Naturopathic medicine is based on the premise that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes while utilizing cutting-edge natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ ability to prevent as well as treat disease. NDs view the patient as a complex, interrelated system (a whole person), not as a clogged artery or a tumor. Naturopathic physicians craft comprehensive treatment plans that blend the best of modern medical science and traditional natural medical approaches to not only treat disease, but to also restore health.
Naturopathic physicians base their practice on six timeless principles founded on medical tradition and scientific evidence.
- The Healing Power of Nature. Human beings are equipped with a powerful, innate ability and instinct for self-healing.Naturopathic Physicians strive to enhance the body's efforts to heal by supporting the basics of healthy food, clean water and air, as well as considering the following aspects:
- Identify and treat the cause. Naturopathic physicians understand that symptoms will only return unless the root illness is addressed. Rather than suppressing or temporarily reducing symptoms, they seek the cause of these symptoms and provide support that safely and effectively addresses the causative agent.
- First, do no harm. Naturopathic physicians follow three precepts to ensure their patients’ safety:
- Use low-risk procedures and healing compounds—such as dietary supplements, herbal extracts and homeopathy—with few or no side effects.
- When possible, do not suppress symptoms, which are the body’s efforts to self-heal. For example, the body may created a fever in reaction to a bacterial infection. Fever creates an inhospitable environment for the harmful bacteria, thereby destroying it. The naturopathic physician would not allow the fever to become dangerously high by closely monitoring as well as providing effective treatment for such a situation.
- Customize each diagnosis and treatment plan to fit each patient. We all heal in different ways and the naturopathic physician respects those differences.
- Educate patients. Naturopathic medicine believes that doctors must be educators, as well as physicians. That’s why naturopathic physicians teach their patients how to eat, exercise, relax and nurture themselves physically and emotionally. They also encourage self-responsibility and work closely with each patient.
- Treat the whole person. We each have a unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, sexual and spiritual makeup. The naturopathic physician knows that all these factors affect our health. That’s why he or she includes them in a carefully tailored treatment strategy.
Prevent illness. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" has never been truer. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, misery and lives. That’s why naturopathic physicians evaluate risk factors, heredity and vulnerability to disease. By getting treatment for greater wellness, we’re less likely to need treatment for future illness.
Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine
Licensed naturopathic physicians must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually, and will have a specific scope of practice defined by their state's law. The states that currently have licensing laws for naturopathic physicians are:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
Adapted from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians' website: http://www.naturopathic.org/