About Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and natural therapies to enhance their bodies' ability to ward off and combat disease. NDs view the patient as a complex, interrelated system - a whole person - not as a disease.
Naturopathic treatment is guided by six principles:
First, do no harm. Naturopathic medicine embraces only therapies or procedures designed to enhance healing and produce wellness. Recognizing that many prescription medications have harmful side effects, naturopathic doctors use minimally invasive and nontoxic remedies proven safe and effective by research and clinical practice.
Recognize the healing power of nature. The human body has the capacity to heal itself and maintain homeostasis. Naturopathy works in harmony with nature to restore and support the body's natural healing systems.
Educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility. Naturopathy places responsibility for wellness with the individual. A high value is placed on education and counseling to help patients address lifestyle, nutritional, emotional, and dietary factors under their control.
Consider the whole person. For individualized care, naturopathic doctors consider not only lab results, family history, and physical symptoms but also the mental, emotional, environmental, social, and spiritual factors that affect health.
Identify and treat the cause. Naturopathic doctors go beyond treating symptoms to identify and treat the cause of disease. Correction of the cause is considered the best way to eliminate symptoms.
Prevent disease. Naturopathic doctors advise patients about preventive measures to maintain health and avoid disease.
Recognizing that bodies differ in their makeup, and that one approach does not fit all, naturopathic doctors draw upon a wide range variety of therapies. Each is supported by clinical experience and scientific, peer-reviewed research on efficacy and safety.
Botanical medicine (also known as herbal medicine, phytotherapy, or phytomedicine). An ancient practice, botanical medicine uses substances derived from the leaves, flowers, roots, and stems of plants to treat complaints ranging from the common cold to digestive problems to endocrine system dysfunction. Its use in naturopathic care is guided by clinical experience and research on side-effects, interactions, safety, and appropriate dosing.
Environmental medicine. The body's natural cleansing systems are often overwhelmed by environmental contaminants that we're exposed to every day such as pesticides, toxins, metals, synthetic hormones, prescription drugs, and food additives. Typical symptoms of exposure include fatigue, pain, allergies, and enhanced sensitivity to odors, lights, or noise. Environmental medicine includes a variety of therapies - including seasonal cleansing and naturopathic hydrotherapy - to help the body metabolize and excrete undesirable compounds.
Functional medicine. Functional medicine is based on the principal of biochemical individuality - that our bodies are all different due to genetic and environmental factors. In this patient-centered approach physicians address the underlying causes of disease rather than symptoms, recognize the human body as an interconnected physiological system, and see health as vitality rather than the absence of disease.
Nutritional medicine. Hippocrates said, "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food." Nutritional medicine addresses the relationship between diet and health, including the identification of harmful dietary habits, potential food sensitivities, and nutritional deficiencies. Treatments include dietary changes and supplementation with quality vitamins and minerals.
Lifestyle counseling. Lifestyle counseling addresses the physical, mental, and emotional factors in everyday life - diet, stress, emotional patterns, relationship issues, work issues, environmental factors - that affect health. Through lifestyle awareness, each patient can participate more fully in his/her healthcare and create a healthier environment for self and family.
Homeopathy. Homeopathy is based on the philosophy that "like cures like." Patients are treated using tiny doses of substances that in larger doses in a healthy person can produce symptoms similar to those of the illness. Normally, remedies are taken in extremely diluted form. For example, a bee sting will cause puffy tender swelling. The homeopathic Apis - dilution of bee venom - is used to relieve the pain and swelling of insect bites. Homeopathy treats on physical, mental and emotional levels.
Physical Medicine. Physical Medicine encompasses manipulation of bones and soft tissue, craniosacral therapy, hydrotherapy, ultrasound, therapeutic stretching and exercise.
Pharmacology. When needed, pharmaceutical intervention may be used for the best interest of the patient. Naturopathic doctors currently have full prescriptive rights in Washington State, with the exception of narcotics.
A mainstream medicine
Naturopathic medicine is the choice of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. In the United States and Canada, the number of licensed and affiliated naturopathic doctors has doubled in recent years to more than four thousand. Naturopathic care is increasingly the choice of patients seeking collaborative, safe, cost-effective treatment, and integrative partnerships between conventional medical doctors and licensed NDs are becoming more available. More people every day are recovering their health by adding naturopathic medicine to their healthcare options.
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