One of the things that I love most about naturopathy, and that originally drew me to it many years ago, is the personalised approach it offers to healthcare.

Naturopathy is a person-centered, not disease-centered system of health care, meaning that it takes into account the many different factors that can contribute to the health of an individual, including not only the physical body, but also the environmental, lifestyle, dietary, and emotional factors, all of which play a significant role.

In a world where we have come to expect the freedom of personalisation in so many other aspects of our life, including our sense of fashion, our tastes in music, our food preferences, or our Instagram grid style – why do we not expect the same for our health? 

Photo by Wang Xi on Unsplash

Make yourself the center of attention

There aren’t many areas of life where you can make yourself the center of attention without feeling guilty, egocentric, or just downright uncomfortable. Many of us struggle to put ourselves first in any way at all. But I am here to advocate that your health is one area of your life where you must become the epicenter of the process.

Our current healthcare paradigm offers, for the most part, a one-size-fits-all approach to treating disease. In fact, some have suggested that our current system is not a ‘healthcare’ system at all, but rather a ‘disease-management’ system that is ill-equipped to actually restore wellbeing. The issue is, of course, further complicated by the heavy influence of drug-dealing big pharma companies and the impossibly short consultation times with our GPs– the primary point of care for a majority of the population. Research suggests that these consults are, on average, only 15 minutes long, which is barely enough time to enjoy a morning cup of coffee, let alone thoroughly investigate someone’s health.

What’s missing in this equation is a focus on the individual

There simply is not one perfect set of health guidelines that apply to us all. Our bodies, genetics, lifestyles, work, and environments are all completely different, and so, therefore, should be our healthcare options.

What exactly is personalised healthcare?

Before we talk about personalised care, we first have to talk about a holism, as really the two come hand-in-hand.

Holism is the idea that views the individual as a complex, interconnected web of factors that extends beyond the mere sum of body parts or systems. It sees the individual as being in constant interaction with its surroundings and combines information about not only the physical body but also many other elements of a person and their life to understand their present state of health. Sometimes, in the biz, we call this a ‘naturopathic understanding’.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

From this holistic foundation, the naturopathic understanding is used to tailor-make a treatment plan that is entirely unique to the individual. The plan considers all of the contributing factors along with the personal preferences of the individual, identifying the best steps required to achieve good health. This is personalised care.

Why the one-size-fits-all approach so often fails

My clinic is full of individuals for whom the one-size-fits-all approach has failed. Time and time again, I meet people who have been searching for answers for years. For many, what they need is for someone to understand their case from a holistic perspective. They need someone who will consider not just their physical signs and symptoms or their pathology results (all important factors, don’t get me wrong), but also their lifestyle choices, the things they eat and drink, the environment they live in, and their mental/emotional health. Without considering all of these factors, the pieces of the puzzle simply cannot fall into place.

Fortunately, in many cases, health can be restored with some targeted dietary and lifestyle modifications. But this is only possible after going through the entire process of providing personalised care – a process that requires time, detailed questioning, and a holistic understanding. Sadly, there is no room for this approach within the one-size-fits-all, 15-minute consult paradigm that we accept as our healthcare norm.

Will personalised medicine be the future of healthcare?

Our understanding of the body and the influence of our diet, lifestyle, and environment on health continues to unfold before our eyes. Each year, we are seeing a greater shift towards personalised healthcare from all realms of medicine, largely facilitated by science and technology. Certain fields in particular, for example, nutrigenomic, artificial intelligence-assisted healthcare, or nanobiotechnology, are receiving considerable attention and explosive growth that is starting to influence the type of care we provide. Although many of these technologies are still in the early stages of research and development, many experts are confident that these new avenues will become mainstream in the not-so-distant future, offering us a whole new level of personalised healthcare.

Ultimately, our capacity to truly understand each individual is destined to reach new frontiers

I hope that in some small way this discussion urges you towards finding health care that offers you a truly personalised approach. After all, there is only one you and therefore only one way for you to live – that is, the way that best supports your life, your goals, and your health.