Principals’ feedback on the International Naturopathic Conferences attended in 2017

Wellpark College’s Principal, Phillip Cottingham attended two Naturopathic conferences this year; the International Congress of Naturopathic Medicine(ICNM) in London and the 2nd General Assembly of the World Naturopathic Federation (WNF) in Phoenix, Arizona, US.

Phillip’s report gives an overview of what is being discussed in the field of  Naturopathy at an International level.

Phillip Cottingham

Kia Ora Wellpark Family.

In July of this year I had the privilege of attending two important events: the International Congress of Naturopathic Medicine(ICNM) in London and the 2nd General Assembly of the World Naturopathic Federation (WNF) in Phoenix, Arizona, US. These events are important for the advancement of not only naturopathic medicine, but the integration of complementary medicines with mainstream healthcare world wide.

The ICNM was the 4th congress to be held. Each congress has shown a growing maturity within the naturopathic profession and this congress was no exception. The quality of the programme illustrated how far naturopathic medicine has come in establishing a strong basis for the profession to be seen as a serious contributor to the health of all peoples of the world. There were presentations on research that is being conducted, as well as reminders of our history and roots. Clinical applications and principles on which naturopathic medicine were clearly on display and those who attended gained great insights and encouragement from such presentations, as well as the networking among practitioners. I spent some time with the British naturopaths and had a clear window on their issues and difficulties politically as well as the great enthusiasm and love for naturopathic medicine that is still evident. Their situation mirrors the situation in New Zealand and Australia to a very great degree. There is a great many inspiring activities occurring in naturopathic medicine in Europe with naturopathic medicine having a strong presence in countries like Germany, France, Spain and Italy, as well as eastern Europe. One presentation was from a French naturopath, who discussed his many cases treated using a framework of the four humours, a traditional concept that is found in European medicine, going back to Graeco-Roman times. Alongside of this, naturopaths are developing the science of research naturopathic approaches in many different and exciting ways, maintaining the core philosophies and principles, but bringing the light of current research frameworks (such as systems theory) to explain some of the outcomes of naturopathic medicine in clinical practice as well as public health programmes. The congress encouraged me to continue exploring ways to bring to light the wisdom inherent in our profession and explore way in which that wisdom can assist people to better health outcomes.

The WNF meeting brought together representatives of 17 countries together to strategically pave the way for naturopathic medicine to become officially recognised (registered) in all countries where there is a bona fide organisation and recognised educational standards. The 2016 report outlined the progress that WNF has made in its short life, which is nothing short of remarkable. WNF now has established a real presence at the WHO general assemblies and becoming well known with the officials of WHO. WNF has also produced a document, which is a report from the Roots Committee (the history and philosophy committee) that has detailed the outcomes of a survey undertaken over the past two years and an extensive treatise on the philosophical underpinnings of naturopathic medicine. This is due for release soon on the WNF website http://worldnaturopathicfederation.org/ . During the general assembly the members approved the statement defining the naturopathic profession. This can be found at http://worldnaturopathicfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Defining-the-Global-Naturopathic-Profession_WNF-2017_.pdf . At the general assembly, Dr Michael Smith from Canada outlined what is required for full representation with WHO. His main points included: need for consistency of message, own the narrative, be prepared to adapt, remain global and consistent, respect the diversity of the naturopathic profession, learn from others, work with others, build relationships, attend conferences outside of naturopathic profession and ensure that the naturopathic voice is heard. The WNF also approved a multicentre, multi-country research initiative (presented by Dr. Amie Steel of Australia) that will see data being collected and analysed from academic clinics in Australia, Canada, US and New Zealand. Wellpark College is privileged to be a part of the consortium that is working to raise awareness of clinical practice and outcomes with academic naturopathic clinics internationally.

These two important events are placing naturopathic medicine on the global stage of healthcare. Much progress has been made, but much more is ahead of us. It is an exciting time to be part of a profession that is expanding its horizons.

Kia Ora koutou.