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Naturopathic medicine is a science-based tradition that promotes wellness by identifying the unique aspects of each patient and then employing non-toxic natural therapies to restore his/her physiological, psychological and structural balance.
The principles of Naturopathy were first used by the Hippocratic School of Medicine in about 400 BC. The Greek philosopher Hippocrates believed in viewing the whole person in regards to finding a cause of disease and using the laws of nature to induce cure. It was from this original school of thought that Naturopathy takes its principles.
Naturopathic medicine follows a number of key principles:
The body has an inherent ability to maintain and restore Naturopathic physicians facilitate this healing process by removing obstacles to cure and identifying treatments to enhance healing.
Naturopathic physicians treat the underlying causes of rather than just the symptoms of disease. Symptoms are an external manifestation of an internal imbalance due to any combination of physical, mental or emotional causes. Symptom management may be important, but it is more important not to disregard the underlying cause of disease.
A naturopathic treatment plan uses therapies that are gentle, effective and do not have adverse side effects. A conscious effort is made to use methods that do not suppress symptoms.
The Latin root of doctor is docere, which means “to teach.” The primary of naturopathic physicians is educating, empowering and motivating patients to assume more personal responsibility for their health by adopting a healthy attitude, lifestyle and diet. Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest patients in the maintenance of the human frame, in diet and in the prevention of disease.” It is more effective to teach than treat patients.
Naturopathic physicians identify specific weaknesses or dysfunctions their patients and tailor treatment based upon the patient’s individual presentation. It is the patient that is in need of treatment, not the disease state or symptom. Naturopathic physicians are interested in finding and treating characteristic symptoms that define the patient rather than common symptoms that define the disease. William Osler, MD, once said, “It is more important to know what sort of patient has a disease rather than what sort of disease a patient has.”
It is far easier and cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat a disease. Physicians evaluate both subjective and objective information necessary to uncover potential susceptibilities to future disease states in their patients. They can discuss specific lifestyle strategies or nutritional supplementation as a means for disease prevention.
During an initial consultation, the Naturopath will ask questions about the person’s condition, medical history, diet and lifestyle, and any conventional treatments that they may be taking. The consulting Naturopath may then use, tongue and nail diagnosis to get a better picture of the complete health state of the client. If needed, pathology testing such as hair, stool or blood analysis may be recommended. Once all of the information is gathered, a treatment plan is formulated that addresses all areas of the person’s life, providing the body with the optimum chance to heal itself. The treatment plan may include advice on diet, lifestyle, exercise, herbal medicine or other suitable remedies. A Naturopath may also refer the client to other practitioners as part of an integrated health care approach.