What is a Naturopath?!


A Naturopath is a natural health practitioner who believes in the healing power of nature to support the bodies innate healing ability.  Naturopaths often use plant medicines, good nutrition and lifestyle changes to bring about balance, enhancing a persons health and well being.  Here in New Zealand, Naturopaths train for 3-4 years (depending on the course) some of the subjects of study are; anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, history and philosophy, nutrition,  politics, pharmacology and depending on the qualification, western herbal medicine, botany and Rongoa.   Massage, Reflexology, Bach flower remedies, Iridology and Homeopathy, may also be incorporated into a Naturopaths training.  

It is the role of the Naturopath to help educate and empower their clients so they have the knowledge and confidence to make lasting changes.  Because of this when you see a Naturopath, you will get the best results if you're willing to look within, be honest with yourself and put in the work needed to improve your health. The saying, nothing changes till you do, is especially true when it comes to your health - Naturopathy is not for those who wish to take a magic pill once a day and hey presto your cured!   Natural healing is often a slow process as you rebuild nutrient levels and heal.  Sometimes you will need several follow up consults to get the best results as wellness plans may need to be adjusted or herbs and supplements changed out as your symptoms change or improve.  Some Naturopaths like to use a lot of functional testing, sending clients for lab tests which can range from basic blood tests, to hormone testing and stool tests.  Other Naturopaths prefer to talk with clients and take notes to gather all the information they need. Naturopaths may also check the appearance of your tongue and nails or use iridology to gather more information.  There are lots of Naturopaths out there using different approaches and with different skill sets and areas of training, so its worth while shopping round to find the Naturopath who resonates the most with you. Regardless of who you chose as your Naturopath, I would strongly urge you to chose one who is registered with either NZAMH or NMHNZ (or as I am, registered with both), as this means they have studied at an accredited college and must keep up with a certain amount of educational training every year to keep their registration current.

I think of my role as a naturopath as playing detective and as a kind of holistic toolbox for my clients.  Read on to find out why…

Detective: As a naturopath, I take a thorough case history and we delve deep into your past health history, family health, past emotions as well as current health and emotions to find the root cause of the illness.  We discuss what parts of the body are areas that you hold stress or that you find you have reoccurring issues with (for example you may get digestive upsets in times of stress, or every winter you are guaranteed to come down with a throat infection).  We go over your current nutrition, your current medications and your current lifestyle habits.  Looking at health concerns from a holistic perspective means you could find that the root cause of the health issue or concern could be physical, emotional or even spiritual in nature. Because the Naturopathic approach to healing is holistic,  it induces healing in a way that transforms your health and your approach to life, so that you can get to the root cause of your symptom picture.   In this way you are not just using a supplement or a medicine to put a band aid on your symptoms and temporarily suppressing the sensations.  You are instead putting in the effort to transform every area of your health and your life, to support your body in finding its natural state of health.  

Toolbox: A big part of the way I treat clients is by using medicinal plants/ herbal medicine.  This is because herbal medicine has the ability to influence and support us on all levels of healing, be it physical, emotional or spiritual.  For example; religions have long used the burning of frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) in houses of worship.  Not only did this help to make the church smell wonderful, adding to the spiritual atmosphere, research has now shown that inhaling frankincense actually activates ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety and depression (Science Daily, 2008). Thus the burning of resin was helping to contribute to worshippers feelings of wellbeing when they attended these services.  

Medicinal plants are a direct expression of the earths intelligence, as human beings evolved, we did so alongside and heavily reliant on plants, so it makes sense that our bodies evolved to respond to plants healing constituents and properties.

As part of my training as a naturopath, I studied medical herbalism as well.  In fact, it was the medical herbalism aspect of the course that drew me into learning Naturopathy, as I had already studied the medicinal uses of plants in Aroma science and also how to optimally grow multi use plants through Permaculture Design. I wanted to learn more about using potent plant medicine, particularly the specimens I had already planted in my large home garden, so that I could help myself and my family.  Plant medicine is not just the teas and tinctures we usually think of, it is also Homeopathics, Homeobotanicals, Aromatherapy and Bach flower essences.  Each of these branches of plant medicine are equally powerful on their own and each has their own stand alone courses of study and qualifications.  As a naturopath we learn about each of these modalities, the history, use and application so that we can use the basics to help our clients or recognise when we may need to refer on to someone who has trained exclusively in these areas.  Most Naturopaths also have some massage and reflexology training as well.   This is why I liken myself to a toolbox, as I can draw upon many different modalities and skill sets, learnt in my training to help my clients. l like to use Herbal medicine with my clients in the form of capsules, teas, poultices or liquid tinctures and aromatherapy blends. I also find Bach flower remedies to be exceptionally helpful when dealing with the emotional aspects of healing or for use with children or individuals who find they are highly sensitive to herbal or allopathic medicines.

 Naturopathy can be used to help you improve certain physical conditions (eg diabetes, allergies), it can help you to improve your mental health, the way you deal with stress, improve feelings of fatigue and it can also help support you in dealing with traumas such as heart break or being stuck in bad emotional habits.  You can see a Naturopath once for a specific problem or come back on a regular basis as a form of health and wellbeing maintenance.  The beauty of Naturopathic consults is that they are all about you and are unique to your needs.  We are always trying to find balance, always learning more and always healing and your Naturopath is there to support you in your healing journey.

To book a consult please email me or use the booking page, Id love to be of service to you!