Thursday, 8 April 2010

Rediscovering natural medicine

Some time ago, (yes this is a long awaited blog!) Malcolm and I (Monique) attended a talk on natural medicine, which was hosted by Ayur Veda Wellbeing in St. Venera. Greeted with either herbal tea or Acai berry juice, we settled down quietly for an hour long talk which was delivered by Ruben Bartolo who works as a naturopath.
Naturopathy is a medicinal system based on the healing power of nature. The approach of the naturopath is rather a holistic one, by which he tries to understand the body, mind, and spirit when dealing with a disease. The naturopath does not treat the disease but the person. Naturopaths use herbal medicine, acupuncture, iridology and clinical nutrition.

The naturopath helps the person in supporting one’s own healing abilities and empowering him to make the necessary changes for a healthier lifestyle. Naturopathy is a broad treatment system which is free of drug use, which came about as a medical system over time. It was present in different cultures and places all over the world, becoming very popular in Europe especially in the 19th century Germany. It was further developed in late 19th and early 20th century in the United States.

Central to naturopathy is the vis medicatrix naturae, nature’s healing power followed by primum non nocere and tolle causam. Nature’s healing power is inherent self-organizing and the healing process of the living systems. It establishes, maintains and restores health. The naturopath’s role is to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment. Primum non nocere refers to first do no harm; this is a fundamental principle in naturopathic practice. Tolle causam refers to the treatment of causes of disease rather than the symptoms contrary to conventional medicine.

Mr Bartolo then spoke about clinical nutrition, iridology, traditional herbal medicine, and homeopathic medicine which I shall be describing briefly below. Clinical nutrition is based on the relationship between the disease and the nutrition. The naturopath helps the person improve one’s diets and changing them according to one’s lifestyle. Nutritional counselling and support is one of the major components of Mr Bartolo’s treatments.


Iridology is an alternative medicinal practice studying the iris of the eye by examining the patterns, colours and other characteristics. Scientific evidence for this practice is very limited; the link between aspects of the iris and patient’s state of health is not yet established scientifically. Iridologists or naturopaths trained in iridology, highlight organs or systems which are healthy and ones that are inflamed. Their general equipment is a flashlight and magnifying glass, cameras or slit lamp microscopes. The patterns are compared to a chart that is used to correlate specific zones of the iris with specific parts of the body.

Traditional herbal medicine or phytotherapy, comes as a tincture, syrup or capsules. The therapeutic properties of a plant can be extracted from any part of the plants. Fans of green tea, might not know that green tea and green tea extracts have been used to prevent and treat a variety of cancers. It is also used for improving mental awareness and lowering cholesterol levels. Scientifically, studies have suggested that it may help protect against or slow the growth of certain cancer. It also suggested that its caffeine content can contribute to improving mental awareness. The data with regards the lowering blood cholesterol levels is not reliable yet.


Homeopathic medicine which is produced from plants, animals and minerals fall under the practice of homeopathy. Samuel Hahnemann standardized the practice in 18th century Germany. It is based on the Principles of Similars, where like treat like. By using infinitesimal amounts of substances which cause similar symptoms to that which is being treated results in a treatment free from side effects and increased therapeutic effect. This process of diluting is referred to as potentization. The homeopaths use only the homeopathic approach unlike the naturopaths which train in several forms of diagnosis and treatment, including homeopathy.

Unlike alternative medicine, conventional western medicine treats diseases and not people. The drugs are designed to prevent cells of the body from performing some function that is it carrying out abnormally. The drugs have a number of undesired side effects and may be fatal. By saying this I would not like to imply that one should use only alternative medicine. Alternative medicine has been controversial since it is sometimes very limited when it comes to scientific back up. Thus it has been renamed to complimentary alternative medicine. As it complements the conventional western medicine.

References:

Iridology. Retrieved online from http://www.crystalinks.com/iridology.html

Guild of Naturopathic Iridologists International. About iridology. Retrieved online from http://www.gni-international.org/about-iridology1.htm

Herbs at a glance: Green Tea. Retrieved online from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/greentea/index.htm.

Russo Tarascio, J. Naturopath Vs. Homeopath. Retrieved online from http://www.ehow.com/about_5417341_naturopath-vs-homeopath.html

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine. Retrieved online from http://www.naturodoc.com/cardinal/naturopathy/nat_principles.htm

University of Maryland Medical Centre (2009) Naturopathy. Retrieved online from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/naturopathy-000356.htm

Ayur Veda Wellbeing on FaceBook

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I try and treat myself and family with herbal / natural alternatives and found good results... wouldlove to learn more though

    ReplyDelete
  5. The 3 comments here posted by 'Matt' have been deleted by the administrator of the blog following the request of their author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for this information! Great article!

    ReplyDelete