If you have a chronic ailment, or simply like to live a healthier lifestyle, chances are that naturopathic medicine has come across your radar of treatment possibilities at one point or another. If so, you can’t be blamed if you’re a little (or a lot) confused about the mixed signals you might get.
But, if there is one thing that’s true for everyone about naturopathic medicine, it is that it shouldn’t be dismissed out-of-hand without taking a closer look. In a way, if you do have a chronic condition that hasn’t responded well to conventional medical treatments, or if you enjoy discovering new ways to remain healthy, or even improve your health, you owe it to yourself to have a more balanced outlook on naturopathy. When you do, at very least you can come to your own conclusions about its suitability and effectiveness for your particular situation. At best, you might find something that works better for you.
The First Step in Understanding Naturopathic Medicine
Like the name implies, naturopathy is dedicated to natural therapies, including using the body’s own ability to heal itself; to address the root cause of illness; get patients involved in treatment and prevention; and promote overall health and wellbeing.
A naturopathic doctor (ND) uses the six guiding principles of naturopathy.
1. Do No Harm:
Use diagnoses and treatments that minimize harmful side effects.
2. Treat the Root Cause of Disease:
In addition to treating symptoms, use them to find and address the underlying causes of the condition.
3. Doctor as Teacher:
Guide patients to achieve and maintain optimal health.
4. Treat the Whole Person:
Your body and spirit are unique and integrated. Treating the point of affliction may not be the entire cure.
5. Encourage Prevention:
Promote better health and wellness as a way to reduce the incidence of disease.
6. Use the Healing Power of Nature:
Use your body’s own defences and the medicines that exist in nature to heal and improve wellness.
Simply by understanding that naturopathy is practiced under these principles helps to set-up a framework for you to start making sense of anything else you hear or read about naturopathic medicine.
Yet another way to have a more balanced outlook about naturopathy is to get a better understanding of the profession.
Like medical doctors, naturopathic doctors must have an undergraduate degree before entering into four-year, full-time, accredited naturopathic medical program. There are only eight government-recognized institutions in Canada and the USA that are accredited to offer naturopathic medical programs.
Once the naturopathic medical program is complete, an ND is qualified to take the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) and standardized board exams regulated by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapies – Naturopathy (BDDT-N), all of which must be passed before the ND is permitted to practice in Ontario.
NDs have a variety of treatment modalities available to them. One or more of the following may be used to treat your condition.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
In their four-year program, naturopathic doctors receive theoretical and practice education and training in TCM, including one year of supervised clinical experience using acupuncture for a variety of treatments.
Also known as herbal medicine, botanical medicines exist in nature. They exhibit remarkably similar healing properties as medical drugs, but generally with fewer and less severe side effects.
NDs may evaluate patients physically for potential misalignments and imbalances. Treatments can include therapeutic massage and exercise therapy.
Mental and physical health risk factors are assessed and programs are encouraged to develop habits that can improve overall wellbeing.
If you’d like to learn more about naturopathic medicine, call or visit us today and talk to one of our NDs on staff. They’re more than happy to help you have a more balanced outlook on naturopathy – and life!