With thanks to our Naturopaths Colleen RoweEmma PumfreyJen Strachan and Amy Angus for their contributions to this Guide on Seeing a Naturopath.

Introduction

This comprehensive Guide aims to provide you with all the essential information you need when considering a visit to a Naturopath. From understanding their role in your healthcare journey to finding a qualified practitioner, we'll help you understand when you should see a Naturopath, how to find the best Brisbane Naturopath for you, and how seeing a Naturopath can help you improve your wellness.

What is Naturopathy?

Naturopathy is one of the leading forms of complementary medicine in Australia. It revolves around holistic disease prevention using natural therapeutic methods. 

At its core, Naturopathy operates on the fundamental belief that the human body possesses an inherent capacity to heal itself. This approach encompasses not only physical aspects but also the mind and emotions. Naturopaths are known for recognising and prioritising the interconnectedness of these elements during the healing journey.

When individuals seek naturopathic treatments, they receive personalised care that considers their unique needs and the needs of their health system as a whole.

Learn more about Naturopathy here.

Naturopath meeting patient for initial consultation at Brisbane Livewell Clinic.

What is a Naturopath?

A Naturopath practices in Naturopathy and utilises a variety of treatments and techniques to improve the overall wellness of their patient.

Rather than merely addressing isolated symptoms, which is a known characteristic of many "traditional" forms of medicine, a Naturopath will search deep to find the root causes of health issues. This holistic process seeks to restore balance and well-being by treating the whole body as an interconnected system that needs to be placed in balance to help you maintain optimal health.

Read more about What is a Naturopath here

What is the Role of a Naturopath?

Naturopaths take a holistic stance towards your overall health, considering your well-being as a whole rather than isolated conditions. They view most health issues as symptoms of underlying causes, acknowledging that addressing these root causes is vital for long-term results, rather than merely alleviating symptoms.

A skilled Naturopath encourages your body's inherent healing potential by incorporating natural remedies, offering nutritional guidance, and recommending lifestyle adjustments. This comprehensive approach fosters a synergistic relationship between your body's innate capacity to heal and the supportive measures provided, all aimed at achieving and sustaining your optimal well-being.

Naturopaths use a wide array of treatments designed to stimulate your body's natural healing mechanisms. Given the various external factors, such as diet, lifestyle, stress, and genetic influences that can impact how the body functions, a Naturopath will aim to facilitate the body's innate ability to heal itself.

Naturopaths employ a diverse range of modalities in their practice, which may include herbal medicine, nutritional therapy, homeopathy, dietary and lifestyle counseling, massage therapy, biomesotherapy, and iridology. They will tailor their approach to address your specific concerns, so the treatment for 2 different people is likely to be different in nature.

By collaborating with you to address your health objectives and worries, a Naturopath employs various assessment techniques and therapeutic methods to restore equilibrium and harmony within your body. This not only enhances your quality of life but also plays a crucial role in disease prevention.

Your Naturopath will often recommend a combination of therapies and use preventative medicine practices to ensure your body heals, restores, and nourishes itself to remain strong and vital.

Naturopath giving Results Consultation to Patient at Brisbane Livewell Clinic
Naturopath Review for Colleen Rowe - Brisbane Livewell Cinic

Meet the Skilled Naturopaths at Brisbane Livewell Clinic

The Origins and Evolution of Naturopathy

Naturopathy, a term derived from "pathos" and "natura," meaning "natural healing," has its origins in ancient practices but took its modern form in the 18th and 19th centuries with systems like "nature cures" and hydrotherapy. In 1895, the term "naturopathy" was coined and later embraced by Benedict Lust, considered the "Father of U.S. Naturopathy," who introduced it to the United States in 1901.

Naturopathy promotes natural health practices, including homeopathy, dietary moderation, and herbal medicine, and has evolved to include a wide array of alternative and complementary therapies, with licensed naturopaths serving as primary care providers in many states.

Understanding Naturopathy

Naturopathy is a holistic approach to wellness.

The underlying principles of Naturopathy are the importance of a healthy diet, clean fresh water, sunlight, exercise and stress management.

Naturopathy supports a person to live a healthy lifestyle. The foundations of naturopathy are based on the importance of a healthy diet, clean fresh water, sunlight, exercise and stress management.

Naturopathy aims to educate the person to look after their own health and the health of their family, minimising symptoms of any illness, supporting the body’s capacity to heal, and balancing the body so that illness is less likely to occur in the future.

