When addressing your health challenges, naturopathic doctors have many tools, often called modalities. These are applied according to guiding principles of naturopathic medicine, such as first do no harm, which means use the gentlest least invasive tool first. There are many ways naturopathic doctors treat patients, including therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, mind-body approaches, naturopathic manipulative therapy, and exercise recommendations. This is why naturopathic doctors spend on average two hours with you at your first appointment. Another tool that some naturopathic doctors use is homeopathy.
Some naturopathic doctors have additional specialty training and education regarding specific physiologic systems, such as gastroenterology or gynecology. Others may choose to specialize by age groups, as in pediatrics or the treatment of older patients. Lastly, some naturopathic doctors choose to focus on a modality, and may specialize in fields like nutrition, botanical medicine, and homeopathy. Not all naturopathic doctors use homeopathy in their practice.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a distinct medical art and science which employs extremely small doses of natural remedies to stimulate the body’s inborn healing capacity. Homeopathy’s central philosophical point is the law of similars, or “Like Cures Like,” a concept first articulated by Hippocrates. A substance that causes an illness or a symptom can, in very small doses, address and lessen the same symptom.
- Homeopathic remedies are prepared by homeopathic pharmacies, under strict guidelines established by the United States Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia.
- It is important to buy homeopathic remedies from trusted sources recommended by your doctor for optimum efficacy and safety.
Homeopathy is a whole-person aspect of medicine, whereby symptoms are understood in context of your physical, cognitive, and emotional health. People report they enjoy the in-depth interview process that informs the particularly individualized care provided by practitioners who use this modality. Naturopathic doctors may use homeopathic remedies for first aid, acute, or chronic conditions across physical, cognitive, and emotional areas. Patients of all ages may be prescribed homeopathic remedies, from infants to the elderly.
Childhood Earaches and Homeopathy
By way of example, homeopathy has been shown to be an effective treatment of otitis media (ear pain) in children. If a child sees a naturopathic doctor for ear pain, the prescription of a homeopathic remedy may well be part of the treatment plan. After completing a physical exam, including looking in your child’s ear to confirm the diagnosis, your provider will ask about the nature of the pain, such as:
- Does anything make the pain better or worse, such as being held, being outside, eating, drinking, ambient noise?
- Are there symptoms in other systems of the body alongside the earache such as change in sleep pattern, or digestion, or skin?
- Have you noticed a shift in temperament, was the child more cranky or irritable, clingy or weepy? Did the child want to be held or left alone?
- Lastly, the ND will assess constitutional symptoms, such as body temperature, perspiration, appetite, and thirst.
All of these symptoms are considered and included in the analysis for choosing a naturopathic treatment and perhaps a homeopathic remedy for your child. The remedy is chosen based on individualized symptoms of the patient, in addition to diagnosis. A naturopathic doctor’s examination would always rule out a more serious cause of the pain before diagnosing otitis media. Otitis media is known for ear pain, swelling or bulging of the eardrum, redness at the eardrum, and perhaps swollen glands below the ear. Naturopathic doctors will always look at ways to decrease inflammation and pain, reduce mucus formation and congestion, improve immunity and consider the ear’s structural anatomy.
Naturopathic Medicine’s Connection to Homeopathy
When seeing a doctor who uses homeopathic medicine, it is always important to know their qualifications. Naturopathic medical schools are the only accredited medical schools to offer training in homeopathy in the United States. Homeopathy is included in the standard examination naturopathic physicians must pass, in order to apply for state licenses.
The naturopathic profession has a number of specialty organizations including the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP). From the HANP website: “The HANP was founded and incorporated in 1981 for the purpose of promoting excellence in the practice of homeopathy among naturopathic physicians. The HANP grants Diplomate (advanced specialty) status (DHANP) to naturopathic physician applicants who meet the prerequisites and successfully demonstrate competency through case submission and an oral interview. . . ” The HANP Board exam was adopted by the American Institute of Homeopathy, the organization representing MD and DO, as well as ND homeopaths. Many of the world leaders in the field of homeopathy hail from the naturopathic medicine profession.
Naturopathic medicine providers have many tools to work with to help you and your family with preventive and treatment care for many symptoms and ailments. If you are interested in exploring homeopathy further, ask your naturopathic doctor if they include homeopathy in their practice.
This article is provided by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following initiatives:
Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine
Dr Amy Rothenberg is a licensed naturopathic doctor since 1986. Here upcoming book, You Finished Treatment, Now What? A Field Guide for Cancer Survivors, is due out this summer. Dr. Rothenberg is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians 2017 Physician of the Year. Dr. Rothenberg’s writing can be found on NaturalMed.org, Better Nutrition’s Naturopathic Health Hub, Medium, Thrive Global, and The Huff Post. She teaches through the New England School of Homeopathy.
Dr. Rothenberg is a contributor to INM and practicing licensed naturopathic doctor in Northampton, Massachusetts. Dr. Rothenberg is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians 2017 Physician of the Year. Dr. Rothenberg's writing can be found on NaturalMed.org, Better Nutrition's Naturopathic Health Hub, Medium, Thrive Global, and The Huff Post. She is the proud mother of 3 adult children.