Dr. Doni Wilson talks about naturopathic medicine and its many benefits, including how it works together with conventional medicine.

Your body is an amazing thing. It has all sorts of built-in protections, including the ability to heal itself.

Naturopathic medicine supports your body in the healing process. Just like conventional medicine, it uses science and medical research to understand the body. But as a rule, naturopathic medicine tends to go a step further, seeking to find the underlying cause of a health issue – and how one health issue relates to another within your body.

When we know the root cause of a chronic health issue, including how it affects multiple systems in the body, we can use naturopathy to help your body use its own natural processes to heal itself.

What Is Naturopathy?

Naturopathy – healing with nature – has existed for hundreds years, and likely longer. It’s focused on using all sorts of natural approaches to give your body what it needs to maintain health, or get back to health. These natural approaches include nutrition and healthy eating, vitamins, herbs and natural supplements (including enzymes and probiotics), bio-identical hormones, homeopathy, mindfulness healing and exercise, and even the use of water, temperature (heat and cold) and physical medicine (naturopathic methods of addressing musculoskeletal issues), as well as nature itself.

Each patient’s situation is different, which is one of the reasons I enjoy what I do so much. Working together with a patient, we seek to understand exactly what’s causing a particular issue – and then apply naturopathic treatments. Though it’s all very scientific, it requires a lot of empathy as well. Naturopathic doctors aim to educate and empower patients to understand their body and what it needs.

There is no doubt that naturopathy is leading the way in changing medicine and the role of a health practitioner, which I believe to be a very positive improvement.

Is Naturopathy Safe?

Naturopathic Physicians complete a graduate-level doctorate degree at federally-accredited naturopathic medical programs and sit for national board exams. We are required to pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) to receive our license. Naturopathic residencies are privately funded, and so are limited in number. I completed a residency at Bastyr University in 2001, and recently created a CNME approved naturopathic residency in my practice to help train future Naturopathic Doctors (NDs).

We are trained at the highest level of science and medicine to understand disease processes and what bodies need to be healthy, mind, body and spirit. We are also trained in drug-herb and drug-nutrient interactions, and are the foremost experts in this area.

Naturopathic Physicians are experts in the safe and effective use of natural therapies, as well as primary care providers. And yet only 17 states (not including New York), license the profession and in only some states does insurance cover naturopathic care.

Why Is Naturopathy Not Readily Available?

Given the countless successes I’ve witnessed – and helped with first-hand – this question still perplexes me.

Ever since I moved to New York in 2001, I’ve worked to bring awareness to naturopathic medicine. I led the effort to license NDs as president, executive director and legislative director of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians for over ten years (and am still a board member of the NYANP). And I established Naturopathic Awareness Week in New York seven years ago, which is now nationally recognized as Naturopathic Medicine Week.

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