Naturopathy is simply another word for naturopathy. It is a very ancient science (the word “science” means knowledge) that has its roots in Indian and Chinese healing traditions. In the West, these traditions have branched out into many different disciplines, but at the core of all is naturopathic nutritional therapy, or simply naturopathic nutrition.
Naturopathic education nowadays falls into two types. The first type is sometimes referred to as “natural hygiene.” It is about fresh, natural (often raw) food, internal cleansing, detoxification and fasting. This type of naturopathy has changed little since the pre-antibiotic days when naturopathy was practiced by Harry Benjamin, Henry Lindlahr and similar leaders of the natural health movement. It was a very real and often effective treatment option for deadly infectious diseases. Before the advent of antibiotics, diseases such as scarlet fever, diphtheria and tuberculosis were the major public health problems of the time.
Today, chronic diseases in the form of arthritis, heart disease or hormonal problems are our biggest challenge. Traditional naturopathy can sometimes help these ailments, but it is a one-size-fits-all approach that can be limited in its effectiveness.
The other type of naturopathic school is more modeled after conventional medical schools, adhering ever more strictly to the so-called “evidence-based” model. The teaching of important therapeutic knowledge, accumulated by masters over many decades, is often omitted in these courses in favor of teaching the results of clinical studies on dietary supplements and herbal medicines.
These schools can also phase out older editions of books and only include texts that have been rewritten to omit so-called “unscientific” therapeutic knowledge, leaving only references to clinical trials and similar research. A notable example is the wonderful original edition of the book “Herbal Medicine” by Rudolf Fritz Weiss, which was pure gold for a practitioner whose priority is to help the sick. I have a copy of this book that I wouldn’t trade for 1,000 copies of the latest “scientifically censored” edition.
make people healthy again
Unfortunately, it’s all too common today for the most famous schools of natural medicine to follow this so-called “evidence-based” path. After a student spends $100,000 and four years of their life on this type of training, the student may find that they actually lack a basic understanding of holistic health and fail to understand why many patients do not respond to the treatment.
Because if your practice is based on the principle that a “significant percentage” of women with premenstrual syndrome will respond to a particular vitamin supplement, then by copying that treatment you will only be helping the same proportion of your own patients. In medical practice, a “significant percentage” means only those who did better than the patients given a sham treatment.
On the other hand, if you study under a Master who is committed to finding the most effective clinical approach for everyone, whether from personal experience or by studying the advice of previous Masters, you may be more likely to achieve what you originally wanted , when you signed up for your course: Making people healthy again.
Distance learning naturopathy: A new training solution?
As I have written my books over the years, I was keen to start a training course that would help fix some of the problems I described. But starting a school is a big project that should not be taken lightly. I have taught many short “skill development” courses for already qualified naturopaths and these courses have always been well received. One thing I learned from my students was how stressful it was for them to travel to class. The UK is not a large country, but the distance and cost of travel made it prohibitive for almost anyone living more than 100 miles away.
But would one distance learning be acceptable? After much thought and planning, I believed that I could do a correspondence course in naturopathy as well as an in-person course. The more I thought about it, the more benefits I saw for the student. Not only greater affordability and convenience, but also easier learning and better student-teacher contact.
When you think about it, how much student-teacher contact do you have in a classroom? They travel 100 miles to listen to lectures for a few days and raise their hands to ask questions. You can get the same information online and post your questions on an online forum where you would probably get a better answer because the teacher had a chance to think about it. In class you have to try to write down the teacher’s answer and decipher it later. The answer will be written out in full in an online forum.
Online courses can now easily include video content to vary the learning experience – much better than listening to a lecture. It is well known that after about 25 minutes the average student starts to lose concentration and needs a break. When you have to attend lectures for a full day or weekend, frequent beaks are not possible. But they are online. Just pause the video and have a cup of green tea.
Accreditation for distance learning graduates
Graduates of a naturopathy degree must be able to join a national professional association after their qualification. This allows them to get the medical insurance they need to legally establish themselves in private practice. Naturopathic health consultants also need professional liability insurance if they work for health food stores, health clubs, or vitamin companies.
For this reason, all practitioner training must be accredited by a national professional body recognized by insurers. Recently, many forward-thinking professional bodies are beginning to recognize that a distance learning degree from a good school can produce good practitioners. (See the link at the end for an accredited course.)
Modern naturopathy must include findings from modern research. But I don’t think that means forgetting what our predecessors taught us. Naturopathy is about understanding the human body and how it gets sick. Only then can the most appropriate treatment be applied. Unfortunately, this rationale is being eroded in the mainstream schools of natural medicine. I believe some of the best training today is found in smaller schools and by learning from respected master teachers. Naturopathy distance learning can certainly be the way into the future.
Thanks to Linda Lazarides