What is a Naturopathic Doctor?
Naturopathic doctors specialize in complementary and alternative medicine which emphasizes the body’s intrinsic ability to heal and maintain itself.
Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic physicians teach their patients to use lifestyle changes and cutting-edge natural therapies to enhance the body’s ability to ward off and combat disease. Naturopathic physicians craft comprehensive treatment plans that blend the best of modern medical science and traditional natural medical approaches to not only treat disease, but also to restore health.
Naturopathic doctors in North America practice as primary care providers trained in conventional medical sciences, diagnosis and treatment, and are experts in natural therapeutics.
Naturopathic doctors (ND’s) are nutrition experts who understand how various foods affect basic nutrition, biochemistry, hormonal balance, and inflammation in the body and mind. By working closely with patients, ND’s are able to discern aspects of their patients’ diets which are working against them, and making and keeping them sick. ND’s perform standard and alternative tests to help uncover, specifically, nutritional problems, and deficiencies.
By utilizing dietary modifications and appropriate supplementation, ND’s teach their patients how to make dietary changes that will enable them to regain their health and be healthy. This may also allow for decreasing and halting of prescription medications that are no longer necessary.
Naturopathic doctors prefer to use natural remedies such as herbs and foods rather than surgery or synthetic drugs. Naturopathic practice includes many different modalities including
- Herbal remedies
- Understanding Herb Drug Interactions
- Medical nutrition
- Weight Loss
- Nutritional counseling
- Physical medicine
- Intravenous Therapy
- Lifestyle modification
- Psychological counseling
Practitioners emphasize a holistic approach to patient care, and may recommend patients use conventional medicine alongside their treatments. They are trained to use diagnostic tests such as imaging and blood tests before deciding upon the full course of treatment, and to refer to other health professionals for standard medical care where it is required. Licensed Naturopathic Doctors have prescription rights and are able to adequately ween patients down off medications while improving health and quality of life using natural medicine. This approach has been wildly successful in treating both chronic and acute conditions.
Health promotion and disease prevention are cornerstones of Naturopathic Care. Naturopathic doctors are committed to educating you about your health, exploring and explaining why disease symptoms are occurring and providing specific recommendations focused on reversing the underlying imbalance.
Naturopathic doctors who are trained at an accredited North American school are entitled to use the designation ND or NMD which is legally protected in sixteen US states, the District of Columbia and five Canadian provinces which mandate formal licensing and educational requirements. In these jurisdictions, naturopathic doctors must pass comprehensive board exams set by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) after having completed academic and clinical training at a medical college certified by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME).
The letters ND usually designate a naturopathic doctor in jurisdictions where such a title is protected by law, although other designations exist. In unlicensed and unregulated jurisdictions, the ND title is not protected and may be used by any practitioner regardless of qualifications.
Naturopathic Medicine Explained
Naturopathic Medicine is defined by its own philosophy. The philosophy is based upon these six principles:
- Do no harm …
Naturopathic physicians prefer non-invasive treatments to minimize the risks of harmful side-effects. Natural therapies not only do no harm but actually strengthen the body over time. Naturopathic physicians are trained to know which patients they can treat safely, and which ones they need to refer to other health care practitioners.
- Doctor as teacher …
The term doctor comes from the Latin word docere which means “to teach.” We believe that it is our role as naturopathic doctors to educate our patients about their health and the steps necessary to stimulate the natural recuperative processes within them.
- Treat the cause …
Health problems recur due to continued susceptibility in the patient. It is important to address that underlying susceptibility, which in doing so causes the disease to resolve naturally and raises the overall health of the patient.
- Treat the whole person …
Disease is a process that affects the patient as a whole, stemming from a complex interaction of physical, mental, emotional, dietary, genetic, environmental, lifestyle or other factors. The parts of the body do not independently become sick. Naturopathic physicians treat the whole person taking these factors into account.
- The healing power of nature …
Nature acts powerfully through healing mechanisms in the body and mind to maintain and restore health. Everyone has within them the power to heal. Naturopathic physicians work to restore and support these inherent healing systems by using methods and medicines that are in harmony with natural processes.
- Prevention is the best cure …
Naturopathic medicine is best done on a daily basis through the choices we make. What we put into our bodies is either health promoting or it isn’t. A Naturopathic doctor educates patients to make better health choices thereby preventing illness from developing into chronic degenerative disease.