Naturopathy is a system of man building in harmony with the constructive principles of Nature on physical, mental, moral and spiritual planes of living. It has great health promotive, disease preventive and curative as well as restorative potential.
According to the manifesto of British Naturopathic Association, "Naturopathy is a system of treatment which recognises the existence of the vital curative force within the body." It therefore, advocates aiding human system to remove the cause of disease i.e. toxins by expelling unwanted and unused matters from human body for curing diseases.
The main features of Naturopathy are:
According to this therapy, the food must be taken in natural form. Fresh seasonal fruits, fresh green leafy vegetables and sprouts are excellent. These diets are broadly classified into three types which are as follows:
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. The word id derived from the old English, ‘Feastan’ means to fast, observe, be strict. In Sanskrit ‘ Vrath’ means ‘determination’ and ‘Upavasa’ means ‘near to God’ A fast may be total or partial concerning that from which one fasts, and may be prolonged or intermittent as to the period of fasting. Fasting is an important treatment modality for health preservation. In fasting, mental preparedness is an essential pre-condition. Prolonged fasting should be done only under the supervision of a competent Naturopath.
The duration of the fast depends upon the age of the patient, the nature of the disease and amount and type of drugs previously used. It is some times advisable to undertake a series of short fasts of two or three days and gradually increase the duration of each succeeding fast by a day or so. No harm will accrue to fasting patient provided they take rest and are under proper professional care.
Fasting can be with water, juices or raw vegetable juices. The best, safest and most effective method is lime juice fasting. During fasting, the body burns up and excretes huge amounts of accumulated wastes. We can help this cleansing process by drinking alkaline juices. Sugars in juices will strengthen the heart, juice fasting is therefore the best form of fasting. All juices should be prepared from fresh fruit immediately before drinking. Canned or frozen juices should not be used. A precautionary measure, which must be observed in all cases of fasting, is the complete emptying of the bowels at the beginning of the fast by enema so that the patient is not bothered by gas or decomposing matter formed from the excrements remaining in the body. Enemas should be used at least every alternate day during the fasting period. The total liquid intake should be approximately six to eight glasses. A lot of energy is spent during the fast in the process of eliminating accumulated poisons and toxic waste materials. It is therefore, of utmost importance that the patient gets as much physical rest and mental relaxation as possible during the fast.
The success of the fast depends largely on how it is broken. The main rules for break in the fast are: do not overeat, eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly and take several days for the gradual change to the normal diet.
Physicians of most cultures, throughout history, have recommended extended fasting as therapy for various conditions from ancient to modern. Though earlier observations were studied without scientific methodology or understanding they still point to utilization of fasting as a therapeutic modality. Earlier observations were based on animal behaviour but today they are based on animal physiology. We will try to discern in this article as to how best fasting could be useful in promoting ones health through review of literature that describes physiological and metabolic benefits.
Prominent among the physiological effects conferred by fasting (Calorie Restriction and Intermittent Fasting) are the following: increased insulin sensitivity that results in reduced plasma glucose and insulin concentrations and improved glucose tolerance, reduced levels of oxidative stress as indicated by decreased oxidative damage to proteins, lipids and DNA, increased resistance to various types of stress including heat, oxidative and metabolic stresses and enhanced immune function.
Both gross and cellular physiology is profoundly affected by caloric restriction (CR) or intermittent fasting (IF) regimes. With respect to gross physiology there is of course a significant reduction of body fat and mass, which supports a healthy cardiovascular system and reduces incidents of myocardial infarction. In addition to cardioprotection a greater tolerance to stress is induced in the liver, the nutrient core of homo sapiens. The presence of alternative energy stores such as ketone bodies (e.g. β-hydroxybutyrate) enable homo sapiens to survive additional stresses of life. Excessive and deleterious blood glucose is curtailed by an enhanced sensitivity to insulin (Ins) and glucose and its utilization as an energy source
Mud therapy is very simple and effective treatment modality. The mud used for this should be clean and taken from 3 to 4 ft. depth from the surface of the ground. There should be no contamination of stone pieces or chemical manures etc. in the mud.
Mud is one of five elements of nature having immense impact on the body both in health and sickness. Advantages of using mud:
Before using, mud should be dried, powdered and sieved to separate stones, grass particles and other impurities
Keeping soaked mud in a thin, wet muslin cloth and making it into a thin flat brick depending on the size of the patient’s abdomen, apply it. The duration of the mud pack application is 20 to 30 minutes. When applied in cold weather, place a blanket over the mud pack and cover the body as well.
Soaked mud is applied on the face and allowed to dry for 30 minutes. This is helpful in improving the complexion of the skin and removing pimples and open skin pores which in turn facilitate elimination. This also is helpful in eliminating dark circles around the eyes. After 30 minutes, face should be washed thoroughly with cold water.
