What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic is science and as well as an art. Naturopathic employs the use of natural toxin free therapies, in restoring the physiological, mental balance of an individual. According to American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, naturopathic is
“A distinct system of primary health care-an art, science, philosophy, and practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles upon which its practice is based. These principles are continually re-examined in the light of scientific advances. The techniques of naturopathic medicine include modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods” (AANP, 1998).
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What nature of training do naturopathic medical personnel undergo?
Personnel in this field have foundational training in natural medicine. They are well recognized by other medical professionals. If a case is beyond them, they refer patients to other medical professionals. Naturopaths are awarded a degree as Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) after their 4 years study in medical college. Requirement for admission is much similar to that for conventional medicine. In the course of their study, naturopaths are trained in medical fields like cardiology, gynecology, immunology, pediatrics, neurology, pathology and so much more. Added to their training curriculum, naturopathic students are required to do a lot of coursework in natural therapeutics. They are expected to be also trained in botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, exercise therapy, lifestyle counseling, and hydrotherapy (this is the use of water in curing some ailments).
Principles of naturopathic medicine
Naturopathic works on some set of natural principles which are:
- The healing power of nature
The human body is well equipped to regenerate itself, shout any part of it gets damaged. What Naturopathic doctors simply do is to eliminate hindrances that impede rapid healing of the body
- Finding the root cause of a problem and eliminating it
Just like conventional medicine, naturopathic doctors trace an ailment straight to its root, and then exterminating it. They don’t waste time attending to symptoms, because they know something is actually causing it. There may be nothing wrong with containing symptoms of an ailment, identify and eliminating the root cause is much more important.
- Inflict no harm
Therapies used in naturopathic treatment are very friendly. They cause no pain or discomfort, neither do they have adverse side effect. Naturopathic doctors try their best not to inhibit the symptoms of an ailment.
- A doctor and a teacher
The word doctor, came from the Latin word “docere” When translated, it means “to teach”. Naturopathic doctors don’t just try to solve a patient’s medical problem, they educate and encourage them to live a balance lifestyle by ensuring they eat right and have a positive attitude to life. “The doctor of the futurewill give no medicine, but will interestpatients in the maintenance of the humanframe, in diet, and in the prevention ofdisease.” Those are the exact words of Thomas Edison. It pays more to educate a patient, than to treat them when they are down with health complications.
- 360° treatment
After assessing the medical condition of their patient, a naturopathic doctor tries to get to the underlying cause of their problem, after which they provide treatment based on their unique needs. They don’t use a generalist approach in attending to the needs of their patient, the base their diagnosis on the physical symptoms they see in their patient. In the words of Osler MD, “It is more important to know what sort of patient has a diseaserather than what sort of disease a patienthas.”
- Prevention is better than cure
There is more wisdom in preventing a disease than spending financial resource in trying to cure it. Naturopathic doctors try inhibiting the development of future health complication, by thorough examination of a patient’s present health condition. They offer tips and advice needed to keep the body up and running at all times.
How naturopathic medicine can be of benefit to your health
Naturopathic is an excellent alternative to conventional medicine, especially for chronic illnesses that seem to defy conventional medicine. After proper examination of their patient, naturopathic doctors then create a treatment plan, which may include botanical medicine, diet therapy, and nutritional supplements. They know healing is an art which is more than prescribing medications. They make out time to listen to the background story of a patient so as to get deeper insight into their ailment. It therefore means there has to be meaningful communication between a naturopathic doctor, and patient. In most cases, patients do know exactly what is wrong with them, and even how to go about treating it. The only trouble is that they don’t know how to turn it to actionable plan. This is where a naturopathic doctor comes in. They also try to their best of ability, to answer all questions a patient may have.
Evidence to prove effectiveness of Naturopathic medicine
Evidence based medicine (EBM), is the yardstick used in conventional healthcare. EBM is built on the foundation of controlled medical trial. This technique is used to assess the effectiveness of a medical procedure in treating an ailment. EBM, has proven that naturopathic medicine like botanical medicine,nutritional therapies, acupuncture, andphysiotherapy can comfortably handle health complications like fibromyalgia, migraineheadaches, depression, asthma, hypertension,and type II diabetes.
Randomized control trial can only be used to judge the effectiveness of a medical procedure when used once, without saying anything about multiple treatments. Some scientist argue that it is better to research evidence should not only be used in evidence based approach, but also the expertise of medical personnel and patient preference (Geyman, 1998). Riboflavin for instance has been shown to minimize the frequency of migraine on a patient, when placed on a three months study. To this end, a naturopathic doctor will include riboflavin when treating a patient, and also using his clinical expertise. Depending on a person’s metabolic makeup, things like MSG or even wheat can trigger migraine. Medical experts do put into account an individual response.
We can then conclude that naturopathic medicine is a sort of customized treatment, which does not depend on random clinical trials. An individual treatment is very important, though applying it might be quite complex.
Okay, I have scheduled an appointment with a Naturopathic doctor; what do i expect?
You should expect to spend between 1 to 2 hours in a naturopathic doctor’s office, on your first meeting. You will also be needed to fill out some forms, so as to enable the doctor know how to engage you. Like earlier discussed, the doctor will try to dig as deep as possible into your story. This is because your story gives them better understanding of your condition, no matter how twisted you think your story is. They combine you story with some clinical data, so as to give you a well-rounded treatment. A naturopathic doctor is like a seasoned tailor trying to make your suit fit no one else, but you. And of course the will need openness and sincerity from you. Don’t expect all doctors to treat you the same way, as they all come from different backgrounds. For effective treatment, you will have to schedule follow up visits with the doctor.
Where can I find a naturopathic doctor?
Naturopathic professionals have a site, called American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). All contacts of certified naturopathic physicians are in their data base. You can also find out from health food clubs in your locality, as they do have contacts of naturopathic doctors around town. See post