Updated: Nov 7, 2019
With chronic disease becoming more prevalent in the community and western medicine often not being able to do much more than manage the symptoms with little benefit to quality of life, more people are turning to natural medicine. But what does this mean and who can help you best?
A consultation with a naturopath involves learning all about you rather than just focusing on your physical symptoms. I will ask you lots of questions about how you feel, how much sleep you get, what you like to eat and lots more. All this information helps me to build a whole picture of you, and this helps me to understand how your body has become out of balance and how this has led to you experiencing physical symptoms of ill health.
I also use clinical diagnostic tools including pathology to increase my understanding of your condition. Sometimes further tests may be required to provide more detailed information about a particular area of your body or to identify specific nutrient deficiencies.
I put a great deal of emphasis on supporting mental and emotional health because I believe that a lot of dis-ease begins with imbalance in this area of our lives. I use Australian Bush Flower Essences as well as therapies such as yoga and meditation to help support you.
One of the key principles of naturopathy is that physical symptoms are not viewed in isolation but rather they form a part of the whole picture that encompasses your physical, emotional and mental aspects. In fact I follow these 6 Naturopathic Principles with all my treatments:
First do no harm: This means that whatever treatment is used does not make you worse;
The healing power of nature: This recognises that your body is very powerful and, when given the right support, has the ability to heal itself;
Identify and treat the cause: This is so important because it means that I will address the reason for your symptoms rather than being satisfied with suppressing them;
Doctor as teacher: This means my role is to empower you to take responsibility for your health;
Treat the whole person: One of the foundations of naturopathic medicine is the concept of treating the person rather than the disease. This means addressing not just the physical aspects of your condition, but acknowledging the mental, emotional, genetic and epigenetic influences and how they are effecting your life;
Prevention: This is one of the most important aspects of naturopathy and is achieved by employing all of the above principles so that you experience good health throughout your life.
Aside from following these principles, I believe that the most important aspect of the consultation is listening to you tell your story in your own words.
As important as deciding what healthcare is best for you is choosing a practitioner that you align with and trust. Although Naturopathy is underpinned by many traditional practices, the modern naturopath needs to be appropriately educated to understand human health as well as disease. They also need to have an understanding about western medicine pharmacology and herbal pharmacology as well as nutritional biochemistry. In order to have this level of understanding, I have undertaken a 4 year Health Science degree and am accredited with Australia's largest Natural Medicine professional association - The Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA), and to maintain my membership I must continue with my education.
Health is a life long journey and one that requires our constant attention. My role, as a naturopath, is to support you by using my knowledge of the human body and how it functions so that you can enjoy your ideal health.
So, what conditions can be treated with naturopathic medicine? It’s important to understand that symptoms of disease occur because our body is out of balance. By addressing the following areas, the body is able to function more effectively, and often physical symptoms will resolve:
Gastrointestinal function: This must function optimally in order to obtain the nutrients from our food as well as remove waste from our body. Our microbiome make up an important part of this with the kind of bacteria inhabiting our gut playing a vital role in our health.
Nervous system function: This system interacts with everything in our body from our heart rate to the way we process our dinner. A lot of physical symptoms occur because our sympathetic nervous system is operating overtime resulting in increased production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Endocrine system: This system makes up your hormones from insulin to oestrogen and includes your adrenal, thyroid and sex glands (ovaries and testes). Imbalances can lead to problems with your weight, sleep as well as being involved in infertility and menstrual disorders.
Immune system: Your body’s ability to protect itself from infections comes from the effectiveness of your immune system. The way it functions can be affected by factors such as your health during childhood and frequent antibiotic use with long term poor immunity leading to frequent colds and viruses. A dysfunctional immune system can also lead to autoimmune conditions where the body begins to attack itself. Often this occurs due to long term inflammation.
Cardiovascular function: This system is made up of the heart, all the blood vessels and the blood itself. In other words, this system must be functioning effectively for optimal health.
Renal function: The kidneys are responsible for cleaning our blood, maintaining healthy blood pressure, regulating pH and red blood cell production. This list is not exhaustive, and a naturopathic consultation will address all body systems to assess the most appropriate treatment plan.
What treatment does a naturopath use? The aim of naturopathic treatment is to support your body to return to health by using the least intervention possible. Often it begins by identifying areas in your diet and lifestyle which may be contributing to your current symptoms. These can include possible food intolerances, current sleep patterns or current work/life stress, and adjusting these areas helps your body return to a state of balance.
At this stage I will use treatment to increase your vitality or energy. Naturopathic medicine acknowledges that your mental and emotional wellbeing influences your physical health, and it is as important to support them as the physical symptoms. Sometimes a prescription may include some dietary and lifestyle modifications as well as physical activities or the use of energetic remedies such as Australian Bush Flower Essences.
All naturopathic treatment begins with the above, however often chronic conditions require more targeted intervention with the use of herbal medicine or nutritional supplementation. Their role is to improve function either in a specific area of your body such as reducing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, or generally such as improving immune function. It is at this stage that the treatment becomes more focused on the physical symptoms and diagnostic tools such as functional pathology is used to support treatment decisions. The following conditions are frequently successfully treated using naturopathic medicine:
*Menstrual issues such as PMS, PCOS, endometriosis and peri/menopause
*Immune dysfunctions such as allergies, eczema and asthma, frequent infections, candida as well as autoimmune conditions
*Gastrointestinal dysfunction such as IBS, SIBO as well as parasitic infections
*Metabolic imbalances including insulin resistance, high blood glucose and high cholesterol
Remember, individualised treatment is the key to naturopathic treatment and I would encourage you to make an appointment to see me if you wish to discuss any aspect of your health. Bookings can be made online at larissajanenaturopathy.com or by calling 0407 489 363