What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic physicians (NDs) are general practitioners that are trained specifically in natural medicine. They are educated in the conventional medical sciences, however they are not orthodox medical doctors (MDs). Naturopathic physicians graduate from a four-year accredited naturopathic medical school. They must pass a national board exam (NPLEX) in order to practice in states that are licensed in naturopathic medicine. The states that license naturopathic physicians are Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Most naturopathic physicians hold a license in one of the aforementioned states even though they may be practicing in an unlicensed state. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) supports legislation to license NDs in all states in order to make the distinction between properly trained physicians from those who call themselves NDs without the naturopathic medical school training.
Naturopathic physicians treat disease and restore balance in the body through the use of clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, counseling, acupuncture, natural childbirth, and hydrotherapy. Naturopathic medicine is very effective in treating both acute and chronic diseases. The integration of conventional medicine together with naturopathic medicine provides excellent care for patients. Naturopathic physicians will often refer patients to other specialists and health care providers for diagnosis and treatment when indicated. Naturopathic physicians perform physical exams, laboratory testing, gynecological exams, nutritional and dietary assessments, allergy testing, X-ray, and other means of diagnosis.
Naturopathic physicians aim to find the cause of a disease rather than just treat the symptoms. The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medicine. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)- There is a healing power within each and every one of us. Naturopathic medicine taps into this energy through the use of natural therapies.
First Do No Harm (Primum non nocere)- Naturopathic physicians use the least invasive methods of treatment in order to avoid unwanted side effects.
Find the Cause (Tolle causam)- Naturopathic physicians aim to find the underlying cause of a certain disease process. This cause can be on the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual level. They are trained to aid the patient in getting to the core issue.
Treat the Whole Person- There are many factors, which contribute to disease. Physical, emotional, mental, environmental, dietary, lifestyle and many others are often involved concurrently. Naturopathic physicians treat the whole person and investigate all of these factors.
Preventative Medicine- Naturopathic physicians work with the patient in their journey towards optimum health in order to prevent disease before it starts. The prevention of chronic disease is one of the major attributes of natural medicine.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)- The naturopathic physician' s role is to teach the patient. It is essential that the patient have an understanding of the process in which they are taking part. The more a patient knows about their body and their treatment the more they become empowered. This is when true healing occurs.
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