A range of therapies are used to support the person. Therapies may include nutritional medicine, diet advice, herbal medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle advice, and tactile therapies, such as massage, acupressure or Bowen technique.

What is important to Naturopaths?

Naturopaths focus on the following 3 foundations of Naturopathy when treating their patient:

1. A Holistic Approach

Naturopathy is founded on the principle of treating the entire individual, taking into account physical, mental, and emotional aspects of health.

2. Natural Therapies

Naturopaths emphasise the use of natural therapies, lifestyle modifications, and dietary changes to promote overall well-being.

3. Root Cause Analysis

Unlike conventional medicine that often focuses on symptom management, Naturopaths seek to identify and address the underlying causes of health issues.

Principles followed by your Naturopath

Naturopaths follow 6 foundational principles in their practice:

  1. First, do no harm
  2. The healing power of nature
  3. Find and treat the cause whenever possible, not only the symptoms
  4. Doctor as teacher
  5. Treat the whole person
  6. Education and prevention.

Learn about the 6 Naturopathic Principles that Naturopaths Follow

Common Reasons for Consulting a Naturopath

People turn to a Naturopath for various reasons, often driven by persistent health concerns that conventional medicine may not fully address. These include:

  1. Chronic Health Conditions: Individuals seek Naturopathic care for chronic ailments such as allergies, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, migraines and long-standing health issues.
  2. Complementary Care: Naturopathy serves as a complement to conventional medical treatments, offering a holistic perspective on health and wellness that goes beyond symptom management.
  3. Preventive Healthcare: Naturopathic consultations prove valuable for preventive healthcare, enabling individuals to optimise their well-being and take proactive steps towards a healthier future.

Many individuals who seek naturopathic care often share common experiences:

  • Persistent Health Challenges - They may feel generally unwell or experience chronic lack of energy, even when conventional tests show no apparent issues.
  • Chronic Inflammation - They may have chronic and full-body inflammation which they can't fix - traditional medicine tends to prescribe painkillers and NSAIDs for these problems and cannot address the root cause.
  • Chronic Pain - Some turn to Naturopaths after exhausting medical solutions for chronic pain, seeking alternative approaches.
  • Hormonal Imbalances - Despite conventional treatments, hormonal imbalances may persist, prompting individuals to explore Naturopathy.
  • Coping with Stress - The ability to cope with stress and its associated challenges may drive people to seek Naturopathic support.
  • Sleep Disturbances - Insomnia and waking unrefreshed can lead individuals to explore Naturopathic solutions.
  • Autoimmune Issues - Naturopaths can provide insights into autoimmune issues and help individuals understand the implications of immune system modulation to manage symptoms.

What unites these individuals is their quest for answers and relief, often after exhausting conventional medical options and experiencing either stagnant or worsening symptoms.

Educational Requirements for Naturopaths in Australia

In Australia, qualified Naturopaths typically hold at least an Advanced Diploma in Naturopathy or Health Science and are registered with a recognised professional body. Many Naturopaths also complete a Bachelor-level qualification in their field.

The Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association Inc and the Naturopaths & Herbalists Association of Australia exist in Australia, each with its own set of standards of practice and codes of ethics that naturopaths are obligated to adhere to. These associations serve as valuable resources for finding qualified Naturopathic practitioners who meet the necessary criteria for professional practice.

Is the Naturopathy industry regulated?

The Naturopathic profession continues to be self-regulated, however, there is a national register — the Australian National Register of Accredited Natural Therapists (ANRANT). This was established to provide education and the minimum standards of practice for naturopathy. These include:

  • Code of Conduct
  • Proof of identity requirements
  • Criminal history register standard
  • English language skills register standard
  • Guidelines for the advertising of naturopathic and Western herbal medicine services
  • Professional indemnity insurance registration standards
  • Guidelines for professional development
  • Guidelines for patient record-keeping
  • Recency of practice guidelines
  • General registration requirements
  • Limited registration requirements
  • Non-practising registration requirements

Do Naturopaths need to be Licensed?

Naturopaths are not legally required to be licensed or registered in Australia. However, they have strong self-regulation through their professional organisations.

Professional membership

Many naturopaths in Australia are members of professional bodies such as the Australian Natural Therapies Association.

Associations tend to only accept members who have tertiary qualifications in the field of naturopathy. They also require members to have professional indemnity insurance, a current First Aid certificate and are committed to continuing education to remain up-to-date with scientific advancements.

