Endeavour College of Natural Health.
The traditional and time-honoured philosophy that underpins naturopathy remains relevant in current landscape of the profession. It is a doctrine that is still imparted during naturopathic training and has become a part of the modern naturopath’s psyche. Lindlahr (1914) in ‘Nature Cure’ has paved the way for generations of naturopaths to treat their patients in a preventive manner, rather than combative. This seminal text also encourages modern practitioners to honour the natural laws and principles that govern health, disease and cure.
The constructive principles of cure are still reiterated and encouraged during student clinical practice. Every treatment plan given to clients is mindful and inclusive of lowest force interventions and Laws of Nature. This aims to build up the patient, improve vitality and provide sustainable treatment outcomes that diminish the possibility of disease. For some individuals these sustainable changes may be the most challenging, as it often requires a change in mental attitude and an increase in personal accountability. Some patients prefer a quick fix, or green allopathy, to address their presenting complaint/s, and are hesitant towards lowest force interventions. This situation requires cohesive communication and skills of the practitioner to educate the patient of Nature Cure, and how this philosophy can put the human body in a harmonic condition.
It is reassuring that constructive methods of cure are not only being utilised in modern naturopathy, but also being studied by science. New research is showing that time in green space and earthing modulates the immune system and reduces cortisol (Chevalier, 2012), and that experiencing awe has profound effects on mental stability and wellbeing (Rudd et al., 2012). These methods have been practiced by naturopaths for generations, yet new material for modern science – a very humbling fact.
Lindlahr (1914) illustrates that mental and emotional states exert powerful influences on vital force and overall health status. In 2019, mental health and neuropsychiatric disorders continue to rise, as does chronic disease rates. Naturopaths understand that one’s psycho-emotional stability greatly impacts upon physical health conditions, vitality and general wellbeing. Modern science is gradually discovering this connection with a novel body of literature now proving psychophysical disorders e.g., research into the gut-brain axis (Foster & Neufeld, 2013).
The primary causes of disease, as noted in Lindlahr (1914) Chapter IV, are undoubtedly still pertinent to the modern naturopathic client. Lowered vitality is of particular concern in the 21st century, wherein humans are depleted due to long work hours, shift work, abundance/excess of food, materialism, hyperstimulation and polypharmacy. These individuals are seen clinically as having a lowered resiliency to disease and infection, mental instability and suboptimal functioning of many body systems. The naturopathic conceptualisation of a client’s case history still assesses the level of vitality, thus informing the strength and style of treatment.
The third cause of disease in Lindlahr (1914) is still applicable to what modern naturopaths see clinically: accumulation of waste matter, suboptimal dietary intake, overeating, excessive alcohol consumption, pharmaceuticals and suppression of acute illness. Food has never been so abundant, processed and full of additives, which is illustrated in rising obesity and chronic disease rates. Every health condition has a magic pill that claims to ‘fix the problem’. This is where the role of the naturopath is critically important in modern healthcare – preventive medicine is needed more than ever. Naturopaths have a unique toolkit that encourages natural methods of treatment, i.e., return to nature, stimulation of Vital Force and elimination. As ‘overliving’ is still pertinent, these three methods outlined by Lindlahr (1914) are undoubtedly still integral in modern clinical practice.
54-year-old, female, presented to naturopathic student clinic seeking assistance with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (HT), significant fatigue, mood disturbances, anxiety and generalised malaise. The patient experienced a period of significant psychological and emotional trauma, alongside heightened stress, in the years preceding her HT diagnosis. Additionally, in the months preceding the initial consultation, the patient was experiencing amplified stress from a traumatic event. Interestingly, during this time, the patient was being investigated for newly developed comorbid autoimmune conditions.
An assessment of the client’s vital force exemplified that the client’s vitality was extremely depleted. This, alongside a suboptimal diet, suppressed acute diseases, lack of nutritional elements and accumulation of waste matter, highlighted that many of the primary causes of disease (Lindlahr, 1914) were contributing to her ill-health. Individualised strategies aimed to lessen the severity of the presenting complaints, plus reduce the presence of thyroid antibodies and risk of comorbid autoimmune conditions.
A body of literature has demonstrated a connection between stress, trauma and early life events with autoimmune conditions, including HT. It is postulated that stress contributes to the onset of autoimmune conditions via a complex neuronal interplay wherein an activated stress response affects nervous, endocrine and immune system function, leading to a disruption of homeostasis (Mizokami et al., 2005).
Consequently, a considerable part of the naturopathic treatment was based upon constructive principles of Nature and natural methods of treatment. These lowest force interventions included stress management, self-care practices, return to nature, breathing, resting, aromatherapy, reflexology, plus addressing suppressed emotional trauma. Stimulating the vital force was achieved by implementing relaxation, sleep hygiene and a naturopathic eating style. It was suggested that the client spend time in green spaces to regulate mood, cortisol, immune system and circadian rhythm (Chevalier et al., 2012).
