For the last couple days in Palampur, we got to learn about the nature of Naturopathy (no puns intended haha)! You are probably wondering, “So what is Naturopathy, and how is it different than Ayurveda?” Well, today’s your lucky day because I will be able to answer all (or hopefully most) of your questions and confusion surrounding the practice of Naturopathy!!
To start off, Naturopathy is a drugless medicinal practice that focuses on the prevention of disease opposed to treatment. A lot of its principles and regimens try to work towards the goal of achieving a healthy and vital lifestyle. The main premise of Naturopathy is that the body heals itself, which was a perspective that I’ve never really considered, but once we learned more about it, I became more open to it. The Naturopathic belief is that the body has natural self-defense mechanisms to pathogens, which isn’t too far off from what I’ve learned in entry level Biology class; however, it is also believed that no form of drugs should be used as a form of treatment. Supposedly, our body has a natural way of eliminating accumulated toxins that cause the growth of disease, and the adoption of certain regimens increase vitality and prevent the formation of these diseases.
These regimens or principles of healthy living are outlined in Naturopathic philosophy and are referred to as Arogya Rakshak Panchatantra:
Two meals a day
2-4 L of water per day
Prayer 2 times a day
Yoga/exercise a day
Fasting once a week (“fasting doesn’t cure the disease but creates the environment to heal”)
Naturopathy, along with all the other practices of medicine that we are knowledgable of, strives to maintain balance. Shocker. 5 elements, or Panchamahabhutas, are also acknowledged in Naturopathy (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether). Each of these elements represent different parts of our body. For instance, Earth represents bone and muscles, Water represents any kind of fluid in the body including blood, Fire represents the digestive system, Air is the respiratory system, and Ether are any hollow organs like the heart and stomach. All of these elements work together to maintain this balance through absorption, assimilation, and elimination.
There are also certain drugless therapies one can go through to give the patient relief from disease. It was made very clear to us that these treatments are not meant to cure the disease, just meant to relieve pain because, again, the body cures itself. Listed and described below are a few of the modalities used in Naturopathy:
Hydrotherapy: Manipulates pressure and temperature and can clean and detoxify the colon or rectum.
Acupuncture: Penetration by needle balances energy and releases serotonin to get relief from pain.
Mud Therapy: Used on abdomen and eyes predominately; reduces inflammation and restores body by coldness.
Chromotherapy: 4 different colors used to treat different conditions (e.g., blue is good for sympathetic nervous system activation)
Manipulative Therapy (massages): Increases circulation and relieves tension.
Magnetotherapy: Place magnets on opposite sides of energy channels in the body; improves circulation because the magnets and our body have separate magnetic fields.
Heliotherapy: Sunbathing >> helps with skin diseases and has an anti-hypertensive effect
Yoga Therapy: Works on every level of the body (“yoga fixes everything!”); For anxiety use Pranayam yoga and relaxation.
Diet Therapy: Different diets for different conditions:
Eliminative: liquid diet
Constructive: Used to regrow cells; diet consists of a lot of sprouts and pulses
Soothing: Fiber rich diet to help with digestion
Gastro Hepatic Pack (GH Pack): Treatment used for bloating and acidity in the stomach. There is a hot fomentation places on the abdominal area and a cold bag placed under the lower back. The two different temperatures work together to increase circulation in the abdomen and increase overall functioning!
Acupressure: Pressure on certain points (typically on the hand or foot) releases endorphins and serotonin and relieves pain; also used as a diagnostic method.
The main point of acupressure is to open up the energy channels of the body by applying pressure to a certain part of the body. The hands are a main energy center for everything, therefore, each pressure point in the hands represents a different organ or body part. Like I mentioned before, acupressure is more-so used as a diagnostic method than for treatment. We got to meet with an acupressure doctor at Kayakalp who taught us all of this and demonstrated how he does the treatment. He was applied pressure to a part of my hand where the energy channel to my stomach is. If I were to feel immense pain there, I likely have some kind of disease or illness relating to my stomach. The pressure and pain response is the bread and butter to how he diagnoses his patients.
Acupressure is also a surprisingly prevalent aspect in the Indian culture. A lot of women wear bracelets and bangles not for aesthetic purposes but for acupressure purposes! Bracelets and toe rings are supposedly believed to open the energy channels to the reproductive organs and improve fertility!
At the end of the day, Naturopathy and Ayurveda share a lot of the same principles and beliefs; however, Naturopathy focuses more on the premise that the body heals through natural processes while Ayurveda still welcomes a broader range of treatments and methods. Although it was a huge adjustment initially, it was an amazing experience to become fully immersed into the schedule the Kayakalp treatment center has for its healthcare seekers. Even though we didn’t stay long enough to see the long term effects of the regimen they implement there, just by my knowledge that I gained about the effectiveness behind Naturopathy and Ayurveda and the testaments I heard from patients there, I know that if you have the time and patience for the treatment, it will work wonders.
Hi there! I also have a travel blog that has a more in depth take on my time in India! Go check it out at the link below!