Naturopathic Medicine is the use of natural, holistic and safe methods of therapy to treat disease. The principles of Naturopathic medicine are based on the ideas that disease is due to an imbalance in the system, the body has innate ability to heal and we can use the healing properties in nature to correct that imbalance and support the healing process. A Naturopathic doctor attempts to investigate the underlying cause of disease and tailors an individual treatment toward this, rather than a treatment which suppresses symptoms. Naturopathic doctors also focus on disease prevention, self-care and strive to guide their patients towards optimal wellness. Naturopathic doctors will use a blend of centuries-old, natural, and safe therapies along with modern medicine to achieve this goal. Naturopathic doctors are primary care physicians who order labs, perform physical exams, diagnose and treat disease. They consult, interact and refer to all branches of medicine when appropriate.
Naturopathic education is overseen by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education which has accredited four schools to provide this education in the United States. These schools are:
- Bastyr University
- National College of Naturopathic Medicine
- Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
- University of Bridgeport.
The medical profession requires that all graduates pass board exams to become licensed in their state to practice medicine. Naturopathic doctors are held to national standards of practice, peer review and continuing education.
All Naturopathic doctors receive education similar to traditional doctors in the diagnosis of disease. It is the investigation of the cause and the treatment of diseases that differ. Although each Naturopathic Doctor will be unique in how they focus their individual therapies, all are educated in: clinical nutrition, homeopathy, physical manipulation, environmental medicine, herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, hydrotherapy, natural childbirth, pharmacology and minor surgical procedures.
There are six principles that define the ideals of naturopathic medicine and guide the therapeutic methods. These include:
FIRST DO NO HARM
Naturopathic medicine uses therapies that are safe and effective.
THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE
The human body possesses the inherent ability to restore health. The physician's role is to facilitate this process with the aid of natural, nontoxic therapies.
DISCOVER AND TREAT THE CAUSE
Physicians seek and treat the underlying cause of a disease. The origin of disease is removed or treated so the patient can recover.
TREAT THE WHOLE PERSON
The multiple factors in health and disease are considered while treating the whole person, including the body and mind.
THE PHYSICIAN IS A TEACHER
The physician's major role is to educate, empower, and motivate patients to take responsibility for their own health.
PREVENTION IS THE BEST "CURE"
Naturopathic physicians are preventive medicine specialists. Prevention of disease is best accomplished through education and a lifestyle that supports health.