What is Naturopathic Medicine?
The Naturopathic oath
I dedicate myself to the service of humanity as a practitioner of the art and science of Naturopathic Medicine.
By precept, education and example,
I will assist and encourage others to strengthen their health,
reduce risks for disease,
and preserve the health of our planet for ourselves
and future generations.
I will continually endeavour to improve my abilities.
I will conduct my life and practice of Naturopathic Medicine
with integrity and freedom from prejudice.
I will keep confident what should not be divulged.
I will honour the principles of Naturopathic Medicine:
First, to do no harm
To cooperate with the healing powers of nature
To address the fundamental causes of disease
To heal the whole person through individualised treatment
To teach the principles of healthy living and preventive medicine
With my whole heart, before these witnesses,
as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine,
I pledge to remain true to this oath.
Naturopathic Treatments Include:
- Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
- Pain and trigger point acupuncture
- IntraVenous Infusion Therapy
- Clinical Nutrition
- Botanical Medicine
- Lifestyle counseling
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a holistic and comprehensive approach to improving health and treating illness. Focusing on prevention, and using natural substances and treatments, Naturopathic doctors strive to support and stimulate the body's innate healing response. This innovative field of medicine represents an evolution in health care because it encourages the patient to participate in their own healing process.
Naturopathic doctors have seven to eight years of training: three years of university pre-medical sciences, then four years (5,000 hours) at an approved naturopathic medical college. Here they cover similar western medical diagnostic studies as do MDs, however this is followed by training in a variety of natural treatment methods, including 1,200 hours of supervised clinical experience.
Naturopathic doctors can therefore use natural healing practices, while taking into account any standard medical treatments the patient may be using, for a truly integrated treatment protocol that is individualised to each patient's specific needs at that time.
What to Expect During a Naturopathic Visit
A Naturopathic visit is a very unique and refreshing experience. Enough time is devoted to each appointment in order to extract all information essential to determining the underlying cause of disease. The first visit is 1hr in length and includes a thorough examination of the chief complaint along with a complete assessment of relevant lifestyle factors. This information is used along with relevant physical exam information and standard diagnostic and laboratory tests to formulate an accurate diagnosis.
The second visit is normally 30min in length, during which time a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan is reviewed. An integrative approach which utilizes one or a combination of all naturopathic modalities and therapies is used.
The Naturopathic Principles
The practice of Naturopathic Medicine emerges from six underlying principles of healing. It is these principles that distinguish the profession from other medical approaches:
The healing power of nature. vis medicatrix naturae
The 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 act to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.
Identify and treat the cause. tolle causam
Illness does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and removed or treated before a person can recover completely from illness. Symptoms are expressions of the body's attempt to heal, but are not the cause of disease. Symptoms, therefore, should not be suppressed by treatment. Causes may occur on many levels including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The physician must evaluate fundamental underlying causes on all levels, directing treatment at root causes rather than at symptomatic expression.
First do no harm. primum no nocere
Illness is a purposeful process of the organism. The process of healing includes the generation of symptoms which are, in fact, an expression of the life force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions should be complimentary to and synergistic with this healing process. The physician's actions can support or antagonize the actions of the vis medicatrix naturae. Therefore, methods designed to suppress symptoms without removing underlying causes are considered harmful and are avoided or minimized.
Treat the whole person. The multifactorial nature of health and disease
Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism, a whole involving a complex interaction of physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. The physician must treat the whole person by taking all of these factors into account. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual is essential to recovery from and prevention of disease, and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.
The physician as teacher. docere
Beyond an accurate diagnosis and appropriate prescription, the physician must work to create a healthy, sensitive interpersonal relationship with the patient. A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic value. The physician's major role is to educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for health. The physician is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume responsibility. It is the patient, not the doctor, who ultimately creates/accomplishes healing. The physician must strive to inspire hope as well as understanding. The physician must also make a commitment to his/her personal and spiritual development in order to be a good teacher.
Prevention. Prevention is the best "cure"
The ultimate goal of any health care system should be prevention. This is accomplished through education and promotion of life-habits that create good health. The physician assesses risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and makes appropriate interventions to avoid further harm and risk to the patient. The emphasis is on building health rather than on fighting disease.