Naturopathic Medicine – Overview
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medical care involves the diagnostic evaluation of the whole person in finding the root cause, prevention and treatment of disease through non-invasive natural therapies, stimulating the body’s innate power to heal itself.
Education and Scope of Practice of Naturopathic Physicians
Naturopathic physicians training involves extensive 4 year post-graduate medical school followed by a 2 year residency program in outpatient setting. These physicians are Versed in diet and nutrition, herbs and minerals, hydrotherapy (hot and cold water therapies), and the wisdom and techniques of ancient medical systems. Techniques from the Orient, India, the Middle East and the Native American), and the scientific techniques and standards of Modern medicine are incorporated into the physicians education.
Washington State naturopathic physicians are licensed only after an extensive 50 hour state medical board examination. They utilize a wide variety of treatment to address the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological aspects of illness. After becoming licensed, they are then able to perform physical examinations, order diagnostic blood and imaging tests, prescribe pharmaceutical medications, perform minor surgery, manipulate joints and spine, utilize physiotherapy machines, and dispense intravenously nutritional and chelation therapies in an outpatient setting. They are the only physicians in the State of Washington who are legally able and encouraged to perform chelation therapy for metal toxicity.
Naturopathic physicians are able to provide prescriptions for massage, physiotherapy, as well as orders to nurses and referrals to specialists and other physicians. In short, naturopathic physicians are holistic and comprehensive in their diagnostic and treatment approaches and knowledge.
History of Naturopathic Medicine
The principles of Naturopathic medicine date back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, who established the art and the science of medicine. Galen, the successor of Hippocrates, established diet and nutrition as the main form of medicine for healing the majority of illnesses. He also noted that drugs and surgery should be a final resource for the treatment of more severe conditions.
Many Holy Scriptures of the past and present identify true medicine as that which uses herbs and diet to treat disease and leaves surgery and prescription medications as a final resort.
By the early 1900’s, almost all of the hospitals and medical schools in United States and Canada were Naturopathic and Homeopathic Hospitals. It was not until the Food and Drug Act passed in the 1900’s, encouraging the formation of pharmaceutical companies who began sponsoring medical schools and hospitals. Due to the political and economic forces of the pharmaceutical companies, naturopathic hospitals and medical schools gradually lost their influence on the medical profession and Western pharmaceutical based medicine was born.
Since the late 1970’s, a resurgence of naturopathic medicine has occurred. More recently, with the advent of modern technology and public access to information, the notion of independent investigation of truth and the desire to find the root cause of disease has developed. Treatment using the least invasive methods is preferred and naturopathic medicine is being highly sought out. Realizing the power of natural medicine in healing and prevention of chronic disease, many allopathic physicians more recently are seeking studies in Naturopathic medicine and forming associations which guide them in the practice of natural medicine.
The Healing Power of Nature (vis medicatrix naturae) is an organized and inherent system, which at times needs to be supported and facilitated in each person.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Methods and natural medicines are used which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, and which provide the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore health. Whenever possible the suppression of symptoms (such as that created by pharmaceutical medications) is avoided as suppression generally interferes with the healing process.
Find the Root Cause (Tolle Causam) of disease and remove it. There may be one or several related root causes of disease. These root causes may be accumulations of toxins due to lifestyle and diet, emotional and physical trauma, infectious and/or chemical, hormonal and metal related.
Treat the Whole Person addressing the body, mind, and spirit. Disease is often a manifestation of multiple and complex interactions between the physical, emotions, intellect, lifestyle, diet, genetics, environmental and spiritual forces. When a patient is diagnosed and treated, all the above factors are kept in mind and addressed by the physician.
Preventive Medicine is a major key to avoiding the development of chronic and life-threatening diseases. Prevention includes regular physical examinations, a healthy and personalized exercise, diet and lifestyle plan, regular physical and emotional detoxification and most importantly strong spiritual practices.
Wellness involves establishing and maintaining optimum physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and balance. Wellness includes the state of positive thought, mind and action, the desire and ability to serve others, the practice of virtues, a balanced lifestyle, and the ability to radiate love and compassion to those around oneself.
Doctor As Teacher (Docere): The original meaning of “Doctor” is teacher. Naturopathic physicians strive to teach and empower individuals with the knowledge, skills and awareness for optimal health. Patients are encouraged to take control and responsibility of their own health with the guidance of the physician. This type of doctor-patient relationship is extremely powerful and healing for the patient.