Quite simply put, naturopathy is the practice of employing the inherent medicinal and therapeutic properties found in nature, to address contemporary illness. For example, the medicinal plant bacopa is widely used for ADHD, ashwagandha decreases the symptoms of anxiety and lion’s mane has proven to be effective at mitigating Alzheimer’s disease. Naturopathic practitioners often utilize these natural alternatives to accelerate and regenerate the healing capability of the body. Naturopaths frequently recommend a diet that prioritizes fruits and vegetables as the main source of sustenance. Additionally, identifying an optimal circadian rhythm that is aligned to the natural day and night cycle of your environment, is a hallmark of the medicinal practice.
An emphasis on observing and monitoring the development of thoughts is another salient feature of naturopathy. Meditation is often encouraged as a tool to quiet the mind, with the intention of improving the brain’s ability to observe, organize and analyze the world around us. Lastly, naturopathy is a lighthouse for those individuals whom the allopathic or western medicinal community has forgotten.
Historical Evidence of NATUROPATHY:
One of the most important African texts: The Ebers Papyrus (written 1550 B.C.) was originally copied from earlier texts containing a long list of of diseases, prescriptions for numerous named ailments, their doses and mode of administration. During those periods, knowledge was admittedly empiric but the accumulated experience of remedies employed during many centuries had borne rich [naturopathic] fruits.
At least 15 distinct diseases of the abdomen, 11 of the bladder, 10 of the rectum, 29 of the eyes, 6 of the ears, and 18 of the skin were diagnosed and treated on definite principles. The treatment that was prescribed was primarily derived from medicinal plants.
As Homer pointed out, the flora of Egypt was rich in medicinal herbs, evidently their medicinal properties were carefully studied and utilized. Medicinal plants and products that were frequently used included castor oil, aloes, coriander, turpentine, myrrh, linseed, lavender and peppermint. -Imhotep: The Egyptian God of Medicine, by Jamieson B. Hurry.
India is widely respected for her traditional medicinal systems—Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani. The Ayurvedic concept appeared and developed between 2500 and 500 BC in India, with medicinal plants as a central component. It is no secret that the Indian subcontinent is a vast repository of medicinal and therapeutic plants that are used in traditional medical treatments. These medicines were derived from herbs, minerals, and organic matter. Scholars agree that the use of plants as a source of medicine has been an ancient practice and is currently a major component of the health care system in India. -Indian Traditional Ayurvedic System of Medicine and Nutritional Supplementation by M. M. Pandey, Subha Rastogi, and A. K. S. Rawat.
Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is one of the most important modalities utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has an extremely valuable, rich, lengthy, and extensive treatment history. CHM was first described by a legendary figure called Shen-Nong, who is said to have lived from 2737 BCE to 2697 BCE, nearly 5,000 years ago. It is said that Shen-Nong, by tasting hundreds of herbs on one day, found more than 70 herbs that had medicinal value, selected those that were suitable as remedies, and described their properties.
Prior to the time of Shen-Nong, a few ancient Chinese scripts, such as Shang-Shu, Shi-Jing (The book of songs), recorded the use of herbal remedies. Shi-Jing illustrated not only the therapeutic effects of the herbs, but also the places where the herbs were grown and their harvesting season. It recorded 170 kinds of CHMs, including 80 plant species. -Historical Perspective of Traditional Indigenous Medical Practices: The Current Renaissance and Conservation of Herbal Resources. Si-Yuan Pan, Gerhard Litscher, Et al.
The decline of NATUROPATHY:
It should come as no surprise that up until recently, the most common modality of medicine was Botanical Medicine. However, quite abruptly there was a shift in the medical community towards the beginning of the19th century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the practice of medicinal plants came under serious attack, there was a huge push to discount medicinal plants as a viable source of treatment. Many authors wrote that drugs obtained from plants had many shortcomings due to the destructive action of enzymes (biological molecules) that caused fundamental changes during the drying process of the plants.
Pfizer (one of the first American Pharmacies) was founded in the mid 19th century (1849) by two German immigrants Charles Pfizer and Charles F. Erhart. Their company expanded rapidly during the American civil war, primarily because the demand for painkillers and antiseptics sky rocketed. Unfortunately, as war efforts increased, so did the need for medication with more palliative properties. Medication was required at a larger and more reliable rate, leading to chemists prioritizing synthetically derived medication as the new medicine of choice. This drastic change ushered in a new era of medicine: the Pharmaceutical Age.
The word “pharmacology” is derived from the Greek word: pharmakon, meaning drug, poison or spell. Pharmacology developed as a biomedical science that applied the principles of scientific experimentation to therapeutic contexts. The two main areas of pharmacology are pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. Pharmacodynamics studies the effect of a drug on biological systems, and pharmacokinetics studies the effect of biological systems on a drug. However, if we begin to closely investigate and unpack the holistic effect of pharmaceutical drugs on human development, we will uncover an inconvenient misfortunate.
The Resurgence of NATUROPATHY:
Thankfully, within the past decade there has been a resurgence of naturopathic practices across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that a whopping 80% of people worldwide currently rely on herbal medicines for some aspect of their primary health care needs.
Now it is becoming more affordable and commonplace to choose the natural alternative. More companies are focused on developing and marketing natural medication, currently categorized as nutraceuticals. An all hands on deck approach with issues relating to health and wellness is the essence that currently imbues the medicinal community.
This is true because of one simple fact: people have grown forlorn with the inconvenient side effects of synthetically derived medication. Pharmaceuticals are currently too expensive, too addicting and it only treats the symptoms of the disease, not the actual cause. Lastly, the millennia-old practice of naturopathy provides a framework that assists the patient, practitioner and student in expanding the realm of health and wellness, creating ripples of hope for the despondent and the neglected.
Naturopathy is the template used for sustained health.