What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine encourages the self-healing abilities of the individual primarily through the education and promotion of natural, non-toxic therapeutic methods and modalities. This healing tradition relies on a rich set of practices and therapies that can be both distinctive from and complementary to mainstream allopathic or osteopathic medicine.
Naturopathic doctors are typically trained in a wide array of therapies including herbology, homeopathy, massage, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, behavioral medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, and nutrition therapy, as well as clinical practices such as minor surgery, pharmacology, and obstetrics.
In order to be licensed, naturopathic doctors must attend a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school and take professional board exams. NDs are educated in the same basic sciences as an MD, but also study holistic and non-toxic approaches with a strong focus on disease prevention and promoting wellness. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, naturopathic medical schools teach clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling.
Six principles of naturopathic medicine unite NDs around the world:
1. First Do No Harm
Core to all medical practice is the desire to help the human form and condition. NDs typically approach care by utilizing the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies. NDs will refer when the patient’s presentation is outside their scope or level of skill.
2. The Healing Power of Nature
NDs recognize the value of our natural world in assisting the healing process. Not only do NDs utilize substances that originate in nature, but they also incorporate a healthy natural environment as foundational to human health. Naturopathic doctors recognize and harness the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself in order to guide patients to wellness and total health.
3. Identify and Treat the Causes
There is a time and place for symptom suppression, however most naturopathic patients will benefit from identifying the underlying causes of illness and removing obstacles to cure.
4. Doctor as Teacher
Naturopathic doctors elevate patient health literacy. That means that NDs are part of the team helping patients have a better understanding of what it takes to be and stay well. Through education and a trust-based relationship, patients better understand the steps they need to take to achieve and maintain health.
5. Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic doctors understand the interconnectedness of our body, our environment and our lifestyle on total health. It is only through this whole-person-based approach that NDs seek to restore balance and health.
Naturopathic medicine affirms that it is better to prevent illness and suffering whenever possible.
Through their comprehensive practice, NDs combine all six principles in order to identify potential areas of imbalance and teach patients how to get well and stay well.