A-Z of Naturopathy

A fun guide to some of the methods and principles found in Naturopathy. If you would like more information about the subject and content of our Naturopathy Course please contact us.

A is for Agni

Agni is an important component of Ayurvedic medicine, relating to the element of fire. Strong Agni signifies good health, whereas weak Agni leads to disease. There are many different types of Agni but the most important is Jathara Agni, which controls the digestion. This is essential because partially digested food creates Ama, which Ayurvedic medicine views as the cause of all disease within the body.

B is for Benedict Lust

The ‘Father of Naturopathy’! German-born Benedict Lust discovered the healing powers of nature over 100 years ago, after being cured of a severe case of tuberculosis using hydrotherapy. Lust founded both the American School of Naturopathy and the American Naturopathic Association, allowing naturopaths to train and become licensed for the first time. His legacy is maintained today by the Lust family, who continue to share his natural healing practices.

C is for Cleansing

A cleansing regime is often the first step in a naturopathic treatment programme and may include certain foods and fluids, herbs, special nutrients, colon hydrotherapy or enemas. The term cleansing is often confused with detoxification, but detoxification relates to a normal bodily process whereas a cleanse is a specific programme or regime that is followed for a set period of time.

D is for Detoxification

Detoxification is a natural bodily process whereby the body deals with potentially harmful substances. The organs of detoxification include the lungs, skin and colon, but the key organs are the liver and the kidneys. In the liver, toxins are bound to other substances to render them harmless before being eliminated from the body. A naturopath may support the organs of detoxification with natural methods in order to make this process more efficient.

E is for Emotions

A naturopath always considers possible emotional causes to ill health, and seeks to address these in tandem with physical symptoms. Often the onset of disease can be traced back to a significant traumatic or emotional event in a client’s history, such as the loss of a loved one, a move to an unfamiliar place, or a traumatic accident. In the case of chronic pain caused by whiplash, the tissue damage seen on scans does not correlate to the level of pain experienced. Pain often continues long after the physical tissue has healed and it is only when the emotional trigger is addressed that the pain diminishes.

F is for First do no harm

‘First do no harm’ is a key principle of naturopathic medicine and implies that any treatments used should be non-toxic, the least amount on intervention possible should be used and the body's own healing abilities should be supported and promoted while  minimising the risk of harmful side effects. It is quite opposite to many drug-based treatments, which can cause uncomfortable side effects that often require further medication.

G is for Gerson

Dr Max Gerson (1881 – 1959) was a German-born American physician who developed the Gerson Therapy for treatment of chronic and degenerative diseases, including migraine, cancer and arthritis.  The treatment is a specialised form of dietary therapy involving large quantities of organic fruit and vegetables, raw juices, natural supplements and regular coffee enemas to support the liver, remove toxins and strengthen the immune system. After Dr Gerson’s death in 1959 his daughter, Charlotte, founded the Gerson Institute – a non-profit organization which continues to teach his methods today.

H is for Hering’s Law of Cure

Constantine Hering was an early pioneer of Homeopathy. His law defines the order in which symptoms will be cured during a program of treatment, stating: “All cure starts from within out, from the head down and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared or been suppressed”. What this means is that the body must be allowed to eliminate toxins without suppression (from within out); mental symptoms will disappear but may manifest as physical symptoms (from the head down); and the most recent symptom to arise will be the first to disappear (in reverse order).

I is for Identifying the cause

One of the fundamental principles of Naturopathy is to identify and treat the cause, rather than focusing only on symptoms. It is for this reason that a Naturopath takes a detailed case history from a client, including information as far back as childhood. If symptoms are treated without addressing the cause then those symptoms will simply return once treatment stops. To take a simple example, using astringent lotions for acne may temporarily stop the symptoms but if the underlying cause is a hormonal imbalance the acne will reappear, unless that imbalance is corrected.

J is for John Scheel

John Scheel was a German Homeopath practising in New York at the end of the 19th century. He is credited as the first person to use of the term ‘Naturopathy’ in 1895. The word ‘Naturopathy’ is derived from Greek and Latin and Scheel used the word to refer to healthcare that used natural methods and focused on the whole person. He sold the rights to the term to Benedict Lust in 1902, who popularised it across the globe.

K is for Kneipp

Father Sebastian Kneipp was a Bavarian Priest who worked extensively with the healing powers of water and developed the famous ‘Water Cure’ method. Although he is best known for hydrotherapy, Kneipp also used botanical medicine, exercise and nutrition in his healing programmes. It was Kneipp who sent Benedict Lust over to America as a missionary to spread knowledge of hydrotherapy and natural healing. Following his death in 1897, Kneipp’s methods became part of mainstream medical practice in Germany and they are still used today.

L is for Lindlahr

Dr Henry Lindlahr (1862-1924) was a German naturopath and one of the great pioneers of Nature Cure. He was the founder of the Lindlahr Sanitarium, which promised no drugs or surgery but instead used diet, breathing, hydrotherapy, exercise, rest, sunlight and manipulation therapy to promote health. Lindlahr also opened a college in Chicago to train physicians in the various methods of Nature Cure. He also published a series of books titled Philosophy of Natural Therapeutics, detailing his methods.

