WHAT IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE?
Naturopathic Medicine is a branch of medicine that believes in a holistic approach to treating patients, that strives to identify the underlying cause of disease, to remove obstacles to healing and to use treatments that are primarily in tune with the body’s natural healing abilities. It combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.
In the state of New Hampshire, Naturopathic Doctors are licensed as primary care providers, and trained as specialist in natural medicine. We are educated at an accredited 4 year post graduate naturopathic medical college where we are trained in the conventional medical sciences, and practice under the principles and philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine (see below). Licensed Naturopathic Doctors can diagnose disease, gather health history, perform physical exams, order lab tests or imaging, refer to specialists when necessary, and prescribe treatments that may include diet and lifestyle recommendations, home treatments, in office treatments, natural substances (herbs, vitamins, minerals, supplements, homeopathic medicine), and pharmaceutical drugs when necessary.
Naturopathic Doctors are guided by a philosophy that allows them to provide personalized medical care and promote health rather than only treating disease symptoms. These principles are as follows:
- The Healing Power of Nature: Naturopathic medicine recognizes the body's inherent ability to heal itself. Naturopathic doctors act to identify and remove obstacles to recovery, and to facilitate and augment this healing ability.
- Identify and Treat the Cause: The naturopathic doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to eliminate or merely suppress symptoms. A good naturopathic doctor treats the patient in front of them, not the disease
- First Do No Harm: To adhere to this principle, naturopathic doctors follow three guidelines:
- 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.
- Doctor as Teacher: The word “Doctor” is derived from the Latin word Docere which means “to teach”. This principle is perhaps the most important of all. In order to best help patients get well, it is as important for a doctor to be a teacher as well as a healer. In accordance with the idea that if you give someone a ﬁsh he may eat that day, but if you teach him to ﬁsh he may eat for a lifetime, the doctor must teach how to heal. Ultimately, the most successful patients learn to take responsibility for their own health, with the doctor acting as a resource and tutor toward that goal.
- Treat the Whole Person: When one system is out of balance, others may be as well. If a patient has heart disease, the entire system is affected. Our goal is to address every aspect of the patient’s health, not just one symptom. Naturopathy also treats each individual by taking into account physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, genetic, environmental and social factors.
- Prevention: Naturopathic doctors emphasize disease prevention, assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Disease prevention is closest to the long-term naturopathic goal of helping patients to achieve a healthy life. By improving lifestyle we can enable the body to regain homeostasis, to strengthen the immune system, and to better deﬂect the constant stresses and toxic conditions that an industrial society imposes. Our study and practice of environmental medicine teaches the importance of removing toxins from the immediate environment (and ideally the larger environment) as well as from the patient's body. Naturopathic medicine strives to create a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.
- Wellness: Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance, and is not merely the absence of disease. Wellness is a state of being healthy, characterized by positive emotion, thought and action. It is inherent in everyone, regardless of what disease is being experienced. This is the ultimate goal of Naturopathic Medicine