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What is Natural Medicine?

Natural Medicine can be simply defined as any system of medicine that complements and enhances the body's natural capacity to heal by restoring balance without the use of synthetic drugs or chemicals. Natural medicine generally falls under the umbrella term of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The various disciplines of natural medicine are highly diverse in foundations, philosophies and methodologies.

However, although heterogenous, the major systems of natural medicine have many common central characteristics that provide a clear distinction from the mainstream medical ethos. These core tenants include a focus on individualising patients from the disease, hence individualising treatments, treating the whole person (as opposed to the disease process a separate entity), promoting self-care and self-healing and recognising the core psychological and spiritual nature of each individual. In addition, many systems focus on good nutrition, lifestyle and preventive practices.

Although natural medicine is associated with less scientific investigation, this knowledge gap is being addressed with an explosion of scientific research into natural medicines and the various principles on which they are based. It is estimated that one third of natural medicines have some published literature supporting their use. In many European countries and America, many, if not most, practitioners of natural medicine systems are registered medical physicians. Therefore, the differences between the numerous natural medicine modalities and conventional medicine are increasingly blurred and are constantly changing.

Why do we need Natural Medicine?

  • Natural medicine is the answer to people who are unable to take prescription drugs, either because they are allergic to them, or because they cannot tolerate the long-term side effects of chemical drugs.
  • Natural medicines can be used in parallel with conventional therapies to improve the health of the individual and to enable the body to recover quicker.
  • Natural medicine broadens the public choice of remedies for common ailment.
  • Natural medicine has a lower profile of side-effects compared to chemical Western Medicine.
  • Natural medicine can be very cost-effective and is ideally suited to primary health care.

Student Training Clinics

The School of Natural Medicine runs various student training clinics within Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Phytotherapy and Unani Tibb. Each of these systems of medicine are available at UWC, Belville Campus (Campus clinic) and Mitchells Plain Clinic, situated at Lenteguer Hospital. Patients are seen and assessed by senior students and supervised by qualified practitioners in the various disciplines.

The clinics are well received by the community with a great need for extra medical assistance at the primary health care level. These training facilities allow students to engage with the healthcare needs of South Africa by offering a professional health-based service to the public.

In addition, community engagement is conducted through clinics in Grabouw and Genadendal in association with the Interprofessional Education Unit (IPEU).

Campus and Mitchells Plain clinics are open Mondays to Thursdays during the academic terms.

For more information on the clinic locations, operation times and services, or to make a booking, please contact Ms L Fuller.