About Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is a holistic approach to healthcare that is founded on the principle that the body has an inherent ability to achieve and maintain health. When an individual becomes sick, the body’s natural ability to heal itself needs to be supported in order to reverse disease. Naturopathic doctors take the time to listen to their patients in order to better understand them as individuals and to discover what led them to become ill, and how the root cause of their illness can most effectively be addressed so that optimal health can be achieved.
Naturopathic medicine combines the latest scientific research with traditional healing wisdom to provide safe, effective treatments that bridge the gap between natural and conventional medical perspectives. Naturopathic doctors attend four-year graduate-level naturopathic medical schools and are educated in all of the same basic sciences as conventional doctors, in addition to extensive study of holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy, with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness. In conjunction with a standard medical curriculum, naturopathic doctors complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, manipulative therapy, hydrotherapy, and counseling. Naturopathic doctors are able to collaborate with their patients’ other medical providers to insure the best in integrated medical treatment.
Naturopathic doctors use a variety of safe and effective therapies including nutritional counseling, homeopathy, herbal medicine, lifestyle counseling, therapeutic bodywork, physiotherapy, and hydrotherapy.
The following are the principles upon which naturopathic medicine is founded and are what distinguishes it from other approaches to medicine.
1. The Healing Power of Nature
The healing power of nature is the inherent self-organizing and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains, and restores health. Naturopathic medicine recognizes this healing process to be ordered and intelligent. It is the naturopathic doctor’s role to facilitate this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery, and by supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.
2. Identify and Treat the Causes
Illness does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of illness and disease must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. Repeatedly addressing a person’s symptoms will not change the predisposition to develop those symptoms in the future. The naturopathic doctor acts as a detective to uncover what is causing a person to experience seemingly unrelated symptoms and to treat the larger cause of these symptoms.
3. First Do No Harm
Naturopathic doctors follow these precepts to avoid harming the patient:
- Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects.
- Avoid, when possible, the suppression of symptoms.
- Respect and work with the healing power of nature in treating the patient.
- Refer for appropriate treatment when naturopathic treatment is not appropriate.
4. Treat the Whole Person
Health and disease result from a complex of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. The multifactorial nature of health and disease requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.
5. Doctor As Teacher
The original meaning of the word “doctor” is teacher. A principal objective of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasize self-responsibility for health. Naturopathic medicine provides a sustainable model of healthcare by empowering patients to learn how to best care for their bodies and to maintain health promoting lifestyles.
The prevention of disease and the attainment of optimal health in patients are primary objectives of naturopathic medicine. In practice, these objectives are accomplished through education and the promotion of healthy ways of living. Naturopathic doctors assess risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.