Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system health care that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process through the use of natural therapies. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) blend centuries-old knowledge and a philosophy that nature is the most effective healer with current research on health and human systems.
- First Do No Harm – naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient: 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.
- The Healing Power of Nature – it is the inherent nature of the body to heal itself, and the physician’s role is to assist this process. This differs greatly from conventional medicine, which focuses on using medicines to “fight” or overpower disease processes. In contrast, naturopathic medicine strives to honor the innate wisdom of the body, which heals in an ordered and intelligent manner when surrounding conditions are right. It is not the physician’s role to overpower this wisdom, but instead to work with it and provide the conditions that allow for health to exist.
- Identify and Treat the Cause – illness does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and removed or treated before a person can recover completely from illness. Symptoms are expressions of the body’s attempt to heal, but are not the cause of disease. The physician must evaluate fundamental underlying causes on all levels, directing treatment at root causes as well as seeking relief of symptoms.
- Treat the Whole Person – death and disease are conditions of the whole organism, which involves a complex interaction of physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. The physician must treat the whole person by taking all of these factors into account. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual is essential to recovery from and prevention of disease and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.
- The Physician is a Teacher – naturopathic physicians educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.
- Prevention– the ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine is prevention. This is accomplished through education and promotion of lifestyle habits that foster good health. The physician assesses risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and makes appropriate interventions to avoid further harm and risk to the patient. Because it is difficult to be healthy in an unhealthy world, it is the responsibility of both physician and patient to create a healthier environment in which to live.