To locate a reputable Naturopath in Australia, you can contact these professional associations, many of which maintain directories of referred practitioners, ensuring that clients have access to qualified and professional Naturopaths. Better yet, book a consultation with one of our skilled and experienced Naturopaths.

How to check the Qualifications of your Naturopath

Ideally, naturopaths should hold either a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) or an Advanced Diploma of Applied Science (Naturopathy). These qualifications are available from colleges, universities and naturopathic schools.

Courses typically involve three to four years of full-time study and over 600 hours of clinical practicum and study of subjects ranging from biology, pharmacology, chemistry and biochemistry, nutrition and herbal medicine.

Safety of Naturopath Treatments

Naturopathy is not a treatment for specific illness or disease. Naturopathy is a complementary therapy in that it may be used alongside other medical and therapeutic techniques. Always be guided by your doctor or specialist before using Naturopathy for any serious or chronic illness. Treat as suspect any practitioner who advises you to abandon your conventional medical treatment.

What can I expect from my first Naturopath Appointment?

In your first appointment with a Naturopath, you can expect the following:

  • A discussion of your health history, prescription drugs, diet, lifestyle, and your main health concerns.
  • A review of your bodily systems, which may include your respiratory, digestive, skin, musculoskeletal, and other important systems.
  • Order relevant diagnostic tests.
  • Creation of a holistic, personalised health plan that aims to heal your imbalances and promote well-being.

The Consultation Process

  • In-Depth Health Assessment: Naturopathic consultations typically commence with a thorough review of your health history.
  • Lifestyle and Diet Discussion: Expect discussions about your lifestyle, dietary habits, stress levels, and any current medications.
  • Personalised Treatment Plan: Your Naturopath collaborates with you to create a tailored wellness plan addressing your specific health goals.

A well-trained Naturopath will ask you about your diet, lifestyle, family background and environment, as well as the history of any illnesses or complaints.

After taking a detailed health history, the naturopath may use other techniques, such as:

  • blood analysis
  • stool and urine analysis
  • hair analysis
  • functional testing.

Natural Treatments and Therapies

  • Herbal Medicine: Naturopaths may prescribe herbal remedies tailored to your health needs.
  • Acupuncture: Traditional acupuncture techniques can be employed for various health issues.
  • Dietary Modifications: Nutritional guidance and dietary adjustments are often recommended.
  • Holistic Therapies: Naturopaths may utilise therapies such as hydrotherapy, detoxification, and lifestyle counseling.
  • Personalised Approach: Each treatment is individualised to suit your unique requirements.

Naturopaths may employ a range of non-invasive techniques and these include (but are not limited to):

  • nutrition and dietary advice. A poor diet stops the body from functioning well and a build-up of toxins can lead to a range of illnesses. Whole, fresh and unprocessed foods are recommended
  • herbal medicine – herbs can support the body
  • homeopathy – homeopathic treatments are used to stimulate the body
  • hydrotherapy (water therapy). For instance, the use of hot and cold compresses might be used for certain conditions to influence the flow of blood and body heat
  • counselling techniques – emotional problems and stress can interfere with the healing process. Counselling techniques can include stress management strategies and life coaching.

Naturopath Techniques

Naturopaths will typically work alongside your doctor or other health professionals to offer the best possible patient-centred care. They will use non-invasive and natural treatments that work in harmony with the body’s own healing mechanisms. Naturopaths will also focus on disease prevention and the influence of the environment, lifestyle, and emotions on a patient’s holistic health. Naturopathy is suitable for people of all ages, and can alleviate a wide range of conditions.

The naturopathy techniques undertaken to treat clients can differ depending on the modalities they’ve studied, as well as their healing philosophy. A naturopath will typically start by asking you questions about your lifestyle, diet, stress, bowel habits, energy levels, sleep quality, environment, family background, and any history of illness. After compiling a detailed health history, then may then also use other techniques, including:

  • Kinesiology
  • Integrated bio-dynamics (IBD)
  • Iridology
  • Blood analysis
  • Stool and urine analysis
  • Hair analysis
  • Functional testing

They will then design a naturopathy treatment plan to support your body’s ability to heal itself. They will advise you on which areas of your body need treatment and which body systems are under pressure. Treatment options, what your treatment journey will look like, and what treatments and supplements will cost will also be discussed. They may then use a range of non-invasive techniques to treat you, including:

  • Administering naturopathic remedies such as herbal medicines or nutritional supplements to treat and prevent a range of illnesses.
  • Offering dietary and nutritional advice to restore balance, assist with detoxification and disease prevention. This can include recommending patients avoid or eat certain foods.
  • Recommending detoxification in terms of undertaking a cleansing diet, and eliminating tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol.
  • Giving lifestyle advice to promote wellbeing and reduce stress.
  • Undertaking hydrotherapy to stimulate the body’s immune system and natural defences.
  • Using heat/cold packs and compresses to stimulate organ function, reduce pain, and influence the flow of blood and body heat.

