'Don't See a Natural Therapist!'

Proper Assessment is CrucialRecently a Facebook post on a local community page was critical of natural therapists, saying you should not see one “instead of seeing a real doctor who uses the most modern, advanced and scientific practices.” This article is based on our reply.

THE ROLE OF NATURAL THERAPIES

I do not believe that conventional medicine always has all the answers. We receive a constant stream of clients coming to us who have been to their doctor or specialist, who haven’t been able to identify what their problem is, or are unable to provide a satisfactory solution for them. Many of these are chronic conditions such as digestive problems, immune problems (including allergies and food intolerances), period problems, fertility, long-term pain, constant fatigue, and a variety of significant chronic diseases, such as diabetes, etc. Natural therapies work by IMPROVING the body and how it is working, to allow the body to heal itself.

As a very basic example, if someone is constantly suffering from colds and flu, we would improve their immune system to help prevent that happening in the future. Since the immune functions are strongly connected to the digestive system, this may involve improving their digestive system also. Conventional medicine usually works on relieving the symptoms rather than improving the body, whereas we believe in treating the causes of the problem as well as the symptoms. Side-effects from natural therapies are very rare, and if you can solve a patient’s health problem naturally, without resorting to drugs or surgery, I think they will usually be better off.

So there is a place for both approaches, hence the term ‘Complimentary Medicine’ for natural therapies. Obviously there will be many cases where conventional medical treatment is important, and there will also be many cases where natural therapies work best. The ideal is for both camps to work together for the highest good of the patient. Hence we have patients referred to us by doctors, and we refer some of our patients to doctors as well.

There are a number of doctors who specialise in ‘Nutritional and Environmental Medicine’, which is virtually what naturopaths do. Please check out the website www.acnem.org/about/what-is-nem for some basic information about the approach of these doctors (and of naturopaths). There are also many doctors who only use acupuncture to treat their patients, or use it in conjunction with conventional medical treatment. I personally have two colleagues who are doctors but choose to practice natural therapies instead, and four other colleagues who practice both as GPs and as natural therapists. So the two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

NATURAL THERAPISTS AS HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

  • These days naturopaths and acupuncturists complete a 4 year full-time degree. These are usually a Bachelor of Health Science through private accredited colleges or a university such as Charles Sturt University, Southern Cross University, University of New England, University Of Western Sydney, University of South Australia, and the La Trobe University. (Our naturopath actually has two Bachelor of Health Science degrees, one in Naturopathy and one in Western Herbal Medicine.)
  • Acupuncturists are also registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), which is the government authority responsible for registration of doctors, pharmacists, dentists, podiatrists, etc.
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) allows properly qualified and registered natural therapists to prescribe 'For practitioner dispensing only' products, which are more powerful natural therapy supplements, not available over the counter.
  • All 'For practitioner dispensing only' products are formulated from extensive scientific research on the effectiveness of their ingredients for the condition. (Details of this research is available from all ‘practitioner only’ suppliers.)
  • Acupuncture treatments are covered under Workcover.
  • It is important to use a natural therapist that is registered with a professional Association. That way you know they will be properly qualified, have to adhere to a professional Code of Conduct, registered with health funds, and required to undertake Continuing Professional Development studies.

As you can see, these days naturopaths and acupuncturists are starting to be recognised as genuine health professionals.

It is also worth noting the following.

  • Health funds- the federal government performed a review of the evidence of effectiveness for all natural therapies, and in 2019 stopped health funds from covering any natural therapies except acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, remedial massage, and myotherapy, as there was strong evidence for the effectiveness of these treatments. (However, an appeal has been lodged in relation to naturopathy, as the latest evidence was not used in this regard, and naturopathy is likely to be also added to the therapies health funds can cover.)
  • GST exempt- medical services are exempt from GST, and acupuncture, naturopathy and herbal medicine are all specifically listed as exempt services in the GST Act.

ASSESSMENT

As is the case with all primary care health professionals, it is important that natural therapists can determine when a patient needs to be referred to a medical doctor. This is an essential part of naturopathy and acupuncture courses, and is also a key part of providing the best possible care for your patient.

