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What is Naturopathic Medicine

One of the questions that I get asked often is, “What is a Naturopathic Doctor?”  So, in case you aren’t quite sure yourself or just want a refresher, here is a brief explanation of what a Naturopathic Doctor is and how we work.  Just like MD’s, ND’s tend to specialize in a specific area or work with a specific demographic, although we are trained to treat people of all ages with all different conditions.

Naturopathic physicians combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.  Grounded traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment.  By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic doctors help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.  It is the naturopathic doctor’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.

Naturopathic doctors work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. Qualified ND candidates must undergo rigorous training before they become eligible to practice.  Very similar to MD’s, Naturopathic Medicine education involves a 4 year degree at a nationally accredited college.

NDs treat all medical conditions and can provide both individual and family health care.  Among the most common ailments they treat are allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.  NDs are trained to utilize prescription drugs, although the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents.

Definition of Natural Medicine 

From the AANP House of Delegates Position Paper, Amended 2011 (Click here to download pdf)Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage an individuals’ inherent self-healing
process.  The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern, traditional, scientific, and empirical methods.

The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:

  • The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
  • Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
  • First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic physician follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
    • Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat.
    • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms.
    • Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
  • Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
  • Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors.  Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
  • Prevention: 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.

Now that you know what natural medicine is, are you wondering how it can help you?  I’d love to hear your story and share with you if the natural medicine approach is a good fit for you.  Click here to book a free 10 minute Discovery Call with me, Dr. Michelle

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