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Naturopathic Medicine Guide by Wunderwell
Our friends at Wunderwell (www.wunderwell.com) have produced a series of incredible guides to wellness that might be helpful in these stressful times. Please see their latest post on the benefits of Naturopathy.
A desire for comprehensive care that evaluates illnesses holistically rather than isolating symptoms alone has led to the rise in people seeking out NDs, naturopathic physicians.
Naturopathic medicine is an evidence-oriented approach to health care that focuses on identifying the root cause of illness. Naturopathic physicians work as a patient’s primary care provider.
Using treatment guidelines that rely on an individualized action plan following a long, in-depth patient consultation, naturopathic physicians treat a wide variety of conditions including chronic fatigue, sleep cycle disruptions, chronic pain, digestive issues, and autoimmune disorders. Naturopathic physicians also see healthy individuals looking to maintain wellness.
Although North America is credited for the origin of modern naturopathy, the principles of the practice originated in Europe prior to the 1900s. European doctors would often train “naturopaths” in “natural” forms of healing.
While the field of naturopathy dates back to the 19th century, “naturopath medicine” is a relatively new distinction. Beginning in the 1970s, two decades after the advent of high-tech care and pharmaceuticals, an increasing number of patients became frustrated with conventional medicine’s tendency to treat symptoms in isolation. Patients were also frustrated with the limitations of narrow, reactive clinical intervention in facilitating lifelong wellness, leading to a comeback in naturopathic medicine. Since then, naturopathic medical schools have been established across North America and the field has been governed by its licensing and regulatory boards.
Today, NDs, referred to as doctors of naturopathic medicine, are trained in four-year medical programs that mirror the medical science training program of conventional doctors. In addition to a traditional medical training, NDs study evidence-based treatments in natural medicine fields to include clinical nutrition, traditional medicine, physical therapy, homeopathic healing, and lifestyle adjustment.
The American Association for Naturopathic Medicine has evaluated the principles of naturopathic medicine in light of new scientific advances for decades. Currently, the field of naturopathic medicine has 6 guiding principles.
Treat the cause: Naturopathy focuses on fixing the underlying source of health problems instead of just suppressing symptoms.
Treat the whole person: NDs treat patients with their complete health in mind.
Do no harm: The first treatment option of naturopathic medicine is always the least invasive.
Prevention: Naturopathy also emphasizes “wellness care” - the importance of a healthy lifestyle in the prevention of ailments - instead of implementing treatments after illnesses manifest.
The healing power of nature: Naturopathic doctors recognize the constant self-healing processes of the body and seek to remove or diminish any blockages.
Doctor as teacher: Rather than simply practicing medicine, NDs also coach patients on lifestyles that promote optimal health.
Naturopathic doctors are the only licensed doctors who must also pass a board examination on nutrition and diet intervention.
Expect your first visit to last longer than an hour. Naturopathic physicians perform a comprehensive assessment of your overall wellness. In addition to an investigation of your symptoms, you’ll be asked lifestyle questions about your sleep and diet. Following their commitment to treat the whole person, your ND will want to build a patient profile that allows for an individualized treatment plan.
Naturopathic doctors might work in tandem with other CAM therapeutic methods and have the ability to write prescriptions when indicated. ND and CAM clinics will frequently update their technology, products, and treatment recommendations based on emerging evidence. Practitioners often divide their patient focus between consultations for the treatment of ongoing illness and a holistic approach to counseling for lifelong wellness.
The naturopathic treatment canon focuses on evidence-driven methods to treat patients in accordance with guiding naturopathic principles. Field-specific research supports the use of naturopathic medical care for the treatment of diabetes (in a retrospective analysis of outpatient care records naturopathic recommendations for diabetes followed evidence, cardiovascular disease prevention (in a randomized control trial naturopathic patients had reduced 10-year cardiovascular risk), PCOS (RCT shows that lifestyle direction improved PCOS outcomes), Autoimmune disorders (The treatment group receiving naturopathic care in addition to standard care for multiple sclerosis showed the most improvement), and IBS with alternative medicine (an isolated but rigorously controlled study showing that alternative treatment approaches offer IBS relief).
Conventional doctors are realizing that alternative medical providers might have a better understanding of the microbiome, digestive health, and individualized wellness approaches. Specialists from a variety of traditional and CAM fields often work on integrated patient care that includes treatment by a naturopathic physician.
The American Association for Naturopathic Physicians website carries the national database of licensed naturopathic doctors by region.