Naturopathic Medicine is a natural approach to
health and healing that recognizes the integrity of the whole
Naturopathic Medicine represents the "vitalistic"
tradition of medicine in our Western world. That is, it treats
disease through the stimulation, increase, and support of the
person's inherent healing capacity. These treatments are
chosen to work with the patient's vital force, respecting the
natural healing processes of nature.
The practice of Naturopathic Medicine includes six
underlying principles of healing. These are based on the
observation of health and disease. This observation process
involves the use of modern scientific methodologies and language.
The following principles make Naturopathic Medicine
different from all other medical approaches:
First do no harm:
Primum Non Nocere
Illness is a purposeful
process of the organism. The process of healing includes the
generation of symptoms which are, in fact, an expression of the
life force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions
should be complementary to and synergistic with this healing
process. The physician's actions can support or antagonize
the actions of the vis mediatrix naturae -- the healing
power of Nature. Therefore, methods designed to suppress
symptoms without removing the underlying causes are considered
harmful and to be avoided or minimized.
The healing power of nature:
Vis Mediatrix Naturae
The body has an inherent ability to establish,
maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered
and intelligent; nature heals through the response of the
life force. The physician's role is to facilitate this
process, to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery,
and to establish or restore a healthy internal and external
Identify and treat the cause:
Illness does not occur without cause.
Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and removed or
treated before a person can recover completely from illness.
Symptoms express the body's attempt to heal, but are not the cause
of disease. Symptoms, therefore, should not be suppressed by
treatment. Causes may occur on many levels including
physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The physician
must evaluate fundamental underlying causes on all levels,
directing treatment at root causes rather than at symptomatic
Heal the whole person:
Health and disease are conditions of the whole
organism, a whole involving the complex interaction of many
factors. The naturopathic physician must treat the whole
person by taking these factors into account. The harmonious
functioning of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects
are essential to recovery from and prevention of disease.
This requires a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.
The physician as teacher:
A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has
inherent therapeutic value. The physician's major role is to
educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for their
own health. The physician is a catalyst for healthful
change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume
responsibility. It is the patient, not the doctor, who
ultimately creates/accomplishes healing. Teaching with hope,
knowledge, and understanding, the physician acts to enable
patients to heal.
Prevention is the best cure
The ultimate goal of any health care system should
be prevention of disease. This is accomplished through
education and promotion of life-habits that create good health.
The physician learns to assess risk factors and to sharpen their
deductive reasoning, and understand the patient's circumstances.
Appropriate interventions are then sought to avoid further harm or
risk to the patient. Building health works better and more
surely than fighting disease.
Naturopathic philosophy serves as the basis for
naturopathic practice. The current scope of naturopathic
practice includes, but is not limited to:
A cornerstone of naturopathic practice is that
food is the best medicine. Many medical conditions can be
treated more effectively with foods and nutritional supplements
than by other means, with fewer complications and side effects.
Many pharmaceuticals can be strengthened and targeted more safely
with knowledge of nutritional sciences. Naturopathic
physicians use dietetics, natural hygiene, fasting, and
nutritional supplementation in their practice. These methods
can be used as either alternatives to mainstream medicine, or as
complementary and in concert with it, depending on the desires of
Many plant substances are powerful medicines.
Whereas a single chemically derived drug may address a single
problem, botanical medicines are able to address a variety of
problems simultaneously. Their organic nature makes
botanicals compatible with the body's own chemistry; hence,
they can be gently effective with fewer toxic side effects.
Their availability and safety make them more useful and affordable
for home care of chronic conditions.
Naturopathic physicians provide natural childbirth
care in either an out-of-hospital setting, or in a hospital.
They offer prenatal and postnatal care using modern diagnostic
techniques. The naturopathic approach strengthens healthy
body functions so that complications associated with pregnancy can
be prevented or minimized.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of
"like cures like." It works on a subtle yet powerful
electromagnetic level, gently acting to strengthen the body's
healing and immune response. Because these are both
effective and very safe, naturopathic physicians share a respect
for this system of medicine with practitioners of many other
healing arts. Homeopathy is a central part of our
comprehensive training for these reasons.
Naturopathic medicine has its own methods of
therapeutic manipulation of muscles, bones, and the spine.
Our physicians also use ultrasound, diathermy, exercise, massage,
water, heat and cold, air, and gentle electrical pulses to treat
acute or chronic physical injury. Many recent advances in
Sports Medicine and exercise physiology are essentially
adaptations of herbal and homeopathic materials into the modern
Oriental medicine is a complementary philosophy of
natural healing brought to the medical community, largely through
naturopathic medicine. Asiatic and Oriental systems offer an
important understanding of the unity of the body and mind, which
add to those of the West. Unification between philosophy and
practice in the East and West offers health benefits for all of
our cultures. Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda provide ancient
understandings and methods of treatment. These promise to
help harmonize the imbalances present in disease conditions and
restore the dynamic balance of health.
Mental attitudes and emotional states may
influence, or even cause, physical illness. Counseling,
nutritional balancing, stress management, hypnotherapy,
biofeedback, and other therapies are used to help patients heal on
levels other than only the physical.
As general practitioners, naturopathic physicians
do in-office minor surgery, including repair of superficial
wounds, removal of foreign bodies, cysts, and other superficial
masses. We refer to surgeons when their skills are needed
for our patient's wellbeing.
These are the major areas that most Naturopathic
Physicians' practices include.