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What is Naturopathy?

Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a system of natural medicine based on the healing power of nature. Naturopathy is a holistic system, meaning that naturopathic doctors strive to find the cause of disease by understanding the patient as a totality of body, mind, and spirit.

Naturopathic medicine is not a single modality of healing, but an array of healing practices, including:

  • Spinal and soft-tissue manipulation
  • Physical therapies involving electrical currents
  • Ultrasound
  • Light therapy
  • Therapeutic counselling
  • Phytotherapy
  • Diet and clinical nutrition
  • Therapeutic exercise

There are two areas of focus in Naturopathy:

  • Supporting the body's own healing abilities;
  • Empowering individuals to make lifestyle changes necessary for the best possible state of health.

While naturopathic doctors treat acute illness and chronic conditions, their emphasis is on prevention of disease and patient education.

Conditions benefited by Naturopathy:

Naturopathic medicine can be applied in any health care situation, but its strongest area is in the treatment of chronic and degenerative disease.

What should I expect from a visit to a naturopath?

A visit to a naturopathic doctor will be similar to a visit to your family doctor. Your first visit may take more than an hour. During this time, a very thorough history is taken, including questions about diet, lifestyle, stress and environmental exposures. Next, the naturopathic doctor will perform an appropriate physical examination, which may require laboratory tests. Naturopaths consider patients to be partners in their healthcare, so you may be asked to make lifestyle changes (such as changing your sleeping, eating, and exercise habits).

There are 95 registered naturopathic doctors in South Africa. Training is done through the University of the Western Cape. The profession is controlled by the Department of Health and the Allied Health Professions Council.

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