What Is A Naturopath?

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A naturopath is a practitioner educated in naturopathic medicine, which is a distinct medical system that focuses on a person-centred and whole systems approach, naturopathic medicine came from European traditional medicine and American eclectic medicine, combined with modern bioscience.

Naturopathic Medicine is founded on the 7 principles of naturopathic philosophy:

  • First, Do No Harm
    • Naturopaths use gentle interventions to get the clients healthy again, such as lifestyle, social, and stress management techniques, supporting the inner vitalism of the client and holistically supporting the client. This involves education, client-centered practice with informed consent, and referral to another practitioner when out of the naturopathic scope of practice.
  • Healing Power of Nature
    • Naturopaths support the body’s own innate healing processes through removing obstacles that may present in the client and supporting both the internal and external environment in the direction of wellbeing. This involves identifying the root cause and treating the patient while also reducing their susceptibility to disease.
  • Treat the Cause
    • Naturopaths identify and then treat or removing the underlying cause of disease taking into account any genetic, social, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
  • Treat the whole person
    • Naturopaths identify the disharmony between emotional, mental, structural, functional, and spiritual aspects in the clients’ life.
  • Doctor as Teacher
    • Naturopaths educate around factors that “affect health and disease so that individuals are more informed about the impact of their choices so that they are more capable of maintaining their own health” (World Naturopathic Federation, 2021).
  • Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
    • “Disease prevention and health promotion involves promoting a healthy lifestyle, assessing risk factors, determining susceptibility to disease and making appropriate therapeutic interventions. It involves assessing environmental and external factors that might be affecting health, determining the impact of social relationships and community on health, as well as genetic and heredity factors, and assessing the impact of medical interventions to date” (World Naturopathic Federation, 2021).
  • Wellbeing
    • “Although the criteria for “wellbeing” varies, concepts that have been included are passion and love for what you do each day, financial security, physical vitality, sense of pride in contributing to your communities, the quality of relationships, and other concepts. As part of the naturopathic encounter, it is the patient’s concept of wellbeing that is the most important.” (World Naturopathic Federation, 2021).

What is a standard health assessment?

Registered Naturopaths need to adhere to their scope of practice, where the safety of the client is the most important factor. Naturopathic scope of practice consists of “health assessment, disease prevention, health promotion and management of acute and chronic conditions by stimulation and support of the body’s natural healing mechanisms” (NMHNZ, 2021).

A standard health assessment as part of naturopathic treatment may include a naturopathic case-take, physical examination, functional and laboratory testing.

As a naturopath with a bachelor’s in herbal medicine, part of my scope of practice also includes the manufacturing, formulating, prescribing, and dispensing of herbal medicines.

Alongside herbal medicines, I also utilise nutrition, dietary intervention, lifestyle coaching, hydrotherapy, physical and mind-body therapies, and may use energy techniques.

What are naturopaths trained in?

Before we get into education aspects, let me say:

That currently in New Zealand anyone can legally call themselves a naturopath, health coach, or natural practitioner – training is not required. This is why you need to ensure the naturopath you are seeing has actually been trained and holds a qualification.

Naturopaths with a bachelor’s degree study for three years, covering the following topics

  • Research methods, methodology, and critique
  • Reviewing scientific information and research
  • Medical science, including anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, pathophysiology, pharmacology, clinical assessment, physical examination, and laboratory evaluation.  
  • Case taking, including the formulation of wellness/treatment plans through clinical decision-making.
  • Coaching and education, and referrals when needed.

Qualified naturopaths who belong to an association are also required to continue education each year, this is audited by the association (NMHNZ, 2021).

About the author:

Jessica Sherwood
Photo of Jessica Sherwood

Jessica is a degree qualified naturopath and medical herbalist at Jessica Sherwood Naturopathy. Jessica is currently based in Auckland but does online consultations as her main form of consultations, she also has a home clinic for those that are unable to use the internet or would prefer a face-to-face consultation.

Medical Disclaimer. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only.

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