This article was originally published in October 2010 in the Arizona Networking News. I wrote this article during my senior year in naturopathic medical school. I am sharing this content with you on my website because it is still a relevant question today.
Tired of fighting disease?
Would you like to learn how to attain good health rather than how to fight disease? Or, how about having a supportive and empowering relationship with a doctor who is willing to spend more than 5 minutes with you? If your answers are “yes,” you may be interested to know that this is not a dream, but in fact a reality.
Imagine being part of a health care system where you work with your doctor to find solutions tailored to your individual needs and a medical system that empowers you through education and treatment options – where the focus is on health rather than disease. This is no longer a dream for the future of medicine; it is a reality of the 21st century and can be found in naturopathic medicine.
The theories and practices of naturopathic medicine are borne out of the beliefs that within our bodies lay innately powerful healing processes. Furthermore, the role of the physician is to help bring the body back into balance, which then allows you, the patient, to begin to heal.
This brilliant approach to medicine combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science to create individualized treatment plans that enable people to move from disease to wellness and stay there.
Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the six principles that underlie and guide its practice. First is “do no harm,” which serves as a powerful reminder that therapies should be as minimally invasive and as maximally effective as possible. Second, “the healing power of Nature” reminds us that the role of the physician is not to invade but rather to assist the body in the process of healing through the use of natural, non-toxic therapies.
The third principle, “treat the cause,” recognizes the fact that recovery and healing can only be achieved by identifying and eliminating the underlying cause of disease. Fourth, “treat the whole person” acknowledges that humans are complex beings, and healing requires agreement from mind, body and spirit.
“Physician as teacher,” the fifth principle, reminds us that the physician’s major role is to educate, empower and motivate the patient to take responsibility for his/her own health, which achieves sustainable well-being. Finally, “prevention is the best cure” tells us that it’s far better to be proactive than to watch-and-wait.
You may not know this, but naturopathic physicians have a lot in common with conventional physicians, including their basic medical education. Naturopathic physicians are trained at four-year postgraduate naturopathic medical schools, which are accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Education and the Higher Learning Commission. These are regional accrediting bodies of the U.S. Department of Education, just like conventional medical schools.
Another commonality is the curricula. Conventional and naturopathic medical students learn all the same basic and clinical sciences. Outside of the classroom, both receive training under the supervision of physicians in a clinical setting for two years. At the end of training, both take national board exams.
Finally, both naturopathic and conventional physicians are licensed to practice medicine in Arizona. This means that, as licensed primary care physicians, naturopathic physicians can order labs, prescribe medications, perform physical exams and minor surgery, refer to specialists and diagnose and treat disease. In fact, naturopathic physicians have been licensed in Arizona since 1934 and have much in common with their conventional counterparts. So, what sets naturopathic physicians apart?
First, they receive additional training in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, physical medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine,environmental medicine, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, IV therapy and counseling. Second, their approach to treating disease is to restore health.
Naturopathic physicians blend the ancient wisdom of natural medicine with modern science to create a form of medicine that is effective and sustainable.
If you would like to receive individualized care for the recovery, promotion and optimization of function on all levels of health through the use of safe and natural methods, then naturopathic medicine is for you. If you value diet and nutrition, and would like a professional to guide you in choosing what is right for your body, then naturopathic medicine is for you. If you are searching for alternatives to prescription drugs or surgery, or are in need of supportive care, then naturopathic medicine is for you.
There is hope, there are options and wellness can be achieved.