What is Naturopathic Medicine (NM)?
Naturopathic medicine is an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic 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. Although some naturopathic physicians (ND’s) specialize in one area of medicine, i.e. urology, ND’s are trained as primary health care doctors whose diverse techniques include modern, traditional and scientific methods.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
- The Healing Power of Nature
The naturopathic physician’s role is 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
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
Naturopathic physicians utilize methods and medicinal substances, which minimize the risk of harmful effects, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to restore health.
- Doctor as Teacher
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. 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.
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.