Primum non nocere. First, do no harm.
This is the first tenet of the naturopathic oath we all take on graduation day from college, and the most critical.
As naturopaths we strive not to add to the burden of problems of our patients. To refrain from further damaging their physical, mental or emotional wellbeing. To not intervene in such a way that will in any way harm.
Doing nothing is better than doing something that will cause harm.
In many ways, we are very good at abiding by this foundational tenet.
And yet... there is something insidious going on within the naturopathic profession that has not been called out. And despite our best intentions, it is doing serious harm to our patients, our profession, and ourselves.
That thing is a weight focussed approach to health. Whether directly or indirectly, promoting weight loss does irrefutable harm.
Even if it's weight loss "for health". Or weight loss "for fertility". Or weight loss just for the sake of weight loss, because "who doesn't want to be a bit leaner?"
To illustrate my point I'll set the scene. The other week I received two emails: one from a very well known nutraceuticals company promoting its weight loss seminar to naturopaths and other natural health professionals. The other was the exact same email, forwarded on to me from a major natural medicine education institution to its students.
This is not okay.
As I'll illustrate shortly, a focus on weight loss does unequivocal harm. This is in direct opposition to the first and most crucial naturopathic tenet.
It's 2019, and I propose that it's time that practitioners in the field of naturopathic medicine universally adopted a non-diet, weight neutral, Health at Every Size approach. For the sake of our clients, our best practice, and for the future longevity and validity of our profession, we must steer the ship away from the weight-centric doctrine it is starting to (and arguably, has) become and back towards true preventative and holistic medicine.
The kind of medicine that naturopathy sprang from. The kind of medicine that does no harm. The kind of medicine that treats the whole person, not a number on the scales.