What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine is a unique profession of healthcare that emphasizes disease prevention and the promotion of optimal health through natural therapeutics.

Naturopathic medicine is an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles which underlie and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. Methods used are consistent with these principles and are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality. Naturopathic doctors are general practitioner, whose diverse techniques include modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods.

Naturopathic medicine encourages the self-healing process and blends centuries-old knowledge of natural therapies with current advances in the understanding of health and human systems. Its scope of practice includes all aspects of family care, from pediatrics to geriatrics, and all natural medicine modalities.

In the United States, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, peer review, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research. Founded upon a holistic philosophy, naturopathic medicine combines safe and effective traditional therapies with the most current advances in modern medicine. Naturopathic medicine is a scientifically proven and tested system of (successful) healthcare. Naturopathic medicine is appropriate for the management of a broad range of health conditions affecting (all) people of all ages.

Naturopathic doctors (N.D.’s) are the most extensively trained practitioners in the broadest scope of naturopathic medical modalities. In addition to the basic medical sciences and conventional diagnostics, naturopathic education includes: therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural childbirth, classical Chinese medicine, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, pharmacology and minor surgery. Naturopathic doctors tailor care to the individual patient, emphasizing prevention and self-care.

What are the Principles of Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine recognizes the body’s inherent self-healing ability, which is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic doctors identify and remove obstacles to recovery and facilitate and augment this healing ability.

The Naturopathic doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than eliminate or suppress its symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient: 1) utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects; 2) avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms; 3) acknowledge and respect the individual’s healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness.

Naturopathic doctors educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.

Naturopathic doctors treat each patient individually, taking into account his or her physical, mental, emotional state as well as genetic, environmental and social factors. Since total health includes spiritual health, naturopathic doctors encourage individuals to pursue their own spiritual paths.

Naturopathic doctors emphasize disease prevention, assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and make appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine seeks to improve conditions through preventative measures so that we all may live healthier.

Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance. It is a state of being healthy and is characterized by positive emotion, thought and action. Wellness is inherent in everyone, no matter what the disease(s) he or she may have. If this fact is recognized and experienced by an individual, he or she will heal quicker than if the disease were only treated.

What are the Naturopathic Modalities?

Naturopathic doctors combine and tailor these treatments to the needs of the individual in a way that acknowledges the patient as a participant.

Naturopathic doctors (N.D.’s) are general practitioners trained as specialists in natural medicine. In a licensed state, naturopathic doctors perform physical examinations, laboratory testing, gynecological exams, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, and allergy testing. They may order x-ray, ultrasounds, other imaging procedures, and other diagnostic tests.

Nutrition and the therapeutic use of foods are a cornerstone of naturopathic medicine. The naturopathic approach to diet and nutrition has been validated in many scientifically based professional journals on nutrition and dietary sciences. Many medical conditions can be treated as effectively with foods and nutritional supplements as with other means, with fewer complications and side effects. While most medical doctors receive fewer than 20 classroom hours in clinical nutrition, naturopathic doctors receive more than 140 hours. Naturopathic doctors understand that diet is the basis for health. Adopting a healthy diet is often the first step towards correcting health problems. Naturopathic doctors may use specific individual diets, detoxification, fasting, and nutritional supplements with their patients.

Plants have powerful healing properties. Many pharmaceutical drugs have their origins in plant substances. Naturopathic doctors use plant substances for their healing effects and nutritional value. Many plant substances are highly effective in the right dosage and when used correctly with other herbs and treatments. Herbs can be prepared in many forms – teas, tinctures, and capsules. Naturopathic doctors are trained in both the art and science of botanical medicine.

This powerful system of medicine is more than 200 years old and is widely accepted in many countries. Homeopathy is based on the principle that Like cures Like. Homeopathic medicines are very small doses of natural substances that can stimulate the body’s self-healing response. Homeopathic medicines, when properly prescribed, affect the body’s “vital force” and strengthen its innate ability to heal. Homeopathic remedies function on both the physical and emotional levels, with few side effects. Some conditions that do not respond well to conventional medicine respond effectively to homeopathy.

Physical medicine treats musculoskeletal concerns. Treatments can include soft tissue work (including therapeutic massage), spinal manipulation, crainiosacral therapy, physiotherapy using heat and cold, gentle electrical impulses, ultrasound, diathermy, hydrotherapy, and exercise therapy.

Naturopathic doctors are trained in the fundamentals of oriental medicine and diagnosis. They may use acupressure and Chinese herbal medicine to promote healing.

Naturopathic doctors, with additional specialty training in some licensed jurisdictions, provide natural childbirth care in an out-of-hospital setting. They offer prenatal and postnatal care using appropriate diagnostic techniques.

In some licensed jurisdictions, naturopathic doctors perform in-office minor surgery including repair of superficial wounds and removal of foreign bodies, warts, and cysts with local anesthesia.

Mental attitudes and emotional states are important elements in healing and disease. Naturopathic doctors are trained in various techniques that include short-term situational counseling, couples counseling and mind-body techniques, nutritional balancing, stress management, hypnotherapy, and biofeedback. They also attend to environmental and lifestyle factors that affect their patients’ health.