Naturopathy: The holistic approach to health and disease

Staff Writer
The beginning of modern Naturopathy can be traced back to the 1800s in Germany. Father Kneipp (a German priest) developed the Kneipp Cure, which was a form of hydrotherapy (water therapy). Benedict Lust (Father Kneipp's student) is considered to be the founder of modern Naturopathy. He is the first person to use Naturopathy.

Russell Trail was the earliest physician to have a significant influence on the growth of Naturopathy promoting the hygienic system consisting of absence of alcohol, hygiene, healthy diet, vegetarianism, bran bread and moderate lifestyle and hydrotherapy. Naturopathy is based on the belief that the human body has an innate ability to heal itself. Naturopaths say their medicine is guided by principles rather than methods and that a special energy - vital energy or vital force - guides the body's processes.

In Botswana, the traditional way of life is well equipped with natural ways of living including phytotherapy. This is unlike the modern lifestyle that comes with diseases like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other ailments.

Health, disease and lifestyle have evolved as man evolved from the traditional to modern life.  Lifestyle changes affect the health of man tremendously.  The West, with their well-developed systems have experienced allopathic medicine at its peak. They are now incorporating natural therapies.  There is considerable awareness of drug therapy side effects and prolonged use. In Australia, about 50 percent of the people seek natural health remedies and the government has passed laws to restrict prescription of antibiotics.

The fundamental principles of Naturopathy lie in the connectedness of nature and man - the holistic theory.

There is a tremendous recognition of the ecological function of the universe and the interconnection between plants, insects, man and the universe. Naturopathy recognises and understands the body and mind function and their regulatory mechanism that maintains homeostasis or the correction of imbalances in the body.  Naturopathy provides and supports this mechanism, thus all the systems, such as circulatory, digestive, cardiovascular, circulatory, urinary, reproduction, respiratory and the nerves are all supported using non-invasive and natural methods. 

It has been proven that natural therapy is effective in supporting these systems and indirectly helping the body to fight against disease.  Natural therapies can be compared to an army that is always there to protect the body from any disease.

Herbal therapy is one modality used by many Naturopaths.  The whole herb is consumed without extraction of the main active ingredient.  For example, aspirin is extracted from the herb called meadowsweet.  Meadowsweet contains salicin, tannins, flavonoids and phenolic glycosides. But only salicin has been extracted to make aspirin.

Aspirin causes peptic ulcer but meadowsweet does not because the other chemicals that are not extracted protect the blood vessels and tissue from damage. This point clarifies the holistic theory, where the whole plant is used as opposed to isolated components. 

Eating plants in the form of vegetables and herbs is linked to a circulatory system within the biosphere and the energy source of the sun. Humanity is the expression of life enlivened with the life force. Life force is the creator of physical and emotional nature and rules all the activities.  This includes food, air, water and the mind, making a human being.  Herbs, Chinese medicine and allopathic diagnostic tools are used including laboratory tests to achieve the best results.  Both pathophysiology and naturopathic methods are applied in understanding the nature of a disease.

Fundamental changes in perception and content are manifesting in today's lifestyle as diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, cancer and HIV/AIDS. The clouded perception overwhelms our originality and consciousness, confusing ego with vitality, and alienating humans from nature.  The eye is not brilliant of perception and the heart is not open and attentive. 

The ability to absorb and use universal energy strengthens our true nature, energies and our being. It can prevent and cure ailments. Naturopaths, with the knowledge of nutrition and biochemistry have the ability to recognise signs of nutritional deficiency and can recommend food for healing and prescribe supplements.

There are a lot of chemicals in food processing

that have been linked to disorders such as asthma and eczema as well as autoimmune diseases caused by allergies. The fundamental understanding of metabolism and tissue integrity and the use of herbs are complementary in prevention and improve healing.  A Naturopath does a complete diet analysis and designs a diet that suits an individual's needs in supporting the body's physiological function and healing.  All the foods that are causing the diseases will be eliminated and a detox will be used to get rid of the toxins.  Some toxins are caused by pollution.

Acupuncture is another method used by Naturopaths.  Acupuncture works to balance the body's energy by unblocking the tension in certain parts that impair blood flow.  The theory of Yin and Yang is the fundamental concept of Chinese medicine.  Yin and Yang are the two opposite forces that are always in constant movement and are in all the organs. 

They oppose and complement each other at the same time, hence they cannot do without each other.  These are the natural laws that maintain nature as well as human nature.  An excess of one depletes the other and can cause chaos in the body and eventually disease.  As we understand the concept of Yin and Yang and the concept of change, we can harmonise our true natural nature by changing and being in tune with nature. 

Yin and Yang is a tool used to harmonise ourselves through change, the way nature does.  Compliance with seasonal changes for example enhances us to be able to change from winter to summer.  An acupuncturist works to balance these two forces to enable the body to work in harmony and prevent diseases. It improves the conditions that have set in. 

Acupuncture is an effective tool for pain as well as increasing energy in the body.  Energy is needed for all bodily function and healing. Low energy obstructs healing. Modalities such as flower essence are used for psychological problems.  These flowers have been used by the Australian aboriginals for healing.  They open a whole new life and awareness for an individual and release tension that has built up over the years from emotional disturbances.
Naturopathy addresses an individual's imbalances in the body and mind, and not only the disease. Naturopathy philosophy embraces individualism. Two people may have the same disorder caused by different factors in their lives.
Thus treatment fo

 these individuals may differ.  For example, high blood pressure may be caused by alcohol or stress, or diet, thus different treatment strategies will be implemented.  Naturopathy empowers individuals by offering information about the disease, its causes, development, and prevention.  Natural healing may eliminate the disease completely by removing the cause and restoring tissue integrity provided there has not been too much damage. 

If permanent damage has occurred, natural therapies may prevent or slow progression of the illness. Naturopathy can be combined with allopathic medicine to achieve the best possible outcome in serious and chronic diseases.

Naturopathy strives to assist individuals in one's life journey, to learn from one's mistakes, for the answers lie within.  Body work and discarding the cause of disease is the best therapy that breaks life long tension, peeling off the layers that have burdened individuals for years, revealing their true nature. In this healing, individuals can reveal who they are, clearing all the cloudiness and darkness within that imprison us, opening up our perception and finding freedom, strength, compassion, self-esteem, self-love, and caring; above all, experiencing the beauty of living, feeling every cell and fibre so full of life and happiness. 

The truth is; one remains young, beautiful, and full of energy and without disease.  It is living fully and joyfully.

*The author is a Naturopathic Doctor.



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