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Understanding Naturopathy: A holistic approach to Western medicine

Written by Dr Susan Arentz | Thursday, 21 March 2019


With roots in ancient European civilisation, naturopathy has been practised since the early 19th Century as a holistic Western medicine that encompasses traditional wisdom with modern science to treat the body naturally. 

Naturopathy is described as ‘holistic’ because it seeks to look beyond symptoms to consider all aspects of a person’s health and wellbeing. Through the lens of Western science and an in-depth understanding of the human body and natural medicine, as well as the psychological, social and environmental factors that impact on our health; naturopaths work with their clients to form a big-picture analysis to identify and treat the underlying causes of illness. 

In essence, naturopathy is all about finding the innate point of balance within each individual, underpinned by a trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself and an acknowledgement that everybody is unique. 

What conditions do naturopaths treat?

Whether you are feeling fit and healthy or under medical treatment, you can visit a naturopath for advice on how to optimise your general health and wellbeing. Naturopaths help to support the wellbeing of people with a range of acute or chronic conditions - such as food allergies, skin conditions, sleep disorders, digestive issues, stress and infertility to name a few. They are also able to provide care as a part of conventional health and medical teams and can communicate professionally with other healthcare providers such as your GP.

What to expect from a consultation

Similar to visiting a GP, during your first consultation with a naturopath you will be asked about your current health, lifestyle and medical history. Your practitioner may also conduct a physical examination, take your blood pressure, check your pulse and request laboratory tests (e.g. blood tests) if necessary.

Your naturopath will then develop an individual treatment plan for you which may include dietary and lifestyle recommendations, nutritional supplements and liquid herbs, creams and lotions. Because naturopaths have an in-depth knowledge of interactions and side effects, they can also provide safe complementary care using natural health supplements and medicines for people receiving medical or pharmaceutical treatment.

Dr Susan Arentz

Dr Susan Arentz is the Head of Naturopathic Medicine at Endeavour College and Editor of the Australian Journal of Herbal and Naturopathic Medicine. With over 20 years’ experience in the field, Susan has a special interest in women’s health and fertility. Visit the course page to learn more about studying a  Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy).

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