Written by Dr. Patricia Pimentel Selassie. For many people, Naturopathy is somewhat of an unfamiliar term. It might bring to mind images of herbal concoctions, ancient remedies and alternative healing methods that are not practiced in conventional medicine. Though Naturopathic Doctors do have a method that is different from your average MD, you might be surprised to learn just what exactly being a Naturopathic Doctor means. So, here is a report on what exactly a Naturopathic Doctor is, what we do, and why it’s so beneficial!
What Kind of Training Does a Naturopathic Doctor Get?
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I received the same basic training as a medical doctor. This means I attended a four year accredited medical university – a post-baccalaureate program – where I learned all the same skills as a medical doctor. In addition, Naturopathic Doctors are trained in different modalities of healing, natural therapies, and practices that are centuries old, yet present in modern medical research. Some of these practices, which have incredible benefits for the body, have been left behind by conventional medicine over time. They include herbal and botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy (healing with water), and more. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I use these practices with the basic principles of Naturopathic Medicine.
The Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
- First, do no harm. My first method of treatment would be the least invasive option – not surgery or toxic drugs. For example, a person suffering from constipation would be encouraged to increase their water and vegetable intake before using an over-the-counter laxative.
- The healing power of nature – The Vis Medicatrix Naturae. If we give the body the tools it needs, such as proper nutrition, the body will heal itself – naturally. Naturopathic Doctors assist with this process by giving the tools needed for healing and removing the obstacles that prevent a cure.
- Find the cause. Do not just treat the symptoms. For example, if a person has failing kidneys, we do not just try to help the kidney work properly – we look at why the kidney is not working. Is there high blood pressure or high blood sugar stressing out the kidneys? By addressing the cause – and the person as a whole – we assist our patients in achieving true healing, instead of simply putting a band-aid over the symptoms.
- The doctor is a teacher – Docere. As Naturopathic Doctors, we don’t just write remedies on a prescription pad. We want to empower our patients so they can heal themselves with the right tools and education – as well as understand the full disease process that’s happening in their body. Education is a must for us as Naturopathic Doctors!
- Prevention. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure! It’s so much easier to teach someone a healthy lifestyle and have them remain healthy than it is to cure them once they are sick.
- Treat the whole person. Look at the entire system – understand what is happening in the body. The organs of our body are intricately connected and work in synergy. Our goal is to look at what exactly is happening in the body, instead of just looking at, for example a single kidney or eye.
If you’d like to see a Naturopathic Doctor, be sure to find one that is properly educated. I recommend visiting the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at www.naturopathic.org to find an ND that went to an accredited Naturopathic University. If you live in New York, you can also check The New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians at www.nyanp.org.