Oh you're a Naturopath?......What is it that you actually do?
This question comes up at almost every social gathering...and it still surprises me, because I guess I somewhat live in a little health bubble where everyone that I deal with knows exactly what Naturopaths do and what we are all about, what differentiates us from mainstream medicine and what conditions you would go to a Naturopath for.
I have been meaning to write this article for a while. To put into my own words what we do as Naturopaths, but more specifically how I work as a practitioner. Because like all of us, practitioners can be so varied in the way that we work, no two people will ever practice the same way and nor should they. That is the beauty of what we do, we can use totally different tools to bring about the same result in someone.
A Naturopath is a practitioner that uses natural herbs, nutrition, diet and lifestyle alterations to allow the body to ultimately heal itself. We believe that the body has this capacity, and when the body is out of balance it becomes more and more difficult for this healing to take place.
So what happens in a consultation?
It all begins in the initial consultation. I always joke with patients that we will be very well aquaintend by the end of this first consultation, because we go through EVERYTHING. We go through your entire case history, discussing everything from birth to now and everything in between. This consultation is the most important, because this case taking allows me, the practitioner to understand where this imbalance has occurred, what factors are maintaining your current state of health and what needs to happen next to help ease your symptoms.
Diet is discussed at great length and this gives me a great insight into what habits good or bad might have also contributed to your current state of health.
It is so important to be honest and forthright with information in this consultation, because everything can be important and be a piece of the puzzle when it comes to your health. And remember that everything is confidential and free from judgement. You have come to me for help and that is what I am trying to do.
From there I explain to you how I am seeing things. Explaining to you exactly what I believe is a contributing factor and how it is impacting your health. More often than not everything this is interconnected. If you come to see me for hormonal imbalance but you also have very high levels of stress and an poorly controlled thyroid issue- then I will explain to you how all of these influence one another. The more you can understand your body and what is occurring, the easy it will be to make changes to rectify these issues.
Naturopaths work to get to the root of the issue, rather than just treating the symptoms that are presenting. Everything that I have mentioned is how we get to the bottom of your symptoms and once we can correct the causes, then the symptoms should cease and hopefully never return.
If we need to we can also look at functional testing to answer some questions that might not seem clear through the initial case taking, or you might be referred back to your GP to get certain testing requested or something that might be more serious to be addressed sooner rather than later.
I will always put together a treatment plan for my patients, which outlines clearly exactly what we are going to do and how we are going to do it- this gives us a clear action plan with a timeline, allowing you the patient to be well informed and aware of what is needed from you in terms of commitment.
I, personally am not a big 'supplement' practitioner. The most that I will ever prescribe at any one time is 3 supplements, and they will be all for short term use- approx 1-2 months and then as soon as possible we reduce these supplements and ensure that dietary alterations have been made to support the body instead of the supplements.
I do this for 2 reasons. 1. Diet is what is going to get you through long term. It is much healthier to be adding in whole foods that are high in B vitamins rather than having someone take a b vitamin tablet every day for the rest of their lives, it is also a lot yummier too! And number 2...it more cost effective. Natural medicine should be accessible, you shouldn't be walking out with $300+ worth of supplements every single time you visit your practitioner.
From here we work closely together, making alterations to treatment as needed. Making incremental changes to diet while reducing reliance on supplements. Eventually you will be supporting your health 100% through diet and we work on preventative health care. I educate you about how to pickup on queues that your body is telling you something is not right, and teaching you how to correct them quickly, so that they never eventuate into a chronic health condition again.
And what sort of things can you see a Naturopath for?
Naturopaths work with a lot of chronic conditions but in saying this it can also be acute symptoms as well.
When I say chronic think of long standing health conditions that are being managed by mainstream health- ie asthma, IBS, anxiety, eczema, arthritis. Acute conditions that we see is head colds, upper and lower respiratory tract infections and rashes. Don't come to us if you have a broken bone- head straight to the doctor for that one.
And thats it! Sound easy? Well it is!
The most important thing to remember when coming to a Naturopath is that we aren't hear to cure you. We simply give advice and guidance about changes that need to be made. It is 100% your decision as to whether you follow this advice and how committed you are to it. The people that get the best results are the ones that take the information that I provide, implement it and keep learning about themselves and their body by doing extra reading, extra experimenting with foods, taking up that extra bit of exercise or yoga to support their body in a holistic way. Seeing a psychologist as well as as taking the herbs for anxiety. The body is a complex being, and there is never one answer. Addressing all aspects of your health is the key for maintaining good health long term.
And this is me, Karah! A windblown pic of my husband and I on our recent honeymoon in portugal. So at least you can put a face to the name :-)