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Is Naturopathic Medicine?
A Naturopathic doctor (N.D.) is the highest trained practitioner in the broadest scope of natural holistic treatments. In addition to the basic medical sciences and conventional diagnostics, naturopathic education includes therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, counseling, mind/body medicine, and pharmacology.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care - an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles which underlie and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. Methods used are consistent with these principles and are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality. Naturopathic physicians are trained as primary health care practitioners, whose diverse techniques include modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods.
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The word naturopathy was first used in the US 100 years ago. But the natural therapies and the philosophy on which naturopathy is based have been effectively used to treat diseases since ancient times. As Rene Dubos noted in The Mirage of Health (1959), the word physician is from the Greek root meaning nature. Hippocrates, a physician who lived 2400 years ago, is often considered the earliest predecessor of naturopathic physicians, particularly in terms of his teaching that nature is healer of all diseases and his formulation of the concept "Vis Medicatrix Naturae" -- the healing power of nature. This concept has long been at the core of indigenous medicine in many cultures around the world and remains one of the central themes of naturopathic philosophy to this day.
The earliest doctors and healers worked with herbs, foods, water, fasting, and tissue manipulation - gentle treatments that do not obscure the body's own healing powers. Today's naturopathic physicians continue to use these therapies as their main tools and to advocate a healthy dose of primary prevention. In addition, modern NDs conduct and make practical use of the latest biochemical research involving nutrition, botanicals, homeopathy, and other natural treatments.
For many diseases and conditions (a few examples are ulcerative colitis, asthma, menopause, flu, obesity, and chronic fatigue), treatments used by naturopathic physicians can be primary and even curative. Naturopathic physicians also function within an integrated framework;, for example, referring patients to an appropriate medical specialist, such as an oncologist or a surgeon. Naturopathic therapies can be employed within that context to complement the treatments used by conventionally trained medical doctors. The result is a team-care approach that recognizes the needs of the patient to receive the best overall treatment most appropriate to his or her specific medical condition. The goal of a naturopathic doctor is to employ therapies that support and promote the body's natural healing process, leading to the highest state of wellness.
Eliot Edwards, N.D. practices naturopathic medicine at the Center. To make an appointment with Dr. Edwards, please call the Center at 689-2244 or Click Here to Contact Us by e-mail.
Center for Integrative