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Speaking NaturallyAn increasing number of people across Pakistan are opting for naturopathy – an ancient healing practice which relies on natural elements such as sunlight, air and water – supplemented with organic diets to ease chronic ailments.

This shift from allopathy to naturopathy is primarily because people are choosing to avoid chemical-based treatments due to their adverse and long-term side effects, and the fact that even the most highly qualified medical practitioners and breakthrough treatments are often insufficient in fully restoring health. Furthermore, and this is extremely relevant to those struggling to make ends meet, they are also turning to naturopathic treatment as a cash-saving necessity.

Aimed at prevention rather than the cure of physical or mental diseases, naturopathy is based on the philosophy that the body can repair itself, given the right internal and external conditions. Naturopaths achieve this by stimulating the body’s ‘vital force’ (energy that heals) through strengthening the immune system via yogic exercises, strict dietary guidelines, using herbs and minerals with curative properties and counselling techniques. Massage and acupressure are the two most commonly employed techniques, particularly in easing symptoms of muscle fatigue, musculoskeletal diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis) and depression.

A high percentage of medical scientists and allopathic medical practitioners often criticise the global trend of returning to ancient medical practices. This is despite the fact that countless allopathic medicines are derived from plants and naturally occurring minerals. Added to this is the fact that the benefits of naturopathy’s core principles – maintaining a simple and nutritious diet, getting regular outdoor exercise and effectively managing stress – have been proven by recent medical research.

Unfortunately, there are quacks and charlatans in any and all things medicine, making it difficult for people to discern between the authentic and the fakes, particularly in countries like Pakistan that are characterised by low literacy and awareness levels. But, that is no reason not to give naturopathy a try although, obviously, caution is a sensible measure to employ.

– B Khan

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on August 10, 2014.