Mud may be applied to the patient in sitting or lying position. This helps to improve the skin condition by increasing the circulation and energizing the skin tissues. Care should be taken to avoid catching cold during the bath. Afterwards, the patient must be thoroughly washed with cold water jet spray. If the patient feels chill, warm water should be used. The patient is, then, dried quickly and transferred to a warm bed. The duration of mud bath may be 45 to 60 minutes.
Hydrotherapy is a branch of Nature Cure. It is the treatment of disorders using different forms of water. These forms of water application are in practice since age-old days. Hydrothermal therapy additionally uses its temperature effects, as in hot & cold baths, saunas, wraps, etc and in all its forms-solid, fluid, vapour, ice and steam, internally and externally. Water is without doubt the most ancient of all remedial agents for disease. This great healing agent has now been systematized and made into a science. Hydriatic applications are generally given in different temperatures, the temperature of application are given in the below table.
|Sl.No.||Temperature||o Fahrenheit||o Celsius|
|1||Very Cold (Ice Application)||30-55||-1-13|
|5||Warm (Neutral)||92-98 (92-95)||33-37 (33-35)|
|7||Very Hot||Above 104||Above 40|
In should also be noted that the successful use of these methods needs a certain level of vital power. Where that power is too low, these are useless. As in acute conditions there is a higher degree of vital power, and hence there is a certainty of vital reaction. In chronic cases, where the vital power is lower, these baths are less useful, but in such cases the packs are useful because they are milder in their application.
Water is used in many forms in treatment. The various forms of treatments are:
Cold Immersion Bath, Cold Immersion with Friction, Neutral Immersion Bath, Hot Immersion, Neutral Half Bath, Graduated Immersion Bath with Epsom Salt, Asthma Bath, Whirlpool Bath, under water massage.
Graduated Enema, Vaginal Irrigation, Cold Irrigation, Neutral Irrigation, Hot Irrigation.
One of the modalities of Hydro therapy is Colon Therapy.
It is the process of cleansing and flushing out colon or large intestine. The treatment is similar to an enema but is more extensive. It uses clean filtered water under gentle pressure (without pain) to wash out or detoxify colon of stagnated faecal materials. The number of sessions will depend on individual. Most people require a series of 3-6 treatments to receive a thorough cleansing of the colon.
The recuperative and healing properties of hydrotherapy are based on its mechanical and/or thermal effects. It exploits the body’s reaction to hot and cold stimuli, to the protracted application of heat, to pressure exerted by the water and to the sensation it gives. The nerves carry impulses felt at the skin deeper into the body, where they are instrumental in stimulating the immune system, influencing the production of stress hormones, invigorating the circulation and digestion, encouraging blood flow, and lessening pain sensitivity. Generally, heat quiets and soothes the body, slowing down the activity of internal organs. Cold, in contrast, stimulates and invigorates, increasing internal activity.
Its mechanical action occurs during the bath when the body weight decreases by 50% to 90% when submerged in a bath, a pool, or a whirlpool, experiences a kind of weightlessness. Body is relieved from the constant pull of gravity. Water also has a hydrostatic effect. It has a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads your body. Water, in motion, stimulates touch receptors on the skin, boosting blood circulation and releasing tight muscles.
Massage is an excellent form of passive exercise. The word is derived from the Greek word ‘massier’ which means to kneed, from French "friction of kneading", or from Arabic massa meaning "to touch, feel or handle" or from Latin massa meaning "mass, dough”. Massage is the practice of soft tissue manipulation with physical (anatomical), functional (physiological), and in some cases psychological purposes and goals. If correctly done on a bare body, it can be highly stimulating and invigorating.
Massage is also a modality of Naturopathy and quite essential for maintaining good health. Massage involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearm, and feet. There are over eighty different recognized massage modalities. It aims at improving blood circulation and strengthening bodily organs. In winter season, sun bath after massaging the whole body is well known practice of preserving health and strength. It is beneficial to all. It bestows combined benefits of massage and sun rays therapy. In disease conditions, necessary therapeutic effects can be obtained through specific techniques of massage. Massage is a substitute of exercise for those who cannot do the same. The effects of exercise can be derived from massage. Various oils are used as lubricants like mustard oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, olive oil, aroma oils etc. which also have therapeutic effects.
There are seven fundamental modes of manipulation in massage and these are: Touch, effleurage (stroking), friction (rubbing), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussion), vibration (shaking or trembling) and Joint movement. Movements vary according to disease condition and parts applied.
Another form of massage helpful in most ailments are the vibratory massage, Powder massage, Water massage, Dry massage. Powders of neem leaves, rose petals and are also used as lubricants for massage.
