What makes Naturopathic Doctors Naturopathic?
- The therapeutics used are based upon a model of healing, not a model of disease
- Patients are taught sustainable health
- A belief in the vital force and innate healing ability of the body
- The ideology of removing the barriers that are blocking the ability to heal while supporting elimination processes and the vital force.
Naturopathic Medicine is a unique and distinct system of health care that emphasizes the use of prevention and natural therapeutics. Naturopathic doctors (NDs), are trained to serve as primary care practitioners who are experts in the prevention, diagnosis, management, and treatment of both acute and chronic health conditions. Naturopathic doctors are experts in natural medicine, and treat patients using modalities that blend the advances of medical science with centuries old practices and philosophies. The goal of naturopathic medicine is to not only treat disease, but restore health. Treatment plans are designed for the individual patient, not for the generality of symptoms. Naturopathic medicine investigates the relationship between physical, mental, and emotional wellness to create health.
Clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, mind/body medicine, physical medicine, flower essences, counseling, and pharmacology among others.
How are Naturopathic Doctors trained?
After a bachelor degree and pre-med coursework, Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) attend a four year federally accredited, post graduate, residential naturopathic medical school. NDs are trained as primary care physicians. The training consists of comprehensive study of the conventional medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical and physical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, etc, as well as detailed study of a wide variety of natural therapies. NDs are trained to perform physical exams and can order laboratory testing and imaging such as x-ray, ultrasound, CAT and PET scans, EKG, PAP smears, blood work, and functional tests. Treatment modalities studied include nutrition, hydrotherapy, pharmacology, environmental medicine, botanical medicine, homeopathy, flower essences, drainage, mind/body medicine, counseling, IV therapy, Chinese medical theory, minor surgery, structural manipulation, physiotherapy, and body work. To be licensed, NDs must pass two rounds of national board exams in basic science and clinical application, after completion in coursework and clinical intern hours.
While California is a licensed state, Naturopathic Doctors have restricted licensure. In California, NDs cannot perform minor surgery, and our pharmaceutical prescribing rights are limited to hormones (estrogen, progesterone, birth control pills, testosterone, and thyroid medication).
These principles are found throughout medicine. Here is their naturopathic interpretation to guide the profession:
Do No Harm – primum non nocere
Naturopathic medicine strives to use therapies that do not suppress disease or create more harm that blocks the body’s ability to heal.
The Healing Power of Nature – vis medicatrix naturae
The human body possesses an inherent ability to restore health. The doctor’s role is to facilitate this process and remove barriers to healing.
Treat the Cause – totale causam
It is the ultimate goal of doctors to seek and treat the underlying cause of disease. Naturopathic medicine strives as an approach to not suppress symptoms as suppression deepens the root of disease. Symptoms are viewed as an expression of the body’s natural attempt to heal and act as indicators for what is occurring within the body.
Treat the Whole Person – totale totum
Each individual has a unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social makeup that all affect the state of health. Naturopathic doctors consider all of the factors that makeup health and disease to create tailored treatment programs that meet different health care needs.
The Physician as a Teacher – docere
It is through education that the doctor empowers and motivates patients to take responsibility for their own health. They encourage self responsibility and work closely in a healthy cooperative relationship.
Proactive medicine saves money and improves health. Naturopathic doctors assess risk factors, genetic susceptibility, and vulnerability to disease to reduce and prevent future illness.
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