Often called the medicine of the 21st century, naturopathy is a philosophy, science, art and practice which promotes health through natural, holistic approaches. While the profession called “naturopathic medicine” has existed for just over 100 years, its historical roots can be traced to the teachings of ancient cultures. It is a progressive medical system drawing upon a comprehensive body of knowledge and an approach to healthcare that derives its wisdom from the latest scientific understanding of the human body as well as from very long-standing and established traditional systems of healing. It can be used alone or in conjunction with orthodox medicine or other alternative medical therapies. This system of medicine embraces the following principles:
First Do No Harm
Naturopathic physicians are trained to do no harm when treating a patient. They employ safe and effective natural therapies. Therapeutic actions which suppress symptoms without removing the underlying cause may be harmful and are thus avoided. Methods and remedies which compliment and are synergistic to the body’s innate healing process are utilized.
The Healing Power Of Nature
Naturopathic physicians believe that the body has the innate ability to heal itself. The healing system within the body is ordered and intelligent. The naturopathic physician’s role is to support and augment the healing process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery. Natural methods and remedies that work with, not against, the body’s natural processes are emphasized.
Identify And Treat The Cause
Every form of disease has a cause. Causes may occur on any level - physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Symptoms are expressions of the body’s attempt to heal itself. They are not the cause of illness. Naturopathic physicians are trained not to eliminate or suppress symptoms until the underlying cause of the disease is discovered. Thus, treatment is aimed at the root causes of disease rather than at symptomatic expression.
Treat The Whole Person
Health and disease are based on a series of complex interactions within the patient’s body, mind, emotions and spirit. Social and environmental factors also play a role. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to treat the whole person by taking all of these factors into account.
Doctor As Teacher
The original meaning of the word “doctor” is teacher. It is the responsibility of the naturopathic doctor to educate, empower and encourage the patient to take responsibility for his or her health. The physician acts as a catalyst for positive healthful change by providing understanding and inspiring hope. Thus, the healing process includes a cooperative doctor-patient relationship.
Prevention Is The Best Cure
Naturopathic physicians assess risk factors and susceptibility to disease and make appropriate recommendations to prevent illness. They educate their patients and encourage motivating life skills that support health and prevent disease. The emphasis is on building health rather than on fighting disease. In the words of Thomas Edison: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
Establish Health and Wellness
Naturopathic physicians focus on two important goals in patient-care. First, they strive to create and sustain an optimum state of health in their patients and second, they promote wellness. ‘Health’ can be characterized as the condition of the best possible physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. ‘Wellness’ can be described as the state of health distinguished by a hopeful, optimistic and life-affirming emotional state. The naturopathic physician makes every effort to improve the patient’s level of wellness despite the state of health or illness. A high level of wellness can be attained even in cases of serious disease.
After a minimum of three years of pre-medical training, a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) completes a four year graduate level education program at an accredited naturopathic college. The physician is trained in all the same basic sciences as a medical doctor but also receives instruction in a variety of holistic and non-toxic approaches to therapy with a strong focus on preventing illness and enhancing wellness. Areas of study include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, physical medicine, hydrotherapy and counselling. Upon finishing their degree, licensed naturopathic doctors complete internationally standardized basic science and clinical board exams.
For more information regarding Naturopathic Medicine,
please visit: www.bcna.ca