Moment for Health: Naturopathic Medicine – A Wellness Option

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naturopathic medicine picAs we keep nudging into the 21st century, a more holistic approach is advancing into mainstream living.

Naturopathic medicine has been making its way back into the world of healing and is a bright light that shines a way to maintaining good health.

What exactly is naturopathic medicine?

According to the CNDA (California Naturopathic Doctors Association), naturopathic medicine is a unique and distinct system of healthcare that emphasizes the use of prevention and natural therapeutics. It’s actually not a new concept.

Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived 2400 years ago, advocated the healing power of nature with his, “vis medicatrix naturae,” a concept that has been alive in many cultures’ core medicine practice for hundreds of years.

In the 1920s, naturopathic therapies were practiced all around the country but with the rise of “technical medicine” and the discovery of antibiotics and other “miracle drugs,” this method of healing fell to the wayside. Yet conventional medicine has spun into a direction where clinical limitations and out of control costs has brought a lot of grievance and obstacles to obtaining health care.

The rise of other options for getting well has brought naturopathic and all other complementary medicines back into focus.

If the sound of naturopathic medicine brings to mind a 19th century horse and buggy with a hustler peddling snake oil, think again. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained at accredited, four-year, post-graduate, residential naturopathic medical programs.

The training consists of comprehensive study of the conventional medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical and physical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, etc, as well as detailed study of a wide variety of natural therapies.

Yet the naturopathic doctor has a slightly different take on how healing is to proceed. They are guided by six principles:

(1) Do No Harm;

(2) The Healing Power of Nature;

(3) Find the Cause;

(4) Treat the Whole Person;

(5) Preventative Medicine;

(6) Doctor as Teacher.

These principles are emphasized throughout the entire training and form the foundation of this natural health care practice.

The CNDA confirms that in the United States, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, peer review and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.

he rise of naturopathic medicine is evident where a naturopathic institution was designated as a Natural Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Alternative Medicine research center, and two naturopathic physicians were appointed to the NIH’s Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council (AMPAC) by the federal Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Currently sixteen states license NDs, including the District of Columbia, with California one of the first. In these states, NDs practice as independent primary care general practitioners with the ability to diagnose and treat medical conditions, perform physical exams, and order laboratory testing.

Many health care consumers specifically choose NDs as their primary care providers within these states as more insurance companies cover naturopathic services.

Alas, in California, most patients do not have covered access to a naturopathic doctor; and NDs are only allowed to prescribe bioidentical hormones for thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones and perform vitamin IVs. All other prescribed drugs are restricted unless under the supervision of an MD.

Yet visiting an ND for the use of bioidentical horomones can be a crucial aspect to the body’s health.

In my next column, I’ll examine the benefits of this treatment.

Contact Gina at [email protected].

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  1. Naturopathic schools provide inferior medical education than schools of medicine or schools of osteopathic medicine. Naturopathic students are not exposed to the same level of rigor in medical coursework, do not have sufficient clinical training to act as primary care providers, and are not required to complete residencies. They shortcut their way to practice, and are mislead by their own professional organizations. They are taught pseudoscience: homoeopathy, acupuncture, and other traditional modalities that have been shown to be no better than placebo or are implausible because they break the scientific understandings of physics, chemistry, and biology.

    That being said, naturopaths do an excellent job promoting healthy living and spending more time with patients and forming more personal connections than an MD/DO.

    • Garbage reply, with a straw-man argument that could be refuted by a five year old. If you actually knew what Naturopathic physicians practiced, you wouldn’t be dissing this lovely medicine like some troll. Get off of David Gorski’s blog and think for yourself.

      Allopathic and reductionistic thinking vs. Naturopathic philosophy and a wholistic point of view.

      Both types of medical care are essential.

      The allopathic method is great for infection, emergency, serious acute care scenarios, but absolutely terrible when trying to care for the chronically ill. The result is over prescription, over diagnosis, and a cost burden that is placed on the patient. Most drugs aren’t meant to be used long term, which is why they should be prescribed as a last scenario when dealing with the chronically ill. Also, where is the nutrition and functional food management? This type of training isn’t present in the MD curriculum. MD’s are terrible at prevention, lifestyle counseling, and getting to know the patient. How can you get to know your patient’s in 10 minutes?! This is absolutely crazy… Please leave that for the ND’s who attend a federally recognized professional doctorate program in natural medicine.

      Every person is different, having different genetic susceptibilities, living in different environments, with different lifestyles. There is no such thing as a one pill for all prescription.

      Stop comparing, because it’s not inferior by any means. It’s different.If you think this is some turf war competition, then you are going to be out of luck when you find that major university hospitals are hiring Naturopathic doctors as a part of their medical team.

  2. Naturopaths do not learn evidence-based medicine in their schools. They learn a belief-based system of medicine that glorifies nature and her “remedies”. They are dangerous. 
    Naturopathy wasn’t replaced by “technical medicine” and “the discovery of antibiotics”. It was replaced by evidence-based medicine. Antibiotics weren’t “discovered”. They were developed through long tedious scientific studies, the kind naturopaths have never engaged in. Read up on Paul Ehrlich and Gerhard Domagk.