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What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine is a comprehensive health care approach. Naturopathic Doctors treat acute and chronic medical conditions, just as regular Medical Doctors/general practitioners do. The difference is naturopathic medicine focuses on finding and treating the underlying cause of your health conditions, as opposed to treating only the symptoms.

Why Would I Choose Naturopathic Medicine?

Traditional (allopathic) medical doctors rarely treat the root cause of medical problems, unless an infection is involved. They rely heavily on prescribing drugs that treat the symptoms and not the root cause. You can verify this for yourself – if you have to take your prescription forever, it means you’re never truly cured. Only your symptoms are treated.

Naturopathic medicine treats the root cause of disease as naturally as possible. Your body was created with natural, self-healing abilities that usually will heal you without any intervention at all. Naturopathic medicine simply activates this natural self-healing in cases when your body is not healing by itself.

Is Naturopathic Medicine for me?

There are many reasons to choose naturopathic medicine:

  • If you have a chronic condition not responding to the usual treatments prescribed by medical doctors.
  • If instead of relying on drugs to maintain health for the rest of your life, you prefer that your body heal itself. Naturopathic treatment treats the root cause instead of symptoms.
  • If you want treatment that considers all your symptoms and you as a complete person (body and mind), instead of just a disease to be eliminated.
  • If you prefer natural cures to drug based symptom treatment, and want to avoid drug side effects. “All drugs have side effects. A drug without side effects is no drug at all.” – Eli Lilly, founder, Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical company. Also, according to Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, All drugs have side effects, and even the safest approved drugs have side effects”.
  • If you want to be knowledgeable and empowered about your wellness.

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

  1. First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
    Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient:

    • Use of methods and medicinal materials/substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects
    • Avoid as much as possible the suppression of symptoms. (These symptoms are often manifestations of your body’s attempts to heal itself.)
    • Work with the individual’s healing process instead of against it.
  2. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
    Your body has a powerful, built-in self-healing ability, provided by nature, God, or millions of years of evolution (depending on your beliefs). Naturopathic doctors work with this ability by removing blocks to self-healing and otherwise activating natural self-healing abilities. Self-healing is actually the only way healing can occur – even a great surgeon can’t heal a paper cut.
  3. Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)
    Too often, symptoms are treated instead of the cause. The goal of naturopathic medicine is to treat the root cause rather than managing or suppressing symptoms.
  4. Treat the Whole Person
    Even if the symptoms are the same, every person and their situation are unique and require individualized treatment. Naturopathic medicine not only considers physical symptoms, but also emotional, environmental, genetic, lifestyle, mental, social, and other factors.
  5. Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
    Instead of making you dependent on the doctor for your health care, naturopathic doctors help you understand health and illness. An informed patient is much more likely to maintain and enhance their health.
  6. Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
    Health is more than the absence of disease. Optimal wellness is obtained through proper nutrition, exercise, mental health, habits and living.

What kinds of health conditions do Naturopathic Doctors treat?

Naturopathic doctors are trained to diagnose and treat various acute and chronic conditions, just like medical doctors. However, naturopathic physicians treat each person with an individualized plan that is specifically tailored to meet the individual’s needs and target the root cause instead of suppressing symptoms with drugs.

How are Naturopathic Doctors Trained?

Naturopathic doctors must have a minimum of seven years of post-secondary education: three years of pre-medical studies followed by four years of post-graduate work at a college of naturopathic medicine. This post-graduate work includes course work such as:

  • anatomy
  • biochemistry
  • clinical and physical diagnosis
  • histology
  • immunology
  • laboratory diagnosis
  • microbiology
  • nutrition
  • orthopaedics
  • pathology
  • pharmacology
  • physiology
  • radiology

There are also naturopathic specific coursework in subjects specific to naturopathic medicine.

Is Naturopathic medicine safe?

Naturopathic medicine is very safe – most people would consider it even safer than the medicine practiced by medical doctors.

For example, the average general practitioner in the United States pays an average of $11,000 in malpractice insurance premiums a year. Naturopathic doctors pay an average of $4,000-4,5000 a year. Many naturopaths don’t carry any malpractice insurance at all. This seems to indicate that Naturopathic medicine is twice as safe as traditional medicine practiced by medical doctors.

This makes sense when considering how naturopaths use gentle treatments and non-toxic medicines that are usually natural, instead of invasive treatments and harsh drugs. Naturopaths recognize conditions outside their practice and refer to other health professionals when necessary.