What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a patient-centered form of healthcare that prioritizes low risk interventions such as diet, lifestyle, and nutritional supplementation over pharmaceutical therapies. They are considered primary care doctors who diagnose, treat, and manage chronic health conditions. Learn how BioMed practices naturopathic medicine.
Naturopathic doctors graduate from a rigorous four year program from one of seven nationally accredited schools. The curriculum is structured similar to conventional medical programs that focus on biomedical sciences and standard of care practices in medicine. It includes two years of clinical experience in a primary care setting. Additionally, naturopathic doctors must pass two examinations to become licensed to practice. Many naturopathic doctors complete a residency program upon graduating although it is not required to practice. Find out more information on how to become a naturopathic doctor.
Difference between a naturopathic doctor and naturopath
Naturopathic doctors graduated from one of eight accredited universities in North America and passed the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX). Naturopaths are not necessarily naturopathic doctors and may have just completed a certificate to be classified as a “naturopath”. It is important to make sure your naturopath has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine (either an ND or NMD) and is licensed to practice in their state.
Naturopathic Medicine Philosophy
Naturopathic doctors practice root cause medicine. This means finding the underlying causes of health concerns rather than focusing on treating symptoms only. They practice by seven guiding principles:
1. First Do No Harm
This means using the least invasive methods to diagnose and treat a patient and often focuses on minimizing side effects. This principle also emphasizes avoiding suppressing symptoms.
2. The Healing Power of Nature
This refers to the body’s natural ability to heal itself and naturopathic medicine’s focus on stimulating that power.
3. Identify and Treat the Causes
The naturopathic physician aims to identify and remove the causes of symptoms rather than treating the symptom itself.
4. Doctor as Teacher
Educating the patient is a unique aspect of naturopathic medicine. Patients of naturopathic doctors are encouraged to take responsibility for their health and healing journey.
5. Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic doctors do not just focus on their patient’s physical health. They will often ask questions run testing that gives information on mental, emotional, and genetic health as well. Treatment plans will also address any deficits in these areas.
Naturopaths believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. They take into account your personal genetics, family history, and current health to assess your personal risk factor for disease. Treatment often focuses on preventing future illness and optimizing health.
Wellness is defined as being healthy which means having a positive emotion, thought and action. Everyone is capable of wellness. Naturopathic doctors work to guide their patients into a state of wellness, which often helps disease without directly treating the disease itself.
Naturopathic Medicine Patient Care
Naturopathic medicine is patient centered care. This means you will be an active part of your treatment and recovery, working closely with your doctor. Naturopathic doctors typically spend more time with their patients than conventional medical doctors, with initial appointment times being around 1 hour long. Naturopathic doctors tend to run more lab testing than a conventional doctor would as well, investigating more comprehensive causes of health problems.
How to find a Naturopathic Doctor
You can find a list of naturopathic doctors in your area by visiting the California Naturopathic Doctors Association website. If you are located outside of California, you can learn more about the licensing of naturopathic doctors in your state at the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
How to become a patient with a naturopathic doctor
If you are interested in becoming a patient of a naturopathic doctor or want to learn more about how naturopathic medicine could benefit you, book a free 15 minute consultation with one of the doctors at BioMed.