Reflex Effects (responses mediated by the nervous system)
Mechanical Effects (responses resulting from directly applied manual pressure)
The general massage, dealing with all parts of the body, is highly beneficial in many ways. It tones up the nervous system, influences respiration and quickens the elimination of poisons and waste material from the body through the various eliminative organs such as the lungs, skin, kidneys and bowels. It also boosts blood circulation and metabolic processes. A massage removes facial wrinkles, helps to fill out hollow cheeks and neck and eases stiffness, sore muscles and numbness.
Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced trait anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and state anxiety. Theories behind what massage might do include blocking nociception (gate control theory), activating the parasympathetic nervous system which may stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, preventing fibrosis or scar tissue, increasing the flow of lymph, and improving sleep but such effects are yet to be supported by well designed clinical studies.
Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers or any blunted objects to press key points called as ‘Acu Points’ (Energy stored points) on the surface rhythmically on the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force to aid healing.
Acupuncture and acupressure use the same points, while acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of hands or any blunted objects, but acupuncture employs needles, Acupressure has been practiced as a healing art for at least 5,000 years. This complete health system has been documented for use in treating over 3000 conditions. Now acupoints are commonly treated utilizing transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (aka TENS) and laser light from laser or LED diodes in specific wavelengths shown to have rapid and lasting effects.
Acupressure philosophy and acupoint stimulation is based on the same principles as Acupuncture. By using pressure, electric stimulation or laser light instead of needles, it works to stimulate specific reflex points located along the lines of energy which run through the body, called meridians. There are 14 main meridian lines, each of which corresponds to an individual organ of the body. When the vital energies are able to flow through the meridians in a balanced and even way, the result is good health. When you experience pain or illness it is an indication that there is a block or leak in the energy flow within your body.
To find the appropriate point, gently probe the area until it is found that point which gives a "funny bone" feeling or is sensitive, tender or sore. Then press hard enough to make the point hurt. Stimulation is given by steady pressure or five seconds on and five seconds off rotating pressure. Usually one minute is sufficient for each treatment session.
Acupressure can be effective in helping relieve headaches, eyestrain, sinus problems, neck pain, backaches, arthritis, muscle aches, and tension due to stress, ulcer pain, menstrual cramps, lower back aches, constipation, and indigestion, anxiety, insomnia.
There are also great advantages to using acupressure as a way to balance the body and maintain good health. The healing touch of acupressure reduces tension, increases circulation, and enables the body to relax deeply. By relieving stress, acupressure strengthens resistance to disease and promotes wellness.
Acupuncture is the procedure of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, "needle", and pungere, "to prick".
According to traditional Chinese medical theory, acupuncture points are situated on meridians along which qi, the vital energy, flows. There is no known anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians.
In China, the practice of acupuncture can perhaps be traced as far back as the Stone Age, with the Bian shi, or sharpened stones. Acupuncture’s origins in China are uncertain. The earliest Chinese medical text that first describes acupuncture is the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (History of Acupuncture) Huangdi Neijing, which was compiled around 305–204 B.C. Some hieroglyphics have been found dating back to 1000 B.C. that may indicate an early use of acupuncture.According to one legend, acupuncture started in China when some soldiers who were wounded by arrows in battle experienced a relief of pain in other parts of the body, and consequently people started experimenting with arrows (and later needles) as therapy.Acupuncture spread from China to Korea, Japan and Vietnam and elsewhere in East Asia. Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century were among the first to bring reports of acupuncture to the West.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, "health" is considered a condition of balance of yin and yang within the body. Some have compared yin and yang to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Particularly important in acupuncture is the free flow of Qi, a difficult-to-translate concept that pervades Chinese philosophy and is commonly translated as "vital energy". Qi is immaterial and hence yang; its yin, material counterpart is Blood (capitalized to distinguish it from physiological blood, and very roughly equivalent to it). Acupuncture treatment regulates the flow of Qi and Blood, tonifying where there is deficiency, draining where there is excess, and promoting free flow where there is stagnation. An axiom of the medical literature of acupuncture is "no pain, no blockage; no blockage, no pain."
Traditional Chinese medicine treats the human body as a whole that involves several "systems of function" generally named after anatomical organs but not directly associated with them. The Chinese term for these systems is Zang Fu, where zang is translated as "viscera" or solid organs and fu is translated as "bowels" or hollow organs. In order to distinguish systems of function from physical organs, Zang Fu are capitalized in English, thus Lung, Heart, Kidney, etc. Disease is understood as a loss of balance of Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood (which bears some resemblance to homeostasis). Treatment of disease is attempted by modifying the activity of one or more systems of function through the activity of needles, pressure, heat, etc. on sensitive parts of the body of small volume traditionally called "acupuncture points" in English, or "xue" in Chinese. This is referred to in TCM as treating "patterns of disharmony."
