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Principles of
Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine is a natural approach to health and healing that recognizes the integrity of the whole person.

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 environment.

  • Identify and treat the cause:
    Tolle Causam

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 expression.

  • Heal the whole person:
    Tolle Totum

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:
    Docere

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:
    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 Practice

Naturopathic philosophy serves as the basis for naturopathic practice.  The current scope of naturopathic practice includes, but is not limited to:

  • Clinical Nutrition

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 the patient.

  • Botanical Medicine

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 Obstetrics

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

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.

  • Physical Medicine

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 arena.

  • Oriental Medicine

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.

  • Psychological Medicine

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.

  • Minor Surgery

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.

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Other related articles:

 

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

About Naturopathic Physicians

About Naturopathic Education

Words of Classical Thinkers

The Origin of Natural Law

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