What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. It is based on the healing power of nature and it supports and stimulates the body’s ability to heal itself. Naturopathic medicine is the art and science of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention using natural therapies including: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional Chinese medicine / acupuncture, and prevention and lifestyle counselling.
What can naturopathic medicine do for you?
Naturopathic medicine treats all forms of health concerns — from paediatric to geriatric, from irritating systems to chronic illness and from the physical to the psychological. Naturopathic medicine is beneficial for the following types of patients:
- Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies.
- Patients that have a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
- Patients that have been diagnosed with an illness, often serious or chronic and are looking for alternative treatments. Naturopathic medicine is very effective for improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses.
- Patients that are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects of drugs, surgery or conventional treatments.
Types of Naturopathic therapies
Naturopathic doctors use a variety of non-toxic, non-pharmaceutical treatments. All naturopathic doctors in Canada are trained in the following natural therapies:
Clinical nutrition examines the relationship between diet and health. Special diets, food elimination, variations in dietary habits or the use of nutritional supplements may be recommended.
Botanical Medicine (Herbalism)
The use of plants for healing dates back to the beginning of civilization and is the foundation of modern pharmacology. The use of herbs in many forms: teas, tinctures or capsules are used for their healing effects and nutritional value may be recommended for healing effect.
Homeopathic remedies are minute dilutions of plant, animal and mineral substances designed to stimulate the body’s “vital force” and strengthen its innate ability to heal.
Traditional Chinese Medicine / Acupuncture
Based on balancing the flow of Chi (energy) through meridian pathways under the skin, Oriental medicine includes the use of Oriental herbs and acupuncture to regulate and release Chi in order to bring the body into balance.
Physical medicine includes soft tissue work (including therapeutic massage); naturopathic manipulation of muscle, bone or the spine; hydrotherapy techniques; gentle electrical impulses, ultrasound, diathermy; and exercise therapy.
Prevention and Lifestyle Counselling
Naturopathic doctors address all aspects of a person’s life, identifying and addressing the impact that stress and life events have on a patient’s health and assisting patients to make effective lifestyle choices.
Some naturopathic doctors will have additional training in other natural therapies such as:
- IV Therapies
- Chelation Therapy
- Minor Surgery
- Colon Therapy
Conditions and illnesses treated
Naturopathic doctors are primary health care practitioners. They are trained to treat virtually all health concerns from acute to chronic, pediatric to geriatric and physical to psychological. Naturopathic doctors work with three main groups of people: 1) patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion, 2) patients with a range of health concerns and no clear diagnosis and 3) patients with chronic and severe illnesses.
Safe and effective treatment
The goal of naturopathic practice is to treat underlying disorders and to restore normal body function by enhancing the body’s own healing abilities. Therefore, naturopathic doctors must focus their efforts on understanding the unique needs of each patient. Naturopathic doctors assist the body’s healing powers by using safe, effective non-pharmaceutical approaches with patients.
As a result naturopathic treatments are highly individualized. Patients are involved in their treatment programs and learn to make effective, educated self-care decisions, which can prevent future health problems.
Naturopathic diagnosis and therapeutics are supported by scientific research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology and spirituality.
Information technology and new concepts in clinical outcomes and assessment are particularly well-suited to evaluating the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment protocols and are being used in research, both at naturopathic medical schools and in the offices of practicing naturopathic doctors. Clinical research into natural therapies has become an increasingly important focus for naturopathic doctors.