Naturopathic medicine is a system that uses natural remedies to aid the body heals itself. It embraces many therapies, including herbal therapies, massage, acupuncture, exercise, and nutrition.
Naturopathy treatments are centuries old, but today; it combines traditional treatments with modern science.
Naturopathic medicine is a science-based tradition that promotes wellness by identifying the unique aspects of each patient and then employing non-toxic natural therapies to restore the patients physiological, psychological, and structural balance.
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) defines naturopathic medicine as: “A distinct system of primary health care-an art, science, philosophy, and practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness”.
Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by some principles upon which its practice is based, and these principles are continually re-examined in the light of scientific advances. These days, the techniques of naturopathic medicine include modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods.
Principles Of Naturopathic Medicine
The Healing Power Of Nature
The body has a natural ability to maintain and restore its health. Naturopathic physicians facilitate this healing process by removing obstacles and identifying treatments to enhance this healing power.
Identify And Treat The Cause
Naturopathic physicians treat the underlying causes of illness rather than just the symptoms of the disease. Symptoms are an external manifestation of an internal imbalance due to any combination of physical, mental, or emotional causes, and symptom management may be important. However, it is more important not to disregard the underlying cause of the disease.
Do No Harm
A naturopathic treatment plan uses therapies that are gentle, non-invasive, and effective, with no adverse side effects. A conscious effort is made to use methods that do not suppress symptoms.
Doctor And Teacher
The Latin root of doctor is docere, which means “to teach, and the primary role of naturopathic physicians is educating, empowering, and motivating patients to assume more personal responsibility for their health and wellbeing, by adopting a healthy attitude, lifestyle, and diet.
Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will use no medicine, but will interest patients in the maintenance of the human frame, in diet, and in the prevention of disease.” A Naturopathic physician acts on a principle that it is more effective to teach than treat patients.
Treat The Whole Person
Naturopathic physicians identify specific weaknesses or dysfunctions in their patients and tailor treatment based upon the patient’s individual presentation and need. It is the patient that is in need of treatment, not the state of disease or symptom, and naturopathic physicians are interested in finding and treating characteristic symptoms that define the patient rather than common symptoms that define the disease.
Some schools of thoughts believe that it is more important to know what sort of patient has a disease rather than what sort of disease a patient has.
It is far easier and cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat one, and Naturopathic physicians evaluate both subjective and objective information necessary to uncover potential susceptibilities to future disease states in their patients. They can discuss specific lifestyle strategies or nutritional supplementation with their patients, as a means for disease prevention.
How Can Naturopathic Medicine Benefit Your Health?
The goal of naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person (mind, body, and spirit). It also aims to heal the root causes of an infirmity, not just stop the symptoms.
Naturopathic practitioners are trained as general practitioners who specialize in natural medicine. They cooperate with all other branches of medical science and refer patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.
Naturopathic medicine is used for most health issues: some of the more common ones include:
- Digestive problems
- Fertility issues
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Hormonal imbalances
- Chronic pain
A naturopathic doctor may spend up to 2 hours examining you. He’ll ask questions about your health history, stress levels, and lifestyle habits, and he may order lab tests if he deems that necessary.
Additionally, a naturopathic doctor has the time to explain your medication to you, help you make an informed decision about vaccinations and other medical interventions. He will provide nutritional and psychological counseling and provide guidance on treating a long list of conditions. Conditions that may include: a weird skin rash, a cough or cold, a urinary tract infection, or any other health complaint.
The good thing about having a naturopathic doctor as your family doctor is that they will not only provide natural treatment for your health concerns, but, they will also look into what is causing these concerns in the first place, and treat them. They want to prevent you from coming back with the same issue again.
Here are some more things a naturopathic practitioner can do for you:
Help You Establish The Foundations For Health
Are you unsure about what to consume? Or are you pretty sure of what to eat and drink, and just can’t seem to stick to eating and drinking those things?