Most of the main acupuncture points are found on the "twelve main meridians" and two of the "eight extra meridians" (Du Mai and Ren Mai) a total of "fourteen channels", which are described in classical and traditional Chinese medical texts, as pathways through which Qi and "Blood" flow. Other tender points (known as "ashi points") may also be needled as they are believed to be where stagnation has gathered.
Series of diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been demonstrated as an effective treatment:
Seven colours of Sun rays have different therapeutic effects. These colours are-Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red. For being healthy and in treatment of different diseases, these colours work effectively. Water and oil exposed to sun for specified hours in coloured bottles and coloured glasses, are used as devices of Chromo Therapy for treating different disorders. The simple methods of Chromo Therapy help in the process of recovery in a very effective manner.
Fresh air is most essential for good health. The advantage of air therapy can be achieved by means of Air bath. Everybody should take an air bath daily for 20 minutes or longer if possible. It is more advantageous when combined with morning cold rub and exercises. In this process, one should walk daily after removing the clothes or wearing light clothes at a lonely clean place where adequate fresh air is available. Another alternate method is in a constructed room without roof and surrounded by shutter like walls so as to allow free passage of air but prevent any view of the interior.
In order to react against the chilling effect of cold air or water, the nerve centers, which control the circulation, send the blood to the surface in large quantities, flushing the skin with warm, red, arterial blood. The flow of the blood stream is greatly accelerated and elimination of morbid matter on the surface of the body is correspondingly increased.
Air bath has soothing and tonic effect upon the millions of nerve endings all over the surface of the body. It has good results in cases of nervousness, neurasthenia, rheumatism, skin, mental and various other chronic disorders.
Magnet therapy is a clinical system in which human ailments are treated and cured through the application of magnets to the body of the patients. It is the simplest, cheapest and entirely painless system of treatment with almost no side or after effects. The only tool used is the magnet.
Magnetic treatment is applied directly to the body parts by the therapeutic magnets available in different powers or as general treatment to the body. Also magnetic belts are available for different parts e.g. Abdomen, knee, wrist etc. Magnetic necklaces, glasses and bracelets are also used for treatment.
Helps in balancing the energy; Improves circulation to the applied area; Increases the warmthness in the body.
The development and promotion of Yoga and Naturopathy could not be attained as expected at par with Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy due to huge dearth for qualified manpower. However, in the recent years, many NGOs and Voluntary Organizations have come up to establish Yoga and Naturopathy Health Homes as well as Degree Colleges.
At present, there are 12 such Colleges in India,
Course available on Naturopathy & Yoga: 5 ½ years (4 ½ yr course + 1 yr Internship) Degree course leading to “Bachelor of Naturopathy & Yogic Sciences (B.N.Y.S.)”
The approach of this medical education course not only encompasses Yoga and Naturopathy philosophy but also emphasizes the clinical tools and modalities necessary to establish a successful practice. These Colleges are endowed with theoretical, practical, clinical facilities which help to train the students multi-dimensionally. In this course, the students are offered to study diverse holistic treatment modalities which are totally drugless and natural in all aspects.
It is quite interesting that many of the Modern Medical Institutes of the country took a serious effort to prove the efficacy of Yoga and its various aspects. Accepting Yoga as a tool for balanced and all-round development of human personality, some of the Universities have established Yoga Department, where Teacher’s Training Programmes of one year duration are going on. There are 18 Universities which impart Certificate, Diploma and Degree courses in Yoga. UGC is also promoting Yoga by financing the Universities to start the Yoga courses in the Universities. Some Universities are imparting Yoga education ranging from Certificate to Ph.D level courses. Many Universities are likely to start Yoga Department in the years to come. In many of the foreign Universities, the faculty of Yoga has been established and the research work is in progress. Some of the States are proposing to adopt Yoga in their educational curriculum. About one thousand Yoga teachers have been appointed in different Schools of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Delhi Government and New Delhi Municipal Corporation. There are many countries other than India where Yoga is being practiced regularly for treatment of psychosomatic disorders.
It is quite encouraging to know that in many of the western countries, the education of Naturopathy is greatly emphasised and due recognition has been given. There are several Colleges in various parts of USA, Germany, Britain like National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Oregon and British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy, London.
Government Registered Naturopathy & Yoga Doctors
|Sl.No.||Name of the State Boards of Indian Medicine||No. of Naturopaths|
|1||Board of Indian Medicine, Secunderabad, Govt. of A.P.||800|
|2||Karnataka Ayurveda, Unani & Naturopathy Practitioners Board, Bangalore, Govt. of Karnataka||340
|3||Tamil Nadu Board of Indian Medicine Chennai, Govt. of Tamil Nadu||670
|4||M.P. Ayurveda, Unani, Prakritik Chikitsa Board, Bhopal. Govt. of MP||18|
|5||Chattisgarh Ayurveda, Unani & Naturopathy Board, Raipur. Govt. of CG||75|
Last Modified : 3/2/2020