Naturopathic Medicine by David Newirth
medicine is a unique and comprehensive healthcare
system that addresses people individually and on physical,
emotional, and spiritual levels.
Naturopathic medicine is a system of
healthcare that focuses on restoring an individual to his or her
optimal state of health and well-being by supporting and strengthening
the body’s natural healing capabilities. At the heart of
naturopathic medicine are six basic principles that guide the
naturopathic primary care physician in addressing a patient’s
The Healing Power of Nature
Identify and Treat the Cause
First Do No Harm
Treat the Whole Person
The Physician as Teacher
The Healing Power of
At the heart of naturopathic medicine is the belief that the human
body has been created with the inherent ability to maintain and
restore itself. It is the role of the naturopathic physician to aid
the body in regaining a healthy balance. By removing obstacles to
healing and providing the body the nourishment, stimulation, and
support it needs, the body can regain health.
Identify and Treat the Cause
Critical to healing is identifying the cause of illness without
focusing solely on symptoms. Alleviating symptoms are important for
patient comfort, but the goal is to address the deeper root of the
health problem to prevent its recurrence.
First Do No Harm
Symptoms are considered part of the healing process as they alert the
patient to an imbalance that has arisen in their body. It is the
intention of the naturopathic physician to address an illness without
unnecessarily disturbing the body’s natural healing process.
Preventing the natural healing process disrupts the body’s inner
rhythm and defense mechanisms.
Treat the Whole Person
To function optimally, the human body in all its complexity, must
utilize mind, body, and spirit to maintain the delicate balance of
health. Too often, illness is looked upon as merely a physical
disturbance, yet it is well-documented that psycho-social stress alone
can cause immune suppression, resulting in lowered immune defenses. An
individual’s spiritual well-being also influences overall health. It
is one’s spiritual connection and faith that allows one to cope with
stress, believe in healing, and complete the circuit between the mind
In naturopathic medicine, especially in cases of chronic illness,
patients will be counseled to pursue their health goals through
physical, mental, and spiritual avenues.
The Physician as Teacher
Since the human body doesn’t come with an operator’s manual, it is
the role of the physician to educate patients about maintaining
optimal health and correcting imbalances that arise. It is through
education that patients of naturopathic medicine become aware of ways
to aid the natural processes of maintaining and restoring health. This
is the essential component of the patient taking an active role in
their own health and well-being, with the guidance and support of the
Building a strong foundation of health is a philosophical cornerstone
of naturopathic medicine. Like building a solid and secure home, it is
the primary focus of naturopathy to promote and support prevention
through healthy dietary and lifestyle choices. Being proactive, rather
than reactive, allows for one to better ensure an optimally healthy
and longer life. Additionally, individual risk factors and genetic
predisposition are addressed to better design a personalized health
and treatment plan.
Scope of Practice
Naturopathic physicians are trained and licensed as primary care
physicians. During the four-year medical school curriculum, students
complete two years of basic sciences and two years of clinical
sciences. In order to be a licensed naturopathic physician, one must
pass both the national basic sciences and clinical sciences board
examinations. Naturopathic physicians use standard laboratory and
diagnostic tests in addition to more progressive functional medicine
tests to treat a vast array of diseases and disorders.
Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests
A licensed naturopath can perform routine annual physical exams and
order all conventional laboratory and diagnostic test such as x-rays,
MRI, and CT imaging. Naturopaths also utilize functional medical tests
such as ELIZA allergy testing, comprehensive digestive and stool
analysis, adrenal stress index, metabolic typing, and more.
Food is the most natural and best medicine. The use of whole foods and
nutritional supplements allow the body to regain a healthful balance.
Nutritional analysis and counseling is at the core of the naturopathic
approach to health and prevention.
Commonly referred to as herbal medicine, the use of plant-derived
substances can be powerful tools for addressing health concerns.
Drawing on thousands of years’ use and knowledge of botanical
medicine, naturopaths can use these medicines in a standardized form,
as a whole herb, or in combination.
Naturopathic physicians are trained in a wide variety of physical
medicine techniques including therapeutic manipulation of the spine
and joints, ultrasound, diathermy, microcurrent, muscle stimulation,
massage, heat and cold therapy, traction, and many other modalities.
Naturopathic physicians are also trained to use a multitude of
techniques to assist their patients in gaining perspective and to
balance their mental health, thus affecting overall health. Techniques
frequently used include counseling, stress management, biofeedback,
neurofeedback, hypnotherapy, EFT, and flower essences.
Homeopathy is a 200-year-old system of medicine, practiced throughout
the world. It is based upon the principle of like cures like, called
the Law of Similars. This means that a substance that is capable of
producing symptoms in a healthy person, when specially prepared in
high dilution, can bring relief to a person who is ill and suffers
from similar symptoms. Homeopathy is used effectively to treat both
acute and chronic problems, and is designed to positively affect the
body¹s vital force.
