Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary healthcare profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process. Naturopathic Medicine is a patient-centered, individualized form of healthcare and wellness optimization that utilizes long-standing, traditional approaches to medicine and healing combined with modern scientific and evidence-based treatment methods. By combining both natural and conventional medical strategies, the patient can truly heal through an integrative approach.
While conventional medical care is exceptional at treating trauma, surgery, serious infections and life-saving medicine, oftentimes chronic illness care, which has exploded globally in the last few decades, can sometimes fall short of making people feel well and leave them dependent on medications. Many of these patients seek out other forms of healing and Naturopathic Medicine is the perfect answer for them. Naturopathic Doctors seek to find the root causes and contributing factors that lead to the development of dysfunction and disease.
Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are trained in understanding the Therapeutic Order of healing.
First, NDs aim to address the foundations that support optimal health and function of the body as a whole. This occurs through addressing diet, lifestyle, exercise, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Once the foundations have been addressed, next is to focus on stimulating the self-healing or innate healing abilities of the body. From there the goal is to support and restore any weakened or dysfunctional systems in the body. There is also a need to address any physical alignment impairments one may have and correct these. They may do these adjustments themselves or work closely with other practitioners such as chiropractors or physiotherapists. Next, they are able to provide options for natural symptom relief. There may be times when symptom relief is paramount to the patient and so this may come early in the treatment order while simultaneously working on the foundations and other earlier steps. Lastly, working integratively with primary care providers, they may use (if licensed in their state and within their scope of practice) or encourage the use of pharmaceutical approaches or conventional treatment options if it’s deemed necessary and warranted.
Naturopathic Doctor’s Oath
Naturopathic medical education and patient care are centered on the Naturopathic Doctor’s Oath, which is defined by six guiding principles:
- The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent.
- Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
- First Do No Harm (Primum Non-Nocere): Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
- Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
- Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
- Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
- Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health.
- Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors.
- Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
Naturopathic Doctor Education
Naturopathic Doctors are educated and trained in 4-year, post-graduate accredited naturopathic medical colleges. During their extensive training, they are educated in the same biomedical and diagnostic sciences as Medical Doctors (MDs) and Osteopathic Doctors (DO’s), and they receive additional training in traditional medical systems and modalities which are not learned in conventional medical training. The result is a comprehensive, rigorous, and well-rounded scientific medical education that is both comparable and complementary to that of MDs and DOs.
Currently, 22 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have licensing or registration laws for naturopathic doctors (NDs/NMDs). In these jurisdictions, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from accredited four-year residential naturopathic medical programs and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license or registration. Licensed and registered naturopathic doctors must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually and have a specific scope of practice as defined by their state’s law.
If you are looking to address your current concerns or illness with other approaches than the conventional standard of care, or in addition to, or you’re wanting to optimize your health and performance, practice prevention, and age well, then consider making an initial appointment at Hatch Chiropractic & Wellness.