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by  13.02.2020 (comments: 0)

Complementary medicine behind the scenes - about the work of a naturopath

Being a naturopath means competence, work, and fulfilling requirements. A lot of this takes place behind the scenes

Hello from Bottrop! My name is Farid Zitoun, and I am the co-founder and institute director of Naturheilzentrum Bottrop. Together with my colleague Christian Rüger, I founded NABO (short for Naturheilzentrum Bottrop) in the 1990s and established it as a point of contact throughout Europe for those seeking hope – mostly chronically ill People, whom conventional medicine alone may not be able to help any further.

I admit that I am an argumentative Person and that the subject of alternative medicine in particular is an even more contentious issue. But I am always surprised at how many People are unaware of the true scope of a naturopath's work and how great the prejudices against complementary-medicine practitioners are at one point or another. I would like to strongly defend myself against them.

Above all, I find it unfair how the work of a naturopath is often portrayed as simple in comparison to that of a doctor.

Complementary medicine versus conventional medicine  – there are more similarities than differences

Naturopathic regulations, Non-medical Practitioners’ Act, hygiene regulations and much more – so much for “uncontrolled growth”!

Apparently, “uncontrolled growth” should even be debated in social discourse when it comes to naturopaths. I admit that there are also slight differences in our professional sector and although the legal situation regarding naturopaths is clearly regulated in Germany, it could certainly be optimized here and there.  However, if you look at it very carefully, you could certainly apply this to conventional medicine or, quite easily, to any other profession.

In Germany, naturopaths have to closely adhere to regulations and laws, so I am surprised at how the whole thing is sometimes portrayed in such a one-sided manner.

A naturopath’s responsibilities are clearly regulated by law

For example, there is the myth that naturopaths don't actually need to know anything about medicine. This is not only wrong and unfair, but completely unrealistic. After all, naturopaths treat People with illnesses like doctors do, and the patients are, after all, the same for both conventional physicians and naturopaths. The only difference, if any, is the approach and the way in which they are treated – via natural or minimally invasive means or with traditional conventional medicine. The only correct approach should be the one that allows a patient to get the best from both disciplines. Doesn’t everyone have a right to that?

As practitioners of complementary medicine, we work hand-in-hand with conventional medicine daily, which is why we need to be very well informed about many aspects of medical practice. For example, the interactions of different medications or the effects of certain therapies. And this definitely goes far beyond the basics of anatomy, physiology or pathology. All these aspects are incorporated into alternative medical therapy plans in order to be able to treat the patient optimally.

When naturopathy & conventional medicine work hand in hand

Thorough knowledge of how to use medical tools is indispensable, e.g. for my work. Anyone who, as a naturopath, treats People in Germany should be able to handle syringes and stethoscopes just as well as a doctor can. It is the nature of the subject matter which dictates that specialists in integrative medicine should be well versed in both conventional medicine and naturopathy. Conversely, this does not apply to the vast majority of doctors!

Many good naturopaths I know have also had direct experience with conventional medicine. I myself worked at a hospital for a long time and gained a lot of valuable experience there, from which my patients and I benefit greatly in my non-clinical work today.

The responsibilities of a naturopath are defined, among other places, in the Non-medical Practitioners’ Act. They include the lifelong further-training obligation, knowledge of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Act (‘HWG’ for short), the Medications Act, the Federal Epidemic Act or strict hygiene regulations, which are incidentally, the same for doctors and hospitals. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Naturopaths: a lifelong further training obligation and competence through this process

Further information can also be found on the portal of the Federation of German Naturopaths: https://www.heilpraktiker-fakten.de/heilpraktikerfakten/gesetzliche-vorgaben-zur-berufsausuebung/

Being a naturopath is easy? – Just under 30 percent of the time consists of actual treatments!

The cliché of the naturopath, as it is sometimes portrayed in critical media, makes me smile above all else. It's as if a naturopath would simply reel in his patients with esoteric promises, send them home with a few herbal tinctures, and then put his feet up. Sorry, but that doesn't correspond to my naturopathic career of the last (almost) 30 years. But this inaccurate cliché does a particular injustice to the consistently mature and intelligent patients whom a naturopath encounters on a daily basis.

Naturopathy: always keeping an eye on the patient’s well-being

Speaking of the patients: When they leave the naturopathic practice with us, a lot of the work begins for us! There is, for example, the obligation to provide documentation, which we have to carry out for each individual patient – always under the very strict conditions of data protection, of course. In this respect, a naturopath is no different from a doctor.

But there is more on top of that. I have already written about the training above. For me, empirical medicine also means the retention and passing on of tradition and knowledge. Passing on part of them in seminars and specialist lectures to naturopaths, doctors or just those who are interested is therefore a duty worthy of preservation and protection for me.

Compliance with various regulations, such as hygiene standards, also takes a lot of time in practice, especially since we at Naturheilzentrum Bottrop basically go far beyond the required minimum standards and to the limit of what can be achieved.

Quality management at the naturopathic practice

Every medical or electrical device, light switch and socket of our facility must meet legal requirements, and is checked regularly and rigorously. A lot of time and work goes into quality management – which is good and ultimately all for the benefit of the patient. In the end, we spend no more than 30 to 40 percent of the time in consultations in the treatment room – even though we, as practitioners of integrative medicine, can make a lot more time for our patients than most doctors.

Complementary medicine - listening, looking at it holistically, and treating you as a Human being

Wouldn’t it be nice if the above-mentioned "emphasized weaknesses" of naturopathy or alternative medicine in the media, were simply understood as advantages? That is what I would prefer to see when it comes to complementary medicine. Because I am convinced that this is a valuable asset for today's medicine and, above all, provides real added value for patients.

Strengthening synergies between naturopathy and conventional medicine

Ultimately, therefore, it does not matter who is ahead in the minor battle between conventional medicine and naturopathy. Rather, we should solely focus the right thing – namely the well-being of the patient. To achieve this, all medical disciplines should come together, create synergies and combine their strengths. This is exactly the approach that Naturheilzentrum Bottrop has been pursuing since it was founded.

I am sure that this little glimpse behind-the-scenes with a short excursion into the depths shows what it means to be a naturopath today and what can really be achieved.

Incidentally: what you definitely shouldn't miss is how the videos are actually made on the NABO YouTube channel. What happens behind the scenes: we’ve captured this for you in our new video. Have fun!

Farid Zitoun & Christian Rüger, founders and institute directors of Naturheilzentrum Bottrop

Write me your opinion on the subject. You are, of course, welcome at our practice in Bottrop! We look forward to receiving your comments.

Best regards,


Farid Zitoun

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You can read more about Naturheilzentrum Bottrop behind the scenes in the news section. The NABO Tumblr blog also provides more information about the idea of sharing is caring.

about the author

farid zitoun

farid zitoun

... repeatedly infects people with his good mood and warm-hearted manner. competency, benevolence, and an eye for the patient behind the illness characterize one of the two founders of naturheilzentrum in the ruhr area. with his boundless energy and a great deal of commitment, farid zitoun puts in a lot of effort for his patients (and beyond) on a daily basis. this is so they are able to rediscover their courage. paediatrics is one of his particular specialties and a topic that is very close to the heart of the passionate alternative-medicine practitioner.ner.

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