About Naturopathic Medicine
The practice of naturopathic medicine includes the promotion of health, the assessment of the physical and mental condition of an individual, and the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases, disorders and dysfunctions through education, common diagnostic procedures, and the integrated use of therapies and substances that promote the individual's inherent self-healing processes.
Naturopathic doctors provide primary and adjunctive health care to people of all ages, focusing on the rational use of natural therapies to support and stimulate healing processes. Naturopaths promote health, prevent illness, and diagnose and treat disease in a manner consistent with the body of knowledge and standards of practice for the profession.
As primary care providers, Naturopaths work with their patients and educate them to take responsibility for their own health. Naturopaths frequently work closely with other health care professionals and are also trained to refer patients to other health-care providers when warranted.
Naturopathic therapies are selected to treat the individual's presenting condition, taking into consideration their particular symptoms and overall health status.
The underlying principles that guide the naturopathic doctor's selection of therapies for individual patients are:
1. The Naturopathic Physician shall endeavor to first, do no harm; to provide the most effective health care available with the least risk to his/her patients at all times. (Primum Non Nocere)
2. The Naturopathic Physician shall recognize, respect and promote the self-healing power of nature inherent in each individual human being. (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
3. The Naturopathic Physician shall strive to identify and remove the causes of illness, and obstacles to healing and recover in order to facilitate and augment these inherent self-healing processes. (Tolle Causum)
In order to identify underlying causes, a holistic view of the patient must be employed, taking into account the complex integration of the person, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, genetic, environmental, and social aspects. Naturopathic doctors subsequently construct treatment protocols that treat the whole person through individualized care.
4. The Naturopathic Physician shall educate his/her patients, inspire rational hope and encourage self-responsibility for health. (Doctor as Teacher)
As a further extension of this principle of doctor as teacher, naturopathic practitioners emphasize the prevention of disease and the promotion of health in partnership with their patients by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by promoting healthy lifestyles and communities.
5. The Naturopathic Physician shall treat each person by considering all individual health factors and influences. (Treat the Whole Person)
6. The Naturopathic Physician shall emphasize the condition of health to promote well-being and to prevent diseases for the individual, each community and our world. (Health Promotion, the Best Prevention)
The body of knowledge that underlies treatment modalities used in modern naturopathic medical practice incorporates both ancient knowledge, conventional medical knowledge, and the latest advances in medical science. Naturopathic therapies are selected to treat the individual's presenting condition, taking into consideration particular symptoms and overall health status.
Naturopathic medicine is unique in that each naturopathic doctor is trained in all of the treatment modalities described below, and most importantly in their integrated use:
Botanical Medicine: Plant substances have been used safely and effectively for centuries in the prevention and treatment of disease. Their clinical uses and effects are described in detail in traditional literature, and they are the subjects of an increasing amount of new scientific research. Documentation exists that demonstrates the safe and effective use of many botanical medicines over generations. Botanical medicines have pharmacological properties that necessitate their use by appropriately trained health care providers.
Clinical Nutrition: The relationship between nutrition and wellness, or between inadequate nutrition and disease, is well documented and is a cornerstone of naturopathic practice. Naturopathic application of clinical nutrition involves the use of dietetics and specific nutritional substances for the prevention and treatment of disease, the correction of dietary inadequacies and the promotion of wellness.
Counselling Techniques: A tenet of naturopathic medicine is that emotional health and physical health are interdependent. Naturopathic practice includes the integrated use of counseling techniques along with such methods as stress management when indicated.
Homeopathic Medicine: Homeopathic medicine was originally developed during the 18th century by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann, and is widely used throughout the world. Minute amounts of substances prepared and prescribed according to strict homeopathic principles are used to evoke a physiological and/or psychological response. The practice of homeopathic medicine includes a unique and detailed method of case taking and analysis, and an in-depth knowledge of homeopathic materia medica.
Lifestyle Modification and Public Health: Environment and lifestyle have a significant impact on health. Contamination of food, water or the local environment, and extremes in diet can present a significant risk to the patient. These factors are evaluated and dealt with when appropriate.
Mechanotherapy, including manipulation of the spine and extremities: Mechanotherapy includes both the manipulation and mobilization of the joints of the spine and extremities, as well as other physical and mechanical techniques applied to connective tissue. Mechanotherapy has been part of naturopathic medicine since the turn of the century and is used in conjunction with one or more other naturopathic modalities.
Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture comprise a system that has been in use for 5,000 years for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. This system employs unique methods for evaluating the flow and balance of energy in the body, and includes the specialized use of Chinese herbs and acupuncture. Naturopathic doctors are trained to use this system when indicated as part of an integrated approach with Western diagnostic methods.
Physical Therapeutic Procedures: Naturopathic medicine has traditionally employed a wide variety of physical modalities for the treatment of pain and to stimulate circulation and healing. These include heat and cold, therapeutic ultrasound, diathermy, hydrotherapy, massage and exercise.
The Naturopathic Physician's primary purpose is to prevent disease, to promote health, and to restore, maintain and optimize health and well-being through individualized patient care and public education
Adapted from The Ontario Naturopathic Professions Submission to the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council, a joint submission by the BDDT-N and the OAND.