M is for Meridians

The meridian system is a key concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The meridians are a series of interconnected energy channels which transport Qi or Chi through the body. Meridians exist in pairs and each meridian has a number of acupuncture points along its length. Ill health occurs when energy flow through the meridians becomes stagnant or blocked and stimulation of the correct location can release the energy and return the body to a state of health. The meridian system differs from the circulatory system in the sense that it is an energy medicine concept and so cannot be seen with scans or imaging. 

N is for Nature Cure

Nature cure is a general term used to describe a number of methods of natural healing including diet, exercise, rest and hydrotherapy. It is based on the principle of the healing power of nature and seeks to stimulate the body’s innate ability to heal itself without the use of toxic drugs or invasive surgery.

O is for Organic food

Organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate, which has been linked to many health concerns. Instead, natural methods, such as crop rotation, are used along with natural insect repellents, such as citronella. Animal welfare is at the heart of organic farming and follows the naturopathic principle that prevention is better than cure – animals are not routinely treated with drugs, antibiotics or wormers. The Soil Association is the leading organic certification body in the UK and products which meet their standards display their logo.

P is for Prevention

Prevention of disease is one of the underlying principles of naturopathy. Most patients who visit a naturopath will already be suffering from some kind of disease, but as well as addressing the current symptoms the naturopath will also aim to prevent future disease through changes to diet, exercise and lifestyle. This differs from orthodox medical practice, which focuses primarily on relief of symptoms.

Q is for Qi

Qi (also known as Chi) is the Traditional Chinese Medicine concept of vital energy. We commonly think of Qi as energy within body but Qi is actually larger than this. It is considered to be a universal energy - a force that makes up and binds all things in the universe. It embraces all types of energy, including heat, light, nerve impulses, thoughts and emotions.

R is for Relaxation

One of the key principles of Nature Cure is relaxation and is something that even the most orthodox of medics would not disagree with. When the body and mind relax tension is released from muscles, the body softens and blood pressure and other functions can return to normal. During deep relaxation the channels of healing are opened.

S is for Stress management

Physical or emotional stress causes the release of hormones to help the body to cope. This is natural and necessary; however, being in a constant state of stress means these hormones are triggered repeatedly, creating imbalance and subsequent ill health. It’s impossible to avoid stress altogether but learning to manage it is key to restoring the body and mind to a state of equilibrium. A naturopath may suggest a range of stress-management techniques including meditation, mindfulness, exercise, massage, time management or the use of music.

T is for Tongue diagnosis

Tongue diagnosis is a non-invasive diagnostic tool used in Chinese medicine by acupuncturists and herbalists, as well as many other practitioners of natural medicine. The practitioner examines the shape, colour, and coating of the tongue to detect imbalances in a patient’s Qi (vital energy). Specific areas of the tongue relate to specific organs, giving further clues about the root cause of the imbalance.

U is for Unani

Unani or ‘Unani Tibb’ is an Arabic term meaning ‘Greek Medicine’. It is a system of medicine which is popular in the Middle East, thought to be derived from physicians in Ancient Greece and with roots in the teachings of Hippocrates, Aristotle and Galen. Unani is based on balancing the four humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile), with any imbalance between them seen as the cause of disease. Unani methods are similar to other naturopathic therapies – using clean water, pure air and fresh food to prevent disease and seeking a balance between body and mind.

V is for Vitalism

Vitalism is central to Naturopathy, and relates to the invisible life force that might be described as a person’s essence, spirit or soul. The principle of vitalism teaches that life cannot be fully explained in physical and chemical terms, but that there is an energetic force within any living organism enabling it to grow, develop and heal.

W is for Water cure

Water cure, or hydrotherapy, is one of the oldest forms of treatment. It has been documented as far back as ancient Rome but was made prominent by Father Sebastian Kneipp. Application of water at specific temperatures constricts the blood vessels and promotes circulation throughout the body. Regular hydrotherapy can be used to stimulate the body’s self-healing capabilities, invigorating the system and giving positive benefits to the nervous system and metabolism. 

X is for X-ray

Although naturopaths will use non-invasive diagnostic techniques wherever possible, many are trained in modern methods such as x-ray and other forms of imaging. There are times when an x-ray may be necessary, in particular in holistic dentistry, as it gives vital information that cannot be obtained by other methods.  The naturopath must use their skill and discretion to determine when an x-ray needs to be performed, and will aim to keep exposure to a minimum.

Y is for Yin and Yang

The concept of Yin and Yang has been integral to Chinese culture for thousands of years. Although some view Yin and Yang as opposites, they are really complementary forces that exist in everything in the universe. There is a constant dynamic flow between the two forces and one can also transform into the other, in the same way that seasons come and go and morning turns to night. Chinese medicine seeks harmony and balance between these two forces, and the complex interconnections of yin and yang are used to diagnose and treat ill health. 

Z is for Zirconium

Zirconium is a non-metal alternative that may be used by holistic dentists for crowns and implants. Metal, although strong, can corrode and react with other metals in the mouth. Zirconium shows good acceptance by the bone and gum and is strong enough for general dental work. A relatively new treatment option, there is no long term evidence relating to its safety and effectiveness.

The A-Z of Naturopathy. Some fun tips to make you think and help you learn.