Struggling with obesity-induced hypertension, Priya (Name Changed), a 45-year-old patient was on a high dose of blood pressure drugs as well as medication to control her thyroid hormone levels. However, after several failed attempts at reducing her weight, she decided to seek the help of a naturopath in finding a deep-rooted solution to her health problems.
Having assessed her physical, mental and emotional state, the naturopath prescribed a tailor-made routine to induce a healing process in her body. A comprehensive treatment plan including a series of detoxification processes, massage therapy, a strict diet control, yoga, and an exercise program along with herbal medications helped Priya cut down almost 20 kgs within three months, including one-month treatment at the institute and two months of follow-up diet and other routines at home. This fast progress enabled her to reduce the dosage of her thyroid and BP medications while reducing the risk of complications of diabetes and heart disease.
Priya is just one of many such patients who have in recent years turned to naturopathy to look for inner healing, rather than resort to drugs that superficially control the symptoms.
Rising incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and a growing realization that modern medicine by itself might not be sufficient to deal with changing disease epidemiology has led to an emerging interest in traditional medicinal systems across the world. While modern western medicine has played a key role in checking communicable diseases and reducing the morbidity and mortality rates, it has not succeeded much in addressing the preventive aspects. Though modern medicines (together with surgical interventions) have shown to effectively manage chronic health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes; however, due to the side effects of these modern medications, people often feel the need for a complementary approach that can address these diseases at its root. The realisation of this need has helped generate a greater interest in a naturopathic system of medicine.
What is naturopathy?
As awareness in general public grows about the power of traditional systems of medicine, based on herbs and lifestyle changes, people are also curious to know what exactly naturopathy is and how it helps to heal the body. Naturopathy is an age-old holistic system of healing the body that treats a patient as a whole and seeks to find the underlying cause of disease and uproot it from its base. Naturopathy is based on the belief that the human body has an innate capacity to help itself heal if obstacles to health and healing are removed. Naturopaths believe that disease is a manifestation of the loss of harmony in the natural processes of body and mind. The causes of disharmony may be multifarious including physical, mental, emotional as well as psychological. A naturopath will therefore examine a patient in totality to evaluate the underlying cause of the disease rather than just focus on the patient’s overt symptoms. The naturopath will also ask the patients a series of in-depth questions about lifestyle, emotional health as well as medical history. Some questions might even appear unrelated to the ailment but are essential for the physician to dive deep into the cause of the disease. The role of naturopaths is therefore to facilitate healing of the body by helping the patient return to the laws of nature.
Natural remedies intrinsic to naturopathy
Since Naturopathy is a drugless and non-invasive art of healing, it relies on a series of natural remedies to help the body heal itself. These remedies in combination with a series of lifestyle modifications and herbs facilitate the body’s return to a harmonious state, thereby healing it. Natural therapies used in naturopathic medicine include acupuncture, massages, detoxification methods, yoga, meditation, diet, herbal medicine, use of medicinal oils, to name a few. Exercise, diet and stress management practices are also central to a naturopathic health plan.
While initiating the body’s healing mechanism, natural therapies along with other naturopathic interventions help chronically ill patients reduce the dosage of potentially harmful drugs.
In a world where non-communicable lifestyle diseases have emerged as the leading cause of morbidity and mortality, it becomes imperative for various systems of medical practice to make prevention of disease an elementary part of the healthcare delivery. It is estimated that NCDs claim over 40 million lives annually across the world. This accounts for over 70% of total global deaths, with a large number of these deaths occurring in relatively younger individuals. WHO projects this number to rise to 55 million by 2030 if appropriate preventive interventions are not undertaken.
A large number of NCD related deaths can be prevented if naturopathic interventions are adopted widely. This is why there is a need to establish a more integrated system of medicine where modern medicine and naturopathy can be used in conjunction to heal the body and prevent diseases.
Health (or the lack of it) is a complex interplay of multiple factors including physical, mental, hereditary, environmental as well as spiritual entities. A harmonious interplay of all these factors is critical to a healthy well being. The underlying cause of disease and disharmony of various factors in maintaining good health is different in every individual. This is the reason why naturopathy doesn’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare delivery. Rather, it offers a personalized and customized approach depending upon the requirement of different patients, with an emphasis on overall well being, promoting health and disease prevention.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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