What is it?
Many have learned to associate Naturopathic Medicine with “quack” or “fake” medicine. Sadly, there have been many instances where individuals try to pass themselves off as Naturopathic Medical Doctors (NDs) when in fact they have never attended an accredited Naturopathic Medical School, thus giving those who spent 4-5 very long and hard years of their life a bad name.
Naturopathic Medicine is science-based holistic medicine. Most traditional doctors look at their patients as a body with organs and chemical reactions. NDs look at a person and understand they are a unique system of nerves, blood vessels, hormones, with a conscious – an essence – a life force. NDs understand the mind-body connection in their patients as our mind is a VERY powerful tool that can be harnessed and used to benefit the patient. Holistic medicine does not mean just labeling someone with a disease and throwing medications at their symptoms; holistic medicine means treating the whole person by first building the foundation to optimal health and base their practice on the 6 Principles of Naturopathic Medicine.
First, Do No Harm (Primum non nocere)
Naturopathic physicians choose the least invasive, least toxic, least forceful treatments necessary for every patient – this includes not suppressing symptoms when possible, but understanding everyone is unique and there may be times when emergencies call for suppression therapy to save the life of the patient.
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis medicatrix naturae)
Naturopathic physicians understand that every human being has a “vital force”, which is an essence – it is the living energy that runs through everyone. NDs focus on supporting the vital force of every patient to give the body space to do what it does best – heal itself.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle causam)
Naturopathic physicians research every case to find the leading cause for the symptom or disease state of the patient. Once the cause is found, NDs can treat the origin of the disease state.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
Naturopathic physicians take the time to sit with their patients and educate them which empowers the patient to take hold of their health, and actively participate in their healing journey; this empowers their patients to take responsibility for their own health.
Treat the Whole Person (Tolle totum)
This is a holistic concept that recognizes the body as an integrated whole. Naturopathic doctors treat the patient, not the disease. A naturopathic assessment addresses the nutritional status, lifestyle, family history, physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors in a person’s life.
Naturopathic physicians understand that the best cure for anything is to prevent a disease state from forming in the first place. Preventative medicine is powerful and provides patients with the quality of life they deserve.
What is the Scope of Practice?
ND scope of practice varies with different states – some states are not even licensed (and it is the very instance I mentioned at the beginning about ‘naturopaths’ trying to pass themselves off as trained professionals putting patient lives at risk that it is necessary to push for Naturopathic Doctor licensing in every state!) – in Arizona NDs can perform minor surgery, acupuncture, cupping, and other physical medicine practices. They can also prescribe pharmaceutical drugs, herbal medicine and homeopathic medicine. They can draw up and administer nutrient IV bags, perform blood draws, run labs, diagnose and treat diseases. Trained NDs can also utilize hypnotherapy and counseling, thus tapping into the psyche of the patient. In Arizona NDs can see patients in any stage of life meaning prenatal patients all the way to geriatric patients.
How to Determine if ND is Legitimate?
You should always research the health professional you are considering to determine if they can provide the care you need, and to make sure they have the proper training to take care of your needs. To determine if a ND is who they say they are you should look to see if they have attended one of these accredited schools, and you can always check with your state’s Naturopathic Physician Board to further determine an ND has passed and taken their Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX) and are licensed in your state to practice (this applies to licensed states).
In closing – naturopathic medicine is very different from traditional medicine. You can expect when going to a Naturopathic Medical Doctor your words will be heard, they will sit with you and listen to what you have to say about your concerns and your symptoms – however strange they may be. You can expect them to spend more than 5 minutes with you. You can expect that they will teach you how to be the responsible party for your health, they can provide you with the knowledge and tools to heal, but you are responsible for the rest! You will be an active part of your healing journey yet will have an ND on the sidelines cheering you on the entire way – how much better could it get? So if you want to feel heard, you want to be an active part in your health and wellness and healing journey, and you want to find the cause of your disease, then it’s time to book a visit with an ND!