Naturopaths, also known as natural medicine practitioners, treat illnesses and practise preventive medicine by using nutrition, herbalism, homoeopathy, iridology and other natural therapies, including remedial therapy to stimulate the body's own ability to repair and heal itself without the use of pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.
Naturopaths interview the patients to document symptoms and health histories, including their eating habits, then document their histories, including identifying data, chief complaints, illnesses, previous medical or family histories or psychosocial characteristics. Health conditions are diagnosed based on the patients' symptoms and health histories, laboratory and diagnostic radiology test results or other physiological measurements, such as electrocardiograms and electroencephalographs. Where necessary, they order diagnostic imaging procedures such as radiographs (x-rays), ultrasounds, mammograms and bone density tests, or they refer patients to other health professionals for these procedures. They also conduct physical examinations and physiological function tests for diagnostic purposes.
Naturopaths advise patients about therapeutic exercise and nutritional medicine regimens. They administer, dispense or prescribe natural medicines such as food or botanical extracts, herbs, dietary supplements, vitamins, nutraceuticals and amino acids. They also administer treatments or therapies such as homoeopathy, hydrotherapy, Oriental or Ayurvedic medicine, electrotherapy and diathermy, using physical agents including air, heat, cold, water, sound or ultraviolet light to catalyse the body to heal itself. They perform mobilisations and high-velocity adjustments to joints or soft tissues, using principles of massage, stretching or resistance. They may perform minor surgical procedures, such as removing warts, moles or cysts, sampling tissues for skin cancer or lipomas, and applying or removing sutures.
Some naturopaths examine the patient’s iris (coloured part of the eye) to analyse and treat illness in various organs of the body.
In summary, homoeopaths may prescribe diets, foods, minerals, vitamins and other treatments to help improve general health. They stimulate the healing powers of the patient’s body by using small, strengthened doses of herbal, mineral or animal substances or massage, exercise and pressure touch to promote healing and well-being.
There is an increasing awareness of alternative forms of medicine. Naturopathy is not a registered health profession however, national professional bodies such as the Natural Therapists Association set standards for membership.