Naturopathic physicians combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. An ND may use diagnostic tests to fully understand their patient’s health status. Besides taking the time to carefully and fully assess a patient’s root problem, NDs speak and understand the language of conventional medicine. They can diagnose the way MDs do—yet, they bring to the patient a whole new arsenal of treatments and insights. Instead of waiting for a disease
to emerge, NDs work to head it off before it happens. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.
Naturopathic physicians are trained in family practice with a specialty in natural medicine. They work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. NDs practice throughout the United States and Canada. Qualified naturopathic physicians undergo rigorous training before they become licensed health-care practitioners.
• They attend four years at an undergraduate institution where they complete the pre-requisites for admission into an NMD granting college or university• Once admitted- they begin 4 years of graduate work to prepare them to become a Naturopathic Physician (NMD).
• The first 2 years concentrate on the basic sciences and the last 2 years are spent in a clinical training setting.
• Two sets of Standardized board exams are taken. One set after the first two years and before their clinical rotations begin and the second after graduation. Upon completion of the second set they are considered Board Certified and Licensed
Naturopathy is effective in assisting the body to overcome acute and chronic illnesses. Prevention is a guiding principle, and naturopathic methods can help prevent the development of common health problems or alter the progression of chronic illness. Naturopathic Physicians provide the least invasive, most natural treatments that they determine will be effective and safe. Since they are also extensively trained in Pharmacology, they are able to integrate natural treatments safely with prescription medications, often working with conventional medical physicians and osteopathic physicians to ensure you the most comprehensive and safest care possible. Some of the diagnostic and therapeutic modalities involved in Naturopathic Medicine include but are not limited to:
• Clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing
• Nutritional medicine
– Naturopathic physicians understand that diet is the basis for health. Adopting a healthy diet is often the first step towards correcting health problems. Naturopathic physicians may use specific individualized diets, fasting, and nutritional supplements with their patients.
• Botanical medicine
– Plants have powerful healing properties. Many pharmaceutical drugs have their origins in plant substances. Naturopathic physicians use plant substances for their healing effects and nutritional value.
• Naturopathic physical medicine (including naturopathic manipulative therapy)
– Naturopathic medicine includes methods of therapeutic manipulation for muscles and bones. Naturopathic physicians also employ therapeutic exercise, massage, hydrotherapy, bio-electrical therapies, ultrasound, and applications of heat and cold.
• Lifestyle Counseling and stress Management
– Mental attitudes and emotional states can be important elements in healing and disease. Naturopathic physicians are trained in counseling, nutritional balancing, stress management, hypnotherapy, and biofeedback. They also attend to environmental and lifestyle factors that affect their patients’ health.
• Drug/Herb/ Nutrient Interactions
• Minor surgery
– Naturopathic physicians perform in-office minor surgery including repair of superficial wounds and removal of foreign bodies, warts and cysts with local anesthesia.
– This gentle yet effective system of medicine is more than 200 years old and is based on the principle that “Like cures Like.” Homeopathic medicines are very small doses of natural substances that can stimulate the body’s self-healing response without side effects.
– Naturopathic physicians are trained in the fundamentals of oriental medicine and diagnosis. They may use acupressure, and Chinese herbal medicine to promote healing. With additional training and licensure they may also perform acupuncture.
• Prescription medication
– Although the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents.
• Intravenous and injection therapy
• Naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth).
– Naturopathic physicians, with additional specialty training, provide natural childbirth care. They offer prenatal and postnatal care using appropriate diagnostic techniques.
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.
The following principles are the foundation of a 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 physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
o Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
o Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
o 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.
When should a person consider seeing a Naturopathic Physician?
• When they are well and want to stay that way
• When they are sick (acute or chronic)
• As a first line of treatment, in conjunction with or as an alternative to mainstream medicine