Naturopathic Medicine is a system of medicine that focuses on the prevention of illness and treatment in a less-invasive, natural way. Although naturopathic medicine has been a part of the American health care system for over 100 years, its philosophy and roots go back through medical history to the healing wisdom of many other cultures and times dating back thousands of years. Today, naturopathic physicians skillfully blend all of the modern, cutting-edge elements of conventional medicine with the ancient, time-honored natural healing techniques that have been used for centuries. They offer the world a healing paradigm founded on a rational balance of tradition, science, and respect for nature.
In the past few decades, naturopathic medicine has experienced a large resurgence in the United States due to the health conscious public taking a more active role in their health care and seeking out alternatives to conventional treatments. People want to be seen as whole persons, not simply as a list of symptoms or as a particular disease. People want time and honesty from their physicians. They want to be empowered and have more control over their own health. People want preventative therapies and treatment that solves the problem, not suppressive quick fixes. Naturopathic medicine provides these things.
Naturopathic Medical Doctors (ND’s or NMD’s) are trained as primary care providers and are the only general practitioners trained as specialists in natural medicine. Naturopathic physicians are trained in a four-year medical school and are required to pass comprehensive national licensing exams (NPLEX) in order to be licensed. Once licensed, they are able to diagnose and treat medical conditions, whether acute or chronic. In practice, ND’s perform and use the same diagnostic tools that patients have experienced with their allopathic medical doctors (MD’s) including: thorough history taking; physical exams; laboratory/blood testing; x-rays; ultrasounds; etc. We work closely with all other branches of medicine, referring patients to other qualified practitioners/specialists for diagnosis and/or treatment when appropriate.
ND’s differ from conventional physicians in their philosophy of treatment and some treatment modalities. They address the cause of disease not just suppressing symptoms. They treat the whole person, not just a particular organ or disease, and always remember that conditions are often connected. They respect the bodies innate ability to heal itself and use therapies to help you work in the correct direction. They promote prevention of illness and teach you how to achieve your optimal level of health long before any devastating illness. Each treatment is unique and individualized to the person and condition being treated, providing the best opportunity for the health and growth of that person.
ND’s are licensed to prescribe conventional prescription medicines, however they typically choose not to use surgery and/or prescription medications as a first line of treatment unless necessary. Naturopathic physicians offer safe and effective natural alternatives to these conventional therapies, which include:
- Nutrition, vitamins and supplements
- Dietary Modifications
- IV Therapy
- Lifestyle Counseling/Stress Management
- Herbal Medicine
One of my favorite principles of Naturopathic Medicine has always been Docere, which means Doctor as Teacher. I am not sure when we stopped remembering that the word Doctor comes from the Latin word docere, which means “to teach.” I believe that medicine has lost a valuable skill in its all too often failure to educate the patient on how to take care of themselves as much as possible; empowering them to be an advocate for their health. I am passionate about teaching my patients and explaining to them not only their condition but also their options.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Article on Naturopathic Medicine
Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians