What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy (or naturopathic medicine) is based on the belief that the human body has an innate ability to get and keep itself healthy. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and cutting edge natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ abilities to ward off and combat disease. An ND views a patient as a complex, interrelated system – a whole person – not just a clogged artery or a tumor. Naturopathic physicians craft comprehensive treatment plans that blend the best of modern medical science and traditional natural medical approaches to not only treat disease, but to restore health.
In North America, naturopathic medicine is taught at seven accredited naturopathic medical schools. Only graduates of these programs are eligible to sit for national board exams required for licensure in states that license naturopaths. Naturopathic medical school is similar in scope and rigor to conventional medical school, but focuses more on restoring health versus treating symptoms with drugs.
Naturopathic physicians base their practice on six timeless principles founded on medical tradition and scientific evidence:
- First, do no harm. Naturopathic physicians use low-risk procedures and healing compounds – such as dietary supplements, herbal extracts, and homeopathic remedies – with few or no side effects.
- Identify and treat the cause. Symptoms are only going to return unless the root cause of the illness is addressed. Rather than cover up symptoms, naturopaths seek to find and treat the cause of the symptoms.
- Treat the whole person. We each have a unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic environmental, social, sexual, and spiritual makeup. A naturopathic physician knows that all these factors affect our health. That’s why he or she includes them in a carefully-tailored treatment strategy.
- Let nature heal. Our bodies have a powerful, innate instinct for self-healing. by finding and removing the barriers to this self-healing – such as poor diet or unhealthy habits – naturopaths can nurture this process.
- Educate patients. The word “Doctor” literally means “Teacher.” That’s why naturopathic doctors teach their patients how to eat, exercise, relax, and nurture themselves physically and emotionally. They also encourage self-responsibility and work closely with each patient.
- Prevent illness. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been truer. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, misery, and lives. That’s why naturopaths evaluate risk factors, heredity, and vulnerability to disease. By getting treatment for greater wellness, we are less likely to need treatment for future illness.