A naturopathic doctor can convince and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. He will be there to support you through difficult life stages and periods of stress. Naturopathic doctors are trained in counseling and have a variety of whole health healing tools to help you learn to care and take care of yourself.
They can clear up your health doubts, provide a kind ear and inspire you to live more healthily. For general health promotion and disease prevention, a naturopathic doctor is your best bet.
Treat Your Health Issues (Even If You Didn’t Think They Were Ailments).
Do you experience frequent migraines, the tendency to bloat, less than perfect digestion, tight muscles, brain fog, less energy than you’d like, etc?
The toolbox of a naturopathic practitioner has treatments in there for anyone, at any stage in the health-disease field. Naturopathic doctors don’t entertain the idea that, just because your symptom isn’t a “real” issue, according to the modern medical model, that you have to learn to live with it.
Help You Manage Chronic Disease
Even though you have already been diagnosed with a condition and received medication for it, naturopathic medicine can help you manage your disease and help your body restore balance while minimizing any symptoms that you might be experiencing.
A naturopathic doctor’s approach is unique, as they continually look for the cause of disease and aim to affect change at that level. By doing so, they are often able to reverse the state of chronic disease and lessen or eliminate the need for continued medications.
Other times, they prevent the disease from progressing by helping you to manage your symptoms naturally. A naturopathic doctor can help make your life more comfortable and enjoyable, and help you to feel empowered and cared for since they believe that your condition needn’t control your life.
Provide A Second Opinion.
No matter what you have been told by your doctor, an alternate opinion with a naturopathic doctor may give a good chance that less invasive things can be done to shift your health back to a state of balance. Thus, prolonging or eliminating the need for drugs and surgery. Often times there are other, gentler ways.
Tailor Your List Of Supplements To Your Individual Needs.
A naturopathic doctor will take the time to learn about you as a person and your specific health needs, and while supplements are a great tool for promoting health and healing, they may not be required for everyone. Oftentimes, the long list of supplements can be indicated but, more often than not, some of them are both unnecessary and low-quality.
When this happens, a naturopathic practitioner will help edit your supplement list by ensuring that you’re using quality products, taking the correct doses in the correct way (with food, without food, before bed, etc.), and decide whether or not that supplement is even necessary for your health needs at all
In this way, a naturopathic doctor can save you a lot of time and money, while giving your body the security that what you’re taking is supporting your health.
Act As Your Primary Care Physician.
Naturopathic doctors complete an intensive, four-year program that is very similar to medical school, where they are trained in the biological sciences, clinical science (such as physical exams and lab testing) as well as natural healing techniques known as “modalities”.
They are more than capable of assessing a case, performing a physical exam, establishing a diagnosis, providing treatment, requesting and interpreting laboratory tests and referring patients to other, more specialized practitioners if need be.
This makes them a safe and effective option as a primary care general practitioner or family doctor.
Risk Factors in Naturopathic Medicine
Supplements (vitamin and herbal):
Some of the vitamins and herbs may interfere with prescription medications, and in large doses, certain vitamins may raise your risk of a disease like cancer.
As part of naturopathic manipulative treatment, your practitioner may apply pressure to some areas of your body, like your spine. This can damage arteries, nerves, bones, and spinal discs if done badly, and in rare cases, it may lead to a stroke.
These treatments are meant to rid your body of toxins, and they involve cutting out certain foods or fasting. This kind of fast can be dangerous for people with some chronic conditions, like diabetes, and if you’re on the diet for a long time, you may run the risk of not getting enough vital nutrients.
Association of Naturopathic Physicians is the primary professional association for naturopathic physicians, and they maintain a national database of naturopathic physicians for patient referrals. Local health food stores often know of naturopathic practitioners in the community, and we will update this post with the contacts of some practitioners as we get in touch with them
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges
Mayo Clinic: “Complementary and Alternative Medicine.”
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Naturopathy”