Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of medicine that skillfully combines natural therapeutic traditions with modern science to restore and optimize health.
Licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained to provide primary care and to diagnose and treat patients of all ages, genders, and conditions. During a naturopathic medical visit, a comprehensive biological, psychological, and social history is obtained. Physical examination and diagnostic tests may be included to reach an accurate medical diagnosis. Therapeutic interventions may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical medicine, behavioral medicine, prescribed medications, and lifestyle recommendations.
The ultimate goal of naturopathic care is to support the body’s innate capacity to heal by treating the whole person with an individualized plan and teaching the patient how to prevent further illness.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are educated and trained at accredited naturopathic medical colleges. NDs adapt natural therapeutics with conventional treatments to best address the needs of each patient based on a cogent philosophy that treats the whole person.
Naturopathic care is guided by the Therapeutic Order. The Therapeutic Order delineates the natural sequence and prioritization of care, providing the greatest benefit with the least potential for side effects. This treatment ensures the patient is an active participant in making health care decisions.
Naturopathic medicine has helped patients of all ages manage both acute and chronic conditions. Naturopathic medicine is effective in helping patients with conditions like chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, infertility, cardiovascular issues, and more.
The Therapeutic Order
Remove Obstacles to Health
The first step in returning to health is to remove the entities that disturb health such as poor diet, digestive disturbances, chronic stress levels, maladaptive coping mechanisms, inadequate sleep, and exercise. Naturopathic doctors create patient plans based on an individual’s “obstacles to health” in order to change and improve the terrain in which the disease developed. This allows additional therapeutics to have the most beneficial impact.
Stimulate the Self-Healing Mechanisms
NDs use therapies to stimulate and strengthen the body’s innate self-healing and curative abilities. These therapies may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, constitutional hydrotherapy, homeopathy, mind-body medicine, and acupuncture.
Restore Weakened Systems
Naturopathic medicine recognizes and honors the interconnectedness of the bodies organ systems. NDs will identify imbalance and work to restore optimal function.
Correct Structural Integrity
Physical modalities such as spinal manipulation, massage therapy, physiotherapy, therapeutic exercise, and craniosacral therapy are used to maintain and improve the musculoskeletal system.
Use Natural Substances to Restore and Regenerate
Naturopathic medicine’s primary objective is health restoration. When a specific pathology must be addressed, NDs prioritize safe and effective natural substances that minimize toxicity or additional burden on an already distressed system.
Use Pharmacologic Substances to Halt Progressive Pathology
NDs are trained in pharmacology and how to use pharmaceutical drugs when necessary. They are experts in identifying drug-herb and drug nutrient interactions as well. As jurisdictional scope permits, NDs prescribe or refer to medical colleagues as appropriate.
Area of Focus
While naturopathic doctors are trained to provide primary care, some NDs choose a special area of focus. Specialty associations currently exist for Endocrinology, Environmental Medicine, Gastroenterology, Parenteral Therapies, Pediatrics, Primary Care Physicians, Psychiatry, Homeopathy, and Oncology.
Naturopathic medical education (NME) curricula is a comprehensive, rigorous, and well-rounded scientific medical education that is both comparable and complementary to that of MDs and DOs. NME incorporates a foundation in biomedicine, cutting edge natural therapies, and supervised clinical application of classroom knowledge. Naturopathic doctors demonstrate competence through a two-part standardized licensing examination and are required to maintain that competence through continuing education.
Naturopathic doctors have extensive training in Behavioral Medicine, which enables them to empower patients to make and sustain lifestyle changes that improve health. Because of their rigorous training, naturopathic doctors go beyond treating physical symptoms; they help patients understand and address the underlying social, emotional, and psychological patterns that influence health. Naturopathic doctors are trained to utilize a broad range of therapies, counsel patients on lifestyle medicine, and incorporate comprehensive approaches to stress reduction.
Scope of Practice
Naturopathic doctors are trained to perform or order physical exams, laboratory testing, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, allergy testing, X-ray exams, gynecological exams, and other diagnostic tests. They can prescribe medication. Naturopathic doctors are trained to perform minor surgery which includes repair of superficial wounds and removal of foreign bodies, cysts and other superficial masses, with use of local anesthesia as needed.
Botanical Medicine & Clinical Nutrition
Also known as herbal medicine, botanical medicine is the use of plants as medicine. Many plant substances are powerful, safe, and effective medicines when used properly.
Clinical nutrition, a cornerstone of naturopathic medicine, is the practice of using food to maintain health, to prevent sickness, and treat illness. The application includes dietary recommendations based on presenting symptoms and clinical assessment, which may include the utilization of targeted vitamin and nutrient therapy, given orally and/or by IV.
Naturopathic doctors create patient plans based on an individual’s
obstacles to health to change and improve the terrain in which diseases develop.