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About Classical Naturopathy.

The term "Naturopathy" is composed of two words: "natura", which is Latin for "nature" and "pathos" which is a Greek word that means both empathy and healing. Thus the term "Naturopathy", although somewhat cobbled together, as is the case with many modern technical and scientific terms, effectively means: to "healing by natural means".
The term "Classical" refers to the original intention of medicine as set out by the classical Greek physician Hippocrates (see below), who stated that one should "treat by diet first."


The term Naturopathy was originally coined by Dr. John Scheel in 1895; nevertheless the origins of Naturopathy cannot be credited to one person or one school alone. Naturopathy uses a number of natural approaches such as: nutrition, herbal medicine, physical therapies, iridology and counseling; each of these modalities has had its own historical pioneers and contributors.

For example the pioneer of Naturopathic herbal medicine was without doubt the American Samuel Thomson (1769-1843); while a German doctor, Dr. Benedict Lust (1872-1945) introduced in 1892 into the USA much of the nutritional and physical therapy approaches still used in Naturopathy today.

Samuel Thomson
Samuel Thomson

Benedict Lust

Ancient Beginnings.

What can be said is that Naturopathy developed in an environment where conventional medicine had lost its way and the treatments dished out by the medical doctors of the time, such as the use of medicines containing virulent poisons, and common methods such as bleeding and purging, were often more deadly than the diseases for which they were administered. Naturopathy therefore initially developed as a reaction against these excesses, through a desire to return to the original principles of healing set out by the classical Greek physician Hippocrates, who lived from around 460 BC to 370 BC, and who is generally considered to be the father of Western medicine.

Hippocrates taught that it was not the physician that cured disease, but the healing power of nature. He stated that it was the humble duty of the physician to facilitate that healing power firstly by means of dietary approaches, and if that did was not enough, by means of natural medicines. 

He also said that surgery should only be used as a last resort, as its effects were by-and-large permanent and irreversible. Hippocrates taught many other things related to medicine and set out a system of medical ethics that remains the golden standard to this day.

Hippocrates of Cos
Hippocrates of Cos.
c.460 B.C. -c.370 B.C.

Eastern Medical Traditions.

The approaches used by Naturopathy did not only develop in the West, as Eastern medicine has a rich and long-standing tradition that incorporates the self-same principles. For example Hu Sihui published his book called the "Important Principles of Food and Beverages" (Yinshan Zhengyao) in 1330 AD in China. This great Chinese medical classic sets out comprehensive rules for maintaining health and treating illness by purely dietary measures. And although this book focuses on maintaining a balance between Yin and Yang through dietary measures and present dietetics in a different language, its practical application is no different to the dietary and constitutional rules set out by Hippocrates in his writings, that involve the selective use of energising and controlling foods. As such the dietary principles set out in this book are in essence much the same as those of Classical Naturopathy, which means that Classical Naturopathy is just as much a part of the Eastern, as it is of the Western medical traditions.

The Development of Modern Medicine.

The development and subsequent rise to power of the modern pharmaceutical industry has had an enormous impact on people’s perception as to what constitutes the treatment of disease. There is now a tendency to accept that by-and-large the role of medicine is to control the symptoms of disease, rather than lead to the re-establishment of complete health. The result has been that a large part of the Western population, and especially older people, have become drug-dependent invalids.

In line with these influences, Naturopathy has in the last 20 years or so split into two camps: "Classical Naturopaths", like ourselves, who still use natural approaches and medicines in order to restore health, and "Contemporary Naturopaths" who tend to focus on the use of high doses of "nutritional supplements."

Classical Naturopathy.

Classical Naturopaths consider that most of the supplements recommended by their contemporary counterparts are produced by pharmaceutical companies and have in fact little or no relationship to the natural world.

There is growing body of scientific evidence for the efficacy of the nutritional approaches and traditional herbal medicine used by Classical Naturopathy, while this same medical research has found warning signs that the long-term ingestion of some "nutritional supplements" can create imbalances in the body's nutritional status and metabolism that may be associated with serious health risks.

It is for these reasons that this clinic is dedicated to the natural approaches set out by Hippocrates, which are firmly enshrined in the principles of Classical Naturopathy.

Fruit, Vegs, Nuts, Seeds and Herbs.
Vegetables, fruit, berries, legumes, nuts, seeds,
mushrooms and herbs -  
the first medicine.

Naturopathic Diagnostics.

Naturopathy is of course not just a system of treatment; it also has its own diagnostic approaches. Most diagnostic methods used by Naturopaths are similar to those traditionally used by other health practitioners and may include, among others, pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis, hand and nail diagnosis and urine analysis. The Naturopaths of this clinic have had training in medical pathology and can therefore also understand and utilise a range of modern medical tests, such as x-rays and blood tests. 


One diagnostic approach that is more or less specific to Naturopathy is iridology. Iridology is essentially diagnosis through the observation of the iris (the coloured part) of the eye, although any changes in appearance of the sclera (the white part of the eye) are also taken into account. This diagnostic method can provide long-term information on the tissue condition of the body as a whole and of its different structures, and can also be used to gauge any toxin accumulation that may have taken place as a result of exposure to external toxins, from chronic infection, due to organ dysfunction or from other causes. At this clinic we take photographs of patients' irises; these provide a permanent record against which any changes in the iris and sclera can be judged accurately.
Please note that iridology is not used to diagnose or treat eye conditions.

Iris Chart
A typical Iridology chart showing the body regions relative to specific areas of the iris. 

Iridology was discovered by Dr. Ignatz von Pezely (1826-1911), who was a medical pioneer in the areas of iridology and embryology. He is probably better known in medical circles for his discoveries in embryology, but he also applied the same painstaking approach to his research in iridology, with the result that he provided a useful diagnostic tool that is ideal for the long-term goals of Naturopathic treatment. 

Treatment methods - Dietetics and Herbal Medicine.

In accordance with the principles set out by Hippocrates, the first approach in any treatment is optimisation of the diet in order to start the healing process. This is not an unimportant part of the treatment and it is in most cases quite easy to reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol or elevated blood sugar levels by simple dietary approaches. In fact, the benefit of often minor changes to the diet can be quite dramatic as far as health benefits are concerned and there are very few conditions in which a dietary approach cannot be of value.

Herbal Medicine is the second approach used by Classical  Naturopaths, which is applied in accordance with the rules of traditional herbal medicine. Naturopathy only uses herbs that have been proven effective over hundreds of years of use (and more recently by scientific research), and are gentle and safe to use. You can read more about this here

Naturopathy can treat many conditions for which modern medicine has no permanent answers. In those rare cases however, where dietetics and herbal medicine alone would not suffice, the practitioners of this clinic will in most cases recommend medical treatment, and may suggest a particular medical specialty that would be most applicable. In those instances where medical treatment is required, the practitioner will often also be able to provide Naturopathic treatment that can be used in conjunction, as part of an integrative treatment approach.


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Copyright © Paul Hysen PhD. December 2012