Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct system of healing combining scientific knowledge with natural therapeutics and traditional philosophies. Naturopathic Medicine offers primary health care services for both acute and chronic conditions. Naturopathic treatments include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, homeopathy, lifestyle counselling and hydrotherapy. Treatments are chosen in communication with the patient and after a comprehensive health history has been taken, including physiological, social, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental and other lifestyle factors. Naturopathic Medicine encourages treatment to be based on each unique individual, rather than solely disease-oriented treatment. Naturopathic Medicine aligns itself with the diverse healing therapies that can be found in nature and recognizes the capacity of the human body to heal itself given the necessary resources. Every attempt is made to evaluate the underlying cause of disease, the roots, rather than only addressing symptoms. Naturopathic Doctors provide treatment that is complimentary with your Medical Doctor and can work together with your MD to establish safe and effective treatment protocols.
Naturopathic doctors must complete four years of pre-medical sciences at a recognized University before completing a four year full-time program in an accredited school of Naturopathic Medicine that includes 4,500 hours of classroom training and 1,500 hours of supervised clinic experience. Naturopathic Doctors are required to pass NPLEX (Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations) after 2nd year and 4th year of study. Naturopathic Doctors undergo training in the following areas:
The following article is great at providing a glimpse of some of the characteristics that define naturopathic doctors.
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine provide a fundamental framework capable of uniting naturopathic professionals under a set of common ideals. They support the naturopathic profession while also permitting flexibility in their interpretation and subsequent expression. This results in an eclectic mix of naturopathic professionals that defines our profession today. The Principles strive to encompass the cultural milieu of an ever-changing and growing profession while simultaneously addressing the needs of the individuals and communities we seek to help.
1. First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
The first principle states that as naturopathic doctors we must “do no harm”. This directly translates into not prescribing treatments that could cause harm, result in a more a negative state within the patient, or have no intended purpose. We must ask ourselves before we prescribe any treatment, why we are prescribing this treatment. If it is not administered with the pure intent of benefiting the patient, then it must not be given. This must not only be considered on a physiological basis, but as naturopaths we must avoid harm on all layers including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
2. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
The second principle is “To cooperate with the healing powers of nature”. The healing power of nature is the universal wisdom that transcends the physical body and extends to the far reaches of the soul of each and everything; the animate and the inanimate. Nature holds an innate energetic quality, a universal consciousness, which intricately weaves itself through nature and our bodies. When we allow the boundaries between the physical body and spirit world to dissolve, we realign our energy and inner frequency with that of universal consciousness and allow the healing vitality to manifest within our bodies, minds and soul.
3. Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)
Thirdly, we must “address the fundamental causes of disease”. This means escaping the tendency to prescribe as a means of suppression or palliation, but recognizing that there is a time and a place where this may be appropriate. We must escape the notion of a person being diseased and the connotations associated with disease. The presence of “disease” means that we are at war with ourselves. These military metaphors permeate our understanding of the earth and disease within our bodies and they reflect the notion that these things must be controlled and conquered. There is an alternative to our conventional means of understanding disease and illness. We may instead visualize it as a state of disturbance on multiple levels of existence. Thus, we must explore these areas if we wish to aid a person in removing these disturbances and attaining their fullest health potential.
4. Treat the Whole Person
The goals of humans as biological organisms are almost always the same. We require the same necessities in terms of food, water, and absence of disease in order to be physically healthy. However, when the human as a person is taken into account there are many different goals in regards to one’s personal desires and aspirations.
5. Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
As naturopaths we commit ourselves to teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine. Doctors and health care professionals of every kind must recognize the responsibility and privilege of being a teacher. We must recognize the gift of being able to share the knowledge we have accumulated within school yet also recognize the vast potential to continue to learn through our patients and personal experience.
6. Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
The Principles are powerful sources of identity in a world that is constantly changing. The Principles define individual naturopathic doctors, define a profession, but also have the power to evoke a global paradigm shift and define a new way of understanding ourselves, our community, our health and our relationship to each other and this world.
Naturopathic Doctors use both conventional and naturopathic diagnostic tools.
Comprehensive Health History: An initial appointment is generally 90 minutes in length and will include review of your chief concerns, past medical history, social and family history, past and current medications and supplements, lifestyle qualities including sleep regimen, energy status, and diet. You will be required to complete a health questionnaire prior to your initial appointment.
Nutritional Status: Nutritional status is important to assess as it can impact the body in a multitude of ways. Naturopathic Doctors may use diet diaries or diet recall to assess the type of food your eat and your eating habits. Blood tests may also be completed for more specific assessment of nutritional status.
Physical Examinations: Naturopathic Doctors are trained to perform complete physical examinations. The findings from physical examinations help to evaluate your health concerns and guide appropriate diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
Laboratory Testing: Standard laboratory testing may include urinalysis, blood work and saliva testing.
Previous Medical Reports and Diagnostic Testing: These documents are important for your Naturopathic Doctor to review in order to evaluate all previous assessments, diagnoses and treatments that have been undertaken to address your chief concerns. These reports will be requisitioned from the appropriate health care provider with your permission. Naturopathic Doctors desire to work in a complimentary fashion with other health care providers and will refer to other providers when appropriate.
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