What is Naturopathic Medicine?

What is naturopathic medicineNaturopathic medicine is a distinct profession of primary health care, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and the promotion of optimal health through the use of therapeutic modalities, which encourage the self-healing process.   The education of a Naturopathic Medical Doctor is remarkably similar to that of a traditional Medical Doctor. The education requirements from pre-medical school requirements, through basic science, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, laboratory assessment, diagnosis, pharmaceutical treatments, and minor surgery are the same.  The difference in education comes in the specialization of focus on natural options for the treatment and prevention of disease, as well as extensive training in counseling and nutrition.  In practice, Naturopathic Doctors can perform physical examinations, laboratory testing, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, and allergy testing.
The specialized art of a Naturopathic Doctor comes in the understanding and utilization of the basic tenants of Naturopathic philosophy as follows:

The Healing Power of Nature.
The human body has an inherent ability to heal itself given the appropriate conditions.  Naturopathic physicians are trained to identify and remove any obstacles to healing and support the body’s natural given vitality.

Identify and Treat the Cause.
Under most conditions, the body’s symptoms are actually a clue to something bigger occurring underneath.  Naturopathic physicians are trained extensively to seek out the underlying cause of a disease.  Although it is occasionally useful to cover up a symptom temporarily, the base of our treatment is aimed at treating the root cause.

First Do No Harm
For any condition, the doctor’s basic concern is to help the patient in the best way they can.  In order to avoid harm, there are some basic principles the doctor uses to determine the best treatment.  The first is to acknowledge the individual’s inherent healing process and utilize the least force necessary to diagnose and treat the illness, while avoiding the potentially harmful suppression of symptoms.  When treatment is necessary, it is the doctor’s goal to utilize treatment that has the least potential for harmful side effects.

Doctor as Teacher
Naturopathic doctors realize the importance of understanding one’s own health.  They take the time to educate their patients and answer any questions they may have about what is really going on inside their body.

Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic doctors believe that all aspects of a person’s life are important when striving to reach optimal health.  This means they take into account not only physical, but also mental, emotional, spiritual, genetic, environmental, and social factors.  Only when all areas are addressed can a person truly reach the highest level of wellness.

Prevention
Although it is possible to reverse a disease process, it is much easier to prevent a disease from showing up in the first place.  Naturopathic Physicians emphasize the power of prevention through assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease, and help the patient make the appropriate interventions to prevent illness.

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