Naturopathic doctors (ND’s) are primary care physicians clinically trained in natural therapeutics. Their practice is based on the same biomedical sciences and diagnostic techniques as conventional medical doctors, however, their philosophy and approach differs considerably. Naturopathic physicians recognize that living things have a natural capacity to heal. For example, what if you scraped your arm, and in the process also cut a hole in your shirt? Eventually, your arm would heal as long as you kept it clean. The shirt no matter how good the tailor, would never be the same. This is the difference between living vs. non-living. Naturopathic physicians work with your body’s ability to heal. Individualized treatments are chosen based on each patient’s unique set of circumstances.
Naturopathic physicians are trained in natural modalities such as acupuncture, clinical nutrition, counseling, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and physical manipulation, among others.
Licensed naturopathic physicians (ND’s) attend an accredited four-year graduate level naturopathic medical program, including two years of supervised clinical training. ND’s are required to pass professional board exams to become licensed as general practice naturopathic doctors within licensed states or as individual jurisdictions allow.
There are six principles that guide the therapeutic methods of naturopathic medicine:
1. Do No Harm (primum non nocere)
Naturopathic medicine uses therapies that are safe and effective.
2. The Healing Power of Nature (vis medicatrix naturae)
The human body possesses the inherent ability to restore health. The physician's role is to facilitate this process with the aid of natural, nontoxic therapies.
3. Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect (tolle causam)
Physicians seek and treat the underlying cause of a disease. Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body's natural attempt to heal. The origin of disease is removed or treated so the patient can recover.
4. Treat the Whole Person (tolle totum)
The multiple factors in health and disease are considered while treating the whole person. Physicians provide flexible treatment programs to meet individual health care needs.
5. The Physician is a Teacher (docere)
The physician's major role is to educate, empower, and motivate patients to take responsibility for their own health. Creating a healthy cooperative relationship with the patient has a strong therapeutic value.
6. Prevention is the Best "Cure"
Naturopathic physicians are preventive medicine specialists. Physicians assess patient risk factors and heredity susceptibility and intervene appropriately to reduce risk and prevent illness. Prevention of disease is best accomplished through education and a lifestyle that supports health.