What is naturopathic medicine?
Being at the crossroads where natural and conventional medicine meet, Naturopathic medicine is the true definition of what integrative medicine is. Natural therapies commonly used by naturopathic doctors and physicians are botanical medicine, therapeutic nutrition and dietetics, nutritional extracts (vitamins, minerals, amino acids), intravenous nutritional therapies, intramuscular vitamin injections, and naturopathic counseling. Conventional methods commonly used by naturopathic doctors and physicians are pharmaceutical drugs, minor surgery procedures, common in-office specimen collection, performing diagnostic physical exams, and interpreting diagnostic labs and imaging. Naturopathic doctors combine these modalities to formulate individualized treatment plan to ensure optimal cellular functioning, promote wellness and wellbeing, and ensure treatment success. Naturopathic doctors and physicians also use a set of guiding principles while treating patients to enhance the success and efficacy of their treatment plans.
The 6 principles of naturopathic medicine are a philosophical guide to treatment. These principles are:
- The Healing Power of Nature: Naturopathic doctors and physicians believe in the body's innate knowledge to heal itself. We also believe in the power of nature influencing bodily function and healing.
- Identify and Treat the Causes: Finding the root cause of your symptoms is one of the main points of our medicine. Rather than reducing the severity of symptoms by treating them, we strive to identify the main cause of all of your symptoms and target treatment from there.
- First Do No Harm: The naturopathic profession strives to use the most natural, least invasive, and least toxic therapies while treating patients to cause the least harm.
- Doctor as Teacher: Naturopathic doctors and physicians understand that education and patient empowerment is the most effective tool for patients to maintain and achieve optimum bodily function and wellness.
- Treat the Whole Person: Health is composed of your psychological being, biological and biochemical wellness, and your social health. By looking at these different facets of your health, a naturopathic doctor is more capable of identifying and treating the root cause of your condition.
- Prevention: Billions of dollars are spent on treating chronic conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, et cetera) that are all preventable. Naturopathic doctors and physicians seek to reduce societal and individual burden by advocating necessary screening, promoting preventative medicine, and highlighting functional wellness and wellbeing.
Naturopathic Medical Education:
Naturopathic doctors and physicians undergo rigorous medical training at accredited institutions where they learn essential and advanced biochemical sciences, conventional and functional diagnostics, and evidence-based conventional and natural therapies. Students at these institutions also gain real-life experience by training under licensed naturopathic doctors and physicians, medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine, and chiropractic doctors specializing in a variety of fields in naturopathic medical clinic shifts. Through clinic shifts, students are able to treat and manage patients under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional and are able to hone their skills as future naturopathic doctors and physicians. Upon completion of the program, Naturopathic doctors and physicians must undergo licensure exams to maintain the integrity and safety of naturopathic medicine. For more information on naturopathic medical education, visit the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) website at https://aanmc.org.