Naturopathic medicine covers all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care by blending ancient traditional healing therapies with modern advances in health and medicine. As graduates of accredited 4-year post-graduate medical schools, Naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) are trained as primary care physicians combining "the best of both worlds" - utilizing conventional scientific medical knowledge with the wisdom of traditional or "alternative" healing.
Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness. Treatment is tailored to the individual and emphasizes prevention and self-care. Naturopathic medicine attempts to find the underlying cause of the patient's condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment.
Naturopathic doctors use the following diagnostic and treatment modalities:
In 420 BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, "Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can cure the patient with food." Many of the chronic health problems that plague Americans today are the result of poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension,cancer, and gastrointestinal problems develop as a consequence of the food we choose. By changing our diet and adopting a healthier lifestyle, we can often change or reverse the course of an illness and restore health. Naturopathic doctors are trained in assessing nutritional status and recommending dietary changes and vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Botanical medicine (phytotherapy) has been used for thousands of years. Current scientific studies have validated the use of many plants as medicines. Today, 80% of the world's population uses plants to treat illness. Plants are used medicinally because they do not have high toxicity, accumulate in the body, or cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms. Herbs are used to enhance immune function; improve digestion; normalize bodily functions; destroy bacteria, viruses, and fungi; soothe irritated tissues; calm nerves; and relax muscles. Examples of botanical treatments are teas, poultices, and tinctures.
In the 18th century, Dr. Samuel Hahneman discovered that substances that cause specific symptoms in large doses could cure those same symptoms in infinitesimal doses. For example, when a healthy individual is given quinine in large doses, it produces symptoms of malaria. Yet, when very small doses of quinine are given to an individual with malaria, it helps ease the symptoms. This is known as the Law of Similars. Homeopathic medicines, known as remedies, are produced from animals, plants, and minerals. The naturopathic doctor prescribes remedies based on an individual's unique symptoms or characteristics. This means that two people who have the flu may receive different remedies because their symptoms are different. It requires training and skill to determine the appropriate remedy. When the appropriate remedy (called the similimum) is given, it can produce powerful and effective results. Homeopathy is used to treat all forms of acute and chronic illness and injury and is safe for children, pregnant or lactating women, and the elderly.
Chinese medicine is an ancient medical system based on the Daoist view of a universe where everything is interrelated. Through thousands of years of observation and practice, the Chinese have developed a unique method of understanding the structure of the internal organs and the body's physiological processes. Today that medicine is called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Chinese medicine is designed to promote and maintain health through diet and exercise. If illness occurs, it is treated with acupuncture, herbs, and Qigong. Chinese medicine practitioners diagnose and treat all types of illness and disease. It is undeniably a valid and effective form of medicine.
Chinese medicine is very complex and intricate. Practitioners study for many years to grasp its concepts, which differ from Western medicine. It is important to have a basic knowledge of these concepts to understand how Chinese medicine practitioners diagnose and treat illness. Many of the concepts can be difficult to understand because they have no counterpart in Western medicine. Chinese medicine practitioners view the mind and body as an energetic system that cannot be separated from one another or the universe. Organs are not separate structures, but are interconnected organ systems that work together to keep the body functioning well. Chinese medicine practitioners treat the patient, not the disease.
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