An integral aspect of naturopathy is the process of homeostasis. The word originates from the Greek: homeo, meaning unchanging and stasis, meaning standing still. The term was coined in 1930 by the physician Walter Cannon. But the concept itself originated in the 19th century with the French physician and physiologist Claude Bernard, who postulated that a constant milieu interieur (internal environment) was a prerequisite for good health.
When we speak of homeostasis we are referring to the ability of an organism to maintain its physiological processes within a sometimes narrow set of predefined parameters in spite of a variety of environmental influences.
Humans, animals, and plants are all regulated by homeostasis. The homeostatic concept can be applied not only to physical processes, but psychological and environmental as well.
Organisms have built in systems which monitor their internal conditions. When environmental changes threaten to disturb the optimal condition or function, an animal’s body systems will automatically adjust in order to maintain their usual attributes. This can also be thought of as an innate ability to heal or return to health. All organisms always endeavor to return to and maintain their standard conditions.
One example is body temperature. When the weather is cold, mammals conserve heat by automatically constricting the blood vessels close to the skin and directing blood flow to internal organs. When the weather is hot, the body will instead dilate blood vessels close to the skin and evaporate body heat with perspiration. Mammals that are subjected to extreme temperatures either hot or cold for an extended period of time will be unable to maintain their normal internal temperatures which will have complications on their health.
In the same way many other elements such as blood, hormones, water and enzymes also need to be kept within certain limits or health problems will occur. Organisms are designed to be able to adapt to changing conditions but in the long term any deficiency or excess weakens the organism.
When an organism has access to all its required nutritional and environmental components then all of its biological functions can be carried out without hindrance, resulting in a state of homeostasis.
Naturopathic practitioners aim to assist their clients to restore and stabilize this natural state of balance. In summary, this is achieved by providing the required nutrients and lifestyle while removing any obstacles such as a build up of toxins in the body. By following the laws of health and supporting the healing process with natural modalities, homeostasis and therefore good health can be attained.