Some naturopaths also:

  • Use flower essences and/or herbal medicines to enhance the emotional aspects of healing.
  • Manipulate soft tissue to enhance detoxification, reduce pain and rebalance the body’s systems.
  • Administer homeopathic medicines that use predominantly plant, mineral and animal substances to stimulate the body’s own healing responses.
  • Practise psychological counselling, including encouraging meditation and relaxation techniques.
  • Administer massage therapy, Bowel therapy, acupressure, mechanotherapy, bio-puncture, reflexology, acupuncture and/or homeopathy techniques.

Which conditions does Naturopathy treat?

Naturopaths will typically formulate a holistic health plan that targets a variety of deficiencies and imbalances to help patients understand how their diet, lifestyle, environment, stress levels, and relationships could be impacting their health. These include:

  • Digestive or gastrointestinal issues
  • Low immunity or energy
  • Fatigue
  • General aches and pains
  • Stress-related ailments
  • Hormone imbalance, fertility issues and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Male and female reproductive health
  • Skin, sleep and weight concerns
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Joint health and degenerative illnesses, including arthritis

It’s also worth mentioning that natural remedies aren’t a “quick fix” solution. They work on healing the body over time and offer a long-term solution to health problems. A change in your symptoms will depend on your age, the severity of your symptoms and how long you have had your health condition/s. Some patients start to feel results within a couple of days, but for others, it will take a few weeks or even longer. Typically, naturopaths will be keen to know of your progress between consultations and will suggest follow-up appointments, including an annual check-up.

What health issues can a Naturopath help with?

A Naturopath can address all concerns of health, with some of the more common problems listed below:

  • Tiredness and low energy.
  • Weight loss.
  • Cellulite reduction.
  • Digestive complaints.
  • Poor immune systems.
  • Recurrent infections.
  • Colds and flu.
  • Allergies and food intolerances.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart and circulation problems.
  • Hormonal problems.
  • Poor metabolism.
  • Low thyroid function.
  • Skin conditions.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Menopausal problems.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Blood sugar irregularities.
  • Adult-onset diabetes.
  • Arthritis – joint and muscle pain.
  • Male reproductive complaints.
  • Prostate disorders.
  • Stress depression and anxiety.
  • Preconception and pregnancy care.
  • Children’s health.
  • Respiratory complaints.
  • Asthma, sinusitis and coughs.
  • Grommets.
  • ADD/ADHD.
  • Learning disorders and poor concentration.
  • Environmental sensitivities.
  • Sporting injuries.
  • Candida.

Benefits and Limitations

  • Holistic Wellness: Naturopathy offers potential benefits like improved overall health, reduced side effects, and preventive care.
  • Synergy with Conventional Medicine: It is most effective when used alongside conventional medical treatments, ensuring comprehensive care.

What are the benefits of Naturopathy?

Disease prevention

As well as treating a range of health concerns, Naturopaths excel in the area of disease prevention, using scientifically proven evidence along with traditional evidence, providing their patients with a broad range of tools to maintain optimal health.

Naturopathic practitioners will often uncover emerging disease and imbalance long before it shows up in common pathology testing, allowing for prevention of many health issues.

Holistic healthcare

A naturopath understands that nutrition/diet, lifestyle, genetic factors, and personal factors all play a part in the overall health of a patient, helping to correct these where possible. Each treatment plan is tailor-made, because as we know no two bodies are the same, and it is this recognition that helps make such a success of naturopathic treatment.

Naturopathy vs Other Natural Therapies

What’s the difference between homeopathy and naturopathy? While the two may seem similar, naturopathy is a lot broader than homeopathy, encompassing a wider range of treatments. A Naturopath is more likely to prescribe multiple treatments such as supplements, herbs, and dietary recommendations, whereas a homeopath will only ever prescribe homeopathic remedies.3

Naturopathy can encompass a wide range of natural therapies, such as herbal medicines, massage, nutrition, iridology, and more. Its philosophy is “nature cures,” which has similarities to homeopathy, but is much broader.

