What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic doctors work with nature to restore people’s health. Naturopathic medicine is a unique and distinct sect of the primary health care profession. It focuses on preventing, treating and applying natural substances and therapeutic modalities to encourage the body to heal, an inherent process called vis medicatrix naturae. Naturopathic doctors carefully blend the art, science, and philosophy of healing with diagnosis, prevention and treatment of illness. Furthermore, they are doctors who listen and educate their patients.
Who can be a Naturopathic Doctor?
Naturopathic doctors have completed a four-year medical degree at an institution approved by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) and passed their Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination Biomedical and Clinical Boards (NPLEX) run by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). They are licensed to practice in these states and U.S. territories: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, and Washington. Each state mandates their own education requirements including continuing education credits. For more information, visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).
Prevention: Through education, hygiene and public health measures, naturopathic doctors guide people to adopt lifestyles which are conducive to optimal health.
Diagnosis: Through traditional, clinical and modern laboratory diagnostic methods, naturopathic doctors evaluate patients and determine the best course of action for patients.
Treatment: By working in harmony with both mind and body, naturopathic doctors encourage the vis medicatrix naturae by blending healing modalities including diet and lifestyle, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, psychotherapy, physical medicine, minor surgery, prescriptive medications, and naturopathic obstetrics.
What Makes Naturopathic Medicine Unique?
Naturopathic Principles of Healing have been in existence for over 100 years and are reexamined regularly as more scientific advances are made. Naturopathic techniques combine scientific and empirical methods and beautifully blend the modern and traditional healing arts available today. The underlining foundation of philosophy of each naturopathic doctor includes the following principles:
- THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE (VIS MEDICATRIX NATURAE): Inside each individual is the inherent ability to heal thyself, which is an ordered and intelligent process, and it is the job of the naturopathic doctor to remove obstacles which inhibit the body from doing just that. This involves creating a healthy internal and external environment.
- IDENTIFY & TREAT THE CAUSES (TOLLE CAUSAM): Naturopathic doctors work to identify and remove the underlying causes of disease rather than simply suppress symptoms. Symptoms are the body’s alarm system indicating that something is not right. Simply removing an alarm does not extinguish the fire.
- FIRST DO NO HARM (PRIMUM NON NOCERE): There are three guidelines that naturopathic doctors practice by: 1. Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimizes the risk of harmful side effects (using the least force necessary to treat a given illness); 2. Avoid, when at all possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms; and 3. Acknowledge, respect and work with the individual’s self-healing process.
- DOCTOR AS TEACHER (DOCERE): Naturopathic doctors work with each patient as teacher and encourage self-responsibility for health. The doctor-patient relationship is an integral part of the healing process.
- TREAT THE WHOLE PERSON: During a typical visit with a naturopathic doctor, the patient will be asked about their physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as genetic, environment, social and other factors surrounding their health. It also includes spiritual health in order to combine mind, body and spirit.
- PREVENTION: By evaluating risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, it is possible to intervene when appropriate in order to prevent illness. Naturopathic doctors are committed to the health of the community and of all humanity