Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic doctors are educated and trained in accredited naturopathic medical colleges. They diagnose, prevent, and treat acute and chronic illness to restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person's inherent self-healing process. Rather than just suppressing symptoms, naturopathic doctors work to identify underlying causes of illness, and develop personalized treatment plans to address them. Naturopathy was brought to the United States from Germany in the 1800s, but some of its treatments are centuries old. The roots of Naturopathy go back thousands of years, relying on the healing wisdom of many cultures, including Indian (Ayurveda), Chinese (Taoist), Greek (Corpus Hippocraticum), Arabic, and European Egyptians (Monastic). In these early civilizations, people lived in a harmonious relationship with their surroundings and the understanding of disease was accomplished by observing nature and how it interplayed with human life. Naturopathic doctors combine the healing wisdom of many cultures with modern science. Naturopathic medicine does not treat symptoms alone. Naturopathic medicine treats the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. These are the six principles of naturopathic medicine:

 

 

 

 

Naturopathic doctors use a therapeutic order to identify the natural order in which all therapies should be applied to provide the greatest benefit with the least potential for damage. The following information can be found on the American Association of Naturopathic Physician's website.

  1. Remove Obstacles to Health. Health, the “natural state” of one’s body, is disturbed by obstacles that lead to disease. The first step in returning to health is to remove the entities that disturb health such as: poor diet, digestive disturbances, inappropriate and chronic stress levels, and individual disharmony. Naturopathic doctors construct a healthy regimen based on an individual’s “obstacles to health” to change and improve the terrain in which the disease developed. This allows additional therapeutics to have the most beneficial effects possible.

  2. Stimulate the Self-Healing Mechanisms. NDs use therapies to stimulate and strengthen the body’s innate self-healing and curative abilities. These therapies include modalities such as clinical nutrition, botanical medicines, constitutional hydrotherapy, homeopathy, and acupuncture.

  3. Strengthen Weakened Systems. Systems that need repair are addressed at this level of healing. Naturopathic doctors have an arsenal of therapeutics available to enhance specific tissues, organs or systems including: lifestyle interventions, dietary modifications, botanical medicine, orthomolecular therapy (use of substances that occur naturally in the body such as vitamins, amino acids, minerals), and homeopathy.

  4. Correct Structural Integrity. Physical modalities such as spinal manipulation, massage therapy, and craniosacral therapy are used to improve and maintain skeletal and musculature integrity.

  5. Use Natural Substances to Restore and Regenerate. Naturopathic medicine’s primary objective is to restore health, not to treat pathology. However, when a specific pathology must be addressed, NDs employ safe, effective, natural substances that do not add toxicity or additionally burden the already distressed body.

  6. Use Pharmacologic Substances to Halt Progressive Pathology. NDs are trained in pharmacology and how to use pharmaceutical drugs when necessary. If their state license permits, they can prescribe these agents themselves or if not, refer to a conventional medical colleague.

  7. Use High Force, Invasive Modalities: Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy. When life, limb, or function must be preserved, NDs refer patients to MDs who are expertly trained in these arenas. At the same time, NDs use complementary or supportive therapies to decrease side effects and increase the effectiveness of these invasive procedures.

 

A naturopathic doctor attends a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is trained in all of the same basic sciences as an MD - pharmacology, pathology, microbiology, anatomy, biochemistry, immunology, and neurology. They also study holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness through lifestyle intervention. In addition to a standard medical curriculum including cadaver lab, the naturopathic doctor also studies clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, psychology, and holistic counseling. A naturopathic doctor takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician. Most naturopathic doctors complete a residency to hone in on their clinical skills. It is important to see a naturopathic doctor that attended a four-year graduate level naturopathic medical school and who also completed a residency. 

The result is a comprehensive, rigorous, and well-rounded scientific medical education that is both comparable and complementary to that of MDs and DOs.

While many naturopathic doctors are trained in primary care, like conventional medical doctors (MDs), some choose to specialize or focus their practices. Specialty associations currently exist for Endocrinology, Environmental Medicine, Gastroenterology, Parenteral Therapies, Pediatrics, Primary Care Physicians, Psychiatry, and Oncology.

Naturopathic medicine is used for acute and chronic health conditions in all ages. Naturopathic doctors can perform minor surgery and prescribe pharmaceuticals. However, naturopathic doctors focus on creating a foundation of health first through lifestyle changes, herbal medicine, and other healing modalities. Individuals turn to naturopathic medicine to optimize their health and reverse dis-ease.

 

Some common conditions that naturopathic doctors help with include:

  • Allergies

  • Eczema

  • Headaches

  • Fertility issues

  • Digestive problems

  • Thyroid disease

  • Liver disease

  • Kidney problems

  • Mood problems such as Irritability

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Arthritis

  • Joint pain

  • Autoimmune disease

  • Obesity

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Chronic pain

  • Infections

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Cancer

You may just want to boost your overall health or prevent an illness. Americans’ growing demand for a more holistic approach to health care is easy to understand. Modern medicine is geared toward treating illness when it occurs, patching people up and sending them on their way. But that’s not necessarily the best way to manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, sinusitis, and fibromyalgia, as Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, and other progressive doctors started pointing out a couple of decades ago. What’s more, thanks to increasing pressure on physicians to move quickly from patient to patient, many began spending less time talking to people about ways they can get healthier by reducing stress, exercising, or eating better. Teaching you how to optimize your longterm health and wellbeing is the primary focus of naturopathic doctors.

 

1. You want a doctor who will treat all of you, not just your illness.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained to treat the whole person. This requires taking the time to listen and understand the genetic, environmental, and behavioral/lifestyle factors that can affect your health. At your initial appointment, you’ll spend up to an hour or more talking with your ND.

2. You want personalized treatment.
NDs understand there is no one-size-fits-all treatment that works for everybody. After your visit with an ND, you’ll leave the doctor’s office with a treatment plan uniquely tailored to you, your health status, your health goals, and your lifestyle. 

3. You want to treat the root cause of an illness, not just the symptoms.
Sometimes having trouble sleeping, aches and pains, strange or hard to treat skin rashes, and indigestion or stomach discomfort are symptoms of an underlying illness. While these symptoms can be managed, it’s more important to understand and treat the root cause—which is the focus of naturopathic medicine.

4. You want to actively participate in managing your own health.
An ND will help you learn what your body needs to get well and stay healthy. Patients have the opportunity to feel empowered and hopeful when they understand and are actively engaged in managing their own health.

5. You have chronic pain and don’t want to use pharmaceutical drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or highly addictive opioids to manage it forever.
Pain that lasts six months or more is more complex than acute pain and requires a holistic, long-term approach to manage. NDs are trained to work with you to determine which combination of therapies will work best for you to heal or manage your pain safely so that you can resume daily activities.

6. You have tried all conventional medical options for diagnosing and treating a health condition.
Certain chronic health conditions that have symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, or gastrointestinal distress can be difficult to diagnose and treat, and can benefit from a holistic approach. NDs use diagnostic tools common in conventional medicine, such as detailed health, disease, and prescription drug histories, physical exams, and targeted laboratory testing and imaging. NDs also consider detailed diet history, lifestyle habits and choices, exercise history, and social/emotional factors to assess patients’ needs. These approaches can open doors to new treatment pathways and options.

Six Principles

Naturopathic Medicine Approach

Restore Health From Common Conditions

Naturopathic Education and Training

Why Choose a Naturopathic Doctor?

  • Facebook
  • Instagram