What is naturopathy?

Avatar for DW Pardasani By in alternative medicine, natural medicine, naturopath, naturopathy, nutrition on 02/03/2023
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How can naturopaths help me feel better?

Why are naturopaths different to doctors?

You may be asking yourself these questions if you’re new to alternative medicine.

If so, you’re in the right place to get the natural healing answers you need.

Let’s examine naturopathic principles and see how they can support your health & wellbeing.

Consult naturopaths with proper treatments

What is naturopathy?

Naturopathy (or naturopathic medicine) takes a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

It’s based on the concept that your:

a) body has an innate ability to heal itself

b) mind and emotions contribute to your level of health.

For this reason, naturopaths are highly trained health professionals who help treat and prevent disease. They use:

  • dietary advice
  • lifestyle advice
  • herbal medicine
  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • vibrational remedies
  • relaxation techniques.

Just like ayurveda, every combination is specific for each client.

Naturopathy, as a complementary medicine, is popular in Australia. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to limit conventional medicines and pharmaceutical drugs.

History of naturopathy

The term Naturopathy was created in the 19th century (1895) by John Scheel. It originates from:

– ‘Natura’, the Latin word for nature

– ‘Pathos’, the Greek word for suffering.

German-born American, Benedict Lust, resonated with this word so much that he purchased it. He learned hydrotherapy and other natural healing practices while in Germany. His father later sent him to the USA to share the potential of drugless healing. In 1901, Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy. That’s why many consider him the ‘Father of American Naturopathy’.

However, natural healing began before Lust created a word for it.

Hippocrates, born in 460BC, was a Greek physician. He believed in:

a) treating disease using nature-based methods

b) thoroughly understanding a patient’s detailed health history.

Today, many consider him to be the true father of Naturopathic medicine.

Which health conditions can naturopaths treat?

Now, you’re beginning to understand What is naturopathy?.

Next, you need to know what types of conditions naturopathic practitioners treat. This will help you know whether the field of naturopathy can help you.

Naturopaths create an environment for the body to heal. They also assist with disease prevention. This means naturopathy can assist with a wide range of acute and chronic conditions. The most common reasons for booking a naturopathic appointment include:


Bloating, bowel problems, reflux, food intolerances, nutrient deficiencies

Nervous System

Stress reduction, anxiety, depression, burnout, fatigue


Headaches, arthritis, acute and chronic pain, inflammation


High blood pressure, poor circulation, anaemia


Thyroid disorders, diabetes, infertility, PMS, menopause and other reproductive health issues


Poor immunity, colds, flu, autoimmune disease


Acne, dermatitis, eczema and other skin conditions

Respiratory System

Asthma, allergies.

How can naturopathic practitioners help you?

Naturopaths prioritise natural remedies as medical treatment.

The best naturopathic doctors understand traditional medicine and evidence-based medicine. A deep healing power is created when both are used for health promotion. That’s why degree-qualified naturopaths study for many years to learn modern medicine practices.

At your first consultation, be prepared to answer a lot of questions. This will help your practitioner:

  • Understand your current health situation
  • Comprehend the health patterns in your family history
  • Determine the root cause of your health concern
  • Treat the cause, not just the presenting symptom(s)
  • Provide a customised treatment plan for you.

In addition to asking questions about your health, your naturopath may also:

  • perform a physical assessment
  • order a hair analysis
  • do iris analysis
  • use kinesiology
  • provide educational material
  • request blood tests, urine/stool sample collection or functional testing.

Naturopathy vs Homeopathy

Now that you’re a What is naturopathy? pro, you may be wondering:

What’s the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy? Are they the same thing?

Firstly, naturopathy and homeopathy are not the same.

Yes, both are:

  • complementary therapies
  • believing in the power of nature
  • prioritising a natural approach to wellness
  • regulated by professional associations.

However, naturopathy is a broader holistic therapy.

Traditional naturopaths are open to using a range of natural treatments. They may use botanical medicines, supplements, flower essences, nutrition advice + more. Some naturopathic treatments even include homeopathy.

This is quite different to Homeopathic treatment. Homeopaths tend to only recommend homeopathic medicines to their clients. These are not strong preparations. On the contrary, there’s only minute doses of medicine in each bottle or pill.

Naturopathy vs Nutritionists/Dietitians

The practice of naturopathy is also not the same as being a nutritionist or dietitian.

Naturopathic programs include years of nutrition training. They cover:

  • healthy eating principles
  • food as medicine
  • energetics of food
  • combating nutritional deficiencies
  • prescribing nutritional supplements
  • and more.

This is on top of the all other the healing remedies they learn.

Studying Nutritional Medicine or Dietetics is diffferent. These programs only focus on the dietary principles that create wellbeing.

Naturopathic Treatment Methods

Naturopathic treatment methods vary for each condition and person. If you’re new to this natural therapies approach, it can seem complicated. Let’s simplify things by looking at how a naturopath would approach the following conditions.

Naturopathic treatment methods

Treating high blood pressure

If you high blood pressure and want to ditch the BP drugs, seeing a naturopath can help.

Your practitioner will look for the cause of your blood pressure issues. Then, they’ll offer natural ways to treat it. Topics that may be discussed during your consult:

  • stress levels
  • dietary choices
  • lifestyle habits
  • exercise routine
  • other current health conditions
  • family background re: blood pressure.

Your answers help the practitioner create an individualised ‘prescription’ for your healing. Thus, herbs, diet changes, lifestyle advice and other suggestions may be discussed.

Helping gastrointestinal issues

Gut issues are rampant these days.

If you’ve visited a medical doctor for this, you probably received conventional treatment. Specifically, this means medication. Furthermore, this also means… side-effects. It’s also worth noting that these medications only address the symptom, not the cause.

Here’s the issue with that:

Only treating a digestion SYMPTOM will not solve the problem. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time until this impacts other parts of your body. Gut issues often contribute to other conditions, e.g. low energy levels, allergies, acne, dermatitis, headaches, bad breath, insomnia and thyroid disorders.

A naturopath will do their best to stimulate your gut’s innate healing process. After thorough consultation, they may suggest:

  • dietary changes and provide a diet plan
  • lifestyle modifications
  • herbs to relate your gut health
  • supplements to heal gut lining
  • mindful eating practices
  • vibrational essences to clear emotional blocks

What is the difference between a doctor and a naturopath?

Naturopaths and doctors are both health practitioners. However, there are a few key differences between them.

Doctors use conventional medicine (drugs, radiation, surgery) to diagnose and treat health conditions. They study for many years and rely on evidence-based clinical trials when in practice. Consultations usually last for 15 minutes, with only the primary issue being discussed. Most of the time, treatment focuses on the patient’s symptoms. Doctors also receive additional training in nutrition, but this is usually minimal.

Naturopaths are qualified professionals. Similar to a doctor, they study complex anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. However, the duration of learning is much shorter. The main difference is that naturopaths take a holistic approach to healing and prioritise nature cures. That’s why they use different natural medicines and dietary supplements as treatments. Think herbs, diet & lifestyle changes, vibration remedies and more. Naturopaths are generally more educated in the nutritional aspects of wellbeing. This component of study may last for 2 years or so. Treatments aim to reduce symptoms and help the root cause of the problem. Initial consultations often last for 1.5 to 2 hours. Note that naturopaths – by law – are not able to diagnose conditions or prescribe medications.

How successful is naturopathy?

When you have a health concern do you usually see a ‘regular doctor’?

If so, you may be wondering if going the natural route works.

Thanks to a 2019 study at Southern Cross University, the answer is clear.

Their research team reviewed 33 studies. Consequently, results showed that visiting a naturopathic practice for treatment can be highly beneficial. Additionally, they found that using a whole-system, multi-modality approach to wellbeing is best.

Significant benefits were found for:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • musculoskeletal pain
  • type 2 diabetes
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • many complex chronic conditions.

Ideally, successful outcomes happened when you visit a naturopathic practitioner more than once.

Initial consultations: Establish a foundation for your health journey. You’ll get recommendations to help you decrease your primary symptoms, and begin treating the cause.

Follow-up consultations: When this plan is checked – and tweaked – for effectiveness. Being thorough also helps prevent future health crises developing.

If you’d like to see a Naturopath, Avaana can help you find one in your area.

Click here to find a Naturopath near you

Avatar for DW Pardasani

An experienced writer and media and communications professional, DW is the chief content officer at Avaana. She loves dogs and basketball. As a classically trained dancer, DW credits her wellbeing to alternative therapies.

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