Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care -an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles which underlie and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances.
Methods used are consistent with these principles and are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality. Naturopathic doctors are trained as primary health care providers whose diverse techniques include modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods. The following principles are the foundation for the practice of naturopathic medicine:
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
The healing power of nature is the inherent self -organizing and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains and restores health. Naturopathic medicine recognizes this healing process to be ordered and intelligent. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to support, facilitate and augment this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery, and by supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
Illness does not occur without cause. Causes may originate in many areas. Underlying causes of illness and disease must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. Symptoms can be expressions of the body’s attempt to defend itself, to adapt and recover, to heal itself, or may be results of the causes of disease. The naturopathic physician seeks to treat the causes of disease, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic physicians follow three precepts to avoid harming the patient:
- Naturopathic physicians utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful effects, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore health.
- Whenever possible the suppression of symptoms is avoided as suppression generally interferes with the healing process.
- Naturopathic physicians respect and work with the vis medicatrix naturae in diagnosis, treatment and counseling, for if this self -healing process is not respected the patient may be harmed.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
The original meaning of the word “doctor” is teacher. A principal objective of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasize self-responsibility for health. Naturopathic physicians also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person
Health and disease result from a complex of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development. Naturopathic medicine recognizes the harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual as being essential to health. The multifactorial nature of health and disease requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic physicians treat the whole person, taking all of these factors into account.
Naturopathic medical colleges emphasize the study of health as well as disease. The prevention of disease and the attainment of optimal health in patients are primary objectives of naturopathic medicine. In practice, these objectives are accomplished through education and the promotion of healthy ways of living. Naturopathic physicians assess risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine asserts that one cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment and is committed to the creation of a world in which humanity may thrive.
Naturopathic medicine is defined primarily by its fundamental principles. Methods and modalities are selected and applied based upon these principles in relationship to the individual needs of each patient. Diagnostic and therapeutic methods are selected from various sources and systems and will continue to evolve with the progress of knowledge.
Naturopathic practice includes the following diagnostic and treatment modalities: utilization of all methods of clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing including diagnostic radiology and other imaging techniques; nutritional medicine, dietetics and therapeutic fasting; medicines of mineral, animal and botanical origin; hygiene and public health measures; naturopathic physical medicine including naturopathic manipulative therapies; the use of water, heat, cold, light, electricity, air, earth, electromagnetic and mechanical devices, ultrasound, and therapeutic exercise; homeopathy; psychotherapy and counseling; acupuncture, injection and intravenous therapy; minor surgery; prescription medication; and naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth). (AANP 2011)
Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner(s):
Counseling is the practice of talking about your thoughts, feelings and experiences with a trained professional to better understand your concerns and learn new ways of coping with life’s struggles. The focus of counseling is on the present day without much attention to the past or the underlying roots of any given problem. Counseling is effective in relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety and helping people cope with the many stressors of daily life. Counseling helps people learn to cope with illness, loss and other stress.
Functional Medicine uses a systems-oriented approach to address the underlying causes of disease. It engages both the patient and doctor in a therapeutic partnership. Diet, exercise and nutritional therapies are predominately used to support the function of various body systems, including the immune system, neuroendocrine system, cardiovascular system, and others.
Functional Medicine Practitioner(s):
Homeopathy is a natural modality that uses nontoxic, single origin remedies to gently stimulate the body’s innate efforts to heal and return to a state of balance and wellness. Conceived and carefully developed by German physician, Samuel Hahnemann in the 1800s, homeopathy spread around the world and has established over 200 years of clinical evidence and reinforcement.
The efficacy of homeopathy is found in its fundamental principles: the law of similars, the minimum dose, and totality of symptoms.
The law of similars
The law of similars can be found throughout the natural world, but in the case of medicine, it means that a substance which can evoke a set of symptoms in a healthy person, can heal those same symptoms in a sick person. For example, syrup of Ipecac is given to induce vomiting. Homeopathically prepared Ipecac may help alleviate vomiting in intestinal illness, or morning sickness for example.
The minimum dose
The minimum dose is a key component in the efficacy of the law of similars. A sick person is very sensitive and requires a minimum amount of the appropriate medicine to stimulate healing. For example, a healthy person would likely have to eat, say 46 bowls of chicken soup to feel ill. But a sick person may only have to smell chicken soup to feel ill. In a state of illness, our sensitivity is heightened by giving a similar remedy in a minute amount and the body responds.
Treatment of the totality of symptoms
Hahnemann also discovered through his meticulous observation, that homeopathy works best when applied to the totality of symptoms. Using the above example: matching Ipecac to the symptom of vomiting may be effective, but it is more likely to be the most similar and effective remedy if it matches other aspects of the patient as well, like their temperament and general preferences like thirst, appetite, heat and cold.
This is often called treating the patient’s constitution and it refers to considering the whole patient: physical, mental/emotional, and general symptoms when choosing a remedy.
