Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of natural therapies and lifestyle practices that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern and traditional, evidence based, and empirical methods.
Naturopathic doctors adhere to the same diagnostic standards and clinical guidelines of conventional medical care, but prioritizes the use of effective, natural, less-invasive interventions first and utilizing appropriate conventional treatments when needed. Natural medicines are also used alongside conventional treatments to improve patient outcomes and prevent/reduce unwanted adverse effects.
Principles of naturopathic medical practice:
- The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
- Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The naturopathic doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of an individuals’ illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
- First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): The safety and wellbeing of the patient always comes first and the risks vs. benefits of all aspects of care are always considered.
- Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic doctors educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
- Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Toteum): Naturopathic doctors treat each patient as an individual taking into account the interconnectedness of all the organ systems, the mind and physical body as well as genetic, environmental, social, and other factors.
- Prevention (Preventare): Naturopathic doctors emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, encouraging recommended screening exams and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
*Adapted from American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP): www.naturopathic.org