What’s The Difference Between Naturopathy and Homeopathy?
Naturopathy and Homeopathy are often seen as the same thing. This is largely because they are both “alternate” forms of medicine, and are both understood to be “natural” in origin. It is true that naturopathic and homeopathic medicine have certain philosophies in common. They both believe in discovering the root cause of illness in order to treat patients at a fundamental level. Both disciplines are considered “holistic,” and both believe our bodies can heal themselves when they receive the proper care and attention. Despite these similarities, however, there are significant differences between the two.
Naturopathy is actually an all-encompassing term for a natural medical approach that embraces many different types of treatment options, including homeopathy. Other treatments include lifestyle counselling, dietary adjustments, use of herbs and supplements, massage, exercise prescription and iridology. The origin of naturopathy lies in what’s known as “nature cures,” which is the practice of fasting, using hydrotherapy, and eating only whole, raw foods.
The core philosophy behind naturopathy is based on creating an environment within your body that supports recovery from illness. It is concerned primarily with primary health care, placing great emphasis on prevention, treatment, and optimal health, while also addressing spiritual, emotional and metaphysical aspects.
As part of his qualification, a naturopathic doctor will study the same basic sciences as a medical doctor, but will also study homeopathy, nutrition, botanical medicine, counseling and other integrative therapies. When you first meet your naturopathic doctor, s/he will collect a thorough patient history from you, and carry out an appropriate physical examination. Based on the results of these two steps, s/he may then order X-rays or take blood for testing to rule out (or in) certain diagnoses, where after a personalised treatment plan - that may or may not include homeopathy – will be created specifically for you.
Surprisingly, homeopathy has its origins in the orthodox medicine of the 18th century. It is a single system of medicine in which all the focus is on one thing – the application of homeopathic medicines. These are known as tinctures, or fluid extracts, and are made from plants. They are usually dark in colour and often characterised by a strong, sometimes bitter taste.
When you first visit a homeopath, your consultation will include giving detailed information about the patterns of your symptoms. This is because all prescriptions are highly tailored to your particular set of symptoms. Not all headaches will be treated in the same way, for example. Your headache may be sharp, and most severe in the mornings. Someone else’s might be a dull ache that comes on in the evenings. Each headache will be treated with different prescriptions.
All ailments, though, are treated using the “Law of Similars” or the belief that “What a substance can cause, it can also cure.” For example, beestings and other, similar swellings are treated with a homeopathic medicine made from honeybee extracts. All homeopathic remedies are diluted before being taken, but the dilution gets less and less as the treatment continues, resulting in increasing potency of the remedy.
Where Does Conventional Medicine Fit In?
Many naturopaths and homeopaths agree that conventional medicine can be a more appropriate treatment option than alternative remedies in cases where patients have serious health conditions. They do, however, believe that naturopathy and homeopathy can safely and successfully complement conventional therapies in the majority of cases.
Dr Alain Sanua is a qualified medical doctor and a passionate proponent of integrative medicine. He believes that a combined approach, encompassing several treatments, is definitely preferable to ones that only favour either allopathic, homeopathic or naturopathic remedies. Find out more here.