Naturopathic medicine incorporates the use of herbal medicine, nutrition and lifestyle techniques to help bring the body into optimal health. It can be used on its own or alongside conventional medicine.
The treatment philosophies stem from the principle that nature has provided us with the tools to heal, and that if we take away ‘barriers’ to healing (such as stress, poor diet or pathogens…) and add in what we need (such as vitamins, water, laughter, exercise, herbs…) then the body will be able to obtain balance and heal.
A Naturopath holds your hand through your health journey, guiding you in what you need to do to help you get better and providing motivation and support along the way.
The first consultation is about understanding you: I take a bit under an hour to discuss your health concerns and goals and go through your case history. With that information I will formulate a treatment plan for you and discuss this with you. Herbal medicines and nutritional supplements are usually prescribed, along with diet and lifestyle suggestions, and referral for testing may be completed as well.
Your health goals, personal preferences and budget are all taken into consideration with this, so you won’t be given something that you feel is unachievable, and the treatment is individualised to you.
Follow Up Consultations
In these appointments your progress is monitored, and you are guided, supported and motivated through your treatment plan. If needed, any additional recommendations or changes to your treatment can be made at this time.
Diet and lifestyle suggestions and discussion/education about your health concerns are also continued throughout these consultations.
These are 15 minute appointments which are suitable for short term conditions such as colds and ‘flu. In these consults your symptoms are discussed and a symptomatic remedy is prescribed. These appointments are available to new and existing patients, and can be completed over skype if necessary.
Just because you can’t make it into the clinic doesn’t mean you can’t get an appointment, thanks to the wonders of technology. A Skype consult is run very similarly to a normal consult, except that it is run in the comfort of your own home. Any herbs or supplements that may be prescribed can be posted to you.
Depending on your needs, certain tests may be performed.
In clinic testing:
The bio-impedance analysis machine uses a gentle electrical current to test a number of factors which assist us to design a program specifically tailored for your needs, and is helpful in monitoring body composition changes (e.g. fat mass). This test provides us with a good insight into your general health status. Most importantly, it acts as a measure that we can use to demonstrate your progress during treatment.
During your consultation a Naturopath will take a thorough case history which gives an excellent insight into your health, and will often combine this with some physical examinations such as blood pressure, tongue and nail examination, abdominal palpation.
Accutrend testing of Cholesterol ($10) and glucose ($5) is also available.
Naturopaths are trained to read and understand pathology results, and can refer for blood tests however the costs for these are not claimable throughout Medicare.
There are a variety of other tests that may be prescribed depending on your individual presentation. These tests are referred to as ‘functional pathology’ and are often employed by holistic/integrative doctors and some naturopaths.
Some of the more common tests referred for are:
Many conditions are triggered/worsened by eating foods that you have a sensitivity to, such as digestive disorders e.g. IBS, constipation, flatulence, bloating, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis etc., as well as several other conditions.
There are several methods of assessing for food intolerances such as an elimination diet, or blood tests. The blood tests we use in clinic are different to the commonly performed scratch tests, as they are assessing levels of IgG antibodies.
Food DetectiveTM tests for IgG antibody reactions to 59 commonly eaten foods. The test is performed using a blood sample from a finger-prick that is diluted then added to the Food DetectiveTM testing tray (containing small spots of food protein extracts). The cost for this test is $200. (Link to PDF)
Laboratory testing is also available.
The state of the digestive system is considered in naturopathic philosophy to be an integral part of your overall health, and imbalances in your gut flora can contribute towards a wide range of conditions, from digestive symptoms, to mood imbalances, to skin problems.
I usually opt for Bioscreen or a CDSA test through Nutripath or Healthscope, depending on what your symptoms indicate.
This test is sent to you as a kit, for you to complete and then post back to the lab.
Saliva testing can be done to determine the levels of hormones in males and females, which may be indicated if a condition is linked to hormonal imbalances. Saliva testing is not invasive and also gives a more accurate result than serum testing as it measures the ‘free’ hormones. When hormones are circulating through the body, some of them are bound to carrier proteins. It is the hormones that are not bound, also known as ‘free’ hormones that are active in the body. They best reflect a patient’s hormonally-related symptoms, rather than total or bound hormone levels (as measured in serum).
Baseline hormone testing and adrenal hormone profile are saliva tests.
This can be performed for men and women and measures the following hormones:
DHEA – S
The adrenal hormones can be measured to asses for adrenal fatigue, which occurs after periods of prolonged stress. Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, insomnia, headaches, low energy, stress, hormonal imbalances and poor immune function can be related to an issue with the adrenal glands. This is measured by saliva, and can be requested together with the hormonal profile.
Certain conditions such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and fructose malabsorption can be tested via a breath test. This is performed with a kit at home. For more information visit breathtest.com.au
Certain genes can have an impact on your overall health and can contribute towards specific conditions.
MTHFR is a commonly requested genetic test that can provide insight into your health. This is usually requested through Healthscope, and can be done via a cheek swab or blood test.
Pyrolle disorder, also known as pyroluria, kryptopyrrole or mauve factor, is a genetic condition that can be tested for via a urine test.