In subsequent consultations, strategies were recommended to overcome isolation, reiterating the beneficial role of connection in the maintenance of psychological well-being and mental health outcomes (Kawachi & Berkman, 2001). Exposure to humorous stimuli was suggested as a self-care practice; mirthful laughter may reduce physiological measures of stress, improve natural killer cell activity (Bennett et al., 2003) and modulate neuroimmune parameters (Berk et al., 2001). Herbal adaptogen and nutraceutical prescription was included on the 3rd and 4th consult, once vitality had been strengthened.
A significant change in the patient was observed. The client progressively became more optimistic, with improved mood, anxiety and cognitive function. Fatigue moderately lessened and she reported greater ability to counterbalance stressful events with positive self-care practices. During the final consultation, the client disclosed “it was the most stable, happy and balanced” she has felt since before her HT diagnosis. It is clear that this client, prior to naturopathic treatment, had reduced quality of life regardless of indicated pharmacotherapies.
This case study does not aim to prove the link between stress, trauma and thyroid dysfunction, but is merely highlighting the naturopathic conceptualisation of the case. It illustrates that naturopaths are able to work with the client to identify the root cause and contributing factors in order to individualise treatment. With this conceptualisation, treatment plans are more targeted and superior treatment outcomes are achieved. It demonstrates that lower force psychosocial treatments can positively influence the immune response and neuroendocrine pathways. Finally, it highlights that by addressing mental and emotional imbalances, alongside Nature Cure constructive principles and natural methods of treatment, as suggested by Lindlahr (1914), profound positive physical changes can be experienced.
Naturopathic philosophy is unique partly in its ability to truly consider the unique and complex interplay of each individual patient. Naturopathic practice embodies Nature Cure at every level of intervention and ensures that each patient is treated according to their vitality.
The primary differentiating factor between naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine is the philosophy that drives the practice and interventions. Mainstream medicine aims to suppress disease processes, and believes that each condition has one cause and one treatment, normally of pharmaceutical origin. Conversely, naturopathic medicine deems each patient’s health status as a sum of factors that are unique to that individual; there is rarely one cause or one treatment for cure. Similarly, naturopaths excel at identifying the underlying root cause/s for a patient’s ill-health. Naturopathic conceptualisations of case histories are unique, holistic and thorough, compared to that of allopathic assessments. Whilst naturopathy draws upon science as a foundation for therapeutic intervention, the concept of holism that underpins naturopathy cannot be underestimated.
Another differentiating factor, and one that makes naturopathy distinctive, is the notion of constructive and destructive laws of nature, and subsequently, healthcare. Similarly, elimination versus suppression, as outlined in chapter VII of Lindlahr (1914), is another unique element of naturopathic practice. Conventional medicine often suppresses acute illness with destructive methods of treatment, e.g., halting fever, reducing acute inflammation or surgery. This results in a devolutionary process and disintegration of the human body. Conversely, naturopathic medicine considers acute reactions as conducive to healing and as an increased activity of the vital force. Rather than suppression, elimination is at the forefront of interventions prescribed by naturopaths, including scientific selection of dietary inclusions, hydrotherapy, manual therapies and medicinal remedies.
Finally, the distinctive notion of the primary and secondary effects of treatment stems from the Law of Action (Lindlahr, 1914). Allopathic medicine deliberates the initial effect of interventions, rarely considering the longer term implications that may worsen the individual’s health status and vitality. Naturopathy places high importance on the secondary effects of interventions e.g., laxatives initially relieving constipation but eventually worsening the condition, or NSAIDS relieving pain but contributing to gastric erosion. Whilst green allopathy is sometimes necessary, it is essential that practitioners work on the underlying root cause simultaneously to avoid adverse secondary reactions.
Concluding, it is clear that the cornerstone text of Nature Cure (Lindlahr, 1914) has provided a strong framework for generations of naturopaths. This foundation has ensured that Laws of Nature and natural methods of treatment are still pertinent in naturopathic holistic assessment and interventions.
Bennett, M. P., Zeller, J. M., Rosenberg, L., Mccann, J., Bennett, M. P. ;, Zeller, J. M. ;, & Rosenberg, L. ; (2003). The Effect of Mirthful Laughter on Stress and Natural Killer Cell Activity Recommended Repository Citation. Nursing Faculty Publications School of Nursing, 9(2), 38–45. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/nurs_fac_pub
Berk, L. S., Felten, D. L., Tan, S. A., Bittman, B. B., & Westengard, J. (2001). Modulation of neuroimmune parameters during the eustress of humor-associated mirthful laughter. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 7(2), 62–72, 74–76. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11253418
Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: Health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/291541
Foster, J. A., & Neufeld, K. M. (2013). Gut – brain axis : how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Trends in Neurosciences, 36(5), 305–312. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2013.01.005
Kawachi, I., & Berkman, L. F. (2001). Social Ties and Mental Health. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 78(3), 458–467. doi: 10.1093/jurban/78.3.458
Lindlahr, H. (1914). Nature Cure. Nature Cure Publishing. Retrieved from https://anpa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Nature-Cure.pdf
Mizokami, T., Wu Li, A., El-Kaissi, S., & Wall, J. R. (2005). Stress and Thyroid Autoimmunity. Thyroid, 14(12), 1047–1055. https://doi.org/10.1089/thy.2004.14.1047
Rudd, M., Vohs, K. D., & Aaker, J. (2012). Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being. Psychological Science, (August). https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612438731