Naturopathic Medicine is a natural approach to health. It recognizes that the body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The healing process has a set order and intelligence, and that it knows that nature heals through the power of its own life force. The physician’s role is to guide and nurture this process, to use his or her knowledge to identify those obstacles creating disease, and support a healthy and positive environment.
And it supports the belief that the body can heal itself through combining stimulation, enhancement and positive support. Scientific analysis comes into play, but only as one part of the treatment.
It is these principles that distinguish naturopathic medicine from other medical approaches:
The healing power of nature.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinctively natural approach to health and healing. It understands that the body has an innate ability to fix and repair.
Naturopathic Medicine Principal #1 Identify and treat the cause
Symptoms are expressions of the body’s attempt to heal, 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 will evaluate fundamental causes at all levels, directing treatment to the root cause and not at symptoms.
Naturopathic Medicine Principal #2 First, do no harm.
Symptoms are recognized as an expression of the body to work at healing itself. Treatment should complement and work with this process. The physician has the crucial role of either supporting the process or actually hindering its success. It is believe that methods signed to suppress symptoms without removing underlying causes can be harmful and should be avoided or minimized.
Naturopathic Medicine Principal #3 Treat the whole person.
The organism goes through periods of health, and of disease, and is impacted on many levels including physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. The physician must treat the whole body by taking all of these factors into account. When these areas are working together in harmony, the individual has the best hope for recovery, and even prevention of future issues. A individual and comprehensive approach in the diagnosis and the treatment is the norm.
Naturopathic Medicine Principal #4 The physician as teacher.
A relationship between patient and physician should be based on cooperation. The physician’s job is to create that relationship along with diagnosing the problem, and devising an appropriate course of treatment. There is inherent therapeutic value in this relationship.
Since it is the patient who ultimately creates their own healing, the physician’s major role is to educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for health. The physician must inspire, transmit hope and understanding, and also make a commitment for their own personal and spiritual development. That makes them the best teacher.
Naturopathic Medicine Principal #5 Prevention is the best “cure”
Naturopathic medicine emphasizes creating optimum health and wellness, rather than treating and fighting disease. This is accomplished by educating the public, and promoting positive life-habits. Physicians will take into account any present risk factors and genetic disposition to disease to create meaningful recommendations to avoid further harm to the patient.
Naturopathic philosophy serves as the basis for naturopathic practice. The current scope of naturopathic practice includes, but is not limited to:
The cornerstone of the naturopathic process is the notion that food is the best medicine. Many medical conditions can be treated more effectively with foods and nutritional supplements than they can by other means. There will be fewer complications and side effects. Naturopathic physicians also use dietetics, natural hygiene, fasting, and nutritional supplementation.
Many single chemically-derived drugs – like those typically prescribed by conventional physicians – may only address a single problem. However, botanical medicines are able to address a variety of problems simultaneously. Their organic nature makes them more compatible with the body’s own chemistry; hence, they can be gently effective with fewer negative side effects.
Therapeutic manipulation of muscles, bones, and spine may be one of the treatments prescribed by a Naturopathic Physician. Also, the use of ultrasound, diathermy, exercise, massage, water, heat and cold, air, and gentle electrical pulses may be introduced as well.
Many a physical issue has been caused by emotions and stress. Counseling, a balanced diet, stress management, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and other similar-type mental therapies may be incorporated into the treatment plan, as ways to encourage healing on a psychological level.
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