Naturopathy is a distinct whole system complementary medicine that is recognised by the World Health Organisation. It has roots in ancient Greece and was formalised in the 19th century by the hydrotherapy and nature cure movements in Austria and Germany. Naturopathy was introduced to Australia at the turn of the 20th century where it has become one of the most popular forms of complementary medicine in Australia today.
Based on holistic philosophy, Naturopathy recognises people as whole beings. This means that they see people living with conditions rather than conditions or symptoms in isolation. One of the main strengths of combining naturopathy with conventional medicine is that it draws on the highly trained expertise of doctors in their recognition, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, whilst at the same time drawing on naturopaths’ knowledge of whole person support whilst coping with disease. Naturopaths work to grow sources of energy, capacity and resilience and promote vitality or joie de la vie and what is increasingly becoming referred to as wellness or wellbeing.
Naturopathic theory is based on interconnections and patterns of systems and environments. For example, the functional status of the nervous system, digestive tract, hormone balance and reproductive function, can each determine the functional capacity of the other with internal compensatory and adjustable mechanisms to ensure ongoing existence. Many connections are mediated by the nature of the environments in which they occur, determined by internal ecological environments that contain microbiota and molecules taken into the body from the outside. Epigenetic triggers or molecules that may silence or express genes, can increase or lower the risk of long-term illnesses. Other considerations include living environments as well as cultural, social and daily living patterns. Naturopaths look to draw on these connections as therapeutic tools, to prevent disease, reduce symptom exacerbation and promote health in the long term.
Treatment approaches often include tailored guidance around lifestyle and dietary patterns, and ingestible natural medicines derived from plants (herbal medicine) and micro-nutrients. The aim is to shift functional balance towards optimal health and support the natural healing processes of the body. At Alana, naturopathy is shared with the specialised and collaborative medical and allied health teams, and all practitioners are keen to ensure safety and efficacy of naturopathy.
Evidence for naturopathy as a whole system approach described above, rather than individual natural therapies or medicines, was summarised in the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) published in 2022. The HTA was developed as a resource for government to refer to when reviewing its eligibility for private health insurance rebates, that were removed in 2018 in Australia. Chapter 26 summarises the evidence for women’s health conditions, with improvements in wellbeing demonstrated for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), period pain, peri-menopause and menopause symptoms, interstitial cystitis and candidiasis. Information about Naturopathy for treatment of infertility can be found in the evidence summary of the Fertility Society of Australia. Evidence for the natural therapies, supplements and herbs that naturopaths often use can be found at Cochrane Complementary Medicine.
Naturopathy at Alana is available without a medical referral, and communication with all external health professionals is warmly welcomed. The pricing schedule can be found here.