Naturopathic medicine (sometimes called “naturopathy”) is a distinct system of health care that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process through the use of natural therapies. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained as Primary Care Physicians in a 4 year post-graduate medical school, blending centuries-old knowledge and wisdom of natural treatment and diagnostic modalities, along with the rigors of western modern science. Steeped in traditional treatment and healing methods, principles, and practices, naturopathic medicine is centered around a holistic, proactive prevention, coupled with comprehensive diagnostics, and treatments.
Naturopathic diagnosis is focused on identifying the underlying causes of disease, while naturopathic therapies are supported by research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy (plant extracts), pharmacognosy (biological origins of medicinal substances), homeopathy, and psychology. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.
Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness; the medicine is tailored to the patient and emphasizes prevention and self care. Naturopathic medicine attempts to locate and treat the underlying cause of the patient’s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment.
With shared roots in the rigorous science of medical evidence and time-tested wisdom about the nature of health and healing, naturopathic medicine is guided by the following six principles of healing:
First, Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic medicine uses therapies that are safe and effective. Since the goal is to identify and treat the cause, naturopathic physicians avoid, and consider harmful, treatments that obscure the cause by suppressing symptoms.
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
The human body is inherently able to restore and maintain health. The physician’s role is to support the body’s innate abilities with natural, non-toxic therapies, and to assist the patient in creating a healthy environment and lifestyle.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s natural attempt to heal. Naturopathic physicians seek and treat the underlying cause of a disease. The origin of disease is removed or treated so the patient can recover.
Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum)
The human body, mind, and spirit are fully integrated aspects of a person’s overall being. Each patient is a unique whole, and requires individualized and comprehensive consideration for healing to occur.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
The naturopathic physician’s most important role is to empower the patient to reclaim agency over his or her own health. The physician strives to instill the patient with hope and knowledge. Ultimately, it is the patient not the physician who achieves healing.
Prevention Beats Cure (Praevenire)
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” as Benjamin Franklin said. Naturopathic physicians shift the emphasis from fighting disease to building and maintaining good health. The ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine is prevention.