WHAT IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE?
Written in Collaboration
Dr. Jason Porter, NMD, Neurofeedback Specialist
M. Nicole Parker, RN, Neurofeedback Specialist
Naturopathic medicine treats the WHOLE person and embraces the healing power of nature.
Naturopathic medicine, sometimes called “naturopathy,” is a distinct system of primary health care that emphasizes prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of natural therapies, substances and modalities that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine, driven by the philosophy that nature is the most effective healer, blends centuries-old, natural, non-toxic knowledge with the most current cutting-edge advances in medical science and integrates both traditional and modern treatments. Such medicine is a general practice field, though many naturopaths develop specialties and areas of interest. Naturopathy is complementary to conventional medicine and is dedicated to the study and celebration of holistic health and healing, covering all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care.
Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness: the medicine is tailored to the patient and emphasizes prevention and self-care, empowering patients to retain control over their health and well-being.. Naturopathic medicine attempts to locate and treat the underlying causes of a patient’s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment. Naturopathic therapies are supported by modern scientific research drawn from many disciplines. While naturopathic and conventional medicines are based on the same bio-medical sciences and share common diagnostic methods, their philosophies and approaches may differ. Practices include clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, nutritional medicine, botanical medicine, naturopathic physical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, prescription medication, intravenous and injection therapy, aesthetics and minor surgery, hormone therapy, and the ability to make a full range of treatment decisions. These therapies integrate conventional, scientific and empirical methodology with the ancient laws of nature.
Treatment is chosen based upon the individual patient, not the generality of symptoms. Naturopathic physicians spend a great deal of time with their patients, focusing on developing a collaborative relationship with the patient with the goal of helping them steer and improve their own health with greater independence from professional treatment. Naturopathic physicians cooperate and integrate with all other branches of medical science, referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
1. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Mediatrix Naturae): Naturopathic philosophy is derived in part from the 2,000-year-old Hippocratic teaching that nature is the healer of all diseases. The body is inherently able to restore and maintain health. The physician’s role is to facilitate and augment the body’s innate abilities, with natural, non-toxic therapies, and to assist the patient in creating a healthy environment and lifestyle.
2. Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam): Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body;s natural attempt to heal. Naturopathic physicians seek and treat the underlying cause of a disease. The origin of disease is removed or treated so the patient can recover.
3. First, Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic medicine uses therapies that are safe and effective, which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat. Since the goal is to identify and treat the cause, naturopathic doctors avoid, and consider harmful, treatments that obscure the cause by suppressing symptoms. Additionally, these physicians acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing processes.
4. Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum): The human body, mind and spirit are fully integrated aspects of a person’s overall being. Each patient is a unique whole, and requires individualized consideration for healing to occur. Naturopathic doctors recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
5. Doctor as Teacher (Docere): The naturopathic physician’s most important role is to empower the patient to reclaim control over his or her own health. The physician, by taking into account individual mental, emotional, genetic, social, spiritual and environmental factors, strives to instill the patient with hope and knowledge.
6. Prevention Beats Cure (Praevenire): Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
A licensed naturopathic physician (ND/NMD) attends a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as a conventional MD, but also studies holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic physician also studies clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology and counseling. Many receive additional training in areas such as midwifery, acupuncture and Oriental medicine. For at least the final two years of the medical program, naturopathic medical students intern in clinical settings under close supervision of licensed professionals. Naturopathic physicians are trained as primary care providers who diagnose, treat and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions, while addressing disease and dysfunction at the level of body, mind and spirit. Just like MDs, Naturopathic physicians undergo rigorous professional board exams in order to be licensed to practice by state or jurisdiction.
East Valley Naturopathic Doctors has been serving our Valley patients for over 10 years. We invite you to visit our website to find out more about how we can become your primary source for Integrative and cutting-edge healthcare. www.EastValleyND.com.
** For more information, see the American Association of Naturopathic Physician’s website: www.naturopathic.org **