|Naturopathic Medicine blends traditional, time-tested, natural therapies with the latest advances in the health sciences. Naturopathic doctors are primary care physicians. Much like your conventional family doctor, a naturopath can diagnose disease, perform physical examinations, order relevant laboratory testing, and prescribe certain pharmaceutical drugs. However naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care with its own philosophy and approach to diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. The following six priniciples are the foundation of a naturopathic physician’s unique approach to the restoration of health and the prevention of disease.
The Healing Power of Nature—vis medicatrix naturae
There is an inherent intelligence to the human body and its ability to ward off disease and restore health. Symptoms are not only caused by diseases but also by our own body’s attempt to defend itself and reestablish a sense of balance and health. Thus, when we experience a cough, for instance, this is the body’s best attempt at trying to remove harmful agents from the lungs and not simply a symptom that should be suppressed and masked. The physician’s role is to assist the body’s own attempt to restore health, by removing obstacles to the healing process and enhancing our capacity to create a healthy internal environment.
Treat the Whole Person
It is important to recognize that illness results from a complex interaction of physical, mental, emotional, environmental and social factors. There is no single cause of disease and if we take into account the many possible influences on our lives, we recognize that the appropriate treatment for two people with the same “disease” will be quite different. Individualized treatment is essential in order to address the underlying causes of illness.
First Do No Harm –primum no nocere
Often medical interventions have side-effects in addition to their therapeutic benefits. The goal of the physician is to assist the body in its attempt to restore health with the least disruptive therapies possible. If health can be reestablished with dietary and lifestyle modification alone that is superior to using botanical medicine. Similarly, while drugs and surgery have their place, they should be reserved for cases where more natural approaches fail to affect a cure.
Identify and Treat the Cause –tolle causum
Symptoms are not the cause of illness. If we have a rash, a headache, or diarrhea, these are all signals that the body is out of balance but attempting to heal itself. If only the symptoms are addressed, the underlying causes remain, and the patient may go on to develop more serious chronic conditions.
Prevention is the Best Cure
Naturopathic physicians assist patients in making choices to prevent illness before it has actually occurred. They are trained to recognize warning signs that may be risk factors for future illness.
Doctor as Teacher —docere
The original meaning of the word “doctor” was teacher. One of the most significant roles of the physician is to provide information for the patient, encouraging patients to take self-responsibility for their health, and enabling them to make the most educated choices for themselves in their lives. There is an inherent therapeutic value in establishing good rapport between doctor and patient. Because of this, the naturopathic physician spends considerably more time with their patients.