Naturopathic Physicians Specialize in Natural Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is a form of primary care medicine, and naturopathic physicians are trained to be general practitioners. Naturopathic education includes a postgraduate, doctoral program at an accredited university such as Bastyr University (one of five accredited in the U.S.). NDs are trained in the basic sciences, clinical sciences, diagnosis and treatment of disease much like MDs are. They must pass basic science and clinical board exams in order to be licensed. NDs have received years of training in nutrition, diet/ lifestyle, preventative medicine, and science-based natural therapeutics. Naturopathic physicians specialize in natural medicine, offering many solutions to health problems without the use of pharmaceutical drugs and surgery.
The Guiding Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
From the AANP’s definition of naturopathic medicine:
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in the person, which is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
- Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
- Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms;
- Acknowledge, respect and work with the individual’s self-healing process.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease -assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.