Naturopaths also differ from nutritionists and herbalists — a nutritionist uses nutritional therapy to correct health issues, and a herbalist works solely with herbal medicines.

Open Communication

  • Transparent Dialogue: Maintain open and honest communication not only with your naturopath but also with your primary healthcare provider.
  • Coordinated Care: Ensure that all members of your healthcare team are aware of the treatments you are receiving.
  • Collaborative Approach: Collaboration between naturopaths and medical doctors can enhance the quality of your care.

Naturopathy and Conventional Medicine

  • Holistic Integration: Naturopathy complements conventional medicine by addressing underlying factors affecting health.
  • Integrative Medicine: Integrative medicine combines both naturopathic and conventional treatments for a comprehensive approach.
  • Informed Decisions: Discuss your naturopathic treatments with your primary care physician to make informed choices.

Cost

  • Variable Costs: Naturopathic care costs can vary, so inquire about fees during your initial consultation.
  • Long-Term Perspective: Consider the cost-effectiveness of naturopathy for preventive healthcare and overall well-being.

Insurance

  • Insurance Coverage: Some health insurance plans may cover naturopathic services, so check your policy.

Finding a Good Naturopath in Australia

  • Seek Recommendations: Seek referrals from trusted sources, such as friends, family, or healthcare providers.
  • Online Research: Check online reviews and testimonials to gauge the reputation of potential naturopaths.
  • Personal Consultation: Consult with potential naturopaths to ensure their approach aligns with your needs and values.
    There are also no formal prerequisites for becoming a naturopath. However, it is recommended that if you choose to undertake any naturopathic therapies, you engage with one that has expertise that aligns with your specific health needs. They should also have qualifications, registrations and memberships relating to the field. A national code of conduct bounds all naturopaths, so their clinical environment must be clean, tidy and not expose their clients to any risk of injury or infection.
  • What should you look for when choosing a Naturopath?
    When choosing a Naturopath, ensure you research the available practices in your area, the qualifications of the Naturopath and how long they have been practising. Also research if they are a part of any associations or groups, and where they received their qualifications from.

Tips for Your Well-being

  • Holistic Lifestyle: Naturopathy encourages a holistic approach to health, encompassing nutrition, exercise, stress management, and sleep.
  • Balanced Living: Adopting a balanced lifestyle can complement naturopathic treatments and support overall well-being.
  • Self-Care: Focus on self-care and prevention as vital components of maintaining good health.

Risks and Red Flags

  • Be Cautious: Exercise caution when encountering naturopaths who promise miraculous cures or quick fixes.
  • Ethical Concerns: If a naturopath discourages you from conventional medical treatments for serious conditions, seek a second opinion.
  • Reporting Unethical Practices: Report any unethical or unsafe practices to relevant authorities to protect public safety.

Conclusion

Considering a visit to a Naturopath can be a valuable step in your journey towards holistic healthcare. Naturopathy offers a comprehensive approach to health, addressing both symptoms and underlying causes.

By understanding when and why to see a Naturopath, verifying qualifications, and maintaining open communication with your healthcare team, you can make informed decisions about your well-being.

Remember that Naturopathy complements conventional medicine, offering a synergistic path towards your overall health and vitality.

Resources:

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/naturopathy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturopathy

Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association


FAQs

1. Is Naturopathy safe?

Naturopathy is generally safe when practiced by qualified professionals. However, consult with your primary healthcare provider for specific concerns.

2. Can naturopathy cure serious illnesses?

Naturopathy focuses on holistic health but may not be a sole cure for serious illnesses. It can complement conventional treatments.

3. How do I find a reliable naturopath near me?

Seek referrals from trusted sources, check online reviews, and verify credentials before choosing a naturopath.

4. Are naturopathic treatments covered by insurance?

Some health insurance plans may cover naturopathic services, so check your policy for details.

5. What are the common natural treatments used by naturopaths?

Naturopaths may use herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary modifications, and lifestyle counseling, among others.

6. Can I see a Naturopath alongside my regular GP/Doctor?

Naturopathy can complement conventional medicine, so it is possible to see both your GP and Naturopath at the same time. It's important to maintain open communication with both healthcare providers, however, and remember that the Naturopath's role is not to treat you for urgent medical issues or conditions that require traditional medicine.

Last Updated on 20 February 2024 by Brisbane Livewell Clinic