stool samples. Most can be taken at home, but a client may occasionally be asked to attend the laboratory to provide blood samples, when necessary. The tests help me to screen early disease and devise a health strategy and plan.
Do you work with your clients’ GPs?
Yes, if the client is happy for me to contact/share/gather more information with their GP.
Why doesn’t the NHS work with naturopaths?
The medical profession works on a different level, with a tendency to specialise and focus on one area. Their training has a very different approach to how a naturopath works to tackle an issue. The naturopath is holistically trained, not medically trained. Although, we do study anatomy and physiology and as part of a three to four-year degree course. We strive towards a preventative approach, using a drugless method of support. The NHS prescribes medication for a disease, working mainly on a pathogenic and symptomatic approach, which does not necessarily address the root cause.
However, the report by the All Party Group on Integrative Healthcare states that the rising costs to the health system require a whole person approach to health delivery which focuses on prevention and tackles the root cause of illness. In England 70% of total health expenditure on health and care is associated with treating the 30% of the population with one long-term condition or more. The report has identified conditions where available treatments are not fully effective, including musculoskeletal problems, exzema, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic pain. It suggests a different approach, such as naturopathy, instead of spending more on costly and ineffective drugs.
How do you help clients achieve a preventative approach?
Naturopaths may use different techniques, depending on what they are trained in. For example, my training covered nutrition, stress management and I did a three-year post graduate degree in Holistic Nutritional Practice to help those who are suffering from stress and its effects. I use supplements, based on natural sources, when needed to help with deficiencies. Functional tests, sourced from accredited laboratories, give me far more information for building a better program to aid faster recovery. Functional tests can be invaluable in identifying the underlying cause of the person’s health issues, as well as unique nutritional needs, when used in conjunction with the health assessment, dietary/lifestyle habits and nutritional goals. Diagnostic tests bring faster successful outcomes by facilitating the development of more individualised and targeted therapeutic protocols, as well as preventing illness.
Is naturopathy safe?
It is a very safe approach. The individual health assessment effectively lets me know everything about what makes that person tick, including any medication they may be taking. I take all this information into account when building the health program for that person.
How are naturopaths governed?
We are governed by the Association of Naturopathic Practitioners (ANP), General Naturopathic Council (GNC), and we must also be professionally insured fully to be able to practice.
For more information, visit futurehealthmanagement.co.uk.