What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is unique in many ways. For one, in the healing modalities that it uses, including but not limited to: clinical nutrition, lifestyle counselling, botanical medicine, Asian medicine & acupuncture, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and physical medicine. But beyond just the modalities used, naturopathic medicine differs from other forms in how we both view and approach disease.
Treating the root cause of disease is very important in naturopathic medicine. We identify and address this root cause as opposed to simply managing and palliating symptoms. This leads to lasting and sustainable change.
Also, in naturopathic medicine, a patient is a whole person, with not only a body, but a mind and spirit, and we treat each level since each level affects the other, and they all affect well-being. This whole person is also a unique individual, and their health concerns should be treated as such. The reasons one person has an ailment could differ from the reasons another has the exact same ailment, so why treat them the same?
Lastly, in our approach to treating disease, naturopathic medicine uses the therapeutic order. This means that we first set the fundamental stage for wellness before tackling problems specifically. We find and remove obstacles to cure that will impede the healing process (such as insufficient sleep or improper diet, emotional conflicts, etc.). This will also help prevent further illnesses from developing since doing so is laying the groundwork for wellness. We stimulate the self-healing processes that exist within every person using modalities like homeopathy and acupuncture. We use the most basic and fundamental therapies to guide the body into balance. If at this point the illnesses have not resolved, we target them more specifically, directly treating pathology. The next step would be medications and then surgery, in the grand scope of health management. There are overlaps and exceptions to this order- for example, if someone is in pain, we will likely remove the pain whilst working on the fundamentals, but striving to treat the root cause of the pain is vital.
What training has a naturopathic doctor received?
Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) attain an undergraduate degree with specific course requirements, then receive another four years of training at an accredited naturopathic medical school. Classes encompass all of our healing modalities, along with anatomy, physiology, immunology, etc. There are two licensing exams, along with any regional exams, that one must pass to be a certified ND. To maintain active status, NDs must also complete specific continuing education courses throughout their practice.
Furthermore, NDs are trained in laboratory diagnosis as a fundamental aspect of assessing conditions, including basic bloodwork but also labs often not used by Medical Doctors (such as Salivary Hormone Testing, Dried Urine Hormone Testing, Food Sensitivity Testing, SIBO Breath Tests, etc.).