I have been studying, applying, and practicing a broad spectrum of holistic, natural health and healing principles since the early 1990s. These time-honoured principles are the basis of what I, and other practitioners in the field, call Traditional Naturopathy.
“Naturopathy is a philosophy which encompasses a view of life, a model for living a full life. The word naturopathy is a Latin-Greek hybrid which can be defined as ‘being close to or benefiting from nature.’” — Stewart Mitchell, Naturopathy: Understanding the Healing Power of Nature
A traditional, classical naturopath specializes in wellness. That is to say, teaching clients how applying natural lifestyle approaches can act to facilitate the body’s own natural healing and health building potential. The traditional naturopath does not undertake to “diagnose” or “treat diseases,” but rather recognizes that the majority of sub-health conditions are cumulative lifestyle effects, and that the underlying cause of what we call “disease” (or, “dis-ease”) is improper diet, unhealthy habits, and environmental factors which cause biological imbalances leading to a weakening of the bodies’ natural defenses and subsequent breakdown in health. https://www.classicalnaturopathy.org/naturopathy.html
As a traditional naturopath, my role is one of guide or teacher. I am an educator in the field of holistic health and well-ness. Whilst disease symptoms are certainly taken into account, they are not what a traditional naturopath focuses on in their educative and health protocols. Dis-ease symptoms—like cancer, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, ADHD. etc.—are, for the most part, what regular medical science (and theory) refers to as the actual “disease”. From my perspective, these overt conditions are symptoms of a deeper underlying cause of the true dis-ease one is being challenged by. Therefore, a positive diagnosis of any particular “disease” or illness is a sign-post that can help direct our attention toward the deeper imbalances bringing about such a disease. It’s a sign along the way, but not the destination.
“Doctor” as Holistic Educator
Interestingly, the word “doctor” is derived from Latin docere which means “to show; to teach”. The modern concept of doctors who function primarily as medical authoritarians, who for the most part act as middle-men, slotting patients into 15 minute appointment blocks that leave time for little more than routine prescriptions of drugs and medical procedures, is a far stretch from what it originally meant to be a doctor. What’s more, the modern concept of a Naturopathic Doctor has also strayed a significant way from its roots. The practice of many “Naturopathic Doctors” (NDs) is increasingly a somewhat “natural” version of what a medical doctor does. They often attempt to diagnose and treat specific diseases (rather than focusing on the whole Being), using a host of typically expensive and specially formulated “practitioner only” nutritional and functional food products for treatment. I am not saying these products have no merit, because they certainly do. I have practitioner access to large ranges of them myself, and have used them on occasion. But if an expensive laboratory produced nutritional formulation, which only a licensed practitioner can get access to, is the mainstay of a regular person staying healthy, then I propose this is a mis-taken approach.
My role as a traditional naturopath is to educate my clients in the subject of holistic health. Which means, to draw or lead out of you your innate capacity for health, vitality, and well-being. My other role, is to be constantly educating myself. I don’t presume to know the answers for every unique person’s health condition, but instead make a point of constantly informing myself from reliable sources, especially in response to people whose condition is more complicated than usual.
Footnotes & References