Matt Steinacher, Naturopath
Since it’s earliest days, when it was known as the ‘nature cure’, Naturopaths have always focused on healing from a purely natural perspective. Today, naturopathy has developed into a highly effective evidence-based form of natural medicine.
Hippocrates (460-370BC) known as the father of medicine, first highlighted the value of our environment, diet and lifestyle as factors contributing to disease. Naturopathy eventually found popularity in the 18th century throughout Austria, Germany and then the US, however, didn’t become popular in Australia until the 1970s.
Naturopaths are the general practitioners of natural medicine with their education focusing on a broad range of subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biological chemistry, clinical medicine, pharmacology, and now also research. It is common for Naturopaths to further study and specialise in herbal and nutritional medicine, as well as other allied health qualifications.
Around 5 million Naturopathy consultations take place each year throughout Australia making it the most valued complimentary medicine. Naturopathic appointments typically combine a thorough case history with functional and conventional blood testing, to identify which body processes are malfunctioning. This informs evidence-based prescription of nutritional and herbal medicines, that are effective and safe to administer.
Prescription may also include counselling, lifestyle choices, sleep, movement, and exercise. Naturopathic consultations are typically at least one hour, enabling trust, empathy and understanding of client issues (both psychological and biological).
These is no limitation to the scope of practice for Naturopathy with a wide range of disorders able to be supported with Nutritional and Herbal Medicine. Some frequently seen conditions in Australia include:
- Cardiovascular disease: specifically aimed at reducing stress, cholesterol, triglycerides, and/or blood pressure.
- Diabetes: is an area of pathology well supported by individualised nutritional planning and exercise which stabilises blood glucose and may also minimise insulin and other drug requirements.
- Metabolic disorders: Those wishing to increase or reduce weight are perfect clients to engage a Naturopath to help with diet planning, emotions, counselling, coaching, lifestyle, and exercise planning as required for an optimal outcome.
- Immune disorders: including autoimmune disorders, infections, and inflammatory disorders are greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle.
- Cancer: scope exists for evidence-based adjunctive therapy in most cancers, especially for those undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiography. Providing nutrition plans specific for recovery, energy, immunity, nerve and gastrointestinal systems while undergoing cancer therapy is well suited to Naturopathic prescription. In many cases those undergoing chemotherapy are unable to maintain a normal diet. Individualised diet plans can prevent a large range of nutritional deficiencies.
- Hormonal imbalances: including menopause, infertility, and premenstrual disorders can be modified by correcting nutritional status and condition-specific herbal medicines.
- Musculoskeletal conditions: such as sarcopenia or arthritis, respond well to specific diet plans and herbal intervention which reduce inflammation and help tissue recovery.
- Low energy or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): Often, further testing is required to identify and address the underlying causes (there are often a few).
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: including gastric reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and food sensitivities are a specialty area of Naturopathy. Improving gut health plays a key role in recovery from many other conditions, including fatigue, auto-immune conditions, and mental disorders.
- Mental Health: is a massive area of concern for the Australian population, with Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Doctors often overwhelmed with clients. For those who do not require critical care, Naturopaths may provide basic counselling and the ability to administer nutritional and herbal medicines that have evidence in the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety and depression, among other conditions.
- Performance Optimisation: boosting cognitive function and physical performance with specific nutritional and herbal medicines is not uncommon with strong evidence for dietary modification, supplements, and herbal medicines now available. Many athletes, gamers, and businesspeople leading stressful and busy lives benefit from seeing a qualified Naturopath for cognition and physical performance.
A qualified Naturopath will promote an evidence-based approach to practice and know how to safely work alongside other medical practitioners to provide a best-practice approach for health and wellbeing. Naturopaths can provide both a primary and synergistic approach to medicine thus enabling a greater therapeutic outcome for their clients.
By Matt Steinacher
Matt is a highly qualified and educated Naturopath and Sports Nutritionist with a personal interest in evidence-based practice. Matt has been actively practicing Natural Medicine for over 20 years, compounding natural medicines for a wide range of pathologies including cardiovascular disease, mental health, metabolism, immunity, sports, and performance. For more information see: www.viveclinic.com.au