New patients to homeopathy undergo a detailed consultation of the chief complaint and current symptoms, along with the details of the health history and family history, if applicable. The homeopath makes a careful study of all the symptoms and their relationship to one another. Where a patient may see a handful of unrelated, inconsistent symptoms, the homeopath finds a revealing pattern with careful consideration of inciting cause. The homeopath will choose a remedy that best matches that overall pattern, and the treatment begins. Sometimes it takes trying a couple of remedies to find the best match. Once that match is found, however, the improvement is often immediate. Treatment will be carefully managed by the homeopath to increase improvement over time until the symptoms have been fully extinguished.
Because of its gentle, nontoxic nature, homeopathy is suitable for all ages, including pregnant and nursing mothers, newborns, elders, and even palliatively for those in hospice care.
Research and Evidence
Because remedies are so drastically different than conventional pharmaceutical drugs, and each patient is treated as individual rather than an expression of a recognized diagnosis, homeopathy does not conform well to standard medical trials. That being said, In the past couple decades there has been increased effort to quantify the results of homeopathic treatment. Despite its energetic mode of action and individual treatment, homeopathy *has* shown positive results in much of the research conducted. With the advanced tools available today, we are even getting closer to understanding the underlying mechanism of homeopathic remedies, which is believed to be in the realm of quantum physics.
The National Center for Homeopathy (www.homeopathycenter.org) maintains a Research Library where you can find articles on: mechanism of action, metaanalysis, clinical trials, longterm benefits, and epidemiology.
The International Homeopathic Research Institute (www.hriresearch.org) is also dedicated to funding and supporting research to better understand how homeopathic medicines work, the results of treatment, and making this evidence available to the public.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water, in any of its forms, for the maintenance of health and treatment of disease. Hydrotherapy treatment triggers the body’s natural healing response, increases the body’s ability to eliminate toxins, decreases stress levels and promotes a sense of wellbeing. Hydrotherapy treatments may include the use of baths to relax the body and draw out toxins, alternating hot and cold water applications to increase blood flow and healing response, sauna treatments, and the use of poultices and other prescribed remedies that may aid patients in their healing processes.
Laboratory tests are utilized by healthcare providers to diagnose medical conditions and to aid in determining the best course of treatment for their patients. These tests can help determine metabolic and nutritional status, immune status, neurotransmitter and hormone levels, and allergenic agents. These tests can provide a detailed snapshot of a patient’s health status, helping to focus therapy choices and provide tailored treatment plans for each patient. Lab facilities are located on-site, allowing for full-service healthcare of the whole family.
Laboratory Testing Practitioner(s):
Medical foods are therapeutic foods which address specific health concerns, such as weight loss, blood sugar control, intestinal complaints, and nutritional imbalances. Medical foods can be whole foods, specially prepared foods (ie fermented), or powders that can be prepared as smoothies.
Medicinal Foods Practitioner(s):
Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and looking within, acquiring a state of consciousness unlike that of the normal waking state, with the goal to experience our essential nature of peace, bliss, and harmony. Meditation can be practiced in groups or alone, sitting or lying. It is a systematic approach to learning how to calm the mind and not be distracted by it, enabling a deepened awareness of self. Originally from the Hindu tradition, meditation practices developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India around the 6th and 5th Centuries B.C.E.
Naturopathic Manipulative Therapy
Naturopathic manipulative therapy, also known as NMT, is a form of physical medicine that incorporates a combination of soft tissue mobilization, touch and spinal manipulation to treat both structural and functional complaints. Naturopathic manipulations and mobilizations can treat several chronic diseases and injuries, providing relief from pain due to musculoskeletal injury and release of movement restrictions due to joint dysfunction.
Naturopathic Manipulative Therapy Practitioner(s):
Have you ever heard the saying: “You are what you eat?” Naturopathic doctors embody this philosophy in their approach to treatment of disease. In today’s world, with all the conflicting information and advice on dietary approaches, it can be difficult to determine which approach is best for the individual. Naturopathic doctors receive extensive training on the physiology and biochemistry of nutrition and how dietary adjustments it may best be used as a treatment tool for a variety of health concerns.
Supplements containing herbs, vitamins and/or minerals may be used to correct underlying nutritional imbalances and to promote optimal health and functioning. Supplements may also be used as an alternative to or in addition to pharmaceutical medicines for some health conditions. Supplements may also be used to ensure optimal nutrition levels. Naturopathic doctors are trained to prescribe safe, pure and effective supplements from reputable sources and to help you determine which supplements are right for you.
Pharmaceutical medicine is the use of prescription and/or over-the-counter medications to treat illnesses. Early pharmaceutical medicines were commonly derived from natural substances, like plants, whereas many newer medications are derived in a laboratory setting to create novel drugs. Pharmaceutical medications require animal and human research studies prior to approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
Western Herbal Medicine
Western herbal medicine is the use of herbs as medicine as practiced for centuries by western cultures. Many of our current pharmaceutical medications were originally derived from herbal medicines, such as aspirin (white willow bark) and Digitalis (Foxglove).
Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner(s):