Every health professional will have their own methods of evaluating the body. For example, a dentist, physio or an optometrist will perform a different examination on a patient to a GP. Our approach to health problems is different to that of medical practitioners, since our aim is to improve the patient’s body so that it can correct the problem itself. To sort out a patient’s health, we first need to be able to evaluate how their body is functioning. Some of the things we may wish to check can be determined by blood tests, so we may request that a patient obtain one if we need to evaluate their iron levels, cholesterol, thyroid hormones, ESR, check their kidney function, etc.

However, there are many things that are important to us that a blood test or scan cannot determine, such as if the patient has low levels of stomach acid (a common cause of many digestive problems), the extent of man-made toxins in their liver, the extent that stress is affecting their nervous system, if they have a chronic sub-clinical sinus infection or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), etc. So naturopaths and acupuncturists have developed their own systems of evaluating the health of different aspects of the body, including whether a particular organ is overactive or underactive. Of course, if something showed up as a serious concern, we would refer that patient to a GP for the appropriate medical tests as well.

The Japanese palpation assessment can be used to quickly evaluate how well the digestion, liver, immune system, thyroid, adrenals, large intestine, lungs, and nervous system are functioning. It also indicates the level of toxins in the body, how good the patient’s internal circulation is, their level of stress and anxiety, structural alignment issues, hormonal imbalances, and blood sugar imbalances. It can also be used to confirm the improvements that are taking place in the patient’s body from their treatments.

The ancient Chinese actually knew a fair bit about the body and how it works. For example, they discovered that the heart pumped blood continuously around the body 2,000 years before it was discovered in the west.

PREVENTION

The ancient Chinese had a great healthcare system. Everyone would be under the care of a local therapist (acupuncturist or herbalist), and you paid your therapist while you are well, and stopped paying them when you were not! This not only made healthcare more affordable, but also placed a heavy emphasis on the therapist preventing any diseases developing in their patients.

Unfortunately, Australia is currently heading towards a future health ‘crisis’, with an ageing population and government medical costs increasing rapidly. In the US, it is predicted that by 2025, chronic diseases will affect 49% of the population. People with chronic conditions already account for 81% of hospital admissions, 91% of all prescriptions filled, and 76% of all doctor visits. Australia is expected to follow the same path; people are living longer, but are more likely to suffer from disease and poor health in their later years. Because natural therapies focus on improving the body and increasing the patient’s health, they can play a huge role in the prevention or improvement of many illnesses. (I sometimes jokingly tell my clients that my job is to put the nursing homes out of business.)

Thanks for your interest in this topic Andy. Natural therapies are such a huge area that it is only possible to cover some very basics in a forum such as this. Some things are also far easier to demonstrate than to describe, so if you would like to find out more and experience what we do, it would be worthwhile booking in with us for a free Comprehensive Assessment.

Tiredness vs Fatigue

Tired Girl

It can sometimes be hard to tell if we're just tired, or suffering from adrenal fatigue. Only a trained medical specialist will be able to tell you for sure, but here are some basic hallmarks to help you figure out whether you should see a doctor - or (and!) just try to get some more sleep.

Tiredness:

  • is the direct result of physical, emotional or mental exertion, or lack of sleep
  • can make you feel irritated and forgetful
  • can be relieved through rest alone

Fatigue:

  • has a wide range of causes and contributing factors
  • does not significantly improve with extra sleep and rest
  • can be characterised by any or all of the following: difficulty concentrating, anxiety, a gradual decrease in stamina, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, impaired reflexes/slower response times (both physical and mental), poor immune system, loss of appetite and increased sensitivity to light
  • may result in withdrawal from friends, family and social activities

If you suspect you’re suffering from chronic fatigue, it’s important to see a medical professional sooner rather than later; early detection and treatment can shave weeks, months or even years off your recovery time and rule out serious disease or dysfunction as the cause of your ongoing exhaustion.

