Naturopathic Medicine is a distinctively
natural approach to health and healing that recognizes the
integrity of the whole person. Naturopathic Medicine is heir to the
vitalistic tradition of medicine in the Western world, emphasizing
the treatment of disease through the stimulation, enhancement, and support
of the inherent healing capacity of the person. Methods of
treatments are chosen to work with the patient's vital force,
respecting the intelligence of the natural healing process. The practice
of Naturopathic Medicine emerges from six underlying principles of
healing. These principles are based on the objective observation of the
nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in light of
scientific analysis. It is these principles that distinguish the
profession from other medical approaches:
Identify and treat the cause. tolle causam
- The healing power of nature. vis medicatrix
The body has the inherent ability to establish,
maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered and
intelligent; nature heals through the response of the life force. The
physician's role is to facilitate and augment this process, to act to
identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and to support the
creation of a healthy internal and external environment.
does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of disease must be
discovered and removed or treated before a person can recover completely
from illness. Symptoms are expressions of the body's attempt to heal,
but are not the cause of disease. Symptoms, therefore, should not be
suppressed by treatment. Causes may occur on many levels including
physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The physician must evaluate
fundamental underlying causes on all levels, directing treatment at root
causes rather than at symptomatic expression.
First do no harm. primum no nocere
Illness is a
purposeful process of the organism. The process of healing includes the
generation of symptoms which are, in fact, an expression of the life
force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions should be
complimentary to and synergistic with this healing process. The
physician's actions can support or antagonize the actions of the vis
medicatrix naturae. Therefore, methods designed to suppress symptoms
without removing underlying causes are considered harmful and are
avoided or minimized.
Treat the whole person. The multifactorial nature of health
Health and disease are conditions of the whole
organism, a whole involving a complex interaction of physical,
spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other
factors. The physician must treat the whole person by taking all of
these factors into account. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of
the individual is essential to recovery from and prevention of disease,
and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and
The physician as teacher. docere
Beyond an accurate
diagnosis and appropriate prescription, the physician must work to
create a healthy, sensitive interpersonal relationship with the patient.
A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic
value. The physician's major role is to educate and encourage the
patient to take responsibility for health. The physician is a catalyst
for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume
responsibility. It is the patient, not the doctor, who ultimately
creates/accomplishes healing. The physician must strive to inspire hope
as well as understanding. The physician must also make a commitment to
his/her personal and spiritual development in order to be a good
Prevention. Prevention is the best "cure"
ultimate goal of any health care system should be prevention. This is
accomplished through education and promotion of life-habits that create
good health. The physician assesses risk factors and hereditary
susceptibility to disease and makes appropriate interventions to avoid
further harm and risk to the patient. The emphasis is on building health
rather than on fighting disease.
Naturopathic philosophy serves as the
basis for naturopathic practice. The current scope of naturopathic
practice includes, but is not limited to:
- Clinical Nutrition
That food is the best medicine is a
cornerstone of naturopathic practice. Many medical conditions can be
treated more effectively with foods and nutritional supplements than
they can by other means, with fewer complications and side effects.
Naturopathic physicians use dietetics, natural hygiene, fasting, and
nutritional supplementation in practice.
Many plant substances are powerful
medicines. Where single chemically-derived drugs may only address a
single problem, botanical medicines are able to address a variety of
problems simultaneously. Their organic nature makes botanicals
compatible with the body's own chemistry; hence, they can be gently
effective with few toxic side effects.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the
principle of "like cures like." It works on a subtle yet powerful
electromagnetic level, gently acting to strengthen the body's healing
and immune response.
Naturopathic Medicine has its own
methods of therapeutic manipulation of muscles, bones, and spine. N.D.'s
also use ultrasound, diathermy, exercise, massage, water, heat and cold,
air, and gentle electrical pulses.
Oriental medicine is a complimentary
healing philosophy to naturopathic medicine. Meridian theory offers an
important understanding of the unity of the body and mind, and adds to
the Western understanding of physiology. Acupuncture provides a method
of treatment which can unify and harmonize the imbalances present in
disease conditions, which, if untreated, can result in illness.
Naturopathic physicians provide
natural childbirth care in an out-of-hospital setting. They offer
prenatal and postnatal care using modern diagnostic techniques. The
naturopathic approach strengthens healthy body functions so that
complications associated with pregnancy may be prevented.
Mental attitudes and emotional
states may influence, or even cause, physical illness. Counseling,
nutritional balancing, stress management, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and
other therapies are used to help patients heal on the psychological
As general practitioners, N.D.'s do in
office-minor surgery including repair of superficial wounds, removal of
foreign bodies, cysts, and other superficial masses.
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Dr. Lise Maltais, ND, FCAH, CBTI ~