Natural remedies are actually a natural medicine, where the active ingredient are derived from natural sources. Isolated compounds or chemically modified ingredients are not included in natural remedies.
Natural medicine can also be referred to as naturopathy; it is a form of alternative/complimentary medicine which involves homeopathy, herbalism, diet, lifestyle counselling, and more. It is believed that naturopathy originates back to 400BC and its founding principles were discovered by the Greek philosopher Hippocrates.
What is Western Herbal Medicine?
Western herbal medicine is the use of plants and plant material to create medicines for the help prevention and/or treatment of various illnesses. The materials can use some or all of the parts of a plant for example; flowers, roots, fruits, leaves, and bark.
Traditional Western herbal medicine came mostly from the ancient Greeks and they were heavily influenced by civilisations from Egypt and the Middle East. Well-known historical physicians including Hippocrates and Galen are believed to have used herbal medicine in their practices. The use of various herbal formulas is one of the oldest and possibly the most widespread form of medicine.
Herbal remedies are used for many purposes, such as the support of digestive, respiratory, circulatory, immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. Herbs are also used to remove waste and toxins from cells in the body or topically used to promote healing of the skin.
People who practise natural medicine are known as Naturopaths, many of these practitioners have obtained numerous professional qualifications and have passed extensive examinations to receive them. In addition to this, these healthcare practitioners must continue updating their knowledge to keep up to date with medical advancements.
Philosophy behind natural medicine
Natural medicine systems aim to include gentle therapeutic techniques involving the body, mind and emotions to assist in the healing process. They also concentrate on each patient as an individual and treat the whole person, instead of concentrating on a particular area or the patient’s ailment. It is believed that muscles, bones and nerves are interconnected, therefore when structures of the body system are aligned; the body is able to function at its best and support self-healing.
Natural medicine practitioners will make a concerted effort to avoid using methods which suppress symptoms, as the aim is for the body to restore its inner balance and heal itself. Practitioners also have a role to teach; by educating and empowering their clients, clients can take more responsibility for their well-being and adopt a healthier lifestyle and attitude. Another important principle of naturopathic medicine is prevention of ill health; this can be done through both teaching and client counselling.
Depending on the clients condition and symptoms, treatment methods can vary and may include one or multiple methods such as ;
- Lifestyle advice to promote health and eradicate stress
- Dietary advice to promote detoxification, restore balance and address minor conditions
- Herbal medication and other supplementation to treat and prevent symptoms and ailments
- Massage therapy to release tension and promote well-being
- Meditation as a way of stress relief and management
Practitioners will take into account each individual client and customise a treatment plan for them. Clients will be asked numerous questions regarding their lifestyle, sleep patterns, diet and more to understand the client as well as their condition in their initial consultations.
Natural medicine and its benefits
Naturopathic treatments can be suitable for everyone, all ages and every level of health. Most commonly, clients who are suffering from fatigue, stress and its related disorders, gastrointestinal diseases or similar minor ailments will seek treatment from natural medicine practitioners. This does by no means mean that other more serious conditions cannot be treated naturally. In fact many more serious conditions do respond very well.
Most treatments can certainly cause no harm however there are a number of benefits with natural medicine which may be why many patients are drawn to it;
Emphasis on clients as a whole, as previously discussed, the principles and ideologies of naturopathy focus on the entire body for healing; emotional, mental and physical health are all taken into consideration.
Clients are offered personal attention, unlike when visiting a doctors clinic where clients will only discuss their symptoms, naturopathic practitioners consult their client on multiple aspects of their health so that they can tailor a customised treatment plan.
A focus on prevention, natural medicine encourages clients to visit practitioners before a medical condition develops so that they can take control of their health and revitalise themselves.