How to Choose a Good Massage Therapist

Remedial Massage Brisbane

There was an article in the South West News/ Springfield News (24/2/16 edition) about 'dodgy' massage therapists. This topic is of great importance to us, as an entire profession is being tarnished by a small number of unscrupulous or unqualified individuals. We have heard a variety of complaints regarding various massage therapists, ranging from receiving no benefit from a treatment, to worsening their condition, to actual sexual assault. The right remedial massage therapist can make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing, by relieving muscular and structural pain, reducing muscular tension, improving your circulation, and relieving accumulated stress in your body. We strongly recommend that anyone seeking a massage treatment observe the following guidelines.

1. Safe Environment?
Never visit a massage therapist in their home, or in an isolated environment, or have them come to your home, unless you are very sure about them.

2. Are They Qualified?
Ask what their qualifications are, and where they studied. If you have any doubts at all, ask to see their diploma or certificate, which should be on display or easily accessible by them.

3. Are They Registered?
Ask if they are registered with a professional Association, and if their treatments are claimable from health funds. Do not deal with a therapist that isn’t registered with an appropriate professional Association!

4. Are They Professional?
You will need to provide your relevant personal information (such as your full name, date of birth, and contact details), particulars of what you are seeking a massage for, the history of your condition, and any other relevant health information. (For you to be able to claim from your health fund, the therapist must carry out a thorough consultation and assessment prior to your massage, and keep detailed records of your treatment.)

5. Professional Premises?
Do the premises look clean and the staff appear professional in speaking with you? Medibank Private will only allow claims for massage treatments carried out in a ‘clinical’ setting, and not a ‘retail’ setting, such as beauty, relaxation or recreation premises. Are the rooms purpose-built with sound reduction to avoid conversations being overheard, or do they just use curtains? How does their website look? Does it have detailed information about each therapist?

For Therapeutic Massage

If you are looking for a therapeutic massage rather than a relaxation massage, please also ask the following.

6. Experience as a Therapist?
Find out how long they have been practicing. It is also worthwhile asking how long they have been working at their current clinic.

7. Experience with Your Condition?
Don’t be afraid to ask this question. Is this an area that they specialise in, or is it something they rarely treat?

For the Best Possible Treatment

It is good to also check

8. If You are Not Happy?
What will happen if you are not happy with your treatment or results that you obtain? (A highly reputable clinic will provide a refund if you are not satisfied with their work.)

9. Clinic or Home?
There is no selection process for a therapist working from their home, or renting a space in another business. A reputable clinic will be very careful about the quality of the therapists that work from their premises. Also, a clinic will normally be able to keep providing treatments for you if your regular therapist is sick or on holidays. And a professional clinic will usually offer Hicaps services, so that you can claim from your health fund on the spot.

Finally, if you are not happy with anything, please complain to the owner, or speak to the therapist’s Association.

As we mentioned earlier, correctly performed massage treatments can make an enormous difference to your health and the quality of your life. Not only that, they can leave you feeling great!

At Centenary Natural Therapies Clinic, we guarantee to have the best therapists in Brisbane- if you think you have had a better massage anywhere else, we will give you your money back! We have chosen the best possible remedial massage therapists, carefully selected for their skills, knowledge and experience. Each of them is fully qualified, has around 15 years experience, and is a member of a professional Association. If you want to quickly and effectively sort out your muscle stiffness or pain, please book in to see us soon.

 

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FREE
Comprehensive
Assessment

Valued at $120, your Assessment will help to uncover:

  • What is going on with your body
  • What is working properly and what is not working properly
  • What is causing the problem, and
  • The best way to get it sorted out

All this will be fully explained to you, and you can ask as many questions as you like. That way we can be sure to give you all of the right information, understanding and advice you need. Terms and conditions: This is a free, no obligation offer.

CONTACT

62 Looranah St,
Jindalee QLD 4074
07 3376 6911
reception@cntc.com.au

AWARDS

Winner Business Achievers Award 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 & 2012
Inducted into Business Achievers Hall of Fame 2009
LPA Outstanding High Achievement Award 2011
Mt Ommaney Small Business Award (Health & Fitness) 2018 & 2020

YOUNGCARE

We help provide care and accommodation to young disabled people through regular support of YoungCare (by donating the proceeds of our Gift Voucher sales)

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