Naturopathic Medicine

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Physicians at Cancer Treatment Centers of America facilities consult with naturopathic practitioners to customize treatment programs to assist in maintaining your physical well-being and attempting to lessen the side effects of treatments to help avoid physical weakness.

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care. While not a licensed healing art in Illinois and Oklahoma, it is an art, a science, a philosophy and a practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. It uses the least invasive, most physiologically supportive methods possible. Methods used are consistent with these principles, and are chosen based on an individualized analysis of your needs. Naturopathic doctors consult with CTCA's physicians to provide diverse techniques including modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods. The following principles are the foundation for the practice of naturopathic medicine:

The Healing Power of Nature

Your body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent; nature heals through the response of the life force. The physician's role is to facilitate and augment this process, to identify and remove obstacles to your health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment for you.

First Do No Harm

Naturopathic physicians use methods and medicinal substances that minimize the risk of harmful effects upon you, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore your health. Naturopathic physicians respect and work with the healing power of nature in diagnosis, treatment and counseling. Therapeutic actions should be complementary to and synergistic with this healing process.

Doctor as Teacher

Beyond an accurate diagnosis and appropriate prescription, the doctor must work to create a healthy, sensitive interpersonal relationship with you. A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic value. The physician's major role is to educate and encourage you to take responsibility for your own health. The physician is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating you to assume responsibility. The physician must strive to inspire hope as well as understanding.

Treat the Whole Person

Health and disease result from a complex of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, spiritual and other factors. Naturopathic medicine recognizes the harmonious functioning of all aspects of you as being essential to health. The multifactorial nature of health and disease requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic doctors treat the whole person that is you, taking all of these factors into account.


The ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine is prevention. This is accomplished through education and promotion of lifestyle habits that create good health. The doctor assesses risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and makes appropriate interventions to avoid further harm and risk to you. The emphasis is on building health, rather than on fighting disease. Because it is difficult to be healthy in an unhealthy world, it is the responsibility of both you and your physician to create a healthier environment in which to live.

Naturopathic Practice

While NDs are trained to be primary care physicians, some NDs choose to emphasize particular treatment methods (see below) and others may concentrate on particular medical fields such as pediatrics, gynecology, allergies, arthritis, etc. Even though it has its own therapeutic specialties, naturopathic medicine incorporates the natural therapies of many different healing traditions. What makes a therapy part of the naturopathic scope of practice is the way it is applied, i.e., on the basis of the six naturopathic principles of healing. The current scope of naturopathic practice includes, but is not limited to:

Clinical Nutrition: That "food is the best medicine" is a cornerstone of naturopathic practice. Many medical conditions can be treated more effectively with foods and nutritional supplements than they can by other means, with fewer complications and side effects. NDs use diet, natural hygiene, fasting, and nutritional supplementation in their practice.

Botanical Medicine: Many plant substances are powerful medicines. Where single chemically derived drugs may address only a single problem, botanical medicines are able to address a variety of problems simultaneously. Their organic nature makes most botanicals compatible with the body's own chemistry; hence, they can be gently effective with few toxic side effects.

Physical Medicine: Naturopathic medicine has its own methods of therapeutic manipulation of muscles, bones, and spine. NDs use ultrasound, diathermy (the controlled production of "deep heating" beneath the skin in the subcutaneous tissues, deep muscles and joints for therapeutic purposes), exercise, massage, water, heat and cold, and gentle electrical therapies.

Oriental Medicine: Oriental medicine is a healing philosophy that is complementary to naturopathic medicine. Meridian theory offers an important understanding of the unity of the body and mind and adds to the Western understanding of physiology. Acupuncture provides a method of treatment that can unify and harmonize the imbalances present in disease conditions, which in turn stimulates the immune system and the healing response.

Psychological Medicine: Mental attitudes and emotional states may influence, or even cause, physical illness. Counseling, nutritional balancing, stress management, hypnotherapy, biofeedback and other therapies are used to help patients heal psychologically.

Homeopathic Medicine: Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of "like cures like." Clinical observation indicates that it works on a subtle, yet powerful, energetic level, gently acting to strengthen the body's healing and immune response and triggering a healing process.

Naturopathic practice also includes the use of any medical substances that contain elements that are components of bodily tissues, or can be employed by the body, for the maintenance of life and the repair of tissues. This also encompasses all methods of diagnostic testing and imaging, including X-ray and ultrasound.

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