Naturopathic Medicine – in a nutshell
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
“Naturopathic medicine is a distinct health care profession that combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained as primary care providers who diagnose, treat, and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions, while addressing disease and dysfunction at the level of body, mind, and spirit.” – AANMC
Naturopathic medicine is governed by 6 principles:
1) First do no harm – utilizing the most natural, least invasive approach to improve the human form and condition.
2) The healing power of nature – facilitating the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.
3) Identify and treat the causes – targeting the root causes of illness by giving the body what it needs and removing obstacles to healing.
4) Doctor as teacher – building health literacy to educate and empower patients with trust, understanding, and advocacy in their healing journey.
5) Treat the whole person – considering physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of each individual patient.
6) Prevention – aiming to promote health and prevent illness as much as possible with early intervention and lifestyle changes for sustainable wellness.
Naturopathic medicine is guided by the therapeutic order:
A set of guidelines to help naturopathic physicians treat the underlying causes of health problems using the least force yet most effective means necessary. It emphasizes the determinants of health (nutrition and lifestyle factors) as an integral component of the care plan, although more invasive interventions can be used as necessary.
Naturopathic doctors are required to complete a 4 year doctorate program at an accredited university in addition to 2 NPLEX exams to become licensed. Naturopathic doctors are trained in nutrition/lifestyle, functional laboratory testing, herbal therapy, homeopathy, physical medicine, counseling, hydrotherapy, IV/injection therapy, and pharmaceuticals. Depending on the scope of practice and extent of training, NDs in certain states can perform midwifery, acupuncture, and/or minor surgery.
Does age matter when it comes to Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is available for people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The benefits of naturopathic medicine can be experienced wherever you are in the lifecycle – when you’re younger it can help prevent health issues from arising later on in life and when you are older it can help you feel more youthful and in better health again. Having a naturopathic doctor is really like having a lifelong healthcare membership, as naturopathic medicine is lifestyle and wellness based and can be used throughout all seasons of life.
Written by Dr Jordan Valdez ND RD