Hydro or water therapy is one of the basic tenets of naturopathic
medicine, and has been recorded in history as early as 100 AD by the
Romans. Hydrotherapy can be as simple as a warm bath or as complex as
a naturopathic constitutional hydrotherapy treatment. Using water in
its three states – ice, liquid, and vapor or steam – has proven
beneficial through its support of the immune system, digestive system,
and circulatory system, increasing energy, vitality and
In summary, naturopathic medicine is a unique and comprehensive
healthcare system that addresses people individually and on physical,
mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. This approach also empowers
patients to take control of their own health through a proactive
approach grounded in prevention, education, and self-awareness. The
role of the naturopathic physician is that of an educator and
facilitator in guiding the patient to regaining optimal health and
Dr. David Newirth, a
naturopathic physician, is trained and licensed as a primary care
provider with the Alaska Family Wellness Center. He can be reached at
561-9444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
for the Whole Family by Kaycie Rosen
With a little
focused effort and knowledge, everyone in a family can
have his or her nutritional needs met.
takes place at your family’s dinner table each night? Is it pleasant
or hectic? Is the food take out, frozen or home made? Does dinner as a
family even happen at all?
all inherently understand that we need food to live, and the quality
of what we put into our bodies ultimately influences our health.From a medical perspective, there can be serious consequences
to eating poorly, the most obvious being diabetes and cardiovascular
disease. Though in the past it has been primarily seen in older
people, children as young as 4 years old are now being diagnosed with
Type II Diabetes! It’s vital to understand that proper nutrition
affects every aspect of a child’s (and an adult’s) life, and can
influence school and athletic performance, mood, physical development,
oral health, immunity, and overall energy.
Naturopathic Medicine, we base our practice on what in Latin is called
the Vis Medicatrix Naturae,
which means the Healing Force of Nature.This principle states that when free of obstacles and given
proper nutrition, each living thing will naturally move into a state
of balance.Said another
way, it means that if your body does not get what it needs
nutritionally, you will not feel your best.
preparing food and eating in a way that is appropriate for each family
member can be a struggle.One
member of the family may be growing, one may need to gain weight, and
another trying to lose weight.One
person may have food allergies or a medical condition that
necessitates avoidance of certain types of foods.Compound this with hectic schedules, variable food preferences,
and a cultural overabundance of low-quality and over-processed foods,
and the prospect of preparing a meal each night that is delicious,
satisfying, and meets each individual’s nutritional needs can seem
next to impossible.
possible, though. With a little focused effort and knowledge, everyone
in a family can have his or her nutritional needs met. If you want to
make a change for your family’s health, begin by keeping the
following simple guidelines in mind.
people suffer from fatigue and poor blood sugar control simply because
they are not eating frequently enough.Blood sugar levels are regulated by how quickly the liver puts
sugar from the food we eat into the blood. Then, insulin is secreted
to put that sugar into the cells for energy.When we don’t eat frequently enough (and this is particularly
true for bodies that are growing and/or active), the cells are starved
and we feel fatigued. We can’t concentrate or perform well
it may not seem to be true, eating infrequently can also cause weight
gain. Why? The body will be more likely to store calories as fat
rather than using them because it is used to being low on immediate
fuel.For these reasons,
eating three meals a day is important for everyone, and snacking in
between meals can be appropriate for many.
considering food choices, remember those basic building blocks of
protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water.Every meal should have some of each of these.Although it is possible to go into infinite complexity in
working out the finer details of what is ideal for each individual,
start with the basics.When
choosing foods for yourself or your family, the number one goal is
simply means that if a food has been refined or processed in a way
that either has removed some of its nutritional value (for example,
white flour which has had the fiber, oils, vitamins and minerals
removed) or has added non-food ingredients (for example, artificial
colors, flavors, or preservatives), it will be less nutritionally
a rule, go towards foods that look closest to how they looked when
they were growing.Also,
stick to the periphery of the store:those foods that require refrigeration (produce and whole meat
and dairy products) are usually the most nutritious.
your own food.
you make your own food, you know exactly what goes into it.Although this can seem daunting to some, there are many ways to
prepare simple, wholesome, delicious foods.For example, an easy and nutritious breakfast can be prepared
ahead by mixing several cups of whole, rolled grains with nuts, seeds,
and dried fruit, and kept in the refrigerator.Each morning, eat ½ cup of the mixture with a little milk or
meals on the weekend that are large enough to accommodate lunches
throughout the busy work week.Focus
on buying high-quality ingredients that are less processed so you know
that what you are eating is good for you.
down for mealtimes.
we eat on the go, standing up, while working, or during times of
stress, our sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system is in
control, thus making our bodies less able to properly digest our food.
In order to digest more effectively, our parasympathetic (rest and
rejuvenate) nervous system must be working.This system coordinates the movements of our stomach and
intestines and the production of digestive enzymes and bile that are
necessary to absorb the high-quality food you’re putting in your
mouth. Also, keep in mind that mealtimes are a wonderful opportunity
to share and enjoy life with your family.
is possible that even when incorporating all of the above suggestions
into your family dietary schedule, there will still be individual
dietary needs that are not addressed.Take time to explore options that work for each person.Involve kids in the grocery shopping or food preparation so
they feel their preferences are considered.Also, find out if the foods you are preparing most often are
tolerated well by each person. Chronic skin problems, allergy,
digestive problems and asthma can be signs of food intolerance.
all, take time to discover how delicious and satisfying eating well
can be for the entire family. Good luck and happy eating!
