What is Naturopathic Medicine?

The Principles

Naturopathic Education and Licensure

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care - an art, science, philosophy and practice of analysis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles that underline and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. Methods used are consistent with these principles and are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality.

Naturopathic medicine encompasses a variety of natural and non-invasive therapies, including clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine and counseling. Naturopathic protocols are effective in treating a wide variety of conditions without the need for additional intervention. However, naturopathic practitioners are also able to function within an integrated framework and naturopathic therapies can be used to complement treatments used by conventionally trained medical doctors. The result is a client-centered approach that strives to provide the most appropriate treatment for an individual's needs.

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The Principles

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

The healing power of nature is the inherent self-organizing and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains, and restores health. Naturopathic medicine recognizes this healing process to be ordered and intelligent. It is the naturopathic practitioner's role to support, facilitate, and augment this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery, and by supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.

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Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)

Illness does not occur without cause. Causes may originate in many areas. Underlying causes of illness and disease must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. Symptoms can be expressions of the body's attempt to defend itself, to adapt and recover, to heal itself, or may be results of the causes of disease. The naturopathic practitioner seeks to treat the causes of disease, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

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First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)

Naturopathic practitioners utilize methods and medicinal substances that minimize the risk of harmful effects and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to reverse illness and restore health. Whenever possible the suppression of symptoms is avoided as suppression generally interferes with the healing process. Naturopathic practitioners respect and work with the vis medicatrix naturae in analysis, treatment and counseling.

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Doctor as Teacher (Docere)

The original meaning of the word "doctor" is teacher. A principal objective of naturopathic medicine is to educate the client and emphasize self-responsibility for health.

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Treat the Whole Person

Health and disease result from a complex interaction of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors. Naturopathic medicine recognizes the harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual as being essential to health. The multifactoral nature of health and disease requires a personalized and comprehensive approach. Naturopathic practitioners take all of these factors into account.

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Prevention

Naturopathic medical colleges emphasize the study of health as well as disease. The prevention of disease and the attainment of optimal health are primary objectives of naturopathic medicine. In practice, these objectives are accomplished through education and the promotion of healthy ways of living. Naturopathic practitioners assess risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions in partnership with their clients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine asserts that one cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment and is committed to the creation of a world in which humanity may thrive.

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Naturopathic Education and Licensure

Naturopathic physicians are trained at accredited, four-year, post-graduate, residential naturopathic medical programs. The training consists of comprehensive study of the conventional medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, clinical and physical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, radiology, pharmacology, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, neurology, pediatrics, geriatrics, dermatology as well as the detailed study of a wide variety of natural therapies. Holistic and nontoxic approaches to disease prevention are strongly emphasized.

A naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician. Licensed naturopathic physicians must fulfill state-mandated continuing educations requirements annually and will have a scope of practice defined by their state law. Depending on the state, the scope of practice may include the use of botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, Oriental medicine, physical medicine/naturopathic manipulation, minor surgery, counseling and the use of naturally derived pharmaceuticals. In licensed states, naturopathic physicians perform physical examinations, laboratory testing, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, allergy testing, X-ray examinations and other diagnostic testing.

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ND Wellness

Primum No Nocere

First Do No Harm

Naturopathic practitioners utilize methods and medicinal substances that minimize the risk of harmful effects and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to reverse illness and restore health.