Herbal medicine involves the medicinal use of plants to treat disease and enhance general health and wellbeing. Some herbs have potent ingredients and should be treated with the same care and respect as pharmaceutical drugs. Many pharmaceutical drugs are based on the synthesised versions of naturally occurring compounds found in plants. An example is the heart drug digitalis; it is extracted from the herb foxglove.
In recent years the interest in herbal medicine has skyrocketed. This increase has led to greater scientific interest in the medicinal use of plants. Many international studies have shown that plants are capable of treating disease and improving health, often without any significant side effects.
Practitioners of herbal medicine maintain that an active ingredient can lose its impact or become less safe, if used in isolation from the rest of the plant. For instance, salicylic acid is found in the plant meadowsweet and is used to make aspirin. Aspirin can cause the lining of the stomach to bleed, but meadowsweet naturally contains other compounds that counteract the irritant qualities of salicylic acid. Ideology associated with the use of herbal medicine suggests the effect of the whole plant is greater than its parts. In retrospect, a pharmaceutical drug typically uses a synthesised version of a plant’s active ingredient.
Orthomolecular Therapy – Vitamin and Mineral Therapy
Orthomolecular medicine focuses on the nutritional needs of the individual by focusing on both diet and nutritional supplements to restore and maintain the correct nutritional balance. “Ortho” means “correct.” Orthomolecular medicine corrects or normalizes the molecular balance of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the body.
Vitamin and mineral supplements have been used since the 1920s. Orthomolecular medicine had its real beginnings in 1952; this was the year Abram Hoffer, a Canadian medical doctor, partnered with Dr. Humphrey Osmond to discover that large doses of vitamin B3 (niacin) helped to control schizophrenia. In their study, the number of recoveries from schizophrenia doubled in a one-year period in relation to conventional medical treatment alone.
The orthomolecular physician’s goal is to discover the cause of a disorder and to devise a suitable treatment program to remedy it. Most often, the first area of patient analysis will be the diet and determining if there are important nutrients which are low or missing in the daily dietary intake. In addition, food allergies, sensitivities and exposure to chemicals may be considered. A number of laboratory tests, such as those for glucose tolerance, thyroid function, insulin levels, and analyses of the hair, blood and urine, are used by orthomolecular physicians.
The main problem for the orthomolecular therapist is to discover the optimum levels of certain nutrients to relieve symptoms, and restore and maintain health. As noted above, these optimum levels may vary drastically for different people, and for a number of reasons. Simple trial and error is the most effective way to determine the optimum levels. Physicians and patients are required to work together to find a level which restores health without causing either unpleasant or dangerous side-effects.
The first treatment option is always reformulating the diet to eliminate junk foods, refined foods, sugar and caffeine, as well as those foods high in chemical additives. Any food known by a patient to make them feel ill should be eliminated. A diet of whole, raw, live and unrefined foods, balanced in proteins, fats and carbohydrates, is basic to orthomolecular treatment.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances encouraging individuals’ inherent self-healing ability. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods.
The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:
The Healing Power of Nature:
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. It is the duty of naturopathic physicians to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, then facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Causes:
The naturopathic physician will seek to identify and remove underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm:
Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming their patients:
- Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat
- Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms
- Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ right through the self-healing process
Doctor as Teacher:
Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person:
Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. The complete health and well-being of patients also combines spiritual health; naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
Naturopathic physicians will emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, hereditary and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
Nutritional Therapy is an evidence-based approach to maximising your health potential through development of individually formulated nutritional and lifestyle changes. It promotes the benefits of wholesome, unprocessed foods for optimal well-being with the added benefit of therapeutic effects provided by particular foods for specific health conditions.
Nutritional Therapy treats the body as a whole while seeking the root cause of your health concerns, rather than simply treating your symptoms. This approach works on the basis that we are each an individual in our make-up and therefore, ‘one size fits all’ models of eating simply won’t work well for all people.
Nutritional Therapy is suitable for everyone: young or old; for those who would like to alleviate specific symptoms; and for those who would just like to improve their overall health and wellbeing. Nutritional Therapy will help you to identify the foods that make you look and feel your best.
“Let food be thy medicine” – Hippocrates