Naturopathic therapy uses a range of treatments to strengthen and heal the body. Some examples of the techniques used include physical medicine, homeopathy, biofeedback, acupuncture, hypnosis, nutrition therapy, hydrotherapy, herbal medicine, and detoxification. Naturopathic practitioners also encourage healthy lifestyle changes, stress reduction, and other changes that support healing and encourage patients to make healthy lifestyle choices. Naturopathic treatments normally complement traditional medicine; it is, however, important that both the traditional healthcare provider and naturopathic practitioner know what treatments the patient is receiving from the other.
Acupuncture is a process that uses needles to stimulate certain parts of the body to treat medical conditions. The needles are very thin and are inserted just far enough into the skin to prevent them from falling out. Some practitioners provide additional stimulation by using small electrical charges or sound waves with the needles. Homeopathy is a technique where a very small amount of a substance that causes illness is diluted with alcohol or water to create a naturopathic therapy.
Hypnosis and biofeedback are often used as treatments for chronic pain, anxiety, fear, and similar conditions. Hypnosis is a state of focused concentration that leaves the patient open to suggestion. Biofeedback is a training technique that involves attaching various monitoring devices to an individual and teaching them to control physical processes, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension, that are normally automatic.
Hydrotherapy is any form of naturopathic therapy that involves water. It includes drinking spring water, exercising in water, and using hot and cold water baths. Hydrotherapy is used to strengthen the immune system and speed healing. Detoxification is a process used by some practitioners that is believed to remove toxins from the body. This naturopathic therapy includes drinking water, fasting, and using enemas to clear the body.
Nutrition therapy is the process of using foods as medicine. The practitioner will assess the patient's current diet and make recommendations for foods that he or she believes will improve health and prevent disease. Herbal medicine is the use of herbs as treatment or prevention of disease. The herbs are available in capsule, powder, extract, or tea form. Physical medicine includes different forms of naturopathic therapy, including massage and other forms of touch therapy, applying hot and cold compresses, myofascial release, and lymphatic drainage.
It is important to note that different forms of naturopathic therapy have varying degrees of research and documentation to back up medical claims. Discuss any complementary or alternative treatment with a licensed healthcare professional. Traditional and alternative treatment can be used together, but it is important that both providers are aware of the treatment the other is providing.