Naturopathy is the study and practice of addressing illness by using natural systems (naturo-=nature, pathy =disease); in other words, to remedy disease using nature. In every culture around the world there survives a system of traditional medicine, for example from China Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and from India Ayurvedic medicine. These systems are the equivalent of naturopathy.
In the modern world the body is constantly exposed to toxins through food, water, air and medicines. It is the naturopathic understanding that this exposure causes imbalances and stressors that evolve into disease. The earliest European naturopaths took patients into the forests and fields and exposed sick and toxic bodies to a clean environment such that the body could detoxify. In different ways this principle is still used in modern naturopathic treatment. A naturopathic treatment includes an improvement in the quality of food, water, lifestyle and medication.
Patients seeking naturopathy are prescribed significant changes to their diets. Lifestyle factors that are unhealthy are eliminated such as excessive alcohol, smoking, sugar consumption and the habitual use of drugs. The importance of an active lifestyle including exercise, correct sleep behavior and stress management is emphasized.
Naturopaths may commence treatments with natural therapies to enhance the healing response. Treatments may include one or a combination of several modalities. Treatments may include nutritional medicines, herbal medicine (from TCM, Ayurveda, or Western herbal), homoeopathy, massage therapy, acupuncture or other specialised treatments.