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What is Naturopathic Medicine?

An Overview

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct form of Primary Health Care. It is an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine draws on modern and traditional healing practices, as well as scientific and evidenced based methods.

Principles

The practice of Naturopathic Medicine includes six underlying principles of healing. These are based on the observation of health and disease. The following principles make Naturopathic Medicine different from all other medical approaches:

  1. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in each of us. Obstacles to healing and recovery are identified and removed in a therapeutic, ordered and intelligent manner.
  2. Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The Naturopathic Doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than merely eliminating or suppressing the symptoms.
  3. Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic Doctors use methods and medicines which minimize the risk of harmful side effects. They are trained to apply the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness or dysfunction. Additionally, Naturopathic Doctors avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms. They acknowledge, respect and work with the individual's self-healing capacity .
  4. Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic Doctors educate their patients on a wide range of health topics and lifestyle practices, as well as encourage personal responsibility for one’s health and lifestyle choices.
  5. Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic Doctors evaluate the whole individual. They assess the physical, mental, emotional, environmental, social and genetic factors for each patient.
  6. Prevention: Naturopathic Doctors emphasize disease prevention. They first assess risk factors, heredity and disease susceptibility and then make appropriate recommendations in partnership with their patients in order to prevent illness.

Naturopathic Methods and Therapies

Treatment methods and modalities are selected and applied based on naturopathic principles in relationship to the individual needs of each patient.

  • Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and Cupping
  • Botanical Medicine/Natural Pharmacology
  • Nutrition counseling and Therapeutic Nutrition
  • Physical Medicine – Massage Therapy and Chiropractic care (Dr. Tara refers out for these treatments)
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Lifestyle counseling
  • Intravenous and injection therapy
  • Homeopathy Laboratory analysis and clinical diagnosis

Naturopathic vs. Traditional Medicine

Naturopathic doctors (ND) and medical doctors (MD) undergo very similar levels of training. Both are required to complete an undergraduate degree at university before completing further training at either a naturopathic college or medical school. Naturopathic students attend a four-year graduate level naturopathic medical school followed by North American Board Examinations which they must pass to receive their license. MD’s and ND’s study pathology, pharmacology and diagnosis with a similar intensity and depth. Additionally, ND’s also receive expert training in the use of clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, hydrotherapy, spinal manipulation, massage therapy and lifestyle counseling.

A Naturopathic Doctor addresses how the body functions as whole and how each organ system is affected or influenced within the whole system. While standard medicine uses pathology, diagnosis and pharmacology as the basis for understanding disease, Naturopathic Doctors view illness more as a process. Recovery depends on addressing the barriers and disturbances to restoring health. Understanding the full picture of a person’s state of health requires a thorough assessment, a detailed history, physical exam, baseline blood work, and often advanced testing.

Naturopathic Doctors are Primary Health care Providers, but can also complement conventional medicine. Dr. Tara works closely with Medical Doctors to offer integrative care for her patients.

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