Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of medicine that supports the body’s ability to heal itself using natural, safe, and effective remedies. The roots of naturopathy reach all the way back to Hippocrates, whose philosophy was based on vis medicatrix naturae, the healing power of nature. Naturopathy has been influenced by homeopathy, traditional western herbalism, the nineteenth-century nature cure movement, and the Eclectic movement. It beautifully blends traditional healing practices with modern diagnostics and evidence-based medicine.
Licensed naturopathic doctors study at accredited four year medical schools that cover the same type of basic sciences, specialties, and clinical sciences that medical doctors study. In addition, they also study clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, psychology, and physical medicine, all with an emphasis on disease prevention.
Naturopaths have an exceptional array of powerful tools with which to treat their patients. In many states naturopaths can order labs and x-rays, perform minor surgery, use manipulative therapies to realign the musculoskeletal system, and prescribe herbs, supplements, homeopathic remedies, and some pharmaceuticals. Naturopaths are taught to treat patients using a specific therapeutic order, using the safest and most effective treatments possible in order to minimize side-effects and unnecessary suppression of body processes.
Naturopaths also believe in the importance of preventative care and are trained to optimize wellness as well as to treat disease. They are thus uniquely able to treat many of the chronic conditions that are common today, such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, and autoimmune disease. Rather than simply palliating symptoms, naturopathy seeks to find the underlying physical, emotional, and spiritual imbalances that brought about the disease.
Uncovering the true root of disease can take time and naturopaths typically spend forty-five minutes to an hour with their patients during each visit. Naturopathy looks at the whole person, seeing each person within the context of their families, communities, and unique life experiences to offer truly individualized care. Through counseling, nutrition, and lifestyle changes, the body can regain its vitality and return to a state of health.
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