What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Fundamentally, naturopathic medicine is a natural and holistic method for the reversal of disease. Although diagnosis in naturopathic medicine is similar to traditional medicine, how naturopathic doctors see disease as well as the methods of treatment used to restore and optimize health are drastically different.
Conditions naturopathic medical care can reverse
Health optimization / Improved energy
Headaches or Migraines
Acne / eczema / psoriasis / skin conditions
Burnout / Adrenal Fatigue
Diabetes Type I and II
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome
Symptoms of Menopause
Alzheimer’s / Dementias
Others health conditions not listed above
Methods of treatment most commonly in naturopathic medicine include
Diet and Lifestyle Therapy
Methods of treatment that are part of naturopathic education and require a naturopathic doctor to practice in a licensed state include
Physical manipulation (adjustment of bones, much like a chiropractor would perform)
Pharmacology occasionally used to temporarily improve quality of life while the root cause is addressed
Education and Training
Naturopathic education is extensive and highly rigorous. Naturopathic medical students undergo four years of graduate level medical education and a minimum of 1,200 clinical training hours focused specifically on primary care and general practitioner care. Since naturopathic doctors do not undergo rotations as MDs do, clinical training is focused on graduating highly capable, knowledgable, and caring physicians specifically for outpatient medicine.
Sciences studied include
Clinical & Physical diagnosis
And many more
In addition, more than 3300 hours are spent learning naturopathic therapeutics including clinical nutrition, botanical remedies, dietary supplementation, hydrotherapy, and naturopathic manipulative therapy (adjustment of the skeletal system)
6 Principles Of Naturopathic Medicine
1. First Do No Harm – A self explanatory principle and should go without saying. Healing without causing harm to the body is of the utmost importance in practicing medicine.
2. Promote The Body’s Inherent Healing Ability – Given proper nutrition and in the absence of conditions that cause disease, the body’s natural tendency is toward good health. Naturopathic doctors most commonly first use treatment methods that best promote the body’s own ability to heal.
3. Treat the Cause – Naturopathic doctors seek to find the conditions that were present that caused disease to arise, and wherever possible reverse those and any other conditions present that are allowing disease to persist.
4. Doctor as Teacher – Naturopathic doctors feel that informing patients of their options at any stage of health or illness, and educating patients about their disease and the why’s behind the treatment plans we provide not only helps patients to feel empowered every step of the way towards excellent health.
5. Treat the Whole Person – Traditional medicine is often overly focused on presenting symptoms or where a problem may present itself, when that may not be where the issue is. Naturopathic doctors know that all of the body’s systems are connected in health and that when treating a person, the whole body as well as an individual’s collective health should be taken into account in order to best promote the body’s ability to heal. Naturopathic doctors know that body, mind, and spirit are what constitutes health, not just the physical or numbers such as cholesterol and blood pressure.
6. Prevention – Naturopathic doctors focus greatly on addressing potential health concerns before they become problems wherever possible. It is much easier to fix health issues before they become full-blown diseases if you can recognize some of the signs that good health may be moving towards illness as well as minimize your chances of developing sometimes unpredictable diseases. Nearly always, prevention pays for itself, figuratively as well as literally.
The Therapeutic Order
The Therapeutic Order represents a naturopathic doctor’s sequence of treatment for both the best results with the simplest treatment plan. It most commonly how naturopathic doctors go about treating any and all diseases and health conditions.
1. Remove Obstacles to Cure – Often times there are habits, food, or sometimes environmental triggers that prevent our bodies from healing that must be addressed in order for a person to recover from a particular disease or health condition. Without the removal of such conditions, treatment efficacy is typically quite limited.
2. Establish Conditions for Health – There is more to healing than keeping out the bad. To best promote the body ability to heal, vital nutrients and life-sustaining food is also vital.
3. Tonify Weakened Systems – When one or more body systems are where the issue may lie, or a system needs a little more help than the others, focusing on a weakened system can help to optimize healing and speed recovery time.
4. Correct Structural Integrity – Encouraging proper alignment of the skeletal and muscular systems can be essential for proper breathing and ability to relax. These actions are needed for activation of the parasympathetic nervous system which is required for healing but is not in use when we are in ‘go go go’ mode as most Americans are.
5. Use of Natural Substances to Control Health – This involves using supplements such a nutraceuticals and botanical herbs in such a way to achieve a specific desired improvement in health. An example of such may be the use of cinnamon bark to help control blood sugar in a diabetic individual.
6. Use of Pharmaceutical Substances to Improve Quality of Life – This is one of a naturopathic doctor’s last resorts, but occasionally the use of pharmaceuticals with a livable side-effect profile can lead to an improvement either short term while an individual’s underlying disease is addressed, or long-term in the case of certain chronic illnesses or where the obstacles to cure cannot be addressed for one reason or another.
7. Use of High-Force interventions Examples of which would include methods of treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery – Although naturopathic doctors do not typically perform these procedures, we are trained on when to refer for them and use them as an absolute last resort, with the exception of when the risks far outweigh the benefits such as the elimination of an aggressive tumor that may still be small and highly treatable with high-force interventions.