While many people are just fine with convention al medicine, there are others who prefer alternative treatments. In Australia, a study shows that ten per cent of the population have visited a naturopath for a reason or the other. However, the question remains, just what is naturopathy exactly?

Naturopathy, a practice that began in Germany in the early 19th century before being introduced to the United States shortly after, is a holistic treatment that employs the use of herbs, massage, acupuncture, exercise and nutritional counselling. The aim of naturopathy is to take care of the whole person and not just concentrate on the symptoms alone. Naturopaths claim that the alternative treatments take care of not just the body, but the mind and soul as well.

After all these, you may wonder how exactly it works and the answer is this simple. You may have heard someone say that healing begins in the mind. Well, there is some truth to that and that is the idea naturopaths employ. At the natural medicine clinic, the naturopath might take up to two hours examining you. He/she will employ the use of integrative medicine which is basically asking questions about your lifestyle including how well you manage your diet and stress, after this natural therapies may be discussed as required, if you are unsure you can find out more about integrative medicine if you visit this page. After this process the naturopath may use touch, massage and acupuncture to create balance in your body in a process known as naturopathic manipulative therapy. A naturopath may also request a hair mineral analysis which is just a simple non-invasive procedure to determine the level of nutrients and toxic metals in your body. The analysis is aimed at helping a patient improve their lifestyle to help him/her lead the best quality of life.

In Australia, there is no body that governs naturopaths which means that any Tom, Dick or Harry can call themselves a ‘naturopath’. People practicing naturopathy are also not required to be registered. However, a body known as Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists or ARONAH in short, came up to bring some kind of sanity in the field. Some people in this practice are members of professional bodies which only accept members who have gone through approved colleges. These bodies are the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) the Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association (ANPA) and the Association of Massage Therapists in Australia (AMTA).

It should be noted however that while a lot of people go for naturopathy, it is not and should not be used to replace conventional medicine. A lot of people make this mistake and this may have tragic results. If a patient is battling cancer for example, the naturopath may suggest lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet and exercising to complement the chemotherapy rather than suggest the treatment in place of the radiation which is most likely to fail.

Even though naturopathy as a treatment is generally thought to be safe, it is important to note that it also has its own set of side effects. There is a big misconception that because a product is natural, it should be safe. Like conventional medicine, herbs have also been known to have their own side effects. Moringa, for example, is a great herb for cleaning out toxins but at the same time, the root can cause paralysis and even death. While the leaves can be eaten as food, the bark and flower have been known to cause miscarriages due to the fact that moringa makes the uterus contract. Therefore, it is not safe for an expectant mother. This is just an example of a useful herb which can also cause damage.