WHAT IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE?
Naturopathic medicine is a unique and comprehensive approach to improving health and treating illness. Focusing on prevention, and using natural substances and treatments, naturopathic doctors support and stimulate the body’s ability to restore, establish, and maintain health.
The primary goal of naturopathic treatment is to address the cause of illness, rather than merely treat and suppress symptoms.
NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE’S SIX PRINCIPLES OF HEALING
These are the fundamental principles that distinguish naturopathic medicine from other medical approaches.
First do no harm
Therapies should stimulate the body to heal in an effective yet gentle manner.
The healing power of nature
The body has the inherent ability to heal itself. The physician’s role is to facilitate and augment this process.
Identify and treat the cause
Illness does not occur without cause. Causes may occur on many levels. One must evaluate fundamental underlying causes on all levels and treat or remove these before a person can recover completely from illness.
Treat the whole person
Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism involving complex interactions between physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, genetic, environmental and social factors. All of these factors must be taken into account.
The doctor as teacher
The doctor’s major role is to educate, inspire and encourage patients to take responsibility for their own health. The origin of the word doctor is in the latin: ‘docere’ which means ‘to teach’.
Prevention is always the best ‘cure’.
WHAT IS A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR?
A licensed Naturopathic doctor (ND) is a medically-trained primary healthcare provider specializing in natural medicines. Unlike most alternative health care practitioners practicing today (herbalists, homeopaths etc.), ND’s have standard medical training in all of the conventional medical sciences and diagnostics (anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, biochemistry, histology, immunology, microbiology, genetics, clinical & laboratory diagnostics, pharmacology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, oncology, cardiology, pediatrics, orthopedics, gynecology, urology, neurology, minor surgery etc.) and thus have the authority to perform physical exams, make diagnoses, order medical testing and interpret their results. Most significantly, ND’s have the most extensive and in-depth training in the natural therapies currently available today.
Naturopathic doctors are the only health-care providers currently trained in the use of both conventional and natural medicines, and are thus able to utilize the strengths of each system to better serve their patients. This understanding also enables ND’s to lead all other healthcare professionals in their awareness of the interactions between conventional and natural medicines and in thoughtful applications of these two healthcare modalities. They are indeed the doctors of the future and represent the integration of the best of conventional and alternative healthcare.
Naturopathic doctors are the only medically-trained specialists in natural medicines.
A licensed Naturopathic doctor’s education begins with a 4-year undergraduate degree with all of the regular medical school pre-requisites. This is followed by a four-year Naturopathic medical school education that includes all of the same basic medical sciences as conventional medical schooling. In addition to the standard medical curriculum, the Naturopathic physician is required to complete four years of in-depth training in alternative therapies, including clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, naturopathic philosophy and applications, hydrotherapy, environmental medicine, cleansing and detoxification, psychology and counselling, and naturopathic manipulation and bodywork therapies. Naturopathic education differs from conventional medicine in its focus on wholistic and non-toxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness.
A Naturopathic doctor must complete rigorous professional board exams for licensure in their province/state or jurisdiction as a primary care physician. As licensed medical practitioners, Naturopathic doctors can order routine blood-work through the local medical laboratories (just as MD’s can), and often make use of private specialized laboratories for more in-depth investigations into patients’ health.
Naturopathic Medicine is now licensed and regulated in Alberta by the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta (CNDA). All CNDA members are now qualified Naturopathic doctors who have completed an intensive four-year medical program at an accredited naturopathic medical school and passed provincial medical board exams. Look up Naturopathic doctors in the Yellow Pages – licensed practitioners are those listed under the Naturopathic Doctors section who are also listed in the CNDA website (www.CNDA.net).