I think the most common question I get from people is why would they should choose to do homeopathy rather than naturopathy (or other types of alternative medicines). This is a very valid question – especially considering the fact that most people have some sort of naturopathic coverage and have to pay ‘out-of-pocket’ for homeopathy.
I’d like to start out by sharing that homeopathy is different natural medicine modality than naturopathy. Naturopathic medicine involves the combination of multiple ‘alternative’ treatment modalities including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture, nutrition, supplementation, homeopathy and others. Every naturopath is trained in the use of each modality but that does not necessarily mean that they use them all or can use them all to the maximum of their potential. I’ll give you this example, a naturopath is trained to use the basics of homeopathic medicine in two or three semester courses at some point in their 4 year degree. A trained homeopath studies 3-4 years and focuses intensely on homeopathic sciences, homeopathic remedies, case-taking, as well as having some training in nutrition. As you can imagine, a naturopath would have to study for years to become fully competent in each modality, which is often why you often see your naturopath focusing on nutrition, supplementation and one or two other modalities.
Choosing homeopathy over naturopathy is not as simple as an “either/or” option. A lot depends on your naturopath or homeopath and the types of services, treatment options and approaches to treatment that they provide. However, there are a few things to consider when you choose a health care professional including:
- What is the health concern that you want treated? What type of approach to treatment do you feel comfortable with?
- What are the costs of treatment (remember that costs include not only cost of the visit but possible supplements, special dietary needs, etc.)
- Do you expect cure vs. management vs. palliation or symptoms?
- How quickly do you expect to see results? How long do you expect those results to last? How much effort will it require of you to maintain those results?
- Am I willing to do what my health professional asks of me? (e.g. diet or supplement recommendations)
- Is this treatment sustainable based on my needs, finances, accessibility, etc.?
Bringing yourself to an awareness of what your needs are can help ensure that your provider is able to meet your needs. Most of us just ‘decide’ to see a naturopath and then find ourselves frustrated (or happy!) with the results, expense and investment.
However, back to the some of the things to consider when deciding to pursue either homeopathy or naturopathy are:
- Expectations of treatment (results)
- Approach to treatment
- Acute vs. chronic illness
- Maintenance of health (and treatment plan)
I would like to go into further detail about each of the issues mentioned above to give you more clarity into choosing a health care provider that will meet your needs.
COST – I believe the concern around the cost of treatment is one of the biggest issues that most people face when choosing a health care provider. Why pay for a homeopathy out of pocket when you have coverage for a naturopath? I would like to say that homeopathy is really NOT that much more expensive than naturopathic treatment (and is often significantly less expensive) DESPITE the fact that you may not have coverage. WHY? An initial consultation with a homeopath ranges from $180-$250 (2 hours) while a naturopathic consultation is usually around $180-$300 (1.5-2 hours). You will usually walk out of a homeopath’s office with just the charge of the visit (includes the cost of your remedy) whereas you can pay up to $200+ in supplements each visit (never mind the often required dietary expenses to eat the prescribed diet – organic, gluten-free, etc.). This brings an initial visit cost for a naturopath from $200 to $400 (and more if you include the dietary costs for the following month). Homeopathic follow-ups costs can be in the same range as naturopathic costs but again, consider the additional costs of nutrition and supplements.
EXPECTATIONS OF TREATMENT – This has to do with what you expect from treatment. Do you expect your issue to be cured, symptoms to be managed or palliation of your symptoms? How quickly do you expect results? The answers are not always clear but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask them! My decision to choose homeopathy as my main treatment modality came out of my own experience seeing different naturopaths, acupuncturists, osteopaths and TCM practitioners and finding that homeopathic treatment results were incomparable to many other therapies. I don’t know about you, but having to eat a dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free diet for the rest of my life (never mind the massive amount of supplements I was using to keep my inflammation under control!) to manage my pain was not something that I wanted. Not only was it difficult to eat out, visit friends and expensive, but I felt guilty for every time I indulged myself…and then was mad at myself because my pain would return. I appreciated that homeopathy’s aim was to get at the ROOT of my issue rather than just managing my symptoms. I was looking for long-term relief that restored me to a ‘normal-ish’ life rather than a dramatically limited future. Homeopathy really can head you towards (and give!) you cure.
