Naturopathic medicine is a distinct form of primary health care. Naturopathic physicians are primary health care practitioners, whose diverse healing modalities include both modern and traditional methods of treatment. The principles of naturopathic medicine are mainly what distinguishes a naturopathic approach to health care from the conventional approach and are based on objective observations of the nature of health and disease. The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in the body that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to recovery as well as to facilitate and augment this healing ability.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient:
Utilize methods and medical substances that minimize the risk of harmful side effects
Avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms
Acknowledge and respect the individual’s healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness.
Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)
Underlying causes of illness must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to eliminate or merely suppress symptoms.
Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic physicians treat each individual by taking into account 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.
We are whole: body, mind and spirit that are inseperable, non-distinct parts. (This is what truly separates us from allopathic medical doctors and “green MD’s). We treat the individual, not the disease, honoring diversity and individuality.
Naturopathic physicians emphasize disease prevention, assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine strives to create a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
The original Latin definition of the word “doctor” is teacher. One of the main objectives of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasize self -responsibility for health. Naturopathic physicians also acknowledge the therapeutic value of the doctor-patient relationship.
Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance. Wellness is a state of being healthy, characterized by positive emotion, thought and action. Wellness is inherent in everyone, no matter what dis-ease(s) an individual might experience. If wellness is truly recognized and nurtured within that individual, he/she will more quickly heal, as compared to their healing with direct treatment of the dis-ease alone.
Naturopathic Therapeutic Order
1. Stimulate the Vis Medicatrix Naturae
(Other names for “Vis” include “qi”, “prana”, “life force”) This is the force that moves us towards health; it is the essence that invigorates us. Some modalities that we utilize to stimulate the “Vis” include hydrotherapy, exercise, yoga, mediation, craniosacral therapy, energy medicine and homeopathy.
2. Tonify Weakened Systems:
Specific organs and body systems are sometimes over/underexpressed by people differently, for example some patients may have a hyper and hypo-stimulated immune system, nervous system, endocrine system, and cardiovascular system etc.
3. Correct Structural Integrity:
Disease may affect all systems if the communication pathways are compromised by spinal and nervous systems mal-alignment.
4. Prescribe specific, pathology based, natural substances.
This is often necessary in more advanced pathology, however, this is done while addressing the underlying imbalance. When patients are in severe distress or pain, and they need relief immediately, naturopathic physicians may prescribe medicines, which allow for symptom palliation.
5. Pharmacological Agents for Pathology
“To everything there is a season.” There are many situations that warrant conventional medical treatments and therapies. In these cases, naturopaths utilize allopathic medicine as a subset to our modalities.
6. Surgery, Suppressive drugs, radiation and chemotherapy:
These interventions save lives and help many, many patients to live longer, happier, healthier lives. As Dr. John Bastyr said towards the end of his retirement, “Do what works.” In my experience I have seen many patients continue to lead healthy lives thanks to these interventions.