What Is a Naturopath and What Do They Do?

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A naturopath helps people improve their health and wellbeing using natural medicines, along with individualised dietary and lifestyle advice to support treatment.

A naturopath can help with many kinds of health conditions across all body systems, including men’s, women’s and children’s health. In some ways, a naturopath might be described as the ‘general practitioner’ of natural medicine, however some naturopaths do choose to specialise in or focus on particular areas of healthcare.

A naturopath works holistically, meaning they look at the whole person, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of each individual.

To be a naturopath requires extensive study – a minimum of a four-year degree in naturopathy. Training includes the study of health sciences such as anatomy and physiology, pathology and biochemistry, along with studies in nutritional medicine and herbal medicine.

What are the benefits of seeing a naturopath?

Seeing a naturopath can help you to reduce fatigue and improve energy levels, improve gut function, have better immunity, achieve hormonal balance, improve sleep, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, reduce pain and inflammation, achieve your weight loss goals.

What does a consultation involve?

An initial consultation is focused on getting to know you and your health concerns. It includes taking a thorough case history, which includes medical and family history and an analysis of the function of the different body systems. Physical assessment may take place, such as taking blood pressure, height, weight etc. Options for both treatment and testing (if needed), will then be discussed and a prescription and wellness plan is then put together for the patient.

Can naturopaths write prescriptions?

Naturopaths can write prescriptions for natural medicines such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids, as well as herbal medicines. Naturopaths use ‘practitioner only’ product ranges that are of the highest quality, and can only be dispensed after a consultation.

Prescriptions from naturopaths will also include dietary recommendations, whereby specific foods are recommended for their medicinal properties. This is often termed using ‘food as medicine’.

Supportive lifestyle recommendations are also included as part of an overall treatment and wellness plan e.g. stress reduction, exercise.

Can naturopaths order blood tests?

A naturopath may recommend some tests be done to identify the underlying causes of your health concerns.

Where appropriate, this can be done by a referral letter to your GP, or alternatively, a naturopath may order blood tests through a private laboratory.

In addition to blood tests, naturopaths may recommend functional testing. These tests investigate hormonal, gastrointestinal, immune, genetic, metabolic and nutritional influences that may be impacting on patient health. These tests are conducted through private laboratories.

Can I see a naturopath if I am using other medications?

Depending on what medications you are using, some nutritional or herbal medicines can be used alongside your current medications. All forms of medicines, including natural medicines, can have interactions with other medications a person may be taking. Therefore, it is always best to seek professional advice about whether a particular natural treatment or product is appropriate for you. Always speak to your GP if you have any concerns about any pharmaceutical medications you may be taking.

Can a naturopath help me if I am having other treatments?

Naturopathy is able to complement treatments from other modalities of healthcare such as chiropractic or massage.

Naturopathy can also be suitable for people with complex, multi-system diseases who may be having treatments with other healthcare practitioners such as a physio, GP or specialist doctor, as part of a team approach to their healthcare needs.

Sometimes when you see a naturopath, they may refer you to another healthcare practitioner who can complement your naturopathic treatment and enable you to get the best outcomes for your health.

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