Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and cutting edge natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ ability to ward off and combat disease. NDs view the patient as a complex, interrelated system (a whole person – hence the term “holistic”), 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 and maintain health.
In Canada, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, participation in many federal health committee initiatives, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
Naturopaths base their practice on 6 major principles:
- 1. First, Do No Harm
This is the principle that guides all health care practitioners – natural therapies, when used correctly, tend to be safer and have fewer side effects than their artificial counterparts.
2. Let Nature Heal
Nature has provided us with the tools necessary for good health, whether they exist in the outside world (e.g. herbs, vitamins & minerals, sunshine, etc…) or within our own bodies (e.g. immune system, etc…). These natural therapies are used to support the body’s innate healing abilities.
3. Treat the Cause
Symptoms are the body’s way of signaling that there is something wrong, in the same way that a smoke alarm alerts you to the fact that there may be a fire somewhere. Naturopaths work with you to uncover and treat the cause of the problem, rather than just focussing on symptom-relief.
4. Treat the Whole Person
We are not isolated areas of disease or illness, and cannot be treated as such. Our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social aspects interact to determine how healthy we truly are. In working with patients, naturopaths take all of these things into account.
5. Prevent Illness/ Promote Wellness
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Although naturopaths work to get their patients feeling better sooner rather than later, a major goal is for long term health. To this end, naturopaths also work with parents to keep their children healthy and to establish healthy lifestyles early on in life, and with individuals who want to maintain good health as they age.
6. Educate the Patient
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Naturopaths work with their patients to establish healthy lifestyles habits, and to give them the knowledge and tools to be able to continue to be healthy long term.