What IS Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine is a natural approach to health and healing that recognizes the whole person as an integrated system. Wellness is more than the absence of disease; it is fulfilling your highest potential for being functional and balanced in body, mind and spirit.

Naturopathic Medicine represents the “vitalistic” tradition of medicine in our Western world. That is, it treats disease through the stimulation, increase, and support of the person’s inherent healing capacity. This is essentially the opposite approach taken by allopathic medicine which is suppressive in nature, focused on the alleviation of symptoms. Naturopathic treatment is chosen to work with the patients own abilities, respecting the body’s natural healing processes.

The practice of Naturopathic Medicine includes six underlying principles of healing. These are based on the observation of health and disease. This observation process involves the use of modern scientific methodologies as well as traditional methods that have withstood the test of time.
The following principles make Naturopathic Medicine different from all other medical approaches:

First do No Harm: 
Primum Non Nocere
Illness has a purpose. The process of disease includes the response of symptoms which are, in fact, an expression of the individual attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions should be complementary to and synergistic with this healing process. The physician’s actions can support or antagonize the actions of the vis mediatrix naturae — the healing power of Nature. Therefore, methods designed to suppress symptoms without removing the underlying causes are considered harmful and to be avoided or minimized. Substances that are toxic or carry a high risk of side effects are considered in only extreme circumstances when the risk to the patient is justified by the extreme nature of the illness.

The Healing Power of Nature: 
Vis Mediatrix Naturae
God gave the body has an inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent; He heals through an innate response and desire to be balanced and productive. The physician’s role is to facilitate this process, identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and establish or restore a healthy internal and external environment.
Identify and Treat the Cause: 
Tolle Causam
Illness does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and removed or treated before a person can recover completely from illness. Symptoms are evidence of the body’s attempt to heal itself, but are not the cause of disease. Symptoms, therefore, should not be suppressed by treatment. Causes may occur on many levels including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The physician must evaluate fundamental underlying causes on all levels, directing treatment at root causes rather than at symptomatic expression.

Heal the Whole Person: 
Tolle Totum
Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism, involving the complex interaction of many factors. The Naturopathic Physician must treat the whole person by taking these factors into account. The harmonious functioning of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects are essential to recovery from and prevention of disease. This requires a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.

The Physician as Teacher: 
Docere
A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic value. The physician’s major role is to educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for his or her own health. The physician is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume responsibility for the healing process. It is the patient, not the doctor, who ultimately promotes healing. Teaching with hope, knowledge, and understanding; the physician acts to encourage patients to make choices that heal and promote knowledge that supports self-sufficiency in the future.
Prevention is the Best Cure
The ultimate goal of any health care system should be prevention of disease. This is accomplished through education and promotion of life-habits that create good health. The physician learns to assess risk factors, sharpen a patients deductive reasoning, and understand the patients circumstances. Appropriate interventions are then sought to avoid further harm or risk to the patient. Building health takes less energy and is more successful than fighting disease.

Physician Heal Thyself is the final philosophical tenet. It exhorts the practitioner to be actively engaged in their own healing process and take similar responsibility for health as she encourages in others.

 

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