Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine originated in the early 20th Century by a group of therapists who believed in the healing power of nature. Based on the belief of the body’s inherent ability to heal itself, naturopathic medicine tries to stimulate health by facilitating the body’s healing process through various measures. What makes naturopathic medicine so distinctive is its integrative approach; borrowing from many alternative medical practices, naturopathic physicians are usually trained in conventional medicine and utilize modern diagnostic equipment and level of care. In addition to treatment of disease, naturopathic medicine also practices preventative care such as nutrition modification and vitamin supplements.

There are six underlying principles to naturopathic medicine which are said to distinguish it from other disciplines and practices. The first concept is that of the healing power of nature which is the belief in the body’s capacity to heal itself and maintains that the role of the naturopathic physician is to remove obstacles to healing and create a healthy environment in which healing can occur. Secondly, naturopathic medicine looks to identify and eliminate the cause of illness rather than merely treating the symptoms. Symptoms are said to be indicators of the body’s attempt to heal itself and should not be suppressed by treatment, only by curing the cause. The next concept of “first do no harm” is part of the Hippocratic oath taken upon receiving a medical license, but in the case of naturopathic medicine, also applies to suppressing symptoms in a sick patient which is thought to counter effective treatment.

Next, naturopathic medicine takes a holistic approach and examines all factors of an individual’s environment, genetic makeup and emotional state. In order for the body to heal itself effectively, an optimal state of mental and physical comfort is important for the mind body connection. The fifth element of naturopathic medicine is that the doctor acts as an educator; informing and empowering patients to live the most healthy, well balanced life possible. In this case, the doctor/patient relationship becomes more of an effective mentorship, enabling a person to make better choices on a daily basis. Lastly, prevention is the best cure according to the principles of naturopathic medicine and a healthy lifestyle with the elimination of serious risk factors is the first step to a long healthy life.

Naturopathic medicine offers a discipline which combines conventional medicine with alternative healing practices such as homeopathy, acupuncture and nutrition therapy to provide a multi-faceted approach to healthcare.

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