What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic Doctors (ND) are trained as primary care general practitioners and are recognized as experts in natural medicine. Naturopathic medicine blends centuries-old natural, non-toxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care. Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness and is tailored to the patient, emphasizing prevention and self-care. NDs look to identify the underlying cause of a patient’s condition rather than focus solely on symptomatic treatment.
The Practice of Naturopathic Medicine Centers on Six Principles of Healing:
The healing power of nature – vis medicatrix naturae
The body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent; nature heals through the response of the life force. The naturopathic doctor’s role is to facilitate and augment this process, to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.
Identify and treat the cause – tolle causam
Illness does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and removed or treated before a person can recover completely from illness. Symptoms are expressions of the body’s attempt to heal, but are not the cause of disease; therefore, naturopathic medicine addresses itself primarily to the underlying causes of disease, rather than to the symptoms. Causes may occur on many levels, including physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual. The naturopathic doctor must evaluate fundamental underlying causes on all levels, directing treatment at root causes as well as seeking relief of symptoms.
First do no harm – primum no nocere
The process of healing includes the generation of symptoms, which are, in fact, expressions of the life force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions should be complementary to and synergistic with this healing process. One’s actions can support or antagonize the actions of vis medicatrix naturae; therefore, methods designed to suppress symptoms without removing underlying causes are considered harmful and are avoided or minimized.
Treat the whole person – in perturbato animo sicut in corpore sanitas esse non potest
Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism, involving a complex interaction of physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social factors. Naturopathic doctors treat the whole person by taking all of these factors into account. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual is essential to recovery from and prevention of disease, and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.
Naturopathic doctor as teacher – docere
A major role of the naturopathic doctor is to educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for his or her own health. The naturopathic doctor is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume responsibility. It is the patient, not the naturopathic doctor, who ultimately creates or accomplishes healing. The naturopathic doctor must strive to inspire hope as well as understanding, and must also make a commitment to her/his personal and spiritual development.
Prevention – principiis obsta: sero medicina curatur
The ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine is prevention. This is accomplished through education and promotion of lifestyle habits that foster good health. The emphasis is on building health rather than on fighting disease. Because it is difficult to be healthy in an unhealthy world, it is the responsibility of both the naturopathic doctor and patient to create a healthier environment in which to live.