APPROACH TO TREATMENT – The approach to treatment has to do with how your provider will treat your health concerns – meaning, what modalities do they use (e.g. do they focus on nutrition, supplementation, acupuncture, TCM, osteopathy, homeopathy or a combination of a few), how often do they want to see you, how involved they expect you to be, etc. Understanding that most homeopaths usually want to see you every 3-4 weeks for several months can give you an idea of what costs and commitment look like. Just remember that your health issue requires different lengths of treatment or types of treatment. The one thing I would like to mention at this point is that I truly believe that homeopathy encompasses the most holistic model of medicine. I am not saying that other complementary medicines don’t recognize or aim to treat people in a holistic way. What I am saying is that homeopathy is inherently holistic. In fact, classical homeopathy requires the prescriber to have a deep understanding of someone’s personality, spirituality, mental and physical health. The effectiveness of the remedy depends on this! I truly believe and have consistently seen that without a holistic understanding of and approach towards disease and illness health conditions continue to be ongoing. Our perception and experience of the world has a tremendous impact on our health. Think about it! Stress has the ability to impact the formation of stomach ulcers, influence quality of sleep, impact our hormones and much more. We are individuals with unique health concerns and different symptoms!
ACUTE VS. CHRONIC ILLNESS – In today’s society we are often told that things such as auto-immune diseases or chronic fatigue syndrome or other chronic diseases are a life sentence. The thing is that this is not necessarily true. You read story after story of how people with chronic diseases found complete relief and were restored to a healthy state. What you need to understand is that there is potential for any chronic illness to be cured. As a homeopath I have seen how homeopathic treatment has brought cure to sufferers of chronic disease despite what was said about prognosis. There are many studies showing that homeopathy has the power to reduce symptoms and bring about cure in a completely natural and gentle way. Diet will always play a part in managing symptoms (think how sugar contributes to inflammation for EVERY human being, for example) but as I always like to say…who wants to live the rest of your life avoiding sugar, alcohol, fresh bread…muffins…? The beauty and power of homeopathy is that it gently guides your body’s innate ability to heal itself giving you the luxury of indulging every once and a while without having to deal with the return of chronic pain, inflammation and other horrible symptoms. So, I guess what I am saying is that when dealing with chronic disease you can choose to get at the root cause of it rather than just manipulating your life around managing your symptoms.
MAINTENANCE – The last thing I would like to share with you is this thing called maintenance of health. I have already touched upon it in my previous paragraph. But I will reiterate what I said earlier. I believe that results that truly enable you to easily maintain wellness is the most crucial and fundamental piece when it comes to choosing a health professional. We all want to live healthy, pain-free lives with minimal effort and expense. This is again why I would suggest using homeopathy. Not only is it effective, gentle and natural, but it has the ability to bring about cure without requiring long-lasting dietary changes and expensive investments in supplements. Sure, you might need a ‘tune-up’ every once and a while (or you might not), but then what human being doesn’t? Again, maintaining good health is a possibility when the root cause of your health issue is being addressed.
My thoughts to the question, “Homeopathy or Naturopathy?,” is many-sided and is not in any way meant to disparage naturopathy. I shared a number of reasons why I suggest homeopathy but this is no way means encompasses all views or approaches to illness and disease nor does it cover all naturopathic practices or criticize naturopathic medicine nor does it mean I would say to not see a naturopath. Obviously, you need to figure out what works best for you and what your health goals are! My hope is that this enlightens you just a little to the power and efficacy of homeopathy as a treatment of choice.
Disclaimer: My opinion is based on my experience, education and treatment with with naturopathy, homeopathy, nutrition, acupuncture, TCH and supplementation. My intent is only to bring awareness to how homeopathy has incredible power to bring about healing in lasting ways with the possibility of removing obstacles of daily diet restrictions and ongoing supplementation! (although I recognize that every person’s needs are different).