, is a family practice doctor specializing in infectious disease.She works at
, and can be reached at 770-6700.
to Do About the Winter Bug
Jennifer Lush and Corey Harmon
the immune system through natural supplements is a beneficial
means of shortening symptoms and recovering rapidly
we celebrate the next several months of our majestic Alaskan winter,
many of us will feel a little under the weather due to the “winter
bug.” Do you have a runny nosy? Sore throat? Feeling a
little fatigued? If so, chances are you are coming down with the
common cold. More severe symptoms such as fevers, muscle aches,
nausea and vomiting, are most likely signs of the flu.
do we all get sick during the winter? Some believe that the
increased levels of colds and flues are due to more time spent indoors
(and around each other), which naturally exposes us to more viruses and
bacteria. Additionally, the dryness of the cold weather weakens the
immune system, allowing viruses and bacteria to invade the body.
Regardless of the cause of the cold or flu, strengthening the immune
system through natural supplements is a beneficial means of shortening
symptoms and recovering rapidly.
excellent way to treat the initial symptoms of the flu is through a
homeopathic remedy. Homeopathy is a system of medicine widely used in
. It is based on using small amounts of substances to allow the body to
correct the imbalance that is occurring. The remedy Oscillococcinum, which can be found at most natural food stores, is very effective
in decreasing flu symptoms if taken at the onset of those symptoms.
Homeopathy has very low side effects, thus making it an ideal type of
medicine to utilize if you are using other medications or have a
compromised immune system due to illness such as HIV or cancer. It is
also very effective in children and easy to administer.
medicine also has strong clinical evidence supporting its powerful
effects on strengthening the immune system. One herb that is widely used
for colds and flues is Echinacea.
The typical recommended amount of Echinacea is a
ml. tincture of the herb or root, or 300 mg. of dried root powder, three
times per day. Elderberry extract has also been widely used and
studied as a treatment for the influenza virus. One human trial
demonstrated that individuals receiving an elderberry extract (four
tablespoons per day for adults; two tablespoons per day for children)
appeared to recover faster than did those receiving a placebo (or
Ginseng and Eleutherococcus
(Siberian Ginseng) have immune-enhancing properties, which may play
a role in preventing infection with the influenza virus. Other herbal
remedies that have been shown to effectively treat the flu virus are Boneset,
Wild Indigo, Goldenseal, Myhrr, and Thuja. There are many types of
medicinal mushrooms which also demonstrate anti-viral and immune
the antioxidants such as A, D, E, and C—also have immune-stimulating properties. Vitamin C has been
found to increase the production of white blood cells, which is one way
our bodies fight viral infections. The research behind vitamin C is
ample. In a review of 21 controlled trials using 1 to 8 grams of vitamin
C per day, it was found that "in each of the twenty-one
studies, vitamin C reduced the duration of episodes and the severity of
the symptoms of the common cold by an average of 23%." The correct
amount of vitamin C to take for flu and cold treatments remains in
debate, but may be as high as 1 to 3 grams per day—considerably more
than the 120 to 200 mg per day that has been suggested as optimal intake
for healthy adults. The mineral zinc may also help fight off and
relieve the symptoms of a cold due to its ability to stop viruses from
entering the cells of our body.
there are other preventative measures that we can take to avoid
contracting the common cold or flu before symptoms arise. The simple act
of making sure we have good
hygiene, especially if we are in contact with children at schools
and daycares, can do wonders in keeping the immune system strong. The
immature immune systems of children make them carriers of bacteria and
viruses, which they pass to each other and their families as well.
Keeping water intake high (as much as 64 ounces per day for a
160-pound adult) will keep our cells hydrated and strong and better
prepared to fight off bacteria and viruses.
bodies build their immune boosting cells, such as the white blood cells,
while we are sleeping and resting. Getting consistent,
uninterrupted sleep each night allows us to function well and keep
immunity strong during our waking hours. Eating a diet
high in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
provides natural immune support. Foods such as green leafy vegetables,
whole grains, fruits, and organic (or non-hormone fed) proteins are
ideal for providing these nutrients. Refined sugars, as found in baked
goods, breads, candy, and soda, have been found to decrease the immune
system. Keeping sugars low or eliminating them altogether is a very
effective way to keep our bodies healthy as well.
you enjoy the snow and wide array of winter activities this year,
remember to do all that you can to keep your immune system healthy and
ready to ward off unwanted bacteria and viral infections.
Lush, N.D., practices general family medicine with a focus on
nutrition and botanical medicine at
. Corey Harmon is the Director of Communications at Avante. Call
(907) 770-6700 or email email@example.com
for more information.