Naturopathic Medicine provides primary and adjunctive health care to the entire family. It is a comprehensive and holistic practice encompassing a wide range of therapeutic systems, including clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, Asian medicine and acupuncture, environmental and physical medicine.
Distinguished from other types of medicine by the underlying principles that govern it, naturopathic doctors use treatment methods chosen based on the individual needs of the patient and not by specific symptoms. Naturopathic therapies are chosen based on consultation, examination and diagnosis. The patient’s physiological, structural, psychological, social, spiritual, environment and lifestyle factors are all taken into consideration in order to treat the person as a whole and use of natural techniques and substances help to restore balance and minimize the potential for side effects.
In Canada, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions and state-of-the-art scientific research. Naturopathic physicians adhere to national standards of practice, and undergo professional licensing exams.
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic doctors are guided by six principles. These principles are what distinguish naturopathic medicine from every other type of medicine and are what makes this style of health and healing so powerful and effective. Emphasized throughout a naturopathic doctor’s training, these principles create the foundation of this distinct form of health care.
1. First Do No Harm ~ primum non nocere
Naturopathic physicians employ medicines and therapies that minimize the risks of harmful side effects and use the least invasive modalities and medicine to diagnose and treat patients.
2. The Healing Power of Nature ~ vis medicatrix naturae
Nature acts powerfully through healing mechanisms in the body and mind to restore and preserve health. When these inherent healing systems have broken down, naturopathic physicians employ techniques and medicines that are in harmony with natural processes to revitalize and support health.
3. Identify and Treat the Cause ~ tolle causam
Every illness has an underlying cause, often in aspects of lifestyle habits, diet, life events or environment. Naturopathic physicians determine and treat the underlying cause rather than simply managing or suppressing the symptoms. Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s natural attempt to heal.
4. Treat the Whole Person ~ “It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.” Hippocrates
Each person is unique and requires individualized care. In treating the cause of any condition, a complex interaction of physical symptoms as well as mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and spiritual factors will be considered. Health and disease affects the entire person, not just a specific organ or system, so an N.D. looks at the person as a whole.
5. Doctor as Teacher ~ docere
To assist the patient in understanding their health and illness, as well as the contributing factors. To promote balance and empower each person to maintain their own health, whilst acknowledging the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.
6. Disease Prevention and Health Promotion ~ restore present health to preserve future health.
Prevention is the best medicine! The above principles applied proactively can prevent a minor illness from developing into something more serious, chronic or degenerative. To promote health ahead of treating disease is the responsibility of the naturopathic physician.