Learn about Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine is a unique health care profession that emphasizes the promotion of optimal health through the use of natural therapeutics. Naturopathic medicine encourages the self-healing process, the vis medicatrix naturae, and blends centuries-old knowledge of natural therapies with current advances in the understanding of health and human systems. Its scope of practice includes all aspects of family and primary care, from pediatrics to geriatrics, and all natural medicine modalities.

The History of Naturopathic Medicine

In the United States, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, peer review, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research. The History of Naturopathic Medicine Naturopathic medicine as a distinct health care profession is almost 100 years old and has its origins in the philosophy of Hippocrates and the healing wisdom of many cultures. Benedict Lust brought Naturopathic Medicine to New York State in 1896. In the early 20th century, practitioners of a variety of medical disciplines joined together to form the first Naturopathic medical societies. Naturopathic medical conventions attracted more than 10,000 practitioners; there were more than 20 Naturopathic colleges, and Naturopathic physicians were licensed in most states.

Naturopathic medicine experienced a decline in the 1940’s and 50’s with increased popularity of pharmaceutical drugs and technological medicine, and a widespread belief that these therapies could eliminate all disease. Over the past twenty years, a health-conscious public has sought out alternatives to conventional medicine and, because of this; Naturopathic medicine has experienced resurgence.

Naturopathy continues to grow and evolve as a body of knowledge. Naturopathic medicine, as an organized profession, is committed to ongoing research and development of its science. It incorporates many elements of scientific modern medicine.

The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
Naturopathic medicine recognizes in the body an inherent ability, which is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic Doctors identify and remove obstacles to recovery and facilitate and augment this healing ability.

Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
The Naturopathic Doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than eliminate or suppress its symptoms.

First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient: 1) utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects; 2) avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms; 3) acknowledge and respect the individual’s healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness.

Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
Naturopathic Doctors educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.

Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic Doctors treat each patient individually, taking into account his or her physical, mental, emotional state as well as genetic, environmental and social factors. Since total health includes spiritual health, Naturopathic Doctors encourage individuals to pursue their own spiritual paths.

Naturopathic Doctors emphasize disease prevention, assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and make appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine seeks to improve conditions through preventative measures so that we all may live healthier.

Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance. It is a state of being healthy and is characterized by positive emotion, thought and action. Wellness is inherent in everyone, no matter what the disease(s) he or she may have. If this fact is recognized and experienced by an individual, he or she will heal quicker than if the disease were only treated.

Is Naturopathic Medicine Effective?

Naturopathic diagnosis and therapeutics are supported by scientific research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology and spirituality.

Information technology and new concepts in clinical outcomes assessment are particularly well-suited to evaluating the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment protocols and are being used in research, both at naturopathic medical schools and in the offices of practicing physicians. Clinical research into natural therapies has become an increasingly important focus for naturopathic doctors.

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