Naturopathic Medicine is a unique system of primary health care that combines ancient healing arts and modern science. It addresses the root causes of illness, and promotes health and healing using natural therapies. Supporting your body’s own healing ability, Naturopathic Doctors use an integrative approach to disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention that includes:
- Botanical Medicine
- Clinical Nutrition
- Homeopathic Medicine
- Lifestyle Counselling
- Acupuncture, TCM and Asian Medicine
- Physical Medicine (Massage, Hydrotherapy, Chiropractic Adjustments etc.)
Nutrition and the therapeutic use of foods is a cornerstone of naturopathic medicine. Food intolerances, deficiencies, dietary imbalances or nutritional excesses have been associated with many medical conditions. A naturopathic doctor is trained to understand the impact that your diet is having on your health. With appropriate dietary modification and nutritional supplements health concerns can be treated with fewer complications and side effects.
Medicinal plants have been, and will continue to be a valuable part of health care. These plants and plant substances are highly effective and safe in the right dosage and when used correctly with other herbs and treatments. Herbs can be prepared in many forms – teas, tinctures or capsules. Naturopathic doctors are extensively trained in both the art and science of botanical medicine. Naturopathic doctors are currently the only health care providers in Canada to be licensed for the use of botanical medicine.
This powerful system of medicine is more than 200 years old and is widely accepted in many countries. Homeopathic remedies are made from specific dilutions of plant, animal and mineral substances. When carefully matched to the patient they are able to affect the body’s “vital force” and to stimulate the body’s innate healing forces on both the physical and emotional levels, with few side effects. Some conditions that do not respond well to conventional medicine respond effectively to homeopathy.
Traditional Chinese Medicine / Acupuncture
The key principle that defines and connects all of Chinese medicine is that of Chi, or vital energy. The chi of all organs must be in balance, neither too active nor too dormant, for a person to be healthy. The chi of the body’s organs and systems are all connected in meridians or channels that lie just under the skin. A Naturopathic Doctor will use Eastern herbs and acupuncture to assist the body in regulating the Chi and achieving balance. Acupuncture is the use of very thin needles which are inserted into specific meridian points. The practice of acupuncture has been around for over two thousand years and has proven to be very effective especially for pain relief and chronic illness.
Physical medicine offers treatment for many different health concerns. Treatments can include soft tissue work (including therapeutic massage), naturopathic manipulation of muscle, bone or the spine, hydrotherapy techniques, gentle electrical impulses, ultrasound, diathermy, and exercise therapy.
Prevention and Lifestyle Counselling
Mental attitudes and emotional states are important elements in healing and disease. Addressing all aspects of a person’s life, identifying and addressing the impact that stress and life events have on a patient’s health is an important aspect of naturopathic treatment. Naturopathic doctors are trained to counsel on diet, lifestyle, specific stressors, exercise and occupational or environmental hazards as an integral part of the naturopathic treatment program.
Other natural therapies
The naturopathic therapies use varies by practitioner and by province. Some Naturopathic Doctors will have additional naturopathic training in other natural therapies such as: Bowen Therapy, IV therapy, minor surgery, Reiki, etc.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
1) First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
– utilize methods and medicinal substances which 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.
Naturopathic doctors choose remedies and therapies that are safe and effective, to increase health and decrease harmful side effects.
2) The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
Your naturopathic doctor works to restore and support the powerful and inherent healing ability of your body, mind and spirit and to prevent further disease from occurring. Naturopathic doctors identify and remove obstacles to recovery, facilitating and augmenting this ordered and intelligent healing ability.
3) Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)
The primary goal of your naturopathic doctor is to determine and treat the underlying cause rather than simply managing or suppressing the symptoms. The underlying cause may be due to diet, lifestyle habits, life events, posture or environment. Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s natural attempt to heal.
4) Treat the Whole Person
Each person is unique and requires individualized care. In treating the cause of any condition your naturopathic doctor takes into account not only your physical symptoms, but also mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, spiritual and other factors. Disease affects the entire person, not just a specific organ or system. Your nutritional status, lifestyle, family history, feelings, environmental stresses, and physical health are all carefully evaluated and addressed.
5) Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
Your naturopathic doctors will assist you in understanding health and illness. He/she will provide with an understanding of the factors that affect your health and help you balance and become more capable of maintaining your own health. Naturopathic doctors also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.
6) Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Your naturopathic doctor applies all of the above principles in a proactive form of disease prevention and health promotion. Naturopathic doctors emphasize healthy daily habits, they assess risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and make appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Health is more than just the absence of disease. Health entails daily functioning on the highest possible levels, and is obtained by proper nutrition, exercise, a balanced lifestyle, positive emotions, thoughts and actions. The capacity for optimal wellness and an improved quality of life is inherent in every body.
Naturopathic Doctors are regulated health professionals who undergo training similar to medical doctors with the addition of naturopathic disciplines. Trained as primary care physicians, naturopathic medical students complete a four-year full-time program after graduating from a university undergraduate program. The naturopathic medical program encompasses basic medical sciences, naturopathic principles and therapeutics and 1500 hours of supervised clinical experience. Graduates must pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations as well as provincial board exams and maintain ongoing continuing education.
Here is what is included:
Anatomy, physiology, histology, microbiology, biochemistry, immunology, pharmacology and pathology.
Diagnostic medicine areas of study are physical and clinical diagnosis, differential and laboratory diagnosis, radiology, naturopathic assessment and orthopaedics.
There are six major disciplines that define the areas of naturopathic practice. Each discipline is a distinct area of practice and includes both diagnostic principles and practices as well as therapeutic skills and techniques. They include: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulation and lifestyle counselling.
All students must complete 1,500 hours of clinical requirements and demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of Naturopathic Medicine prior to graduation.
Accredited Schools (Canada and US)