What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine proposes that there is a healing power in the body that establishes, maintains, and restores health. Practitioners work with the patient with a goal of supporting this power, through treatments such as nutrition and lifestyle counseling, dietary supplements, medicinal plants, exercise, homeopathy, and treatments from traditional Chinese medicine.
What can a Traditional Naturopath Do?
The traditional naturopath sees a symptom as a signal that the body’s healthy balance has been upset. According to naturopathic belief, when a symptom alone is removed, it is most likely being suppressed and may return later in a chronic form. True health can be achieved only when balance is restored.
Education is celebrated in the Latin phrase docendo discimus: “by teaching, we learn.”
In teaching clients how to live a healthy, holistic lifestyle, traditional naturopaths follow these principles:
Do no harm.
Primum non nocere is part of the Hippocratic oath. Naturopaths do not use harmful, artificial substances such as drugs and pharmaceuticals; nor do they use invasive procedures, such as surgery.
Recognize the healing power of nature.
Naturopaths understand the body’s innate capacity for self–healing. They educate clients in creating external and internal environments conducive to healing.
Find and eliminate the cause of poor health.
Naturopaths help clients evaluate lifestyle choices to identify both the cause of a problem and how to correct it.
Naturopaths teach clients how to achieve and maintain good health. They empower clients, enabling them to participate in the process of staying well.
Honor the total person.
A person is never simply a headache, or a backache, or a sore throat. Except in the case of acute injury, seldom does any problem occur in isolation. Naturopaths understand that people are interconnected physical, mental, and spiritual beings, and that one “dis–ease” affects all areas of life.
By teaching clients how to create homeostatic balance, naturopaths help others achieve future health as well.
What can a Traditional Naturopath NOT do?
The origin of “doctor” was in the Latin, docere: “to teach.”
In teaching clients how to live a healthy, holistic lifestyle, traditional naturopaths avoid certain allopathic practices:
Naturopaths perform evaluations and analyses to determine the root cause of problems, but they do not diagnose disease.
Naturopaths focus on health and education, not on treating any specific disease. Naturopaths empower clients to create internal and external environments that are conducive to good health.
Prescribe drugs and pharmaceuticals.
Many naturopaths teach clients about herbs, homeopathic remedies, and the healing properties in foods and nutritional supplements. They do not prescribe drugs and pharmaceuticals.
Perform invasive procedures.
Depending on the type and extent of their training, naturopaths may use hands–on modalities such as reflexology or acupressure. There are naturopaths who are also chiropractors or massage therapists, who may blend naturopathic modalities with those common to their other discipline. For example, this would include performing spinal adjustments if the naturopath is also a chiropractor. Naturopaths do not perform invasive procedures such as surgery of any kind. They do not give injections or draw blood.
The Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
The Healing Power of Nature ~ Vis Medicatrix Naturae
Naturopaths believe that the body has an inherent ability to heal itself. Naturopathic doctors support and assist the healing process by identifying and removing obstacles to cure and by using natural methods and medicines that work with, not against, the body’s natural processes.
Find [and Treat] the Cause ~ Tolle Causam
Naturopaths place their emphasis not on curing the symptoms or discomforts, but on finding and curing the reason for the symptoms.
First, do no Harm ~ Primum no Nocere
Naturopaths follow these precepts to avoid harming the patient:
- Utilize methods and medical substances, which minimize the risk of harmful side effects using the least force necessary to diagnoses and treat.
- Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms.
- Acknowledge, respect and work with the individual’s self healing process.
- Refer for appropriate treatment when naturopathic therapies are inappropriate.
Treat the Whole Person
Naturopaths treat each patient taking into account individual physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, genetic, environmental, social and other factors.
Doctor as a Teacher ~ Docere [to teach]
The word doctor is derived from the Latin word “docere” which can be translated, “to teach.” To the naturopath, this means that his role is not to heal the patient, but to teach the patient to heal himself. His goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle and thus a healthy body. This often requires the practitioner to act as a teacher, helping the patient to ultimately be able to maintain his health without a doctor’s assistance. Naturopathic medicine is made up of a variety of modern, ancient, American and international treatments. Just as a student must choose to learn, ultimately recovery from an illness lies in the hands of the patient, not the doctor.
Prevention is the Best Cure
Through education and instruction, the naturopathic doctor aims to help their patients develop the lifestyle and habits necessary to maintain good health. The healing of the body is only fifty percent of the naturopath’s job and the other fifty percent lies in the promotion of obtaining and sustaining optimal health. The focus of naturopathic medicine should be on the prevention of illness rather than the combat of illness.