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Preventative medicine

Naturopathic medicine has a core focus on prevention. This article explains the importance of prevention in lifestyle approaches.
Regularly drinking lemon and ginger tea can be used in winter to support immunity and reduce the common cold.
© Courtesy of Pixabay 2023.

Do you think the naturopathic principle prevention has a role to play in leading a healthy lifestyle? Many chronic diseases and risk factors for developing a chronic disease, can have several modifiable factors that can reduce the impact of the disease.

Preventative medicine – or in the context of naturopathic medicine the principle prevention – has a crucial role in promoting and maintaining public health at the community and individual levels. As an approach to health care, prevention encompasses a variety of strategies or approaches that aim to stop the development of a disease, minimise the impact of a disease, or reduce the advancement of symptoms that contribute to a poor quality of life. The significance of prevention lies in its ability to not only improve patient’s lives through improving quality of life, but also the burden of having a disease through supporting self-management and care approaches. If we consider these essential features that prevention can bring to patient’s lives, we also need to consider how prevention can be implemented into patient care. From a naturopathic perspective, prevention as a principle works well with the naturopathic principle doctor as teacher Docere.

Firstly, consideration of other naturopathic philosophies and principles are needed such as holism and treat the whole person. If we have a clear picture of the different aspects in a persons life that can contribute to disease development, then considerations for a holistic approach to care be occur. For example, looking at each aspect of holism may identify different strategies that can be used top prevent disease development. As we have already uncovered, holism can focus on the below aspects in prevention of diseases.

  • Biology – Physical health: Being active, engaging with exercise, health check ups and monitoring, practising safe and effective hygiene measures.
  • Psychological – Mental health: Having self esteem, developing coping skills, family relationships and identity.
  • Social – Social health: Having a community, peers and friendship circles.
  • Environmental – Environmental health: Reducing exposure to air pollution, adequate sunlight and fresh aim, engagement with nature.

The above points are just some aspects to consider when thinking about how different strategies can be used to prevent the onset of a disease. Naturopathic medicine focuses on prevention through the above ways but also through the way that they apply their principles and philosophies to achieve optimal health in their patients. This can be done by exploring holistic health in the above example, identifying food choices or lifestyle behaviours that are associated with disease development such as smoking or drinking, evaluation other modifiable factors such as the health sleep practice and positive self care.

Preventative self-management approaches

So if prevention can contribute to reduce the development of chronic diseases, how can we use this principle from a lifestyle and self-management perspective? There has been on going research and global initiatives with the World Health Organisation that focuses on self-care interventions for health and disease prevention. Self-care approaches refer to different tools or strategies that individuals can use to promote health and well being and reduce or prevent disease without the guidance from a health care practitioner World Health Organisation, 2022. These self-care approaches can be incorporating safe exercise, stopping smoking, drug or alcohol use, seeking care for preventative assessments such as cervical cancer screening, eating a wholesome diet, avoiding processed foods and sugars, and seeking mental health support during times of stress and worry.

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Fundamentals of Naturopathic Medicine

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